7th Doctor
The Dark Husband
Serial 7W/G
The Dark Husband
Written by David Quantick
Directed by Nicholas Briggs
Sound Design and Music by Steve Foxon

Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Philip Olivier (Hex), Danny Webb (Ori), Andy B Newb (Irit), Benny Dawb (Tuin); Katarina Olsson, Sean Connolly (The Bards).

"This whole wedding is like making a nuclear bomb with half the instructions missing!"

A week-long respite from a prolonged and bloody war, the Festival of the Twin Moons of Tuin makes Glastonbury look like a church fete... or so the brochure says. The Doctor and Ace are looking for rest and recreation. Hex is looking for the beer tent. But eternal enemies the ginger-haired Ri and the coot-bald Ir are plotting to turn their Festival truce to their own advantage. Only the Dark Husband might stop the celebrations turning to horror... but who is the Dark Husband? And what terror awaits him on his wedding night?

If anyone knows any just cause or impediment... speak now. The lives of billions depend on it.

  • Featuring the the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex, this story takes place after the Big Finish audio Nocturne.
  • Released: March 2008
    ISBN: 978 1 84435 315 6
Part One
(drn: ??'??")

Ace charges towards the TARDIS and calls out for the Doctor to open the doors quickly. She thinks Hex is right behind her, but she soon realises he’s disappeared. They hear Hex’s voice calling from the distance and see him racing to catch up with them…but close behind him is the dreaded Snot Monster. Ace tries to help her friend, but it’s too late and by the time she reaches Hex he’s been covered in sticky mucus. The Doctor calls out a warning as it looks like the Snot Monster is preparing to attack again. Ace pulls Hex free and they race to the TARDIS and leap through the doors just in time. The Doctor looks down at his slime covered companions and asks if they had a good trip. Ace pushes Hex away and orders him to take a shower, but he thinks he’s more in need of a really big hanky. The Doctor directs him to the emergency bathroom, then asks Ace what’s wrong with a bit of nasal slime anyway? Ace realises the Doctor knew the creature was out there all the time and he admits that the name of the place could have meant either Forest of Delicious Fruit or Snot Monster’s Garden, depending on which translation you use.

She wonders why they never seem to do anything pleasant or nice and suggests they all have a day off, maybe even a week. He asks where she wants to go but she can’t think of anything and asks if he has any brochures. He says he hasn’t, but just then Hex returns and says he’s found a pile of brochures in the bog. The Doctor innocently claims they must have been re-located the last time the TARDIS reconfigured its architecture, but Ace isn’t convinced. Hex flicks through some pages and finds the Death Well of Mindar, but the Doctor suggests he try a different brochure, preferably one without a screaming face on the front cover, as they tend to be more humanoid friendly. Ace finds one about the Eye Boiling Vat of Pain at Fringan, but Hex says there’s something about the name that’s putting him off, despite the fact that it’s reported to make a very nice pint. Hex finds another and suggests they try the Festival of the Twin Moons of Tuin. The Doctor is delighted and says it’s a week long party with music and dancing that takes place once every 500 Tuin years to celebrate all the good aspects of the planet. Hex thinks it sounds like Glastonbury and is particularly keen when the Doctor says Tuin is often referred to as the Brewery of the Galaxy and it has beer houses that boast 1,400 different varieties of ale. Hex wants to go straight away, but Ace says she wanted a break, not a booze up. Fortunately the Festival of Tuin is also noted for its emphasis on peace and relaxation and comes with fully equipped spas. Everyone agrees it’s sounds like the ideal spot, so the Doctor programmes the controls.

The TARDIS materialises, but when Ace looks outside she thinks it all looks a bit bleak. Even the Doctor agrees that it’s somewhat overcast, even though there’s not a cloud in the sky. They soon realise they’ve landed in the shadow of an enormous giant pillar, as tall as the Empire State Building and twice as wide. The Doctor wanders off over a ridge and then calls back to the others to say he’s found something. They join him and find themselves looking at gravestones that stretch into the distance for miles and miles. It looks like the whole planet might just be one huge graveyard.

Somewhere else, an alarm goes off and a computer registers voices coming from the Tuin surface. The sensors tune in and listen to the Doctor. The computer identifies that the voice is not that of the Ri, nor that of the Ir, so it concludes that the visitors must be Ir spies. They have standing orders to destroy the Ir, so the nearest Ri sentinel, commanded by Senior Inventory Fighter Ori, is despatched to hunt them down.

The Doctor is fascinated by the markings on the huge pillar and Hex says it reminds him of the mural outside his community centre that he once got caught covering in graffiti. The Doctor says this particular mural is ancient and represents legends and laws going back thousands of years, but Ace thinks it’s nothing more than a war memorial. She and Hex want to know where the peace, tranquillity and beer are and the Doctor admits that sometimes the TARDIS misses its target. He’s keen to learn more about the story behind a tragedy on this scale, but Ace says that just for once she wanted to visit a world without a story. The Doctor agrees to gather a few bits of data, then they can return to the TARDIS and pop back a few thousand years and have their holiday, but Ace is horrified at the thought of enjoying herself while knowing what’s going to happen to all these people. The Doctor reminds her that every world they visit will one day end in war or catastrophe or in the sudden snuffing out of the Sun. Ace and Hex aren’t convinced and walk off, leaving the Doctor behind. He continues examining the pillar and finds a plaque commemorating the dead which suggests the war on this planet is still going on. Without warning, a figure approaches from behind the Doctor and pokes a gun in his back. The new arrival accuses him of being a spy and an agent of Ir, then he fires his weapon.

Not far away, Ace and Hex hear the energy weapon and realise the Doctor is in trouble. They race back and find he’s gone, but a large, extremely hairy man is standing next to a large vehicle. He turns his weapon on them and opens fire again, forcing them both to drop to the ground. Hex shouts out that the man is desecrating gravestones, but he doesn’t care as they’re only Ir graves. He laughs and starts advancing towards them, so Ace tells Hex to distract him while she goes inside the vehicle to get the Doctor. When the hairy soldier says he can smell them, Hex leaps out from behind the gravestone and calls out abusive comments about snogging the man’s mother.

Ace dodges between the headstones and makes her way to the soldier’s vehicle only to discover the Doctor has dived for cover in an enormous hole in the ground and is now trapped there. Obviously on this planet, the people bury their dead ten feet under, rather than six. She tries to reach down to him, but when he grabs her, the soil around the edge gives way and she ends up falling into the hole with him. With both of them trapped, their only hope lies with Hex - but it’s not long before the soldier returns and they see that he’s holding his gun at Hex’s head.

Somewhere else, another computer registers unauthorised voices coming from the Tuin surface. The sensors analyse the plasmoid blasts from a weapon and identify it as belonging to the Ri infantry, but when they call up an image of Hex on the screen they realise he is neither Ri nor Ir. A scout ship is despatched to investigate further, then the computers start to chant in praise of Ir.

The hairy soldier throws Hex down into the hole alongside the Doctor and Ace, despite the fact that he would have climbed in willingly if the man had asked nicely. The soldier shouts at them in a loud aggressive voice and tells them they are prisoners of the army of Ri, the true way. Hex hurls more abuse back, but the Doctor advises him not to mock the physical appearance of an alien species. The soldier accuses them of being spies for the Ir, but the Doctor points out they could just as easily be tourists, or lost, or visiting their relatives. Ace and Hex assure him they’re travellers and are just passing through, but the soldier says there have been no visitors here for thousands of years and the planet Tuin has become a desert due to unending war between the moons of Ri and Ir. He introduces himself as Senior Inventory Fighter Ori and the Doctor tries to convince him they have no interest in their war. He asks Ori if they couldn’t have come up with something better to do than spend ten thousand years fighting, but Ori says the hatred between the two races is fierce and strong. The Doctor bemoans the fact that they’re reduced a perfectly pleasant planet into a wasteland, while their home worlds on the two moons remain intact, and says whatever the reason for starting the war in the first place, it’s about time they sorted it all out. Ori tells them that the people of Ri fired a plague missile at their capital city, and even though it was in retaliation for the Ir dropping a thousand lava bombs on their capital city first, he believes they had just cause to do that.

Ace points into the sky as a fully armed battleship suddenly flies across the desert towards them. A voice calls out over the loud speaker, ordering everyone to surrender their weapons. Ori refuses and lifts his gun towards the ship, then he realises the futility of his actions and instead turns his gun towards the prisoners, threatening to kill “the spies” unless the ship withdraws. A voice from the ship refuses to back down, so Ori begins to open fire and the air is filled with a powerful light…

….Moments later, the Doctor, Ace and Hex find themselves on board the ship, having been brought here via a tractor beam. A group of bald soldiers - the Ir - order them to surrender their weapons. The Doctor assures them they’re not armed and that they’ve come in peace, but the officer in charge demands they be searched anyway. The Doctor urges his friends to co-operate, but it doesn’t stop Ace and Hex mocking the soldiers’ appearance. The officer, a softly-spoken man named Irit, tells them the Ir are proud of their hairlessness and they believe hair is evidence of degenerate behaviour. Irit prepares to kill them, and to Ace and Hex’s surprise, the Doctor says that when faced with the inevitable, they should sit back and accept it. However, he does ask Irit whether their deaths are actually necessary. Irit tells him it’s because there’s a war on and says it wouldn’t be much of a war if they didn’t kill anyone. The Doctor accepts this and Irit says it’s nice to see such an attitude in a foe and that it makes a change to see people compose themselves before dying rather than running around and begging for mercy. The Doctor interrupts once again and asks Irit if he’s heard the sound in the background, which he believes is an all-clear signal. Irit listens carefully and identifies it as the Sign of Commencement, a giant klaxon originally created in a brief moment of truce 9,500 years ago and sounded once every 500 years to indicate the start of the most important date in the calendar - the Festival of the Twin Moons of Tuin. Not only does this mean opening time for the beer tents, it’s the only time when the Ir and the Ri are at peace. It also means the end of hostilities and therefore the planned executions have been cancelled. Irit summons together his fellow Ir and tells them to prepare for the Festival. He orders the prisoners to be ‘detracted’, which means the tractor beam is reversed and they are sent back to the surface.

The Doctor, Ace and Hex find themselves back in the graveyard. Hex asks whether the Doctor was deliberately playing for time back on the Ir ship and he admits that he’d calculated the alignment of the pillar of remembrance and the position of the Moons and it confirmed his hunch that they’d arrived less than an hour before the Sign of Commencement would occur. Hex assumed the Festival had been cancelled because of the war, but in fact the Doctor says it’s their only hope of ending the war…which is why they came here. Ace is gob smacked - the Doctor has done it again! The whole thing had been part of his plan from the start and he must have planted the brochures in the bog in the first place. Suddenly the huge hairy Ori arrives and orders them to stand still. He still believes they’re allies of the Ir and he plans to kill them, but Hex points out that the klaxon has sounded the start of Festival time and Ori is sadly resigned to the fact that he’s missed his chance. Instead, he must now ask them if they’ll accept the hospitality of the Ri. In other words, he wants to buy them a pint. Hex asks to be shown to the beer tent…

Before long the Festival of the Twin Moons of Tuin is well under way and Hex raises his pint to make a toast to Ori. The Ri soldier returns the honour by calling for good health for Hex and painful bowel diseases for his enemies. Hex is starting to enjoy himself and Ori explains that the Festival used to take place every year and people came from both Ir and Ri, from the ocean cities of deep Tuin and the mountain folk of high Tuin. He reveals that Tuin was originally home planet to both races, but when the dispute started their world was ravaged and they both retreated to their own Moons. Hex is curious that Ori keeps calling him ’Hox’ and Ori explains that his name means something else in his tongue, but he’s too embarrassed to say what it means so instead he draws a picture in a nearby pool of ale. Hex agrees that it’s better if he doesn’t use his name and they go back to their beers.

Ace has noticed how friendly Hex and Ori are becoming and the Doctor is pleased to see that the Ri and the Ir are honourable people. He says this Festival is so old that keeping the peace during the celebrations is virtually encoded into their DNA. Ace has realised the Doctor knows a lot more about this place than he’s prepared to admit and she asks him what he meant earlier about stopping the war. Before he can answer, Hex joins them and implies them he’s well on the way to being drunk, but the Doctor points out that since the war started, all the beer on Tuin has been strictly alcohol free. The Doctor tells Ori he needs his help as he wants to meet one of the priests. Ori believes he plans to honour the traditions of the Ri, but the Doctor says he came here for a specific purpose - to end this war. Ori laughs at the thought that this strange man could end millennia of conflict, but the Doctor says it’s all really easy. All he needs to do is get married…

Part Two
(drn: ??'??")

Ace and Hex are amazed by the Doctor’s statement and ask if he‘s planning to marry anyone they know. Ori is upset by the Doctor’s idea and claims that he’s offending their ancient ways, but the Doctor is convinced the only way to end the war is to get married. Ori claims not to know what he’s talking about, but the Doctor knows he’s lying. Suddenly the Ir soldier Irit appears and confirms that the Doctor is right, which leads to accusations from Ori about his devious eavesdropping on their conversation. He seems about to attack Irit when Hex grabs him and calms the big man down. Ace wonders how the Doctor can be sure Ori is lying so he reminds them about the gravestones. They’re Ir and Ri graves, with both races buried side by side in vast concentric circles around the pillar. The Doctor says he’s seen a lot of ghastly, horrible wars, but he’s never seen one where both sides bury their dead together on the same patch of land. The pillar isn’t a war memorial but it shows that both races share exactly the same belief system. Despite the two mortal enemies being at war for ten millennia, they follow the same god and technically they could still go to church together - and on one vitally important day that only occurs every few centuries, that’s exactly what they do. The planet of Tuin was declared a sacred place to both races and no one is allowed to fight here any more, but more importantly, the Festival is the only time when both races are allowed to make peace. The Doctor suddenly climbs on top of the table and says he has an announcement to make. He calls out to all the Ir and Ri assembled at the Festival and declares that in the name of the unity of Tuin he is offering himself as suitor. The crowd mumbles in shock and Ace says she hopes he knows what he’s doing…

Ori and Irit both object to the Doctor’s plan on the grounds that he’s not one of their people, and Ace thinks they have a valid point, but the Doctor says they’re wrong. He announces that the Unity of Tuin is not restricted to the peoples of one world and in fact the pillar states that the articles of the common faith specifically urge its priests to seek out and convert heathens. Irit says the Ir utterly condemn his plan and he denounces the Doctor as an impostor and says he’d like to disembowel him without mercy, if only such a thing were allowed during the Festival. When the Doctor insists they begin the wedding preparations immediately, Irit realises he’s correct and that once the suitor has declared himself, they have no choice but to accede to the articles of war. He asks his followers to take the Doctor to the House of Faith…

The Doctor’s declaration has been heard around the Festival and a deep powerful voice observes that this means the Dark Husband is coming. The voice summons his Bards to awaken. Two voices respond, one male and one female, both speaking in turn and in rhyme. They confirm that their ten thousand year wait has come to an end and the deep voice begins to laugh…

Ace and Hex arrive at the House of Faith and when Ace finds a huge gong she can’t resist striking it and calling for attention. Hex asks her if she knows how the Doctor getting married is going to end the war, but she can only assume it’s like an alliance. Hex wonders if they’ll both have to move out of the TARDIS when the Doctor’s wife moves in, but Ace is convinced it’ll never come to that. The Doctor arrives, now dressed in black, and tells them they have to believe that his forthcoming marriage is the only way to stop the war. He also reveals that Ori, the hairy soldier, is actually female! Ori and Irit join them and state that as the first members of their respective races to make contact with the suitor, they’re bound by the rules of the common faith to act as representatives of their Moons. Hex realises they’re putting themselves forward as the Doctor’s best men. Ori confirms that their duties include protecting the suitor against all foes, but when Irit mentions there is only one foe, Ori orders him to be silent. Irit says that they must each take one of the Doctor’s companions and instruct them in the rituals of the wedding so they don‘t ruin the most important ceremony in the history of their planet through their own ignorance. Ace is to learn the ways of the Ir, which means garmenting, garlanding and fasting, whereas Hex will join the Ri in celebrating the wedding with beer. Ace is furious, but the Doctor assures her she won’t have to do anything unpleasant. Ace still can’t see how this will end the war - and when the Doctor says that’s what he intends to find out, she realises he hasn’t a clue either. Irit asks Ace to accompany him back to their craft while Hex and Ori prepare to return to the beer tent. But first, the Doctor must spent some time in the Cellar of Lonely Contemplation…

Aboard the Ir spaceship, Irit tells Ace that part of her religious education is to learn to weave so she can learn how the world was first created from the glitter of stars, the thread of comets and the warp and weft of supernovae. She asks Irit what’s going to happen when the wedding takes place, but all he can tell her is that it’s a wonderful thing and she realises he has no more idea than she does. He admits that such an event has never happened before in anyone’s lifetime and no one’s really sure what the wedding is for. She asks Irit who the Doctor will be marrying and he tells her his bride will be the Shining Wife, but again he doesn’t actually know who that person is.

Hex is having similar difficulties questioning Ori. The Ri soldier tells him the identity of the Wife is one of the most obscure mysteries of their religion and mere mortals cannot comprehend what she represents. He says the Ri do not think of such things and prefer instead to carry on drinking, eating and fighting. Even the Ir, with all their posturing, don‘t know the answers. Ori points out that the Doctor seems to think he knows something, but Hex is convinced that after 15 minutes in the Cellar of Lonely Contemplation, he’ll probably be climbing the walls already.

The Doctor finishes searching the Cellar and concludes there are no secret passages in the walls. He wonders what the purpose of being here is, unless it’s just a convenient place to observe his actions. He calls out to anyone who might be listening and demands they show themselves. Elsewhere, the deep, powerful voice has realised the Doctor is intelligent and the Bards agree that he’s even cleverer than 74 score Ir. The Doctor turns his attention to a manual he was handed that gives instructions in the ways of the marriage ritual. Unfortunately half the pages are missing and the other half don’t seem to make much sense, but he finds the section covering the role of the suitor. He’s already learned from the pillar that the first role of the suitor is to demand that the wedding takes place and the manual goes on to say that he must then endure a period of ‘lonely contemplation’ before he takes the hand of the Shining Wife. After that, he becomes the Dark Husband.

Aboard the Ir ship and down on the planet surface, Irit is briefing Ace and Ori is briefing Hex about the Dark Husband. They remind their companions that the fate of two Moons hang in the balance and Hex deduces that the Ir represents the groom’s family, while the Ri represents the bride’s. He also realises they’re in for a heck of a punch up if there’s too much booze at the wedding!

The Doctor reads that the union between the Dark Husband and the Shining Wife will create a unity between the two races of Tuin. He imagines that the two groups will get together and finally realise they’re all the same and end the stupid war. He asks out loud whether he’s correct, but when the voices of the Bard speak back to him, they accuse him of blasphemy. The deep voice orders the Bards to correct the Doctor and through the power of a detractor beam, the Bards materialise before him in the Cellar. The Doctor realises they’re both made of very old stone and notes that they have buttons on their foreheads. The Bards seem prepared to answer his questions and invite him to press button one if he’s a student, button two if he’s an academic and button three if he’s a tourist. The Doctor considers himself to be all three, but he selects the option for student. He presses the button and the heads of the Bard begin to rotate. Together, they explain that they contain the recorded souls and memories of the first men from Tuin’s history and the chronicles and laws of the people. The Doctor realises they’re a data store and he asks them to tell him about the wedding. The Bards begin to sing the Wedding Song of Tuin, but when it looks like they’re going to read out the names of all 500 knights who gathered to form the council, the Doctor asks them to ’fast forward’…

Hex is becoming increasingly confused and he realises Ori isn’t too clear about some of the details either. Ori admits that the wedding is a rare and sacred thing and says Hex should feel privileged to witness it. Then Ori finishes his beer, announces that his Vigil of Decoy is over and prepares to leave. Hex is suspicious when Ori says he cannot follow him . Aboard the Ir spaceship, Irit is telling Ace the same thing and she angrily demands to know what he means by “decoy“. Irit tells her it’s part of the ceremony, but says it’s none of her concern. He requests that Ace be detracted and before she can protest, she’s picked up by the detractor beam and removed from the ship.

At last the lyrics of the Wedding Song begin to cover the actual purpose of the ceremony, but then the deep voice tells the Bards that he’s changed his mind and he thinks they’ve said enough. He orders them to retract and the Doctor is furious when the two stone creatures disappear, just as things were starting to get interesting. The Doctor calls out to whoever was responsible, but then the door to the Cellar opens and Ori and Irit enter. He asks them if they’ve seen the Bards and comments that they’re a fantastically useful folklore source, but Irit ignores his question, draws a weapon and fires at the Doctor, then declares that the Vigil of Decoy has ended…

Ace finds herself back at the Festival and she angrily pushes her way through the crowds to reach Hex. She catches sight of her friend and asks if he knows what’s going on. He tells her about the Vigil of Decoy and they both realise they’ve been told the same thing. She notices that Hex has a black eye and he tells her Ori went off and left him with the bill at the bar. Ori returns and orders the crowd to clear a path. She tells Hex and Ace that the Moment of Devotion approaches. They already have a Dark Husband, but now they require a bride and this is the start of the process of finding her. Ori says the records of their people are very clear about the choosing of the Shining Wife and although it’s never been performed in living memory (if at all) the rituals must be followed to the letter. The process begins when Irit climbs up onto a stage and tells the crowd that the ceremony will define them and force the Ri and the Ir to unite. He says all that remains is for them to find the bride, someone without fear or terror who will save the Dark Husband. The crowd begins to cheer and then the Doctor himself is brought on stage, evidently semi-conscious and still recovering from when he was stunned earlier. Ace becomes concerned as everyone starts to chant in unison and calls for the Dark Husband to be burned alive. Irit gives the order for the Doctor to be tied to the Stake of Decision. Ace pushes her way to the front of the stage just as the wood around the Doctor is ignited and flames begin to move towards him. Hex realises with horror that this isn’t a wedding ceremony, but a sacrifice…

Part Three
(drn: ??'??")

Hex tries to reach the Doctor, but Ori grabs hold of him and tells Ace she may risk her life for the Doctor if she wishes - but the crowd is too tightly packed for her to get through. At Irit’s bidding, the crowd lifts Ace off her feet and literally passes her over their heads until she reaches the stage. The Doctor calls out to her to stop, but Irit whispers to him to keep quiet. Irit helpfully passes Ace an axe which she uses to cut the ropes that tie the Doctor to the stake - but as she does so, she realises the flames are actually cold. As it slowly dawns on her that the sacrifice was a trick, Irit announces to the crowd that she’s saved the Dark Husband. The crowd begins to cheer again and chants the name of the Shining Wife. The Doctor calls Ace an idiot and she realises she’s gotten herself into another fine mess!

As the Doctor and his companions are taken back to the House of Faith, he accuses Ace of playing right into their hands. Hex comes to her defence and says everyone believed it was real and no one could have predicted the fire was cold. The Doctor says it was nothing more than the most basic of chemical illusions. The Vigil of Decoy was obviously a trap because neither race wanted any of their people to become the Shining Wife. As newcomers, they’re much more expendable, but because the cold fire clearly wouldn’t have hurt anyone, it suggests the nasty part is still to come. The ritual is now complete and Ace’s actions have shown that she alone is brave enough to become the Shining Wife. Ace refuses to be anyone‘s wife and says she can’t believe that ten thousand years of war, death and pain can be ended so simply. Irit tells them that the final night beckons and Hex becomes even more worried. He’s seen enough stag nights in his life to know that the Doctor is likely to end up chained to a lamp post in his Y-fronts. The Doctor asks what’s going to happen and Irit says both the Ir and the Ri must spend the night with the Dark Husband by the Campfire of Thwarted Regret to keep watch over him and tell him stories. Hex offers to come with them, but Irit says they must go alone. They pick the Doctor up and carry him away, warning Hex not to try to follow them. Ace wonders what she and Hex are supposed to do until the next morning and the Doctor calls out to her to read the instruction manual as there’s obviously more to this than meets the eye. Once they’re alone, Hex mocks Ace for putting herself forward to marry the Doctor, but she dismisses it and says it doesn’t mean anything. They flick through the manual and Ace tells Hex that the Shining Wife is allowed to ask someone close to her, who’s deep in her affections, to give her away. She asks Hex and he accepts.

Later, the Doctor, Ori and Irit sit beside a nice warm campfire in the forest. Irit says he hopes the flames don’t distress the Doctor, but the Doctor finds his sense of humour much more distressing. Irit reminds him that they have little time for humour in war, but Ori scoffs and says the Ir are born without a humour gene and they can no more laugh than she can have a bald backside. The Doctor realises it’s going to be a very long night… Ori calls for more ale and as the Doctor agrees to pour, Irit says it’s time to tell the stories of Tuin. The Doctor hands out beers to Ori and Irit and proposes a toast. Time is short and there are no doubt many tales to tell, so Ori begins with The Story of the Planet and the Wanderer, a tale for children that tells of how the wedding came to be…

There was once a Wanderer, neither man nor woman, who came to a barren world which he named Tuin. When he entered the world it was no longer barren and in return, the world named him Ri’ir. Irit interrupts Ori and tells him the Wanderer was actually named Ir’ri, but the Doctor says it doesn’t matter and he asks Ori to continue. The Wanderer longed to continue his travels, but he also wished to stay on Tuin, so his soul was divided into two and he became estranged from the planet. Being divided, those souls were unable to leave or stay behind, so they became Ir and Ri, the two moons of Tuin, trapped in space and unable either to leave orbit or return to the planet. Irit says his people also tell this story, although he believes their version is superior. In their version, Ir and Ri are the children of the Wanderer and they were hanged in the sky as outcasts because they killed their parents.

Ori calls for more beer, but both she and Irit are becoming sleepy from the very strong ale the Doctor has poured them. Eventually they both pass out and lie unconscious, apparently in a drunken stupor. The Doctor hears a noise coming from the forest and calls out to Hex and Ace to emerge. They congratulate the Doctor on being able to drink both Ori and Irit under the table, but he admits that he didn’t touch a drop. He says he noticed a number of interesting toadstools as they walked here and one of them in particular is noted for its soporific effect upon ingestion. So he dropped some in their beer. Hex wonders if this means they’ll be heading back to the TARDIS, but the Doctor says he wants to take another look at the pillar.

The deep booming voice is disturbed when he sees the Dark Husband absconding and bemoans the fact that the best of the Ir and the Ri can be so easily overcome. He decides to send Ori and Ri a sign of his rage.

It starts to rain on Tuin and Hex complains that they’re going to get soaked. He and Ace join the Doctor by the pillar and assume he’s trying to work out the planet’s story from the mural, but he tells them it’s the pillar itself that interests him. It’s been here for ten thousand years on a war-ravaged world, but it’s completely untouched. Hex notices the pillar is tingling and the Doctor quickly urges his friends to get back. Suddenly there’s an enormous flash and the pillar is struck by lightning. The three of them are relieved to find themselves unharmed and Ace asks the Doctor how he knew that was going to be happen. He tells her the lightning came from the pillar itself, not from the sky. He now thinks he knows what the pillar is, but if he’s right then he’s made a terrible mistake! Earlier tonight he was told the story of how this world was created, but in fact the story was a clear and obvious lie. The story was told by both the Ri and the Ir, but with two different endings as if they were tailored for a different audience. The Ri tell a sad fable of love gone wrong but for the Ir it’s a ghoulish tale of murder. The two versions have nothing in common apart from the motif of a person divided, with a split personality. Ace says this is reflected in everything on the planet, from the Dark Husband and the Shining Wife to the Ri and the Ir. Everything here is about two sides of the same coin. The Doctor reminds them that the two races were once identical, like grown up twins, which means they should be perfectly united, not squabbling like children. Ace glibly says she blames the parents, which intrigues the Doctor, but before they can discuss it further, they’re surrounded by an angry mob with blazing torches.

The voices of Ori and Irit call out, ordering the three of them to surrender. Unfortunately it seems the rain has woken them up early. The two leaders threaten to shoot them, but when Hex points out that weapons aren’t allowed during the Festival, they open fire and the Doctor, Ace and Hex dive to the ground. Irit crosses over to them and orders the Husband and Wife to return to the House of Faith where they can prepare for the wedding. The Doctor announces loudly that he’s changed his mind and there isn’t going to be any wedding and he formally withdraws his offer to be the Dark Husband. The crowd gasps in shock. Ace reminds him that he said this was the only way to stop the war, but he says he’s just realised the whole thing is a trap. The crowd becomes hostile and Irit begs the Doctor to reconsider. Hex agrees because they’re likely to be torn limb from limb by the mob if the wedding doesn’t go ahead, so he shouts out that the Doctor only has last minute jitters and assures them there’s nothing to worry about.

The Doctor tells Ori and Irit the wedding will certainly end the war and bring peace - but only by bringing an end to both their races. Irit says he’s left them with only one option. He orders the crowd to back away then asks one of the Ri soldiers to give him a gun. He concludes that by cancelling the wedding, the Doctor has also ensured the Festival itself has been cancelled and the ban on fighting with it. He sentences the Doctor to death, but Ori leaps forward and says she cannot allow that. Irit offers the Doctor one last chance to be the Husband and bring the war to an end, but the Doctor assures him he would do so if he thought it would ensure the survival of their races, but it won’t. Ace steps in front of the Doctor and reminds them that she’s the Shining Wife and says they can’t kill her as she’s done nothing wrong, but Irit says that doesn’t count now there’s no Husband. Hex suddenly realises there’s an alternative solution, so he steps forward and announces to everyone that he offers himself as suitor. The crowd cheers and Irit is forced to lower his weapon. The Doctor tells Hex his offer will do nothing to save the people here and Hex says he knows that, but they were destroying each other anyway. At least this way, he’s saved the Doctor’s life. Ace agrees and says there was no other option. The ceremony is now back on, so Irit says he’ll make the necessary arrangements and orders the three visitors to be tied up. As they’re taken back to the House of Faith, Ace and Hex resign themselves to the fact that they’re getting married in the morning!

The Doctor, Ace and Hex are sealed back up inside the Cellar of Lonely Contemplation. Ace is starting to regret agreeing to marry Hex. At least when she was marrying the Doctor she thought she was helping to end a war, but now she knows it’ll do no good. The Doctor tells them that last time he was incarcerated here he had an unexpected visitation so he calls out in the hope that the Bards will return. He explains that they’re repositories of ancient knowledge and he’s sure that they watching them right now - as is the person who’s been fermenting aggression between the Ir and the Ri for the last ten thousand years…the same person who’s arranged this marriage for their own unfathomable ends. When the Doctor starts accusing that person of manipulating him, Hex thinks he must have finally flipped. Watching from afar, the deep powerful voice laughs at the Doctor and says he has indeed been manipulated. And tomorrow, he will give his companions away…

The next morning, Ori and Irit arrive at the Cellar and wake the Doctor and his companions up, announcing that the time has finally come. Ori begins to cry and says she always does this at weddings. Irit asks Ace and Hex to accompany him and the couple complain that they can’t get married dressed like this as they look like they’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. Ori says they will be garlanded with flowers and ribbons, but Irit interrupts and says there isn’t time for that, so instead, they’ll both be given plain robes. The Doctor is keen not to miss the happy occasion, and Irit says he’ll be needed just in case either the husband or the wife suffer any more jitters before the ceremony is over. If either Ace or Hex back out at the last minute, Ori has orders to kill the Doctor. It will be a genuine shotgun wedding!

As they’re escorted to the stage in the shadow of Tuin‘s pillar, Ace and Hex are surprised to hear Richard Wagner’s ‘Bridal Chorus’ playing. Irit stands before the microphone and addresses the peoples of Ir and Ri. He tells them they’re here to celebrate an event that’s unique in the history of the planet and the consequences of which they cannot predict. He asks them to place their trust in the words of the sacred text, but the Doctor interrupts and points out that part of the text is missing, which means the wedding is like making a nuclear bomb with only half the instructions. Irit ignores him and hands over the proceedings to Ori, who in turn asks Hex to step forward. The crowd cheers the Dark Husband, and then it’s the Doctor’s turn to introduce the Shining Wife. The happy couple are invited to step forward onto the Disc of Union, a raised dais that emerges from the ground, having lain here waiting for thousands of years for this very moment. The Doctor urges his friends to step off the disc, and although Hex says it’s only a piece of stone, the Doctor says so was Stonehenge until some idiot found the on switch! Ori orders the Doctor to show some respect for the ritual. Irit continues the ceremony and invites anyone present who wishes to deny their union to speak now. The Doctor calls out that he’s very much against it, but Irit ignores him and draws the crowd’s attention to the glowing Disc of Union, which signifies Tuin‘s approval. The Doctor says this is what he was afraid of. As a powerful beam of energy emits from the Disc, he leaps forward to grab hold of his friends and when the energy disappears, so have they. Irit declares it a miracle and the crowd cheers again.

The tractor beam dies down and the disorientated Doctor, Ace and Hex find themselves somewhere deep underground. The Doctor believes they’re in the heart of the planet itself. He calls out for their host to show himself. A deep powerful voice booms out around the chamber and asks if Hex is the Dark Husband and if Ace is the Shining Wife. They both confirm that they are and they ask the owner of the voice to come out from the shadows, but the Doctor realises the voice is coming from all around them. The voice belongs to the planet itself - Tuin is alive!

Part Four
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The Doctor calls on Tuin to show itself and the deep voice agrees. The cavern is filled with a loud rumbling noise and then a face appears in the rock face. Ace recognises the face straight away as Irit, but from his angle Hex says the face represents Ori. The Doctor confirms that it’s actually both of them, and the voice of Tuin explains that he’s the parent, both mother and father, of the Ir and the Ri. The Doctor believes Tuin is the soul and the spirit of the planet and that it gave birth to both races. Hex asks how a rock could do that and Tuin explains that it can show itself in earth, fire, air and water. It’s a creature of the elements whose lifeforce has polluted the whole planet from its blue grasses to its green seas, and also the various forms of life that inhabited it millions of years ago and who’ve now evolved into the Ri and the Ir. Tuin says the Doctor is very perceptive and it believes itself to be a god. The Doctor says this is the classic paradox - a creative god must have been himself created, so who created Tuin? The creature accuses him of blasphemy, but the Doctor dismisses his response as too easy. He regards Tuin as a life factory, the core of an artificial world around which mass has formed. His proof is the pillar through which Tuin channels the elements, including thunder and lightning, and which has been perfectly engineered rather than grown naturally. Ace accuses Tuin of being a fake and the creature begins to scream out in anger.

On the planet surface, the ground itself starts to convulse, throwing both the Ri and the Ir into panic. Irit believes this indicates the beginning of the marriage ceremony so Ori gives praise to Tuin and hopes it will bring peace to this world and an end to all war. Irit asks Ori if she’s considered that when the prophecy comes true, there’ll be nothing left for them to do.

The Doctor asks Tuin if he’s finished, then he warns Hex not to antagonise the creature too much as any further temper tantrums might split the entire planet. Tuin tells them the faith of his people continues to be strong and he feels their pain and suffering. He says the scars of war are writ upon his surface, but the Doctor points out that he started the war so he can’t expect them to feel sorry for him. Tuin says that for years his children worshipped him without question, but it still wasn’t enough. Even though they prayed to him and built temples in his honour, they eventually grew up and, like all children, they wanted to become independent and leave home. Tuin didn’t like that and wanted them to continue praising him. He considered his people to be disobedient, so he punished them with earthquakes, hurricanes, fire and brimstone. But his people escaped by fleeing to the moons, so he cursed them with war by setting the inhabitants of each moon against one other. The pillar targeted each moon with a gene cloud that gave them different characteristics to create the perfect recipe for war. Tuin announces that the wedding must go ahead in order to bring peace eternal to the planet and the Doctor admits that’s where he’d gone wrong because he didn’t realise what that meant. It won’t create peace by bringing an end to the terrible war but something completely different. Without the wedding, Tuin cannot survive!

As the earth starts to shake violently on the planet surface, Irit realises Tuin is displeased. The sky starts to boil and lightning bolts hit the ground, signifying their god is enraged. Ori urges everyone to leave and Irit asks her where her courage has gone to. Ori argues that the wedding has gone wrong and believes Tuin will destroy everyone. Irit says that if this is true, then what was the point of all their fighting? If the war ends now and the two moons spin of their axis, what was it all for? Ori suggests they call the wedding off and plead with Tuin to be allowed to continue the war. Irit believes his lifelong enemy is speaking with unusual wisdom and he himself is beginning to show unusual courage, almost as if the two races are starting to share the same qualities. He suggests they go to Tuin together by using the Disc of Union. In order to do that, Irit declares himself the Dark Husband and Ori will be the Shining Wife.

Tuin believes he will soon become perfect and end his own impurity. The Doctor is finally beginning to understand, but Ace and Hex are none the wiser. Tuin orders them to be silent and says the wedding must go ahead now or he’ll shatter the whole planet. The Doctor agrees with Hex’s medical diagnosis that Tuin is nuts and he screams at the creature that he’s gone far enough. Tuin demands that Hex and Ace step forward and read the wedding vows. When this is done, Tuin orders the Bards to bring the rings out. The two stone creatures appear in the cavern and praise the happy couple. They produce the rings which are very large and are obviously designed to go on the head like a crown rather than on the finger. As the rings begin to glow, Ace and Hex cry out in pain. The Doctor orders Tuin not to hurt them, but Tuin says he would never harm his own children. Ace and Hex turn in response to Tuin’s voice and acknowledge him in a robotic monotone. Tuin tells the husband and wife that they may now kill each other. They both accept their orders and prepare to attack…

Shielding themselves from the rain, Ori and Irit go through the motions of the wedding ceremony, then they step forward onto the Disc of Union. They turn to address the crowd and invite anyone to state their case if they object to the wedding, but discover the crowd has long since dispersed. Suddenly a powerful beam of energy emits from the Disc and both the children of Tuin disappear.

Ori and Irit reappear inside the underground cavern and the Doctor tells them they’ve arrived just in time. Tuin demands to know what they mean by their intrusion and the Doctor explains that they’re witnesses to the wedding of Ace and Hex. Then he introduces the soldiers to Tuin and they recognise him from their stories and from the engravings, although he seems much smaller in real life. Tuin regards them as the children who grew to despise him as he has grown to despise them. Ori and Irit argue that they’ve fought a war in his name and have battled for eons to gain his respect, but Tuin says they mean nothing to him. The Doctor explains that the Ri and the Ir are actually two halves of one being. They’re the same, but different. Tuin says they’ve been fighting because they’re flawed and faulty, but Irit and Ori point out that they’ve done nothing to offend their god and have obeyed his every precept. Tuin dismisses them as specks on his purity and orders his Bards to kill them both, and the Doctor too!

Ori and Irit refuse to be scared by the Bards and they unite together to fight their common enemy. Tuin orders Ace and Hex to ’detract’ and, to the Doctor’s horror, his companions disappear in a blaze of light. The soldiers soon realise they cannot defeat the stone creatures, but the Doctor says they don’t have to and he tells them to press the buttons on their foreheads. With this done, the Bards stop their attack and begin reciting a narrative history of the Tuin world. The Doctor then asks Ori and Irit to help him remove the heads from the Bards and they manage to switch them off before they reach the bit where they list all 500 members of the council. The Doctor believes Tuin has gone to ground so he starts to re-tune one of the Bards to the frequency of the ’detractor’ beam in the hope that it’ll take them from the cavern to the reception suite. Ori is surprised that the wedding is continuing and Irit wonders what sort of ceremony it could be where the husband and wife kill each other. The Doctor reminds them that Tuin divided itself when he created them and now it hates itself. Tuin is deeply unhappy and rejected his own children, then set them against one another in the hope that a good long war would help them rediscover their devotion to him. The problem is that both the Ri and the Ir think they are the chosen people, so how could Tuin choose between them? The aim of the wedding is to take the brain of the Ri and the cunning of the Ir and join them together to challenge one another so that a single victor will emerge. Suddenly the Doctor discovers something written on the inside of the Bard’s brain and it finally tells him everything he needs to know…

On the surface of the planet, Tuin asks the Dark Husband and the Shining Wife to choose their weapons, then he directs them towards the Altar of Transfiguration beneath the pillar and says whichever of them stands there will be his chosen one. Their task is to reach the Altar first while preventing the other from getting there. Just then there’s a huge flash and the Doctor materialises, accompanied by Ori and Irit. He tells them to grab Ace and Hex, but his hypnotised companions draw their swords to defend themselves. Tuin reveals that the Altar is the ultimate destination of the Ir and the Ri and the Doctor recognises it as a genetic condenser. Tuin explains that the two races are part of him and his affections are divided between them. The Dark Husband represents the Ir - cunning, wise and devious - and the Shining Wife represents the Ri - brave, impulsive and violent - and although both are Tuin, individually they are flawed. The Doctor tells Tuin that he’s confusing oneness and unity with right and that he can’t choose between the two halves of his own being. Ori complains that making the choice through combat is too cruel as there is no honour and fairness in it. She compares it to a tyrant setting two dogs to fight and the Doctor agrees that this sums up the whole war in one sentence.

Irit says the situation is madness, but the Doctor says it’s even worse than he thinks. The victor will be genetically condensed on the Altar of Transfiguration and pumped up through the pillar to be showered all over the surface of the planet. It’ll form a gene cloud that will transform all life. If the Ir representative wins, all life will become Ir, and if the Ri wins, all life will become Ri - but both Ori and Ri realise that Ace and Hex are human, so no matter which of them wins, both their races will be transformed into humans. They accuse Tuin of plotting to destroy them and when Tuin responds, they recognise the sound of doubt creeping into his voice. Ori accuses her god of being evil and Irit agrees that Tuin is wrong. Tuin uses this as evidence to prove that both races have rejected him and he announces that he will destroy them. Ori and Irit realise they must stand together, and they agree to unite and oppose the completion of the wedding. Tuin orders Ace and Hex to kill his children, and they start to advance…

The Doctor steps in front of his companions and tells them to resist whatever thoughts are inside their heads. Ace declares that she is the Shining Wife and represents the hate and impulse of the Ri and Hex declares that he is the Dark Husband and represents the cunning and thinking of the Ir. The Doctor reminds everyone that the Ir and the Ri are actually the same people, like two sides of one coin. He tells Ace and Hex that they’re in the thrall of a creature that hates itself and longs to cut its own soul in half. Tuin orders them to kill him, but the Doctor urges them to remember who they really are and fix on their feelings for someone they love. Hex is the first to come back to reality and he drops his sword, and when Ace looks at her friend she drops her sword too. The Doctor gently persuades them to remove the rings from each other’s head and when they do so, they both return to normal.

Consumed by rage, Tuin plans to destroy the entire planet and announces the beginning of the Transfiguration. Summoning the last reserves of his physical existence, he heads towards the Altar. The Doctor knows Tuin gave life to everything on the planet, but if he condenses himself it’ll be like turning off every gene in the Ir and the Ri. The creature believes that if his children will no longer worship him, then the planet itself should die and they should all die with it. Ace urges the Doctor to do something, but as Tuin reaches the Altar, he stops in his tracks. The Doctor explains that the writing he saw inside the Bard’s head was written in the language of the fabled Worldshapers of the Large Magellanic Cloud and it said simply “reject”. He reveals that Tuin, the Bards and the pillar are all part of a faulty planet building kit that was defective and had failed its quality control.

Tuin is still determined to go ahead and the Doctor says there’s nothing he can do to stop him. Ori and Irit realise the Doctor can do nothing because he’s neither Ir nor Ri, so instead the two of them take his place and stand together on the Altar. They say goodbye to the Doctor and the others and within seconds they’ve been consumed by the power of the genetic condenser. As they disappear, Hex asks if they’re dead, but the Doctor says that’s not exactly what happened…

It’s not long before the Festival of the Twin Moons of Tuin starts up again and the Doctor says the war is finally over. Ace can’t believe it could end so quickly, but Hex has noticed that the hairy Ri are starting to moult and the Ir are starting to grow ginger hair on top. The Doctor says there’s something in the air, the water, the wind and the earth. A transforming charge of Ori, Irit and Tuin has enveloped the planet and although it’ll take a while before the two races become one people again, before long they’ll hardly be able to notice the difference. They may even start to marry each other! War has ended, harmony restored and their job is done. The Doctor suggests they leave before the people of Tuin start giving them medals, but Ace doesn’t think he should go without some sort of payment. She leans over to him and kisses him. She says that when he prompted her earlier to think of all the things she loved, she thought of him and the TARDIS and their life together. Hex pretends to vomit and heads off for the beer tent, but Ace wants to know what he was thinking of. Hex is embarrassed and tries to change the subject, but eventually he says he was thinking of football. Ace is exasperated and tells Hex he has no soul, but when she’s gone Hex admits to himself that he was really thinking of something else…

Source: Lee Rogers
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