Several years into the 21st century, the Eurozone and the United States have become bitter economic rivals. Both blocs have sent “peacekeeping” missions into the turbulent North African region, and international tension is increasing. Into this climate comes a man named Baskerville, who approaches the Eurozone with an astounding story; he claims to be a travellers from the future who is willing to sell his time machine. Jonah Cosgrove, the Scottish head of the Eurozone Secret Service, investigates Baskerville’s claim, and emerges from the time machine holding an 11th-century arrowhead after speaking to the historical Macbeth and Banquo, who were just as he’d imagined them. He’s convinced by Baskerville’s claims, but demands that a scientist be allowed to examine the machine before he commits himself. Baskerville agrees, but as Cosgrove departs, a stranger named the Doctor unexpectedly enters the equation. Armed with nothing more than a parachute, a cricket ball, and a glass of water, the Doctor overpowers Cosgrove and his minders without harming them, steals Cosgrove’s briefcase, and blows up his yacht. Cosgrove was once an international agent of great repute, but he’s now over eighty years old and is all but deskbound -- and, infuriated at having been outwitted and overpowered, he vows to deal with the Doctor personally.
The TARDIS has materialised on 21st-century Earth at a Mediterranean resort, and the Doctor has detected evidence of time travel in the vicinity. Fitz is concerned, and while alone, he speaks of his doubts at a “back wall” in the TARDIS infrastructure, behind which he can hear the sound of scratching, as if something is trying to get out. He suspects that the Doctor’s people used to deal with this sort of thing, but since they were destroyed, it’s now up to the Doctor to do it alone. The Doctor’s investigations lead him to Cosgrove’s briefcase, which contains the arrowhead and an invitation to a meeting in Athens. Since the arrowhead is made of metal, it can’t be carbon dated, and since the Doctor touched it he can’t be sure whether it’s travelled through Time or whether he’s contaminated it with his own temporal potential. Aware that both the US and the EZ will now be searching for the case, the Doctor hands it in to the police after altering the invitation inside, diverting Cosgrove to a theme park in the United States while he attends the appointment himself.
While exploring the resort, Fitz participates in a “RealWar” battle; at first he assumes it to be an electronic game, but later realises was in fact an actual war using remote-controlled robot tanks. He also meets an American named Malady Chang, but fails to realise that she is a secret agent. She’d been keeping an eye on Cosgrove, but has now taken more of an interest in the man who blew up Cosgrove’s yacht -- and in the two trenchcoated strangers who attacked her earlier with a laser gun unlike anything she’s ever seen on Earth. Malady plants a bug on Fitz, learns of the Doctor’s plans to attend the meeting in Athens, and decides to follow him.
The Doctor sends Fitz to Neverland, the American theme park which was once the home of a famous 20th-century pop singer, in order to keep an eye on Cosgrove. Cosgrove and his associate, the drop-dead-gorgeous Korean quantum physicist Penny Lik, arrive in Neverland shortly afterwards, but catch Fitz spying on them. Despite Cosgrove’s age, he nearly catches Fitz -- but Fitz is then confronted by the two trenchcoated strangers, who scan him for temporal energy, determine that he is a time traveller, and conclude that he must be the Doctor. The strangers transport Fitz to their spaceship, where they shed their human disguises and are revealed to be Onihr -- members of a rhino-like alien race who have been exploring the galaxy for millennia, piecing together clues which will enable them to master the secret of Time travel. Now their quest has brought them to Earth.
The Doctor uses the TARDIS to drop off Fitz but catches a plane to Athens from Heathrow for appearances’ sake. Anji is disturbed again by the apparent precision with which the Doctor can pilot the TARDIS when his mind is on what he’s doing, but she puts this question aside again for the moment and tries to catch up on the news. When she and the Doctor arrive in Athens, they bump into Malady Chang at the airport and then take a taxi to Baskerville’s offices. They are apparently unaware that they’re being observed -- and not just by Malady, but by two actual time travellers, Jaxa and Roja. They have timeported to the 21st century to investigate the unauthorised sale of temporal technology, and when they see the Doctor, they recognise him and conclude that he must be responsible. If they cannot arrest him, they must eliminate him.
The Doctor and Anji are greeted by Baskerville’s personal assistant, Dee Gordon, and the Doctor introduces Anji as his assistant Malady Chang. Baskerville takes Anji into the sending room, where he pours her a cup of coffee and invites her to choose a period of history. She chooses Brussels in 2001, hoping to send a phone text message to Dave Young warning him not to go. The Doctor is disturbed when Baskerville seals the room behind metal panels, but Baskerville claims that the time energies must be prevented from escaping. He then invites Anji to take a look around, and she’s surprised to find herself in Brussels already. The Mannikin Pis and the Atomium are just as she remembers them, and the Atomium still reminds her of something out of a Gerry Anderson series. Confused and disoriented by what she’s seeing, she begins to suffer from a seizure, but Baskerville talks her down, claiming that this is a side effect of her time journey. She recovers, and is convinced that his time machine really does work.
As the Doctor studies the time machine, Dee mentions that she and Baskerville will be departing soon due to the Third Prophecy, and the Doctor is shocked when she explains that Baskerville made certain predictions about the future in order to prove his story. Today at noon, Athens will be struck by a tidal wave, and thousands will die. The Doctor confers with Anji, and they decide that Anji will remain to investigate the time machine while the Doctor warns the civic authorities about the tidal wave. In order to get the Doctor out of the building quickly, Anji denounces him as an impostor and claims to be a US secret agent who can strike a better deal than the EZ. However, she doesn’t expect Baskerville to throw the Doctor out of the building literally, through a 23rd-storey window.
Fortunately, Malady Chang is scaling the outside of the building, and the Doctor grabs her as he falls past and slides safely down her rope to the ground. Less fortunately, she then knocks him out and takes him to a safe house for interrogation, and by the time he awakens, it’s too late for him to warn the authorities about the tidal wave. He manages to convince Malady of the danger, and as it’s too late for them to reach higher ground, they head for the nearest bank. There, the Doctor tries to speak to the manager, but the automatic teller opens a new account for the Doctor and presents him with an IFEC card. Frustrated, he announces that this is a robbery, and he and Malady force everybody into the bank vault, which the Doctor seals with his sonic screwdriver moments before the tidal wave hits.
Baskerville takes Anji out to his yacht, and demands to know what the US can offer when only the EZ has access to the ULTRA computer system. She bluffs, claiming that the US has back door codes which will enable him to get in. Upon arriving on Baskerville’s yacht, they tune in to news reports about the disaster, and Anji realises that if the Doctor failed to get the city evacuated then he’s likely dead. Baskerville, subdued by the massive loss of life, orders Anji to contact the President. She does so, using her mobile phone, and gets through when she uses the name Malady Chang. Baskerville offers to trade blueprints for a working time machine in exchange for access to ULTRA; he will only deal with the President personally, however, in Istanbul, in 24 hours’ time. The call is picked up by EZ agents, who can’t understand why an American secret agent would use an open line for such a call; their expert linguist is also confused by the inflections in the woman’s accent, which even he can’t identify. As Cosgrove ponders this new development, EZ agents spot the Doctor and Malady Chang together in Athens, and he decides to deal with them both personally.
The Onihr, still believing Fitz to be the Doctor, try to torture him for information; however, their pain inducer only reminds him of the memories of past pain, rather than actually causing him to feel pain. Amused, he promises to tell the Onihr all he knows about time travel, which shouldn’t take long. They have already acquired familiar ceremonial robes, complete with high collars and skullcaps; they know the identities of the four surviving elementals, and of the presence of Chronodev in the 51st century; and the name of Sabbath fills them with concern and distress. What they don’t know is why the Doctor is so interested in the insignificant planet Earth, or why they have detected a time machine operating there. Fitz can’t explain why Earth is so important, and the Onihr therefore conclude that he’s keeping secrets from them and decide to invade the planet.
The Doctor and Malady allow one hour to pass before opening the bank vault again, and return to Baskerville’s office to investigate further. As they drive through the streets of the ruined city, they see RealWar teletroopers cleaning up the debris, and Malady realises that the Doctor could have prevented the disaster if not for her. When the Doctor explains to her that they’re looking for a time machine, she’s surprised, for she was just following Cosgrove. Cosgrove is supposed to be the head of the Eurozone secret service, but in fact his true loyalty is to Britain; he’s survived the Euro Wars, the Martian invasion and the fall of Learman, and his involvement meant something serious was going on. When they return to Baskerville’s offices, however, the time machine is still there -- but the coffee machine is missing.
Jaxa and Roja then confront them and attempt to arrest the Doctor for offering an unauthorised time machine to the Eurozone. However, they find that they are unable to detect any spillage from the machine, and when Malady opens it up it’s revealed to be nothing more than an empty box with a few flashing lights. While the Time Agents are distracted, Malady overpowers them, and she and the Doctor flee -- only to find Cosgrove waiting outside in a helicopter. When he tries to shoot them, however, the Doctor uses Malady’s gun to shoot the bullets out of the air. Roja pursues them outside, but Malady overpowers and disarms him, and uses his energy weapon to shoot out the tail rotor of Cosgrove’s copter and force him to retreat. She and the Doctor flee to a nearby museum to hide and consider their next move. Jaxa and Roja now have another priority; they must recover the anachronistic weapon. Jaxa is disappointed in Roja, who had shown great potential until now. She used to be a historian herself, but when a time jump went wrong she ended up dying on the surface of the Moon -- where Sabbath presented himself to her, his coat flapping in an impossible breeze. She joined him then; she had no other choice.
Left to her own devices, Anji tries searching the yacht for Baskerville’s time machine, and catches him speaking on the phone in an Eastern European accent. Realising that she now knows he’s not what he seems, he admits that he is in fact a native of this time -- a former general in the Russian army, and the founder of RealWar. He is effectively an arms dealer, and not only does he make a profit from selling the teletroopers to both the US and the EZ, he also gets the proceeds from the RealWar booths, as the best soldiers of the new era turned out to be youths who’d spent their lives playing video games. Baskerville is now one of the richest men in the world, and he’s erased all evidence of his existence from the world’s computer systems; effectively, he does not exist. Anji realises that Baskerville is manipulating the US and the EZ into declaring war in order to maintain his hold on the market -- but in fact, his plans are more ambitious than that...
Cosgrove and his men storm the museum just as Jaxa and Roja timeport in. The Time Agents are wearing perfectly bulletproof suits, but Cosgrove shoots Jaxa as she materialises, and she thus materialises around one of the bullets and is fatally wounded. Roja timeports her back to her home base, hoping that she can be saved, and then guns down most of Cosgrove’s men and flees upstairs. There, the Doctor and Malady surprise and overpower him, removing his helmet and taking his timeporter and Jaxa’s gun. When Roja admits that he is Sabbath’s cabin boy, the Doctor claims that Roja is a phantom imagined into existence by Sabbath, since someone who doesn’t exist can’t be caught and is therefore the perfect agent. Roja insists that he is real, but as the Doctor and Malady timeport themselves to safety, Cosgrove arrives and shoots Roja in the head, rendering the question moot.
Assuming that the Doctor and Malady have teleported elsewhere in space, Cosgrove sends his men out after them -- but in fact they’ve leaped forward one day in Time, and thus escape while Cosgrove’s forces are spread out. Malady contacts the President, who recognises the Doctor’s voice -- for the President is Felix Mather, and the Doctor once hitched a ride on his space shuttle. The Doctor explains the situation and asks Mather to find out what Baskerville’s fourth Prophecy was. Mather is already on his way to Istanbul, but when he enters his hotel suite he finds Cosgrove waiting there. Cosgrove suspects that Baskerville is playing the EZ and the US off against each other to drive up the price of his time machine, and since Mather is the only politician whom Cosgrove really trusts, he suggests that they share the technology between themselves and become the new lords of Time. Mather agrees on condition that Cosgrove tell him what the Fourth Prophecy is, and Cosgrove reveals that in four hours’ time, a civilian nuclear device will accidentally detonate in Toronto, destroying the city.
Mather contacts Malady with this information, and the Doctor uses Roja’s timeporter to travel to Toronto, hoping to prevent the presumably predestined disaster. In fact, as Baskerville has just admitted to Anji, the Prophecies are fake. He fixed the outcome of a soccer match, had the healthy young actress Bermuda Atkins murdered with a bacteriological weapon to make it seem as though she’s died unexpectedly, and planted the bomb which triggered the Athens tidal wave. He claims that he intends to bring the anarchic global markets under control, but his plan hasn’t taken all of the variables into account; for example, the Onihr are currently preparing to strike at the Earth with an EMP cannon which will disable all of the electrical equipment in the world. As they prepare to attack, however, they detect the timeporter’s use in Athens, and Fitz convince them to postpone the invasion while they scan the Earth for other signs of time travel. They soon locate another technological device and a person who have travelled through Time, and prepare to teleport down and confront them.
The international community is outraged when an American gameplayer hacks into the RealWar system, overrides the safety protocols and shoots up a school bus in Tripoli. The President, however, is meeting with Baskerville in Istanbul and is unaware of the situation. Baskerville is surprised to find Cosgrove and Penny Lik waiting in Mather’s suite, and insists that they all travel to the airport so he can take them somewhere safe to conduct negotiations. Mather agrees to his terms, but before they can depart, the Onihr teleport in and attack Anji, taking her mobile phone and killing Penny Lik and the President’s bodyguard. Cosgrove shoots the Onihr leader through the mouth, piercing his soft palate, hitting his brain and killing him. The remaining two Onihr panic and teleport back to their ship, where Fitz reveals that although the phone is a machine which has travelled through Time, it is not itself a Time machine. He tries to take advantage of their confusion by ordering them to give up and leave the Earth alone, but the Onihr deputy leader -- now the new leader -- refuses to do so, and vows to avenge their leader’s death by destroying the Earth.
Despite the confusion, Baskerville insists that they continue with negotiations and take the alien body with them for study. He takes the survivors to his private hanger, where he ushers them aboard his personal stealth Concorde and allows Cosgrove and Anji to study the alien while he deals with Toronto. Mather’s people have alerted the Canadian authorities to the danger, and a security clampdown has been initiated... which means the Doctor and Malady can’t find out where the nuclear device is. However, they know it’s being used for a construction project at the Harbourfront, and they soon locate a warehouse which is owned by the company in question and is being guarded by RealWar teletroopers. As the founder of RealWar, Baskerville has had back-door codes installed in every teletrooper in the world, and he thus takes over one of the robot guards, kills the human guards, and attempts to detonate the device. Malady holds off the robots with Roja and Jaxa’s guns, while the Doctor defuses the device. He then takes the circuit boards out of a damaged teletrooper, intending to follow the control signal back to its source. Roja’s timeporter is out of power, but the Doctor uses the plutonium from the nuclear device to give it just enough energy for one quick hop...
Anji examines the alien’s body and finds a communications device. Thanks to her link to the TARDIS, only she can understand the growling alien speech from the link, and Baskerville thus has her act as his translator and contacts the Onihr deputy leader. He eventually convinces the Onihr to negotiate for the purchase of his time machine rather than simply destroying the Earth. In fact, he’s just buying time until he reaches his destination, a RealWar factory in the heart of Russia. Anji has now worked out that since he’s not from the future, he doesn’t really need ULTRA to calculate a path “home”. He admits that he’s really trying to get through ULTRA into the International Financial Exchange Computer, IFEC, but he doesn’t explain why.
The Doctor uses the timeporter to reach the TARDIS, traces the source of the signal controlling the rogue teletroopers in Toronto, and takes Malady to the RealWar factory via TARDIS. Due to Baskerville’s low public profile, the factory’s head of security, Relker, has never actually seen him -- and when the Doctor and Malady arrive unexpectedly, bypassing all security, Relker assumes them to be Baskerville and Dee. When Baskerville’s Concorde arrives, the Doctor orders Relker to keep everybody on board, and when the real Baskerville tries to identify himself, Relker doesn’t believe him. Baskerville eventually loses his temper, activates the factory’s newly-constructed teletroopers, and guns down his own security guards to clear a path to his office. However, Cosgrove and Mather have been watching the news, and Toronto’s conspicuous failure to be destroyed has attracted their attention. Cosgrove thus slips out of the plane and makes his way to Baskerville’s office, where he accesses the central teletroop control hub, overrides Baskerville’s control from the plane, and sends out the teletroopers to slaughter the staff of the factory and locate the time machine.
Meanwhile, the international situation is deteriorating. Every major power has made a public statement denouncing the shootings in Tripoli, except for the American President. His absence causes great concern in the Eurozone Council, especially when the USAF sends spy planes into Russia to rescue the missing President, following a signal from the nanotech tracer embedded in his body. In the absence of any further information, the Eurozone Council concludes that the Americans are trying to launch a sneak attack, and thus authorise an attack on American forces in the Mediterranean and North Africa...
Fitz manages to bluff the Onihr deputy leader into giving him a control pad, which proves to be extremely friendly and helpful. When he asks, it tells him all about the EMP cannon which the Onihr intend to use as their first-strike weapon, and also tells him exactly how to sabotage it. The deputy leader and his team teleport to Earth to negotiate with Baskerville, and Fitz splis away from the others and sabotages the EMP cannon, feeding its power source back into the structure of the ship itself and thus causing the ship to explode. Fortunately, while Fitz was prepared to give his life to save the Earth, at the last moment Pad reveals that it’s capable of teleporting him to safety.
Anji slips into the bathroom on Concorde just as Baskerville loses control of the teletroopers to Cosgrove. He and Dee make a break for it, taking Mather with them. The Doctor and Malady break onto Concorde and are reunited with Anji, and the Doctor then sends Malady to destroy the base’s anti-aircraft defenses so the USAF rescue team won’t be shot down. He and Anji head back to the factory to find out what Baskerville’s real plans are, for Anji has realised that a smart businessman like Baskerville would never just sell a time machine when there are so many better ways of making money with it. However, Baskerville spots them following and begins shooting at them. Then Fitz materialises and is reunited with the Doctor and Anji. Then Cosgrove’s teletroopers arrive and open fire on Baskerville, as well as anybody else in their way. Then the Onihr landing party, unable to locate Baskerville in the base, arrive in search of the time machine and begin defending themselves against the teletroopers.
In the ensuing confusion, Baskerville flees, dropping the coffeemaker he’s been carrying ever since he left Athens. The Doctor examines it, and finds that it contains nothing but coffee, which confirms his growing suspicions. Roja and Jaxa were unable to detect time spillage in Baskerville’s office because no time travel took place. When the Doctor questions Anji about her trip in detail, she realises that it was an entirely different kind of trip; for she could see the Mannikin Pis and the Atomium in the same area of the city, and now that she has some time to think about it, it seems odd that she saw Thunderbird Three launch from beneath the Atomium while thinking about how much it resembled something out of Gerry Anderson. The coffee is drugged with a fast-acting hallucinogen, and Baskerville guided Anji’s perceptions to make her believe that she had in fact travelled through Time. He has no time machine after all; this is an elaborate con. And Cosgrove and the Onihr aren’t going to be pleased about that.
Baskerville and Dee force Mather to grant them ULTRA security access through Dee’s laptop, and through ULTRA they programme IFEC to filter all financial transactions in the world through one account. Baskerville now controls literally all the money in the world. Malady then rescues Mather, and when Relker nearly shoots Baskerville trying to stop her, Baskerville shoots him instead. He and Dee then try to flee to safety, but they are separated. Dee manages to reach the airfield and escapes to fight another day while Cosgrove’s teletroops are occupied with the Onihr. Baskerville, however, is captured by the Onihr, and bluffs for his survival by claiming that the Doctor has stolen the vital components of his time machine.
The Doctor, Anji and Fitz find Dee’s abandoned laptop, and see that Baskerville was interrupted before the final step of confirming the transaction. The Doctor thus enters the IFEC number he was assigned when he inadvertently opened the bank account in Athens. Now, every transaction in the world will be processed through his account, and Baskerville can’t touch it. Cosgrove then confronts him and his companions in person, demanding that they give him the time machine, but the Doctor reveals the truth. He then offers the stunned Cosgrove a cup of coffee, and he and his companions escape while Cosgrove is under the influence of the hallucinogen.
Outside, Baskerville and the Onihr capture Malady and Mather, and the Onihr detect that Mather is carrying a time machine -- the recharging timeporter, which Malady had given to him earlier. Assuming that it is Baskerville’s, the Onihr demand a demonstration, but Baskerville doesn’t know how to operate it, and the Doctor, Fitz and Anji then arrive and denounce him as a fraud. Fitz also claims that Baskerville has destroyed the Onihr ship, and the Onihr, still believing Fitz to be the Doctor, believe his claim. They thus take Baskerville prisoner and teleport themselves back to their home world, a journey which will take several centuries -- and just as they dematerialise, the Doctor snatches the timeporter out of Baskerville’s hands. Cosgrove then arrives and demands that the Doctor hand over the time machine, but instead the Doctor tosses it over the cliff. Cosgrove leaps after it, grasping at his one slim chance to catch it as it falls... but he learns too late that it hasn’t fully recharged. The Doctor then warns Mather that the Eurozone and the States have started shooting, but full-scale war is not yet inevitable; Mather can use this base as evidence that a third party provoked the war, and use Cosgrove as a scapegoat. The Doctor, Anji, and Fitz then return to the TARDIS.