After nearly two thousand years
of research and construction, the Morestran Orthodox Church should be almost
ready to activate their Energy Tower -- but instead of celebrating their
achievement they have cut off all communication with the Omega System where
the Tower is being built. A renegade branch of the Cult of Scientists,
believing that the Tower is a false means of gaining power for the Church,
sends a covert mission to find the fabled Zeta Minor and relaunch Professor
Sorenson's original scheme to mine anti-matter. But the mission is infiltrated
by a Church secret agent, who transmits the co-ordinates of Zeta Minor
back to the homeworld, kills the rest of the team -- and is then killed
himself by the creatures which haunt the Planet of Evil.
The Church's greatest agent, Kristyan Fall, was imprisoned
for life after betraying them in a quest for personal power; but now they
need him again, and he is released and put in charge of the "Zeta Project".
Ferdinand du Vindice, a zealot who has devoted his life to destroying the
Church, discovers the conspiracy to release Fall, and comes to believe
that this is related to the problems with the Energy Tower and the mysterious
suicide of Brother Robeson, a brilliant student from the Sorenson Academy.
Ferdinand is employed by Hippolito and Antonio, the two brothers who rule
the Morestran Imperial families; the Church has promised to share power
with the Imperial families once the Tower is complete, but the brothers
don't believe this promise will be kept. One of their other agents, who
had infiltrated the Cult of Scientists, has joined a mission to discover
what's going on at the Energy Tower.
The Doctor, suffering from horrific visions, comes to
believe that something is trying to contact him -- something so alien that
his mind is destroying itself trying to interpret the messages. He manages
to materialize on board the Energy Tower before collapsing into a dead
faint, and Tegan and Nyssa set off for help in different directions. Tegan
runs into a patrol of Church guards on a mission to seal off part of the
Tower -- possibly to entrap the Scientists' infiltration team, or possibly
to seal off something far more dangerous. When Tegan claims to have arrived
with the Doctor in the TARDIS, she is sent to Kristyan Fall for interrogation.
After the events on Zeta Minor passed into legend the Doctor became a holy
figure in Church scripture; the Energy Tower itself is designed to tap
the kinetic energy of planetary motion just as he'd originally suggested
The Doctor blocks off his subconscious mind, temporarily
saving himself from a nervous breakdown, and sets off to find his companions.
He and Nyssa meet Petya, the Imperial brothers' agent and the sole survivor
of the infiltration team. The Doctor learns to his horror that the Energy
Tower is fueled by anti-matter; somehow the Morestrans have found a way
to remove it from Zeta Minor, and the consequences could be catastrophic
for both Universes. Just as the rescue ship arrives to collect the infiltration
team, they are attacked by an army of anti-men, and Petya gives his life
so the Doctor and Nyssa can escape.
The Doctor and Nyssa are smuggled onto a ship returning
to Alpha Major, to take their story to the Imperial brothers. On the way
they are reunited with Tegan, who seems somehow to have escaped from Fall,
and the Doctor delves into his subconscious and manages to communicate
with the anti-Universe beings, promising to heal the breach. Ferdinand
collects them at the spaceport and takes them to report -- and Tegan, obeying
a post-hypnotic command implanted by Fall, tries to assassinate Hippolito.
The Doctor stops her, but Hippolito takes advantage of the incident to
declare martial law and cut off ties with the Church. As the Morestran
Empire prepares for civil war, the Doctor breaks Tegan's conditioning and
learns that she overheard a discussion which implies Fall's involvement
in something called the "Zeta Project".
Ferdinand is convinced that Brother Robeson's "suicide"
was no suicide at all, and the Doctor allows Nyssa to infiltrate the Sorenson
Academy and try to learn what she can about the matter. She discovers that
Robeson had been murdered upon learning that, due to a fatal flaw in the
dimensional equations, the Energy Tower -- source of all the power of the
Church and the dreams of the Morestran Empire -- is doomed to failure.
Nyssa is contacted by a renegade student, one of the Cult of Scientists,
who has learned that other students are vanishing to work on the Zeta Project
and intends to sneak on board a mission to "Zeta Major" to find out what's
really going on. Nyssa tries to get word to the Doctor, but the Dean of
the Academy, upset because she rejected his advances, sends for confirmation
of her credentials, learns that she's an impostor, and has her sent to
Zeta Major as a project specimen.
The Church officials discover too late that Fall has infiltrated
people he trusts into the Zeta Project, and when they attempt to confront
him, his associates stage a coup and seize control of the Project. Fall
intends to control of the Energy Tower and thus rule the Empire, but first
he needs the Doctor's help to stabilise the anti-matter which is already
aboard. To this end, he contacts the Imperial brothers and uses video recordings
of the original Zeta Minor incident to prove that the blond Doctor they
know is nothing like the curly-haired Doctor of legend; convinced that
he's an impostor, the brothers agree to turn the Doctor over to Fall. The
Doctor realizes that he's being led into a trap and contacts Church officials
in order to save Tegan from having to meet Fall again. Tegan and Ferdinand
are forced to flee and ally themselves with the Church after Ferdinand
shoots Hippolito to save the Doctor's life. The Doctor departs with Fall,
hoping to stop the Zeta Project, while Fall refuses to believe the Doctor's
claim that it's impossible to stabilise anti-matter. Meanwhile, Antonio
takes advantage of his brother's death to declare open war on the Church.
The Doctor has by now worked out what is happening; prisoners
were taken to Zeta Minor and exposed to anti-matter, and once they had
mutated into anti-men and begun producing anti-matter in their own bodies,
they were left on Zeta Minor to maintain the balance while the "surplus"
-- the original anti-matter -- was removed from the planet. Zeta Major
is an asteroid where the project is continuing -- thousands of peasants
and political prisoners are being transformed into anti-men and shipped
to Zeta Minor, where an equivalent amount of anti-matter is then mined
and removed. Nobody listens to the Doctor's warnings that the interaction
of physical laws from two alien Universes will destroy them both...
Ferdinand and Tegan discover the truth about the Zeta
Project, and lead a Church taskforce to Zeta Major to destroy it and break
Fall's hold on the project. The scheduled shuttle to Zeta Minor is delayed
while the pilot waits for the Church ship to leave the vicinity, and as
a result the anti-men grow too powerful to control and break free of their
bonds. Nyssa, who is herself succumbing to anti-matter contamination, is
able to deactivate Major's cloaking sheild in the confusion. Ferdinand
locks onto its location and destroys the asteroid with cobalt missiles,
but the shuttle manages to disembark -- although its crew is slaughtered
by rampaging anti-men. At Tegan's insistence, Ferdinand docks with the
shuttle, and the sole survivor -- Nyssa -- is brought aboard their ship,
where she succumbs to the anti-matter infection and must be chained up.
Fall takes the Doctor back to the Energy Tower, where
they find anti-men roaming the corridors while the physical laws of the
other Universe begin to assert themselves. Fall finally realizes that the
Project is doomed; he is beginning to succumb to anti-matter infection
himself, but he is able to resist it for a time and helps the Doctor to
get back to the TARDIS. The Doctor takes Fall to Zeta Minor, where Ferdinand
has just destroyed the mining operations -- and attracted the attention
of an army of thousands of anti-men. Ferdinand gives his life holding them
off while the Doctor pulls the anti-Nyssa into the Black Pool that separates
the two Universes. The anti-Universe beings cure Nyssa in exchange for
her knowledge of Brother Robeson's discoveries, and send a representative
to destroy the anti-men on the surface of Zeta Minor.
The Doctor takes the survivors back to the Energy Tower,
where they discover that the Imperial and Church fleets have fought each
other to mutual destruction over control of the doomed Tower. The survivors
flee in escape pods, while the Doctor and Nyssa activate the Tower and
open the dimensional rifts. As Robeson had proved, the rifts are unstable,
but the anti-Universe beings are able to use them to emerge and absorb
the Tower into the structure of their being, becoming whole again at last.
Realizing that he will never be cured of his condition, Fall flees into
the corridors of the Tower and is killed by the enroaching anti-Universe
beings. The Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan escape in the TARDIS as the rifts close,
leaving the scattered remains of the Morestran Empire to pull themselves
together and try to make a fresh start.
Source: Cameron Dixon