edited by John Binns
|Syntax by David Bailey||8th Doctor, Izzy|
The Doctor and Izzy land near a city on the planet Jora, home to a peaceful race who have mastered the arts of biotechnology. However, the city seems deserted. Izzy smells a powerful stench the Doctor can’t perceive, and, overwhelmed by the smell, she approaches the Doctor sexually and then falls into a blissful catatonia. Naked men, women and children rise up from the fields and close in on her and the Doctor, but the Doctor carries her to safety on the beach, where the Jorans seem loathe to follow. Izzy recovers, perhaps because the sea breeze is blowing the stench away. The Doctor finds a maintenance tunnel leading to an algae power station, and he takes Izzy to it, intending to hole up somewhere secure while he investigates. On the station, they meet an engineer named Deezer, who is initially suspicious of them but then grateful for the company, as he’s been alone here for two years. When the Doctor checks Deezer’s computer files, however, he discovers that Deezer has re-engineered the algae that supply the city with power and is about to release a toxic chemical agent into the air. Deezer explains that he was once part of a scientific research team that was trying to create a new language using pheromones; they succeeded too well, and the genetically engineered pheromones evolved into a life form and escaped from the lab, taking over the entire planet. The Jorans are now merely walking hosts for the intelligent Syntax. The Doctor points out that the creation of life itself was an accident, and insists that the Syntax has just as much right to live as its hosts, who still retain basic social skills and interactivity, if not the complex thought patterns they used to. Deezer refuses to listen, releases the counter-agent and destroys the re-engineered algae -- but the Doctor uses the equipment to create a new chemical formula that will immunise the Syntax against the counter-agent. Before leaving the station, he reminds Deezer that, by his own account, the Syntax evolved into a sentient life form within days; how far might it have come in years? What if the Jorans are now so dependent upon it that destroying the Syntax will kill them as well? Leaving the stunned Deezer to ponder these possibilities, the Doctor and Izzy return to the beach, where the Doctor gives Izzy the anti-xemetic agent; this time, when the Syntax tries to take her over, she is able to communicate with it as equals and pass on the inoculation against the xemetic agent. The Doctor and Izzy then depart, as the Syntax comes to understand that there are living beings other than itself; if it can learn to communicate with them as equals, it need not be alone. Meanwhile, Deezer, having considered the Doctor’s arguments, exposes himself to the Syntax and joins the rest of his people in their new condition.
|Primitives by John Seavey||3rd Doctor, Sarah|
A team from Trans-Planetary Mining runs into trouble with their survey of Planet Z02-80535, and the members come to suspect that corporate spies are sabotaging their efforts. Project Co-ordinator Sands reports to Central, who push through their claim in order to strip-mine the planet of its resources before their rivals can move in. The Doctor and Sarah then arrive at the base and manage to convince the hostile surveyors that they are not corporate spies; the saboteurs are in fact the slugs that the surveyors have been taking as specimens. The slugs are not mere animals, as the surveyors had assumed; they have a complex society and communicate via pheromones rather than sound, and they are capable of genetic engineering on the most fundamental of levels. Just as the surveyors are starting to grasp the potential of co-operation between the two species, however, TPM drones arrive and begin strip-mining the planet. The Doctor rushes Sarah back to the TARDIS and departs as the survey team tries desperately to contact TPM and put an end to the mining; he’d always known what would happen here, and all he’s managed to accomplish is find out why first contact between the two species turned out so disastrously. The slugs, Builders, have been observing the surveyors just as the surveyors have been observing them, and they have constructed genetically engineered weapons with which to strike back against the invaders. The survey team is wiped out in the first strike, and the Builders then carry the war offworld, resulting in a two-century-long war that ends with 30 million humans dead, the Builder homeworld annihilated, and the Earth Empire under the draconian, xenophobic rule of the EMPRESS system.
Continuity: the future history of the Builder Wars sets up the social climate seen in the novels Original Sin and So Vile a Sin.
|The Northern Heights by Mark Stevens||4th Doctor|
October, 1930: something strange is happening at the King and Empire Railway Company, which was recently contracted to extend electrified railway lines through the Northern region. A mysterious group known as the Union later investigates the incident, and concludes that a sentient temporal anomaly, Kappa 12, somehow penetrated a parallel timeline and possessed the railway company’s executives and employees. Through its slaves, it was able to extend its influence throughout the railway line, sending the tracks through warp singularities and twisting them into geometrically impossible configurations; the company was thus able to place interconnected railway stations on the same line in Canada, South Africa and Australia. Kappa 12’s intent was presumably to generate a permanent conduit between its own reality and this timeline; in any case, the spatial distortions would eventually have affected the planet’s stability. The activity in the parallel timeline managed to breach the reality known as Temporality Alpha, where the Doctor made contact with a company employee named Nicholas Clement. Clement helped the Doctor to fight the bizarre force that had possessed his friends and employers, and while he distracted Kappa 12, the Doctor planted devices on the railway tracks and remote-piloted his TARDIS through the warp singularities, causing them to collapse and expelling Kappa 12 from Temporality Beta. As a result of these events, it’s probable that Nicholas Clement no longer exists, but the Doctor is able to offer him hope for the future nonetheless...
|Observation by Ian Farrington||5th Doctor, Turlough|
The Doctor travels back forty thousand years in Time and sets up a hidden camp, intending to witness the first encounter between Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon Man. Though he’s narrowed down the location of their first meeting, it may take months for the two tribes to come into contact, and since Turlough doesn’t fancy sitting around waiting all that time, the Doctor gives him permission to skip over the next six months in the TARDIS. The journey takes moments for Turlough, but when he arrives, the Doctor seems upset about something and simply returns to the TARDIS, leaving Turlough to pack up his equipment. While doing so, Turlough finds the Doctor’s diary, and upon reading it, learns that the Neanderthals stopped dome distance away and then retreated without ever making contact with the Cro-Magnon tribe. There’s also an entry indicating that the Doctor recently found something disturbing nearby -- and when Turlough investigates, he finds the body of a Neanderthal who approached the camp from behind, was startled by its sight of the Doctor, and fell from a cliff to its death, all without the Doctor ever noticing. The Doctor’s presence may have prevented the peaceful contact he was hoping to observe. Turlough finishes packing up and returns to the TARDIS, and as he enters, he looks back to see that the two tribes are indeed converging... near the remains of the Doctor’s campfire and the dead body of the Neanderthal.
|Mortal Thoughts by Trevor Baxendale||6th Doctor, Mel|
The Doctor and Mel are called in as advisors when Simon, a robot inhabitant of the planet Andron, claims to have been dreaming. The Doctor insists that this is impossible for a robot of Simon’s design, and Simon reluctantly agrees to switch himself off for ten minutes while the Doctor examines his positronic brain. The Doctor soon unearths an anomaly, a neural relay linking Simon’s positronic brain to an organic brain. Noting that there are a large number of flies in the vicinity, the Doctor follows the flies to a nearby locked room, where Mel is horrified to find a man’s body with its head surgically removed. The flesh has been removed from the face and the head has been connected to a bank of computers that are keeping it alive and apparently in agony. Simon revives two minutes early, having suspected that the Doctor would uncover his secret, and reveals that he’s made a flesh mask out of the man’s face so that he can wear it and become more human. Simon attempts to throttle Mel, but the Doctor stabs his pliers into Simon’s exposed brain, giving himself an electric shock but deactivating Simon. With Simon’s death, the living human head dies as well. In the aftermath, Detective Inspector Naylor -- one of the many androids who have made their home here, and the one who called in the Doctor as a consultant -- unearths the dead man’s identity, and determines that, in his attempt to become more human, Simon inadvertently linked his brain to the brain of a human serial killer.
|Lant Land by Jonathan Morris||5th Doctor, Tegan, Turlough|
The TARDIS materialises in a remarkably blank apartment building, and the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough are greeted by the flat-dwellers, Simon and Joanne. The couple are remarkably rude when they learn Tegan and Turlough’s names, claiming that they’re ridiculous names and that they should have chosen more normal ones. The Doctor soon determines that they’re treating personal interactions like a game because that’s exactly what it is to them, the game of Lant Land. Simon and Joanne turn on a monitor to reveal a picture of people in an apartment, going about the daily business of life and personal interaction; it is in fact a perfectly detailed virtual reality populated by Turing-proof artificial intelligences. The simulants were so realistic that real people became attached to them and eventually found a way to live inside the simulation themselves -- but in such a manner that they erased the simulants’ personalities with their own by moving into their virtual bodies. Turlough and Tegan discover that the books in the apartment are blank, the television isn’t plugged in, and the door leading out of the building is sealed shut -- as if there is nothing outside at all. He and Tegan fear that they’ve materialised inside the simulation, but the Doctor fears that it may be worse than that. Simon and Joanne confirm that when the simulants’ world was invaded, they fought back, transferring their own personalities into human bodies and erasing those bodies’ previous personalities, just as the humans were doing to them. Simon and Joanne are playing Lant Land, and their interaction is being watched in the other world as entertainment. But which world is the simulation, and which one is the game?
|A Star is Reborn by Richard Salter||6th Doctor, Peri|
Looking for a wave fluctuation detector with which to repair the TARDIS, the Doctor materialises on the Bryce’s Asteroid market in the wrong time period; rather than an eclectic flea market, it is now a Lifemarket full of booths selling spare organs and all the technology necessary for the discerning mad scientist to create Life. Upset, the Doctor creates a scene in order to attract the attention of the Lifemarket’s Auctioneer, but the Auctioneer, believing that the Doctor is a malfunctioning organic construct, has him taken away for repair. Somewhat taken with Peri, he shows her around the Lifemarket and tells her about his past; he was exiled from the planet Bryce for his “unethical” experiments, but he has a plan to return in style. Meanwhile, the Doctor frees himself in the Auctioneer’s laboratory, and while exploring his surroundings, he finds five strong young men with crew-cuts and shirts that say “Military Hardware.” Concluding that the Auctioneer intends to create an army of clones with which to conquer Bryce, the Doctor promptly begins meddling -- and when the Auctioneer presents the young men to their owner, Carrington, the young men go berserk and attack the Auctioneer’s bio-engineered guards, spreading panic and terror throughout the Lifemarket. The young men are torn apart in the ensuing fight, but as the Doctor starts to berate the Auctioneer for his vile scheme, Peri reveals that the young men were members of a popular boy band who nearly died in a plane crash; the Auctioneer simply built new bodies for them, hoping to make a name for himself and be accepted back into high society. The embarrassed Doctor returns to the TARDIS with Peri as the despondent Auctioneer decides to return to his fallback trade, topiary.
|The Southwell Park Mermaid by Kate Orman||7th Doctor, Chris|
The Doctor and Chris investigate reports of UFO sightings on a 21st-century Australian beach, but are diverted by reports of a mermaid sighting. The Doctor eventually tracks down the mermaid, and learns that she’s a human who has somehow been biologically adapted to survive in the sea. Chris spots the UFOs moving about the body of a drowned swimmer and takes a photograph of them, and the Doctor identifies them as flying horseshoe crabs. The crabs are the oldest living things on Earth, and some have evolved into sentient beings who are hiding in plain sight amongst the human race; in 200 years’ time, humanity will find evidence of their existence and name them as the unknown quantity, the X. The Doctor learns that many of the people at the beach have been drawn here by some powerful compulsion, and that they all come from an area seeded with a genetically engineered virus designed to destroy the plants grown by an illegal drug ring. At first, the Doctor suspects that the authorities and the X are in league and are experimenting upon the Australian citizens, but he soon realises that what’s happening here is in fact an accident. The X seeded human DNA with the “mermaid” genes long ago, for reasons of their own, and the human genetic engineering has accidentally activated the recessive genes too early. The Doctor realises that Councillor Nguyen, who has also been investigating the mermaid sightings, intends to capture her and conduct experiments on her in order to increase Australia’s understanding of genetic engineering and help to make it a world power; he tries to stop her, but the X get there first and rescue the mermaid. More people are entering the water, and the mermaid assures the Doctor that the X will take care of them, as they consider this accident their responsibility. The X return the Doctor to the shoreline and leave him there, understanding the nature of the problem but unable to do anything else to solve it.
|The Destroyers by Steve Lyons||4th Doctor, Leela|
A woman named Delthea acquires an alien time machine, with which she hopes to correct a grave injustice in her planet’s past. According to the legends, her people once lived in a golden age under the benevolent Protector, until two demons, jealous of the Protector’s achievements, arrived on the planet and killed him. Ever since then, the people have struggled to regain the secrets of their past, but have been held back by frightened leader who fear that they will attract the demons’ attention again if their ambition reaches too far. Delthea runs for office, promising to use the time machine to solve all their problems, but the security forces contact her and show her a secret videotape in which it appears that the Boggle-Eyed Demon, rather than taking joy out of striking down the Protector, actually did so reluctantly. Nevertheless, Delthea gains access to the time machine and travels back into the past, only to find that the inhabitants of the enclosed city have wired themselves into a virtual reality in which they dream of paradise while their bodies atrophy in the real world. The Protector, an artificial intelligence programmed to protect the city, is trying to keep its inhabitants alive as best it can, but is aware that they are not living real lives; unable to contravene its own programming, it has called for outside forces to shut it down. Shaken to realise that all she ever believed in was wrong, Delthea leaves the city just as the Doctor and Leela approach it, investigating the Protector’s distress call. Rather than stopping them as she had intended, Delthea points them towards the city. The Doctor soon realises what’s happening, and although he is reluctant to destroy the Protector, which has evolved into a sentient being, he does so when the Protector repeats its request. The people of the city are freed, and Delthea decides to remain in the past to help her people cope with the trauma of their virtual paradise’s destruction.
|The Reproductive Cycle by Matthew Griffiths||6th Doctor, Peri|
While the Doctor investigates a recent drain of artron energy, Peri explores the TARDIS and unexpectedly finds a baby in a nursery. She and the Doctor soon realise that they are perceiving the baby differently -- and when he realises that the baby is drawing on their perceptions to shape itself and its environment, the Doctor realises that it’s the child of Kamelion and the TARDIS. He and Peri try to raise the child, but within days it has matured into a sulky teenager. The Doctor also notes that it’s been feeding on the TARDIS’ artron energy, which is why the ship is stuck in transit. He and Peri come up with a plan to deal with the child, and when they confront it, the child lashes out angrily at them, claiming that it knows they don’t want it there with them. The Doctor apparently concludes that the child is picking up on Peri’s unconscious desires to leave the TARDIS, and thus materialises back in her dorm room in Baltimore. Peri apparently emerges from the TARDIS, ready to resume her new life... but in fact it was the child who emerged. Before dropping the child off, the Doctor removed all trace of himself from its mind, so that it was drawing only on Peri’s influence and thus became her. The real Peri will continue to travel with the Doctor, while her double takes her place back home, unaware that she is anything other than the real Peri.
Continuity: Somebody’s going to be in for a shock when the real Peri returns home after the events of Bad Therapy.
|Jonah by Todd Green||8th Doctor|
In a city park, the Doctor meets a lost young boy named Jonah who has run out of house in terror after suffering an intense nightmare. He helps Jonah find his way back home, and on the way, learns that Jonah lives with a Dr Richard Sterling, who took him in after his parents died; Jonah suffers from chronic granulomatous disorder, a rare disease that means his body is unable to manufacture hydrogen peroxide to fight infections. However, the Doctor notes that Jonah shows no outward signs of the disease, and when he delivers Jonah back to Dr Sterling, he is surprised by Sterling’s lack of immediate concern for the potentially fatal cuts on Jonah’s feet. Curious, the Doctor investigates further, and discovers that Sterling’s sister-in-law, Mona, has an older child named Brian -- who looks remarkably similar to Jonah and is obviously suffering from CGD himself. The Doctor breaks into Sterling’s house, finds his notes, and discovers that Jonah is Brian’s clone; Sterling created Jonah to be a perfect donor, and now intends to conduct a full bone marrow transplant, although this may not save Brian’s life and will definitely kill Jonah. Sterling catches the Doctor going through his notes, but as Sterling defends his actions, Jonah returns home, overhears their conversation and learns that Sterling has been lying to him. Jonah flees, but the Doctor follows him and offers to take him away to safety, taking him into the TARDIS and dematerialising before Sterling’s eyes. Mona and Brian are killed by a careless driver weeks later, and many years after that, Sterling, having lost his faith in medical science, rejects the opportunity to have a heart transplant that will extend his own life.
|Scribbles in Chalk by Gareth Wigmore||1st Doctor, Steven, Katarina|
Seeking help for the injured Steven, the Doctor materialises on an industrialised, dying world, but before he can seek help from its inhabitants he and his companions fall through a temporal rift just outside the TARDIS and are transported five centuries back in Time. There, they are given shelter by a friendly tribe, the Lakhotha, who help tend to Steven’s wounds. As Steven recovers, however, a tribeswoman informs the Doctor that her people are suffering from a strange affliction that is causing them to transform into plants and animals. Before the Doctor can investigate, the entire tribe succumbs to the change; even the Doctor, Steven and Katarina feel their bodies struggling to alter into new forms. As the Lakhotha transform into trees, birds, reptiles and all manner of plant and animal life, the Doctor and his companions retreat to the temporal rift -- but when they pass through in the opposite direction, all of their experiences on the other side of the rift are undone, and only the Doctor remembers what has happened. As he had originally intended, the Doctor visits the nearby complex of buildings to seek help, but finds that they are inhabited by a gestalt of automated machines called the Conduit. To the Doctor’s horror, the Conduit reveal that they seeded the planet with a biological agent that transformed its sentient inhabitants into non-sentient living creatures so they could process the planet’s resources for their masters without encountering resistance. The Conduit are used to being disassembled and reassembled as necessary, and see nothing wrong with what they have done, but the Doctor, sickened, vows to return one day after he’s found help for Steven and take the Conduit to justice for their monstrous crime.
|The End by Alexander Leithes||8th Doctor|
Towards the end of his eighth incarnation, the Doctor and his time-travelling friends of various races join together to found the Institute of Time, a place of learning devoted to the pursuit of abstract scientific truth. A chance remark causes the Doctor’s fellow researchers to wonder whether the Institute will still be standing at the end of the Universe, and, at their urging, the Doctor hops forward to see for himself. However, when he arrives in the future, he finds that all of his friends have apparently taken their own lives -- and that his first incarnation is waiting for him amidst the ruins to remind him of what he had forgotten. This far in the future, the Universe’s star systems have drifted so far apart that they can no longer be seen, let alone travelled between, and the inhabitants are slowly dying out from lack of stimulation. Eventually, the Universe will reach the point of maximum entropy, and the speed of light will alter, causing the creation of a whole new Universe with a new set of physical laws -- and the end of this Universe and everyone within it. There can be no travel beyond that point; the Universe is finite, and when the Doctor’s friends realised that the vistas of the next Universe were closed to them, they took their own lives in despair. But the Doctor’s first incarnation reminds him that while the Universe may be finite, it is still enormous enough for him to travel throughout time and space for his entire life and always find something new. The Doctor thus returns to the founding of the Institute, but does not tell his friends what he saw in its future.
|The Age of Ambition by Andrew Campbell||2nd Doctor, Jamie, Victoria|
5 June 1866: the TARDIS materialises near the manor of Sir Charles Westbrooke, a friend of Victoria’s father. Before Victoria began travelling with the Doctor, Westbrooke’s wife had been murdered by robbers, and he had begun experimenting in methods of resurrecting the dead. Now, two years later, his house appears deserted, and a fire has broken out inside. The Doctor and his companions find the terrified Westbrooke hiding in his house, and he reveals that his experiments succeeded too well; he has resurrected six corpses, including that of his late wife, but the dead have proven hostile and cannot be killed. Victoria is attacked by a dead man whose body mindlessly repeats the last words he spoke in life, and when Westbrooke is attacked by his late wife, Victoria realises from his reaction to the words she’s speaking that he in fact murdered her and blamed her death on robbers. He admits that he killed his wife when she threatened to leave him, and does not defend himself as she attacks him and snaps his neck. The Doctor ushers his companions to safety in Westbrooke’s laboratory, where he uses forbidden Time Lord knowledge to create a chemical weapon capable of turning human blood to acid and loads a tranquilliser gun with his concoction. Jamie freezes up when faced with a shambling corpse, but Victoria takes the gun and shoots the figure herself. The walking corpse dissolves from within, and Jamie, shamed, takes the gun back and disposes of the others. The Doctor ensures that the fire destroys the house and all evidence of Westbrooke’s experiments. Shaken by what she’s seen, Victoria realises that she no longer identifies with the scientific arrogance of her era, and comes to understand that she will never be able to return.
|Echo by Lance Parkin||Ace|
While exploring the TARDIS, Ace finds a zoo of extinct animals in dimensionally transcendental cages, and inadvertently releases a dodo which attacks her and flees into the corridors. The pursuit leads Ace to a gigantic wardrobe, where she finds a mirror that reflects a gaunt, vampire-like figure. The figure claims that echoes of Time rebound within the TARDIS and are transformed into new configurations, but before he can explain further, the dodo knocks over the mirror and the figure vanishes. Ace returns the dodo to the zoo, but later wonders what the figure meant; was he a sentient echo of Time, or was he saying that she was?
Continuity: the “ghost,” or echo, that Ace encounters was also encountered by Susan in The Exiles. We have yet to learn exactly what it is. The TARDIS zoo first appeared in the comic strip Changes.
|A Rose by Any Other Name by Jim Mortimore||7th Doctor, Ace|
A traveller and his young female companion find a world on which the people have degenerated into primitives incapable even of looking after themselves. The traveller then takes his companion to the distant future of her homeworld, to a deserted city containing briefcases full of suits of clothing; the traveller stops his companion from trying on a suit, claiming that they’re dangerous. He then picks up a primitive young man named Fern and takes him to the city, where he clothes Fern in one of the suits; he then travels back in time to the apocalypse that destroyed the city’s inhabitants, where his companion inadvertently causes a fatal car crash while trying to save people from the disaster. The traveller picks up an abandoned suit and arranges for it to be stored by the city’s automatic cleaning units; this is the same suit he will collect and give to Fern. The suits are “smart clothing,” programmed to regulate the wearer’s body temperature and basically take care of the trivialities of day-to-day life for their creators. Unfortunately, the suits took care of so much that humanity never had to strive for anything again and eventually lost the will to live. The traveller and his companion return to the ruins of the city fifty years after dropping off Fern, whose suit has guided him through decades of work finding, collecting and storing the other abandoned suits in the city. Unfortunately, the elderly Fern is so excited by the travellers’ return that he suffers a fatal heart attack. The travellers build a cairn for his body and his suit, unaware that the lonely suit wants to leave with them, and distribute the other suits to the first world they found. The suits and the primitives, who have no minds of their own, will care for each other now, creating a new symbiosis of two life forms.
|Source: Cameron Dixon|