Serial 7W/G - Hostage
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Guide O' Hey, This Is Supposed To Be The Duck Husband! Have You Learned NOTHING?!
D O C T O R W H O
Serial 7W/G - Hostage
Ace and Hex are disgusted when the Doctor brings the TARDIS to Snot Monster Garden rather than Forest of Delicious Fruit down to a badly-translated tour brochure. Covered in sticky slimy mucus, neither of them are in the mood when the Doctor suggests a quick holiday to the Death Well of Mindar, or the Eye Boiling Vat of Pain at Fringan or the Festival of the Twin Moons of Tuin.
The Time Lord’s protests that they need to end five hundred years of war in an incredibly devious and mischievous manner which will no doubt bring two separate civilizations to the brink of disaster fall upon deaf ears. Furious, the Doctor decides to handle things on his own as his companions sit down to watch the Transdimensional Sony Trinatron Total Image Screen’s adventures that never were with Doctors that cannot be. When the Doctor tries to interrupt, they turn up the volume and ignore him for the rest of the story.
Our completely uncanonical adventure begins with the Doctor and Kate Tollinger EXACTLY where we left them... in the TARDIS console room bitching about their adventures in the First World War Trenches. Kate finally suggests they get on with their ongoing story arc and try to pilot the TARDIS to the Seven Planets of the Althosian System to discover exactly why they disappeared one day.
The Doctor’s curiosity is peaked and asks Kate what the bloody hell she’s actually talking about? It seems at first it’s just the senile dementia that typifies this particular incarnation as he wanders around, distant and distracted and paying little attention to his surroundings, but this time it’s different. The Doctor insists he has never, ever heard of the Althosian system despite cheerfully describing its main produce in the previous story.
"I don’t believe this!" Kate snaps. "You’ve been going on about these dreary Seven Planets vanishing like Jimmy Hoffa for months! Every time you ask me where would I like to go, you ignore me and suggest the Seven Planets and discovering the mystery! And now you’re pretending you’ve never heard of it! WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO?!"
The Doctor refuses to tell Kate why until she’s older and in the meantime checks the TARDIS data banks and can find no mention of the Althosian System at all. Kate takes this as absolute proof the Time Lord has been winding her up all season and threatens to skewer her rotund godfather with the nearest harpoon.
As she searches for a suitable sharp tip, the Doctor decides to program the TARDIS to head for the Althosian System even although all the computers insist that the place doesn’t exist and he’ll end up in some tree sanctuary in Cardiff if he tries. Kate points out that this ramshackle piece of Gallifreyan crap is unreliable at the best of times, and they best not push their luck.
"Who’s idea was it to go to the Althosian System in the first place, hmmm?" the Doctor snaps.
"Indeed it was, Miss Tollinger. Mine. The very-nearly-one-thousand-year-old Time Lord with aeons of experience, wisdom, knowledge and show tunes! A bit of faith in my abilities, if you please!"
The Doctor sets the TARDIS into flight... and it immediately breaks down, all the lights switch off, leaving Kate and himself standing in the dark. The cat burglar sighs and notes how deeply and passionately she hates her companion.
Suddenly the TARDIS jolts back into flight and the lights return to reveal exactly HOW the Doctor has managed to repair this complete all-systems breakdown: he has repeatedly attacked the console with a twelve-pound lump hammer while screaming abuse at the "upside-down flashing stalactite electronic mushroom bastard".
The scanner shows they have arrived in a seemingly endless forest with no sign of civilization. It COULD be the giant unnamed planet on the outskirts of the Althosian System, forbidden to all life form... but could equally be that Welsh garden centre the TARDIS computer mentioned earlier. When Kate notes how similar their arrival point is to several other landings they’ve made, the Doctor snaps she should be damned grateful not to be in a quarry and storms out.
Kate follows the Doctor off into the woods and demands to know where he’s going. "The answer to that is the same as asking me where did I come from five minutes from now!" the Doctor retorts using his lethal philosophic martial arts. "I’ll know it when I get there..."
"What about me? Will I know it?"
"Hmm? Who are you again, my dear?"
"GOD DAMN IT!"
As the time travelers move off through the trees, the plot finally starts kicking off as two bald dwarves in camouflage overalls waddling through the trees and carrying a small coffin marked 'BIG EMMA'. Spotting the Doctor and Kate, they speak to each other in annoying high-pitched Monty Python pepperpot voices:
"Oooh, they’ve tracked us down, Mr. Swarf!"
"Indeed they have, Mr. Butler, but no surprises there! I’ll keep an eye on them, indeed, I shall!"
"We’re quite probably dead meat, Mr. Swarf!"
"Maybe, Mr. Butler, maybe... but think of the money!"
"What money would that be, Mr. Swarf?"
"Ah. Good point, Mr. Butler. Well made. Let us run for our lives."
Meanwhile, Kate points out that it should be easy to establish their surroundings as the Althosian System boasts twin suns – but the Doctor interrupts his humming of "Kids in America" to point out that if they ARE on the Giant Unnamed Planet, then its incredibly slow orbit will mean they only face one sun every fifty five hours. Kate accuses the Doctor of making this up, but he responds by humming very loudly and striding off through the undergrowth once more.
They then spot a futuristic helicopter gunship flying through the sky above them, giving yet another possibility that there in the middle of the Vietnam War. But it is, in fact, a Justice Police Cruiser known as the Dragon-Shagger!
The Dragon-Shagger is crewed by a team of ruthless android: Johnny 5, Mark Seven and Kryten 2X4B-523P! All the more impressive mechanical men of death you can no doubt think of were apparently busy defragging, polishing their heads or fighting Dustbin Wars to get involved in this case, but what this pathetic bunch of pacifists, celebrities and intellects lack in just about every quality necessary for a job like this they more than make up for in their leader:
James "Spike" Thompson.
Yes, the only man to survive the Great Burn that brought human civilization back to the stone age! The military genius who ended the Telepath War via cunning use of tinfoil helmets! The simple quartermaster sergeant who single-handedly stopped the carnage at Klendathu with his devastating use of sarcasm, irony and puns! The same Spike Thompson who with the help of the Leibowitzan Order prevented all out nuclear conflict between the Asian Coalition and the Atlantic Confederacy in 3781! He also did something disgusting at a school disco right in front of the headmaster – no one bar Steven Moffat actually knows what it is, and he ain’t telling.
Yeah, basically this guy is cool and Butler and Swarfe are screwed.
Spike and his android cohorts parachute out of the Dragon-Shagger, ignoring the flight computer’s hysterical warnings that they are all pawns of cosmic forces beyond understanding, and that death, destruction and general Armageddon is nigh. But flight computers often tell people this when they get bored – listen to SatNav long enough and you’ll know what I mean.
However, being the maverick he is, Spike doesn’t land with the androids who immediately start having panic attacks and, in Kryten’s case, a full blown hysterical fit. Within two minutes cabin fever has set in and the androids have drawn their weapons and accusing each other of being alien spies! Finally, Johnny 5 points out that they all know the secret password – "The particularly heavy air tonight suggests that a thunderstorm is imminent, which is unfortunate as a grizzly bear has escaped from the zoo and is now mauling my leg." – and therefore none of them are evil shape-shifting parasites.
Mark Seven points out that Spike has gone off on his own, so if they see him again they will have to kill him lest he turn out to be one of those very same evil shape-shifting parasites in disguise. Kryten suggests they just ask for the password, but since all three mechanicals have just shouted the secret code at the top of their synthetic voices, even THAT security measure is now pointless.
The androids start to panic again as they realize someone else is in the forest with them... but they don’t realize it’s the Doctor and Kate and they are, therefore, completely safe. Nevertheless the paranoid androids are soon shooting everything and anything that moves in fear of their artificial lives!
In another clearing, Butler and Swarfe watch this with infantile amusement and continue on to their final destination: the Block Castle, a mighty edifice built entirely out of bits of Lego. But first they have to leave the forest, cross a pond and walk up a muddy hill! The awesomeness of this task intimidates the duo before they smack their foreheads and remember they’re alien shape-shifters!
Butler and Swarfe giggle like creepy schoolgirls. Knowing that the androids and the Doctor and Kate are seemingly on their tale, the dwarves decide it is time for a bit of fun.
"And what is it we like?" asks Swarfe.
"A bit of fun," replies Butler. "I just told you!"
"So you did, Mr. Butler, so you did. Time for a hunt!"
Meanwhile, Kate is in the middle of pointing out that if they ARE in the Althosian System it might not be a good idea to hang around since they know the entire cluster is about to mysteriously and completely disappear, when the Doctor notices the lifeless body of Spike dangling from a nearby tree.
The Doctor sends Kate up the tree to use her deft lock-picking skills to release Spike from his parachute harness, but Kate is sick and tired of this and settles for just cutting the soldier loose and letting him fall to the ground very, very hard.
"Is he dead?" asks Kate.
"We could have a long discussion about the nature of life, and what distinguishes the living from the dead..."
"Yes. Yes we could. Or you could just answer the question realistically?"
"Well, again, what is the nature of reality?" asks the Doctor, leaning on his cane. "If we look at what Augustine said on the subject..."
Finally, Spike takes pity on the audience and snaps awake, kung fu kicking the pair to the ground in the mistaken assumption that the Doctor and Kate are Butler and Swarfe in disguise. Which, what with their ability to disguise as anything, it’s kind of reasonable of Spike to make that mistake.
The Doctor whacks Spike over the head with his cane and lets Kate run off into the jungle, since she is much suited to this sort of episodic padding than he is. She’s better at running like hell than he is, too. But before Spike can shoot him through the head, the rotund Time Lord vanishes into thin air, so Spike is forced to chase Kate instead.
Unfortunately, they run straight into the rest of Spike’s team and the now-twitching-dangerously androids immediately open fire on them. Luckily, they are shaking so much the shots go wild and Spike and Kate are forced to flee through the foliage.
Still believing that Kate is one of the shapeshifters, Spike demands that she take him to Pandora’s Box, which Kate initially assumes to be crude and vulgar slang and the Spike The Cool Person is actually trying to chat her up. Soon they are standing around, hurling insults at each other before slapping each other in the face until finally they fall into a convenient river and are washed away towards a dim CG-paintbox glow in the distance...
Meanwhile, Butler is wandering through the bushes, belching, farting and spitting and not really giving off the required sinister vibes that every even-half-decent Doctor Who villain possesses. For crying out loud, even the bleeding Zarbi seemed hard compared to this bloke!
So Butler finally does something evil and digitally morphs into a giant, horny, hairy minotaur-type bastard. Which... works.
In the next clearing the androids have gone bat-shit crazy in full-on mechanoid cabin fever and decided to "Agent Orange" their way out of their impossible mess by setting fire to every damn thing they see.
Finally, they run out of ammunition and Butler bursts out of some singed bushes, jumps up and down on Johnny 5 until he is nothing but tinfoil, points to Kryten and Mark Seven and shrieks:
"I’m here already! You’re next! YOU’RE NEXT!!!"
On the Dragon-Shagger up above, however, the Doctor pops back into existence, having fallen through a conveniently placed hole in time and spent the intervening time in a hellish netherworld, where despair is an almost tangible force, pig-like monsters bet on angry marmosets and blue-skinned savages ride pterodactyls searching endlessly for a toy Batmobile circa 1989.
Of course, we don’t actually get to WITNESS any of this, just the Doctor mopping his brow and saying, "Goodness gracious me, that was a close thing, yes!" and expositing like crazy.
The Doctor quickly uses his amazing powers of deduction to work out where he is, but these self same powers totally desert him when he finds the Dragon-Shagger flight computer is counting down to zero, with only 74 minutes left on the clock. The computer is monitoring the events in the forests below, and if it doesn’t receive good news enough to abort the countdown, who knows what will happen?!?
I, of course, know exactly what will occur when the timer runs out, but I’ve listened to the whole story and suffered through the novel it was based on. I EARNED my foresight, you bastards! Why the hell should you benefit from my genius, huh?
Even as the Doctor puts two and two together to find out what the Dragon-Shagger is going to do, he trips over his own feet and falls through ANOTHER hole in time itself, so that’s HIM out of the way for the rest of the episode, as time continues to tick away.
Meanwhile, Spike and Kate are washed up in barren marshlands. They don’t notice the water of the river turn red, and even the birds are frozen in mid-flight over the contaminated area. Which is the sort of thing most people would notice, especially when they’re trained space adventurers facing thrilling unknown dangers as they fight a frontier-men’s path through a jungle of discovery! This is totally stupid!
With the cliffhanger out of the way, Spike finally bothers to explain the plot of the previous episode, telling Kate that Butler and Swarfe, THE shape-shifting criminals of Olde Nicea Town, have come into possession of Pandora’s Box and have fled to this distant planet to hide out. When Kate asks what exactly Pandora’s Box actually IS, Spike admits he never did get round to asking that question, and just generally assumed they had kidnapped some princess and would hold her to ransom in a suitable ancient and gothic castle.
However, the face Kate has singularly failed to turn into a hideous hellbeast and cut his head off, and her complete lack of knowledge about the current political situation in the Althosian System not to mention her mighty fine ass have convinced Spike that she’s not actually Butler or Swarfe in a cunning disguise. He suggests they stick together, pool their resources and tries to lay on the charm.
No sooner has Kate made it abundantly clear that she is quite capable of looking after herself after her many years of cat burglary and Swiss finishing schools, she immediately gets caught in a bog of quicksand and begins to sink. After bitterly grouching about the irony of it all, Kate settles for screaming "Help me! Help!" like all the other companions before her. Hah, I knew she was nothing special.
As she sinks deeper into the goo, a strange figure vaguely resembling a garden gnome appears and offers help. Kate retorts she’s actually quite happy and is doing this for relaxation, but the world of sarcasm is a closed book to this newcomer who points out that she’ll drown in a few minutes. Finally, Kate swallows her pride and asks for help – but the diminutive being in its tent-like outfit waits until she’s gone under a second time before doing anything.
The diminutive helmeted figure asks Kate what the hell she’s doing here, despite her protests that she doesn’t let ANY Tom, Dick or Harry save her life and she has her own questions. Her rescuer tells her to remember the Empire That Never Ended Because It Never Began In The First Place, then vanishes in that annoying manner people do the second you take your eyes off them.
Immensely annoyed at someone else vanishing in mid conversation with her, Kate takes out her frustrations on Spike when he finally turns up wondering why she’s covered in mud, talking to mid air and generally looking insane. When he remarks he thinks she’s crazy about him, things just escalate from thereon in.
Interspersed with this are VITAL scenes of Kryten and Mark Seven being chased by spiders the size of Godzilla and weird red smoke bursting out of the ground and killing everything in their path. Finally Butler rips Mark Seven in half, only to get caught in the red fog and turn to stone. This, naturally, does wonders for Kryten’s neuroses and he completely freaks out and runs off into the jungle clucking as the smoke continues to spread and engulf the landscape.
At that moment in a barren plain, Swarfe is taking a leak on the ruins of Skylab. Exactly how the hell that particular symbol of a lost civilization from the youth of the cosmos got to be on this anonymous planet is never adequately explained... unless this IS that Cardiff forest and everyone else was lying?
Realizing that Butler is dead, Swarfe wails unconvincingly for about three point six seconds before turning into a large unconvincing CGI vulture and gets into quite a flap. So to speak. Heh. He immediately sets off to avenge his brother/comrade/boyfriend/comic-relief-sidekick’s death...
...which, of course, is just when Spike and Kate walk up the hill. Kate is distracted by the little dome-headed midget who asks about the Doctor (or "the Time Lord" as he says in a not-at-all-ominous-and-sinister manner) and why he’s done bugger all in this episode.
As they chat, Swarfe arrives and is something not dissimilar to a Tyrannosaurus-Rex with feathers, wings, a bird’s head and all the feeble improbable believability of an old Star Trek Monster (oh yeah, Trekkies, I *SO* went there) and beats the living shit out of Spike, all the while screaming things like "No unfinished business! NOTHING IN THE SEVEN WORLDS CAN STOP US NOW!"
Leaving Spike for dead, it charges straight for Kate Tollinger, who runs for her life into the ruins of Skylab as Swarfe turns decidedly Lovecraftian and spews worm-like tendrils following her...
As you can imagine, this works REALLY well on audio.
Kate flees deeper into the Skylab and tries to hide in a closet, but the bloody door won’t open as the tentacles slide along the walls towards her. She tries to fend off Swarfe-Cthulu with a chair, which luckily happens to be the one thing that the unstoppable shape-shifting killing machine fears. It blubbers and runs away, as does Kate, leaving Spike for dead mainly because he irritates her so much.
"Check to you, but not mate! Not yet anyway!" Kate mutters, working on it so by the time she retells this situation to the Doctor, it will be an incredibly appropriate and memorable one-liner.
The Doctor, returning briefly the central character of the plot, has fallen through another time hole and reappears in the jungle. This time he has just escaped Whitechapel, Jack the Ripper and his pals in the Fellowship of Evil Worship To Fill The Void In Their Lives, in a story that quite logically was much more interesting, exciting, socially relevant and entertaining than this Predator rip-off.
Speaking of which, it is at this point he bumps into Kryten, who is now so completely terrified even the overweight old man in an off-the-peg morning suit seems like some horrific beast from the deepest pits of hell. Luckily, the sanitation droid is completely out of ammo or else the Doctor would be dead meat and we’d meet the Ian Richardson Doctor four seasons early!
As the duo generally exchange pleasantries and sum up the story so far for those lucky, lucky bastards who missed the first two episodes, they completely miss a strange distortion move from a tree to some surrounding foliage in a scene hard enough to describe on television, but in a radio play?! IT’S BLOODY INVISIBLE! NO ONE KNOWS IT’S THERE!
I tell you, if I hadn’t read the book I’d be completely lost at this point. Instead, I am only worryingly-close-to-being lost.
The Doctor, meanwhile, finds Kryten completely unable to explain why the Dragon-Shagger is ticking to zero, since none of the crew knew about it in the first place. Kryten knows that Butler and Swarfe came here to head for an ancient castle, which just so happens to resemble the sort of forgotten heritage trust job you might find in Cardiff, so the whole question of where the hell this is happening is raised again DESPITE all the casual conversation about the Althosian System and the Dustbin Wars of the 25th century... dear god, this story needs a script editor. My kingdom for a script editor!
The duo then find a disturbing pile of skinned animals heaped up behind a curtain of moss, and while they debate over whether or not this counts as more worrying than the Red Fog Of Instant Death, the Invisible Monster Of Less Instant Death lets out a low trilling noise and starts to lurch towards them with astounding speed and simian-like dexterity on spurred prehensile feet and three-fingered claws.
I’m summarizing from the novel, obviously.
After standing around for a moment watching the silent, fluid movement of their mottled-outlined attacker behind the broad ferns, Kryten suggests they ambulate as fast as the local gravity will allow them, but the Doctor is already waddling for his life into the ground-fog of the jungle. At the base of a huge mahogany tree, near a river, a giant dundukkety-grey-with-black-spots jellyfish bursts out of the water, only to crash into the Invisible Monster of Less Instant Death and they both explode in gore, leaving the Doctor and Kryten laughing hysterically in shock at their incredibly random escape.
Just then, the Doctor notices the mahogany tree has shattered to reveal an artificial inorganic trunk filled with wires and circuits. What’s more, it is now obvious that both giant killing machines were exactly that: machines! The Doctor concludes that all the forest is a false rubber-formed fake... yet concedes this kind of thing DOES turn up in Cardiff from time to time, so there’s STILL no decision over whether this is Earth or a nameless alien planet.
Finally they notice the sudden eerie silence falling over the place, and whether it’s Swansea or Saturn, they are still in immensely deep shit and only thirty minutes left before the Dragon-Shagger fulfills its as-yet-ominously-unspecified plot function.
The Doctor senses the deadness paralyzing the world, can feel the
chaos and destruction unfolding on the distant worlds of the Althosian system, and could murder a decent steak and kidney pie. However, the Red Fog of Instant Death is closing in, so they must hurry.
Swarfe meanwhile returns to his annoying dwarf shape and hurries towards the Dark Castle of Memories which like all haunted places is covered in dust and cobwebs yet has burning torches to provided illumination and mood lighting. After a couple of near-death experiences in the quicksand that occurred mainly for comic relief, Swarfe eventually gets through the spooky deserted courtyard to the front door and uses the spare key to get inside.
He then remembers he left 'BIG EMMA' behind in the quicksand, swears loudly and runs out to pick it up again, padding out the remainder of the episode.
The plot fleetingly returns to Kate Tollinger as she happens to be wandering around aimlessly when she bumps into the Doctor and Kryten and tries to beat the Time Lord up for abandoning her to the androids of death! The Doctor tells his companion to build a bridge and get it over it there is much more at stake than just an inconvenient narrative sub-plot-line, and worry more about the fact the TARDIS is probably lost in the Red Fog of Instant Death!
Kryten instead suggests they should really be worrying about the fact that Butler and Swarfe have been hired by person or persons unknown to steal the most powerful and devastating thermonuclear device ever created – a doomsday weapon known as 'BIG EMMA'.
"It’s destructive capacity is monumental! It’s capable of destroying the entire solar system!" Kryten adds, just in case we don’t get it but to make absolutely sure, the Doctor and Kate chat at length that maybe... just maybe... they might have found out the reason WHY the Seven Planets vanished so abruptly.
Having finally reclaimed 'BIG EMMA', Swarfe returns to the haunted castle and decides to pass his time throwing coins down a wishing well. "Excellent," the shapechanger vogues. "Soon now..."
With no real alternative, the Doctor, Kate and Kryten flee the encroaching red fog and head for the castle as the Time Lord shouts useless and contradictory things like "Don’t believe what you can’t see!", "Remember the Alamo!" and "I swear I’m a compulsive liar!"
As the Red Fog of Instant Death draws closer, the Doctor falls through a hole in time and this time, Kate falls with him and they plunge into a strange netherworld outside the physical universe. So cut off are they from all sorts of reality, the Doctor is able to hold his attention span for more than three seconds at any one time and is actually able to tell Kate something USEFUL for once.
"As I’ve traveled the universe, I’ve come across the myths of many planets. They all share certain elements in common. One of those elements is the story of an all-powerful race who tried to conquer and destroy Creation. A race banished from this universe by a friend of a friend of mine. The myths of Gallifrey talk about nameless horrors infesting our universe which were only defeated through the might of the Time Lords. I thought it was a pile of bullshit but, of course, that would be far too easy. Now the Elder Gods are once again preparing an attack on our universe, not just the crazed fanatics who follow HP Lovecraft, but legions of hideous, half-glimpsed nightmare creatures!"
"Does it have a name?" asks Kate, not terribly interested.
"A word used by frightened children to describe nameless, formless horrors which await you in the fog, or around the next corner. But that's hard to pronounce with only one larynx, so we’ll just call them the Seprioth instead. It means 'donkey molestor', which is as good as a name for the Cthulu Mythos as any. That’s why this planet is covered with holes in time, it’s actually the last battleground between the Seprioth and the Time Lords in a massive Temporal Difference of Opinion. Forget that wussy crap like with the Halldrons and the Eternals, this was the REAL stuff! Armies of warriors fighting for millennia against hideous monster from another reality all across the cosmos in an apocalyptic conflict that left no survivors! None at all! And YOU and I, my dear Kate, must destroy these holes of time to prevent them returning to our own universe!"
"You mean, do the thing that the Time Lords couldn’t?"
"Without getting us killed?"
"I thought you'd like that bit of the plan."
Kate is far from confident that they two can defeat the masters of evil who took on a long and bloody war with the higher forces of creation and were only forced into a netherworld because it made an interesting diversion. In fact, she’d go far as to say the chances of them stopping those who once ruled the Universe before the dawn of history are stupendously low and they’d be a lot more productive just killing themselves now.
It seems she is proved right when a colossal spider-like creature with a sea shell for a body, bat-like wings and lots of black hairy worm-like tentacles appears out of the void and turns its single deep-sunken glowing red eye towards the Doctor and Kate. "We are returning to your paltry universe and nothing can stop us now, abandon all hope while you still have hope to abandon..."
It then snatches the duo up in lobster claws and throws them out of the netherworld and the Doctor and Kate reappear next to Kryten outside the castle, the walls of which the Doctor notices are decorated with the posters of Figure-of-Eight Symbol of Rassilon in a very showy and postmodern fashion. The Red Fog of Instant Death continues to close in around the castle but Swarfe is insanely confident that closing the front door will be more than enough to protect them all.
So Swarfe laughs evilly and ties the Doctor, Kryten and Kate up with thick metallic space rope while saying such cliched crap like, "We meet again. And you are now here to witness my greatest triumph!" as he reveals his evil plan using BIG EMMA – he has removed the trigger mechanism and now intends to drop it down the wishing well. After all, if a few coins can bring you luck, imagine what the ultimate doomsday weapon could bring?!
As ominous storm clouds build up through the Red Fog of Instant Death, the mysterious gnome-like being Part Two reappears and introduces himself as Vorton, jilted ex-lover of Kopyion Liall a Mahajetsu, the legendary Time Lord general who led the war against the cosmic evil hereafter referred to as the ‘Seprioth’.
He has been waiting for his former boyfriend to return for millions of years, but now he fears that he has made a grievous mistake by playing so hard to get. "I created this whole planet, using Gallifreyan technology to monitor the Sperioth. I knew they would return; maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not in a million but soon, and then Kopyion would turn up to guard it! I have been waiting for centuries. I’m not bitter. I’m not obsessed. I have an incredibly full social life. When I eat alone, I am a valued and honored guest at the table. I am beautiful and I’m ready for others to see how attractive I really am. I’m willing to be happy and successful. I am now willing for all relationships to WORK! I’m OK! Are you OK! I’m fine! WE’RE ALL FINE!"
Eventually, the Doctor is able to decipher Vorton’s babbling to reveal that the holes in time on this world were ripped open by the first experiments of the Time Lords; it was Rassilon himself who released the Monsters on the Universe, annihilating billions and though the Time Lords eventually fought them back, but, knowing that the war was their fault, Rassilon decided to deny that the holocaust ever happened. Thus only conspiracy freaks or Ancient Gallifreyan demigods know the truth.
So exactly how the DOCTOR knows about it is best left to the retcons of Mark Plate and his pro-Loomist Otherstide fanatics.
The trio realize that Swarfe’s deranged get-rich-quick scheme will rip a new hole into the netherworld and allow the Seprioth to invade and run straight to the courtyard to stop the Gateway to the Abyss opening. Unfortunately, Swarfe is so bored he’s taken to sitting by the doorway with a loaded gun on the off-chance anyone should try to stop him, and blows Kryten to smithereens the instant the trio turn up.
The Doctor tries to explain to Swarfe that if he opens up the well of souls and releases the main inspiration for the Cthulu mythos from their imprisonment then darkness will fall over the whole of creation, the Seprioth will once more expand across the universe.
"And this is my problem HOW, again?" asks the dwarf.
The ground shakes and shrieks of things neither flesh nor fish nor fowl echo throughout the castle as the Red Fog of Instant Death mingled with Lightning Storms of Dramatic Shorthand. This is part of the infernal corruption seeping out from the netherworlds, just in case you thought it was a completely random plot development.
All looks lost when Spike suddenly drops into the courtyard and shouts, "Judgement Day – Court Dismissed!" and shoots BIG EMMA with his shotgun, which in turn explodes and demolishes most of the castle, killing Swarfe and dispelling the Red Fog of Instant Death in a thematically-appropriate dues ex machina.
Kate is rather annoyed that a bomb capable of taking out whole solar systems can barely collapse a castle, but Vorton explains that the force of the explosion has been directed through the hole in time, causing a holocaust in the netherworld and putting paid to the plans of the Seprioth - for THIS four-part story, at any roads, as this was only a skirmish in the never ending Temporal Difference of Opinion that no one counts as canonical, not even Rassilon himself.
"I will have to prove that even alone, I, Kopyion Liall a Mahajetsu’s bit on the side, am prepared to stand up to them, whatever the cost!!" Vorton rants. "You remember the Dragon-Shagger and its seemingly pointless countdown? If the crew failed to return before it reaches zero, it was been programmed to self-destruct, and to obliterate the entire solar system as it does so! It seems that Kryten miss-programmed the flight computer BIG time. Several million will die, but what are a few million in the total history of the universe? Especially when they’re all Leonard-Cohen-loving Snakes-and-Ladders-playing freaks like they are in around these here parts?"
The Doctor is frankly bored with all this and heads off back towards the TARDIS in what little time is left and Kate and Spike are forced to run after him, leaving Vorton to scream "I’m somebody! I blow up solar systems! Ich bin ein somebody! Ich bin ein contender! Ich bin ein goddamn CONTENDER!!!" over and over again like a total nutter as time continues to run out.
"You can’t allow this to happen!" Kate protests.
"Can’t?! Don’t tell ME what I can allow, Miss Tollinger! Besides, what would be the point of disarming the bomb and allowing the Seprioth to slaughter the whole of creation? Hmm? Did you think of that, huh? How are you going to be a successful cat burglar with no one left to burgle? Hmm?! Honestly, young lady, use that brain of yours."
"Don’t 'Doctor' me, ducky! Do you even KNOW what the Seven Planets are like? There’s a paranoid government who used up all their resources on a massive and completely unnecessary military buildup which destroyed the social order as starving people were left without essential services. There are riots on the streets, cities being torn apart and all their leaders did was spew out more propaganda. Humans are animals, doomed to the pits. Did you ever think that maybe the kindest thing to do to a solar system engulfed in chaos and panic and anarchy was put it out of its considerable misery, hmmm?"
The Doctor unlocks the TARDIS door and ushers her inside. "Besides, what the hell did you think was going to happen when we visit a star system historically known to be reduced to ashes? There's nothing we can do. We’re part of history. We can’t change it. No need to take it out on ME, is it? It was YOUR idea that we visited this planet, anyway..."
The sound of Kate screaming in frustration as the TARDIS takes off, leaving Spike trapped and the audience wondering whether or not this was actually Cardiff as the Dragon-Shagger starts to talk to its self in a ridiculous Russian accent:
"ATTENTION, ATTENTION, THIS SOLAR SYSTEM WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN TWENTY SECONDS. NINETEEN. EIGHTEEN. SIXTEEN. FIFTEEN. FOURTEEN. THIRTEEN. TWELVE. ELEVEN... AND A HALF. NINE. EIGHT. KEEP COUNTING TO RETAIN YOUR INTEREST. FIVE. FOUR. NOT LONG NOW. TWO. ONE..."
Mmm. Probably WASN’T Cardiff...