Across the Darkened City was the second story in The First Doctor: Volume Two.
On the planet Shade, the Chaons, an invading race of strange, amorphous creatures that ravenously absorb energy, have reduced the city there to a desolate ruin. Separated from the First Doctor and Vicki, Steven has to join forces with an unexpected ally to find his way back to the TARDIS. Ahead, lies a nightmare journey through the dark - a test of endurance and trust.
Journey into Night (1)
Steven is among a group of prisoners held captive by the Daleks, separated from the Doctor and Vicki on Entropica after a failed attack. Despite Steven's protest, one woman is killed for being too weak to work. The rest are scanned prior to robotisation. A prisoner revolt instigated by Steven and Mette sends the ship crashing on the planet Shade. One Dalek is damaged and so the other two destroy it because of its "deformity". One of them then proceeds to exterminate all of the prisoners, but is itself destroyed by the last Dalek, Genetic Variant Two-One-Zero, before it can kill Steven. Steven and Two-One-Zero are the only survivors and their only hope of escaping the planet is a transmat left by the Daleks on a previous invasion. Two-One-Zero knows the codes which can return him to Skaro, but with his drive units disabled in the crash, he needs Steven's help to traverse the ruins of the dark, vast city, which is swarming with vicious Chaons.
Steven loads Two-One-Zero onto a cart which he can pull, but the damage wrought by the Dalek and Chaon invasions has left many roads impassable. They travel through a warehouse occupied by a Chaon to bypass one obstacle. At another, it begins to rain. A bolt of lightning strikes Two-One-Zero, leaving him immobile and unresponsive. Steven knows that without him, he will be trapped on the planet.
The Chaons (2)
Two-One-Zero revives, using the charge from the lightning to repair some of his systems. As they continue into a street of buildings full of Chaons, Two-One-Zero instructs Steven to turn off his torch, ostensibly to save its charge or not to attract Chaons. However, Steven is able to make out in the darkness a mass grave of Shade's inhabitants slaughtered by the Daleks. He realises this is the real reason he was ordered to turn the torch off. Disgusted and furious, Steven threatens to destroy Two-One-Zero with a magnobomb he salvaged from the ship, but Two-One-Zero returns a warning shot with his gunstick. He claims he is "better" than other Daleks, and Steven calms himself down. As Chaons catch up with them, Two-One-Zero abandons his casing, which the Chaons devour. Steven carries the mutant and its translator device in a tarpaulin across a body of water and into the transmat station.
Without life support, Two-One-Zero is dying. He pleads to be sent back to Skaro, instructing Steven how to work the dais. Steven demands Two-One-Zero stick by the terms of their deal and give him the code for Entropica first. When a Chaon attacks, Steven places the mutant into a disused Dalek casing left in the station. It fights off the Chaon. Then he betrays Steven. Steven seeks cover behind the controls, knowing the Dalek wouldn't dare risk firing on them, and demands the code for Entropica. Two-One-Zero gives the code as 02943764 and Steven actives the control before he is fired upon, sending the Dalek home. As more Chaons arrive, Steven receives contact from the Doctor, who gives him the code for Entropica. Steven notes it is different from the one the Dalek gave him. Quickly inputting the correct code before the Chaons devour him, Steven returns to Entropica and arrives at the TARDIS where he is reunited with the Doctor and Vicki, his real friends.
Despite almost being destroyed for returning to Skaro in a different casing, making him difficult to identify, Two-One-Zero is the only surviving Genetic Variant. As such, he is declared the superior Dalek and is placed in the emergency container. He then declares himself Dalek Emperor and, intrigued by Steven's behaviour, orders that the Daleks' prime directive is to discover the Human Factor so that their enemies can one day be crushed and the universe conquered.
- The Daleks subjugated Shade and sent its humanoid population to work in another galaxy, but "withdrew to a place of strategic superiority" when the Chaons invaded.
- This is the second entry in The Companion Chronicles to feature the Daleks after Fear of the Daleks.
- Producer Ian Atkins originally considered an idea for a Dalek story in The Second Doctor: Volume One but could not find a place for it in the box set while it focused on an arc about Jamie McCrimmon. Later, Atkins worked with Peter Purves on a Short Trips instalment and considered revisiting the idea with Steven instead of Jamie. (VOR 100)
- Writer David Bartlett claimed the psychological dynamic between Steven and the Dalek was inspired by the writing style of David Whitaker. The external threat of the Chaons was inspired more by the style of Terry Nation. (BFX: Across the Darkened City) He considered that the heavier Whitaker influence meant that the story did not feel entirely like one from the Hartnell era, but felt this approach still worked as "a sort of prelude to what was to come later." (VOR 100)
- Bartlett watched the last episode of The Chase and the entirety of The Time Meddler to get a feel for Steven's early characterisation. He also listened to a number of early Dalek story soundtrack CDs to get a sense of what kind of dialogue worked for the Daleks and what did not. (VOR 100)
- According to Atkins, Peter Purves was skeptical of the story upon hearing the initial idea but was ultimately won over by the script. (VOR 100) Purves opined that there was scope for another story detailing the events prior to Steven's capture by the Daleks. (BFX: Across the Darkened City)
- Sound designer and composer Robert Harvey compared the Chaons to the Thing and Rathtars from Star Wars. (BFX: Across the Darkened City)
- This is one of the few stories to feature a post-credits epilogue. The scene in which Two-One-Zero becomes the Emperor plays after the closing theme for part two has ended.
- This story was told from Steven's perspective.
- Vicki is frequently mentioned throughout the story, as she is currently travelling with the Doctor, but she does not actually appear.
- Bartlett's brief for the story stipulated that it be "an early Dalek story set at the time when the Daleks were only just beginning space exploration." (VOR 100) This era of their history was explored in detail in the 1960s comic series, although the Emperor had already proclaimed himself such by that point.
- The Daleks scan their prisoners to see if they would make suitable Robomen. (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth)
- Two-One-Zero becomes the Dalek Emperor and decrees the Daleks must research the Human Factor. (TV: The Evil of the Daleks)
- The Dalek Emperor is a genetically advanced Dalek. (PROSE: The Evil of the Daleks)
- The Twelfth Doctor much later entered an uneasy alliance a Dalek which claimed its nature had been modified. (GAME: The Doctor and the Dalek)
- The timeline becomes distorted as the Doctor prompts Steven into the TARDIS. (AUDIO: Fields of Terror, The Bonfires of the Vanities) The Time Lords fix the distortion, caused by the Daleks from the Time War as they invade the First Doctor's timeline. (AUDIO: Volume Two trailer)