The Council of Eight were an organisation created to fill the gap when the Time Lords were wiped out.
Utilising a form of time corridor technology, the Council were able to despatch engineered agents in order to ensure predicted history was carried out. The corridors were unstable; the agents would throw anyone or anything unimportant to history into the corridor's entrance to be torn apart by the time winds. The Council had the technology to engineer deaths for people. Their victims included Sarah Jane Smith, Ace and Sam Jones. Their Time Station, anchored in the Time Vortex, had a treasure trove of technology in the Schrodinger Cells, specialised facilities for holding prisoners that removed them from time and drew tremendous amounts of energy out of the unfulfilled potential futures of the people within. This, however, had a key flaw: opening a Schrodinger Cell had dire consequences; all potential futures collapsed as the prisoner shifted back to normal time, therefore shutting off the energy siphoned off by the Cell. The Council relied on the power from the Schrodinger Cells to keep them stabilised in the Time Vortex, as they didn't have access to anything like the Eye of Harmony, and all missions using the time corridors was a tremendous drain on their resources. (PROSE: Sometime Never...)
After the destruction of Gallifrey, the Council of Eight created their fortress in the heart of the Time Vortex so that they could become the new Lords of Time. As the Council gained power by successfully prophesying future events, they were naturally inclined to remove all free will in the universe and create one where all actions could be accurately predicted by the Council, therefore making them invincible. To this end, they convinced Sabbath that parallel timelines were causing damage to the "prime" reality and that by destroying them he would be able to steer humanity to the path of the masters of the Universe.
The Council's methods involved the despatching of their engineered Time Agents to events where they would sometimes induce and create a literal form of the butterfly effect to affect local time like they did when one agent released a butterfly in Earth's atmosphere which sank the Spanish Armada. They were more direct than the Time Lords, and their policy of Non-interference. (PROSE: Sometime Never...)
The Council tried to expel many entities from the Vortex, such as the Time Wraiths (PROSE: The Slow Empire) and the Clock People. The Council went to war with the Clock People for control of the time vortex. They manipulated the Eighth Doctor into destroying their opponents, leaving them in complete control of the vortex. (PROSE: Anachrophobia)
They considered the Doctor to be an unpredictable factor, as he was a 'Rogue Element' who defied cause and effect and could thus disrupt their predictions, prompting the Council to seek his destruction. To weaken him, they began taking some of his old companions out of history and locking them into Schrodinger Cells in their Time Station- such as Jo Grant- or outright killing them, manipulating history so that timelines where Mel died on Heritage (PROSE: Heritage) or Harry Sullivan was killed after he turned into a werewolf (PROSE: Wolfsbane) or Sarah Jane Smith died while investigating a story in Hong Kong (PROSE: Bullet Time) became more likely.
Leading the Doctor to a trap in the Time Station, the Council learned that Octan, the leader of the Council, had begun preparing a massive ontological paradox, intending for Sabbath to kill him so the rest could ascend to omnipotence; the prediction of Octan's death would serve as the power supply for the weapon that would destroy Earth's sun before life could evolve, the prediction that human history would end giving the Council the power to rise up and become the new Lords of Time. However, the Doctor discovered their plans and tricked Octan into revealing his plans and their manipulation of Sabbath, confirming who Octan had predicted that Sabbath would shoot. With Sabbath now aware of the extent to which he had been manipulated, reasoning that him killing the Doctor would still be a victory, shot himself rather than fulfil the destiny laid by the Council, thwarting their plans, but not before Miranda Dawkins, the Doctor's adopted daughter, had died in the Station.
Furious and terrified that the chain of causality he had engineered had failed, Octan tried to kill the Doctor, but he was so mad with horror and confusion that he began opening the eight Schrodinger Cells fuelling their Station; upon being tricked by the Doctor, history began to change so as each Cell opened, the remaining ones were increasingly likely to be empty, therefore shutting down the Station. Desperate for a solution, Soul, the youngest of the Council, opened Schrodinger Cell Eight, releasing the possibility of parallel universes so the Council had a possibility to survive in an alternate world.
Soul escaped in the Jonah, Sabbath's time travelling vessel, with Zezanne, Miranda's daughter, in hopes of finding a better world to live in. He adopted the shape of an old man, and as they escaped, the hourglasses used to keep their time in the Station was damaged, resulting in Soul believing he was the Doctor, with Zezanne thus regarding her as her grandfather. The Jonah then materialised in a London junkyard, assuming the shape of a Metropolitan police box. (PROSE: Sometime Never...)
Behind the scenes
- Sabbath's allies were originally meant to be the Daleks, but copyright problems prevented this so editor Justin Richards invented the Council of Eight instead.