Publisher's summary Edit
Responding to multiple maydays, the TARDIS lands on the planet of Death's Deal, but the distress calls are old, the final echoes of terrified lost souls. This is an exotic world of lethal creatures, nicknamed "the Deadliest Planet in the Galaxy", and only the brave, foolhardy or greedy would ever dare to visit.
Finding themselves stranded among a motley bunch of space-tourists, the Doctor and Donna must lead a struggle for survival against the frenzied wildlife, as they slowly realise that other members of the group have very different agendas.
And soon the Doctor learns of an even bigger threat hiding on Death's Deal. Somewhere deep below the surface, is something that must never be unearthed. Time is running out, and only an impossible survivor holds the key.
The Doctor gets a distress signal from a merchant ship called the Caliban--and then hundreds of others--from a planet called Death's Deal. Some of the signals are old, as the Doctor points out. Donna insists on helping anyone they can, and they head for the planet.
On the surface, they are at first isolated; but they are soon joined by a newly-landed ship, which turns out to be full of tourists (some human, some not). The group is led by an amphibian tour guide named Hickery Frimms, in the company of an imperious woman named Mistress Qwelleen. It's the 49th century, and the planet is called Death's Deal, as the distress signals said, and it's reputed to be the most dangerous planet in the universe, where you show up, crash, and no one rescues you. Thrill seekers pay small fortunes to come here. While they talk, a huge creature bursts up through the ground—and swallows the TARDIS! The tourists flee in their ship, leaving a few behind, including Frimms—but the creature attacks and destroys it, before returning underground. Donna and the Doctor are nearly pulled under in its wake, but are pulled back by one of the tourists, an alien that Donna thinks of as a humanoid, walking barnacle, with many tentacles. It gives its name as Krux, a Nimosite from Ceratesh; he is an anthropologist. Qwelleen takes out her anger on Frimms, who can't get them out of this, and takes charge of the group. It consists of Qwelleen, Frimms, Krux, the Doctor, Donna, a human girl named Lyric, and a human space pirate named Tad Groogan. Qwelleen is almost instantly grabbed by a different creature and eaten while Groogan watches.
Frimms tells them they are stranded because it is illegal to be here. He tells the Doctor that one ship, belonging to a rival company, will arrive, but not close by; but between them and the landing site are any number of dangers. As well, Groogan is looking for a lost ship, the Howling Jupiter, which crashed here years ago, and may be the reason the planet is off limits. He's tracking a signal that is, oddly, in Morse Code; when Donna translates it, it spells out "Allons-y". The Doctor realises at once that the message is for him, and joins Groogan in searching.
The Howling Jupiter is at the edge of a massive coral field, in an arc on which the coral won't encroach. The group finds it easily enough, and Groogan goes to investigate, Frimms with him, leaving Lyric to watch the others; but the Doctor, Donna, and Lyric also go in, on their own, leaving Krux on guard outside. The morse signal leads them to a video message... from the Eleventh Doctor, who talks about something under the surface, called slaughter crystals. The Wraith Mining Cartel is coming for the crystals, and must be stopped. To that end, the Eleventh Doctor wants the Tenth to locate a man named Professor Merritt Erskine, who has proof of the crystals; the Doctor must save Erskine and transmit proof of the crystals' existence to the Galactic authorities. The Doctor is familiar with the crystals; he knows they are used for incredibly powerful bombs and weapons, and nearly every planet has banned their extraction. Lyric is confused by how the man can also be the Doctor, but he waves away her questions.
On the way out, they meet Groogan and Frimms. The Doctor intends to go into the coral field, despite the danger; he sends Groogan to get everyone to safety, but Donna and Lyric both insist on staying with the Doctor, prompting everyone else to follow as well. As soon as they go outside, Frimms is killed by another creature. More creatures are approaching, driving them toward the coral field.
Donna and Krux fall into a deep hole, somehow surviving. They find a network of tunnels, and flee into them; the Doctor has no time to get them out, as the creatures are approaching. He gives her a flashlight and the TARDIS key, and sends her to find the TARDIS if she can.
The Doctor, Lyric, and Groogan continue on, dodging traps as much as possible. They encounter a wild man, who surprises them and pushes them into a crevice. The Doctor realises that it is Professor Erskine; and Lyric, overwhelmed, reveals that she is Erskine's daughter. He has lost his mind, and imagines himself the master of the entire world; and he doesn't seem to recognise Lyric. He leads them deeper into the crevice.
Donna and Krux are still navigating the cavern. Krux realises they are not natural, but excavated; but by the monstrous creatures, not any intelligent species. They stumble upon a half-rotten, partially-eaten body. They hear a creature approaching through the ground, and run down a random tunnel.
Erskine takes his group through a canyon. Lyric reveals that Erskine was a planetary surveyor; as such, he used to fall on the side of ecologists and protesters in battles with mining and other such interests. He disappeared six years prior. Lyric, after much time, found that Wraith was responsible; they tricked him into surveying Death's Deal, then shot him down—but she never thought he was dead. She admits she used Groogan to get here. They reach a cave, guarded by beasts that Erskine has tamed, and go inside; they find it is the wreck of Erskine's ship, now serving as his home. There are no records to be found—but the Doctor's sonic screwdriver agitates Erskine's tame creatures and coral garden. He concludes that it's the technology from all the crashed ships—specifically the distress signals—that are making the planet deadly; everything on the planet is agitated by the electronics. Erskine threatens the Doctor with his staff, which is tipped with a slaughter crystal.
Donna and Krux are menaced by a massive, wormlike creature, which is chewing through the rock like a tunnelling machine. It traps them at a dead end. Krux, whose species is like a large mollusk, opens his exoskeleton, and takes Donna inside, then hurls himself into the creature. Its simplified digestive system passes them through quickly as Donna holds her breath; and they make it out the other end. But, more worms are coming, and Krux cannot endure another passage. They hurry on, searching for the TARDIS.
Groogan tries to take the valuable crystal from Erskine, but Erskine scratches him with the crystal. Groogan quickly begins to decay as if poisoned, and dies in seconds. The crystals possess a kind of radiation that transmits in lethal doses upon contact with bare skin. Erskine forces Lyric and the Doctor outside.
Donna and Krux come upon a deposit of crystals, which is guarded by a maze of deadly coral creatures. The TARDIS is right at the centre of the mass. With the worms behind and the coral ahead, they are trapped.
Erskine leads the Doctor and Lyric to a huge crater, which is filled with a gigantic coral creature. He intends to kill them here; bloodstains indicate he has killed many others. Lyric tries to get him to open the locket he wears, which has pictures of herself and her mother, but he will not; and he sends his pets to drive them off the cliff.
Donna and Krux run for the TARDIS. Krux is attacked by the coral, and injured badly. She uses the flashlight to lure the polyps away; the coral's tentacles accidentally touch the crystal deposit, and begin to die. Donna gets Krux inside the TARDIS, and locks the door. He is amazed by the TARDIS, but assures Donna that he will live if he doesn't move. Donna tries to signal the Doctor from the control console.
The Doctor receives the signal on his screwdriver, but he drops it as Erskine lunges. Lyric attacks her father, and he drops the staff, but they both go over the edge, landing on a lip of the slope. The Doctor nearly falls, but recovers the screwdriver, and sends a signal back to the TARDIS with it—although using it agitates every creature around them, and causes Erskine's pets to fall to their deaths. Erskine has a moment of clarity, and looks at his locket; he falls to the coral below, but throws the locket to Lyric before he does. The Doctor latches onto Lyric, but they both begin to slip.
The TARDIS carries Donna and Krux to the lip of the crater. The Doctor sends her to get a long cable from the console room, and uses it to get himself and Lyric back to the top. Lyric opens the locket. Inside, she finds a microdrive memory device, and gives it to the Doctor. On it are the survey results for the planet's crystals, which he sends to the galactic authorities as asked—but the TARDIS sensors reveal there are three automated mining ships approaching. As they are unoccupied, he sends a signal to cause the ships to self-destruct. Immediately afterward, the authorities respond, and initiate security procedures for the planet.
The Doctor takes them back to the planet briefly, where things have changed. He reveals that he has stopped all the distress signals, and now the planet is calm. Having patched up Krux, he prepares to leave; and Lyric and Krux stay behind to meet the rescue team that is coming, and explain everything. Krux intends to return later with an expedition to study the planet's biology. Lyric thinks the Doctor failed in his mission, but the Doctor says that the message said to save Erskine—it didn't specify which Erskine. He gives back the microdrive, and its data.
- The Doctor
- Donna Noble
- Professor Merrit Erskine
- Lyric Erskine
- Tad Groogan
- Mistress Qwelleen
- Hickery Frimms
to be added
- This story was recorded on 17 June 2013.
- This was the final Doctor Who release under the AudioGo banner as the company entered administration, ceasing all further releases, a few weeks after releasing this audio. This caused problems for the next release in the arc.
- The Doctor remembers that one of his friends was a shape-shifter (COMIC: The Shape Shifter) and that his arch enemy was a master of disguise. (TV: Castrovalva, Time-Flight, AUDIO: Dust Breeding)
- The Eleventh Doctor says it would have been cool if he was ginger. (TV: The Christmas Invasion, The End of Time)
- The Eleventh Doctor leaves a message in the distress beacon of the Howling Jupiter to tell his previous self to stop the Wraith Mining Cartel, by locating Professor Merrit Erskine, protecting Erskine's daughter, and making sure the existence of slaughter crystals is made known to galactic authorities. (AUDIO: Destiny of the Doctor)
- Donna tells Krux to "watch it" upon learning that his bioluminescent tentacles are normally meant to attract a mate. (TV: Partners in Crime)
- The Doctor says "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry." (TV: New Earth et al.)