In 2022, the Thirteenth Doctor, Yaz, and Dan each work their way around a town, brandishing a "missing girl" poster and asking passers-by if they have seen a girl called Brianna because her mum is scared. Later, the trio meet up and share that none of them have been successful in finding any information. However, they turn to a nearby alley wall and notice three more "missing" posters alongside one advertising a Roman Empire-themed party and another advertising the Hydra's Gate History Society's ghost tour of the nearby Hydra Hall. Wondering if they are relevant, the Doctor and Dan decide to visit the hall while Yaz goes party hunting.
Upon reaching Hydra Hall, the Doctor and Dan find the huge manor to be dilapidated and surrounded in gates adorned with no-entry signs, adding that any deliveries should be redirected to the Hydra Lodge cottage next door. They knock on the door and the owner, Vera, invites them inside for a cup of tea once they confirm they don't want to buy the hall.
Inside, Vera explains that she owns Hydra Hall but refuses to sell, describing it as "a gateway to hell". The Doctor pieces together how mythology dictates that the Hydra guarded the underworld, but Vera elaborates that during World War II, the hall was destroyed by the Luftwaffe, causing her father to lose his family and killing dozens of sheltering evacuees. After the Doctor claims it must only be bad luck, Vera disagrees, saying that people have always vanished there, even a Roman legion. As they talk, Dan takes a phone call from Yaz who says she's found the Roman legionary party at the hall, causing them to leave Vera in a hurry.
Arriving at Hydra Hall, the Doctor and Dan find it glowing with energy, seemingly restored to top condition, with apparitions of Roman soldiers nearby. However, as they approach, the hall returns to normal as the Doctor discovers Yaz's smashed phone on the ground. As she picks it up, a young boy named Sid approaches them, saying that the Germans "did a number on the old house". Confused, the Doctor asks him what year it is, and he simply replies it is the same as it was yesterday: 1942.
As Sid explains to Dan that he is an evacuee from Hackney, failing to understand why Dan thinks he appeared from nowhere, the Doctor uses her sonic screwdriver on Yaz's phone and makes a breakthrough. She runs towards the doorway of Hydra Hall as it briefly starts glowing again, but the passageway to Yaz's whereabouts she has created transports her alone to a huge, bustling marketplace with ancient Roman-inspired architecture and Latin writing.
The Doctor sees that the outdoor market is filled with creatures from across the universe, many robots, as well as several Romans, so she starts asking around for a legionary who might have taken Yaz. Eventually, a blue, four-armed stallholder directs her to Salonius' Slave Store, where two Roman guards rudely explain that "she sold straight away". Using her psychic paper to get them to talk, the guards say that the "butterfly man" bought her off Salonius.
Dan and Sid go to visit Vera, where Sid's gift of a banana makes him believe he might have died and gone to the afterlife. Vera agrees to look after him for the time being as Dan explains that the "gateway to hell" that she mentioned was likely responsible for transporting Sid eighty years into his future. However, his train of thought is interrupted by Sid saying that he recognises the girl from the "missing" posters, as he also saw Salonius sell her to the butterfly man at the market. Sid believes this means she will never be seen again.
Meanwhile, the Doctor continues asking after Yaz, where eventually an armoured horse person directs her to the butterfly man. Although he does not have wings, the very tall, yellow-skinned, insectoid creature is carrying a butterfly net and a handheld capsule containing Yaz herself - a new butterfly for his collection.
The Doctor tracks the butterfly man to his base in the Roman-inspired buildings and waits for him to leave, now without Yaz in his possession. Creeping in the door behind him, she prays she is not too late to defeat the bad guys, rescue everyone, and most importantly, find Yaz.
Meanwhile, Dan asks Sid for more information on Hydra Hall. He explains that during the war, it was perfect for playing hide and seek, but one day while he was waiting in the cellar for his friends to hide, a bomb landed and Sid discovered a Roman legionary beckoning him through the rubble. Dan assumes the cellar may be holding some kind of portal and goes to investigate against Vera's wishes. Vera and Sid watch him leave the cottage, a tear rolling down Vera's cheek as she believes that Dan has doomed himself.
Finding the butterfly man's base, the Doctor discovers not Yaz, but many large cases full of alien creatures, each one dead and preserved with a stake through their chest and butterfly wings attached to their back. Luckily, she discovers a nearby locator bot from Fynrak Gamma named Trip which has not fully powered down yet, and uses its supreme directional circuits to try and hunt down Yaz. They follow the corridors but stop at the sound of many footsteps, quickly realising it is Yaz, leading a large group of surviving humans and aliens away from their imprisonment. The Doctor is proud but unsurprised to see her taking charge and together they let the group go free. Next, the Doctor asks Trip how to get home.
Descending into the dark basement of Hydra Hall, Dan accidentally stumbles upon the portal almost immediately, where he sees the Doctor, Yaz, and the group on the other side. With the Doctor sonicking the portal open, Dan and Yaz help her get everyone across as she promises to get all the aliens home soon. However, with the Doctor the last one left, she is rounded upon by a group of Romans and the butterfly man. She exclaims that she will never let them back on Earth, and to prove her point, closes the portal forever, stranding her on the other side as Yaz and Dan look on in horror.
From the market, the Doctor, Trip, the butterfly man, the Romans, and a group of aliens look on at the result of the Doctor's actions: although she has closed the portal to Hydra Hall, another two open to alien worlds in its place. The Roman leader taunts the Doctor that she has only succeeded in trapping herself, but a sight of Trip gives her an idea. She remembers how the mythological Lernean Hydra grew two heads every time one was cut off and Heracles had to cut off its main, immortal head to finally kill it; the Doctor decides to destroy the market to destroy the portals.
The Doctor asks Trip to first find a power source, then the exact centre of the market, which Trip reveals to be a pocket dimension. He does so and uncovers a large circular rune on the floor. With the Doctor wiring it up to the power source, she sonics it and it begins to spin and crackle with energy, the surroundings glowing blue as every portal that ever affected the pocket dimension reopens simultaneously. Using an old Time Lord Academy trick, she creates a time centrifuge that separates everyone by their time signature then drags them back through their correct portal home.
With all of the villains and aliens forced home in the maelstrom, the Doctor finally bids farewell to Trip, saying they only have so long before the dimension collapses in on itself. She explains that she would "get pulled in a dozen different directions" trying to find a home portal and the one to Hydra Hall is too hard to find, but Trip's powers as a locator bot get her there easily. However, just as the Doctor is about to return to Yaz and Dan, Trip is broken apart by the time centrifuge. The Doctor refuses to let him go and uses the butterfly man's net to scoop up his lost parts, returning through the portal to Hydra Hall's basement in the nick of time.
As the portal closes behind the Doctor, she hugs Yaz tight and tells everybody that the gateway to hell is finally closed, so Vera can do whatever she wants with it now - Trip even offers to help her act as a butler. Sid is extremely impressed and asks to stay, but he needs to return to his own time. Vera offers him one more banana for the journey.
Later, the Doctor and her friends chat with Vera now that everyone has been returned to their correct times and places, with Brianna the missing girl having been reunited with her mother. Vera hopes that Sid made it through the war safely... just as an elderly man in a wheelchair carrying a basket of fruit arrives at her door, telling her not to worry about him. The elderly Sid finally returns his thanks to Vera for the help and the bananas as the Doctor, Yaz, and Dan leave the pair behind with Trip.
The trio return to the TARDIS in the alleyway, now with all the "missing" posters having been covered up with "found" and two new posters added alongside them: Sid's talk for the History Society about the lives of evacuees at Hydra Hall, and the grand opening of Vera's tours of the newly-restored hall. As the TARDIS dematerialises, the Doctor remarks on how Hydra's Gate now leads only to happiness.
- Thirteenth Doctor
- Yasmin Khan
- Dan Lewis
- Vera Parker
- Sidney Bird
- Butterfly man
- Horse person
- Roman leader
- Dan has Yaz saved as a phone contact. Similarly, Yaz's phone has a wallpaper of a selfie taken by the Thirteenth Doctor, with herself and Dan on either side of her.
- Sid nicknames the German army as "the Jerries" and "Fritz".
- In the market, a creature controls a hoverboard carrying a bag containing weapons, upon which is written "arma venalis vili", roughly meaning "weapons for sale cheap" in Latin.
- The Doctor uses her psychic paper to claim she is a market inspector and personal friend of Emperor Nero.
- The Doctor's sonic screwdriver briefly creates the glowing shape of a sword around it as the Doctor holds it aloft in the style of Heracles.
- The poster for the Roman Empire party in part one states that it was held on 2 February 2022, the same day that the corresponding issue of the magazine was released to subscribers.
Original print details
- (Publication with page count and closing captions)
- DWM 574 (6 pages): To Be Continued...
- DWM 575 (6 pages): To Be Continued!
- DWM 576 (6 pages): To Be Continued!
- DWM 577 (6 pages): The End
- The Doctor has met Emperor Nero. (TV: The Romans)
- Dan wonders aloud if any genies could lead him to the dimensional portal following his recent encounter with one. (COMIC: It's Behind You!)