This story featured Mary Tamm as Romana I in what was her first contribution to Big Finish. It offered an explanation for Romana's seemingly random regeneration in Destiny of the Daleks and introduced a number of threads which would go on to trouble Romana throughout the series, these being the character of Pandora, Darkel's opposition to Romana's policies, Braxiatel vying for the Chancellorship and the Gallifreyan Academy's admittance of off-world students.
"I don't believe in destinies foretold and all that. I am a rational, straightforward thinker."
Some time has passed since the events surrounding the Timonic Fusion Device threatened Romana's presidency with impeachment, and life has calmed down on Gallifrey. Well, apart from Romana's latest scheme, the opening up of Gallifrey's famed Academy to the students of alien races with the ability, or the potential, to harness temporal powers.
Something that wants to be reborn and will use any and every means that is at hand. Including the past of Gallifrey's incumbent President...
In the Vaults below the Capitol, Tutor Braxiatel looks for his student, young Romanadvoratrelundar, who only reveals herself when he threatens to fetch one of the castellans. He empathises with her hatred of studying at the Time Lord Academy and says that he will tell whichever cardinal is waiting for them that he got them both lost on a field trip. Before they leave, however, Romanadvoratrelundar hears a ghostly voice say her name and offer her help. She goes back, saying that she needs to collect her data pad, and the voice tells her to remember the word "imperiatrix"; together, they would one day have the future.
In the present day, Narvin and Darkel watch the non-Gallifreyan students at the Time Lord Academy, the presence of whom Narvin disapproves. Darkel too disapproves of Romana as her liberalisation has made her largely redundant, but Narvin nonetheless remains loyal to Romana, even though he is irritated to learn that Braxiatel has been appointed head of the Academy. Darkel says that Romana has gone one step too far in having the oldest scriptures of Gallifrey amended by the High Council and asks Narvin to stand beside her when she is ready.
Wynter, Castellan of the Arcalian Chapter approaches Romana in the cells, reminding her that it is customary for the president to be escorted by a castellan when they visit. Romana speaks with Andred, who has been a prisoner for seven weeks and now has no trace of Torvald in his system. Andred disapproves of Romana and her toleration of Braxiatel interacting with his past and future selves and asks to see Leela, who has been away since learning of his regeneration. He demands to be released and exiled, but she refuses.
In the Vaults, Leela asks K9 Mark I if he likes being on Gallifrey and he says that it is satisfactory, finding regular contact with K9 Mark II to be advantageous for his data banks. Leela wishes that she could be like him to escape her pain about Andred, who she feels has become an entirely different person and refuses to visit. She feels a presence which K9 does not, but then they both hear a voice which says that it is "the past and the present of this planet" and that they are coming home.
Andred speaks with Darkel, who admires his opposition to Romana's policies but finds his lingering sympathy for Free Time concerning.
Braxiatel addresses the students from off-world in a speech in which he calls himself Chancellor. Romana picks up on this and tells him that she will not grant him the office as she does not wish to be seen giving heightened offices to her political allies. He is, nonetheless, appreciated. When she mentions her nickname from the Academy, "the Ice Maiden", Braxiatel wonders why it has come to her mind, having first heard of it in the Vaults from her first incarnation.
Narvin invites Wynter to his office and learns how little experience in security he actually has, having graduated from the Academy only three months earlier. He says that he hopes that they can find a way to work together, but Wynter is dismissive and leaves when he says that Romana's liberal policies will have them crossing paths often. Narvin talks to himself about Wynter being wet behind the ears and hopes that he will not have another sleepless night.
Leela seeks out the source of the voice, which K9 can hear despite not being able to detect any presence. Following it, she disappears and K9 calls out for her. He sends a message to K9 Mark II, who tells Romana that Leela has vanished in the Vaults. She tells K9 to locate his counterpart and to call Wynter so that they can find her.
Andred is visited by Narvin, who says that he is untrustworthy and useless to Wynter, Romana and himself, declining to hire him at the CIA as Darkel wished him to. Narvin leaves him saying that he hopes that they will not meet again, but Andred says to himself that they no doubt will.
Romana, K9 Mark II and Wynter find K9 Mark I, who is not functioning properly and says "Pandora, Imperiatrix" whenever his counterpart speaks. Romana feels that the place is familiar but K9 says that, as far as he is aware, she has never been this far down into the Vaults before. She sends Wynter to fetch Braxiatel and some guards and to take K9 Mark I with him due to him being useless in this state.
Andred calls to the guard for some food, but he tells him to shut up. There is a sound of staser fire and the door opens; somebody enters and breaks Andred out of his cell, instructing him to access the Panatropic Net with the password "Pandora".
Narvin sees Wynter carrying K9 Mark I and asks why he is taking him to Braxiatel rather than the technicians or Cardinal Leabind. He says that Romana is putting Braxiatel in charge of everything and will only continue to gain power and perhaps replace even the castellans. To do so would require Romana to change the law but, Narvin points out, she has already changed one of the planet's oldest laws to allow off-worlders to study at the Academy.
K9 Mark II can detect Leela in the vicinity, but can be no more precise. He and Romana hear a strange noise, after which Leela appears, warning of the presence of "ancients". The voice greets Romana and says that "President" is too lowly a title for her; she should be "Imperiatrix".
K9 Mark II explains that "Imperiatrix" was the title used by Gallifrey's first female ruler after attempting to overthrow Rassilon's laws. When Leela says that she has met Rassilon, the voice says that that is impossible and K9 explains that Rassilon had continued to exist in a partition of the Matrix, something which the voice did not realise was possible. The Archivist too is relaying the story and tells Andred that the Imperiatrix wished to lead Gallifrey to plunder time and space, but her High Council, who had only been humouring her, overthrew her. She was protected by her off-worlder bodyguard, whom the Archivist believes might have been a Killoran, until she switched sides in return for her world being given higher technology. Once the bodyguard returned home, the High Council placed it in a 6.8 second time loop for eternity.
Leela notices the similarities between herself and the bodyguard and Romana and the Imperiatrix. K9 reminds Romana that she once looked into a Matrix prediction and saw herself as a dominating imperiatrix. The voice says that she is only present because of Romana and that the time has finally come.
The President, Pandora, was executed by being dispersed and erased from time, resulting in very few records about her existing. The dispersal chamber, Andred surmises, must have been in the Vaults and the Archivist and K9 both say that Pandora's cries were allegedly heard for days throughout the Capitol. Romana says that that is nonsense and that Pandora only lives on in the Matrix, meaning that they must have passed through a Matrix door and entered a partition. Pandora says that Romana carries the Imperiatrix Imprimatur, having taken it on deliberately.
The Archivist tells Andred the legend of Pandora's box and, having told Andred all that he can, Andred shoots him dead.
Braxiatel berates Wynter, whom the exhausted Narvin offers some defence, for leaving Romana down in the Vaults. Braxiatel is informed that Andred has been released, that an archivist is dead and that Narvin apparently had a hand in it.
Pandora shows a projection of when the young Romana spoke to her in the Vaults. When Romana explains to Leela that they are watching her previous self, Leela and Pandora both ask why she changed her face, but she does not answer. The younger Romana tells her that she had learnt of her destiny from Pandora and that she had been friends with Braxiatel, despite Romana believing that she had not met him before returning from E-Space. Leela wonders why the two Romanas have different memories and opinions; the younger one says that the elder murdered her.
Braxiatel and Narvin, who has also invited Darkel, inspect the Archivist's body with Wynter and check to see who last used the terminal. The fingerprints confirm that it was Andred, but he accessed the terminal using Narvin's codes. Having learnt this, Darkel has Wynter arrest Narvin for releasing Andred, giving him his codes and being an accomplice to the Archivist's murder.
Leela notices that Pandora has not spoken for some time. The two Romanas then begin working together, revealing that they had been hostile towards one another as an act, and tell K9 to alert them once Pandora returns. The elder Romana asks her younger self why she had arbitrarily regenerated, not being able to remember why she had done so; the younger Romana explains that she told Braxiatel about her encounter with Pandora, after which he placed a mind lock on her.
Narvin protests his innocence, saying that he has no motive to help Andred, but Wynter says that the reason that Narvin has not been sleeping must be because of his feelings of guilt. Braxiatel believes that Narvin has been set up and that he has been influenced by somebody using his mental energy to feed itself, keeping him awake. He also believes that Andred is a wholly separate issue and that he has deliberately been leaving clues behind. Darkel goes to consult with the other inquisitors whilst Wynter gathers a search party to locate Andred; before they part, Darkel plants seeds in Wynter's mind about the efficacy of the current High Council and whether or not Romana should be president.
Assuming that Pandora told the truth about manipulating their bloodline for aeons, the Romanas wonder if Pandora's influence was what led the elder Romana to become president. They determine that Braxiatel's post-hypnotic suggestion was broken by the Shadow, after which Romana regenerated to bury the memories once more. With the conditioning still buried, Pandora cannot take a hold of Romana. Pandora returns, revealing that she had been listening the whole time, and the younger Romana disappears.
Braxiatel takes Narvin into the Vaults and tells him that he had once passed through the Matrix door down there, stopping a girl he knew from being used by Pandora. He admits to Narvin that he has been in regular contact with his past and future selves and that he had got one of his future selves to put a mind lock on Romana to bury Pandora's influence, but had been unaware that she would go on to join the Doctor and be removed from his guidance. They hear Romana and Pandora speaking nearby.
Romana seems to consider becoming Imperiatrix to reshape the universe, getting rid of Free Time and the constant plotting on Gallifrey. She would be able to access the Matrix and bring back the old Andred for Leela and send the couple to Leela's home planet. Saying that she could feel the deceit in the air, Romana calls out for Braxiatel and Narvin to reveal themselves and has K9 stun the latter, trapping Pandora as she can no longer use his mental energies. The partition closes.
K9 says that Pandora will be unable to leave the partition unless Romana connects to the Matrix, which would allow her to escape through her mind. He will work to create a fully secure partition to isolate Pandora, after which Romana will be able to access the Matrix and Narvin will be safe. Nonetheless, Braxiatel suggests a selective mind wipe for Narvin before sending him to join Wynter in finding Andred. Leela decides that she too will join the hunt, leaving with K9 Mark II to reprogramme K9 Mark I. Braxiatel confesses to Romana that he sought her out after her return from E-Space and kept an eye on her to stop her from becoming Imperiatrix; neither of them believe that this is over.
- President Romana - Lalla Ward
- Leela - Louise Jameson
- K9 - John Leeson
- Romana - Mary Tamm
- Inquisitor Prime Darkel - Lynda Bellingham
- Cardinal Braxiatel - Miles Richardson
- Coordinator Narvin - Seán Carlsen
- Andred - Andy Coleman
- Castellan Wynter - Ian Hallard
- The Archivist - Trevor Littledale
- Pandora - Brenda Longman
- The Prydonian Academy is headed by Chancellor Delox. Romana asks Braxiatel if she would be able to transfer to the Arcalians or the Patrexes.
- Braxiatel tells Romana that she reminds him of somebody that he used to know.
- Braxiatel's nickname at the Time Lord Academy was "the Icicle" while Romana's was "the Ice Maiden".
- Narvin denies Darkel's claim that he is xenophobic.
- Wynter is an Arcalian. He states that he has trained with Castellan Maxil regularly.
- One of the tutors at the Academy is a Warpsmith and will soon he swapping her bondsperson for a male one.
- Pandora allegedly hired a female bodyguard that was thought to be a Killoran, although records were unclear.
- The White Guardian disrupted Braxiatel's plans to keep an eye on Romana.
- The Black Guardian inadvertently broke through the memory block in Romana's mind by torturing her.
- The Archivist mentions Pandak VIII.
- Narvin says that the Celestial Intervention Agency is responsible for the security of Gallifrey, but Darkel says that that is the purpose of the Chapter Castellans such as Maxil and Wynter.
- Romana has made Darkel largely redundant due to her preference for committees rather than inquisitions.
- Romana rhetorically asks Wynter if she carries the Rod of Rassilon, figuratively wears the Sash of Rassilon and keeps the Great Key safe, although she has no idea where it is.
- The office of Chancellor is one step away from Vice President.
- The High Council is currently made up of Wynter and three cardinals, namely Leabind, Tachen and Morissa.
- Wynter did not train with the Chancellery Guard as is customary for a castellan.
- Wynter mentions a hypothetical Shobogan.
- Romana belongs to the House of Heartshaven.
- Andred belongs to the House of Deeptree.
- The Old Capitol was destroyed in the Gallifreyan Civil War and a new Capitol built on top of it.
Science and technology
- Braxiatel asks if Romana is trying to find the secrets of the Eye of Harmony or trying to find out where artron energy comes from, both things which the cardinals, deans and Chancellor Delox told her to accept without question.
- The walls of the Vaults are covered in something which Braxiatel described as "phosphorous, sticky and probably lethal".
- Romana exposed the existence of the Oubliette of Eternity, after which there was a furore which resulted in it being banned.
- K9 Mark II records Pandora's Matrix carrier wave.
- Lies was recorded at the Moat Studios.
- The first story of series 2 was originally to be written by Alan Barnes. When he proved unavailable, Gary Russell wrote it instead, an experience which he did not enjoy. He did believe, however, that this gave the other writers a voice to pick up on. (DOC: The Making of Gallifrey)
- Mary Tamm returns to play Romana I. This marks Tamm's first appearance in a Big Finish audio drama.
- Braxiatel says that he is not on the High Council. However, Romana said in The Inquiry that he was.
- There are references to TV: The Ribos Operation (when Romana was sent to assist the Fourth Doctor's quest for the Key to Time) and TV: The Armageddon Factor (when Romana was tortured by the Shadow).
- Braxiatel informs Narvin that, in direct contravention of the First Law of Time, he has been supplying his future self with alien artefacts for his collection and makes a veiled reference to his future self's associates. This refers to the events depicted in the Big Finish Bernice Summerfield series as well as establishing that his experiences with Bernice Summerfield, Jason Kane and Adrian Wall occur or rather will occur many years after the events portrayed in Gallifrey in Braxiatel's personal timeline. Furthermore, he claims that he will be more adept at hypnotism in the future, as shown in AUDIO: The Mirror Effect. This confession would later have major ramifications for Braxiatel in AUDIO: Pandora.
- Maxil has been promoted to Castellan since the events of TV: Arc of Infinity. He would later make his first and only appearance in Gallifrey in AUDIO: Appropriation, in which he was played in an uncredited cameo by Colin Baker.
- Wynter mentions Romana exposing the Oubliette of Eternity and disbanding its use. (AUDIO: Neverland)
- Pandora mentions Romana's exile in E-Space. (TV: Warriors' Gate)