Return of the Rocket Men was the fifth story of the seventh series in The Companion Chronicles audio range. It was produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by Matt Fitton and featured Steven Taylor.
Once before the Doctor battled the sadistic Rocket Men and once before he won. But when the dreaded pirates of the skies raid a remote frontier planet, he's not the only member of the TARDIS crew for whom they are old enemies.
Steven Taylor knows them well. Back in his days as a pilot, on his twenty first birthday, Steven's ship was brought down by the malevolent Van Cleef. He barely escaped with his life. And now he's going to have to go through that again.
But this time round, he knows what happens. And he knows there's no way out. Steven Taylor has to make a choice. A choice where either way... he loses.
The Scourge of the Skies (1)
A 21-years old Steven Taylor is attacked by the Rocket Men while he is trasporting equipment and food for a newfounded Earth colony on Ulysses 519, and forced to crash on the planet's surface. The Rocket Men's leader, Van Cleef, orders him to stay inside, but Steven comes out when he spots a girl running out from the Rocket Men's transporter. His attempt to help her, however, fails and the young pilot is savagely beaten up by the pirates.
After the beating, Van Cleef places his Smith & Wesson gun on his forehead and tries to shoot him, but the bullet does not exit. Van Cleef shoots then Steven in the leg, and is about to finish him off, when another Rocket Man, Ramirez, attacks him and brings an almost unconscious Steven back to the safety of his ship. Before losing consciousness, the young Steven sees Van Cleef shooting Ramirez and seemingly kill him.
Years later, Dodo gives Steven a diary as a present after the Doctor, using his astral map, has discovered they have landed on Steven's birthday. The travellers landed on Ulysses 519, and venture out to explore when they see, from the TARDIS scanner, what seems like an Earth colony. However, when they reach it, they find it unfinished and abandoned; as they wonder why, the leader of the colony, Carsen, gains their attention and signals them to reach them in a nearby cave.
Carsen explains the travellers they had been assaulted by the Rocket Men, which pray on them, and now they are forced to live in the cave with just one damaged oxigenator to keep them alive. The Doctor offers to help them with that, but also urges them to stay hidden, much to Steven's dismay. Just at the moment, the colonists receive news of the arrival of the last cargo, whose pilot (Ford, a former colleague of Steven) managed to escape from the Rocket Men's assault. The Rocket Men are still coming, but Steven proposes the colonists to fight back this time.
Using the weapons brought by Ford, Steven and the colonists ambush the eleven Rocket Men come to take Ford's cargo, but their victory is short-lived: the Rocket Men have assaulted the cave and taken the women and children, including Dodo, as hostages. The Rocket Men's leader shoots Ford with his weapon, a Smith and Wesson gun, and Steven realises with a shock they landed on the same day he was attacked by the Rocket Men earlier. Van Cleef orders one of his men, Ramirez, to shoot Steven, but the pirate (actually a young boy) is hesitant; Van Cleef removes his helmet as a gesture of shame and shoots him dead, before leaving with his crew and the hostages.
Steven understands: the Rocket Man who saved him back then was actually an older version of himself, dressed up in the dead Ramirez' suit. He then proceeds to wear the suit and goes after the pirates, knowing he would die, but determined not to lose another friend.
The Trail of the Rocket Men (2)
Steven follows the trail of the Rocket Men to a nearby crater, where the pirates landed, full of abandoned and crashed ships (one of which could still fly), where he awaits for his young self to crash. The Doctor informs him via radio that some of the women taken prisoners, including Carsen's daughter, are trained pilots; after he delivers them, he could trust they will come back to the base.
When his younger self crashes, Steven quietly joins the other Rocket Men, and assists to Van Cleef and his men taking on himself and carrying the prisoners onto their ship, intending to sell them as slaves. Dodo tries to escape, and Steven goes to retrieve her; as he takes her back, he tells her they can escape through a hatch to avoid imprisonment. At that moment, the Rocket Men are informed that a ship of the Galactic Heritage is arriving ahead of schedule; hearing this through Ramirez's radio, Steven takes advantage of his disguise to sabotage their ship. Then, as he prepares to save his younger self, he finds the diary Dodo gave him as a present.
When Van Cleef attacks the younger Steven, the older one flies against him, distracts him and then brings himself back to his ship; Van Cleef shoots him, but Dodo's diary, which Steven put under the suit as a protection, in the exact position the bullet would hit him, saves his life. The Rocket Men, alarmed by the news of the Heritage coming, leave the planet, abandoning Van Cleef, while Steven comes back to fight him. The two engage in a fight, which eventually ends with Van Cleef's death due to Steven sabotaging his jet pack and sending him into space.
Back at the colony, the Doctor explains how he tricked the Rocket Men and made them think the ship of the Heritage was arriving. Carsen thanks Steven and asks him permission to name the colony "Taylor's Stand", but Steven refuses and insists they call it "Ford's Rest", in honour of his fallen colleague. As the travellers make their way back to the ship, the Doctor tells Steven he is proud of him, but he doesn't want him to waste his chance to leave his mark in history because of his loyalty to him.
- Steven's birthday is 10 February. Dodo gives him a 1967 diary which she found in the TARDIS.
- Ulysses 519 is protected by the Galactic Heritage.
- This story is a sequel to The Rocket Men.
- This audio drama was recorded on 26 June 2012 at The Moat Studios.
- This story is set between The Gunfighters and The Savages.
- This story was told from Steven's perspective.
- Steven mentions having visited the far future, (TV: The Ark) the Celestial Toyroom, (TV: The Celestial Toymaker) the Old West (TV: The Gunfighters) and, most recently, spending several months in Russia in 1812.(AUDIO: Mother Russia)
- Steven recalls posing as a singer named Steven Regret on his visit to Tombstone, Arizona in October 1881. (TV: The Gunfighters)
- The Doctor previously encountered the Rocket Men on Platform Five above the planet Jobis in the company of Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright and Vicki Pallister. (AUDIO: The Rocket Men)
- Following Ashman's death the previous year, more than a dozen groups of his fellow Rocket Men are fighting for control of his territories. (AUDIO: The Rocket Men)
- Steven recalls the recent deaths of Katarina, Bret Vyon, Sara Kingdom, (TV: The Daleks' Master Plan) Oliver Harper (AUDIO: The First Wave) and Semeon. (AUDIO: Mother Russia)
- During his convalescence in the field hospital, Steven saw many injured soldiers and airmen coming home from the war. (TV: The Chase)
- After he had recovered from his injuries, Steven returned to Earth and visited the ruins of New York City, (PROSE: Salvation) which had been completed destroyed by the Daleks during their invasion of Earth in the 22nd century. (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth)
- Steven refers to Mechanus (TV: The Chase) and Grace Alone. (AUDIO: The First Wave)
- Steven wonders if it might soon be time to move on with his life. (TV: The Savages)
- After Van Cleef's death, the Rocket Men put a bounty on the Doctor's head. He was eventually captured during his fourth incarnation. (AUDIO: Requiem for the Rocket Men)
- Steven disguises himself as a Rocket Man. During his fourth incarnation, the Doctor later did the same thing on the Asteroid. (AUDIO: Requiem for the Rocket Men)