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Soldier Obscura was the second audio story in the anthology Time War: Volume One, the ninth series of Gallifrey.

Publisher's summary[]

Braxiatel has always planned for contingencies. As hostilities escalate, he takes Ace into a deadly region of spacetime – The Obscura – to locate an ancient research station.

But Ace is about to learn more about Irving Braxiatel than anyone should know.

Some soldiers are ready for this fight, but some will not make it through the first round.


In Braxiatel's TARDIS, Ace tries to fix the scanner when Braxiatel tells her that he has disabled it to keep her from seeing where they are going. He shows her some strange drawings in a dusty book, The Art of the Obscura, which act as a guide to the Obscura, a broken battlefield from a time war in the Dark Times which is so paradoxical that looking at it can shatter one's mind. Not telling her why they are going there, he powers down the TARDIS and lets them drift on manual steer to reach the battlefield.

Braxiatel and Ace arrive on an ancient Time Lord research station which was pulled into the threshold of the Obscura and, leaving the TARDIS to rest and recharge, they head off, with Braxiatel leading the way. Ace deduces that he has been here before and, from the stale and recycled air, that they are not alone and notices drawings of landscapes on the shutters which she examines using the torch function on her sonic screwdriver. They reach the control room and meet Danna, a military strategist and Braxiatel's mentor whom he has not visited for twelve years.

Danna takes Braxiatel and Ace to the hold and shows them 284 smashed Daleks which show up dead or insane, drawn to the station by its system for gathering interstellar debris. Whilst this has been happening for a long time, the Daleks who have arrived in the past twelve years look, having metal wings in an apparent attempt to steer into the Obscura. One arrived a week ago and is still living, apparently sending a transmission back to the other Daleks. Braxiatel tells Ace that the Obscura would be an ideal base for the Daleks and that there is a weapon here that she does not have clearance to know about. The trio go to the control room to block the transmission.

Braxiatel runs a jamming signal but fears that it might not be enough to cancel out the Dalek's transmission. He plans to remain in the control room monitoring the readings whilst Ace and Danna boost the station's shields. Ace helps Danna using her sonic screwdriver and notices that Danna's hands are shaking. She learns more about Braxiatel's past and military education and that Danna does not actually know what the weapon here is. When Ace realises that something does not seem right, she goes to speak with Braxiatel, not telling Danna what the problem is.

Ace finds Braxiatel drinking tea and in a laboratory which has become a makeshift library for Danna, having showed one of the books to the Dalek in the hold and caused it to begin screaming. She asks why there is only one transmission, that of the alleged jamming signal, and how they coincidentally arrived just after a Dalek managed to get to the station alive. Braxiatel says that she is simply paranoid, but then an alarm sounds.

The Daleks have located the Time Lord station and prepare to enter the Obscura with a fleet. They send a message telling those on board to surrender.

Ace believes that Braxiatel has brought the Daleks here and demands to know about the weapon. When he refuses, she heads to the hold to salvage some Dalek weapons whilst Braxiatel addresses the Daleks and gives them an offer for the Supreme Dalek to consider: the weapon in return for safe passage from the Obscura. Danna, who he did not realise was there, reminds him that Daleks cannot be trusted and he insists that his offer is part of a trap. They contact Ace and learn that the dying Dalek has disappeared from the hold.

The Daleks detect the dying Dalek but are unable to make contact. They plan to invade the station and exterminate all aboard.

Braxiatel notices that Danna is shaking. Ace arrives and accuses Braxiatel of freeing the Dalek and contacting the fleet, but he claims that he was unable to make contact, a lie which Danna corroborates. The station loses power, without which the weapon cannot be charged; Braxiatel sends Ace to collect The Art of the Obscura from the library to keep it from the Daleks whilst he and Danna go to restore power. On the way, Braxiatel points out how steady Danna's hand was in her early paintings. They find that the systems have been damaged by the Dalek.

Ace enters the library and almost catches a glimpse of the Obscura as the shutters have been raised. Braxiatel salvages a communicator and contacts her, denying being responsible for the shutters and insisting that she at least lock the library door if she is not going to go in for the book. Ace refuses to do anything for him as she does not trust him, but nonetheless agrees to run a power cable from the TARDIS to the weapons silo.

Danna notices that the Dalek is in the corner of the room. It seems to be blind and completely insane, reciting "Three Blind Mice". Braxiatel tells Danna to shoot and kill the Dalek, but she misses and he has to take her gun from her and use it himself. He is frustrated at the loss of her excellent shooting ability and she points out that she has grown old here and is losing her eyesight. As Braxiatel needs no weak links, he shoots and kills her.

The Daleks prepare a shuttle to board the station, aware of the death of the Dalek aboard.

Braxiatel meets Ace at the weapons silo and claims that the Dalek had killed Danna. He siphons off energy from his TARDIS and they receive contact from the Daleks, who inform them of the imminent invasion. He asks for Ace's complete trust and, when the Daleks board, he claims that she is a weapon and that her name stands for "Armed Computer Entity". He has her close her eyes and raises the shutters, killing the Daleks. The Obscura energies begin to tear the station apart and he sends Ace to prepare the TARDIS whilst he returns to the control room.

The second wave of Daleks are commanded to disengage their optical sensors before going to the station. The Dalek Supreme is informed that the Obscura station will soon be under Dalek command and, with the gateway and the weapon, they will win the Time War.

Braxiatel hears the voice of Danna, who seems to be a ghost and now knows that she was the weapon to be used against the Daleks. He remembers the trick that Danna taught him to take down a flock of Pazithi bats and planned to have Danna use the same principle to destroy the Dalek fleet with a single missile. She tells him that he will now have to do it himselfand goes to deal with the invading squadron of Daleks. The blind Daleks are unable to detect her and end up withdrawing. She urges Braxiatel to take the shot, but he does not want to sacrifice himself in the process and become the author of The Art of the Obscura, having met him and learnt that he fought in the Time War. He chooses to use the station to take out one or two ships whilst he flees to the TARDIS.

Braxiatel and Ace take off before the station goes onto a collision course. The gateway closes and a Dalek ship is destroyed.

In the TARDIS, Braxiatel finds that Ace reconnected the scanner and heard him talking to Danna. He claims that he could not take the shot as he had promised to protect Ace, but she believes that he is looking out for nobody but himself. She no longer respects him and plans to tell Romana that he is a coward. He uses Contact to show her the battles that he has fought and the people whose deaths he has caused. She says that he is worse than the Daleks, which he admits could be true, and he tells her that her fight is over.

Narvin gives Romana a report from Braxiatel; Danna and Ace died aboard the Obscura station and invasion is imminent. Romana refuses to stand by any longer and, with the Doctor not being willing to help, she has Narvin summon the Master.

Ace wakes up on 20th century Earth near the A40, having lost her memories. Braxiatel apologises for not being able to stay but says that he will drop by every now and then to check up on her. He advises her to "hitch a lift" and that he is going a long way away. He enters his TARDIS and dematerialises. Ace wonders if he was the Doctor.



  • The Obscura is a battlefield from a time war in the Dark Times. It exists in a fold of spacetime due the danger posed by its saturation with temporal energy.
  • The sole survivor of the last battle at the Obscura was called the Blind Soldier. He was found drifting in space saying "eyeless, mindless" and went on to illustrate The Art of the Obscura. When Braxiatel was young, he went back to meet him and learnt that he was actually from the Time War.
  • Ace has a torch on her sonic screwdriver.
  • Danna says that Braxiatel was always late for class and that he overshot the Delta Pools by a century.
  • Danna taught Braxiatel how to shoot down a whole flock of Pazithi bats with one shot.
  • Braxiatel drinks tea.
  • Danna once walked Braxiatel through a minefield on the Plains of Carthac to take cover in the Forest of the Few. She did not tell him about the mines, however.
  • Braxiatel is reminded of when he and Danna were under siege on Capra for three months.


Textless cover.


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