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Square One (identified on the cover simply as Chapter Two) was the second story of the first series of Big Finish's Gallifrey audio series. It was written by Stephen Cole.

More focus was given to the Temporal Powers, who first appeared in The Apocalypse Element and, aside from the Monans, appeared only briefly in Weapon of Choice. This story introduced the Servitors and mentioned a consignment being stolen, a thread which would be further elaborated upon in The Inquiry and A Blind Eye.

Publisher's summary[]

"It's too late... time is coming for us!"

In a climate of unease and mistrust, the great time-travelling powers of the universe are holding an historic temporal summit. The meeting will take place on a planetoid impervious to outside attack or internal subversion in any way.

But while President Romana walks a knife-sharp political tightrope into dangerous territory, Leela and K9 find themselves attending the summit in unexpected roles. They are hunting for evidence of Free Time activity, but find instead terrors of a different kind — time and time again...

What impossibility stalks the planetoid? Who is manipulating time? Can Leela and Romana discover the truth — or will they find themselves sent back to square one for all eternity?


Romana and Leela are in the Presidential TARDIS, trying to navigate through the shifting time field but unable to get through a defence shield until K9 Mark II can supply them with the correct codes. As time distortion occurs, Leela says that "it is happening again".

At an earlier time, Romana and the High Monan reach an understanding about the debacle on Gryben. Afterwards, Romana checks with K9 that the communication between the two was secure as Liaison Officer Hossak will be speaking to the High Council tomorrow about the temporal summit and nobody can know what Romana is planning to do.

At a special meeting, Hossak explains to Romana, Braxiatel and Narvin that potential axis powers have been wary of attending a summit after the Temporal Peace Conference on Archetryx which was followed by invasions by the Daleks. However, those who have already pledged to attend will be doing so on a synthetic planetoid in neutral space, the heads of state sending lesser politicians and appearing as holograms; Romana informs Narvin that she will be sending him to the summit with Hossak as his aide.

Leela can tell that Romana has little enthusiasm for the summit and senses that she is keeping something from her. Romana has spoken with Braxiatel and, worried about Free Time, she has decided to send Leela and K9 Mark I to the summit to keep an eye out and to attempt to identify their benefactors amongst the Temporal Powers. Leela is to pose as an exotic dancer and, on the planetoid, meets her colleague, Baano.

K9 Mark II informs Romana that the entertainment troupe have arrived on the planetoid and that the other K9 had not been detected due to him being doctored in accordance with security regulations. He will be able to detect any attempt to tamper with the secure network.

A Servitor shows Leela and the dancers to their rooms and Baano tells Leela that Narvin has selected her as his dancer. In their room, K9 tells Leela that the Servitors confiscated his blaster, fitted his sensors fitted with a limiter and prevented him from making recordings. He can, however, view security footage alongside his counterpart in the Capitol.

Hossak officially begins the summit. They discuss a former Temporal Power who accidentally wiped themselves out with time travel, with Flinkstab of Nekkistan believing that they should observe said Power's mistakes prior to their extinction whilst Narvin disagrees, leading to a squabble amongst the delegates which is interrupted by the virtual appearance of Romana, who admonishes them before Hossak adjourns the summit for the day. Romana and K9 Mark II discuss the six other generic speeches that she has put into the holographer, giving K9 the choice of which to use in the future. She goes into the Presidential TARDIS, asking K9 not to disturb her.

At the bar, Narvin joins Flinkstab, who says that V'rell of the Monan Host was correct earlier when he mentioned his world being created by a temporal catastrophe; ten versions of the planet throughout history appeared at roughly the same coordinates before being stabilised into one super-planetary system by the most advanced Monans who then discovered time travel. Narvin suggests that he and Flinkstab discover if the initial time distortion was the source of power of the Monan timeships, implying that they could erase the Monan Host to the benefit of Gallifrey and Nekkistan. Flinkstab goes to relax, sharing a rumour that a consignment of Servitors has gone missing.

After a long day, K9 Mark I suggests that Leela searches the delegates' rooms using the codes that K9 Mark II has shared with him, but they are interrupted by Baano, who has brought Flinkstab for a dance from Leela. Baano and Lexi head off to dance for Pule of Unvoss, leaving Leela to entertain the lecherous delegate. However, she refuses and kicks him out, K9 apologising for not being able to help deal with him. She decides to wait until tomorrow to search the rooms.

K9 escorts Leela to the showers where she finds Lexi's corpse, K9 deducing that she was murdered in a frenzy. Servitors arrive and, believing that Leela is the murderer, attempt to arrest her. K9 tells her not to resist and, at her command, goes to search the delegates' rooms. She is imprisoned and visited by Hossak, who is angry with her for bringing further disrepute to Gallifrey and potentially ruining the summit, but Leela insists that Flinkstab is responsible. After Hossak leaves, Leela shouts that she has to speak to Romana and experiences time distortion.

Leela and the dancers are taken to their rooms by a Servitor and, shortly after, Leela feels a sense of déjà vu. At the summit, Narvin disagrees with V'rell and Flinkstab about the lost Temporal Power and starts coughing, Hossak using the opportunity to make his point more gently and agreeably. On Gallifrey, K9 Mark II informs Romana that the summit is going smoothly, which surprises her as she had expected Narvin, V'rell and Flinkstab to be fighting by this point. She leaves K9 in charge of the holographer and goes into the Presidential TARDIS.

Leela decides not to search the entertainers' possessions, feeling sure that she will find nothing, and goes with K9 to access the delegates' rooms. They enter Flinkstab's room and find holo-prints of Lexi's mutilated body in the showers; K9 says that they are anomalous, having somehow been taken the following morning despite time travel being impossible on the planetoid. Leela takes the pictures and goes in search of Lexi whilst K9 makes contact with his counterpart.

K9 Mark II receives Leela's request for communication and the two units exchange their mistresses' messages in code. Romana tells Leela that there has been no sign of temporal manipulation and that she will make a personal appearance soon. Leela decides to stay close to Lexi by performing the fire dance.

At another summit, Braxiatel speaks with a Monan and is interrupted by Romana, who says that Leela has been in contact and that she is heading to the planetoid in person. She announces to the group that she is departing and that Braxiatel will speak for her from now on. Meanwhile, Narvin speaks with Hossak, implying that the time that she spent with the Monans after Archetryx had left her with Monan sympathies, before going to speak with Pule.

Leela dances for Flinkstab as Narvin and Pule talk, the latter being given a drink by a Servitor. Pule's drink explodes in his face, killing him, and Narvin is accused of his murder. There is mass panic, in which Hossak leaves and Leela looks for Baano, Lexi and Flinkstab, whom K9 says he has not seen. There is then temporal distortion.

Leela and the dancers are shown to their rooms, which Leela recognises and claims that she and the others have been settled there all day. She can, unlike K9 and the dancers, remember Pule's death but is unable to convince the others despite having the anomalous holo-prints.

Romana travels to the planetoid in the Presidential TARDIS and transmits her codes, but is told by a Servitor that she ought to have first made her intentions known to the delegates. This makes her realise that there must have been another time slip. Leela too has realised that this is the case and, after hearing an alert warning of the materialisation of a TARDIS, she goes to meet Romana; Baano does not believe her and goes to fetch security.

Hossak greets Romana and says that she was not expected and that she could not have spoken with the delegates as they have not yet met. Romana tells her of the time slip, suggesting that it has been caused by one of the Temporal Powers to ensure that discussions go their way and that she is able to remember it due to being in the TARDIS at the time. Hossak runs off to inform the delegates of her arrival and to have quarters prepared for her and Romana, abandoned, goes wandering and is attacked by a Servitor. She runs and is saved by Leela, who defeats the attacker and finds that it is actually Baano.

To have been able to disguise herself as a Servitor, Baano must have had help from a delegate and Romana and Leela believe that it could reasonably have been Flinkstab. Baano had been the one to frame Narvin for killing Pule and had attacked Romana opportunistically, perhaps hoping to frame her this time. Romana and Leela collect K9 Mark I and confront Flinkstab, who denies working with Baano but confesses to accidentally killing a dancer on Coralee during a sex game. As he breaks down, Baano wakes up and agrees to tell Romana and Leela everything that she knows and who she was really working for in return for help escaping.

Hossak welcomes the delegate to the first day of the summit and is interrupted by Romana, Leela and K9. Romana accuses V'rell of being a part of a Monan faction allied with Free Time and of planning to have Pule assassinated and the Time Lords made to look guilty, after which the Monans would lead the other Temporal Powers against Gallifrey. V'rell says that the Time Lords restructured the hyperspatial links keeping the Monan Host world stable which they could use to release entropy into the systems and destroy the planet. Although he believes that the truth has finally been broadcast, K9 reveals that there has been no broadcast and Narvin accuses V'rell of lying.

Hossak takes out a device which Romana says that she has been using to take the delegates back to square one whenever the summit, for which she feels responsible as chairperson and a peacekeeper, goes wrong. Hossak takes Romana, Leela and V'rell outside, knocking out the latter, and reveals that she has rewound time three times: after Pule's death, after Lexi's death and after an engineer activated the servitors too soon and detected the source of time distortion which she used to power them. K9 Mark I being connected to the network and in the vicinity allowed the holo-prints to continue to exist and Leela to retain her memories.

As Romana is a temporal paradox, being out of sync in time and in a past that she was not part of, she will cancel herself out when time is rewound and cease to exist, something that Hossak is happy to let happen for the good of the summit. However, Romana tells her that the real summit occurred quietly elsewhere with the heads of state and that this was a public front designed to draw out enemies. Hossak is angered that she was denied the opportunity to save the universe, but theorises that the Temporal Powers would be thrown into chaos if Romana were to be erased and she could then broker peace.

Hossak releases pellets concealed on her person and activates the device. Romana and Leela flee to the TARDIS with the unconscious V'rell and dematerialise, but are unable to escape the defence field without the codes. K9 Mark II is not able to send them the codes before the distortion occurs, but once it does they find that they are still capable of remembering all that has happened. The link between Hossak's device and the servitors was, Romana concludes, broken when they entered another dimension and the time field has instead frozen everybody on the planetoid. K9 transmits the codes.

Narvin protests against Romana's actions in holding two summits, believing that it made him look like a fool. However, she says that she has given him full credit as somebody who helped her flush out the Powers' enemies. He protests at V'rell having been handed over to the Monan Host for a trial as he will no doubt make the Time Lords' alterations to their hyperspatial links public knowledge, but Romana, who knows that Narvin gave the orders for said operation, has given information to the High Monan on how to remove them, blaming unknown Gallifreyan elements. Narvin suggests that the High Monan might have been fully aware of the operation and of V'rell's plans, a suggestion that Romana agrees is possible.

Romana visits Leela, whose K9 has been refitted, and informs her that Hossak will be put on trial and punished. Nothing will officially happen to Flinkstab, but the Nekkistani will be made aware of the dancer's death on Coralee, and Baano, against whom there is no evidence, will go free.




  • K9 Mark I is programmed in beginner, intermediate and specialised dancing.
  • Leela performs the fire dance of the Sevateem.



  • Romana holds a special meeting.
  • The inaugural ceremony is scheduled to start at 9 bells Gallifrey Time. Hossak later adjourns the summit until 3 bells the following day for a fresh start.
  • Time is measured in microspans.


  • Baano, Lexi and Yvette once performed at a flea pit on Sagius Minor. There were cockroaches in their accommodation.

Science and technology[]

  • The dancers are transmatted through the deflector shields to the summit.
  • The Servitors fit K9 Mark I's sensors with a limiter.
  • Romana uses a holographer.
  • Narvin believes that the Monans use an occlusion field to keep their past secret.
  • The Nekkistani use strange matter in their time engines.
  • Flinkstab says that a consignment of Servitors has gone missing from the orbital repository.
  • K9 Mark II shares codes with K9 Mark I over the universal circuit link.
  • A beryllium chip is mentioned.
  • There are multiple Presidential TARDISes, all of which Romana says have no personality.




External links[]


  1. Leeson plays both K9 Mark I and K9 Mark II.