Tales from the Vault was the first story of the sixth series in The Companion Chronicles audio range. It was produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by Jonathan Morris and featured Ruth Matheson, Charlie Sato and cameo appearances from Steven Taylor, Zoe Heriot, Jo Grant and Romana I.
Welcome to the Vault — jokingly known as "the Museum of Terrors" — a high security establishment where UNIT keeps all of its alien artefacts.
New recruit Warrant Officer Charlie Sato is given a guided tour by Captain Ruth Matheson, and the archive reveals some dark secrets. An army jacket, a painting, crystal and a wax cylinder all hold a grave significance, and their stories are told by the Doctor's companions: Steven Taylor, Zoe Heriot, Jo Grant and Romana...
Warrant Officer Charlie Sato is greeted by Captain Ruth Matheson at the UNIT archives in the Museum of Terrors, also known as "The Vault". After going through an identity conformation procedure in which he is scanned, gassed and given a drug, Captain Matheson takes him for a tour of the museum in hopes of having him join the staff. She explains the job of UNIT Secret Ops, the branch that he would be working for if he decides to take the job. She further explains that the water he had earlier was drugged and if he chooses not to take the job and return to regular duty the drug will simply wipe his memory of the last 24 hours to prevent the secrets from leaking out, whereas if he accepts she will give him the antidote to counteract the drug. He accepts.
They go to get some coffee in the break room and Matheson explains that Sato's job will be as an assistant on night-watch, keeping a close eye that the exhibits in the archive don't break out. She leads him downstairs to the exhibits to show and explain them to him.
Sato sees many different exhibits on his guided tour of the vaults, including Terravores, a Krynoid seed pod (empty husk) and a potential part of a Sontaran Scout Ship. Sato, curious about a jacket, asks Captain Matheson to explain and the Captain decides to play a tape recording of Jo Grant explaining the jacket's purpose. Due to technical difficulties (on Jo's end), Sato instead accesses the UNIT archives instead and gets a factual account and they discover that a man named Roddie Fletcher purchased a red infantryman's jacket that caused him to go ballistic and UNIT was brought in to investigate. Captain Matheson, trying to get commander Sato to expand his understanding, and engaging his curiosity, manages to find the second tape and goads Sato into listening to an alternative, more "human" account of the event from Jo's perspective. Jo explains how the Doctor and her cornered Mr. Fletcher, in which he claims he is a soldier from the Battle of Spion Kop named Tommy Watkins. They managed to take him down and remove the jacket, and UNIT surmises that somehow part of his conscious lingered on in the jacket. Whether it can still posses people is unknown as no one has put the jacket on since. They move on to the next exhibit.
Captain Matheson explains that their next exhibit was one of the first assignments she ever had with special ops and it was for an exhibit for a very famous art piece. She plays her interview with Romana. The Doctor and her had discovered an important piece of artwork that shows the viewer their own death. They meet with its owner, Hickson, and the Doctor hears him recount what he saw. They explain what the painting's strange and dangerous ability. In a blind panic, Hickson runs out and is killed by a car, just as the painting had predicted. Matheson was brought in to replace the painting and they gave the Doctor a fake and kept the real painting as an emergency, since the Doctor would never know as he could never look at the painting. Romana was brought in for quick questioning and was then released.
Next she shows Sato a glowing orb containing parts of Zoe's conscious memories anthropomorphized into something that sounds like her voice. She explains a string of bank robberies in the early 50s and 60s found that thieves were robbing banks but no one could remember the events. The leader of the gang committing these indicents, a man named Dougleesh, is also using it on his associates to make them forget that he is also supposed to pay them after their robberies. The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe track down the orb and find him and reveal his plan to his associates. The crystal is then gifted back to UNIT by the Doctor when they meet on another occasion.
Suddenly they hear an alarm and go to investigate. A "capsule", sent by the Doctor, is found to be the source of the noise and is set to open that night. The two hear Steven Taylor on recording and he explains that he, Dodo and the Doctor had arrived in Africa during the Boer Wars at the behest of a distress signal. They find the crashed ship and ask its pilot (implied to be an Ice Warrior but the description is still vague enough to be have been something else) what happened. It reveals that the prisoner they were transporting has escaped and it dies. The trio then hear gun shots and soon find themselves in a tent with private Tommy Watkins and his superior Lieutenant Thornicroft. Steven realises eventually, as the Doctor immediately had, that Thornicroft isn't acting normal, and he is revealed to really be the escaped prisoner Kali Carash and he plans to take over the world. However, the record cuts and it is unknown what happened, whether the trio succeeded in stopping him or not.
Sato is concerned that he may still be at large and realizes that they may still be able to find him with the help of Tommy Watkin's conscious in the jacket. Despite Captain Matheson's warnings of breaking protocol, Sato puts on the jacket and draws Tommy Watkins out. Captain Matheson asks Watkins what happened before he died when he met the Doctor and Watkins recounts both being with the First Doctor and being on the rooftop with the Third Doctor. Then, he reveals that he is really Kali Carash and had instead survived by tricking the others and transferring his consciousness. He was waiting for Earth technology to advance to the point where he could use it to escape the planet, however, it was moving too slowly and he realized he could only escape using extraterrestrial technology. He reveals his master plan to Captain Matheson.
She tricks him into looking at the painting from earlier and revealing what he sees. She realizes how to stop him based on his description and uses the crystal to draw his consciousness from Sato's body (its true power/purpose). She then smashes the crystal after saying goodbye to Zoe's memory and Carash is gone for good. Captain Matheson reawakens Sato and reprimands him for his rash actions. She then congratulates him for learning the most important rule of the "Vault", that everything, both personnel and exhibits, are expendable, as she was willing to kill his possessed body to stop Carash. Sato asks why the Doctor set the capsule timer for tonight and not another time and Ruth explains that she isn't sure herself, but if she were to guess, she will write a report about the incident that has taken place, the Doctor will end up reading it at some point and go back in time to set it. Sato is confused but Ruth explains that's usually how things are when they involve the Doctor. They then go to get some coffee and Sato comments that he thinks he's going to enjoy working here.
- Captain Ruth Matheson - Daphne Ashbrook
- Warrant Officer Charlie Sato - Yee Jee Tso
- Steven Taylor - Peter Purves
- Zoe Heriot - Wendy Padbury
- Jo Grant - Katy Manning
- Romana - Mary Tamm
- The Vault is located under the Angel of the North.
- Within the Vault is a hunk of what is thought to be a Sontaran scout ship that crashed at Tunguska province.
- Ruth mentions that UNIT has bases in locations other than under famous London landmarks (like the Tower of London).
- Sato notices some plastic daffodils and a grandfather clock as he and Ruth exit the Vault to get some coffee.
- This audio drama was primarily recorded on 11 November 2010 at The Moat Studios, however according to the interview included on the CD, contributions from some cast members were recorded during sessions for other Companion Chronicles.
- It was released on 14 July 2011.
- This audio drama features a cast of six actors, more than any other Companion Chronicle release to date.
- This is the second Companion Chronicles release to feature multiple companions from different eras, the first being The Three Companions. There are in fact six companions involved in the story, although only four are heard. This is not an omnibus of stories with linking material, but rather Jo, Romana, Steven and Zoe are worked into the narrative by way of archival recordings.
- The events involving Jo are said to take place "70-odd" years after the death of Tommy Watkins in 1900, placing the Doctor's exile on Earth in the early 1970s. This is consistent with the TV: Mawdryn Undead version of the UNIT dating controversy and the real life broadcasts.
- This was Mary Tamm's final appearance in The Companion Chronicles before her death on 24 July 2012.
- The date on which the Doctor and Romana find the painting in Kensington is June 6th 2002, said to be a "rainy Wednesday". The actual day, according to the Gregorian calendar, on which June 6th 2002 fell on was a Thursday.
- The alien pilots that Steven and the Doctor talk to sound as though they are Ice Warriors, however, the First Doctor had never encountered them before as his first time was in his second incarnation. (TV: The Ice Warriors) However, there is no mention of the pilot being green, and so the description is kept vague enough so that it could potentially be a different species, although all the other standard traits are there, large fish eyes, scales, sharp teeth and long, drawn-out "s" 's in their speech.
- Alien artefacts in the Vault include the Terravore, (AUDIO: The Crimes of Thomas Brewster) Krynoid husks, (TV: The Seeds of Doom) plastic daffodils, (TV: Terror of the Autons) a chess set, (TV: The Curse of Fenric) and a grandfather clock. (AUDIO: Mastermind)
- Ruth tells Charlie about the Terravore incursion in the London Underground in 2010. (AUDIO: The Crimes of Thomas Brewster)
- References are made to UNIT's involvement with an incident involving a sea monster appearing in the River Thames (TV: Terror of the Zygons) and the disturbances at the turn of the millennium. (TV: Doctor Who; PROSE: Millennial Rites; AUDIO: The Panda Invasion)
- Jo mentions her encounters with the Axons (TV: The Claws of Axos) and the Sea Devils. (TV: The Sea Devils)
- Private Tommy Watkins was killed in the Battle of Spion Kop in 1900 during the Second Boer War, as was the case with Joan Redfern's husband Oliver. (TV: Human Nature)
- The painting that the Fourth Doctor and Romana was investigating was stolen from the Braxiatel Collection two centuries ago, it could show the viewer's death. (AUDIO: Bernice Summerfield)
- The incident involving International Electromatics and Tobias Vaughn is mentioned, along with how the Doctor and his companions helped put an end to it. (TV: The Invasion)
- Ruth mentions that UNIT already faces enough difficulties keeping their secrets and it doesn't help having numerous photographers continually attempt to take pictures of their exploits. Isobel Watkins photographed UNIT's battle with the Cybermen during an attempted invasion (TV: The Invasion) while James Stevens often attempted to get photographic evidence for his articles on UNIT. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
- Charlie Sato sees some plastic daffodils and a grandfather clock as he leaves the archives. These same daffodils were used in an attempt by the Master to take over the Earth with the help of the Autons, but was stopped by UNIT, Jo Grant and the Doctor before he could succeed. (TV: Terror of the Autons) The Master disguised his TARDIS as a grandfather clock on many occasions. (TV: The Keeper of Traken et al.)