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The Alchemists was the second story of the eighth series in The Companion Chronicles audio range. It was produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by Ian Potter and featured Susan.

Publisher's summary Edit

The TARDIS lands in Berlin in the 1930s, where Hitler and his National Socialist party are in the ascendant.

Some of the greatest scientific minds are gathering here: Einstein, Heisenberg, Planck, Schrödinger, Wigner. The people who will build the future of planet Earth.

But the Doctor and Susan have brought something with them. Something apparently harmless, something quite common. Yet something that could threaten the course of history...

Plot Edit

Wedding Gold (1) Edit

In the TARDIS, Susan is writing a letter to Barbara, to be opened only if she died or left the TARDIS. If one of those things should happen, she asks her and Ian to look after her grandfather: she worries about what the Doctor would do without her. She says that, even though he told Barbara they can't change history, this is not exactly true: every action has consequences, every person can change the present and the future of everyone. There was a time, she says, she was tempted to do so. It happened before they came aboard, when the Doctor was looking for a place where he could hide a mysterious casket he was carrying with him.

One time, Susan and the Doctor landed in Berlin, Germany, in what the Doctor guesses is November 1932, during the rise of the Nazi party. The Doctor was exstatic: as he explained to Susan, on this time on Earth many great scientific minds could be found on Earth. He studied the map of a nearby railway station and worked out a route to the other side of the city to see them; however, Susan pointed out that they had no money to pay for the railway. The Doctor then came back to the TARDIS and took out some golden coins they took from ancient Rome, meaning to exchange them for money.

After some searching, the Doctor and Susan entered a jewellery to exchange the money. The jeweller, Herr Stritmacher inquired about what they were doing in Berlin as he valued the money, and they told him they were here to visit some scientists. The jeweller assessed that the coins were in perfect state, "almost as new"; he then offered them a ride himself to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (home of a renowned scientific circle) in the taxi of a friend of his. Ignoring Susan's concerns, the Doctor accepted the offer. As they rode to the Institute, Stritmacher expressed his opinion on the current political and economical situation: great poverty, two elections in five months with no satisfying results, no effective action from police, and the "brown shirts" (the SA, Hitler's men) as the only ones to act about it.

The doormen at the Institute's entrance refused to let the Doctor and Susan in. The Doctor then resorted to a trick: he wrote some scientific formulas on the back of one the notes Stritmacher gave him, and told to a doorman to bring it to the director, Fritz Haber. Minutes later, Haber reached them outside, amazed at the formulae the Doctor wrote, and led him and Susan into the Institute. As the Doctor wandered around, Susan had to fend off the unwanted attention of some youngsters, and finally exited the building with the excuse of getting some air. Some kids surrounded her, offering to do anything for money, and she asked them the direction for a cafe.

As she was sitting there enjoying the view, Susan was approached by a young English man, Pollitt, who started a conversation with her. Susan told him she and her grandfather were here for scientific interest and the Doctor was visiting Haber. Suddenly, Susan felt weak, her head spinning. Pollitt led her outside the cafe, where the boys of before surrounded her, asking whether she was alright. Susan, accompanied by Pollitt, came back to the Institute, where she saw the Doctor and Haber being taken away from some security men in a car. Susan tried to follow the car, but she was too weak and fell into Pollitt's arms.

Pollitt told her they had probably come for Haber and the Doctor was just dragged into it and insisted she would come with him: she needed to rest, and he had some friends who could help her trace her grandfather. Susan however refused, and Pollitt left, giving her the card of a club where she could find him if she needed him. As he was gone, one of the boys suggested Susan to ask the help of the SA to find the Doctor.

Dahlem Lead (2) Edit

The boy, Rudi, took Susan to his brother Hans, a member of the SA, in the quarter of Dahlem Lead. Upon hearing the story, Hans guessed that the Doctor has been captured by mistake along with the intended victim of the kidnapping, Fritz Haber; he also guessed that Haber had been taken because they wanted him to fabricate explosives to use against the German people. He said that the news would soon spread in the underground, and they just had to pull the right strings to know where the Doctor had been taken.

Accompanied by Hans and two other members of SA, Susan went searching for information. Eventually, they arrived at a local where a man promised to get them some information by the next day's evening, in exchange for some money. But Susan saw that the man was just stalling; exasperated and angry, she rebuffed Hans and his friends saying that their knowledge of a supposed criminal world was false: everything was just chaotic and disorganized, and people knew nothing. Hans replied that this was exactly what their enemies wanted them to believe, in order to stop Germans to get a government of their choice, that would bring back order and safety. Susan replied she did not believe a word of it and went off to leave the place.

As she walked out, she came across Pollitt, who said he had information about the Doctor's whereabouts. He brought her to a nearby pub he had said to own and locked her inside a safety room, revealing himself to be an agent of the British service. He tried to drug her before when he met her, but he mistook the dose; now, however, he had her in his power. After a brief fight, Susan was subdued, and Pollitt proceeded to interrogate her. He told her there have been words about Haber studying in secret how to fabricate gold; the arrival of the Doctor and Susan with gold coins, and the way they easily got to see Haber, aroused suspicions. Pollitt started asking Susan questions about Haber's presumed new-found way to fabricate gold, but Susan insisted she knew nothing of the sort.

Eventually, Pollitt gave up and left Susan to herself. Quickly, Susan devised a plan of escape. She took the sheets from the bed in the room Pollitt interrogated her, made a rope out of them and used jargon to break the window of the room. When Pollitt came to check, alerted by the noise, Susan went out of the room by the door and locked him inside; she then ran into the street and, along the course of the night, managed with some difficulty to make her way back to the TARDIS. The next morning, Susan came back to Herr Strittmatter's shop with the last bag of gold and asked him to change them into banknotes, enough to get people to talk about her grandfather's kidnapping and when he was taken. Strittmatter agreed to help her and then took her back in his cab to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute; upon seeing the tighter security at the front door, he suggested they came in from a back door he opened with a lockpick.

Strittmatter led her into an abandoned chemistry lab, where, to Susan's surprise, the Doctor was held, tied to a chair and gagged. Strittmatter revealed himself to be a German secret agent and explained he captured him and kept him here after the accident at the Institute. After the Doctor and Susan arrived with their golden coins, fresh of mint, he suspected Haber actually found a way to fabricate gold from seawater; and if that was so, this could alleviate German economic situation and save the country. As they were talking, Pollitt arrived to confront Strittmatter. It came out the latter was an informant for Pollitt, but he didn't tell him he had the Doctor, so Pollitt followed him. Pollitt, disappointed, shot Strittmatter and then ordered Susan to ungag the Doctor.

Pollitt tried to get the Doctor to tell the secret of fabricating gold, but the Doctor refused. If he did, he said, he would have changed the course of history: it would give either Germany or other countries an economical advantage that would prevent World War II from happening. Pollitt then interrogated Susan, but the girl was able to trick him. Under the excuse of showing him the process, she threw at him some chemical components in the lab; when he was disoriented, she picked up Strittmatter's gun and forced him at gunpoint to release the Doctor. They then went out of the lab, threatening him that they would kill him if he followed them.

Out of the lab, they came across Rudi, the boy who tried to help Susan. She gave him all the gold she has left, and wondered what would happen of him in a few years, where the war would start. Back at the TARDIS, she asked the Doctor whether it really was such a bad thing, to alter the course of history. The Doctor replied that it was something better left unchecked, and promised Susan that, despite the hardships, the world coming out from World War II would be a better one. He also added that sooner or later he would have to show Susan the latter half of the century, maybe find a place for the cask they are bringing with them to rest.

In the present, Susan concludes her letter by saying that her ultimate message is that, in spite of hardships, all will be well in some way. She also recommends the Doctor to Ian and Barbara, if she even was to leave the TARDIS.

Cast Edit

References Edit

Notes Edit

The Alchemists

Textless cover art

Continuity Edit

  • Susan recalls the events of this story in the form of a letter to Barbara and Ian, to be opened in the event that she dies or leaves the TARDIS. (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth)
  • She recalls their meeting with Marco Polo in 1289 and says he would not have become famous if they didn't save his life. (TV: Marco Polo)
  • The Doctor is said to have a "packing case" in the TARDIS which he wants to leave on 20th century Earth. It is implied that this is, in fact, the Hand of Omega. Susan also wonders what happened to that cask, and guessed they must have left it in the 20th century. (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks)
  • Susan refers to having observed a Zeppelin attack during World War I. (TV: Planet of Giants)
  • Susan mentions Adolf Hitler's rise to power as Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933. (AUDIO: Neverland)
  • Susan has an excellent knowledge of chemistry. (TV: An Unearthly Child)
  • Susan considers that she has the power to alter events to prevent the outbreak of the Second World War. However, the Doctor argues it would unpick the fabric of reality. Susan later concedes that had she altered history, the versions of Ian and Barbara that she came to know would never have existed. She also remembers the Doctor telling Barbara they couldn't change history. (TV: The Aztecs)
  • Upon narrating the Doctor's threat to Pollitt to kill him, Susan insists that the Doctor was never that cold-hearted, and she adds that Barbara still does not believe her. (TV: An Unearthly Child)
  • The Doctor says he must show Susan the latter half of the 20th century eventually. (PROSE: Time and Relative)

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