The Crucible of Souls was the fourth and final story in the audio anthology Doom Coalition 3, produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by John Dorney and featured Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka, Hattie Morahan as Helen Sinclair and Alex Kingston as River Song, Robert Bathurst as Padrac, Beth Chalmers as Veklin and introduced John Heffernan as The Nine.
The date has been set.
The trap has been sprung.
The Doctor struggles to control the Clocksmith's TARDIS, which resists him and River apparently due to it not wanting to travel to the coordinates of doomsday. They materialise in real space with the aim of flying to the coordinates without using the Time Vortex.
The Nine plays around with the Doctor's console whilst Liv explains regeneration to Helen, believing that the Nine is the Doctor's next incarnation. The Nine meditates to hold the voices of his previous incarnations at bay and, proving to be a kleptomaniac, excitedly heads to the wardrobe room for new clothes.
The Doctor finds that reality beyond the point determined by the Doomsday Chronometer no longer exists, explaining why the TARDIS cannot head in that direction. He tries to find a trace of the destruction and finds a number of trails travelling backwards in time, with one stopping in the recent past.
The Nine dresses himself up as a dandy pirate and is reminded by Liv and Helen of the Clocksmith, the Chronometer, the Eleven, the Sonomancer and how the Doctor had been intending to visit Gallifrey. The Nine agrees that they should go, saying that they should visit the archives in the Capitol.
The Doctor and River arrive at their destination, a drifting, old-style timeship which they believe is unlikely to belong to whoever destroyed the universe. They reach the control room and find it full of the corpses of temporal refugees, killed to prevent them telling anybody in the past about the universe's destruction.
The Doctor and River find a ship displaying life signs and head there, again finding the control room full of corpses regardless. Upon hearing stasers, they realise that the life signs belonged not to the refugees but the attackers.
Liv and Helen protest against the Nine's theft of Time Lord artefacts and suggest that he ask Cardinal Padrac for permission instead. In trying to access an information terminal, the Nine sets off an alarm and Cardinal Padrac is informed of it, sending a squad down to the archives to deal with them.
The Doctor identifies the attackers as the Chancellery Guard, led by a captain who secures the Clocksmith's TARDIS. He and River return to the control room and lock the door, but the guards, who have done a scan for life signs, detect them and begin to burn through the door.
The Nine sends Helen into the TARDIS to prepare it for flight and, once he has put up a shield to keep the squad out, finds the information that he is looking for. He hurts Liv and leaves her behind as a decoy, believing her to be the more suspicious of the two companions. She is caught by the guards and asks to speak to Cardinal Padrac whilst the Nine dematerialises the TARDIS, telling Helen that Liv was shot in the head and killed. Helen is disgusted by his reaction to their friend's death. Once he is alone, the Nine speaks with the voice of the Eight and his other selves and tells them that he is getting rid of them. He heads for the Crucible of Souls.
The Doctor, wearing a psychic cloak and disguising himself as the Clocksmith, tells the captain that he and "Sister Malone" are performing an inspection.
Liv tells Cardinal Padrac what she knows about the Doom Coalition, which she believes to be led by the Eleven, and recognises the face of Lord Stormblood on his screen as he accesses the systems to find out what the Nine took. He explains that Stormblood was the Chief Archivist who went missing around the time of the Eleven's escape, confusing Liv, and that his access codes had defaulted to him. Cardinal Padrac finds that the Nine was looking into the Crucible of Souls and decides to follow him, Liv insisting that she accompany him.
The Doctor and River find that the Time Lords are using Battle TARDISes and hear the report of "the Doctor" escaping Gallifrey with knowledge of the Crucible. They head to the Clocksmith's TARDIS to meet the captain and her guards there.
Helen tells the Nine that she no longer wishes to travel with him and demands that he drop her off before going to the Crucible. She realises that he is one of the Eleven's predecessors when the voices begin to return, his control not being as strong as the Eight, and he admits that he did not kill Liv. He holds her at the point of the regen gun and tells her that she is his prisoner before materialising on the Crucible and killing two Time Lords. He heads towards central control with Helen in tow.
Cardinal Padrac realises that Liv does not trust him and dispenses with the pretences, asking how she knew that he was working with the Eleven. She tells him that he had previously called his Chief Archivist a "her", which she took to be a slip of the tongue because he knew that he had been taken by the Sonomancer. He pulls out his gun and shoots her before contacting Battle TARDIS Δ.
The Doctor and River, whose TARDIS is in tandem with said Battle TARDIS, hear Padrac's call with the captain and learn that he is part of the Doom Coalition. The two believe that "the Doctor" is a future incarnation of the Eighth Doctor and wonder what he is doing.
The Nine kills four Time Lords aboard the Crucible despite Helen's attempts to warn them. He tells Helen that he plans to use the Crucible to become immortal and never have to regenerate again before hearing the arrival of two TARDISes.
The Doctor and River exit the Clocksmith's TARDIS and meet with Padrac and Liv, who is recovering from being stunned. The captain reports that "the Doctor" has locked himself in the control room and killed the staff, leading the Doctor to conclude that it is not a future version of himself. Padrac contacts the Nine and threatens to kill Liv if he does not present himself, but he refuses and activates both the automatic defence systems, which shoot at the Time Lords, and the Crucible.
Padrac tells the Doctor and River what the Nine has done and explains to the latter that the Crucible will, once the future is destroyed, convert the life in the remainder of time into regeneration energy to keep the Time Lords from death. The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to shut down the Crucible, making Liv realise who he really is. The Nine emerges with Helen and tries to kill them, but the Doctor activates the temporal grace circuit. After hitting the captain with his gun, the Nine flees.
Padrac tells the Doctor to take Liv and Helen and wire them up to the Crucible's systems so that their life energies might be taken. Liv convinces Helen to go along with it and asks Padrac to tell them why he is doing what he is: he says that he found that in all Matrix projections but one, Gallifrey was destroyed and that he has gathered allies to ensure that all other life is wiped out and Gallifrey survives. He reveals that he recognised the Nine and knows that "the Clocksmith" is the Doctor.
On Padrac's orders, the captain arrests River. He tells the Doctor that he, Liv and Helen are in an emergency escape shuttle and ejects them into the nonexistent future. He says to River that he has won.
- The Doctor - Paul McGann
- Liv Chenka - Nicola Walker
- Helen Sinclair - Hattie Morahan
- River Song - Alex Kingston
- Padrac - Robert Bathurst
- The Imposter - John Heffernan
- Captain - Beth Chalmers
- The Nine tries on clothes with Helen says make him look like a dandy pirate.
- The Clocksmith's TARDIS disguises itself as a food dispenser.
- The Nine steals a dimensional window.
- Helen initially believes the Nine to be the Twelve.
- "The Doctor" tells Helen that she has a face like a constipated Sontaran.
- Veklin travels in Battle TARDIS Δ.
- The regen gun is a Time Lord weapon.
- The Crucible has a temporal grace circuit.
- This story was recorded at The Moat Studios.
- The Nine ponders what he should call himself if he was to become immortal. He believes that the Infinite would make him sound too much like the Infinite warriors. (AUDIO: The Seeds of War)
- Liv recalls the circumstances of her last trip to Gallifrey, and the escape of the Eleven. (AUDIO: The Eleven)
- Liv recalls Stormblood. (AUDIO: Scenes From Her Life)
- Padrac claims that in every matrix simulation of Gallifrey's future bar one, Gallifrey is destroyed in one way or another. (PROSE: Goth Opera, Dead Romance, Alien Bodies, The Ancestor Cell, TV: The End of the World, AUDIO: Zagreus, Enemy Lines)
- The end of this story leads directly into the next one, AUDIO: Ship in a Bottle.
- Gloria Swannicker previously pretended to be a regeneration of the Doctor in order to trick Melanie Bush into assisting a robbery. (AUDIO: A Life of Crime)