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The Dark Path was the thirty-second novel in the Virgin Missing Adventures series. It was written by David A. McIntee and featured the Second Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon and Victoria Waterfield. This novel features one of the earliest encounters with the Master and the Doctor, greatly expanding on their personal histories on Gallifrey.

Publisher's summary[]

"He's one of my own people, Victoria, and he's hunting me."

Darkheart: a faded neutron star surrounded by dead planets. But there is life on one of these icy rocks — the last enclave of the Earth Empire, frozen in the image of another time. As the rest of the galaxy enjoys the fruits of the fledgling Federation, these isolated imperials, bound to obey a forgotten ideal, harbour a dark obsession.

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive to find that the Federation has at last come to reintegrate this lost colony, whether they like it or not. But all is not well in the Federation camp: relations and allegiances are changing. The fierce Veltrochni — angered by the murder of their kinsmen — have an entirely different agenda. And someone else is manipulating the mission for his own mysterious reasons — another time traveller, a suave and assured master of his work.

The Doctor must uncover the terrible secret which brought the Empire to this desolate sector, and find the source of the strange power maintaining their society. But can a Time Lord, facing the ultimate temptation, control his own desires?


A Veltrochni fleet finds that a lost Imperial colony exists beyond the galactic rim. They attempt to notify the Federation Chair, but the message is picked up by the colonists, who subsequently destroy the Veltrochni fleet, keeping one ship to study.

Gillian Sherwin of the Federation, who received the Veltrochni fleet’s message but is unaware of their destruction, sets out to contact the colony and bring them into the Federation on the ship Piri Reis.

The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria are in the TARDIS when the time path indicator shows that another time machine is following the TARDIS. The Doctor attempts to escape and comes into contact with a time distortion, which leads them to the Imperial colony.

Mistaken for Federation envoys, they are taken into the city, and hear stories about a “demon” that has been killing Adjudicators.

The time machine following them is another TARDIS, piloted by Koschei. It materializes on board the Piri Reis, and Koschei hypnotizes several people into thinking he and his human companion Ailla have always been onboard. He convinces Sherwin to allow Ailla to go with the diplomatic party to the Imperial colony’s planet.

Viscount Gothard expresses doubts about something called the Darkheart project. He welcomes the Doctor and his companions.

The head Adjudicator Terrel worries that Gothard may be a weak link, and is even more disturbed when the colony databanks find a match for the newcomers -- during the Brittanicus Base Ice Warrior incident, which took place centuries ago. If the Doctor has access to some sort of time technology, this may impact the project.

At the diplomatic function, the Doctor is brought face-to-face with Sherwin and is forced to admit that he is not really from the Federation ship -- and becomes suspicious when the Imperials don't automatically arrest him.

Ailla slips away from the function and meets Koschei, who has travelled to the planet in his TARDIS. They break into Gothard's office and wait for him to arrive. However, Gothard resists Koschei's attempt to hypnotise him, and Koschei kills Gothard to avoid detection.

After opening Gothard's computer files, Koschei determines that the pyramidal structure in the heart of the colony is central to whatever project the Imperials are working on. Koschei disguises himself as Gothard and leaves a false trail away from the building while Ailla slips away. The Adjudicator-killing "demon" then arrives in the city, having followed the newcomers. It is nearly invisible and cannot be made out. It breaks into the Adjudication Lodge to get to them, killing any Adjudicators in its way. When Gothard's body is found, his murder is initially assumed to be the work of the demon.

Victoria wanders off to spend some time alone and meets Ailla. Ailla takes Victoria to Koschei's TARDIS, and explains that they have been travelling together ever since he saved her life in the 28th century. The Doctor and Jamie, unable to find Victoria, report her disappearance to Terrell, who decides to bring her in for interrogation and determine how much the intruders really know about the Darkheart.

Victoria gets back to the newcomers' quarters first and tells the Doctor what she's learned, and the Doctor fears that Koschei, a former friend, is hunting him with the intention of returning him to their own people. At the same moment the demon arrives at their quarters and the Adjudicators arrive to arrest them, and in the confused firefight which follows they manage to escape.

Pursued by Adjudicators, they have no choice but to hide in Koschei's TARDIS, where the Doctor and Ailla compare notes and realize that they were both attracted to this planet by the time distortion which they noted in passing. According to Koschei's TARDIS, the disturbances are getting worse -- and when they access the colony medical records, seeking further clues, they find no birth or death records. The people living here are the same people who first founded the colony three hundred years ago.

Using elements from the quantum lance of the captured Veltrochni battleship, chief scientist Vocano is finally able to fine-tune the Darkheart, and the Imperials begin the first stage of their master plan. Every non-human crew member aboard the Piri Reis either vanishes or is replaced by a human who claims to be the missing person in question. At first, Sherwin has the "impostors" arrested, but her formerly Draconian first officer, Salamanca, manages to convince her that he truly believes he is who he says he is -- a human being, native to the planet Draconia.

Victoria, at a loose end, sees Terrell entering the pyramid and follows him, hoping to learn what's going on. The Doctor and Jamie follow her, and find inside the pyramid a stairwell which leads into the centre of the planet. The planet is in fact a hollow bubble of neutron star shell material, linked to the star itself via a dimensional bridge -- and filled with abandoned alien technology. There, they meet Koschei, who has determined that the Darkheart has the power to manipulate the structure of spacetime, technology which must be kept out of the Imperials' hands at all cost. Koschei intends to activate a feedback loop to destroy the alien machinery, but the Doctor objects, believing that this will cause the planet to explode. He returns to Koschei's TARDIS and sends Ailla to talk sense into Koschei. But as Ailla enters the pyramid, the Adjudicators detect intruders and send a team in. When they encounter Koschei tampering with the Darkheart, a firefight breaks out. Ailla walks right into it -- and Koschei, who hadn't expected her to be anywhere near, accidentally shoots and kills her.

The Doctor sends Jamie and Victoria to his TARDIS, which has been brought into the city, to warn the Piri Reis of the danger while he tries to find a way back into the now heavily guarded pyramid. Upon arriving, however, they are confronted by the demon, and Victoria flees while Jamie tries to hold it off -- only to learn that it is in fact a Veltrochni named Hakkauth, the last survivor of Pack Huthakh, and that he has been trying to contact them for help, believing them to be from the Federation ship. The Doctor, meanwhile, finds Ailla's body being removed from the pyramid and notices something odd about it. Unable to enter the pyramid, he instead gets to a transmat station and beams himself back up to the Piri Reis, but shortly afterwards the Adjudicators put up a defensive shield around their planet, taking hostage the Federation envoys still on the planet.

Another Veltrochni fleet has been in the Darkheart system for some time now, investigating the destruction of the Huthakh, and when the shield goes up, Pack-Mother Brokhyth aboard the Zathakh makes her presence known. Her arrival serves only to convince Terrell that humans are now second-class citizens in a Federation run by aliens, and that Sherwin is a traitor to the human race. Koschei contacts Terrell and offers to help him understand the proper functions of the Darkheart, and Terrell, convinced that Koschei is on his side, agrees to let him experiment with the machinery. When Victoria is captured, Koschei uses his new influence to save her from arrest, and tells her that Ailla is dead. In a single moment, she was taken from him forever due to a foolish snap decision, made when he wasn't paying attention. But he will not accept her death -- not now that he has an alternative...

The Darkheart was built by the creatures who evolved into Chronovores, and its true purpose was to focus temporal energy through time and space to any location where the creatures needed healing. It is capable of rewriting living species' morphic fields, and the Imperials have already used it to grant themselves immortality; now they intend to change all species in the galaxy to a human template. Any species which evolved on a planet where humans could not have survived has simply been erased from existence, while all others have become human. Koschei must act before the effect is spread throughout the Universe -- but since the Darkheart is capable of changing history without paradox, he intends to use it first to save Ailla. Thus, in order to delay the Imperials, he shows Terrell how to use the machinery to focus a blast of temporal energy anywhere in space and time. Following his instructions, Terrell tests his new-found control by using the Darkheart to destroy the planet Terileptus, home of the Terileptil species, as Koschei stands by and watches.

The Doctor transmats himself to an Imperial ship in orbit, intending to find a way to shut down the defense shield. Victoria then contacts the Piri Reis to tell them that Koschei is pretending to work with the Imperials so he can shut down the Darkheart, and learns of the Doctor's intentions. She innocently informs Koschei, who warns Terrell in order to stop the Doctor from interfering in his own plans. The Doctor is thus captured and taken down to the planet in a shuttle, but Jamie and Hakkauth rescue him, having already contacted Brokhyth to tell her of Pack Huthakh's fate. They escape to Koschei's TARDIS to avoid patrols, and the Doctor programmes it to work in parallel with his own, so he can use Koschei's functioning navigational system to send the Federation hostages to safety in his own TARDIS. While going so he detects another life form in the TARDIS, and in the depths of the ship he finds a very different Ailla, recovering from her regeneration in the Zero Room. She has been an agent for the High Council all along, as they feared that Koschei was unstable and wanted one of their own to keep an eye on him in secret.

Brokhyth attacks the Imperial fleet in retaliation for the slaughter of Pack Huthakh, and although the Veltrochni easily destroy the 300-year-old ships, Koschei turns the power of the Darkheart on them and threatens to destroy their homeworld unless they back off. Terrell then discovers that Koschei is working on a remote control through which he will be able to control the Darkheart from his TARDIS, and in order to buy time and appease Terrell, Koschei shows him how to use the Darkheart to destroy Veltrochni -- three million years in the past, before life ever evolved. Victoria is horrified by the suggestion until Koschei points out that destroying a planet is not such a terrible act; what if he were to destroy Skaro, home of the Daleks who killed her father? Victoria starts to become convinced.

Koschei returns to his TARDIS to complete his work, only to find the Doctor -- and Ailla -- waiting. The Doctor realizes that Koschei must have told Terrell how to destroy Terileptus, and Ailla is horrified to realize what Koschei has done for her sake. Koschei is stunned to realize that Ailla was never really a loyal human companion, but a spy sent by the High Council to monitor his behaviour. He has destroyed an entire world and its people for no reason whatsoever, and Ailla's betrayal finally pushes him over the edge. He orders Terrell to arrest the Doctor and Ailla and returns to work, to control the powers of the Darkheart and reshape the Universe to his own design. The Koschei whom the Doctor knew as a friend is now dead.

The Doctor and Ailla escape, while Jamie and Hakkauth evacuate the Federation hostages to the Doctor's TARDIS. The Veltrochni manage to breach the shield and attack the city, storm the pyramid complex and arrest Terrell. Koschei, now playing both sides, slips Terrell a weapon and shoots him, claiming that he was about to kill Ailla. The Doctor, however, discovers that Koschei has continued work through the fighting, and that the link between his TARDIS and the Darkheart are now nearly complete. The Doctor tries to talk reason into his old friend, but Koschei will have none of it. With the Darkheart he can impose order upon a chaotic Universe, bringing reason where there was confusion and darkness; there will be no more freedom, but Koschei no longer cares. He orders the hypnotised Victoria to shoot herself if the Doctor tries to interfere. Soon he will have complete control over all space and time, and even the Doctor will one day come to call him Master.

Jamie arrives just as Koschei returns to his TARDIS, and since Koschei did not give Victoria any orders regarding Jamie, he is able to take the gun out of her hands. The Doctor sabotages the Darkheart's controls and he and his companions flee back to his TARDIS. Sherwin evacuates the population of the colony, and she and the Veltrochni get to safety just as Koschei activates the Darkheart. Thanks to the Doctor's sabotage, the dimensional bridge shorts out, and the combined masses of the neutron star and the planet-shell reach critical mass and collapse into a black hole. As the Piri Reis departs, Ailla attempts to arrest the Doctor on behalf of the High Council, but Sherwin and Hakkauth hold her off while the Doctor and his companions escape. But Victoria has now seen too much horror and death, and decides to leave the Doctor the next time they arrive on Earth. As for Koschei, he and his TARDIS are now trapped within the black hole, to remain there forever. Unless he escapes.




The Doctor[]

  • The Doctor is recognised as a Noble of Draconia.
  • At first, the Doctor is afraid that Koschei, despite being an old friend, is looking for him under the direction of the Time Lords.


  • Koschei persuades Terrell to use the Darkheart to destroy Terileptus (home planet of the Terileptils).
  • Koschei uses hypnotism to convince some of the crew he and Ailla have been onboard the Piri Reis all along.



  • The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria have just departed Vortis.
  • Darkheart is the location of a device constructed by Chronovores to heal their young and sick. It is actually a hollow bubble made from neutron star material connected to the star by a dimensional bridge
  • Koschei shows Victoria Skaro prior to the period when the Daleks developed space travel.
  • In a bid to prevent Ailla from being killed in the first place before he learns the truth, Koschei shows Terrell how to focus a blast of temporal energy from the Darkheart and the Imperials use it to destroy Terileptus.
  • Koschei compares the pyramid on Darkheart to be similar to the ones on Phaester Osiris.


  • Victoria gets hypnotised by Koschei, initially playing on the idea that destroying a planet is not always a crime by referencing the possibility that he could do this to the Daleks.


  • The Veltrochni previously triumphed against the Tzun confederacy. Many of them took to the stars to become nomads to escape the Earth Empire so they wouldn't have history repeated.
  • The Doctor refers to the Animus as Lloigor.
  • Sherwin wishes there was a mentiad on board her ship.
  • Epilira is an Alpha Centauran who was a cultural advisor on the ship Piri Reis.
  • Victoria distantly observes the early Daleks in the Dalek City.
  • There is a mural in the Empire's colony depicting the conquest of the Solonian "mutts."
  • The Federation ship has a culturally diverse crew - humans, a Draconian, a number of Terileptils and an Alpha Centauran among others.


  • Koschei's TARDIS is a Type 45 with user definable macros for easy navigation.
  • The Doctor can use Koschei's TARDIS to remotely control his.
  • Koschei deletes Ailla's rooms in his TARDIS after encountering her new incarnation.


  • The Darkheart is the technology of the Chronovores. It focuses time energy on any area the creatures needed to heal.
  • The Imperials have found the Darkheart and have learnt it can manipulate morphic fields, and have used it to become immortal. It has a side effect of rendering people sterile.

Theories and concepts[]

  • Koschei considers the Blinovitch Limitation Effect while pondering saving Ailla's life.
  • The Doctor once explained to Victoria you couldn't change the past in a TARDIS without splitting off another universe. Koschei confirms this before going on to explain that Darkheart can affect time anywhere.

Time Lords[]

  • Ailla regenerates after being hit with a disrupter fired by Koschei by accident.

Transport technology[]

  • "Telefrag" is a Marine Corps term for transmatting somebody into the exact same coordinates as somebody else (the result is "splat").


  • The story takes place between The Web of Fear and Fury from the Deep, and follows on from Twilight of the Gods.
  • While the publisher's summary mentions "Time Lord", the text of the novel does not. This preserves the inner continuity of the first mention of the name in the television story The War Games.
  • This is the very first, and one of the few, stories released which depict the Second Doctor in his own story with the Master, though it would be chronologically preceded by AUDIO: The Home Guard. Some readings of PROSE: Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons also suggest that the Master appeared in The War Games itself, as the War Chief, (PROSE: CIA File Extracts)]] backs this claim up. Additionally, AUDIO: The Black Hole saw the Second Doctor encounter Pavo, a character intended to be an even earlier version of the Master who has yet to become a Renegade, although this is not confirmed in-story.
  • Scenes cut from the novel were published in the charity anthology Perfect Timing.
  • Victoria briefly observes the Daleks in their city, marking the only appearance of the Daleks in the Virgin Missing Adventures.
  • The Master was illustrated on the cover of the book as already having the likeness of Roger Delgado. However, this is somewhat hard to reconcile with the text of the book, which features an incarnation of the Master who has yet to taken on that name, instead going by "Koschei", and whose involvement in the plot ends with him trapped in mortal peril at the same time he takes on the name of "the Master" for the first time. The Face of the Enemy would later see the Delgado Master looking back on "Koschei's death", as well as regarding the name as no longer applying to the person he had since become. McIntee noted on his Tumblr blog that "we know from Romana that Time Lords regenerating properly can choose their appearance, and the Master is vain enough to do just that", meaning that Koschei may have resembled Roger Delgado without actually being the same regeneration as TV's Delgado.[1]
  • On his Tumblr blog, McIntee further commented that although one possible interpretation of the book is that Koschei regenerates directly into the TV Roger Delgado Master, losing most of his remaining regenerations to the black hole, he intended to leave open the possibility of gap incarnations (including Edward Brayshaw's War Chief:[1]

The end of the book has it take several lifetimes (and, by implication, possible incarnations) for the Master to get out the Darkheart. This was intended to fit in with the stuff in the novelisations about the Master having used up is regenerations, but it also allows for him to actually be, say, Edward Brayshaw, if you really want him to, and that he then regenerates back to Delgado.David A. McIntee

  • Koschei, often dubbed "Koschei the Deathless" is a stock antagonist in Slavic mythology. Among his key characteristics are being a villainous sorcerer who sought immortality, and being locked underneath a tower for inhuman amounts of time. The former characteristic closely parallels a recurring character trait of the Master, while the DWU "Koschei" would be depicted in the latter predicament in the short story Rebel Rebel.
  • According to McIntee, his original draft for the book, instead of having "Koschei turn dark because his companion turned out to be, er, not dead, but a Timey spying on him", had him "turn dark because after she got killed the Doctor wouldn’t let him change what happened, cos he was so sure he knew what was right, and what would keep Koschei as his BFF". This was changed against McIntee's wishes by the editor.[2]


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