The Guardians of Prophecy was the fourth story in the third series of Big Finish Productions' The Lost Stories range of audio stories. This was the first of three stories in that third series to feature the Sixth Doctor and Peri Brown played by Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant. The Guardians of Prophecy was a sequel to the 1981 television story The Keeper of Traken, featuring the Melkur and set on a remaining planet that was once part of the Traken Union, based on a treatment by The Keeper of Traken's writer Johnny Byrne and written out and adapted by Jonathan Morris.
The TARDIS materialises on Serenity, the last surviving world of the Traken Union. Peri expects a good place for a holiday — not tomb raiders, a labyrinth filled with terrifying monsters and a trap-laden necropolis.
For Serenity's gentle name belies its history as the home planet of the Melkur, soldiers created to serve a long dead dark force, the embodiment of evil itself. Whilst they sleep, vicious thieves are after this force's secrets, and will stop at nothing to find them.
But will they find more than they bargained for?
The Guardian of Prophecy, a member of the Elect of Serenity, represents the common people, the Meers, of the planet. They are beginning to question the right of the Elect to govern Serenity, especially since other planets in the Benign Union have democratic governments. The Guardian believes that failure to honour the peoples' wishes may result in outright rebellion.
Mura, the commander of the palace guard, orchestrates a robbery of a casket from the palace vaults with the assistance of his fellow guard Escalus. However, when the alarm sounds, Mura pretends to have apprehended Escalus and claims that he was the sole thief. In accordance with the ancient law of Serenity, he has Escalus thrown into the labyrinth. After meeting with the Guardians in the Consul Chamber, he brings the casket to his co-conspirator, Court Recorder Aura, in his chambers. It contains three amulets and the Codex of Equilibrium, all of which date to before the founding of the Benign Union.
The Doctor tells Peri that Serenity, the sole planet to survive the destruction of the Traken Union centuries earlier, is "neither serene nor benign". Its people played a key role in the formation of the Benign Union. While in orbit of the planet, the TARDIS keeps up a transmission from the Melkur. They are searching the universe for the essence of pure evil from which they were created. Although the Doctor intends to depart immediately, the Melkur's psychic influence results in the TARDIS being dragged down to the surface of the planet.
Auga hires a renowned criminal named Ebbko to break into a tomb. He pays him 100,000 union credits in advance and intends to pay the remainder of his fee upon completion.
The TARDIS materialises in a necropolis on the surface of Serenity, where they find numerous dormant Melkur. Peri comments on their "weird design", comparing them to the work of the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí.
The burial enclosure is surrounded by a temporal distortion field. If someone was to attempt to walk through it, different parts of their bodies would be sent 100 years into the future. However, Ebbko is able to create a temporary gap in the field which is large enough for a person to walk through. As the breach of the temporal distortion field is detected, the Doctor and Peri are attacked by one of the necropolis' robot sentinels, a floating sphere. After Auga and Ebbko hear Peri being chased by the sentinel, Ebbko is able to disrupt its operating systems. In the meantime, the Doctor is placed under arrest by Commander Mura.
Upon reaching their destination, the Tomb of Malador, Ebbko deactivates its invisible plasma field while Auga opens the tomb using one of the amulets from the casket, in actuality a decoding device.
As the Doctor is about to be executed by Mura's guards, the Guardian arrives in the enclosure and has Mura stand down. He orders Mura to bring the Doctor to the palace for questioning before his execution.
As it is not feasible to allow Peri to leave their sight as she may raise the alarm, Auga instructs her to lead the way into the tomb so that she can trigger any traps ahead.
After learning that there are no exceptions to the law that anyone who enters the enclosure is to be executed, the Doctor calls Mura as a defence witness and has him testify to the Guardians that he himself was in the enclosure. If the law is to be strictly and literally applied, the Doctor claims that Mura should be executed along with him. In order to have the matter resolved, the Guardian summons Prophecy, a living computer, who warns that a great evil is threatening the future of Serenity, claiming that "infinite evil" has breached the Tomb of Malador.
Auga uses a second amulet to enter the inner chamber of Malador's tomb. He tells Peri that Malador is a legendary figure in Serenity's ancient history whose very existence is open to question. The chamber contains an energy sphere, which is Prophecy's source of power. Auga plans to destroy the computer so as to allow the Meers to overthrow the Elect and gain control of Serenity through revolution.
The Doctor warns the Guardians that if Prophecy is deactivated or destroyed, the shield of goodness generated around the planet will break down and the Melkur will no longer be dormant. The Guardians dismiss Malador as a mere legend which is used to frighten errant children. However, the Doctor tells them that stories of Malador, which state that he is immortal, indestructible and pure evil, have spread as far as Gallifrey and are used to frighten Gallifreyan children. When the Guardian requests Prophecy to pass judgment on the Doctor's claims, she finds him guilty of breaching the enclosure and instructs that he is to be thrown into the labyrinth immediately.
As he has previously participated in raids on tombs on other planets, Ebbko finds it suspicious that there were no traps in the Tomb of Malador and believes that they may have been intended to reach the inner chamber.
After being thrown into the labyrinth, the Doctor determines that Prophecy sentenced him to death so that he could reach the Tomb of Malador through the underground tunnels and prevent Auga from deactivating her. Prophecy assures the Doctor that she will protect him from the creatures in the labyrinth.
Auga's attempts to deactivate Prophecy result in the energy sphere's power being channelled into the burial casket. Prophecy warns the Guardians that Malador has risen, an event witnessed by Peri, Auga and Ebbko.
Prophecy uses her ability to alter the flow of time in order to bring forward her own demise and to prevent her technology from falling into Malador's hands. She uses her last traces of energy to save the Doctor from the creatures in the labyrinth.
Malador tells Peri that he created the temporal distortion field surrounding the enclosure and the energy sphere which previously powered Prophecy. After learning that Auga was responsible for his awakening, Malador grants him the "honour" of being his first victim. However, he permits Auga to live, as his mind is a simmering pit of fear and self-doubt which serves to nourish him, before fulfilling his promise to kill him.
After learning that Prophecy has been destroyed, Mura pulls a neutron laser on the Guardians. He tells them that they are to be tried by a revolutionary council, consisting of Meers, which will either exile them or sentence them to death. In the interim, they are to be imprisoned in the palace's dungeons.
The labyrinth is a temporal amplification circuit which uses the energy from Malador's tomb to power Prophecy and generate the field of goodness around the planet. Having recovered the bulk of his energy, Malador is able to reactivate all of the Melkur on Serenity.
Mura has appointed himself President of Serenity and claims to be acting on behalf of the Meers. He tells the Doctor and Peri that he plans to step aside for a democratically elected president once the revolution is over, though the time travellers are doubtful that he will do so. However, only minutes later, Mura is killed by the Melkur as they capture the Guardians' chamber.
As Malador is able to see through the Melkur's eyes, he determines that Prophecy is not irreparably damaged. He reverse the polarity of the protective shield around Serenity to create a field of pure evil, which he uses to amplify the Lament of the Melkur and transmit it to every Melkur in the universe.
Malador decides to spare the Doctor's life when he realises that he is a Time Lord. He tells him that, thousands of years earlier, Malador had his conscience surgically removed. He plans to do the same to not only the Doctor but the entire population of Serenity.
After once again escaping from the palace dungeon, the Doctor, Peri and Ebbko attempt to make their way back to the Tomb of Malador but are met with opposition in the form of several Melkur. However, they retreat to the TARDIS, which almost immediately materialises in the tomb's inner chamber.
While the Doctor reprogrammes the energy sphere to increase the level of amplification within the labyrinth, Ebbko creates a plasma field around the chamber in order to keep the Melkur out. As the increased amplification will result in the level of temporal and dimensional fracturing within the labyrinth being increased, the resulting energy is capable of destroying even Malador. The Doctor intends to lure him into the labyrinth, where the creatures in the labyrinth will feed on his psychic energy, at the cost of his own life. He is even prepared to allow Serenity to be pulled through the dimensional rupture if it means that Malador will be destroyed.
When the Melkur break their way into the inner chamber, Ebbko places Peri into the casket but sacrifices his own life. He not only saves Peri's life but those of everyone on Serenity. After Malador's psychic energy is consumed by the creatures in the labyrinth, both he and the Melkur are pulled through the dimensional fracture.
In order to honour Ebbko's sacrifice, the Doctor advises the Guardians to create a power sharing system which will have prominent roles for members of both the Elect and the Meers in government. He tells them they should have a written constitution which starts with "a catchy motto," remarking that he once told Thomas Jefferson the same thing.
- The Doctor - Colin Baker
- Peri Brown - Nicola Bryant
- Autolycus Ebbko/ The Melkur - Graham Cole
- Mura - James George
- Auga - Nigel Lambert
- Guardian - Simon Williams
- Malador - Stephen Thorne
- Felia/ Prophecy - Victoria Pritchard
- Horgan - Glynn Sweet
- Escalus - Duncan Wisbey
- Ebbko has done jobs on many planets including Delta Maximus, where he picked a magnetic lock.
- The Doctor recalls meeting Thomas Jefferson.
- Malador says that he has made sure to defend his tomb against tomb raiders.
- Adapted by Jonathan Morris, this story began a potential story for 1983's Doctor Who. This audio version is based on a 17 page treatment written by Johnny Byrne and given to Sarah Groenewegen when they had been pen pals; she kept the treatment since the 1980s or 90s.
- The Doctor recalls the destruction of the Traken Union by the Master in 1981. (TV: Logopolis)
- The Doctor mentions that he has never met a "true" Melkur before, only an approximation on Traken. (TV: The Keeper of Traken)
- The Doctor tells the Guardians that he hates long, drawn out trials. (TV: The Trial of a Time Lord)
- Malador senses evil within the Doctor, (TV: The Ultimate Foe) and asks him how many have died because of him. (TV: Journey's End) The Doctor previously told the Baron he did know how many people he's killed. (AUDIO: Leviathan)
- Serenity was the only surviving planet of the Traken Union after the entropy wave destroyed it. (PROSE: Cold Fusion)
- Official The Guardians of Prophecy page at bigfinish.com
- DisContinuity for The Guardians of Prophecy at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide