When something enormous crashes into Bedfordshire, the Doctor, Jo Grant, and the forces of UNIT under Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart mobilise immediately – and find themselves in the middle of a pitched battle against a terrifying invader... But the shocking face that awaits their return to base may tip the whole world off its axis!
At the Fragrant Wayfarer, Jo Grant and Mike Yates enjoy some Taiwanese food before a call comes in for "Greyhound leader", swiftly ending date night. Back at UNIT HQ, the Brigadier ushers them both into Benton's waiting helicopter, saying that they have a Condition Black emergency. When Jo Grant asks about the Third Doctor, the Brigadier replies he's not answering his phone.
Across town, the Doctor is enjoying a spot of chess at the gentlemen's club before he is called away, racing off in Bessie. Back at the club, the Doctor's opponent keeps tabs on the Time Lord via a tracker before removing his mask, revealing himself as the Master.
Arriving in Fairford, the Doctor barely dodges a shell before he picks up Benton who directs him to the mobile command centre. At the retrofitted church, the Doctor happily reunites with Jo before the Brigadier shows him footage of the invading aliens (who fired first), a race of robotic beings that the Doctor has never seen before.
Undeterred, the Doctor attempts diplomacy, only to be struck by an energy bolt. Even with Jo's earlier warning about the comparatively weak attacks, his lack of harm surprises the Doctor who suspects something larger is afoot before UNIT calls in air strike which destroys the invaders. As the dust settles, the robotic bodies begin reconstituting, using the rocks and asphalt as raw materials. The Doctor seizes a piece of a body, neutralizing its assimilation with his sonic screwdriver, and heads off to see Tom Osgood. After some tinkering with the man's field radio, the Doctor contains the robots in a force field before he and Jo rush off to his lab for analysis of the one robotic piece that they have.
Arriving back at headquarters, the Doctor is stunned by the spooked staff with Carol Bell directing him to his laboratory. The Doctor is furious that someone other than him and the tea lady was allowed in but as Bell shows, they followed his rules.
His guest is none other than the Second Doctor!
Though the Second Doctor is as cheery as ever, the Third grumbles as Jo questions why the Second Doctor doesn't seem familiar with them. After all, didn't they just part ways with him? Somewhat brusquely, the Third Doctor explains that two of the same Time Lord being together causes the younger version to forget the encounter. Then, the Second Doctor draws their attention back to the machine. Having been sent by the Time Lords, he explains that the invaders are each a colony of beings, much like a coral reef, which leads the Third Doctor to wonder what they want with Earth.
Back in Fairford, the command centre is visited by General Mayhew, with whom the Brigadier makes some minor pleasantries, before the General is shown the invading robots. After barking some commands, the Brigadier pulls a gun on the General and asks if he's responsible for the invasion, ripping off the man's face to reveal the Master. After asking what gave him away, the Master tries to hypnotize the Brigadier, only for the man's iron will to resist the compulsion to obey.
Back in the lab, the Third Doctor orders the Master brought right to him before the machine part activates and rakes Jo. Though the Doctors are quick to deactivate it, Jo's back is already turning to metal. The nanites having begun to colonize her body. Leaving his previous incarnation to handle things with UNIT, the Third Doctor enters Jo's mind to have a word with the invading intelligence.
On the UNIT helicopter, the Master insists he's not the enemy. The enemy is someone that even the Doctor hasn't suspected before his mask flies outwards and begins suffocating the Brigadier. The masks, the Master explains, are pieces of his TARDIS, meaning they obey his mental commands. After shaking free of his shackles, the Master recalls the mask and jumps out of the helicopter, the mask forming a parachute.
Within Jo's mind, the Doctor is unsurprised to find hippie styling but most pleasantly surprised to find that Jo has no inner demons. After meeting Jo's inner self, the Doctor leads her an outlying well before a metallic tentacle arises and begins strangling him. In the waking world, the Brigadier enters, rather unsurprised to see the previous Doctor, before both Jo and the Doctor's bodies turn a metallic shade of silver, their expressions locked in pain and agony.
As the tentacle strangles the Doctor, Jo forms a book and strikes it, sending it slithering away. Without wasting any time, the Doctor leaps into the well after the invader. In the lab, the Second Doctor notes that, although the two are no longer in distress, the metallic invasion is nearly completed before he has an idea of someone who can help, running off to find them.
In the depths of Jo's subconscious, the Doctor finds the guiding intelligence and establishes a connection to it. The machine intelligence struggles to communicate in the Doctor's speech but manages to impart that it is angry and afraid as it is being confined and forced to be something it is not. With a wry smirk, the Doctor sympathizes. Until recently, he was imprisoned on Earth, even changed to fit in better, something he suspected was done so he would grow to like his cage. Yet now that he's free, he remains here, pretending to enjoy London. At this point, Jo makes herself known, and, with angry tears flowing, tells the Doctor to simply leave if he hates Earth so much. With a smile, the Doctor resumes his speech. He's still on Earth because his friends have made him want to stay and any smug pretentiousness, he reckons, is largely that an act his friends have come to expect.
With their friendship secured, the Doctor introduces Jo to the micro machines, now cognizant of their error. When looking at the invader's memories, however, the Doctor can find nothing before they appeared in Earth's orbit. Promising to help, the Doctor asks to be released.
In Fairford, Osgood notes that the signals from the micro machines have all calmed down. As the situation deescalates, Yates and Benton discuss the former's date with Jo with the former grumbling that he wishes the Doctor would just hurry up and leave Earth.
As Jo and the Doctor come too in the lab, the Brigadier helps the former up only for the Doctor to see right through his ruse. Almost amused, the Master casts off his mask before insisting that he's here to help. The Doctor will hear none of it and the two come to blows, Mercurian kung fu assuring the Doctor's victory. After the Brigadier is freed from the closet the Master stuffed him in, the Master is surrounded with the Doctor demanding to know more about the aliens. The Master chuckles, the machines are not aliens. At first, he was annoyed that an aggressive alien race he knew nothing about, especially one that hadn't asked him for help, was invading Earth but the arrival of the Doctor's previous self roused his suspicions. Revealing that he has multiple bugs in the lab, implanted by the perpetually unnoticed tea lady, he's made a rather interesting discovery about the Doctor's past incarnation. Having been burned by Time Lords before, the Master has learnt to keep an eye out for them and there's been no signs of any temporal incursions for months. So how did the Second Doctor get here? Thanks to a psychological scan however, the Master has managed to solve the puzzle.
Across town, the "Second Doctor" races in a jeep to Electronicon Ltd. and makes his way to the board of directors. In the conference room, he shows them blueprints for the TARDIS control console, along with other Time Lord technologies, before he steps out for a moment.
Horrified realization strikes the Doctor just as his doppelgänger re-enters the room, now in a pressed three-pieced suit and feeling like Ramón Salamander once again.
As Salamander salivates at his upcoming victory, the scientists, veterans of the Newton Institute, inform him that they're still decades away from building a TARDIS. Salamander scoffs at such a claim. He saw the Time Vortex and compares it to a living thing, all they need do is convince it that humanity is its natural inheritor.
Finally telling his scientists the full story, Salamander reveals that after he defeated in 2018, he hung in the vortex before materializing in London in the 1970s (or possibly the 1980s), something he now suspects was the result of him being caught in the TARDIS' wake, where he patented his weather controlling technology early and rebuilt his wealth. Using this fortune, Salamander researched the Doctor, finding him to be trapped in the current period, and made friends in the British government to acquire personal information on the Time Lord. Ordering the final stages of his plan to be implemented, Salamander goes off to examine the neurological data that the micro machines collected on the Doctor while boldly proclaiming that now is the moment that humanity steals time from the Time Lords.
As the Master laughs, the Doctor curses his only slowly returning Time Lord senses that didn't allow him to see Salamander for what he was. Smug as ever, the Master reveals he's also been tracking odd energy signals that all seem to have Salamander at the centre of them. Before they move against the time-lost criminal, the Doctor questions why his old friend is helping them. Aside from not wanting a human to steal Time Lord technology, the Master doesn't want someone else conquering Earth before him.
In Electronicon, Salamander gleams the key secret to time travel from the Doctor's mind scan only to find his ambitions again hampered by the scientists' desire for calm experiments. Undeterred, Salamander presses forth.
As UNIT forces arrive, the Fairford micro machines burst forth from the ground in a tripodal configuration, raining fire on the invaders. In all the chaos, the Master quickly slips past, turning his TCE on Dr. William, getting into Mike Yates' head in the progress, before the others arrive, the Doctor having locked the tripod in a forcefield. Donning his mask in William's likeness, the Master gets the group into Salamander's inner sanctum but they're too late to stop him.
For the whole facility is Salamander's space-time vessel and it plunges into the time vortex.
Though the shoddy vortex effect gives everyone worry, especially given that a hole could have been blow in spacetime, the building materializes in the English countryside. The Brigadier demands that the building return to the present only for the Master to comment that with two Time Lords present, there's no need for Salamander. This proves the wrong choice of words as the micro machines respond to the enraged Salamander, carrying him underground and into the wider world.
Following, the group learns that they are in 1868 and that Salamander, after harvesting a nearby toolshed for raw materials, is headed for London. Following in a UNIT helicopter, camouflaged by one of the Master's masks, Yates tries to court Jo again before they land outside Parliament. And to enter the meeting hall, the Master reveals a secret passage he's concealed within a statue.
In the Houses of Parliament, Salamander shows off his micro machines to the MPs, offering them their power in exchange for an advisory position within the British Empire. When the Doctor bursts in, he finds that the Prime Minister has been won over by the demonstration and asks what the Doctor can offer them. The Doctor's scathing words rile up Salamander's temper and he wraps the Doctor within a swarm of metallic tentacles. Though the Brigadier is ready for action, the Doctor uses the benevolent machines within him to have their fellows stand down. Salamander tries to take back control only to find the Master has usurped the command protocols, and wiped the memory of the politicians, before he runs off to galactic conquest. Now truly insane, Salamander tries to strangle the Doctor only to be put to sleep by Venusian aikido.
Outside, the Master practices his victory speech before the machines suddenly stop responding to him. Having known from the start that this was the Master's plan, the Doctor has now taken control of the machines and he intends to take them to an empty planet where they can grow and evolve on their own terms. Laughing at his old friend's altruism, the Master dives into the River Thames, where his TARDIS awaits, and makes another escape.
On the helicopter, the Doctor reveals that Salamander's words have struck a chord with him. He has been stagnating, planting himself at UNIT and not allowing himself to grow. It's time he returned to seeing the universe, a trip he invites Jo on.
Back in the present, the imprisoned Salamander uses a still loyal swarm of micro machines to carve a hole in his cell, walking away to freedom...
- Third Doctor
- Jo Grant
- Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart
- Mike Yates
- John Benton
- The Master
- Tom Osgood
- Micro machines
- Carol Bell
- Ramón Salamander
- Dr William
- Dr Draper
- Benjamin Disraeli
- The Master disguises himself as General Mayhew and as the Brigadier.
- At the end of the first issue, the Second Doctor appears to arrive to UNIT HQ in a cliffhanger. In the following issues, however, it is revealed to actually be Ramón Salamander in disguise.
- The Master employs Martian kendo as a rival to the Third Doctor's Venusian aikido in mental combat only to be countered as the Doctor switches to Mercurian kung fu.
- Salamander turns Electronicon Ltd. into his own time vessel.
- The Master uses the chameleon factor of his mask to disguise the helicopter he and the UNIT personnel are flying in 1868.
- The Master has a secret passage that leads to the Houses of Parliament.
- Upon arriving in 1868, the Third Doctor asks, "Madam! What year is this?", a quote from the 1993 special Dimensions in Time.
- When Ramón Salamander is seen being thrown outside of the TARDIS in a flashback, the front of the ship appears in a traditional fashion. This is actually an error on the part of the comic, as the run of Doctor Who which included The Enemy of the World actually had the doors incorrectly put together, with the "Pull to Open" panel on the wrong side.
- The Third Doctor and the Second Doctor have encountered each other not long before, as Mike Yates notes that the Third Doctor has recently regained the use of his TARDIS. (TV: The Three Doctors)
- Jo tries to explain why the Doctor can't remember meeting his previous incarnation by saying that "things get all timey wimey". (TV: Blink, The Day of the Doctor, COMIC: Four Doctors)
- The "Second Doctor" has a recorder. (TV: The Power of the Daleks)
- Yates and Benton notes that they've never seen "Miss Heriot" again. (TV: The Invasion)
- While discussing the possibility for time travel, Dr William mentions "Ingram's work at the Newton." (TV: The Time Monster)
- Within the Time Vortex, a Reaper, (TV: Father's Day) a Vortisaur, (AUDIO: Storm Warning) and two Chronovores can be seen. (TV: The Time Monster)
- Salamander was brought back to Earth during the events of TV: The Web of Fear.
- The Master begins an interrupted statement ("Peoples of the universe! Please attend...") which he will eventually be able to finish on Logopolis. (TV: Logopolis) He will re-use the speech many times in his life. (TV: The Sound of Drums; COMIC: The Abominable Showmen)
- The Doctor points out to Jo that he is not British but a "citizen of the universe". (TV: The Daleks' Master Plan)
- Upon visiting the previous century, Mike starts yearning for a golden age. He will soon act on this desire by betraying UNIT and the Doctor when he joins the manipulations of Charles Grover. (TV: Invasion of the Dinosaurs)