The Judgement of Isskar was the one hundred and seventeenth story in Big Finish's monthly range. It was written by Simon Guerrier and featured Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor, introduced both Ciara Janson as new companion, Amy and Laura Doddington as Zara.
It was the first of the three The Key 2 Time audio stories (named as such for acting as a sequel to the original Key to Time arc in Season 16 in the Fourth Doctor's era). It was the first story to feature the Black Guardian since 1983's Enlightenment.
The story was unique in that it portrays a different account in the Ice Warrior's early history, demonstrating a point in their life where they were a species of internal traders rather than warriors.
On a planet where Time stands still, the Doctor meets a woman who is just a few minutes old. She is a Tracer, sent into our universe by her makers to locate the six segments of the Key to Time. This being without a name wants the Doctor to be her assistant, but she doesn't tell him the whole truth. Not at first.
Their first port of call is Mars, where a society that one day will become Ice Warriors lives in peace and civility. But the Doctor's arrival will change all that. The universe is dying, a choice must be made, and the Judgement of Isskar will be declared. The price must be paid - even if it takes centuries...
The TARDIS is drawn to an unnamed planet, where the Fifth Doctor is searching for Peri (who has already left the TARDIS) in the rain. Time is frozen by a freshly-created female humanoid, who explains to the Doctor that she has been sent by The Grace to recover three of the six segments of the Key to Time. She requests the Doctor's help "as a sort of assistant", due to the fact that he has experience in such matters and her own naïvety. After a brief period of wariness, he gives her what he believed to be a compass, but turns out to be a segment of the Key to Time. She stores it in a bag, the contents of which are stored in another universe, and agrees a compromise with the Doctor - she will return him to the planet once they have found one more segment. They depart in the TARDIS, with the Doctor suggesting to the tracer a number of names beginning with 'A' for her to adopt.
Arriving on Mars, the Doctor christens his new companion Amy, not entirely to her liking. They encounter a Martian, who despite the Doctor's fears has no understanding of the word "warrior", let alone adopts the title of Ice Warrior. The Doctor and Amy attend a Martian market, which lies beneath an under-construction pyramid. Amy senses that the Key to Time is at the top of the pyramid, when there is a sudden earthquake in which several Martians are killed. The Doctor tends to the wounded, while Amy aids the rescue efforts.
The two are then arrested, accused of being thieves, and delivered to a magistrate, whom the Doctor cheerfully engages in conversation. After being warned to stay away from the pyramid, they are freed. When attempting to sneak into the pyramid's construction site, amongst further earthquakes, they encounter the thieves for whom they were mistaken - Amy's "sister", another tracer sent to find the other three segments, and her associate Harmonious 14 Zink. As Amy tries to help them escape capture by a Martian guard, Harmonious kills the guard, much to Amy's horror. Amy's sister recognises the Doctor, who the Grace told them to avoid, and mocks her sister's new name. The Doctor quickly christens her Zara, and disposes of Harmonious' gun.
While climbing the pyramid, pursued by another Martian guard, Zara tells Amy that the Doctor will leave her once he finds out that she has lied to him. When they reach the top of the pyramid, the four discover that the segment is decaying, rendering it destructive and highly dangerous. As they are accosted by a guard, the Doctor warns that the destruction of Mars by the segment would pale in comparison to the destruction of the universe which could be caused by the collapsing Key to Time...
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- The Doctor - Peter Davison
- Amy - Ciara Janson
- Zara - Laura Doddington
- Isskar - Nicholas Briggs
- Harmonious 14 Zink - Andrew Jones
- Mesca - Raquel Cassidy
- Thetris - Jeremy James
- Wembik - Heather Wright
- Amy's nose tickles when in the presence of a segment of the Key to Time, in this case, the form of a compass, the capstone of a pyramid on Mars and a castle on Safeplace.
- The Doctor mentions that he "used to know a Zoe".
- This audio drama was recorded on 24 and 25 April 2008 at the Moat Studios.
- This story was released on 22 January 2009.
- This story is narratively linked to the audio story The Prisoner's Dilemma, which was likewise released in January 2009.
- An illustrated preview by Brian Williamson was printed in Doctor Who Magazine 404.
- This story marks the first appearance of the Black Guardian in an audio drama.
- This story is set between Planet of Fire and The Caves of Androzani.
- The Big Finish news for January 2009 featured the writing log of Simon Guerrier and an interview with Laura Doddington.
- Due to the Doctor's previous DIY combining of the Key to Time, the segments are now beginning to decay. (TV: The Armageddon Factor)
- The Doctor mentions joining a British mission to Mars in the 2000s after the Ice Warriors left the planet. (AUDIO: Red Dawn)
- The Doctor recalls Nyssa's first taste of chocolate. (AUDIO: The Elite)
- Following the destruction of Mars' atmosphere, the Ice Warriors fled to Deimos, one of the planet's moons, where they constructed catacombs and placed themselves in suspended animation in the hope of one day either reclaiming Mars or conquering Earth. Millions of years later, after Mars had been colonised by humans, large sections of the catacombs were open to the public in the museum in the Deimos moonbase in the 23rd century. (AUDIO: Deimos)
- Isskar witnessed Lord Izdaal, the greatest warrior in Ice Warrior society, step outside the shelter and sacrifice himself to the Red Dawn. (AUDIO: Red Dawn)
- Earlier in her personal timeline, Zara encountered the Seventh Doctor and Ace on Erratoon. However, she did not realise that the Fifth and Seventh Doctors were the same individual. (AUDIO: The Prisoner's Dilemma)
- Zara already had one piece of the Key to Time before she encountered the Doctor and Amy on Mars. (AUDIO: The Prisoner's Dilemma)
- Official The Judgement of Isskar page at bigfinish.com
- DisContinuity for The Judgement of Isskar at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide