The Moons of Vulpana was the two hundred and fifty first story in Big Finish's monthly range. It was written by Emma Reeves and featured Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor and Jessica Martin as Mags.
Publisher's summary[edit | edit source]
Not the savage Vulpana that Mags was taken from, but Vulpana in an earlier era. The Golden Millennium – when the Four Great Wolf Packs, each devoted to one of the planet's four moons, oversaw the height of Vulpanan civilisation. A time when the noblest families of the Vulpanan aristocracy found themselves in need of new blood...
A golden age that's about to come to a violent end!
Plot[edit | edit source]
Part one[edit | edit source]
Inside the TARDIS, Mags tells the Doctor to leave her alone as she struggles to stop her transformation in one of the TARDIS' hallways. The Doctor, meanwhile, uses a neutrino-powered sonic modulator to calm Mags down and stop her transformation. She and the Doctor argue about how to deal with her steadily uncontrollable transformations. After some back and forth, the Doctor declares to Mags that they are going to find a way to do it and starting with returning to her home. However, Mags explains that her people were forced off Vulpana years ago. They took up all kinds of jobs in all kinds of places, often shady, like for a certain circus. Mags insists that there is nothing left on Vulpana but the Doctor insists otherwise. He even recounts some Vulpanan history for her and reveals that it was he who helped to settle the Coyote wars and was there at the coronation of the Golden-eyed Prince and Duchess Ironfang much to Mags' shock.
The Doctor reveals that he has taken her back in time in Vulpanan history so Mags can find out. Outside, Mags notes how beautiful the moon is and recalls she transforms under the second moon. The Doctor explains that they ought to find some other "second-mooners", which he dubs Vulpanans born under the second moon, saying that they will accept Mags as they are likely to see her as family. Suddenly Mags notices someone approaching. They make a run for it and are chased by this strange creature. They are cornered but the Doctor uses the sonic modulator to put the Vulpanan wolves chasing them to sleep except for one, which bites the Doctor's leg. Mags then transforms into a werewolf and chases it away.
A young man and his mother and father hear Mags' cry in the distance, noting that it must be a female based on the sound. They believe it is one of their own and race to go help Mags. These Vulpnans arrive on horseback and and scare off the ones attacking Mags. They commend Mags and notes she is a pure-blooded Vulpanan, and ask her to return to her normal form, which she obliges. They reveal that their family name is called Benjer and that they are the leaders of the Second Moon pack and ask her to come back with them. After getting to know each other, they offer her to bring the Doctor to their lodge for treatment for his wound. On the trip back, the woman reveals that the young men are her sons, that they are thorough-bred and unmarried. She reveals the importance of pure-blood heritage among the four Vulpanan tribes to a confused Mags. She introduces herself as Ulla, and her sons are Issak and Tob, hinting that she hopes Mags might wed one of them. They eventually arrive at castle Benjer. The sons continue to fight for Mags affection, but she is uninterested. Ulla has the servants come and fetch the Doctor but Mags insists at remaining with him, revealing that he is not from Vulpana, but a Timelord from Gallifrey. They insist that the Doctor will be well cared for by their Doctor and Ulla takes Mags to see her chambers. The Doctor awakens, meets and explains what happened to Doctor Barton and she reasures him that he will not transform or anything and it's a simply a myth. In fact she has been performing tests on herself over the years only to find that they do nothing. When the Doctor asks why she would ever test this on herself, she explains it is so that she can become a pure-breed like her superiors. The Doctor is baffled, explaining that as doctors they must see everyone as equal, but Barton simply chides his fuddled assumptions.
Meanwhile, Issak and Tob continue fight over Mags attention. While they go to fetch Mags food, Jaks and Mags talk and he ends up insulting her several times, getting off on to a bad first impression. The Doctor attempts to go talk to Mags but Dr. Barton holds him to back, saying that he cannot go upstairs or he will ruin Mags' chances of selecting a mate. She explains the esteem in which pure-bloods are held and that the reason the boys upstairs are so keen to marry Mags is because the pure-bloods are dying out. The Doctor questions Dr. Barton's beliefs, demanding to know if she really thinks her life would have been better had she been born with the right hair or teeth. Dr. Barton confirms this and says she would have given anything to be born one. The Doctor counters her by saying that she shouldn't be concerned with the constant fighting of inbred aristocrats. He then asks her to take him outside so he can better observe the moons.
Ulla explains to Mags that they will be hosting the festival of the full moon, inviting Vulpanans from near and far to join and she hopes Mags will attend. The Doctor stands outside and observes the four moons of Vulpana and quotes some Vulpanan poetry with Doctor Barton. Barton thanks him for reminding her of how beautiful their planet is sometimes and that they forget how lucky they are. The Doctor then explains that although he can't quite figure it out, something is wrong on Vulpana. Dr. Barton insists that he is delirious but he remains steadfast, reiterating that there is something wrong with the moons. Dr. Barton decides to return to the castle to look at the Doctor's blood samples.
The boys passively argue who will dance first with Mags. She reveals that all the bending and twisting moves she learnt were from with her time with the Psychic Circus and that she has no idea how to dance. Mags is surprised to learn of the family's supportive attitude about a young female Vulpanan travelling, only for Ulla to reiterate that it makes for a better wife and that travelling helps to broaden the mind "before settling down". Jaks laughs at this and the two accuse him of disrespecting Mags. He assures them he meant none but the brothers prepare to fight him. Jaks simply says that he knows the two could beat him in a fight but questions them about what that would achieve.
The brothers, united in disapproval, say that at least they would win. Mags calms the situation down before it escalates. She asks Jaks why he has such a problem with his family's traditions, to which he retorts that since she has been off-world and toured the galaxy, she should clearly know. He continues by explaining that he is disgusted with their traditions of hunting and senselessly killing and says that they should kill only to eat, not for the sport that they hold in such high regard. Ulla says that it is fine if people from other worlds judge them as long as they leave the alone to live their way of life. They ask Mags for her opinion and she says that both arguments have their merits and abruptly excuses herself to go check on the Doctor.
The Doctor and Mags meet outside. He asks if she is ready to move on since they have seen what they came to see. Mags, however, wants to stay for the festival tomorrow though. The Doctor claims he doesn't like the look of the sky but reluctantly agrees to stay one more day. Mags sniffs out a dangerous scent which she believes is located at the clock tower but it disappears almost immediately. Although a little startled, the Doctor assures her it is fine and she goes back inside. The Doctor comments to himself about the almost perfect alignment of the moons. Just then, Dr. Barton steps out and starts walking towards him. The Doctor cordially greets her, but realizes in a panic that she is snarling and brandishing a knife which she flashes at the Doctor...
Part two[edit | edit source]
The Doctor cries out for help hoping anyone will hear and is saved by the arrival of Issak and Tob. Another fight erupts and they challenge each other to save the servant of Mags. Jaks is intrigued by Mags but again unintentionally insults her. They get in a spat and Mags accuses him of being the worst of the lot, the most stuck up and snobbish. The Doctor manages to subdue Barton with the sonic modulator. Dr. Barton returns to normal but is confused and the brothers punish Dr. Barton by taking her to the dungeon, despite the Doctor's protests to examine her. Jaks warns Mags not to fall for his mother's traps. They argue as Mags accuses Jaks of being a stuck-up prick. Jaks admits that while he is the runt of the letter, he says he and Mags are the same, trying to rise above what they are and become something better. He attempts to seduce her but Mags, disgusted, leaves.
Dr. Barton is imprisoned. The Doctor is concerned for her but the brothers says that she will be appropriately punished. Mags has a private talk with the Doctor, about how she feels more in control of her transformation on Vulpana, and asks if she should stay, while the Doctor reassures her it's her own choice. She tells him that she would like to stay and partake in the festival.
Dr. Barton is brought before Lady Ulla and she begs for her life but is denied. Lady Ulla goes to see Mags in her guest room. They bond together a little while picking out a dress for Mags to wear to the festival. At the feast, Lady Ulla presents Mags. The brothers compliment her and while she is flattered she asks to know where the Doctor is. They explain that servants eat in another area but the brothers, unconcerned, start another fight over who gets to dance with Mags. She calms them down and says that she will dance with them both and teach them some moves. Jaks is offered the chance too but refuses, lamenting that he was forced to come anyway.
Soon the prey is revealed to Mags to be traitors and non-pure-blooded Vulpanas. After an argument, Mags promises those among the "prey" like Dr. Barton that she will help them and sets off to find the Doctor, disgusted by the traditions. Mags searches for the Doctor but bumps into Jaks. He is unable to catch the Doctor's scent so instead he and Mags have a deep discussion about the inherent problems of Vulpanan society. They then ride off on horseback to search for the Doctor. The two continue their conversation along the way. All of a sudden they run into poachers. Jaks saves them with a laser grenade he was hiding which he invented, proclaiming that despite being physically weaker, he has tried to adapt by sharpening his mind.
Lady Ulla orders the prey to be silent and that they are to be released for the hunt. The prey flee in every direction. Jaks and Mags hear this happening. Mags decides she's had enough and is going to fight Jaks' brothers. Lady Ulla argues with her sons as they want to wait for Mags. However, she reveals that they can choose a bride from among the selection present, their first cousins, second, and so on, and that she had hoped to use Mags to introduce new blood into their line but she realizes now that they must simply survive and continue the line of royalty. As she counts down to the start of the hunt, Mags and Jaks arrive with Mags shouting for them to stop. Mags tells them that if they want to continue they will have to get past her. Jaks lets off another laser grenade. The family reveals that they're used to Jaks shenanigans and Ulla tells her sons to prepare to fight their greatest shame but they notice that they are not able to transform. After a row between Issak and another member of the crowd, the family and the other guests present begin to fight each other. Jaks reveals that this is why the hunt was devised in the first place because without prey Vulpanans will turn on their own kind. Mags is horrified that they cannot control their aggression, but suddenly Mags loses control and begins to transforms herself....
Part three[edit | edit source]
Mags transforms and prepares to kill Jaks but the brothers interrupt her saying that they will kill him and the three prepare to fight. The Doctor, in the meantime, prepares to enter orbit around Vulpana, skeptical about the Vulpanan moons. Jaks attempts to calm Mags and brings her back to sanity and reveals that he too has learnt how to control his transformations. The Doctor, perturbed, wonders who put a mysterious "thing" in orbit and realizing his error in leaving Mags on the planet below. Ulla finds her sons in a right state, both having been badly injured by Mags. Ulla swears vengeance on her.
Jaks takes Mags to his private quarters. She notes that the windows are boarded up. He explains that the moons reduce them all to the level of beast and he tried shutting them out o see if it stopped the change. While it doesn't completely, he reveals that Mags' mind is strong and has thus allowed her to overcome her blood-lust. He asks her what she wants to do now and she says that she wants to try and save the others, perhaps by first getting them out of the moonlight. Jaks agrees he brings her to his hidden laboratory and observatory. The Doctor returns from his orbital trip and goes off to find Mags. The Doctor arrives back at the festival looking for Mags but Lady Ulla calls out to him and reveals she is dying. She explains that they cannot transform and is confounded as to why. She blames the Doctor and his "science" for this and while the Doctor insists it is purely coincidental, she begs to differ, further explaining that Mags has killed her two sons as well. The Doctor is shocked and insists that this cannot be.
Jaks explains to Mags that he has been researching a cure for the lycanthropy, convinced of the good of science unlike the rest of his pure-blood family. He requests Mags blood to test. Just then Dr. Barton bursts in and tells Jaks of his borther's deaths and tells Mags that the Doctor is there and she runs off to find him. The Doctor apologizes to Lady Ulla for the deaths of her sons but she blames him. She collapse and the doctor draws closer. This turns out to be a ruse and she snags the sonic modulator off him and tells the other Vulpanans that the Doctor is defenseless and they can kill him now. Mags has a plan to save the Doctor and runs off. Dr. Barton wonders how they can help her and Jaks says they can, but they have to get to the battlements and then to his lab.
The Doctor is cornered but is suddenly rescued by Mags. After a small argument the Doctor says he can explain eveything but he needs to show her and they run off to the TARDIS. Inside the TARDIS he explains that he has worked out what the moons are trying to tell them. The pure-blooded Vulpanans evolved under the four moons themselves, and that the blood in their veins move with the moons, and that essentially they, the Vulpanans and the moons, are family. They then find themselves in orbit and the Doctor tells Mags they are going for a space walk. The Doctor tells her to count the number of moons and although expecting four, she counts five out loud, surprising herself. She asks why she's never seen the fifth moon before and the Doctor explains that it is a "dark moon", fitted with light absorbent panels that shield it from the planet's surface and has an erratic orbit, that ducks and hides whenever it would otherwise be out in the open. It turns out to be an artificial moon and the Doctor believes it to be the cause of the Vulpanans not being able to transform. The TARDIS lands back in Jaks' lab. Jaks and Dr. Barton are stunned by the TARDIS and remark on the power of science. The Doctor demonstrates his TARDIS remote for further applause, making the ship disappear and reappear in an adjacent spot. The Doctor then sends it back into orbit to disrupt the fifth moon. They then run off to help the other Vulpanans. They find the surviving Vulpanans and Dr. Barton prepares to treat them. The three then search and find lady Ulla whose memory seems to have lapsed (she can't remember her others sons are dead) but is glad to see Jaks. The Doctor tells Mags that they will be fine as long as the TARDIS continues to block the fifth moon, however, if it moves then what has happened will simply repeat itself. She says that they need to find out how to destroy the fifth moons and figure out who built it. The Doctor darkly tells Mags that she should ask her new friend and he hesitantly takes them to his lab. Dr. Barton treats and gets into a heated argument with Ulla about Vulpana's fate for neglecting the modern world and science.
Inside Jaks' laboratory, Jaks is made to reveal that he built the fifth moon with much help although he had done it only to help his people. He has been experimenting on them in hopes of improving Vulpana but Mags is disgusted with his callous regard for life, even his own bothers, regardless of their attitudes. Jaks, however, reveals his grand plan as now that his brothers are gone he is the new heir and plans to change Vulpana with his new power. However to do this, part of his plan involves marrying Mags and he threateningly coerces her to cooperate, with the Doctor having been captured, he will be set him free if she agrees, otherwise they will both be executed...
Part four[edit | edit source]
Jaks addresses the gathered crowd of Vulpanans explaining his plan to sterr Vulpana in the "right" direction and presents Mags as the key to this. It seems Lady Ulla is also in on his plan. He reveals he will be marrying Mags tomorrow. It appears Mags consented in order to save the Doctor. Next Jaks visits the Doctor whom he has now imprisoned and demands the controls for his TARDIS in order to remove it from the artificial moon and stop its disruption. Enraged he claims he will kill the Doctor but the Doctor politely reminds him that he would gettin rid of the only bargaining chip he has with Mags. Jaks claims Mags will do what she is told but the Doctor asserts that she's never been that type of person and they both very well know she will only take so much blackmail. Meanwhile Mags is choosing her wedding dress with lady Ulla and discovers that lady Ulla knows that Jaks orchestrated the whole ordeal and had his brothers killed... except, she reveals, that it wasn't Jaks who had killed them, but she had. Jaks continues to try to bend the Doctor to his will but the Doctor has none of it, retorting deep down that Jaks is still just the "runt of the litter". Mags begins to transforms in anger from hearing this but Ulla insists that she could not have the other houses gain the thrill of the kill and she chose to end their lives herself. She then insists that Mags will go through with the wedding and Mags will not destroy their last remaining shred of happiness, or else she will kill Mags herself, and that she did it because her sons would never have survived in this new world anyway. The are interrupted by Jaks. Jaks tries to reassure Mags things will be okay but she says an arranged marriage is an arranged marriage. She explains why she came to Vulpana in the first place, her increasingly unstable transformations. She demands to see the Doctor. He agrees but only after the ceremony. Mags takes this to mean that he has killed the Doctor already. She breaks down and Jaks reluctantly agrees to let her see the Doctor and tries to reassure her that everything will work out for the best and hugs her.
They visit the Doctor in his cell but it is revealed Mags swiped the TARDIS controls Jaks took from him earlier while she and Jaks hugged. She returns it to the Doctor who uses it to escape, seemingly leaving Mags behind and making her feel betrayed. He accidentally drops the remote before take-off and a distraught Mags, upon realising that the remote doesn't work for Jaks when he curses the Doctor for explaining to him that only a time traveler could use it and was telling the truth, uses it to bring the Doctor back. The Doctor is placed under arrest by Jaks' servants where he angrily berates Mags explaining that he was just going to destroy Jaks' artificial moon and then was coming right back for her. Jaks forces her to hold her part of the bargain again. The wedding commences but the residing officiate, sister Luma, turns out to be the Doctor in disguise who tricks Jaks and uses his sonic modulator to subdue. The Doctor is aided by lady Ulla, who is revealed to be on his side and helping him. She exposes Jaks in front of the gathered nobles of Vulpana calling him a traitor and a disgrace to the noble traditions of Vulpana and she can show them his secret science room in which he tried to control them all and orchestrated the whole massacre. The Doctor and Mags make a break for it. Jaks chases them. The Doctor and Mags find Dr. Barton in Jaks' lab where she says she finally understand Jaks' plan but discover she has altered the moon's orbit and that she hopes the pure-bloods will go mad and kill each other so they can start a new Vulpana. She then shoots the control panel and knocks them all out in the resulting explosion. Mags awakens in Dr. Barton's studies and Ulla reveals that Dr. Barton was killed in the resulting explosion, Jaks has gone on the run and the Doctor has taken off to try and destroy the moon. Mags is upset with the Doctor but decides to go after Jaks. Ulla tells the Doctor he can come out of hiding. She asks what needs to be done and what his plan will be and demands to come with him. After some "coercing" he agrees to let her join him and explains his plan. Originally, the moon was in a higher orbit and the Doctor was just going to tow it away but after Barton's reprogramming it is now in a low orbit locked into such a strong gravitational pull that the only way to get rid of it is to blow it up. Lamenting about not having any bomb powerful enough to do that, Ulla mentions that her son's lair had a vast many of the small laser grenades he had been using and asks if they can use those instead, to which the Doctor realizes that they can.
Mags finds Jaks but he bargains for his life by saying he can teach her to control her transformations. The Doctor and Ulla prepare for the mission and the Doctor is unsuccessful in talking her out of coming along.
Jaks begins to explain his "method" but Mags suspects he is lying. Things are cut short when they hear a nearby voice looking for Jaks, preparing to hunt and kill him and they run for it. The Doctor and Ulla place the grandes on the moon but when he tells her to go back into the TARDIS she refuses, asking why. The Doctor explains that the grenades can only be detonated manually. Ulla is touched by his willingness to sacrifice himself but demands he let her do it in order to bring honour back to her tarnished family name. It is also revealed she was injured in the ordeal and will not make it. The Doctor sadly relents and departs. Jaks and Mags continue to flee. Finally Jaks is cornered by the Vulpanans hunting him and he claims the moon he built will destroy them all and when they ask why he did this he accuses them of never treating or seeing him as a true Vulpanan and that now he has won. But just then the moon explodes as Jaks watches on in horror and defeat. The hunters advance on Jaks, asking Mags to step away from him as they bear her no ill-will, only Jaks. She, however, stops them and defends Jaks, claiming that she still wants to know his secret on how to suppress her transformation. However he reveals the truth, that he was never able to transform in the first place. He demands she get away from him so he will be granted the honour of being killed. He then takes out his last laser grenade and rushes some of the hunters, calling out that this is for his glory as a Vulpanan. He is killed in the resulting explosion, taking some of them with him. The Hunters, satisfied, leave. The Doctor arrives and finds a devastated Mags.
The Doctor apologizes to Mags, as ancient Vulpana is not what he thought it was. Mags explains to the Doctor inside the TARDIS that Jaks is right and that other planets will eventually and inevitably invade Vulpana and nothing she has seen today will survive. The Doctor explains that civilizations rise and fall likes ebbs and tides. He asks her how she is coping with her lycanthropy. She wonders if the reason the Doctor brought her here was to make her realize that she doesn't need to change... or that maybe she does. Confused, she asks why he doesn't just tell her these things and the Doctor asks if that is what she wants, an easy life. Laughing, she asks him to take her somewhere new... and that it had better be interesting.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- The Doctor - Sylvester McCoy
- Mags - Jessica Martin
- Ulla - Nimmy March
- Issak - Peter Bankole
- Jaks - Irfan Shamji
- Tob - Sean Knopp
- Barton - Beth Goddard
References[edit | edit source]
- The Doctor uses a sonic modulator.
- The Doctor explains that the sonic modulator is neutrino-powered it is tuned at a wavelength that delivers relaxing messages straight into the amygdala of the Vulpanan wolf-brain
- The Doctor claims to have participated in both a siege-run on Coyote Rock and hung out with the Golden-eyed Prince and Duchess Ironfang on Vulpana some time ago
- The ancient Vulpanans were colour-blind and struggled with the colour blue
- The Doctor explains that Vulpanan blood is linked to the same lunar pattern as the moons and that the ancient Vulpanans were actually extremely intelligent.
- While delirious, the Doctor says "two sugars for the Valeyard, Mel, and none for the Rani."
- A fifth dark moon is built and put in orbit around Vulpana.
- The term "werewolf" is disproved of, but "lycanthrope" is acceptable.
- The Vulpanans are referred to as "humans."
- The Psychic Circus travelled across the galaxy on the second circuit.
- The Doctor mentions he has a new umbrella but it is promptly destroyed by a Vulpanan royal.
- The Doctor reveals he has a Christmas card list and that the TARDIS has an infinite filing system.
Food[edit | edit source]
- The family eat Boar's head and entrails
Technology[edit | edit source]
- Jaks has designed laser grenades.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- This story is set on Vulpana, previously mentioned in The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.
- This story was recorded on 7 & 8 November 2018 at The Moat Studios.
- This story was originally released on CD and download.
Continuity[edit | edit source]
- The Doctor previously visited Vulpana. (COMIC: Hill of Beans)
- When the Doctor meets Dr. Barton, she tells him that she was told he is also a doctor. The Doctor corrects her by saying that no, he is the Doctor and comments to himself that they never seem to get that right. The Fourth Doctor made a similar comment to Harry Sullivan upon awakening from his regeneration. (TV: Robot)
- Ulla asks the Doctor if he has ever had children and if so how can he bear watching his young ones killed. The Doctor points out to Ulla that every life and therefore every death is unique and should be mourned. The Doctor would later confront himself about forgetting the deaths of the Children of Gallifrey during the Time War. (TV: The Day of the Doctor) The Doctor, in fact, is very much concerned with the lives of children, as evidenced by his actions multiple times, such as during the last great Frost Fair and the mysterious disappearance of children. (TV: Thin Ice)
- The Doctor reveals that the TARDIS remote control is isomorphic. The Doctor will later encounter other forms of isomorphic technology. (TV: Last of the Time Lords, A Christmas Carol)
- When Ulla steps inside the TARDIS she is shocked and says aloud that it is bigger on the inside. (TV: An Unearthly Child, Smith and Jones, etc. )
- The Doctor mentions that the "adjustments" he needs to make include "increasing the polarity, fluctuating the quantum field and moderating the gluon flow". (TV: The Sea Devils, The Five Doctors, etc.)
- The Tenth Doctor will also encounter other werewolf-like aliens. (TV: Tooth and Claw)