Tomb Ship was the one hundred and eighty-sixth story in Big Finish's monthly range. It was written by Emma Beeby and Gordon Rennie and featured Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa.
The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Nyssa to a vast pyramid, floating in space. A tomb ship — the last resting place of the God-King of the Arrit, an incredibly advanced and incredibly ancient civilisation, long since extinct.
They're not alone, however. Another old dynasty walks its twisted, trap-ridden passages — a family of tomb raiders led by a fanatical matriarch, whose many sons and daughters have been tutored in tales of the God-King's lost treasure.
But those who seek the God-King will find death in their shadow. Death from below. Death from above. Death moving them back and forward, turning their own hearts against them.
Because only the dead will survive.
The Doctor and Nyssa arrive in the catacombs of the vast tomb ship of the God-King of the Arrit. Despite the discovery of a desiccated corpse displaying giant mandible-bites, the Doctor insists further exploration will be worth their while.
Also exploring the tomb ship, their spaceship docked to the outer wall, is a party of raiders comprising the tyrannical matriarch Virna and her sons, Hisko, Heff and Murs. Virna desires to break into the inner sanctum of the tomb and reclaim her family’s birthright. She has already sacrificed two of her sons to the tomb’s traps and pitfalls, goaded by the voice of a woman on her intercom, who tells Virna that her quest is useless and her childrens' sacrifice in vain.
Murs returns from the catacombs with news of the Doctor and Nyssa, that they are heading towards the tomb’s main chamber. Virna, believing they too are here to take her prize, goes with Murs to intercept the Doctor and Nyssa in the chamber, sending Hisko and Heff to head them off along an alternative route.
In the vast main chamber, the Doctor and Nyssa activate a hologram display of the God King’s funeral procession, observing his deliverance to the inner sanctum through a door on the far wall of the chamber.
Murs and Hisko are attacked by giant insectoids. Murs stays to face the creatures, while Hisko flees.
Hisko then encounters the woman from Virna’s intercom, her features concealed. She tells him there is no way off the ship and they are all doomed to die. She is momentarily overcome by an unseen force, saying the sacrifice has arrived.
In the chamber, Nyssa accidentally activates a gravity trap. The Doctor is about to solve the puzzle that will rescue her but is prevented by the arrival of Virna and Heff.
Virna accuses the Doctor and Nyssa of murdering her two other sons, but Heff frees Nyssa from the gravity trap by opening the door to the inner sanctum - which had been unlocked by the activation of the gravity trap.
The Doctor insists they all need to vacate the tomb ship, as it is preparing to go supernova - the final act of the God-King’s death ritual.
Murs enters the chamber with news of the attack by the insectoids. Hisko soon follows, who informs the party of his encounter with the strange woman. When Virna is distracted by the woman making contact over her intercom again, the Doctor and Nyssa escape.
Returning to the spot where they left the TARDIS, the Doctor and Nyssa discover the ship is gone.
The Doctor and Nyssa realise the passage ahead has been blocked. They can’t access the TARDIS and the raiders can’t access their ship.
Hisko and Murs bring the Doctor and Nyssa back to the main chamber. Virna forces the Doctor to show her, Murs and Heff the safe path to the God-King’s tomb, while Hisko keeps Nyssa hostage in the chamber.
The Doctor navigates Virna and her sons past high-tech booby traps as they venture further into the tomb ship. They come across a corpse, which has left familiar markings on the wall, arousing Heff’s suspicions as to his mother’s ruthlessness. They face off against more giant insects, which the Doctor reveals to be the Arrit-ko, servitors of the God-King.
Virna reveals the tomb ship has entered an inhabited star system, giving the Doctor his own urgent motivation to reach the God King’s tomb. There he can access the navigation controls and steer the tomb ship back into deep space, before it goes supernova and destroys this system's inhabitants.
In the chamber Hisko activates the hologram, which warns of trial and pain on the path to the God-king’s tomb. Concerned for the Doctor, Nyssa escapes into the catacombs, pursued by Hisko. They come across the corpse of one of Hisko’s brothers, just before Hisko is caught in the same forcefield cage that killed his predecessor.
As Hisko panics and more Arrit-ko advance on Nyssa, the mysterious woman appears, subduing the insects and freeing Hisko. She invites Nyssa and Hisko to come with her, to the God-king … for a family reunion.
The Doctor, Virna, Heff and Murs make it through another gauntlet. One forcefield springs up around the Doctor and Virna, and one around Heff and Murs. A holographic message informs them they must choose which of them will live, and who be sacrificed.
Virna is willing to sacrifice Heff and Murs, but the Doctor, realising the tomb ship’s tests have begun to take on a moral element, deactivates the force fields by choosing to sacrifice neither party. They rejoin Heff and Murs, who remain unaware of their mother’s willingness to let them die.
Heff and Murs explore ahead of the Doctor and Virna, encountering a swarm of agitated Arrit-Ko.
The Doctor realises that Virna has sacrificed many others of her children on previous expeditions to gain access to the God-king’s inner tomb. The tomb ship begins to power down, suggesting its detonation is imminent. Heff and Murs rejoin the Doctor and Virna, pursued by the Arrit-Ko.
En route to the inner tomb with Hisko and the woman, who is called Jhanni, Nyssa, too, realises the corpses they’ve encountered are the siblings and half-siblings of Hisko, Heff and Murs - and that Jhanni is their half-sister. Jhanni’s mental state seems unstable.
While Jhanni scouts ahead to find a safe path through nest clusters of agitated Arrit-Ko, Nyssa informs Hisko about the deaths of his other siblings, sacrificed by his mother over the decades.
Jhanni rejoins Nyssa and Hisko and they come to a 10 metre-wide chasm. The Arrit-Ko advance on them, but instead of attacking, the Arrit-Ko mass together to form a bridge over the chasm. Crossing the bridge, Nyssa, Hisko and Jhanni hear explosions - like something striking the hull.
The Doctor, Virna, and Murs escape their Arrit-Ko assailants through an opening, while Heff holds them off. Virna leaves Heff behind to be overcome by the Arrit-Ko. They, too, hear the explosions - the star system's inhabitants have launched an attack on the tomb ship. Murs is appalled at his mother’s sacrifice of Heff and confronts her, while the Doctor forges ahead, making for the inner tomb.
Heff curses his mother as he is overcome by the Arrit-Ko. A new arrival fights them off with a gun and tends to the dying Heff, who implores the newly arrived woman to stop his mother. The woman is none other than Hannah Bartholemew, from Sussex, Earth, 1911.
The Doctor reaches the entrance hall to the inner tomb. Murs catches up with him, but sets off another trap, and the chamber around them starts to disintegrate.
Nyssa, Hisko and Jhanni near the heart of the ship. Jhanni, her mind distracted, senses disturbance in the tomb and runs off. Nyssa and Hisko follow her. Nyssa believes Jhanni’s mind is linked to the Arrit-Ko and she can unconsciously control them.
The Doctor and Murs wake from unconsciousness. They've been caught in an anti-gravity field, deposited in an antechamber outside the inner tomb. Entering the tomb, they observe the last of the Arrit God-kings - a 9-foot giant in funereal robes, seated on a crystal throne, preserved in a cellular stasis field, wearing a crown embedded in its skull, waiting to be reborn as a living star.
Virna tries to contact Murs but is interrupted by Jhanni over the comms, who tells her the Arrit-Ko are coming to attack Virna.
In the God-king’s tomb, the Doctor realises he must link with the mind of the God-king to convince it to re-pilot the tomb ship back into deep space ... But linking with the mind of the God-king will also mean the activation of the self-destruct sequence. It is the final test to obtaining the tomb-ships prize - the opportunity to be reborn as a star in the supernova, alongside the God-king. Virna has mistranslated the word “prize” and her childrens’ sacrifice has been for nothing.
Outside, the bombardment is getting heavier. Hisko hears his mother being attacked by the Arrit-Ko and leaves Nyssa to go and rescue her. Hannah Bartholemew rescues Nyssa from more Arrit-Ko. Hannah reveals she stowed away in the TARDIS.
Hisko reaches Virna, under threat from the insects. Jhanni arrives, making the Arrit-Ko leave so she may face her mother alone. Virna convinces Hisko to leave her and Jhanni and reach the inner tomb.
Nyssa and Hannah catch up with Hisko. They hear the Doctor in pain, linked to the tomb ship. Hannah stays to ward off the insects while Nyssa and Hisko make for the inner tomb.
Nyssa disconnects the Doctor from the ship. The Doctor has failed to convince the God-King to change the ship’s course, because Jhanni’s mind is already unconsciously linked to it. It is Jhanni’s bloodlust that has steered the ship into a system where it will kill billions. Her desire for revenge on her mother is the only thing keeping the ship from exploding.
The Doctor, Nyssa, Hisko and Murs save Virna from death at the hands of her daughter - giving Virna the upper hand. Virna kills Murs and wounds Hisko, escaping into the catacombs.
Jhanni convinces the ship to navigate back into deep space - and the God-King activates the explosion sequence. Hannah leads them back to the TARDIS, which relocated itself when the tomb sealed them in. They escape in the TARDIS, just before the tomb ship goes supernova, taking Virna with it.
The Doctor transports Jhanni and Hisko to a safe location, while Hannah stays on board the TARDIS to travel with the Doctor and Nyssa.
- The Doctor - Peter Davison
- Nyssa - Sarah Sutton
- Virna - Eve Karpf
- Jhanni - Amy Ewbank
- Hisko - James Hayward
- Heff - Jonathan Forbes
- Murs - Ben Porter
- Rek/Hologram-Fresco Voice - Phil Mulryne
- The Doctor claims that the Arrit would have rivalled the Time Lords if their civilisation had survived.
- The Arrit believed that their dead God-Kings became stars.
- Nyssa refers to Nathaniel Whitlock. (AUDIO: Moonflesh)
- The Doctor refers to the TARDIS' translation circuit. (TV: The Masque of Mandragora etc.)
- Virna compares the Arrit-Ko to the Wirrn. (TV: The Ark in Space)
- Hannah Bartholemew mentions that Edwin Tremayne told her about the TARDIS in Suffolk in October 1911. After the TARDIS door was left open due to a malfunctioning latch, she stowed away and travelled with the Doctor and Nyssa to the Arrit tomb ship. (AUDIO: Moonflesh)
- The Doctor refers to the TARDIS' Hostile Action Displacement System. (TV: The Krotons)