Tardis

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Weapon of Choice (identified on the cover simply as Chapter One) was the first story of the first series of Big Finish's Gallifrey audio series. It was written by Alan Barnes.

In addition to reintroducing Romana II, Leela, K9 Mark I, K9 Mark II and Braxiatel, Weapon of Choice marked the first appearance of Narvin, Arkadian and a new incarnation of Andred, albeit it in disguise for most of the first series. It also introduced the arc for the first series, including elements such as the Timonic Fusion Device, Free Time and the tension between the Temporal Powers.

Publisher's summary[]

"Time is not the preserve of an aristocracy — it is inviolate! Free! Free Time!"

The Time Lords of Gallifrey were the first to map the Web of Time. Now, under the reforming gaze of President Romanadvoratrelundar, the oldest civilisation is ready to shed its monopoly, sharing its secrets with a coalition of the Temporal Powers — the Monan Host, the Nekkistani and the Warpsmiths of Phaidon among them.

But the coalition is a fragile one, and despised in some quarters. When a team of Time Technology Assessors makes a horrific discovery on the barren moon of Kikrit, it seems their enemies are arming themselves to strike at the alliance. Has a terrorist group really acquired a temporal weapon so terrible the Time Lords forgot about its existence?

In search of the truth, Romana sends the woman called Leela and the robot dog K9 to the enclave of Gryben, a reception centre for temporal refugees. But the truth is war's first casualty — and the fallout could destroy them all...

Plot[]

On the Third Moon of Kikrit in 3553 Sensorian Era, a TARDIS materialises and Commander Torvald of the Celestial Intervention Agency steps out, joining Ba'aruk of the Monan Host and Scragbite of Nekkistan in investigating a facility believed to be the destination of a time capsule intercepted by Vortex Ops. They are joined by a fourth assessor, Sardinopoulos of Phaidon, who is inhabiting the body of a human named Nepenthe, and enter the facility where they find a briefcase within a containment chamber.

Sardinopoulos enters the chamber and reveals that she is Nepenthe, taking a Timonic Fusion Device from the briefcase before teleporting away, shouting "Free Time". A countdown begins and an alarm sounds for the sterilisation of the building due to the destabilised containment field. Torvald, Ba'aruk and Scragbite escape before the facility explodes, after which the real Sardinopoulos arrives, curious about the absence of a building to assess.

In the Capitol, Coordinator Narvin and Cardinal Braxiatel enter President Romana's rooms. Romana is angry with Narvin for Torvald's gullibility on Kikrit's moon and that Nepenthe had made use of CIA information to steal a weapon under their nose. Narvin tells her that there is no such thing as a Timonic Fusion Device, which K9 Mark II's search seems to confirm before Braxiatel brings up Project Alpha, one in which Narvin was involved. He had, however, overseen the dismantling of the device, which he describes as a "napalm of the timeline".

Romana receives an urgent sub-space communication from the High Monan, who suggests that she search for Nepenthe on Gryben where the Free Time organisation is located. The High Monan says that, should Romana fail to find Nepenthe, the Monan Host will destroy Gryben.

Leela is in the Drylands with an Outsider and tells him that she wants to join him as she has felt like an outsider in the city since Andred failed to return from a mission and was presumed dead; she says that she has much to offer the tribe and prepares to cross the line into the wild when K9 Mark I arrives with an armed Braxiatel. The Outsider rejects Leela for bringing them to the city's attention and she unhappily goes with K9 and Braxiatel to see Romana.

Romana explains to Leela that those who attempt to time travel without the permission of the Temporal Powers are diverted to Gryben before being sent home or choosing to remain there as temporal refugees and that this is where Free Time is based. She plans to send Leela, K9 Mark I and Torvald there to find Nepenthe, whose trust Leela is most likely to be able to gain, and recover the Timonic Fusion Device. Leela agrees to do so, asking for the truth of Andred's mission and disappearance in return, information which Romana does not have.

Dressed in rags, Torvald has prepared a non-dimensionally transcendental TARDIS for the journey and is told that he and Leela will be pretending to be K9 Mark I's slaves. Before the trio enter the TARDIS, Narvin secretly hands Torvald a translocation beamer, telling him that he wants the Timonic Fusion Device.

Leela, K9 Mark I and Torvald arrive in the Central Marketplace of Gryben where Leela eats meat without having the money to pay for it. Torvald is knocked out and K9 disappears, leaving Leela to fight the trader and his friends on her own. K9 enters a tavern and demands information on Free Time, causing destruction with his gun which Mephistopheles Arkadian pays for before offering to sell his information on Free Time. Leela's fight moves into the tavern and K9 stuns the attacking vendor. Torvald holds a gun to the head of Arkadian, who claims to have met him in his previous incarnation and wants to know why he should not shout out that the group are working for the Time Lords.

Braxiatel has misgivings and is concerned about the existence of the Timonic Fusion Device, a weapon which the Temporal Powers would not be able to protect the other races from. Romana gets an update on Leela's mission from K9 Mark II before Narvin enters, his guards bringing in Arkadian who addresses Romana as Imperiatrix. He has offered Torvald his information on Free Time in return for an audience with Romana, an opportunity which he uses to protest against his extradition to the Monan Host world. She orders his extradition to be put on the fast track until he mentions the Timonic Fusion Device.

Leela, K9 and Torvald arrive at the human ghetto and are allowed to pass when K9 completes a quote from Hamlet, showing that they are human sympathisers. They encounter Nepenthe, who tells them that they have been followed since the Marketplace and orders K9 to be muzzled with a zybenium band to prevent him from using his weapon or calling for help.

Arkadian tells Romana, Narvin and Braxiatel that a representative of an important person asked him to sell a consignment of black light rods and invites them to conclude whom they were representing, but the High Monan wants him dead. Monan Interception 5 had become aware of plans by terrorists to build a Timonic Fusion Device and the Monans wanted Arkadian to draw them out, but he refused and was sent to Gryben; they seem to have then found somebody else. Romana has him taken away and Braxiatel suggests that the Monans wanted to embarrass her and gain credibility by recovering the Timonic Fusion Device, but Romana says that Arkadian could be lying.

Held captive, Leela and K9 pretend that they were unaware that Torvald was a Time Lord. Leela tries to gain Nepenthe's trust by telling her why she dislikes the Time Lords and their belief in their own superiority and is told by Nepenthe to kill Torvald to prove that she is not loyal to Gallifrey. Leela seems as though she is going to stab him but instead reveals that Nepenthe's guard is Ba'aruk in a holographic suit. Ba'aruk quickly sends a message to his command vessel that he has been compromised and Nepenthe says that it might be the end of the world for Gryben.

Romana is called by the High Monan, who informs her that her mission has been exposed and that he has sent ships to Gryben in what Romana says is an invasion. It is, however, legal according to the resolutions of the Temporal Powers.

Nepenthe orders her guards to protect Leela, K9, Torvald and Ba'aruk in case they could be used as hostages. The Timonic Fusion Device will be ready for use in forty-five microspans, after which Nepenthe will use it to wipe out Gryben, sending a message to the Temporal Powers that they will not be constrained. Ba'aruk tells her that the High Monan will pay her for the device, an offer which she will not accept; he then directs Leela to Torvald's translocation beamer, telling her that Torvald planned to take the device to the Capitol. The device is armed.

K9 detects the unusual energy which Braxiatel and Narvin identify as signs of the device being armed. Romana asks Braxiatel to evacuate Gryben, but he is unable to do so with only 42.8 microspans left. Narvin contacts Time Control and orders Battle TARDISes be sent to Gryben, armed with null space missiles, but Romana refuses to sanction the action and orders Gryben's transduction barriers be raised to allow the refugees to escape. Braxiatel has this order countermanded as lifting the barrier will result in a stampede and there is still time to resolve the situation.

Leela tells Ba'aruk of Andred when he asks why she supports Gallifrey given her opposition to the Time Lords and Torvald calls him a liberal and possible deserter. Torvald also says that Romana will likely destroy Gryben before the device goes off, saying that he would do so in her position.

Romana has Arkadian brought back into her suite and asks about Nepenthe, but they are interrupted by a call from the High Monan. The High Monan is angry about the TARDISes around Gryben and refuses to withdraw his troops, promising to go to war if the Time Lords do any harm to the Monans. Narvin encourages Romana to destroy Gryben, but doing so would destroy the Timonic Fusion Device, without proof of which there would be no legitimate reason for attacking the Monans. Romana decides to go to Gryben, disguised as Arkadian's hostage, so that she might speak with Nepenthe; additionally, the President being on Gryben would be an excuse to attack the Monans. In return for his help, she offers Arkadian immunity from extradition.

Expecting Romana to die during this venture, Narvin tells Braxiatel that he will be assembling the High Council and that, following the observance of a mourning period, there will be a presidential election.

Romana and Arkadian arrive at the human ghetto in a TARDIS. Romana offers to give herself up to Nepenthe in return for the dismantling of the device, but Nepenthe refuses to back down. Arkadian holds Nepenthe at gunpoint, forcing her to dismantle the device, until Monans storm the area.

Braxiatel and K9 are waiting in the presidential suite when Narvin brings Inquisitor Darkel there. She says that there will be an inquiry to assess Romana's actions in two weeks with the possibility of Romana being impeached, something which Braxiatel says would be ostentatious. Narvin, who wants Romana's actions explained, will be giving evidence against her.

Romana has K9 stun the Monans, who have come for the device. However, the device's tamper switch has been engaged and the countdown is accelerated. When Romana asks out loud what the device is for and what it means, K9 gives the dictionary definition of "device" including the obsolete forms "a conceit; a mask", making her realise that the device is a fake. She further accelerates the countdown and, when it gets to zero, the fusion failsafe is engaged and the device dematerialises.

Romana has K9 inform his counterpart that Braxiatel needs to stand the missiles down and tells Nepenthe that this debacle was never about Free Time; somebody wanted to ruin Romana's career by forcing her to kill refugees and attack the Monans, forcing her to resign. Nepenthe refuses to tell Romana who helped her pass through Gryben's transduction barrier and shoots herself. The group part ways with Arkadian and Narvin and Braxiatel arrive in a TARDIS, telling her of the judicial inquiry which Narvin has instigated. Romana welcomes the inquiry, suggesting that many things might come to light as a result, and appoints Leela as her bodyguard when she suggests that she might remain on Gryben. When Leela asks what K9 Mark I's position will be, Romana appoints him as her security advisor.

Cast[]

References[]

Arts and literature[]

  • K9 Mark II plays a "ghastly" recording of Mozart's The Magic Flute
  • A guard quotes Act 1 Scene 5 of Hamlet and K9 Mark I completes it.
  • Braxiatel hums Mozart's Horn Concerto.

Earth[]

  • Arkadian says that his language occasionally strays into that used on the Clapham Autobus.
  • Braxiatel compares the hypothetical stampede of Gryben to the women-and-children-first policy of the Titanic.
  • Arkadian asks Romana if they are at DEFCON 3 during the Monan assault on Gryben and Free Time using the Timonic Fusion Device.

Gallifrey[]

Locations[]

  • The Third Moon is unclaimed, even by the Kikrits.
  • Romana says that K9 Mark II might have to go to Salzburg to learn to recognise beauty.
  • Arkadian says that the finest sight in the galaxy is the sunset over the Rings of Darzen.
  • Romana threatens to send somebody at Time Control to the Putrid Wastes.
  • Gryben is a bubble world located at the Despond Irregularity.
  • K9 Mark I pretends to be a vicious robot criminal from the Fifth Galaxy.
  • When Leela eats some sort of meat, Torvald says that it could be anything in the Seven Galaxies.
  • Sunset on Gryben is the colour of bile.

Miscellaneous[]

Science and technology[]

Temporal Powers[]

Notes[]

Continuity[]

External links[]

Footnotes[]

  1. Leeson plays both K9 Mark I and K9 Mark II.
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