Publisher's summary Edit
The TARDIS lands on Phobos, moon of Mars — where extreme sports nuts of the future indulge their passion for gravity-boarding and wormhole-jumping. But there's something lurking in the shadows, something infinitely old and infinitely dangerous. It's not for nothing that "Phobos" is the ancient word for "fear"...
On the Martian moon of Phobos, thrill-seekers Chrissie and Scott are navigating a series of ice caves. Chrissie gets pulled through a river and deeper into the cave systems; and we find that this is an extreme sport on this world. Trying to get Scott’s help to get back to the surface, Chrissie hears him screaming over the radio as he is attacked by…something.
The Eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller arrive on the surface, and the Doctor determines their location: It is the year 2589, and they are on Phobos, one of the moons of Mars. Lucie is immediately caught in a net, but its owners—who were trying to trap an animal—realise their mistake, and help the Doctor cut her down. The two young men, Drew and Hayd, admit that they were concerned about rumours of monsters in the area, and were attracted by the sound of the TARDIS landing. Only one man in the area—Lunar Park, as it’s called—has actually seen the monsters, but few people believe his stories. They then admit that they came here for a strange feature of the mountain on which they stand: it has a vertical shaft in the top, colloquially known as the Wormhole, in which no one has ever located the bottom. It’s used for bungie jumping—in fact, the entire moon is a haven for extreme sports of all types, attracting adrenaline junkies, or “Drennies”—and they intend to try it out.
Elsewhere, an odd couple disembarks at Lunar Park. Amy is a human; her husband, Farl, is a Githian, a larger and stronger humanoid race. Though it won’t be mentioned for some time, they’ve come here to hide; their relationship is not accepted by the Githians, who want to maintain the purity of their species, and so hunters have been dispatched to bring them back. They are met by a woman named Eris, who is the unofficial engineer of Lunar Park, as the colony is essentially left to itself with no oversight. They then meet an old man named Kai Tobias, who will turn out to be Eris’s partner of sorts. He tells them about the monsters that are alleged to come from the wormhole.
The Doctor and his group reach the wormhole, and he confirms that it isn’t natural. No one knows how deep it goes; the Drennies award great respect to those who go the deepest when bungie jumping. The rope that Hayd and Drew have brought will stretch to over 3,000 metres before snapping back; Hayd takes the first jump. While they wait for him to return, Lucie borrows a telescope from the Doctor, and spots a couple lying on the ground near a pool in the distance. The Doctor decides to check it out on the way back to the camp.
Amy and Farl discuss leaving due to the monster stories, but opt to stay. Eris rebukes Kai for spreading the rumours about the monsters, or Phobians, as he calls them. She sends him to check on Rosa, another visitor who was recently injured and has been unconscious; when he leaves, she apologises for him, and assures them that the stories are not true.
Hayd and Drew identify the couple as Chrissie and Scott, and discover that Scott is dead, and Chrissie is in shock. With the Doctor and Lucie, they bring the duo in, and send Chrissie to the park’s med-cabin for treatment; she’s exhausted, but unharmed. Kai is convinced that the Phobians killed Scott, and the Doctor can’t counter the idea for now.
The next morning, Drew and Hayd have plans to go grav-boarding; despite the killing, they decide to go through with it anyway. The Doctor and Lucie discuss events thus far, and overhear a distressed conversation between Farl and Amy; Eris explains some of what she knows about them, and about the Githians in general. The Doctor leaves to talk with Kai. Amy and Farl argue about their plans, and split up briefly. Lucie goes to console Amy, and the two decide to put on spacesuits and take a walk on the surface outside the dome. Kai, meanwhile, talks to Farl, and unintentionally makes him angry by admitting that others have been talking about him. Eris and the Doctor arrive, ending the conversation, and Eris says that the Doctor has agreed to check on Rosa, who is still unconscious.
On the surface, Amy tells Lucie about her controversial marriage; and she admits that she is pregnant with Farl’s child, although she hasn’t told him. They are interrupted by screaming, which their suit communicators pick up; knowing it can’t be far away, they run to check it out. It’s Hayd and Drew; Hayd is the one being attacked, apparently by a Phobian. Lucie and Amy arrive to witness the end of the attack, which leaves Hayd injured; they call for the Doctor and Eris, who come running in a buggy. Lucie lures the monster away, and the Doctor sends her up onto a rock, where she helps him trap the creature away with the buggy. When it ceases to move, the Doctor examines it, and finds that it is actually a construction droid, left over from the construction of Lunar Park. He suggests that it couldn’t kill on its own, and was sent to do so—and he knows just who is probably responsible…
Farl gets into a fight with some Drennies, and hurts one of them. Kai interrupts and tells Farl that Amy has been outside, and is now in the med-cabin; anxious, Farl goes to find her, and rebukes her for leaving. Learning of his fight, Amy is upset, and runs off again. He then gets into a brief shouting match with the Doctor, startling Lucie. The Doctor storms off to confront Kai, and accuses him of controlling the construction droids. Kai admits it, and then shoots the Doctor and Lucie with a stun weapon. He summons one of the droids and causes it to carry them to the wormhole, where they will be thrown in. Eris sees this, and gathers Drew, Amy, and Farl to go and intervene.
At the wormhole, Kai awakens Lucie and the Doctor, having tied them up. He tells them he intends to throw them in—but he is intercepted by Drew with a net, and knocked unconscious. Drew unties them, but they are attacked by the robot, which is still obeying Kai’s last command. The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to detach its leg, disabling it.
Strange sounds come from the wormhole. The Doctor awakens Kai. Kai explains that all his lies and attacks were genuinely intended to protect everyone from something far worse than the Phobians. The wormhole houses a “god” which came from another reality, one consumed by fear. As that universe collapsed, the creature somehow found access to our universe, and was trapped in the wormhole. It then manipulated the environment to create all the extreme attractions; thus it would attract people, who would provide it with fear, on which it feeds. However, Kai has learned there is a catch: The creature can’t use pure fear, but rather, must have some euphoria with it to make it palatable; hence all the thrill-seeking behaviour. In fact, pure fear harms it. Kai further suggests that the Doctor is feeding the creature; he thrives on saving people, which is a form of thrill-seeking much stronger than that of the Drennies.
The creature takes over Eris, and speaks through her, confirming what Kai says. It thanks the Doctor for freeing it. The creature is maximising its efforts by speaking through Eris, whom Kai loves, thus increasing Kai’s fear; it will do the same to Farl through Amy, and Drew through Hayd (Drew denies being in love with Hayd, but is forced to admit it’s true). In so doing, it will take the living of this universe and craft a new body for itself, allowing itself freedom. Thus far, though, all it can do is talk; and the Doctor engages it. He uses the bungie equipment to leap into the wormhole with Eris, thus feeding the creature his true fears—not his euphoric thrill-seeking, but what he really fears. He shows it fear in the past, and in the future…and worst of all, in himself, fear of what he may become. It is too much for the creature, and it dies, screaming.
Eris does not survive the experience. Back at the park, the Doctor and Lucie watch as things are patched up between Farl and Amy, with Amy telling Farl about her pregnancy. Hayd and Drew also recover. The group then sets a funeral pyre for Eris, with Lucie lighting the pyre. The Doctor lets Kai go, knowing the truth about why he did what he did; and now, in Eris’s memory, he will try to make Phobos a better place. The Doctor and Lucie return to the TARDIS, and Lucie inquires about what the Doctor showed the creature; but she decides she doesn’t want to know. In a world of monsters, the Doctor may be more frightening still.
As Hayd and Drew begin to discuss Drew’s feelings, they are interrupted by Rosa, who finally awakens. She asks about Lucie Miller, and is advised that she just missed her; furious, she wants to go after her. She is revealed to be the Headhunter.
- The Doctor - Paul McGann
- Lucie Miller - Sheridan Smith
- Headhunter / Amy - Katarina Olsson
- Kai Tobias - Timothy West
- Eris - Nerys Hughes
- Drew - Ben Silverstone
- Hayd - John Schwab
- Farl - Tim Sutton
- Githians are huge, furry humanoids that humans dislike due to their muscular bodies.
- The TARDIS lands halfway up a mountain. It previously did that in the previous story (AUDIO: Immortal Beloved) and on Peladon. (TV: The Curse of Peladon)
- The idea of a god-like entity pushing its way through from another universe, feeding on emotions, was explored in greater detail in PROSE: Where Angels Fear and PROSE: Twilight of the Gods.
- AUDIO: The Fearmonger also features an entity which fed off of fear.
- AUDIO: Deimos, like Phobos, is named after the Martian moon on which it takes place. It also features space tourists encountering an ancient threat. Both stories note the meaning of their name in Greek, "dread" and "fear", respectively.
- Lunar Park was already operational by the 23rd century. Gregson Grenville, a security guard on the Deimos moonbase, described it as a "hippie holiday camp." (AUDIO: Deimos)
- Official Phobos page at bigfinish.com
- DisContinuity for Phobos at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide