The Apocalypse Element was the eleventh monthly Doctor Who audio story produced by Big Finish Productions. It was the first audio story to feature Lalla Ward reprising her role of Romana II. It was also the first audio story to feature the Sixth Doctor and the Daleks. The last story to feature the Sixth Doctor and the Daleks was 1993's Doctor Who Magazine comic story Emperor of the Daleks!. The spine of this story's CD case was marked "Dalek Empire Part Two", marking it as taking place as part of Big Finish's series of linked audio stories that formed a large and long setting for the Dalek Empire during a particular phase of their galactic expansion.
Publisher's summary Edit
When the planet Archetryx is threatened by a Dalek assault squad, the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn become embroiled in an ever-deepening mystery. What has become of President Romana, missing for twenty years? What lurks in the vast gravity wells of Archetryx? What is the secret of the ancient element the Daleks are synthesising -- and how does Gallifrey feature in their plans?
The Doctor finds that if his oldest enemies cannot conquer the universe they will watch it go up in flames...
The Time Lords aren’t the only race to develop time travel. In fact, twenty such races—and by default, twenty of the most powerful civilisations in the universe—are gathering on the planet Archetryx for a conference regarding time travel and its limitations. Archetryx’s monitors get a strange reading before the conference, but there is an explanation: the Monans, whose time vessels are even more highly powered than the Time Lords’ TARDISes, have arrived, and their ship’s powerful engines created a disturbance in Archetryx’s temporal defence shields. It’s done more than that, however; it has dragged in a straggler, the TARDIS occupied by the Sixth Doctor and his companion, Evelyn Smythe.
They shouldn’t be there, but they are saved from trouble by Coordinator Vansell of the Gallifreyan Celestial Intervention Agency, who declares them part of the Lord President’s entourage. Nevertheless, there’s no time to rest, because strange things are still happening.
Twenty years ago, the nearby planetoid of Etra Prime—the oldest planetoid in the known universe, coincidentally—vanished from time and space. It took with it five hundred scientists, mostly from Gallifrey, including the newly-elected Lord President Romanadvoratrelundar, Romana for short. A year later, three hundred of them reappeared on Archetryx, dead and distorted by time. To avert an accusation and a war, Archetryx agreed to host this conference, which has now come to fruition. Romana, however, is still to be found. Now, the Archetryxans detect that Etra Prime has returned—and it is on a collision course with Archetryx! And worse…it becomes clear that the Daleks are behind it.
The Doctor begins to investigate, at the behest of the current Lord President, who was raised to the post when Romana failed to return; he is also loyal to Romana, and tries to uphold her decisions. The Doctor quickly finds that the Daleks have agents among the Archetryxans, operating under mind control. They kill themselves, but not before the sensors and shields are sabotaged, letting the Daleks into the complex. Another spy also destroys an exterior wall, allowing them in, and unintentionally trapping Evelyn. Vansell, accompanied by the Archetryxan Monitor Vorna, rescue her, but can’t stop the Daleks. However, rather than attack directly, the Daleks steal the Monan time ship. It is not dimensionally transcendent like a TARDIS, and so only a few Daleks fit inside; the rest move deeper into the building and self-destruct, blocking all the delegates from escaping.
The Doctor goes to the gravity wells in the facility to effect repairs and raise the shields. He is attacked by Daleks—but not their machines. The mutants have left their casings in the zero-G environment of the wells, and are attacking personally.
Inside Etra Prime, Romana has been a slave for twenty years. The years have weighed on her, but she retains her identity and sanity by force of will. She and another slave, a Monan engineer named Vrint, are pulled out to cannibalise the Monan ship; they are instructed to use its engines to build a temporal centrifuge. Etra Prime contains a ridiculously rare element, which, when refined, has fantastic power over space and time; the Daleks call it the Apocalypse Element. As they work they overhear the Daleks’ plans. Later, they finish the centrifuge, but sabotage it; they then use a nearby transmat to escape to Archetryx. The transmat is destroyed in Dalek crossfire. Romana takes with her a strange crystal; it a communicator of sorts, used by the Daleks to telepathically communicate with their spies, so as to avoid detection of conventional signals. It is a rare item, and the Daleks want it back, as it has another purpose—and is vital to their plan.
The Doctor escapes the Dalek mutants, and rendezvoused with Evelyn; she helps him escape, but it’s only temporary, as he must go back in. Meanwhile, the Daleks are stealing technological secrets from the various time machines (though, presumably, the TARDISes have sufficient security to resist entry). The Black Dalek leading the force also tells the delegates that attacks have been launched on their homeworlds. Evelyn volunteers to help clear the way to the ships. Vorna goes with her, and Romana joins the Doctor. The delegates also attack the Daleks. The Doctor gives back the crystal, and the Daleks evacuate, clearing the way; the delegates escape. The Doctor, Evelyn, Vorna, and an Archetryxan security agent named Trinkett escape in the TARDIS immediately before Etra Prime crashes into Archetryx, destroying both worlds and killing everyone remaining behind.
The President and Vansell arrive on Gallifrey before the Doctor. Immediately they learn of a Monan ship seeking refuge there; the President and security Captain Reldath are suspicious, but Vansell, hungry for the Monan’s time travel secrets, persuades them to allow them in. It is a ruse; the Daleks, possessing their own version of a chameleon circuit, have created an illusion of the Monan ship to hide their own ships. Now inside the transduction barriers, they invade Gallifrey.
Romana, whose presidential codes have never been revoked (unlike the Doctor’s), links to the TARDIS telepathic circuits to gain entrance to the Gallifreyan citadel. The Daleks have taken the TARDIS cradle area under the citadel, and have harvested the eyes of a dead soldier to defeat the retina scans on all the security doors. Being forced to get by the Daleks, the Doctor prepares to try his luck; but Romana offers them her presidential codes if they will spare them. It is a ruse, but they fall for it; they need the codes to take down the barriers and allow invasion en masse. She links with them telepathically to transmit the codes; but instead, she unloads twenty years of pain and hatred into their minds, stunning them and allowing her and her companions to escape. They force her out of the link, but she senses enough of their plan to get an inkling of their plans for the Element…
Reaching security control, the Doctor has Vansell erase every Gallifreyan retinal print from the Matrix, and install Evelyn’s human retinal print instead. As she is the only human around, she is now the only key to any door—and the Daleks do not have her, nor can they risk killing her. The Doctor sends her with Vansell to rally the guards. He then seals the bulkheads on the TARDIS cradles, trapping the Daleks there. Evelyn and Vansell meet up with Trinkett and Reldath, but are cut off as the Daleks burn through the wall of the cradles. The Black Dalek learns that the Element is ready, and sends a Dalek with it to the centre of the Seriphia galaxy—four times the size of the Milky Way, and heavily populated—to prepare to ignite it. The Black Dalek demands the help of the Time Lords, as the Element, once ignited, can only be controlled via time distortion—essentially, a bubble time continuum around its field of effect. Otherwise, it will quickly consume the entire universe in a massive chain reaction, ending everything. The President thinks it is bluffing—and so the Black Dalek ignites the Element in Seriphia. Now the Time Lords are forced to act to contain it.
The Doctor and his group make their way to the Eye of Harmony in the Panopticon. He sends Evelyn and Vansell to collect power boosters, which he will need to create enough power from the Eye to contain the Element.
The Daleks discover the Element is proceeding far faster than they predicted. They realise that they must work with the Time Lords to be able to contain it, or they will be destroyed too. They strike an uneasy bargain with the Lord President, allowing them to land at the Citadel. Evelyn and Vansell get the boosters, but Evelyn is wounded by a Dalek and temporarily paralyzed; she sends Vansell ahead, trusting that the Daleks won’t kill her, as they need her eyes. However, this undoes the president’s plan; with her in custody, the Daleks don’t need his cooperation to get inside, and they kill him. With Evelyn’s forced cooperation, the Daleks already in the citadel shut down the transduction barriers, allowing the fleet to land, and marking the fall of Gallifrey.
The Doctor and Romana use the boosters with the Eye, but it is not enough. The Black Dalek, however, via one of the communication crystals, adds the combined mental might of all the Daleks on Gallifrey to the Eye. The combined power is enough, and the Element is contained; moreover, the containment field has been modified to accelerate time within. This not only burns out the Element, but also leads to the creation of a new galaxy from the rubble—billions of stars and planets, all unoccupied…and all ripe for occupation by the Daleks. The sacrifice of the Daleks on Gallifrey, it seems, was not as altruistic as it appeared. A new Dalek Empire will soon be born.
With the president dead, Romana—who was never removed from office—is now Lady President. Evelyn’s retinal print is removed and replaced with Gallifreyan prints; but the Doctor suggests that traces of it may remain. Romana promises help to any survivors of Archetryx and the Monan homeworld, but there is nothing to be done for the dead of Seriphia. She also promises intervention against the Daleks in that galaxy, and promises to strengthen Gallifrey for the future.
- The Doctor - Colin Baker
- Dr. Evelyn Smythe - Maggie Stables
- Romana II - Lalla Ward
- Monitor Trinkett - Karen Henson
- Assistant Monitor Ensac - James Campbell
- Commander Vorna - Andrea Newland
- Coordinator Vansell - Anthony Keetch
- The Monan Host - Toby Longworth
- Lord President of Gallifrey - Michael Wade
- The Daleks - Alistair Lock & Nicholas Briggs
- Vrint/Captain Raldeth - Andrew Fettes
- The Dalek force is led by a Black Dalek.
- Twenty years ago the Daleks removed Etra Prime from space-time, kidnapping a Monan and Time Lord delegation including Lady President Romanadvoratrelundar.
- Evelyn is shot by a Dalek, paralysing her legs.
The Doctor Edit
- The Doctor's status as Lord President has been revoked.
- Particles found on Etra Prime are what the Daleks call the "Apocalypse Element", an entropic power present in crystals which can channel mental energy and behave contrary to the laws of physics.
- The Daleks detonated a particle of the Apocalypse Element in the Seriphia Galaxy, destroying everything in it.
- Gallifrey's galaxy is a neighbour of the Seriphean Galaxy. It is four times the size of the Milky Way galaxy and home to over six hundred billion stars.
Gallifreyan technology Edit
- The Rod of Rassilon and the Sash of Rassilon are needed to manipulate the Eye of Harmony.
- Much of Gallifreyan technology relies on an iris scan.
Other realities Edit
- The Doctor mentions Romana having been in E-Space.
- Archetryx is host to a "Time Treaty" of "twenty of the greatest powers in space-time".
- Etra Prime is the oldest planetoid in the known universe.
- At one point, Evelyn worries that Romana has Stockholm syndrome, but she initially believes it to be called Stockbridge Syndrome.
- The Monan Host haven't yet managed dimensional transcendence with their time technology.
- Species attending (and part of the treaty) include the Time Lords, the Monan Host and the Virgoans.
- The Gravity wells on Archetryx are subterranean shafts where zero gravity able is able to be manipulated.
Time technology Edit
- Archetryx is protected by a temporal barrier, inside which everything is one minute in the future.
- The Monan Host's time craft has powerful engines, more so than even the Time Lords' TARDISes.
- This story is marked as being "Dalek Empire Part Two".
- An illustrated preview for this story appeared in Doctor Who Magazine issue 294 with art by Lee Sullivan.
- This story was originally released on both CD and cassette.
- Russell T Davies references the Etra Prime Incident in Doctor Who Annual 2006 as one of the inciting incidents to the Last Great Time War.
- Michael Wade reprises his role as the Lord President of Gallifrey from AUDIO: The Sirens of Time.
- This audio drama was recorded on 26 and 27 February 2000 at The Moat Studios.
- aHistory dates the parts of this story not set on Gallifrey to circa the same year as The Genocide Machine (4256 in the first two editions, 5256 in the third).
- It was established in PROSE: Happy Endings that Romana was Lady President of the High Council of the Time Lords.
- This story goes some way to explain why the Eye of Harmony in the TARDIS in TV: Doctor Who required a human eye in order to open.
- Evelyn's legs are temporarily paralysed when she is shot by Dalek weaponry, as previously happened to the First Doctor's companion Ian Chesterton during his first time encounter with them on Skaro. (TV: The Daleks)
- The Doctor refers to Romana's time in E-Space. (TV: Warriors' Gate)
- Due to these events, Romana later established the Temporal Powers, an alliance with multiple time-active factions. (AUDIO: Insurgency)
- The Matrix records this event as happening during the Rassilon Era year 6796.8. (AUDIO: Neverland)
- Romana would later meet a version of the Sixth Doctor from an alternative timeline who referred to himself as "Lord Burner." (AUDIO: Disassembled)
- Official The Apocalypse Element page at bigfinish.com
- DisContinuity for The Apocalypse Element at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide