Zaltys (audio story)

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Zaltys was the two hundred and twenty-third story in Big Finish's monthly range. It was written Matthew Elliott and featured Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor, Matthew Waterhouse as Adric, Sarah Sutton as Nyssa and Janet Fielding as Tegan Jovanka.

Publisher's summary[[edit]]

In the Vortex, the TARDIS comes under a form of psychic attack — resulting in the abductions of first Adric, then Tegan. Following their trail, the Doctor and Nyssa arrive under the lurid skies of the planet Zaltys, whose entire population has vanished in strange circumstances. Soon, they discover that Zaltys is now the target of treasure seekers, come to scavenge this so-called Planet of the Dead...

Meanwhile, deep below the planet's surface, Adric learns the earth-shattering reason why the people of Zaltys disappeared... and why they were wise to do so. And Tegan is, quite literally, in the dark – enduring interrogation by the mysterious Clarimonde. Any friend of the Doctor's is Clarimonde's enemy... because theirs is a blood feud!

Plot[[edit]]

Part one[[edit]]

Tegan interrupts Adric whilst he is reading Dracula in his bedroom and, given the Doctor's lack of success, gets him to try flying the TARDIS to Heathrow. However, the Doctor and Nyssa have been doing repairs which involved disabling the chrono-compensator, causing Adric to disappear after hearing a voice mention Zaltys. The Doctor uses the telepathic circuits to track him down, with Tegan disappearing as well on the way.

When the Doctor and Nyssa arrive on Zaltys, they meet Sable, who accuses them of being after the planet's treasures and insists that they accompany her. She explains that Zaltys has been under quarantine since communication from the planet suddenly ceased seven months ago and points out a possible entrance to their underground city. Sable's partner, Siobhan, attempts to give her a warning and proceeds to abandon her, flying away in their spaceship and leaving Sable suspecting that there might be a plague.

Adric appears in a corridor whilst Tegan appears in a locked room. Using an ion bonder from the TARDIS, Tegan escapes the room and is watched by Clarimonde, who tells her that her people are enemies of the Doctor and encountered him when he was travelling with Jo Grant. Clarimonde gets her to open a hatch containing the body of a woman who attacks her. Tegan tells it to get back.

Part two[[edit]]

Tegan forces the woman back through the hatch from which she is ejected into space, revealing that Tegan is on the Exemplar spaceship. Clarimonde approaches Tegan and tells her that she has forty minutes to run, after which the crew will wake up and hunt her down to amuse themselves before they land. When she refuses to do so, Clarimonde demonstrates her super-strength and threatens her.

Adric accesses a computer, claiming to be Perrault, one of the most recent people to log into it, and learns of a meteor expected to hit Zaltys in two hours. He runs away when Gevaudan, a telepathic Vulpine, approaches, but Gevaudan hears that the computer has been being used and informs Perrault and Talia of possible intruders. After Gevaudan captures Adric, Perrault shows an interest in him and asks about his planet, but Talia is suspicious of him as she is all aliens.

The Doctor, Nyssa and Sable enter the city and find the inhabitants in cryo-sleep and split up to look for Adric and Tegan, with the Doctor soon discovering that Adric has accessed the computer system and locating the particular terminal. Finding no clue as to his whereabouts, he goes to the command centre and sees him being held at gunpoint by Talia on a monitor.

Part three[[edit]]

Tegan realises from the husk and the lack of windows that the crew of the Exemplar are vampires. As they advance upon her, the suffocating fish-person Lusca gets her to safety through the ducting system and they plan their escape when the ship lands. They are detected above the ship's wormhole generator.

Sable shoots Talia with helicon energy before she can kill Adric and goes with him and Nyssa in search of Tegan. The Doctor arrives after them and gives Talia medical attention and learns that the people of Zaltys have entered cryo-sleep to survive the oncoming meteor. Adric contacts him by radio and attempts to give him a warning about the meteor's trajectory, but the signal cuts out and the Doctor wonders if Gevaudan is responsible, theorising that the TARDIS telepathic circuits interrupted a Vulpine conversation and sent Adric and Tegan to either end of it.

The Doctor analyses the trajectory of the meteor and realises that it is a simulation, hiding an approaching spaceship. He recognises it as the Exemplar, having encountered its vampiric crew on Sekhmet several incarnations ago before the ship disappeared through an artifically-created wormhole.

Part four[[edit]]

Believing that he manipulated the people of Zaltys into making themselves vulnerable, the Doctor confronts Gevaudan, but Perrault reveals that he is responsible. He met the vampires whilst on a diplomatic excursion to Okinos and has been helping them with the promise that they would make him one of them, allowing him to explore the universe that his xenophobic species cut Zaltys off from. When the ship lands and the vampires emerge in sunlight-resistant suits, Talia shoots and kills Perrault for his treason.

Nyssa feigns a twisted ankle and Sable leaves her to Gevaudan, with whom Nyssa shares a psychic connection, whilst she threatens Adric to continue going with her to the TARDIS to leave Zaltys. Gevaudan takes Nyssa to the command centre where the Doctor decides to sacrifice himself to send the Exemplar outside of spacetime through a wormhole, telling Nyssa and Gevaudan to find Adric. Nyssa disagrees with the Doctor's choice and Gevaudan uses her mind to amplify his own powers and get the vampires to expose themselves to the sunlight, turning them all to ash. Gevaudan takes the full force of the psychic backlash and dies, sparing Nyssa's life by releasing her just in time.

When Adric and Sable arrive at the TARDIS and find Tegan there, Sable threatens Tegan's life to force Adric to open the ship, and Lusca emerges from the water to drown Sable and save her friend, but she is shot and dies with her. The Doctor ensures that Lusca and Gevaudan's bodies are returned to their people and is reunited with his companions, saying that everything that comes in threes is perfect. Adric points out that this means that there are one too many travellers in the TARDIS.

Cast[[edit]]

Worldbuilding[[edit]]

Notes[[edit]]

  • In Lithuanian mythology, Žaltys (literally, a grass snake) is a household spirit guarding one's home.
  • Gevaudan is named after the Beast of Gévaudan, a man-eating wolf which terrorised the French province of Gévaudan in the 1760s.
  • This story was recorded on 16th and 17th June 2016 at the Moat Studios.

Continuity[[edit]]

External links[[edit]]