As this is a gamebook that doesn't have any traditional page numbers, we are instead listing pages by what section they appear on. If something takes place on Page 4 of Section 2, then it'll be written as (2.4). We have also included a section for endings, as alternate endings (especially ones resulting in you suffering horrible deaths) became a massive selling point of gamebooks. Be aware that some of the other information here (such as materialisations and locations visited) may only appear in a 'non-canon' bad ending.
The year is 2056, and the Doctor is locked in a losing battle against the disgraced Time Lord Omega at a powerful fusion research station in America. It's up to a native youth (aka, you), K-9 Mark III and Drax to save the day!
'You', K-9 Mark III and Drax. Untraditionally, your team of three is acting independently from the Doctor to assist him. You don't meet him in person until the end.
(10) Somewhere near-Death Valley, California, the United States of America. 'Day 217' (August 4th) 2056. The Doctor arrived for the sake of visiting the FERN station, but 'flew in' along Death Valley. Atypically, it's implied he casually flew the TARDIS over the desert, before tucking it away in Lot 38 of Holowood Productions.
(14.2) The FERN Fusion Reactor control room, miles beneath the surface of the earth.
(33.2) The remains of FERN twenty years after the adventure (2076), now an eco-friendly power station/memorial to those who lost their lives.
Drax's TARDIS is mainly how you travel in this book. Prior to the gamebook's beginning, he set the co-ordinates for 1956 to try and find the Doctor, but it ended up in 2056 (where he'd turn out to be, luckily enough) on the roof of the London hotel where you're staying, in the form of a 1956 Cadillac. (2.5) It stays in this form the entire book, as the Cameleon circuits busted.
(17.2) A Mojave Desert airbase's runway, unknown time.
(7.1) A 2056 space freighter, which quickly gets pulled into a Bermuda Triangle-like anomalous dimension.
(14) Death Valley, Southern California.
(15.2) During an off-screen chase, Drax's TARDIS activated the HADS and sent him another mile across the desert, away from his pursuers.
(21) A mechanic's workshop inside of FERN's main base, 'Day 223' (August 10th) 2056, around 11 o'clock at night.
(24.4) Attacked with rockets launched from sky-tanks, the HADS activates and Drax's TARDIS materialises in the Spacelab's spinning Torus.
(27.2) Drax's TARDIS activates the HADS three times in quick succession around some guards who are shooting at it. This is apparently the equivalent of hitting a panic button, sending it back to the Gallifreyan Technicentre where it was originally built.
(28) Having put your consciousness back in time to an earlier point your adventure, you materialise the TARDIS straight to where you already know the Doctor is trapped.
(32.5) The roof of the main fusion centre.
(33.4) Off-screen. Near your house, somewhere in England.
(33) Off-screen, but both Drax's and the Doctor's TARDISes materialise two days after the adventure, at the remains of FERN.
During the mid-point of the book, both TARDISES are shifted through time alongside the FERN station because of Omega linking it's power to the Doctor's TARDIS. Neither materialises in a traditional sense, but the local time zone rapidly goes back and forth between the FERN station in the untouched past and after an apocopic future.
The story does a decent enough job of contextualising these established characters, but if you want some refreshers: The Armageddon Factor for Drax, K-9 and Company for how Sarah Jane got the tin dog, and The Three Doctors for Omega's motivation. Oddly enough for a story that jams in so much continuity, there's no mention of Arc of Infinity at all; the Doctor seems to act as if he's only defeated Omega once. (See Continuity Cock-ups)
(ONE.1) "It was labelled 'Property of Sarah Jane Smith. Not for Exhibition'." The concept of the protagonist getting K-9 Mk III in an old box left by a friend echoes how Sarah Jane received him in K9 and Company.
(2.3) "To be exact, this is K9 Mark III, but the fate of the other two need not concern you." The Invasion of Time, Warriors Gate.
(2.3) The phrase "If you do meet the Doctor, please give him my love" appropriately echoes the letter he sent Sarah in K9 and Company.
(2.4) "'Good Afternoon, Drax.' 'Long time no see, K-9,' said Drax." The Armageddon Factor. It's been established that the K-9 units generally retain the memories of the previous models when built, so this isn't the continuity error it might seem.
(2.5) "'Anyway,' Drax said, 'it broke down. In Brixton, wannit?'" Drax mentions that his TARDIS broke down in Brixton and he adapted to the local lingo while in jail, as restated from The Armageddon Factor. This retelling adds the detail that he was caught trying to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London, as they could be used in place of crystals needed to repair his TARDIS.
(2.6) "The Doctor had been pardoned after defeating Omega, the Time Engineer who created the possibility of Time Travel for the Time Lords." The Three Doctors.
(10.3) "Rolf unrolled a print-out of an anti-particle count across the labatory bench." Maybe a reach on my part, but I can't help but be reminded of how a similar 'looking over print-out readings of anti-matter activity' scene opened The Three Doctors.
(10.4) "In that white-hot forge I tempered the strength of my will, and I mastered the forces of the black hole into which you and your brother Time Lords cast me." Omega gives us a truncated version of his backstory, as established in The Three Doctors. Although the fact that he names the Doctor as personally responsible looks quite retroactively interesting in the light of Time's Crucible and Lungbarrow. And possible The Timeless Children.
(15.2) "I couldn't put her on full demat, so I went into HADS" The Krotons.
(19.6) "Where there's life, there's hope," smiled the Doctor." His Third Self's attempted last words in Planet of The Spiders.
OLD FRIENDS AND OLD ENEMIES
Drax, K9 Mark III, Sarah Jane (via letter)
Omega, who steals the Doctor's body and takes up the title of Chief Executive at FERN.
NEW FRIENDS AND NEW ENEMIES
Norman Kovax at FERN. The People of the Dust, a tribe of humans led by an old woman named Mah and living in the remains of FERN long after the apocalypse. Despite worshipping Omega, they quickly join your side against him.
- (ONE.1) "Whatever it is, it's been here fifty years." K-9 Mark III has been waiting at the natural history museum for 50 years (so since 2006) for you to pick it up. In hindsight (not that the writer could have known), this doesn't square up with her losing Mark III in 2006's School Reunion and getting Mark IV, who went on to feature in the Sarah Jane Adventures.
- (ONE.3) "Twenty-five Euros?" When Drax offers to buy K-9, 'You' instantly assume that he's offering in Euros (or 'Euro Credits') despite this part of the book taking place in England.
- (2.5) "So there I was, doing me porridge, doing me nut, and the Doctor and K-9 here busted me oiut of the nick." He doesn't recognise the Doctor's new face at first in The Armageddon Factor (after this incident), and the Doctor in turn seems to take a moment to recognise him.
- (1.2) Omega's design resembles his Three Doctors look more than his Arc of Infinity one, and the language used in his and the Doctor's fight implies that they've only met and fought once before, ignoring Arc of Infinity altogether. There's an odd moment where Omega claims to somehow be the Doctor himself, which would seem to imply knowledge of Arc of Infinity: it turns out he was bluffing just to confuse the Doctor (21.6).
- Despite being described as wearing a fancy suit early on, every single illustration [(19.4), (20.3), (22.5), (32.9)] depicts Drax in a spacesuit-like outfit like the one he wore on television.
PLUGGING THE HOLES [Fan-wank theorizing of how to fix continuity cock-ups]
- When the Tenth Doctor rebuilt Mark III into Mark IV, he had enough extra bits laying around to make a second one, which he sent to Sarah in the post, and with the memory of the events of this book, told her to send it to the museum.
- Euros have replaced Pounds as England's main currency during the time this book is set.
- Drax was just one of many prisoners saved by the Doctor and K-9 during a routine adventure in Brixton, just noticing that they were a tin dog and a tall bloke with a scarf. Drax is so scatter-brained he genuinely didn't realise the connection until after the events of The Armageddon Factor.
- As Omega is entering our universe from the anti-matter one, he's simply meeting the Doctor out of order, before Arc of Infinity. The Doctor notices this, and carefully makes sure to not mention or even think about the encounter in Amsterdam in case Omega gets information he could disrupt the web of time with.
- Drax installed a perception filter into his outfit to make people think he was way more fashionable than he really is, which quickly wears off if you spend more than a few hours with him.
FEATURED ALIEN RACES
Millions of tiny black and silver fishes that live in the Bermuda triangle-like time anomaly, feasting on those who get trapped there.
(ONE.1) A natural history museum in Central London on 'Day 220' (August 7th), 2056, as well as a hotel near Park Lane where 'You' are staying.
(6.3) Near Stonehenge, 2056, long replaced with a plastic replica due to hooligans stealing the original.
(7) A space freighter and a temporal anomaly 'between universes' with a misty green sea, where countless ships from through history have crashed.
(12.2) Holovision International Productions, located in Hollywood (now rebranded as Holowood.)
Almost all the book takes place at the FERN research station in California and its surrounding area (including Death Valley), which consists of a heavily armoured main complex made up of accommodations and warehouses (and oddly enough, a prison complex for its own employees), the 'Spacelab' floating ten miles above it connected by a transparent transport tube, and the main fission reactor hewn out of a red cavern underneath it all.
(19.4) FERN station after the apocalypse, where the Earth is coated in dust.
(20.4) An underwater cathedral where the gilled 'children of the angels' have a utopian society.
(18) Omega's anti-matter universe.
(1.2) The Doctor tries to distract Omega by playing for time until he can think of a real plan, but Omega takes control of his body and erases him from existence.
(4) The Doctor flat out refuses to assist Omega, stating he'd rather die than betray humanity or the Time Lords. The Doctor remains trapped frozen for all eternity, only able to watch Omega's conquest of all space and time.
(6.4) Drax's TARDIS is too much weight for the Space Freighter you materialised onto to carry, and it crashes violently to the ground.
(8.2) You sell K9 to Drax for some gold but are then knocked out by a thug, and the hotel receptionist steals it all. Your parents pick you up from the hotel, having missed out on the adventure completely.
(9) You and K-9 create a second time anomaly to destabilise the first, risking death as you dematerialise. It's left unclear if this is actually meant to be an ending. While it says 'THE END', the next page skips to another Doctor/Omega scene. If this is a bad ending, then it means the entire 'you get trapped in the time anomaly' branch has no positive repercussions, the only way to avoid it to cut forward to the Doctor/Omega scene at an earlier point. It's as if the book is punishing you for wanting more variety and less scenes of the Doctor and Omega bickering about nothing.
(13.2) You escape the thug and Drax stops the receptionist from stealing your gold. While you live very well from the fortune, the fact you never figured out what Drax was up to haunts you for the rest of your days.
(16) You run towards the guards at FERN and are riddled with bullets.
(17.2) K9 convinces you to steal Drax's TARDIS while he's away, and the two of you accidentally materialise on the tarmac of a thermonuclear test site in the Mojave Desert. Before you can try to go anywhere else, a missile hits the TARDIS and "in a fraction of a second a fusion reaction of one hundred million degrees Celsius has wiped you, and K-9, and the Entire Airbase off the face of the Earth."
(18.2) You and the People of the Dust become younger and younger as you travel through a tunnel in Omega's anti-matter universe, eventually resetting your consciousness back to your birth. You wake up as you are born and must wait years until you can restart the search for the Doctor, where it's implied you remember the previous course of events and avoid this ending. Technically a restart more than an ending, but I just had to include it for being so bonkers.
(23.3) You become the leader of the underwater society of utopic 'angels' in a post-apocalyptic future, only to be beaten to death by a greedy astronaut who wants your position.
(25) You wait too long in mounting the Skyrider with Arjay, and he's shot by the guards mid-flight. You don't realise this until it starts hurtling to the ground. Omega succeeds in his plan to destroy Earth.
(27) You misinterpret the Doctor's cryptic message of 'Quake' to mean that as a time traveller, he knows that the station will be hit by an earthquake in moments. You try to escape FERN in Drax's TARDIS, accidentally arriving in the Gallifreyan Technicentre where it was built. It takes so long to explain the situation to the Time Lords that Omega succeeds in his plan to enslave them. They accuse you of being Omega's accomplice and murdering the Doctor and K9, sentencing you to a "long, lingering and ultimately fatal" end.
(28) You misinterpret the Doctor's cryptic message of 'Quake' to mean that you must feed this word into Drax's TARDIS. Somehow this shifts your consciousness back to an earlier point of the book, where you materialise the TARDIS directly to the Doctor. Omega was somehow waiting for you, blasting you, Drax and K9 into non-existence.
(29.2) You force a technician to fire the full brunt of FERN's power at Omega, accidentally creating a black hole that destroys earth. Omega just reforms himself later, your action having delayed his conquest of Gallifrey by exactly 4.7 seconds.
(30) You force a technician to fire the full brunt of FERN's power at the fusion reactor itself, immobilising Drax and K9 and giving Omega exactly what he wanted the entire time. The spacelab falls into the fiery pit to the centre of the Earth you just created in a matter of minutes.
(31) You force a technician to fire the full brunt of FERN's power at the control centre. As the station has back-up systems, this achieves nothing, other than to make the spacelab crash violently to the ground. You've delayed Omega's conquest by exactly 1.6 seconds.
(33) You and the Doctor visit FERN twenty years after the adventure, where it's been replaced by a pleasant and safe green-energy facility. The Doctor and Drax drop you off at home, hinting that they might need your help again one day. (The Good Ending.)
IN SUMMARY - Dylan 'Malk' Carroll
'The kid reading the book gets to be the big hero and save the Doctor from an important bad guy, while teaming up with the kid-favourite character of K-9!' is a solid pitch for the first entry in the Doctor Who gamebook range, but the execution's odd. The book constantly cuts from your own sections (the 'gameplay' just dice rolling) to interminable scenes of the Doctor and Omega fighting, shouting abstract gobbledygook about anti-matter back and forth, which is neither as entertaining nor as educational as it thinks it is. The atypical choice of making the protagonist native to the book's futuristic setting gives the world around FERN context and texture, elevating 'generic Doctor Who military base/science facility #2457' into somewhere realised enough for me to be interested in. The focus on story over gameplay does give the book more time to focus on atmosphere and setting than if every two pages were a random monster attacking you. Enjoyable, all things considered.