8th Doctor
The Skull of Sobek
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The Skull of Sobek
Written by Marc Platt
Directed by Barnaby Edwards
Sound Design and Music by ERS

Paul McGann (The Doctor), Sheridan Smith (Lucie Miller), Art Malik (Abbot Absolute), Barbara Flynn (Sister Chalice), Giles Watling (The Old Prince), Sean Biggerstaff (Snabb), Mikey O'Connor (Dannahill), Katarina Olsson (Sister Thrift).

Too much perfection's dangerous.

On the isolated planet of Indigo 3, far out in the wastes of the Blue Desert, lies the Sanctuary of Imperfect Symmetry. It is a place of contemplation and reflection. It is also a place of death.

Something from another time, from another world, has found its way inside the hallowed walls. Something with a leathery hide, a long snout and sharp pointy teeth.

Tick tock. Here comes the crocodile...

  • Featuring the Eighth Doctor and Lucie, this story takes place after the Big Finish story Brave New Town.
  • Released: April 2008
    ISBN: 978 1 84435 307 1
(drn: ??'??")

Abbot Absolute and Sister Chalice prepare a service for their followers. Today’s revelation is taken from ‘The Burning of the World’, the final chapter of ‘The Triumphs of Sobek’:

The Old Prince of Sobek, fearing ruin, returned to the temple beneath the swamp and prayed to the Skull, asking it to restore the balance and guide their world during this time of tumult. But his servant and student, the thrice reviled Snabb, had anger in his heart and emerged from hiding in the wallow before the altar. The two drew swords and began to fight. The Old Prince was furious with his heir’s betrayal, but Snabb believed his mentor had bathed for too long in the world’s corruption. Snabb would not stand down and revealed that he had a hundred pyres in a hundred cities, ready to burn this demented world clean. He named his army as his champion and demanded that the Old Prince hand over the Skull to the new order. When the Prince disinherited him, Snabb stood before the Skull and invoked the rules of war. The Prince warned him the Skull of Sobek would remember this day…

Abbot Absolute tells the Brothers and Sisters of the Sanctuary that the gates have been barred and they are now alone. While he leads them in prayer for deliverance, Sister Chalice calls for protection from the fire that consumed Sobek and asks that they not be led into perfection for never and ever.

In secret, Brother Tangent calls his colleague Dannahill using a concealed communicator. He explains that he couldn’t get away until the monks started their devotions and he only has an hour to find what they need. Dannahill tells him to get on with it as the clients are getting edgy. Tangent reminds him that he’s the one on the inside who had to have his head shaved, but Dannahill counters this by saying he’s stuck on the outside with several hundred refugees and their camels. More of them seem to be coming out of the dunes all the time. Dannahill asks if there’ve been any ‘signs’ yet, but Tangent says they haven’t had a vision for days. He arrives at the New Hall, which is forbidden territory, and tells Dannahill that he suspects the Abbot is hiding something. He gets the impression the Brethren are being prepared for something and he thinks the Hall must be at the heart of it. He opens the door and Dannahill tells him to record everything he sees. It’s pitch black inside, but Tangent can make out water coming right up to the steps. He can hear something moving in the water, but then the Hall is suddenly filled with fire. Tangent races out of the room and calls out to Dannahill in alarm, claiming “they’re here”. Tangent screams and Dannahill can hear the sound of his colleague being ripped to shreds, then the sound of something returning to the water…

The TARDIS materialises and the Doctor and Lucie emerge to find themselves on the roof of a tall building overlooking the Blue Desert, the location on Indigo 3 that the planet is most famous for. The view is beautiful and the dunes look like a slow blue sea. Even the moons are blue and the vision of azure turning to lavender and drifting to sapphire is very soothing. The locals have 83 different words for the colour blue, which is a coincidence as every 83 years, a torrential storm floods the desert and a few days after that the whole region is carpeted with ultra-marine flowers. People come from light years around just to see it. Lucie thinks something doesn’t quite look right and then she realises all the dunes are exactly the same shape and size as far as the eye can see. The Doctor says there are places in the Universe which come close to perfection, but it’s also why the people who built this place are here. They believe too much perfection is dangerous, so they built the Sanctuary of Imperfect Symmetry, a place of pilgrimage, devotion and deliberate disparity. If you walk out into those dunes, you’ll never find your way back, which makes the Sanctuary extremely isolated as hardly anyone comes here outside the storm season.

Lucie leans over the parapet and spots a huge encampment right outside the walls that reminds her of Glastonbury Festival. She assumes they’re pilgrims and waves to them, but instead of waving back, they suddenly open fire. The Doctor and Lucie duck for cover as bullets ricochet off the walls behind them, then they spot a door nearby and go down into the Sanctuary. Lucie hopes the people inside will be friendlier than the ones outside, but they soon find themselves facing an angry looking monk with a blue face. Brother Proximus tells them the Sanctuary is closed and tells them they’re not welcome. He says Abbot Absolute ordered the gates to be locked, but the Doctor has realised the Sanctuary is under siege and he claims to have come here to help.

As Sister Chalice does what she can to put Brother Tangent’s body back together again, she rebukes Abbot Absolute and points out that his ‘guests’ are a danger to the Sanctuary. He tells her they’re refugees, but she’s angry that they’re covering up a murder and is convinced they can’t keep it secret forever. Absolute intends to say that Brother Tangent died in his sleep and hopes no one will know any different. Chalice says Sister Liberty counted five more air-coaches of pilgrims arriving today and there are even catering wagons outside the Sanctuary which suggests the people are settling in. She’s worried about what Tangent may have found out before he died and who he may have told. When Absolute proposes they declare themselves contagious, Chalice says placing themselves in quarantine will attract even more attention.

Brother Proximus arrives and apologises for reveals that the Sanctuary has intruders. The Doctor and Lucie enter and cheerily introduce themselves. Chalice whispers to the Absolute that they might be from the media, so he tells them the building is closed for renovation and asks Proximus to show them out, but the Doctor had overheard them talking about contagion and offers his assistance, reminding him that the Sanctuary is renowned as a place of pilgrimage for the sick, infirm and troubled. Lucie also points out that it won’t look good if the media finds out this place is rife with infection. The Doctor sees the body of Tangent and spots immediately that it has multiple abrasions and contusions as well as a jagged line of scar tissue around the abdomen. It’s almost as if the man was torn in half and then spliced back together again. On closer examination, he realises Tangent has been bitten in half by something large, predatory and possibly reptilian. He asks if there are any crocodiles around here, but Absolute interrupts and suggests that the Doctor and Lucie might themselves be the killers. Chalice says a period of reflection is called for and points out that guest room three is available, which should be both comfortable and secure. She orders Brother Proxima to take the new arrivals there and lock them in.

Guest room three turns out to be a cell and it doesn’t take the Doctor long to realise escape won’t be easy. The leaders here are obviously going to great lengths to cover up the murder, but when he and Lucie look down on the cloisters below they see all the monks and nuns going about their devotion. They’d never have guessed that these people were under siege. Lucie reveals that she has Brother Tangent’s mobile phone, which she claims fell out of his pocket and into her hand. The Doctor rebukes her for developing some appalling habits, but when he examines it he finds it’s quite an advanced design that includes a camcorder. The last recording was made just under nine hours ago, so he plays it back and they see the inside of a dark room filled with flames. Lucie looks closer…

…and then suddenly and inexplicably, Lucie finds herself in the room on the recording. She‘s surrounded by fire. She sees something coming towards her and she screams…

…then the Doctor calls out her name and she finds herself back in the cell. She’s shaken by her experience and tells the Doctor she genuinely thought they were coming after her. When he asks her what she means, she tells him there were two big, tall things with pointy helmets, tails and curved swords. They were fighting in the flames, but they weren’t blue and didn’t look like they came from around here. The Doctor saw flames on the vidcom-screen which means it was also the last thing Tangent saw before he died. Lucie wants to see the pictures again, but the Doctor realises it may not be safe. He finds some further documents on the device about the dead planet of Sobek, an old Imperial world ruled by a race of Crocodilians. The mention of crocodiles terrifies Lucie. The Doctor also finds a recorded message for Tangent from a Sister Thrift who looks scared and tells him “they’re here”. She asks him to meet her at the New Hall before evening prayers and warns him not to try anything on his own. The Doctor tries the phone’s redial button, but the line goes dead. Lucie has had enough of sitting here, so she collects together all the sheets from the bed and starts tying them together.

Abbot Absolute prepares to confess his sins to Sister Chalice and asks for her forgiveness, but before she can answer, the air is filled with the smell of fish. Absolute whips back the grid in the booth and is confronted instead by the terrifying visage of the Old Prince from the legends of Sobek. The giant crocodile demands to know who the new arrival is and Absolute says he’s called the Doctor. The Prince says the final battle approaches and the Skull has chosen the Doctor as its champion. He orders the Abbot to bring the Doctor to them and Absolute agrees, promising not to betray the Prince.

The Old Prince tells his brothers the time of hiding in the shell of silence will soon be over and when they break out at last, the taste of revenge will be good. One of the crocodile soldiers enquires about the thrice accursed usurper Snabb and the Prince says he will need to find his own champion.

The brothers and sisters inside the Sanctuary have all seen the visions of the Flames of Perfection burning the rotting heart of the centuries clean. The people outside are calling for salvation and the monks and nuns pray for them.

The Doctor and Lucie manage to lower themselves through the open window of the cell and sneak across the courtyard. There seems to be no one about but the Doctor says he can hear the thoughts and secrets of the monks rattling round the walls. Lucie thought it was thunder, but he tells her the storm isn’t due for another twenty years yet. They decide to search for the New Hall where Brother Tangent was killed, but Lucie wonders why they don’t just leave. The Doctor tells her nothing ever balances exactly and it would be boring if everything was absolutely perfect. It’s why one sock always goes missing and why mirrors distort and why the word laughter doesn’t rhyme with slaughter. It’s the annoying little imbalances that makes life interesting. They arrive at a door marked ‘Healing Pool’ and the Doctor finds a plaque that says it forms part of the New Hall and was built with donations from an anonymous benefactor. They recall that Tangent’s clothes were soaking wet and Lucie realises this must be where he died. Not surprisingly, she’s reluctant to go inside, but the Doctor assures her they’ll just have a quick look…

Inside the New Hall, they find the room has been flooded. The Doctor descends the steps and finds a display of hand weapons which he suspects are relics from Sobek. They even have miniature crocodile jaws on them. Lucie admits that she’s been scared of crocodiles ever since she saw “Peter Pan” as a child and every time she got worried she’d have a nightmare about crocodiles climbing out of the cupboards or waiting under the bed. The Doctor dismisses them as anxiety dreams but Lucie becomes increasingly paranoid. Just then, the Doctor spots the dead body of Sister Thrift floating in the water. He attempts to drag her out, but Lucie sees something big in the water and screams at the Doctor to get out. Suddenly the room is filled with flames again. The Doctor hears his own name being called out from the darkness, summoning him to come down to their world - but just as he demands to know who’s there, the door to the New Hall opens and the visions disappear in an instant. Sister Chalice rebukes them for trespassing in an forbidden area and orders them to come out of the pool. The Doctor points out that they’ve discovered another dead person and Lucie says there something else in the water too.

Outside the New Hall, Chalice orders Sister Radiance to fetch the Abbot, then she tells Brothers Benedict and Alleric to collect Sister Thrift’s body from the pool. The Doctor asks her whether the Sanctuary has a history of visions but she says the flames in the sky are prophecies of war and apocalypse and the building is under siege because the people outside think they’ll be safe here. The Doctor finds this ironic, since it’s the building that the visions are coming from. He asks her who she’s hiding, but before she can answer Abbot Absolute arrives and demands to know what’s happening. Chalice tells him there’s been another death and the Abbot says he suspects the Doctor and Lucie were responsible. Chalice says she wants the Doctor to stay and help, but the Abbot orders Brother Proximus to eject him from the Sanctuary immediately. Proximus points out that they can’t open the gate, so Absolute orders him the throw the Doctor from the nearest window. When he orders Lucie to be thrown out too, Lucie realises Sister Chalice would never refuse sanctuary to one of her own nuns, so she volunteers to join them. Absolute pleads with his opposite number not to listen to her, but Chalice agrees to let Lucie stay. Then the Doctor is physically thrown through the open window and drops out of sight. Lucie is furious, but Chalice assures her the drop isn’t far enough to be fatal. She tells Lucie to rejoice in her new humble status and says her trappings of decadence, including her clothes and jewellery, will have to be removed. But first, Sister Apocrypha will have to shave Lucie’s head…

The Doctor plummets down the side of the Sanctuary and eventually lands on top of a tent, which cushions his fall but collapses underneath him, scaring off a nearby camel. The owner complains to the Doctor, who assures him there’s been no real damage. To prove his point, the Doctor tries to put the tent back up to its original position, but it immediately falls back down again in pieces. The owner asks how he can get inside the Sanctuary, but the Doctor says he only knows how to get out.

The Doctor leaves the area, then makes a call on Brother Tangent’s vidcom. It’s answered by Dannahill - who saw the Doctor get thrown out of the window and is now standing right behind him. He asks how he got hold of Tangent’s phone and the Doctor breaks the bad news to him. Dannahill asks if he’s ever heard of Sobek and the Doctor says it was an autocratic jungle world laid waste by a great war. Dannahill prefers to regard it as a revolution and says Sobek was a world founded on centuries of slavery until the oppressed overthrew their tyrannical monarchy. He says a few royals escaped the blood purge and his job is to hunt them down and mop them up. For a fee, of course. The last fugitives from Sobek stole the planet’s greatest treasure, the Great Skull. It’s more than a religious relic, it’s a repository of all Sobek’s memories and history. The Doctor assumes it uses some sort of fancy molecular data encryption. Dannahill says his employer, General Snabb, wants revenge for the death of his world and has spent a hundred years scouring the sector for the Skull. All the clues lead here…

Abbot Absolute reports to the Old Prince and tells him the Doctor is out of his reach. The Prince is furious that he disobeyed his order, but Absolute insists he is not his servant. The Prince says they are all servants and that the Skull demands an ending. There must be one last battle and the Doctor was chosen to be his champion. When Absolute says there must be no fighting here, the elderly crocodile steps forward and bites the Abbot’s hand off. He tells the priest to consider it a blessing that he spared his life as his enemy is approaching and he must face the opposing champion with one of his own. But where can he find one now..?

Brother Proximus registers Lucie Miller as a member of the Sisterhood, but she continues to refuse to have her hair cut off. Proximus tells her it’s for Sister Chalice to decide and carries on taking details. Lucie is still angry they threw the Doctor from the window when he was trying to help them. She demands to know what the Abbot is hiding, but the brother says it’s not their place to question their leaders. Lucie tells Proximus they’re all being killed off one by one and whatever’s doing it is in the New Hall. The brother is beginning to suspect that a life of devotion isn’t really Lucie‘s calling, but before he can challenge her, Sister Apocrypha arrives to shave Lucie’s head. On seeing her, Lucie flees from the room.

At the base of the Sanctuary, the Doctor asks Dannahill if he’s sure the Skull is inside the building. The mercenary reminds the Doctor about the visions and says he’s run a scan and detected massive cerebral activity emanating from a source inside. The Doctor guesses the visions are leaking from the Skull like old memories and concludes it must have had a nasty warped mind. He wonders why anyone would want it back, but Dannahill thinks it wants them rather than the other way round. He asks the Doctor if he believes in freedom and when he says that’s what he’s always fought for, Dannahill expects him to fight on their side. He can help them end an age long dispute and rescue his friend at the same time. The Doctor agrees, but says they still have to get inside. Dannahill says that’s easy and whistles. Suddenly a rope ladder drops down from one of the windows above. Dannahill encourages the Doctor to start climbing up, then he says his job is now done and unexpectedly walks off. Once he’s reached a safe distance, Dannahill contacts General Snabb on his vidcom and says the game is ready and it’s time for his move.

Sister Chalice finds Abbot Absolute in some distress and rushes to help him. She asks him how he lost his hand and he tells her he had a disagreement with their guests. He says there’s no time to put his hand back now and at least he’s been able to stem the bleeding. Their guests’ enemies are on their way here and it seems there’s a showdown in the offing, so they must do all they can to restore the balance. Chalice dismisses him as an old fool and tells him they only need to stand back and let the fighting run its course. She says she’s already taken measures and with luck, each side will wipe out the other. He asks what she’s up to and says she’ll get them all killed, but before they can argue further Brother Proximus arrives and tells them the novice Lucie has run away. Absolute believes both he and Chalice have strayed for their path and now they’ll have to pay the price.

Lucie nervously returns to the Healing Pool and calls out. The voice of the Old Prince orders her to come down and join them. She slowly descends the steps and climbs into the water, then she’s immediately surrounded by an army of crocodiles. In an instant, she finds herself in the middle of another vision - one of the world as it once was.

Chalice apologises to Absolute and admits that she’s tipped the scales too far. She asks the Abbot to hear her confession and tells him she went against his orders and allowed the Doctor to return to the Sanctuary as she believes the only way to be rid of their torment is to allow the battle to be played out. The Doctor joins them and thanks her for the aid of the rope ladder. He tells her he’s come back to find the Skull of Sobek, the corrupt remnant of that lost world, as it has unfinished business to complete. Chalice insists that it’s just a legend, a metaphysical icon, but he insists it’s real and says the people she’s sheltering brought it here. He says the Sanctuary is where the visions are coming from and they have to find the Skull quickly before even greater danger arrives. As the Abbot rings a gong to call the Brethren to prayer, Chalice tells the Doctor that Lucie is missing and she fears greatly for her life.

Inside the vision of the former world of Sobek, the Old Prince tells Lucie that their planet was once rich and their people wanted for nothing. To the crocodiles, this world is a paradise and the Prince displays before her the wealth and abundance they once had. Lucie begins to act strangely and tells him she likes this world, all wild and savage and dark. The Prince talks of food and servants, of wines and bloods of a hundred tastes, and of gilded palaces that rise above the deep, rich waters. Then the Prince starts to talk of those who would snatch this world from them… The vision suddenly turns to flames and Lucie’s voice becomes deeper and almost reptilian. She pleads with the Prince to bring back her world, but he tells her it is lost. She blames him for not finding a better pupil than Snabb and swears that this is not ended. Lucie thrashes around in the water and begins to search for her enemy. The vision disappears and they find themselves back in the New Hall inside the Sanctuary. The Prince tells her Snabb is coming and says it’s time for her to prepare for the final battle. The Skull has now chosen it’s champion and Lucie must get ready to avenge their stolen world.

Abbot Absolute summons the Brothers and Sisters to tell them of a great darkness which has fallen upon their Sanctuary. He says their custom is to give refuge to unfortunate souls, but their charity has been abused. He reveals that two of their number have already died and then he shows them the stump where his hand had been bitten off. As the group gasp in shock, he tells them the balance must be restored and he asks them to join him in prayer. Suddenly the voice of the Doctor calls out across the hall and asks the Abbot to reveal to the monks and nuns who he’s been sheltering in the Healing Pool. Absolute accuses Chalice of arranging this interruption, but she reveals that the Doctor believes the Skull of Sobek is here, inside the Sanctuary. The Abbot is convinced this isn’t true, but the Doctor says this is where the visions are coming from, but just as Absolute denies this, a massive fireball descends to the ground and the room is filled with flames.

A deep voice can be heard in the flames, calling out to the Doctor and telling him he is to be their champion. The Doctor refuses to be anyone’s champion, but the voice says he swore allegiance before the Skull. The Doctor sighs and agrees to do whatever it will take to save Lucie. The voice tells him the Skull remembers when the long dynasty of Princelings on Sobek came to ash and when the age of cruelty and slavery came to an end. It was a time when the Princes feasted on the flesh and fruit of excess and corruption. The voice is revealed to be that of General Snabb and he declares that it was he who overthrew the Princes. The Doctor challenges him and asks how long will it be before the revolutionaries themselves become the new Princes? Snabb says they no longer have a world of their own and the Doctor asks who’s fault that is? Snabb insists that the hunt goes on, but the Doctor is curious to know who is leading the revenge, them or the Skull?

When the flames disappear again, the Doctor tells Sister Chalice that the Prince must be holding the Skull and he has to get it back. The problem is it could be hidden in any one of a thousand places. Abbot Absolute interrupts and points out that today’s revelation was taken from chapter nine of ‘The Triumphs of Sobek’: “And from the waters rose the great Skull of Sobek, the God. And its thoughts were amongst them. And the Skull was three hundred cubits long and thirty cubits high”. The Abbot says they’d have noticed something as big as that if it were here and the Doctor is forced to concede that it isn’t easy to hide such a thing. He asks the Abbot who paid for the construction of the New Hall and although Absolute refuses to discuss a private matter, Chalice reveals that their benefactor was the Old Prince of Sobek, in return for their protection. The Doctor is convinced the Skull is right here under their very noses - it’s the frame of the New Hall structure itself! Just then they hear the sound of rocket engines approaching and the Doctor realises a whole fleet of shuttles is on their way. It seems that Dannahill has arrived and he’s bringing troops with him…

Everyone ducks as the shuttle engines blow out all the windows, then the Sanctuary gates themselves are brought crashing down. Crocodile troopers emerge, led by General Snabb, who orders the soldiers to spread out and confine all civilians. Dannahill reports that the complex is secure and Snabb congratulates him and asks where his champion is. Dannahill says he’ll be here soon, but just as Snabb prepares to face his old enemy, Abbot Absolute approaches and complains about the violation of the Sanctuary. The Doctor joins them and warns the Abbot to be careful, but Snabb lashes out with his tail and Absolute is sent crashing to the floor. Dannahill identifies the Doctor as their champion and Snabb tells him to get ready to face his enemy’s champion in mortal combat. The Doctor refuses to fight anyone, but with perfect timing, the Old Prince emerges from the New Hall and confronts his old foe. Snabb says he’s brought the Prince a gift, as a token of their old esteems, and invites Mr Dannahill to step forward. The Doctor is wary, but it’s too late and the Prince suddenly grabs Dannahill in his jaws and literally rips him to shreds. As he consumes the man’s remains, the horrified Sister Chalice and Abbot Absolute order the monsters to leave. The Doctor urges Snabb to forget the fight and he reveals that the Hall is built over the Skull. He asks the General to take it and leave the people here in peace. Snabb refuses and demands that the Doctor ’win’ the Skull in combat. Again the Doctor refuses and pleads with the Prince to call off his champion, whoever he may be. Just then, the Prince’s champion arrives and the Doctor is horrified to discover that it’s Lucie!

Lucie speaks with the voice of the Crocodiles. She declares that she is armed and ready and asks who she is to face in battle. The Doctor demands to know what’s happened to her and the Old Prince explains that he and Lucie are now as one. The Doctor tries to reason with Lucie, but his words have no effect and she tells him to stand forward and face her. The Prince says Lucie knows the Doctor better than anyone, which proves that the Skull chose his champion well. Snabb offers the Doctor a weapon, pointing out that the vengeance of a billion lives is at stake, but he refuses to take it. Abbot Absolute is determined to do something, but Sister Chalice advises him to let the battle play out and then they’ll be rid of the Crocodiles for good. Snabb declares that the Skull will now turn time back and recall how all this began…

Lucie and the Doctor find themselves inside a vision of how Sobek used to be. Lucie calls out to Snabb’s champion, but the Doctor tries to convince her that he’s really her friend. He urges her to think for herself and remember things like her home, her family, fish and chips and Blackpool Tower. Lucie tells him the culture of Sobek reaches back ten thousand years, then she attacks the Doctor and they begin to struggle. Eventually the Doctor is able to overcome her and locks her inside a cupboard, then he calls out to Abbot Absolute and Sister Chalice. Their voices respond to him inside the vision and he tells them Lucie has been possessed. He orders them to save themselves by destroying the Skull, but Chalice insists they cannot engage in any violent acts. The Doctor prompts them to use the power of prayer and says they need to work together to make use of its resonance. Lucie smashes her way out of the cupboard…

Absolute and Chalice try to work out what the Doctor meant. Chalice orders her colleague to gather the Brethren all together in the New Hall. The Old Prince and General Snabb watch as Lucie accuses the Doctor of being a coward and demands that he face her. The two enemy Crocodiles share some flesh wine and compliment the taste of the full-bodied blood. Snabb observes that his former mentor is starting to look old and the Prince admits that it’s only the hate that’s keeping him alive. Snabb sympathises and says he’s discovered that eating a single monk means he doesn’t hunger again for a year and the only proper appetite he has these days is for vengeance. The Prince doesn’t think much of Snabb’s choice of champion and says that in his day they only selected real warriors, but Snabb is confident that intellect will win over brawn and he thinks the Doctor is laying a trap.

In fact, the Doctor addresses them both in the real world. He tells them that the Skull is using them, but Snabb dismisses his words and says the Skull is a god. The Prince agrees and orders the Doctor back to battle, but the Doctor assures them the Skull doesn’t care who wins and all it wants is a result. He’s determined that the Skull won’t succeed, so he stands up and formally concedes the fight, announcing Lucie as the winner and demanding that she be released. Both the Prince and Snabb tell him the Skull will only accept death, but the Doctor is saddened by their response and he turns to walk away, ignoring Lucie’s call for him to return to the fight. Just then they hear a gong which signifies that the Brethren are at prayer.

The Doctor confronts Lucie and tells her she’s won, but she refuses to accept his surrender and says no enemy has ever run from her in a hundred battles. He turns and flees towards the New Hall, promising Lucie that he’ll fight her there. Inside the Hall, Sister Chalice is surprised to see the Doctor, but he asks her to continue chanting. Lucie arrives and tells the Doctor he’ll find no safety in the water of the Healing Pool. Then she appears to be overcome by a noise inside her head and her voice begins to return to normal. The Doctor tells Absolute and Chalice that the Brethren’s prayers are balancing out the darkness of the Skull’s thoughts. Lucie recognises the Doctor and he urges her to come back to him in the real world. She suddenly realises what’s been happening and throws away her weapons. She seems about to faint but the Doctor tells her to concentrate on the chanting and try to remember who she really is.

The deep booming voice of the Skull echoes around the room and the Doctor realises it’s trying to burrow into his mind. The visions return and he sees the Hall filled with flames once again. He calls to Absolute and Chalice and tells them to pick up the tone of the chanting. They do so and the pitch becomes just enough to fill the room with resonance. The Old Prince and General Snabb arrive and demand to know which of them was the victor but the Doctor tells them no one has won and they’ve both lost. He dismisses them as two old relics who can’t even remember why they started fighting. Snabb realises that with no more champions, the battle will have to continue between him and the Prince. The two Crocodiles confront each other and exchange accusations and insults, then they prepare to finish their business once and for all. They draw their weapons and begin to fight. The priests realise the room itself is starting to crack, which can mean only one thing - the Skull is breaking up. The Doctor urges everyone to get out and while the monks and nuns flee for the exit, he returns to the pool to collect Lucie. The Crocodiles continue their battle as the Hall begins to collapse around them…

Later, Lucie argues with Sister Chalice who refuses to let her resign from the Sisterhood. The Doctor is pleased to see her looking better, but he’s less than sympathetic and blames her for signing up without reading the small print. She suggests they sneak out, but the Doctor thinks it would be better to resolve this diplomatically. Chalice says Lucie has suffered monstrous psychological conflict and imbalance and she needs their help, but the Doctor says he needs Lucie’s help too. He asks Chalice if she could expel or excommunicate his friend instead, or perhaps there’s an entrance exam she could fail? Chalice says it’s much too late for that and insists that Lucie remains with them. Abbot Absolute joins them and says he has a solution. He says the Doctor is a destructive influence, but in a positive way. The purpose of Chalice’s Sisterhood is to provide a balancing counterpart to each of the Abbot’s Brethren, but the Doctor needs balance too and that can only be provided by Lucie. Chalice can see where Absolute’s argument is leading, so regrettably she tells Lucie she is releasing the Doctor into her care. She asks Lucie to do her best to stabilise him as they travel together and Lucie is delighted at the thought that the Doctor is now under her spiritual guidance.

The Doctor feels he ought to thank Absolute for his solution, but he fears he’s made a monster out of Lucie. He asks how they plan to pay for the rebuilding of the Sanctuary and Absolute says the last remnants of the lost world are scattered all around them. Every fragment of the ancient Skull is priceless and redolent with its memory, but the Doctor warns that it has its bad temper too, so they’ll need to be careful. Absolute says they’ll make a fortune once the troopers fly their archaeologists in. Before they leave, Chalice says they’d like to offer the Sanctuary facilities to the Doctor as a way of gratitude and suggests he take advantage of their confessional. The Doctor makes an excuse to leave and claims that although the planet’s storm is still twenty years away, he’s sure he just felt a spot of rain.

Source: Lee Rogers
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