We return once again to our examination of the lore of the Old Ones, & by now the Doctor has regenerated twice more since his battle with Yog-Sothoth/the Great Intelligence. This new man, scarf & toothy grin never far away, is now thrust into intrigue surrounding the Fendahl, the latest in our great pantheon of Old Ones!
The destruction of the universe before ours is among the many demonstrations of its power, & now it has come to Earth. It takes the form of a skull, which the scientists who discovered it have nicknamed ''Eustace''. Something isn't quite right though, & one of the team - Colby - is prescient in raising his concerns.
"What I don't accept is that Eustace here got himself buried under a volcano at least eight million years before he could have possibly existed."By human reckoning, anyway. Lest we forget that in an age before man reptiles walked the Earth, now walled away in their Nameless City.
"That is not dead which can eternal lie,Indeed the Doctor once visited a similar structure, home to the Archons - who are about to be proven wrong in their prediction that they are ''the last of the Old Ones''. And it's this latest of them which has now caused the TARDIS to be drawn into a Relative Continuum Displacement Zone. Or put more simply a hole in time! Dr Fendelman, a senior boffin, is sure that mankind itself has no roots on this planet.
And with strange aeons even death may die."
"Man did not evolve on Earth, of this I am sure. There is something else that I have not told you. With the scanner, I have traced what I now believe to be the moment of death of this alien traveller. At that moment, there is an enormous surge of power the like of which I have not seen before. It was this that first attracted my attention. It is an inpouring of energy. A concentration of power as though to store. Now I ask myself, where would this power be stored? And why? These questions I could not answer until I had x-rayed the skull."
Thea Colby, who has had contact with ''Eustace'', finds herself at the mercy of Maximilian Stael, a colleague of hers who is also the leader of a coven of worshippers of the Fendahl!
STAEL: Thea.THEA: Max! You frightened me. Do you have to creep about like that?With this in mind he'll lead his fellows in a ceremony which transforms her into the Fendahl Core, a gold-skinned goddess with the power to turn Stael's coven members into the twelve Fendahleen necessary to merge into the final form of the Fendahl itself.
STAEL: I apologise. What are you doing here, Thea?
THEA: I was.. I was looking for the stranger. Do you know where he is?
STAEL: It is not important.
THEA: Well it is to me. I must find him. I think he can help me.
STAEL: Why should you need help, Thea? Anyway, the stranger has escaped. He can do nothing. It is too late. Too late for all the meddling fools.
THEA: What are you talking about, Max? Get out of my way.
STAEL: There's no need to be afraid of me, Thea.
THEA: Please, Max!
STAEL: It is fitting that you should be the key to my power.
THEA: Max, don't be such a fool.
STAEL: The chosen one.
In his own investigation into the skull, which bears a pentagram symbol, the Doctor just can't resist showing off with a little paraphrased Shakespeare.
"Oh. Oh. Would you like a jelly baby? No, I don't suppose you would. Alas, poor skull."The original line of course hails from Hamlet. ''Alas, poor Yorick!" Of course the Doctor's witnessed the author of the play on the Space-Time Visualiser during his First incarnation during The Chase & will meet him in person around seven regenerations later in The Shakespeare Code. Worship of the Old Ones must count as among ''the old ways '' of a time when religion & superstition ruled the hearts & minds of men?
STAEL: The waiting is over. Prepare yourselves.FENDELMAN: Don't do it, Stael!Perhaps inevitably science trumps religion here-
CORBY: Shut up, you fool. Let him electrocute himself.
FENDELMAN: He will kill us all. Listen to me, all of you! He is a madman!You must stop him! Stop him now, before he plunges everything into chaos and death!
COLBY: I'll plunge you into chaos and death if you don't shut up.
FENDELMAN: You don't understand. I see now what will happen.
STAEL: You do?
FENDELMAN: Max, listen. The Doctor asked if my name was real. Fendelman. Man of the Fendahl. Don't you see? Only for this have the generations of my fathers lived. I have been used! You are being used! Mankind has been used!
LEELA: What are you going to do about the skull?Though its hardly that simple, for the Old Ones never truly leave the Doctor's time-stream. Within another three incarnations the Gods of Ragnarok await, & he must play their games! And we will join in with him next Monday.
DOCTOR: Hmm? Oh, find a star about to go supernova and dump it in the vicinity.
LEELA: That will destroy it?
DOCTOR: Oh, yes. I don't think even that can stand the temperatures generated by a supernova. Ah!
DOCTOR: Found one, in the constellation of Canthares. Just set the coordinates, and we're on our way.