Chapter 6

The Mines of Zanak

After being taken down more than twenty levels in an elevation chamber and marched along a bewildering maze of corridors, Romana and the Doctor were pushed into the engine room by the two guards escorting them. Like much of the Bridge's superstructure, it was cylindrical, but the ceiling was so high it seemed almost beyond sight. Two massive columns aglow with the crackle of massive power surged down through the room and into the grille floor. Banks of circuitry and controls lined the walls and a spiral staircase snaked up around the outer wall.

‘Oh! Look at that Romana!’ the Doctor exclaimed, his voice echoing across the vast chamber.

‘Amazing,’ gasped Romana, and the Doctor agreed. ‘I suppose you're going to tell me you've seen it all before,’ she said.

‘No, actually - not like this.’


‘Really. But I suspected something of the kind. Come on, let's look busy!’ he urged, and marched briskly towards the console, examining the readouts. Above them, the Captain and Fibuli emerged onto the staircase from a doorway part way up the wall and stood watching the off-worlders.

‘What do you mean you sus-’ began Romana, but was cut short by a look from the Doctor. She lowered the volume of her voice and tried again. ‘What do you mean, you suspected?’

‘Gravitic anomalyser input reading 9.5!’ the Doctor stated loud enough for the Captain to hear.

‘Gravitic anomalysing input, 9.5 - check!’ Romana responded.

‘I mean, I had my suspicions,’ the Doctor said in a hushed tone of voice.

‘You mean you knew they were here? You knew that this mountain's really a spaceship and it's broken down?’

‘More or less, yes.’

‘But how, how did you know?’

The Doctor pottered about the machinery, studying the different elements before replying with a smile, ‘Well, I just put 1.795372 and 2.204628 together.’

‘And what does that mean?’

The Doctor shouted upwards at the Captain, ‘Four!’

Romana echoed his announcement. ‘Four!’ and noted it down on a clipboard she had picked up from a nearby bench.

Up on the stairway, the Captain and Fibuli were watching the off-worlders closely.

‘What are they after, Captain? What do they want here?’

‘That is what we must find out. We must let them lead us into their vessel. My guards have tried to gain entry to it but have - failed.’ The Captain growled out the last word like it was an insult to every bone and servomechanism in his being. ‘So, we must allow them a little rope. At all events I hold the trump card.’

‘What's that?’

‘The Ace of Death. It will be played Mr Fibuli, it will be played.’

The Captain suddenly became aware of the woman in white standing beside them. He couldn't be sure how she had suddenly managed to appear there without him detecting her approach, and it bothered him greatly.

‘You think of death too much Captain,’ she observed. ‘Life is to be cherished, preserved.’

‘The Ace of Death will be played,’ the Captain insisted.

‘The Queen is the highest card, Captain. Ace scores low.’

Below, the subjects of this discussion were themselves speaking in whispers. ‘Romana, we are in very, very, very grave danger.’

‘What, from the Captain?’ replied Romana, puzzled as she glanced up at their apparent foe.


‘Oh, he's just a terrible old bully. All that “by the evil nose of the Sky Demon” nonsense is just bluster.’

‘The Captain is a very clever and very dangerous man,’ hissed the Doctor. ‘He's playing with us. He wants to find out why we've come here.’

The blithe smile drained from Romana's face as she realised that the Doctor was deadly serious. She pulled the Tracer from her belt. ‘The reason why we've come here is to find the second segment of the Key, in case you'd forgotten. Getting involved in all this -’

‘Is the only way to find it,’ the Doctor concluded for her. ‘What does the Tracer say?’

Romana activated it, but just a confused, constant crackling signal was emitted. ‘I just don't understand it. It seems to give out a continuous signal wherever we go.’

‘That's it, then,’ whispered the Doctor, putting a hand over the Tracer to deactivate it.


‘The answer, Romana. We've stumbled on one of the most heinous crimes ever committed in this galaxy! We've got to get out of here, and get out of here quickly. Come on, we've got to get off the Bridge and back down to the City somehow. That's where we'll find the answer. I've learnt all I want to know from this.’ He turned, and bellowed upwards jovially to their hosts.

‘Ah, Captain? I think we've got to the root of the problem here. Your magnifactoid eccentricalometer is definitely on the blink. Can we have a chat about it?’

Fibuli whispered an aside to the Captain, ‘Do you think he seriously believes this mountain is the spaceship?’

‘I think he suspects the truth. But the truth will not help him stay alive,’ the Captain replied quietly. He knew the Doctor was bluffing, but it suited his purposes to play along - for now. He shouted down to the Doctor, ‘You know what will happen if I even begin to suspect you of sabotage...’

‘Sabotage?’ replied the Doctor innocently. ‘Captain, it's more than my reputation's worth!’

‘Or your life?’

‘Or my life, as you say, yes, yes,’ the Doctor agreed hurriedly. ‘We've got to go back to our own ship now and prepare some special equipment.’

‘The girl stays here,’ said the Captain. It was a statement, not a request.

The Doctor was ready for this. ‘Oh, well, I'm afraid that's not possible. You see, we have a special lock fitted to the TARDIS door and it requires the physical presence of both of us to open it - that's clever, don't you think?’

‘By the triple-headed hound of death, you lie!’

‘Oh no, no, it's an obvious precaution, wouldn't you say? With all that valuable equipment lying around?’

The Captain actually thought it was patent drivel, but allowing this bluff to continue could unlock the vessel's secrets. ‘Guards, escort them to their ship,’ he ordered. ‘Any attempt to escape is to be met with instant obliteration,’ he added ominously.

The Doctor replied with a two-handed salute this time. ‘It's a pleasure to work with you, Captain!’ The gangling Gallifreyan trotted off happily towards the engine room's exit, leading Romana and the two guards. ‘Come on, don't just stand there - escort us!’

The Captain watched furiously as the guards followed the Doctor and Romana out of the engine room. ‘Death's asteroid, Mr Fibuli, it will be a delight to kill that man. Won't it my pretty?’ He stroked the Polyphase Avitron, which had been perched quietly on his shoulder. The robot parrot hissed menacingly.

The Doctor was trying to be funny, Romana decided. He was tapping on the helmet of the guard in front of them as they whizzed out from the mountain's core on the inertia neutralisation corridor.

‘You know I wouldn't have your job for the world. Standing around all day looking tough must be very wearing on the nerves, mm?’ asked the Time Lord. He raised his voice to a bellow to be heard above the noise generated by the corridor. ‘I said standing around all day looking tough must be very wearing on the nerves!’

Outside the entranceway to the mountain, Kimus was bored. It seemed as if he had been here forever. He plucked disinterestedly at some greenery growing on the plateau's surface. The young man did not notice the guard creeping towards him from a pathway leading up to the plateau.

The two guards and their captives exited from the almost infinite corridor, and walked towards the entranceway. The Doctor was still burbling away to himself. ‘Long hours, violence, no intellectual stimulation...’

The foursome emerged on to the plateau. Kimus spotted them, and yelled ‘Doctor!’ He fired immediately, downing one of the guards with the borrowed energy weapon.

An energy bolt shot over the Doctor's shoulder and he saw the guard creeping up behind Kimus. The Doctor threw himself and Romana to the ground to avoid being hit in the crossfire. Then he shouted to Kimus about the other guard trying to outflank the young man. Kimus twirled and fired in one motion, missing his target by a vast distance. But the energy bolt threw off the guard's aim, and his next shot ended up winging the other guard escorting the two time travellers. Kimus finally corrected his aim and loosed off a bolt that hit the guard on the pathway with deadly accuracy.

Once all the firing was over, the Doctor stood up, brushed himself down and looked at the wounded guard who was just losing consciousness. ‘And now this happens - I'd give it up if I were you.’ He looked up as their saviour approached them. ‘Kimus!’

‘Doctor?’ Kimus greeted the Doctor and a woman he presumed was the formerly detained Romana. His blood was still racing from the excitement of the gun battle.

‘We've got a lot of travelling to do,’ announced the Doctor.

‘Where are we going?’ asked the exhilarated young man.

‘To investigate your miraculous mines - come on!’

Balaton was thinking of ways to hide the fallen guards' bodies when two soldiers entered his dwelling. They began searching the home, and soon found the corpses of their dead colleagues, and the old man cowering nearby.

‘I had nothing to do with this,’ Balaton simpered. ‘It was an off-worlder, a man called the Doctor in strange garb.’

Outside the dwelling, Enak was hurrying past on his way back from the Feast of Omens when he overheard this exchange. He paused outside a window in Pralix's rest chamber, peeking in at the confrontation.

‘Off-worlders are forbidden on Zanak - you lie, old man!’ the senior guard shouted at Balaton. ‘For your insolence you shall be executed!’

‘No, no, I am a loyal servant of the Captain!’ cried out the old man, falling to his knees and begging for mercy. ‘I am innocent, a loyal -'

His words were cut short by the cruel pumping of an energy bolt after bolt into his frail body. The charred body of Balaton crumpled to the floor, dying as he had lived - on his knees.

Outside the dwelling, Enak was in shock from witnessing this horror, this senseless murder. If the guards knew he had seen this, he too would be shot down. The citizen ran away, desperately seeking a hiding place. Balaton had been one of Zanak's most respected elders, if something of a fussy fool and a slave to the Captain's regime. Enak's mind reeled that an eider could be so callously executed. He decided to go back to the Feast and tell the other elders - something had to be done to protest this murder...

The Doctor flew the stolen aircar toward the mines with Romana and Kimus as his passengers.

‘What did you make of those engines, Romana?’ the Doctor asked his companion.

‘Is this a test?’ she replied.

‘If you like.’

She considered for a moment. ‘Very similar in principle to an old F-type TARDIS engine, but no temporal dislocation facility...’


‘It can't travel in time.’

‘It's much simpler like that isn't it?’ the Doctor observed. ‘Long words were only invented to confuse the enemy and make your Professor feel wanted.’

‘First you tell me we're in terrible danger, then you stop to give me a lesson in semantics!’ Romana protested.

‘All right, cleverclogs, what else did you notice about those engines? Didn't you think they were very...’

‘Hyperdimensional?’ Romana suggested.


‘Analogically cross-matricised?’


‘Needed dusting?’

‘Yes, but no.’

‘Tangentically aligned to the STC curve?’


‘All right, what then?’

‘Give up?’

‘Yes,’ Romana conceded.


‘Big? Well of course they're big, he's flying that entire mountain through space.’

‘Did he tell you he was flying the mountain?’ the Doctor inquired.

‘No, but... oh.’

‘Listen, the power of a transdimensional mat-demat engine increases exponentially with its size.’


‘So?’ the Doctor persisted.

‘Oh!’ Romana suddenly realised. ‘You mean those engines are shifting something much bigger than a mountain.’

‘Much, much, much bigger,’ he confirmed.

Kimus had been quietly listening in on their conversation, feeling very much out of his depth. He didn't understand much of what the Doctor and Romana were on about, but he was able to direct them. ‘Doctor, we're very close to the mines,’ he said, pointing towards the ground far below. ‘Down there do you see? They'll be closed down now - it's nearly nightfall.’

‘Good. We should be able to land undetected,’ the Doctor replied.

‘Doctor, what are you expecting to find in the mines?’ Romana wanted to know.

‘If we find what I think we're going to find,’ said the Doctor grimly as he banked the aircar into a steep descent, ‘then I'm afraid I can hardly bear to contemplate it.’

The Doctor landed the aircar near the mine workings Kimus had pointed out on their earlier trip. The trio began walking towards the ramshackle sheds and buildings. The landscape was grey and orange and lifeless, a sea of mine tailings, slag heaps and rusting metal.

‘This way,’ said Kimus, guiding the two Time Lords. ‘All this is from the old mining days before the interior of the mines were fully automated. I played here once as a child. There is an ancient lift shaft that comes to the surface here for any emergency inspections of the shaft interior.’

The trio picked their way over the unforgiving wasteland and entered the neglected main building.

‘The lift shaft is over here, but nobody's used it in living memory,’ said the young man.

‘Why not?’ asked Romana.

‘The penalty is death.’

‘I can see there wouldn't be much incentive then,’ the Doctor quipped. The trio stopped at a wire cage, suspended on cables that ran up through the high ceiling.

The Doctor opened the cage and had a look at the controls. ‘You know, I think that'll work. Let's see, shall we?’

All three stepped gingerly into the mesh cage. ‘Right! Now hold on very tight!’ the Doctor cautioned, and activated the lift. It began to descend - surprisingly smoothly for something not used in living memory, thought Romana.

Back on the Bridge, the Captain was again tearing strips off his subordinates.

‘Escaped! Escaped! Your incompetence beggars the imagination! Teeth of the Devil, there will be blood for this - there will be blood! Every guard in the city must be mobilised instantly! If they are not found within fifteen minutes, then by fury, one in ten of you shall die! Find them! Find them! Bring them back alive if possible, but find them!’ The Captain dismissed the gathering of guards and Fibuli approached him.

‘Captain, they're in the old mine shaft!’

‘The mine shaft,’ murmured the Captain.

...The angel blazed white, aflame with fury. ‘Die, you fool...’

The Captain shook his head to clear the vision and then realised the significance of his deputy's comments. ‘Moons of madness!’ He leapt up from the com. ‘Mr Fibuli -'

‘Yes, sir.’

‘We must find a way of breaking into their vessel without their help. Once they have seen what lies at the bottom of the mineshaft, they must never leave alive! Never! Guards! The intruders in the mineshaft must be obliterated!’

‘But why is it light down here?’ asked Kimus.

‘Natural phosphorescence,’ replied Romana and the Doctor automatically. The trio was walking along a huge corridor, hollowed out of stone walls far below the surface of Zanak. The Doctor was supplementing the natural light source with a small but powerful torch he'd dug out of his pockets. The sound of running and dripping water was constantly echoing about with the noises of their voices and footfalls.

‘Where are we, Doctor?’ queried Romana.

‘About three miles beneath the surface of Zanak, I'd say.’

‘Three miles!’ exclaimed Romana. ‘But it's so cold!’

‘Yes, and wet. And icy... ahh!’ the Doctor paused, tapping his torch against his temples. ‘Of course! Romana - this entire planet's hollow!’


‘Yes, hollow, hollow! Can't you work it out? Go on, take a look, go on, look, look!’ he urged, handing her the torch. The Doctor turned to Kimus. ‘You all right?’

The young man just shivered. ‘It's all beyond me, Doctor,’ he admitted. ‘I don't know where I am.’

‘It's frozen ground,’ Romana called out, crouching to touch the floor. ‘I don't understand - cold, wet...’

‘Come here and listen,’ said the Doctor. ‘Now listen, Kimus - the reason the stars in your sky change is because they don't.’

‘They don't?’

‘No - your entire planet jumps through space.’

‘Those engines!’ Romana gasped. Everything fell into place for her - and she had thought just the mountain moved.

‘Yes, those engines. Huge enough to dematerialise an entire, hollow planet, flip it halfway across the galaxy and rematerialise it around its chosen prey.’

‘You mean other planets,’ prompted his excited companion.

‘Yes - like a huge fist,’ said the Doctor, closing his fist over the top of the torch, blotting out all light from it. ‘This world is one huge mining machine. It mines planets, extracts all the valuable minerals and leaves all the rubble behind.’

‘Then what we're standing on now...’

‘Is the planet we originally came looking for -'

‘Calufrax!’ the pair finished in unison.

‘Buried inside Zanak?’ asked Romana.

‘Buried inside Zanak - the pirate planet,’ said the Doctor darkly, ‘and having the goodness sucked out of it!’

Kimus had not really grasped the finer details of what was said - he was having trouble just trying to keep up. But mention of his own world focused the debate for him. ‘What? Do you mean that whole other worlds have died - just to make us rich? Whole other worlds - like ours?’ he asked, horrified.

The Doctor nodded. ‘Whole other worlds.’

‘Some of them inhabited,’ added Romana.

Kimus felt ill. His chest was a yawning chasm, a void with the cold, awful winds of reality ripping through it and tearing at his insides like the talons of a thousand demons. He wandered away a few steps and fell to his knees, overwhelmed with guilt and shame and grief and anger.

The Doctor was digging about in his pockets and then held up a gleaming green gem. ‘The Oolion stone I picked up in the street - Bandraginus V!’ he cried out in sudden realisation. ‘I knew I'd heard that name somewhere before - I remember now. About a hundred years ago, it disappeared without trace - a planet of a thousand million souls - Captain fodder!’ He dropped the priceless gem as if it were actually dripping with the blood of all those murdered by this hideous crime.

The gemstone rolled across the ground and stopped near Kimus. The young man looked at it for a moment, then took the Oolion in his hands and held it up to what light there was about. ‘Bandraginus V - by every last breath in my body - you'll be avenged!’ he pledged fervently, a privately sworn oath making the gem his touchstone for action.

Romana had extracted the Tracer from her belt and activated it. ‘Doctor, the Tracer - it's gone mad. The second segment must be down here somewhere,’ she said, looking around hopefully. Since the segment could be disguised as any object, living or inanimate, she was also looking in vain.

The Doctor reached out and deactivated the Tracer. ‘Yes, I thought so.’

Kimus stood and turned to see a quintet of guards running towards them. ‘Doctor!’

‘There they are!’ shouted the lead guard, and began firing at them. ‘Kill them! Kill them!’ The other guards followed his lead.

The fugitives ran for their lives, pursued closely by the guards. Kimus paused for a moment to fire back at the hunters, downing one of them. Then he ran on, trying to catch up with the Doctor and Romana.

Suddenly the Doctor stopped. Such was the haste of their flight that Romana and Kimus almost knocked him over trying to stop in time. Then they saw what had caused the Doctor to halt.

In front of them stood the Mentiads, blocking any chance of escape. The closest zombie stepped forward, swept back his shroud and spoke. ‘Doctor - we have come for you!’

Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Epilogue