Roots: Something something Curse of the Mummy et cetera. Nick Briggs takes his Blade Runner soundtrack-o-matic out for a spin again.
Dialogue Disasters: "Romilly, are you mad?" "I'd like to see you stay sane after your entire brain and body had been hybridised with a crystalline life form" (or in other words, "yes")
Continuity: Earth has been abandoned "centuries ago" (see: Location), and even the name of Nerva is unknown to the colonists. The two Euro Comgen ships contain the sole survivors of the human race, and have carried generations of humans here through the centuries, looking for a new home. Any discovery of alien life from colony or mining ships automatically triggers a shutdown of operations and complete site takeover by xenoarchaeologists. Those suspected of insurrection may be punished via cryo-suspension (or perhaps they are placed in suspension until an appropriate punishment can be delivered?) The colony has been mining on the planet Onyakis for a year now, having arrived with the intention to mine crystal K-7, a beautiful geometrical solid which the miners call 'ice' because it looks like a diamond, after they picked it up on a long-range scan two systems away. It is generally non-reactive. The miners have so far retrieved five thousand metric tonnes of the substance, from which over a thousand Krotons are reconstituted.
Onyakis doesn't have its own atmosphere. Its system has one sun, and the nearest inhabitable worlds are light years away. Its surface is purple and moon-like.
The Kroton ship crash landed on Onyakis centuries ago, and when the crew's power was exhausted, they reverted to their constituent form. The Doctor describes Krotons as a parasitical crystalline lifeform (composed of a "primordial soup") that uses the mental impulses of sentient races to activate them and to power their technology. Their weapons disperse living tissue on a molecular level and the effect is both very nasty and very final. Krotons are not very capable across visual spectrums (they have poor eyesight). The Krotons employ telepathy in their teaching process. These individuals are more advanced than those the Doctor encountered earlier - their teaching machines used here are more sophisticated than when he last saw them.
Charley says she has never been to the Moon before.
The Doctor knows of a diner called Al's in Manchester which serves an excellent breakfast (see: Links)
Future History: Atmosphere pressure units were used during Earth's colonisation of the Mon in the Thirtieth Century. All humans are 'tagged' via an implant at birth.
Links: The Krotons. The Doctor recalls his previous visit to Nerva Station (likely The Ark in Space) and uses respiratory bypass to overcome his hypoxia, while Charley recalls C'rizz and the Doctor's reaction to his death (Absolution) while she is semi-conscious. The ending of this story leads into the beginning of The Raincloud Man, which takes place in Al's Cafe.
Location: The dead planet Onyakis, during the time of Earth's evacuation due to solar flares (although Romilly says they took place 'a long time ago')
The Bottom Line: "You really are stupid, aren't you?"
It's free! Nick Briggs' usual slavish attention to detail ensures Brummie-accented Krotons and the inclusion of Philip Madoc for added nostalgia. It's not going to change the world, but at around an hour it won't entirely outstay its welcome. An ideal one-off, curiously linking into the next official story, The Raincloud Man. Hmm...