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159r 'Project: Destiny'

CD audio adventure released October 2010, 4 episodes

Writer: Mark Wright and Cavan Scott
Director: Ken Bentley

Roots: 28 Days Later. The Doctor quotes from Cream's Deserted Cities of the Heart ("upon this street where time has died"). Dracula, Prince of Darkness (vampires revived by mixing ashes with blood) The Human League's Don't You Want Me Baby ("She was working as a waitress-" "-In a cocktail bar?") Ace calls Nimrod "Dracula" and Lysandra "Rambo." Nimrod paraphrases Sir Walter Scott (Oh, Doctor, what a tangled web you weave...") A-ha's Scoundrel Days.

Intertexuality: The house mentioned by the Doctor as being in his property might be any number of locations, but could likely include the Sussex Nest Cottage of the Hornet's Nest series (the Fourth Doctor) or, if the Doctor is referring to his recent past, Smithwood Manor in Kent, otherwise known as 'the house on Allen Road', which features in several New Adventures and was first introduced in the comic strip 'Fellow Travellers' from DWM 164 (this featured a fountain in its front yard.) The Forge's Captain Lysandra Aristides first appeared in the Big Finish novel Project: Valhalla.

Goofs: Cassie's middle name here is given as 'Hope', while in No Man's Land it is Elizabeth.

Dialogue Triumphs: The Doctor on Nimrod: "Dispense with the polycarbide body armour, squeeze yourself into a Saville Row suit and receive a knighthood for services to King and Country. Spin doctors can do anything these days."

Dialogue Disasters: "Building up strength for a booty call."

Double Entendres: "Power up!" "This could get sticky."

Continuity: The 'contagion' aliens exist as a hive mind. Contaminants eat the weak and have exoskeletons that resist bullets (pulse rifles momentarily incapacitate them.) Infection introduces tiny organisms that infiltrate a victim's blood system and eventually trigger a full metabolic metamorphosis accompanied by an abnormally high body temperature; incubation usually takes weeks in humans. The contamination was caused by a C4 scientist breaking quarantine during a routine xenotech harvest. During the ensuing crisis Parliament is relocated to Harrogate. Dr Mark Matthias, Hex's friend from The Harvest, was infected and metamorphosed among the remaining population. At St Gart's Oracle/System is off-line.

Department C4, also known as The Forge, has "essentially gone public", seemingly as a reaction to the ubiquity of modern social media confounding their traditional skill at keeping secrets. Nimrod is now Sir William Abberton, head of C4 located in the Crichton Building overlooking the Thames; his pale skin is put down to albinism in the media. Codeword 'Destiny' is an authorised airstrike of harrier jets armed with dystronic warheads harvested from an Arendan warship nine years previously. A dystronic payload can penetrate dalekanium. Forge technology includes a BAN (Body Area Network) suit - a combat suit linked to the Forge's data grid, featuring body heat-linked target ID technology and an accompanying pulse rifle. Among the xenotech recovered is a chrome-plated psionic amplifier discovered in caves in the Mourne Mountains national park.

The Crichton Building has catacombs thirty levels down. At its base are the Forge archives, the most comprehensive collection of xenotech on the planet, containing a coffin emblazoned with the seal of Rassilon, which the Doctor identifies as a Time Lord sarcophagus. Nimrod's panic room, the Dead Man's Chamber, is protected by case-hardened dynastream reinforced with dalekanium and contains a Trisillian matter transfer device (a notoriously unreliable piece of equipment - the Doctor says the loss of one's limbs is not uncommon in their use) recovered from a space yacht. The transmitter terminates inside the White Rabbit pub. The Hades protocol, a failsafe procedure, killed over a hundred Forge personnel at the Dartmoor facility (see: Links) which takes place in Earth's history but the Doctor's future; Lysandra was on secondment to ICIS (see: Links)

Hex's mother Cassie was born Cassandra Hope Schofield at Royal Bolton Hospital on the 7th of April 1981, while Hex was born on the 12th of October 1988 at the same hospital. Cassie's mother Hilda Schofield took custody of young 'Tommy' two years later. Cassie's reported disappearance is dated 23 August 2001. Nimrod regarded her, code-named Artemis, as his best agent.

Time Lord and vampire DNA is very similar - the Twilight serum uses the Doctor's DNA to attack vampire DNA and by 'regenerating' it, purge's the victim's system of its influence. Vampires can be revived with the blood of a previous family member (suggesting the DNA of the original person remains.)

The TARDIS is still white following the events at Scutari. The Doctor has a file on Project Twilight in a drawer of filing cabinets marked "T" next to the TARDIS library.

Ace knew a boy from Penge who once bought her A-ha's Scoundrel Days on cassette (she always hated them.) She has taught Hex how to hotwire a car.

The Doctor reveals that he went to St Garts (The Harvest) looking for cybermen. After Ace shoots him he spends three days in a (self-induced?) coma, registering no heart or brain activity. He can regulate his core body temperature. The Doctor mentions having had a house and garden with a pond, in which a weed grew over one summer and became the dominant life form (see: Intertextuality)

Future History: Contemporary medicine incorporates plasti-skin grafts. There is a female PM.

Location: London, one month into the alien invasion, April to May 2025.

Links: This story follows immediately on from The Angel of Scutari and directly into A Death in the Family. The Harvest, Project Twilight and Project Lazarus. The rival organisation ICIS, set up as a counterpart to UNIT, was established in Big Finish's UNIT miniseries. No Man's Land (The Forge's files on Hex include his presence at Charnage Hospital). Doctor Who (the TARDIS' filing cabinets). Hex refers to the events of Enemy of the Daleks.

Untelevised Adventures: The Doctor has seen Contaminants on other worlds.

The Bottom Line: "A lie may take care of the present, but it has no future."

The pay-off of Hex's background revelation has become more tiresome as it draws inexorably closer and yet is teased out as it is here And yet, at long last, a conclusion. Weaving together the lives of Hex and the Doctor, while seemingly resolving the conflict between the Time Lord and the Forge, this story always had a large task to meet; and while it's not quite the epic it would like to be, it's a decent tale, with a sting included.

'For King and Country' - The Forge

Older than UNIT and younger than Torchwood, the covert Department C4, 'The Forge', was founded at the turn of the 20th century to study and utilise alien technology to further the dominance of the British Empire. Unlike that of Torchwood, which explored xenotech as a defensive tool, and UNIT who were truly international and addressed usually alien threats, The Forge's raison d'être is proactive and militaristic, unsurprisingly putting the organisation at odds with the Doctor. Throughout his Sixth and Seventh incarnations, the Doctor confronted the Forge with a number of companions, but chief among these in their personal involvement with the Forge are Evelyn Smythe and Hex Schofield.

Although a codeword appearance may date the Forge's origins to around 1901 (Cryptobiosis), the organisation's first recorded operations take place during World War I. In September 1914 the original Project: Twilight saw the infection of human subjects with the vampiric 'Twilight' Virus, an attempt to create human-vampire hybrid super-soldiers. In the aftermath of the botched experiment, the half-human vampire hunter 'Nimrod' is born. Two years later the Forge was based at Charnage Hospital in an early brainwashing experiment on soldiers, again in the attempt to enhance their performance. In 1945 the Forge tried to recapture some alien technology lost to them after the crash of a van (Forty Five: Casualties of War), while Zagreus hints of a further project, Dionysis, which in 1950 attempted to create a rift in space-time under the leadership of a Doctor Stone (as in Cryptobiosis merely the use of the code phrase 'For King and Country' identifies the agents responsible.)

We can assume that the Forge remain active and clandestine throughout the Twentieth Century - James Clarke in The Gathering is hinted to be a Forge operative, a connection confirmed in the Big Finish novel Project Valhalla, and is active in their operations in 1984 (The Reaping.)

In 1999 Nimrod tracks down the surviving Twilight vampires in South-East London. During his mission he crosses paths with the Sixth Doctor and causes casino worker Cassie Schofield to be infected with the Twilight virus (Project: Twilight). Nimrod later captures Cassie and returns to the Forge with her as his pet field agent, 'Artemis' (Project: Lazarus)

Nimrod becomes Deputy Director of the Forge and Project: Lazarus, an attempt to clone the Doctor, is instigated. The intervention of the Seventh Doctor sees this Dartmouth base destroyed, and Nimrod fleeing with the remains of the destroyed Cassie, intending to wreak his revenge on the Time Lord, and in time discovering the identity of Cassie's lost son, Thomas Hector Schofield - Hex. This final confrontation (Project: Destiny) seemingly brings about Nimrod's final end, although in the Doctor's timeline, the two are yet to meet in Dartmoor.

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