NIGHTMARE OF EDEN
24th November – 15th December 1979
Interfere? Of course we should interfere. Always do what you’re best at, that’s what I say.
The Doctor to Romana, episode 1
Above the planet Azure two spaceships fuse together as they emerge from hyperspace into the same area of real space. The collision has happened because the co-pilot of the larger vessel, a passenger liner, The Empress, was ‘high’ on the narcotic drug, Vraxoin.
Also aboard the Empress is a naturalist, Tryst (Lewis Fiander), inventor of the Continuous Event Transmuter (CET), a revolutionary device which allows whole areas of land, including its fauna, to be electronically captured and stored on laser crystals inside the machine. Tryst has recently used the CET as part of a conservation exercise to ‘record’ endangered species on the planet Eden. But the hyperspace collision has destabilised his CET, releasing a herd of ‘recorded’ mud monsters, Mandrels, into the liner.
Materialising aboard the Empress the Doctor and Romana agree to help separate the space vessels. However, their sudden arrival makes them the prime suspects of Customs men who are searching for a gang of drug smugglers known to be operating from Azure.
With assistance from an undercover narcotics agent, Stott (Barry Andrews), the Doctor proves his innocence by discovering that the Mandrels themselves are the source of Vraxoin. When killed, these mud creatures dehydrate into powdery slurry that is raw Vraxoin. By putting them onto a crystal recording, Tryst has devised a perfect smuggling ploy. Indeed he was preparing to beam the recordings over to his chemist partner aboard the other spaceship, the Hecate, when the collision upset his plans.
Helped by Romana, the Doctor rounds up the remaining Mandrels and re-records them into the CET. With help from the TARDIS he manages to separate the two spaceships, and with help from K-9 he pinpoints the location of the smugglers and captures them into the CET. All that remains now is to return the animals to their appropriate destinations – be that prison cells or a natural habitat on Eden.