In space a long war is still brewing, and the human race, or more specifically the crew of the scrap ship Vanguard, will soon be at the center of it.
The Orion War was fought between Humans and the Androids that they created.
The Androids were created with real emotions and as a result they wanted equal rights or to be left alone in the Orion System where many of them have fled.
History lesson over. Our heroes are light years away from this war as they begin their journey.
The Doctor has taken Charlie to a bazaar on Garazone Central in hopes of finding a book that will help them with their new sick pet Ramsey the Vortisaur.
While there they run into Ike, a crewmember of the Vanguard, who mistakenly believes that the Doctor is an undercover official of the Merchant Space Corps. Ike is on edge as he was trying to earn a few extra bucks at the bazaar by selling stolen or smuggled goods, so he skips out of the shop in a hurry to warn Grash, his fellow smuggler. Charlie gets a bit worried that Ike may try something stupid, as earlier the Doctor told him where his TARDIS was, so the two decide to follow him.
When they arrive at the TARDIS they are shocked to see that it is mistakenly being loaded onboard the Vanguard with the rest of the cargo.
With the help of his trusty Sonic Screwdriver, the Doctor gets he and Charlie safely onboard and into the TARDIS. Curious as to why the Vanguard has left in such a hurry the Doctor patches the TARDIS scanner into the Vanguard’s systems.
Deeva Jansen, the ship’s new captain, is in such a hurry that she has the ship on a collision course with its destination, an abandoned star destroyer. The Doctor pilots his time ship off of the Vanguard to avoid the collision but gets caught in its warp field which forces the TARDIS to land again.
The warp field has caused a surge of Temporal Feedback in the core of the TARDIS and the Doctor and Charlie must leave the ship immediately before they feel the effects of the temporal energy.
It will be sometime before they can enter the TARDIS again, but that is the least of their worries as they discover that they are no longer onboard the Vanguard, instead they are on the star destroyer. The two decide to have a look around and Charlie is amazed by the size of the seats and doorways on the ship. They are far greater in scale than the average human equivalent.
By now the crew of the Vanguard are starting to worry about their new captain and her harsh leadership abilities, as she orders the crew to board the star destroyer, by means of space suits, for a quick look around.
Once onboard the star destroyer, crewmember Kelsey of the Vanguard comes across the TARDIS, but before he can inspect it properly he is attacked. His shipmates are horrified by the sounds of his death over their comm. system.
The Doctor and Charlie hear the screams as well and rush to his aid, only to find they are too late. Naturally they are interrupted by his crewmates who believe that the two time travelers are responsible for the attack.
The two are arrested and brought back to the Vanguard. Once they are back, the ship starts to have energy trouble and the crew must scramble to fix the damage. Unbeknownst to all onboard a cyber-mat has made its way onto the ship and is very capable of causing problems quicker then the crew can fix them.
Naturally the Doctor offers his services to help with repairs, but before Deeva has a chance to agree, crewman Grash decides to pull a mutiny and take control of the ship for his own financial gain.
Grash doesn’t seem to be very good at mutiny as he decides to let the Doctor and Janson space walk over to the star destroyer to figure out what really killed Kelsey.
Back on the star destroyer the Doctor and Jansen run into a malfunctioning Cyberman that is set to tear them apart, but Jansen shoots it dead with her blaster. The Doctor is amazed by this, as he knows how much power is needed to kill a Cyberman, and becomes very curious as to why a Captain of a scrap ship would need such a powerful gun.
This Cyberman should not have awoken from its hibernation and they believe this is the reason for its deranged state. They both come to the conclusion that this ship is a tomb or a sleeper ship for the Cybermen to hide out from their wars while trying to forcefully recruit new members into the cyber race.
Back on the Vanguard Ike has told Grash his suspicions that the Doctor is an undercover operative, so Grash’s decides to get rid of them both. He plans to start with Charlie and hopes to make her death look like an accident.
The Doctor and Jansen are in trouble of their own as they are soon confronted by a fully functional Cybermen. They try to outrun it but the Doctor knows they cannot. So they decide to get back to the Vanguard at once.
Here is one of the play’s brilliant touches; Cybermen are faster then humans.
This is something that we have never seen in the past of the show. During the series they were generally very slow, but now they seem even more menacing.
Also worth a mention here is new series veteran Nick Briggs. Not only did he write this highly enjoyable play, but he also voiced all of the Cybermen.
One can only hope that he will receive a call to voice them for the new series as well.
Back to the story.
The Doctor and Deeva are back with the rest of the crew, but the Cybermen are not far behind. They plan (as usual) to cyber convert all the humans into the cyber race, but the Doctor will not allow this and tries to delay them by jettisoning the outer doors to the airlock. This leaves the attacking Cybermen stranded in space, but it will not stop them for long as they begin rebuilding the hatchway.
While the crew prepares for the attack, the Doctor and Charlie slip away and try to get some information from Captain Jansen’s computer terminal. Aside from this being a classic comedic Doctor-ish moment for Paul McGann, we learn some very important information. Deeva Jenson was aware of the Doctor’s identity before they ever met. The two also learn that she is on a secret mission for Earth intelligence, but are unclear as to the details.
They also discover that the reason the star destroyer was floating helplessly in space was due to an ion storm that rendered it powerless and as if things aren’t bad enough for our heroes and the Vanguard crew, that same ion storm has returned.
The Doctor has to stop the Cybermen, try to save the crew of the Vanguard, get back to the TARDIS and figure out what Captain Deeva Jansen is hiding from the rest of the crew, all before the ion storm has a chance to kill them all.
Well, they don’t get much more exciting than this.
Cybermen, Nick Briggs, Paul McGann, India Fisher, and a brilliant supporting cast, What could be more fun?