The Doctor, Clara, Angie and Artie land at Hedgewick’s World of Wonders, the biggest and best amusement park there will ever be – and they’ve got a golden ticket!
Unfortunately, the park’s been closed down and it’s now a training camp for a band of soldiers – a punishment platoon, sent away so they can’t get into trouble. Thanks to the psychic paper, the leader of the team, Captain Alice Ferrin, believes the Doctor to be an Imperial Consul. Mr. Webley, a showman, has also landed on the planet, not realising it’s closed. Still, he’s got quite a nice collection of waxworks: the most famous (including the Emperor) and the most infamous aliens from across the universe. Plus one special exhibit: a chess-playing Cyberman!
“No need to panic, my young friends. We all know there are no more living Cybermen,” he tells them. “What you are seeing is a miracle: the 699th wonder of the universe, as displayed before the Imperial court, and only here to destroy you at chess!”
As Artie plays, the Cybermen moves too – and it’s soon forced to mate. “If you can tell me how it works, I’ll give you a silver penny,” Webley says. “I think they do it with mirrors,” Angie replies, perhaps a fan of Agatha Christie.
The Doctor opens up the table under the chess board to reveal – the brains. Porridge gets out and Angie is rewarded with an Imperial Penny, emblazoned with the face of the (missing) Emperor.
The Doctor is curious after seeing silver insects roaming the place and refuses to leave; Artie and Angie are put to makeshift beds while the others explore the park.
Mr. Webley, settling himself down for the night, resets the chess board – but the Cyberman grabs at his arms. “That’s a bit odd. That’s not funny. Give me my hands back!” But the small silver insects swarm over him as he lets out a scream…
++ UPGRADE IN PROGRESS ++
The insects are also monitoring Artie and Angie, the latter of whom leaves to explore, despite Artie asking her not to.
++ DISASSEMBLY REQUIRED ++ UPGRADE WILL COMMENCE ++
Porridge tells Clara about the Cyberwars, fighting the Cybermen: “technologically upgraded warriors. We couldn’t win. Sometimes we fought to a draw, but then they’d upgrade themselves, fix their weaknesses and destroy us. It’s hard to fight an enemy that uses your armies as spare parts.” He points to a dark, empty space in the night sky. “It used to be the Tiberion Spiral Galaxy – a million star systems; a hundred million worlds; a billion trillion people. It’s not there anymore. No more Tiberion Galaxy; no more Cybermen. It was effective.”
Artie gets up to switch the lights on. He’s not scared, he’s not scared, he’s not – - then a Cyberman grabs him.
Angie, meanwhile, is talking to the platoon when Clara and the Doctor join her, the former unhappy at her for wandering off. There’s a good reason she shouldn’t wander off…
A Cyberman is suddenly in their ranks and, with an impressive surge of speed, kidnaps Angie. It’s over so fast.
The Doctor, as ‘Imperial Consul,’ appoints Clara as the new Captain and strides away, instructing her to get to somewhere defendable: “I’m getting Angie, finding Artie and looking for funny insects. Stay alive. And you lot, no blowing up this planet!”
++ PLEASE STAND BY ++ YOU WILL BE UPGRADED ++
Clara and co. identify the most defendable place on the planet: Natty Longshoe’s Comical Castle – complete with a drawbridge and moat. But comical. They head there, Alice warning Clara that there are protocols to deal with Cybermen; blowing-up-the-planet protocols. And with no communications, it’s the only way of warning the rest of the Imperium that not all of the Cybermen are dead yet…
Using a local transmat link frequency on a silver insect – a Cyber-mite – the Doctor tracks down the children… and a cybernetically-altered Mr. Webley, who informs him:
++ HAIL TO YOU, THE DOCTOR; SAVIOUR OF THE CYBERMEN ++ AS THE BATTLE RAGED BETWEEN HUMANITY AND THE CYBERIAD, THE CYBERPLANNERS BUILT A VALKYRIE TO SAVE CRITICALLY-DAMAGED UNITS AND BRING THEM HERE AND, ONE BY ONE, REPAIR THEM ++ WE NEEDED CHILDREN TO BUILD A NEW CYBERPLANNER – A CHILD’S BRAIN, WITH ITS INFINITE POTENTIAL, IS PERFECT FOR OUR NEEDS ++ BUT WE NO LONGER NEED THE CHILDREN ++ THE CYBERMITES HAVE BEEN SCANNING YOUR BRAIN, DOCTOR ++ IT’S QUITE REMARKABLE ++
Cybermites launch at the Doctor, crawling up his face – and taking him over. Almost.
A silvery lattice covers the left of his face, but the Cyberplanner’s not completely in control. In a mindscape, the two face-off against each other…
“Stop rummaging in my brain!”
++ JUST YOU TRY AND STOP ME ++ OOH, WHO’S CLARA – WHY ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT HER SO MUCH? ++
++ FASCINATING ++ A COMPLETE MENTAL BLOCK ++ HIGHLY EFFECTIVE ++
But the Doctor and the Cyberplanner reach a stalemate: neither of them controls the whole brain; the Doctor threatens to regenerate to burn out all the cyber-tech; however, the Cyberplanner has the children, Webley and a whole legion of Cybermen waiting. The Doctor proposes a game of chess to decide who gets complete control…
Clara surveys the weapons: only one anti-cyber gun, some hand-pulsers that emit an EMP pulse when applied to the back of a Cyberman’s head; and a planet-imploding bomb, triggered by either Alice Ferrin’s voice commands or a physical trigger unit (given to Clara). Porridge takes a hand-pulser – might be handy.
Back to the chess board…
++ DOCTOR, WHY IS THERE NO RECORD OF YOU ANYWHERE IN THE DATABANKS OF THE CYBERIAD? ++ OH, YOU’RE GOOD ++ YOU’VE BEEN ELIMINATING YOURSELF FROM HISTORY – YOU KNOW YOU COULD BE RECONSTRUCTED BY THE HOLE YOU’VE LEFT ++
“Good point. I’ll do something about that… Did you know very early versions of the Cyber operating system could be seriously scrambled by exposure to things, like gold, or cleaning fluid? And what’s interesting is, you’re still running some of that code.”
And the Doctor slaps the golden ticket to the cyber-implants to the side of his face! He collects together the chess pieces, instructs Webley, Angie and Artie to follow him, and heads off to find Clara.
Clara confronts Alice and Porridge: “Why would you blow up a whole planet and everybody on it just to get rid of one Cyberman?”
“We tried other ways, but they only work sometimes,” Porridge replies, “so now we take drastic action. And it works.”
“If you find a Cyberman and you can’t destroy it immediately, you implode the planet,” Alice informs her. “I was sent here because I didn’t follow orders. I can make up for that.” And she starts to activate the bomb – -
- – But she’s gunned down by a Cyberman, watching from outside the castle. The only trigger now is in Clara’s possession. “The Doctor said to get somewhere easily defensible, but if we just stay in the castle it’ll pick us off one by one,” she concludes. “We have to take it out.”
The Doctor finds them, sets up the chess board and instructs them to tie him to a chair so he can’t escape. And then he rips the tickets off his face. The Cyberplanner takes over the other part of his brain once again, and politely informs Clara:
++ NOW, IF YOU DON’T MIND, I HAVE A CHESS GAME TO FINISH – AND YOU HAVE TO DIE POINTLESSLY AND VERY FAR FROM HOME ++
The Doctor seemingly asks her about their weapons and she gives him the lowdown. But once more, it’s not the Doctor; it’s the Cyberplanner… and he grabs the bomb trigger from Clara and destroys it.
++ THEY’RE HEEERRRREEEEE!!!! ++
A massive Cyber-army surrounds the castle. The platoon electrify the moat using the power cables, and one Cyberman steps into the water; electric shocks his whole body – but he recovers…
++ UPGRADE IN PROGRESS ++
The whole legion of Cybermen strides forward, through the moat and into the castle.
The Doctor and the Cyberplanner reach a deal: if the former lets the latter have his queen, the children will be set free. The Cyberplanner takes his queen, and sets Mr. Webley to kill Angie and Artie. Porridge, though, runs to save them, using a hand-pulser to shut Webley down – but not before he’s kicked across the room towards the Doctor.
“Your move. But before you take it, just so you know; sacrificing my queen was the best possible move I could have made. The Time Lords invented chess. It’s our game. And if you don’t avoid my trap, it gives me mate in three moves.”
++ HOW?! ++
But the Cyberplanner can’t figure it out. He temporarily shuts down the legion of Cybermen to work on one chess problem, just before they upgrade Clara and the troops. Three million brains working on one chess game.
The Doctor wasn’t talking about chess though. He grabs Porridge’s hand-pulser.
“Move one: Turn on sonic screwdriver. Move two: Activate pulser. Move three: Amplify pulser. See you…!” the Doctor slaps his hand to the unit on his face – and he’s back to his usual self! The Cyberplanner is redistributed across the three million Cybermen, who wake up and advance on them.
“We need to destroy this planet before they can get off it,” the Doctor says, grabbing the bomb. “Okay, it has a fall-back voice activation…”
“I think you should ask Porridge,” Angie says. “Well, he is the Emperor. I bet he knows the activation codes. Oh, come on. It’s obvious. He looks exactly like he does on the coin, and on the waxwork, except they made him a bit taller, but look, am I the only one paying attention to anything around here?”
She’s right: Porridge is Emperor Ludens Nimrod Kendrick Cord Longstaff XLI – and he activates the bomb. It starts its 80 second countdown…
… And they’re all transmatted onto the Emperor’s ship, orbiting the planet! They watch as the whole planet implodes.
After a failed marriage proposal from Porridge to Clara, the Doctor leads her, Angie and Artie into the TARDIS.
“Signs of any Cybertech remaining?” Porridge asks one of his aides, Gloria.
“You ever wanted to be Emperor, Gloria?”
“That’s the right answer. C’mon. Let’s go home.”
Their ship powers away – and one last Cyber-mite sparkles in the no man’s land of space.
NEXT: “THIS IS THE DOCTOR’S GREATEST SECRET.”