The Story of Martha
Roots: Mad Max. There are references to Wii, Citroën, and Moby Dick.
Continuity: Under the Master’s rule, there is a new labour camp in Bromley. The Master doesn’t think that Martha poses a threat, but considers her to be a loose end that he wants tidying up. Lille is a ruin, having been burned by the Toclafane. There are vast stone effigies of the Master all over the world, including one in Japan; rumour has it that his face has been added to Mount Rushmore. He knows of the Drast. He orders the Toclafane to burn the islands of Japan when he learns of the Drast's presence.
The Drast are tall, slender and vaguely humanoid. They are naturally bioluminescent and wear blue metal armour with ornate bird-like masks. They invade worlds via clandestine economic takeover and were in the midst of invading Earth when the Master took over; they believe that they cannot defeat him and create the Relativistic Segue as a means of escape. The Segue is a door in space and time opened using a Black Hole Converter stolen from the Master; opening the Seque fully will result in a catastrophic quantum collapse that would disintegrate Earth. Martha and Griffin force them to shut it down.
During the year Martha spends travelling Earth spreading stories about the Doctor, she visits, in addition to the locations seen here, Orleans, the Paris Crater, Picardy, Artois, Flanders, the ruins of New York, the poisoned Caspian Sea, the frozen Nile, Shipyard Number One (formerly Russia), Cambrai, the Ukraine, Ljubljana, Trebevic, Bassionaire, and Brazil. She is troubled by the fame she gains on her travels. After travelling to Earth using Jack’s Vortex manipulator she suffers pain in her sinuses and a bloody throat. After realising that her jewellery and perfume aren’t completely hidden by the perception filter, she vows to stop wearing both. She also changes into trainers shortly after arriving back on Earth, for practical reasons. She travels to Japan on board the Xin Excel. When her backpack is confiscated in Japan, it contains a Polaroid of her with Mathieu and Yves at Surcourt, a Saint Christopher medal given to her by a woman in Ljubljana, a little silver Islamic pendant given to her by Korbov, a lucky rabbit’s foot given to her by Calvin, and a small plastic badge reading “Hooray! I am Nine!” The Drast’s technology interferes with the perception filter. Whilst in the labour camp on Japan, she badly burns the ball of her thumb with a solder gun.
Brigadier Erik Calvin is a former member of both the Royal Marines and UNIT. His father was a member of UNIT during the nineteen seventies and told Erik stories about the Doctor. He uses the password Benton hoping that it might mean something to Martha. She asks him to spread the false rumour that she is seeking an agent that will inhibit regeneration, hoping it will rattle the Master; she also asks him to spread stories about the Third Doctor and the Brigadier that he learned from his father.
Martha’s brother Leo used to read Commando comics.
Links: Utopia, The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords.
Location: Deptford, Dunkirk, Battersea, Lille, a survivor camp five miles west of Surcourt, a small village on the Oise, Veulette, Banville, Japan, and on board the Valiant [c2008], in the alternate timeline erased by the destruction of the Master’s paradox engine.
The Bottom Line: Setting a story amongst the events of one of the most badly written fiascos of the Welsh Revival might seem unwise, but Abnett focuses on the apocalyptic nature of Earth under the Master to decent effect and Martha benefits enormously as a character. The various short stories included in the narrative as Martha spreads tales of the Doctor are a nice idea, although in practice the quality of those stories is variable…