The Taking of Chelsea 426
Roots: The Doctor mentions Ultravox’s “Vienna”, The Highway Code, The Da Vinci Code, MacBeth, Edwin Starr, Sun Tzu, and Francis Galton. There is a reference to Mark Anthony’s Meditations.
Goofs: If anyone infected by the Rutan spores requires ammonia to stay infected, how does Strom remain infected on board the Sontaran ship? [Sontarans may prefer small amounts of ammonia in their atmosphere, or Strom has sabotaged the life-support systems].
Dialogue Triumphs: “Asking a Sontaran to explain the relevance of war is like asking a human to explain the relevance of music.”
Continuity: General Kade is Commander of the Fourth Sontaran Intelligence Division. He has heard of, and respects, the Doctor. The Sontaran/Rutan war has lasted for nearly fifty thousand years by the early twenty-sixth century. Many in the Sontaran Empire treat the Intelligence Division with disdain, believing espionage is a Rutan practice. Kade fights a duel to the death with Sarg using staffs, as per Sontaran custom, when Sarg challenges his authority. Sontarans can be incapacitated by noise outside of the range of human hearing.
It is implied that the Rutans are at war with the Sontarans out of boredom and because it gives them a sense of superiority. Caeruliflora Saturnalis, “Blue Flower of Saturn”, grows from spores found by the human colonists of Chelsea 426 floating the atmosphere of Saturn. They were engineered by the Rutans, who created a sentient spore version of themselves that can infect other life-forms, making them part of the Rutan Host and allowing them to pack an electrical charge. The stratagem is intended to turn Sontarans into Rutans, creating Rutan agents, since the Sontarans have developed the technology to detect Rutans, even when they have shape-shifted. The flowers grow very large, and they and the Rutan-infected life forms require trace amounts of ammonia to survive, since the spores were engineered to survive in Saturn’s atmosphere. When ammonia is removed from the atmosphere, the spores die, leaving their hosts unharmed. The Rutans left the spores as a trap for the Sontarans when they learned of the Sontarans’ plan to turn Earth into a breeding planet (The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky).
The Doctor again uses the alias Doctor John Smith and uses the psychic paper to pretend to be from the Intergalactic Horticultural Society. He claims he can’t stand pears. He has seen Riley Smalls on twenty-first century television. He drinks orange juice in the Grand Hotel. He has only ever visited Saturn [i.e. its moons] on a handful of occasions. He was en route to the Majestic Hotel in Paris in 1922 to apologise to Marcel Marceau when he ended up at Chelsea 426.
An old crate in the TARDIS console room contains a paperback novel, a glowing green ball and something that resembles [and might be] a Frisbee.
There are leeches the size of bananas on the moons of Mercutio 14. The Doctor implies that Derridean Orchids are a lethal form of flora. There is a sky dock near 588 Achilles. The Pride of Deimos passed the Trojan Asteroids en route to Chelsea 426.
Links: The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky. The Doctor can’t remember if he first met the Sontarans in Medieval England (The Time Warrior) or Spain (The Two Doctors). There are references to IMC (Colony in Space), and Krynoids (The Seeds of Doom).
Location: Chelsea 426, Saturn, over several days from 20th August (the early twenty-sixth century).
Future History: Chelsea 426 was originally opened as part of IMC’s first hydrogen mine on Saturn; it became the property of Powe-Luna Developments who changed its name from Unit 426 to Chelsea 426 and turned it into a colony. It floats in the atmosphere of Saturn. The Chelsea Bugle is a newspaper available on Chelsea 426. There are mining platforms on Neptune.
Riley Smalls is a Cryogen, who was cryogenically frozen in the twenty-first century and resuscitated five hundred years later. The process used to cryogenically freeze people in the twenty-first century was fallible: when they are brought out of suspended animation they suffer massive, irreversible brain damage, as a result of which they are hasty, bad-tempered, very confused and thus renowned for having poor judgement.
The Ubergallery is an enormous man-made island in the North Sea on twenty-sixth century Earth. The early twenty-sixth century sees the Third Renaissance, which gives the world the Theatre of Nomogan, the ceilings of the Chamber of Ra, and the Simarine Orchestra. The Pride of Deimos is probably the most famous leisure ship in the galaxy. Cowley’s Almanac is a guide to spacecraft.
The Major’s gun is a Maiman 4000. Humans fought Sontarans at the Siege of the Hexion Gates.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor implies that he was at Woodstock.
The Bottom Line: A rip-roaring adventure that does interesting things with Sontarans and Rutans alike. Kade is great, especially his occasional intellectual besting of the Doctor, underlined by his obvious respect for one of Sontar’s greatest enemies.