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by Ben Aaronovitch


The Doctor, Ace, and Shou Yuing are questioning Ancelyn in Pat's barn. Ancelyn is removing his ruined armour and addressing the Doctor: "Merlin, cease these games, and tell me truly, is this the time?" The Doctor asks, "time for what?" and Ancelyn responds, "Why, the answer to Excalibur's call! The call to restitution, the time when Arthur rises to lead the Britains to war."

The Doctor suddenly realizes the full meaning of the name for Vortigern's Lake. He asks Ancelyn if he can walk, and Ancelyn says he certainly can and begins to get up, shedding the last of his armour. Ace and Shou Yuing ask what is going on and the Doctor says he hunches that the Earth is at the centre of a war that doesn't even belong to this dimension.

At this moment, Bambera storms in, covering everyone with a heavy machine gun. She orders everyone to stand still and says they're all under arrest, including the Doctor and Ancelyn. The Doctor starts to begin to explain, when a rumble is heard, as three grey-hair-helmeted knights storm through the wall opposite the door, their leader ordering the three to... "Kill them! Kill them now!"

Bambera stares them down, telling them she's an armed military officer. She tries to place them under arrest and orders them to put their guns down. They do nothing. Bambera gets angrier and orders them once again to put their guns down. The Doctor attempts to intervene by introducing himself, but Bambera shoots at the squad leader anyway. The bullets simply bounce off, and the man laughs. He puts up the visor on his helmet and grins at them.

Ancelyn recognizes him and says his name: "Mordred!" Mordred answers him: "Ancelyn! Fitting that you should die amongst peasants." Ancelyn advises him to look again. Mordred takes a second look at the Doctor, and calls him..."Merlin!" Ace mutters, "Not again." Mordred protests. This cannot be Merlin, for his mother bound him in the Ice Caves for all Eternity. The Doctor plays up to this, and says he is the Master of Time. He cannot be bound so easily. He then orders Mordred to go before he unleashes a "terrible something" on Mordred. Ancelyn adds his voice to the eviction notice. Mordred gives, but before he leaves he swears a reckoning with Ancelyn, and tells the Doctor that his mother has waited twelve centuries to face him, and he will bow down before her this time. He and his soldiers leave through the hole in the wall.

Ace and Shou Yuing ask the Doctor who they were, and he replies that it was Mordred, and he mentions his mother Morgaine. He says he's never met them before.

A helicopter flies through the air. Inside it, Flight Lieutenant Lavel asks London for a clear flight path. They grant it, and she reports this to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, her passenger. He gives orders for an exclusion zone to be established for an area up to 1 1/2 km outside the limit of the radio jammed area. He then asks Lavel what she thinks of this officer who requested the information on the Doctor, this Brigadier Bambera. "Good man is he?"

Brigadier Bambera stomps out the barn, snapping a fresh magazine into her pistol. The Doctor comes out behind her, telling her if they are going to work together, she's got to stop shooting at everything that moves. As Ancelyn passes, she grabs him by the collar and says she wants to talk to him. "I am Ancelyn ap Gwalchmai," he informs her, "Knight General of the Britons. I do not talk to peasants." "You'll talk to me!" she promises and throws him to the ground. Ace and Shou Yuing try to get the Doctor to stop their now full-fledged wrestling match, but he walks on, saying their just establishing their credentials. They have other things to worry about. "Sorcery."

The stone, the red jewel in the base of the sword, continues to pulsate, chiming on and on.....

A castle. It is night, storm clouds have gathered, and lightning plays across the roof of the castle.

Inside, Mordred is preparing. "Here is the convocation," he says, his words echoing round the stone chamber. He stands between two spheres mounted on pedestals. "This we make the meeting place. The point between two worlds, two universes, two realities!" He touches the tip of the sword he holds on each sphere, each one glowing after the brief contact. Smoke covers the floor, and the area between the spheres, where Mordred stands, glows with white light.

Outside, more lightning flashes, but this time, perhaps the bolts are moving up into the clouds.....

And the jewel, throbs still, never stopping....

In the main reception area/lounge of the Gore Crow Hotel, the scabbard relic shakes in its mounting on the wall. The Doctor explains to all present (Ace, Shou Yuing, Pat, Peter, and Elizabeth) that no one should go outside. Elizabeth says she heard gunshots earlier. The Doctor further goes on to say that there are things out there in the dark, that they wouldn't like to meet.

Bambera throws Ancelyn inside the hotel, onto the sofa, his hands hand-cuffed. "She vanquished me," he says, looking happy about it, "and I threw myself on her mercy." Bambera flashes her I.D. and says she's now in charge, and that everyone is to remain calm, and the situation will soon be under control. A high-pitched sound starts in the room and the scabbard vibrates harder in its socket. "I doubt that," says the Doctor.

Mordred raises his sword high above his head and calls out, "By this sword, brother to Excalibur, I part the curtain of night!"" And thunder rumbles all through the night.....

Peter hears the noise the scabbard makes, and wonders out-loud what it is. Suddenly, the scabbard flies off the wall, tumbling across the room through the air, spearing itself into a roof support three inches right of Peter's head. He is a little startled. The Doctor moves to take a closer look and asks which way this wall faces. Pat tells him it faces north, towards the lake.

In the night sky, Lavel's and a sleeping Brigadier's faces are only lit by the instruments in the cockpit. Lavel is acknowledging a call from London, letting her know she's clear to land. She tells the sleeping Lethbridge-Stewart, and he shifts a little in his sleep.

Mordred makes his final cries: "Across the abyss, life calls to life, biomass to biomass, energy to energy!! To Avalon I summon thee, from beyond the confines of this Universe!!" He brings down the sword, sticking it into the ground, a small explosion of sparks rising from its tip as he plants it.

And the jewel of Excalibur, glows on....and flashes on, and throbs....

In his helicopter, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart suddenly wakes up, a pained look on his face, a finger rising to his temple....

Mordred is overcome with mad laughter. Blue fires of energy encircle him on the perimeter of the stone chamber.

Glasses tumble off their shelves of their own volition, a chandelier rocks from the ceiling of Pat Rowlinson's hotel. Peter thinks it's an earthquake. All look to the Doctor and ask what is going on. he says he doesn't know, "but I've got some nasty suspicions." He steps to the wall, and yanks the scabbard out of its freshly-dug wall socket.

Mordred's laughter ebbs, and he slowly rises to his feet and stands to one side. He looks to the centre of the chamber, and watches, and waits.

Shou Yuing is amazed that an earthquake seems to be happening here in England. The Doctor tells them that isn't what's happening. "Someone is creating a rip in the fabric of time and space." Ancelyn gets up and says "She is coming!" The scabbard is having a fit in the Doctor's arms, and he cries out and falls to his knees in pain. Ace is concerned and asks him what is going on. He looks at her, and she appears to him to be behind a shimmering energy vortex...

Blue-white light glows between the spheres, and from within, a figure materializes, a woman, red-haired, clothed in golden armour wearing a great golden headdress. She holds her open palms in front of her, the hands ending in extended, claw-like fingernails. She steps from the fading light. Mordred speaks to her: "Immortal Morgaine. Ageless and deathless." She returns his greeting with his name. He kneels at her feet and tells her Merlin is here. She agrees, telling him she can feel his presence. Mordred tells her he has a new countenance. She tells him Merlin has worn many faces. She turns and calls into the night, "Merlin, hear me."

The Doctor, crouched on the floor, calls back, "I hear you."

"Do not stand against me this time, for your soul's sake."

"I cannot allow your interference."

"Then, Merlin, Let This Be Our Last Battlefield!" Morgaine throws her arms into the air, and lightning explodes into the skies above their castle, into the storm clouds above, into the darkness.

At the hotel, the Doctor's friends cry out in fear, as the darkness and thunder shuts down the power, plunging the room into complete night.

The sun rises on a new day. The Doctor is awake, strolling through the mess Bambera and Ancelyn made of Pat Rowlinson's back lawn, picking up Ancelyn's sword, Bambera's pistol, and her blue UNIT cap. He goes back inside.

Bambera and Ancelyn are still asleep, each sitting on chairs back-to-back, their heads resting on each other's shoulders. The Doctor creeps quietly into the lobby/lounge, and places his collected items on the bar. He picks up a small paper bag off the bar, and quietly blows air into it like a balloon. He closes off the bag's neck, sneaks up behind the sleeping warriors, and slams his fists together on the bag with a loud bang. Bambera and Ancelyn wake with a start, each instantly on their feet, looking for enemies, to see the Doctor strolling out the door, raising his hat to them and saying, "Good morning!"

Lavel and Lethbridge-Stewart are taking off from London. The Brigadier tells her of the bureaucracy he'd gone through all night, looking over documents in his lap. He tells Lavel to head for Carbury, where the action is.

In the morning sunshine, the Doctor, Ace, and Peter Warmsley are strolling across the archaeological dig site in the Carbury Trust Conservation Reserve, the bogged-down nuclear missile convoy still sitting stuck in the mud behind them. The Doctor asks Peter to show them where he found the scabbard, and Peter takes them to a marker. He tells Ace it's taken 10 years to uncover what they've done so far, that it takes a full year to uncover 1 cm of a site this big. Ace pokes around in the soil next to the scabbard marker and finds a carving. She asks them what it is. Peter says no one's ever been able to decipher the carving, but the Doctor tells them it says, "Dig hole here" in his handwriting. "Ace, we need a hole." Ace gleefully takes a canister of Nitro-9 from her rucksack and sets it for 60 seconds, laying it on top of the carving. The three take cover, the Nitro going off a little early. Ace tells him she thinks the timing needs work, and he tells her, "One of these days, we're going to have to have a nice, long, chat about acceptable safety standards."

In the helicopter, the Brigadier asks Lavel if Major Husak has reported in yet. Lavel says he hasn't, and that the area of radio interference in Carbury is expanding. He asks if she can speak Czechoslovakian, and she tells him that she can only when she's drunk.

For lack of a vehicle, Ancelyn and Bambera are jogging down the road from the hotel to the lake, Bambera holding him still at something like gunpoint, although he seems to be having a whale of a time. Bambera hopes the Doctor isn't gone by the time they get there. Ancelyn says she cannot hold the Doctor, "He goes where he will." She tells him to shut up and run, and he says "Yes, My Lady." "Call me My Lady once more, and I'll break your nose."

The helicopter is hovering over the Carbury area, Lavel looking for a possible landing zone. The Brigadier spies some damage to Pat's barn. He asks Lavel if she's armed, to which she replies, somewhat offended, that she certainly is. He tells her to check it's loaded and take them in.

Morgaine, Mordred, and a large squad of armoured troops stand outside the ruined castle Morgaine had appeared in the previous night. They hear the distant but approaching sound of the helicopter, each wondering what the sound is. Mordred is watching it, and he tells Morgaine it's a flying machine with whirling blades for wings. She criticizes the people of this world for their obsession with machinery. She says she must teach them the limitations of their technologies. She raises an arm, extends her fingers, and red lightning flies from her fingernails, striking the helicopter and igniting a plume of black smoke from its underside.

The engine of the chopper is becoming erratic, and Lavel is struggling to keep it in the air. She says it felt like something hit them.

The smoke clears from the gaping crater left by Ace's Nitro-9 detonation. The Doctor tells her at the bottom they'll find a tunnel, and indeed, something like a drainage pipe is found at the bottom of the hole. They decide to go in, the Doctor telling Peter to stay outside and prevent anyone following them. Peter asks what he's supposed to do to stop them, asking if he should lecture them in archaeology. The departing Doctor tells him yes.

"Can you get us down?" asks Lethbridge-Stewart, and Lavel tells him that down is not the problem, and indeed the helicopter begins to fall into the trees....

Ace and the Doctor carefully walk down the circular tunnel that appears to be taking them right under the lake. Ace notes that the wall's made of concrete, and the Doctor tests a bit of the ceiling with the tip of his umbrella, the ceiling crumbling as he does. He says it's gone soft with age. It was built in the 8th century. The tunnel goes darker as the light behind them is cut off, as a door slides into place behind them. The Doctor tells Ace not worry, since it's only a trap. They continue to walk forward towards a light source ahead of them.

The helicopter has crash-landed in a small clearing. Lavel and the Brigadier are running from the wreckage when it explodes, knocking each to the ground. "Five million pounds worth of aircraft and we've lost it," says the Brigadier. Lavel winces slightly in pain, as she's pulled a ligament in her leg. The Brigadier tells her he'll go get help from the village, and he adds that he's beginning to enjoy this.

Mordred is bent down, examining a tombstone in the yard of the castle. He tells Morgaine is is a shrine to those fallen in battle. Morgaine is angry, for this means the people here are not the savages Mordred led her to believe. They have fought on their soil without proper respect for the dead, thus dishonouring them. Morgaine sends Mordred away, and he leaves with a small whimpering protest.

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart walks up the road and sees Morgaine and her soldiers. He raises his pistol at them and advances, for a talk with a similarly approaching Morgaine. She sees he is a warrior and asks him, "How goes the day?" He tells her he's had better. She fully introduces herself, "I am Morgaine, the Sunkiller, Dominator of the Thirteen Worlds and Battle Queen of the S'rax. What say you?" "I am Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Surrender now, and we can avoid bloodshed." A smile crosses Morgaine's face, and she looks at his outstretched gun.

Peter is looking in a state of bemusement at the hole and the tunnel. Ancelyn and Bambera walk up behind him and ask where the Doctor is. "Did you know it takes one year to uncover one centimetre of a site this big? 'But now delayest not. Take the sword, and fling him in the middle mere. Watch what thou seest, and like him bring me word.'"

Excalibur. It still goes on to glow its red jewel in a periodic throb.

Ace and the Doctor are standing inside a small cave, regarding a large statue of a fish, whose open mouth serves as a door, a door currently blocked by a gate. The Doctor guesses that Ancelyn's people must have built this tunnel. He further goes on to tell Ace that Ancelyn comes to them from sideways in time, from another universe. He is puzzled though about how to get through this gate.

The Brigadier and Morgaine are finishing a conversation. The Brigadier is summing it up, making sure that he's got this right, that Morgaine and her troops are having a remembrance ceremony for the dead of Earth's World Wars, and that a cease-fire will remain in force for the duration of the ceremony. She tells him he's got it right, and he asks how he can help.

The Doctor searches the fish's teeth for hidden switches, with no success. He then has an idea, stands back, and tells it, "Open up! it's me!" The gate obediently slides upward.

Morgaine finishes the ceremony, and tells the Brigadier that she bears him no malice, but that when they meet again, she will kill him. She leads her troops away, the Brigadier watching them with something of a grin on his face, as if these people were a little mad...

Ace at first refuses to ask how the Doctor opened the gate. She then suddenly gives up and asks him. He tells her it's come to him that Ancelyn's people didn't build this tunnel after all, it was Merlin. Ace reminds him that everyone thinks he's Merlin, and he agrees with her, and remarks that this door being keyed to his voice pattern is just the sort of thing he would do. They begin to crawl through the fish's mouth, and Ace asks him if he is indeed Merlin. He says no, but he could be in his own personal future, which could be in the past... Ace mutters, "Right" under her breath and lets the subject drop.

And Excalibur throbs on...

The Brigadier runs up to the Gore Crow Hotel and sees Shou Yuing coming out, about to get into her little blue car. He tells her he is commandeering the car, and orders her to give him the keys. She does so reluctantly, and climbs into the passenger seat as he drives it away.

A spaceship sits, as it has done for twelve centuries, at the bottom of Vortigern's Lake. Inside, Ace and the Doctor enter the ship's control centre, and survey the room. It is wrapped in blue light and a mist hangs over ancient computers and controls. In the centre of the room is a stone, and lying on the stone is the body of a man, and standing in the stone, is a fantastic sword with a red jewel glowing in its base. Ace whispers a "Wow" in appreciation of the ship, and they dare to approach the centre of the room.

Ace asks if this is Arthur, King of Britons, and the Doctor says, "The legendary Arthur, yes. From another dimension, where the man was closer to the myth, but what is he doing here?" Ace asks if he's in suspended animation, and he answers her "Who knows?" She playfully recited lines from Tennyson over his body and fingers the end of the sword Excalibur. He tells her not to touch it, [but she's seen "The Sword in the Stone" and doesn't think she can pull it out,] she isn't King of the Britons, but yet the sword falls out as she pulls on it, and she falls backward on the floor. The Doctor yells at her, and tells her not to disturb anything else. "Like what?" she asks, and a sound makes him say "Like that."

They look in a corner of the room, and a yellow, glowing energy-snake creature flies at them. The Doctor says it's time for Plan B, meaning they run. The dragon-creature flies itself at them, missing, and they search for the way out, unable to find a clear way out, [the door they had come in by having closed behind them.] The creature swings around for another attack. The Doctor tells her this is not the time and place to panic. The creature hits him full on, throwing him like a heap into a wall. "Now we panic!" he cries. Ace helps him up, muttering the question of this thing's function as an automatic defense mechanism, to which the Doctor concurs with her.

It comes round another time, and he says, "When I say run, Run!" It hits him again as Ace tears off in another direction. She goes into an opening to find it a dead end. A glass door slides down behind her, as it becomes clear she has stumbled into the airlock of the ship. The Doctor begins to crawl to his feet, as he sees water begin to flood the chamber from above Ace's head. He goes to the door, seeing the water level rapidly filling, looking for an open switch, when the circling, flying dragon smacks him to the ground once again. Ace looks on in fear, floating now in the rapidly filling airlock, at an unconscious Doctor lying senseless on the floor.....

The Doctor
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Elizabeth Rowlinson
Peter Warmsley
Knight Commander
Brigadier Winifred Bambera
Shou Yuing
Pat Rowlinson
Flight Lieutenant Lavel
Title Music Composed by
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Episode copyright BBC-Tv, MCMLXXXIX
This synopsis by Steven Manfred

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