Lord Roche

Facts

Name: Lord Roche

Format: Book.

Time of Origin: Gallifrey, approximately the same era as The Doctor

Appearances: “The Suns of Caresh”

Doctors: Third Doctor

Companions: Jo Grant

Background

Strictly speaking, Lord Roche is not The Doctor’s enemy; indeed, another Time Lord once compared Roche to The Doctor himself, as both of them have been known to seek to help other planets without authorisation from the Time Lords. However, given Lord Roche’s demonstrated lack of The Doctor’s interest in protecting innocents, putting several humans in harm’s way simply to save himself – albeit in order to ensure that he could save lives on a larger scale later -, as well as developing a plan that would sacrifice a relatively primitive civilisation in order to preserve a more advanced one rather than trying to devise a plan that would save both, his actions earned him The Doctor’s enmity regardless of his potential motives.

Like The Doctor, Roche was known to spend a great deal of time away from Gallifrey travelling to other worlds, his travels eventually bringing him to the world of Caresh, a world which existed in the unique position of being in orbit about a binary star system, alternating between orbiting the warmer Beacon and the cooler Ember. Learning that a neutron star was approaching Caresh and threatening to destabilise its orbit, Roche attempted to devise a plan that would use the star’s gravity to force Caresh into a permanent orbit around Beacon, inspired to proceed with this plan due to an unspecified discovery on the Caresh continent of Fayon involving a civilisation that had yet to make contact with the more primitive civilisation on the Archipelago. Although Roche’s experiments were successful in helping him devise a way to use to the star’s gravity to alter Caresh’s orbit, he realised after constructing his machinery that he had forgotten to take the searchlights of radiation emitted from the neutron star’s poles into account; one of the searchlights would sweep across the Archipelago – one of Caresh’s major continents – as the neutron star passed by, wiping out all life in that area, although the Fayoni – the only thing Roche was really concerned about – would be saved.

Before Roche’s plans could be completed, he was attacked by the Furies, agents of a race of vortex dwellers known as the Curia of Nineteen, who claimed that their environment would be threatened by the neutron star if Roche proceeded with his plan. Rejecting their claims, Roche attempted to escape the Furies in his TARDIS, unintentionally accompanied by Troy Game, a native of the Archipelago who had been assisting him in his research, as he travelled to Earth. With his TARDIS having made a forced landing, Roche and Troy Game were separated, Troy Game’s natural ability to understand languages resulting in Roche’s TARDIS giving her telepathic abilities because it amplified what was already there while leaving her recent memories confused. While Troy Game was taken in by sci-fi fan Simon Haldane, who attempted to work out what was happening to her, Roche was trapped in a mental hospital, hiding his mind behind the distortions created by a temporal fracture to prevent the Furies finding him.

The Doctor was assigned to investigate the temporal fracture that Roche was using by the Time Lady Solenti – a blind Time Lady with a telepathic link to her guide dog – that apparently originated at a crashed Spitfire, The Doctor had investigated in 1972 and would end in 1999. However, when The Doctor used the navigational device Solenti had given him to send the TARDIS to the fracture’s point of origin, he and Jo Grant learned that the fracture actually stretched backwards in time, resulting in them arriving in 1999 a few hours before the fracture would start rather than the two days in advance in 1972 that they were expecting. While Jo checked out the secondary sources of the fracture – really the Furies – , The Doctor tracked the primary source to Roche’s petrified TARDIS, along with Zeke Child… a younger version of the professor The Doctor had encountered at the dig where the crashed Spitfire was excavated. When one of the Furies tried to feed on the petrified TARDIS, the resulting temporal explosion caused Child to be afflicted with Jeapes’ Syndrome, a temporal disease where he essentially lived his life in reverse.

With the fracture having now ceased, Roche was forced to escape by swapping ‘mindscents’ with others – essentially causing anyone looking at Roche to perceive the person he’d mindswapped with and vice-versa -, also hypnotising Troy Game to recover his still-active TARDIS (The petrified TARDIS being a future version) from a hotel room. When caught in a traffic accident while trying to reach his ship due to his current confusion, Roche was forced to regenerate, but he retained enough control over the regeneration to deliberately shape his new body to be an exact duplicate of the Third Doctor’s appearance (Prompting some confusion when passers-by who saw Roche after his new appearance was revealed asked if The Doctor and Roche were twins as The Doctor rejected the idea and Roche agreed with it, The Doctor forced to cover up the contradiction by claiming that they were actually triplets who’d never been able to agree on the right definition for their relationship when only two of them were present). Although The Doctor attempted to help Roche by placing him in the TARDIS Zero Room (“Castrovalva”) to give his new incarnation a chance to stabilise, Roche sneaked out of the TARDIS by disguising himself as Zeke Child using the same techniques he’d used earlier, subsequently sending his TARDIS into the past to try and destroy the Furies, creating the petrified TARDIS The Doctor had discovered earlier.

Trying to work out what Roche had done to have the Furies sent after him so that he could prevent the fracture from occurring, The Doctor travelled to Caresh to try and finish Roche’s work in diverting the neutron star (Although he was unaware of the origin of the Furies and the existence of the Curia). Unfortunately, The Doctor’s attempts to save Caresh were jeopardised when Troy Game discovered Roche’s records about his plan and the consequences for her civilisation, causing her to assume that the Doctor had been replaced by Lord Roche. Although Jo almost persuaded Troy Game to recognise that the Doctor simply hadn’t known about the potential side-effects of Roche’s plan rather than going through with the plan with full knowledge of the potential consequences, Troy Game was only satisfied when she shot The Doctor with Roche’s ‘mercy gun’ – a gun that stunned the victim on the first shot and killed on the second, the reasoning being that you deserved to die if you needed to be shot with it again; Roche had accidentally been shot with the weapon in the past -, confirming that the Doctor wasn’t Roche but leaving him unconscious for so long that he missed the window of opportunity to put the plan into action.

Although The Doctor was briefly willing to give up as he believed there was nothing he could do, Jo’s tearful frustration that he would have found a way if Earth was the planet in peril prompted The Doctor to realise that Caresh could also be saved by simply nudging it into a closer orbit around Ember rather than a permanent orbit around Beacon, managing to make the necessary last-minute modifications to Roche’s equipment. As a result, the Realm was saved, and the Curia recalled the Furies moments before Roche could trigger his trap, sparing Zeke Child his fate and allowing Roche to depart Earth in peace, The Doctor and Jo leaving Troy Game to make a new life for herself.

Related Links

“The Suns of Caresh”

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