Name: Professor Stahlman
Format: Television show
Time of Origin: Earth, 1970s
Doctors: Third Doctor
Companions: The Brigadier, Liz Shaw and Sergeant Benton
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An interesting detail about Stahlman is that The Doctor technically fought two different versions of him at once, The Doctor travelling briefly into a parallel universe during his confrontation with Stahlman and forced to confront the man’s counterpart.
The head of a project nicknamed ‘Project Inferno’ due to the heat generated, Stahlman’s goal was to access pockets of ‘Stahlman’s Gas’ – a rare gas that he had discovered over twenty miles before the ground -, believing that this gas could be harnessed as an energy source for humanity. Although government supervisor Sir Keith Gold called in oil drilling expert Greg Sutton for another opinion, and UNIT were providing security for the project, Stahlman made it clear that he would suffer no delays in his work, determined to penetrate the crust and discover his gas.
However, as he approached the maximum depth, an unexpected complication arose in the form of a strange green slime produced as some unspecified by-product of Project Inferno, causing those exposed to the slime to undergo a retrogression of the body cells, reverting to a significantly more primitive state compared to modern humans, these entities becoming known as the Primoids. In some circumstances, the infection could be transmitted if a Primord touched a human, with exposure to heat causing the transformation to progress at a more rapid pace (Although the ‘generation’ gap could also play a part, as the first person infected mutated rapidly while others took longer). Primords were resistant to gunfire, although their reliance on heat meant that They could be fought off with application of cold, such as from a fire extinguisher, and their enhanced physical abilities would not allow them to survive such damage as the injuries sustained from a fall of significant height.
The degree of intelligence displayed by the Primords was variable; they acted primarily on instinct, but displayed some signs of organisation and tactics instead of mindlessly attacking everything in front Of them, and appeared to be interested in releasing more of the slime as they acted to accelerate the project’s progress. They made a high-pitched, screeching sound, which The Doctor claimed that he had heard before during the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, although it is unclear whether The Doctor actually saw the creatures there or was just aware that something unusual was at Krakatoa without witnessing it directly. Stahlman was injured by the slime when he discovered a sample, but concealed the injury by bandaging his hand the mutation relatively limited to the point that he was able to continue to operate normally apart from becoming more short-tempered over time. Even when a computer predicted catastrophe if the project continued, he refused to acknowledge the warnings, damaging the computer’s circuit board to prevent anyone else learning about this (Although this may have been based on his own obsessive interest in the project rather than the Primoid mutation).
During his time observing the experiment, The Doctor’s attempts to get the TARDIS working again after his exile (“The War Games” and “Spearhead From Space”) prompted him to remove the control console from the ship and link it up to the project’s nuclear reactors, in the hope of bypassing the blocks that The Time Lords had placed on the TARDIS itself (Similar to a plan he had attempted in his second incarnation to bypass the security systems the Time Lords had placed on the TARDIS after its theft (“Heart of TARDIS”)). However, when he activated the console, The Doctor soon discovered that he had actually disabled far more security protocols than he had intended, resulting in him being transferred into a parallel universe where Earth was ruled by a fascist dictatorship – it was implied in a later adventure that The dictator was that world’s version of The Doctor (“Timewyrm: Revelation”) -, and this world’s Professor Stahlmann (The reason for the slightly modified spelling of his name was never established), who was clean-shaven and wore tinted spectacles, was some hours further ahead of his counterpart in The Doctor’s world.
Like in The Doctor’s reality, Stahlmann had already been infected by the Primoids, with one hand bandaged to conceal the injury and the mutation that was already changing his physiology, but The Doctor soon realised that he had more serious problems as the drilling project continued, penetrating Earth’s crust and reaching the gas pocket. Not only did this result in a massive release of the slime – mutating most of the remaining staff on the base, including Stahlmann and the counterpart of The Doctor’s friend and UNIT colleague Sergeant Benton -, but it also triggered serious global tremors as the gas burst from the mantle that had kept it contained for so many millennia, causing vast quantities of lava to be released that would sweep over this Earth and leave it virtually decimated.
Although it was too late for The Doctor to do anything to save the alternate Earth from being destroyed by the resulting volcanic eruptions caused by Stahlmann’s project, he was able to convince the alternate versions of his friends to divert the power of the nuclear reactor into the TARDIS console so that he could travel back to his world to prevent this disaster, arriving back before Stahlman could penetrate the Earth’s crust in The Doctor’s universe. Although his intervention was briefly delayed when the stress of the transition sent The Doctor into a coma, he regained consciousness just in time to halt Stahlman’s efforts to complete the drilling project, his initial attempt to smash the control console delaying the drilling long enough for Stahlman’s mutation into a Primoid to come full circle and the UNIT staff to kill him with fire extinguishers, providing the proof needed for the project to be halted and the shaft filled in.
The Doctor’s colleagues at UNIT once found themselves dealing with an invasion from the world that The Doctor had visited where they were forced to rely on the Master for aid while The Doctor was absent (“The Curse of Peladon”), UNIT learning that The other world had been virtually decimated by the resulting fires with only a relative few survivors having escaped due to them being hidden in underground bunkers or stationed on a lunar base (“The Face of the Enemy”).