Name: The Council of Eight; specific members were Soul, Trilon, Sept, Penter, Hexx, Duvar, Feear and Octan, with Octan as the main ‘villain’
Time of Origin: Technically nowhere; they originated from the end of the universe but subsequently dwelt in the Time Vortex.
Appearances: Only appeared directly in “Sometime Never…”; their presence was hinted at as far back as “The Slow Empire” and “Anachrophobia”, with The Doctor taking specific action against their plans from “Time Zero” onwards.
Doctor: Eighth Doctor.
Companions: Fitz Kreiner, Trix MacMillan, Miranda, technically Anji Kapoor (She helped The Doctor investigate the Council’s plans without ever meeting them directly), Jo Grant, Sarah Jane Smith, Harry Sullivan, Mel Bush, Ace and Samantha Jones, (All captured or killed by the Council before its existence was undone).
It is important to note that, strictly speaking, the Council of Eight were not The Doctor’s enemies in the sense that they wished him ill; their opposition to him was primarily based simply around the fact that he represented a ‘Rogue Element’ who threw off the predictions they relied upon to ensure their own existence and thus threatened their efforts to survive.
The Council of Eight were essentially beings of living crystal, who came into existence after eight archetypal crystals – the seven types of crystal known to science at this point and an eighth one that was as yet undiscovered – were infused with energy at the end of the universe, thus allowing them to ‘escape’ into the Time Vortex and evolve into sentient beings… these beings subsequently seeding the universe with the crystals that would become them. Essentially, the Council’s existence was a paradox; the energy that allowed them to exist came from the death of history, which provided the energy they needed to save the eight archetype crystals at the end of time that in turn allowed them to seed the universe with crystals at its very beginning, allowing them to be drawn together at the end of history and evolve into the Council and their people (Incidentally, the eight members of the Council each bore a resemblance to The Doctor’s various past incarnations, although whether this was intentional or a simple coincidence was never explained).
Having established a station in the Time Vortex in the post-Gallifrey universe (The universe that existed after the Time Lords were wiped out by the destruction of Gallifrey (“The Ancestor Cell”)), the Council gained power by predicting events in history, but if the event they had predicted failed to come to pass, they not only lost the energy gained from the prediction, but had to repay it with interest as well. As a result, they arranged for all alternate timelines to collapse into one universe that they could monitor freely by setting up a black light explosion at the beginning of the universe (“Time Zero”) that would shape all that followed by leaving one definitive timeline for the universe. However, even after this plan succeeded, The Doctor and his companions – whether past or present – remained a threat to the Council’s plans; as a Rogue Element, The Doctor existed outside of time and space and caused unpredictability by flying in the face of cause and effect, thus disrupting the Council’s predictions, and his companions, ‘contaminated’ by their prolonged contact with him, would have the same effect on the universe and thus throw off the Council’s predictions.
To stop this, not only had Octan – the head of the Council arranged the deaths of some of The Doctor’s past companions (Sarah Jane Smith being shot in Hong Kong (“Bullet Time”), Harry Sullivan being attacked by a werewolf (“Wolfsbane”), Mel being murdered on a dusty human colony in the future (“Heritage”), and Ace being shot by the psychopathic George Limb (“Loving the Alien”, although she was replaced by an alternate version of herself)), but he had also trapped other companions, such as Jo Grant, in Schrodinger Cells, Cells in which humans removed from time and space were trapped and the potential energy of lives left unfulfilled provided the council with power. As well as all this, he had also introduced Sabbath – an eighteenth-century secret agent of exceptional skill – into the equation by granting him access to various information about time travel (While ‘editing’ the information they gave him to ensure that he would work to their agenda), regarding Sabbath as a totally predictable counterpoint to The Doctor who would hopefully cancel out The Doctor’s actions as a Rogue Element. A particularly interesting example of Octan’s power was seen when he attempted to gain control of The Doctor via the use of strange hourglasses, the hourglasses granting the inhabitants of the Council’s space station with ‘artificial time’ in the timeless realm of the Time Vortex while allowing Octan to influence those outside the station if he deliberately created hourglasses for them; although it was initially believed to be the result of The Doctor’s heart trying to link him to Gallifrey after its destruction, Octan’s attempt to create an hourglass for The Doctor caused The Doctor’s body to ‘rebel’ against the glass, his heart essentially destroying itself to keep The Doctor free, The Doctor growing a new heart after Octan recognised that he couldn’t try to control The Doctor like that again following the complete ‘demise’ of his original heart.
With Sabbath working as their only human agent – their other agents being other – dimensional entities who manifested as apes, taking more basic action to ‘nudge’ history the way the Council wanted it, such as ensuring that a blacksmith who could have created the internal combustion engine early was distracted at a crucial moment – the Council began to force other Vortex-dwelling life forms out of the time vortex to ensure that they were the only power present, Sabbath working to manipulate The Doctor to destroy a race that manifested as Clock-Faced People by putting him in a situation where the creatures appeared to be invaders rather than refugees (“Anachrophobia”). Under Sabbath’s influence, The Doctor also helped to eliminate a vast information-gathering network known as the System, which the Council claimed possessed information about Sabbath’s recruitment to their service that had to be eliminated (Given later discoveries about their true goals, it is more likely they sought the System’s destruction to prevent it from storing information about history taking a path other than the one they wanted it to take) (“History 101”). Eventually, the Council arranged their greatest plan, attempting to make Sabbath trigger a dark matter explosion at the beginning of the universe itself, thus shaping all that followed, destroying all alternate histories and leaving only one possible timeline, allowing them to easily predict events that would take place in that reality and manipulate them to suit their own purposes. Although The Doctor’s actions initially stopped this plan from succeeding – albeit instead causing reality to shift between various alternate universes (“Time Zero”) when the barriers were broken down by a black light explosion – reality was eventually stabilised, although the Council’s plans still succeeded when they managed to infuse the energy of their crystal selves throughout creation by sending a casket containing their essence back to the Big Bang (“Timeless”).
Although the Council now had control over their single timeline, Octan’s ambitions stretched further than any of his fellows could have imagined, allowing him to come up with an even more ambitious destiny for his people; they would become the new Time Lords. By destroying Earth’s sun before life could evolve, he would annihilate all of human history, and the energy from this prediction would increase their power tremendously. However, he required another prediction to actually trigger the star-killer… and that prediction came close to coming to pass when Sabbath came into possession of a Vortex Gun (A gun that sends the target to eternal agony in the Time Vortex) and aimed it at both The Doctor and Octan, after The Doctor’s daughter Miranda sacrificed herself to stop Octan using her as a hostage against The Doctor. If Sabbath shot the person Octan had predicted Sabbath would shoot, all of history would end, and Octan would have won. After The Doctor was able to trick Octan into revealing that he had predicted that Sabbath would shoot him, Sabbath shot himself – recognising that the Doctor’s death would still be a victory for Octan but his demise would prove Octan wrong once and for all – condemning himself to an eternity of agony in the Time Vortex, and thus bringing Octan’s entire plan crashing down around his ears… along with the Council’s station, as the Schrodinger Cells returned their inhabitants to their proper times due to the Council no longer possessing the energy to have captured The Doctor’s companions in the first place.
In the last moments, aided by The Doctor, Soul, one of the Council, restored the possibility of alternate timelines to the universe by opening Cell Number Eight – which apparently contained the possibility of alternate worlds – creating all kinds of alternate universes, including not only worlds where The Doctor’s companions weren’t killed by Octan’s meddling – worlds which would appear to be the true ones, given Sarah, Mel and Harry’s continued survival – but also a world where the Council survived… and, in one reality, a world where Soul, having taken on some of The Doctor’s energy to gain the strength to restore alternates to the universe, accompanied by Zezanne, the daughter of The Doctor’s adopted daughter Miranda, began the journey of several lifetimes as Soul and Zezanne became that world’s versions of the First Doctor and Susan…