The Spulver Worm
While the Spulver worm was fundamentally an animal with no definite plan, as with the Drashigs (“Carnival of Monsters”), its sheer size and power made it a significant threat during The Doctor’s encounter with it. The Spulver worm evolved on the third moon of Aayavex after the indigenous population wiped each other out in a global genetics war, with the remaining technology mutating all remaining life on the planet until the Spulver worm was the last creature standing due to its remarkable resilience.
Essentially an amalgamation of a gastropod and a cephlapod grown to immense size, the Spulver worm was capable of surviving for decades without eating, growing at a phenomenal rate, and able to endure terrible wounds. It had no sense of sight, but was able to hunt via other means, relying primarily on a series of tentacles at one end to detect body-heatat least one spulver worm was taken from its home planet in its egg, Aayavex’s unique ecosystem having attracted considerable scientific interest from others. However, for unknown reasons – speculated to be the egg hatching – the ship carrying the spulver egg crash-landed on Eskon, a distant desert planet that was said to have a core of pure ice, far from any conventional space lanes and inhabited only by the Eskoni, a primitive humanoid race that bore a resemblance to camels, having been visited by space-travellers in the past but generally left alone as their world had nothing to offer in trade.
With the egg having hatched but the spulver worm badly wounded – speculated to be the result of the planet’s tectonic shifts – the worm retreated into Eskon’s underground caves, where it eventually settled into an area near the ice mines of the Eskon city of Baktan. Slime, pus and excrement from its wound eventually contaminated the ice mines, resulting in a large number of the native population mutating as the Spulver worm’s powerfully mutational DNA came in contact with the Eskonis’alien biology. The resulting infection overrode the Eskonis’ natural genetic template, causing them to mutate into what came to be known as ‘slimers’, lacking hair and with their skin taking on an unusual texture as their pores began to emit slime, the mutation culminating in ‘the Squirming’ as the slimers’ bodies collapsed into small worms as the Spulver DNA tried to reassert itself. This resulted in the society in Baktan becoming divided as the slimers spread, with those showing signs of mutation being exiled to a shantytown outside the stone pillar that served as the city, guards keeping the slimers contained as the citizens continued to mutate with no sign of a cure.
Arriving on Eskon in a mining cave while on the run from the Time Lords (“The Shadows of Avalon”), the Eighth Doctor, Fitz Kreiner and Compassion encountered an Eskoni ice-mining team while investigating a scream, resulting in them being taken back to the city to treat Fitz’s injured leg (“Coldheart”). Learning more about the city’s current mining problems and the existence of the slimers, The Doctor volunteered to help the Eskoni find a group of missing miners, despite the suspicion of the ruling Forum due to past interaction with outsiders. While exploring the mines, The Doctor discovered the Spulver worm, but when Compassion was briefly separated from the rest of the group, she discovered a vast ‘nest’ of over a million eggs that the creature had laid (The creature was fortunately self-fertilising, so they still only had to deal with one adult worm), revealing that their problem was far more serious than expected. The Doctor was able to evade detection by the worm as his body temperature was lower than the Eskoni, as well as determining that the worm’s injuries were responsible for the slimer mutations, but Compassion was only able to provide limited aid as a serious fall she suffered during the search resulted in the link to her interior dimensions being disrupted so that nobody could enter her for a time.
Despite the initial tension between the slimers and the Baktan residents as Baktan tried to drive the slimers away and the slimers demanded that they receive equal treatment, the two sides were convinced to work together when the spulver worm’s offspring hatched ahead of schedule and began to attack Baktan (While this had been caused by the lead slimer attempting to blow up the ice mines with thermite bombs, his death in the blast ensured that no blame would be attached to them). After Baktan had been evacuated as it collapsed in on itself, The Doctor was able to defeat The Spulver worm by tricking it into eating the last thermite bomb while Compassion set off a new series of bombs in another part of the cavern, killing the worm while bringing in a fresh water supply. The subsequent collapse of Baktan’s remains drowned the Spulver worm’s hatched and unhatched eggs while The Doctor rode out the flood by retreating inside Compassion. With the worm defeated, the Eskoni were able to use the new lake created by the explosion as a new source of water and potential tourist and trading post with other cities, The Doctor confident that the new Forum would do well as the slimers were invited to become part of the city once again.