The Ultimate Treasure
Palace of the Red Sun
In the strictest sense of the word, Dexel Dynes was not really an enemy of the Doctor’s, he wasn’t interested in ruling the world, he seemed perfectly content with the amount of money he had, and he never so much as tried to kill somebody else. However, he was an amoral journalist who did not care how many people had to suffer or die so long as he got an interesting story out of it, and claimed to be an impartial observer while going so far as to offer advice on how torture could sell highly in some parts of the galaxy, showing no concern about the appeal of the lowest aspects of human nature to win over his target audience, so this easily merits him a position as an adversary of the Doctoreven if he had never acted directly against The Doctor himself.
Dynes had met the Fifth Doctor and Peri when they took a shopping trip to the 31st century, The Doctor viewing it as a good opportunity for Peri to adapt to her new life of alien encounters. After witnessing a murder, The Doctor deduced that the victim’s dying words – a set of galactic co-ordinates – were the location of the legendary treasure of Rovan Cartovall, that had been missing for five thousand years. Travelling to the coordinates, The Doctor and Peri encountered Dynes there after he’d followed the Marquis te Rosscarrino and his niece Arnella, accompanied by Professor Thorrin and his assistant Willis Brockwell, intending to broadcast what the Marquis was up to across the galaxy. Arriving on the planet Gelsandor at the same time as The Doctor, the Marquis, and the criminals who had committed the original murder, Dynes was permitted was permitted to record the others as they went on a quest to prove their worthiness to receive the treasure, the Gelsandorans wishing to observe them to better understand humanity.
Although each group passed the first test, The Doctor was subsequently forced to help the criminals in their own efforts while Peri was taken back to the ships as a hostage to ensure The Doctor’s good behaviour. Once imprisoned, Peri learned just how amoral Dynes was when he not only refused to help her escape, but even informed her captor that there were places that would pay good money for footage of Peri being tortured (even if Peri escaped this fate by noting that the various teams needed The Doctor’s full cooperation to pass the traps). As The Doctor and his new ‘allies’ progressed, Peri’s kidnappers attempted to bypass the traps by flying over them, but the ship crashed and Peri was subsequently reunited with The Doctor after most of the trials had been completed or evaded. Eventually, the expeditions made it to the final room in the quest, with Dynes brought there by the Gelsandorians to witness the final moments of the quest as the seekers were presented with four doors, one door would take them back to their ships, a second would give them their greatest desire, a third would take them to Rovan’s material treasure, and the fourth would open to the ultimate treasure.
Each member of the party chose differently, with varying results, the three criminals who went after the actual treasure suffocated in the airless atmosphere that had been used to preserve it, the Marquis and Professor Thorrin were left in a virtual simulation where their wishes – the Marquis’s belief that he was the heir to Rovan’s empire and Thorrin’s that Rovan had discovered the secret to immortality – were fulfilled, and the others simply returned to their ships. As The Doctor chose the door to the ultimate treasure, he confirmed his belief that Rovan had vanished to start a new life with nothing, having grown bored by the limits of his power, he realised that the universe itself, with all its limitless possibilities, was the ultimate treasure. As The Doctor and Peri left Gelsandor, Dynes departed as well, but he was shocked to examine his cameras and learn that all the films had been removed, the Gelsandorans had allowed to observe the hunt, but not to broadcast it for entertainment. Although Dynes briefly thought about manipulating a new group into taking the quest with microcameras fitted so that the footage couldn’t be wiped as nobody would know about it, he realised that the Gelsandorans had wiped his memory and the ship’s records of their planet’s exact coordinates, leaving him with no proof, no way to re-shoot the story, and nothing to explain why he’d spent so long away from his company.
Some time after this, Dynes had managed to find a means of rebuilding his reputation by recording the exploits of Glavis Judd, a tyrannical dictator who subtly took over his home planet before going on to conquer others, defending his actions by claiming that he was acting to ‘free’ the people of various planets from oppressive leaders (In reality, Judd often created the situations he then set out to ‘solve’, but Dynes didn’t care about that so long as he got a sensational story as a result). However, Judd’s expansion was forcibly put on hold when he attempted to ‘liberate’ the planet of Esselven and the rulers departed before he could capture them, leaving him facing the problem of a safe containing all of the information necessary to successfully run the planet, the safe was designed so that forcing it open would destroy its contents, and the safe was genetically encoded to open only for the royals.
Judd searched for the Esselven royals, they retreated to a pleasure planet that had been created several years back, and began attempts to reinforce the shielding that surrounded the world. Unfortunately, the planet was already an unusually dense planet orbiting a white dwarf star, the intense gravity already significant distorting time and space in the area, and their attempts to enhance the shield resulted in time being the shield flowing five hundred times faster than it did outside, triggering a nuclear meltdown that forced the family to flee to the woods nearby. Because of the radiation damage, their robot servants experienced a programming breakdown that caused them to drive their masters away, while another glitch activated an interactive drama a called The Princess of Aldemaar – a historic romance where characters were portrayed by holograms – to begin playing in an infinite loop, perpetually repeating once the story had concluded. Despite the fact that the characters never even registered the robots – or, indeed, anything that didn’t connect directly with the story – the robots still loyally served the illusionary Lords as the real things, while the actual descendents of Esselven’s royal family eked out a miserable existence in the woods as ‘Scavengers’.
Eventually, around five hundred years after, which translated as being only a year outside the shield – the Sixth Doctor and Peri landed on the planet in one of the gardens, deciding to take advantage of the opportunity to relax while the TARDIS tried to figure out their location (The temporal distortion of the field made getting an accurate lock on the planet’s coordinates difficult). While exploring their surroundings, the two of them were subsequently separated, Peri being mistaken for a scavenger while The Doctor had a narrow escape from the robot gardeners. Having each discovered allies in their attempts to learn the mystery of the world – Peri ‘recruiting’ the scavengers while The Doctor befriended a robot called Green-8 who had evolved sentience due to a malfunctioning self-repair subroutine – The Doctor and Green-8 travelled to the palace to shut down the projection system.
When Judd’s fleet arrived, he had his ships launch with an all-out assault on the shield, which opening a brief hole in the shield that Dynes managed to slip through in his ship. Arriving on the planet, Dynes dispatched various cameras searching for the Esselven royals, one of which encountered Pri. Telling Dynes about the scavengers’ mistreatment at the hands of the Lords in exchange for information about Judd, Peri headed off to the palace after disposing of Dynes’ camera, where she met up with The Doctor and Green-8. After researching Judd in the databanks, The Doctor vowed to end his reign of terror, and, aided by Green-8 and Oralissa (A hologram who had also developed sentience over the centuries), The Doctor managed to trick Judd and Dynes into thinking that the palace was about to explode and all the real residents had died centuries ago while the scavengers were just another group of holograms, driving Judd’s forces to depart while he and his allies made a short hop a few minutes into the future in the TARDIS.
As Judd and Dynes left the shield, The Doctor quickly had manipulated the shield to bring time back into sync with the rest of the galaxy, leaving Oralissa and Green-8 to help the scavengers re-educate themselves to return home and lead the people of Esselven once again. Judd and Dynes, on the other hand, found themselves transferred over five hundred years into the future, with Judd learning that his ‘Protectorate’ had collapsed after his departure while he was dismissed as a madman who only thought he was Glavis Judd. While Dynes’ story was accepted when he made contact with Stellmedia, the ‘descendant’ of his original employers at Interstellar News, he found himself forced to accept that he was now a forgotten has-been, his sensationalistic, tabloid reporting style literally a thing of the past that was no longer acceptable, only potentially good for making documentaries about the past due to his unique insight into the world gone by. A harsh fate, but, given Dynes’ clear amorality about the fates of innocent people so long as he got what he wanted, one he richly deserved.
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