And here, we begin the home stretch--the synopsis, which explains the bits of the plot that I never got the chance to write in prose form.
A Past Doctor Novel
This novel features the Seventh Doctor and Ace, and is set between the televised episodes “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” and “Battlefield”.
On the far distant planet Claris, in a sector of the galaxy ruled by the Tinarian Empire, legendary cat burglar Amanda Delacourt prepares for another theft. She already possesses more than enough wealth to live her extravagant lifestyle, and she plans to give the profits from this heist to charity just like the last three. For her, the thrill keeps her in the business, and tonight, as she plans to steal a priceless medallion from a wealthy dowager’s estate, is just another night on the town.
This time, though, things go differently. The police are waiting for her; the medallion was a trap, the entire job a set-up. Someone wanted Amanda Delacourt captured…and despite a valiant attempt at escape, they got their wish. She’s tried, convicted, and sentenced to the prison asteroid Nirvana. Nobody ever escapes from Nirvana.
Even more startling, she finds out that she wasn’t the only person to be set up that night. The prison transport taking her to Nirvana holds five other criminals—legends in the shadowy world that Amanda traverses nightly. The capture and arrest of even one of them would be a shock…to discover that all six of them have been caught shocks Amanda to her very core.
She sees in front of her the infamous computer hacker Joachim Velasquez, capable of breaking into any system and stealing its precious data. Next to him, smuggler and crack pilot Eileen O’Donnell fumes at her predicament—her own mechanic sabotaged her warp drive, forcing her into realspace in the midst of a police blockade. Beyond that, she recognizes the infamous fence, blackmailer, and “procurer” known as Peter Corvus. The person beyond him isn’t known to her personally, but she recognizes the species—and that’s enough. For a Dyna, existence itself is a crime punishable by a life sentence on Nirvana. The Tinarians fear their abilities to manipulate electromagnetic energy, and refuse to take the chance that the pacifistic Dynae might rebel against them.
The sixth prisoner, though, is the most shocking of all. He’s an infamous terrorist, an immortal shapeshifter who’s possessed at least three different faces in his criminal exploits. On seven different occasions over the past three centuries, this evil genius has thwarted the expansionist aims of the Tinarians, always eluding their pursuits and defeating their goals. It was for this man that the Nirvana facility was constructed, and Amanda Delacourt isn’t surprised that the transport’s maximum security cell was reserved for him. After all, the Tinarians have always wanted to get their hands on the criminal mastermind known only as the Doctor.
With little else to do on their journey to Nirvana, the criminals begin speculating on who it might have been that got them all caught. Corvus wants revenge, while Amanda is merely curious as to who might have the capability to ensnare them all. Vorimar, the Dyna prisoner, is confused and terrified at being trapped with all these criminals—he’d thought he’d concealed himself well enough to escape suspicion. Eileen states her determination to escape, despite its impossibility (which draws fatalistic scorn from Corvus, a military officer in the Tinarian Corps himself who knows exactly how escape-proof Nirvana is.) Joachim, unused to any sort of physical threat or punishment for his virtual crimes, laments his fate, and swears that if he ever does get out of Nirvana, he’ll never hack again.
“I hope not,” says the Doctor. “I went to a lot of trouble to get you all here, and I’d hate to see it all go to waste because you got cold feet.”
Needless to say, that bombshell sets the rest of the prisoners against the Doctor, but he manages to calm them with his explanation of exactly why he threw them all together on the prison transport. He needs them, he says, because he’s recently discovered the whereabouts of the Key to the legendary Doomforge Fleet, and in order to recover it, he needs the services of all six. He knew that they wouldn’t agree to a meeting—Corvus is too suspicious, Joachim prefers to meet using computers as a buffer, Amanda works alone, and Vorimar wouldn’t go along with a criminal enterprise. Hence, he explains, this necessary bit of manipulation—but he’s sure they understand that the Key to the Doomforge Fleet is worth it.