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Deceit (Darvill-Evans novel)

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Deceit is an original novel written by Peter Darvill-Evans and based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It features the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Bernice. Also included is Doctor Who Magazine comic character Abslom Daak, in his first appearance outside DWM. A prelude to the novel, also penned by Darvill-Evans, appeared in Doctor Who Magazine #198.

Deceit (Doctor Who novel - cover art).jpg
AuthorPeter Darvill-Evans
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Virgin New Adventures
Release number
Seventh Doctor
Ace, Bernice
PublisherVirgin Books
Publication date
April 1993
Preceded byThe Pit 
Followed byLucifer Rising 


In an unknown location, an ageing man named Bertrand links with a vast, telepathic presence. The presence concludes that, although the war between Earth and the Daleks will soon end in a victory for Earth, the end of the war will mean an early end to the presence's experiments. As such they are accelerating the pace. Bertrand is too old and frail to continue serving as the presence's link to the real world, and must train his successor; but when his successor forcefully displaces him, he dies before he can do so. In dying, he is unable to join the presence in its immortality.

Near the end of the Dalek Wars of the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth centuries, Earth is consolidating its grip on the colonies which were formerly managed by interstellar corporations. One such is Arcadia, owned and heavily guarded by the Spinward Corporation. Earth's Office of External Operations is certain something illegal is going on; and when an expedition fails to return, their suspicions are reinforced. Agent Isabelle Defries is dispatched to the system with a shipload of auxiliary troops—troops long ago drafted in from the security forces of various corporations—to find out what is going on, and to put a stop to it. One of her Auxies is not who she claims to be, and Defries soon meets her: a young woman, an explosives expert, calling herself Ace. Unwilling to waste resources, she leaves Ace free, but monitors her. Ace learns of a secret weapon on the ship: a cryofrozen Dalek Killer named Abslom Daak. It's a name she remembers from the TARDIS databanks; and she knows how Daak will one day die, far from Arcadia. Determined to keep him alive to preserve that future, she forges a link with Daak, and wakes him up a day early. Meanwhile, the hypercube that the Doctor once left with her opens, connecting her to the TARDIS and the Doctor for the first time in three years from her perspective. She finds the Doctor in the Zero Room, where he has finally managed to isolate the infection that has afflicted the TARDIS—and by extension, him—since leaving Tir na n-Óg. With her help, he is able to at last purge the infection, restoring himself and the TARDIS to normal. As Ace withdraws, he sets the TARDIS to land on Arcadia, where Ace is headed. Upon landing, Benny—who has been trapped in the console room, unaware of the Doctor's work—exits the TARDIS and explores the rather pastoral world.

Arcadia is an agricultural planet with a population living at a medieval level of technology and culture. An apprentice scribe named Francis has found forbidden books, which spoke of other worlds, and which stated that humans on those worlds live for many decades—unlike the Arcadians, who all die young, around the age of thirty. He is accosted in his prince's palace by a Humble Counsellor, a hooded and robed figure from the fortress of Landfall, who tells him he must go to Landfall to become a master scribe. The Counsellor then tells the Prince that outsiders are coming from another world, carrying a plague, and must be killed. Francies goes out with his lover, Christina, and tells her what he has heard; shortly thereafter, she dies, apparently of natural causes. However, her younger sister, Elaine, witnesses her death, and sees that her brain is removed by a Counsellor. Elaine subsequently goes mad from shock; it is determined that she will go to Landfall for treatment. Elsewhere, a young woman named Britta, an employee of the Spinward Corporation, arrives on the corporation's monitoring station for Arcadia. Shortly thereafter she is taken in by the station commander, Lacuna, who has an odd telepathic connection to an unseen being called Pool. She is manipulated by Lacuna to do terrible things for Pool's enjoyment, as Pool has no sensory input of its own. She becomes addicted to this warped relationship.

Defries’ ship, the Admiral Raistrick, nears the planet shortly after Daak is defrosted. The crew finds that the system's asteroid belt has been manipulated to resemble enormous tortured faces. They are attacked by the image of a woman's face, and the ship is crushed; Daak manages to get Ace, Defries, and Johannsen, the head of the Auxies, into a lifepod. The pod crashes on Arcadia. Meanwhile, Benny makes her way to the nearest town, Beaufort, but is captured as a potential plague carrier. She is taken to a quiet manor owned by the father of Elaine and Christina, Gerald Delahaye. In a cell, she meets Elaine, who is nearly catatonic; the child responds to Benny's kindness, and begins to make jumbled statements about Christina's murder. However, Gerald gives them both to the Counsellors for transport—or transmat, as it turns out—to Landfall.

The Doctor exits the TARDIS sometime later, and meets Francis on the road to Landfall. As they walk, Pool sends Counsellors to bring the TARDIS to the station. The Doctor realises that Arcadia has been terraformed, but now its terraforming is breaking down, and the native life is reasserting itself. He and Francis are captured by Counsellors, which the Doctor recognises as a bizarre type of android. He realises that he may be indirectly responsible for what is happening here. They are reunited with Benny and Elaine at Landfall, then transmatted to the space station. The Doctor explains that his previous efforts to help the Earth by interfering with the Butler Institute may have caused all this; had he not interfered, Butler may not have gone on to become one of the parent companies of the Spinward Corporation, and Arcadia may never have happened. Meanwhile, Defries’ group fights their way into Landfall, noting that it is the corporation's original forward base on the planet. Johannsen is killed in the battle against the Counsellors. Nevertheless, Lacuna secretly allows them to infiltrate the base and capture a shuttle, which takes them to the space station as well.

The Doctor and his group encounter Lacuna and Britta, and Lacuna introduces them to Pool. Pool is the telepathic presence holding the system together; it is composed of the brains of the Spinward Corporation's executives, with the addition of hundreds of pieces of brain matter from generations of Arcadians, all contained in a literal pool around control centre of the station. Lacuna's claims were true; she provides a sensory and interface link to Pool, which on its own is deprived of sensation. As such, she also controls the system. The Doctor realises that Pool is capable of Block Transfer Computation, the same mathematical technique by which TARDISes create their outer shells—a form of math that can create matter. Pool's goal is to create an entire universe, one of pure thought, in which it can exist forever. However, the Doctor analyses the plan and finds it doomed to failure; although the planned destruction of the Arcadian System will provide power, it won’t be enough, and at any rate Pool has become mad and can no longer handle enough calculation.

As Defries’ team arrives, Lacuna tries to kill Defries, considering her unnecessary. The Doctor intervenes telepathically, saving the woman's life. While Lacuna is distracted, Benny slips away and meets with them, then fills them in on what is happening. She goes with them to locate and destroy Pool. Finding the pool of brain matter, Daak prepares to sacrifice himself to blow it up; but the Doctor contacts Ace and persuades her to stop him, so that his timeline will not be damaged. This saves Daak's life, but saves Pool's as well. The group is captured and brought to Lacuna.

Pool, it seems, wants the TARDIS. It has gathered enough from the minds of Benny and Ace—the Doctor's thoughts being shielded—to know that it can provide Pool with the power and space it needs to create its universe of thought. To persuade the Doctor, it intends to kill his companions one by one, beginning with Ace. As it deploys a force field to crush her, Daak leaps in to save her—and Ace inadvertently kills him, in an attempt to blow up the control panel. Although she is freed, she can’t save him from death.

The Doctor reluctantly agrees to let Pool into the TARDIS; but how? Benny recalls a conversation with the Doctor about a data port under the console; the thoughts are picked up by Pool, who orders Lacuna to connect him manually to the socket. She does so, and Pool converts its consciousness to software, then makes the jump to the TARDIS; with only limited memory available, it is unable to send a copy, but transfers the original. Instantly it is trapped inside the tertiary console, which the Doctor had moved to the Zero Room for the purpose of removing the TARDIS infection. Trapped in the Zero Room, Pool is disconnected from the rest of the universe, and can harm no one. Benny realises her conversation with the Doctor never happened; he planted the memory in her mind so as to give Pool the final push it needed. The station begins to break apart, as Pool is no longer there to maintain the Block Transfer Computations; Britta takes Lacuna to an escape pod. The Doctor, Benny, Ace, Defries, Elaine, and Francis escape in the TARDIS.

The Doctor returns to Arcadia to release Francis and Elaine, and spends some time informing the various rulers that they are on their own now, and further, that they are facing environmental changes as the terraforming breaks down. He takes Defries and Ace to a Spacefleet outpost to report back to the Office of External Operations. Ace, however, decides to rejoin him in the TARDIS, much to Benny's consternation and the Doctor's concern. He then ejects the Zero Room into the Vortex; however, unknown to him, Pool is alive and well, and plotting revenge. Meanwhile, Ace realises that Daak was a clone of the original Abslom Daak; therefore his timeline was never in danger. Once again, the Doctor has used her. She continues to be distrustful of him—but then, why is she really here?

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