Upon landing, it’s soon discovered that the TARDIS has landed in an alley in an Old West Boom Town, taking the form of a coal bin. Investigation shows it to be a warm evening in the foothills of some mountains, sometime in the 19th century. They are in an alley between a general store and the Gold Nugget Saloon.
The Maker is quite excited about visiting the Old West and a real Saloon, and goes to the TARDIS’ wardrobe room to select appropriate attire and attempt to unsuccessfully convince Morganna to dress like a Saloon Girl.
In the Gold Nugget Saloon, it becomes apparent this is a mining town, but the mine has been closed. Everyone says there’s no gold, yet strangely, no one has moved on yet. The Maker also meets an adventurous Saloon girl named Pearl before a drunken miner raves about there being gold in the mines and a “monster” that ate one of his friends. Everyone else seems to think he’s just had a bit too much to drink.
Through Pearl, The Maker learns that everyone in town drinks a concoction called “Doc Porter’s Cure-All Elixir”. She attests to it’s effectiveness; it even cured the town of a plague that had rolled in a few weeks ago, and now everyone is right as rain. It even cures hangovers! A scan of the bottle shows the Maker that while it’s mostly just an alcoholic cocktail, there’s also some strange ingredients which bolster the immune system… and make the imbiber susceptible to hypnosis. Sure enough, everyone is protective of their bottles and rush to buy more every time Doc Porter rolls into town.
As luck would have it, Doc Porter pulls into town and sets up his wagon. He barely begins his pitch before he’s swamped with customers. Once the crowd thins, the Maker questions him about his Elixir. Excited to have an audience and not just customers, Doc performs his whole sales routine. Eventually the Maker takes him aside to speak privately about his “special ingredients”. Doc Porter is confused, he admits his elixir is just a tasty alcohol cocktail and knows nothing of any “special ingredients”. The Maker believes he may be under hypnotic suggestion himself and works to try to break it’s hold on him. Doc is able to push through the hypnosis… but immediately breaks down and starts screaming in horror. Morganna examines him and determines he’s been badly traumatised, perhaps even tortured.
Determined to find out what’s going on at the mine, the Maker and Morganna, with Pearl in tow, set off across the countryside, only to be accosted by Comanches on horseback. Surprised The Maker can speak their language (thanks to the TARDIS, of course) they insist she return to their camp to help one of their braves who is sick with the “White Man’s Disease”.
At the camp a very sick brave is near the fire, and the tribe is doing it’s traditional medicine rituals. Pearl confirms that the man has the same plague that gripped the town. The Maker persuades Pearl to donate her bottle of Doc Porter’s Elixir, and is able to use her expertise in chemistry to separate the hypnosis drug from the concoction. This she gives to the brave then has the rest of the tribe take a sip, to innoculate them from the plague.
Having proven herself, the Tribe tells her that she will come hunt The Great Beast with them. They explain a great beast comes out of the mountain at night, but never crosses the river. It has already killed two of their tribe, but they are going to be prepared for it by digging a spiked pit trap and luring the creature into it.
Observing the mountain at night, the Maker sees a line of lights approaching the mine. The comanches explain that the townsfolk set out to the mountain every night and walk as if dazed.
The next day the tribe, The Maker, and companions set about digging and preparing the covered pit. When the beast appears, it is a 20’ long ceratosaurus! The Maker plays bait, riding on horseback just in front of it’s deadly snapping jaws, and with a great leap, jumps her horse over the pit. The Ceratosaurus, unable to stop, tumbles into the pit and is killed. The tribe celebrates.
The Maker decides that when the Townsfolk show up for their nightly trek that this would be an ideal time to follow them and see what’s happening at the mountain. The Maker stops short when she detects a high tech security system hidden inside the cave entrance. She’s able to temporarily disable it so it doesn’t detect the group’s passing.
Inside, there are signs of a recent cave-in, and there are round discs that apparently raise and lower into the depths of the cave, from which a red glow can be seen. Traveling down on the “lift”, it’s clear the cave-in collapsed in on a series of what appear to be stasis pods, crushing them and their contents. Hundreds or thousands were likely killed.
At the bottom, the townsfolk are busy clearing stones and rubble from a strange high-tech machine in the center of a series of catwalks and walkways over a pool of lava. Also present are three reptilian humanoids with sonic rifles – Silurians!
(more to come)