In 1980, the TARDIS is dug up from out of the ashes of Pompeii and immediately taken away by UNIT.
Arriving in ancient Pompeii one day before the disaster, the TARDIS is seen vworping in by a frightened slave. To avoid complicated questions, the Seventh Doctor and Mel simply tell him that they're messengers from Isis. This backfires on them tremendously when Mel repeats the lie to someone who's far more likely to question it. Before long, the two are notorious all over town for claiming to come from the foreign Goddess, and Mel attracts the attention of some high priests who'd really like a word with her.
Meanwhile, the Doctor is acting oddly melancholy, and spends more time in the local tavern than out adventuring. When the city's constant earthquakes cause the TARDIS to sink into the ground, he finally tells Mel what's going on: in 1980, when he was in his Fifth regeneration, UNIT told him that the TARDIS had been excavated in Pompeii. He'd refused to even see her and couldn't cope with the idea, so he'd decided to deal with it when the time came. And now, as soon as the TARDIS brought him to Pompeii, he'd realised that this was the end for him — even if he'd find a way to prevent it, him surviving Pompeii would cause a time paradox. Because if he'd be able to retrieve the TARDIS, the TARDIS would never end up being excavated, and the Doctor wouldn't have known that he needed to retrieve the TARDIS in time.
While Mel makes friends and enemies across town (and ends up in jail a few times over), the Doctor gets sidetracked when a local gladiator takes exception to him and challenges him to a fight to the death. With the help of a tavern owner, they eventually
decide to Screw Destiny
and make their way back to the TARDIS, which had secretly been stolen by a high priestess — the frightened slave's owner. They trick time by staying inside the TARDIS while the lava engulfs Pompeii, and waiting a few days for it to cool down in a nice TARDIS shape all around them. Then they vworp out, vworp back into the hole in 1980, wait to be excavated and disappear as soon as UNIT isn't looking anymore.
- Actual Pacifist: The Doctor.
- Alien Lunch: Though the cuisine is normal for it's day, Mel doesn't like it.
- Ancient Rome
- Ancient Tomb: The Tardis is hidden in one.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Well, they're complete dicks.
- Blasphemous Boast: Though no one is really boasting, Isis worship is frowned upon because she's a "Foreign God".
- Rocks Of Divine Retribution
- Book Ends: The Adventure starts and ends at the same archelogical dig.
- Cassandra Truth
- Changed My Jumper: Mel's clothing is conspicuous enough to require changing but the Doctor's is not, apparently.
- Chekhov's Volcano: Pompeii.
- Compelling Voice: The Doctor talks two people into sleeping, a bit like an old friend of his...
- Fawlty Towers Plot: After Mel casually repeats the Doctor's statement about coming from Isis, the lie spirals completely out of control.
- Foreseeing My Death: The Doctor believes this to be the case, since his TARDIS was found buried in volcanic ash at the ruins of Pompeii. It causes him to be unusually despondent and fatalistic for much of the story, while Mel refuses to give up.
- Face Death with Dignity
- Fixing The Game
- Generic Graffiti: Mel thinks this is probably the first appearance of it.
- Gladiator Games: The Doctor is forced to participate by Murranus.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: The Gladiators
- Honor Before Reason / Revenge Before Reason: The Doctor slighted Murranus'.
- Happiness in Slavery: Well not entirely happy but Tiberus and some of the slaves refuse to leave their mistress.
- Is It Something You Eat?: Inverted. When Mel says she's a Vegitarian, the question is "Where is that?".
- Lost Him in a Card Game: Well it doesn't quite happen.
- Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: The Doctor's theory when playing dice against Murranus, who was also cheating.
- Oh My Gods!: Well they are in the Roman nation.
- Prongs of Poseidon: The Doctor is offered a flavour IV in the Gladiator Games.
- Slave to PR: Murranus depends on the good will of the crowd to remain alive when he loses a gladiatorial match. He feels shamed by his defeat at the Doctor's hands (despite the fact that he provoked it in the first place), and will go to any length to kill the Doctor and regain his reputation.
- Slipping a Mickey: Murranus has Valeria offer the Doctor drugged wine so that he can kidnap him and take him to the amphitheater.
- Snowball Lie
- Temporal Paradox: The reason why the Doctor doesn't outright leave; if he had, he wouldn't have known his destiny, so he wouldn't leave outright, so it would start again at the start.
- The Trickster: As he's known for, Seven gets an In-Universe reputation as one.
- The Queen's Latin: Subverted, there is actual Latin used in the story.
- Trapped in the Past
- Tricked Out Time
- You Can't Fight Fate