Starring: Gareth Thomas (Blake) and Brian Croucher (Travis).
Guest-Starring: Christina Balit (Mutoid Pilot), Tracy Russell (Valisha/Blossom), Bruce McGilligan (Alien), Steven Allen (Stenner), Alistair Lock (Customer), Terry Molloy (Kane), Pete Wallbank (Royce), Alan Stevens (Morik), Peter Halliday (Barkeeper), Daniel Bowers (Tando) and Peter Miles (Lafayette).
Crew: Alistair Lock (Incidental Music), Anthony Brown (Script Editor), Diane Gies (Financial Director), Terry Nation (Series Deviser), Alistair Lock (Production) and Alan Stevens (Producer).
Trivia: Thanks are given to The Forest Road Centre, Cinderford, Diane Gies, Kevin Davies, Brian Stevens, Brian Wynn, Dave Brian, Tracy Taylor and "Bean", while Chris Boucher pens a special introduction.
The release of the story is broken down into two separate acts. The first, "War Crimes", lasts 23'14 minutes, while the second, "Friendly Fire", lasts 23'23m. David Tulley, who devised the Act titles, said on reflection he would have chosen "Walking Wounded" as an alternate title for the first act.
Pete Wallbank was the artist behind the cover artwork and insert design.
Story: (Act One): Set between the television episodes Voice From The Past and Gambit, "War Crimes" sees Travis 1000 spatials from the perimeter of the defence zone. After transmitting a signal for 35 minutes, Travis receives an electronic reply and responds by vocal transmission. He speaks to the aliens from Star One, informing them that The Federation are to shortly develop an intergalactic drive using Monopasium 239, and that they must destroy the Federation first. Travis states he knew of the aliens' existence as he discovered their beachhead on the frontier world known as Oros. He then goes to a bar on the planet Sinra in sector 5, on the trail of Docholli. By interrogating two local crooks, including Kane, Travis discovers Docholli's location and plans to wait there for Blake.
(Act Two): Set approximately eight months before the episode Blake, Blake is operating under the name of "Dev Varon", and is after Lafayette, the bounty hunter who killed Jenna. He pays to join Kane, the bounty hunter assigned to Lafayette, and brings along his associate Tando. Kane has taken possession of Travis's discarded Mutoid, and is obsessed with revenge after Travis mutilated him. Blake kills Lafayette, though after he learns Blake was partly responsible for Travis's death he goes beserk and tries to gouge out Blake's eye. Kane is killed by Tando, and they both leave, with Blake pondering over the former identity of the Mutoid…
Travis: In a conversation with his Mutoid we learn that a Mutoid's memory of their former life is only buried, not erased. Travis's Mutoid was the wife of Maryatt, the man who saved Travis's life.
Bayban the Butcher has taken out a contract on Travis after learning Travis demoted him on The Federation's most wanted list. Bayban is now third, behind Blake and Travis himself.
Gan: Tando and Kane both claim to have known Olag Gan before his limiter was fitted, and tell Blake that he was a multiple murderer of women with the nickname "The Cat Strangler."
"Now, I'm sorry about this, Stenner. But I'm going to have to kill you."
Now officially sold out, you may be able to track down copies of The Mark of Kane at specialist shops if you look hard enough.
I eventually did, and so unfortunately got to hear it after I heard the superior Logic of Empire. That's not to say that Kane is bad, far from it, but it reflects the developing ambition of its creators where Logic saw it fully emerge. What stifles it slightly is that where Logic was an episode-length story over two acts, here each act is an individual tale. So what's presented isn't a fully developed story, more two individual vignettes (though there are links between them).
Picking between the two is hard. Initial listens might make the A to B plotting of War Crimes seem preferable in the format, with Brian Croucher effortlessly reprising Travis. With David Tulley joining the writing team for Friendly Fire, the characterisation, reference points and intention are slightly deeper, so this arguably doesn't work as well in the snapshot format, and would have perhaps worked better fleshed out into a forty-five minute length presentation. I say "perhaps" as I've listened to the tape twice now and Friendly Fire really grew on me a second time. Highlight of the tape though has to be Brian Croucher conferring with the aliens, something which delighted the fan in me. In fact, that's perhaps the only real complaint with the tape, in that it's unashamedly fannish throughout (though the production is always professional). Rather than taking a basic germ of the series and developing it into a story in its own right, both Acts are "between stories" adventures, and exist almost as a Kipling "Just So" story. ("How Blake only got one eye.")
But if all this sounds negative, then it's not meant to be. The Mark of Kane is a hugely listenable tape and effortlessly better than the two "official" Barry Letts audios. In fact, I was tempted to give it an extra mark at times. The real problem is that I listened to Alan and David's work in reverse order. This is their first steps, leading onto Logic, which is a smashing tape. The Mark of Kane is very good in its own right, but by the time I got to hear it I knew they were capable of more.