“So, me, you and the universe,” The Tenth Doctor said with a broad smile. “Where should we go first?”

“I don’t know,” Wyn replied. “The Doctor never asked me.”

“Well, I’m asking you.” He looked at her for a long moment. “Do you think you’ll ever get used to calling ME Doctor?”

“Doesn’t feel right. HE is MY Doctor.”

“He is me, you know. We all are. Your mum knew a different Doctor. And he was me.”

“Ten of you.”


“It must be weird. Do you feel them all in your head?”

“No. I just have lots of memories going back centuries. The weirdest thing is remembering that I was once a very old man, very frail. Oh, that WAS a long time ago. It’s nice to be young, to be able to move easily, and not feel as if my bones are going to snap; to dance, to run.” He ran around the console as he said that, laughing. Wyn dodged out of his way when he circled it and he hop scotched around the nearest of the coral like pillars, still laughing.

He came back to the console, feigning breathlessness.

“You’ve got special ways of breathing so you don’t get out of breath,” Wyn told him. “You’re faking it.”

“I can see nothing gets past you, Blodwyn!”

She scowled at him.

“Nobody calls me Blodwyn, only…” She was going to say HIM. It would take SOME getting used to.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather go back?” He looked at her with a serious expression that quickly replaced his smile. “If you’re going to miss him so much?”

“Its not like I was DATING him or something,” Wyn said. “I’m not going to pine away. I told you. I just need to get used to you. But don’t call me Blodwyn. I don’t care if you ARE a Time Lord. I’ll kick you where it hurts, and that’s the same place it is on Human men!”

He laughed and winked at her. Ok, Miss Blodwyn Grant Jones. Let’s find somewhere you can enjoy.”

“DON’T call me Blodwyn.”

“Call ME The Doctor and I’ll call you what you like,” he said.

“Ok, Doc-tor.”

“That’s better. But don’t pronounce it like that. Makes you sound like a Sontaran. Never could figure how they made such heavy weather out of a name with only two syllables.”

“Sontaran?” Wyn thought about the stories her mum had told her. “Don’t think I know them.”

“Short ugly guys, heads like potatoes and attitudes like Ghengis Khan on acid.”

“Well, wherever we go, let’s NOT go near THEM,” Wyn said. “Be nice to see a new planet though.”

“Not many planets that are new to me at this stage,” The Doctor mused. “But I think I can find something you’ve never seen before.” He grinned widely and began to set co-ordinates. “Grab that handle there, and hold it down.”

“You know, I don’t mind grabbing handles and pressing buttons and all that,” Wyn said as she obeyed. “But you and Nine are the same. You never tell me what these things do. Am I helping steer the ship or operating the waste disposal?”

The Doctor laughed. “Fair point, Wyn. Yes, you’re helping to steer. TARDISes are not meant to be flown solo. That handle needs to be held down, but I have to be this side of the console to operate THESE controls. I either get somebody to hold it or develop REALLY long arms.”

“Or rig a remote bypass?” Wyn suggested.

“Used to do that when I first flew the TARDIS,” he said. “But it was always getting stuck. When you overshoot in the time vortex it's not like missing your exit on the motorway. You can end up 30 million light years away from your destination. That’s the difference between landing in Wales or a black hole the other side of the galaxy.”

“Not much difference then,” Wyn said. “But why did you fly the TARDIS on your own if it’s meant to have other people in it? Didn’t you have any Time Lord friends?”

“No, not really.” He looked a little sad for a moment then he grinned. “Why would I need them when I’ve got you?”

“That’s the nicest thing anyone ever said to me.” Wyn smiled at him. There weren’t many men she liked. The Doctor was one of them. Well, two of them, really. Nine had been like a dad to her. But Ten was something else. She wasn’t QUITE sure what yet, but she knew she was going to love being with him. Despite missing Nine and Rose, and the friendship they had formed, Wyn knew she was going to have the best of times with Ten – with her OWN Doctor. She WOULD try to think of him as that if it meant that much to him.

“Here we go,” he said triumphantly as the TARDIS engines changed in tone and went into a landing.

“This is an alien planet?” Wyn asked. “Looks just like Wales.”

“Errrrrrr….” The Doctor slowly drawled looking at the viewscreen. “I think we HAVE overshot. This IS Wales.”

“So we were aiming for a black hole?”

“No, Decassian XXI, the outermost planet of a solar system of twenty-one planets. Oxygen atmosphere but permanently cold. Best place in the universe for winter sports. I was going to take you skiing.”

“Cool,” Wyn said. “You’ll need to teach me to ski first, though.”

“We’ll do that another day. Let’s go see Wales.”

“I KNOW Wales,” she complained. “The black hole would have been more interesting.”

“Wales in 856?” he added, reading the data. “Surely THAT has to be interesting.”

“Wow, the year Rhodri Mawr beat the Vikings out of Gwynnedd!” Despite herself, despite always claiming to be bored stiff by Wales and its history, she WAS interested.

“Put this on,” The Doctor said, handing her a dark cloak that fastened at the throat with a silver clasp. “Covers your modern clothes and saves the trouble of finding out what’s ‘in’ for 856.” He wrapped himself in a similar cloak and they were ready.

“So, Rhodri Mawr and the Vikings?” The Doctor said to her as they walked along a path cut by 9th century carts and pack horses. “Tell me more.”

“That’s it really,” she said. “He was the first Welsh king to actually give the Vikings a kicking. So he kind of became thought of as the king of all Wales, although really the place was just loads of tribes still. They called themselves the Cymry – men of Cymru. The word WALES is actually Saxon and it means foreigner. We actually ended up calling ourselves ‘foreigners’, daft lot that we are.”

“Cymru is a good name for it,” The Doctor said. He knew all of that, of course. He just wanted to hear Wyn talk about it. She was scathing of her home, dismissing it as boring, but he suspected that much of it was a teenage thing. In truth, she was proud of her country and her planet.

He HAD overshot. That was not a lie. And he DID mean to take her to Decassian XXI. But this was one of those happy accidents that might prove interesting. Some of the most memorable of his adventures in time and space had been the result of such serendipity.

“Of course Rhodri Mawr fought the Vikings to the north,” The Doctor said. “This is south Wales. We’re in the region currently known as Glywysing.”

“Oh my…!” Wyn looked at him and then looked about her at the hills that rose above the valley they walked in. Hills didn’t change. Well, over thousands and thousands of years they did. But it was only JUST over a thousand years between 856 and 2010. The shape of the hills around the valley that would one day be the valley she had lived most of her life in hadn’t changed a bit.

“I’m HOME!” she said in a slightly choked voice. The Doctor smiled. He was right. She loved it really.

“Was Llanfairfach even THERE then – I mean now?” she asked. “It’s only tiny in my time. And the oldest houses only go back to when the mining began in the industrial revolution.”

“This is a well used packhorse road,” The Doctor told her. “It goes somewhere, even if it's not Llanfairfach as you know it. Let’s see what we see.”

It was pleasant walking. The Doctor was good company. He listened to what she was saying. That was the great thing about BOTH versions of him. He listened to her. He noticed her. The youngest of four, she didn’t get either at home unless she was being taken to task for some trouble she’d gotten into. It was nice to have somebody who thought what she had to say was important.

They paused in their walk at the sound of a cart coming along behind them. They stepped aside as it passed, loaded with chickens squawking in wicker cages. The driver greeted them pleasantly. They both replied.

“Hey,” Wyn said as the cart and its noisy cargo passed out of sight and hearing. “He spoke to us in Welsh. And we both replied in it.”

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “Well, you ARE Welsh and you’re in your natural home. So the TARDIS’s babel fish technology is assuming that to be the vernacular.”

“Didn’t know YOU spoke Welsh,” she said to The Doctor.

“I know five billion languages,” he told her. “That includes all the ones Earth has.”

“We must be strange, having so many languages on one planet.”

“No, the record would be Minoria IV, in the Callis system. It has 10,000 languages and 120,000 dialects.”

“What about Gallifrey?” she asked.

“We had three versions of our language. High Gallifreyan which we used in government and high social circles, Low Gallifreyan which the servants and ancillary classes used, and Ancient Gallifreyan only used in our rituals and rites.” He grinned. “Low Gallifreyan is the best fun. It has all the curses and swear words.”

Wyn laughed. She never entirely knew if he was teasing when he said things like that.

“Wait a minute,” he said, stopping and looking around. “Do you smell smoke?”

“Yes. But that must mean we’re near the village. No central heating back now.”

“Yeah, course!” he relaxed.

But soon it was clear something more than supper was cooking. They saw a plume of smoke and when they turned the corner they saw what was left of the chicken cart that had passed them. The smell of burnt wicker cages, chicken feathers and flesh was sickening. The Doctor closed off his breathing. It didn’t completely mask the smell, but it let him get closer to the wreckage, and that was how he found the driver.

“Alive?” Wyn asked. She covered her face with her cloak and tried to get closer, but it was still quite hot.

“Yes, but barely. He’s badly burnt.” He looked about. “We CAN’T be far from the village or some kind of house. Run ahead and get some help. We’ll need some way to carry him.”

She didn’t question or argue. She ran. He knelt over the grievously injured man. His whole body was burnt. The Doctor knew he was almost certainly dying. The medical knowledge of this time would be able to do nothing for him. Even in the twenty first, or even the fiftieth century burns like this were usually fatal. The best he could do was take away his pain.

He put his hands on the man’s head and reached in with his mind. He found his pain receptors and blocked them. The man opened his eyes and looked up at him. He knew he was dying. The expression in his eyes told him that. He knew that his pain had been relieved by the stranger who bent over him.

“Diolch yn fawr,” the man said.

“No need to thank me,” The Doctor whispered. “Least I could do. Can you tell me what happened? Were you attacked?” If he was, he wondered, should he have sent Wyn ahead on her own? If it was a gang of some kind, he could have sent her into danger.

“Dreigiau,” the man said. “From the sky. Dreigiau.”

“What?” The Doctor looked up into the sky automatically. But there was nothing there.

Certainly there were no dragons.

There was the sound of running feet. Wyn was ahead, breathless and red in the face. The Doctor caught her and steadied her as four stout looking labourers arrived with cloaks and long sticks. When they saw what had happened they said the same thing.


But as frightened as they clearly were, they set to work to get the injured man onto their makeshift stretcher and carried him to the village. It was a slow half mile. The man clung to life, but it was just a matter of time.

“Dragon?” Wyn held The Doctor’s arm as they walked. She didn’t exactly feel scared. But she felt she wanted to stick close to him.

“I don’t know,” he said. “But did you notice that the fire was very localised. None of the trees around about were damaged, just the wagon.”

“Did you notice that it didn’t come as a surprise to them?” Wyn added. “This has happened before.”

“Yeah, I noticed.” The Doctor was impressed that Wyn had also seen that. Smart kid, he thought. No wonder Nine was taken with her.

They reached the village and the women came out and took charge. The dying man was brought to the nearest house and poultices were prepared to put onto his burns. Nobody was especially hopeful, but they did what they could to ease his suffering while the priest was sent for to give him the last rites. The Doctor withdrew from the house. The sick were the preserve of women in this culture, and besides, there WAS nothing more he could do. He brought Wyn with him as he found the men of the village sitting by the well on the green.

“We thank you, stranger,” he was told. “For your kindness to one of our own, though he will be with God soon enough, we think.”

“I think so, too,” The Doctor said. “But tell me… how long has your community been plagued by the dreigiau?

“Legends tell that it has appeared in the valley before - a hundred, a thousand years ago. But nobody living had seen one until a month ago. It scorched a field of oats and the men cutting it. All we found was burnt bones. Then a house to the west of the village - five dead. Other farmers have lost cattle and crops. And we’ve found the remains of seven men travelling the road just like this last.”

“Has anyone seen the dreigiau and lived to tell the tale?” The Doctor asked. “Does anyone know what it looks like?”

“We’ve seen it flying overhead,” the men all said. But their descriptions of its size, its wingspan, its tail size, the amount of fire it breathed, all contradicted each other.

Even so, there were common factors enough to make him believe there was something sinister going on. He wasn’t completely convinced it was a fire-breathing dragon. But there was something.

“Dragons, in Wales,” Wyn said when they retreated to a quieter corner of the green to consider what they had learnt. “Kind of a corny idea. They used to tell us stories about that kind of thing in the infants school. We used to draw pictures of the Llanfairfach dragon.” She giggled. “Some of us reckoned that was the headmistress of the school.”

The Doctor laughed. But then he looked at her seriously. “Hang on, Llanfairfach dragon… So there is a legend of a dragon in this area?”

“Well yeah, but it's not much of a legend. I reckon it was made up so that we would have something to be famous for apart from the giant green maggot story from the 70s. Mind you, I never believed that story either and that turned out to be true.”

“Yeah, I remember it well,” The Doctor said. “But the dragon….”

“Nothing much, just a dragon burning houses, people, crops, and then a stranger came to the village and vanquished it. You couldn’t get more than half a page out of it for an essay.”

“Did anyone put a date on this legend?” The Doctor asked.

“9th century,” Wyn said. “Everything seems to be the 9th century. The Vikings attacking, Rhodri Mawr beating the stuffing out of them, dragons….” She stopped. “Oh…. I ALWAYS used to get it mixed up in school. The centuries. I was born in 1992, which is the TWENTIETH century, and it was 2009, in the TWENTY-FIRST century when I went off with The Doctor… I always forget that the century is one more than the year…. So 856 is the ninth century.”

“When the legend of the Llanfairfach Dragon began!” The Doctor smiled. “This stranger who defeated it. Any details on him?”

“He is supposed to have had a strange way of speaking and dressed differently to the local people. And he had a companion with him. But the legends couldn’t decide if it was a boy or a girl.”

“Right.” The Doctor smiled. You didn’t need two hundred years of university study to figure out the rest.

“Oh bloody hell,” Wyn said. “It's us, isn’t it?”

The Doctor began to reply but a shout went up and people began running from their houses, running into houses, and generally panicking. Those who WERE outdoors pointed to the sky. The Doctor and Wyn both looked up and stared in astonishment. The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver. Wyn pulled her mobile phone and aimed the digital camera lens.

“Wow!” Wyn exclaimed as the burst of flame incinerated the roof of the village church.

“Get down!” The Doctor yelled as the creature turned in the air and came back for another sweep. He pushed Wyn to the ground with him. He kept his head down and didn’t look to see if anyone else had taken notice of him, but he felt the heat as its fire strafed the green and heard the screams of those caught up in it.

At last he judged it safe to look up. He tapped Wyn on the shoulder and she stood up with him. He told her to wait, though, while he went to look if there was anything he could do for the latest victims.

There wasn’t. Even the priest didn’t know where to begin with the Last Rites. There were so few remains of those caught out in the open and directly in the fire.

The people didn’t know which was better, to be inside a building when it was set alight or to be outside where they were picked out one by one. As night fell they went to their homes. What else could they do? The Doctor and Wyn were taken in by the village blacksmith and offered a place to sleep in the forge after they had eaten.

“They thought I was a boy,” Wyn said as she tried to get comfy on a low pallet bed with a straw filled mattress and her cloak over her.

“Just as well, or they would not have let you sleep in the same place as me,” The Doctor told her. “Improper as it is, I think we’d better stick together. Let’s have a look at that picture you managed to get.”

It wasn’t brilliant. A digital photo from a mobile phone was hardly going to be the height of clarity and definition, but they could both see what it was.

“It’s NOT a dragon,” Wyn said. “It's… a dinosaur.” She looked at The Doctor. “Ok, it's AGES since I saw Jurassic Park. I don’t know which one. One of the flying ones, obviously.”

“Pteranadon,” The Doctor said. “Ten metre wingspan, stands higher than a man on the ground. Toothless, and eats fish by swooping down and scooping them up.”

“But NO fire-breathng,” Wyn pointed out. “And what’s it doing in 9th century Wales, anyway? They should all be fossils by now.”

“Good question. I got some interesting readings on the sonic screwdriver. But I really need to interface with the TARDIS computer. Grab a couple of hours sleep. We’ll go dragon-hunting first thing in the morning.”

“Cool,” Wyn said, though she wasn’t so sure it was. The Doctor tried not to let her see what had happened on the village green, but she’d seen enough. And she’d seen the driver of the chicken wagon. It was all pretty gross.



“The legend says that the stranger with his boy who might be a girl defeated the dragon. So does that mean it's going to be ok?”

“Do you want the comforting lie or the truth?” he asked.

“Better be the truth, I think,” she replied.

“History isn’t set in stone. You and me being here means anything could happen. We might get charcoaled and kids in your school in 1,000 years time will write about some other hero who came along after the two strangers who messed up. Or maybe it’ll still be around and their fire drills have a whole new meaning. Or we might succeed in defeating the dragon – or whatever it is – but die in the process. Does the legend say what happened to the hero that defeated the Llanfairfach dragon?”

“No,” she said. “But I guess he went off into the sunset like heroes do!”

“I don’t think I’ve ever gone off into the sunset,” The Doctor laughed. “Does that mean I’m not a hero?”

“No comment.”

The Doctor woke Wyn just before dawn, and they slipped out of the sleeping village and back to the TARDIS. Safely inside The Doctor began interfacing the sonic screwdriver’s findings with the TARDIS’s much more powerful processors.

“Ahah!” he said triumphantly. “I have a fix on our dragon’s lair.”

“How?” Wyn asked.

“It’s not a dragon,” he said. “We should be clear on that. There’s no such thing – at least on Earth, anyway. So I’m going on the principle that at least part of the creature’s DNA IS Pteranadon and asking the life signs monitor to show me where anything RESEMBLING Pteranadon DNA might be in the vicinity. After all, what would resemble Pteranadon DNA apart from….”

“Pteranadon DNA!” Wyn finished the sentence just in case it went on forever. “So…”

“So off we go, dragon hunting.”

“Don’t you mean Pteranadon hunting?”

“Really, it’s neither,” The Doctor said as he set the co-ordinate. “This is a genetically altered creature. The DNA signature I’m reading is of something that doesn’t know what it is any more.”

“This is the 9th century,” Wyn pointed out. “People here don’t even know what genetics and DNA are. That stuff was only discovered a couple of decades before I was born.”

“I know,” The Doctor replied. “That’s the big mystery.”

The TARDIS materialised just inside the cave entrance. The Doctor stepped out, his hand on the sword that went strangely with his pinstriped suit and long coat but went very well with the quest they were on.

“Ok, let’s go quietly,” he whispered. “This IS the home of a creature that can kill by incinerating people.”

Wyn nodded and followed close behind him, determined not to be scared as long as she was with him.

The cave went back about ten metres and then narrowed to a passageway. They moved slowly. The Doctor’s eyes adjusted to the dark but Wyn could do nothing but cling to his hand and trust him.

At least, he thought with a wry smile, she didn’t fall over and sprain anything. Susan was a darling, but she wouldn’t have made it over the threshold without tripping, and just about every girl who had been with him since was the same. The only exceptions were Ace and Rose.

And now Wyn. He owed Nine one. He had known just what he needed. Somebody game for anything who he could trust and who put her trust in him.

They turned a corner. There was light ahead. And they were both puzzled by it, because it wasn’t at all what they might expect. Rushlights would be right for the time. Natural phosphorescence would not be unusual.

But neither of them expected low level electric lighting set into the rock.

“What….” Wyn began but he squeezed her hand to indicate that now was definitely not the time to talk. The smallest sound would echo down the corridor and give them away.

But it confirmed his first suspicion. There was nothing natural about the phenomena around here. Somebody or something sentient was at the bottom of all this.

And somebody with advanced technology.

“What is THAT!” This time she couldn’t help herself. At the end of the tunnel something was standing, as if on guard.

“It's a velociraptor,” The Doctor said.

“No it isn’t,” Wyn corrected him. “It's TWO velociraptors.”

“Nice doggies,” The Doctor moved forward, pulling his sword and holding it ready. They really WERE the equivalent of a couple of guard dogs, standing about the height of a Labrador but with teeth like inch long knives and claws on each of the front feet that could tear a man’s throat out.

And they radiated electric shocks. The Doctor screamed as the current travelled up his sword and into his arm. He felt his hearts go into arrhythmia for a few seconds before he steadied them. Wyn stepped near him but he warned her off.

“Keep back, I’ve still got a live current rushing through me,” he told her. “Wow! That was shocking!”

“Your hair’s standing on end,” Wyn told him. He wasn’t surprised. Any ordinary human would be DEAD. He couldn’t take another jolt like that himself.

“Wait,” he said. He pulled his sonic screwdriver out and aimed it at the second velociraptor. He felt the tingle in his hands as he drew the current out of the creature. They were like a battery. They stored the power and once discharged they had to recharge. Meanwhile they were just teeth and claw and he could handle that. He pocketed the screwdriver and swung his sword taking the head clean off one velociraptor. He swung again and though he missed the neck he sliced through the head, cutting it off like the top of an egg.

He felt a little guilty about killing them. They WERE just dumb animals that acted on instinct. Somebody had fiddled with their DNA, making them into something more deadly than they already were, but they were just animals. He felt like he’d just killed a couple of family pets in order to burgle the house.

“We ARE still in the 9th Century?” Wyn asked as they stepped into a cave that looked as if it had been squared out by some kind of cutting tool. It was full of computer equipment, but computers that must have come from the far future even by her standards.

“No, we’re not,” The Doctor said. He looked at the floor beneath him. “We’re outside of time. I can feel it ever since we stepped into this cave. We’re not in any time at all. Somebody has created a zero temporal bubble here.”

“Er… in English, please,” Wyn begged. “Or Welsh if you prefer.”

“It's like the inside of the TARDIS. It doesn’t exist in the normal dimensions. That’s why it’s bigger on the inside. Except this room IS the normal size of this cave but it exists in no time. If you stayed in here for a thousand years you wouldn’t age.”

“But if you stepped out of it would it all catch up on you?”

“No. You’d still be the age you are and 1,000 years would have passed.”


As he spoke he was looking at the computers. “Interesting. This is what holds the zero temporal bubble up. It takes a MASSIVE amount of energy to maintain something like that.”

“Energy from where?” Wyn asked.

“From the past,” The Doctor said. “When this was a volcanic mountain. This is clever stuff. VERY clever. Thermal energy from the volcano a million years ago, give or take a century, is actually turned into power to run these computers now and create the bubble. I’m impressed. Disgusted, but impressed.”

“So what’s it all for?”

“Somebody set all this up when dinosaurs walked the Earth and spent the millennia learning how to adapt the DNA of their pets, making the velociraptors carry an electric charge, making fire breathing dragons out of the Pteranadon. Remember the chap in the village said it had happened in legend. Perhaps it wasn’t quite working right the last time. Back to the drawing board. But now it seems to have been perfected.”

“Ok, very clever. But WHY?”

“Oh, loony ideas like this only seem to have one reason. Take over the world.” He sighed. “Wyn, do you know how old I am.”

“Nine hundred and fifty three,” she told him. “Though you don’t look bad for it.”

“And do you have any idea how often I’ve had to deal with some idiot who wants to rule the world. This world, Earth, for preference. It seems to ATTRACT megalomaniacs. But plenty of other worlds, too. Gallifrey, Skaro, they’re two more that have been popular with the would-be tyrants of the universe. How much do you want to bet the plan is to subdue the Human race with the fire breathing pets and establish some sort of world order with him in charge.”

“HER in charge,” Wyn said as they passed through the computer cave into what looked like a throne room crossed with a menagerie. It was breathtakingly beautiful, decorated with what looked like gold, red and black marble and elaborate wall-hangings, all on a theme of dragons!

Dragons – or dinosaurs genetically mutated into ‘dragons’ covered much of the floor apart from an area around the throne. There were ten of them, Pteranadon, mostly, though a few other species were among them. They all seemed to be in some kind of hibernation. Clearly alive, but breathing only shallowly.

A woman sat on the throne. She was tall and slender, in a long white dress of silk. Her complexion was almost as white as her dress and her hair, by contrast, purely black. At her side was another Pteranadon, kept on a chain as if it was a pet. It was sleeping presently. Wyn thought she would like it to stay that way for a little longer.

Snow Queen, Wicked Witch of the West, Morgana le Fey – this woman seemed like all of the fictional wicked queen/witch types of all the fantasy fiction Wyn could remember reading. There was no way she was going to turn out to be nice.

“What ARE you?” the woman asked looking directly at The Doctor. “I see that one is a Human, but YOU.... you come from the stars. You have power. I can see it.”

“Never mind what I am,” The Doctor replied. “What are you? And why are you using your creatures to murder innocent people?”

“They are of no consequence,” the woman said.

“Nobody is of no consequence,” The Doctor replied. “All people are of consequence. All life matters. Again, who and what are YOU?”

“I am T’elleri of Q’mari IV.”

“Q’mari!” The Doctor whistled. “That explains the technology. But your world was banned from continuing to expand its scientific knowledge because of its unethical use of slaves captured on other planets as test subjects.”

“My world is no more,” T’elleri said. “It was incinerated in the Last Time War.” She looked at The Doctor and though he tried to look impassive he must have given something away in the flicker of his eyes or a slight psychic tremor. “Ah. You, too, come from a world that is no more. But you fool, with the power I see in you, any planet in the universe could be yours. Just as THIS one will soon be mine.”

“I hate it when I’m right,” The Doctor said to Wyn. “See what I mean. Take over the world. It’s so predictable it's boring.”

“These puny creatures that inhabit this world will be mine to do as I please,” T’elleri said. “But you… you are interesting. I could make you my consort. Your intelligence and mine together…”

“Oh, lady, you’re barking up the wrong tree there,” Wyn said under her breath.

“Silence,” T’elleri screamed at Wyn. “You will be food for my pet if I desire it. I have no other use for you.”

“I’m nobody’s consort,” The Doctor told her. “Least of all somebody as cruel as you are. You have no regard to life. You use these creatures… Am I right that you kept them here after their species died out, to experiment on?”

“My pets,” she said in a preening voice. “Do you like the improvements I made?”

“No. You made those creatures into something they are not. Genetic manipulation. It's the worst kind of science. Your fire-breathing dragon – I suppose you have re-arranged its anatomy so that it produces flammable liquid in its stomach and channels it into its nostrils. Not sure how you get it to ignite, that’s a puzzle. But frankly, I don’t care. The creature is a freak of science, not of nature.”

“When the rest come out of hibernation the world will be at my mercy. It will be cleansed of the puny inhabitants that walk upon it. I shall repopulate it with my own flesh and blood. My own superior DNA suitably mixed with equally superior specimens such as yourself. Your genes will be ideal.”

“Over my dead body!” The Doctor replied.

“Dead or alive I can still use your genes,” T’elleri said. “Though you would be more amusing alive.”

“Immortality within your zero temporal bubble,” The Doctor said. “Never grow old.”

“You’re tempted!”

“No. I don’t need immortality. I’ve lived long enough already.” The Doctor had seen and heard enough. He knew now what he had to do. And how to do it.

“Wyn,” he said under his breath. “On my signal, run.”

“What signal?” she asked, but he didn’t answer.

He slowly adjusted the grip on his sword and then swung it at the tapestry above the throne. The heavy fabric came down on T’elleri and her pet. The Doctor turned and ran. Wyn had already started running, ahead of him. T’elleri screamed with humiliated rage as she struggled. The Doctor reckoned he could about reach the computer room before she freed herself and unleashed her pet upon them.

“What are you doing?” Wyn asked The Doctor as he began to press switches on the computer console.

“I’m shutting down the zero temporal field and then reverting it – sending the contents of the throne room back in time to when this mountain was a volcano.”

“Yikes!” Wyn had a vision of what would happen to T’elleri and her pets. “Fried dinosaur.”


“Fried Time Lord and friend?”

“We’ll be long gone. But….” He passed her his sword. “Wyn, I need you to hold back the pet! She’s going to release it and send it through here. Buy us the time.”

“You want me to fight a dinosaur?” Wyn was stunned. “I….”

“I know Nine showed you some basic swordsmanship. That’s all you really need. The skin is tough, but aim for the eyes. Blind it. Then… strike at the neck or something. That’s a good sword. You can do it. If you see its nostrils smoking dive for cover.”


“I believe in you, Wyn.”

“I believe in you,” she told him. “Work fast, maybe I won’t have to….”

But even as she spoke, she knew it was on the way. She could hear it stalking up the corridor. It couldn’t fly in such a small space. That was her advantage, she realised. Its natural state was flying. It was clumsy on its feet.

She COULD do it. He had faith in her, although one part of him chided himself for putting one so young into the face of such danger. But she was hardly inexperienced. She’d already faced terrifying situations with Nine. She could do it.

He felt no guilt about what he was about to do to T’elleri and her creatures. Yes, he was taking her life. But she had stolen that life. Nobody was supposed to be immortal. Living in a zero temporal bubble to live longer than you should was actually against one of the Laws of Time. He was justified by that alone. But she had to be stopped and her creatures had to be destroyed. Earth could not be left at her mercy. It had to have the history that he knew it had. Its people had to grow in knowledge, fight among themselves, commit terrible atrocities against each other, yes. The next 1,000 years before Wyn was born would see some dreadful examples of man’s inhumanity to man. But they were humanity’s mistakes. They were not the acts of an unhinged alien that wanted domain over them.

As for her creatures, they were better off dead than being used the way she was using them. Dinosaurs had their day and were no more. They belonged as fossils.

The nostrils smoked. Wyn dived for cover behind a computer bank. A streak of fire emerged and hit the far wall of the room, leaving a soot-covered patch. But she was ok. And as with the electrified velociraptors, it seemed it needed to refuel itself before it could fire off again. She remembered in the village it had been four or five minutes between it firing. She had those minutes to kill it.

“Won’t the others come up after it?” she asked as she raised the sword and stepped towards the creature.

“The others are all in hibernation. She’s not ready to send them out yet. And she won’t be if I get this right.”

“Ok,” Wyn raised the sword and did as The Doctor suggested. She aimed for the eyes. She got the right eye straight off. She shuddered at the sort of ‘popping’ as the end of the sword sliced into the soft eye tissue. It was like putting a fork into the soft yolk of a fried egg. Only worse.

She pulled the sword out and dodged around the other side and tried again. The creature was in pain and the head was moving quickly. The sharp beak reached out towards her and the claws on the end of the wings thrashed dangerously, but with one eye out it couldn’t judge distance and she was able to dodge it.

She lunged again and hit the bony crest in the middle of its forehead. That was no good. She pulled back and tried again. This time she was spot on. The sword again plunged into the soft part of the eye and she pushed it further in. It hit some kind of bone but she kept pushing and it again went through something softer.

Brain tissue. She had pushed the sword right into the brain. She twisted the sword and scrambled the tissue a bit more then she pulled it out and ran out of its way as it began to fall.

“I did it!” she yelled. “I killed it.”

“Yes,” you did,” The Doctor said. “And I’ve set the Zero temporal bubble to collapse in three minutes. Let’s get out of here.”

They ran for it, up the low-lit corridor.

“We won’t get back to the TARDIS in three minutes, Wyn said. We took a good hour to get down here.”

“We don’t have to. We just have to be beyond the bubble. Even a few inches past that and we’re safe. But inside it…. You don’t want to be there. Come on.”

Again he was glad she wasn’t the sort of girl who sprained ankles easily. She did trip once, but she got up right away, ignoring the painful grazes on her hands, knees and elbows as she kept moving.

“We’re there,” she said as the lights ended and they were plunged into the darkness of the natural caves. They were beyond the zero temporal bubble. The Doctor literally felt it in his bones. All the time he had been in that place his body had felt as if it was being pulled every direction at once. Now he was back in real, flowing time, where he belonged, where they all belonged, Time Lord or Human.

“Look,” he said and she turned with him. For nearly thirty seconds the cave was lit by molten lava filling the part of it that had not been in normal time. Their faces were lit by the glow but they didn’t feel the heat because it wasn’t really there in their time. It was happening many millions of years ago.

And then it was dark again. Pitch dark. Even The Doctor’s Time Lord eyes could see nothing in the absolute darkness. He pulled out his sonic screwdriver and used its penlight mode. The small blue-white beam was enough light for him to see by. He led Wyn carefully back the way they had been. They recognised the room where the computers had generated the bubble by its general shape, but it was empty now, just a natural cave in the mountain.

They also recognised the general shape of what had been T’elleri’s throne room, but now it was a natural cavern with stalactites hanging down and stalagmites reaching to the roof, slowly forming by accretion. Natural phosphoresce dully lit the room so that they could see it clearly.

“But I’ve never seen this cavern. I lived around here all my life.”

“I expect the entrance will become blocked over the years by roof falls. It must be hidden in your time. Maybe you could start a speleological club at your school and go find it again.”

“Nah,” she said. “It can stay as it is. I’m not bothered. Let’s go tell the people of Lllanfairfach that they don’t have a dragon problem anymore.”

The Doctor materialised the TARDIS just outside the village and they walked to the green where the people were gathered, fearfully watching the skies.

“Problem solved,” The Doctor said with a grin. “The Llanfairfach dragon is no more.”

The people were clearly relieved. Most of them flocked around The Doctor and Wyn congratulating them and thanking them. But then a cry went up that changed everything.

“Witchcraft,” somebody shouted. “Nobody could have defeated such a creature without using the dark arts.”

“How do we know they didn’t conjure it in the first place - in order to appear to be the valiant slayers of dragons and claim a reward from us?” Once the idea was planted the people all started to think about it. They started to think about why a complete stranger should have come into their midst and claimed to have killed the dragon for them. And instead of congratulating, they began to accuse.

“Well there’s gratitude,” Wyn said. “We killed the bloody dragon, all right. You’re all safe now. You should be rewarding us.”

“We asked nothing of any of you, no reward, no payment.” The Doctor added as he began to slowly back off through the crowd. “Witchcraft, indeed! Dark arts! You lot need to curb your imaginations.”

They were in a relatively free space. He looked at Wyn. “Run, now, back to the TARDIS.”

She didn’t need him to tell her twice. She ran. He was right behind her. The people of Llanfairfach were behind him, but he could outrun them any day. He was fitter, stronger, and after all, he WAS an alien. He grabbed Wyn’s hand and folded time. Seeing them accelerate in a blur probably convinced the people even more that there was witchcraft involved, but he didn’t care. Getting out of there was the important thing. Let them argue about it. Let them decide after a while that they didn’t see that happen, that there WAS a hero and a girl – or a boy – who defeated the Llanfairfach dragon and then went off into the sunset.

“Bloody ingrates,” Wyn said as they made the safety of the TARDIS.

“Doesn’t matter,” The Doctor said. “Important thing is we stopped another nutter trying to take over the world.” He bounded to the console. On the viewscreen some of the villagers had caught up and were staring at the TARDIS. “Let’s show them some REAL witchcraft!” He dematerialised the TARDIS, knowing that outside the local people would be falling on their knees in terror to see the blue box disappear in front of their eyes. Again, the details would be dismissed after a while as impossible and the core of the legend, the defeat of a dragon, would be all that remained.

“Why do these nutters who want to take over the world choose Llanfairfach to hatch their plans? Does it have some special magnet for them?”

The Doctor thought about that for a moment.

“Nah, must be just coincidence,” he said. “You did well, Wyn. Dragon-slayer. That’s a new one for your CV. But I think it's time we found that planet with the good skiing.”

Sounds good to me,” Wyn agreed.