“Ogrons!” It was centuries since he had come across them, but he recognised the species at once. They were on his shortlist of creatures that could have killed the Judoon, but they had been a long way down the list. At least half a dozen other thuggish and unreconstructed examples of evolutionary blind alleys had been higher.

“Kill this one,” said the Ogron with a grubby looking leather baldric across his chest who was probably the troop leader. The Doctor heard a gestalt click of multiple safety catches being released and vaguely wondered why Ogrons even bothered with such niceties. He also wondered just how many of their bullets he could take in his body and still be able to regenerate afterwards. He really didn’t want to die outright with Donna and Ben left helpless in the TARDIS and the Shaddow Architects possibly held prisoner somewhere by whoever was the paymaster of these intergalactic thugs for hire.

That somebody else was calling the shots was obvious when a communicator on the grubby baldric crackled. The troop leader raised his hand to delay his last command while he responded to the message.

“He is not to be killed,” he said at last, waving to the troops to drop their weapons. “Our Masters have identified him as a higher species. They wish to have him interrogated. He may be useful to them.”

“Masters?” The Doctor laughed. “Well, of course. Ogrons are the hired muscle of the scum of the universe. Go on then. Take me to your Masters. I might as well find out what this is all about.”

Donna and Ben clung on tightly to the console as the TARDIS was bumped and rocked and hauled away by the creatures.

“How can they do that?” Ben asked. “I have seen rooms… full of furniture… many rooms. How can this ship be moved? It should weigh as much as… as Buckingham Palace.”

“I’m not sure about that,” Donna admitted. “You’d have to ask The Doctor. It’s his ship. That is if…” She swallowed hard. “That’s if he’s alive.”

“If he isn’t…” Ben began.

“He has to be,” Donna said. “We need him.”

“But… if he isn’t… what happens to us? Are we trapped… on this… rock…”

Ben looked scared. Donna could understand that. She was a bit scared herself.

“The Doctor had a long talk with me about that, a while back,” she said. “If anything happened to him, if he was killed, really killed, he showed me a file that I can open up and the TARDIS will automatically take me back home to Earth in my time. It would mean you couldn’t get back to the time you come from. But it would be Earth…. With Humans, not… Judoon and whatever those lot outside are. We’d be ok. And… I suppose we could figure out something for you to do. The twenty-first century isn’t too bad. It’s… louder than your time, and busier. And the traffic would blow your mind. But… but you’d be ok.”

For a fleeting moment she imagined showing Ben the wonders of modern London, a city he would barely recognise. It would be fun teaching him how to use a mobile phone to order a pizza, showing him the Millennium dome and the London Eye, and all the shops….

Then reality hit her again. Ben was a sneak thief from the back streets of Victorian London. She almost managed to picture her mother’s face if she brought him home to meet her, but she couldn’t quite conjure up enough outrage.

And besides, if the doctor was dead…

“No,” she insisted. “He can’t be. He just can’t.”

He wasn't dead. But The Doctor couldn’t help wondering how long he might stay alive once he met the ‘Masters’ of the Ogrons. Just who were these masters, anyway? That worried him more than anything else.

In the bad old days of his third regeneration, the Ogrons served the Daleks. They proved slightly easier to command than Robomen or other artificially created slaves, and their natural aggression was just what the Daleks needed in situations where they didn’t want to get their own protuberances dirty.

But the Daleks were gone, now.

Weren’t they?

The Doctor didn’t believe in any gods. He had nobody to pray to. But he came as close as he ever had to a prayer as he considered the possibility that some of them were still around. They were like germs. Where there was even one, there was a possibility of them increasing and spreading like a plague. All they needed was a supply of slave workers, a quantity of metal, and genetic material to create the organic mutation within the armoured casing.

Anything but them, The Doctor thought. Please!

The movement stopped. Donna and Ben watched on the viewscreen as the leather-clad creatures stepped away from the TARDIS and out through a metal door that shut with a visible shudder behind them.

“They’ve locked the TARDIS in a cell,” Donna said. “And us with it.”

Ben reached into his pocket and pulled out his set of picklocks. He looked at them thoughtfully. Donna looked at him looking at them and smiled widely.

“Got to be worth a try,” she said.

He had been ready for just about anything. Daleks were top of his list. Sontarans or Cybermen weren’t completely ruled out. Though he had never heard of either of them using Ogrons to do their dirty work.

He was slightly surprised when he was brought before what looked just like three humanoids. Not Humans in the strict definition of the homo sapiens whose ancestors originated on planet Earth, of course. There were a subtle differences in the skin tone and texture, in the shape of the forehead, the structure of the skeleton. If he could examine a strand of their hair, or a drop of their blood, The Doctor knew he could spot any number of other differences. But he saw enough with his eyes to identify the species.


Yes, he thought. They were the sort that liked to use what they regarded as lesser species to do their dirty work. The first time he came across them – further back than he cared to remember - they had robots called quarks that killed without compunction on their command.

And their raison d’être was to do just as their name suggested – to dominate – planets, systems, galaxies. They claimed to have conquered tens of thousands of planets, laying countless civilisations to waste. They were ruthless consumers of every resource the universe had, including its sentient species. They used them and then discarded them when they were finished with them.

What did they want with the Architects?

“Who is this?” asked the chief of the three Dominators, distinguished from the rest by a wider collar on his heavily padded leather jacket. “Where did he come from?”

The chief Ogron replied that he had been found in the corridors of the central palace. The Dominator snarled a reply and dismissed all but two of the Ogron guards who flanked The Doctor.

“You are not one of the Architects,” he said to The Doctor. “They are female and pale skinned from living in the palace for centuries. What are you and where are you from?”

“As if I am going to tell you,” he replied. “What have you done with the Architects? Are they dead?”

The Dominator chief said nothing in reply. He nodded to his two colleagues who pulled devices from inside their jackets and aimed at The Doctor. He knew they weren’t guns. But he prepared himself for pain as he was scanned by mind and body probes that read his every molecule like a book. It was perfectly possible to develop a device that did that without pain, but the Dominators obviously felt it enhanced the prisoner’s experience of being a prisoner.

The Doctor hurt more than most because he struggled to keep at least some parts of his mind hidden from the probe. He needed to keep some things from them. In particular, that he didn’t come here alone. He had to protect Donna and Ben.

But he couldn’t hide himself from them.

“A Time Lord!” The chief Dominator almost looked worried for a moment before he rallied himself. “Why are you here, Time Lord?”

Again he said nothing and desperately blocked his thoughts. He still didn’t entirely know why he was there. Somebody initiated a recall that brought the TARDIS here. And since it didn’t seem to be the Dominators, it had to be one of the Architects. Perhaps it was a last brave act before dying at the hands of the Ogrons or their Masters.

“It matters not. You are a Time Lord. You will prove useful, later. Meanwhile, you are our prisoner. Put him with the rest.”

He probably could have fought them. Ogrons were strong, but not invincible, and the same was true of Dominators, for that matter. He might have taken enough of them down to make a run for it. But he would probably not get very far. He thought of all those dead Judoon. They were a species whose brains were fairly small inside a lot of thick skull, but they had the instincts of soldiers. If none of them escaped, then he wouldn’t stand a lot of chance.

He let himself be taken away.

Opening the door of the cell or cupboard or whatever it was they were locked in took considerably longer than unlocking the TARDIS door on the moon. But Ben was determined to do it. Donna watched him anxiously. She wondered if there was some way she could get the TARDIS to move the few feet from inside the door to outside of it. She had seen The Doctor do minor adjustments to their landing position and she thought she knew how to do it. But what if she got it wrong and they ended up on another planet. Then they’d be stuck and The Doctor would be stranded here.

“Got it,” Ben said triumphantly. He pocketed his lockpicks as the door pushed open.

“Good,” Donna said. “Let’s go find The Doctor.”

That was easier said than done, of course. They had no idea where the Doctor was. They weren’t entirely sure where they, themselves, were. There was a long corridor outside with almost no features. They didn’t even know which way they ought to go. Left or right?

“Right,” Donna decided. “Always turn right. That’s what I say.”

The Doctor was taken to a room near the hall of the Architects and locked in. He noticed at once that it was not a room for one. There were at least a dozen people there already. Most of them were white haired and pale of face and eyes. The Architects. They had been installed in the Hall of Architects after the Shaddow Proclamation had been ratified. They had looked like ordinary humanoids then, but living in the rarefied air and artificial gravity had a strange effect on them. Their lives were extended beyond their nature and they had lost the colour in their skin, hair and eyes.

“Who are you?” asked a middle aged woman who was obviously one of the senior architects. She stood from among the group and approached him.

“I’m The Doctor,” he said and was aware of a collective gasp around the room.

“The Doctor!” The senior Architect sighed. “I sent the signal to you… as our last hope. But… but you are a prisoner, too.”

“I am… for the present moment,” he admitted. “But I don’t intend to remain one for long.”

Donna and Ben came to the end of the corridor and had an option of left and right again. They turned right.

“I think we’re on a space ship, you know,” Donna said after they had walked a little way and come to another turning, this time with only right as an option. It occurred to her that they would have turned full circle soon and be back at the storeroom they broke out of.

“A space ship?” Ben queried. “You mean, like The Doctor’s ship?”

“Well, the TARDIS is a rather special case, but kind of. The ones who killed all the guards, must have come in a space ship, obviously. I think they put the TARDIS aboard.

This corridor came to an end in front of a door that looked just like the one they had broken out of.

“Do you think there might be people inside these doors?” Ben wondered. “The Doctor or… perhaps the people he expected to find in this place.”

“Good point. How fast can you open the door?”

Ben pulled his lock pick from his pocket again and set to work.

“You sent for me?” The Doctor looked at the woman and tried to place her. He was in his eighth life when he was a signatory to the Shaddow Treaty. That was about a century ago in his own personal history, about three hundred years in real time to the temporal date he noted on the TARDIS console before he stepped out. If he had met this woman before he had completely forgotten her name.

“You don’t remember me at all, do you? I am Madame Louvenia.”

“Madame Louvenia…. Yes, of course. You chaired the special committee on temporal movement. The Shaddow Conference was in favour of outlawing all forms of time travel. The High Council of Time Lords had instructed me to pull out of the negotiations. You listened to my arguments and helped to ensure that my people were the exceptions to the ban.”

“We needed the co-operation of the Time Lords if the Proclamation was to be more than an empty formality. But, alas, the Time Lords are no more. You are the only proof that they were ever more than the stuff of legend. And the defences they put in place here came to nothing. The Hall of the Shaddow Proclamation is in the hands of a thuggish enemy.”

“How did they manage to do that?” The Doctor asked. “The protocols…”

“They arrived on a ship disguised as a Judoon transporter. It had all the correct codes to come through the Transduction Barrier and enter the airspace around the asteroid. Nobody thought anything of it until the troopers began shooting. Then we knew that the unthinkable had happened. The Halls were invaded. The Judoon were slaughtered. We were taken prisoner.”

“You were all taken alive?” The Doctor asked. “Nobody was killed except for Judoon?”

“Only one… Madame Selka. The High Architect. They kept her separate. I fear she may be dead.”

“I’m afraid that is only too likely,” The Doctor said. “I’m sorry for that. And yet….”

“And yet?”

He shook his head. He didn’t want to point fingers. But it occurred to him that even a disguised ship, using the chameleon technology that he had seen the Ogrons use in the past, the technology they had used to disguise themselves as Judoon and sack the Halls, needed a whole collection of codes and protocols. Madame Louvenia had said that they were all correct.

That meant that they had help from within the Architects.

Ben got the door open. But it didn’t lead to a cell with prisoners in it. Far from it. He and Donna stepped forward carefully onto a narrow balcony that overlooked a space ship’s bridge. They both ducked down behind the handrail and watched and listened carefully as the commander or captain or leader of the humanoids below made contact with his superior officer on a big viewscreen.

“Lord,” said the captain. “We have not yet gained the key from the architects. The one who brought us here has proved less useful than we thought. Even when we drained her mind fully it did not contain the complete data. We must extract further information from the other architects before we will be able to use the asteroid to our purpose. But, Lord, we have captured a Time Lord. His mind may provide information far beyond that held by these puny creatures. We might even obtain the time and space co-ordinates of Gallifrey itself. And with that, we could conquer the Time Lords themselves. We should have unlimited access to the time vortex. We would be masters of the whole of time and space. The few hundred systems protected by the Shaddow Proclamation are but space dust in the face of such power. The Dominators will truly dominate all life, all existence.”

“His mind will not break so easily,” the Dominator Lord pointed out. “But the power we should possess… Yes, it is worth it. Report to me when you have processed the Time Lord’s mind.”

“I will do so immediately, Lord,” the captain said. “I shall send the Ogrons to bring the Time Lord to the processing laboratory.”

Donna silently tapped Ben on the shoulder and the two of them withdrew carefully from the balcony. Donna closed the door quietly.

“We have to find The Doctor,” she said. “Before they hurt him.”

“How can we do that?” Ben asked. “We don’t know where he is,”

“Look…” Donna whispered. She had seen a movement at the end of the corridor. It was two of the Ogrons. “They must be going to get The Doctor. Let’s… follow them.”

“Those are the creatures that killed all the guards,” Ben pointed out. “They could kill us just as easily.”

“We’ve got to take the chance. Look… you’re not a coward. You can’t be. You said you’d been to prison three times. And… you survived. You must have had to fight your corner. I mean… I don’t know much about it, but prisons in any time must be grim places.”

“I can fight, yes. But… other men… not…”

“They’re no different, really. They’re big and ugly. But they’re just flesh and blood like anything else. Please, Ben… The Doctor needs you. And… you need him if you’re ever to get back where you belong.”

That might not have been the best argument, Donna realised. Ben didn’t have a lot to go back to, after all.

“The Doctor…. Has treated me… better than most,” Ben admitted. “He could have given me over to the police, but he didn’t. He was prepared to let me go free, even though I am a thief… I will do what I can. Let us at least find out where those two are going.”

They followed the two Ogrons at a safe distance. They moved along another series of long corridors and Donna realised that they were quite close to where the TARDIS was hidden. They had taken the long way around, via the bridge when, if they had gone the other way, they would have found The Doctor.

But then they wouldn’t have found out what was going on. The Doctor needed to know what the Dominators wanted to do with him.

The two Ogrons stopped by a door and unlocked it. They stepped inside. Ben and Donna moved in behind them. They were both glad to see The Doctor among the prisoners. All of them looked at the Ogrons and didn’t give any sign that they had seen Ben moving up behind the creatures. The Doctor waited until Ben reached and pushed their two heads together with a cracking of skulls that almost echoed in the room. He grabbed the weapon from one of the Ogrons and tried to twist it from the creature’s hand. He didn’t mean for it to go off. But the other Ogron growled and fell to the floor, shot through the head. He used a karate chop to leave the other one unconscious.

“Doctor,” Donna said to him. “These two were sent to fetch you to be ‘processed’. They’ll be missed if they don’t bring you, soon.”

“Processed?” His eyes narrowed as Donna quickly explained what she and Ben had heard.

“That’s what I call exposition,” he said as he examined the two Ogron bodies carefully. “Madame Selka must be dead. She was a traitor? I wonder what made her do that. It’s a nasty thought. But there’s nothing we can do about it now. The important thing is to stop their nasty plans. And I think I know how. I’ll have the mother of all headaches afterwards, but I think I can do it.”

“Do what?” Donna asked. But The Doctor didn’t answer. He lifted something from the pocket of the Ogron and pressed it. Donna gasped as she saw him appear to turn into a Judoon.

“That won’t do,” The Doctor said with a laugh. “Just a little adjustment.” He tweaked the small device and the Judoon turned into an Ogron. “That’s better. Donna, can you lead everyone to the TARDIS?”

“Yes, I can,” she answered. “It’s not very far away. “But…”

“Get everyone else to the safety of the TARDIS. When you do, I want you to enter this into the console. Can you remember it all… it’s a complicated code. But I won’t risk writing it down….”

“Just give it to me,” she said to him. He did so. It was complicated. But she committed it to memory.

“Ok,” The Doctor said. “Don’t initiate the programme for an hour. I need time to feed them the information they think they want.” He turned and gave Ben the shape-shifting gadget. Immediately he turned into an Ogron. “You’re my guard, taking me to be processed.”

“What!” Donna was appalled. “Doctor… the other one… they drained her mind. You can’t let…”

“I have to,” he said. “It’s the only way.”

“Doctor…” Madame Louvenia protested. “Doctor… you are a very brave man. May the gods protect you.”

The Doctor had no answer to that. He didn’t know any gods. But he was ready to put his plan into action.

As plans went, it might not have been the best one. He was still offering himself up as a sacrifice to the crazed plans of these power hungry tyrants. He wasn’t looking forward to the process one little bit.

“Doctor,” Ben said. “Are you sure about this? These people… they want to kill you…”

“I know they do,” he answered. “But they won’t. Ben… I need you to stay near me, no matter what happens. If things look bad, don’t panic. It won’t be what it seems. Have courage, stand your ground, and we’ll all be fine. Will you trust me? I know you’ve precious little reason to do so, and I’ve little reason to ask you to do so much. But if you can…”

“I’ll try,” Ben promised.

“All right,” The Doctor told him. “Let’s not talk now. We need to look like an Ogron and prisoner. Ogrons are not the chatty sort.”

They moved through the corridors of the Dominator ship until they reached the processing room. There was a Dominator there, and two Ogrons. Ben caught his breath as they looked at him. Would they see through his disguise.

Fortunately, the Dominator wasn’t interested in having conversations with either the prisoner or the guards. He indicated with a hand signal, and the two Ogrons that were with him took hold of The Doctor and pushed him down on a table with some fearsome looking manacles for his arms and legs and a headpiece that Victor Frankenstein would have been proud to have invented.

As the mind draining probe was attached The Doctor carefully closed down most of his own brain, protecting it from the worst of the attack. He kept open a very small section. Within that he kept the information the Dominators sought, as well as some trivia and nonsense that would make them think he was resisting them for a while. He had to make it look convincing. So for the first ten minutes of the process, the Dominator scientist was puzzled to find a screen full of railway timetable information from Piccadilly Station in 2007. He increased the probe and was rewarded with selections of the works of Ovid in the original Latin. The Doctor screamed as the pressure upon his mind increased once again and concentrated on the business section of the 1974 Dublin telephone directory. Again, the pressure increased and he let out a terrible moan as he finally gave up the space time co-ordinates for Gallifrey in the Kasterborous sector, as well as the key code for passing through the Transduction Barrier.

The Dominator scientist reported his findings to his captain at once.

“Excellent,” he said. “We will begin the journey immediately. What more is there in the Time Lord’s head?”

“Nothing of consequence,” the scientist answered. “I believe this was a reject from their society. His head is full of nonsense and trivia.”

“It could be a smokescreen,” the captain told him. “Try again. There must be more.”

Ben heard all of that as he stood near the table and looked at The Doctor. He looked as near to death as any dead man he had ever seen, and he had seen his full share of them in the mean streets of East London. He tentatively reached out and touched The Doctor’s waxen face and it felt cold.

And yet he had warned him.

“If things look bad, don’t panic. It won’t be what it seems.”

So perhaps he wasn’t dead after all. Perhaps it was a trick. He remembered visiting a music hall a year or two before. There was a character called ‘Rajip of Delhi’ who was supposed to be an Indian magician. As part of his act he could actually be lifted by the ankles and suspended above the stage while appearing to have the rigor of death. And yet, a few minutes later he would stand up and take a bow in front of the astonished audience.

Yes, Ben decided. That was what The Doctor had done. But even so, how much more could he take of the strange torture before he was finally broken?

Then he heard a noise he was coming to recognise, and felt a rush of wind. He grabbed hold of the table as the laboratory began to fade from his view, replaced by the strange interior of The Doctor’s ship. The table with The Doctor fastened to it came with him. So did one of the Ogron guards and the Dominator scientist. Ben moved swiftly and hit the Ogron square in the face with a punch that had nothing to do with Queensbury Rules and everything to do with staying alive in dark, dismal places. As he did so, Donna smacked the Dominator scientist with a blow that was born of fear and anger for The Doctor when she saw the state of him lying there.

“Chuck them both out,” she ordered as two of the albino Shaddow Architects came forward and grabbed the scientist. Ben disarmed the Ogron and manhandled him to the door. As they turned back up the gangway Madame Louvenia and one of her assistants was unfastening The Doctor from his restraints. But he still looked dead – or near to death.

“Does anyone have a paracetemol?” The Doctor asked as he opened his eyes and looked up at the lights in the console room ceiling. “I have a headache like you would not believe.”

“You’re alive!” Donna cried. “Doctor… I really thought they’d done for you.”

“Not even close,” he answered. “Just this headache.” He sat up and slid off the table and pushed it out of the way as he moved towards the console. Donna and Ben both stepped closer to see what he was doing. The Shaddow Architects and their albino servants stood or sat watching and wondering what was going to happen next.

What happened was that the TARDIS dematerialised and rematerialised in space near the Shaddow asteroid. Then the asteroid shuddered and shimmered and seemed to wink out of existence. The Shaddow people all exclaimed in horror.

“They’ve used the information they extracted from Madame Selka to slave their ship’s engines to the power core that kept the asteroid temporally and spatially stable. They’re using it to break through the time vortex and reach Gallifrey. I’m afraid it means that you’re going to need a new home for the Shaddow Proclamation, Madame Louvenia. But the Proclamation was always more than just a place. It’s far more important than that. You’ll be up and running again in no time. Meanwhile….”

He pressed a switch on the navigation panel and The TARDIS entered the vortex. Donna noticed that the visual representation of travelling through time that she saw on the monitor was not a stable red or blue as usual, but both those colours interchangeable with green. They were going somewhere that wasn’t in real time or space.

They emerged into what seemed a more empty part of space than usual. There seemed less stars in it. The TARDIS span gently and everyone saw the Shaddow asteroid briefly as it was pulled into the event horizon of a black hole.

“They wanted the space-time co-ordinate for Gallifrey,” The Doctor said. “But they didn’t know…”

“Doctor!” Donna caught his arm as she watched the destruction of the asteroid and, presumably, the Dominators on their ship. “You mean… all that’s left of your world is…”

The Doctor said nothing. But he appreciated her empathy. He reached out and put his hand over hers momentarily before turning and setting a new course.

“We’re heading for the Sol system in the 23rd century,” he said, glancing at Madame Louvenia. “There’s a planetoid in the asteroid belt that can be your base until a new Hall of Architects can be built.”

“We are, once again, beholden to the Time Lords,” Madame Louvenia said. “Thank you, Doctor.”

“Think nothing of it,” he answered modestly.

After the things they had seen already, neither Donna nor Ben were entirely surprised by a space city on a planetoid in the asteroid belt. Both were impressed by the way The Doctor negotiated with the governor of the city for political refugee status for the Shaddow Architects. But both got bored with the negotiations and headed back to the TARDIS long before he did. When he finally joined them, he looked with surprise at them both. Ben had been for a bath and a shave, and was dressed in a pair of casual slacks and sweatshirt and a pair of canvas shoes from the wardrobe and Donna was giving him a haircut, which he was submitting to meekly.

“What do you reckon?” she asked as he went to the console and set the TARDIS on its new course. “He scrubs up well, don’t you think?”

The Doctor didn’t comment. Donna put down her scissors and came to his side.

“I was thinking,” she said. “He saved your life, you know. He was a real hero. I think we can trust him. I don’t really think he would be a thief if he had a choice. And I’m sure there’s something he could do around the TARDIS, to earn his keep. I mean, he’s no secretary, but there must be some other job he could do… and… Doctor, don’t take him back to his own time. He has nothing there. He sleeps in doss houses… if he’s lucky. He’ll end up back in prison sooner or later. And I really don’t think he deserves it.”

“He’s not Oliver Twist, Donna,” The Doctor pointed out. “He IS a criminal. You have to remember that.”

“Yes. But…”

“But… you know, I’ve always believed in the rehabilitation of criminals. And I have always believed in giving everyone one chance. Just the one, mind. I don’t do second chances.”

“You mean… you’ll let him stay with us?”

“If he wants to.” He glanced at Ben in his modern clothes and hairstyle. “Have you asked him what he wants to do?”

“No,” she admitted. “Not until you said it was ok. I didn’t want to give him false hope.”

“Ben,” The Doctor said. “What do you think? Shall we carry on back to London in 1895, or would you like to come along for the ride and see a few more interesting places?”

Ben looked at him with a hopeful expression.

“You mean it Gov’ner?” he asked. “I can stay with you…”

“Do you intend to keep on calling me Gov’ner?” The Doctor replied. Ben looked a little worried that he had blown his opportunity. “Well, ok. That’s preferable to ‘doc’ any day. Come on up here and hold the helmic regulator steady. It’s all the way on the other side of the console and it needs a strong hand on it for accurate navigation. Maybe I’ll train you up as a half decent co-pilot or something.”

Donna smiled as Ben came to do as he asked.

“Welcome aboard,” she said to him.