Ben’s education was coming on well. Donna was with him at the TARDIS console, showing him the planets of Earth’s solar system and teaching him to read their names.

“You know, when Ben was born there were thought to be only eight planets,” The Doctor told them. Pluto was discovered in 1930. Disney named his cartoon dog after the planet a few years later. And of course, in your time, Sedna was discovered and classified as the tenth planet. Seeing your people make such discoveries, expanding their knowledge, is fascinating. My home system had six planets and I think we always knew it. There was nothing to discover.”

“It is incredible,” Ben said, looking up from his studies. “I have walked a mile… ten miles… twenty or more in a day. But… this says that Earth is… thirty-five million miles from the next planet… Mars. That is…”

Ben had no way to describe the enormity of it.

“Next time we head back to Earth, we’ll take the scenic route through the solar system, I think,” The Doctor said. “We can go all the way from Sedna to Mercury and swing back to good old Sol Three in an afternoon and see them all in detail.”

“Sounds good,” Donna said. “But we’re not heading to Earth now, are we?”

“No,” The Doctor answered. “I’ve got something more exciting to show you. A really fascinating planet. In.”

“In what?” Ben asked.

“That’s the name of the planet,” The Doctor said. “In.”

“In?” Donna smiled. “You’re kidding me.”

“Nope. That’s what it’s called. In. The people are called the In-W’e, pronounced In-ya-wey – at least as far as the Time Lord who wrote the original report in my database could make it out. He urges caution. The natives are very primitive. They still believe the stars are painted on the dome of the sky and all of that sort of thing. We have to avoid being seen by them, and above all, interaction with them is forbidden. But it will be all right to observe. We’ll be there in ten minutes. You might want to change into something equatorial. We’re arriving just before the monsoon begins.”

Donna went off to change. Ben didn’t bother. He was wearing a pair of lightweight trousers and a cotton shirt anyway. He found both preferable to his Victorian clothes. He had discarded them along with his past occupation as he settled in as part of the TARDIS crew.

“Are you ready for another new sky?” The Doctor asked him.

“Yes, I am,” Ben answered. “This strange life… travelling to distant places… I never dreamt it… but I am glad to be here. For as long as you want me.”

There was a hidden question in there. The Doctor looked at Ben carefully before answering him.

“People leave the TARDIS when they’re ready to move on or pick up the pieces of their life again. There have only been a few times when I was parted from friends against my will or theirs. You can stay as long as you choose.”

“What happens then? Do I go back where I came from? Back to my old life?”

“Do you want to?” The Doctor asked him.

“I’m not ashamed of what I was… what I am… I’m a thief because I chose to be. It was a living. But… I have no past on these strange planets. There, I am not a thief. I have other choices.”

“That you do, Ben,” The Doctor told him. “But until you do choose, you needn’t fear. You’ve got a place here. A home of a sort…”

“That’s something I’ve not had for a long time,” Ben commented. “Is the TARDIS home to you?”

“It is now,” The Doctor answered quietly. “It’s not such a bad home. It’s not… But… .Yes… it’s home.”

Donna returned, saving him from continuing that line of conversation. The two men both appraised her 1920s style dress of blue Indian cotton. She was holding a long silk headscarf as if she wasn’t sure what to do with it. The Doctor took it and arranged it on her head so that a piece of it came across her face like a veil.

“To protect your throat from hot sand particles,” he said. From the bottomless pocket of his jacket he produced two large squares of fabric. He called Ben to him and fastened one of them around his head in the style of an Arab keffiyeh, and did the same for himself.

“The covering of heads has political and cultural connotations in many parts of the universe,” he said. “But here we’re just protecting ourselves. Shall we go?”

He bounded to the door with his usual enthusiasm. Donna and Ben followed. The Doctor stepped out first onto the arid plain and looked up with a soft sigh. A yellow sky. There were very few of those around. At least not on planets with breathable atmospheres. The oxygen/nitrogen combination tended towards blue skies. There were some very lovely ones ranging from soft puce to deep purple, but mostly they were blue.

Yellow skies were rare. He liked them. They reminded him of the yellow of his Gallifreyan sky at noon on a bright summer day. Later in the day, it turned burnt orange and then brown, and the sky at night was usually described in paint catalogues as dark umber.

It was a sign of his emotional balance these days that he could look up at a yellow sky and smile. Once it would have hurt too much to look at it. Once, Ben asking that question ‘Is the TARDIS home to you?’ would have stabbed him in both hearts. But he was coming to terms with his fate, now. He was the Lonely God without a Home, unless the whole universe could be counted as that.

“It’s very hot,” Donna commented. “Baking. Is it me, or are there two suns?”

“There are,” The Doctor said. “Twin suns. The planet of In orbits them in a most unusual way – a figure of eight. It has twelve seasons of equatorial hot and sub-tropical temperatures. When it is between the two, both hemispheres experience their prime summer at the same time.”

“So it’s mostly desert?” she surmised as they walked away from the TARDIS across sandy, dry soil that was held together by a few spiky and hardy plants. She shaded her eyes and looked into the distance. In three directions there was nothing but the same sort of desert or plain as far as the eye could see. She turned and looked behind the TARDIS and was surprised to see a long ridge of a mountain rising up almost sheer from the plain.

“Like…” The name of the Earth reference escaped her momentarily. “Ayers Rock… in Australia… only it’s not supposed to be called that now. It’s meant to be called by the aboriginal name nowadays because of political correctness…”

“Uluru,” The Doctor said. “Yes, it bears a strong resemblance. And has much the same cultural significance to the local people here – so my predecessor who explored this place previously has said. It is called In-Ya-Weh, the Mountain of In.”

“They don’t have many different names for things, here,” Ben observed.

“I was thinking the same thing,” Donna added. “Mind you, there’s not a lot here to give names to. Sky, desert, mountain. That’s about it.”

The Doctor smiled.

“That’s the big picture,” he said. “But look closer. Look at those scrubby plants. No two of them are the same. And if you looked even more closely, there’s insect life a plenty. And….”

He smiled even more widely and pointed to a dust cloud that was approaching rapidly from the west. He put one hand on Donna’s shoulder and the other on Ben’s and waited. They both asked questions, but he said nothing. They would enjoy it all the better without explanations.

As the dust cloud drew closer they saw shapes within it. And they were huge shapes. They were at least as big as an elephant, with reddish-brown hide rather than gray and humps like a camel on their backs. They had elephant like trunks and massive tusks, and at first glance seemed to have no eyes. As the herd of fifty or so creatures halted and formed a huddle of heaving bodies, Donna saw one of them open huge eyelids to reveal big, bright, expressive eyes.

“They walk through the desert with their eyes shut?” Ben asked.

“Protection from the sandstorms,” The Doctor explained. “The theory is they have some sort of innate sense, like an organic satnav.”

“Clever,” Donna said. “What are they called? Camil-phants or… Elicams…” She laughed.

“Something beginning with ‘in’ Ben ventured. The Doctor grinned.

“You’re catching on fast. They’re called In-Wer.”

“Why are they gathering like that?” Donna asked.

“They’re waiting for the monsoon,” The Doctor answered. He looked up at the sky. Donna and Ben had been too busy looking at the In-Wer herd to notice that it was getting darker. The yellow sky was now yellow-grey as the storm clouds gathered. He stepped quietly back into the TARDIS and emerged with a huge umbrella with the logo of the 2020 Olympic Games on it. He held it over the three of them as the first huge drops of rain began to fall. They stood under its shelter as the warm monsoon rain poured and the dry red plain turned dark muddy brown. Where the In-Wer gathered, a huge pool of water began to form, and the sight of something elephant sized rolling in water like a dog was something to behold, let alone a whole herd of them.

But that wasn’t the only amazing thing going on. Donna was the first to notice it. The muddy plain was turning green. Shoots were coming up from the ground, plants were growing at speeds she had only seen before on natural history programmes with time lapse photography sequences.

“Now, that is amazing,” The Doctor said with a wide, happy grin on his face. “This is what I wanted to see with my own eyes. I read it in the database, but actually seeing it… I’m impressed. I am totally impressed. It’s brilliant. Isn’t it brilliant, Donna? Ben, don’t you think it’s brilliant?”

“It’s brilliant,” Donna agreed.

“It’s…” Ben was lost for words.

“The monsoons occur once every three months,” The Doctor said. “For a day, maybe two, the land is fertile and watered. The dormant seeds grow rapidly, fruiting in a matter of an hour or so. Animals take advantage. The In-Wer will eat a couple of acres of the vegetation in the next day or so. Other animals will do the same. Animal life on In has adapted to store food and water within their bodies to serve them through the months when the land is parched and dry.”

“Wow,” Donna said.

“We don’t really have a word like ‘wow’ in Gallifreyan,” The Doctor said. “The database entry describes it as ‘a marvel of evolution, a magnificent example of the bio-diversity of life in a limitless universe’.”

“Yeah, I’d go with that,” Donna agreed.

Ben wasn’t sure what words like evolution and bio-diversity meant, but he could see it in front of his eyes and he was impressed.

“Guv’nor!” he cried out. “Look… the TARDIS…”

The Doctor turned and looked. So did Donna. The TARDIS was being used as a frame for a climbing vine that pushed up towards the air, spreading branches as it did so. The Doctor used his sonic screwdriver to prune it back from the doors, but otherwise he let it carry on. After a little while the vine flowered and then fruited. The fruits were about the size of plums but a dark brown and encased inside papery leaves that had to be peeled back to get to the sweetness. The Doctor picked some and shared them with his friends. They tasted a bit like figs but with an extra sweetness.

“Very nice,” Donna agreed, reaching to pick some more, then looked at The Doctor hesitantly. Was it all right?

“They’re highly nutritious,” he said. “Enjoy. Those melon shaped fruits growing along the ground there are very much like breadfruits. You could try them, too.”

“Nuts to breadfruit,” Donna replied with a wry grin at The Doctor, a shared memory and a joke between the two of them.

They ate the fruit and watched the In-Wer grazing in the vegetation while The Doctor talked about other wildlife of In. There was a creature something like a buffalo, but with a hunp like a camel for storing liquid. Those roamed the plain in great herds, but The Doctor thought they were unlikely to come near the In-Wer. They were placid enough creatures, but getting too close to a stampede was never good.

“Guv’nor!” Ben called out urgently and The Doctor turned to see something he had been expecting to happen. It was all written down in fine detail by the Time Lord anthropologist who researched the planet.

“Ben, Donna, come and keep close to me, please,” he said, reaching out his arms around their shoulders. “This is where it becomes a little tricky. We must not be seen by the In-V’il – the native humanoids. Here by the TARDIS the perception filter will protect us. The In-V’il won’t know we’re here. But if you step away…”

The In-V’il were, Donna thought, a lot like Australian aborigines in so far as she knew anything about them from TV and magazines. They had the flattened noses that she associated with that ethnic group and long, curling hair. Their hair was dark black with a hint of red in it that might be some sort of powder or dye. Their bodies were dark red. Again, Donna wondered if that was natural or some kind of dye. They had black tattoos on their arms and legs which obviously had some kind of cultural significance.

Male and female, they were completely naked apart from some scraps of leather that protected their vulnerable parts. The women carried huge baskets on their backs, and they set to work harvesting the fruits, oblivious to the rain that soaked their bodies. They were nearly naked, anyway, Donna reasoned as she watched them. It must have been like taking a warm shower.

The men had long spears, and Donna gave an unhappy gasp as she saw them approaching the In-Wer herd. She realised at once what they meant to do. She looked at The Doctor and Ben. Both seemed philosophical about it.

“They need protein,” The Doctor said. “There’s enough to feed their tribe for the duration of the parched spell in one beast. It’s natural.”

Ben agreed with him. Donna turned away as the In-V’il managed to force one of the great creatures away from the rest of the herd and stabbed at it with their spears until it succumbed. She didn’t want to watch them proceed to cut the animal into huge, bloody chunks of meat and carry it off in more of the great baskets. Yes, she understood what The Doctor was telling her. But she was a Londoner. Fresh meat, for her, came on polystyrene trays wrapped in cellophane with a sell by date on it. It didn’t bear any resemblance to the animal it came from and she didn’t think about it very much. She objected to battery hen farming and veal crates and whale hunting like most people she knew. She stopped buying those brands of tuna that were associated with the accidental killing of dolphins. But she enjoyed a lamb chop for her tea.

If she’d had to watch the lamb being slaughtered and then cut into joints, she might have enjoyed it less. And after watching and admiring the magnificent In-Wer she was having trouble with the idea of one of them being killed for meat.

“It’s over now,” The Doctor told her. She turned around slowly and looked. There was a carcass left, mostly just bloody bones. Even the hide could be used by the In-V’il for some purpose – though obviously not clothing.

The other In-Wer didn’t seem overly distressed by the loss of one of their number. They continued to wallow in the water as the In-V’il took their food back to their caves in the mountain.

Then something happened that changed the relatively calm scene. The rain increased exponentially, and there was a clap of thunder. A lightning bolt accompanied it and it grounded very close to the In-Wer hollow. There was an ear-splitting sound as the creatures raised their heads and screamed in fear. Huge reddish-brown bodies buffeted against each other as they scrambled and scrabbled to get away from the source of their fear.

“Doctor!” Donna broke away from his hold as she saw one of the In-Wer was stampeding towards them. The In-V’il scattered and ran. Donna, without thinking, ran as well. Ben gave a shout and ran after her. The Doctor groaned and followed. If she had only run the other way, back into the TARDIS, it would have been fine. She had to run AWAY from it. Now all three of them were beyond the perception filter and visible. He could only hope that the natives were too busy running away, themselves, to notice.

Ben had managed to catch up with Donna and persuaded her to stop. They both turned and started to walk back when there was an ominous crash. The Doctor stopped in his tracks and turned slowly, dreading what he was going to see when he did so.

The frightened, stampeding In-Wer had crashed right into the TARDIS and knocked it over on its side, and then trod on it as it continued to run. The police box, tangled with fruit vines was half buried in the ground, lying sideways on. It’s blue light at the top was smashed. The Doctor was surprised by that. All the years he had travelled in the TARDIS, he never even changed the bulb in it. Now it was broken.

The TARDIS was broken.

And they were out in the open.

He turned around again and saw the In-V’il looking at them. The women seemed scared and backed away. But the men moved in closer, surrounding them, their spears pointing menacingly.

“Er…” The Doctor stepped closer to his two friends. He raised his hands above his head and nodded to them to do the same. “Er… for the moment… I think… we had better allow ourselves to be guests of these fine people…”


They moved forward in a peristaltic fashion, the spears behind urging them forward only to be halted every so often by the natives in front, spooked by sounds of animal cries. They came, eventually, to the base of the mountain, beside a sheer cliff face that rose up over their heads. There seemed, on approach, to be no cave or cleft of any kind. But close to they saw an outcrop of rock that shielded a dark entrance. There was room enough for natives with baskets of fruit or meat to get through one at a time.

The Doctor and his companions went single file into the narrow cave and almost immediately found themselves going up rough cut and steep steps. At first, The Doctor was able to process enough of the light from the cave entrance to see the steps, but soon even he was in pitch darkness and relying on his own instincts. He could hear Donna in front of him and Ben behind. Ben was reasonably fit. He had to be in his former ‘profession’. But after a few minutes he was out of breath. Donna was even worse. The natives seemed to take it in their stride. They were accustomed to the climb. They had stamina and strength. The Doctor considered that and knew physically fighting their way out of trouble was not an option even if he wanted to resort to that.

“How much further?” Donna gasped after they had climbed for a little over fifteen minutes. “I don’t think I can…”

“Breathe deep, in through your mouth and out through your nose,” The Doctor advised her. “Keep going. We don’t have any choice.”

He would have said something else, but there were angry grunts from the natives behind them that suggested they should stop talking. They climbed in silence and The Doctor noted that they had come a long way up a very steep climb with no turns. Apart from anything else, if anyone fell, they and anyone they took with them would have a short, painful, and terminal journey back down.

Then he felt a breeze on his face, and his Gallifreyan eyes started to be able to see again. There was a tiny bit of light ahead and he could process it. The climb, at least, was over. Though that might not be the worst of it. The old Earth saying about frying pans and fires was pretty much apt just now.

They emerged onto a small plateau that must have been roughly halfway up the mountain. The Doctor looked down and saw the plain below, still drenched with rain. His TARDIS was there, somewhere, probably completely covered in vegetation by now. It wasn’t likely to be damaged inside, but it was lost to him for now.

A spear prodded in the small of his back urged him away from the edge and towards the much larger cave entrance at the back of the plateau. This seemed to be a communal tribal area, with women cooking what was almost certainly fresh In-Wer meat in pots. Children with the same red flesh, suggesting it was natural, after all, sat in small groups with the sullen expression of children who have to stay indoors on a wet day. Men grouped together talking and picking at their teeth with sticks. All gazed at the newcomers with suspicious eyes as they were urged to go on.

There was another set of steps at the back of the large cave. This time it was wide enough for The Doctor and his companions to walk together. It emerged, after only a few minutes, in a large underground room. It had the look of being partially artificial and partially natural cavern. It was very definitely a temple. The rock walls were covered in hangings and there was what, in any culture, served as an altar – a large stone, roughly rectangle.

A man stood beside it. He was not as naked as the others. He had a belt from which colourfully dyed and embroidered strips of hide hung down, and he wore a necklace of animal teeth. He was heavily tattooed on almost every part of his body. The Doctor looked at the designs and felt as if they were a language of a sort, and he felt as if he ought to know them. But his mind refused to focus on them.

High priest, shaman, tribal chief. This man was obviously something of that sort. He looked about sixty in Human years, which The Doctor always tended to use as a benchmark since age and physical appearance didn’t go together in his own race and the Human benchmark of ‘four score and ten’ for a lifespan was closer to the norm in the rest of the universe. He looked fit and healthy for that age, and his eyes had the light of intelligence in them.

He said something in the native language to the spear wielders. They responded by backing off away from the prisoners. The Doctor noted that the language was far too basic and primitive for the TARDIS translator to work. That, or it really was broken.

“I…don’t know if you can understand me…” The Doctor began, and then stopped, puzzled. Without thinking about it, he had spoken in the common language of his home world, Low Gallifreyan, the language of everyday conversation, as opposed to High Gallifreyan used in government and in official documents or Ancient Gallifreyan used in their traditional ceremonies. Moreover, he spoke in the dialect of southern Gallifrey where he was born and raised, which was subtly different to the northern dialect used in the capital city where he was educated.

He was aware of his two Earth born friends looking at him oddly. They were both accustomed to him speaking English, or if he chose to use his own language, they HEARD English because of the TARDIS.

It was broken.

But he didn’t have time to worry about that. Because, if Donna and Ben were puzzled by him, the high priest had a different response entirely. He stepped closer to The Doctor and stared at him. Then he called to the spear wielding natives again. They grabbed hold of Donna and Ben and pushed them to their knees, roughly. The Doctor himself was grasped by his arms and forced to kneel, his head pressed down so that his neck was exposed to the spears that pricked at them.

“I knew they would come, one day,” the High Priest said in what The Doctor recognised as that northern dialect of Low Gallifreyan that he had been thinking of a few minutes before. “I knew I couldn’t just disappear. Sooner or later. But it’s been a thousand years. I had almost stopped expecting…. But now you….” He said something in the local language again and The Doctor clenched his teeth against the pain as he was beaten across the back with the spears used like clubs. “You’re Celestial Intervention Agency, aren’t you? You’ve come to take me back to Gallifrey!”

“You’re… a Time Lord?” He concentrated his thoughts on the High Priest. He looked into his mind. But he could see no Time Lord identity there. There was no connection at all. “No… you’re… one of them… a humanoid from this planet.”

“Don’t pretend you didn’t know. They sent you. But I won’t let you take me back. You and your two cohorts will die. The In-V’il haven’t had a ceremony of live sacrifice for a long time. I stopped them doing that to each other. But you’re strangers. I can let them have you.”

“I’m not from the Celestial Intervention Agency,” The Doctor protested. “And my friends aren’t even from Gallifrey. They’re just humans… from Earth… Sol Three. Even if you have some grudge against the High Council… and I can certainly understand that… they used to drive me nuts, too… at least leave them out of this. Please… have that much mercy. I beg you. In the name of Rassilon… have mercy.”

“Mercy?” the High Prist of In laughed coldly. “Why should I?”

“Because if you ever were a Time Lord… then you must have taken the oath… sworn to act with… with justice and honour… There is neither in killing two innocent people who wouldn’t be here if I had not brought them. Let them be… and… and I will… submit to whatever you wish. So… please… let my friends go…”

Donna and Ben didn’t know what he was saying, of course. He could hear Donna crying quietly, frightened out of her mind, but trying not to draw attention to the fact. Ben was quiet. The Doctor knew he was scared, though. There was nothing he could do to help him.

The High Priest said something to the natives. They pulled Donna and Ben to their feet and started to drag them away. Donna screamed. Ben protested.

“What did you tell them?” The Doctor asked. “Where are they taking my friends?”

“To the communal cave. They can have food and drink… warmth by a fire. They will be safe…. For now at least.”

“It’s all right,” The Doctor told Donna and Ben. “Go with these people. You’re safe. I’ll… join you as soon as I can.”

“Guv’nor… are you sure?” Ben was reluctant to leave him. Donna, too.

“Yes,” he insisted. “Please, go. I’ll be all right. I’m just going to have a little chat with the High Priest.”

They let themselves be taken away. The Doctor sighed with relief. He was still bent double on the floor, and there were spears pointed at his neck and spine that could reduce him to a helpless paraplegic even if they didn’t kill him. He had appealed to the High Priest’s sense of honour and got his friends out of immediate danger. But his own life still hung in the balance, and if he was killed, they would surely be butchered without him to protect them.

The High Priest spoke again in the native language and The Doctor felt himself pulled upright, though still forced to kneel. The High Priest himself knelt, too, a few yards away from him. The Doctor recognised it as a formal meditation position that was practiced by Time Lords seeking inner peace.

“How do I know you are not here to take me back to Gallifrey?” he asked.

“Because….” The Doctor swallowed hard. “Because… How long have you been an exile?”

“Exile? You choose that word… rather than…”

“I would not call any man Renegade without knowing his story. It is not an epithet to be applied lightly. But my question… how long?”

“A thousand years,” the High Priest answered. “What of it?”

“A thousand years?” The Doctor sighed. “You’re of my father’s generation. You must have left our homeworld before I was born. Of course, you used a Chameleon Arch. But you didn’t perform a complete alteration. You changed your body, to look like the natives. But you left your memories intact… and your longevity. You have outlived generations of In-V’il. No wonder you’re their High Priest. It’s a wonder they don’t think you’re a god.”

“I didn’t choose to keep the memories,” the High Priest said. “It was an error. I meant to rid myself of the memory… to be lost forever to Gallifrey.”

“Why?” The Doctor asked. “What was your name when you were a Time Lord?”

There was no reason why he should answer the question, of course. Indeed, The Doctor still hadn’t answered the question put to him, first. But for the moment the High Priest seemed to have forgotten that.

“I was Borr Kocieda,” he answered. “I was a renowned galactic anthropologist.”

“Yes!” The Doctor sounded excited even though he was still at risk of a spear in his back. “You’re the one… you wrote the database entry in all the TARDIS computers, all about this planet. That’s the reason we came here. To study the flora and fauna of In. We… didn’t come FOR you. We came BECAUSE of you.”

“Impossible,” Kocieda protested. “I removed my entry from the records before I left Gallifrey. I didn’t want any Time Lord coming here. You are a liar.”

The native spear wielding guards didn’t understand the conversation, but they did recognise the anger in their High Priest’s voice and The Doctor felt the sharp points pricking through his jacket into his back.

“I do not lie,” he answered calmly. “When you left… of course… the Type 40 TARDISes had been mothballed. They were offline from the system. Your entry wasn’t deleted. The Type 40s were reactivated when I was at the Academy, as training TARDISes. That’s why… believe me, please.”

“I believe you,” he said. “But that only makes things difficult for you. Even if you didn’t come for me, now you have found me, I can’t let you go back and tell them where I am!”

The Doctor was alert, but not quite alert enough. He didn’t quite move fast enough when Kocieda spoke to his people. Even if he had, he reflected, later, how far would he have got? The whole tribe obviously did their bidding. He wouldn’t get out of there alive.

For the moment he was too busy falling unconscious as a hard spear handle impacted with his skull painfully.


He came around a little while later to see Donna leaning over him, trying to make him drink some kind of fruit juice from a hand carved wooden bowl. He took the bowl from her and drank because his mouth was dry and it helped.

“We’re in trouble, aren’t we?” he said.

“Yes,” Donna answered. “Big trouble. You’re going to be sacrificed to the Gods of the Sun at dawn. The High Priest guy ordered it.”

“Me…” The Doctor questioned. “Not… all of us?”

“He spoke to us,” Ben answered him. “He speaks English, Doctor. He’s not a… one of these… people. He’s…”

“Posh,” Donna added. “He spoke with a posh English accent.”

“He’s a Time Lord in disguise,” The Doctor said as he sat up carefully, aware that his head felt thick as if he was recovering from a concussion. “One of my people. I think he’s mad. He’s afraid that I’m going to take him back there. Or tell somebody who will.”

“But your planet is gone. You can’t take him back, even if you wanted to,” Donna pointed out.

“I didn’t get around to telling him that,” The Doctor answered. “I don’t know if he would have believed me if I had. He left Gallifrey a long time ago. He knows nothing of the conflict we had with… the creatures who destroyed our world… Why would he believe that our planet is dust?”

“Tell him, guv’nor,” Ben urged. “If that will make him see…”

“How can I tell him that?” The Doctor asked. “Even if he did believe me… if he would listen… It might drive him even more insane. And if it doesn’t… How can I do that to the man? How can I burden him with that terrible grief? He must have had family left there… Even if he had exiled himself, he must care…”

“Doctor!” Donna hugged him unashamedly. “You are… amazing. You’re facing death… and yet… you’re worried about upsetting the man who wants to kill you...”

“Yes,” The Doctor answered. “It sounds silly to you… because you don’t really understand what it’s like… one moment everyone you know is… worried, because there’s a terrible war going on… but alive. The next… they’re all gone. Everything. You can’t begin to imagine… every day I think of somebody… not just friends and relations… but even people I didn’t like… school bullies… political opponents… I think of them out of the blue, and know they’re dead, and it hurts. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”

“But, he’s going to kill you,” Ben reminded him. “At… dawn.”

“We don’t even know when dawn is,” Donna answered. “This room is right in the mountain… we can’t see the sky.”

“It’s an hour away,” The Doctor said. He knew that from instinct. His body clock was in tune with the environment around him, the planet he was on. He knew what time it was and he knew when the sun would be up.

“Did he say how he was going to have me killed?” The Doctor asked. “Not that it matters. One execution is as bad as another.”

His friends didn’t know. He hardly expected them to.

“It’s all right,” he said calmly, though he was anything but calm inside. “It’s… not the first time somebody has tried to execute me. My own people actually have, twice.”

“Doctor!” Donna shook her head and tried to hold back tears. “Don’t joke about it. It’s not funny. What are we going to do… if… if… we can’t leave here without you. The TARDIS is… is broken. Even if they’d let us go back to it. Doctor… I’m sorry… it’s selfish of me. But all I can think of… I want to go home. I don’t want to live here… among… people who I can’t understand, and a madman who… wants to murder you.”

She began to cry. The Doctor reached out and held her comfortingly, but there wasn’t much comfort he could offer. Ben knelt close by, looking worried. There was even less he could do. He must have considered fighting, but the odds were so stacked against them it was impossible.

“Ben,” he said. “I want you to know… I’m sorry. I’ve got you into all of this. I took you away from your world… I’m sorry for this.”

“You’re not the one to blame, guv’nor,” he answered. “You’ve nothing to be sorry for.”

“Even so… I am, very sorry.”

There was a grating sound, as of a stone being rolled aside. Rushlight illuminated the gloom, then was temporarily blocked as Kocieda entered the cell. His people stood at the door, but he himself came right up to where The Doctor was sitting.

“Tell him,” Donna urged The Doctor. “Please tell him. You must. It’s the only way.”

“I can’t,” he insisted. “I told you why.”

“Then I will,” she replied. She stood up and faced the High Priest. Her hands were on her hips and her tone when she spoke was belligerent.

“Listen to me, you…. Weirdo… The Doctor isn’t going to turn you in to your people. Even though you’re obviously some sort of troublemaker and you probably deserve it. He can’t. Because your planet is gone. Destroyed. The Doctor is the LAST Time Lord in the universe, apart from you… and… and I feel sorry for him for finding out that there is another one, after all, but it turns out he’s a raving lunatic who wants to kill him.”

“You’re lying!” Kocieda replied. But there was uncertainty in his eyes. They darted from Donna to The Doctor.

“I’m not lying,” Donna replied. “If you don’t believe me, do some sort of Time Lord mind meld thing and look for yourself.”

“Mind meld?” Kocieda looked puzzled. But The Doctor knew what she meant.

“Maybe there’s some vestige of your psychic ability left,” he said. “Come closer. We need to make physical contact.”

Kocieda hesitated.

“Ben, Donna… stand away from us. You have your men at the door. They can be summoned if you feel I am threatening you. But come close. Let me touch you.”

Kocieda slowly moved towards The Doctor as his friends stepped away. Ben looked ready to pounce at any moment, but Donna held his arm.

The two Time Lords knelt together. The Doctor reached out and touched Kocieda either side of his head. He had changed his biology a lot. His Time Lord ident was gone. His DNA read as one of the In-V’il. But there was a vestige of the telepathic skills that all Time Lords were born with. Enough for him to establish a link.

He was surprised by the images that came from Kocieda’s mind as he connected with him. He saw an old, disillusioned man who had been enchanted by the simple life of the people here on In, and then gone home to Gallifrey to find corruption in the High Council and a refusal to listen to any fresh idea that was put to them.

He committed no crime against Gallifrey. He simply decided he wanted to leave. He wanted to stop being a Time Lord. He left in the night, almost exactly as The Doctor himself had done many years later. He came back to In. He used the Chameleon Arch to change himself and then destroyed his TARDIS by sending it on remote power into one of the twin suns.

“That was dangerous,” The Doctor told him. “The Eye of Harmony could have caused a chain reaction and destroyed the star.”

“It didn’t. It just caused some interesting solar flares that the natives took as an omen and made it easy for me to proclaim myself as their new High Priest.”

“How convenient. You’re right. At that time the Time Lords would have considered you leaving without permission as a betrayal. But I don’t think they ever saw you as a threat worth pursuing. And they never will now. Because….”

It hurt him to pull all those memories from the back of his mind to the forefront, to replay the images in his own head. It hurt Kocieda to see it. If there had been any other way he wouldn’t. But Donna had already given him half the story. It was better that he knew the rest.

“So…” The Doctor said, finally, as he drew back from him. “That’s why… your secret is safe. There is nobody to tell. I was the only survivor and only by a mere fluke. There is no High Council. Nobody wants to take you back. I certainly don’t. If you’re happy here on this beautiful planet… and it really is… that’s why I came to look at it… If that’s what it’s about, I won’t stop you. Why would I?”

Kocieda said nothing for a long time. Then he stood up, slowly. He turned and gave instructions to his guards at the door. They came in, spears held up, but ready to attack at a signal. Ben strained to jump on them. But he didn’t need to. Even The Doctor was surprised when Kocieda hit out at both of them, simultaneously. They slid to the ground like felled trees, unconscious.

“Come on,” Kocieda said. “I have to get you out of here, quickly. We have a matter of minutes before somebody realises that you’re gone.”

“They’re your people,” Donna pointed out. “Why don’t you just tell them to back off?”

“Because I promised them a blood sacrifice. They won’t let you go, now.”

Kocieda looked at the stone door that closed off the cell and heaved at it. The Doctor and Ben helped him to roll it across, leaving the two natives as prisoners. That bought them a little more time. But The Doctor was considering how long it took them to get up through the mountain. It would be nearly dawn before they were out in the clear. And then they still had to reach the TARDIS. They would be lucky if they were not pursued.

Kocieda brought them by a different set of stairs that avoided the communal area. They didn’t see any of the natives before they reached the base of the mountain. But as The Doctor predicted, it was close to dawn.

“Can you find your TARDIS in the dark?” Kocieda asked him.

“Yes, I can,” The Doctor answered. “But… maybe it would be better if you came with us. If they know you helped us…”

“Perhaps I have avoided the consequences of my actions for too long,” Kocieda said. “Goodbye, Doctor.” Then he said something else, in Ancient Gallifreyan, the language of ceremony and ritual. Even when the TARDIS was functioning properly, it never translated Ancient Gallifreyan. But The Doctor learned it the way public school boys in England learned Latin and he knew exactly what Kocieda had said to him. He opened his mouth to protest, but he was gone, and he knew his first priority was to get Ben and Donna back to the TARDIS.

They ran through the gradually lightening pre-dawn. The Doctor found the TARDIS instinctively, feeling its presence in his very bones. If he couldn’t do that, he probably never would have found it, almost buried now beneath the still growing vegetation. He pulled away the vines and pushed open the door and slid inside, knowing that the internal shremec would have turned the console room floor at right angles to the door. Donna climbed in next, helped by Ben and set safely on solid ground by The Doctor. Then Ben jumped in. The Doctor ran to the console and first turned the floor back around the right way again before setting the controls for his next manoeuvre.

“I’ve got to go back for him,” The Doctor said. “I can’t let them…”

“Let them do what?” Donna asked him.

“The In-V’il… they’re going to kill Kocieda. He promised them a sacrifice… they’ll sacrifice him. He knew it….”

“They might not,” Donna said. “He’s their High Priest, after all. He’ll be all right, surely?”

“No,” The Doctor insisted. “The last thing he said to me… it’s… it’s part of the Gallifreyan death rite… It’s what a dying Time Lord would say… or one going to certain death…”


“He wanted to kill you.” Ben pointed out.

“Even so,” Donna said. “It’s a horrible idea… and… he went back there… knowing… that’s so…”

“Brave,” Ben ventured.

“Honourable,” The Doctor said. “Justice and honour… those were the principle tenets Gallifrey was meant to be bound by. We went wrong sometimes. But Kocieda remembered about it just in time. And... you’re right. I can’t let them kill him. I don’t intend to…”

He put the TARDIS in hover mode. Ben and Donna watched as he piloted it up the side of the mountain.

“They’ll see us, won’t they?” Ben said.

“I’ve extended the perception filter around the TARDIS,” The Doctor explained. “As long as they’re not expecting to see a flying police phone box, they won’t see one.”

And it didn’t look as if the In-V’il had seen a flying police phone box as they gathered on the plateau halfway up their mountain. They were watching as the sun rose. Kocieda was standing near the edge of the plateau, with guards either side of him.

“They’re going to throw him off?” Ben asked.

“As soon as the rising sun’s rays hit the plateau… sacrificing him to the sun god. This is going to be a tricky manoeuvre. If I get it wrong he could die in an even worse way than being splattered on the plain below.”

“How worse?” Donna asked.

“Splattered all over the TARDIS floor,” The Doctor replied.

“Try to get it right,” Donna told him.

It was split second timing. The Doctor watched as the sun’s rays raced up the side of the mountain, turning it golden red. It reached the plateau and the In-V’il cried out together as Kocieda was thrown over the edge. He caught his breath as he initiated an emergency materialisation around the falling body and then a stasis field that caught him in mid air within the console room. He signalled to Ben and he stood ready to help him when The Doctor switched off the stasis field and he fell the last few feet. He landed awkwardly, but on his feet, and that was more than they could have hoped for.

“Doctor!” Kocieda looked around and realised where he was at once. “You… came back for me.”

“Yes, I did. Justice and Honour, remember. Now… what to do with you?”

“There’s a perception filter on this TARDIS?”

“For about eight minutes more,” The Doctor told him. “After that, I can’t risk the engines. It takes a lot of power to make the TARDIS invisible.”

“Eight minutes will be enough. They’ll have seen me vanish. They’ll take it as a sign, a portent. If I re-appear… They’ll be over-awed. They’ll think I’ve returned from the dead…”

“You’ll be worshipped by them,” The Doctor said. “Can you handle that? It’s not easy being a god…”

“I’ll try to be a kind and loving god,” Kocieda promised. Then he turned and stepped towards the door.

The Doctor had brought the TARDIS level with the plateau. Kocieda looked as if he was stepping out of the air towards the In-V’il. They prostrated themselves before him, awe-struck by his re-appearance, just as he thought they would be. The Doctor closed the door and dematerialised the TARDIS.

“He’ll be all right?” Donna asked anxiously.

“I think he will,” The Doctor answered. “They’ve had their sacrifice. They’ve seen their High Priest come back from the dead. They’ve got enough to think about for a while. Our brief encounter with them will be forgotten. He’ll live out his days as their god. Can’t be bad. Meanwhile, I need to drop in at the intergalactic equivalent of Maplins and pick up a new bulb and some lantern glass to fix the TARDIS roof light. After that, I think we should have that trip through the solar system and stop off on Earth for a few days r&r. How about we take Ben to Blackpool?”