“I can’t believe we’re going to Downing Street,” Donna said as they stepped out of the TARDIS on the corner of Westminster Bridge, where it looked a little less incongruous than usual. “Ten Downing Street. I mean, wow. I’ve lived my whole life in London, but I have never got to go to Downing Street.”

“I walked down there once,” Ben said. “When Gladstone was Prime Minister. I don’t think I would have been invited in.”

“I’m waiting for The Doctor to explain how come he was invited.”

“I’m not entirely sure,” he admitted. “Except it’s an invitation to luncheon, and is extended to ‘The Doctor and companions’. I strongly suspect there is an ulterior motive. There always is. But we shall have an elegant lunch, first, so let’s make the most of it.”

He grinned disarmingly and strode off. Donna took Ben’s arm and the two of them caught up with him as they crossed the road and continued past the Houses of Parliament. The Doctor looked up at Big Ben and smiled inscrutably before checking his watch and noting that the clock was two minutes slow. Then they turned down Parliament Street, past all the grand government buildings and the cenotaph. The Doctor showed his psychic paper to the policeman on duty at the security gate across the entrance to Downing Street itself. He winced slightly as the policeman saluted him, but they were all three of them allowed to pass, and when they reached Number Ten, the door was opened immediately. The policeman there saluted The Doctor, too.

The Prime Minister, Harriet Jones, met them in the entrance hall. She smiled graciously at The Doctor and greeted him as an old friend.

“I wasn’t sure which would answer my invitation. But any one of you is equally welcome. Please, come on through to the White Drawing Room. We’ll have a cup of tea and I can get to know your friends properly.”

She smiled at them all. Donna, of course, knew that Harriet had been Prime Minister since the previous incumbent had died in a gas explosion that reduced most of Downing Street to rubble. She had been the one who had risen to the occasion at that time and assured Britain and the Commonwealth that they had a government, despite all appearances. Now she was the duly elected leader of the country, residing in a beautifully and faithfully restored Number Ten.

Ben was puzzled. He gripped Donna’s arm as they followed The Doctor and the Prime Minister to the elegant White Drawing Room.

“She’s a woman… and she’s Prime Minister?” he whispered. “How?”

“Women can do that now,” was Donna’s short answer. “I’ll show you a couple of history books later. Just go with the flow for now.”

She did wonder how The Doctor was going to introduce Ben, a former burglar from the Victorian era, to the Prime Minister. He surely wouldn’t embarrass him by telling her how they met?

He didn’t. He introduced Donna and Ben as friends from London and left it at that.

“And you’re travelling with The Doctor?” she asked them. “That must be interesting.”

“To say the least,” Donna said, forgetting to be nervous about meeting the Prime Minister. “The stuff he lands us into.”

“Yes,” Harriet had a sympathetic expression. “I can quite understand that. The first time I met The Doctor planet Earth was almost destroyed by aliens. Then there was the time…”

At that moment, a liveried butler announced that luncheon was served in the small dining room. But that didn’t stop the discussion of The Doctor’s exploits as witnessed by his companions. They were joined at the luncheon by a gentleman called Sir Howard Atkinson, the Foreign Secretary, and a man in army uniform. He wore two pips and a crown on his shoulders and was introduced to The Doctor as Colonel Mace of the Unified Intelligence Taskforce. Both the Foreign Secretary and the Colonel were excited to meet The Doctor, and were perfectly happy to listen to Donna and the Prime Minister share stories about him over lunch. The Doctor didn’t say very much, except occasionally to correct details about dates. Donna glanced at him once across the elegant dining table and noted that he was watching the Foreign Secretary intently. He glanced occasionally at Colonel Mace, too. But mostly he was interested in Sir Howard.

“This has all been very delightful,” Colonel Mace said as they finished the finely made meal and drank coffee. “But we are not, of course, gathered here for a reunion…”

“Well, no,” The Doctor said. “Since I don’t know either of you two, so it would hardly be a reunion.”

“That is true,” Mace answered. “Though I am familiar enough with you through U.N.I.T.’s personnel files. I feel as if I do know you.”

“Indeed,” The Foreign Secretary added. “Your reputation precedes you, Doctor. This country, indeed, this planet, owes you a great debt of gratitude already. It is scarcely polite of us to call upon you to give such service again.”

The Doctor said nothing, but his eyes looked alive with interest.

“All of this is top secret, of course,” Colonel Mace said. “We should continue in the secure situation room. Your friends will be able to wait in the White Drawing Room until…”

“I’ve heard that one before around here,” The Doctor said. “If you want my help, then you get the help of my companions, too. Miss Noble is my secretary. Mr Carpenter is my Aide. There’s nothing you can’t say to me that you can’t say to them. I can personally vouch for each of them. Which is more than I can say for either of you.”

Both of his friends looked at The Doctor curiously. Then they looked at the Prime Minister.

“Gentlemen,” she said to the Colonel and Sir Howard. “I think we can safely say that anyone The Doctor considers a friend is trustworthy. Let us all move to the secure situation room. By the way, Doctor, where did you… park… your box… the TARDIS…”

The Doctor told her. She nodded to Colonel Mace.

“I’ll have it brought here,” he said. “You may be needing it later.”

The Doctor frowned and looked about to protest. Harriet Jones looked at him with an appealing expression.

“Doctor, please trust us. There is something that must be done. You are the only man I know I can rely on. Whatever terms you wish to impose, we will accommodate fully. Believe me.”

The Doctor gave a half smile and looked at his companions. Donna looked back at him and nodded. Ben was surprised that his opinion was being solicited at all.

“I think… there’s no harm in hearing what they have to say,” he managed to tell him.

“I quite agree,” The Doctor said rising from his seat. “Secure situation room, that would be down the steps behind the concealed door in the Pillared Room?”

The words ‘how does he know that?’ were on the lips of Colonel Mace and The Foreign Secretary as they followed The Doctor out of the dining room. Donna and Ben shared a knowing smile. They didn’t know how he knew these things, either, but they knew better than to ask.

“He was asked to approve the designs for the rebuilt Downing Street,” Harriet Jones whispered to the two companions, deliberately making sure the Colonel and Sir Howard didn’t hear her. “Actually, it was the other version of him, but they compare notes, I expect.

They all laughed conspiratorially as they followed The Doctor into the public room known as the Pillared Room and watched him press the panel that opened the concealed door. There was a steel door with an electronic keypad lock behind that, and he stood aside and nodded courteously as the Prime Minister put in the code that opened the inner door. They continued down a flight of stairs that took them into a secure bunker beneath Downing Street that looked as if it had survived the ‘gas explosion’ - which Ben and Donna now knew wasn’t anything of the sort, after hearing the full story from the Prime Minister herself over lunch.

The Situation Room was a modern looking room with plain cream coloured walls, one of which had a huge computer screen mounted on it with a screensaver of the government crest slowly scrolling around it at that moment. There was a smoked glass table and chrome and leather chairs. Everyone sat except Colonel Mace, who stood and operated a computer terminal underneath the screen. A video recording began to play on one side of the screen while on the other a series of apparently disjointed and disconnected words appeared. The video was of a humanoid alien with pale blue skin and long purple-blue hair that went all the way down to his feet. He was wearing an all in one body suit in a shade a little darker than his hair. He spoke in an alien language but with an urgent tone that was unmistakeable.”

“Oh,” Donna exclaimed. “The words… they’re some sort of translation…”

“Our own software,” Mace answered. “At least… not exactly ours. It was leant to us by the Torchwood Institute. They assured us it would translate any language. But as you can see, we’re having a lot of trouble. Only a few of the words correspond to anything in English.”

“None of the words correspond,” The Doctor told him. “The ones you think you’ve got right are just random coincidental syllable recognition. Take that nonsense off the screen - it’s very distracting - and run the video again.”

“Guv’nor, how come we can’t understand it?” Ben asked, beating Donna to the question by a fraction of a second. “I thought the TARDIS translated everything for us… because of… artron energy. That’s what Donna told me. But… I can’t understand this.”

“It’s a very obscure dialect,” The Doctor said. “I’m having a bit of trouble myself. This language has never been programmed into the TARDIS database. And that’s incredible for a start. There are about ten billion languages hard-wired into her… and into everyone who travels in her. But give me a couple of minutes. Mace, run it back again. I think I have an idea of it now. It’s very similar to Kal’ac.”

“Kal’ac?” Harriet queried.

“The language spoken in the Chamaeleon sector,” The Doctor explained. “All right, here we are… I get it now. Oh...”

“Well?” Colonel Mace was bursting with impatience. Sir Howard looked disappointed, as if he had been expecting instant results from the ‘great’ Doctor. Everyone else was just enjoying watching him at work.

“He says he represents the Kal’Exion people,” The Doctor said. “They are refugees from a planet devastated by war. Three thousand of them… in one great transporter ship currently in a holding pattern on the outer edge of the solar system.”

“What!” Harriet looked worried. Colonel Mace looked ready to order a space battlefleet to go to the outer edge of the solar system before he remembered Earth in the early twenty-first century didn’t have a space battlefleet.

Just as well, The Doctor thought, as he recalled how often he had begged The Brigadier when he was in charge of the old style U.N.I.T., not to shoot first at some alien entity.

“What do they want?” Sir Howard asked. The Doctor looked at him oddly and didn’t answer. Harriet repeated the question to him.

“They want to meet with the leader of this planet to discuss the migration of the refugees to Earth.”

“Oh.” Harriet bit her lip thoughtfully. “But…”

“The leader of planet Earth?” Donna put her finger on the first problem with what The Doctor had just said. “We don’t have a leader of Planet Earth. I know the American president likes to think he is, but the rest of us beg to differ.”

“We most certainly do,” Harriet Jones said, smiling benignly at Donna. “As far as we know, the American government don’t know about this. The message was picked up by Torchwood using technology in their possession which is far superior to anything other organisations have. But I suppose… if we are being asked to absorb ten thousand refugees who don’t look very much like us… this is something I ought to inform the United Nations about. It’s something they will have to discuss. I can’t make a decision like that unilaterally.”

“You certainly can’t,” The Doctor agreed. “Besides, this is your official First Contact between planet Earth and an alien race. It has to be handled carefully. I think I ought to go and talk to the Kal’Exion leader, face to face. I’ll explain the difficulties to him.”

“I was hoping you would say that, Doctor,” Harriet said to him.

“You need to contact the United Nations,” The Doctor said to Harriet. “Donna, Ben, you come with me. Sir Howard, you too. Colonel Mace… I don’t have any use for a military man in this. You’d better stay here.”

Colonel Mace protested. The Doctor gave him a very hard stare. He backed down. The Doctor’s stares had the full force of a thousand years of experience behind them. Colonel Mace was only an infant at fifty years old.

“All right, if that’s sorted… let’s get on.”

The TARDIS had been brought to the back garden of Downing Street. It looked rather incongruous in the middle of the lawn, but The Doctor didn’t care. He made a point of checking it out to make sure it wasn’t damaged before opening the door. Sir Howard stepped inside and went through all the usual exclamations of amazed disbelief.

“Oh, come on, Sir Howard,” The Doctor said to him. “You said you read all the files about me. So you should know about the TARDIS. Just take a seat over there on the sofa. I don’t have much in the way of in-flight entertainment. Just a few magazines that Donna bought at the last space port we stopped off in…” He looked around and saw Colonel Mace and Harriet Jones standing at the threshold. They both looked a little envious of Sir Howard. As he reached to close the door Mace saluted him. He pretended not to have noticed. He didn’t really like that sort of thing, at least not from career soldiers. He had fought too many battles where uniforms and ranks and salutes were meaningless.

Donna and Ben came to his side at the console. He gave them jobs to do that appeared to Sir Howard as if they were vital to the piloting of the TARDIS. The man had done his best to ignore both of them through the briefing, considering them surplus to requirements. He meant to correct his assumption.

There was some urgency to the mission, but even so, The Doctor made the journey through the solar system take a half an hour. He left the viewscreen on and Donna and Ben both enjoyed the sight of the planets and asteroids that made up the Sol system passing by. Sir Howard managed to look impressed, too, in a stiff-upper lip sort of way, as if he had used up all his amazement on the TARDIS interior and was taking everything in his stride, now.

Or, possibly, because a mere solar system was nothing new to him.

“Does Harriet know that you’re from the Hydra Cluster?” The Doctor asked him as they were sliding past Saturn. He asked the question so casually that Ben and Donna, busy at their appointed tasks, almost didn’t look around to see what his reaction would be.

“I beg you pardon?” Sir Howard responded. “I don’t understand…”

“I thought there was something the first time I saw you,” The Doctor said. “You have the very slight pink tinge to the whites of your eyes. Disguised by contact lenses, of course. And when we shook hands, I noticed that your body temperature is a few degrees lower than Human. You’d be from Maeol III or IV, I suppose? Both those planets exploded from tectonic instability about fifty years ago by Earth measure. You’d have been a child… a refugee with your parents, quietly blending in.”

Sir Howard stopped protesting. He looked at The Doctor fearfully.

“Don’t worry,” The Doctor told him. “Your secret is safe with me. But… if you’re inclined to take a tough line about the migration of the Kal’Exion, just bear in mind how lucky you were to find such a nice planet when you needed it.”

Sir Howard looked a little less worried, and became thoughtful instead. Donna and Ben both looked at The Doctor.

“You really knew he was alien from shaking hands?”

“I guessed,” The Doctor replied. “The TARDIS confirmed it. It’s registering two humans, one Time Lord and one Maeolian aboard.”

“But he looks Human,” Ben said. “Does that mean…”

“How many aliens live on planet Earth?” Donna asked.

“First, let’s stop using the word ‘alien’,” The Doctor told her reproachfully. “Especially in my presence. What we’re talking about is humanoid migration from outside the Sol system. And the answer, by your century, is about eight million citizens of planet Earth with extra-terrestrial ancestry.”


“Because it’s safer than the planets they’ve come from. Warmer, less likely to spontaneously explode, even less polluted, believe it or not. And your internal wars are generally far less devastating than some of the inter-planetary ones going on out there. Earth is a shining haven for the huddled masses of the universe.”

Ben seemed impressed, and justifiably proud of his home world. Donna, of course, had seen a lot of science fiction on televisions.

“So… is it like, you know, Men in Black. Does anyone monitor them or…”

“Not while I have breath in my body,” The Doctor answered. “I’m not going to be ‘registered’ and issued with a visa to enter planet Earth, thank you. No, they just arrive quietly, sometimes not so quietly. That’s how UFO stories come about, of course. When their ships aren’t quite discreet enough. They tend to live in busy cities where nobody notices another ethnic minority whose ways and accents are a bit strange. They adapt and they integrate, and sometimes, like Sir Howard, they are successful. Sometimes, like Sir Howard, they almost forget they’re not really Human.”

“But the people we’re going to see…” Donna continued. “You know, our record for welcoming people who are ‘different’ isn’t great. Ask my friend, Mooky. She was BORN in Chiswick, in the same maternity ward I was. And she gets treated like a... like an ALIEN just because of her skin colour. And it’s a NORMAL skin colour for humans. How will a bunch of blue people manage to integrate?”

“That’s a problem, I agree,” The Doctor admitted. “But not insurmountable. We shall see very soon. Look… there’s the ship.”

Donna looked at the viewscreen as the TARDIS slowly slid past the last planet in the solar system and something else came into view. It was a space ship in the way she always imagined space ships to be, or at least the way science fiction films and television conditioned her to expect them to be. It was something like a cross between the Starship Enterprise and the alien ship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind: disk-like, spinning slowly, with lots of lights around its rim.

“How big is it?” she asked. “It’s hard to tell on there. It could be an airfix model kit for all I know…”

“It’s two miles wide,” The Doctor answered her. “And I am reading just over three thousand souls aboard, as the messenger told us. So far, so good.”

“Did you think that was a lie, Guv’nor?” Ben asked, detecting something in the way The Doctor had said that.

“I can’t rule out the possibility that this is a disguised warship come to conquer Earth, not seek sanctuary there. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

“You mean you don’t trust them?” Donna was astonished. The Doctor had always been friendly to the different people they met on their travels.

“This is different,” he said quietly. “We’re not on their planet as guests, they’re asking to be guests on your planet. And the only difference between them and a whole gamut of other visitors in two mile wide space ships is the fact that they’ve asked. But that could still be a ploy. So…” He reached under the console and brought out two of the perception filters they had used once before. “Donna, Ben, you’re going to do a bit of snooping for me. Find out if they’re really a ship full of militia hell bent on domination of Earth, or a genuine case of refugees.”

Donna looked extremely doubtful about that plan.

“Go on,” The Doctor coaxed her with a wide grin. “It’s more interesting than my job. I’m just going to be playing diplomatic intermediary with Sir Howard and the leaders of the Kal’Exions. Politics! My least favourite occupation.”

But one he did well, The Doctor had to admit to himself as he landed the TARDIS aboard the Kal’Exion ship. The delegation waiting for him looked rather puzzled by the shape of his craft. But as he and Sir Howard stepped out together they were greeted cordially. He saw Donna and Ben slip out behind them wearing the perception filters, but the Kal’Exions didn’t.

So far so good, he thought again.

Ben and Donna quietly parted company with The Doctor and Sir Howard and the Kal’Exions at a bulkhead door that led to the dormitory area, - according to the sign in Kal’Exion that translated easily in front of their eyes now. They stepped from a wide, well-lit corridor to a narrower one with only a few dim lights.

“Maybe they need to conserve power,” Donna said about the lighting. “They’re saving on heating, too. It’s really cold. Glad I brought a coat. The darkness is well creepy, though.”

“Not for me,” Ben noted. “Moving about in shadows… It is something I am used to doing.”

One day, Donna thought, she would remember not to say things that made Ben remember he used to be a burglar. But he didn’t seem upset. And he did seem pretty much at home in the dull half light.

They came to a double door that looked important. Donna wondered if Ben would need to employ his lock-picking skills, but there was no need. He pulled at the handle and the door opened. They stepped inside the room carefully and were surprised by what they found there.

The Doctor had noticed how cold it was, too. But his body could regulate itself to different temperatures. It didn’t bother him. Sir Howard was also coping. His species were another which had a way of increasing or decreasing their internal body temperature to cope with external extremes. Of course, ordinary humans could do that, too. But not as well as Time Lords or Maeolians.

“I am T’c,” said the leader of the Kal’Exions, bowing politely to them and inviting them to sit at a perfectly ordinary looking conference table. It was one of the wonders of the universe, of course, that species who had never had any connection to each other, millions of light years apart, invented tables and chairs of a certain pattern that suited the humanoid form. He had come across very few alternatives to tables. The Vega Nostrums used anti-gravity surfaces that floated at the right height above the floor, but really those were just tables that used a bit of clever technology instead of legs.

He gave himself a mental kick and stopped thinking about tables. He gave his attention instead to a video screen where he watched a short history of the Kal’Exion people’s last days. They had been engaged in a war with their neighbours, the Kal’Entions. T’c, in contrite tones freely admitted that they were just as aggressive to their enemy as the enemy was to them.

“We destroyed their planet,” he said. “We used terrible weapons that ripped it apart. Only a few thousands survivors fled Kal’Ention to take refuge on the uninhabited inner planet, Kal’Eskillion. We thought we were victors. But we were wrong. We little knew that our own planet’s stability depended on the gravitational balance between Kal’Exion and Kal’Ention. Within days of the destruction of the one world, the other began to fail. Millions died. Five ships managed to leave before it was too late. We separated, choosing different destinations where we could survive. We can only hope that the others were successful. But too late to turn back, we discovered that our chosen destination, Sol Three, was inhabited. By our own standards, most of the planet seemed to be unviable. We did not understand until we scanned the surface how the indigenous species had adapted and evolved to be able to live in the most inhospitable of climates. That was our mistake. Our only hope now lies in negotiation with you.”

The Doctor said nothing. Sir Howard shifted uncomfortably in his seat and asked them why they didn’t go somewhere else when they discovered that Earth was not suitable. The Doctor thought that was a good question, but the answer was obvious enough.

“We must settle on Sol Three,” T’c explained. “We have not food enough to travel to another suitable planet. We took so long just to get this far. We have rations enough to last one growing season, until the seeds in our cryo-store have yielded the first harvest. If we must go elsewhere, the food we have will run out before we get there, and we will die before the harvest.”

“That is… a difficult situation,” Sir Howard agreed. “I sympathise with your plight. But… you must understand that it is difficult for us to allow three thousand extra-terrestrials to land on our planet. You could not be integrated into our society. Your physical appearance…”

“We do not need to ‘integrate’,” T’c replied. “We only need a portion of the planet which is not used by your species. It would be sufficient for our needs.”

“It cannot be done,” Sir Howard insisted. “I am sorry…”

“Sir Howard,” The Doctor said quietly. “Remember what I said before. Remember that you, too, know what it is to be a refugee.”

“I have not forgotten that, Doctor,” Sir Howard answered. “But can’t you see how impossible it would be?”

“No,” The Doctor replied. “It can be done. You haven’t been listening, Sir Howard. They…”

The Doctor stopped in mid sentence as the door to the conference room opened and shut. He had seen Donna and Ben enter, but Sir Howard, T’c and the Kal’Exion secretary who was dutifully recording the discussion didn’t. At least not until they took off the perception filters. The Doctor rose to his feet urgently and strode across the floor to take the small blue-skinned child that Ben was carrying.

“Doctor,” Donna said breathlessly. “Doctor, you’ve got to help them. They’re dying. Some of them are children, and they’re not going to last long. They’re really bad.”

“Dying?” Sir Howard hovered uselessly as The Doctor laid the child on the negotiating table and pulled a stethoscope out of an inside pocket of his jacket. Quite why even somebody called The Doctor carried such a thing was a mystery known only to him. But he used it to examine the blue child. Then he put his hand on her chest and closed his eyes. His own flesh went slightly blue as he decreased his body temperature and transferred the cold to the small body. As he did so, the child’s breathing became less ragged and tortured and she opened her dark blue eyes and looked up at him. She smiled weakly at him.

“That’s all right, sweetheart,” he said, lifting her up in his arms and giving her a cold cuddle. He turned and looked at Donna and Ben. “There are more like this?”

“Thousands,” Donna answered. “They’re all crying for help down there. We… brought this one… so you could see… but… Doctor, they’ll all die soon if…”

“Something is wrong with your refrigeration system,” he said to T’c urgently. “You’d better show me, quickly.”

“There is no need,” T’c replied in a surprisingly calm voice. “The refrigeration system cannot be repaired. It has been rendered beyond repair.”

“What?” Ben was still working out some things about this situation, but he had been in the dormitory and he understood that something terrible was happening there. “You mean you did it…”

“He did it?” Donna looked at the child in The Doctor’s arms, then at the leader of the distressed people. “He wants to kill them?”

“No.” The Doctor understood now. He read it in T’c’s expression. “He thought we were going to refuse, even knowing that they would die before they could find another suitable planet. So he gave us a final ultimatum. Let the Kal’Exions land on planet Earth or watch them die before our eyes right here, right now. That’s it, isn’t it?”

“This is a quicker death than the one you would condemn us to.”

“You idiot,” The Doctor told him. “I wasn’t going to let them refuse you. There were issues to be ironed out, but I would have fought to my last breath to ensure that you were accepted. You’ve put your people’s lives at risk for nothing. I just hope it isn’t too late.”

“Too late for what?” Sir Howard Atkinson asked. “Doctor…”

“Sir Howard, be quiet for a minute,” The Doctor replied. “There’s nothing for you to do right now. T’c, call your pilots. Head straight for Sol Three as quickly as this ship can travel. If you have any gods to pray to, then pray that none of your people die because of your own foolishness. Their deaths will be on your hands if they do. I intend to do everything I can to keep them alive.”

He turned and ran. Donna and Ben ran after him because he didn’t tell them not to. Sir Howard did the same after a moment’s hesitation. They hadn’t quite reached the TARDIS when they felt the ship vibrate and there was a feeling of acceleration. It had begun to move through the planetary system towards Sol Three – otherwise known as Earth.

The Doctor ran straight to the TARDIS communications console. He used a retro looking telephone to call the Prime Minister of Great Britain.

“Harriet,” he said. “The Kal’Exions are coming to Earth. I need you to do three things. First, make sure nobody fires on it. Not that lot at Torchwood, not the Americans, Russians, anyone. Use whatever protocols you have, tell them it’s an order from me. Second, tell Colonel Mace to get that U.N.I.T. ship, plane, whatever they call it in the air. The Valiant… When I’m ready I’ll give them co-ordinates. And then get the leaders of these countries on the Valiant ready to sign a very important and very secret Treaty. Don’t let any of them refuse. Tell them it’s an order from me, as well. Have you got a notepad there?” He paused while Harriet either grabbed a notepad or summoned a secretary with one. Then he spoke again, and Donna, who prided herself on being the best shorthand note-taker at the temp agency wondered if it was possible to keep up as he reeled off a list of countries in alphabetical order.

“Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea South Korea, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela. You, of course, Harriet, will be representing the United Kingdom. Call the President of Ireland, too. She’s a very smart lady with a law degree and no vested interest in this. She can act as a neutral observer.”

Harriet Jones sounded a little non-plussed but she didn’t ask him to repeat any of the list. Either her secretary was better than Donna or she had recorded the communication. She tried to ask The Doctor some questions, and Colonel Mace in the background sounded as if he was about to explode in frustration, but The Doctor ignored them all.

“Harriet, I have confidence in you,” he said. “You’ll get it done. Don’t let the presidents of Russia and the USA give you any trouble or they’ll answer to me.”

He closed the communication and then dashed to the TARDIS door. His companions were surprised when they saw that they had moved. They had been so busy watching The Doctor giving orders to the Prime Minister they hadn’t noticed the rise and fall of the time rotor. And he had done it all while still holding the Kal’Exion child whose life he had saved. He ran outside, still holding on to her. Everyone else followed him almost out of habit and found themselves in the dormitory block. The Doctor laid the child on one of the bunks and looked around at the thousands of other souls around him.

“Oh, Doctor!” Donna exclaimed. “They look even worse now. How long will it take to get to Earth? Will they make it?”

“It will take six hours at the speed this ship travels. Including having to slow down through the asteroid belt. T’c miscalculated badly. His trump card would have killed all of them if I wasn’t here. As it is… Ben, Donna, Sir Howard… look around. Find those who are really suffering the most, anyone who looks like they need immediate help, and bring them close to the TARDIS.”

They didn’t argue. Not even Sir Howard questioned him. They all three began to do what The Doctor asked them to do. He, meanwhile, ran back into the TARDIS. A few minutes later he ran back out again and looked at the TARDIS roof. He grinned as a bright white light shone up from the usually blue lamp. The beam of light hit the high roof of the ‘dormitory’ and at first it looked as if the light was spreading over the roof. But in fact it was icing over. The TARDIS was acting as a refrigeration unit and ice spread out across the roof.

“It’s snowing!” Donna cried out as she felt something soft and cold land on her shoulder. “Doctor, you’ve made it snow.”

“Yes,” he said. “A little bit of atmospheric excitation. Dead easy really. The only clever bit is there isn’t actually an atmosphere. But three thousand people breathing at once creates a bit of moisture in the air, and I can work with that.”

“It’s very clever, Guv’nor, but why?” Ben asked. “Surely they’ll freeze to death.”

“I was thinking the very same thing,” Sir Howard added. “Why…”

“You daft pair of prawns,” Donna told them. “Don’t you get it? They come from is a place where it’s cold. Warmth kills them. Your man busted the refrigeration unit and they were boiling to death even though it was only just warm enough for us to take our coats off. Speaking of which… is it all right if we get back in the TARDIS, Doctor? It’s a bit parky out here.”

“Yes, yes, you do that,” The Doctor answered her. “Put the kettle on. I think we could all use a cuppa. I’m afraid it’s going to take six hours for us, too. We can’t go anywhere until the ship arrives because we have to keep the fridge going. It gives me time to make sure everyone is ok now. There may be some having trouble, still.”

In fact, The Doctor hardly came back into the TARDIS at all during the journey. He worked tirelessly and never appearing to get cold, ensuring that every one of the Kal’Exions survived the trip. Donna, Ben and Sir Howard in turn came out to help him for as long as they could stand it.

“We’ll be there soon,” The Doctor told Donna when she came out in a big fur coat and assisted him as he attended to a small baby and his mother. “Not long to go now.”

“I know where we’re going, by the way,” Donna told him. “I worked it out. I wondered what all those countries had in common so I looked them up on the computer.” She laughed. “Sir Howard hasn’t figured it out, yet. Funny that, him being the Foreign Secretary. He ought to know, shouldn’t he?”

“He certainly should,” The Doctor answered. “Never mind. Listen. The engines are powering up for entry into the atmosphere.”

They could all feel it. Around them the Kal’Exions were murmuring in expectation. They all looked much happier than they had done a few hours ago, anyway. The Doctor said they could go now and took her hand as they stepped back into the TARDIS. He closed the door and went to the console. He examined some of the dials critically.

“We’ll have to have a refuelling stop in Cardiff, soon,” he said. “But we’re fine for now. Next stop the valiant Valiant.”

The TARDIS materialised in the main conference room where the leaders of the nations summoned by Harriet on The Doctor’s behalf were assembled. Some of them had seen the TARDIS before and smiled knowingly. Most of them had heard about it and sat up attentively. A few had somehow managed to become prime ministers or presidents without ever coming across The Doctor or his time machine before and were startled.

The Doctor stepped out first, followed by Donna and Ben, and by Sir Howard Atkinson, Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Sir Howard quietly took a seat beside Harriet Jones. Donna and Ben stood either side of The Doctor as he walked to the top of the table and silently looked around at each of the delegates. Donna thought it was amazing, really. He was still wearing his usual crumpled suit. The delegates were all dressed in designer suits and dresses – depending on gender. He looked like nobody compared to them. They ought to have been able to stare him down. But in fact most of them looked ready to defer to him.

“All of you represent countries that have made a claim to sovereignty over, or have an interest in, the only continent on Planet Earth which has no indigenous Human population. I have called you together today to tell you that - as of ten minutes ago - Antarctica has a population of three thousand and five people. Their space ship landed in the area known as Palmer Land, which is part of the British Antarctic Territory. Prime Minister Harriet Jones gave leave for them to land there. However, it would be impossible for a two mile wide space ship with a population of that size to remain there without the full co-operation of all of you and your governments. So we are here to thrash out a suitable treaty that will protect the new population of Antarctica. Particularly, we want to protect them from the Human race. This will, for the foreseeable future, be a secret. I’m not a big fan of secrets and conspiracies personally, but Earth isn’t ready to announce First Contact with an alien race, yet. So they will remain a secret and you will keep that secret. They will not require any contact with Humans. They have their own seeds to plant crops that actually grow in ice and provide protein enough to sustain them. They will, in return for being left to live in peace in a portion of the Earth that none of you have any use for, use their technology to protect the continent of Antarctica from the effects of ozone depletion and global warming and, quite possibly, save the Human race from itself. I think that’s a pretty good deal, really, don’t you?”

He looked around the table, his eyes daring any of them to disagree. The President of the USA looked a little mutinous. So did the Japanese Prime Minister, but both withered under The Doctor’s special attention.

Donna and Ben quietly slipped back into the TARDIS as The Doctor sat down and began to go into details. Donna made tea for herself and Ben, and then they sat down and read a book together. Several hours later, the TARDIS door opened. The Doctor stepped in with Sir Howard and Harriet Jones.

“I’ve never actually travelled in the TARDIS,” Harriet said. “The Doctor is taking me to meet the Kal’Exions and then drop me off back at Downing Street.” She smiled widely at the promise of such a treat. Donna and Ben exchanged the slightly smug glances of veteran TARDIS travellers and offered to give her a guided tour. The Doctor smiled the smile of one who has definitely done his good deed for the day and set the TARDIS on its way.