“Where are we going, Docteur?” Louise asked. She sat on the command chair and watched her husband operating the TARDIS console. He was moving around it quickly, pressing buttons and pulling levers apparently randomly, but she knew there had to be a method in it all, because they came out of the time vortex presently. She looked up at the viewscreen and saw a planet. “Oh, Earth.”

“You don’t mind, do you?” he asked. “Only I had a text from some friends of mine. They seemed a bit anxious and if they need my help…”

“Earth is fine,” Louise assured him. “It is an interesting place. What part are we going to now?”

“Australia,” he answered. “You’ll like it. Beautiful part of it. By the ocean. I’ll introduce you to the dolphins.”

Louise looked at the viewscreen as The Doctor smiled widely. The TARDIS was moving rapidly towards a large body of land in an even larger body of blue water. Louise didn’t know enough about Earth geography to recognise it as Australia. She noted that it had a lot of desert areas, which were a kind of topography she knew only from reading the TARDIS databanks. She saw the north-eastern coast come into closer view and after a little while she realised that they weren’t heading for the main body of land, but a small island in the sea off the coast of what The Doctor told her was Queensland. It looked more inviting than the desert places of the mainland. She saw thick wooded areas that reminded her of the forests of her own world. The ribbons of silver sand around the edges were less familiar and so was the glittering ultramarine sea. She hoped they might visit the inner part of the island.

“Moreton Island,” The Doctor told her, though she hadn’t asked “That’s where my friends live.”

“Your friends?” Louise asked. “These dolphins you spoke of?”

“Well, yes,” he answered with a laugh. “But I was going to see the humans, first. Do you remember Donna? She was with me when I visited Forêt… when…”

Louise’s eyes dimmed as she remembered when The Doctor came to liberate her people from the Overlords. She turned her face away from him.

“Hey,” he said, reaching out to her. “I know it was a hard time for you. But you came out of it just fine. There’s nothing to be unhappy about.”

“I was so ashamed of myself,” she said. “But you… and your friend… treated me with kindness… you never judged… and… No-one ever spoke of it afterwards… But I knew the men of my village… none of them would have considered a suit for me. I was… spoilt… But you… you gave me your love unconditionally.”

“It’s the only kind of love that counts,” he answered. “Donna will be glad to see you looking so well, with all of that sadness behind you. So… it’s high summer in Australia. Go and find something suitable to wear while I land the TARDIS.

His own concession to late January in Queensland was to take off his suit jacket and set aside his tie. He opened the top two buttons of his shirt, too, and used his sonic screwdriver to polarise the lenses in his glasses so that they shaded his eyes.

Louise was wearing sunglasses, too, when she emerged from the wardrobe. She was also wearing a cropped blouse and a pair of shorts in pastel colours and sandals as well as a big sunhat. She looked uncertain about her choice. The Doctor wondered why. In summer on Forêt she and other women her age often wore clothes that covered even less. His mind conjured a memory of his first meeting with Dominique, when she had been wearing a chamois leather outfit that left almost nothing to the imagination.

“Is this really all right for Earth?” she asked. “I didn’t think people there wore so little?”

“You’ll be fine,” he assured her. He took her hand as he headed for the door.

Even though they were ready for it, the heat of that summer’s day took them both by surprise as they left the climate controlled TARDIS. Even the sea breeze was hot as it blew in their faces.

The Doctor had chosen a spot on the high water mark of Tangalooma beach and he headed towards the jetty and the resort itself.

The Doctor was distinctly overdressed even with his shirt sleeves rolled up. Every other man was wearing shorts and the women were mostly in bathing costumes and sarong skirts.

Donna Noble was wearing just such an outfit, in flame red and blue, with a wide brimmed hat and big sunglasses. That was why The Doctor didn’t recognise her sitting drinking iced coffee at the beachfront café. She saw him first and ran to embrace him enthusiastically.

“It’s good to see you,” she said. “Still got no taste in clothes. But who cares? It’s great to see you. It really is.” She let him go and looked at Louise who hung back uncertainly. “Hey! I remember you. On his tree planet. Are you travelling with him, now?”

“Donna, Louise is my wife,” The Doctor told her, then stood well back as she squealed in excitement. Louise allowed herself to be hugged. The Doctor turned and saw Tegan Jovanka’s seaplane land at the jetty just before the motor launch moored up beside it. He got ready for a repeat performance of the squealing and congratulating. Then he saw Tegan’s husband, Gerry, and Ben running to the jetty. Tegan was climbing out of the seaplane while two men with Tangalooma Resort t-shirts on lifted something from the boat. It was wrapped in oilcloth. Other Tangalooma staff moved the tourists back from the jetty, but none of them stopped The Doctor stepping forward. No matter how he was dressed his natural air of authority prevailed.

“Is she going to be all right?” Tegan was saying as Gerry, Ben and the two helpers between them lifted the oilcloth wrapped body of an injured – or possibly dead – dolphin.

“We won’t know until we get her into the surgery,” Gerry answered. “We didn’t need this with the place packed with tourists. It’s bad…”

“Can I help?” The Doctor asked. Tegan looked at him and her worried face relaxed a little. He held out her hand to him and she grasped it as they followed the men into the resort reception and straight through to the veterinary centre.

“It’s Alkina,” Tegan told him with tears in her eyes. “I mean… Ki-Li. The one we met on the beach the last time…”

If it had just been a nameless dolphin she would still have been upset. An injury to one of those beautiful creatures was a grievous thing. But knowing that it was a friend deepened the sorrow. The Doctor found the only thing he could do for the moment was reach out and comfort his old friend.

“Doctor!” Ben called out to him. “She’s trying to change… into human…”

“Not Human,” The Doctor gently reminded him as he stepped closer to the operating table. “Humanoid. They are not related to you… or me for that matter… in any part of their genetic make up. The Humanoid form is best suited to them out of the water…”

He was rambling because he, too, was worried, and rambling helped him keep his emotions in check. He stepped towards the table and looked at the half transformed woman-dolphin. He put his hand on her grey forehead and closed his eyes. She was weak from her injuries and panicking because she was in an unfamiliar place, but she knew she would have a better chance of surviving in the humanoid form and was trying to change. The pain was holding her back.

He gasped out loud as he took her pain into his own body. But it was respite enough for her to complete the transformation. She sighed and fell into a peaceful sleep, aided by The Doctor. Gerry had been trying to examine her wounds, but he stepped away from the table while she was changing shape. Now he came back to look at the most grievous of the several injuries where a chunk of flesh at least four inches across had been gouged from her side. It looked as if the transformation from dolphin to humanoid state had helped a little. The wound was less fresh and the bleeding had stopped. But it was still bad enough to cause concern.

“I can help with that,” The Doctor promised holding up his sonic screwdriver. “Tissue repair mode. A gash that big I can’t promise no scarring, but I can make it better much more quickly than you can.”

“I believe you, Doctor,” Gerry replied. “But you’d better let me get some quick x-ray pics first. We need to know what this was… whether it was a close encounter with a boat propeller or…”

“Or if it was like the others,” Tegan remarked. She was still upset despite knowing that The Doctor was going to help her friend.

“What others?” he asked as he waited for Gerry to take the necessary evidence of what had happened to Ki-Li.

“The past few weeks,” Tegan continued. “We’ve had a lot of dead birds washed up… all mauled by something. And a shark that looked as if it had been set upon. It had so many bites out of it… Gerry said propeller. But they looked like bites to me. And now it’s the dolphins being attacked.”

“We don’t know for sure anything or anyone was attacked,” Gerry assured her. The Doctor said nothing. He adjusted his sonic screwdriver and began to repair the damaged flesh. The bite – he was calling it that, even if Gerry wanted to be cautious – slowly repaired. Grey flesh began to cover the hole in Ki-Li’s side. It was a long job. The tissue repair mode usually just closed cuts or eased away bruises and abrasions. Actually putting flesh back into a gap was harder. It meant replicating the existing tissue, rather like an instant skin graft. There would be some scarring, and he wouldn’t be able to make the skin completely smooth. But perhaps time would complete the healing process.

“You’d better prepare an anti-tetanus injection,” he told Gerry when he was done. “Just to be on the safe side. Some vitamins and folic acid wouldn’t go amiss, either. Ki-Li is pregnant.”

“She is?” Nobody asked how The Doctor knew that. He was The Doctor. Of course he knew.

“Is the baby all right?” Tegan added. “She’s had a bad time…”

“The baby is fine,” The Doctor answered. “We’ll make her comfortable here for a few hours. Then she should be able to swim back to the pod. She’ll be safe enough when she’s with her mate and her own kind.”

“I hope so, Doctor,” Tegan responded. “That’s why I contacted you. I’m worried.”

“Tegan, love,” Gerry pleaded. “I’m glad to see The Doctor, too. And he did a great job for Alkina. But there’s nothing wrong here. Nothing that would need his… specialist services…”

“Then I’ll just spend some time with my old friends,” The Doctor said with a bright smile. Tegan, you’ve not met Louise, yet… my wife.”

Tegan smiled widely and let The Doctor take her by the arm as he led her outside. Something like normality had resumed in the Tangalooma resort. The tourists were being told that a dolphin had been injured by a boat propeller and that it was being treated in the veterinary centre.

“That’s absolute rubbish, isn’t it, Doctor?” Donna said as Tegan took over asking Louise all the questions that his old friends were bound to ask her. “Propeller accident. It’s… it’s page three of the script from Jaws One!”

“Practically word for word,” The Doctor agreed. “And the bigger picture is exactly the same. It’s high summer, the middle of the season. Tangalooma is a resort. It depends on the tourists coming. If word gets around that there’s something in those waters…”

“I know that,” Donna told him. “And I know that Gerry and Tegan, me and Ben, and loads of other people need the jobs here. Well… we don’t, so much. We still have plenty of money in the bank. Those diamonds sold really well. But I don’t want this place to go downhill because of a shark panic.”

“Ki-Li wasn’t attacked by a shark,” he said. “Tegan, you must have seen shark attacks on dolphins. They do happen around here?”

“Yes,” she answered. “It didn’t look like a shark bite. Besides, what about the dead shark, and the birds. The bites on them were different.”

“You know this… and yet…” Louise hadn’t said anything at all until now. But she had been listening. “You hide the truth?” She looked around at the sea. There were water sports of all sorts going on. People were swimming, water skiing, paragliding, playing with beach balls and Frisbees, or just lazing about on inflatables. None of them knew about a shark that had been mauled to death.

“I think it’s the best thing for now,” The Doctor admitted. “At least as long as no people are involved….” He stopped talking and sighed. “Oh! Now I’m on the next page of the Jaws script. What if the next attack IS on a Human being? Besides, that’s not good enough. Ki-Li is a person, too. So are all her pod. Just because they don’t bring their money to the hotel bar doesn’t mean they don’t count. And the sharks and the birds still need protecting.”

“So what do we do?” Tegan asked.

“We… maintain the lie for now. For… no more than twenty-four hours. If I haven’t found the answer by then….you have to face the terrible and difficult decision that the City Fathers of Amity wouldn’t face. You have to close the resort.”

Tegan sighed, and she was clearly upset. But she knew The Doctor was right.

“I just hope twenty-four hours isn’t leaving it too late,” he added. “We need to work fast. Before…”

His words were interrupted by a disturbance on the beach. Two men were physically fighting each other while their wives screamed at them to stop. Resort staff ran to the scene but were knocked down by the ferociousness of the fighting men. The Doctor jumped up from his seat. His feet hardly seemed to touch the sand before he was among them. Louise exclaimed in fear as he was punched twice by both men. Then he grabbed first one, then the other, by the back of the neck and they suddenly became very quiet and still.

“That’s better,” they heard him say. “I’m not going to ask what this is about. I don’t care. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, in front of your wives and children.”

The two men looked at him and then at each other and seemed puzzled, as if they couldn’t remember what it was they were fighting about anyway. The Doctor relaxed his grip on them both and let them stand up straight. Neither tried to attack each other or him.

“That’s better. Now… shake hands like men and we’ll hear no more about this…”

The two men started to do so, but a dead pelican suddenly fell from the sky between them. The Doctor looked down at the absurd looking creature with its bill wide open and its comical round eyes staring glassily. It’s magnificent, powerful wings were broken by the fall but it had been dead before it hit the ground. He noted the deep bloody gouges on its breast. Its heart had been punctured.

He looked up and saw two more pelicans fighting in mid-air almost the same way as the two men had been fighting. They pecked at each other viciously and gave out a terrible squawking sound that resonated with hate and aggression.

He looked at his sonic screwdriver and wondered why in all of its 10,000 uses it didn’t have a mode for pacifying angry wild birds.

He turned it to one mode he knew would stop them from fighting. But sending two pelicans to sleep in mid air made for a different problem. Once they stopped flapping their wings, they started to fall from the sky. He adjusted the sonic screwdriver again and aimed it at the two bodies tumbling down side by side. The stasis field enfolded them both and he carefully brought them down to the sand, ignoring the number of people who had turned camcorders and camera phones to record his surprising actions. He turned and saw Louise, Tegan and Donna watching him. He picked up one of the sleeping pelicans carefully, supporting its slender, graceful neck and taking care not to damage its wings. He put it into Tegan’s arms. The other he gave to Donna who was almost as surprised as she was.

“Careful to support the neck,” he said. “And tuck the wings under your arm. Take them to the Veterinary centre. I’ll have a look at them there.” He pulled off his shirt and used it to wrap the dead bird before he followed them. The tourists went back to their leisure activities and seemed to quickly forget that anything had happened.

“You did something to them,” Donna said as she adjusted her hold on the unconscious pelican and watched the two men who had been fighting before. They were walking along the beach with their arms around each other’s shoulders, laughing and joking.

“I didn’t do anything to them,” The Doctor replied. “I really didn’t.”

“Are you sure?” Tegan asked him. “It’s as if they don’t remember what they did at all.”

“That’s puzzle number two,” The Doctor decided. “Puzzle number one is what made them start fighting in the first place.”

He turned and headed back to the veterinary centre. The three women followed him. They were all puzzled and worried, but they had faith in The Doctor to work out what was going on and why.

At the door of the veterinary centre they heard raised voices and the sound of glass breaking. The Doctor wasted no time. He shouldered the door open and set the dead bird carefully down on the counter before stepping between Ben and Gerry. They were both holding surgical instruments menacingly and accusing each other of inappropriate conduct with their respective wives.

Their wives, both holding unconscious pelicans, looked on in horror. Louise was shocked, too. But she calmly stepped around the confrontation and went to comfort Ki-Li, who was sitting up in bed and looking terrified by the actions of the humans who were supposed to be taking care of her.

“Stop!” The Doctor ordered them. “Or I will be forced to use the Venusian neck pinch on you both. And believe me, it aches for hours afterwards. You’ll regret it.”

Neither man took notice of him. He applied the Venusian pinch to the back of their necks then grabbed the sharp instruments from their hands before they dropped to the floor.

“They’ll both sleep it off,” he said, putting the two men into recovery positions. He reached into his pocket for his TARDIS key and offered it to Donna.

“Pop your feathered friend on the examination table and go get the TARDIS for me. Type T46708XS into the drive control and then give the Helmic regulator a good yank. That sets the homing command. It’ll automatically find me.”

Donna went to do as she asked. Tegan stepped over the unconscious men and put her own avian burden down as well before slipping into medical assistant mode and helping The Doctor to examine the two birds.

“They’re not hurt,” he confirmed, to her relief. “When they wake up, we can let them go free. But there’s nothing to indicate what made them go nutty. I’m not reading any chemical in their blood or anything obvious like that.”

“Which means…”

“That it’s not so obvious as that,” The Doctor answered. “Did we expect it to be? When was anything ever simple around me? Where would the fun be if it was?”

He smiled reassuringly at Tegan as he said that. Then he turned his attention to the dead pelican. It was a sad sight. And all the more so when he confirmed that its wounds were almost certainly caused by another pelican attacking it.

“The Australian Pelican has the longest beak of all eight species on Earth,” Tegan pointed out. “It uses it for spearing fish and flipping them into its throat pouch.”

“But it could also use it to spear other pelicans?”

“No,” she insisted. “They never would. They’re sociable birds. They gather on the sands and we let people hand feed them. They might be dangerous to fish, but they have no enemies – other than Crested Terns that try to steal the fish from their pouches while they have their mouths open to drain the water out… Anyway, the idea of them fighting is… just…”

“But these wounds match the beak size,” The Doctor told her. “And…” He turned to the computer and found images taken during Gerry’s autopsy of the dead shark. “The shark was killed by other sharks. The pelican by other pelicans. Those two men out on the beach… and Gerry and Ben in here… fighting each other…”

“Docteur!” Louise called to him. She was holding Ki-Li by the shoulders. The dolphin woman was clearly upset. The Doctor went to her side. “Docteur. Ki-Li… she says it was other dolphins who hurt her. One of them was her own mate… They turned on her…”

The Doctor touched Ki-Li’s face gently and read her memories of what had happened. It was not as easy as reading the memories of a non-mutable species. He had to cross a threshold from one kind of intelligence to another. Her dolphin mind saw everything differently. Instincts were more important than they were in the humanoid form. Colours and shapes were different. But he saw clearly the pod swimming together off the leeward shore of the island. He saw the sudden attack and Ki-Li defending herself and her unborn child. She had swum away as fast as she could and, to her relief, had been spotted by Tegan in her seaplane. She remembered being lifted from the water gently and into the boat, then a sensation of unaccustomed speed.

“It’s all right, Ki-Li,” he said to her. “It’s all over. And… I want you to know, I don’t think they meant to do this to you. They were under some kind of influence. I am going to find out what it is and put a stop to it. Until then, you stay here. You’ll be looked after. But when this is over, we’ll bring you back to your people, and you’ll be fine.”

She looked at him with her beautiful grey eyes and nodded. He let her lie down again on the bed. He touched her stomach gently and felt the life within her. He liked that feeling. New life was what it was all about.

“I’ll look after her,” Louise promised. “I can do that.”

“Thank you, my dear,” The Doctor said. He kissed her on the cheek and then turned as the TARDIS materialised and Donna stepped out. She looked at Ben and Gerry, still sleeping on the floor and sighed.

“Sorry I’m late,” she said. “There were three more fights out there. Two of them were women tearing each other’s hair out. I tried to stop them. Then they just walked away as if nothing had happened. It’s absolutely mental.”

“We’re going to find out what it’s all about,” The Doctor said. “We’ll bring the boys. I don’t want to leave them in here with Louise and Ki-Li. And the birds, too. I’ll wake them up and we’ll release them in the air.”

He himself carried the two men into the TARDIS and laid them comfortably on the floor while Donna and Tegan brought the two pelicans. The Doctor dematerialised the TARDIS and brought it in hover mode up over the island. He made a note to ask Tegan to take them on the plane tour when this was all sorted out. Louise would love to see the green, wooded parts of Moreton Island from the air.

When it was over and everyone was safe and happy. Meanwhile he let the TARDIS hover in one spot and opened the door. He brought the two pelicans to the threshold and used the sonic screwdriver to gently wake them up. They squawked and ruffled their feathers and then first one, then the other stretched its wings and flew off.

“Good journey,” he said quietly as he watched the birds head out to sea. Then he turned to the TARDIS console. Tegan and Donna tried to watch what he was doing, but he was moving around too fast, pressing buttons, pulling levers, doing both at the same time, using his feet to reach one particularly awkward switch.

“What are you doing exactly, Doctor?” Tegan asked him.

“It was nothing chemical,” he said. “There was nothing in the bloodstream of the birds or Ki-Li. I’m sure there was nothing like that affecting Gerry or Ben. It’s not something in the water or the air. So there must be something else causing these sudden irrational acts of violence. The TARDIS isn’t just hovering around. We’re in a temporal pendulum, swinging back and forwards over the past forty-eight hours. I’m looking for anomalies that could have caused the odd behaviour patterns in the people and animals.”

“Temporal pendulum?” Donna and Tegan both looked intrigued. They went to the door and opened it. They looked out at the view over Moreton Island. At first they couldn’t see anything they wouldn’t see flying over it in Tegan’s seaplane.

“Oh… I see… look at the sky…” Tegan looked up. Donna did, too. The sky was the clue to the fact that time wasn’t what it was. It was a pale blue and seemed to be flickering like an old film played through the projector at the wrong speed. Clouds appeared from time to time, but then disappeared. Flocks of birds sped across it like aeroplanes. Aeroplanes zoomed away like rocket ships.

“Time is sped up?” Tegan noted. “But won’t that make it harder to detect the problem?”

“No,” Donna answered her. “It’s like those guys who work in the Royal Mint, examining new banknotes. They see hundreds of them pass them by every minute. But they’re so tuned in to what they’re looking for that they can spot an error just like that. I went on a trip once. Saw them doing it. The Doctor is doing the same. He’s seeing time go past really fast, but he’ll see something wrong when it comes by.”

“Well…” Tegan looked suitably impressed, both by Donna’s explanation and The Doctor’s skill at testing the temporal flow.

Then she turned to Donna and said something completely shocking and thoroughly uncalled for. Donna blinked in surprise and then responded in kind. Then they lashed out at each other in that vicious way that was so often seen outside pubs and clubs late on Friday night and which gave the lie to the phrase ‘gentler sex’.

“No, no, no, no!” The Doctor exclaimed. He sprinted across the console room and reached out to them both. He didn’t apply a Venusian neck pinch to them. He was old-fashioned enough in his thinking about such things not to want to do that to women. He held them apart and tried to keep his face away from their fingernails.

“What!” Donna came back to her senses first. She gasped and took a step backwards. Unfortunately that was towards the open door. The Doctor let go of Tegan and reached to pull her to safety.

“Let’s not do that again,” The Doctor said, hugging both women.

“What the heck happened?” Tegan asked. “It felt like…” She looked at Donna and felt strangely embarrassed. “What did we do?”

“Nothing,” The Doctor assured her. “You’re still best pals.” He sprinted back to the console and then whistled in excitement. “I think I’ve got it.”

“I hope it isn’t catching,” Tegan responded. “Seriously… what is it?”

“It’s… a burst transmission… micro-seconds… micro-micro-seconds. There isn’t even a word for the length of time it existed for. But the TARDIS, clever old girl, she saw it. And she has a lock on it. I know where it’s coming from.”

Donna and Tegan both grabbed onto handholds. The Doctor didn’t warn them, but there was something in the look on his face that told them it might be wise.

And they were right. The Doctor whooped like he was on a white knuckle ride. Tegan thought fondly of her seaplane where she was in full control of all movement up, down or otherwise. Donna reminded herself that she hadn’t seen The Doctor for months and it was great to be in the TARDIS again even if it was just possible that its walls were about to be coated with her dinner if the downward motion didn’t stop very soon.

It stopped on the balcony of a tree house. The Doctor looked at it and smiled.

“Oh, it’s a shame we left Louise behind. She’d feel at home here. What is this place, Tegan?”

“It’s a tree house,” she answered, feeling as if she was stating the obvious. “There are a dozen of them around the island. They’re holiday homes. People rent them for the ultimate ‘getting away from it all’ experience. Not that they ARE away from it all. They still have electricity, gas, phone, satellite TV, Wi Fi. It’s cheating, really. But every single one of them is booked solid for this year and next.”

“Well, let’s see whose holiday home this is,” The Doctor said, twirling his sonic screwdriver like a baton and pressing the door control.

A knock at the wooden door to the sturdily built house got no answer at all. The Doctor adjusted his sonic screwdriver and aimed it at the lock. It opened with a satisfying click.

“Peace be upon this dwelling,” he said as he stepped inside. It was an old Gallifreyan custom that he still used sincerely when visiting friends. He did so slightly tongue in cheek this time since he knew this was the source of the violence that was destroying everyone else’s peace.

“Get out!” screamed a woman. That surprised him a little. He hadn’t expected a woman. Though when he thought about it, he realised that was because he came from a frankly misogynist society and he really ought to have known better.

She was in her mid-fifties, though she had taken care of herself and might still be accounted attractive.

But she was rather less interesting than the teenage boy who was sitting in a chair that looked like the stuff of nightmares. It was metal, with leather restraints for arms and legs as well as across the chest. He was securely fastened into it. A metal cap went across his head and there were probes attached to his forehead. He looked at the three intruders with puzzled eyes.

“Get out,” the woman repeated and flew at The Doctor with a long screwdriver held like a dagger. “Get out of here. You have no right…”

The Doctor prepared to defend himself, and he ought to have been able to do so. But an angry woman was possibly the most difficult creature in the universe.

Especially a mother.

He yelped as the screwdriver pierced his shoulder before Donna and Tegan between them pulled the woman off him and restrained her. He yanked the screwdriver back out of his shoulder, wincing with the pain, but knowing it was a clean wound that had missed the artery and would simply ache for a while once it mended.

“All right,” he said, hiding just how much it really did hurt. “Let’s all settle down here. Tegan, get her a chair. An ordinary one will do. I don’t think there’s any need for one like her son is in. I am right, aren’t I? This is your own flesh and blood?” The Doctor removed the cap from the boy’s head, but he didn’t take the restraints away, yet. He was guessing there was a good reason for it all.

“Yes, he’s my son,” the woman answered. “I’m professor Margaret Hammond of the Brisbane Institute of Human Sciences. He’s Gary Hammond. He’s nineteen and he volunteered for the treatment. He… he begged me for it.”

“Begged?” Donna looked at the boy. He looked exhausted. His eyes were welling up with tears. “What kind of sick…”

“Gary has been in trouble with the police?” The Doctor asked. “Fighting, petty theft, joyriding, perhaps? He has a history of aggression?”

He was still looking at the metal cap. Inside there were circuits and micro-processors which he was examining with the sonic screwdriver. He seemed interested in what he was finding there.

Professor Hammond looked at The Doctor as if she was questioning his authority to ask her questions. He met her with the power of a Time Lord, the ultimate authority on everything.

“He was always getting in trouble,” Professor Hammond said. “Even when he was a little boy… fighting in the playground. Taking the toys from other children… I tried everything. When he was older… yes. Car stealing, fighting… so aggressive. He put two much older boys in hospital when he was only twelve. He scared me so much.”

“What’s this all about, Doctor?” Tegan asked. “What’s she talking about?”

“Her son is uncontrollably aggressive. She is a scientist. She has obviously dedicated her life to finding ways of reducing the aggression in people like her son. And I think she has hit on something. She had this gizmo directly connected to Gary’s limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. It was acting as a conduit from the adrenocortical and hypothalamic responses – preventing the production of the stress hormone corticosterone and the aggression hormone, testosterone.”

“In English, please, Doctor,” Donna responded.

“She has found a way to drain off the stress and aggression hormones from her son’s brain to keep him from behaving in those unacceptable ways.”

“Wow! Really? I know a few council estates in London where that would be useful.”

“No, it wouldn’t,” Tegan argued. “Because… for one, he’s strapped to that chair looking really miserable and what sort of a life is that…”

“This is a prototype,” The Doctor explained. “I’m sure she’s working on some kind of micro-sized portable earpiece the boy could wear…”

“That was the idea,” Professor Hammond said. “You’re a scientist? You understand… why I had to do this? They wouldn’t let me conduct the Human subject experiments at the university. They said it was unethical… the cowards. But you understand.”

“I understand,” The Doctor said. “That doesn’t mean I approve. Your science is wrong. You’re going about this the wrong way. Your theory is only slightly better thought out than the concept of people like Gary being possessed by devils.”

“Oh!” Tegan murmured. “That’s what she did! She cast out his devils just like in the bible… only instead of a herd of swine… it was Ki-Li and the shark, the pelicans, Ben and Gerry…”

“And her devils were stress and aggression hormones converted through an electro-magnetic transducer into electrical impulses that were disseminated through those burst transmissions.” The Doctor paused to make sure everyone was keeping up with his technical explanation. “She forgot the fundamental law of physics. Energy cannot be destroyed, only changed from one form to another. The electronic form of these aggression hormones didn’t just vanish into the ether. They grounded themselves in innocent victims.”

“That… was not my intention,” Professor Hammond said. “But… a shark… some birds… I’m sorry if people were hurt… but the cause of science outweighs…”

“No, it does NOT!” The Doctor turned his face towards the professor. He took two steps towards her, his face dark with anger. “Science never outweighs the safety of any being, sentient or non-sentient. The means does not justify the end. Your experiments are dangerous. They are wrong. You need to go back to your laboratory and start again. I’m sorry for your son. But he’s your responsibility. You look after him. But not by causing pain and suffering to anyone else.”

“How do you intend to stop me?” Professor Hammond. It was the wrong question. The Doctor took hold of her by the shoulder. She squealed as if he was hurting her, but he knew he wasn’t.

“I have never done this before,” he said. “I always rejected this kind of power as putting my race above all others… making us gods who can bend the will of lesser beings. But if this is the only way I can stop you…” He turned and looked at Donna and Tegan. “Get the restraints off that boy. He’s emotionally drained by her procedure. He’s not going to hurt anyone.”

Then he turned back to Professor Hammond. He pressed his hand against her forehead and slowly forced his mind into hers. He found that part of her mind in which her scientific theories were conceived. He didn’t exactly wipe them from her mind. He just changed the way she recalled the theory, so that the glaring flaws in it became more obvious and she could see just how much time she had wasted in a blind alley.

“I’m not going to tell you which way you should be going,” he said. “That really would be playing god. You have to figure it out for yourself. And it will take you a lot of time. But that’s your own fault for getting bogged down in the wrong ideas. When you do…”

He changed his hold on her, grasping her by the hand. That was something else he didn’t do often. Seeing somebody’s future timeline was just too heartsbreaking sometimes. He tried to avoid it. But he wanted to be sure he hadn’t just ruined her career completely.

“When you get it right, the scientific world will applaud you. And Gary will be only one of millions who will benefit from your findings. It will be all right. But for now… get rid of this stuff. And you and your son… you’re in a little piece of paradise here. Have a brilliant holiday together. Talk to each other. Remember that you love each other. And that will be half your battle.”

He let go of the Professor and turned to Gary. The boy looked dazed and confused. And small wonder. He touched him gently on the shoulder. The boy looked up at him.

“You’ll be all right, Gary.”

Then he turned and stepped out of the tree house. He was still holding the metal cap that was the primary part of Professor Hammond’s process. There was a trash compactor in the TARDIS that would deal with it. Donna and Tegan followed him. As they stepped into the console room they were glad to see Ben and Gerry starting to come around. They were both surprised to find themselves in the TARDIS.

“I’ll explain everything over iced coffees back at the resort,” The Doctor told them as their respective wives gave them attention and he set their course back to the beach. “Just one loose end to tie up, later.

The loose end was Ki-Li, of course. They waited until the sun went down on that warm summer day. The crowds gathered on the beach to watch the Tangalooma dolphins come towards the shore to be fed by the resort staff and any lucky tourist invited to join them. In the shadows by the jetty, Ki-Li shrugged off a silk kimono she had worn to walk down to the beach and slipped into the water. She retained Human form for a few minutes as she swam out to join the pod. By the time she came within the glow of the lights on the beach she was a dolphin again. The Doctor and friends watched as her mate swam with her and others of the group flanked her protectively.

“Just as it should be,” Donna said with a soft sigh. “Good for them.”

“A good day’s work,” The Doctor agreed. He squeezed his wife’s hand gently. She smiled at him. “Now we can have a little resort holiday. Shame all the tree houses are booked up. But never mind. We can park the TARDIS on the high water mark and have a grand view in the mornings!”