The Doctor looked at himself critically in the floor length mirror in the giant cavern of a room called The Wardrobe. His clothes were very different to his usual slightly crumpled pinstripe suit.

They were very different to anything he had worn in his millennium long lifetime. Military uniforms never sat well with him. He was a pacifist first and foremost.

But after all, he was a pacifist who knew that it was sometimes necessary to fight. He had every respect for those who did so with honour and integrity for just causes. The problem was knowing which was the just cause. Whose cause was the right one.

For nearly a century Humans had called the war that ended at a place called Waterloo in 1815 The Great War. Then they gave that name to the new war that they fought largely in the same parts of France and Belgium. Later in the same century they renamed it World War One.

While it was still going on, they called it The War To End All Wars. The Doctor could have said a great deal about the irony of that, but he usually found it prudent to say nothing at all.

He looked at himself critically. No, military uniforms did not sit well with him. This one was acceptable because it came with red cross badges on the arms and the cap badge was the Rod of Asclepius, surmounted by a crown, enclosed within a laurel wreath.

The Royal Army Medical Corps was a uniform he felt he could wear without feeling either a fraud or a traitor to his own personal beliefs. He allowed himself the ghost of a smile as he noted the two pips on his cuffs. He was a first lieutenant. That was a respectable rank, and one that allowed him to ask questions while not arousing too many of them directed at himself in return.

He had a side arm, a Webley Mark VI. It was the one Jack Harkness was carrying when he first stepped into the TARDIS, left behind when they parted company. The Webley was a British military weapon from this First World War right through to the Korean conflict a half a century later. It was a suitable weapon for a medical officer to use for defence.

Of course, he had no intention of defending himself against anyone. He couldn’t. He wasn’t a part of this history. If he killed somebody, even in self defence, it would create a hole in causality.

But he had to look as if he belonged in this place and time. And that meant he had to look like a soldier.

He turned and walked quietly back through the TARDIS. He paused in the console room and took a deep breath before he stepped outside.

The TARDIS had materialised exactly where he wanted it to. That was a first in itself. He looked around the storeroom and then pulled a large brown tarpaulin over the blue phone box. The room was dark, without any windows and no artificial light source. It should be safe enough hidden there.

He slipped out of the storeroom and onto a landing. The windows were boarded. It was dark. But there was a light further along. He walked towards it and found a makeshift officers mess. He stood by the door for a few minutes, watching the assorted junior ranks smoking cigarettes, talking quietly, playing cards. They were doing exactly what the rank and file were doing right now, only they had a much warmer and more comfortable room in what The Doctor guessed was a requisitioned farmhouse behind the British lines.

He saw the man he had come here looking for. Ben Carpenter, who he last met as a grubby London street urchin in 1895, was now in his mid-1930s and the spitting image of his uncle. He was demonstrating his skills of manual dexterity by balancing pennies on top of a cigarette packet and challenging his friends to knock the packet away. Every time he caught the penny before it hit the table.

He was a second lieutenant. The badge on his cap, that currently rested on the table by his right elbow, resembled a stylised version of the memento mori lily that was the floral symbol of Gallifrey. The Doctor liked that coincidence. He knew, because the other Ben had told him, not because he was an expert on British Army cap badges, that Lieutenant Carpenter was an officer of the 47th London Division. He also knew that he had excelled himself in battle, and already earned two medals, the Distinguished Service Order and Military Cross for his bravery in what were called The Battle of Arras and the Third Battle of Ypres.

He had been cited for a second Military Cross for his actions in the last weeks of the Great War, but never received the award because he was counted missing, presumed dead, when the guns finally went silent.

And that was what had disturbed the other Ben Carpenter when he tried to find out about his family on the internet. He found his sister, Elsie, who died in the 1950s at the age of eighty-eight, having founded a chain of dress shops with her friend Nancy. Both had lived comfortable and happy lives, but Elsie bore the grief of losing her son in the war, and nobody had even known how it happened. He had taken a reconnaissance patrol out on the night of November 10th, 1918, and none had returned. It was assumed that they ran into the enemy and were killed. Their bodies were never found, but there was no other explanation for the disappearance of the men.

Ben had explained all of that to The Doctor, sitting on Tangalooma pier in the dying light of a beautiful summer evening. Then he had asked him to find out what happened to Ben junior, his nephew.

At first The Doctor had refused. He carefully explained to Ben about causality and fixed points in time that could not be interfered with under any circumstances.

Ben had told him he didn’t want him to change anything. He just wanted him to find out what happened to his sister’s boy. If he died, especially if he was doing his duty, then that was all right. He just wanted to know the truth.

Donna supported him. So did Tegan. Even Louise thought he ought to do it. He put his foot down about her being with him. The frontline of a nasty war was no place for a fragile bloom like her. She stayed as Donna and Ben’s guest in their beachfront home at Tangalooma. She had been a little upset about being left, but she liked Donna and Tegan and she liked the thought of spending time with them. So he kissed her lovingly and promised to be back as soon as possible.

Then he set the TARDIS to take him to Lieutenant Ben Carpenter’s last known whereabouts. That was the British Army camp just outside the Belgian town of Lessines – part of the fifty-five mile long Allied defensive line that stretched from Voorde in Belgium eastwards to Sivry on the Franco-Belgian border. That much he knew as historical fact.

Everything else, as usual, was winging it.

A senior officer – a brigadier – dressed with the sort of precision that proved he had his batman with him even at the frontline - swept along the corridor. The Doctor remembered he should stand to attention in the presence of a senior officer just before he noticed him.

“I don’t think I’ve seen you, before,” he said.

“I arrived this morning, Sir.” The Doctor answered, pulling out his psychic paper from his pocket and hoping it didn’t try to pass him off as the King of the Belgians this time. It would be a little awkward since King Albert I was actually in command of the Allied troops in this part of the Western Front.

It didn’t. The Brigadier nodded and stepped past him into the junior officer’s mess. The men stood to attention.

“At ease,” he said. “Lieutenant Carpenter, you’ll do. Take a squad and go and have a look at that quarry to the east of here. The sentries have reported seeing lights. The Hun could be planning some kind of surprise attack on our lines using the quarry as cover. If so, I want to know about it.”

For a brief moment Lieutenant Carpenter’s eyes registered puzzlement. He couldn’t imagine why, if the Germans were planning a surprise attack, they would allow lights to be seen. The Doctor had thought exactly the same thing. But questioning the orders of a superior officer was not done.

The Brigadier turned and walked away. At the door, The Doctor caught his eye and managed to hold his attention for the fraction of a second he needed to put an idea into his head.

“You might need a medical officer,” the Brigadier said, turning back to Lieutenant Carpenter. “Take this man with you.” He swept away down the corridor. Ben sighed and picked up his cap. His comrades sympathised with him for having to go out on patrol on a dark, cold, drizzly night, but thought it was probably a soft job. They voiced the opinion that the lights were local people collecting stone from the quarry for their own use. Ben agreed it was probably the case.

“You’d be more use in the field hospital, surely, sir,” Ben said as he drew level with The Doctor. He was looking at the Red Cross on his arm rather than his face, of course. “There’s no need… this is just routine.”

“I don’t mind accompanying you, Ben,” The Doctor answered. “It wouldn’t be the first time, after all.”

Lieutenant Carpenter looked at him properly and The Doctor could see his memory stirring just by the expression on his face. He was remembering when he was a hungry boy in the slums of Limehouse and he had met a man who showed him amazing things, and then helped his mother and himself to rise above their life of poverty. It was twenty-eight years ago, but it was a day he would never forget if he lived to be a hundred.

“Doctor…” he murmured. “It… can’t be. You… haven’t changed….”

“Oh, I don’t know,” he replied. “I had my hair trimmed a couple of weeks ago. I was thinking of growing a moustache, but I’m not sure it would suit me…”

Ben’s eyes were glazing over. The Doctor stopped waffling.

“You’ve got orders,” he reminded him. “Shall we get on with it?”

“Yes,” he answered. “Yes, we should. Doctor… if you wish to join the patrol… I am sure that would be all right.”

Ben had learnt to walk with a military gait even when not on parade. The Doctor fell into step with him as he headed out of the building and turned towards the collection of tents that were the quarters of the rank and file.

“I probably owe you my life,” Ben said. “If I’d still been living on the breadline in Limehouse when the war started… I’ve seen so many working class men used as cannon fodder… going over the top in droves, and being cut down… officers have more chance of survival… and it was only because of you… what you did for me and my mother… I got to go to a good school and then university… joined the OTC…”

The Doctor didn’t say anything. Ben had read the situation correctly. The thought of those droves of men being cut down was a sickening one. He glanced at Ben and saw another look in his eyes. Ben had been in some of the worst fields of battle mankind had ever brought upon itself. He had seen death that was far from honourable or glorious. The memories would stay with him all his life.

Then The Doctor remembered that Ben went missing some time on the night of November 10th, 1918 – presumed dead. Perhaps he wouldn’t have those memories for long, after all.

When they talked about this on that warm beach in Australia Donna had made a typically Donna-like comment at one point. She had called it his ‘Saving Private Ryan Mission’. Tegan had laughed. She got the reference. Neither Ben nor Louise did.

The Doctor got the reference, but he knew it was wrong. Ryan was saved in the end, even if just about everyone else died in the process. But he wasn’t here to save Ben. He was here to find out what happened to him in the last hours of the war. If he died, then there was nothing he could do to stop that happening. If…

The other possibility, The Doctor refused to countenance. Ben had proved himself a brave, dedicated soldier. He had done so through all those years, through all those terrible battles. He wasn’t going to desert now, with the fight all but over.

No, that wasn’t the answer to the mystery. The Doctor would have bet his own life on that. Even if he didn’t know about the three medals for bravery, he knew the boy Ben had once been, who had stuck by him through an adventure that scared the living daylights out of him. Yes, Ben knew what fear was. But he was no coward and he was no deserter.

But that meant… The Doctor bit his lip unhappily. That meant that, some time in the course of this last night of world war one, he was probably going to witness Ben’s death.

That was an unpleasant thought. The Doctor pushed it from his mind. As it was, right now, nothing about the immediate future was certain except that it was dark outside and raining steadily and they were all going to get wet.

That was the prevailing thought of the men that Lieutenant Carpenter told off to join his patrol. Their grumbling was mostly light-hearted, though, and The Doctor noted that they all respected Ben as a fair and decent officer. He even shared a joke with them before they were too far away from the camp and they had to move forward quietly.

The quarries were on the outskirts of the town of Lessines. The highly versatile stone called Porphyry had been quarried there for centuries, but production had stopped since the area became a battleground. It was about a quarter of a mile from the British line, and half a mile from the German one. Unless there really was a German advance, there shouldn’t be anyone there, so the reported lights were a mystery. But The Doctor assumed they were an ordinary kind of mystery, something that was a part of the war being fought here in this place. He wasn’t even considering anything sinister.

“I can hear something,” Corporal Lambert spoke up suddenly, his voice breaking into the private thoughts of the rest of the squad.

“So can we, now,” replied Sergeant Mardyke. “You, talking.”

“No, I can hear… somebody calling out.”

“He’s right,” The Doctor said. “Over there… somebody needs help…”

He had started to run before he remembered that the voice calling out in the night was not saying ‘help me’ but ‘helfen sie mir’. It was a German who was in trouble.

That didn’t matter to him, personally. Nor did it matter to the officer he was pretending to be right now. The uniform was British but the Red Cross symbols on that uniform meant that he rendered assistance to anyone, regardless of nationality.

He sprinted forward, taking Ben by surprise. He quickly ordered his men forward to give The Doctor flanking cover, in case it turned out to be a trap.

“Rotes Kreuz,” he called out as he saw the hunched figures huddled in the shelter of a scrubby stand of trees. “Rotes Kreuz. Don’t shoot. I’m here to help.”

One man stood up, his rifle presented. The Doctor held up his hands to show he was no threat. Behind him, the patrol closed in. They had their rifles ready, too.

“Lieutenant, these men are not a threat to you,” The Doctor said. “Something else out there is. Maintain a guard while I do my job. Corporal, you two beside him, sling your rifles and come and help me.”

Ben was surprised, but he did as The Doctor said, organising a close guard around them all.

There were five German soldiers. A sixth one was already dead. His own tunic covered his face decently. The Doctor was giving his close attention to another who was close to death, but he had Corporal Lambert and two more men from the patrol break out field dressings and give first aid to three others who were less seriously wounded.

“I’m sorry,” The Doctor said, looking directly at the German officer, an Oberleutnant. “This man is too badly wounded. I can do nothing for him.”

“I… understand,” the Oberleutnant replied. “Can you… make it quick for him.”

It was a terrible question to ask. But these were terrible times. The Doctor understood why he had asked such a thing. But it was a request he could not grant.

“Not wearing these Crosses on my sleeves, I can’t. What I can do is make it painless.”

He put his hand on the dying man’s forehead and touched his mind. As he expected, given the terrible wounds he had sustained, he found a raging ball of agony. He soothed it gently. He found his name within the immediate memories that emerged once the pain no longer overwhelmed him.

“Hauptgefreiter Adlar Koch,” he said, to the surprise of all listening. “Adlar, don’t be afraid. Go to sleep now. There’s nothing to be afraid of. No more pain, no more cold. No more fear.”

He cradled the Hauptgefreiter in his arms as death came to him, slowly but inexorably. When it was over, the Oberleutnant covered his body, too. The Doctor gave his attention to the other three injured men. Their wounds, mostly on their limbs, had the appearance of bayonet slashes. Ben said so as he, too, rendered assistance under the truce of The Doctor’s non-combatant status.

“No,” The Doctor replied. “I don’t think so.” He looked at the Oberleutnant. “What’s your name?”

“Karl Zimmerman,” he answered. “Oberleutnant Karl Zimmerman.”

“Good to meet you, Karl. Tell me what happened to your men?”

“We… were sent to find out why there were strange lights in the quarry,” he answered. “It was thought…. A British offensive… though it would have been a foolish thing… the lights alerted us…”

“It wasn’t the British, was it?”

Zimmerman shook his head. He took a deep breath before speaking.

“They were… ungeheuer,” he answered. “Unmensch… They were…”

Zimmerman had an educated German’s mastery of English, but he was having trouble putting into any words the inhuman creatures that had killed half of his patrol before the others managed to make their escape. What he did describe astonished Lieutenant Carpenter and those of his men who heard his words.

“He’s trench crazy,” Corporal Lambert said. “Seven foot creatures with no faces, but tentacles that can slash a man in half…”

“I only wish he were,” The Doctor replied quietly. “Zimmerman, how far back to your lines?”

Zimmerman didn’t answer.

“Good man,” The Doctor told him. He looked at Ben.

“It’s further to their camp than ours,” he said. “The wounded would be better off…”

“Yes.” The Doctor looked back at the Oberleutnant. “Will you agree to that? Your men need immediate help. Even with your assistance it would be hard for them to reach your own camp. They would reach safety much faster if they are taken as prisoners of war back to the Allied lines. You have my word that they will be treated well.”

Oberleutnant Zimmerman hesitated. It was a difficult decision for him to make. But The Doctor knew he would do the right thing.

“Yes,” he said. “Yes, we will surrender to you.” In proof of that, he handed his own Luger pistol and his Mauser Gewehr rifle to Lieutenant Carpenter. The wounded men had already laid down their own weapons and their webbing containing ammunition and grenades. Ben quickly detailed part of his patrol to safely escort the three wounded prisoners.

“Treat them decently,” The Doctor said as the prisoners were flanked by the British soldiers. “They’re just men like you, doing their duty.”

“What about him?” Ben asked The Doctor about Oberleutnant Zimmerman. “Shouldn’t he accompany his men?”

“That’s an option,” The Doctor conceded. “There are two others. He could walk back to his own camp and report what has happened. Or…” The Doctor took the Oberleutnant’s pistol back from Ben and weighed it carefully in his hands almost as if he was weighing the owner of the gun. “If you have the courage to face the ‘ungeheuer’ again, you could help us defeat them. Your prior knowledge is our advantage.”

He held out the gun to the enemy soldier. He heard Ben’s intake of breath as he did so, but he knew the kind of man the Oberleutnant was. The same kind of man Ben was. He was scared, having witnessed something even more terrible than the war he had been fighting for the past four years. But not so scared that it unmanned him. He nodded slightly and took the Luger from The Doctor’s hands. He placed it in his hip holster.

“Good man,” The Doctor told him. “You’ll need your rifle, too.” He nodded to Ben who gave the Oberleutnant his weapon. Then they were both surprised when The Doctor bent and picked up a Mauser that the wounded men had left behind. He checked the clip and noted that three of the five rounds had been used already. They had made a fight of it, at least.

He picked up the webbing left behind by one of the wounded men and opened the magazine pouch. He put the rounds into the pouch on his own webbing. He noticed Ben and Zimmerman looking at him curiously.

“I’m still only carrying a weapon for defensive purposes,” he said. “But if we’re up against what I think we’re up against, I need a bigger gun to defend myself with.” The webbing he was looking at had several grenades attached. But in no way, shape or form could those be called a defensive weapon. He handed those to Ben, who told Zimmerman and his own men to take what they could of the discarded German armaments. He bent and picked up another Mauser and as much ammunition as he could find for it and slung it over his shoulder with his own Lee-Enfield.

“All right,” The Doctor said. “Oberleutnant, you stick beside me and the Lieutenant.”

He was overriding Ben’s authority slightly as far as the Oberleutnant was concerned. He was essentially assuming responsibility for the enemy officer under the Red Cross flag. But he conceded his right to command his own troops. Ben ordered two of them to move ahead as scouts and the rest into defensive positions as they moved the patrol on once more towards the quarry where the Germans had already suffered grievous casualties. That thought was unnerving for them all, but they followed their commanding officer.

“Doctor,” Ben said quietly. “You know this is highly irregular. I mean… him… with us like this.”

“Because he’s the enemy?” The Doctor said. “Zimmerman, where do you come from in Germany?”

“München,” he replied.

“And Carpenter here is from London. Two city dwellers. It is only coincidence of birth in those two different cities that makes you enemies. And… have you thought… Zimmerman… that name means…”

“It is old German for a worker with wood,” Zimmerman answered.

“A carpenter, in old English,” The Doctor pointed out. Lieutenant Ben Carpenter looked at Oberleutnant Karl Zimmerman. Zimmerman looked back at him. Understanding dawned. “You’re the same. You have the same rank in your respective armies. You’ve fought the same battles in the same mud. You’re much the same age. When this war is over – which it will be very soon, now, you’ll go back to your respective cities and pick up lives that are not so very different. But right now, we are all facing a common enemy – one that has nothing to do with the war you’ve been fighting, but is a threat to your common Human race.”

Both men considered that for a long silent minute. Then Zimmerman spoke.

“You said YOUR Human race… as if you are not Human… as if you are separate from us. And… you speak of the ungeheuer that murdered my men as if… as if you had encountered them before.”

The Doctor wasn’t sure how to answer him. But he didn’t need to.

“Karl,” Ben said in a quiet, steady voice. “Whatever else you might have lost your trust in... your own sanity, your country, your King, maybe even God Himself… the things we have seen, such doubt is possible. But you can always trust The Doctor.”

Zimmerman nodded. There was the ghost of a smile on his lips. Then they heard the scouts running back. Ben halted the patrol and listened to what they had to say.

It was grim hearing. They had almost tripped over the remains of what they believed to be one of Zimmermen’s men. It was impossible to tell for sure because the body was not only cut in half, but partially incinerated and mutilated.

“What on God’s Earth does that to a man?” Sergeant Mardyke asked. “I’ve seen the worst that artillery does to a body. But a body sliced in two… and the head….”

“The creatures that do this are called Analecti,” The Doctor told them. “They come from another world… orbiting another sun… millions of light years away. They have no business being here.”

“Creatures from another world…” His words rippled around as they were repeated by the men. Only four fully believed him. Zimmerman because he had seen it first hand, the two scouts because they had seen the body and knew it could not be the work of anything Human, and Ben, because he had seen an alien before, when he was ten years old, and he knew anything was possible.

“These creatures have no morals, no qualms about killing,” The Doctor told them. “I want you to be clear about that. This won’t be the same as any engagement you’ve encountered before. These creatures will kill you without thinking. They’re not like Zimmerman… they’re not men like you who might hesitate for one second, remembering that you are just like them. They’ll kill you with a whiplash that cuts through flesh and sears it with an electrical charge. And they do it because…”

The Doctor paused. He looked around at the men. He had their attention.

“They don’t do it for King and Country, for any notion of loyalty, or because they believe their cause is right and just. They do it because they like to hunt. They came here because they detected a large build up of organic life – that would be your two armies facing each other. And they’re getting ready to have an almighty hunting season – just for the thrill of the chase. Because they enjoy killing. Zimmerman’s patrol… they were just a taster… target practice. That’s why they take the heads, by the way. They’re…”

“Trophies!” Zimmerman said the word as if he was swallowing bile. “They killed my men and… took their heads… left their bodies to rot… and took…”

Ben reached out a reassuring hand to his shoulder. Zimmerman looked at him gratefully.

“We’ll end this tonight,” he promised. “There will be no more trophies.”

“So what do we do?” Sergeant Mardyke asked.

“We…” The Doctor hesitated. This wasn’t something he said very often. He really was a pacifist. He only fought when he had to, and taking life was a painful and distasteful thing for him.

But this was one of those times when he had to.

“We wipe them out,” he said. “Zimmerman, this is why you’re here. Tell us exactly where you encountered the Analecti, how many there were, everything we need to launch an offensive. Mardyke, lend me your knife, please.”

The Sergeant handed The Doctor the sharp knife from his webbing. He was surprised to see him use it to cut the Red Cross patches from his uniform. He put them in his pocket and shouldered the rifle he had been carrying.

He was no longer a non-combatant. He was going to war against the Analecti alongside these men. Because pacifist though he was, the one thing he couldn’t do was stand by holding onto principles while others put their lives in danger.

Zimmerman’s information was their advantage. Before, his patrol had been taken unawares, expecting to be fighting Allied soldiers on terms they understood. This time they were forewarned. They were ready.

Even so, the sight of the Analecti for the first time was startling. The Doctor felt the fear around him as they moved down the quarry and came up against the three sentries. Zimmerman’s description of them as seven foot tall faceless creatures with tentacles that slashed and arced with electricity didn’t quite prepare the others for the sight of the formless mass of blue-grey veiny flesh. Analecti had no skeletal structure. They stood upright by the rigidity of their muscles beneath that thick flesh. The head pulsated because the brain was directly beneath an even thicker layer of the flesh. They didn’t have faces. They detected their prey through vibrations in the air and in the ground. The sentries knew that something organic was approaching and their tentacles, as much as twenty foot long, whipped out, arcing electricity.

“Aim for the centre of the head,” The Doctor called out, and he fired the first shot. It hit one of the Analecti sentries dead centre. Black blood poured from the wound and the creature reeled, its tentacles whipping out, but randomly. It actually caught one of the other sentries with one of them, slicing through several of its tentacles and taking a chunk of the ugly flesh with it. Then two more shots fired. The three Analecti sentries collapsed into quivering heaps of dying flesh.

Zimmerman and Ben, either side of The Doctor, lowered their rifles.

“You’re both very good marksmen, too,” The Doctor noted. “You really do have more in common than you think. And it’s so much more useful when you’re working together instead of on opposite sides, cancelling each other out. Now, everyone, spread out. Take these creatures down. Don’t waste ammunition. Aim for the centre of the heads. One well judged bullet in the brain is enough.”

The battle was engaged. The quarry echoed with the sound of rifle and pistol fire and the crack of whipping tentacles for a long, exhausting time. The Doctor reloaded his rifle again and again. Five rounds lasted a very short time as he shot at one creature after another, avoiding the lethal, whipping tentacles.

They suffered casualties. Two of Ben’s men were cut down. Their dying screams chilled the hearts of all who heard it, but there was nothing they could do except fight on.

When the guns stopped firing, when the last quivering mass of alien flesh collapsed into a putrid heap, there were three men dead and five injured.

And two missing.

The Doctor’s hearts sank as he realised that Ben and Zimmerman were not there when they regrouped at the edge of the quarry. He continued to tend to the wounded, but his thoughts were on the missing men.

Was this how it happened? Was this why there was no official account of Ben’s death? Because any report that might have been made about what happened in this quarry was either disbelieved or buried in the sort of classified files that nobody other than Torchwood would be interested in.

“I’m sorry, Ben,” he murmured. “I am so sorry.”

He wasn’t meaning Lieutenant Ben Carpenter. He had done his duty as he had done through this war, and there was nothing to be sorry for. He was thinking of the other Ben, back in Australia.

Because although he had asked him just to find out, The Doctor knew he had hoped for more. He had never seen that film, but he, too, was hoping for a Saving Private Ryan resolution. He never would have said so, especially after that long lecture about causality, but Ben WAS hoping The Doctor would be able to do something to save his nephew from whatever his mysterious fate was.

He didn’t want to go back and tell him that Lieutenant Ben Carpenter died a horrible death fighting off malevolent alien creatures that would have killed thousands if they had got out of the quarry and unleashed their hunting party on the Allied and German lines.

“Doctor!” Sergeant Mardyke called to him sharply. He turned and looked at the two figures stumbling towards them. It was Ben and Zimmerman. Both of them were wounded, but they were holding each other up and moving as fast as they could. The reason for their haste was obvious when they were silhouetted by the bloom of fire that had to be a warp shunt engine exploding. As he and the Sergeant reached them he saw the cause of the explosion. Both men had been carrying at least six grenades on their webbing. Ben had the British ‘pineapple’ shaped Mills bombs, Zimmerman had the Stielhandgranate – stick bomb. And they had thrown the lot into the alien ship.

“We saw inside,” Ben managed to say as The Doctor laid him down and examined the deep gash in his thigh where he had been caught by the dying thrash of an Analecti tentacle. “It was… full… of heads… some Human… some… I don’t know what they were… but it was monstrous.”

“We destroyed them,” Zimmerman added. He was lacerated across the arm and shoulder and bleeding badly. “We destroyed their foul trophies....”

“Good,” The Doctor told him as he finished applying a field dressing that would help save Ben’s leg. “Now, you lie still a minute. Let me help you.”

Zimmerman’s wounds were bad, but not life threatening. He bandaged his arm and shoulder expertly and helped him to stand up again. The able-bodied helped the wounded to walk out of the quarry. They brought the bodies of their fallen comrades, too. Nobody wanted to leave them there along with the inhuman creatures that had killed them.

“How many grenades do we have left?” The Doctor asked when the party reached the top of the quarry. They looked back at the fire still burning below. They could see the grey lumps of the Analecti bodies in the glow

“About thirty,” Sergeant Mardyke replied.

“Throw them down there,” The Doctor ordered. “Burn everything. Leave no trace of what happened here.”

“All of them?” somebody asked. “But…”

“You won’t need them any more. Chances are they’ll be the last grenades thrown in this war. At least in this part of the Western Front. Use them to finish this once and for all.”

The men lined up on the edge of the quarry and did as he said. When they finally turned away and headed back to the British lines, the last of the creatures had been incinerated. It really was over.

Ben and Zimmerman helped each other to walk. They refused all other help. By consent, they walked towards the British lines. The Doctor brought them both to the field hospital where the other three men of Zimmerman’s patrol were sleeping peacefully having been treated by the real medical officer whose role The Doctor had partially usurped.

The two men were put to bed by Red Cross nurses who cared not that one of them was a German officer.

The Doctor sat on a chair between them and calmly used a borrowed needle and thread to sew the Red Cross patches back onto his tunic. He had finished the last one when a Captain and two NCOs came into the field hospital to formally declare Zimmerman a prisoner of war.

“Now that is done,” The Doctor said. “You can go away. This man is medically unfit for interrogation. He will stay here in this bed until I say otherwise.”

“When is that likely to be?” asked the Captain impatiently. “There are questions I need to ask about…. What went on out there tonight…”

“About eleven o’clock this morning,” The Doctor replied. He glanced at his watch. It was twenty-past two now. At a little after six, as it began to get light, the Brigadier who had sent them out on their mission to the quarry would receive the same telegraphic message commanders up and down the Western Front would receive, telling them that hostilities were to continue up until the eleventh hour and then cease. The war would be over then.

Every time he had ever thought about November 11th, 1918, he wondered about the logic of that instruction. For nearly five hours that morning, the commanding officers on both sides continued to expect the men to keep shooting each other, to keep killing, to keep dying. Then at the appointed hour, they were to stop.

He had often thought about the men who died in those five hours. Those deaths were the most unnecessary and the most tragic of them all. They had almost made it, and in those last hours they died.

If he could have done something to change that, he would have done. But the war was one of those fixed points in time that he was forbidden to interfere with.

And it grieved him even more as he sat there through that last night of war and waited with Ben Carpenter and Karl Zimmerman in their beds either side of him. Because now he was involved. It was no longer just history to him. He knew the names of men whose lives were still hanging by a thread of cruel fate, and now it was personal.

At least these two men weren’t a part of it. The injuries they sustained put Ben and Karl out of action until the war was over. They would be among the ones who made it.

Which meant that he had changed things after all. Donna and Ben had their Saving Private Ryan ending. He wasn’t sure how causality was going to make room for him, but he had an idea it would.

Two minutes after eleven o’clock, the Captain came back to the medical centre. By then the sounds of victory were echoing around the camp. Everyone knew the war was over.

“You are no longer our prisoner,” the Captain told Karl Zimmerman. “As soon as it can be arranged, a Red Cross ambulance will take you and your men to your own camp.”

Karl nodded and thanked him. The Captain turned and walked away. He had done his duty.

“I’ve done mine, too,” The Doctor said. “I should be going now. Let me… I’d like to shake both your hands before I do.”

He reached out and shook Karl’s hand. As he did so he felt his timeline stretched before him. He would return to Germany, of course. But life in the country that lost the Great War would be difficult. In any case, his experiences this night taught him valuable lessons about Human nature that set him apart from his own people when fascism raised its ugly head in his country. He emigrated in the late 1920s and by the time the Second World War began he was living in Nova Scotia as a naturalised Canadian citizen and rarely thought of himself as German. He died in his eighties, still living peacefully in Canada.

“Good journey, Karl Zimmerman,” he said. “Good luck to you.”

He turned and grasped Ben’s hand. His timeline was harder to read. He had travelled, if only briefly, in the Vortex the last time they had met. That confused things. But he concentrated and he saw his future, too. Ben would go home to his mother as a hero with his three medals. He would continue his university education and settle down as a teacher in a small private school. He would marry a young woman and have children and grandchildren before dying in the same year that Karl Zimmerman died.

They never met again after this day. But that didn’t matter. They would live fulfilling lives in their separate ways.

“Good luck to you, Ben. I’ll… remember you to your uncle when I see him.”

“Auf Wiedersehen, Herr Doktor,” Karl said to him.

“Goodbye, Doctor,” Ben echoed.

When he stepped into the TARDIS he noticed there was a message on the communication console. It was from the other Ben, in Australia, in the twenty-first century. He knew already that something had changed. Instead of a mystery, Ben had traced his nephew’s story all the way. He knew it was all right now.