The Doctor walked down to the edge of the frozen lake and breathed deeply. The air was cold and clear and wholesome. He spent a lot of his life breathing recycled air in the TARDIS. When he had a chance to stand under a big sky in a wide open space and breathe good air he appreciated it.

He appreciated the company he had here, too. He had long ago realised that all the beauty in the universe was meaningless without somebody to share it with.

That was why, when he decided he was going to spend a fortnight in a log cabin in the North-West Territories of Canada in the early twenty-first century he chose to have the best company he could to enjoy it with him.

He reached out and clutched his granddaughter’s hand. She turned her head from the view and smiled.

“I know what you’re thinking,” she said. “You’re remembering Quinnus… when we visited the ice fields there. I liked it there. So peaceful and quiet, no people for miles. Just a frozen world. Remember the ice flowers. So very beautiful….”

“So long ago,” he answered her. “For me… much longer than for you. I’ve done so much, lived so many lives. I’ve seen so very much… some of it I wish I hadn’t seen. Back then… when it was just the two of us… it was so much simpler.”

He didn’t look at her as they talked. If he kept looking out over Great Bear Lake at the moving headlamps and taillights of the trucks on the Ice Road he could imagine that those centuries hadn’t past and he was standing there with his teenage granddaughter in those simpler times when they had only needed each other. When he looked around, she would be a grown woman with a daughter who was almost as old as she was when they visited Quinnus.

He looked around at the middle aged woman who still had a glimmer of that teenage girl in her eyes. He smiled at her. Because regrets were soul-destroying, and after all, he had told her not to have any of them when they chose their separate destinies, so there was no point in him allowing himself any now.

“But you’re happy now, aren’t you, Grandfather?” she said to him. “You and Louise…”

“Oh, yes,” he assured her. He looked around at the log built lodge house where they were staying. His young wife was sitting on the veranda wrapped in furs to keep warm. She waved and he waved back. So did Susan.

“She’s sweet,” his granddaughter told him. “I think she’s just what you’ve always needed. You’ve been lonely for so long. Look after her. Don’t let her go.”

“I don’t intend to. But I think… She’s like you in a lot of ways. Especially the reason you left me…”

“You mean… she wants to go back to her own world… to her roots?”

“Yes. Only… when the time is right for her, this time I’m going with her. I won’t make the same mistake. Besides, the universe is still as big a place as it ever was. But I don’t think it needs me any more.”

“The universe will always need The Doctor,” Susan told him.

“Not any more. Now it needs your boys. And they’re doing a fine job. I’m about ready to retire.”

“I won’t see you any more,” Susan pointed out. “Just when I’ve got you back and we’ve started to know each other again.”

“That’s why I wanted us to have this time together. So we could make the most of it.”

“Even Time Lords never seem to have enough time for what matters most to them,” Susan commented. “I understand, grandfather. I really do. You must do what your hearts tell you. Don’t mind me. Besides, I’m spoiled right now. I’ve had BOTH of you for the past weeks. When you go, I’ll still have him. I won’t miss you so much this time around.”

“I WILL miss you, Susan,” The Doctor answered her. “I missed you all the time. But… remember what I told you the first time.”

“I remember. It was typical of you back then - pompous and high-minded. As if there wouldn’t be tears, or regrets. Of course there were. And there will be again. But you’re right about one thing. Let’s make the most of the time we have now. No more of this. Go and get Louise. She’ll miss the show otherwise.”

The Doctor nodded. He left Susan by the lake and went back to where his wife was sitting. It was only fifty yards at the most. But the sky was just too big over her head here by the lakeside. Louise had been born and raised in a forest. If she ever went to the topmost platforms to look at the sky, she knew she only had to descend again and be back in the safety of the green canopy. Here there was just nowhere to hide and she would only come out to the lakeside if he was with her.

“You were all right on Tangalooma with the sea and all the sky above you, there,” he pointed out gently.

“I was never alone there. Donna and Ben, Tegan and Gerry were with me all the time that you weren’t. I was all right with them. I’m all right here, with you and Susan. Just don’t leave me alone.”

“I won’t,” he promised her. “But, come on, now, chérie. There will be lots of people at the lakeside, tonight. All the guests from the private lodges and the hotel guests, too.”

She smiled and clung to his arm as they walked back to where Susan was waiting. The Doctor’s hearts swelled with joy as he held the two most precious women in his life on his two arms and they walked along the lakeside path to where a temporary grandstand had been set up for the evening performances. The Doctor gave his tickets to a young woman of the Sahtú First Nation dressed in a colourful hand embroidered traditional costume. She showed them to their seats. As the stand filled a young Sahtú man in an equally colourful costume came around with hot drinks. They warmed their hands on the cups and waited for the show to begin.

Nature itself was the star attraction. Two unique phenomena were happening at once. First, a total eclipse of the moon was expected to begin very soon. And it would be accompanied by a spectacular aurora borealis. The Doctor and his ladies had already seen the aurora three nights in a row since they arrived at the lodge for their holiday, but the eclipse made it special and the Sahtú were bringing their own magic to it as well.

As the eclipse began, and the sky shimmered with green, blue, yellow and occasional flashes of red caused by solar particles colliding with gases in the Earth's atmosphere, a persistent drum beat began. Just a single drum at first, then two, matching the double heartbeat of a Time Lord. Then a dozen of them, carried by Sahtú men dressed in clothes rich with fringes and beading that glittered in the moonlight. They walked out onto the ice of the lake itself, sure-footed and without slipping or sliding in any way. They were followed by a group of women who danced to the drum beat. They told a story in their dance about lovers from two different tribes who were finally allowed to marry after a long, difficult courtship. The eclipsed moon was the woman, of course, and the sun’s shadow coming across its face was her lover. The eclipse was their passionate love-making on their wedding night.

“We had a legend like that on Gallifrey,” The Doctor whispered. “When Pazithi Gallifreya in her silver aspect was eclipsed by the sun it was meant to represent the wedding night consummation.”

Susan nodded happily. Louise snuggled close to her husband and thought she could fully empathise with the moon. She had been eclipsed by his love over and over since their first night.

As the bright moon became a darkened disc in the sky, ringed by a silvery edge, the aurora was even brighter and more spectacular. The dancers told another story about their ancestors who had died well and gone to heaven, hunting great mythical beasts across the sky. That was their ancient way of explaining the aurora.

“I like it better than ‘solar particles colliding with gases in the atmosphere’,” Susan said. “Science is all very well and necessary. But it takes the joy out of some things.”

“I completely and absolutely agree,” The Doctor told her. “Never mind solar particles. Huntsmen of the Sahtú pursuing the great bears of the sky across the heavens are good enough for me, too.”

He looked up at the sky and smiled. He had been a scientist for as long as he could remember. How things worked, and why they worked had driven him from an early age. He knew the scientific reasons for the aurora they used to get in southern Gallifrey. He knew that the meteor showers he used to watch with his father were space debris burning up in the atmosphere. He knew that the eclipse of Pazithi Galifreya had nothing to do with her wedding night but was about the shadow of the planet he was standing upon coming between the sun and the moon.

He knew all of that, but he liked the stories, too. He sometimes thought that was what made him different from most other Time Lords. He saw beyond science and logical explanations and enjoyed the colour that imagination gave to everything in the cosmos.

“Grandfather,” Susan whispered loudly. “Look at that.”

“You shouldn’t call me grandfather when we’re in company,” he replied automatically. “People will think we’re strange.”

“No… but, look…”

She gripped his arm and pointed at the ice where the dance was going on. “Do you see it? The shadows underneath the ice… following the dancers.”

The Doctor looked. But all he could see were the reflections of the aurora on the surface of the ice. He couldn’t see anything underneath it.

Nor could Louise. Susan frowned. She insisted she could see something more.

“It’s the aurora,” The Doctor assured her. “Nothing to worry about, Susan. Enjoy the show.”

“It’s not,” she insisted. “There’s something else there. It’s following them… the dancers… trying to keep up with them. It can’t. They’re moving around too much, too quickly. If it was just their own shadows…”

The Doctor slipped his arm around her shoulder reassuringly.

“I can’t see anything,” he told her. “But if you say you can, then I believe you. We’ll find out what it is, later.”

“Thank you, grandfather,” she answered him. This was a new side to him, consideration like that. When she was a young girl and he was a white haired old man, he would have dismissed what she had seen as fancy, just her imagination getting the better of her. She would probably have argued back until he got cross and she burst into tears and ran to her room in frustration. He had learnt from his mistakes. He had become a more thoughtful man who understood that he didn’t know everything. He was much easier to love than he was in her youth.

The show went on for another hour, until the eclipse was over and the bright, silvery moon was whole again. The aurora was still glowing and dancing in the sky, but the show was brought to an end with a fantastic dance of joy celebrating life and its continuance down through the generations.

When it was over, most of the audience drifted towards the hotel and the open bar and restaurant. The Doctor brought Susan and Louise down towards the camp where the performers had gone when they finished their show. It was a traditional First Nation camp with tepees made of animal skins. Louise looked at them with interest.

“Is this their tribal village?” she asked.

“No, this is just a temporary camp while they are doing these performances on the lake,” The Doctor replied. “Their homes are in the town of Deline, at the other end of the Ice Road. He let go of their hands and approached one of the Sahtú. He was still in his costume from the performance, but many of the others had changed into more practical clothes already. The Doctor spoke to the young man in his own language with a lot of nodding and hand gestures. Then he turned and called the women to his side again.

“We’re going to chat to one of the elders,” he said taking their hands and following the young man to one of the tepees.

Inside it was surprisingly warm. The tepee was lit by an oil lamp and animal furs covered the floor. An elderly lady sat on cushions.

“Who have you here, Marcus?” the lady asked.

“This is The Doctor,” answered Marcus. “Doctor… this is my grandmother, Helen Binoche. She is an elder of the Sahtú and you may talk with her about the thing which concerns you.”

“My thanks,” The Doctor said, bowing his head in respect to the lady and her grandson before sitting, straight backed and with his legs crossed in front of her. Louise and Susan sat either side of him. He introduced them both to the old lady. She seemed unsurprised that Susan was his granddaughter.

“Intermarriage with the white settlers gave us names that bear no resemblance to those of our ancestors,” Helen Binoche said. “We live in brick houses and have television. Our children go to state run schools. We recreate our traditional dances to amuse tourists. But I am still an elder of a proud people with a long history. And I can see that you, Doctor, are also from a proud people with much history. You come from a far place. Very far. You all do. And your eyes are much older than your face. You have the wisdom of age.”

“I have wisdom enough to know I don’t know everything,” he said. “But my granddaughter has something to talk about, and perhaps it would mean something more to you than it does to me.”

Susan hesitantly described what she had seen, that nobody else, not even her grandfather had.

“It wasn’t reflections of the aurora,” she said again. “Nor was it the shadows of the dancers. It looked like something moving independently, under the ice, but trying to keep close to the dancers, as if it needed them.”

Helen Binoche nodded thoughtfully.

“You saw one of our legends portrayed tonight – the one where we depict the aurora as the souls of dead trying to reach the hunting grounds of the afterlife,” she said. “They are free of their earthly bodies and able to dance in the sky. But we also have legends of unhappy souls who are unable to reach the heavens. We don’t tell those stories to tourists. We don’t have dances for the Lost Generation.”

“Lost generation?” Susan shivered despite herself. They used that expression in her own century, two hundred years from this, to describe those who were almost wiped out by the Daleks. She and David were survivors of that generation. But Helen obviously wasn’t talking about that.

“In the 1930s, uranium was discovered in this area,” The Doctor said with a nod of his head. “In the 1940s, they had a use for that uranium. The Canadian government agreed to supply the ore to the Americans for Project Manhatten – building the atomic bomb that was used to end the war with Japan. Sahtú men were conscripted to mine and transport the ore. But nobody told them that they risked their lives by doing so. Many of them died of radiation sickness and cancer in the years afterwards.”

Helen nodded sadly.

“My own father was one of them.”

“Did the authorities know that the men would get sick?” Susan asked. “Did they care? Or did they just think of your people as expendable labour?”

“Neither question has ever properly been answered,” Helen told her. “Thank you for asking them, though.”

“You think that Susan saw the souls of those dead men in the ice?” Louise asked. She had stayed quiet at The Doctor’s side through the conversation. She didn’t know what Project Manhattan was. She didn’t know about Uranium or what it could do to people who were exposed to it. But she understood the tragedy of men dying needlessly.

She also understood the idea of the souls of the dead being trapped in that way, and it disturbed her. But she asked the question anyway, even though she dreaded to hear the answer.

“I think perhaps she did,” Helen answered. “Some people see far more than others do.”

“More than I saw,” The Doctor admitted. “Perhaps I am not as open minded as I think I am.”

“Is there nothing to be done to free them, then?” Susan asked.

“You felt they were trapped?”

“Yes, I think they were.”

“There is an ancient dance that is supposed to guide the souls of the dead heavenwards,” Helen said. “But it has not been done for a long while.”

“Could it be done, though?” Louise asked.

“Perhaps. I shall speak with the other elders here in camp.”

“Please do,” Susan told her. “They will be grateful, I am sure.”

She clearly didn’t mean the elders of the camp, but the souls she had felt connected to.

They talked a little more with Helen before they bid her goodnight. Her grandson walked with them to the edge of the camp.

“What my grandmother spoke of,” he said a little awkwardly. “Do you believe in it?”

“I’ve lived long enough to know that nothing is impossible,” The Doctor answered. “Do you not believe her?”

“I’m on my semester break from the University of Toronto,” he said. “I’m studying engineering. I deal with what is, what can be seen and touched. When I come back to my own people…”

“You feel you’re too worldly wise to believe in what you can’t see and can’t touch?”

“And then I feel a traitor to my inheritance for thinking that. My grandmother… It would be easy for people like you to think of her as a relic of the past, a part of a living museum, part of a tradition that only hangs on because we get grants from the government to put on performances of native dancing.”

“I certainly don’t think that, Marcus. Your grandmother is a far-seeing woman who understands the one thing you’re struggling to grasp. Sometimes things are real even if you can’t see or touch them. When you work that out, you won’t feel quite so conflicted.”

Marcus nodded as if he understood The Doctor’s words and shook hands with him and with Susan and Louise before they walked on back to their rented lodge house. The Doctor made them sit down by the warm open fire while he made cocoa. He wouldn’t let either of them speak until he was sitting beside them.

“Grandfather, do you believe that what I saw was the souls of the Lost Generation?” Susan asked.

“I think it is entirely possible,” he answered. “I know you’re not delusional. I also know that you are a sweet, sensitive woman with a lot of empathy for others. I think there might be something there. It may be the spirits of the Sahtú dead. It may be something, like us, that is not of this world.”

“I don’t like it, either way,” Louise said. “Chéri… spirits of the dead…”

“Nothing to worry about,” The Doctor promised her. “Don’t you fret, my dear. Besides, whatever it is can wait. I’ll take a look at the ice first thing tomorrow. It’s time for bed, now. And neither of you are going to worry about anything.”

Susan had been a wife and mother for more than forty years. She wondered why she had reverted to being a person who was told when to go to bed. But she was tired after an eventful evening and she kissed her grandfather on the cheek and went to her room. The Doctor took Louise by the hand into their own room. The warm lodge house soon went quiet, as it should.

But Susan didn’t sleep. She tried to. But too many things crowded into her mind. She kept thinking of what she had seen during the performance, and more importantly, what she had felt. She also thought of the story she had heard later, of the men who died in tragic circumstances. It made sense. It went together in a logical way as long as you were open minded enough to believe in spirits lingering after death.

As a Gallifreyan, Susan DID believe such things. She knew for a fact that the essences of dead Time Lords had always been stored in the Matrix. If that wasn’t a spirit lingering after death, then what else was it? Her people had found a way to use technology to enhance their understanding of what remained after the death of the body.

The Sahtú used music and dance and stories passed down through the generations to understand the same thing.

Yes, she thought she understood exactly what she had seen.

But then why did it feel as if there was something missing, still? Something that nagged at her like a loose tooth and wouldn’t go away.

She got up out of bed and went to the window. She couldn’t see very much from there, though. A stand of pine trees obscured the full glory of the lake.

She didn’t get dressed. She simply wrapped a dressing gown around her and put her feet into a pair of shoes. She slipped out of the lodge and walked down to the lakeside. She stood there for a while, looking out across the frozen expanse. There were moving lights on the ice road. That was normal, in so far as driving an articulated lorry across a frozen lake in the dead of night was a normal thing to do, anyway. She spared a thought for the men who did such a thing for a living. There was a glow further away that was the township of Deline, where the trucks either started from or were heading towards, and where the Sahtú people she had met earlier lived and worked.

The moon was full and bright in a clear black sky where familiar constellations glittered. The lake was white and still in the reflected moonlight. It looked peaceful.

Yet Susan knew there was something out there that wasn’t at peace.

“Yes, I hear you,” she said to the empty air. “I’m coming to you.”

She stepped onto the ice and walked surprisingly dextrously. She remembered walking on the ice fields of Quinnus when she was a girl. The skill came back to her. She kept upright and didn’t slip once as she covered a half mile or more of the frozen surface of Great Bear Lake, following the voice that called to her in her head.

Louise woke to the sound of the front door closing. She slipped out of the bed and went to the window in time to see Susan walking towards the lake in her dressing gown.

She looked back at the bed where The Doctor lay, unaware of the drama. He wasn’t asleep in the usual way. He was in one of the deep trances he sometimes put himself into in order to refresh his body and mind much more thoroughly than he did in ordinary sleep. He had explained it to her and it didn’t frighten her to feel his body so very still that even his hearts beat only once every few minutes, but she didn’t know how to wake him from such a trance. She felt that to try could harm him.

She got dressed quickly in a long woollen dress and thick tights before wrapping herself up in fur-lined hooded coat and boots, gloves and scarf. She slipped out of the lodge and was halfway to the lakeside before she caught sight of the sky above her and remembered that it scared her to be on her own in such open places. She shivered, not with cold, but fear of that huge sky and the emptiness around her.

But Susan needed her. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply and then walked on. She came to the edge of the ice and hesitated for only a moment before stepping onto it. Her feet slid and she wobbled alarmingly, but she managed to shuffle forwards a few yards before she slipped the first time. She picked herself up and pressed on. Having fallen once, it didn’t seem so bad. She knew the worst it could be. She took slightly longer steps and felt a little more certain about herself.

As long as she didn’t look up, anyway. She kept her eyes on Susan’s slender figure up ahead. She didn’t fall and she was moving much faster on the ice. Louise had no chance of catching up with her unless she stopped.

Susan did stop. Louise tried to hurry but slipped again. When she picked herself up, she panicked at first, because she couldn’t see Susan at all.

Then she saw her lying on the ice, the dark blue of her dressing gown standing out from the pale blue frozen surface. Louise ran, slipping twice, but refusing to give up.

“Susan!” she cried out as she slipped once more, her ankle twisting painfully under her. She pulled herself into a half sitting position and turned Susan’s still body over, holding her in her arms. She was pale and cold and she didn’t seem to be breathing.

“Docteur!” she screamed. “Docteur! Help us, please!”

Her voice echoed across the ice. But was it enough for him to hear? She could barely see the lodge. And even if he did hear, was it too late? Susan was freezing to death already and even though she herself was in warm clothes it was only a matter of time.

“Docteur!” she cried out again.

Then she whimpered fearfully as she saw the shadows under the ice. They surrounded her and Susan, crowding in on them like pack animals after a wounded and helpless prey.


She screamed once more, hardly hoping for rescue. Then she heard a sound that gladdened her heart. She turned her head and saw the TARDIS, that incongruous blue shape with its Police Public Call Box signs giving off a warm yellow glow and the light on top flashing brightly. It was actually skating along the ice towards them. She saw the shadows beneath the ice part as if to let it through and she might have wondered about that if she wasn’t too busy looking at the door that opened, spilling out more warm welcome light as the TARDIS came to a stop. Moments later The Doctor was at her side. He lifted Susan in his arms and helped Louise to stand, supporting her painfully twisted ankle as he brought them both to the safety of the console room.

“You’re both freezing,” he said as he let them both down on the floor and brought a blanket. He wrapped it around Susan and Louise and himself and held them both in his arms. He brought his own body temperature up as high as he dared without making himself ill and transferred the heat to their two cold bodies.

“Are you hurt, Louise?” he said after a little while when she managed to stop shivering. Susan was still unconscious, but her hearts were beating steadily and she was breathing.

“Only my ankle,” she answered him. “I fell…”

“Ah, of course!” He smiled at her. “Family tradition, that. I’ll look at it in a minute. I need to take care of Susan, first.” He cuddled his granddaughter in his arms and put his hand on her brow. He concentrated his own mind on hers, willing her back to consciousness. He could feel that she had suffered some kind of deep shock but it would surely be all right once she was awake.

She opened her eyes slowly and looked at him, but without recognition. She grasped his shoulder and cried for a long minute, then began to speak in fast, almost incoherent words.

“What language is that?” Louise asked. “What is she…”

“It’s not one language,” The Doctor answered. “That’s why the TARDIS is struggling to translate for you. Part of it is Slavey, the language of the Sahtú people. The other… she keeps switching from one to the other, sometimes mid-sentence. It’s difficult. The other language is…. Oh….”

Louise watched in bewilderment. The Doctor seemed to understand, though. He listened for a little longer and then he put his hand over her brow again and Susan slipped into a deep sleep again. He let her lean into Louise’s arms and put the blanket close around them both.

“I’ll have us home in two ticks,” he said. “I’ll get Susan tucked up in bed and then look at your ankle. Tomorrow, you’re both going to have a quiet day around the lodge while I sort a few things out. I know what’s going on, now. And it WILL be all right as long as neither of you decide to go wandering around in the dark again.”

Louise thought he was taking it all a little casually, considering how scared and hurt she had been and the strange things that had happened to Susan. He brought the TARDIS to the warm drawing room of the lodge and left her on the sofa while he took his granddaughter to her bed and ensured that she was in a deep enough sleep to stay put until morning. Then he returned to her. He knelt by her side and gently unfastened her boots. He held her swollen and bruised ankle in his hands and massaged it tenderly. She gasped softly as she felt the pain dissipate while he willed the torn muscles and tendons to repair themselves.

“Is that better?” he asked her.

“It’s much better,” she assured him. “Chéri… that is wonderful. Thank you.”

“You should have no trouble walking on it. But… no need to try, right now.” He gathered her in his arms and carried her to the bedroom where he laid her beneath the warm covers and quickly joined her. Louise sighed happily as his hands caressed her and drove all anxieties and concerns from her mind.

When both Louise and Susan woke in the morning they found The Doctor gone from the house. He had left coffee bubbling in the percolator and breakfast for two on the table along with a message telling them he would be back soon. Susan sat and poured coffee and tasted the scrambled eggs and bacon with hash browns. Louise sat opposite her and did the same. For a little while neither woman said anything.

“It… wasn’t a dream, was it?” Susan said at last. “I really did….”

“Yes, you did,” Louise answered. “But it’s all right, now. You’re safe. The Doctor came for us.”

“Yes, he did.” Susan acknowledged. “He was there for me, as he always was when I needed him. And he’ll be there for those poor, trapped beings that were reaching out, begging for our help. He’ll do the right thing. As he always does.”

Both women were sure of that. They both remembered the dark and the cold, the fear and confusion and pain. But The Doctor had driven all of that away and they knew just one thing. He would make it right.

When The Doctor came back to the lodge it was to find Susan and Louise sitting on the sofa by the fire talking animatedly. He was the subject of the conversation, of course. Susan was telling Louise about something that happened many years ago when they travelled together. He listened quietly before making his presence known.

“You know, I don’t always get things right,” he said. “Sometimes I can be wrong. And when I’m wrong, people suffer. Susan, I’m sure my opposite number must have told you about the Gelth. I got it very wrong that time, and a lot of people died, including an innocent girl who I should have been able to protect.”

Louise looked shocked by that. She had never seen The Doctor do anything wrong. He was her hero every time.

“He told me,” Susan admitted. “But that wasn’t your fault. You were tricked. Those creatures made you think they needed your help when all the time they just wanted to invade the planet.”

“I’ve been asked for help many times,” The Doctor told them both. “I never refuse. I firmly believe that to do so would be a stain on my own soul. But sometimes… sometimes answering that call is the wrong thing. Sometimes I can’t help. Sometimes I shouldn’t help… sometimes…”

He shook his head.

“Something is asking for my help now. It used your latent telepathy to ask, Susan. My own mind was too strong for it. I’m sorry about that, sweetheart. It caused you quite a bit of distress and discomfort. It should have been me dealing with it all along.”

“That’s all right, grandfather,” she told him. “But… something needs help…”

“That’s what made me think of the Gelth. They sound just as desperate. And they used you to get their message through. There’s a little part of me that isn’t sure. And I’ve brought all the Sahtú people into it, so if I am wrong this time like I was wrong about the Gelth, this could be very bad for them, too. But I have to follow my first instinct… which is to answer a call for help. And that’s what I’m going to do tonight. And I have to hope I’m doing the right thing.”

“I believe in you, grandfather,” Susan told him.

“So do I, ma chérie,” Louise added.

“Good,” he said with a broad smile. “Now, let’s forget all about it for a little while. There’s nothing we can do until the sun goes down.”

He wasn’t particularly good at sitting and doing nothing, at least not unless he was in a deep level meditative trance. But he knew Susan and Louise needed a quiet time. So he spent the day listening to music and talking, drinking tea, eating scones and jam. It wasn’t exciting, or dramatic. It wasn’t particularly Time Lordly. But it was the quality time he knew he ought to give to Susan and it was the peace that Louise needed after the frightening time she had the night before.

By the time the sun went down, though, he was starting to feel a little impatient. Louise and Susan both recognised it in his body language, and were glad when he said it was time. He walked with them down to the lakeside and along the path to where, again, tonight, the Sahtú were going to perform on the ice. There was no eclipse this time, but the aurora borealis would be at its most spectacular in another hour and they had some new stories to tell in their dance. Louise and Susan sat near the front of the grandstand ready to watch.

The Doctor walked back to the lodge and stepped into the TARDIS. He put it into a low synchronised orbit over the Great Bear Lake. From that height, anyone with a little imagination could think that it really did look like a bear in profile, stalking along after its food. But the lake was named long before men looked down on the Earth from this height, so it must have been a coincidence.

There was a good, responsive audience for the show again tonight. They applauded happily when the dancers stepped out onto the ice in their beautiful costumes and performed a whirling, frenetic dance that matched the lights in the sky. They listened when the drummers filled the air with a sound that the aurora itself could have been moving in time with. Marcus Binoche, dressed in a fine costume that made him look like a great blue and green birdman, narrated the story they were portraying in their music and movements. It was a sadder tale than the one last night. It was certainly no romance, and perhaps it disturbed some of the audience. But it was a story that needed to be told about the way the Lost Generation of the Sahtú were used to carry the uranium ore from the mines near the Great Bear Lake and later succumbed to terrible, painful death. The story went on to say that the souls of the Lost Generation were unable to find their way into the heavens. They remained Earth bound, waiting for a sign, a signal that would point them in the right direction.

Susan and Louise both wiped away tears from their eyes as they watched and listened. They had both been touched by the story already. They looked up at the multi-coloured sky, knowing that The Doctor was there, somewhere, waiting. Then they gave their attention to the story again.

The dancers and drummers and the narrator told a different story, now. They told of spirits from the sky that came to the Great Bear Lake, and who found the souls of the Lost Generation. They talked to them, telling them of a place where they could be free and happy. They promised to take them away with them. But the spirits from the sky had come to the Great Bear Lake at the start of winter and they found themselves trapped in the ice along with the Lost Generation, and they yearned to be free.

On the ice, the dancers formed a wide ring. They moved around constantly, their beaded and fringed costumes catching the reflected light of the aurora above. Within the ring, there was a bright shaft of light. Most of the audience were too captivated by the dancing to worry about how the light was created. A few looked up and murmured about helicopters or possibly an air balloon.

None of them guessed the light was coming from a blue box that looked as if it had no right to be hanging in the sky. Louise and Susan were the only two members of the audience who knew the truth. Even the Sahtú people didn’t know exactly what was happening, but they played their part.

Only The Doctor knew that the light wasn’t just light. It was a stream of Artron energy from the heart of the TARDIS itself. And it wasn’t just shining down onto the ice. The energy penetrated it and went down into the freezing water beneath.

The drums beat faster and the dancers moved like dervishes around the circle of light. The audience watched in awe as shadows appeared within the pure bright light, shadows moving up just like salmon swimming up a waterfall to reach their spawning grounds. Marcus Binoche told them that the souls of the Lost Generation and the spirits from the sky were leaving together for that better place where they would all be happy.

“Well, it’s a damned good special effect,” somebody commented in the row of seats behind Louise and Susan. “But the story is half anti-government propaganda and half superstitious nonsense.”

Susan turned, wanting to give the critic a piece of her mind. But then she turned around again. Let him think what he liked. She knew the truth. So did Louise. They both watched the shadows travelling up the shaft of artron energy and waved.

“Good journey,” Susan whispered.

The drum beat reached a point where it was almost a single sound, not individual beats, and then stopped abruptly. The dancers dropped to the ground, their arms outstretched towards the centre of the circle. As the last shadows ascended the light vanished. Anyone in the audience who was quick enough might have seen a brief streak of light high in the sky as if a falling star was falling the opposite way. But they would probably have thought they imagined it.

The crowd applauded the performers as they slid towards the shore and took a well-deserved bow. Then the show was over. The grandstand emptied towards the hotel bar. Louise and Susan walked quietly towards the Sahtú camp. Marcus Binoche fell in step with them as they headed towards his grandmother’s tepee.

The Doctor was already waiting with her. He smiled at them as they came to sit by his side. Marcus sat, too. For a little while nobody spoke.

“It was real, wasn’t it?” Marcus said, finally. “They really were spirits… our dead…”

“Some of them were. Some were a non-corporeal entity known as Hasso. And the story you told is more or less right. They wanted your spirits to join with them when they returned to their own sector of space. But the onset of winter, the freezing of the lake, disorientated them. They couldn’t find their way back to the sky. I was able to show them the way.”

“You did, indeed,” Helen Binoche agreed. “I felt their joy as they rose up into the heavens. You did a very good thing, Doctor.”

“You could have done it without the dancers and drummers,” Marcus pointed out. “And the whole showcase in front of the tourists.”

“Yes, I could,” The Doctor agreed. “But wasn’t it so much more satisfying that way? It was in keeping with your traditions, and a few holidaymakers in that audience learnt something about the way your people were exploited in the past. That’s no bad thing. And on top of all of that, I think you’ve discovered something, Marcus.”

“Yes, Doctor,” he replied. “Sometimes things are real even if they can’t be seen or touched. I will remember that.”

“Good man,” The Doctor told him with a satisfied smile.

There was just one snag. The TARDIS was dangerously low on power now. When their holiday was over he was going to have to call one of Susan’s boys to come and give them a tow to Cardiff for a refuelling stop. He didn’t mind that, too much. Cardiff wasn’t a bad place to spend a day or two. But Susan would probably use the time to give Louise more lessons in the use of credit cards.