The Doctor looked at his console and locked off the materialisation switch. “M Class planet, temperate climate, major landmass - ninety percent forest. Who’s up for a ramble in the woods?”

“If we said we’d rather stay in and watch telly, would you get cross?” Wyn asked.

“Yes,” The Doctor replied. “Besides we’re out of range of any TV programme you’d want to watch.”

“Walk in the woods it is then,” she said. Alec and Jasmin were already looking for their coats. “I was only kidding, anyway. The TARDIS is a fantastic ship, but the day I’m tired of going outside on new planets, just shoot me!”

The Doctor smiled at her. He knew she was joking. But all the same, sooner or later people DID get tired of it. Even he did sometimes. There always came a time when his companions started to think of HOME and he would know then there was no point in delaying the inevitable.

But Wyn was still the first to step out into the alien world with enthusiasm and excitement. Alec and Jasmin came behind her and The Doctor closed the door as he stepped out last.

“Doctor?” Wyn turned to him with a surprised grin. “I think you slightly miscalculated ground level.”

“So it seems,” he said as he looked around him. The TARDIS had materialised on a platform some thirty feet above ground level but still a long way from the top of the impossibly high trees of this alien forest. They all looked down over the wooden railing to the forest floor below and up to see that there were similar platforms above - and more besides.

Among the trees there was a whole village. Walkways and bridges connected the trees together and sturdy platforms supported living quarters and communal areas. And it was all utterly…

“Beautiful!” The Doctor breathed as his eyes took it all in. “High rise life among the trees, at one with nature. Beautiful.”

“Helllooooo!” He looked up above him as he heard somebody cry out, their voice coming rapidly closer. He instinctively raised his arms above his head and was surprised when they were grasped firmly and he was plucked off his feet and into the air. He looked up at the woman who held him. Her vibrant red hair fell long and loose as she swung on what he realised was a bungee rope made of strong lianas. Green eyes flashed smilingly at him. He grinned back and joined in her cry of ecstasy as the momentum pulled them upwards against gravity.

He often promised people a trip of a lifetime, but it was rare that anyone ever took him on one.

“Going up?” he said as somebody above hauled on the rope to raise them both back to the platform she had jumped from.

“Just hold tight,” she replied in English with just a hint of a European accent. Colonists. The universe was full of Humans who had sought new lives among the stars, their boundless ingenuity overcoming every hardship to achieve that life.

Bless them, he thought.

“Hello,” he said when at last he had been pulled up to the platform. He watched the red-haired beauty unfasten her legs from the bungee and stand up athletically. She was dressed in a short skirt of homespun cloth and a jerkin of soft chamois leather. He was trying to remember what the skirt had looked like when she was upside down but he couldn’t remember anything beyond those sparkling green eyes. “I do love a girl with strong arms.”

“Hello, my beautiful stranger,” she said and kissed him quickly on the lips.

“Hello…” he answered, trying not to grin like an idiot and think of something intelligent to say.

“I am Dominique.”

“I’m…. I’m The Doctor. That’s what people call me anyway. I… I have other names, but I am usually called The Doctor…. Doctor…yes… Doctor.” He looked at her. “Shall I stop babbling now?”

“Doctor.” She smiled. “That is a beautiful name.”

“Well, I’m glad you think so. I’m… I think I could be rather partial to Dominique. Very beautiful. Doctor and Dominique. Goes together rather well. We could be a trapeze act at the circus. It would look good on the posters.” He paused. “Babbling again… must stop that.”

“Does this help?” she asked. She put her arms around his neck and kissed him again, this time long and lingeringly, her tongue doing surprising things to the inside of his lips and his teeth.

“N…No…” he stammered breathlessly. “I… I think that’s just making it worse. I think… regretfully… you’d better stop doing that for a little while. Maybe… maybe later when I’ve gathered my strength.…”

“Your friends below are calling.” A strong looking man in the same homespun cloth and tanned leather spoke to him. He looked over the railing and waved to them.

“Come and join me,” he shouted. “There’s a lovely view up here.” There were three responses of different lengths, all asking the basic question - “How?” He replied that they could do the same as he did and grinned at the responses, again different, but on the general lines of “never in a million years!”

“Ok,” he called down. “They’re dropping a ladder for you.” Dominique stood close to him as he watched his friends climbing up the sturdy rope ladder. It was a few moments before he realised her arm was around his back. Almost without thinking he did the same, his own arm snaking around her trim waist. It was a long time since he had been this close to a woman in soft leather, he thought. The dark hair and trusting eyes of Leela came to mind. But Dominique and her people didn’t seem to be that kind of primitive race - more like an advanced society that had taken to a simpler life.

He looked at their village in the trees again from a closer angle now. The walkways and bridges were all elaborately tooled and carved, as were the huts. Everything was coated with varnishes and finishes to make it hard-wearing. They were far in advance of Leela’s hunter-gatherer tribe even if they seemed, to those who thought technology to be advancement, to have regressed.

Despite living a technology dependent life himself, The Doctor didn’t necessarily think it was always progress. What he saw so far of Dominique’s world had much to commend it.

It had Dominique, for a start. He wasn’t sure why he seemed to be the object of so much affection from her, but he wasn’t complaining. Even his frigid race knew a good thing when they saw it.

“It was MUCH quicker MY way,” The Doctor said as Wyn clambered up on to the platform followed by Jasmin and Alec.

“I’ll stick with the ladder,” Wyn said, speaking for all three of them.

“So,” Alec asked. “Who are your new friends?”

“Our new friends,” The Doctor corrected him. “This lovely creature is Dominique. Perhaps she would like to introduce the others.”

“This is Dominic,” she said, reaching the arm that wasn’t wrapped around The Doctor to the young man who had spoken before. “My twin brother. He is leader of our village since our father passed away last year.”

“You are young for such a responsibility,” Alec said to him as they shook hands. Dominic and Dominique didn’t look much older than twenty-five.

“I do what I must. We all have our role to play for the good of all. I am the chief carpenter as well as leader. Jareth and Jean-Paul…” he indicated two other strongly built men. “They assist me. We keep the platforms strong, build our dwellings and bridges and walkways.”

“A carpenter is an important person in his own right in a community built of wood,” Jasmin observed. “But the reason for your living above the ground - is it defensive?”

“Well done,” The Doctor thought smiling at her. “That’s the next question I was going to ask.” Dominic indicated to them that their work was done on that platform and they moved off over a sturdy bridge to a more comfortable platform where there were beautifully carved seats. Dominique took The Doctor’s hand and led him to a double seat that was fixed on a swivel so that it rocked gently as they sat.

His friends smiled in amusement to see how she cuddled close but for him it was not a joke. It was no more than half an hour since this lovely woman had swooped into his life but it had been a fantastic half hour and he was happy for it to go on a little longer.

“Yes,” Dominic said. “We have an enemy that preys upon our people. But they are unable to reach us here. They are not able to climb. We descend to the forest floor only when absolutely necessary, mostly when we trade with other villages. And then we travel always in groups.”

“There are other villages then?”

“Yes. We are the predominant race on this planet, despite our enemy’s predations upon us,” Dominic continued. “We survive. We thrive.” Two more of the tree-dwelling women appeared with food for the visitors to their community. There was a white meat not unlike chicken and some kind of nuts as well as a drink that tasted a little like fermented peaches.

“You are colonists, though?” The Doctor asked. “You… or your ancestors came here from elsewhere?”

“Four hundred years ago,” Dominic said. “The ship carrying our people to a new world crashed here. The survivors made THIS our new world, though it was not the one we were intended to reach. We called it Forêt for obvious reasons.”

“Forêt!” The Doctor smiled. “Beautiful name. Much better than 6YDF??9. But do go on.”

“Because the ship had been off course before it crashed rescue parties didn’t find them. They were cut off from the technology of Human civilisation. They made what they could of the resources they had. Our people prospered and we’ve been happy here, except for the enemy that causes us grief from time to time. But what world is without grief? Our war with the Robos is no worse than any other war.”

“But you are also from another world,” Dominic went on. “Your clothing… your voices… your demeanour even. You have come here by a ship?”

“The blue box you saw on the platform,” The Doctor explained. “That is my ship.”

“It does not look like a ship,” Dominique observed. They could just see the platform from where they were sitting. The TARDIS was a strange splash of blue in a world that was mostly green and brown.

“No, it doesn’t,” The Doctor said. “But it IS. It’s a wonderful ship. I will show you later, if you like.”

“I should like that,” she said in a sultry voice that made him regret abstaining from those kisses.

“Dominique…” Her brother spoke to her in a stern voice. “I don’t think that is a good idea. You are welcome, strangers,” he added. “But as you can see, we have lived without technology for a long time. We do not need it. Your ship, Doctor…” He looked at his sister and sighed. “I am not a dictator, not to my people, nor to the one whose soul is half of my own. Dominique, if you wish to know The Doctor’s secrets, I cannot prevent you. But understand that he is but a visitor among us. And he will take his wonders away with him when he goes.”

“I do not wish to cause any problems to you,” The Doctor told him sincerely. “I am a peaceful explorer. I live to meet people like yourselves and learn from you.”

“We understand each other,” Dominic replied with a respectful nod.

“I think your village is very beautiful,” Jasmin said. “May we be free to explore it? Is there any part we should not approach?”

“You may explore anywhere you please. But… the large hut over there…” Dominic pointed to a larger and more elaborately carved hut that was supported by a doubly thick platform. “That is our Hall of Devotion. It is customary to remove footwear and to speak in whispers if you cannot remain wholly silent within.”

“That is just like in the Mosque,” Jasmin said. “We can do that.” She stood and Alec stood with her. Wyn looked at The Doctor first. She was torn between going off with Alec and Jasmin and sticking with him. He didn’t seem as if he was inclined to join them.

“You three have fun,” he said. They waved to him and went away across the bridge. Dominic rose and said he had work he should be at, and reminded Dominique that she, too, had tasks to complete.

“What is your work?” The Doctor asked her when they were alone.

“I spin and weave.” She went into the hut behind her and brought out a loom on which a piece of cloth was half complete. She sat on the ground cross legged and invited him to sit by her as she worked.

“It’s silk,” he said, touching the fabric. “You keep silkworms?” They must have some knowledge of natural dyes, too, he thought, for the silk was a beautiful cornflower blue. “You would look beautiful in silk,” he added.

“This is for the Hall of Devotion,” she told him. “When it is made I will paint upon it – a frieze for above the altar.”

“You’re an artist, too?” he exclaimed delightedly. “Wonderful. I should like to see you do that. But you have to finish the fabric first.” She worked quickly, her hands moving almost too fast to see. But it would still take the best part of a day to complete the piece. He took the shuttle from her hand and she moved over as he took her place before the loom. His hands DID move faster than the eye could see. His eyes moved too, the pupils dilating rapidly as he followed his own hands. Dominique simply watched in astonishment as the warp threads were quickly filled to make a smooth, flawless piece of fabric.

“Now I can see you paint,” he said with a smile when it was finished. She nodded and went to fetch her paints. This was a slow, delicate job that called for patience. More than he had, he admitted, though he admired anyone capable of such creative precision.

She worked carefully for an hour, applying colours carefully to make up a picture that must have been in her head for she worked to no guide or pattern. Leaves and flowers formed the basis of it, unsurprisingly. She put her brush down though, with it unfinished, and turned to embrace him.

“These colours must dry before I do the rest,” she said. “Meanwhile do you feel you could bear to be kissed now without it affecting you so badly?”

“I don’t care if it does,” he answered her. “Just go for it.” He sighed as she drew him closer and kissed him passionately. It was good, it was sweet. He felt on top of the world.


“Dominique,” he said when they breathed freely, though he still held her close in his arms. “Does… does this mean the same to your people as it does to mine? Where I come from – where my friends come from – kissing is usually something people do only when they know each other well and are fond of each other. I don’t… If I’m getting the wrong signals here.…”

“Do you not have love at first sight where you come from?” Dominique asked.

“No,” he said in all certainty. “My people… NO. That would never happen. But… But I am not typical of my people. And I have come across the term.” He had. It was, for him at least, love at first sight when he met Rose. Or very nearly, anyway - second or third sight, perhaps. By the time he held her hand and gave her that spiel about the world turning he was hooked. And he thought she was, too.

Stop it, he told himself. Don’t hurt yourself with thoughts of the past when the present looks as sweet as it does. He looked up at Dominique, who was looking at him with a puzzled expression. “Oh, my dear, dear Dominique,” he said. “I know about love at first sight. But I have been hurt so many times I have hardly ever dared to risk my hearts by allowing it to happen.”

“Your hearts?” She looked puzzled. He took her hands and placed them over them both.

“Two hearts, but just one head, and right now it doesn’t know what to tell the hearts to do. But they want to feel you close to them again.” He pulled her nearer and this time he instigated the kiss. Of course it was romanticism to talk of hearts and love. The heart was a pump that distributed oxygenated blood around the body. Having two of them made him stronger and faster than most beings in the universe but they didn’t make him twice as much of a lover. He came from a people who were so reserved in these matters it surprised most other people to know that they were born in the usual way and not cloned in a laboratory. And even though his instincts were warmer than the average Gallifreyan, he had, as he said, been hurt so often that he tended to put up his own defences against it.

But for once he felt himself wanting to drop those defences. He wanted to risk his hearts. He knew he was probably being very foolish, but he WANTED to do this. He wanted to feel a warm body next to his and kiss tender lips. He wanted to look into those green eyes and see into her beautiful soul.

His friends were having a pleasant time. They loved the village in the trees. They were amazed by the simple ingenuity of the life the people had made for themselves.

“I can’t believe that they actually keep goats in a pen on a platform in the trees,” Wyn said. “I mean, who would have thought of that!”

“And chickens,” Jasmin noted. “But Jareth says they get most of their meat from the wild. Hunting. The goats are for milk and wool and the chickens are for eggs.”

“I thought we ate chicken before,” Alec said. “No, that was some kind of wildfowl. It seems like they have plenty of food - meat, nuts, fruit. Did you see the way they make a sort of bread out of ground up nuts? I suppose grain fields are one thing they CAN’T get up here.”

“I wonder what the Robos are – the enemy they hide up here from.”

“I don’t know,” Wyn said. “I wonder if The Doctor knows what they are.”

“I’m not sure he cares at the moment.” They looked across the empty space between where they were and the platform where they had left The Doctor. They could see him very much occupied with Dominique.

“She must be a right one, throwing herself at him like that.” Wyn said. “Can’t believe he’d fall for it.”

“Oh, no,” Jasmin said. “I think it’s sweet. I think he ought to have a little love in his life.”

“I love him,” Wyn said. “He’s like a brother to me.”

“Not that sort of love,” Alec said. “I agree with Jasmin. He DOES need it. He’s a lonely sort of guy, even with all of us around.”

“Has he never…” Yasmin looked at Wyn. “You know him better than we do. What’s his story? Has he ever been married? Does he….”

“He was married once,” Wyn said. “When he was young. You have to understand, he’s nearly 1,000 years old. When he was young was like 800 years ago. He married a Human woman. She died of old age and he’s been alone more or less ever since. He tried. A few years ago, he was nuts about another Human woman. But I don’t know what happened. Something bad, I think. He won’t talk about it, not even to me.”

“Did she die?” Jasmin asked. “Poor Doctor.”

“I’m not sure. He just says he ‘lost’ her.”

“Could mean she died,” Alec observed. “Or she could have left him for somebody else.”

“WHO in the universe would you leave a man like him for?” Wyn said. “I wouldn’t, if I was an item with him like that. I don’t even want to leave him. But I’m only supposed to be spending a year with him then I have to go back and do my A levels. I keep hoping he’ll forget the deal and I stay with him for good.”

“I suppose,” Jasmin said. “After a while the scariness of some of the things that happen, and just wanting NORMAL life….”

“I don’t know,” Wyn sighed. “But whatever way it is, he’s had a rotten lot of luck with women. And I thought he wasn’t really interested in trying again. But that one fluttered her eyes at him and he’s acting like a love-sick puppy. It's not like him at all.”

“I don’t know whether when you’re talking about somebody 1,000 years old you can really say WHAT is like them,” Alec said. “This is a different side of him than we’ve seen before, but who knows.”

“I know,” Wyn insisted. And this is NOT like him.”

And yet it SEEMED as if for once it WAS like him. He and Dominique were inseparable all through the day. She sat next to him when they ate. He was with her as she worked at her piece of painted silk fabric again. He was with her when the whole village gathered shoeless and silently in that rather lovely Hall of Devotion and gave thanks for a peaceful day without mishap. When she and her brother and some of their friends gathered in the evening around a fire lit in a brazier on the platform outside their work hut, The Doctor was sitting close by her. Their hands were constantly entwined except when she sat front and centre and took her turn to play a tune on a stringed instrument something like a lute. Even then the song she sang was clearly a love song and she looked at him as she sang it.

Everyone took their turn at performing a party piece. The Doctor recited a long and melodic poem while Dominic played the stringed instrument softly to accompany him. Jasmin sang a rather beautiful Persian love song in Arabic and Alec sang an old song by some boyband of his era of Earth culture. Wyn sang a folk song in Welsh, accompanied on the lute by The Doctor, who knew the tune perfectly well. She was not at all surprised. He could do just about anything.

The evening wore on pleasantly with quiet conversations and later, just quiet appreciation of how nice it was to be in good company in a peaceful place.

“Where is The Doctor?” Jasmin asked as she snuggled up to Alec in the firelight. None of them had noticed him slip away.

“He’s up there,” Wyn said. “With Dominique.” She pointed to the rope bridge that ran between platforms higher up the tree than the main level. Up there were the sleeping quarters of the tree dwellers.

Two figures stood in the middle of the bridge. They could make out The Doctor’s tall, slim figure in the pinstripe suit and canvas shoes. His long coat was draped around the woman close by his side.

“Oh,” Jasmin breathed as they all realised why the two had gone up there.

“Oh no,” Wyn protested. “He can’t. He mustn’t.”

“Yes he can,” Alec said. “And fair play to him.”

He knew he couldn’t. Or at least he knew he shouldn’t. But his hearts were overruling his head, and his head was not exactly putting up a lot of resistance.

One thousand years old and how many times have opportunities like this come along his inner voice argued. And how many have you let slip away.

Like Rose.

Don’t use her against me, he argued with his inner voice. I loved her. But it wasn’t meant to be. It was Fate.

You’ve never regretted anything so much in your whole life.

I regret never having had just one night in her arms. I regret waiting - waiting for the right time. And I regret that the time never came. FATE got in our way. That’s what I regret. If I had just one sweet memory… just one….

He looked at Dominique. She smiled at him. Eyes the colour of emeralds reflected the moonlight that filtered through the trees. He reached out to touch her cheek, brushing her long red hair from her face.

He realised with a shock that he couldn’t remember what Rose looked like. He remembered her. He remembered how much he had loved her. But in that moment green eyes and red hair filled his every senses and he couldn’t remember any other face. He didn’t even remember his own face, though that happened often enough when he woke from dreaming of things that happened in his past incarnations.

She took his hand. He shivered with pent up excitement. He knew what was expected of him. And he knew he was ready.

One night in her arms - one sweet memory.

“Fair play to him,” Alec said again as they watched the two lovers slip away.

“Dominique,” he whispered as she closed the door. The hut was not entirely dark. There was a window cut into the walls which in any case were far from solid. Slivers of silver moonlight came in from all sides. His Time Lord eyes quickly made use of it to take in the simple room with a low wooden bed made comfortable with a straw mattress and blankets made of animal furs. “Dominique - it is a long time since I….”

“Don’t think about it,” she said. “Just be yourself. Be what you want to be - for this one night at least.”

“Be who I want to be?” He smiled. “I’ve never wanted to be anybody else but me. But… I would like to be a happier me.” He let her take him in her arms and he bent his head to meet her kiss. She fulfilled that desire. He was happy.

The Doctor woke with sunlight pouring down on him. He kept his eyes closed and luxuriated in the opportunity, for once, to be at peace with himself. He let his mind drift. Funny, he thought, for somebody a thousand years old he didn’t have many nights like the one that had just passed. His romantic interludes were few and far between. A few of his most spectacular conquests came into his mind. Rose... No, he wasn’t going to think of her right now. Madame De Pompadour? Yeah, ok. He was unique in having a platonic relationship with a woman known as one of Earth’s greatest lovers. Cleopatra! There was a woman. But he’d known from the start that was going nowhere. Marie Curie! Beautiful kisser. So was Elizabeth Garrett. Likewise Doctor Grace Holloway of San Francisco. Those medical women! Then there was….

“Good morning, my husband.” He opened his eyes and blinked as Dominique knelt above him, silhouetted by the sunlight. She offered a small wooden bowl to him. He struggled into a sitting position and took it. He drank the warm spiced milk in it. He was halfway through when he realised what she had said.


Well, he thought, she was entitled. They had spent the night together. Where he came from a wedding involved an elaborate twelve hour ceremony with no bathroom breaks. Here, as in many other places, they cut out the frills and got down to business.

Of course there was no reason in the universe for him to honour such a union. There was nothing to stop him leaving with his friends and never coming near the planet ever again.

Except his own self-respect.

And the fact that he absolutely adored her. He smiled and reached out to draw her into a kiss. He sank back down into the warm bed with her. He had a feeling he was not going to be getting up just yet. And he didn’t want to.

“Dominique,” he whispered as he lay with her, feeling a sweet satisfaction he had known so rarely in his life. “When I leave your world…. I hope… I mean… my love, I want you to come with me.”

“Yes,” she said. “You are my husband. I will go with you just as if I had married one from another village. It is how it is.”

“Good,” he said. “Oh you will love it. There are so many places I can take you, Dominique. I can offer you such a wonderful future. We can see so many things together.”

“I want to see them with you,” she said. “It will be wonderful. But will we return here?”

“Whenever you want to see your family, of course we will. But the rest of the time.…”

Suddenly a siren wailed - one of the remnants of the advanced society that Dominique’s people abandoned when they adopted their treetop life. At the sound of it her face changed from sweet bliss to fear.

“They’re coming,” she cried. She leapt from the bed and ran out of the hut. He got up and grabbed his clothes from where they had been STREWN on the floor last night in the heat of the moment. He was far from his usual stylish self when he had found enough clothing to look decent. His trousers and shirt and his shoes were the best he could do. He had no idea where his socks had gone. But the situation sounded too urgent for sartorial accuracy. He ran out of the hut calling for Dominique, and for Wyn and Alec and Jasmin. He felt a twinge of guilt and no little anxiety. There was clearly a bad situation going on and he had no idea where his friends were.

“Here,” Wyn called and he ran to where she was standing on one of the sturdy treetop walkways. “The village is under attack,” she told him. “By THOSE.”

The Doctor looked down. THOSE were a creature that would terrify anyone. But they did more than terrify him. They left him hollowed out inside.

As he stared in disbelief he heard a sound he had heard far too often and saw a death he had seen far too often. One of the villagers raced across the clearing trying to reach the safety of the trees, but he was caught in the deadly ray. For a moment his body was a three-dimensional x-ray negative before he fell to the ground and lay still. Every organ in his body had been super-heated as if in a microwave. There would be hardly any outward sign, but an autopsy, if anyone conducted one, would find a horror story within that body.

“Doctor!” He heard Alec call to him. “We have to get up higher.” He was already climbing the ladder cut into the tall tree trunk. The Doctor looked up and saw the shelter built right at the top of the tree. Dominique was already near the top. Jasmin was just behind her.

“Come on,” he told Wyn. He ran with her. He sent her up first. He was among the last to reach the safety of the high place.

“Doctor, my love,” Dominique cried as he came up through the trapdoor into the huge room. It looked like an air raid shelter but in reverse. Whereas usually people hid on or below the ground from attack from above, these hid in the air from attack on the ground.

“Come, sit down everyone,” Dominic said. “Let us be quiet and calm and the Robos will go away.”

“Robos?” Alec said as he and Jasmin found a spot to sit. Wyn sat down between them and The Doctor with Dominique. “Is that what they’re called?”

“No, they’re not,” The Doctor said in a tone of voice that quietened the murmuring voices around him and caught their attention.

“You know of them?” Dominic asked him.

“I know them,” he said in a flat voice. “I’ve known them for a long time. They're Daleks."

"What!" Wyn stared at him. She had heard stories of the Daleks. Her mother had fought against them alongside The Doctor twice when she knew him. HE had fought them countless times. She knew his people had fought them and been destroyed. She knew it was a fight with the Daleks that had caused his regeneration from the Doctor she had first known, the one she lovingly called Nine, to this incarnation, equally lovingly called Ten.

"No," she said. "You wiped them all out. You and Rose finished them."

"These aren't the advanced Daleks we fought on the Gamestation," he said. "These… They’re a throwback. They use anti-grav forces to move along, but only about an inch or so above the forest floor. They can’t elevate. If they could this village in the treetops would be charcoal by now.”

“They have been here as long as we have,” Dominic said. “Their ship crashed, too. As far as we can tell, they were stranded with no radio capable of transmitting to their comrades. They built their own ‘city’ out of the wreckage of their ship initially and have extended it over the years. They kidnap people from our communities from time to time to work in the mines, extracting ore to make into new sections of the city or… or I suppose into new Robos… I mean…. Dal…”

“Daleks,” The Doctor said again. “But to make new Daleks they don’t just need metal. They need DNA. I don’t think all your people go to the mines. Some of them would be the genetic material of their new models.”

Dominique looked at him with a puzzled expression. So did her brother and the rest of the villagers. Phrases like DNA and genetic material obviously meant nothing to them.

“They get made into Daleks,” Wyn said, understanding what he was saying. “They’re not just robots. There’s a live thing made of flesh inside. I remember mum saying once… They’re like blobs of flesh with tentacles.”

“Uggh…” Dominique shuddered and pressed herself closer to The Doctor. “How horrible.”

“They are,” The Doctor said. He held her close to him. He didn’t want to let her go. He felt comforted by her nearness as he wondered what the next move should be.

“What do you do to fight back?” Alec asked. “You surely don’t just sit around waiting to be captured?”

“Fight?” Jareth laughed. “Fight with what? Our weapons are for fending off wild animals, not things that can kill at 50 paces with weapons that leave no mark on the body.”

“So you DO just sit around?” Alec was appalled. “Doctor….”

“If you’re going to suggest that I can do something to help, no I can’t. I couldn’t stop them destroying my world. How can I single handedly stop them destroying this one?”

“Those things…” Alec looked at him and he couldn’t begin to guess what was going on in his mind. “They….”

“They’re the ones that destroyed your people… in the Time War.” Jasmin asked the question Alec couldn’t find the words for.

“Yes,” he said. And in such a way that nobody was going to ask anything more about it. The tree-dwelling villagers grasped the full horror of what he was saying, though. Here was a man who was even more a victim of these creatures than they were.

“But.…” Alec began.

“I have fought the Daleks for 500 years. It has cost me… EVERYTHING. I thought they were gone. But it appears there is a pocket still left here on this planet. An earlier model, left behind when the Dalek Emperor called them all together to attack Gallifrey. Have you EVER succeeded in disabling any of them?” He looked at the people around him.

“No,” they all said. “The Robos… the Dal…leks are invincible.”

“They’re NOT invincible,” he said. “They’re not. They CAN be killed. They have weaknesses. Extreme cold kills them. Shooting them through the eyepiece kills them. Blinding them leaves them disorientated. Lava melts them. Do you have any volcanoes around here?”

“No,” Dominic said. “Doctor…. Are you serious? You expect us to fight them?”

“Yes,” he said. “All over the universe people have fought them. The only people I ever met before who didn’t were the Thals on their own damn planet. They were just like you. They thought they could hide and avoid the Daleks and count the people they took as acceptable losses. But eventually they had to fight. You will, too. One day. One day you will have to fight or go under. But I’m not staying to see that day. I can tell you what you should do, and if you take my advice some of you may live in peace afterwards. But this is NOT my fight. It’s yours. As soon as their patrol or whatever it is down there is gone, as soon as it’s safe, I’m leaving. And… Dominique is coming with me, away from this place. What the rest of you do is your business.”

“I’m….” Dominique looked at him. “You want me to come with you… today?”

“Yes,” he said. “Yes, I do, my love - before it’s too late.”

“Doctor,” Wyn cut in. “Why are you… You don’t run away from anything. I know you. My mum knows you. Why do you want to leave?”

“Because there are only so many times history can repeat itself, even for me,” he said. “I can’t…” He looked at her. He looked at Alec and Jasmin, who were both staring at him, at Dominique and her brother and all of the villagers. “Call me a coward if you like. But I can’t go through this again. Don’t you understand? The Daleks have destroyed my life time and again. I can’t….”

“Doctor!” Wyn was startled. “You’re scared of them?”

“Yes. They’re pure evil. Anyone who isn’t scared of them is a fool.”

“But when mum… when she told us about you and the Daleks…. You were so brave, totally fearless. And… and she always said THEY were scared of YOU.”

“Oh, they ARE! I’m the only being in the universe that DOES worry them. But that’s because they have so many legends of me coming along and messing up their plans for conquest of the universe. But their legends seem to forget how HARD it was for me to do that - and what it COST - the innocent lives that were lost before I got it right. I’m not a GOD. I’m not an avenging angel swooping down on them. I’m… I’m flesh and blood, and I can’t do it on my own. If the people here have no plan of attack, no information that gives us the edge – if they don’t WANT to fight them, then there is nothing I can do.”

“He’s right,” Dominic said. “There is nothing to be done. We just have to do our best to avoid contact with them. Our homes are out of their reach. They cannot get us with their weapons beyond a certain height. We are safe most of the time.”

“But…” Alec protested. He looked at The Doctor. He DIDN’T think he was being cowardly. He couldn’t begin to understand how The Doctor felt about these creatures that had destroyed his world and every living thing on it. He thought he could guess why he felt so tired of that fight. He didn’t blame him at all.

But he wished he would change his mind.

Because he was willing to believe that The Doctor was the one person who COULD defeat these Daleks and make life better for the Humans who lived in the trees.

“Dominique…” It was Dominic who spoke now to his sister. “Do you wish to leave with The Doctor?”

“If he will not stay, I must go,” she said. “He is mine. I am his. We lay together through the night. He is my HUSBAND.”

“But so soon?” Dominic looked upset. “My sister…. Are you sure? You know him only a little while. Nobody would condemn you for setting aside this ‘marriage’.”

“I don’t wish to,” she protested. “I love him. Whether I knew him a day or a year or ten years… I love him.” She turned to The Doctor and he reached to hold her again. “I love you, my Doctor.”

“I love you, my Dominique,” he told her. “I will love you for all eternity. And I mean to show you eternity.”

“Then it is settled.” She pressed herself closer to him again as they hunkered down in the shelter and waited for the ‘all clear’.

Before that happened, though, they heard shouts from those of the villagers who were elected to keep a careful watch until the enemy had passed by. There was a scrabbling noise of somebody climbing the ladder to the shelter. Jareth and Alec went to open it and help the dishevelled, ragged and petrified man up. Two of the villagers came after him and said that he had come running through the forest from the direction of the Robo city.

“Raina!” Dominique cried as Jasmin took hold of the man and quickly examined him. He seemed uninjured but scared into incoherence.

“He’s one of your people?” The Doctor asked as he moved to look at the man.

“Raina… is a cousin of ours - my mother’s brother’s son. He was taken by the Robos… by the Daleks I mean… on their last raid. We mourned him as one of the dead.”

“Not quite that,” The Doctor said. He put his hand on Raina’s forehead and willed calmness into him. “That’s better. Now can you tell me what happened? How did you escape?”

“I didn’t escape,” he said. “They sent me…. With a message.”

“The Daleks… sent you?” The Doctor looked puzzled by that. “But why?”

“They offer a bargain. They will let everyone here live if…. If you surrender the ship that can take them away from here. They have detected its technology. They wish the ship and its crew to be given over….”

“And if the answer is ‘over my dead body’ – which it is?” The Doctor asked.

“Then they will destroy this village. They will burn the trees and destroy everyone. As… as they could have done, they say, any time. They let us live to cull for workers, they say. But if we do not give up this ship they will make an end to our very existence.”

A murmur of concern rippled around the villagers. Some of them, perhaps not surprisingly, but certainly uncharitably, said they should accept the bargain. Give up the strangers and live in peace again.

“No,” Dominique cried as her brother stood and silenced the people he led.

“No, we shall not. What are we – animals? We shall give up nobody to a certain death.”

“But what can we do?” Jareth asked. “They have never issued an ultimatum such as this before. It is the arrival of The Doctor and his friends which has caused this.”

“He is right about that,” The Doctor said. “And I am sorry for that. I certainly never intended to put any of you in danger.”

“What if we just leave, as you said we would, Doctor,” Alec asked.

“Wouldn’t do any good,” Wyn said. “These are the Daleks. If we go, they will punish these people anyway for double-crossing them.”

“She’s right,” The Doctor said. “For that matter, if you give us up to them they might still destroy you. They could have done it any time. They can’t shoot their rays at you up here. Their weapons have limited vertical movement. But if they burned the forest beneath you….”

“Then what can we do?” Dominic asked. “Doctor… you understand these creatures. Please… if you won’t help… at least advise us.”

“I’m going to help,” he said. “This changes the situation. They’ve upped the ante. Now I have to do something. Because if I stay you’re in danger and if I leave you are vulnerable. But I won’t do it alone. Some of the strongest men among you must come. Those who hunt… those who fell the trees….”

“I’ll come,” Alec said. “Can’t let you go by yourself.”

“Count me in, too,” Wyn told him. “And don’t give me any protests,” she added. “My mum was only two years older than me when SHE fought the Daleks. And she wasn’t half as tough as me.”

Dominic was the first to volunteer from his own people. The Doctor tried to argue that he ought to stay, but he would not have it. But when Jasmin and Dominique both said they, too, would come, he drew the line.

“No,” he told them. “Dominique, if your brother is coming to fight then YOU must lead your people on his behalf until he returns. And Jasmin, I don’t doubt your courage. You’ve stuck with me through some weird stuff already. But this time we are going out to kill.”

“Kill Daleks,” she said.

“Daleks are sentient creatures for all that they are insane mutants. We’re going out to fight and kill. One day in the future you are going to take that Hippocratic Oath to protect and preserve life. I won’t have you go against it even before you have taken it.”

“You’re a Doctor,” she pointed out.

“I never took the oath,” he said. “I know it's a daft, old fashioned idea, and feel free to call us male chauvinist pigs, but Dominic and Alec and I… we’ll have an easier time of it knowing the women we love are safe here.”

“He’s right,” Alec said. “You stay here.”

The two women came down with them to the lowest platform though, where the TARDIS had been left the day before. They hugged their men fondly and wished them a safe and swift return.

“My brother, and my husband,” Dominique said, taking both their hands in hers. “I shall wish a safe return to you both.”

“A safe and victorious return, my sister. The nightmare that has plagued us for so long will be over.”

“That would be more than I dare hope,” she said. “That you….” She stopped. Her face turned pale - so did Dominic’s - so did The Doctor’s.

“There are Daleks down there,” Wyn cried out. “Two of them.”

“What are they doing?” Dominic asked as he looked out over the railing.

“They’re firing at the struts that hold this platform up,” The Doctor said. “They’re after the TARDIS – my ship.”

“But I thought they couldn’t reach,” Dominic said. “We have always believed this was the lowest safe level.”

“They can’t reach the platform,” The Doctor said. “But they CAN bring it down.” As he spoke the platform shook. He grabbed the nearest two people to him as it tilted forwards. Dominique and Wyn both clung to him as he struggled to keep his balance and reach the TARDIS. Alec grabbed the rope ladder they had come down and got onto the first rung. He reached his hand out to Jasmin and pushed her up the ladder above him then he did the same for Jareth. He looked around and reached for Dominic as he scrambled up the now precariously tilting platform.

Dominique screamed as the platform tilted again and they all fell, sliding closer to the edge. The Doctor jammed his foot against the railing support and steadied himself. Both his arms felt as if they had been yanked from their sockets as Dominique and Wyn both slid over the edge.

“No!” He and Alec screamed together and Dominique’s wail added to the sound as they saw Dominic lose his grip on Alec’s hand and fall. Wyn was closest. Even though she was only holding onto The Doctor by one hand, and perilously close to falling herself she tried to reach out to him. His hand touched her fingertips for a brief second before he fell over the edge.

He might have survived the fall. It was a mere twenty feet. But as he tumbled through the air they all saw the beam envelop him. His scream was cut off and his body fell to the ground in a silent, crumpled heap.

The Doctor pressed his face against the smooth wood of the platform that the young carpenter might himself have built. He tried to hold back his tears of grief as he held onto Dominique and Wyn. Dominique was crying inconsolably and murmuring her brother’s name.

“Look out!” Alec shouted out again. “Doctor!”

He watched in awe and admiration of the Human capacity to act beyond their known endurance as Alec wrapped the bottom rung of the rope ladder around his legs and let himself down. Hanging upside down, he grabbed The Doctor under his armpits and hung on as the platform creaked ominously and the TARDIS began to slide forwards. The Doctor looked with shock as it toppled over onto its side and rolled off the edge, smashing the railing that he had been wedged against. Now he, Wyn and Dominique were all hanging over the twenty foot drop and Alec was holding all three of them.

He didn’t even try to look at what had happened to the TARDIS.

Then there were arms pulling him up. He looked up to see Jareth and Jasmin with the bungee ropes tied around their waists. Jean-Paul, the other carpenter, also safely tethered, was climbing down the rope ladder to help as well. He felt the weight on his arms eased as Wyn and Dominique were pulled to safety.

“Look!” Somebody said and at last he DID look down. To his amazement the TARDIS was upright. It must have turned over as it fell and landed the right way up.

But the two Daleks weren’t!

Lower me down,” he said. Jareth reached to hold his arms and above more rope was paid out as they descended to the forest floor. The others came down slowly, too. Dominique ran at once to her brother’s body. The Doctor knew there would be nothing to be done for him. He turned his attention to the TARDIS and to the Daleks.

One of them was only a HALF a Dalek. The top half, eyestalk, sucker and ray gun pathetically still and the mutant creature within utterly dead. The other half was underneath the TARDIS, probably squashed flat like a tin can.

The other one was damaged too. It had taken only a glancing blow from the falling TARDIS, but that had been enough to crack through its outer shell. He stepped up to it as its eyestalk flickered. He could see the dying creature within through the crack. And it could see him - just.

“Do you know whose ship that was that you tried to take?” he asked of it.

“A tra…veller… with… great… power,” the Dalek replied in a voice that seemed so much weaker than it should.

“Ten out of ten,” he said. “Right first time. And do you know the name of that traveller?”

“Negative,” the Dalek managed, though the lights that lit up with each consonant and the blue glow of its eyestalk seemed dimmer. It was dying.

“In your language my name is Ka Faraq Gatri.” He saw the lights flicker and he noted with satisfaction that it recognised the name. “That’s right, it’s me - the one enemy who has always defeated you. And I intend to defeat you again, now - all of you. But I might not bother with introductions to the rest of your little nest of vipers. I just wanted to look one of you in the eyestalk and remind you of whom you fear above all beings in the universe.”

“Have… pity!” it said.

“Pity?” he queried. “Where did a Dalek learn such a word? From the lips of its countless victims? It was NEVER in your vocabulary otherwise. Pity, mercy, they are unknown to you. But they are known to me. That is why….” He grabbed the Dalek’s raygun and wrenched it from the socket. He pulled at the cracked shell and a piece broke off big enough for him to push the end of the raygun through, staking the mutant creature through what passed for a heart. It gave one last scream as he pulled it out again and the lights faded.

“It’s dead?” Wyn asked as he turned towards her.

“Yes,” he said. “I showed it the only mercy it deserves - a quick death.” He looked at the raygun in his hands. “This is still charged up. Lucky for me it was too weak to fire.” Then he cast the weapon down and went to Dominique’s side.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Your brother was a good man. If I could have done anything to save him….” She turned and embraced him and he held her close as she cried. Jareth and Jean-Paul came forward and he heard them say something about moving the body.

“Put him in the TARDIS,” The Doctor said. He reached in his pocket and threw his key to Wyn who ran to open it, avoiding the pieces of dead Dalek. “Everyone get in there. We’re going to end this now.” He lifted Dominique to her feet and brought her inside as her friends lifted her brother’s body – another victim among millions who had suffered because of that evil race of creatures.

A long time ago, he reflected as he closed the TARDIS door and went to the console, centuries ago by his own timeline, a million years by Dalek history, he could have stopped it all. He had the chance to destroy them before they even existed. He didn’t do it. The idea of committing genocide, even against the Daleks, disgusted him. Even though the leaders of his own people had authorised him to do it, thereby absolving him of the guilt and the responsibility, he couldn’t do it.

He hadn’t killed them. He had slowed down their development and bought the universe a bit of time. But eventually they had caught up. They had evolved. They had waged war on so many people, eventually turning on his own people – on Gallifrey and the Time Lords. Then it had not been a question of genocide. It had been an act of war that destroyed both the Daleks and the Time Lords.

Except the Daleks HAD survived and he had fought them again. On the Gamestation, The Emperor Dalek had taunted him. Coward or Killer it had asked him. But the coward’s way WOULD have been to push that button and destroy all life in the whole solar system, Dalek, Human, and the last Time Lord too - suicide, genocide and euthanasia in one - three things that he abhorred. He still didn’t know what he would have done if the matter hadn’t been taken out of his hands.

But this time it was much simpler. This was another act of war. The Daleks had waged war on the tree dwellers. They had drawn first blood when they murdered Dominic. And now he was going to end the war with a retaliatory blow. What was the phrase he had heard used by Humans in their wars? A proportional response? This was not going to be proportional. It was going to be disproportionate and it was going to be final.

The TARDIS gave him the information he needed. He materialised it right in the heart of the generator that powered the Dalek city. He turned and looked at the people who crowded his console room. His travelling companions were all there, all watching and waiting to see what he was going to do. The tree dwellers who had volunteered to come and fight the Daleks stood there, overawed by their surroundings and stunned by the death of their leader.


He put his arms around her and pressed her close against himself. She was trembling and crying but she responded to his embrace with a loving kiss.

“Keep another of those for when I get back,” he said. And then he stepped out of the TARDIS alone. He had meant for this to be a joint effort. He had been right when he said they were just like the Thals and he had wanted to show them how to fight for themselves. But the Daleks had brought the war to him and now he would deal with this alone.

Besides, he noted as he stepped into the generator room, no Human could have done this. The radiation in here would have killed them, if not instantly, then in a year or so when their body was riddled with cancer. He couldn’t stay too long. Radiation had been responsible for his regeneration twice as it was. He wasn’t going to make it a third time. But it wouldn’t take him more than a few minutes to turn the Dalek power source into a bomb that would blow their city to pieces.

“Don’t touch me,” he warned them all when he stepped inside and closed the door. “I’m still contaminated with radioactive particles.” He felt the TARDIS surround him with an invisible force field and within it the decontamination process began. He kept very still until it was over and then he ran to the waiting arms of his lover with the green eyes and flaming red hair. She kissed him hungrily and he reached for the dematerialisation switch with one hand just a moment before the Dalek city became a ball of fire.

“Now you people DO need to fight,” he told the tree dwellers. “There’s still the mine to liberate. The TARDIS indicated that there were five Daleks there - the LAST of them. When these are dealt with you will be free of their terror.”

But to his astonishment there was no fight to be fought. When they reached the mine the Daleks had already been neutralised in every sense of the word. He grabbed one of the liberated prisoners and asked him what had happened.

“We saw the explosion,” he said. “So did the Robos who were guarding us. And they just went mental. They kept repeating something. Ka F…. I don’t know what it was, but they knew something or someone had defeated them - and they were SCARED! And… we… we just battered them with the spades and pushed them over. I never knew… all this time… I never knew that inside they were….”

The Doctor nodded and let the man go. The prisoners from the mine were all running now. They would find their way home to their villages. He stared dispassionately at the scattered remains of the Daleks. The prisoners, having seen their advantage at last, had beaten and ripped them apart. He saw eyestalks crushed, rayguns pounded into the ground, body casings broken open like eggs and the Dalek creatures stabbed and clubbed to death. Pity? Mercy? They never showed it to anyone else. How could they expect others to show it to them?

“It’s over,” he said.

Except it wasn’t, quite. He brought the TARDIS to the walkway by the Hall of Devotion. The tree dwellers carried Dominic’s body inside and Dominique and the women of the village prepared him. They wrapped his body in a silken shroud and sewed it up. And then they laid it in front of the altar along with the already prepared body of the man who had been killed earlier in the day when the first Dalek attack occurred.

“They will be buried in the morning,” Dominique told The Doctor as he watched the preparations. “Tonight I will keep vigil over them.”

“They do that on my planet when a person dies,” he said. “I will wait with you.” She looked at him, her lovely eyes still wet with tears even though she had made herself busy with these sad preparations. She nodded.

It was a very different night to the one they had shared the night before, but in a way he was glad they were together again. One more night in her company even though it was a funeral vigil. Because he knew, and so did she, that the plans they had made must change now. They didn’t talk about it. The hall of Devotions was not a place for unnecessary conversations, and the funeral itself was not the place for it either.

The Doctor and his Earth born companions all came from cultures where the dead were buried with headstones and memorials to say who they were and what they were. But the tree dwellers had no such tradition. They buried their dead at the base of the trees where they lived. The grave was covered over with leaf mould and became indistinguishable from the rest of the forest floor. The Doctor realised that they were probably walking over the graves of dead tree dwellers all the time. Their bodies decayed within the soil and fertilised the trees that were life and home to the living. THAT was their memorial - the continuance of their people in their chosen way of life.

As they came back to the place where they had spent that first pleasant evening Dominique opened the conversation he knew had to come.

“I am the leader of my people now,” she said. “They need me.”

“Yes, they do,” he replied very simply. He knew that. He had realised it himself, and he knew what it meant. “You must stay here and take care of them.”

“But you won’t stay, will you?” she asked him.

“I don’t belong here,” he said. “I belong out there, among the stars. I have no home. And there is nowhere I shall ever CALL home except the universe itself.”

“When will you go?”

“Tomorrow morning,” he decided. He looked at his friends as they listened to this conversation and took in what was being decided. “I… Dominique… my love… I shall… if you will let me… let us have one more day… one more night as husband and wife.”

“Yes,” she said. “Yes, we shall do that.”

And they did. They spent their day peacefully. She had to take care of those of her people who returned from captivity and assure them all that life would go on as normal. And then to prove that she spent the afternoon painting a silk wall hanging for the hall of devotion while her husband sat by her and wove a new piece of blue silk. This time he did not do it faster than the eye could see, but took his time, as she took her time painting, savouring the pleasure of working with his hands. They didn’t talk much. Everything that had to be said had been said. When the sun went down they sat with their friends and they played music and sang songs. They were quiet, sombre songs this time, in memory of those not with them, but songs of hope, too. Dominic’s death was the last at the hands of an enemy who was now gone forever.

“What was that name the Daleks have for you?” Dominique asked as he walked hand in hand with her to the place where they would sleep their last night together.

“Ka Faraq Gatri,” he said. “It means The Oncoming Storm. It’s… for Daleks… amazingly romantic and fanciful, but as long as they keep on remembering they’re supposed to be scared of me….”

“Doctor… Ka Faraq Gatri.” She smiled. “Do you have a REAL name?” she asked.

“Yes, I do,” he said. And as he lay down with her in the warm bed he whispered it to her. She was his wife, after all. She was entitled to know.

“Goodbye, my Doctor,” Dominique told him the next morning as she stood outside the TARDIS, holding him one more time and claiming a kiss from his lips.

“Goodbye, my Dominique,” he said. He reached in his pocket and gave her something. “I know your people do not have technology. But this….” He gave her what looked like a purplish crystal inside another clear crystal. “This looks just like an ornament, a pretty trinket. But if you ever need me, if danger threatens… break the outer crystal and the inner one is a transmitter that will reach me wherever I am. I will be here for you.”

“This is for you,” she said and pressed something into his hands that felt like folded cloth inside a wrapping made of a thin papery substance. He put it into the inside pocket of his coat and held her again. His friends were waiting patiently. He knew they would wait a few minutes more.

“You will always be my husband,” she said.

“Yes,” he said. “I always will. But… I don’t know if your people believe in polygamy. Perhaps now is a good time to start. If there is one among your people who you could be happy with… I won’t be sorry if you make the best of it with him. Promise me you will not close your heart to the possibility.”

“Will you… if you found one who is like you?”

“There is nobody like me. I am the only one of my kind. But I have my friends, and I have the sweet memory of you. I will be content.” He kissed her one more time and then he stepped into the TARDIS. He said nothing. His friends said nothing to him. There were no words to be said. He went to the console and initated the drive controls. A few moments later they were entering the vortex and flying to a new destination. He reached into his pocket and took out the gift she had given him. He unfolded the piece of silk she had been painting. She had added to the pattern of leaves. Now it had two pairs of eyes among the leaves - two emerald green ones and two brown – looking at each other with love.

“How very beautiful,” Jasmin said.

Yes, it is.”

“You should get a frame for it,” Alex told him. “Hang it where you can see it, and remember the good part of knowing her.”

“Yes,” he said. “I think I shall do that.”

“So,” Wyn said to him. “You’re still married to Dominique?”

“We don’t have any concept of divorce on my planet. Yes, I am her husband, and that’s ok. There’s nothing I want to do out here in space and time that a married man can’t do. And even if… even if she DOES find love among her own people... which I hope she will do… I will still think of her fondly in that way. I have a thousand years of bad memories to have nightmares about. She is a reason for sweet dreams instead.” He looked up at Wyn and at Alec and Jasmin and smiled. There was nothing more to say.