The hoverplane hovered over the Great Arc. The tour guide proudly told his audience that the monument was three hundred and fifty metres high, two hundred metres wide, and constructed of steel, plated with gold and platinum. It commemorated the planet's liberation from a deadly enemy.

The Daleks.

The Doctor smiled wryly as he looked out of the window at the Arc. He remembered that time well enough. It was two hundred years ago in the linear history of Hamna'Gn X. Getting on for four hundred years for him. It must have been what, his tenth or eleventh encounter with the Daleks. Their operation here had been much the same as it had been when they invaded Earth in the 21st century. First they decimated the population with a plague then they bombarded the biggest population centres, killed the leaders, and enslaved most of the people.

Just as on Earth, there were a brave few who fought back the best they could, scoring small successes, suffering large setbacks, the roll of their dead mounting, but the effort continuing as long as a few still had breath in their bodies and a desire to be free of alien domination.

And just as on Earth it needed a stranger called The Doctor to help them tip the balance. When their planet was finally free, though, he didn't stay around to join in the liberation parties, he never received a medal for his part in the final offensive and his name was not inscribed in the rolls of honour or on any of the monuments raised in remembrance.

"That's not fair," Wyn told him as she sat next to him on the hoverplane and listened to the commentary. "You should have a monument all to yourself."

"Something dramatic - a statue of me with one foot upon the cracked casing of a dead Dalek while raising my hands to the Heavens?" He smiled. "Which face would be on the statue?"

"Yeah, I guess that would be a bit corny. But even so…."

"I don't need those things. The ordinary people of this planet are the ones who deserve it, especially the ones who didn't make it."

"You're a REAL hero, Doctor," Wyn told him, squeezing his hand. "I think so."

"So do we," Jasmin told him, looking back from the seats in front of them. "But I can't imagine you as a statue, either."

"Can't help wondering, though," Alec added. "Just how many planets and people owe their freedom to you?"

"Like I said," he replied. "It wasn't just me. There were always brave people doing their best. Your lot, the Human race are a tough lot. You don't lie down without a fight. And that's true of a lot of other species, too. I just try to be on the side of the good guys."

He sat back as the hoverplane descended slowly to give a close up view of the Arc. The names of every single person killed by the Daleks or in the fight against them was inscribed on it. Of course no more than the first few feet at the base could be read with the naked eye. There was an interpretive centre below with a big book of the names that could be viewed by visitors and a holographic reconstruction of key moments in the history of the battle.

The Doctor didn't feature in that either, nor in any of the holomovies made about it.

And he still didn't mind. He did what he could. He fought the fight then he faded away without a fuss. That was his way. If some people DID remember him with fondness he was glad. But he so rarely returned to a place where he was remembered.

He blinked and stared out of the window. The scene had changed. No longer was there a triumphal arch rising above a prosperous city, but a scene of utter devastation. A dead landscape of ruins and poisoned air where life could not hope to have a foothold for a millennia.

He blinked again and the hoverplane flew right through the Great Arc to the amusement of the passengers and picked up speed as it flew off to the next site of historical interest.

The Doctor was shaken. What he had seen for no more than thirty seconds had been a scene of post-apocalyptic horror.

But why?

What was it?

What disturbed him most was that he was pretty sure he had seen a vision of the place he was right now, but either in the future or in another timeline where disaster had struck.

"Wyn… did you…" He turned to her, but Wyn was ordering an ice cream from the stewardess. If she HAD seen anything like he had seen she would have lost even HER appetite.

"Did you want one?" Wyn asked The Doctor as she turned back to him with a large chocolate chip cone coated with chocolate sauce.

"No, it's ok," he said. "Better eat that quick though. Before it drips everywhere." She grinned as if to imply that wouldn't be a problem. He smiled to see her enjoying herself. His friends were all enjoying this trip to what was as close to a perfect society as he had ever found. It was very technologically advanced, yet it had used that technology, for the most part, for the advancement and benefit of the people. It had a space fleet and defences against attack, but it had never developed weapons of mass destruction. It HAD developed a form of nuclear power, but one that didn't cause pollution. And as far as it was possible they had eradicated poverty and disease from their society.

And all that in the two hundred years since they were brought to their knees by the Daleks.

But why had he seen it all so very tragically and horribly different for those brief seconds?

If the Daleks had won, the planet WOULD be dead by now. He knew that. It was possible he had seen a glimpse of an alternate reality where the balance hadn't been tipped, where he hadn't been there, or he had made a mistake and the Daleks defeated him, too.

Where he was dead?

He shuddered. The old Earth saying about somebody walking over his grave came to mind - though that was impossible since he had no intention of being buried in soil when his end came.

Snap out of it, he told himself. It was nothing. THIS is the reality. This is real. The city is just fine.

But what if it was a precognition? He didn't get them often. As a student he had learnt to be able to use that function of his telepathic nerves to see into the future. Mostly it showed him being kicked by the class bullies so he stopped using it. Telepathic skills were rather like muscles. They had to be exercised and primed to be effective. He had let his precognition get flabby and lazy while he concentrated on more useful functions.

But it was still there in him somewhere. And just occasionally it pushed itself forward and presented him with something like this.

He shuddered again. That meant something bad was ABOUT to happen to this beautiful place.

"Doctor." Wyn shook him gently. "Are you ok? We're coming into land. And it's lunchtime."

"No pudding for you," he said. "After that big ice cream." He reached around for his long overcoat and got ready to disembark on the hoverpad at the top of the high rise hotel they were staying in. He and his friends headed down two floors to the restaurant with its panoramic views of the city, including the Great Arc, which like the Eiffel Tower in Paris was said to be visible from almost any part of the city.

That was a myth in both cases, but a harmless one.

He enjoyed lunch at a pleasant window table with his three friends and a couple from a small rural town who were celebrating their wedding anniversary with a sightseeing visit to the big city. The Doctor always found it fascinating to talk to people who led such ordinary lives, who celebrated birthdays and wedding anniversaries.

He found them fascinating because their lives were so unlike his own - at least for last 700 years, anyway. Once he HAD done those ordinary things. He had married, brought up a child, done his ordinary job day by day. And he had liked that life. But when it was over, he had taken up this other life and the ordinary life that other people lived was what was extraordinary to him now.

As Mrs Te'non showed the pictures of her grandchildren to Alec and Jasmin The Doctor turned to look out of the window. He could see all the way across the city, past the Great Arc, to the coastline and the ocean. If he concentrated he could see several of the islands that punctuated the ocean. He reached in his pocket and put on the rather geeky looking black-rimmed glasses he sometimes used. They enhanced and concentrated his vision and he could see even more clearly.

Then for an instant he was looking at devastation again. The city levelled, the ocean boiled away to leave a desert basin.

He snatched off the glasses and blinked several times before looking again and assuring himself that all was well. Another tourist hoverplane took off from the hoverpad and a private craft descended towards the landing place on one of the less lofty skyscrapers nearby. The buzz of conversation in the restaurant filled his ears again and Wyn nudged him and drew his attention to Mrs Te'non's photo of her grandson's naming ceremony that was being held in front of him.

"He has your eyes," he said dutifully. "I hope he grows up to be a fine young man."

"I hope he grows up at all," he added to himself, trying to rid his stomach of the icy feeling he always had when his precognition had kicked in.

Why did it never kick in to tell him something good?

After lunch Jasmin declared that she would like to try out the hotel's hairdressers and beauty salon. Wyn expressed an interest in the swimming pool. That left Alec and The Doctor in the bar sharing a man to man moment over a drink. Alec found that an interesting prospect. He in no way imagined himself as The Doctor's equal. Even though he looked a young thirty-five year old Alec could never forget he was a thousand year old Time Lord. Though he was a kind, generous man on the one hand, on the other The Doctor could be a strangely aloof, distant figure that was difficult to talk to on any level other than master and very lowly apprentice. The usual sort of conversation between men in a bar seemed superfluous.

Strangely, though, it was not him who was having trouble breaking the ice. It was The Doctor. He held a glass of whiskey in his long-fingered hand but didn't even sip it. His eyes darted to the window and then focussed on the amber liquid in the glass as if he was using it as a crystal ball.

"Doctor?" Alec reached out to touch his hand and he flinched so badly his drink slopped out of the glass. "Are you all right?" As he mopped up the spillage with a napkin he tried to dismiss the question with vague answers but Alec pressed him further. "I know I'm just a kid to you. I hardly know anything. I never will know what you know if I keep learning my whole lifetime. But… trust me, please - as a friend."

The Doctor looked at him and smiled. "Of course I trust you. I just don't want to worry you. I don't know what it is - whether something bad is happening here, or if there is something wrong with me."

"Either way," Alec said. "Something bad happening to this terrific place… or you going down sick… we're all kind of dependent on you, Doctor. We're a long way from home."

"Not so far as I am," he replied. "But Alec…." He sighed and related what he thought he had experienced several times during the course of the day.

"And you think these are glimpses of the future?" Alex asked. "Precognition - that's one of your Time Lord 'special powers' then?"

"It's something some of us can do. I was never a lot of use at it. Fortunately it isn't a skill we were tested on at school. There isn't actually a way of testing the accuracy of a precognitive vision. So it didn't affect my exam results."

"Is it because of you being part Human?"

"Why do people assume that?" he asked. "Gallifreyans have some skills they are better at than others just like Humans. You can't do ballet but I don't assume it's because you're part Mancunian."

"Sorry, Doctor," he apologised. "I didn't mean it as a put down. But anyway, you really think these visions ARE some of that precognition coming through?"

"I do," he said. "And that REALLY worries me. Because I don't know if something terrible is going to happen tomorrow or next year or five years or fifty years from now - or if it is about to happen any minute now while we're sitting here. But when it does, this city is going to be flattened."

"So you should tell the authorities here and let them know there is something wrong."

"Hmmm." The Doctor took a sip from his whiskey glass and smiled reflectively. "November 21st, 1963. I tried to tell the FBI in Texas they had a problem. April 25th, 1986 in a small Ukrainian town called Chernobyl, New York, September 10th, 2001, with the FBI again. Authorities don't react very well to strangers walking in and telling them stuff. Even Power of Suggestion doesn't work on the sort of stubborn jobsworths that you have to get through to reach somebody who can do anything about it. And bear in mind, those three occasions, I had exact information to give. I knew what was going to happen and when. This time I have no idea what's going on. I can't go to the planetary government and tell them there's a disaster coming but I don't know when or what."

"It's not like you to sit and do nothing, either," Alec told him. He was a little awestruck by The Doctor's examples of previous attempts at disaster prevention. "We have the TARDIS. Why don't we go and see."

"The two of us?" The Doctor looked at him and smiled. "Alec, you're fantastic. You're so totally human and you're fantastic. Come on." He stood up and drained his glass of whiskey as if it was water. Alec almost expected his eyes to spin and smoke come out of his ears but instead he just looked as if he had been plugged into the mains.

They had parked the TARDIS in the alley beside the hotel when they booked in - convenient for a quick afternoon’s temporal investigation.

"Twenty-four hours into the future," he said, easing the time control forward manually. The central console rose and fell with its animal-mechanical noise for less than a minute before it stopped again. The Doctor switched on the viewscreen and they saw the alleyway as normal as ever.

"Another twenty-four hours," he said and reached to ease the control forward again. As his hand touched the wheel, though, the viewscreen lit up with an actinic light and the TARDIS was blown over on its side by the force of the explosion outside. Alec fell onto one of the coral-shaped roof supports that had become horizontal ledges as they tipped over. The Doctor was hanging by one arm to the railing of the door ramp. He glanced up at the viewscreen and saw tons of rubble from the wreckage of the hotel burying the TARDIS. He waited until the pounding noise stopped before he reached with his other arm to get a firm grip on the railing.

"Alec, stay where you are and hold on tight," he said as he swung himself up athletically and climbed up the mesh floor that was now a wall, using what handholds he could find. "We're on our side and buried. Can't get the TARDIS upright like that. Can't dematerialise either. Have to get to the internal shremec to get us operational again."

"The what?" Alec asked.

"Self-righting mechanism," he grunted as he pulled himself up underneath the console itself and felt around. "Here we are. Get ready. It's a rather strange sensation."

Alec held tight to the pillar as the floor, pillars and console all moved around until they were the right way up again but to his amazement the walls and ceiling stayed where they were. The door was still sideways on to the floor as he dropped down and stood upright. It looked a bit like a haunted swing at the fairground when it stopped with the roof, walls and floor turned around.

"What…." he began. But The Doctor was at the controls again, setting the TARDIS into temporal orbit above the planet. When that was done he reached under the console again and Alec watched as the ceiling and walls resumed their proper place in relation to the rest of the room.

"Actually, I stole the word shremec from a 1990s Earth TV programme," The Doctor said. "The Time Lord engineers didn't really have a word for the function. But it's very handy in situations like that." He was smiling as he talked about the details of his fantastic ship but as he turned on the viewscreen harsh reality hit them both.

The planet had been a lot like Earth, with blue oceans and verdant land around the cities. But what they were looking at now was a dead planet. The verdant land was burnt and blackened. The ocean was vaporised. The cities were rubble.

"Wyn and Jasmin are in THAT!" Alec cried out, his voice breaking with grief.

"I know," The Doctor answered him calmly. "But it's ok. We're going back for them - now that we know." He adjusted a setting on the console and Alec watched as the planet began to visibly move backwards against its normal rotation. They were travelling back in time without using the vortex, watching time spin back to before the disaster. The Doctor was watching a computer screen filling with data. He was measuring radiation levels, calculating ground zero of the disaster as they moved back towards the critical event.

"I thought I was going mad," he murmured. "I thought I was imagining things."

"I almost wish you were," Alec said. "This is…." He sighed. "All the history of the hundred years or so before my time, all the times Earth came close to nuclear war… to doing THAT to itself. I never imagined watching it happen from space."

"In reverse," The Doctor added phlegmatically. "I know this is horrible to watch, but please do. What you see might be important."

"Was it as bad as this when your planet was destroyed?" Alec asked.

"I don't remember all of it," The Doctor answered. "But what I do… what comes to mind… it was worse. Mostly because I knew I couldn't stop it."

"You CAN stop this?"

"I can try." They both looked up as they saw the catastrophic disaster in reverse. It was even more chilling, in a way, than seeing it the other way. The Doctor shuddered as he felt a feeling he had known many times before - the scream of a billion souls dying. But a moment later he felt them all still alive, unaware that their lives were about to end.

"THAT's where it came from," he said. "The ground zero of the death of a planet." It was like watching a flower blooming in reverse. The mushroom cloud of death and the pyroclastic blast wave that went before it toppling buildings and laying waste to the planet retreated back to the one place.

"It's on the outskirts of the city," Alec added. "There's a power station there. Do you think…?"

"Almost certainly," he said. "Some kind of accident, or possibly sabotage. It certainly happened very quickly."

"Let's get back to the girls," Alec said. "I feel slightly sick, to be honest. What we just saw…." He paused and looked at The Doctor. "The TARDIS… it IS shielded against radiation isn't it? We've not been contaminated?"

"No," The Doctor said. "We're perfectly safe inside. But the TARDIS exterior needs another five minutes to decontaminate before we land back in the city. I understand how you feel. I want to get back to the girls, too. I wish we could just go and get them and get away from this place before it's too late."

"We could do that, couldn't we?"

"Yes, we could. But…."

"But you'd never just run out on the planet, leave people to die."

"I couldn't. It would burn in my soul for ever."

"Me neither," Alec told him. "I'm an amateur hero type if it comes to it. You're the expert. But I don't think we can just leave."

"Good man," The Doctor told him. "All the same… Alec, I don't exactly have a plan. And I don't know if I will get through this. The explosion happens at 1 p.m. tomorrow. If I haven't stopped this by midday I want you to get Jasmin and Wyn into the TARDIS. At ten minutes to one, if I'm not in there with you, open the file on this computer marked Alec.1. The password is Gallifrey. Two l's, one f. At two minutes to one, do what it says."

"What does it say?"

"It gives you instructions that will enable you to get the TARDIS back to Earth in Wyn's time. It would be a one way trip. After that the TARDIS would be dead. The instructions I've given would jettison the Eye of Harmony - her power source - as soon as you get there. I know it leaves you and Jasmin in the wrong decade, but I have promised to get Wyn home."

"Doctor…." Alec looked at him. "Are you expecting….”

"I don't know what to expect. I hope to stop a terrible tragedy and live to tell the tale. But if something goes wrong I want you three to be safe. Normally the TARDIS won't operate without me. We're symbiotic. But that file will unlock the 'lifeboat programme' to get you back to Earth in the event of my demise."

"Ok, Doctor," Alec said. What else could he say. "Doctor… does this mean that whatever you plan to do, you're going alone. You don't want us with you?"

"I don't know what I'm going to do," he admitted. "I told you, I'm winging it." Something pinged on the console and he looked at the readout. "We're decontaminated. It's safe to go back to the hotel."

Alec found Jasmin finishing up at the hairdressers while The Doctor went to get Wyn from the pool. They met up again in the coffee lounge. The Doctor calmly told them what they had seen.

"Everything destroyed? All the people…" Wyn gasped. "Oh, Doctor…."

"Mrs Te'non and her grandchildren… all the nice people we've met on this trip? Jasmin was tearful. The Doctor couldn't blame her. If they had found this planet dead in the aftermath of the disaster it would have been bad enough. But they had met people here. They knew their names. They had seen pictures of their families. They were involved. And they couldn't turn their backs on them.

"If I could I'd put everyone on the planet in the TARDIS and take them away from here. But you know I can't."

"Doctor…" Alec glanced around him and his eye caught a newspaper on the coffee table beside him. Yesterday when they first arrived at the hotel he had commented to The Doctor that it was odd people so advanced still used newspapers. He would have expected them to have viewscreens and terminals for up to the minute stories. The Doctor had explained that it was one of the peculiarities of most sentient beings that they hung onto the printed word in that way. There was almost an innate phobia about trusting information on computer consoles and an equally innate sense that the printed news was always the whole truth. Tabloid journalism gave the lie to that, of course. But nonetheless, in all but the most super-advanced societies newspapers in print form persisted.

He picked the paper up and showed the headline to The Doctor. He grasped the paper and read it.

Super Generator Goes Live

"Tomorrow, at one o'clock the new super-fusion generator goes online providing super-abundant energy to the people of Hamna'Gn X. A huge step forward into the future energy needs. The super-fission generator designed by Professor Merton L'Evine is…."

He stopped reading. He didn't need to finish what was obviously a homage to the genius of Professor L'Evine. He knew now what was going to wipe out all life on the planet.

He didn't know WHAT went wrong.

And he didn't know why.

"There's a big reception this evening," Wyn said reading to the end of the article over his shoulder. "Could we crash the party and get to this professor? You could tell him. He's a scientist. You're a scientist. You can talk to him on your own level."

"Maybe. Or if not I can get into the plant and sabotage it - buy some time. They might even find the problem while they fix the damage." He looked at his friends and smiled. "Jasmin, your hair looks lovely. And now you have a party to go to and show it off."

"You know, Doctor," Jasmin said as he materialised the TARDIS close enough to the entrance to the plant to save them a walk, and far enough away from its security cameras. He didn't want to start an alert before he was ready. "I don't really feel like partying on a planet that's going to blow up tomorrow. Especially not at the place the explosion starts from."

"I know how she feels," Wyn added. "I'd rather be anywhere else in the universe right now."

"We don't have to stay long," The Doctor promised them. "If I can get the professor to listen to me we're home and dry."

But he wasn't so sure about that. He pulled open a drawer under the console and picked up something. He looked at it for a long moment and then put it in his jacket pocket. Then he reached into his other pocket and looked at his psychic paper.

"Is there a problem with that?" Alec asked him.

"No, it's pretending to be a bone fide VIP pass for the four of us," he said. "But just checking. Slightly psychic means slightly sentient. And it seems to have an eccentric sense of humour at times. It once passed me off as the King of the Belgians."

"Well, if you're going to crash a party, do it in style," Wyn grinned. "Come on your majesty." She held out her arm to him and he grinned and caught her up.

The VIP guests were taken first on a tour of the beautiful new plant. His friends looked unimpressed. To them it was just so much shining new metal and glass and concrete that wouldn't take long to get tarnished and grubby even if the plant wasn't going to blow up. Professor L'Evine proudly escorted them around all of the key parts of the process, explaining it in suitably dumbed down language. The core was the prize of the exhibit of course - the place where the real action happened. The Professor was asked several safety questions by journalists who made up a section of the party and he answered them honestly and with, The Doctor thought, no sense of prevarication. L'Evine believed he had thought of everything. He thought his plant was safe.

But when The Doctor looked down from the observation platform all he saw was another precognitive flash of actinic light and sudden death. He thanked Alec quietly for the firm hand on his arm as he swayed in shock and came back to the present.

"You're still getting the visions?" Alec asked.

"This is where it happens," he answered quietly. "There is a foreboding of death here so strong it's a wonder nobody else can feel it. Even non-telepaths sometimes get a sense of something wrong."

"I suppose you're not wrong?" Jasmin asked hopefully as they followed L'Evine back to the conference suite where the champagne reception was taking place.

"No," Alec answered for him. "We saw it. And I for one don't want to see it again."

It was a nice party, spoiled only by the feeling of impending doom they all had in the pits of their stomachs. But for that it would have been a pleasant way to spend the evening.

"There's the professor," Wyn told The Doctor as she hovered by the buffet wondering if some food might ease that feeling. "Go do your thing on him."

The Doctor nodded and moved in next to the professor. He was talking proudly to a group of government ministers. He waited and listened to him talk about what a great step forward his new type of fusion generator was going to be and how the power generated would be so abundant they need not charge the consumer more than a token yearly surcharge for the maintenance costs. Finally the man stopped speaking and he attracted his attention. Carefully he moved him away from the ministers and began to talk. He was calm, he was scientific. He sounded like somebody who knew what he was talking about. L'Evine listened carefully. He thought he'd done it.

"So… you'll stop the switch-on going ahead," The Doctor confirmed.

"Yes, of course," L'Evine said. "Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention."

"Thank YOU," The Doctor answered. "I was so very worried. But now I know…." He reached out and shook L'Evine's hand. He felt relieved. It had been easier than he thought.

TOO easy.

As his hand connected with L'Evine's he felt another flash of precognition. He saw L'Evine tomorrow afternoon, standing by a row of computerised controls, pulling the switch to set the generator going as cameras clicked to record the moment. Their flashes blinded him for maybe half a minute. And then an even more blinding light engulfed him. For a split second The Doctor saw L'Evine's body rendered into pieces before they evaporated in the blast that would engulf the continent in a matter of minutes that nobody was left alive to record.

The vision passed. He was still shaking hands with the man. He quickly did something he rarely did when he touched people. He let himself read L'Evine's time line.

The reason he rarely did this was that it was traumatic being able to see a person's whole lifespan, to see their death and how and when that would be. But this time he needed to know.

And he saw how short L'Evine's timeline was. He was due to die tomorrow. So was everyone else in the room, everyone on the planet.

He saw his immediate thoughts. He was desperate for this lunatic crank in the pinstripe suit to let go of his hand so that he could reach for his pocket pager and call security.

He was humouring him. He thought he was a nutter with a conspiracy theory.

The Doctor wasn't entirely surprised. He sighed and let go of his hand. As he saw security start to approach he reached into his inside pocket. The professor glanced nervously at him.

"It's all right," he assured him. "I'm not here to make any trouble. I had to try. I had to try to make you understand. I want you to take this." He handed him a gold-coloured plastic ballpoint pen. L'Evine looked at it and looked back at The Doctor with a puzzled expression.

"Thank you for visiting FBI Headquarters, New York?"

"They thought I was a nutter, too. Until a quarter to nine the next morning. Then it was too late. For you, it will be too late at one minute past one tomorrow afternoon. For the sake of everyone you know and love, think about what I told you and ACT on it, please."

L'Evine said nothing. He just nodded to the security guards, who politely and quietly, so as not to upset the party, asked him to leave. He turned and did just that. Out of the corner of his eye he saw his friends but he did nothing to alert the guards that he was not alone. He just walked quietly away from the plant and back to his TARDIS.

The others arrived a few minutes later. Wyn tried to joke about having to leave the buffet before she'd sampled the smoked salmon but the humour fell flat.

"He wouldn't listen?"



"Half an hour for them to settle into the party again, then I go in."

"Just you?" Alec asked him.

"Yes," he answered. "Alec, I don't doubt your courage. I…." He looked at his friends. "I doubt my own if I have you all to worry about. Stay in the TARDIS. It is safe. Even if it is spotted by the guards, they can't get in. They can't do anything with it. And it can withstand any force - even ground zero of a nuclear explosion."

"You've tried it?"

"Not this close," he added. "And you're not going to try. If I'm not back by ten minutes before L'Evine's big switch-on… Alec, you know what to do."

"Yes, Doctor. I just hope I don't have to."

"So do I, Alec," he said as he programmed the TARDIS to take him inside the nuclear plant. "Oh, so do I." He looked at the schematic on the environmental control. He was as close as the TARDIS could get to a nuclear core. Any closer and her own power source could cause the very reaction he wanted to avoid. He looked at his friends and tried to think of something to say - something other than goodbye that nevertheless conveyed the same meaning.

"Cheerio," he managed. "See you when I see you."

"Not if we see you first," Wyn answered automatically, as somebody always feels compelled to do in such circumstances. He grinned at her as he closed the door behind him.

He had brought them into a walk-in equipment cupboard. It was full of hazmat suits and various pieces of gear for dealing with accidents.

How ironic.

He thought about putting one on, but that would look even more incongruous when there was no accident than him in his pinstripes poking around. He'd have to trust to luck, slightly psychic paper and Power of Suggestion.

He glanced back at the TARDIS and hoped he would see her again soon. Then he stepped out of the cupboard into the corridor and got his bearings.

"What is it he wants you to do if he can't get back?" Jasmin asked Alec.

Alec told them.

"No," she said. "It's kind of him to think of us. But after all he's done for us, we're just going to run out on him?"

"He thought of me, and my mum," Wyn said in a small, choked voice. Oh, Doctor! He doesn't want to let my mum down. He cares so much for her. He doesn't want her to be disappointed by him."

"He's right," Alec added. "I wish he wasn't. But he is right. It's our one chance to get off this planet if there's nothing else left to do."

"IF," Wyn said. "IF there's nothing else. But IF there is something we can do for him, we have to do it. Are we all agreed?"

He reached the control centre for the nuclear core. He knew exactly what to do to stop the catastrophe. It was a perfectly simple thing in its own way - reversing the polarity of the circuits so that the current would feed back into the controls instead of switching on the generator.

Simple to a Time Lord with a post-graduate degree in thermodynamics, anyway.

He started to unscrew the panels to get into the server units of the computer bank. He allowed himself a smile. When WAS the last time the sonic screwdriver was actually USED as a screwdriver? It had more than 10,000 uses the designers intended for it and a 1,000 more he had thought of over the centuries. Unfastening screws was not even number one in the manual.

He got the panel off and set it aside, lying down and sliding himself partially inside. He held the sonic screwdriver in penlight mode in his mouth as he began the work of rewiring and rerouting the circuits to cause what would be a pretty, but brief light display before the systems all shut down and refused to go back on again until a dozen qualified computer engineers had worked flat out for several days to fix it.

His hearts froze as he felt somebody grab his legs and pull him out. He looked up into the muzzles of six high powered plasma rifles at once and the peaked caps of the plant security. He could fight them all with his bare hands, but it only took one lucky shot in the melee and he was a dead Time Lord. He slowly reached for his psychic paper and hoped it would not try to tell then he was the King of the Belgians THIS time, but a heavy booted foot stepped on his hand and the sonic screwdriver was wrenched from his mouth.

"What sort of weapon is this?" he was asked as he was dragged to his feet.

"If you keep waving it about like that one of your colleagues will find out the hard way," he answered. The way two of the men jumped out of range of the penlight beam was a small satisfaction as he was dragged away.

"Am I allowed a phone call?" he asked. "Aren't I allowed a phone call when I'm arrested?"

"We're not police. We're security. The police will deal with you when we hand you over to them. First our people will want to know what you were doing and why."

"Well, I'd be glad to tell them," The Doctor said. "If I thought they would listen! Honestly. I am here to HELP."

But he knew it was useless. They were security guards. Even if he could persuade them they were in no position to do anything. And he had already failed with the Professor.

Failure was not something he was good at. Apart from his telekinesis exam there weren't many times when he had failed.

Perhaps, he reflected bitterly as he sat in the detention cell, he ought to have failed a bit more often so that he would know how to handle it.

On the other hand, he never considered he had failed until he had tried every possible option.

He looked at the solid, immovable steel bars of the cage-like cell. It was just possible he could psychically persuade the bars to heat up and turn to molten metal. But he would be an exhausted wreck for hours afterwards.

He looked through the bars. His coat and the contents of his pockets were left on a desk there, out of his reach. The sonic screwdriver and his TARDIS key were there along with a collection of assorted junk.

Telekinesis. He was rubbish at it. But it was less exhausting than melting bars. He pressed his face against the cool, smooth metal and concentrated on the sonic screwdriver. After ten minutes or so, it moved about a millimetre, and he wasn't even sure if that was a coincidence. He chided himself for being so pathetic and tried again. This time he was sure it had moved forward a little, towards the edge of the table. He concentrated harder. He stretched out his hand through the bars and willed it to come to him.

It was almost working. The screwdriver was on the very edge of the desk. Then the door opened and one of the guards rushed in. He grabbed the screwdriver and slammed it back down on the desk so hard that it dented the surface and then turned and levelled his weapon at The Doctor's face.

"Sit down and keep quiet," he was told. "The Professor is coming down here once his reception is over. You just stay put until then."

This time he wasn't left alone. The guard called one of his friends and they took up positions either end of the room with their guns ready. The Doctor sighed and laid himself down on the long bench inside his cell. He wondered about his friends. Would they stay put as he asked them to do, inside the TARDIS, or would they carry on the usual tradition of his companions and try to do something to rescue him?

He closed his eyes and he could see them there, in the TARDIS, perhaps watching the lifesigns monitor and knowing that he was captured. His dark blue lifesign motionless with the pale blue ones keeping guard was easy to interpret. They would know he was in trouble. And they would WANT to help him.

"Please stay put, guys," he whispered. "Please don't get yourselves trapped here when the place goes up."

There was still time yet. The reception was still in full swing. But the feeling of time running out, of his life counting down to the last minutes was hard to shake off.

He thought of his friends again. It was comforting. He only wished one of them was even remotely psychic. He could tell them what do to, tell them to stay in the TARDIS and….


The TARDIS was psychic. And he was symbiotically linked to it. He had never tried to make contact with it telepathically. It was probably going to take it out of him as badly as melting bars. But….

He let himself drop into a low level trance as he focussed his mind on the TARDIS console.

"Alec!" Wyn called out. "Alec, come here."

Alec came to her side and looked at the computer monitor she was looking at. It HAD been running the blue screensaver with messages in The Doctor's alien language swirling around it. Now it was open on a word processor page and words were appearing on it.


It's me, The Doctor.

Don't come out of the TARDIS.

If you want to help me, don't do anything outside the TARDIS.

Do this….

There followed a sequence of instructions. Alec looked at them for a moment and then set to work. He wondered for a moment what The Doctor was instructing him to do. He hoped this wasn't the contents of Alec.1. He wasn't ready YET to take the one trip lifeboat to Earth and abandon The Doctor to his fate.

He was rather surprised but relieved when a message appeared in italics.

Don't worry, I haven't given up hope yet. See you when I see you.

The Doctor sat up again and looked around the cell. After visualising the console room with his friends in it, waking up again here made him feel very lonely, but if Alec did it right he wouldn't be alone for long.

He smiled as he heard the sound of the TARDIS materialising. He laughed out loud as he saw it appear through the bars of the cell, the door facing towards him. The guards took a precious few seconds to realise this was his means of escape and he was at the door before they thought to open fire.

"Well done, Alec," he said as he stepped inside and closed the door behind him as plasma gunfire strafed the TARDIS. "Just one fine detail." He went to the console and pressed several buttons. The time rotor moved up and down to indicate a dematerialisation. Then they materialised again. The Doctor grinned as the desk with his coat and pocket contents appeared in the middle of the console room floor. He put the TARDIS key and sonic screwdriver, length of string, packet of chewing gum and a souvenir pen from the launch of the Channel Tunnel back in his pockets and hung up his coat on the coat stand by the door. He turned and looked at the desk. It wasn't a bad desk as desks went, but it hardly went with the console room look.

"There's a junk room two doors past the dojo," he said. "Alec, do me a favour and stick that in there, would you."

Alec and Wyn between them carried the desk out of the console room while he set the controls to get them out of the detention cell. The sound of the guards trying to shoot their way in was starting to get annoying. He put the TARDIS back into orbit over the planet while he considered Plan C.

"Do you know there's a half a Dalek in there," Wyn said when she and Alec returned from their furniture moving errand.

"Oh, yes, I know about that," The Doctor answered. "Don't worry, it's harmless. I really should sort that room out one of these days. I’m always accidentally materialising over bits of furniture and taking them with me by mistake."

"Why don't we materialise in DFS and pick up some nice sofas then," Wyn suggested.

"Accidentally acquiring desks that have MY property on them is spoils of war," The Doctor answered. "Materialising in DFS would be shoplifting."

"Never mind that," Jasmin said. "What are we going to do about the planet?"

"Got to make L'Evine see sense," Alec mused.

"Got to make him see what will happen if he doesn't stop the switch on tomorrow." Jasmin added.

"Well, let’s MAKE him see," Wyn said. "Grab him, and take him forward in time the same as you and Alec did."

"Wyn, I'm getting worried about you. A minute ago it was shoplifting. Now it's kidnapping. Any other crimes you want me to commit today?"

"Seriously, it could work. Did you ever see the film Terminator II?"

"Yes," he replied. "You shouldn't have. You're not eighteen until next month."

"Don't be so GROWN UP, Doctor," she answered. "Everyone watches 18 rated films. My point is, they had to stop the world being annihilated in the future so they kidnapped the man who developed the computer system that would make it happen and showed him…."

"Wyn, this isn't a film. This is real life," Alec told her.

"But she has a point," Jasmin defended her. "L'Evine has to be shown. Only HE can stop the switch-on tomorrow."

"I agree," The Doctor said. "I just wish we could have thought of it without reference to horror-sci fi. And I'd like it not to be so much of a blood bath the way we do it."

L'Evine drove home very late from the reception. He was tired. He was angry. He had been ready to go home when he was told that the same lunatic who tried to tell him his generator would go critical and destroy the planet had been caught trying to sabotage the control room and had then escaped from the detention room. His security staff claimed that a blue box appeared and disappeared, taking the prisoner with them. They also reported a missing desk.

He wasn't interested in the desk, or the prisoner as long as he wasn't in the plant causing any more trouble.

He WAS interested in everything going smoothly tomorrow. He'd checked the damage in the control room, but the lunatic hadn't managed to get very far before the security put a stop to his game.

It was going to be all right.

"What the.…" He slammed the brakes on as he saw the strange blue box in the middle of the road. The car stopped with several feet to spare.

Blue box?

He got out of the car and stepped towards the box. In the dark of the night the small windows were brightly lit, as was a blue light on top of it and a panel with the words Police Public Call Box on it.

He reached out and touched it. He was surprised to feel a slight vibration.

He was even more surprised when the door opened and he was pulled over the threshold.

Surprise was too mild a word for his reaction to what it looked like inside.

"Don't worry," The Doctor told him. "You're perfectly safe. Nobody is going to harm you. And no, you are not dreaming. Nor are you having a psychotic episode caused by stress. This is real. This is my TARDIS. It is a time and space ship. And I am taking you on a short trip forward in time."

"You're the lunatic who tried to sabotage the plant."

"Yes, I am, though only because you wouldn't listen to me. Go and sit down there on the sofa. Yes, we've kidnapped you. But we don't mean you any harm. So just do as I say. Look and listen."

He eased the TARDIS back into temporal orbit above the planet and turned on the viewscreen. "Watch," he said. "See your planet as it is now - peaceful, prosperous - a population unaware that death awaits them." Then slowly he moved the time control wheel forward. On the screen the planet revolved quickly and it was soon morning in the city. A morning that passed in minutes. And then….

"It's a trick." L'Evine protested. "This is some kind of holofilm, a special effect. It can't be."

"Let's look closer," The Doctor said. He programmed a materialisation on the planet. L'Evine stared at the viewscreen as he saw the shattered remains of the Great Arc, two jaggedly broken sections still standing among the ruins of the city.

"Your plant was vaporised," The Doctor continued. "There's nothing to show you of that. But I thought this monument that you all set such store by on this planet would jog your conscience."

"My home! I live in an apartment on Arc Square! My wife, my children!"

"They're dead. Nothing is left alive on this planet. The chain reaction destroyed all life, everything."

"It's my fault?" he asked.

"It's YOUR fault. But it's not too late." He put the TARDIS back into temporal orbit again, over the planet, just a few minutes after they left. As the decontamination programme cleaned the outside of the TARDIS once more L'Evine stared at his world as it was meant to be. The Doctor watched him and hoped he was now ready to do the right thing.

"If it helps, I ran a diagnostic. I know what went wrong. It will take you a couple of months to get it right. It will be costly. Cancelling the switch-on tomorrow will be bad for your share prices. Some of your investors will be sure to get cold feet. But the alternative is you destroy your planet. I don't think the choice is hard, is it?"

"No." L'Evine looked at The Doctor. "Why did you do this? Do you have family here? Do you have a reason to want to help us?"

"Do I need a reason to stop millions of people dying? Come here." L'Evine came towards him. The Doctor took his hand. The man had travelled with him in the TARDIS. Though it was only a short trip it was enough to make his timeline confusing to read. But The Doctor could see enough to know he HAD a timeline. He was going to live a very long life for his species. At least another fifty years.

He was going to do the right thing.

That was all he needed to know.

"You saved the planet again," Wyn told him as they sat in the hotel dining room and looked out over the city as the setting sun glanced off the Great Arc and made it shine like it had its own light source within it. Around them nobody else in the restaurant knew how close they had come to never living to see that sunset.

"And you still don't get any credit," Jasmin answered.

"It doesn't matter," The Doctor told them. "We did the job. The planet is safe. I'm not getting any more precognitive visions. I'm happy. And we're booked into this very nice hotel for another couple of days. Let's enjoy."