“So who did your psychic paper say you were in order to get past the queues?” Wyn asked The Doctor as they stepped into the elevator to take them to the top of New York’s Empire State Building.

“Ordinary mortals have to queue three times,” Alec added. “Once to get their tickets, then again to go through security, and finally to get into the elevator.”

“I’m no ordinary mortal,” The Doctor answered him with a grin. “But if anyone feels this is cheating and they would like to spend two hours or more hanging around in the foyer looking at some quite boring walls, feel free.”

“No way,” Wyn said. “This is the life. Being treated as a VIP. I like it.”

“You’re only eighteen once, after all.”

“Well, actually, since you’re going to take me home to LAST Christmas when it's time for me to leave I’ll be eighteen twice, technically. But this has been the coolest birthday ever so far.”

The Doctor smiled indulgently and slipped his arm around her shoulders as the elevator began to rise up. With the universe at her fingertips he had been a little surprised that her choice of how to spend her birthday had been a day in New York. But why not?

So they had breakfasted in Central Park and joined in an open air Tai Chi class and watched Shakespeare performed in the open air. They had lunched in Battery Park and spent the afternoon exploring the Statue of Liberty. And now, after a birthday tea in uptown Manhattan they were going to watch the sun go down over New York from the observation platform of one of its most famous skyscrapers.

“I will never be able to repay all the beautiful things you’ve done for me,” she said.

“Never mind that,” The Doctor told her. “Enjoy your birthday treat. It IS fantastic up here.” He looked out over the city as the sun began to go down. Unlike his friends he didn’t need binoculars or coins in the slots on the telescopes fixed around the observation deck. He could see everything in perfect detail. “Here,” he said to Wyn and put his glasses on her. He held her hand in his and when she looked out over the city she found she had ‘borrowed’ his gift and could look at landmarks and bring them into close focus.

“Wow,” she breathed. “That’s a birthday treat in itself.”

“Doctor,” Jasmin whispered to him. “There’s a man staring at us.”

The Doctor didn’t turn around. But he looked at Jasmin’s sunglasses. He could see the man she meant reflected in the glass. He stood some ten metres away. He looked no different from any other tourist, but he apparently had no interest in the views others had queued up to two hours to get a look at. He was watching The Doctor and his friends intently.

“Could be a pickpocket marking us out,” he said. “Or….”

He turned slowly, trying not to be too obvious and looked closer. He held out his hand and asked Wyn to let him have his glasses back. She passed them to him and he slipped them on.

“Interesting,” he murmured as he put the glasses back in his pocket. “Very interesting.”

“What is?” Wyn asked him.

“Our friend there is a time traveller.”

“One of yours?” Jasmin glanced at the man then turned away.

“No, not a Time Lord. There ARE other races who have time travel capability of one sort or another - none as powerful as ours, of course.”

“Of course!” Alec laughed.

“The Time Lords were the Guardians of Time. They kept a close watch on the vortex and ensured no being, Time Lord or other, did anything dangerous to causality.”

“Who guards it now?” Alec asked.

“Me,” The Doctor answered. “As for your man there, he’s just sightseeing like us. Nothing to worry about.”

“Bit of a coincidence though - another time traveller here.”

“Not really,” The Doctor said. “Twenty-first century Earth is a popular destination. Bound to run into a few time tourists. Most of them are harmless. I don’t think we need to bother about him.”

“You don’t want to talk to him? A fellow time traveller?”


There was something very decisive in the way The Doctor said that. Nobody questioned him further. Besides, this WAS meant to be Wyn’s birthday and it wasn’t fair to distract from her pleasure.

“That was terrific,” she told The Doctor as they descended in the elevator. “Do we have time for the other part of my birthday?”

“All the time in the universe,” he assured her. He had smiled when she told him her other desire for her 18th birthday. She wanted to BUY an alcoholic drink. He pointed out that she had drunk alcohol many times. He had often allowed her a glass of wine with dinner when they had eaten out and they had crashed many a party where drinks were freely available. But she had pointed out, rightly, that this would be her first chance to LEGALLY buy a drink. She had also pointed out, and he had to concede the point, that he was going to make her relive her 17th year at the end of her time with him, so she would have to wait to buy another one.

Alec said he knew lots of good pubs in Manchester. Jasmin pointed out that she had never set foot in any of them with him. Besides, they didn’t want to go to Manchester just yet. The Doctor took them to a quiet pub in Inverness, overlooking the river Ness that flowed into the Loch. He refused to answer any questions about how he was so acquainted with the area, whether the monster really existed and how come he adopted a very convincing Scottish accent until they had all witnessed Wyn going to the bar. She proudly showed her Young Person’s ID Card that proved she was of age now and was served as was her right with alcoholic drinks.

“It’s a rather soulless sort of Rite of Passage,” The Doctor thought aloud. “There ought to be more occasion to it than this.”

“How do they do it where you come from, Doctor?” Jasmin asked as Wyn returned to the table and proudly passed a glass of Islay Single Malt to The Doctor, a pint of lager to Alec, a glass of orange juice to Jasmin, and sat down with a large vodka and orange. The Doctor formally toasted her birthday and they sipped their drinks before he answered Jasmin’s question.

“Coming of age is two hundred and ten,” he said. “That’s a big deal for the first born of one of the great Oldblood Houses, because then he becomes the patriarch of the family. His father settles all the family fortune, property, business interests on him. Usually there would be a marriage arrangement announced at about the same time.”

“For love?” Jasmin asked. “I never liked the word ‘arrangement’.” She looked at Alec as she said that and he looked back at her in a way that needed no telepathy.

“Mostly for political expedience,” The Doctor answered. “Though not always. My parents married for love. So did I.” He said that with a sad catch in his voice and his eyes seemed like deep, dark pools. Jasmin looked at him and thought she could look into his eyes and see a thousand years of his personal history within them, and not all of it happy.

“When an angel woos the clay, he’ll lose his wings at the dawn of day,” Alec said, meeting The Doctor’s eyes. Neither Jasmin nor Wyn knew where the quote came from. The Doctor clearly did. And he saw the analogy.

“Yet some of us would always be willing to take the risk,” he said. Then he smiled widely and it was as if the sun had come out after a dark cloud had dominated for a while. “Never mind me. This is Wyn’s birthday. A happy occasion.”

“It’s scary,” Wyn admitted as she put her glass down on the table. If she was forced to admit it, she would have to say she didn’t like vodka. And The Doctor was right about this being a soulless way to celebrate a milestone in her life. “I’m a grown up now. I have to be responsible for myself.”

The Doctor was rather proud of her when her first act of responsibility was to order her next vodka and orange without the vodka. The right to do something also came with the right NOT to do something and she was choosing to set her own limits.

“So,” Alec said brightly, aware that the conversation could easily slip into melancholy if they allowed it to. “About Nessie then…”

“It’s not real is it?” Jasmin asked.

“It’s real,” Wyn said. “I bet it is.”

“Oh, it's real all right,” The Doctor assured them. “I’ve met it. It’s a lonely wee alien creature that was dumped here by other aliens who wanted to use it for world domination. The Loch is its home now, and it’s happy there. And the best thing we can do is leave it in peace.”

“Fine by me,” Wyn agreed. “But…” She glanced up as the barman collected the empty glasses and something caught her eye. “Doctor… that man from the Empire State Building is here.”

“No!” The Doctor didn’t look around. He glanced in the mirrored glass behind the bar which reflected everyone in the pub. Yes, there he was - the same man - tall, with black hair, dark eyes, a sharp-looking nose and thin lips. As he watched he was almost sure he saw the eyes turn a shade of green briefly as he blinked.

“Well, that’s just downright creepy,” Alec said. “Is he following us?”

“I think he must be,” The Doctor answered. “Though I don’t know HOW. The TARDIS is invisible to any other time travelling vehicles when we’re in the vortex. Unless he has some very sophisticated tracking device - and I don’t like the idea of that.”

“WHY is he following us?” Wyn asked. “Are you WANTED by some government? Is he some kind of interstellar bounty hunter?”

“What?” Jasmin nearly choked on her orange juice. “Doctor… are you a fugitive from the law?”

“Certainly not,” he protested. “Even my own people accepted my innocence eventually.”

“Interstellar hit man then?” Alec suggested. “Somebody has a contract out on you.”

“That’s within the realms of possibility,” he mused. “I’ve got plenty of enemies.”

In the reflection he saw the man stand up and walk towards the gents.

“I’ll follow him,” Alec volunteered. “See what he’s up to.”

“No,” The Doctor protested. “He might be dangerous.”

“And he might be trying to get you alone so he can kill you,” Alec answered him. “I’m not the one he wants.” He stood up and moved nonchalantly towards the toilets. The Doctor watched him warily, ready to move at the first sign of trouble.

He was right to be wary. He was already on his feet when a loud bang came from inside the gents. The barman was closer to the door and ran in ahead of him swearing loudly as he saw a man-sized hole blasted in the back wall. As he gave chase The Doctor attended to Alec, who was half-lying against the hand-basins, nursing a nasty gash on his forehead and a painful bump on the back of his head. He pulled out his sonic screwdriver and adjusted it to minor tissue repair mode. Alec sighed as the gentle feeling like a cooling balm against his head replaced the pain.

“He’s after you, Doctor,” he said. “He turned on me. He’s not Human by the way. That long nose is actually a beak and he has talons. He said ‘the Time Lord will be mine. You puny Humans will not stand between us.’”

“Talons?” The Doctor looked puzzled for a moment then his face cleared. “Ah! He must be a Tellon. The species evolved from birds. They retain some of the characteristics. But when did they get time travel capability and why do they want me?” He helped Alec to his feet as the landlord stepped back in through the hole.

“Never seen anything like it,” he complained. “What did damage like that?” The Doctor stepped closer and saw that the edges of the hole were seared as if by great heat. The broken bricks had a glazed look as if the sand they were constituted of had been turned to glass.

“A sonic blaster,” The Doctor said. “A crude one. The hole is very unevenly shaped. But yes, definitely, a sonic blaster.”

“Huh?” The landlord looked around but he had gone. They both had. When he returned to the bar the two women who were with them had gone as well. He went to the table and picked up the empties and pocketed the generous tip that had been left a small compensation for the mess made to his back wall.

“What’s going on, Doctor?” Jasmin asked as he put them into temporal orbit. She was making a fuss over Alec’s now non-existent wounds. Alec was enjoying the attention although he could have done without being side-swiped by a birdman in order to get it.

“I THINK we may have guessed it right,” he said. “I think somebody has a hit out on me.”

“Oh, Doctor!” Jasmin gasped. “Are you scared?”

“Just a BIT,” he admitted. “But it’s nothing new. I’ve not endeared myself to the bad guys of the universe over the centuries. Wyn, sorry your birthday got spoiled.”

“That’s okay, Doctor,” she told him. “I did everything I wanted to do for it. I think I’m going to become a tee-totaller, though.”

“Fair enough.” The Doctor turned to Alec. “If Jasmin has confirmed you’re going to live, could you come help me with a small engineering job.”

“Sure,” he said, coming to his side dutifully. “What are we doing?”

“I’m re-attaching the Randomiser to the navigation console,” he said. “A little device I used once when there was a rather nasty character gunning for me. The Black Guardian… very unpleasant sort. It makes the TARDIS into a magical mystery tour bus. I press it and I have no idea where it will take us from among tens of thousands of co-ordinates in the database. And neither will anybody following us.”

“You hope,” Alec said as he followed The Doctor’s instructions. The Randomiser was a chunky piece of equipment that looked as if it came from a different technological era than the rest of the console. None of the connections were compatible and it was a long hour’s work of ‘bodging’ before they managed to get it online. Wyn and Jasmin both looked at it warily.

“I’m going behind the sofa,” Jasmin said. “Before you switch that on.”

“Behind the sofa won’t help if it disintegrates the TARDIS and leaves us floating in space clinging to soft furnishings,” Wyn pointed out. They both moved as far away as possible and braced themselves for a bang.

They were almost disappointed when it simply lit up and gave out a low hum that was indistinguishable from the usual sound of the TARDIS in motion.

“Is it working?” Wyn moved forward slowly and peered at the gauges on the new piece of equipment.

“Let’s find out,” The Doctor said with a grin. “Let’s see where it takes us.”

He initiated the drive and the viewscreen changed from a view of Earth from space to the time vortex. They knew they were going forward in time by the red colour of the swirling tunnel effect but The Doctor warned them they might come out anywhere in space, on any planet.

“Well, any planet that’s in my database, anyway,” he added. “Or space station, space ship, moon, asteroid….”

“And they would all be planets we can breathe on?” Jasmin asked cautiously.

“Not necessarily.”

The TARDIS engines changed up a notch as the materialisation began. Wyn stood by the environmental control and watched to see what sort of planet they were heading for.

“Doctor!” she yelled. “The temperature! It’s….”

The Doctor yelled too as he hit the navigation switch and sent them out into the vortex again.

“Belloxia I,” he said. “Beautiful planet – before its core superheated and it burned for 10,000 years.”

“Yikes. Can planets do that?” Wyn asked.

“Only if the people on it try to tap the core as a source of fuel,” The Doctor added. “Let that be a lesson. Meanwhile, let’s see where we are next.”

“If the birdman was following us, would he have got stuck in that, too?” Jasmin asked. “He might have been fried.”

“Might have,” The Doctor said quietly. “Not a pretty thought, even if he is dangerous.”

“End of problem for us though, if he was,” Alec pointed out.

“I think I’d like to know who wants me dead and why, though,” The Doctor added. “I really think I DO want to talk to him if he turns up at our next stop.”

If he HAD turned up at their next stop he would have been in almost as much trouble as on the burning planet.

“So what ARE they exactly?” Alec asked as they watched the two dinosaurs fighting each other over possession of the nest of eggs the TARDIS had materialised in the middle of.

“Spinosaurus,” The Doctor answered straight away.

“Come on,” Jasmin said. “There’s no such thing as Spinosaurus, surely. You’re making that up.”

“Spinosaurus, from the mid-Cretaceous era, from the family, Spinosauridae, Superfamily, Megalosauroidea, Order, Saurischia, Suborder, Theropoda, Superorder, Dinosauria, Class, Sauropsida, Phylum, Chordata and Kingdom, Animalia.”

Everyone looked at The Doctor with one expression that clearly conveyed their opinion.

“Show off.”

“It’s the one that eats the front of the plane in Jurassic Park three,” The Doctor added.

They watched as one of the Spinosaurs killed the other by breaking its neck and then turned and lumbered towards the nest.

“Let’s get out of here before it tries to incubate us,” Wyn suggested. The Doctor agreed. Nobody else objected.

“Next time, a planet where it’s safe to get out of the TARDIS would be good,” Jasmin commented. “As much as I like the TARDIS, it does get tiresome having the engine sound in the background constantly.”

“It used to be much worse,” The Doctor said. “I did some sound-proofing when I first got it. But I’ve lived in it for centuries now. I got used to the sound. It feels wrong for me when I don’t hear it.” Then he became interested in something on the navigation console and seemed to tune out of the conversation. The others waited expectantly.

“I think I have a lock on our friend. He’s in the vortex with us. Somehow or other he has a way of following the TARDIS wherever it goes. He must have a VERY good time capsule something CLOSE to TARDIS technology.”

“What’s close to TARDIS technology and isn’t a TARDIS?” Wyn asked.

“I have no idea,” he said. “Daleks used to have some stolen technology. I remember once, years ago, they chased me all over the galaxy.” He laughed suddenly.


“Just remembered - one of the places we wound up was the top of the Empire State Building. Ironic that this started there.”

“If it DID start there,” Alec pointed out. “That was the first place we spotted Birdman. But he might have been on the Rigex space station when we stopped off to buy Wyn’s birthday cake, or before then on Andalum IV when you took us to meet the princess.”

“And by the way, she DEFINITELY fancied you, Doctor. Don’t kid us there’s no history between you two.”

“Not on my part,” The Doctor answered. “But yes, you’re right. We don’t know how long chummy might have been tailing us, looking for the opportune moment to strike.”

“You really are taking a potential assassination attempt on you very coolly, Doctor,” Alec told him.

“No point worrying about it,” he answered. He smiled and hoped they believed him that he wasn’t overly worried about this situation. The thought of somebody wanting to assassinate him WAS creepy. He wondered if the Tellon actually knew HOW to kill a Time Lord or was he winging it – no pun intended.

Why had he waited this long anyway? Anywhere in New York, or in the bar in Inverness, or any of those previous locations would have been perfectly fine for an assassination attempt.

Unless there was more to it than that?

The TARDIS materialised again and The Doctor decided this WAS a safe place to step outside the safe confines of the TARDIS, but not until they had changed into suitable period costume.

“June 28th, 1838,” The Doctor said with a big grin on his face. “Coronation of Queen Victoria. Let’s go watch the procession.”

“This is a bad place to be if somebody wants to kill you, Doctor,” Alec told him as they took up prime spots among the crowds outside Westminster Abbey. “Especially if the Birdman is a good shot.”

“I’m banking on him not wanting to risk hitting innocent civilians,” The Doctor answered. “Plus there are enough armed soldiers around here right now who would make a colander out of him if he exposes himself with any kind of weapon. Here she comes, by the way. Get ready to wave patriotically.”

They waved with the crowd as the coronation coach and escort passed by. As the excitement died down, though, The Doctor glanced across the road and he saw the same man again - the birdman as Alec and the others had named him. His eyes flashed green as he caught The Doctor’s glance and then he turned and disappeared into the crowd again. The Doctor knew there was no chance of giving chase. They had lost him again.

“Let’s make him sweat,” The Doctor said. “The psychic paper should get us into one of the classier celebration dinners going on. There’s a big one at this big place down the bottom of The Mall….”

“Well, we’ll definitely be safe in there,” Alec thought as he took Jasmin’s arm and wondered if she could look any more excited if she tried. “Plenty of soldiers about.” The Doctor grinned and held his arm out to Wyn as they sought out the nearest hackney cab to take them to the Palace.

“That was interesting,” Wyn declared as they set off again into the vortex. “Funny food they ate back then though - quails eggs and caviar and pheasant.”

“It was SO elegant,” Jasmin said. “All the ladies in such fine dresses. But I did hate the way some of them looked at me - as if I was some kind of exotic curiosity. One of the ladies in waiting asked me what it was like wearing clothes for a change. I mean… where did she think I come from? Tahiti or somewhere?”

“I think you looked wonderful,” Alec told her soothingly. “Ah well, off we go again. “Is the birdman still with us?”

“Yes, he is,” The Doctor answered. “I want to know how he’s doing it. The TARDIS should be undetectable, but he is matching our course exactly. I wonder if he HAS got hold of a TARDIS. But a non-Time Lord shouldn’t even be able to fly it. Rassilon’s Imprimatur makes a TARDIS and its Time Lord symbiotic with each other. Only he or a direct relative or somebody VERY close to him who has travelled in the TARDIS long enough for it to recognise them as an integral part of itself could possibly be able to pilot a TARDIS with the accuracy he’s showing.”

“We’re materialising again,” Wyn pointed out. “Maybe you can find out when we land.”

“I hope so,” The Doctor said. “Giving birdman the runaround is entertaining in its way, but I’d like to get to the bottom of this.”

This wasn’t Earth. It was a planet not unlike Earth in that it had air that was made up of similar proportions of oxygen, nitrogen, Argon, Carbon Dioxide, Neon, Helium, Methane, Krypton, Hydrogen and Xenon - Thank you, Doctor for ensuring that his friends would never forget the whole list of constituents. It had green grass and trees, although not any variety the Earth-born companions recognised.

There was a small building like a woodsman’s hut near the treeline. A girl was sitting outside of it, engrossed in a book. As they drew closer they saw that she was about twelve years old – if she aged according to Earth years, anyway. She was dressed in a skirt and blouse, shoes and socks and had her dark hair in two plaits. The book was a very thick one with small print and technical diagrams that seemed to be something to do with chemistry.

A very smart twelve year old.

“Susan,” The Doctor said. The girl looked up, puzzled.

“Who are you?” she asked. “How do you know my name?” She closed her book and stood up. She looked like a frightened rabbit about to bolt any moment.

He glanced at the hut. He knew it for what it was. A TARDIS. HIS TARDIS. Before the chameleon circuit got stuck as a police box. Not very long before, he thought. They had landed in London when Susan was twelve - perhaps a couple more journeys as homeless wanderers before they put down roots for a little while in the 1960s.

“I’m… I’m like you, Susan,” he said. “I’m a Time Lord. Where’s… where is your Grandfather?”

“Grandfather!” The girl gave a shriek. She backed away towards the hut. “No. You’re here to arrest him… to take him back… NO. NO.”

“Susan,” he said gently. “No, I’m not. I promise you that. I’m not here to harm you. I’m here purely by accident. My TARDIS was picking destinations at random from its database. Sooner or later we were bound to run into you. I should have thought of that. But now I am here, and maybe we could help each other.”

“Doctor?” Alec stepped towards him. “What’s going on? Who is this girl?”

“She’s…” He paused and looked at her then at his friends. He looked back at her. Growing up away from Gallifrey and him often so busy, he had neglected her education in some ways. She was slow in developing her telepathic skills, otherwise she would know who he was. She would recognise his unique telepathic signature - recognise it as that of the closest and dearest person to her hearts.

She’s my granddaughter,” he said. “Susan, don’t be frightened. This is difficult to understand, but I am your Grandfather… a future incarnation. I’ve crossed my personal timeline inadvertently.”

“That is against the Laws of Time,” she said. “You could be punished for that.”

“Yeah,” he said. “As if they haven’t got me on enough already.”

“Grandfather is.…”

“At the palace playing Akterian Mah-jongg with the Sultan of Gaktoria.” The Doctor said. “You didn’t want to go because it was too boring among all the grown ups.”

The others were starting to catch on. This was something that happened in his past, many years in his past, it must have been.

“I’d almost forgotten,” he said. “So long ago. So many things have happened since.” He reached out his hands. “Susan… my dear… Let me….”

But even if she believed what he said she was not able to reconcile the man she knew as her Grandfather with the face that smiled at her now. She backed away from him and ran into her own TARDIS slamming the door behind her.

“That wasn’t the coolest way of handling that situation, Doctor,” Wyn told him. “You scared her.”

“I know,” he sighed. He reached in his pocket for his TARDIS key and stepped up to the door. He put the key into what appeared to be a knothole in the wood and unlocked the door. His companions looked at each other and shrugged before following him inside.

“Wow,” Wyn exclaimed as they stepped into the TARDIS. It was so completely different to the one they knew. It was so white and clean, the console a neat hexagon with lights and panels and rows of switches and buttons. The only thing that this TARDIS and theirs had in common was the hatstand near the door.

And yet, if they fully understood The Doctor, this was the SAME TARDIS just as Susan’s Grandfather who was away playing Akterian Mah-jongg was the SAME Doctor.

Logic wobbled.

Reason collapsed in a heap.

Susan was standing on the far side of the console, still looking very much like a scared rabbit.

“Susan,” The Doctor pleaded. “I am sorry to scare you. I want you to know….”

“Agggghh!” Susan screamed and it was a moment before The Doctor realised she wasn’t screaming at him, but at something behind him. He span around as the creature they had referred to as the birdman stepped through the open TARDIS door. An arm reached out and unfolded on itself to become a long, sinewy, birdlike limb ending in a sharp talon. Jasmin’s scream mingled with Susan’s as she was grabbed around the neck, the talon pricking her under the chin. If she so much as moved her throat would be ripped. Alec began to step closer but changed his mind.

“Where is the Time Lord?” the creature demanded in a voice redolent of the cry of a bird of prey. “Where is the one who destroyed my master?”

“What?” The Doctor moved closer. “What do you mean where is... I’m….”

“What do you want with my Grandfather?” Susan demanded, moving out from behind the console. She was still scared, but of something different now and her body language was different. “What is this all about?”

“I want the Time Lord who destroyed my master,” he repeated. “Give him to me and nobody else will die.”

“You want to kill my Grandfather?” Susan’s voice trembled and seemed to go up a pitch. “Who was your master? What are you talking about?”

“He’s a Tellon,” The Doctor murmured. “We visited Tellon when you were five, Susan. You had the measles. You were in bed through the whole visit. There was a conspiracy to kill the rightful king of Tellon and replace him with his cousin. I uncovered the whole plot. The cousin killed himself, simple as that. I was back in the TARDIS in time to give you your medicine.” He looked at the birdman. “You were the servant of the king’s cousin - the one who killed himself?”

“The Time Lord killed him. I vowed I would see him dead. And I will. This is his time machine. You are his friends…. You will be my hostages.”

“Ok,” The Doctor said. “We’ll be your hostages. But let Jasmin go. You’re hurting her.”

“Lie down on the floor,” the Tellon snarled as he pushed Jasmin forward. She fell on her knees as the others obeyed the creature slowly. The Doctor reached for Susan’s hand and held it as she lay down next to him.

“Are you all right?” he whispered to her.

“I’m scared,” she answered. “What will he do to Grandfather?”

“He can’t do anything to your Grandfather, Susan,” he told her. “If he did I wouldn’t be here.”

“You really ARE….” He felt her hand close around his and it was a small comfort to know she was no longer afraid of him. “Grandfather?”

“Yes,” he said to her. “Oh yes, Susan. Yes.”

“No talking,” the Tellon ordered. “I will gut the next one who speaks. We’re all going to wait right here till the Time Lord gets here.”

“Oh, please!” The Doctor sighed. “As if we’re just going to lie here and say nothing!”

“How did you follow us?” Alec asked, taking his cue from The Doctor. “How did you know we’d lead you to the… to the Time Lord?”

“Yes, I was wondering about that,” The Doctor added. “HOW did you latch onto the TARDIS?”

“I placed a tracking device in your time machine before you left Tellon. I could not get away then. I was under suspicion. All those who had followed the heir were being watched. It was many years before I was able to leave Tellon with my own time capsule. But the tracking device was still active. I traced the Time Lord’s machine to the Rigex space station. I watched the Time Lord’s friends but there was no sign of him. I kept on following, tracking him through time and space, but I will wait no longer.”

“There’s been a tracking device in my TARDIS all these years?” The more he thought about it, the more it made a sort of sense. But instead of tracking Susan and his first incarnation, the Tellon had picked up the signal from his LATER TARDIS. That was why it had not made any attempt on him. It was looking for Susan’s Grandfather, the white haired old man. It had taken him as just another Human companion.

And it would have gone on forever if the TARDIS hadn’t randomly set them down in his own past. He wasn’t sure if it was the best or worst thing that could happen. It had drawn the Tellon out and exposed his reasoning. But it had put his first incarnation in the line of danger.

He walked with a stick and suffered from a bad chest back then. He wouldn’t stand a chance in a fight.

It was up to him to protect his first incarnation, as well as Susan, as well as his friends.

It was up to him to put an end to this situation, because if he didn’t, he would be a dead man. His whole life would unravel.

And he had to do it before Susan’s Grandfather got back from the Mah-jongg game.

Because he didn’t know anything about it. All he remembered from this trip was letting the Sultan of Gaktoria win best of five and being awarded a rather odd looking medal for being a good sport. Quite apart from it being generally a good idea to let Sultans win when surrounded by their personal bodyguard of tall men with sharply edged weapons he had another reason for losing. The losers medal was actually part of the stolen crown jewels of the sister planet of Gantox. Returning it to them was a remarkably easy way of circumventing a nasty war.

Sorting out the would-be revolution on Tellon also circumvented years of misery for those people. But there was no telling this foolish being who had let his bitterness fester for years.

“Look,” he said, changing tactic. “If you want the Time Lord I’ll give him to you. Just let me live. I don’t want to die. He’s not paying me enough for that.”

“No!” Susan cried on cue. So did the others, calling him a traitor and a sell-out and worse. They had reacted just as he had hoped, realising that he was up to something. The noise of their voices all raised together agitated the Tellon. He was losing his cool rapidly - what he had of it.

The Doctor stood up and faced the creature.

“I’ll take you to him,” he said again. “Trust me.”

“Trust you?” the Tellon snarled with that green glint in his eyes again. “I am loyal to my master even beyond the grave. You would give yours up to save your own life. I will kill you and your companions and I will be waiting here for the Time Lord when he returns.”

The Doctor wondered for a moment if he had bitten off more than he could chew. The Tellon’s birdlike though featherless form stretched itself to half the height again of the humanoid disguise. The sharp nose was, indeed, a beak and the arms and legs both had sharp talons that could rip a body in half.

And all he had was his sonic screwdriver and his first incarnation’s spare walking stick in the hatstand.

He grabbed the stick and used it first to defend himself from the lash of the talon and then for an offensive lunge at the softer parts of the creature’s torso. Around him his friends scrambled out of the way. Jasmin and Wyn were crouched behind the console with Susan. Alec was hiding behind the old food simulator machine that used to provide himself and Susan with sustenance before their taste buds rebelled and demanded real food.

The Tellon snarled and swiped at him again. The walking stick took a talon halfway up its length and was sliced neatly in half. He dropped it and took his sonic screwdriver more firmly in his hand. He fingered the welding mode setting. He could turn the Tellon birdman into oven ready quarters with that, but his general qualms about killing any sentient creature that could be reasoned with applied unless it got to a point just beyond the point they were at now. If there WAS something else he could do, he would do it.

The Tellon laughed and launched itself into the air. It couldn’t fly very well. Its species had lost that ability many generations ago, but it could defy gravity for long enough to be death from above.


He grinned and found the right setting. He aimed the sonic screwdriver’s beam at the Tellon. It floated towards the ceiling as its personal gravity was altered to make it lighter than air.

“Ooops,” The Doctor said with a disarming smile. “Wrong polarity.”

He reversed it and tried again. The Tellon gave a screech as its personal gravity forced it down to the ground and pressed it so that it could hardly move its limbs.

“Get up,” The Doctor told it, adjusting the gravity just enough so that the creature could raise itself off the floor. He pointed the sonic screwdriver at it. It was an odd feeling to have a living, sentient being so completely at his mercy as that. He could have switched to welding mode now and dispatched it for good, but killing something that was already defeated was worse than killing in the heat of battle. He needed a way to stop the creature from bothering him ever again in any incarnation.

“Alec,” he said. “Wyn… can the two of you go to my TARDIS and unhook the Randomiser from the console. Bring it along. Jasmin, be a dear and look after Susan, tidy up a bit.” He looked around the bright console room of so long ago in his personal history. It had not come off too badly. The hatstand had fallen over and the food dispenser had dispensed several wafers of simulated Sunday lunch and three glasses of wine without the glasses. And there was the broken second best walking stick.

“If you look in the wardrobe there should be a couple more walking sticks. He shouldn’t even notice the difference.”

Then he turned and walked the Tellon out. The gravity field around it was still so strong that it had to struggle to pick its taloned feet off the ground but slowly they made their way to its ship.

“That’s an impressive looking ship,” The Doctor declared when he saw it. “NOT Time Lord technology. But about the best that money could buy outside of Gallifrey. “Did your master leave you all his money then?”

“He bid me avenge him with his last dying breath,” the Tellon answered. “His wealth was at my disposal.”

“I suppose there is no point in explaining to you that your master was a dangerous nutter who wanted to murder a good man who loved his people and ruled them with kindness? Tellon is as near paradise as I have ever found. Its people are happy, prosperous, free. It would have become a place of tyranny and fear under your master.”

“I do my master’s will. I am bound to serve him.”

“Yeah, yeah.” The Doctor yawned theatrically. “The universe over I’ve met your type - mindless followers of megalomaniacs. One day you’ll all wake up and see the light, which is why I’m not killing you. I’m giving you that chance to see the light.” He turned as Wyn and Alec approached. He gave the sonic screwdriver to Wyn and told her to guard the Tellon while he and Alec set to work patching the randomiser into the Tellon ship.

“Now then, chummy,” The Doctor said when it was done. “Just a word of warning. That device is fixed into your machine in such a way that if you TRY to remove it, or get any engineer to remove it, it will blow you and your craft and anyone in a ten mile radius to kingdom come. So don’t even bring a screwdriver near it. You have the freedom of time and space. And that’s a precious gift, I can tell you. What you DON’T have is the ability to decide where you want to go. You’re going to be a sort of space-time pinball bouncing around for eternity. You might be lucky. You might find a place you like and live out your life in peace. Or you might find Belloxia I again and go to a nasty and brief death. Luck of the draw. Anyway, there you go. Strap yourself in and off you go.” He took back the sonic screwdriver and held it close until the Tellon was in the pilot seat then he stood well back along with Alec and Wyn. They watched as the craft took off vertically until it was about a hundred metres in the sky then vanished as its time circuits initialised.

“We didn’t plug that into anything that would blow up, did we?” Alec asked as they walked back towards the TARDIS.

“Course not. I wouldn’t do that,” The Doctor answered. “But he doesn’t know that.”

“What if he tries anyway?”

“Well, then he’ll know I was bluffing. But we’ll all be long gone by then. And he won’t find us again as easily.”

He stopped by his own TARDIS and looked at it. He turned the sonic screwdriver to a new setting and slowly circled the police box. By the door the screwdriver emitted a low beeping noise. He moved it around slowly until he pinpointed the source of the signal. He pulled open the little cupboard where the police telephone completed the disguise. He reached in and pulled open the phone mechanism. He found what he was looking for now he knew it was there. A small but powerful tracking device, its micro-battery would have lasted another five hundred years at least, sending out signals that the Tellon could trace.

“But there’s one in the other TARDIS still,” Wyn said. “Isn’t there?”

“Yes,” he answered. “But that one doesn’t have a phone cupboard. The TARDIS didn’t get stuck as a police box for another few trips. It must be hidden somewhere else on that one.”

They walked back to the woodman’s hut. Susan and Jasmin were sitting outside quietly. They were talking animatedly about Earth pop music. The Doctor smiled. Susan had always loved Earth music. Not the same Earth music as he liked. Some of it had set his teeth on edge. But she had been delighted when they found themselves in 1960s London and taken that respite from their wandering life. Cliff Richard, the Beatles. They were more to her than all the wonders of the universe.

“I’m trying to remember what the TARDIS disguised itself as on Tellon,” he said as he looked at the hut. “A tree world… it must have been a tree. The keyhole would have been the only part of it that he could have accessed, disguised as a knothole, probably.” He focussed the sonic screwdriver on the keyhole. It emitted the same low beeping noise. “All these years,” he said. “I NEVER knew. Never would have known if chummy hadn’t given himself away.” He adjusted the screwdriver again and used it AS a screwdriver. To Susan’s astonishment and disconcertion he dismantled the complicated lock mechanism, found the tracking device and re-assembled it.

“You must be him,” she said. “Nobody else could have….”

He turned and put his sonic screwdriver back in his pocket and reached out to her. This time she didn’t back off. She let him hug her.

“My Susan,” he whispered hoarsely. “It is good to hold you again.”

“Grandfather,” she said to him.

“Yes, my dear. Yes.”

“But… Why aren’t I still with you? What happened to me? Was it something bad?”

“No,” he assured her. “You’re going to have a long, happy life. So am I… most of it anyway. But we won’t always do it together. You’ll grow up and want a life of your own, without your crotchety old granddad in the way.”

“I won’t,” she protested. “Never. I will always want to be with you.”

“And I’ll always want you with me,” he told her. “But sometimes what we want isn’t what we need. Don’t worry about it, child. It is in the future. Just live every day to the full and remember I will always love you.” He pulled her close again and kissed her on the cheek. “Goodbye, Susan.”

“Goodbye, Grandfather,” she said as he let her go and stepped away. Wyn and Jasmin came to his side. They took his two hands as he turned and walked away. He didn’t look back to where the girl stood by the hut, watching him. To look back would have been too painful for him.

“She never told me what had happened,” he said as they reached the police box TARDIS. “I didn’t say it should be a secret. But she didn’t tell me. I asked her if she had been all right while I was busy. She said she’d just been reading and lost track of time.” He gave a sort of sigh as he came back from his memories of the past and then smiled at his friends. “Tell you what, let’s crash another royal party. How about the coronation of William V.”