This was a very pleasant place - for once. Wyn stretched out on the fragrant grass and looked up at the planet that served as a moon over this world. If she looked carefully she thought she could make out the cities on it. The Doctor smiled as he caught her thoughts and lent her his glasses and with a touch of his hand, a little of his own power to make them into powerful binoculars. She gasped as she made out the tops of buildings and even the larger vehicles speeding along the motorways that linked the cities. The Doctor told her they were hover vehicles, of course. The motorways served only as navigational aids. All the information normally found on roadside signs - speed limits, distance to next city, roadworks ahead - was contained in electronic sensors embedded in the tarmac that transmitted information straight to the vehicle’s computer system.

“Clever,” she said.

“Oh, I don’t know. They still get traffic jams.”

“Typical!” Alec laughed. “Still, they do call this New Earth. I suppose the old problems come along with the old name.”

“I don’t care,” Jasmin said as she took her turn with the glasses. “I think it is beautiful. When I was little I used to imagine people living in houses on the Earth moon. And look, there they are.”

“Wait until night time,” The Doctor told her. “All the major population centres are lit up.”

“It’s still a little creepy being this far into the future,” Alec mused. “Knowing that Earth is gone and we’re the last people alive to be actually BORN on the planet.”

“Oooh, don’t start that,” The Doctor warned them. “All that last pure Human stuff caused me enough trouble when I was here.” He didn’t elaborate. Wyn figured she knew why and moved the subject on before he could get broody about it.

“I think it’s good to know. First of all that the Earth died of natural causes at the end of its time - we didn’t mess it up after all. And also that people, us, Humans, we actually managed to get out here among the stars, and made new worlds for ourselves. Calling the place New Earth is a bit corny, mind you. But really, we’re a clever lot after all, aren’t we.”

“That you are,” The Doctor agreed. “Smarter than my people in the end. We went down with our planet.”

“Oh don’t,” Jasmin told him, reaching and touching his hand. “Don’t think of it. Besides, you’re half human. So you have a right to be proud of Human achievements, too.”

“Oh, I am,” he assured her. “You’re a fantastic lot. I’m proud to have a little bit of Human DNA in me.”

He smiled as Jasmin leaned over and kissed him very quickly on the lips.

“I’m glad you’re proud to be a little bit of our species,” she said. “Because we’re proud of you.”

“Doctor, stop hogging my girl,” Alec said, but only in fun as he claimed her back from him and they shared a passionate clinch worthy of any good romance novel. The Doctor and Wyn both studied the planet-moon of New Earth intently until they were finished. She because she was still enough of a tomboy teenager to find such activities disturbing and he because he didn’t want to remember that he had a woman in his arms the last time he lay in the apple grass of New Earth.

Even the beautiful things of the universe were a bitter pill for him some days.

“Come on, lovebirds,” The Doctor said at last. “Time we were heading off. Dinner in the New Manhattan sky-top revolving restaurant, affording beautiful views of the city from every direction at once. Then we’re going to the New Manhattan opera house and at midnight we want to find a good place in New Central Park to watch the meteor shower. Tonight is one of the best nights of the year for them. New Earth has some of the best meteor showers in this galaxy.”

“Dinner sounds good, and so does the meteor shower,” Wyn said as she stood up and stretched herself. “But OPERA!”

In fact, Wyn enjoyed the opera more than she expected, although she tried to keep her rebel teenage cool and not admit it. The meteor shower was interesting, too. But she didn’t enjoy it quite as much.

“You know,” she admitted. “I feel kind of tired. Would you mind if I went back to the TARDIS?”

“I’ll come with you,” The Doctor offered. “When you’ve seen one meteor shower you’ve seen them all.” He looked around at Alec and Jasmin and told them not to be up too late and then he took Wyn’s arm. “They’ll be happier on their own anyway,” he said to her.

“Snogging,” Wyn said dismissively.

“Snogging isn’t a bad way to spend the night,” The Doctor pointed out. “Done a bit of that in my time. They’re young and in love. No harm in that.”

“Doctor, you’re a total girl sometimes,” Wyn told him.

“Yeah, I know,” he laughed. “Hopeless romantic.”

“Maybe you’ll regenerate as one next time.”

“Doesn’t work that way,” he said. “My DNA is definitely male.”

“Probably just as well. Must be weird enough for Time Lord wives when their husbands get a new body, without them turning into a woman.”

“Never thought of it that way before.” The Doctor smiled as he considered the idea. He remembered a few high ranking Time Lords he knew in the past, misogynists to the last, the sort who had tried hard to stop the females of his race from even becoming Time Lords. Most of them didn’t have wives. They lived for the dust-dry political machinations of the High Council. Being regenerated as a woman would be their worst nightmare.

They would have to have some new ideas for a start.

Then he thought of one of the nastiest women he had ever known. The Rani. Whatever anyone believed about the soft side of feminine nature was thrown out of the window by her cruel, hard, evil mindset. Would she be worse if she was a man?

On the whole, it was probably just as well that Time Lords kept the gender they were born with.

They reached the TARDIS and The Doctor made cocoa. They drank it together in the console room before Wyn said she was going to bed. The Doctor said he would wait up a little longer to see Alec and Jasmin home safe.

He turned down the lights after she had gone to bed and sat quietly in the console room. The green glow of the console itself made it look strange, but it was a strangeness he was well used to by now. He looked around idly, wondering if he could get used to a different console room now. It had changed very dramatically in his last couple of regenerations, reflecting the changes in him. It had shocked him at first to see his own dark side represented in solid form, but he was used to it now and couldn’t quite imagine going back to the purely ‘space ship’ look it used to have.

Whatever it looked like, it was HIS TARDIS, home, his place of safety and calm, protected by its strong walls from the madness outside. He stretched himself out on the old sofa and lay there quietly thinking about the many times in his life when he had been glad of that protection for himself and those he cared for.

It was a little after dawn when he was disturbed in his peaceful ruminations by a frantic hammering at the door. He heard Jasmin’s voice. She was screaming and crying and the phrase ‘panic-stricken’ came very readily to mind. He reached the door in a few quick strides. As he pulled the door inwards Jasmin stumbled over the threshold into his arms.

“Doctor, I lost my key.…” It was all she managed to say before she fainted. He lifted her gently and brought her to the sofa where he had been lying. She had several deep cuts and bruises on her face and arms. Her coat was missing and both of her shoes. Her stockings were ripped at the knees as if she had fallen more than once and her dress was torn from struggling with somebody or something. There was a mark on her neck as if the chain she kept her TARDIS key on had been pulled off violently.

As much as he was concerned for her, The Doctor was worried about that. Somebody violent was out there with a key to his TARDIS, his place of safety and protection.

He adjusted his sonic screwdriver to tissue repair mode and began to gently and discreetly repair the worst of the bruises. She didn’t seem to have been harmed in any other way. But that was luck more than anything, he thought. She seemed to have had a lucky escape.

“Doctor,” she whispered as she opened her eyes. “Ooh, Doctor…” He was rather surprised and perturbed when she reached out her arms and pulled him down into a passionate kiss. He pulled away gently, wondering what had come over her. She tried to reach out to him again and he looked into her eyes as he took hold of her hands. They were wide open and she could clearly see him, but what her brain was processing behind her eyes was another matter entirely.

“What….” he began before he was startled by an angry cry and he found himself flung onto the floor. He rolled out of the way as Alec bore down on him with a knife in his hand.

“You pervert,” Alec cried. “I always knew you wanted her. I knew you’d try it on when my back was turned.”

The Doctor just about had time to notice that Alec was nearly as badly bruised and battered as Jasmin was before he had to defend himself from another knife lunge. He sprang from the floor and faced him, trying to find a way to disarm him without hurting him. Both of his friends were acting uncharacteristically. Jasmin was screaming now, and what she was saying was disturbing.

“Kill him, Doctor,” she shrieked. “Then we can be together forever. Kill him.”

“Alec, put the knife down,” he said gently, ignoring her exhortations and trying to reach through the madness in the young man’s eyes and appeal to the sanity that must still lie beneath. “Alec, please. You don’t want to kill me, or anyone. That’s not you.”

“I want to kill her,” he cried and he charged past The Doctor, his knife raised to attack Jasmin instead. The Doctor turned on his heel and grabbed him around the neck, applying a Malvorian neck pinch that rendered him temporarily paralysed. The knife fell from his hand as The Doctor span him around and held him tightly.

“Alec, come back to me,” he whispered. “You’re not a killer. You’re a decent young lad who loves to learn about the wonders of the universe.”

“I’ll kill you both!” Jasmin howled, grabbing up the knife and springing forward. The Doctor pushed Alec to the ground and covered him, expecting the blade in his shoulder any moment. Only out of the corner of his eye did he see Wyn rush across the console room and knock the knife out of Jasmin’s hand with a well judged karate kick before bringing her to the floor.

“What the bloody hell is going on, Doctor?” she asked breathlessly as The Doctor applied the same Malvorian neck pinch to a different nerve that put Alec in a not to easy sleep. He turned to do the same to Jasmin and saw her return to ‘temptress’ mode, this time kissing Wyn with the same passion. He reached and sent her to sleep and pulled Wyn upright.

“That was….” she gasped. “That was well weird. I didn’t think Jasmin swung both ways.”

“She doesn’t,” The Doctor answered as he lifted her back onto the sofa and then put a cushion under Alec’s head as he lay on the floor. “Something is affecting them both.”

“Oh, Doctor!” Wyn reached to pick up the knife. “Oh, this has blood on it. Did he… did he get you?”

“No, he didn’t. And that’s not my blood anyway.” He took the knife from her by the tip of the handle. A shocking implication occurred to them both as The Doctor moved slowly to the console. He opened a panel on the environmental console and placed the knife inside it. He closed the panel and pressed several buttons. A few minutes later data appeared on the screen. He sighed with relief.

“It’s cow,” he said. “Not Human… or humanoid. It’s animal. It’s a butcher’s knife… you said there was a barbecue. I don’t know how or why Alec has it, but I think it’s a knife from where they were preparing the meat.”

Wyn looked relieved, too. “I thought… I thought Alec had….” She saw The Doctor’s expression and knew he had thought the same thing for a long, horrible moment.

“What IS going on?” Wyn asked again. “Why are they acting nutty?”

“I don’t know.” He reached for the automatic door lock and initiated the bio-sensor alarm that would sound very loudly in his own head if anyone not recognised by the TARDIS as one of the crew tried to open the door, even WITH the right key. He very rarely used that function, but there was a key missing. He wasn’t taking any chances.

He went back to Jasmin and brought her back around again. He watched her eyes carefully and was relieved to see that they looked normal.

“Doctor,” she whispered. “What happened? How did I get here? I don’t remember….”

“Tell me what you do remember,” he said kindly, keeping one eye on Alec’s still form and hoping HE, too, would wake up sane.

“I remember the meteor shower. It was really beautiful. And then something happened. There was something that looked like a meteor, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t a spaceship. It wasn’t big enough. But it hovered over where we were. And then….” she shook her head. “I don’t know what happened. I think I remember people screaming but….”

“You’ve blanked out the memories,” The Doctor said. “Probably for a good reason. The Human brain has a strong sense of self-preservation. Will you allow me to look, though? It will help me to understand what’s going on.”

Jasmin nodded and The Doctor put his hands either side of her head and reached in gently to her recent memories. They were very confused. A blanket of self-protection had masked the worst of it and even when he penetrated that the memories were fragmented. But he saw enough.

“Oh, hell,” he murmured as he withdrew. “Oh Jasmin, love, I’m just glad you and Alec are ok. It could have been much worse.”

“Is Alec.…” Jasmin turned as he moved away from her and saw Alec lying on the floor. “What happened to him?”

“The same as happened to you,” he said. “He’s going to be all right, too.” He didn’t tell her that Alec had tried to kill him, or that she had tried to kill Alec. If neither of them retained memories of that madness then all well and good. He moved to Alec’s side and gently brought him out of his induced sleep. He looked at him with normal eyes and could remember nothing of what had happened during the night.

The Doctor was glad. What he saw in Jasmin’s hidden memories was more than two young people like them should have to remember.

“Wyn,” he said, moving to the other side of the console and calling her to him. “I’m going out,” he told her. “I want you to stay here and keep an eye on them. But…” He swallowed hard before he continued. “Take the sonic screwdriver. If they… change… again, this will send them to sleep. Try to make sure they land on something soft.”

“Doctor… do you think…?” She looked scared.

“I hope not. But just in case.” He touched her on the shoulder gently. “I know you’re up to it. The things we’ve done together, you can handle anything.”

“Thanks.” She smiled at the compliment from the one man in the universe she would EVER accept compliments from. Then he turned and stepped to the door. He paused with his hand on the lock. His place of safety and calm. Outside that door was a world that was neither safe nor calm. He knew he could as easily turn back. Go to the console and pilot them away to some safe place, to anywhere in time and space but here. But he would never do that.

The thought lingered in his mind for a micro-second before he opened the door and stepped outside.

He had a strong stomach. He was inured to almost every kind of horror. He had seen so much of it in his life. But as he picked his way through the devastated streets of New New York he thought there weren’t many things he had seen that compared to it for absolute horror.

There were bodies everywhere. Some were shot, some knifed. Some strangled.

Some hacked to death.

He stopped and took several deep breaths as he looked at the decapitated body of a young woman. She was about the same age and figure as Jasmin.

She had run back to the TARDIS with nothing worse than cuts and bruises and a torn dress. She was lucky.

There were live people picking their way through the devastation, bewildered, wandering, with blood all over their clothes and hands. The Doctor watched as a man looked down suddenly and found a long knife in his blood-stained hand. He looked around as if he had only just realised there were dead bodies everywhere and made the connection between them and the weapon in his hand. He started to scream. But nobody took heed of his screams. Those still standing were screaming themselves.

Nor was there any help forthcoming from the police. There were the uniforms of the NNYPD to be seen, but several of those were among the dead. The Doctor turned his face away from the sight of a police officer with his face blown away by a shotgun at close range. Nearby a woman in a dishevelled blue uniform looked at her own bloodstained hands and began to scream.

It was worse in the park. That was where it had all started. There the huge crowd that was watching the meteor shower had gone mad together and turned on each other. The field where the barbecue party had taken place was strewn with body parts - arms, legs, heads, torsos, entrails. He breathed in deeply and closed off his lungs. He could recycle his breathing for maybe half an hour. He wouldn’t have to smell the tinny, sharp smell of congealing blood while he searched the area for what he was looking for.

What he was looking for was in the centre of the carnage. The trouble began there and radiated out. He looked at the round metal objecte, slightly pushed down into the grass and dented on one side as if it might have been stepped on. It was a lot like a football, a round shape made up of panels of pentagons and hexagons of some kind of metallic substance. It was rather larger than the standard FIFA approved ball though - more like a small beach ball. He picked it up and it was much lighter than a football. It was empty now. It had done its work and now it was just an empty container.

He put his hand in the deep pocket of his overcoat and fished around. It wasn’t EXACTLY true that his pockets worked on the same principle as the TARDIS. They WEREN’T bigger on the inside. But he DID seem to collect a lot of things in them. If he didn’t have a clear out once a week he’d be walking around with several pounds of extra weight.

At the bottom of his pocket though, he DID find what he needed right now - a fold up string shopping bag that he had absently slipped into his pocket last week after they had unloaded their purchases from the fruit market of Villengard. It had a couple of rips in it from being tangled up with all the other junk but the alien football sat snugly in it.

As he turned to leave the park he spotted something else he needed to find. It was hanging from a hand at the end of an arm - a man’s arm – a man who worked out regularly judging from the muscle tone. The arm was hanging from a tree and the rest of the body was scattered around the base of the trunk. The Doctor reached up and carefully untangled Jasmin’s TARDIS key from the dead fingers and put it in his pocket before carrying on out of the park.

“Help!” As he reached the park gate he heard a voice calling out. A man with a desperate look on his face ran towards him. “Help, please help,” he cried. “Please… my family… my children….”

“Show me,” The Doctor said. “Quickly.”

The man turned and ran. The Doctor ran after him into an apartment block and up several flights of stairs to what seemed to be the only apartment with the door still on the hinges. He ran inside. The man stood at the door of the main bedroom breathing heavily.

The Doctor looked. There was a woman in the bed, with two small children and a year old baby cuddled up to her. They were disturbingly quiet. Beside the bed was a jug with what looked like the dregs of a very cloudy orange juice. Beside it empty blister packs and fragments of white pills were strewn.

“She gave them all an overdose of headache pills and then took a load herself. She left a note. She said she wanted to die on her own terms. She must have seen what was happening outside and….”

“SHE gave them?” There was something in his voice that made The Doctor question the story. “How did you escape what was happening?”

The man shook his head. “I’m sorry. That was a stupid lie. I did it. I don’t know what came over me. I had this feeling inside me… I felt as if my family were possessed and killing them was the only way to get rid of the devils. Then…. standing here just now… I suddenly realised…. What I’d done.”

The Doctor said nothing about his confession. He reached and picked up the baby. It was the smallest body, the smallest constitution, the first to die unless he did something quickly. He did what he knew he could do. He held the baby’s hands and concentrated hard. He could see into the tiny body, see the poison in his bloodstream. If he concentrated enough he could force it out of the child’s body. He could force the molecules of the drug to pass through the pores of the skin. He had done it before, but never on one so young. He had to do it carefully, slowly, so as not to shock his system. And there were three other victims yet. He hoped he had enough mental energy to do it.

“Good heavens!” the man said as he saw the baby’s skin take on a chalky white texture as the molecules of the drugs were expelled from his body. The Doctor put the baby in his arms to look after and turned to look at the other two children. There was a boy and a girl and his examination showed them both close to the critical point where the poison was starting to damage their bodies. He could probably save both, definitely save one.

But which one? The pretty little girl or the son, the heir. Which was the parent’s favourite? Which should he give the better chance to?

No. He wouldn’t choose. He took hold of both their hands. It was difficult, working on both together, but it was the only way to help them both at once. He could feel their pain. They were probably unaware of it themselves, but they were in pain as the drug attacked the lining of their stomachs, poisoned their liver and kidneys, poisoned their bloodstream.

He did it, slowly but surely. It was hard work. It was draining his mental and physical energy. But he couldn’t give up on either of them. He concentrated hard until their skin also took on the chalky texture that showed he had done it. He felt the little girl give a sigh and slip into ordinary sleep. He let go of her hand and concentrated on the boy. He seemed to have more of it in his system. Perhaps he drank the last of the juice, where the drug was more concentrated. It took another concerted effort before he, too, was sleeping normally.

He turned to the woman. He had to gather his remaining strength before he began. He wasn’t even sure he had it in him. She was very close to death. The poison was already causing damage to her liver and her heart was slowing.

“Please,” the man begged. “Please help her.”

“I’ll do what I can,” The Doctor answered. “But it may be too late.”


He bent over the woman. He had a slim chance of saving her. But as long as there WAS a chance he wouldn’t give up. Those children needed their mother. He put his hands over her heart and manually massaged it to keep it beating while he put his mental effort to expelling the poison from her.

“She’s going to need a doctor,” The Doctor said at last. “If you can find one. There is long term damage to her liver. But I think you can count yourself lucky.” He made the woman and her children comfortable in the bed and took the baby from the father and put him with them. Then he turned back to the father. He wasn’t angry. He knew this was no more his fault than the people down there in the street who had knifed and shot strangers and friends alike as the madness took hold.

“Do you remember anything about what happened?” he asked.

“Nicola was in bed. She said she had a headache. I was on the balcony, watching the meteor shower. Then this object came down in the middle of the crowds. Like a big, silvery ball, shining. It looked pretty at first. But then things came out of it - like insects. They stung people, and they went mad and started attacking each other. Then I felt one of them sting me. And that’s when I started to….”

The Doctor stepped out onto the balcony. It was five or six stories above ground level and had a magnificent view over New Central Park. The air was fresh and clear, but a stray insect may well have got up this high. He looked around the floor and spotted the creature. It was about an inch in size and looked not unlike a wasp except that it was silver. It was clearly dead but he scooped it up carefully with a card from his pocket. Membership of the Reform Club, London, he noted with a smile. Well, he hadn’t used that for about five hundred years.

“Now then,” he said, putting on his glasses to assist in the close examination of the creature. “What are you then? What’s this all about?” He studied it carefully for a long time. Then he dropped insect and card into his pocket and ran inside.

“WHERE were you stung?” he asked the man.

“On the balcony,” he answered. The Doctor sighed and rephrased his question.

“Where on your body?”

“Neck,” he replied. The Doctor sprang towards him and held his head back as he studied the red patch on the man’s neck. Then he turned and looked at the dressing table. There was a lady’s manicure set with tiny scissors. He grabbed them up.

“Keep still. I’m sorry, this will hurt.” He used the scissors to cut through the epidermis. There, under the red patch, was something that shouldn’t be there. He used the tweezers from the same manicure set to extract it.

“Get yourself a plaster and cover the wound,” The Doctor said as he looked for something he could use as a specimen jar. He emptied out a small vitamin tub from the same dresser and put it in before sealing the lid firmly.

“What was that?” the man asked.

“Egg sac,” he answered. “You weren’t just stung. You were injected with eggs.”

“Eggs… inside my skin… growing…. Ugghhh.”

“Ugghh about sums it up,” The Doctor said. Then his face paled in horror. “Jasmin, Alec!” He ran from the room. He came back once and looked at the man. “I never asked your name. It doesn’t matter. But… your family are alive. You’re alive. Lock all your windows and doors and stay in here until it’s safe to come out. Look after your family. They’re precious.”

Then he ran. He ran down the six floors of the apartment and out into the street. There were more police here now, trying to take control of the situation. And he noticed an effort to collect the bodies. But if he was right this night’s carnage was only the start.

Inside the TARDIS was peace and calm. Alec and Jasmin had changed their ripped and damaged clothes and were sitting together on the sofa watching a romantic film on the viewscreen. They had tuned into the local satellite TV and found the ‘golden oldies’ film channel. Wyn was sitting on the floor opposite them, playing her electric guitar with her headphone plugged into the amplifier and trying not to look TOO disgusted at the unashamed mushiness of the movie. She was also trying not to look too obvious about watching the two lovers like a hawk in case they turned murderous again.

And it could happen. The Doctor knew that now.

“Alec, Jasmin,” he said quietly. “Come along to the medical room with me. There’s something I need to check.”

“We feel fine now, Doctor,” Jasmin said as they followed him. “Really we do. I don’t know what happened exactly… only…” She blushed. “Did I kiss you?”

“Yes you did,” he told her. “And it was very nice, too. Except I would never take advantage of a girl under the influence of a mind-bending drug, and anyway, you and Alec are an item.”

“That we are,” Alec said, his arms around his girl. “Doctor… what did I do… when I was… you know…?”

“Nothing that matters,” he assured him. “Nothing worse than you might have done on a Saturday night after a few beers with the lads.”

“It felt like it. I keep thinking….”

“Don’t think about it,” he said as they reached the medical room. “None of it was your fault. Come on. Sit down there.”

He had better instruments than nail scissors and tweezers in the medical room. A full body scan located where they had both been stung by the insects and he was able to painlessly extract the egg sacs.

“Bloody hell,” Alec swore. “Those things…” He looked at the monitor picture as The Doctor put the egg sac under the microscope. Enlarged 1,000 times they could all see the eggs pulsing and growing. “How long before those things… Ugghhhh.”

“What will happen to people who still have those things in them?” Jasmin asked.

“In about four hours the eggs will hatch. The larva will feed on their flesh until they pupate and then emerge as full grown insects – the egg sac has about fifty of them in. Fifty more victims….”

He didn’t need to go on.

“And anyone bitten goes crazy and does…” Alec stopped. He could remember bits of what happened. He remembered seeing bodies, blood. “Doctor, are you sure I didn’t…?”

“I’m sure,” he assured him. “You’re not a killer, Alec. But even if you had, it wouldn’t be YOU that did it. These insects release a potent hallucinogenic into the blood of their hosts. It makes them temporarily into something they are not. But they can’t be held responsible.”

“Even so, Doctor,” Jasmin said. “The thought that we could be capable of…. Bits keep coming back.” She shuddered.

“I could erase the memory of it altogether,” The Doctor said. “I could reach into your mind and pinch it out, just like pulling a bad tooth. You’d know there was a gap and it would feel strange at first but….”

“No.” They were both in agreement. “No, we’ll manage.”

“But, Doctor, there were hundreds of people stung,” Alec said. “I remember that. The things came out of the sphere and they zoomed in on people. There was a man… an old down and out… he must have been stung a dozen times. I remember….”

“Doctor, what are you going to do?” Jasmin asked. “You ARE going to do something aren’t you?”

“Of course I am,” he said. “But I have to do it fast. Four hours until the eggs hatch… the people of this planet don’t have much time.” He looked again at the egg sac under the microscope. “I can manufacture an antidote - something that would kill the eggs off. But we have to get all the people affected into one place.”

“Doctor, you get the antidote. We’ll go to City Hall and tell them what you found,” Alec said.

“Good idea,” he agreed. “Take this.” He passed him his psychic paper.

“Doctor Alec Fitzpatrick, Doctor Jasmin Azam, University of New Manchester, immunology department?” Alec read the credentials in his hand and smiled. “We’ve graduated already.”

“We need to get everyone who was in the park all into one place,” The Doctor said. “An enclosed space big enough to contain them all - before noon. I’ll have the antidote by then and I will be ready. And tell them to get the bodies cremated as soon as possible. Preferably in an enclosed furnace.”

Jasmin and Alec nodded and went to do their part in the crisis. The Doctor turned and sat at his medical desk and began working on the antidote. Presently he was aware of Wyn coming into the room.

“They told me what was going on,” she said. “I can help. I helped Nine with a job like this once and I’ve prepared slides for my dad’s fungus experiments.”

“I’ve got it in hand,” he told her. “But pull up a chair and hold onto this for me.” He passed her a length of tube with a sort of bulbous glass bit in the middle. A liquid was bubbling through it from a vat cooking over a bunsen burner and condensing into a smaller vat. She had a feeling he didn’t REALLY need it to be held, but she did it anyway.

“Your mum used to do that sort of thing for me, you know,” he told her. “Holding test tubes, passing me my instruments. And she didn’t drop things as often as you’d expect.”

“She loved working with you,” Wyn told him. “I love it, too.” Then she became serious. “Doctor… I was looking at the news bulletins on the computer,” she said. “Five hundred people dead….”

“Yes,” he said and didn’t elaborate.

“It was REALLY as bad as it said?”

“Worse. Even in the year five billion and thirty there are laws about what can be broadcast in the name of taste and decency.”

“You saw it?”

“I’m glad YOU didn’t,” he told her. “And that Jasmin and Alec don’t remember. I know you’re a tough kid, and you’ve coped with some heavy stuff travelling with me – and with Nine. But what I saw out there…. Just don’t ask.”

“Ok, I won’t.” She put her hand over his momentarily. “What about you? Just how much gruesomeness can you look at without it getting to you?”

“I survived the giant maggots of Lanfairfach,” he answered with a grin. “If that didn’t send me to my old friend Sigmund Freud for a counselling session nothing will.”

“I can’t believe something that small did all that damage,” Wyn said as she looked at the metal ball sitting on the desktop. “What is it?”

“Ventarian death bugs,” The Doctor replied straight away. “A couple of hundred thousand years ago the Ventarians devised them as a means of fighting their enemies. They would send these things down through the atmosphere and… well, you can guess the rest. Even if only a few dozen of the insects bit a few dozen people, in a day or so they would have multiplied… They wiped out whole populations.”

“So the Ventarians launched this at New Earth?”

“No. They were wiped out themselves. These things are not much cop at navigation. One entered their OWN atmosphere, right over their main city. THIS was probably one that went astray as well, drifted into space and got caught in the gravitational pull of this planet. Sods law of course dictated that it landed in the middle of a park full of people.”

Wyn glanced at the clock. It was half past ten. One and a half hours by The Doctor’s reckoning before the deadline, when the eggs hatched.

“Will the larva kill the people?” she asked.

“No, but they’ll be eating the flesh from under their skin. I can’t think of anyone I dislike enough to want that to happen to them.”

“Not even The Master?”

“Not even him. You know, he WAS actually a cousin of mine by marriage. Nearly family. I always harboured hopes that he could be rehabilitated, become a useful member of our society. I do regret that his bitterness ran so deep. And no, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”

“You’re just too nice,” Wyn told him. “I bet he wouldn’t say the same about you.”

“No, he wouldn’t. That was always his problem.” He finished what he was doing with the pipe and the condensing vat and reached for the silver ball. Wyn followed his instructions carefully as she helped him prepare what he assured her would help the people infected by the Ventarian death bug eggs.

“Ok,” he said. “Let’s hope Jasmin and Alec have had some luck, meanwhile.” Wyn was surprised when he put the ball back into the string shopping bag and almost casually carried it.

The fate of a world was hanging in something she had put bananas in last week.

As they came into the console room the videophone buzzed. The Doctor connected the call to Jasmin’s mobile phone.

“It’s sorted,” she told him. “Most of them were in the police cells or the hospital. They were easy to round up. The mayor put out a message on the public broadcasting and the police have done a door to door. Everyone infected is being brought to the skytop restaurant that we were in last night.

“Good, fantastic, brilliant,” The Doctor said. “Enclosed space with an air conditioning system. Perfect. Come on, Wyn, let’s go save New Earth. By the way, do you still have my sonic screwdriver?”

“Right here,” she said handing it to him. “I’m glad I didn’t have to use it. They’re ok now, aren’t they?”

“Jasmin and Alec? They’re fine. Although since they’re already heading to the place where all the infected people are, they’re not exactly out of the woods.”

There was an NNYPD cordon around the base of the great tower with the skytop restaurant at the top. Police and paramedic vans were bringing the last of the infected and they were being escorted to the elevators. The Doctor instinctively reached for his psychic paper before remembering that Alec still had it. He went instead to the checkpoint and stared directly into the eyes of the officer on duty.

“I’m The Doctor,” he said. “They are expecting me upstairs.”

“Yes sir,” he answered. “Go right in.”

“Scary the way you do that,” Wyn told him. “People just obey you.”

“People who expect to be given orders obey me. I was born an aristocrat, the son of a high ranking member of our society. Subconsciously they recognise the mark of authority. It doesn’t work on people higher up the social ladder, though. Or anyone who thinks the word revolves around them – politicians, football stars, I can never seem to get my way with them.”

“Funny, but you don’t LOOK authoritative. Neither does Nine. But it DOES work, doesn’t it. He walks into a room in that old jacket, and people jump to his command. He’s brilliant that way, too.”

“Yeah, we’re one of a kind.” They stepped into the high speed elevator. As it began to rise Wyn thought she saw a flicker of uncertainty in his eyes.

“It’ll work,” she told him. “It will. You’re going to save everyone.” She slipped her hand in his and he looked at it and squeezed gently and smiled.

The restaurant was crowded, but it was oddly silent. The people sitting at the tables as it slowly revolved weren’t ordering meals. They were waiting for….

They weren’t sure. The Doctor could feel their thoughts as he stepped into the room. He saw Jasmin and Alec standing with the police and paramedics. He looked around at the people and felt their fears. Some of them seemed convinced they were going to be carted off to prison. Some were sure they were going to be executed. Very few of them really believed they were here to be helped. When he stood in the middle of the room and set the ball down on the floor he felt a sense of panic around him.

“Please don’t worry,” he said as he looked around the room. “In a few minutes the air conditioning vents will be closed off and an aerosol will be released into the air. It will fill the room. Breathe it in deeply. Don’t panic. There will still be plenty of oxygen in the air. It will be just like being in a steam room. Breathe it in. Let the cure get into your body. It will kill the eggs that you are infected with and this nightmare will start to be over. A terrible thing happened last night, and you all have to live with the consequences. But you WILL live. I promise you.”

The air conditioning stopped. The vents closed. The room almost immediately felt stuffier with so many people in it. Then the ball began to spin and rise up from the ground and as it did so, it began to release the aerosol cure. As the air began to fill with micro-droplets somebody began to scream.

“No, it's not a cure. It's a death sentence. That’s why we’re here. They’re going to kill us. It’s cyanide. It’s….”

“If it was that, why is he still in here with us?” somebody else shouted. “Don’t be stupid. Sit down. Do what he said.”

“Please do,” The Doctor said calmly. He stepped towards the man who had panicked, walking through a mist of the aerosol now. It was a strange smell, like pine mixed with almonds. He could understand why cyanide should come to mind. “You’re all going to be just fine,” he said. “Just breathe.” He took hold of the man who was panicking. He could see the place on his arm where he had been infected by the death bugs. The eggs were distinct lumps under his epidermis, but slowly they began to get smaller, to break up. A thin liquid trickled from the puncture wound where he had been bitten. The eggs were gone.

It was happening to all of the infected people around him. They saw the terrible thing under their skin break up and disappear.

“You did it,” Jasmin said, hugging The Doctor as the air conditioning was switched on and the air began to clear. “You did it.”

There was jubilation all around the room. Some people tried to shake his hand, thanking him for saving them. He was hugged and kissed by several women, and two or three men, too. His friends shared the glory.

“It’s over,” he said, breathing a deep sigh of relief. It had almost been too easy. But that made a change.

But he had counted his chickens too soon.

“Where’s Solly?” somebody said. “He was alive this morning, I’m sure.”

“Where’s who?” The Doctor turned around and found the person who had spoken. It was a middle aged woman in rather ragged clothes. It was surprising to find that there were down and outs on New Earth, but apparently, even in the far future there were people who CHOSE to drop out of society.

“Solly. He sleeps down in the park. He was there last night. I saw him. And he was around this morning, I’m sure he was.”

“The old man with the big backpack?” somebody said. “I saw him last night. He got stung about ten times. He was swatting at the things like flies.”

“He ran off,” somebody else said. “I remember him. He ran off out of the park.”

“Ok,” The Doctor said, trying to sound calm. “Where would he be if he isn’t dead and isn’t here?”

“If he’s not in the park, he’ll be down by the lakeside,” the woman said. “He likes the lake. He goes there when he wants to be alone. I think he might have wanted to be alone today.” She looked around at The Doctor. “I’m Peggy,” she said. “I’m a princess, you know. Princess Peggy of Gallifrey.”

“Pleased to meet you, Peggy,” The Doctor said with a smile, wondering where she picked up the name of his planet from. “I’m The Doctor, also from Gallifrey. We must be neighbours. You come along with me and show me where your friend would be.”

His friends came with him as he led the woman to the elevator. He turned and looked at the others. “All of you, go home. Pick up the pieces of your lives.”

“Wait a minute.” An officer in the NNYPD uniform stepped forward. “Some of these people are axe murderers.”

“There will be no charges brought,” The Doctor said. “All of these people were victims of a terrible weapon designed by foolish people who paid the price. They were not responsible for what happened. They are NOT murderers. Let them go home to what is left of their families.”

Wyn was impressed. What he had said before about authority seemed to hold strong still. The police officer instructed his men to stand off as the cured people started to move towards the elevators.

“She’s not really from Gallifrey is she?” Jasmin whispered as they descended. “Princess Peggy” looked pleased to be in their company, being the centre of attention for once in a lifetime of being ignored, one of the invisible people of the street.

“If she says she is then she is,” The Doctor answered diplomatically. “We all have our fantasies.”

“I’d hate to think what yours is, Doctor,” Alec laughed softly.

“To be the driver of an old fashioned steam train,” he said with a perfectly straight face that left them wondering if he was joking or not. He glanced at his watch as the elevator door opened. Time was running out. They had to find Solly before he became a walking incubator for the death bugs.

“Officer,” he said as he stepped towards the security cordon. “We need transport.”

Again, the authority in his eyes and his voice worked wonders. Two NNYPD cars were produced. Wyn, The Doctor and Princess Peggy went in the first car and Alec and Jasmin followed behind. The sirens were turned on and traffic moved out of their way as they headed towards the great lake that separated New New York from the mainland.

“Where does Solly hang out down here, Peggy?” The Doctor asked gently.

“Under the bridge,” she said. “But he won’t talk to you. He’ll only talk to me.”

“He’ll talk to me,” The Doctor assured her. “Everybody talks to me.”

He stopped the cars a long way from the bridge. He walked ahead with Peggy and his friends came slowly behind, ready to help if they were needed.

Solly was easy to spot as they drew near the underside of the bridge. At least if you were down on the shore looking for him. He was one of the invisible people the rest of the time. He wasn’t in the hospital or the police station after the night of madness. And he wasn’t anywhere that he would hear or see the emergency broadcast. He slipped through the net as easy as that.

“Solly,” The Doctor called. “I’m here to see you. Can I come closer?”

“He’s all right,” Peggy added. “He’s a nice man.”

The bundle of rags that anybody else would have walked past moved and stretched and resolved into a tall, stoutly built man of about fifty. He looked at The Doctor with mournful eyes. He opened his mouth as if to speak but only a grunting sound came out.

“He’s a mute?” The Doctor looked at Peggy. She nodded.

“He won’t talk to you. He talks to me.” And she began to communicate with him using a form of sign language. The Doctor watched for a few minutes then he moved slowly forward. He used the same sign language and spoke calmly to the man. He saw his eyes flicker in understanding. He signed a reply to him.

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “I know. You saw some bad things last night. Maybe you did some things yourself that you never would do otherwise. It wasn’t your fault. But you are sick still, and you need help. Will you let me help you?”

Solly nodded. Everyone understood a nod. The Doctor stepped closer. He could see the pulsating lumps under the skin on his neck, arms and on his cheek. The eggs were starting to hatch. Very soon they would start to eat him alive. And there were enough of them inside his skin to eat through to the bone.

“All right, Solly,” The Doctor said, reaching out and applying the Malvorian pinch to his neck. He caught him as he fell unconscious and laid him down on the ground before selecting the laser tool on the sonic screwdriver. There was none of the ‘cure’ left and he would have to do this the hard way.

“Don’t worry, Peggy,” he said as he looked around. “Solly will be just fine. You just wait there with my friends until I tell you it’s ok.”

Wyn and Jasmin both took hold of Peggy’s arms and held her gently as The Doctor set to work. He started with the egg sac beneath the flesh on his cheek, carefully cutting it out and repairing the damage with the tissue repair setting. He dropped the egg sacs on the ground and burned them with the laser. Slowly but surely he worked on Solly’s poor flesh until he was free of the death bug larvae.

“Come on Peggy,” he said turning around at last. “You come and look after Solly now. He’s a bit sleepy but he’s fine now.”

He stood up and stepped away as Peggy went to her friend. He was smiling broadly.

“Just look at you,” Wyn said. “Grinning. You think you’re Superman!”

“Nah, he wears stupid clothes,” The Doctor answered. “Well, I think we can go now, if you’ve seen enough of New Earth. Or we can go see New London, on the other continent. Or New Cardiff….”