The TARDIS HAD stopped. The time rotor was still. The engines were in ‘parked’ mode. But they were still rocking and pitching as if they were on a boat being tossed around by a wild, angry storm at sea.

“We’re on a boat, being tossed around by a storm at sea,” The Doctor announced as he gripped the handhold on the console tightly.

“I wish you hadn’t said that,” Wyn groaned. “Now I’ll be sea sick as well as time-and-space sick.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Alec pointed out. “It’s the same sort of sick whether you’re sea sick or air sick or time-and-space sick. You won’t get any more sick just from knowing the TARDIS is on a boat.”

“Can you stop talking about sick, please,” Jasmin begged. She was looking a little green, too. “For the record, I’m ok with time-and-space, but I ALWAYS have trouble with boats.”

“That’s true,” Alec added. “She got sick on the Mersey Ferry on a school trip.”

“STOP talking about sick,” Wyn yelled and then made a dash for the inner door of the TARDIS, wishing fervently that the bathroom was not such a long run from the console room. Jasmin managed another thirty seconds before she made a run for it as well.

“If they don’t make it, you’re on cleaning up duty,” The Doctor told Alec.

“Oh, please, no,” Alec answered. “Cleaning up sick always makes me sick.” The Doctor grinned a grin that clearly implied ‘Serves you right.” Alec decided to change the subject.

“WHY are we on a ship, anyway,” he asked. “And what sort of ship, when, and where?”

“Oh, I LOVE those multi-part questions Humans ask,” The Doctor replied, manoeuvring around the console to the environmental panel. “We’re on a ship because I was just a very, very tiny tad out in my steering. We’re in the English Channel, it is 2015 and he ship appears to be an eighteenth century two-masted brigantine of the sort known as a ‘square-rigger’.”

“Right, so you’re an expert on eighteenth century sailing ships?” Alec said.

“I’ve had my moments,” he answered nonchalantly. “There was the time I spent as ships medic on board the HMS Victory. Incidentally, if you want to see somebody REALLY seasick I could introduce you to my old pal Admiral Nelson.”

“I think we’ve had enough of that for the time being,” Alec told him ruefully as the girls returned from the bathroom looking decidedly ruffled.

“The first person to say ‘better out than in’ gets a kicking,” Wyn promised as she met the faces of the two men. “So where the heck are we and why?”

The Doctor repeated his information, leaving out the explanation of Square Rigging and the bit about his personal acquaintance with Admiral Nelson.

“But hang on,” Jasmin said, glad of something to take her mind off being sea-sick. “You said the year was 2015. Why are we on an eighteenth century ship?”

“We…ell,” The Doctor drawled slowly. “There could be several reasons for that. The ship could be caught in a temporal anomaly that has thrown it forward in time. Or…”

“Or your instruments could be wrong and this IS the eighteenth century,” Alec suggested.

“Well, yes, that is a possibility,” he admitted. “Shall we go and see? The fresh air will do everyone good.”

The air, in fact, was TOO fresh to do anyone any good at all. There was a gale blowing. The Doctor irritated everyone by being able to tell them by putting a finger up that the wind was coming from the south-west and it was force ten on the Beaufort Scale, and officially not a gale but a storm.

“Force twelve is a hurricane,” he added, shouting above the noise. “So this is quite impressive for the English Channel in…” he glanced at his watch. “In June. Wow. I think there’s something VERY unnatural about this. The wrong ship, the wrong weather, the wrong century…”

“Wrong everything,” Wyn commented as she looked at the people who were trying to bring the sails in and control the ship while horrendous looking waves threatened to engulf it. They were definitely NOT eighteenth century sailors.

Not unless denim jeans were invented in the 1790s.

There WERE some people who looked like eighteenth century sailors, but they didn’t seem to be doing anything except trying to keep dry and keep out of the way of the ones who WERE working.

“Who are you?” somebody asked. It was one of the eighteenth century sailors who had been too busy being ill to notice that he was doing so up against a 1950s police box.

“Stowaways,” The Doctor replied. “Who are you?” But the answer was lost as a scream rang out above the roaring of the force ten storm. The Doctor looked up to the top of the foremast and saw a man hanging by one leg that was tangled in the rigging. Another man was trying to reach him but he looked in imminent danger of falling himself.

The Doctor didn’t hesitate. His friends watched in amazement as he threw off his coat and jacket and began to climb the mast as if he was a professional sailor. Wyn and Jasmin both forgot to be sea-sick as they watched the wind buffeting him and the angle of the mast changing moment by moment as the ship broached the high waves.

“Oh my God, he’s going to die,” Alec murmured.

“He doesn’t like heights,” Wyn said. “That’s how he regenerated once. He fell from a really high place and hurt himself bad.”

“He doesn’t look like it,” Jasmin answered. “Look at him go.”

The Doctor didn’t like heights. But he was not afraid of them. He didn’t let the memory of that fatal fall that had caused his fourth regeneration stop him from doing what had to be done to save a life.

“Hey,” he said to the man as he came level with him. “How are you doing?”

“Ho…www… am…I… I doing?” The man was so surprised by the question that he stopped screaming. “I’m trapped and I think my leg’s broken.”

“I think you’re probably right,” The Doctor said. “Just hang in there a minute or so more.” He looked up above him to the yardarm where the other man was lying horizontally and trying to cut the ropes that were tangled around the stricken man’s leg.

“Don’t do that,” The Doctor yelled to him. “Those ropes are the only thing stopping him from falling.” He anchored himself in the rigging by his legs and reached out with both arms to grasp the man by the shoulders, taking the strain off his leg. “Ok, I’ve got him. Now cut it.”

The man continued cutting and The Doctor took the weight of the man fully. He pulled him across onto his shoulders in a ‘fireman’s lift’ and held him firmly but gently so as not to aggravate his broken leg as he slowly descended. He looked up and saw the other man coming down after him. He looked down and saw a crowd below all watching him. He was too busy worrying about the fact that it was still a long way down to take in the fact that the crowd seemed to come from two different historical periods.

He was too busy getting down safely to notice that the storm had stopped.

Just like that, the storm ended. The wind dropped, the sea calmed, the rain stopped battering him and the sun shone from a sky that was a uniform blue.

“Here, we’ve got you,” somebody said as he reached the bottom of the mast and hands reached to lift the stricken man from his back and lay him down on the ground. “Get the first aid kit,” somebody else yelled as The Doctor knelt and began to examine his injuries.

“He has a clean break across the tibula,” he announced. “There’s also a lot of damage to the anterior cruciate ligament.” He put his hands on the man’s forehead gently reaching in to block his pain receptors. The injured man looked up at him gratefully as one of his crewmates brought a first aid kit and begun to put his leg into a splint.

“Get him into the sick bay,” another voice ordered, one with a sort of authority. “And get on the radio. We need helicopter rescue.”

The Doctor stood and looked around at the man who had spoken. He was dressed in twenty-first century merchant seaman’s clothes. Beside him was a man in the uniform of an Admiral of the late eighteenth century British Navy and another in a sweatshirt and jeans. He was holding a lens of the sort used by film directors to view a scene as it would appear through the camera. Behind him were two men in the same sweatshirts with the logo of a company called “Phoenix Productions” on the breast. One had a camera recording the events and the other a boom mike.

“Oh, I GET IT!” he said with a wide grin. “This is a FILM SET!”

“This is the MV Halcyon,” the man in the merchant seaman’s clothes said. “Replica sailing ship for hire to the TV and Film making industry. I’m Trevor Goss, ships captain, this is Mike Norton, star of the film, and Bryan Worthing, director. And as grateful as we all are for saving the life of one of Britain’s foremost stuntmen, the question remains - WHO THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU and why are you on my ship?”

“I’m The Doctor,” he replied. “These are my friends, Alec, Jasmin and Wyn. As to how we’re on your ship, call that a slight navigational miscalculation. I was aiming for Wembley. Alec’s a Manchester City fan and they’re in the FA cup final this year. I was planning to take him.”

“The FA Cup was in MAY,” Mike Norton told him. “It was nearly five weeks ago. City won - 3-1 after extra time,” he added enthusiastically. “But….”

“Doctor,” Wyn said as Alec and Mike started talking about football in a boring way. “Ok, this is a film set, which explains why there’s an eighteenth century ship in 2015 with guys in old-fashioned clothes. But that storm… THAT’s weird - your kind of weird.”

“Yes,” The Doctor began to say. “Do you know….” One of the 21st century crew came running towards the captain. The Doctor heard him say something about the radio being off air.

“You mean the radio’s damaged?” the Captain asked him. “The storm broke the aerial or something?”

“No,” the crewman said. “I mean the radio is off air. ALL radio. We can’t even get Rock FM. It’s as if there’s nothing being broadcast ANYWHERE. And GPS is down, too. We can’t get a lock on our position.”

“Wyn,” The Doctor said. “Nip into the TARDIS and see what our position is according to the environmental console.” She nodded and ran to do as he asked. He turned and followed the captain as he went with his crewman to find out what was wrong with his ship. The director and film star were left on deck looking as if they were neither of them sure what they were supposed to do next.

“I forgot you were a City supporter,” Alec said to Mike Norton to fill in the time while they waited to find out what The Doctor was going to do next. “I saw you a couple of times in the director’s box with the Chairman and the VIPs.”

“Yeah, I do that sometimes,” he answered. “But I prefer to be in the stands with the real fans. Same as I used to do before I was famous. Born and bred in Levenshulme. A Blue all my life.”

“Mike,” Jasmin said with a voice that seemed strangely and uncharacteristically nervous. “Could I have your autograph. I think you’re fantastic. Your last film… I loved it.”

“Magenta Brown?” he said with a smile as he took her pen and the scrap of paper she had handed him. “I’m glad you liked it.

“No, not that one,” she began. “I was thinking of….” She stopped and laughed to herself. 2015, The Doctor said. She looked at the actor again. He DID look MUCH younger than he did in the film she was thinking of, that was new out a couple of weeks before she and Alec met The Doctor in 2025. She looked around her at the sailing ship and at his uniform and ran through his film credits in her head and she realised that she had SEEN this film hundreds of times. She had it on DVD microdisc. And the two sequels.

She had never REALLY appreciated what it meant to time travel until that moment.

“See,” the radio operator said to Captain Goss. “The whole bandwidth is dead. There’s nothing. Complete silence. Not a single broadcast signal. I’ve tried every wavelength. DAB, FM, Citizens Band, even the old analogue Medium Wave and Long Wave channels. It's as if every radio station in Europe is off air.”

“But that’s not possible,” the Captain said. “Where are they all?”

“I think it’s not a question of where as when,” The Doctor said as he stepped the other side of the radio officer and pressed buttons, apparently at random. He picked up a set of headphones and put them on and listened carefully. He looked up and noticed the Captain and radio officer and crewmen all looking at him. He took off the headphones and smiled disarmingly. “Sorry, jumping in there. Should have asked if it was all right to touch.”

Captain Goss stared at The Doctor. His ship and its crew and clients were in some kind of trouble and he had an injured man who he couldn’t get any help for. Those distractions had so occupied his mind he had actually forgotten that The Doctor and his friends were not even supposed to be there.

“I still don’t know who you ARE or how you got on board my ship.”

“I’m The Doctor,” he replied and decided to go for absolute honesty since he could think of no lie that would explain his presence. “I am a traveller in time and space and my ship accidentally landed on yours in the middle of the storm. I apologise absolutely for the intrusion and ordinarily I’d be off right away and no fuss. But you do have a bit of trouble on your hands that I might be able to help you with.”

“Traveller in time and space…” Goss looked at him incredulously. “What kind of nonsense…. Look, we’re all very grateful for what you did there in the storm. But you are trespassing and unless you can come up with a better explanation I’m going to have to call the authorities.”

“What authorities?” The Doctor asked. “There’s nobody there to call.”

Goss had to concede that point.

“Do you know anything about this?” he demanded. “Did you do this to my ship?”

“No!” The Doctor protested. “Certainly not. I don’t think so, anyway. I’m almost sure I didn’t. When did the problem start?”

“The radio went off air forty minutes ago when the storm began,” the radio operator said.

“It was weird,” another man said. “One minute we were sailing in a light south-westerly and it was seven o’clock in the evening, broad daylight. The film crew were doing a stunt up in the rigging. And then suddenly it was pitch dark and we were in a force ten storm. All the equipment went dead at the same moment. GPS, weather satellite, the radio communications.”

“That was a good ten minutes before we got here,” The Doctor said, looking at his watch. “It was nothing to do with my ship. We must both have been caught up in the same time storm.”

“In what?” Captain Goss demanded.

“A time storm,” The Doctor replied. “They usually happen in deep space. There’s always one roiling about somewhere in the universe. They’re a real hazard to space travel. Ships getting caught up in them can be thrown years off course. It’s really bad for business when passengers arrive at their destinations a century late. You get smaller ones on planets from time to time. But the only one I know of on Earth is localised around Bermuda.”

“The Bermuda Triangle?” The radio operator laughed, but it was a laugh without conviction. It was hard to laugh at the most outlandish theory when he was sitting there with a radio that wasn’t even receiving white noise.

“You’re kidding aren’t you?” Captain Goss said. “Come on. This is… you’re with the film crew. They’re pulling a practical joke on me. This is for the gag reel on the DVD extras.”

“Doctor!” He turned as he heard Wyn’s voice calling. She was trying to reach him but one of the crew was blocking her way onto the bridge. “Doctor, come here. There’s something totally weird you need to know about.”

“Captain, come on,” The Doctor said as he swept past him. “This IS your ship, after all.”

“Glad you remembered,” Goss answered him. The radio operator and navigator looked at each other for a moment and then abandoned their posts to follow on.

“Doctor,” Wyn told him when he emerged on deck where she had run back to rejoin Jasmin and Alec and their celebrity friends. “According to the TARDIS we’re in the English Channel, about four miles off Plymouth….”

“Well, that’s a relief,” Goss said. “We’re only about a mile off course after all that wind.”

“….But it’s the 21st of May, 1588,” she added.

“It never is!” The Doctor said with a laugh. “Really? Well I’ll be.…”

“Er….” Brian Worthing was the one who worked it out first. “Captain, you might want to get this ship under sail and get us out of here.”

“Why?” The Captain asked. “What on Earth is.…”

“The Ships of Medina Sidonia,” Mike Norton said as he worked it out, too. “My first major film role.”

“Er….” The Captain looked between the director and actor and wondered what they were talking about and why it had anything to do with his ship.

“Oh for heaven sake,” The Doctor sighed. “Didn’t you do English naval history? May 21st, 1588, Francis Drake, Spanish Armada… big battle off PLYMOUTH.”

“Look!” Somebody yelled and the crew of the Halcyon as one ran to the port side to watch with amazement the sight of the Spanish Armada, the ACTUAL Spanish Armada, sailing towards them.

“Get back to bloody work,” The Captain yelled. He wasn’t sure he believed his eyes entirely, but what his eyes were showing him was a fleet of ships with guns aimed at the Halcyon. He thought he’d better give his eyes the benefit of the doubt for the moment. “Get this ship under full sail now. They’ll make matchwood of us if they catch us up.”

“What the hell is THAT?” Brian Worthing turned and pointed to the starboard side of the ship. The Doctor followed his finger and stared at the impossible sight of the sky half blue and in full daylight and half a clear starry night. The demarcation line between the two was sharp, as if two pieces of scenery had been spliced together.

“Aim for that,” The Doctor shouted. “Captain, get the ship turned around and aim for the darkness. It’s the way into another time zone.”

“The Armada won’t be on our tail,” The Captain said, understanding that one thing if nothing else. “Come on! Get to it.”

His crew responded, realising the urgency of the situation. The ship was quickly turned about and they raced under full sail towards the dark side.

“Doctor,” Alec said. “How do you know we’re not heading out of the frying pan and into the fire?”

“I don’t. But we don’t have much choice. Let’s get out of the frying pan and I’ll worry about the fire afterwards.” He turned and headed towards the TARDIS where it was parked amidships. Wyn, Jasmin and Alec all followed him as a matter of course. So did several other people.

“Wow!” Brian Worthing’s reaction was typical of the reactions from those who crowded in through the open door. “This is… WOW. This is really a space ship?”

“Yep,” Wyn told him. “The best space ship in the universe.”

“But it doesn’t look anything like…. I mean. I’ve had space ship sets DESIGNED. And nobody ever came up with anything like this. It’s… Wow. It’s FANTASTIC.”

“Glad you appreciate it,” The Doctor said. “But if it turns up in any film you make I will sue for copyright theft. The console room was created psychically as a visual representation of MY mind.”

“Was he feeling well at the time?” Mike asked Jasmin. “It’s kind of…”

“It’s BEAUTIFUL,” Jasmin told him. “And if you think you were privileged to sit in the director’s box at City that was nothing to being allowed to be here, in the TARDIS.”


“It’s an acronym. It stands for Time and Relative Dimensions in Space,” The Doctor explained. “It means this is a ship that travels in space and time. And yes, it’s bigger on the inside than out. That’s the relative dimensions bit. And if we’ve got a full house for the show can somebody close the door. Everyone watch that screen there. We’re about to cross time dimensions in an eighteenth century sailing ship. It should be rather interesting.”

“We’re about to be hit by cannon fire from the Spanish Armada,” Alec pointed out as The Doctor turned on the viewscreen to show them racing towards the dark part of the sea pursued by three Spanish ships. They saw cannon balls flying through the air, missing the Halcyon by inches.

“What if the Armada follows us in there?” Jasmin asked. “We don’t know WHAT century we might be going into.”

“I don’t think the seam will hold for very long,” The Doctor said looking at the console. “According to these readings it's very unstable. I think we’ll make it, but the Spanish ships are too far behind.”

The TARDIS crew and guests watched the viewscreen in near silence as the Halcyon reached what The Doctor had called the ‘seam’. They held their breath as the bow of the ship crossed from the bright day in 1588 to the dark night ahead of them. Somebody on the bridge had used some initiative and the bow light came on. They could see it in the darkness ahead as it quickly engulfed the whole ship. For a brief moment as The Doctor reversed the view they could still see the daylight of 1588 and the Spanish Armada in pursuit. And then, in an eyeblink, it was gone. One last cannon ball fell with a splash a few feet away from the ship and they were in darkness on a calm sea with a starry sky above.

Not alone though. Captain Goss gave a sudden cry and ran for the TARDIS door.

“I have to SEE this!” he yelled as he wrenched open the door and ran outside. Everyone followed, The Doctor last of all, closing the TARDIS door behind him.

“Oh my….” Wyn murmured as she went to the rail and looked out over the dark sea.

Not an empty sea. They were far from alone.

“Doctor…” Jasmin turned to him. “What date is this now?”

“It’s June 6th, 1944,” Captain Goss told her before The Doctor could begin to speak.

“Is it?” Alec asked in surprise. “Wow.”

“Yes,” The Doctor answered him. “We got away from one Armada to land amidst another one.”

“My great-grandfather was in this,” Mike Norton said. “He used to talk about it. How more than 2,000 ships carrying more than 150,000 men crossed the channel in near silence, with hardly any lights on the ships in case….”

“Get our lights out,” Captain Goss whispered loudly, his voice carrying on the night air all the same. Somebody at once ran to the bridge and ordered the bow lamp and the other lights around the ship to be turned off. The rest watched in awe as that other Armada slowly passed them by, unaware that they weren’t part of that great military manoeuvre known to the generals as Operation Overlord until it entered history as D-Day.

“My great-grandfather was there,” Alec said. “Only he didn’t make it back to tell the stories. He died trying to reach the beach.”

“My father was an able seaman on one of the ships,” Goss added. “He’s out there somewhere.”

Everyone stared in silence for a long moment. The thought of Alec and Mike’s great-grandfathers and Goss’s father somewhere in the dark heading for Normandy gave them a strange feeling.

“Is that sunrise?” Brian asked. “That light there…”

“That’s due north,” Goss answered. “It's not sunrise. Besides, it’s only about 1 am.”

“It’s another seam in time,” The Doctor said.

“Do we head for it again?” Goss asked.

“We might as well,” he answered. “Wait until these ships pass us by first though. We’re relatively safe once they’ve gone. The action is all going to be on the other side of the Channel. I need to go look at some data in my TARDIS and see if I can work out what caused this and what I can do to cancel it out and get everyone back where they belong.”

“I’ll help you,” Wyn said. “Alec and Jasmin are too busy hero worshipping your man there, the actor.”

The Doctor looked around and smiled as he saw his two young friends.

“I don’t know what the big deal is. I’ve never even heard of him.”

“You should get his autograph while you can,” The Doctor told her. “In 2013, after his debut film they started to call him the English Leonardo. And they weren’t talking about my old friend Da Vinci.”

“Hah,” Wyn replied scornfully. “That’s nothing to write home about. Who needs film star heroes? I’ve got the real thing. I’ve got you.”

The Doctor smiled warmly at her and vaguely wondered what he could possibly do to shake her faith in him. He remembered once having to do that to Ace, for reasons that she came to understand afterwards. But he had felt like a ratbag for doing it to her. The hurt in her eyes had been heartbreaking. He would hate to see Wyn hurt that way.

“Come on. Let’s see what we can do about getting Mr Film Star and his friends home.”

“The Doctor…” Brian Worthing said as he and Mike sat with Alec and Jasmin at a table in the Halcyon’s mess room. Around him the cast and crew of his film were trying to relax and not worry about being plunged into something stranger than the fiction they were used to dealing with. “Can he REALLY help us?”

“Never seen him fail,” Alec assured him. “If he can’t help….”

“But he MUST do it,” Jasmin said. “I’ve seen this film that you’re making. He must get you all back where you belong and we must be all ok.”

“You’re from the future?” Mike asked. “All of you?”

“It’s a long story,” Alec assured him.

“I’m sure it is,” Brian said with a smile. “One with BAFTA winner under the title! Tell me more about The Doctor. He’s really something. I could SO make a film out of him.”

“I don’t think The Doctor would LIKE that,” Jasmin said, though SHE liked the idea a LOT. A film about a hero like The Doctor - especially if he was played by Mike Norton. SHE would go see a film like that.

“He wouldn’t,” Alec was quite sure. “So don’t even think about it. Besides, when does science fiction win BAFTAS?”

“It would when I make it,” Brian said confidently. “So, come on. Spill the beans. Who is he exactly? What’s his name? Where is he from? How did you guys get hooked up with him?”

Jasmin and Alec looked at each other and smiled a secret smile. How could they begin to answer those questions. They didn’t even KNOW the answer to the first two, and the third wasn’t their secret to tell. As for the last question, it was a story they doubted they could EVER share with anyone.

“Are we in big trouble?” Wyn asked as The Doctor scanned through what looked like incomprehensible data. “Can we get away from this weird stuff?”

“WE could leave any time,” The Doctor pointed out. “The TARDIS is fully operational. We could be at Wembley in plenty of time to buy a hot dog and a couple of souvenir flags and soak up the atmosphere.”

“But you’d never just go and leave those people stranded and lost in time?”

“Course I wouldn’t. These are innocent people mixed up in something they have no power to control. I have to help them if I can.”

“And… can you? Do you know what’s happening?”

“Yes, and yes,” he said. “But it’s not going to happen before we hit the next seam and go into yet another time zone.” He tapped the screen and Wyn looked to see a graphic representation of another time zone fast approaching their position. “Out of the frying pan and into the fire.”

They watched on the viewscreen as they went from dark night to a bright afternoon sunshine with a completely different fleet of ships coming up the channel.

“28th of February, 1653,” The Doctor sighed. “Battle of Portland. The British navy fought for nearly a month against the Dutch for control of what was, henceforth called the ENGLISH Channel.”

“And they have cannons,” Wyn observed as they once again came under attack. She ran to the TARDIS door and saw Captain Goss ordering his people to get the ship turned into the headwind. As they did she saw another of those strange demarcations between day and night. They sailed straight for it.

“Oh, my,” she heard The Doctor say as they passed into a quiet and battleship free night. “This I HAVE to see.” He took Wyn’s hand as he stepped out of the TARDIS and guided her to the port side of the ship.

“Not another sea battle?” she asked him. “I never knew this much went on in the channel.”

“No, not a battle this time. Nothing to worry about at all. Not for us, anyway.” The Doctor looked out over the sea and Wyn followed his gaze. She saw a ship maybe a couple of hundred yards away that seemed hauntingly familiar. A big steam liner with four great funnels. It was brightly lit against the darkness and it looked beautiful as it sailed on through the night.

Wyn tried to work out why the sight of it made her feel sad.

“What’s the date now?” she asked The Doctor.

“April 10th, 1912,” he said. “About eleven o’clock at night. She left Cherbourg at half past eight to head down the channel towards Queenstown on the south coast of Ireland to pick up the last of her passengers and then off out into the Atlantic.”

“We’ve got a radio on board this ship,” Wyn said as the history clicked into place and she realised why she felt the way she did. “We could contact them. Warn them what’s going to happen.”

“They would hardly believe us,” The Doctor told her. “They believe their ship is unsinkable. Nothing anyone could tell them would make them think otherwise. Besides, some things in history just can’t be messed with.”

“It feels funny, to have actually SEEN it,” Wyn commented. She shivered. Whether from cold or something else, she wasn’t sure. The Doctor put his arm around her comfortingly. Before he turned away, telling her they should get a warm drink below deck, he raised his hand in silent salute to that other ship as it continued its fateful voyage.

Alec and Jasmin were still chatting to the film folk when they came into the mess hall. They all looked up at The Doctor and he read the guilty expressions on their faces.

“I’m not a national secret,” he said. “Jasmin, Alec, I never said you had to keep the stories of our time together to yourselves, never breathing a word to another soul on pain of death. Wyn’s mum told her stories about me at bedtime. When you have kids of your own I hope you’ll do the same. It’s all right that you told Brian everything. And I’m sure Brian’s fertile imagination will do wonderful things with what he learnt. But for heaven sake, Brian, do not write a screenplay with a time machine in it called The SIRTAD. It sounds downright silly and the acronym is meaningless.”

Brian looked at him in surprise and opened his mouth to ask a question of Jasmin and Alec.

“Yes,” The Doctor cut in. “I can read your mind. It’s a lively and imaginative one and it should be treasured. But I think your period dramas are better than your science fiction. Now, where’s the captain? I need to talk to him about getting to the bottom of this little situation.”

“Here,” Goss said, standing up from the table where he had been sitting with his own crew. “Do you know what’s going on here?”

“Yes, I do,” he said. “We were ALL caught up in a time storm, like I said. The first manifestation of it WAS like a real storm that hit your ship suddenly, right in the middle of filming that stunt up on the masthead. The atoms that make up the Halcyon and all its crew were resisting being pulled into it because they’re NOT a time machine and they didn’t want to go, naturally enough. That’s why it was so rough. But you’re too small to resist for long and it eventually just sucked you through and landed you in 1588. It tossed you into the eye of the storm as it were and you’ve been slipping from one fractured piece of time to another ever since. 1588 to 1944, to 1653, to 1912. And any minute now we’re about to hit another one.”

“Ok,” Goss said. “I think I follow you, but can we get out of it again and can we be sure it won’t happen again next time we put to sea? What’s doing it and can you stop it?”

“Oh, those multipart questions again!” The Doctor grinned manically. “Can I stop it? I don’t know. I can try. What’s doing it, I think I know now. But I don’t know who and why. And I don’t know if they’re hostile. I don’t think they are aware yet of your presence. When I alert them, they may not react well. Your ship is made of wood. I’ve never heard of a wooden ship standing up to thermic torpedoes.”

“What’s a thermic torpedo?” Brian asked. The Captain made an educated guess and didn’t like it one bit.

“What do I do?”

“Get everyone onto my ship. It ISN’T made of wood and it can withstand fairly close proximity to a supernova.”

“We have to abandon my ship?” The Captain looked upset about that. The Doctor could understand that. He would feel the same if his TARDIS was in that sort of danger. But saving lives came before saving boats, even one as beautiful as the Halcyon.

Captain Goss looked around at the people in the mess hall. The crew were ordinary people who made a living taking film and television crews out to sea on old fashioned boats to make authentic looking action scenes. Their idea of adventure and danger was sailing into a bit of bad weather.

The rest of the people on board were actors, stuntmen, camera and sound men, make up artists, hairdressers, costumers. They MADE adventure happen as an illusion for the silver screen and talked about it on the DVD commentary.

But he thought he understood The Doctor’s point.

“If we don’t deal with this problem we’ll be stuck here forever,” Goss reasoned. “Bouncing around in history. Sooner or later we might run into the Armada again and their cannons WILL hit us. Besides, what if some other ship gets caught up in this time storm, some fishing trawler from Newlyn or a liner going off on a cruise full of passengers.”

“I COULD take you all to safety in my ship, drop you all off in Plymouth. But that way you’d definitely lose your ship and the time storm would still be out there and I’m not sure I could get back into it again afterwards. The thing about a time storm is that it has no set co-ordinate in time and space. You can’t pin it down. It would still be there causing a hazard to sea traffic.”

“So we’d save our own skins but I’d have lost the Halcyon and other ships could still be in danger.” Captain Goss looked at The Doctor with a studied gaze. “I speak for my crew at least, if not for Brian and his people. We can’t do that. If there’s another option, I think we should try it.”

“Go for it, Doc,” Brian Worthing told him on behalf of his own people. The Doctor turned to him with a gleam in his eye.

“NOBODY calls me Doc,” he said. “And no, that won’t make a great catchphrase for your hero.”

“Maybe not,” the film director answered him. “But we’re in. Let’s find out what this is all about.”

“Ok,” The Doctor said. “Captain, make the announcement. Abandon ship. Get everyone inside the TARDIS. Somebody go and get the injured man.”

Those who had not seen the inside of the TARDIS yet were puzzled by what was going on. The Doctor smiled as he heard Brian Worthing trying to explain to his own people about dimensional relativity. He was nearly right - a VERY fertile imagination, indeed.

“Ok,” The Doctor said. “Everyone grab a piece of floor. Sorry, there’s not enough chairs for you all. I don’t usually carry this many passengers.”

Everyone sat in a ring around the edges of the console room. The Doctor looked around and saw that they were all watching him expectantly. He turned to his console and looked at the readings. He grinned as he saw them pass into yet another time zone. The date had to be another historical coincidence. But this time, at least, the waters around Plymouth were quiet. The action was further down the coast around Kent.

He moved to his communications console and sent the signal he knew would attract the attention of those causing the time storm that had tossed them all around naval history. Almost immediately, the TARDIS began to judder and shake as if something was vibrating underneath it. Captain Goss jumped up and ran to the door.

“What’s going on with my ship?” he demanded. “Let me out. I need to make sure…”

“Don’t,” The Doctor warned him.

“It’s MY ship,” he said. “Let me out of here.”

To The Doctor’s surprise the door opened. He looked at the console. It really did have a mind of its own sometimes. It ought to have locked tight against any danger.

Did that mean there WAS no danger? Was the TARDIS telling him it was ok?

“Everyone else stay put for the moment,” he said as he followed Goss.

It was daylight again in this time zone. A brisk, cool day in October, as The Doctor knew from his last reading. He saw Goss by the portside railing and joined him there.

What he saw amazed even him.

The Halcyon was rising up out of the water. Its hull was caught up between two raised sections of what was clearly a much bigger craft underneath it.

“What is THAT?” Goss asked. Behind him everyone else had come pouring out of the TARDIS to look.

“So much for stay put!” The Doctor muttered as his friends reached his side. They all watched as the bulk of the alien craft emerged from the water.

“Alien ship?” Wyn asked him. But he didn’t need to answer that. It was very definitely alien. It was like a giant flatfish apart from the two raised sections. The Halcyon was caught in them roughly midway along the back of it. It was a sort of greenish blue shade that shimmered as if it was a part of the sea. Wyn wondered if it was something to do with camouflage.

And it was BIG. The Halcyon looked like a rowing boat in comparison to it.

“THAT is what’s been causing our problems,” The Doctor said. “It’s a Callathusian ship.”


“And they are not usually hostile,” The Doctor added. “I don’t think the things that have happened to us were deliberate.” He watched as a door opened in the raised fin of the Callusthusian ship. He alone knew what to expect to emerge. His TARDIS companions were ready to expect just about anything. The rest of the Humans around him all took a step back as five Callusthusians emerged, one at a time, from the doorway.

They were definitely alien, too. They were something like eight feet tall and as thin as a normally proportioned Human man who had been stretched. Their heads were elongated and fish-like with gills stretching from the rudimentary noses to either side of the thin-lipped mouths. Their fish eyes bulged in the sockets and their skin was grey-green to match their ship. They were all dressed in long, shimmering robes that resembled fish scales and their hands and feet were webbed.

“They’re amphibians. They come from a planet with very big oceans,” The Doctor told those close enough to him to hear.

The Callusthusians stopped halfway between the doorway and the Halcyon and looked up expectantly at the Humans who looked down curiously at them.

“Captain,” The Doctor said. “You come with me.” Goss nodded to his crew to open the companion gate and drop down the ladder. The Doctor led the way. Above him the rest of the crew and passengers of the Halcyon watched in wonder as he approached the aliens.

“Greetings,” he said, bowing his head to the senior Callusthusian. “I am The Doctor. And you must be the captain of this fine vessel.”

“I am Gresh Velkar,” he replied. “The Doctor? The Lord of Time who is renowned throughout the twelve galaxies as a man of justice and mercy?”

“That would be me,” The Doctor answered with no trace of false modesty. “May I introduce the Captain of this other vessel which has been caught up in the time storm caused by your ship.” Captain Goss came forward a little nervously as The Doctor signalled to him. “You do understand that you have been responsible for disruptions in time echoing through the centuries?”

“I regret that there has been any such disruption. Our temporal engines were damaged when our ship crashed through the atmosphere of this planet. We have been attempting to relaunch and leave this place. We did not intend to alert the indigenous population to our presence.”

“How come the alien speaks English?” Mike Norton asked Jasmin as they leaned against the railing and strained to hear the conversation.

“It doesn’t. It’s speaking its own language. But The Doctor said that anyone who has travelled in the TARDIS gets a sort of free translation service from it. You hear English no matter what language is being spoken.”

“Oh. Right. That’s handy. Does it wear off? Only I’m going to the Tokyo Film Festival next month.…”

“I don’t know,” Jasmin admitted. “I think maybe not. But….” She turned her attention to what The Doctor was saying, and what the alien called Gresh Velkar was saying to him.

“Your engines are out of phase,” The Doctor was saying. “I picked up the resonances in my ship. That’s why you can’t get off this planet and why time is being affected in the locality of your ship. The Halcyon was sailing over the place where your ship was hidden on the sea bed just as you tried to launch. It was caught up in the time storm and tossed around from one temporal location to another. If I hadn’t dropped in they’d be lost in time forever.”

“I apologise,” Gresh Velkar said and he bowed his head to Captain Goss. “No harm was intended to you or your people.”

“I… er... um….” Goss looked at the Gresh Velkar and then at The Doctor. He swallowed hard.

“The appropriate response is to accept his apology,” The Doctor told him.

“Yes, of course,” Goss said. “I accept your apology. But how does that help? His ship is still damaged and ours is trapped here with it.”

“Well, you have me, the best temporal engineer in the twelve galaxies. And Wyn and Alec are both handy enough with a wrench. You’ve got technical staff. Brian, too. We’re all going to pitch in and help fix their ship, recalibrate it so that it stops emitting the disruptive resonances and then we can ALL go home.”

And that was exactly what happened. Under The Doctor’s expert direction a team made up of the Halcyon’s crew and the technicians of Brian’s film crew, stripped down the Callusthusian ship’s engine, repaired it and put it back together again in a few very busy hours. The rest of the unwitting time travellers were treated to Callusthusian hospitality, given food and drink on their mess deck, Humans mixing with Callusthusians cheerfully, and discovering that they had more in common than they thought.

When they were done the parting was quite emotional. The Doctor smiled as he saw digital cameras and hand held video cameras and even some of Brian’s film cameras brought out to capture pictures of aliens and Humans shaking hands, standing shoulder to shoulder and waving at the camera, and exchanging souvenirs. Captain Goss was very moved when Gresh Velkar offered him what he realised was a Callusthusian flag and sent one of his people to find a Union Jack to give in exchange.

Then The Doctor ordered everyone back on board the Halcyon. Velkar ordered his people to go below decks, and they hung on tight to the rails as the Callusthusian ship submerged and the Halcyon was set down in the water again. There was a disturbance in the water and a lot of wake as the Callusthusians moved their craft from under the Halcyon and then began to ascend again, this time faster than before. When they broke through the water they kept on going, rising vertically into the sky until the great ship looked no bigger than an airliner. The Doctor looked up and smiled and waved.

“Good journey,” he whispered as the Callusthusian ship accelerated away. Then he turned and told everyone to get back into the TARDIS.

“The time storm is over,” The Doctor said when they were all gathered in the console room. “But the current date is October 14, 1066. William the Conqueror arrived a bit further up the coast so we’re not going to witness any more historic ships today. Besides, I think Brian’s cameraman has got enough interesting footage. By the way, the shots he’s taken inside here will be useless. I don’t mind anyone having fond memories of visiting my ship, but it has automatic protective fields that prevent indoor photography. And incidentally, you will never win a BAFTA with a film about a time travelling detective called ‘Doctor Who???’.”

“Do you think it would be better with just the one question mark?” Brian asked hopefully. “Or maybe no question mark. Then it’s a sort of double meaning. It’s a question and it's his name as well….”

The Doctor just grinned enigmatically and turned to his amazing ship’s controls.

“It’ll be a bumpy ride, folks,” he said. “I’ve got to extend my ship’s dimensional field to include the Halcyon and then bring us all back through the time vortex to where you left off. Captain, you should know there’s a fifty-fifty chance it won’t work and your ship will be ripped apart by the temporal forces. And I’m sorry about that, because it's a beautiful ship and it will be a financial loss to you since there’s no way you can explain that to your insurance underwiters. But just cross your fingers.”

They ALL crossed their fingers. The Doctor noticed that Alec and Jasmin made sure they were sitting with Mike Norton who seemed to have become a firm friend to them now. But he needed them more than their screen idol did.

“Wyn, Jasmin, Alec, I need you three here,” he said. “Alec, grab that lever there and keep pushing it until the dial next to it reads 150. Jasmin, check lifesigns and make sure we didn’t leave anyone on deck and then keep an eye on the radiation detectors. Wyn, you’ve been with me longest. The TARDIS knows you best. I want you to take the flight control.”

“You want ME to fly the TARDIS?” she gasped. “But… you never even let MUM do that.”

“Your dad doesn’t even let your mum drive the Land-Rover,” The Doctor replied. “But we both love her to bits. You, fortunately, take after your dad a bit more. I trust you not to blow anything up, least of all me. So you take the flight control and follow my instructions. I have to stay at navigation, because we’re navigating from a position that I didn’t originally programme into the TARDIS, and we’ve got the extra weight and mass of ‘towing’ the Halcyon through the vortex. Things could be a bit tricky.”

“Tricky as in we could implode and explode at the same time or tricky in that we might overshoot and end up in the ice age?”

“The second, but since the English channel was frozen solid in the ice age I think I’d like to avoid that, too.”

He checked his readings again and then set the co-ordinate he had extrapolated from the data he had collected since they arrived in this strange situation. The TARDIS might have been parked, but it had registered its piggy back journey on the Halcyon through the different time zones and he had enough information to work out how to get them back to four miles off Plymouth in June, 2015.

He just wasn’t entirely sure if they would get there whole. The Halcyon wasn’t the only ship that was likely to be pulled to pieces if he got it wrong.

“We believe in you, Doctor,” Alec told him as his expressoon gave away his concern. He looked around and grinned and keyed in the co-ordinate.

It WAS a bumpy ride. The Doctor watched the vortex changing from the red colour that indicated they were going forward as they should be, to blue indicating that they were being pulled backwards again, to green which shouldn’t have been appearing at all. He furiously adjusted settings on the navigation panel and compensated for the extra weight of the sailing ship, wondering if the groaning sounds he could hear were the Halcyon having a rough time of it or his TARDIS engines overloading.

And then, suddenly, they dropped out of the vortex. The Doctor looked at the console and then he looked up at the viewscreen. He opened the communication channel and they heard a radio broadcast.

Rock FM.

The Doctor adjusted the frequency until he found a short wave signal trying to contact the Halcyon. He signalled to Captain Goss who came and took the microphone. He reported that they had a temporary radio fault and asked for the helicopter rescue for the man with the broken leg who was still sleeping it off in the TARDIS medical room. Other than that, he reported, all was well.

“At least I hope it is,” he added as The Doctor cut the communication. “My ship… is it….”

The Doctor smiled and opened the doors. The Captain ran outside. Again, everyone followed. The Doctor brought up the rear, stepping out into a bright sunny day. He looked up into the sky and saw the vapour trail of a jet plane high in the sky above. Everything was normal for June, 2015.

“Not a scratch on her,” The Doctor said proudly as a light breeze caught the sails. “Well, I think that’s us sorted. We’ll be off. Alec, we should be on for Wembley this time.”

Alec was the last to settle into his seat in Wembley Stadium where they were all soaking up the pre-match atmosphere. He passed hotdogs and coke along the row to everyone.

“I saw Mike Norton surrounded by Press. I was going to say Hi, then I realised he doesn’t know us yet. Isn’t it weird?”

“Time travel can do that sometimes,” The Doctor agreed. “Just as long as there isn’t a nine year old you around here. That’s when it gets complicated.”

“No,” Alec answered. “I missed it because I got chicken pox. That’s why this is so fantastic.”

“That’s why The Doctor is a way better hero than some movie star,” Wyn said, loyally.

“Doctor,” Jamin said. “If history changes ever so slightly, do our memories of it change too?”

“Yes,” he said. “Most people wouldn’t even notice that it has changed. They would accept the new version of reality. You might because you’ve travelled in the TARDIS and you’re aware of the tiny fluctuations.”

“Right. Because something just popped into my head that I’m sure wasn’t there before. Brian DID drop the three question marks and he DID win the 2017 BAFTA and he was nominated for an Oscar, too - just pipped by something by Spielberg. Mike was brilliant as you, by the way. And they didn’t call the time machine anything silly.”

The Doctor laughed and bit into his hot dog.

“Had to happen sooner or later. Good luck to them.” He grinned and sat back to enjoy the football.