“Ahhhh,” The Doctor drawled, almost like a sigh, but slightly happier than that. “The Eye of Orion. Yes, just the place. I could REALLY use an hour or two there.”

“Eye of Orion?” Susan looked at him expectantly. “I know Orion’s Belt. Orion the Hunter…”

“Yes, the Eye of Orion is a planet that orbits the star called Meissa in that sector of space that appears as the constellation Orion from Earth’s viewpoint. The name is fanciful of course, which tells you that Humans named it. MY people called it XZ56Y6F.”

“Call me biased, but I like the Human name better.”

“So do I, in point of fact,” The Doctor replied. “My lot could be just a bit BORING at times. Although their system does make it easy to catalogue the billions of stars and the octillions of planets orbiting them.”

“Octillion? Is there such a word? I don’t believe it.”

“It’s a cardinal number equivalent to ten to the power of twenty-seven,” he answered. “If you don’t believe me, Google it.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” she said. She looked from him to the viewscreen. “It’s a pretty looking planet, from here at least.”

“It’s beautiful. I should come more often. Mind you, the last time I tried I got yanked into a nefarious little plot by a demented Time Lord who wanted to be immortal.”

“Have you ever been ANYWHERE without trouble turning up?” Susan asked.

“Oh, yes,” he assured her. “Lots of times.”

“Name one.”

The Doctor apparently went conveniently deaf.

But he was right. It WAS a very nice planet.

The TARDIS landed by what looked like an old ruined church. Something very old, with roughened stones barely held together by the remains of their ancient mortar and the ivy that overwhelmed it everywhere, reaching its tendrils into every crack it could find.

There was one complete archway, through which a deep, green valley was framed. Susan felt herself drawn to it, inexorably, as if stepping through it would bring her into something very wonderful.

It brought her to the top of a heather and gorse covered hill. She breathed deeply the clean, fresh air that felt to her like air does after a thunderstorm.

The Doctor explaining that the feeling was caused by bombardment of positive ions in the atmosphere did not detract from the feeling that it was a magical place.

“I suppose you don’t believe in magic?” she said as she stood and looked out over the valley. A bird flew gracefully up into the sky.

“The Lark Ascending,” The Doctor murmured.

It wasn’t a lark, of course, since they were indigenous to Earth, but Susan felt she knew what he meant.

“Picnic,” he said. “That’s what we need. A nice picnic. Stay there, I’ll get some things.” He turned and ran back to the TARDIS. She sat down among the sweet smelling heather and sighed blissfully. It WAS nice here.

The Doctor quickly found what was needed. A picnic basket which he loaded with tasty things to eat, cheese, slices of ham, tomatoes, bread, fruit, cake, a bottle of wine, glasses. Groundsheet to sit on. Plates, cutlery.

Corkscrew! He said to himself and found one. On the way back to the console room he looked in the lumber room and found an old fashioned wind-up gramophone with the very piece of music he felt he wanted to hear just now.

He was cheerful as he set off back to where he left Susan.

“Well, about time,” she said. “How long does it take to make up a picnic?”

“Ten minutes,” he answered. “How long do you make it?”

“An hour and a half. I was starting to wonder…”

He put down the basket and took her hand. He looked at her watch and compared it with his own. She was right. An hour and a half had passed.

“Ohhhh!” he groaned. “There’s a temporal shift at the archway. I never even noticed. The positive ions dampen my usual sensitivity to that sort of thing.”

“Temporal shift?”

“Time goes by at a different speed this side of the archway to where we left the TARDIS,” he explained. “Oh, don’t worry. It isn’t dangerous. Unless you were REALLY hungry when I went to get the food.” He started to lay out the picnic. Susan helped him and they both settled down comfortably. He wound up the gramophone and it played a gentle piece of classical music that seemed to fit the mood of the place exactly.

“The Lark Ascending,” The Doctor said as he poured two glasses of wine and handed one to her. “Vaughn Williams.”

“Take your word for it,” Susan answered. But it was nice music and nice wine, and nice food. Worth the wait.

Nice company, too. She looked at The Doctor as he sat near her. He looked so much more relaxed here. His brown hair fell across his forehead in a boyish way and his eyes twinkled and his mouth faintly smiled at some thought that carried him away from that time and place.

“Penny for them?” she said.

“Not sure they’re worth that much,” he answered. “Just the random musings of an old man who forgot, for a moment that he was old, and felt 200 for a little while.” He looked around at the archway in the ruin and his expression changed again. “I’m also thinking about the time shift, wondering how it came about. I never noticed anything like that here before.”

“You said it wasn’t important.”

“It’s not. But it's interesting all the same. I’m a scientist after all. A thing like that… I can’t resist it. Moth to a flame. I can’t help it.”

“Try!” she insisted. “It’s too nice to worry about that kind of thing. I feel SO chilled out.” She lay down in the grass and looked up at the sky. It was pale blue like a winter morning on Earth, but as warm as late springtime. The trees she saw in the distance, though, were all in full leaf like summer.

Seasons probably didn’t mean anything here, of course. She felt as if this planet was always warm, with a sun at just after noon in a blue sky. She felt as if time would never pass here.

“Oh, it does,” he assured her. “The day is fifteen hours long. An hour is about forty minutes by your reckoning. It will be sunset in a few hours.”

“Can we stay?”

“Course we can,” he told her. “That was the plan. Soak up some lovely positive ions, watch the sun go down, a bit of star-gazing, and then watch the sun come up again on a brand new morning. Lovely. And nothing trying to kill us, eat us, take over our minds or generally cause a nuisance.”

“We’ll need a bigger picnic if we’re going to stay that long,” she said. “A flask of tea wouldn’t go amiss.” She looked back at the archway and the TARDIS beyond it. “But we’ll go together this time. I don’t like the idea of you being in a different time to me. What if it's 20 years before you come back the next time?”

“I doubt it's THAT erratic,” he said. “But you could be right. We’ll see the sunset first then nip back for supplies.”

It was surprising how fast it did take for the sun to go down. When they arrived Susan reckoned it to be about half-past one in the afternoon. By the time The Doctor returned with the picnic it was more like 3ish, tea time. By the time they had leisurely eaten the food and finished the bottle of wine it was starting to look like six o’clock on a summer evening. The sun was still warm but it had dropped lower and the shadows were longer. The view over the valley changed every minute as those shadows lengthened. The great forest covering the shoulder of the long hill that cut it off to the south-west looked darker and more wild and mysterious.

Slowly the sun dropped lower, and as it did the sky took on the most amazing shades of red and orange, brown, deep purple and a blue-green. Susan watched it joyfully, in the knowledge that this gentle valley was on another planet, in another part of the milky way to her own sun, and that this was another sun to the one she had grown up with all her life. That made it the most fantastic sunset she had ever seen.

The sky above got darker, of course. Stars were becoming more and more visible in the deepening blue, gradually becoming black.

It got colder once the sun had gone down completely. Susan was surprised to feel The Doctor put his jacket around her.

“Aren’t you cold?” she asked as she looked at him in his white cotton shirt and tie.

“Time Lords can regulate their body temperature. It would have to be REALLY cold to bother me.”


A silence came over them for a while as they just watched the sky darken.

“It’s not fair,” she said after a while.

“What isn’t?”

“I’m standing here in a beautiful, wonderful, romantic place, watching a sunset. It’s the perfect moment to be with a man I totally fancy and share a full on, toe-curling snog.”

“Ah.” The Doctor tried NOT to smile. He tried not to have any expression at that moment, because he was acutely aware that he could very easily give out the wrong signals even by the slightest twitch of his mouth.

“Not that you’re not pretty fanciable,” she assured him. “But you’re 1,000 years old, and… and you think of me as your granddaughter and that would be weird and….” She blushed as she ran out of words.

He allowed himself to smile at last and kissed her gently on the cheek.

“When you find the right man, one who isn’t 1,000 years old, and a granddad, I’ll give you both a free trip here and make myself scarce while you enjoy the toe-curling,” he promised.

“That’s a deal,” she said with a smile. Again there was a silence. She looked up at the starry sky. It was strange to see completely different constellations. “Doctor… if we can see Orion from Earth, can we see our sun from here?”

“Oh yes,” he said. And nothwithstanding what she had said before he put his arm gently around her shoulder as he pointed to a star, not a very bright or remarkable one, but a distinct star. “Sol,” he told her. “Your sun.” Then he looked to a different part of the sky and sighed. “That star there… We’re so far away, light years away, that even though there is nothing but a black hole there now, the whole constellation gone – I can still see my own sun. But it’s just the light from it, the echo of its existence. Yours is still there, still real.”

He sighed just once and then he smiled again, banishing the sad thoughts.

“Let’s go back to the TARDIS and find that flask of tea. I’m thinking biscuits, too. Ginger snaps.”

“Sounds good to me,” Susan agreed. They turned. She gasped in surprise when she saw the archway. “Oh. Look. It’s still light over there.”

“Yes, it’s only been about an hour there, I reckon. Come on.” He took her by the hand and they stepped through the archway into mid-afternoon sunshine.

“You sort out the tea and biccies,” The Doctor told her as they stepped into the TARDIS. “I’m going to move us the other side of the archway. I’d really rather have the TARDIS in the same time zone as I am.” He looked up at her. “No, it’s nothing to worry about, still. But you know how it is…”

“Thousand year old Time Lord, thousand year old TARDIS as his best friend,” she teased. “No, you’re right. I think I’d rather it was over there with us, too.”

“The flask is in the cupboard under the microwave,” he told her retreating back as he gave his attention to the environmental console.

She returned ten minutes later with a flask, biscuits and sandwiches in a string bag she found in the cutlery drawer. He was frowning at the console.

“What’s wrong?”

“The TARDIS doesn’t seem to want to accept the co-ordinates for the other side of the archway,” he said. “It’s like she just doesn’t want to go there.”

“Tell her to stop sulking and do as she’s told.”

“I DID,” he said. “Well, there’s only one thing for it. He pressed a button and Susan felt a strange sensation, as if the air around her was somehow lighter.

“What did you just do?” she asked as she took her own coat from the hatstand and followed him to the door. He picked up his long coat from where it was casually hung over the railing and put it on as they came outside.

“I altered the virtual mass of the TARDIS,” he answered. “So we can give her a push.”

“We can what?”

“Push. You go that side, I’ll go here. We’ll push her through the archway.”

“But…” She got into position. “Doesn’t the TARDIS weigh TONS? I mean, there are hundreds of rooms inside.”

“I suppose she should weigh as much as a small planet if all of the rooms were in the real world. But the interior of the TARDIS is between dimensions. The weight of the exterior can be varied. It can weigh tons if I need it to stay put and nobody interfere with it, or it can be no heavier than a wardrobe, like now. I’m taking most of the weight. You just help guide her.”

The TARDIS slid quite smoothly over the grass. It wasn’t as difficult as she would have imagined. But as they got closer to the archway she was sure of one thing.

“It’s not going to fit,” she insisted. “It’s too tall.”

“It’s not,” he assured her. “We’ll have a couple of inches to spare.”

It was too tall. The Doctor looked at the ancient archway with an irritated expression.

“Ok,” he said. “We’ll have to tip it.” And to her horror and fascination he tipped the TARDIS over, holding it by the roof as he pushed it under the archway.

“We made it!” he cried out triumphantly as he pushed it back onto its base again. The light of the windows and the ‘Police Public Call Box’ sign were brightly lit against the darkness of the night. He patted the front door, above the phone box cupboard. “Sorry about that, old girl.”

“Doctor?” Susan was looking at the sky. “How long were we with time? The stars are all in different places.”

“Good question,” he said. “Hang on…” He slipped into the TARDIS. When he returned he was frowning.

“Two hundred years,” he told her. “Two hundred and two years and about six months, in fact. Since we were here last.”

“Well. I’m glad I came with you this time,” she answered. It was the only thing she could think of to say.

“Yes.” His reply was vague. He seemed deep in thought. “A natural shift can occur. I’ve come across it before. But one as unstable as that is a bit worrying. I mean, people could get lost.”

“Doctor, what would you have done if I hadn’t come back with you and it was that long?”

“I’d have taken the TARDIS back until it found you. Don’t worry. I wouldn’t leave you stranded.”

He sat down on a rock on the brow of the slope down the valley, looking out over the dark horizon like an advertisement for men’s outdoor clothing . Susan came and sat next to him.

“Nearly sunrise,” he said. “How about that tea and biccies?” She pulled the flask from the bag and poured two cups. Despite the strangeness of the situation it was quite cosy sitting there, drinking tea and eating biscuits and sandwiches in the early hours of a perfectly still morning. The sky was beginning to lighten beyond the hills as they watched. Soon it was light enough to see the colours of the grass and the blue of the TARDIS as it stood there, looking ever so out of place in this natural environment. The sky was tinged a warm yellow around the horizon and then, almost without warning, a sliver of light dazzled, a sliver that soon became a whole sun rising up over the land, its warming rays spreading across the valley.

As it did so, the air was filled with bird song. The dawn chorus with a vengeance. Susan had noticed, almost without realising it, the sound of night birds calling out in the dark individually, but now they were singing en masse and she saw flocks of them in the sky.

She hadn’t noticed The Doctor slip away into the TARDIS. When he returned he had the sort of expression on his face that she would have associated with a bloodhound straining at the leash to be allowed onto the scent.

“You know something?” she asked.

“I might do,” he answered. “Let’s go for a walk.”

He set off down the hill with a long legged stride that left Susan behind. He was a good twenty yards ahead of her before he noticed she was not keeping up and waited for her to catch up before setting off at a more leisurely pace.

“So what do you think is going on here?” she asked.

“Something is creating an unstable temporal shift on this planet. Its field covers most of this valley from the archway to the river down there. Which should mean the epicentre is somewhere in the middle, but I don’t see anything that could cause such a thing, yet.”

“What COULD cause it?” she asked.

“Something with a temporal drive running out of control,” he answered. “The TARDIS would do it if its core was exposed in some way.”

“So it IS something dangerous? You said it wasn’t.”

“I didn’t realise the extent of the anomaly. Now I’m WORRIED.”

“We came here for a nice time, for the peace and quiet. Last night when we were having the picnic and drinking wine it was SO nice. You never seem to have a quiet time, with nothing to worry you. When was the last time you had a holiday?”

“Me, holiday? What would I do with one of those? Can you see me lying on a beach under an umbrella with sunscreen?”

“Yes, why not?”

“Not my style.”

“But you WERE happy to be here. It was doing you good. You can’t say it wasn’t.”

“It’s still doing me good. The positive ions are still doing wonders. I feel totally chilled out. But I’m chilled out with a mystery to solve. I’m having the best holiday I could have!”

They walked along quietly for a while. He was right about one thing. It did feel nice here, still. That fresh after a storm feeling made her feel very positive and cheerful, even if they WERE on the trail of something possibly dangerous.

“Is that the thing you’re looking for?” Susan asked as they came over a small rise in the ground. She pointed to something rectangular and grey lying at a crooked angle, partially buried in the ground.

“Oh, Sweet Mother of Chaos,” The Doctor said beneath his breath as he followed her finger and saw what she had spotted even before he did. “Oh no! It can’t be.”

“What is it?” she asked. But he was running towards the object. She followed as quickly as she could. When she caught up with him he was kneeling by the object pulling at the grass and dirt around it with his bare hands. “Doctor…”

“It’s…” He looked up at her and his eyes looked haunted. “Susan… this is… what a TARDIS in default mode looks like. It CRASHED here. Badly crashed.”

“You mean this belonged to one of your people? But why didn’t he get it out again, you know, dematerialise.”

“I don’t know. I think… Help me clear the doorway. I need to get it open.”

“It’s wedged in deep. I don’t think even you could do it with your bare hands. Is there anything in the TARDIS that would help?”

“Good idea,” he said. He looked back up the hill they had walked. The TARDIS was just visible. A blue dot on the horizon. “Stay here. I’ll go get her.”

“Are you sure it won’t take 200 years?”

“We’re within the anomaly. The TARDIS will be able to reach you.”

“Ok, then. But don’t be long.”

He was as fast as he could be. He had always been good at running, even for a Time Lord. And he time folded a couple of times to give himself a little extra impetus. He wanted to get there quickly. He wanted to get into that TARDIS. He wanted to know.

He wanted to know who it belonged to and what happened and when.

Susan watched him run up the hill. Apart from the times when he blurred and ran extra fast. She saw him reach the TARDIS. Then the TARDIS began to move. She was surprised at the way it moved. She knew it could disappear and reappear somewhere else, but she didn’t know it could hover over the ground like a very unlikely helicopter. She watched it come near and land next to her. The door opened and he called to her to come in.

“I didn’t want to dematerialise just in case,” he said. “The anomaly is playing merry hell with the instruments. But since we’re right next door the next trick should be easy.”

“What are you going to do?” she asked.

“Materialise inside the other TARDIS,” he answered. “I need to know.”

“Need to know what?”

“Who’s TARDIS it was,” he answered. “And how he died.”

“It belongs to a dead Time Lord?”

The Doctor didn’t answer. Susan thought it prudent not to say anything more for now. The Doctor looked upset. She sighed. He HAD looked happy when they arrived on this planet. Now he had a haunted look in his eyes.

The TARDIS moved briefly. There was a bit of a jolt. The Doctor said it was because the other TARDIS was resisting having another relatively dimensional ship parked inside it.

“I once accidentally parked inside Nine’s TARDIS,” he said. “That was devastating. Two versions of the SAME TARDIS occupying the same space. Both our consoles blew up and it spiked every computer for a five mile radius.”


“That’s not QUITE what Nine said to me,” he grimaced. “Our dear mum would have been quite ashamed at the language.”

The moment of humour passed as he looked at the environmental console.

“No dangerous radiation. A lot of Artron energy floating about. But not enough to harm either of us.” He reached for the door mechanism and stood on the walkway for a long moment before he stepped forward.

Susan was surprised by the inside of this other TARDIS. It was so very different from The Doctor’s. It had very white, clinical walls and the console, when it had worked, looked very much more space age than the one she knew.

“Default style,” The Doctor said. “It was a Type 45. The next one up from mine.”

“What happened to it?” Susan asked. Her eye was especially drawn to the console – or what was left of it. The central column, the time rotor, was shattered. Pieces of it were strewn across the blackened remnants of the rest of the console and all over the floor.

“Oh no,” she cried as she saw something else on the floor. The Doctor reached the body before she did. He knelt, reverently, and for a long time he did nothing. He just knelt there, his hand resting on the head of the long dead Time Lord. Looking at him, Susan reckoned he must have lain there for hundreds of years. There was no moisture in the TARDIS to rot the body, no insects or animals. He had simply dried out. His face was shrunken and tight, the flesh turned like hard leather. The eyes were gone from the sockets but otherwise the body was intact. It was dressed in a cotton robe with the Rassilon seal on. Susan had noticed several like it in the wardrobe.

The Doctor sighed as he ended his respectful moment of contemplation then he stood and went to the console. He looked at the computer, but it was completely dead. There was no power going to the console at all.

“Wait one,” he said absently and ran back into his own TARDIS. Susan stood looking at the dead man and the devastated TARDIS and thought how sad it was that the man died here, alone, like this.

The Doctor returned trailing a length of cable from his own TARDIS and something that looked like a gutted laptop. He spent a great deal of time interfacing the cable and the laptop with the broken, fire-damaged machine. Susan was sure he would get nowhere. It all looked too wrecked. But suddenly there was a faint whirr and a beep and one of the TARDIS’s panels lit up. The laptop fired up and The Doctor typed at its keyboard.

“What is it?” she felt she had to ask.

“TARDISes have an equivalent of the old black box flight recorder,” he said, reaching out his arm and drawing her to him. He put his arm around her shoulder as they stood and watched in the screen of the laptop the last minutes of the life of the man who lay there on the ground.

His TARDIS was already in trouble. He was desperately trying to reach somebody who could help him. He seemed to be in touch with the military on Gallifrey, and he informed them of his desperate plight, telling them that he had taken several direct hits and had power failure in all systems. They asked who had attacked him. And he screamed the answer. The Doctor shivered when he heard the answer.

“The Dalek fleet. And it’s heading for Gallifrey. You’ve got to do something.” He cried out. “It’s too late for me. But take my warning. Find the Prydonian Renegade. The one who calls himself The Doctor. He is your only hope. With him you might have a chance against them.”

The man was weak now. He fell to the floor as his TARDIS lurched out of control and more systems failed. There was an explosion somewhere beneath the console and the time rotor disintegrated. The communication link was cut off. Almost everything was dead. Low level emergency lighting and the burning console lit the scene as the recorder kept recording.

“The Doctor is our only hope,” the man cried out again as he struggled to rise from the floor. One last signal from the console warned of an imminent landing and advised manual navigation, but he couldn’t do anything to navigate. He was dying as his TARDIS ploughed into the ground at terminal velocity. When the console beeped again and warned of dangerous radiation levels there was nobody to hear it.

“You said there was no radiation now,” Susan said to The Doctor. He didn’t answer. She put her arm around his waist and held him until he had brought his emotions under control.

“No tears,” he whispered. “A great man like that would be ashamed of me for shedding tears. Time Lords don’t cry.”

“Time Lords damn well do,” Susan thought.

“His last words… his last thoughts… were of me.” The Doctor turned and knelt by the body. “I don’t think you even liked me. You were one of those who hated the idea of my mixed blood. But you thought of me at the end. I am sorry that your faith in me was misplaced. I couldn’t do anything, either. Gallifrey is gone. I am all that is left of what we were.”

He stood and looked around as if making a decision.

“His TARDIS was VERY badly damaged when it crashed. It has been ‘leaking’ temporal waves ever since, throwing this planet’s linear time into chaos. I have to do something about that. And… besides…. He should not be left here. He deserves a more fitting end.”

With that, he became busy. He disconnected his makeshift power system and gave the laptop and the power cables to Susan to carry while he lifted the body of the dead Time Lord into his arms and turned towards his TARDIS. Susan followed quietly.

Inside, Susan watched as he placed the body on the floor gently, straightening the limbs and making him as dignified as possible.

“Did you know him?” she asked. “He knew you.”

“Yes,” he answered. “I did. Carilus Maxic Reidluum. He was an old man when I was young. He was a bit of a legend when I was at school because at a time when we were very politically isolationist and inward-looking he was so rarely home on Gallifrey. He preferred to be out in the universe, exploring, making contact with other races. I think he had a bit of an influence on me. I couldn’t wait to get out there, either.”

“He ran into the Daleks on their way to Gallifrey, and he told your people to contact you.”

“They already had contacted me,” he answered. “There was an imperative recall for all offworld Time Lords. We all came. We all answered the call when our world was in greatest need. All the renegades, all the exiles, came home, to fight the last battle on our own frontier. I went willingly. It would have been unthinkable not to go. Not to give my last breath for Gallifrey if I had to.”

“As he did?”

“Yes.” The Doctor stood and turned to the console again. He called her to his side and had her take hold of several switches in turn.

“Getting my TARDIS inside his was one thing. “I’m now going to attempt to bring HIS TARDIS inside mine. If it doesn’t work, we could turn ourselves inside out.

“Turn the TARDIS inside out… or turn US…” Susan looked at him. “Never mind. I don’t want to know.”

She did as he asked her and stood by to be turned inside out. She wasn’t. Neither was anything else. But when she looked again the dead TARDIS had materialised in front of their TARDIS doors.

“Great!” Susan whispered. “How do we get out now?”

“It won’t be there long,” The Doctor answered as he hit the dematerialisation switch. Moments later they were in space. He brought them into orbit near the star called Meissa around which the Eye of Orion orbited. The viewscreen shaded itself from the glare as it filled their view. Susan didn’t even dare to ask what The Doctor was planning to do.

“Hold on,” he said and she did so. He altered the gravity in the TARDIS. She felt as if her feet were clamped to the mesh floor. Then he reached for the door mechanism. She heard them open behind the broken TARDIS, and then he momentarily cancelled the force field that prevented decompression. The broken TARDIS was pulled out through the doors before the force field restored itself and the doors automatically shut. On the viewscreen the broken TARDIS looked tiny against the sun it plunged towards in a fast decaying orbit.

“TARDISes are dangerous things to leave lying around,” The Doctor said. “Quite apart from the temporal anomaly it was causing, the risk of some hostile elements getting hold of its technology was too great.”

“What about him?” Susan asked.

“I’m taking him home,” The Doctor replied. “This is something. You should feel privileged, Susan. This is somewhere I’ve not taken anyone else.”

She looked up at the viewscreen as the engines changed in tempo signalling that they had entered the vortex. She knew that there was a general rule about it. Red for forward in time. Blue for back.

What was green?

“A location that isn’t in time or space,” The Doctor answered. “It won’t take long.” He turned and looked at the body of his fellow Time Lord. “There should be ceremony. There should be a vigil. There should be magnificent words spoken. The best I can do is send his body to rest and his soul to peace.”

“Do you believe in a heaven?” Susan asked him. “Has he… you know…. Do Time Lords go to a good place when they die?”

“Time Lords live for thousands of years. Oblivion is a pretty good place after that. But… yes, we do have a belief in something like you would call heaven. We believe the spirits of our ancestors live on somewhere.”

“Do YOU believe in it?” Susan asked, realising that there was a difference between what Time Lords believed in and what ONE Time Lord believed.

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “I think I’d prefer oblivion. I don’t want to spend eternity answering awkward questions from my ancestors.”

And that was enough of an answer for now. The TARDIS interrupted that train of thought as they came out of the vortex. The alarm that sounded was one that didn’t sound like it should be ignored.

The Doctor switched it off and ignored it.

“It’s just telling me we’re in close proximity to the event horizon of a black hole,” he said. “As if I didn’t know that.”

Susan looked at the viewscreen and knew she was definitely privileged. How many Humans, not counting ones who travelled with The Doctor, had ever really seen a black hole. The scientists of her time weren’t even sure they knew what one looked like.

She wasn’t sure she could ever begin to tell them. What she was looking at went beyond her powers of description. It boggled her imagination.

And it filled her with sadness as she realised that this wasn’t just ANY black hole.

This was the one he had mentioned, what seemed like hours ago, though she wasn’t entirely sure.

The black hole where his own world used to be.

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “You guessed right. This is where Arcadia fell. Despite his efforts, despite mine, despite all we did.” He sighed and lifted the body and like his TARDIS he placed the dead Time Lord by the door. “Yes,” he said as he walked back. “If I had a transmat facility on board it would be much easier. But I don’t.”

Again, he altered the gravity inside the console room before he opened the doors and switched off the force field. The body of Carilus Maxic Reidluum was sucked out into the vacuum of space and as The Doctor had hoped, it began to be drawn towards the black hole. He turned the force field back on and then stepped towards the still open door. Susan followed him.

If she couldn’t describe it on the viewscreen, she couldn’t begin to tell anyone what she saw now, standing there at the door, looking out on the vastness of space from inside what LOOKED like an old fashioned telephone box.

She felt very tiny and insignificant as she witnessed the hugeness of it all.

“We’re all just tiny compared to the universe,” The Doctor said. “Time Lords managed to be bigger than most things, but even we were never more than the guardians of it. We didn’t make it. Daleks… they thought they could rule it. Even without us jamming up their plans they never stood a chance.” He paused for a long time. Then he spoke again, for a long time, this time in what Susan knew had to be his own language.

“Goodbye, old man,” he said at last. “Rest in peace with our ancestors. I’ll join you one day, but not today.”

Then he turned away and closed the door. He walked back to the console in silence.

“Things should have returned to normal at the Eye of Orion,” he said. “But I’d be remiss if I didn’t check it. How about you see what we have to make up a new picnic. I think I could soak up some of those positive ions for a bit while I’m checking.”

He smiled brightly, banishing his melancholy. Susan gladly went to do as he asked. A picnic at the Eye of Orion was JUST what she wanted, and just what HE needed.