“Here you go,” The Doctor said as the TARDIS materialised fully. “Killala, County Mayo, Ireland. As promised. Let’s go and see if your mum has any tea going.”

“Thanks, Doctor,” Susan answered him. “It’s nice of you to do this. I know my family seem a bit… You know… Mum walking out on dad and going off to Ireland with her new boyfriend. After you saying about how on your world you marry for life and have no concept of divorce and all that…”

“That’s MY world,” he said diplomatically. “How other people live is none of my business. Come on, let’s go see your mum. Introduce her to her future son-in-law.” He winked at Miche, who blushed and reached out his hand to Susan. The Doctor opened the door and they stepped out first. The Doctor closed the door behind them all and strode along the lonely road that ran along the edge of a rocky foreshore. Below that was the Atlantic ocean washing gently onto a long beach. “Very nice. Very nice indeed. Your mum picked a lovely spot to get away from it all.”

“Yes, it's pretty,” she agreed. She stopped at the gate of a bungalow. “This is the one. Ard… na… Ma…ra…”

The Doctor pronounced the word properly and added that it meant Sea View. They walked up to the front door.

“Who are we going to say YOU are?” Susan asked, looking at The Doctor.

“I’m The Doctor. Don’t you worry about me. I’ve got cover stories for every occasion. If you think she won’t be happy with me being a time traveller from another planet who happened to take you along for the ride.”

“I don’t think we should tell her that for the moment,” Susan admitted.

“Then I’ll play it by ear.”

His ear caught the sound of footsteps inside and the door was opened by a woman who looked the image of Susan but twenty years older. She looked at her daughter and the young man by her side, and at The Doctor and frowned.

“Mum,” Susan said. “This is Miche, my boyfriend, and this is….”

“I’m The Doctor,” he said reaching between them both to shake hands. “These two both work for me. Very pleased to meet you, Collette.”

Mrs Rawlings was on the point of asking how The Doctor knew her name. Instead she ushered them all in. Miche and Susan clung even tighter to each other’s hands as they sat on a big, squashy sofa. The Doctor sat in an armchair and sipped the tea that was passed to him while he shared a conspiratorial glance with Sean, Mrs Rawlings’ boyfriend who sat opposite him.

Sean said nothing.

Wise man, The Doctor thought.

“So how long have you two been SEEING each other?” Collette Rawlings asked. Susan said it had been about three months. She looked at The Doctor and demanded to know how he fitted in.

“What sort of Doctor are you?” she asked.

“Scientific,” he answered. “A travelling scientific troubleshooter, solving difficulties in different parts of the world. Susan and Miche both assist me in the work.”

He was quite proud of his explanation. It sounded impressive and it was more or less true. The only word that had to be substituted to make it the absolute truth was universe for world.

“Obviously neither of them choose your outfits,” she said caustically, eying his brown suit the jacket fastened by only the one button as usual.

“Mum, stop pestering him,” Susan demanded. “He’s an ok bloke. He looks after me. And we’ve travelled to loads of places and seen loads of interesting stuff.”

“I’ve not heard a word from you for ages. Then you turn up here with a MAN. Two men. Well, they can both sleep in here tonight. I can tell you that much.”

“I am sure it is a very comfortable sofa,” The Doctor said. He could spot a domestic blowing up a mile away though, and didn’t want to be the subject of one. He stood up and said he’d go and take a walk while Susan and Collette had a chat about old times. Miche stood too. So did Sean.

“Women!” Sean said with a conspiratorial wink as the three of them strolled along the sea road.


“I hope Susan’s mother will understand I have only the best intentions,” Miche said in a mournful tone.

“Course you do,” The Doctor assured him. “It’s all just a bit of a shock to her.” He sighed. Relationships counsellor was not a job he was especially qualified for. He could hardly say most of his love affairs went to plan.

But he had to admit he had more experience of just about everything than anyone else he knew. He knew he had to find something to say that would help.

He couldn’t think of anything.

“There’s some fascinating history around these parts,” Sean said, as if to change the subject. “Down this way is the Martyr’s Cave.”

“What’s that?” Miche asked.

“It was in the summer of 1798,” Sean said. “When the French were meant to come and help us liberate Ireland from English rule. The battle went awry and a group of men fled as outlaws with a price on their head. They were taken to the cave by a man of the townland, the innkeeper. It had an entrance from the top of the cliff that could be sealed by rolling a great stone over it, but the cave was open to the tide. The man promised to return and throw them down a rope before the high tide came, but he didn’t. He entertained the British soldiers in his inn and he let them drown. When finally the stone was rolled back they were gone, swept out to sea by the tide, never to be seen nor heard of since.”

“What a horrible story,” Miche said. “How awful for them waiting for deliverance and the waters rising. They must have felt so betrayed.”

“When the townspeople heard what had happened they lynched the innkeeper and burnt his inn to the ground,” Sean told them. “Which only showed how loyal to the cause of Ireland people were in these parts. The inn was a great loss to the community!”

The Doctor smiled at the little joke. But even he, who wasn’t Irish, who wasn’t even Human, found the story a gruesome one. He had encountered worse examples of cold, calculating evil in the universe, but usually it was some race that placed little value on life, like the Daleks. It never ceased to bewilder him that a race like Humans, from which the word humane, meaning kind and compassionate, was derived, managed to be so barbaric to themselves.

“Doctor,” Miche called to him. “Are you all right?”

He shook himself and smiled brightly.

“Not a good story to introduce you to our parish,” Sean conceded. “Perhaps I should have shown you the round tower of the monastery founded by Saint Patrick himself.”

The tower, in fact, was a prominent feature of the landscape. The Doctor looked up at it and smiled ironically.

“If I’m not mistaken those towers were built to hide in when the Vikings came marauding,” he said. “Another monument to Man’s Inhumanity to Man!”

“I’m afraid so.” Again Sean smiled apologetically. “But then our history is one of resistance to invaders.” He looked pointedly at The Doctor, who remembered that he had an English accent, after all. Even if he thought of himself as a neutral in the internal affairs of Earth he was PERCEIVED as a part of it.

“Humans will get it right eventually,” he said. “When you do, the universe is yours.”

Sean thought both parts of that sentence were a bit strange but didn’t comment on it. They walked on and talked about politics and history, the local fishing industry, the abysmal quality of Irish television, anything but Miche’s relationship with Susan, which was the main issue of the day.

Freud called that denial, The Doctor thought grimly.

“Why does Susan’s mother not like me?” Miche eventually said. “Have I done something wrong? Is there some rite I should have observed? Susan said it would be ‘cool’. But…”

“She’s a parent,” The Doctor assured him. “More to the point a parent of a GIRL. We all tend to think of our little girls as little girls forever. It’s a shock when you see them holding hands with a man.”

“You’ve been a parent, Doctor?” Sean asked. “You seem young to have dealt with the problems of a teenage child.”

“I’m older than I look,” he answered and gave no more information.

“Collette will come around,” Sean told Miche. “She just needs a bit of time.”

When they dared to return to the house, it seemed he was right. Susan and her mother were in the kitchen making tea. Both had red rims around their eyes as if they had done a lot of crying. The Doctor thought the situation reminded him a little of when he brought Rose home the first time after being away for a year – accidentally as it happens, but still traumatic for them both.

Except this time nobody was punching him.

So far, anyway.

And they were told to go and wash their hands and sit down at the table as if nothing had happened.

“Women!” Sean repeated.


The tea was a happier affair than anyone had expected, anyway. Collette looked as if she was burning with questions about Miche and Susan’s relationship, but she kept them all to herself. She did insist again that The Doctor and Miche were sleeping in the drawing room, but that was all.

Before bedtime they all took a walk on the beach. Sunsets in the West of Ireland were always spectacular, Sean assured them. Not just in Galway Bay as the song went.

“I like sunsets,” The Doctor said. And it was true. One of the compensations of his life was being able to see sunsets and sunrises all over the universe. Some of the most spectacular were those involving more than one sun or a combination of sunset and moonrise at the same time. Or in the case of Oria-B-Eth in the Capricorn sector, when one sun set and the other rose within an hour of each other.

The sun going down behind Mount Lœng on his own planet, with the big moon, Pazithi Gallifreya, rising in the sky to illuminate the night was always a favourite memory, if a bittersweet one.

The West of Ireland, even with only one sun, managed to put on a display that rated highly against all those more exotic locations. The Doctor enjoyed it thoroughly, even if he watched it as the odd man out of the party. He watched Collette and Sean walking a little ahead, holding hands, and Miche and Susan stopping to embrace each other. He smiled as he remembered the sunset on the Eye of Orion, when she had lamented the fact that she didn’t have a special man in her life to enjoy the sunset with. Now she did. And she didn’t need the Eye of Orion. Killala Bay was just as good.

He sighed. Another of his fledglings would flee the coop soon. THIS Susan didn’t need him any more than his own Susan had needed him when she found David.

But that was the way of it.

His reverie was disturbed by a scream. It came from Collette. Of course, she would be a screamer, The Doctor thought. But he was already running. With his Gallifreyan eyesight he could see, even in the post-sunset half-light exactly what had caused her to scream.

There was a body on the beach.

“Ok,” The Doctor said as he turned the man over into the recovery position and began artificial respiration. “Ok, I don’t think he’s…. I think…” He could feel a pulse. A very slight one. There was room for hope. He kept working. These things needed patience and calm. He was renowned for having little of the first, but he could do calm if he had to. He kept on working, willing the man to live.

“Doctor!” Susan called out. “There’s another one here.” He looked up and saw her and Miche dragging another body clear of the tide. He looked around.

“Sean, can you take over here? Do you know…”

“I’ve done first aid,” he said and he took over from The Doctor as he ran to the second victim and started the process once again. He noticed as he worked that the man was dressed in strange clothes, but he filed that under ‘to do’ in his memory as he concentrated on saving his life.

“It must have been a boat accident,” Sean said. “I wonder if…”

“Over there…” Collette called out and The Doctor looked up to see Susan and Miche both running into the water and pulling two more bodies out.

“Do what I’m doing,” he said to them and to his satisfaction both of them did so. Artificial respiration wasn’t as easy as it looked. It could VERY easily be bungled. But they did their best.

“This one’s going to be ok,” Sean shouted, and at the same time the man The Doctor was attending to gave a cough and a splutter and retched up sea water before gasping for breath. Almost immediately, though, Sean began to run towards the sea again and The Doctor ran with him to retrieve another two men. They left both on the dry part of the beach while they went back and recovered four more. Ten men in all. Three of them were sitting up now, looking confused, in shock, and very cold. But the others… five of them to attend to seven men at once. It couldn’t be done. They would lose some, surely.

Make that four of them.

“Collette?” Sean looked around to see her scrambling up the rocks towards the road. The Doctor was the first to see why. She had seen the headlights coming along the road.

A car.

No! It had to be a miracle. Or a serious case of deus ex machina. It was a minibus. As it stopped he saw the words ‘Killala Parish Social Club’ on the side.

“The old people’s bingo run!” Sean said with a laugh as he saw Collette running back with two men who turned out to be the parish priest and the deacon.

“No last rites yet, father,” The Doctor ordered. “Let’s try to save their lives before we worry about their souls.”

The Priest glanced at the man giving him orders on a darkening beach. He was used to being the one in authority in the parish. Yet this slightly built man in a sand-encrusted and crumpled suit somehow managed to make it sound as if HE was in charge.

And the Priest felt unable to put up an argument against him. He knelt by the nearest body and began life-saving. He paused long enough to send Collette to the minibus where he said there were some blankets they had been collecting for the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

With six of them working the odds were better. One by one the stricken men were revived. One remained. The last to be reached. The Doctor knelt by him and refused to give up.

“Come on, man,” he whispered. “Live. Please live. I’m The Doctor. I’m supposed to help people to live. Don’t die on me.”

“I think it's too late,” the priest said in a kindly voice. “I think you should let me…”

“No,” The Doctor answered. “No, his soul is still alive in there somewhere. I haven’t felt it die yet….”

“You haven’t felt it…” The priest looked at him in surprise by the light of a torch the deacon held to illuminate what was being done. Behind him Susan and her mother, with Sean and Miche, were helping the others to the minibus. “But you can’t FEEL somebody else’s soul…”

“I can,” The Doctor said. “And your God isn’t taking THIS one yet.” He glared at the priest, daring him to even REACH for the anointing oils he carried with him for giving the last rites to the dead. Then he smiled in triumph as he felt the man’s pulse suddenly quicken and he gasped for air. Sea water poured from his mouth as The Doctor gently held him.

“Táim ar strae.” The man said as he found his voice.

“You’re not lost,” The Doctor replied. “You’re found. Come on, let’s see if you can stand.”

“You speak Irish?” The priest asked as he watched The Doctor take his big tan overcoat off and put it around the man. “That was… that was spoken better than I can do myself. And yet… I had you down as an Englishman…”

“Questions later. Let’s get these men somewhere safe and warm.”

“The parish hall,” the Deacon suggested. “The bingo is just finished. Máire and Orla will still be tidying away. They can get the tea urn back on. And we can call Doctor Hagan from there.”

“That sounds like a plan,” The Doctor said. “Lead on.”

In the minibus, nine very frightened and shocked men were all speaking in Irish. Sean was trying to reassure them in halting phrases he had learnt at school and then forgotten in his years working in England. The Doctor looked at them all and then spoke in a soft, comforting voice. He sat the last man in a seat and fastened the seat belt around him and then sat down himself as the Deacon started the minibus.

“Sean,” he said, turning to him. “How long is it since Irish was the vernacular in this part of Ireland?”

“It was lost before the turn or the 20th century,” he answered. “Fifty years before then, Irish was the language all down the West Coast, from Donegal, right through Connaught, all the way to Kerry and West Cork. The famine, emigration, and the compulsory school system imposed by the British, forcing people to learn English to be able to work… they all took their toll.”

Yes, The Doctor thought. And the information age, the internet and satellite TV meant that even in the small pockets of Irish speakers in the Gaeltachts such as existed maybe forty miles further south of here in Galway, the people were bi-lingual. They spoke Irish out of choice, as a way of asserting their culture.

But none of these men, as far as he could tell, knew a scrap of English. They spoke Irish because it was the only language they knew. They spoke Irish as the first language that came into their heads when they came around from their ordeal in the water.

And it was old-fashioned Connaught Irish, The Doctor noted. The standard modern Irish language was derived from Munster Irish. Connaught and Munster Irish were like a Yorkshireman and one from Somerset having a conversation with each other. The modern language was more like BBC English smoothing out all the regional differences and coming up with a bland hybrid, but its origins were in the southern not the western dialect.

And these men had never heard that, either, he suspected. Connaught Irish was the only language they knew.

Which was very puzzling. And even The Doctor, who had seen just about EVERYTHING dismissed the one extremely unlikely possibility.

Máire and Orla, two middle aged ladies of the twin set and pearls type who no parish centre could do without, were still in the kitchen when they arrived. They rose to the occasion magnificently and had hot tea made while a pile of old clothes intended for the poor of the Third World was found for the still damp refugees. The Parish Priest was in his element. His knowledge of Irish and of Latin were both tested to the limit as the men all asked him to hear their Confessions in the pre-Vatican II style.

“Have you seen these clothes?” Susan picked up a wet shirt discarded by one of the men. The Doctor took hold of it and examined it carefully. It was a hand sewn shirt, made of home-spun linen. The sort of thing he wore when he was on Forêt. Dominique kept several lovingly folded up in a chest for him. But people had surely stopped wearing this sort of thing in Ireland a century ago or more.

He examined the other clothes. The trousers were of rough, serviceable homespun fabric, too. And the shoes were hand tooled on an old-fashioned cobblers awl.

None of these clothes were of the 21st century.

Susan watched as The Doctor did something very strange and just a little disgusting. He picked up the shirt again and licked the wet sleeve. Then he bent and took off one of his canvas shoes, wet from treading in the surf and licked that.

“Dare I ASK what you are doing?” she asked as he put his shoe back on and took a swig of tea to get rid of the taste of linen shirt, canvas shoe and sea water.

“Analysing. This shirt was saturated in sea water with no modern pollutants in it. The shoe was soaked in the 21st century Atlantic with a hint of oil tanker spillage, agricultural effluences and something suspicious that the local environmental protection agency should check out as soon as possible.”


“They were only in the water HERE in this time for a very short period. Before then they were somewhere or some time else.”


“Doctor….” The Deacon approached him tentatively. “I wonder… you seem to have some understanding of what has happened here.”

“Well…” The Doctor paused on the point of making a fatuous remark about being a genius, but decided now wasn’t the time. “I am starting to form a hypothesis.”

“There is something I want to show you,” he said and brought him to a room off the main parish hall that was clearly the repository of the parish records. The Deacon opened a very old register of deaths and pointed to a list of ten names all entered into the record on the same day, September 24th, 1798. The cause of death was listed as ‘believed drowned’.

He read the names.

Dónal Ó Marcaigh, Colm Ó Muirgheasa, Séan Mac Fhearadhaigh, Seoirse Ó Cuiv, Pádraig, Ó hAodha, Peadar Ó hAodha, Ruairí Mac Céile, Tomás Ó Gráda, Liam Ó Cuinn, Daibhead Ó Cinnfhaolaidh.

“Father Thomas took the names of the men while he was hearing their confessions. This is the list.”

The Doctor read the names on the sheet of A4 paper.

Dónal Ó Marcaigh, Colm Ó Muirgheasa, Séan Mac Fhearadhaigh, Seoirse Ó Cuiv, Pádraig, Ó hAodha, Peadar Ó hAodha, Ruairí Mac Céile, Tomás Ó Gráda, Liam Ó Cuinn, Daibhead Ó Cinnfhaolaidh.

“These ten men…” he pointed to the parish record.

“They’re the martyrs who drowned in the cave.”

“I just KNEW you were going to say that,” The Doctor said. “You realise what has happened here, don’t you?”

“Either a miracle of God or the work of the Devil,” Father Thomas said as he stepped into the room.

“Or a freak of nature,” The Doctor suggested.

“WHAT is it that YOU think has happened here?” The Deacon asked.

“These men fell through a rift in time,” he answered. “It happens occasionally. It happens a lot in places where a time rift gets regularly messed with. There’s hardly a week goes by in Cardiff without some confused soul turning up. Keeps the Torchwood lot on their toes, anyway. But it's the first time I’ve heard of one in Ireland. Although there’s no reason why it shouldn’t.”

“Doctor… what are you talking about?” Father Thomas asked.

“A rift in time,” he said. “Like a crack between times. These men were lost in 1798 and returned today… in.. what year is it?”

“2010,” the Deacon told him with a puzzled expression. “June 28th, 2010.”

“Exactly,” The Doctor said. “A completely random date. No neat pattern, no coincidental alignment of the stars, no anniversary. They just turn up here.”

He went back into the main room and found the one he had resuscitated last. Like his friends he was dazed and more than a little frightened. He seemed relieved to see the priest at least as he followed The Doctor. He clearly felt that this strange place with electric lights above his head, the mini bus ride, the strange clothes and voices around him, couldn’t be all that bad as long as there was a man of God there to give comfort.

He looked at The Doctor, who smiled widely and spoke to him, again in flawless Connaught Irish. Again, the sound of an accent he recognised, a language he understood, soothed his troubled mind a little.

“You’re Liam Ó Cuinn?” he asked.

“I am,” the man replied. “From the townland of Croghan.”

“And you were born…”

“March 20th, 1777,” he replied. “Sir… what happened? I remember being in the cave. The water was rising. We were sure we were going to drown. We were praying to God for deliverance….”

“And then?” The Doctor looked at him. “What happened? Do you remember?”

“No,” he said. “I only remember waking on the beach… cold, wet… you… You willing me to live. I thank you, sir, for my life. Even if… if I don’t understand why… what happened. Or where I am.”

“You’re safe,” The Doctor told him. “That’s all that matters for now. But… will you permit me to do something… a way of reaching into your mind and seeing what your memory does not see. It won’t hurt and….” He turned to the Priest. “Please assure him that what I intend is not ‘witchcraft’ or ‘demonic’ or anything in any way harmful to his soul.”

“What do you intend?” the Priest asked.

“I intend to look at his mind,” The Doctor replied.

“I think most people WOULD call that witchcraft.”

“Well, maybe. But it will help find out what happened here and how to help these men.” He looked at the priest with a firm, unyielding, yet honest gaze. The priest nodded imperceptibly and turned to Liam Ó Cuinn of Croghan.

“This is a good man, in whom you can trust,” he told him in Irish. Liam nodded and turned to The Doctor. He allowed him to put his hands either side of his head and gently probe his mind.

“Ah,” he said. “Yes, I can see it. Not so much a rift. That would be static, in one place all the time. Like the one in Cardiff. More like a tear that opened up randomly. These men fell through it and it closed, swallowing them. That’s why their bodies were never recovered back in 1798. What caused it to open up and throw them back though? I can’t see anything. As far as their bodies are aware it all happened instantly. No time passed for them within the tear.”

“And you say that’s not ungodly?” Father Thomas answered him. “People thrown out of their own time…”

“It's a matter of nature, of physics,” The Doctor insisted. “That is all. It happens more often than you think. People disappear. Most don’t turn up again. They get lost in time. These ones, they were lucky. They came back a little over two hundred years later, but at least they’re in the same place.”

“You are a strange man, Doctor. You seem to have knowledge of things beyond ordinary Human understanding.”

“Yes, I do,” The Doctor said. “So trust me. I know what I’m talking about. We need to explain it to them. It’s going to be a big shock for them. Everyone they ever knew is long dead. The world they knew is long gone. They need….”

He stopped talking. There was a noise outside the hall, getting louder. He moved to the window in time to see a Chinook helicopter landing on the driveway outside. As it touched down the tail ramp came down and the soldiers began to pour out of it, spreading out and surrounding the hall. There was an insistent hammering at the door. The Doctor moved slowly to open it. He looked around and saw the rescued men looking terrified and everyone else looking quite nervous.

“It’s not what you think,” he assured the men. “Sit tight. It's going to be just fine.”

He lifted the latch and began to open the door. It was pushed roughly from outside and he went flying backwards. As he picked himself up he stared into the barrel of a Steyre AUG assault rifle.

“Hello, I’m The Doctor,” he said brightly. “What can I do for you?”

“Stand back and put your hands in the air,” he was told as soldiers began to spread out around the hall, corralling everyone in the middle of the room. The men screamed in terror as they saw guns pointed at them. Even if the uniforms were far different from the redcoats they had fought they recognised soldiers when they saw them. The priest demanded to know what was happening. Susan actually kicked one soldier in the shins as he tried to make her sit down. There was a yell from the kitchen and two soldiers retreated backwards away from Orla and Máire armed with a boiling kettle and a teapot.

“Everyone sit down and shut up,” the Lieutenant who thought he was in charge demanded.

“Stop scaring them and they might,” The Doctor replied, squaring up to him. “Who are you and why are you here?”

“Lieutenant Patrick Logan, IDF, attached to U.N.I.T. This is a U.N.I.T. operation.”

“Is it now?” The Doctor answered. “I’m The Doctor. I’ve worked with U.N.I.T. many times. The British section, obviously. But same difference. So why don’t you tell me what this is all about.”

“This is a classified operation, I don’t have to tell you anything,” Lieutenant Logan replied.

“True, you don’t HAVE to tell anyone anything,” The Doctor answered. “But these are civilians whose liberty you are denying and martial law has not been declared in this country. So it would be a matter of COURTESY to explain what it's all about.”

The Lieutenant looked at The Doctor and briefly considered shooting him, then reconsidered, realising he was right.

“This is a matter of national security,” he announced to the room in general. “We have traced a non-terrestrial threat to this place.”

“Non-terrestrial?” The Doctor laughed. “Typical U.N.I.T. Getting it wrong again. You have a monitoring station watching the shores, I suppose. Good idea seeing as the Sea Devils still have hibernation caves all around the British Isles. You picked up an anomaly. The tear in time, and you assumed aliens have landed.”

“That is what we have to ascertain. And until we do this building is quarantined, so everyone sit down and be quiet, including you, whatever your name is.”

“I told you, I’m The Doctor,” he said.

“Sir…” The Lieutenant turned as one of his Warrant Officers approached. He was operating a hand held machine about the size of a portable DVD player which The Doctor recognised as a fairly primitive lifesigns monitor. He pointed the probe attached to it at The Doctor. “Sir, everyone in the room appears to be Human… except….”

“Oh bloody hell!” The Doctor exclaimed as he raised his hands.

“No!” Susan exclaimed as she realised what was going on. “No, you can’t arrest him. You need him. We all need him. He’s the only one who can help make this right. He’s The Doctor.”

“Just a minute?” It was Susan’s mother who spoke up. “You’re saying HE is an alien?”

“He is?” Sean looked at him too. “But…He can’t be.”

“I am,” he admitted. “I AM an alien. But I’m on your side. And you have completely the wrong idea about what’s going on here.”

“Put him in one of the back rooms, with a guard,” the Lieutenant said.

“No,” Susan protested. “Look, he’s an alien, yes, but he’s not a bad alien. He helps people on Earth. He helps EARTH. He’s saved it loads of times. Mum, he’s saved ME from really nasty stuff. And… listen… call somebody… somebody in your government. Get them to call the British government. The Prime Minister of Britain knows us. We went to TEA with Harriet. She can tell your government that The Doctor is a good alien.”

“Never mind about Harriet,” The Doctor said. “She doesn’t need to be bothered at this time of night. Just get on to your HQ and give them Code 9 TS-12-467-894-32.”

The Lieutenant looked at him suspiciously.

“That’s a top level code. Where did you…” He turned to the Warrant Officer and told him to check it out anyway. Meanwhile a strange hiatus came over the scene. The Doctor stood with his hands up as a half dozen guns pointed at him. The priest spoke quietly to the refugees, trying to calm them. Susan and her mother, Sean and Miche sat with them. So did Orla and Máire, still holding their ‘weapons’ and wielding them in a threatening way every time one of the soldiers came close.

“Sir,” the Warrant Officer said after the hiatus had continued for several minutes. The Lieutenant turned to him and listened to what he said. Then he turned and looked at The Doctor who was smiling triumphantly.

“Apparently you outrank me,” the Lieutenant said as he waved to his men to lower their weapons. “I am to give you every assistance in resolving the situation here.”

“That’s more like it,” he answered.

“What IS the situation here?” the Lieutenant asked wearily. The Doctor took a deep breath and told him.

“You’re kidding!” The Warrant Officer exclaimed. “You mean those men really are…”

“Yes,” The Doctor said in an exasperated voice, wondering how often he had to repeat himself. “They’re alive, they’re confused. They have no idea yet exactly what happened to them. You lot are scaring them to death. They need….”

“Are there any called Hughes… or… Ó hAodha it would be in Irish. Two brothers…”

“That would be those two,” The Doctor said, pointing to two young men with sandy-brown hair who sat close to each other. They looked scared, but they seemed to take comfort in the fact that they were together.

“My great, great, great, great grandmother was the sister of the two brothers who drowned. It’s part of our family history. They’re… I’m related to them.”

“Go and talk to them,” The Doctor said to the Warrant Officer. He did so.

“Now what?” The Lieutenant asked.

“Now, seeing as you have the place in lockdown anyway, you can organise what they need. For a start, a complete vaccination programme. Smallpox, Polio, Tuberculosis, MMR, you name it, they need it. They have no immunity to any of the diseases modern Humans don’t even think about. They need trained counselling by people who can communicate with them properly to help them come to terms with being thrown two hundred years forward in time. And I’m certainly not going to be the one to tell them that your politicians still haven’t resolved the issue they were fighting for all those years ago.”


“No buts, see to it,” The Doctor answered and then he turned and walked away. His eye fell on Susan and her mother. He went to them.

“How are you holding up?” he asked. Susan smiled at him. Collette frowned. He was curiously reminded of Jackie Tyler and wondered if he should prepare to be thumped.

“You’re really an alien?” Collette asked.

“Yes, I am, but that’s nothing for you to worry about. I really am one of the good guys.”

“Do you have green blood?”

“Reddish orange actually. Green is a surprisingly rare colour for blood. Although I’ve seen quite a lot of purplish-blue and yellow. The Ha’grians in the Delta V system have a rather amazing azure shade. And the Jadik change their blood colour according to their mood. It’s rather amazing watching one of them get angry…”

“Is he making all that up?” Collette asked Susan.

“Probably NOT,” Susan answered. “I’ve seen some weird stuff with him. But mostly out there people are all right. On Miche’s planet everyone is Human, but they live in tree houses….”

“He’s an alien too….”

“No, Miche is a Human colonist on another planet. Same as uncle Phil is still from Lancashire even though he lives in Australia.”

“I’m the only bone fide alien in this room, Collette,” The Doctor assured her. “And I’m only here to help.”

“Did you cause this… did you make this happen?” She looked at the Ó hAodha brothers talking with their descendant. She saw the other men who had gathered around the priest as he tried to explain about life in the year 2010 and assure them that electric light wasn’t the work of the devil and that the soldiers were actually Irishmen in an Irish army and the British no longer had a price on their heads.

“No,” The Doctor assured her. “What could I do to make this happen? I…” He stopped. “Oh…”



He looked around and found the Lieutenant again.

“The non-terrestrial threat you identified. When did it first show up on your radar or scanner or whatever it is you have?”

“About 1400 hours,” the Lieutenant said. “The disturbance continued until approximately 2200 hours, shortly after nightfall, by which time we had obtained authorisation to move in and contain the situation. The original disturbance had dissipated by then, but we traced an echo of it to this location.”

“Yeah,” The Doctor nodded. “Ok, thanks. As you were, soldier. Keep up the good work.”

He returned to where his friends were sitting. Susan and Miche were now having a long conversation with Collette about whether Miche intended to marry Susan and if so, would they live on Earth or on Forêt. That was a question The Doctor was very interested in, also, but just now he had other things on his mind.

“Doctor?” It was Sean who spoke to him. “You seem a bit worried. I mean… there’s a lot to worry about, obviously. But… more worried.”

“I think this is my fault. Or the fault of my TARDIS anyway.” Sean looked blank. “My time and space travelling machine. It's parked down on the sea road. We walked right past it earlier but everyone was too busy worrying about their domestic problems to wonder why an English police telephone box was sitting by the roadside in County Mayo. You Humans are so good at missing what is right in front of your faces, it might as well have a big sign on it saying ‘alien technology’. It’d probably just get clamped for illegal parking.”

“Doctor…. Do you usually ramble like this when you’re uptight?”

“Yes, I do,” he said. “My friends are always telling me to stop. I just can’t help it. It's a bad habit but…” He grinned. “Sorry. The point is, I think my ship might have developed a tiny, itsy little fault. Something even I didn’t detect. Usually it is invisible to every scanner, radar, sonar and burglar alarm on this planet. I come and go all the time and even Torchwood don’t spot me, and they’re REALLY trying. But for some reason, this time, there was a trace. The U.N.I.T. boys picked it up. And I think it is very possible it's the reason why the men were pulled out of the time tear again. I mean… it is kind of a big coincidence this happens the very day I arrived…”

“I thought that was just their good luck. But you’re saying…”

“It’s my fault they’re here. Which means they’re my responsibility. I have to decide what happens to them.”

“You said TIME and space machine….”

The Doctor grinned.

“You WERE paying attention. That’s another thing about Humans. Sometimes you hear words without listening to them.”

“Yeah, but Doctor, you’re rambling again. How about we get back to the point. You have a TIME machine. So the simple answer to this problem is you take them back to where they came from.”

“Drop them back into their own timeline and forget all about them?”

“Yes. After all, they belong there.”

“They’re DEAD there. They’re in the parish register. Presumed drowned. And if they didn’t drown, they still have a price on their heads. I can’t….”

Among the many titles accorded to the Time Lords, along with Princes of the Universe, Lords of Time, Guardians of Destiny, was the less exalted Wardens of Causality. What that meant was that they WERE supposed to prevent things like this happening, and when they DID happen, they had to put them right again.

Which meant his job was to drop those men back into a cave that was rapidly filling with sea water and let them drown.

Or leave them somewhere else in their own time and maybe they would be captured and killed by the British soldiers as rebels.

Or maybe they would live and get married, have children…

And that was nearly as dangerous to causality as them dying. Because it meant causality had to open a gap to fit them in.

Causality didn’t like doing that. That’s why the universe had nearly folded in on itself when Rose wanted to stop her dad from being killed.

But the first and second scenarios were the most likely. The men would die.

After he had worked so hard to ensure they lived. He looked at the Ó hAodha brothers, talking animatedly with their great, great, great, great, great nephew and Liam Ó Cuinn, who he had nearly lost down on that beach.

No, he wasn’t going to throw them back.

But then what….

Again his train of thought was brought to a halt by a noise outside. Not choppers this time, but cars pulling up and then voices raised. He went to the window. So did the Lieutenant and Warrant Officer Hughes.

There were at least a dozen vehicles of different types, including a mini, a Land Rover and a tractor of all things. A crowd of civilians were demanding entry into the parish hall. The soldiers on guard outside were remonstrating with them.

“Who are these people?” The Lieutenant demanded.

“Er… well, the lady with the hat who is giving Sergeant Keavy a tongue-lashing is my mother,” Warrant Officer Hughes admitted.

“She’s a forceful woman,” The Doctor observed as he saw her push the Sergeant’s gun aside, compelling him to take several steps back from his original position.

“That’s why I joined the army,” The Warrant Officer admitted. “I figured drill sergeants wouldn’t shout as loud. It was a close thing!”

“Tell them they can come in,” The Doctor said. “But tell them that if they do, they can’t leave again until everyone is vaccinated and cleared by the medical officers we are still waiting for.”

The Warrant Officer detailed an NCO to deliver the message. Nobody could call him a coward, but he just knew his mother would assume this was all his fault.

“She’s your mum,” The Doctor said to him with a wink. It's her job to blame you for everything.” Then he turned and looked at the people who streamed into the hall. He saw the Deacon greet them with the parish record and the list of names he took down before. He began to explain to them that they were, each of them, the living descendents of one of the ten Killala martyrs. And then he introduced them to their ancestors. There was a certain amount of disbelief, but they all slowly accepted the truth.

Humans could also be the smartest race in the universe, The Doctor noted. That’s why he loved them.

There was no question about taking the men back now. Causality was opening up and making a space for them, here, in 2010. There were a lot of tears being shed. But there were a lot of hugs easing the tears. Men who seemed to have nothing left, because everything they had was 212 years away, found that they had families who were ready to take them to their hearts and homes.



He extricated himself from the crawl space underneath the TARDIS console and looked up to see Susan and Miche standing there, holding hands.

“Hello, lovebirds,” he said with a smile. “I’ve sorted the problem. The TARDIS must have incurred some damage to the waveform manifold when we had that ion storm in the vortex a few months back. It was what made us visible to U.N.I.T.’s probes and opened up the tear in time when we materialised here. We can get going after tea if you’re ready.”

“I’m not ready, Doctor,” Susan told him. “Doctor… I… we…”

“Sean has offered me a job in his garage,” Miche said. “It’s not quite the same as being a weaver and spinner of silk, but it is interesting work. I think I could be happy as a mechanic.”

“And I could get a job on the local paper. I phoned Nancy and Sarah Jane. They’re both happy to give me a reference. And I can spend time with mum and… Oh, I know you talked about going to Kallo V’Asel to see its triple aurora, but the sun going down on Killala Bay with Miche with me would do me just fine. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Mind!” He forced a smile. He forced himself to be happy, genuinely happy. “Of course I don’t mind.” He hugged her tightly. “Have a fantastic life, Susan. I mean it.” He turned to Miche and shook hands with him. “You take care of her for me. Susan’s are precious things, you know.”

“I know that, Doctor. She’s special to me.”

“Don’t go just yet, will you?” Susan begged. “At least stay for tea.”

“I’ll do that,” he promised. “Father Thomas is coming to let me know how all the men are settling down with their new families. He’s working hard to get them all jobs, too. Fair play to him.”

“You’ll be all right, won’t you, Doctor?” Susan asked him.

“Yeah, course I will. Me and the TARDIS, out there with the universe to explore, worlds to discover, new people to meet. And Dominique is always there for me when I feel really lonely. I’ll let her know how you’re doing, Miche.”

“Come back and see us, won’t you?”

“Yes,” he promised. He remembered making the same promise to his own Susan, with some clever, dramatic words that sounded impressive at the time. And he hadn’t kept that promise.

This time he meant to keep it.