They could just see the TARDIS when they looked back across the snow-covered glacier that filled the space that would, a long time from now, be Snowdon Valley. After spending a week on the winter sports loving planet of Thressia where Stella took a course in skiing and The Doctor and Wyn bought the necessary equipment, they had arrived at last in Wales in the ice age. This was the end of their first day’s cross country trek and they sat in the tent feeling the quiet satisfaction of a day’s exercise and endurance.

“THIS is amazing,” Stella said as she looked around the tent. Outside the open flap it was minus five degrees and falling, but inside they actually could take off the thermal coats. Their temporal location might have been forty-five thousand BC, but the tent came from the thirty-first century and it had special cells in the ultra-thin lining of the canvas that gave out heat without feeling hot when touched or scorching the tent.

She reached into the backpack and pulled out a small metallic disc and what looked like a bar of nougat. It had a label on it that claimed it was chicken and chips. She took a bite and enjoyed the flavour, smell, and satisfaction of eating chicken and chips without the need of cooking or washing up afterwards. When she had eaten her evening meal bar she pressed the metallic disc in the centre and it opened out into a metallic mug containing hot chocolate. When she had drunk it she folded it in her hand as if it was a foil wrapper and put it into a small bag for rubbish.

“That’s the sort of thing I always imagined doing while travelling through time and space,” Wyn said. “Eating whole meals in a chew-bar and self-assembly hot drinks. This is the first time I ever actually DID that, though. On board the TARDIS The Doctor always insists on REAL food.”

“I used a food dispenser that did the chew bars for a while when my granddaughter Susan was young,” The Doctor said. “But we both got fed up of the taste after a while. REAL chicken and chips takes a lot longer, but you CAN tell the difference. Besides, too much of this reconstituted stuff can give you constipation.”

“Is that why you were so grumpy in your ‘older’ days then?” Wyn asked with a grin. “I’ve heard stories.”

The Doctor laughed and ate a food bar from his own pack. He had planned a five day trek, and they had to carry the provisions on their backs. As much as he hated synthesised food it had its advantages.

“K9, how are you holding out?” he asked to change the subject. “Any frostbite in your paws?”

“I do not HAVE paws, Master,” K9 pointed out with his wonderful logic. “And the thermal coat you devised prevented my diodes from being unduly affected.”

Wyn and Stella looked at K9, wearing his all over dog coat of the same fabric that had protected the rest of them from the sub-zero temperature. He looked like K9 still, but quilted.

“The sun is going down and the temperature is falling,” K9 added. “It will reach as much as minis twenty before daybreak. I suggest sealing the tent now.”

“Quite right, K9,” answered The Doctor as he reached to close up the flap. The slanting sun still lit the blue box that was sitting so incongruously on the mountain at the other side of the valley. It was safe, and so were they. He sealed the tent and they were almost as secure inside its canvas dome as they were in the TARDIS.

They were warm, fed and watered, anyway, and there was a small canvas screen at the back behind which the Thressian answer to sub-zero camping toilet requirements proved just as clever and compact as the food and drink packs, but they were all happy to take that for granted and not ask any questions about how it worked.

“Isn’t it just fantastic, though,” Wyn enthused as she settled on her very comfy bedroll that didn’t feel at all as if it was only three millimetres thick. “All this great snow and not a tourist to bother us.”

“There won’t be tourists for a VERY long time,” The Doctor agreed as he settled himself down opposite the two girls.

“No animals either,” Stella added. “The whole place is just frozen, waiting for the thaw and for life to come back to it. There aren’t even birds.”

“We’re not waiting around for them,” Wyn told her. “They’ll be at least another ten thousand years. Besides, we’re sitting on a glacier. Where we are is right over the valley in our time. We’d be in empty air with a lake beneath us.”

She and her sister had both been to Snowdon before, on school trips. They both imagined the great natural changes over the centuries that would turn this icy landscape into a lush green valley with a crystal clear lake at the bottom of it, home to sheep farms and villages, camping sites and bed and breakfasts for those who like to trek up the mountains, even a steam railway that took those who didn’t want to walk to the top.

But right now there wasn’t a single living being in the land except the three of them. And that suited them fine. Two humans and the Time Lord who made all of this possible for them.

“So the ice age has another ten thousand years to go?” Stella said. Talking among themselves was their only diversion as they waited for sleep to come upon them. It was going to be a LONG time before Rock FM came on air. But that was ok, because they were travelling with The Doctor and there was always something to talk about.

“Thereabouts,” The Doctor said. “Then the glacier will start to melt and move down the valley, making it wider and deeper and leaving its meltwaters to form the lakes and rivers that make Wales green and verdant.”

“Does that happen everywhere in the universe?” Stella asked. “Was there an ice age on your planet, Doctor?”

Stella wasn’t aware of it. Wyn was, because she had known him longer. She saw the slight flinch and the flicker of his eyes before he answered that question. At least he COULD talk about his home world now. But it had been a long healing for him.

“Yes,” he answered. “But it was much further back in our history. We Time Lords were a civilised, advanced society since before Neanderthal man began to wander across the face of this planet. But yes, there was a time when at least half of Gallifrey was frozen. When it thawed the once single landmass was split in two and the southern continent emerged as a place of beautiful mountains and valleys and fertile plains. A bit like Wales, really, I suppose. The northern continent became much dryer as the climate warmed. The Great Red desert covered most of it before the capital city was established on the edge of it and some efforts were made at irrigation and reclamation of the land. But the southern parts were always lovely.”

“You’re from the south?” Stella asked him. “The green bit.”

“Yes,” he said. “I grew up as a country boy, far from the city.”

“Just like us then,” Stella noted. “But you have spent your life travelling. I guess you must have been bored with the country life and wanted excitement.”

Again, if you knew what to look for, you could see a slight twitch of the facial muscles before The Doctor answered that question.

“I didn’t always travel out of choice. And I’d swap the excitement for a quiet life any time. Just be glad you have Llanfairfach to go back to when you’re ready.”

“Well, in another thirty-five thousand years, anyway,” Wyn pointed out. “It’s a bit inhospitable right now.”

“You can always come back with us,” Stella told The Doctor. “You don’t have to be homeless.”

“I’m not,” he assured her. “The universe is my home.” He shifted his position on his bedroll and looked over at the two girls side by side in their sleeping bags, K9 in low power battery saving mode at their feet. Stella looked back at him quietly. She didn’t know it, but she, too, was the last and only survivor of a global disaster as terrible as the one that befell Gallifrey. That she thought fondly of Llanfairfach valley and Earth as home was a blessing. She was luckier than she knew.

“Goodnight, Doctor,” she said, and reached out her hand to him. He reached out his and grasped it tightly for a long moment.

“Goodnight, Stella, Wyn. Sleep well, both of you.”

They did sleep well, and woke in the morning feeling stiff after the previous day’s effort but ready to face another day of the same exertions. They breakfasted on bars of bacon and eggs and pop up coffee and packed the bedrolls, compact toilet and tent all into the rucksacks before putting on their skis and setting off once more.

It was exhilarating. It was amazing to ski across country in a world so silent and empty but for the three of them and K9 who hovered alongside Wyn easily. Far better, The Doctor thought, than the original wheeled version of him that would never have coped with this territory. Too often in the past K9 had to be left in the TARDIS because he wasn’t built for rough terrain. But now he could come with them, a real robot dog companion.

“Mistress,” K9 piped up as they trudged up an incline, the less fun part of skiing. “I am receiving unusual signals ahead.”

“What signals?” Wyn asked. “Where would you pick up signals here? This is a deserted planet.”

“Nevertheless, I am receiving electronic signals,” he insisted. Wyn looked at him and then looked up at the summit of the ‘incline’ and reached out to stop Stella, who was ready to forge ahead and be first to the top. She turned and looked at The Doctor. He was a little way behind them having slipped and then had trouble getting to his feet again with the heaviest of the backpacks.

“Doctor,” she said. “K9 thinks there’s something ahead that shouldn’t be.”

“Does he now?” The Doctor caught up with them and knelt down next to K9. “What’s up, boy?” K9 whirred and he spoke in what Wyn recognised as binary code. What surprised her was that The Doctor understood it.

He stood up again.

“Let’s go carefully,” he said. “K9 says that there is an energy source over the hill.”

“In ice age Wales?”

“Well, why not?” Stella pointed out. “WE’RE here. And The Doctor said his people were an advanced civilisation by now. surely there must be OTHER advanced people with space ships. Maybe the tourism DID start early after all.”

“Maybe,” The Doctor echoed. “That would be a good, non-sinister explanation. It would be nice, just for a change, to meet people who just want to enjoy the winter sports same as us. But just in case they’re not, we’re going to be careful.”

He took the lead as they climbed the last part of the hill. He was holding his sonic screwdriver out and moved cautiously, flattening himself down on the snow as he peered over the crest of the incline. He indicated with a wave of his hand to Wyn and Stella and K9 to follow him.

“Wow!” Stella exclaimed when she saw what was in the shallow valley that dropped away from the crest.

“Wow,” Wyn echoed.

“It is approximately 3 miles or 4.828032 kilometres away,” K9 said. “The dome has a diameter of one mile or 1.609344 kilometres, and a radius of 0.804672 kilometres. Which means that it has an area of 6.39053949853081114416497664 kilometres or approximately….”

“Four square miles,” The Doctor cut him off. “Easy as Pi!”

“It’s BIG, anyway,” Wyn added.

“Really big,” Stella said. “What is it?”

“It’s a habitation,” The Doctor answered. “Like our tent, but for more people and for a longer stay.”

“More people?” Wyn questioned. “Four square miles… that’s a small town.”

“Yes,” The Doctor agreed. “Let’s go and find out what it’s all about.”

“I just knew you were going to say that,” Stella murmured. “I hope they’re humanoid. I don’t really feel like meeting any lizard people or slug people or things with more than two arms today.”

“Some of my best friends have more than two arms,” The Doctor protested as he set off down the hill. K9 hovered by his side and Stella and Wyn followed on. “And lizard people can be charming as long as you don’t share a packed lunch with them.”

They skied down the slope easily and swiftly and reached the habitat. Its dimensions were impressive when they got close to it. It was as high as a five storey building. It was dull silver and it was ridged like an old fashioned dirigible airship, except it was a solid metal of some kind, or possibly a very strong polymer.

“This looks like a door of some sort,” The Doctor said as they walked the circumference of the habitat, which K9 was about to tell them the exact measurement of until The Doctor gave him a gentle kick.

“A locked door,” Wyn noted. “One that looks like it’s meant to STAY locked.”

“Don’t know about you,” Stella answered her. “But I always want to know what’s behind a locked door.”

“So do I,” The Doctor said with a delighted smile. “Spoken like a true TARDIS traveller, Stella!”

He took out his sonic screwdriver.

It took a long time even with the screwdriver, because he didn’t melt the locks as he did when he wanted to get into something quickly. Rather he ‘picked’ them with the sonic pulse of the screwdriver. Finally, the door sank inwards and slid sideways. He grinned again and pocketed his screwdriver and stepped over the threshold. His companions followed.

“Doctor!” Wyn gave an understandable shriek of fright as the door slid shut again behind them. The Doctor turned to look at the place where the door had been and was disturbed to find that it merged seamlessly with the wall. He could not see where they had come in.

“Oh, &#@£$%,” he murmured. “Stella, that urge to know. Sometimes, we really ought to resist it. This might have been one of those times.”

“I think you’re right,” she said with a tremble of fear in her voice.

The Doctor turned and saw what was scaring her. They were robots. Three of them. The word ‘guards’ automatically fixed in his head as a further description of the dull metallic artificial life forms that stalked towards them. They had the menacing look of robots in custodial service. And nasty looking weapons to go with them.

“Halt!” said one of the robots in the sort of staccato mechanical voice The Doctor had come to associate with mercilessness. Lower pitched than a Dalek or Cyberman, it was still, nonetheless, the voice of a being that would have no compunction about killing any being that opposed it. “Prisoners will not escape, You will be taken back to your sectors and punished.”

“We’re not prisoners,” The Doctor tried, knowing his words would be wasted. “We’re prison visitors, inspectors, making sure the cells are nice and clean and the inmates are getting enough exercise.”

His comments fell on deaf ears – assuming the robots HAD ears. Deaf audio sensors, perhaps.

The Doctor quickly considered one or two escape plans, but all of them seemed to end in at least one of them being killed before they were recaptured. He raised his hands slowly. Wyn and Stella copied him. K9 slowly backed away from the guards as they took his master and mistresses prisoner. They didn’t seem to notice him. He crept into the shadows and tried to make sure that they kept on not noticing him.

It wasn’t being taken prisoner that bothered The Doctor so much. That had happened to him plenty of times in his life. What bothered him was being a prisoner and separated from his friends. He was worried about Wyn and Stella. He didn’t know where they were. He had been force marched for at least a quarter of that circumference, along what seemed to be a service corridor between the outer skin of the habitat and the inner part which had a series of doors, all of which looked chillingly like the inner doors of some sort of prison.

A prison? In ice age Wales? Why? And for whom? He knew he wasn’t going to like the answer to the questions when he found out.

Wyn and Stella were marched in the other direction. Stella was crying softly but Wyn couldn’t do anything to comfort her. They were tightly held by the robot guards.

They came to a door that looked very little different to any of the doors they had passed. One of the robot guards reached out and pressed a series of symbols on a panel beside it and it opened up. They were pushed inside. The door shut.

Wyn looked around and felt her heart sink. This room was MEANT to make hearts do that. She was instantly reminded of one of those documentaries about the prison system in Bangkok where occasionally British people ended up for falling foul of the strict drug trafficking laws of that country. The dozen women who sat or stood or lay on the benches of the floor of the cell had the look of people who had long ago given up hope.

“Who are you?” one of the prisoners asked. “You are not one of us?”

“I think we are for the time being,” Wyn answered. She reached out and put her arm around Stella. “We found this place by accident but the robots grabbed us. We’re prisoners, now. But… where are we? What IS this place? And what have you all done to be prisoners?”

“Do you have any food?” another of the women asked. “The supply ship is late. We are on very low rations.”

They had not been searched. They were scanned to determine that they were not carrying weapons, but their thermal clothes and their backpacks had not been taken. Wyn had wondered about that, but at the mention of food she unhooked her pack and opened it up. She was carrying rations for three meals per day for one person for four days. She could feed twelve people one meal. If they were still there tomorrow, Stella had enough rations for another meal. After that….

No, she told herself. They would not be here that long. The Doctor would think of something. She pulled out the compact food packs and gave them to the women before she and Stella found a spare piece of bench to sit on.

“Now, will somebody tell us what this place is, and who you all are,” she said again.

The Doctor was brought to a place where punishment was the operative word. It was the size of a football pitch and almost every foot of it was being used for some kind of activity that on this planet in the twentieth century was described in Human Rights legislation as ‘cruel or unusual.’ There were rows of great metal tread-wheels where men were trudging like weary hamsters. There was a heavy grindstone with a turning wheel which men pushed around by the spokes they were chained to. There were men lifting rocks and carrying them to another place while other men lifted them and put them back where they started.

Machinery constantly moving by manpower, but none of it doing anything. The wheels didn’t move any water, the grindstone didn’t grind anything. It was perpetual motion for no other reason but to punish. This was not prison ‘work’ that a prisoner might take a small satisfaction in doing and which might help his rehabilitation. It was just gruelling and constant punishment.

“This one is to be confined in the punishment cube,” the robot guard who had escorted him intoned to the robot guard that took over his custody.

The punishment cube was, The Doctor discovered, a cage just about big enough for him to sit. The floor, walls and roof were metal cut into a latticework through which he could poke a finger if he really wanted to get his finger lacerated by the sharp edges. He was closed into the cube and he felt it move. Four prisoners hauled on ropes at either corner and lifted the cube towards the ceiling, some forty feet above. The Doctor noted that, having hauled the cube into place, the men were used as anchors to keep it there. That was THEIR punishment. To stand there and hold the ropes that stopped the cube plummeting to the ground. Two robot guards stood directly below to supervise them.

They didn’t say how long he was to be confined that way. If it was any length of time, then the prisoners holding the ropes would have to be rotated. Or perhaps leaving them until they collapsed from exhaustion and his punishment cube came crashing down was a part of the punishment. Perhaps it was a peculiar kind of execution. An ordinary humanoid such as those he saw below, would almost certainly break their spines in such a fall. He wasn’t even sure he fancied his own chances. His body was stronger, but it had limits.

“We are the damned,” said one of the younger women prisoners, who told Wyn that her name used to be Oli, but she had been known as 67871 for a very long time.

“How long?” Wyn asked.

“I was… four, I think,” she answered. “I don’t know. The years are hard to count.”

“She was three and a half,” said another woman, a little older, but with facial similarities that suggested she was a sister of Oli. “I was Tri,” she added. “Now I am 54636. I remember it. I was twelve. I remember when the soldiers came and told us we had half an hour to pack and go to the space station. We weren’t allowed to take our pets or any toys. We had to take clothes and food and that was all. We were all scared. Oli was crying. So was I. My mother was crying. My father and my brother tried not to cry. It was terrible. We were all herded down the road to the station on foot, with soldiers around us. People shouted terrible things to us as we walked. When we got to the station there was a big ship. A cargo ship, not a passenger one. It was horrible. We were crowded into the cargo holds. When it took off almost everyone got nose bleeds, and some fainted. There was no protection against the G-forces, of course. I didn’t understand that, then, of course. I just thought we were all going to die.”

“The journey took weeks,” said another prisoner who said her name used to be Chiga when they were free people, but now she was 7865. She was an older woman, aged about thirty-five or so. “Some people died. Some killed themselves. The guards came each day and took the bodies away, expelling them into space. They gave us some food rations, but never enough, and there was always the noise and the cold.”

“And then we arrived. They transported us down to hell, with our guards to stop us escaping. Not that there is anywhere to escape to. Outside… it’s just nothing. A frozen world. Those few who did get out, in the early days… they brought the frozen bodies back to show us, to warn us that there was no escape.”

“And all this happened when she was just a little girl?” Stella looked at the young woman called Oli in amazement. She must have been about twenty now. “What did you all do to be treated that way?”

“We didn’t have to DO anything,” Chiga answered. “We are Jdica.”

K9 hovered around the circumference of the prison habitat. When he saw robot guards he zapped them with his laser. A direct hit in the middle of the torso rendered them inactive, he discovered. He also discovered that they did not recognise his existence. They were programmed to recognise each other and recognise organic life. But they were not programmed to notice a small robot dog on a killing spree as he sought his master or mistresses or preferably all of them.

The Doctor had programmed a conscience into his electronic brain. K9 knew that killing was wrong. He knew that life was not merely defined as organic life. He, an artificial life, was proof of that. But he also knew what The Doctor had learnt only too well in his long life of struggle against oppression. That pacifism was a nice theory.

He scanned the robot guards and saw only the most basic programming. They were not lifeforms. They had no independent thought. They were given electronic instructions to keep prisoners inside the habitat and administer punishments.

Not only did they not come up to K9’s definition of a lifeform, but they stood between him and his friends.

So he cleared them out of the way.

The Doctor kept as still as he could because it made life easier for the men trying to hold him there. But he did manage to get his backpack off his back and he did get his sonic screwdriver out. He used it to scan the immediate area. He counted the number of men – about two hundred – and the number of guards. There were far less of those than there were men. Only about twenty. And they were not especially intelligent. The prisoners could have subdued them if they had the will to rebel. The Doctor realised what that almost certainly meant. These prisoners had long ago lost the will to do that. They were resigned to their fate.

He had a sudden, violent demonstration of just HOW the guards kept the prisoners so subjugated. One of the men lifting rocks dropped one, quite accidentally. The noise echoed around the room, even above the sounds of the machinery and of the exertions of the prisoners. The guard nearest to them fired his weapon at the man who had dropped the rock and at the innocent men next to him. Both were enveloped in a heat ray and died quickly, though not quickly enough for The Doctor’s telepathic mind to feel their agony deep in his soul and for the non-telepathic prisoners to shudder with sympathetic horror before continuing their toil.

Even so, even if it meant that a few might die, it seemed strange that they were so completely resigned to their fate.

How long, he wondered, had they BEEN prisoners here that even the thought of escape had long been crushed from them. And from wondering that his mind quickly moved on to wonder WHY so many people were imprisoned in such circumstances. Why were they imprisoned HERE, on Earth, in the middle of the ice age. They were not FROM Earth. They WERE a humanoid life form, but even the limited information the sonic screwdriver could read told him they were from another planetary system, and had evolved independently of the race that was going to evolve on this planet when the ice receded and life clawed its way across the fertile new plains and found the watered valleys.

“We are the damned,” Oli repeated with the kind of certainty that comes of being told that so often in her life.

“There was a rebellion, wasn’t there?” Tri said. “That’s why they did this. It was retribution.”

“No.” A much older woman who seemed to have forgotten her own name entirely said before sighing and closing her eyes. “There was no rebellion. They just didn’t want us.”

And that was what most of the women seemed to believe to be the truth of it. Wyn looked to the ones she had talked to so far to explain.

“We come from a planet called Gellica,” Chiga continued. “We, the Jdica, were the slave race long ago. We gained our freedom and prospered, but there was always prejudice. The Gellicans, the majority race, tolerated us as long as we did the menial work, but when we managed to prosper in commerce, to own shops and businesses and then to qualify as doctors, lawyers, teachers, then they became afraid that we might one day come to dominate them politically. There was a campaign to prevent us from succeeding. Jdica were BANNED from higher education, from holding professional jobs, from the civil service or political positions. We were slowly forced from the better jobs and made to do menial work once more. Businesses were taken over by Gellicans and Jdica were told they could only live in designated areas.”

“Oh, bloody hell,” Wyn swore as she realised that this was not a new story she was hearing. She realised that it wasn’t the Jdica she was picturing in her head as the suppression of a people just because they were ‘different’ was described.

“This isn’t a prison,” she said. “It’s a concentration camp. This is the Gellica’s ‘final solution’.”

“Oh!” Stella gasped. “You mean this….”

“The systematic disenfranchisement, forcing them into ghettoes, and then transporting them all here, to be guarded by robots, half starved.…”

“But she was a little girl when it began,” Stella said, looking at Oli. “They’re still here.…”

“Who would come and get them?” Wyn reasoned. “If the Allies hadn’t fought back against Hitler, who would ever have stopped what was being done in Auschwitz and places like that? Sooner or later all the Jews would have been dead and ordinary people would have forgotten they ever existed. That’s what is happening here. They are being kept prisoner until they all die and they’re no longer a problem. The only difference is the Gellica haven’t gassed the Jdica. They just slowly starve them to death.”

“We are dying,” Tri said. “Our whole people are dying, slowly. Oli… is among the youngest of us. She was one of the children who were sent here. The very oldest have already died of old age. The rest of us, in our turn, will. Eventually, even the youngest.”

“We are the damned,” Oli said again. “Damned to extinction.”

“The Doctor won’t let that happen,” Stella promised. “He’ll do something to help.”

“Don’t,” Wyn answered her. “Don’t give them false hope. That’s not fair. The Doctor is a prisoner, too. I don’t know if he can even rescue US, let alone them. I’m sorry, Stella, but we could be here until we die, too.”

“No,” Stella insisted. “Wyn, you can’t give up. The Doctor won’t give up. He’ll do something. He WILL.”

Wyn looked at Stella. She really DID believe in The Doctor. She was convinced that he would know what to do, that he could help them and help the Jdica. She had grown up on the same stories about what The Doctor could do as she had, as well as a whole new set of tales that SHE had told her. Stella had two generations of her family telling her that The Doctor could do anything. Of course she believed in him.

And so did she.

“I’m sorry for doubting you, Doctor,” she whispered. “But I just don’t see what even YOU can do. You’re a prisoner too. The TARDIS is miles away. We’re stuck here with the Jdica.”

K9 was still winning his live action game of pacman. Robot guard bodies marked where he had been as he completed the circumference of the prison habitat and hovered by the first robot he had dispatched. He whirred quietly as he extended his probe and connected with the electronic brain of the robot. He had fully immobilised them all, but the brains were still intact, and he could read their programming. He could process the information. He could find out how many prisoners there were, how many guards, where the central computer that maintained the habitat was.

What K9 couldn’t process was the reason WHY there was a prison full of people guarded by robots. The slow extermination of a race of people for political expediency was beyond his understanding.

All he knew was, he had to find either The Doctor or Wyn.

He turned around several times and got his bearings. Then he set off around the circumference again, this time looking at the locked doors on the inner side. When he found one that had people the other side he analysed their lifesigns, looking for a Time Lord or two humans.

The Doctor understood what it was about. He had very little else to do for the moment, so he let his mind reach out and find the minds of the prisoners. He saw with awful clarity in the minds of the older men the grief of being forced from their homes, transported to this place, separated from their wives and children. In the younger ones he saw the confusion and fear of knowing something terrible was happening, but not understanding why it was happening. He saw them sorted, men and boys into one area, women and girls into another, children into another. Families separated, broken up. The children forgetting the very concept of family as they grew up as prisoners. He saw that there were no children now. They were just two sections, men and women. He saw two men on one of the treadmills, and recognised that they were father and son, but THEY themselves did not know that. The years of separation meant that they, neither of them, recognised each other.

He saw the same twentieth century Earth analogy that Wyn and Stella did. He also saw other analogies. This kind of thing had happened all over the universe. A racial war had been at the core of it all on Skaro when Davros devised the Daleks to be THEIR final solution to the survival and the supremacy of the Kaled race and the annihilation of the Thals. Irrational hatred of another race had been at the heart of so much of the misery he had seen across the universe.

But this seemed, to him, one of the most terrible manifestations of that hatred. It was as cruel and unnecessary as what the Nazis did to the Jews, and everyone else who stood in the way of their domination of Europe in the 1940s. It was as ruthless as any Dalek invasion.

And it was all completely needless. He read the deep memories of one old man who had been mayor of the small town he lived in. He had understood the politics only too well. He had heard the very beginnings of the rumblings of discontent, the stirrings of hatred for his kind. It had been justified in the usual way. There aren’t enough jobs and houses. Why should THEY have them. Give them to our OWN people. Get rid of them and we’ll be happy and prosperous.

And the Jdica had ceased to be people in the eyes of the Gellica. They ceased to be citizens. They ceased to be men, women and children. They had become vermin, a social problem to be erased.

Why, the old man had thought often in the past twenty or more years, why had they not just killed them all? Why had they brought them here to this cruel regime to slowly die?

And The Doctor wondered that, too. The Daleks and Nazis alike exterminated those they considered surplus to requirements. But the Gellicans chose to maintain this facility, send supplies, meagre as they were, to keep the Jdica this side of starvation and quick death.


The Doctor shivered involuntarily as the only answer to that question occurred to him.

Because they wanted them to suffer. Death was a quick end. It was peace and relief to suffering. But the Gellica wanted their enemy to suffer right to the end.

He had never met a Gellican. But The Doctor felt right then that he hated them. And that was unusual for him. He usually gave everyone at least one chance. He usually looked for a kernel of goodness in the most repulsive of races. He remembered when he had returned the regressed egg of ‘Margaret’ Slitheen back to her people in the hope that she might be reborn as something better than she was. He remembered countless times, even further back in his memory, when he had seen the possibility for warring people to make peace with each other. He had tried to persuade Davros to make the Daleks into beings capable of compassion and mercy. He still, deep down, wished there had been a way to do that.

He never hated without good reason.

But right now he hated the Gellicans with all of his hearts and soul for a deed that set them alongside Daleks and Nazis for all-encompassing evil.

And yet….

He looked again at the old man’s memories, his emotions. He saw something that surprised him. The man remembered his Gellican neighbours jeering and cheering as he and his family were led away. But he had pitied them, not hated them. He had KNOWN that the ordinary people had simply been duped and brainwashed by propaganda, into believing that the Jdica were their enemy. And he didn’t hate them. He hated the government that had fed them the lies, but he didn’t hate the people.

He was probably right, The Doctor concluded. Though that didn’t change the fact that they were all prisoners.

“Wyn!” Stella nudged her sister in the ribs. For a while now they had just been sitting there, quietly, wondering what, if anything, they could do, wondering if The Doctor had a plan or not. “Wyn, look!”

“What?” Wyn looked and her heart leapt. On the door to the cell was a glowing red line as if from a cutting tool.

“Everyone move back,” she said. “Away from the door. Be careful.”

They all obeyed. Wyn watched as a large square was cut into the door and wondered which of two possibilities was coming to their rescue – The Doctor with the welding mode of the sonic screwdriver, or….

“K9!” Wyn and Stella cried out his name at once as the piece of door fell inwards with a loud clanging noise of metal falling onto metal and the robot dog hovered inside. They ran to hug him as the Jdica prisoners stared in astonishment at a robot that didn’t seem to be their enemy.

“This is K9,” Wyn announced. “And he’s here to rescue us.”

“First we must rescue The Doctor,” K9 pointed out. “I have a bearing for him. But there are more guards than I can fight at once.”

“We can fight,” Wyn said. She looked around at the women and then wondered about that statement. Some of them looked as if the word wasn’t in their vocabulary. “Come on, anyone who feels they have the strength. You have a chance. The Doctor, has a ship. He could take you all away from here. If he can get back to the TARDIS, then we all have a chance.”

“It is impossible,” they almost all said. But Chiga stepped forward. So did Tri. Slowly three others did.

“Ok,” Wyn said. “Let’s go. The rest of you, take care until I get back. Stella… maybe you should stay here.”

“No,” she protested. “I’m coming with you.”

“We’re going to fight those robot things,” Wyn told her. “It’s dangerous. You could be killed.”

“So could YOU. Come on. We’re wasting time. The Doctor NEEDS us.”

K9 led the way. Wyn and Stella followed, with their small rebel army behind. It struck Wyn as slightly odd that it was the women who were doing this. But there was a first time for everything.

And at least they were armed. She picked up the first robot weapon as they stepped over the busted guard. As they went along each of them grabbed a weapon. She was uneasy about Stella carrying one, but if she was going to come along, she was surely better off with a gun than without one.

“The Doctor is in this room,” K9 reported after they had walked a very long way and K9 had despatched several more robot guards. “But there are many guards.”

“Ok,” Wyn said. “Hang on.” She reached in her pocket and found her mobile phone. It hadn’t worked inside the cell. But if there was only one wall between her and The Doctor, maybe….

The Doctor was carefully watching the four men who were holding the rope. They were tiring. Several times the cage had wobbled. He was so busy concentrating on them that he almost didn’t notice his mobile phone buzzing. He reached slowly and pulled it from the side pocket of his backpack. He read the text message.

“Cause a diversion. NOW.” it said.

“Easier said than done, Wyn, love,” he whispered. But then he had an idea. He reached into the pack and pulled out something carefully stored alongside the tent. It was about the size of a hubcap when compressed and opened out in the same way as the mugs of cocoa. There had been four of them, but one had been left behind when they broke camp, set to biodegrade and leave no trace of itself or its contents after twelve hours or so. This was a fresh one, containing a deodorising and disinfecting chemical.

“Gardez l'eau!” he shouted as he tipped the contents of the futuristic portaloo out through the mesh floor. Even he was amazed at just how much liquid there WAS. Below, the two robot guards were drenched in the chemical. It seeped into their head pieces and was causing them even more problems than he had expected. They were unable to raise their weapons. The liquid had affected their motor skills. All well and good, he thought as he braced himself against the side of the cage and called out to the four startled men below.

“Let go!” he shouted. They did so, stepping back hurriedly as the cage began to descend, the two confused robot guards breaking the fall.

It hurt, even so, and The Doctor felt all the bruises as he kicked open the cage door and clambered out. Around him the prisoners were diving for cover as heat ray guns were fired. As he gained his feet The Doctor watched in surprise as Wyn and Stella and a small group of women raced in, firing robot weapons at the guards.

He looked around and grabbed a weapon dropped by one of the robots he had taken out in his own unique way and ran into the fray. Pacifism WAS a good theory. But this wasn’t a time to practice it. His own quick reflexes reduced the number of guards by another two.

The battle for the punishment room was won quickly and with no casualties among the prisoners.

“They’re a bit pathetic actually,” Wyn said as she reached The Doctor and threw down her weapon as she hugged him tightly. “Like most bullies, they crumble if you stand up to them.”

“Yes,” The Doctor agreed. “But it was risky. You can see what those weapons do. It could have been YOU.”

“Could have been YOU. And then where would we be? Anyway, I told these people that you would go and get your TARDIS and get them out of here.”

“That’s a plan,” The Doctor agreed. “But even I need a DAY’s skiing to get back to the TARDIS. And meanwhile, these people would have to finish off the rest of the guards and hold the fort.”

“You can get us out of here?” One of the men who had been holding the rope reached out and touched him as if he was amazed he was real. “Really? You can help us?”

“Sunshine,” another man whispered. “I remember sunshine. Can you take us where there is sunshine?”

“I can TRY,” The Doctor said. He looked at Wyn and Stella. “I would be faster on my own. But that means you two will have to carry on fighting. There are more sections of this prison, more guards. There must be some kind of computer centre, too. You need to get to that.”

“You get the TARDIS. WE’LL handle the prison break.”

“Be careful,” he said. “Stella, Wyn, be VERY careful. This wasn’t MEANT to be dangerous. It was meant to be a skiing trip.”

“We can do the skiing trip after,” Stella said. “We’ll hold you to that.”

“Ok,” he agreed and hugged them both before he turned away. He took one of the weapons with him and knocked out two more guards as he made his way around to the place where they came in. He only found it by using the sonic screwdriver to detect where the lock mechanism was and he was not surprised when it slid shut again as soon as he stepped outside.

He found their skis where they left them in the snow outside and quickly fitted his own. He moved off quickly, pushing his limbs to their limits. He had to make nearly a full day’s skiing in less than that time. He had left his backpack anyway, with the food supplies that might be of use to the prisoners. He didn’t need food or drink, and definitely didn’t need a toilet break. He could keep going. He had to keep going.

Because he didn’t know how long they could hold out. He didn’t know how many more guards there were, or if any reinforcements were likely to turn up.

And he didn’t know what he would do when he got to the TARDIS and returned to the prison. Wyn and Stella obviously had an idea that he could just take them all away.

Well, he COULD take them away. That was not a problem. But WHERE would he take them too? They clearly weren’t welcome where they came from. Even if he could intervene on their behalf with the Gellican government, what future would they have? Europe didn’t embrace the Jewish people as long lost brothers and sisters after World War II. Even when the gas chambers were closed they were still a dispossessed people with no place in the towns and cities they used to call home. The Jdica would be the same. And there was nothing stopping the Gellican throwing them back into hell as soon as his back was turned.

First, he had to reach the TARDIS. And that was enough of a task to be going on with.

Wyn and Stella distributed the food rations between those prisoners who had been liberated then brought a group of them, as many as they could arm with robot guns. They followed K9’s lead as he guided them to the other sections of prisoners. None of them, it seemed, really knew how many of them there were, how many were still alive. Nobody was entirely sure how many of them there were when they were first transported here. How many had died in the meantime.

They found the answer to it when they reached the central control area. Having dispatched another half a dozen guards they came to a large central computer. It was intended for robots to use, so it had no monitors and no keyboards. But that wasn’t a problem when they had K9. He interfaced with the computer using his nose probe and downloaded the information. Even as raw statistical data it was disturbing. But K9 had more news for them.


“I believe I can send out a magnetic pulse from this computer which will render all of the robot guards immobile.”

“Good,” Wyn said. “Do that. Save us some trouble. We can get to the rest of the prisoners in our own good time.”

“But time is short,” K9 added. “There is a supply ship on its way. It is seven hours away from Earth. It is requesting a report from here. It is repeating the request as the last two transmissions were not acknowledged.”

“The ship has people aboard?” Wyn asked.

“No,” he answered. “It is operated by robots.”

“Of course,” Stella commented. “They wouldn’t want contact with the Jdica.”

“But if they realise something is wrong here, they could contact Gellica. K9, send them a report. Say there was a temporary breakdown in communications but all is normal now. Then zap the guards.”

“Will The Doctor be back before twelve hours is up?” Stella asked. “Will we have to fight a fresh batch of robots?”

“I hope so,” Wyn said. “I do hope so.”

They had taken far longer than seven hours to get here, she thought. They had set off skiing the day before at about six in the morning and allowing for rest breaks they had kept going until about eight last night, and then they had been going about two hours this morning before they reached the ridge where they spotted the habitat.

How MUCH faster was The Doctor on his own? Was he THAT much faster?

She hoped so.

Meanwhile, once K9 had announced that the robot guards were neutralised she organised the liberated people into groups. Most of them she sent to go and open up the rest of the cells and punishment areas. She led a group to a place that K9 indicated as storage. They found what was left of the food supplies and distributed them. But there were too many people. Some of them were still locked in areas they hadn’t reached. It was a huge job and Wyn felt quite desperate about it.

“Was this what it was like,” she said to Stella as they sat, exhausted, taking a break for the first time in hours. “When the soldiers got to places like Auschwitz. Is this how it was? Did they feel so overwhelmed by the hugeness of it?”

“It used to be just history to me,” Stella said. “Something we learnt about in school or on the history channel or in films sometimes. But now, I can really feel it.”

Wyn looked at Stella and thought that was just about the most profound thing she had ever heard her say. Even though she was kind of proud of her for working that out for herself, she couldn’t help feeling that it didn’t seem right. Stella WAS supposed to be the fluffy one who liked boy bands and make up and clothes. It seemed wrong discussing such things with her.

That was life with The Doctor. He DID change the people who travelled with him. He exposed them to things they never would see in their normal life and they had to think in a different way. He had changed her from being a bored, lazy, sulky, sometimes selfish teenager, into somebody capable of getting a post-graduate degree and teaching other people. And now Stella was changing, too.

Just as long as she still remembered to be herself, Wyn thought. That was all right.

Six and a half hours. That was how long it took The Doctor to reach the TARDIS, pushing his Time Lord body to the limit, stretching every muscle to its limit and then beyond that. But at last he reached the TARDIS. He opened the door and stepped right in before he realised he was still wearing his skis. He kicked them off and ran for the console.

“Oh hell!” he gasped as he programmed the course back to the habitat. He saw the signal that told him there was a ship moving into Earth orbit. He identified it as the Gellican supply ship.

They were out of time. He had no chance of evacuating the prisoners. The TARDIS was big - bigger than even he really grasped most of the time. But he couldn’t get that many people aboard in such a short space of time.

He had given them hope, but now the hope was running out.


There was one chance. One thing he COULD do in the time that was left.

Wyn looked at the lights flashing on the central computer and listened as K9 reported that the supply ship was in orbit and signalling.

“Ignore it,” she said. “Don’t answer them. Get ready to zap any robots that transport down.”

“Yes, mistress,” K9 responded. “I should advise that they have missiles. If they suspect, they may simply open fire.”

“We have to take the chance,” Wyn said. “Doctor, please hurry!”

The next moment she was picking herself up from the floor as the whole habitat was jolted.

“Did they fire on us?” she asked. “K9….”

“Negative, mistress,” he answered. “The ship is no longer signalling. It is gone.”

“Gone? Gone where?”

“Correction, mistress,” K9 added. “The ship is not gone, WE are.”

“What?” She was about to ask for clarification when Stella came running in, followed by The Doctor, who was grinning like the cat that had got the cream.

“Come on out in the sunshine,” he said. “It’s a lovely day. The birds are singing. The grass is growing.”

“What?” She was starting to feel like an idiot repeating that same word, so she just followed him. She was surprised when they reached the outer corridor to find that the door was wide open. Outside it was not the ice age. It looked like a warm, late summer day.

“You moved forward in time?” She guessed what had happened as Stella came running, bringing some of the Jdica with her, including the man who had mentioned wanting to see the sunshine. Some of them just lay down on the grass and looked up at the blue sky. Some of them ran down to the crystal clear lake that glistened in the sunshine only a few yards away. Others knelt and prayed, or cried for joy.

“We’re still in Snowdon Valley!” Stella said, as she looked around. “That lake is Llyn Cwellyn. And over there should be a big camp site.”

“There will be a camp site in about twelve thousand years,” The Doctor said. “At the moment, this is an unpopulated part of what will be Wales when men get around to naming it.”

“Nice place for a barbecue,” Wyn said as she watched a herd of what looked like reindeer on the other side of the lake. “Normally, we’re vegetarian. But… you know, protein is protein. What do you think?”

The Doctor nodded and picked up one of the robot weapons. He went with two of the Jdica men. The skills he had learnt on Forêt came in useful as they stalked and killed several of the animals and brought them back. Other skills came in useful in preparing the meat as a fire was made to cook it over. Meanwhile more of the Jdica came out of the habitat and stared in amazement at the blue sky overhead and the food cooking. REAL food after a near lifetime of eating dehydrated rations.

“They can’t stay here, though,” The Doctor said as he sat with Wyn and Stella and watched a scene that put him in mind of the biblical feeding of the five thousand.

Except this was more like ten thousand.

Ten thousand out of the half million who had been transported here twenty-five years ago. The Final Solution wasn’t far off being complete. Family units were destroyed. What was left had to begin everything again, including relationships.

“Why can’t they stay here?” Stella asked.

“Because they’re not Human, and this planet is for humans to colonise and their being here before them would affect Human development. We could end up with completely different DNA,” Wyn explained.

“Worse than that,” The Doctor added. “They are an advanced people. They might develop technology before your planet is ready for it. I’ll have to find another place for them. But it will take some time. Even if the idea I have works. They can stay here until I set it up. I don’t think they can affect the Reindeer population too badly in the meantime.”

“What do you have in mind?” Wyn asked him.

“Tomorrow,” he said. “Tonight I’m going to try to get some kind of census of who is who and see if we CAN put some family units together. They can begin to make a start on those relationships.”

Most of the Jdica spent the night outside under the stars. It was cool after the sun went down, but after spending so long under the roof of their prison they didn’t want to go inside again. They built camp fires and sat around them with their friends and the relatives that The Doctor had found for them. They savoured their freedom.

The next day The Doctor, with Wyn and Stella and K9 left the Jdica making the best they could of their camp by Llyn Cwellyn. They organised makeshift tents so they would never have to go back inside the habitat. They organised hunting parties and a rota for the cooking of the food. They were starting to live again after the nightmare that they were only just starting to realise was over.

The Doctor programmed the TARDIS to take him to the university on Rhekan IV, another place where a whole people had to begin their lives again. It struck him that the students of Rhekan had something in common with the Jdica. They, too, had been badly treated and had a past they had to move on from. It struck him that they could help each other.

The university was a brighter place than the last time he visited. There were students and staff bustling about. Many of them greeted him warmly as he made his way to the Arch Chancellor’s tower. Wyn and Stella looked in surprise at the Arch-Chancellor.

“A computer?”

“A super-computer with a heart of gold,” The Doctor answered. “And the thinking radiator there, is my pal Ric. He’s actually a sort of cousin of K9. I had been thinking of introducing them both. And this is a perfect time. K9, meet your cousin.”

Ric hovered towards K9 and there was a surreal moment that was not unlike two dogs meeting in the street, without the embarrassing sniffing of each other’s private parts. The two robots extended probes and presumably exchanged what passed for small talk between robot lifeforms. They might even have exchanged a joke because when they separated K9 was wagging his tail and ears and making a noise something like a chuckle.

Meanwhile, The Doctor was talking to the Arch-Chancellor about how ten thousand extra souls could be incorporated into the programme they began four years before to repopulate the planets of the Rhekan system. When he was finished, he was smiling.

“Sorted,” he said. “It’s going to take a while. I have to bring them in groups of a hundred at a time to the reception centre. That’s a lot of trips in the TARDIS. You two can stay here if you like. It’s a great place. There is the most fantastic modern art garden. And K9 can catch up with Ric.”

“That sounds cool,” Stella said. “I don’t think I fancy eating Welsh reindeer every night. But don’t forget you PROMISED to take us skiing again when we’re done,” Stella said.

“That I did,” The Doctor said. “But I think we’ll leave the ice age alone. Wyn, how do you fancy that chalet in Austria we spent Christmas in a few years ago?”

“That would be TOTALLY cool, Doctor,” she said. “But if we’re not going back to the ice age we’ll need to buy new skis when we get there. We left them behind, remember.”

“No problem,” The Doctor said. Though he did have interesting visions of what their skis would look like when they had been rolled down the Snowdon valley by a melting glacier for a century or two. Perhaps they would puzzle an archaeologist in the twentieth century.