“Wow!” Wyn exclaimed as she stepped out of the TARDIS and a dry, hot breeze blew in her face. She looked at the wide, reddish-brown plain, the soil held together by scrubby wild grasses. It stretched to a far horizon where a long ridge of mountains was pale blue and white against the perfect blue sky that made her feel a little dizzy and insignificant when she looked up at it. Only the fact that she had travelled beyond the sky and seen the true vastness of space itself, in the company of a man who was master of it all, stopped her losing herself in the majesty of it.

The TARDIS was parked at the side of a road, simply a ribbon of land that was harder packed and clear of grassland. She could see it winding across the almost flat territory all the way to those mountains.

“It looks so alien,” Stella commented. “It really does. I’ve seen alien landscapes that are more like Earth than this is.”

“It’s fantastic,” Jamie said. “So wide, open… absolutely beautiful. I wish there was more green to it. But even so, I love it.”

“So do I,” The Doctor agreed. “It’s like… like Gallifrey. The plains of the south… where the Pathizi wolves and Leonate prides roamed free. It feels like home.”

“Well, if you like it, it’s good enough for me,” Stella said, putting her hand in his and bringing him back to the present from his memory of his lost homeworld.

“The Groot Karoo,” he said, slipping into a factual tone that shelved the emotiveness of before. “It means dry, hard, thirsty land. It was an inland sea two hundred and fifty million years ago, like the Aral Sea in Kazakstan….”

K9 raised his head and gave the PH count for the Karoo’s soil and mentioned that it was home to over 9,000 species of succulents, the largest number of Earth and second only to Mux-Ka in the Deltan quarter which was 98% arid plain and had over 50,000 such species of plant.

“Thank you, K9,” The Doctor said and continued his own commentary. “As the continent of Africa drifted towards the equator, the sea dried to a swamp where dinosaurs roamed. Many of their fossils have been found here. Later, it became a dry plain as you see it now. And yet, even here, in this apparently inhospitable climate, the most diverse race in the universe manages to prosper. Mankind grazes sheep here, grows fruit near the rivers where irrigation is possible, ferments some interesting alcoholic concoctions from the fruit, and….”

He turned around. They all did the same. They looked at a series of low, single storey buildings that had transformed a part of the Groot Karoo. The sheds, each nearly half a mile long, had roofs that glittered in the sunlight. They were solar panelled, making the most of the Karoo’s greatest asset, converting it to clean, renewable electrical energy. Every building in what amounted to a small industrial village, had the same panels on top. This was a place where the carbon footprint of humanity was not a problem. Nothing was taken from the environment that could not be given back with interest.

There was no fence around the complex. The whole thing just stood there in the middle of the plain. It did have a gate. Or rather a pair of gate posts, standing either side of the red, hard-packed spur of a road that split from the main drag. The posts supported a brightly coloured sign declaring that this was WholeWheal in boh English and Afrikaans.

Stella and Wyn smiled proudly. They both spoke disparagingly of the vegetarian food empire that their father owned. But they were proud, too. Not only had he proved that wholesome food didn’t have to either be tasteless and boring or involve animal cruelty, but he had proved that nobody in the world had to go hungry, either. He put vast amounts of the profits of WholeWheal into projects in places where hunger was a fact of life. And here, in a semi-desert of Africa he was again proving that it wasn’t necessary to feed the world if the world could learn to feed itself.

“Come on, then,” The Doctor said. “Let’s go and say hello to Jo and Cliff.”

Jamie looked suddenly hesitant. She had heard Wyn talk about her family many times. She had seen both Jo and Cliff on the TARDIS videophone connected via their web-cam over time and space. But this was her first time meeting them face to face.

“Meeting mum and dad isn’t a tradition of Haolstromnian courtship, is it?” The Doctor said to her.

“No, it isn’t. But it is an Earth tradition. And I care about Wyn. If it makes her happy…”

“Jamie!” Wyn caught her hand and kissed it tenderly. “You’re not the first girlfriend I ever brought home. They’re not going to be shocked.”

They held hands as they walked under the portal onto WholeWheal ground and followed the sign pointing to ‘Reception’. They stepped into an air conditioned room, naturally lit through an opaque glass roof that let in light without the sun’s glare. Everywhere there were cacti in terracotta pots that Wyn knew her mum had probably made on her own potters wheel. The Doctor named each of the succulents colourfully represented in the room. K9 did a robot dog equivalent of a sulk at being outdone.

At the reception desk was a woman who, if The Doctor felt like showing off any further, might have been identified as of native Khoi and Afrikaan descent. She looked up as The Doctor approached. He smiled a little smugly at her nametag. Kamisoa Dupré was a name that completely confirmed his guess.

“Visitors for Mr and Mrs Grant Jones,” he said. “Wyn and Stella Grant Jones, Jamie Garr Jass and The Doctor. That’s me, of course.”

Miss Dupré smiled widely and touched the blue tooth attachment on her ear. “They’re here,” she declared joyfully. A few minutes later, the inner door burst open. Jo and Cliff embraced their daughters fondly. Then they embraced Jamie, too. And as Jo turned to him, The Doctor got ready to recycle his breathing while she kissed him enthusiastically.

“Doctor, can I have my wife back now,” Cliff Jones called out cheerfully. “It’s good to see you. There is so much I’d like to show you of our operation here.”

“Not now, Cliff,” Jo answered him. “They’ve had a long journey. Let’s go to the living quarters and they can have something to eat and drink and a rest before you drag them around the mushroom sheds.”

“They’re NOT mushroom sheds,” Cliff answered her good naturedly. “And they came by TARDIS. It’s not as if they had to drive across the Karoo.”

“They probably came from the other side of the galaxy. And it’s tiring travelling by TARDIS, too, you know.”

The Doctor smiled at their marital banter and allowed Jo to have her way. She hung onto his arm as she brought them out of the reception and across to a building made of the same lightweight prefabricated material as the rest, but which had the look of a family home about it. There was a veranda with wicker rocking chairs and a table on it that must be pleasant in the evening when the sun went down on the Karoo, but Jo brought them inside where the same air conditioning was a welcome break from the dry heat outside. She had them sit in the pleasant, open plan drawing room and made herself busy in the kitchen, preparing sandwiches and a bowl of preserved fruit that was served with something rather like a syllabub. There was also what looked like latte coffee, but which The Doctor thought might be another use for WholeWheal’s versatile product.

“You guessed right,” Cliff said when The Doctor asked. “But we’re not planning to market it. We believe in Fair Trade, and if we marketed a coffee substitute that only a Time Lord could tell from the real thing we would be doing a disservice to the people in coffee growing countries who rely on that industry. It’s hard enough ensuring they are paid a living wage without that. We produce enough here for our personal needs. It saves transporting foodstuffs at cost to ourselves and to the environment.”

“Quite right,” The Doctor agreed. “On all counts. But tell me about your business, here. Is it doing well?”

“It’s doing fine, Doctor,” Cliff answered. “Would you like to see around it now? Wyn, you should see it, too. The humidity control system is your design, you know.”

“It works?” Wyn looked surprised. “Even in the conditions out here? I really should see that.” She looked around at Stella and Jamie. They were talking to Jo about the time they spent as fashion models for Polly Jackson. They didn’t need her for a while. She went with The Doctor and her father back out across the compound in the dry, hot breeze to the ‘mushroom sheds’.

That was a far too simple a word for them, of course. The quarter mile long buildings were more than sheds and they grew something much more than a humble mushroom. Inside, they were dark, lit by low level ultra violet lights. They were warm, but not hot, and the air was moist.

“You tap the water table, of course,” The Doctor said. “But it must be a long way down under territory like this.”

“Which is why we make the most of every drop. The water in the air around us is fully recycled. That’s where Wyn’s design came in. She got the idea from the way air and water are continuously recycled in the TARDIS.”

“Dad’s not the only one who thinks about the environment,” Wyn explained. “I thought it might be useful in desert conditions where water is hard to get hold of. And I was right. This place could be in the rainforest!” She looked at the staff, dressed in waterproof clothes, who worked continuously, picking the ripe mushrooms from the tiers of trays where they grew. The small, yellow mushrooms went into special containers that moved along a central monorail.

“They go directly to processing at the far end,” Cliff explained. “Dried in special vats, then processed into different foodstuffs from meat to flour, or coffee. We’re not quite up to maximum production yet. When we do, we’ll also send the dried base product out to processing factories across the country.”

“Well done,” The Doctor told him. He was totally impressed. With his fungus, Cliff was doing what had been done on Gallifrey for generations with Cúl nuts. He was producing synthesised food which was nutritious and tasted like the real thing, but was much easier to produce and to ship to places where food was needed. He had taken food production several steps forward and was on the verge of that necessary breakthrough that could ensure everyone on the planet had enough food.

“It’s amazing,” Wyn told her father. “But really, dad, I hope this is your last project. You’re seventy-seven years old. Time to retire and enjoy life.”

“I’m fit as a fiddle,” he replied. “And what would I do with retirement?”

“Ask mum,” Wyn answered him. “I think she has some ideas.”

“I have LOTS of ideas,” Cliff said. “Come on, both of you, and see the research shed.”

He headed for a door that needed a special card to open it. The Doctor and Wyn followed and were surprised when it turned out to be an airlock

“Clean room environment,” Cliff said. “I’m developing new strains of the fungus. Can’t risk cross-contamination of spores.”

“Ah.” The Doctor nodded in understanding and waited patiently until the inner door opened and they were admitted to the research section.

“Oh, dad!” Wyn exclaimed as she looked at the fungi growing in this UV lit environment. The mushrooms the WholeWheal empire was built on were only about three inches in height and breadth at their biggest. But these… She looked at one that was almost two feet across the fully open cup. It was the same kind of fungus, she was sure. She’d seen them all her life in one form or another so she ought to know. But not like this.

“How did you do it?” she asked. “How did you make them grow into giants? It wasn’t anything… unethical?” She looked at her father and knew that was a stupid question.

“These are a similar kind of fungus, but we found them growing like this, quite naturally. The constant dark and humidity in here simply increases the productivity. It grows along the river fifteen miles south of here. I heard about it from one of the locals and got one of them to show me. It was amazing. Jo and I spent a year in the Amazon searching for the fungus that got us started. And here it was, right on top of us. The nomadic tribes, the San, used to include it in their diet, and I was told a bit of a legend about it being an aphrodisiac. But all my tests show it to be perfectly nutritious. More so than the smaller variety. And it’s only a little more difficult to produce. We’ve had to keep it separate from the other variety because of the laws about cross-contamination of foodstuffs. But I’ve submitted all the paperwork and the product has been tested by an independent lab, and we’ve got the licence to start producing it for Human consumption on a commercial basis. It will increase productivity five fold. Cheap, abundant, cruelty free food, Fair Trade employment of as many local people as want a job here….”

Cliff’s eyes shone with an enthusiasm The Doctor and Wyn both knew well.

“It’s fantastic, dad,” she told him. “So will you finally admit you’ve done your share for the planet and retire?”

“Only when you admit you’ve had enough gallivanting around the universe with The Doctor and come and manage this place for me.”

He said it so casually, that Wyn didn’t even realise what he had said at first. The Doctor watched her expression as she took it in.

“Run this place? Out here in the middle of a desert?”

“Why not? It’s a good place. Wonderful people. And it needs somebody like you. Your brothers, they’re businessmen. They think in terms of balance sheets. You see the big picture. You see the possibilities. And you care – about the environment, about people. And that’s what I need here.”

“You think I’m all of that?”

“Yes, I do. And so does The Doctor.”

“You’ve talked to my dad about this?” Wyn looked around at him.

“No,” he admitted. “Not about this. But of course we’ve had a few man to man chats. After all, we go right back, your dad and me. And you’re one of our favourite subjects.”

“I don’t want to leave you yet. We said a year.”

“That’s all right,” her father answered. “You don’t have to decide yet. It’s up to you.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“Good enough. Now, let me show you this. Flour, egg substitute, milk substitute, chocolate… All from the prototype fungus. I think we should have the first fruits of the experiment made into a cake for your sister’s 18th birthday party tomorrow.”

“She’ll love it,” Wyn said with a smile.

The Doctor smiled, too. But one thing puzzled him. He had met Wyn five years from now, still living in Llanfairfach. Why hadn’t she taken him up on the offer?

He hoped it wasn’t anything he’d done or said to influence her.

Cliff brought them back to the main part of the factory and the processing plant where the dried fungus was made into all those different foodstuffs. The Doctor was impressed by the variety of uses the basic protein could be put to. It was almost as versatile as the Cúl nut protein he had eaten all of his life on Gallifrey.

And he knew it wasn’t just a fad. Humanity’s biggest limitation was the production of food. Once they cracked that problem, there would be nothing they couldn’t do. It was far more important than their ability to manipulate atoms or develop hypersonic space travel. None of that could happen until they could feed themselves.

And Cliff’s little experiment that began in his room in the Nuthutch at Llanfairfach in the 1970s and was now spreading out across the world, was the spearhead of that effort. In the next generation of clever, thinking Humanity, it would be the making of them all.

But if he told the old man that, he would probably die of shock. Even his dreams didn’t extend that far.

They came back to the living quarters and found Stella and her mum taking about clothes and shoes. The Doctor wondered briefly about the nature of DNA. If Wyn was a chip of her dad’s block, then Stella was her mum – bubbly, bright, enthusiastic, inclined to romantic ideas about pop stars and movie heroes, but with a heart of gold within. Of course, Stella was the product of a cloning experiment and an alien consciousness that needed a body. But even he, who brought the two together, was apt to forget that when he saw her with Jo. They were mother and daughter and let anyone say otherwise.

The reunion stretched through the day. They ate a family supper at a table set on the veranda where they watched the sun set over the Groot Karoo. The reddish brown land and the dying sun colouring the great bowl of the sky reminded The Doctor of home. If Cliff had asked HIM to stop gallivanting around the universe and settle down here, he thought he would have said yes at once. He had always thought of Earth as his second home. But he had never before found a part of it that really did feel so completely right.

Of course, the feeling would wear off, he admitted. He would probably never stop wandering. The universe was his home. And he didn’t know anywhere better.

The sun went down completely while he was lost in such thoughts. He left the family on the veranda and wandered out onto the Karoo under a black sky studded with silver stars. He looked up at it and caught his breath. Of course, it was magnificent. This was one of the rare places on planet Earth where light pollution didn’t ruin the astronomer’s view of that universe he had been thinking about. But there was something else that he ought to have expected, and which took him by surprise.

“Doctor?” a voice called out to him in the dark and he turned to see Jo coming towards him. He reached out his hand to her. “I suppose it’s silly to say this to you, but you shouldn’t wander too far at night. You could get lost.”

“Not with the light of my own stars to guide me,” he answered. “Jo, let me show you something wonderful.” He pointed to one of the constellations in the sky. She recognised it easily enough.


“See the bow he holds up. Those six stars. They’re the constellation of Kasterborus. That’s where my home was. The middle star of the bowstring is the sun that warms my homeworld.”

“Warms?” she questioned his present tense. She knew the tragic story of Gallifrey well enough.

“Light travels at a fantastic speed, but not so fast as time itself. You’re still seeing Gallifrey’s sun as it was. If you had a telescope strong enough – and nobody does – you would see the golden age of Gallifrey. The time when Rassilon himself was alive, with his twelve sons who ruled with firm kindness, laying down the laws of Time Lord society, making us the people we were meant to be.”

“Twelve sons?” Jo smiled “Four children were enough for me.”

“History is silent about how many wives he had. But I do know that one of the sons was my ancestor. He’s there, now… up there… a good, proud man, born to rule over a fine, proud people. From here… looking up there… it’s the golden age. And I’m proud of them.”

He put his arm around her as they looked together. Jo tried to imagine the wonderful place he had described. It must have changed a lot by his own time, when they punished him so terribly for something that wasn’t even a crime at all. But he still loved it and spoke with such pride of his home world, Gallifrey.

“You never really told me much about it in the old days. I didn’t even know the name of your world. It was as if you were afraid to say it.”

“I was,” he admitted. “There was a time, after it was destroyed, when the word choked me, too. but then I learned to say it loud and proud again. I’m glad to be a song of Gallifrey, a child of Rassilon…”

Jo hugged him tightly. She felt he needed it.

“I almost wish I was still travelling with you. I know I’m too old for it, but I always think of those days. They were such special times. You were like a dad to me. You put up with my clumsiness, by daftness. You looked after me. And you let me go when I found Cliff. I know you didn’t want to. And that was the nicest thing you ever did.”

“My fledgling,” he whispered.

“And now I’m just an old bird,” she continued. “And you, you fantastic man… could stand beside my own boys and people would take you for my son. But you’re still my Doctor.”

“And you’re still my Jo.” He was still head and shoulders taller than her, too. He bent his head and kissed her gently, for old times sake as they stood together in the still warm, Karoo night.

“I love it here,” Jo said after a while. “I wish we weren’t just here for a year. I’d like to stay. It would be good for Cliff, too. This place is better for his health than damp old Llanfairfach.”

“He told me he was as fit as a fiddle.”

“He lied. He has dreadful arthritis. But he’s a daft Welshman who thinks he’d miss the rain.”

“You’ll sort him out,” he assured her. “But wherever you are, be happy.”

“I am. I always have been. Not travelling in space and time is my only regret about marrying Cliff. And we had the Amazon and so many other places instead. And… do you remember what I told you long ago. That Cliff was so like you.”

The Doctor remembered. He always thought it was the nicest compliment anyone ever paid him. He held her close again and let fond memories pass through his mind as the light of his home star shone down on him, and he felt a rare moment of contentment.

The next morning they ate breakfast on the same veranda before the full heat of another sunny day on the Groot Karoo. Stella was surprised by a collection of birthday presents from everyone who cared about her. Then she surprised them with a comment that proved The Doctor’s firm belief in nurture over nature.

“The best present is being here with you, mum and dad, and with Wyn and Jamie and The Doctor. All the people I love best.” K9, under the table, gave a robotic cough. “And the robot dog I love best,” she added. “Though I think the Karoo is too dry and dusty for him. That cough needs looking at.”

“So, birthday girl,” Cliff said. “It’s twelve hours and counting till your party. So how about a family drive out into the country, see something of the Karoo…”

“Err…” Stella looked dubious. “I don’t know. It’s ok to look at from here. But I don’t know if I want to spend the day out there looking at miles of nothing. And if you mention the 9,000+ succulents, K9, I’ll kick you in the diodes. They all look the same to me. I really wouldn’t mind if there was some wildlife – a few zebras or wildebeest or… what are those things like deer… rugby symbol… Springbok. But I looked this place up on the net last night. There’s nothing but sheep. And I see enough of those in Llanfairfach.”

“Two hundred years late for zebra,” The Doctor told her. “The sheep farming from the early 19th century onwards put paid to that. The wild animals were either driven away or found the sheep had grazed them out of business. We’d have to go by TARDIS…”

“Let’s do that then!” Jo suggested. “Take us on a TARDIS safari before man changed the face of the Karoo.”

The Doctor looked at Cliff and wondered if he was put out. He had obviously wanted a family outing with his daughters and a TARDIS safari upstaged his idea.

“Why not?” Cliff agreed. “Saves me doing the driving. And besides, I’ve never properly travelled in the TARDIS. I might as well while I’m still young enough to appreciate it!”

“The Doctor’s older than you are,” Stella pointed out to him as they finished breakfast and headed to the TARDIS where it waited, outside the WholeWheal grounds, beside the hard packed main road across the plateau.

“The Doctor doesn’t feel it like I do,” Cliff admitted before he realised he was giving away something of his true physical condition.

“The Doctor feels it,” The Doctor answered quickly. “Don’t let the face fool you. I feel as old as I am. Find seats where you can,” he added. “Jo, Cliff, you grab the comfy sofa. Wyn, Jamie, come and help steer.”

Stella sat with her parents at first. But when she saw what The Doctor was doing, she stood up again. They were not travelling through the time vortex. Rather, he was manually pulling them back through time, year by year. They saw the way the grasslands had receded as flocks of sheep roamed across the Karoo, herded by the stock farmers. Further back, they saw smaller herds of sheep and cattle, under the care of the native Khoi people, who had been small farmers for millennia. They saw a small herd of Wildebeest being hunted by the San, the other tribe of the Karoo, who preferred a nomadic hunting lifestyle. Then, as the clock wound back, the Karoo was greener and there were no men to be seen, only herds of wild animals. The Doctor opened the two doors wide and first Stella, then Jo and Cliff stood there, safely behind the forcefield, as the TARDIS hovered a few feet above the ground, following a herd of zebra down to the river to drink. And by herd, they meant, not just ten or twenty, or a solitary pair as seen in zoos, but hundreds of them, black and white stripes rippling in the sunlight as they cantered across the plain.

“Go on,” The Doctor said to Wyn and Jamie. “Go and enjoy it, too. I can manage.”

They crowded by the door as they watched the suddenly disturbed zebra begin to gallop away en masse. They saw a pair of lionesses bring down one luckless individual as the herd escaped. Stella and Jo both looked away for the actual kill, but they couldn’t help being in awe of the lions and it was all part of the natural order of things.

Great herds of zebra, springbok, wildebeest, lions, and other creatures lived on the Karoo for centuries. The Doctor slowly wound back time and they saw how lush and green it once was, how the land supported those great herds without becoming exhausted. They all realised that the present arid state of the plateau was as much to do with the way mankind misused the land; overgrazing and re-direction of the meagre water sources into irrigation for the fruit farms that provided the other main industry of the region. Before men began to do that, the Karoo remained unchanged for millennia. The balance of nature was right. Lions and other predators kept the grazing creatures down to manageable numbers.

Little by little The Doctor increased the speed. The long history of the Groot Karoo sped past in reverse like a stop motion animation. They saw the subtle changes. Most especially, they saw it become greener, lusher, with a humid warmth rather than that dry heat it was known for. They saw animals they didn’t recognise. They were the first mammals that roamed the Earth after the era of the dinosaurs, creatures that would evolve into the zebras, springboks, wildebeest, lions and hyenas. Thpse succulents that still formed the most colourful fauna in the 21st century were even more abundant, even more colourful. Then further back, further and further. The mammals disappeared. The Karoo itself changed dramatically. It was a tropical swamp. And the creatures that roamed across it were dinosaurs. K9 named the species, but nobody took much notice. They were dinosaurs. They were the only people to see dinosaurs actually alive in the Groot Karoo’s former swamp. Only their fossilised bones remained for scientists to guess about. But they were seeing them for real.

“Only The Doctor could give me diplodocus for a birthday treat!” Stella breathed excitedly.

But the journey wasn’t finished yet. The Doctor kept rolling back time until finally they gazed out, not at the Groot Karoo, but at what The Doctor called Karoo Sea. Or in Afrikaans – See Karoo. Though of course, that name was nonsense. Karoo meant dry, hard thirsty land. And 400,000 kilometres of inland sea was the opposite of that.

“It’s magnificent,” Cliff declared. “I don’t suppose it would be possible to get a water sample?”

“Sorry,” The Doctor answered. “Strictly look, don’t touch. You might scoop up the very amoeba’s destined to become zebras when evolution does it’s work. Are you all ready for the twenty-first century again?”

“Yes,” Stella said for them all. “But take it slowly. Let’s see it all again going forward. All that evolution up to where we are in our time.”

“No problem,” The Doctor confirmed. And he set their course and watched his friends enjoy the replay of the wonder he had shown them. Their pleasure was his own source of contentment. It was what made having all of space and timer at his fingertips worthwhile - sharing it with friends.

“It really is beautiful,” Wyn said as they slowly moved through the twentieth century, watching the grass recede and the Karoo become red again. “I wouldn’t mind staying here, really.” She looked at Jamie and seemed to be hoping for a comment from her. She didn’t get one, and her expression was disappointed. The Doctor was the only one who saw it, though.

At last, the WholeWheal complex sprang up on the Karoo. And The Doctor paused in thought for a moment before pushing the temporal manifold on a little further. Ten, fifteen, thirty, fifty years, a hundred years. Cliff and Jo gasped in amazement as they saw their factory grow, and growing with it, a village, a beautiful, modern village, built around a central garden where some of those colourful succulents were planted out in a place where the employees of WhoelWheal could enjoy their hard earned leisure. Then gradually, the village became an equally beautiful and thoroughly environmentally friendly town, with houses, shops, schools, hospitals, leisure centres and places of entertainment all with solar panelled roofs glittering in the sun and a monorail above the high street and non-polluting electric cars on the clean streets.

“Your legacy,” The Doctor told Jo and Cliff. “There was a huge discussion about what the town would be called. It had to be something in your honour. They considered Jonestown and GrantJonesville and a few other variations, and then settled on New Llanfairfach, remembering where it all began.

“I don’t believe it!” Jo said. “Doctor, you’re kidding. We didn’t start all of this?”

“Yes, you did,” he assured her. “Well done.”

“You’d better take us back to our own time, quickly. Before we get swelled heads from it all,” Cliff told him. “But thank you for showing me that others will dream my dreams after I am gone.”

“That they will, Cliff,” The Doctor promised as he brought them all home, at least.

After so much excitement, they were all content to spend what was left of the day quietly around the veranda, which provided a welcome shade in the hottest part of the day. Stella and her mum were again lost in conversation about fashion and trivia. Cliff relaxed by drawing a preliminary sketch of an improved humidity regulator for his mushroom sheds. The Doctor looked at them and made a couple of suggestions that were gratefully noted, but for the most part he was happy to sit on one of the rocking chairs, his feet up on the railing and look out over the Karoo, again daydreaming of home, allowing himself to think about the happier times of his youth, when he hadn’t become disillusioned by his world and its ways.

He watched Jamie and Wyn walk out towards the gateless entrance to WholeWheal. They were holding hands, but he thought there was something about Wyn’s body language that worried him. He did something he didn’t often do, even though he could. He used his superior alien hearing to eavesdrop upon them, salving his conscience by telling himself he only did it because he cared about them.

“You’re just nosy,” his inner voice chided him.

“Well, there’s that, too,” he agreed, then told his inner voice to be quiet so he could concentrate.

“Do you like it here?” Wyn asked Jamie. “I mean, really like it?”

“Yes,” she answered. “It’s great. I like your family. Your father is a genius. And you do take after him, you know.”

“Yeah, The Doctor says so, too. But I was thinking… would you stay here… to live… with me?”


“I mean… I’m… well, yes… I’m proposing. We could do the whole thing if you want. We’re allowed to get married… But even if you don’t want that… I would like you to be… my life partner… We could run this place together. You saw how wonderful it’s going to be. Dad wants me to do it. But it would be meaningless alone. I would do it if you were with me.”

The Doctor caught his breath. This was a conversation he had expected in some form for a long time, and he knew what the answer was going to be. His hearts thumped loudly in sad expectation.

“Wyn,” Jamie said after a long pause. “You’re forgetting. I have a job… in the 51st century. I like being a Time Agent. I'm on sabbatical now. But I will go back eventually. I really hoped we’d stay in touch… and maybe we could visit each other. But our worlds are different. I couldn’t live in yours and I don’t think you could really live in mine, even though you enjoyed visiting.” She paused. “I love you, Wyn. Don’t think otherwise. But you knew… from the start. My people… we don’t do forever. We love for a season and then we move on.”

“You want to move on?”

“Not yet. When it’s time. But I just can’t give you a lifetime. I’m sorry, Wyn…”

Jamie reached to try to hug her, but Wyn turned away. Jamie stood looking at her back for a while, then turned and walked away. The Doctor saw that she was shimmering. The telltale sign of an overemotional gendermorph was when they lost control of their gender. Jamie was hurting.

But so was Wyn and The Doctor made a decision. Wyn was his fledgling, just as her mother had been. And he went to her. She was crying, leaning against the gate post. He said nothing. He simply put his arms around her and gave her a warm shoulder to cry on instead of an uncaring gate post.

“When you’re ready, we’ll talk about it,” he told her. “Meantime… cry it all out, and be ready to put on a smile for your sister’s birthday?”

“I’m an idiot,” she sobbed. “I knew all along. But I hoped… It would have been wonderful. But… not without her. The sky is just too big here to be alone under it.”

“I understand,” The Doctor assured her. “I’ve felt that about the sky, too.”

“Would you like to retire and be a mushroom farmer with me?” she suggested.

“It’s tempting,” he said. “It really is. But… it might just be too much of a comedown after being a prince of the universe.”

“You could have said you’d think about it,” she teased him. “That’s two rejection in ten minutes. I could get seriously depressed.”

“Not on your sister’s birthday,” he reminded her. She nodded and managed a genuine smile. “That’s my girl,” he told her. And she smiled again. Only The Doctor could say something that patronising. He was the only man, outside of her family, who had earned the right to call her ‘his girl’.

By the time the party began, near sundown, Wyn and Jamie were holding hands again. The Doctor wondered if it was genuine, or just for appearances, but they seemed happy. Stella was overjoyed to be the centre of attention at the party that spilled out from the Veranda into the compound, lit with strings of coloured lanterns. The family, and guests, including many of the people who worked at WholeWheal, ate joyfully from the grand buffet – the food all made from the famous fungi protein, and the cake made from the first fruits of the super fungi. They toasted Stella’s coming of age with real champagne from the wine cellar and there was plenty of other drink in the form of red, white, rosé, and a curious yellow peach wine that were all made locally, and something called witblitz, also made from the local fruit, but definitely not wine. Even The Doctor, whose alien metabolism didn’t react to alcohol, was stunned by it. He said he might keep a bottle for getting the rust off the TARDIS’s diodes.

Again, as the sky darkened, The Doctor found himself drawn away from the lights and the laughter and out into the night on his own. He felt good. The flavours of good food and wine still lingered on his palette. Even the witblitz. He wondered if it was cleaning the rust of some of his own diodes, metaphorically speaking. He felt nicely mellow, anyway. There were problems to be resolved, of course. Wyn and Jamie, for one. Persuading Cliff that he wasn’t immortal and he should take a well earned retirement for another. But for the moment none of it worried him. He was happy to wander in the darkness, the dust of the Karoo beneath his feet, the stars above his head. Again he found Sagittarius and fixed on the bright star on the bowstring as he thought about his ancestors and the golden age.

Then he blinked. He stared up at the stars. They were moving, reforming into different constellations. Familiar constellations a long time ago. He found himself remembering boyhood days - astronomy lessons with his grandfather on nights such as this – warm Gallifreyan nights. He remembered the mythological names for the constellations that shone down on the Southern Continent.

“Penelope,” he whispered as he looked at the largest constellation, central in the sky, that to the imaginative was a woman standing with one arm raised over her head. “The Leonate, Castrica, Melchus…” He murmured the names of the constellations and saw their patterns in the sky.

He was dreaming, of course. Perhaps there WAS something in the witblitz that had reacted with his alien metabolism after all. Whatever it was, though, he didn’t fight it. He was looking at Gallifrey’s stars and he was happy.

“Why are you here?” asked a voice. He turned and his hearts surged with joy. There was a Time Lord standing there, dressed in the full, magnificent regalia of his high rank. The Doctor moved closer and saw the symbol of his House – his family - in the huge medallion resting on his chest. He recognised his own House.

“You’re my ancestor,” he said. “The first of my line… the one sired by Rassilon.”

“You are out of your time…”

“I’m out of my head. This is a dream, or a vision. I’m not really seeing you. I’m not really here. But it’s fantastic, anyway. You’re my great, great, great, great… no, I give up. I'm not even sure how many generations you go back. But we’re the same family… the same blood. And it’s… it’s…”

“You’re babbling,” his ancestor told him.

“I know. I do that sometimes… when I’m excited. Or sometimes just to fool the enemy into as false sense of security. As an old friend once said – it’s so good to be insane. No-one asks you to explain…”

“It’s unbecoming of a Time Lord,” his ancestor replied crossly.

“Hey, if this is my vision, why am I getting a hard time? I just wanted to say hello… to the Golden Age… to pretend for a while… that it was all still there, still beautiful… I didn’t want to fight with anyone… Just…. Talk to me… please…”

His ancestor didn’t reply. Instead he heard another voice calling to him.

“Doctor!” He turned and saw Jamie standing there. He was in male form, though dressed in a feminine trouser suit that didn’t look quite right. “Doctor… not you, too? Come back, please.”

“Come back…” He turned back and his ancestor was gone. He looked up at the stars and saw Sagittarius and the other Earth constellations. “I’m back. I don’t know what came over me. It was nice… I knew it wasn’t real, but I wished it was.”

“Doctor, everyone is acting strangely. Help me.”

The strange but beautiful vision evaporated like a soap bubble as he looked back at the party under the lights. Things looked wrong. He ran back, followed by Jamie. Everyone seemed to be wandering around aimlessly, all of them in separate worlds, having conversations with people who weren’t there. The Doctor wondered if he had looked like that, talking to his ancestor.

“This isn’t the witblitz, that’s for sure,” he said.

“Can’t be. Stella and Wyn didn’t touch the stuff. They both said it was revolting. And I DID have a glass, but it didn’t affect me.”

“You’re metabolism is different, of course. All those pheromones you exude probably saved you. But we’d better do something about this. Let’s get them all back to the real world.”

He grabbed the nearest person. It was the girl from the reception, Kamisoa Dupré. She was talking in native Khoi and the conversation seemed remarkably similar to his own. She was communicating with a tribal ancestor who was apparently giving her some stick for forgetting the traditions of her ancient people. He shook her gently and called her name. She gave a soft sigh and focussed on him.

“That’s strange,” she said. “I was dreaming…”

“Lot’s of people are. Help me. You know their names. Calling them by it seems to help. Wake them up.”

He and Jamie found Cliff and Jo and woke them. Cliff had been having a chat with Thomas Edison.

“Yeah, me and Tom used to have some fascinating chats. You’d be in your element,” The Doctor answered. “But we really need to get everyone back to reality just now. Then try to find out what the heck happened here.”

Slowly everyone recovered their grasp of reality. They were confused but unharmed. Then Jamie called to him, panic in his voice.

“I can’t find Wyn,” he said. “Stella is ok. But Wyn’s gone.”

He looked around. Stella was on the veranda by the house. She looked worried.

“Jo, go and take care of her,” The Doctor said. “And get everyone else safely indoors, too. Cliff, Jamie, you both come with me.”

He sprinted towards the TARDIS. Its lantern, the Police Public Call Box sign and the faux windows were a welcome beacon in the darkness, for him and for Jamie and Cliff, who took a little longer to reach it. Jamie kept pace with Cliff, whose sprinting days were long gone. By the time they stepped aboard, The Doctor had easily located one lone Human who had travelled in the time vortex. Her unique pattern showed up distinctly on the lifesigns monitor.

“She’s wandered off into the Karoo,” he said to them. “Everyone else wandered in circles. She went off in a straight line. Does that say something about her single-mindedness or what?”

“It says we have to get her, quick,” Cliff said. “There may not be zebras and lions out there now, but there are still snakes and venomous insects that come out at night.”

“Don’t worry, I’m on it,” The Doctor assured him. He fixed on her co-ordinates, noting that her straight line had taken her a good mile across the Karoo, and in party shoes, too. He set the TARDIS to materialise around her. Jamie and Cliff both reached out for her as soon as she solidified, but The Doctor told them not to wake her yet. He noted that she seemed to be having a conversation with him. It was a replay of a pleasant time they had spent, years back when she was a teenager. They had walked with backpacks across a rather interesting planet with three suns and four moons in the afternoon sky, and their conversation had been light and untroubled. Cliff was surprised that she had talked about him, telling The Doctor how she wanted to make him proud of her.

“Oh, Wyn, love,” Cliff whispered. “You always did. Funny thing… the day she graduated from university, with a degree in engineering… she said she wished YOU were there, Doctor. And hoped you’d be proud of her.”

“As if she could disappoint either of us,” The Doctor said. “But, come on. We need to get to the bottom of this. It’s not as bad as it might have been. Everyone’s visions seemed to be benign ones. But we can’t let it happen again. And Wyn will have to be our guinea pig for the time being. Steer her to the medical room. I want a blood test and a quick brain scan before we wake her up.”

Jamie and Cliff both looked appalled at the idea of using her that way, but they realised The Doctor was right. She kept walking anyway, lost in that sweet memory. They really did just have to steer her the right way. Getting a blood sample wasn’t very difficult. The brain scan was harder as she didn’t seem to want to lie down under the machine, but they managed it in the end.

“Ok, wake her now, gently,” The Doctor said. She was still lying under the scanner and he hoped to take a second test once she was ‘back’.

“What…” Wyn opened her eyes with a start and looked up at her lover and her father, and The Doctor as he bent over her and shone the sonic screwdriver’s blue light in her eyes. She swore mildly at him and he grinned before taking the second scan of her head and extracting another blood sample from her arm.

“You can get up now,” he told her.

“What? We just decided to play doctors and nurses while I was…. How did I get here? I remember… eating birthday cake and then… Oh, I had such a dream… and now I’m being used as a pin cushion.”

“Guinea pig,” The Doctor answered her. Jamie explained what was going on as The Doctor compared the two sets of tests.

“So… have you found anything?” she asked.

“I’m afraid to say I have,” The Doctor replied. “And it had nothing to do with witblitz. Cliff… I’m sorry but…”

“No!” Wyn exclaimed. “No, it’s not the fungus. I’ve eaten that stuff all my life. So has half the world. No. It can’t be. And… even if it was. No… Dad would be ruined… WholeWheal…”

She looked at her father. He clearly already understood the implications.

The Doctor said nothing. He simply jumped up from his microscope and headed out of the medical centre. The others followed. He looked up as they reached the console room. “Cliff, show me on this chart where the big mushrooms grow wild.” Cliff looked at the map of the Karoo on the environmental monitor and pointed to the place. The Doctor fed the co-ordinate into the navigation drive, and a moment later he stepped out into the night. He returned with a sample of the fungus. Then he set a new co-ordinate. That brought them to the research shed where Cliff had been breeding the same giant fungus.

“It’s not the commercially grown ones?” Cliff’s relief was palpable as he realised what The Doctor was up to.

“No, it’s not,” The Doctor assured him. “Your reputation is safe as far as that’s concerned. But these ones…” He brought the wild sample with him out into the shed. “Look,” he said. “Compare the wild ones with your cultivated one, even to the naked eye.”

“There’s a different texture. It’s like a matt paint finish…” Wyn noted. “But…”

“Take a seat, Cliff,” The Doctor said. “All of you. This could take a little while.” He carefully prepared slide samples from the wild and the cultivated mushroom and examined them under Cliff’s own microscope.

“That confirms it,” he said finally. “It’s your giant mushrooms. They contained a hallucinogenic compound.”

“That’s impossible,” Cliff argued. “They’ve already been tested by the food agency. I’ve been licensed to start commercial production.”

“It was tested, but has anyone actually eaten it before now? Stella’s birthday cake was the first time, wasn’t it?”


“It only reacts when people eat it. Their stomach acids combine with the substance to produce these rather wonderful but potentially dangerous chemical reactions in the brain. What looks perfectly benign, well able to pass food standards tests, becomes an hallucinogen. A harmless one, relatively speaking. The effects dissipate as soon as the subject is woken from the trance. Wyn’s blood, and her brain scans were perfectly normal less than thirty seconds later. But even so, not something WholeWheal want to be marketing?”

“Certainly not,” Cliff protested. “I wasn’t THAT sort of hippy even in the 1970s. But does that mean the whole project is useless? I was that close to the commercial expansion…”

“I’m afraid so,” The Doctor told him.

Cliff looked around at his experiment. He had such hopes, and they had been dashed.

“Tom Edison,” The Doctor said out of the blue. “I remember when he was trying to develop the electric light bulb. After the two thousandth failure… when he still wouldn’t let me give him any hints. He turned to me and said ‘I haven’t failed, I’ve found 2,000 ways how not to make a light bulb; I only need to find one way to make it work.’”

Cliff looked at him and managed a half smile.

“You and Tom would definitely get on. You know one way not to mass produce giant mushrooms for Human consumption. Hopefully it won’t take you 2,000 attempts to get it right. But if you WILL take a hint, I suggest looking at the humidity levels. Your other mushrooms originated in the damp Amazon. These are from the hot, dry, thirsty land.”

Cliff looked around the room as if he was already thinking about that. “I’ll have to cancel the licence. Re-apply when I have it right. Anything else would be a cover up, dishonest.”

“Quite right,” The Doctor assured him. “Honesty is the best policy. But don’t worry about it now. Go to bed. Sleep well. Think about it tomorrow.”

They left the TARDIS in the research shed. The Doctor promised to help him get the new experiment underway tomorrow. They walked across the quiet compound to the house. Cliff did as The Doctor said and went to bed. The Doctor sat on the veranda, amidst the remains of the party that would be somebody else’s job to clean up tomorrow. Wyn came and joined him presently.

“You knew, of course,” Wyn said. “That it took dad nearly all year to get that far. It will take him as long again to get the project to that stage again from scratch. That means he’ll be here when its winter in Wales. Just what mum was hoping. Better for his arthritis. And even if it takes another ten years, he’d be much happier working out his fungus problems than sitting around in ‘retirement’.”

“There’s always a silver lining.”

“If mum and dad stay here, there’s no hurry for me to decide about coming to work here. I’ve got time to think about it.”

“There’s that, too.”

“That’s why you told dad the Edison thing. So he wouldn’t give up.”

“Your dad wouldn’t give up anyway. But it did him good to know he wasn’t the only scientist with a failed experiment.”

“Still feels like you fixed everything for us.”

“I’m The Doctor. It’s what I do.”

“Yeah. Except… you can’t fix me and Jamie.”

“There’s nothing to fix. You just have to let nature take its course and try not to let it hurt so much.”

“You’re not going to give me any help, are you?”

He shook his head. “I can’t. You have to work that one out for yourself.”

She sighed, but managed a smile all the same. “That’s what you do best,” she said. “It’s what you’ve always done. Let people work it out for themselves, with, occasionally a bit of a nudge from you in the right direction when they need it. When they’ll take it. Thomas Edison… Mum, dad, me…”

“Madam Curie, Teddy Roosevelt, Winston Churchill…” He grinned. “Thomas Jefferson, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, George Stephenson, William Shakespeare, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, John Lennon, Charles Dickens, Michael Faraday…”

Wyn smiled as his list continued. She had no doubt he had given a bit of a nudge to each and every one of them. And knowing that she, and her mum and dad, belonged in that list, made her feel very honoured.