It was an ordinary quiet English B-Road, quite late at night. It had been raining, so the surface was wet and rather slippery in places. Later, the accident investigators put that down as the likely cause of the car veering off the road, turning over twice and landing sideways in a ditch.

The only thing that was especially unusual about this accident was that the first ‘vehicle’ to come upon the scene wasn’t a police car, or any kind of car at all. It wasn’t even immediately recognisable as a form of transport. It was an old fashioned police public call box such as used to be seen on the roadside in the days long before mobile phones. Except even then, they didn’t appear out of thin air, the blue light on top flashing and the windows glowing warmly in the dark as if welcoming weary travellers to a safe haven.

The Doctor stepped out, bringing with him his sonic screwdriver and an ordinary first aid kit. The first thing he noticed was a little girl sitting on the roadside. She had been crying until she was startled by the arrival of the TARDIS and had forgotten about crying. The penlight of his sonic screwdriver dazzled her eyes as he approached, but she hadn’t been afraid of him. She accepted his big tan coloured coat to keep her warm and asked him to help her parents, still trapped in the car.

He tried to. He used his sonic screwdriver to prize open the battered driver’s side door of the crumpled, tortured wreck of what had been a family car. But he knew straight away that there was nothing in the first aid kit that could help either of the people he found there. Both driver and passenger were long past the help even of a Time Lord.

“I’m sorry, so sorry,” he whispered as he climbed back out of the ditch and reached for his own mobile phone to call the police and paramedics that needed to be here, then he returned to the little girl and broke the news to her gently. She clung to him and cried. He had a feeling she had half known already, but just needed a grown up to confirm the truth. That was what grown ups did, after all.

He looked at her carefully. She was about twelve years old. Her face and arms and clothes were covered in blood. Most of it, he was relieved to find, not her own. He carefully examined her and found that she had a broken arm and some cuts and bruises on her face, arms and legs. He used the contents of the first aid kit ease her suffering. He put the broken arm into a makeshift sling and cleaned and soothed her cuts and bruises with antiseptic wipes and cool lotions. He talked to her and found out that her name was Gillian Peterson. Her parents were Kathleen and James Peterson. Her birthday was July 19th, 1983. This being September of 1995, that made his guess about her age spot on.

When the emergency services arrived he was able to tell them all of that, so they could begin to trace her next of kin. He could have left her then. There were plenty of kind, Human professionals who could have taken care of her from there. They had even substituted warm blankets from the ambulance for his coat. His responsibility was done with and he could have gone back to his TARDIS with no reason to feel guilty.

But Gillian wouldn’t let go of his hand. She cried and hid her face in his chest even when the female paramedic with a kind, sympathetic voice spoke to her.

“I’ll come with her as far as the hospital,” The Doctor said as the paramedics looked at him with silent pleas. He looked back at his TARDIS and surreptitiously aimed his sonic screwdriver at it. The window lights and the illumination inside the police public call box sign dimmed. It would look completely incongruous at the side of the road where police boxes used to be in the old days.

He rode with her in the ambulance. When they reached the hospital, he sat with her while the triage nurse examined her and praised him on his first aid. He had refrained from making any comment that would startle her, such as he’d had centuries of practice.

He stayed with Gillian when she went down to x-ray to find out how bad the break was and then to have it put into plaster. He was the first to sign his name on the cast. A few people later wondered about “The Doctor TS” as a signature, but Gillian never explained.

He could have left when they brought her up to the children’s ward and he obviously had to wait outside while the nurses helped her undress and get into a nice, clean hospital nightgown. But he didn’t. He would have felt guilty now if he hadn’t said goodbye, first. Besides, the nurse told him that her grandparents were on their way and asked him if he would sit with her until then since she was still quite distressed by the traumatic experience.

He sat with her. She was quite obviously distressed, although she wasn’t crying any more. She managed a smile for him. And he wasn’t entirely surprised when she asked an obvious question.

“Is that blue box a spaceship?”

“Yes, it is,” he answered.

“Are you a spaceman? From space?”

“Yes, I am.”

“You look nice. Not like the ones on TV.”

“Thank you,” he said. “Queen Victoria didn’t think I was nice. Very ungrateful, really, considering I saved her from a werewolf. But yes, nice. Yes, I’ll go for that. Nice. Yes. It’ll do.”

She giggled and told him he was funny. He could live with that, too, if it brought a smile to the face of a twelve year old girl whose life was so suddenly and horribly changed not so long ago. The memory of the accident kept coming back into her mind from time to time. He could see when her eyes took on a glassy look again. But she was trying to be brave about it.

In the early hours of the morning, her grandparents arrived. They had driven a long way and they were obviously grief stricken. Their daughter had been killed in the car accident that was nobody’s fault at all. But they bore themselves the way Humans do so well, for the sake of their granddaughter. Of course, Gillian would come to live with them. There was absolutely no question in their minds. She would be well looked after and loved. And The Doctor realised that was the reason he had stayed. To hear somebody say that.


“You could have brought her with you?” Stella said as The Doctor paused in his story. “She could have travelled with you like your own granddaughter used to when she was a little girl. You told us all about it. Susan and you…”

“Well, for one thing, there’s a huge difference between me travelling with my own granddaughter, who was my own legal and moral responsibility, and sweeping off with somebody else’s granddaughter. They have words for that like abduction, and long prison sentences. If she had been completely alone, with no relatives at all, then yes, I might have. Though at the time, I really wasn’t in any frame of mind to look after anyone. It wasn’t all that long after I lost Rose… and then lost myself, falling through that rip in reality. Even Nine didn’t want to know me then. I wasn’t really the best choice for a foster parent. And the sort of trouble I’m so good at getting into… not really what a traumatised twelve year old girl really needed. Her grandparents loved her. Of course she belonged with them. They thanked me for being the Good Samaritan by the wayside and for staying with her. They actually apologised to me for taking so long getting there… for holding me up in my own journey. As if I would have wanted them to hurry in the rain. As if my journey mattered so much compared to theirs? Humans, you amaze me, sometimes. Your thought processes. But it made a change to be thanked for my effort. I save the whole universe every other week, but I never get a thank you note. Anyway, I said goodbye to Gillian now, and I gave her a little present to remember me by.”

“Gillian,” he said. “This pen is for you. Don’t lose it. It’s a very special pen. The ink will never run out. And I want you to use it to write to me.”

“Write what?” she asked.

“Anything, everything. Tell me all about school, your friends, pop stars and film stars you like. BOYS you might like. Christmas, birthdays, holidays… all the things that Humans do. Write it all down and put it into an envelope. Put this address on it.” He gave her a little card with an address on. A simple, plain business card. Write that on the envelope and it will find me, no matter where I am.”


“You gave her a card with THIS address on?” Wyn looked at the envelope in her hands. “The Doctor, in The TARDIS, Somewhere In The Universe.”

“She compared me to Harry Potter,” he said. “But that was ok. I suppose the glasses do make me a BIT Potterish… Potterlike. Well, anyway, I said goodbye and got a taxi back to the TARDIS. It was really chucking it down by then. The taxi driver wondered if I was barmy wanting to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere at dawn in the rain. But there you go. The car had been towed away. Nothing to be seen except flattened grass and brambles where it had gone into the ditch. I got into the TARDIS and went off to find a couple of intergalactic bandits trying to steal one of Jupiter’s moons and sell it to a planet that didn’t have a moon at all. They tried to say nobody would miss one. Then I solved the mystery of the Lampeter Worm in 13th century Wales. It was an alien pet that started out in a little fish tank and got so big that its owner put it into a random transmat…. The space tech equivalent of flushing it down the loo. Anyway, I enticed it into the TARDIS swimming pool and took it to a galactic zoo where they had proper facilities for it…”

“Yes, Doctor!” Jamie cut into his rambling side story. “But getting back to Gillian… I take it she did write?”

“Every week without fail when she was at school. Then it got to be once a month when she was at college, university. She was a bright girl. She enjoyed doing her degree and getting to know new people. Then she got a job, working for social services, helping find foster parents for displaced children. I suppose she always had an affiliation with them, after her own trauma. She still wrote. Not as regularly, but she still kept in touch with her friendly spaceman.”

“That’s so nice,” Stella commented. She glanced around again at the strange object that had materialised by the hatstand. A piece of a door, hanging in the air. Not even a full door, just a bit of one. The inside of an ordinary front door with a letterbox set into it. On the floor in front of it was a doormat that said ‘welcome’ in Venusian. It had appeared half an hour ago, moments before a letter was posted through it and landed on the mat. Of course, they all wanted to know what it was, and why they had never seen it before. And who the letter was from.

The first question was easy to answer. It was a trans-dimensional letter box. They had never seen it before because it usually delivered late at night when they were all asleep. They were only up tonight because their Human body clocks had all been mixed up after a week on the planet Challis III, which had days equivalent to thirty Earth hours. Who the letter had come from had taken two cups of cocoa each to explain.

“Don’t worry about the letter box,” The Doctor said. “It goes away again after a while.”

“How does it work?” Stella wanted to know. “I mean, the whole thing. How does the letter get from her to you? I mean… she writes it… with a special pen… and it gets posted… in an ordinary post box. And then…?”

“The ink is infused with artron energy the same as the TARDIS, and me. It’s specially polarised so that when it gets pulled into the time vortex, it seeks out the TARDIS. The letter box – that’s the TARDIS having a bit of fun. It thinks letters ought to be properly delivered.”

“Right,” Wyn said. “I don’t suppose any more detailed scientific explanation will be forthcoming, so I’ll have to take your word for it. Anyway, what does her letter say? Or is it private?”

“I don’t know. You’ve been hogging it since it arrived.” He reached and took the envelope from her and as the letter box disappeared, as predicted, he read it. He smiled warmly.

“It’s rather nice news, actually,” he said. “She’s getting married. And we’re all invited.”

“She knows about us?”

“Oh, yes,” The Doctor assured them as he jumped up from the command seat and set the co-ordinates for Earth in the year 2009. “Well, what’s the point in her knowing a spaceman if I don’t drop her a line and tell her what I’ve been up to and where I’ve been, and who I’ve got as my friends on the journey? She knows all about all three of you. And she’s looking forward to meeting you.”

“We’re going to a wedding?” Stella asked.


“So you don’t think you’re going dressed like that, do you? And as for us, you can stop off at the first hyperspace mall we pass and get your credit card out. None of us have ANYTHING to wear to a wedding.”

He glanced at Jamie and Wyn and they were smiling conspiratorially.

“I don’t stand a chance, do I?” he protested. “Jamie, you’re a man at least some of the time. You could have a bit of sympathy for me.”

Jamie smiled seductively. The Doctor reminded her that the pheromones didn’t work on him. But he programmed in a diversion to the hypermall, anyway. And he recognised that a dress for a wedding also had to have a hat, gloves, shoes, handbag, earrings, and they had to have a facial and a manicure and a hairdo. He handed over his credit card knowing full well that the whole lot wouldn’t cost him all that much, really, given the current intergalactic exchange rates.

He left them to it and went to find something to do for a couple of hours. He found it. A ship full of Deltan space bandits were an interesting diversion. Having saved the hypermall from the ravaging and pillaging of a horde of four foot high hairy marauders, he stopped in at men’s outfitting and picked up his suit. Of course, he had ordered it retrospectively using a bit of Time Lord trickery. It saved all that business about inside leg measurements.


At last, they arrived at the country hotel in Somerset where Gillian’s wedding was taking place. The Doctor approved of the venue. It was a beautiful old Victorian hotel where the fashionable used to come to partake of the waters of a spring in the grounds. Nobody bothered with that sort of thing now, but ever since the law had allowed marriages to be solemnised in places other than churches and registry offices they had done a roaring trade. The old bath house had been converted into a wedding room and they offered two different rooms for the receptions and dancing afterwards.

Yes, very nice, indeed,” The Doctor said as he went to the reception desk and gave his name – Doctor John Smith and party, and was told that Miss Peterson and Mr Stewart had invited him and his friends to take morning tea with them in the Devon lounge.

“Morning tea sounds excellent,” he said and headed towards the Devon lounge. His ‘party’ followed him curiously as he looked about the quiet room and recognised Gillian, now an attractive woman in her mid 20s, sitting at a table by the window with a man of about thirty years of age and an older man who had to be his father. She looked up and smiled as she recognised The Doctor and the two men stood politely as introductions were exchanged.

“Oh,” Gillian said as she broke with all formalities and hugged him joyfully. “It is good to see you, Doctor. Of course, you haven’t changed a BIT. I am so glad you could come.”

“I wouldn’t have missed your big day,” he assured her. “Usually I’m not good with weddings, but I wouldn’t have missed this one.”

“Gordon is a doctor, too,” she told him. “A medical one, not like you. He’s brilliant.”

“I do my best,” Gordon, her groom to be, answered modestly in a soft lowland Scots accent that went with his name. “I am very glad to meet you, Doctor. Gillian told me all about you. “Insisted we couldn’t possibly get married without you at the wedding.”

“Well, we can’t,” she said. “Besides, if what you think… well, he’s the man you need.”

The Doctor noticed that a great deal was being said with glances between the intended couple. And they were not the sort of glances that had anything to do with wedding plans.

“There’s something worrying you?”

Gordon looked about to speak when a man came to the table. He was dressed in a suit and wore the sort of glasses that screamed ‘clerk’. Gordon introduced him as Mr Webber, who was going to be conducting the ceremony later. He apologised for the intrusion, but said he just needed to go through the annoying formality of confirming the identification of the couple, their birth certificates and proof that they were free of lawful impediments to their marriage.

“Doctor, the sun is over the yard arm, may I get you and your friends a drink in the bar?” said Gordon’s father, Campbell Stewart. “While they go through the paperwork.”

The Doctor didn’t really want a drink, regardless of what the sun was doing to any yardarm, but he caught a meaningful glance, too, and knew that there was something that needed to be said. They went through to the slightly more noisy public bar next to the quiet lounge. Campbell bought drinks for them all and they sat at a table as far from the fruit machines as possible.

“Gillian is a very lovely young lady.” Campbell said. “I am glad she and Gordon are getting married. Couldn’t be happier. I only wish my wife was still here to see them.” He paused before speaking again. “Gillian told Gordon all about you, Doctor.”

“ALL about me?” He raised an eyebrow and wondered what ‘all’ might entail. He searched for a reply that might expand on ‘all’.

“Doctor,” Jamie whispered. “I don’t think we’re the only non-terrestrials at this wedding.” She slid back her sleeve to reveal her wristlet. The Doctor could see that the LED screen was flashing urgently. “It’s indicating the presence of a non-indigenous DNA – apart from me and you. The difference is slight. Very slight. Even closer to Human than I am. But the scanner is set to pick up those differences. Shape-shifters and chimerans and all kinds of criminal types take advantage of the commonality of the Human form to evade justice all the time.” She looked at Stewart Campbell and smiled apologetically. “Not that I am suggesting that you are a criminal, sir. That would be quite impolite.”

The Doctor looked at Mr Stewart closely, then he reached out and took his hand in his, ignoring the odd look he was given a by couple who walked past their table at that exact moment. He looked closely at Mr Stewart’s fingers, noting the slightly different way his skin folded at the knuckles and the very faintly blue tinge to the thinner flesh within the folds.

“Grehkan?” he asked.

“Very observant of you.”

“I remember… oh, it must be thirty years ago now by Earth measure. The indigenous humanoid species of Grehka were overpowered by an invading force – the Fehosans. Nasty lot. Skin the colour and texture of elephant hide, terrible personal hygiene, worse manners and very little regard for life, their own or the people they conquer. They murdered indiscriminately. They didn’t care about the people of Grehka. They wanted its minerals, its metals. A few thousand escaped, preventing it from being wholly termed genocide. Among them the royal family – the old king and queen and the Crown Prince and his wife – and according to legend, taking the fabled treasures of Grekhan with them. A fantastic fortune, they say.”

Campbell Stewart laughed softly. “A fortune it was. But what use to us, what value, when our people were massacred, our world plundered by those foul creatures. The gold, silver and lutanium was melted down. The jewels prised from the useless crowns and sceptres. It was used as currency to enable our exiled people to make a new start in the places they made new homes. We ensured each had a portion. We kept no more than any of our former citizens were given. Enough to live a modest, quiet life on this planet. The last of the great treasure… a handful of red diamonds – I gave to my son to be made up into a necklace – a wedding gift to his fiancée. Gillian will wear the last of the Grekhan treasure when she marries Gordon this afternoon.”

“Wow!” Stella exclaimed. “Do you mean to say that YOU’RE the royal family?”

“We are, in name at least. Though not in substance.”

“Nuts! That’s another prince I missed out on.”

The Doctor laughed softly. Campbell Stewart laughed, too, but with a sad edge to his voice.

“There is no glory to be had from this Royal line, dear girl. We will never see our palace again. Our world is a depleted, uninhabited rock. I am Campbell Stewart, now, director of a small manufacturing company. Our son was born on Earth. We told him when he was old enough of the heritage he is descended from, but it was just a story to him. He was Human as far as he was concerned. He made a good life for himself. We were proud when he qualified as a physician. My only regret apart from the greater one which cannot be helped, is that my wife did not live to see him make a good marriage.”

The Doctor nodded solemnly. “That, sir, is a regret I can fully understand,” he said.

“I think you know the other regret, too…. exile in a far place. When Gillian told me of you… I made a guess. The rumour is true. One at least of the ancient princes of the universe survived?”

“One at least,” The Doctor repeated. It always touched a raw nerve when he heard other people speak of Gallifrey. He pushed the sad thoughts aside, though. He had come here to see his friend get married. And if the fates were kind, she and Gordon would be the continuation of a proud dynasty through their children. There was something to be said for that.

“There is something else, though?” he said. “Something that you wanted to tell me?”

“It is unfair. You are here for the wedding. But Gillian believes you can help us. She told me to speak to you about the matter.”

“Tell me.”

“The legends still persist about the treasure. There are those who do not know, or do not believe that it has been broken up. And there have been rumours… some of the other exiles who came to this planet… they have heard of questions being asked.”

“The Fehosans?”

“No. They wanted the planet, not its people or its ‘trinkets’. This is the province of pirates, bounty hunters, treasure seekers.”

“And you fear they might seek the treasure here?”

“I cannot ignore the possibility. Yet, at the same time, I cannot – even if I had the resources – bring in the sort of security needed to guard a royal treasure. It would only alert those who seek us, and it would not be the private wedding that my son and future daughter in law planned.”

“You will have the security,” Jamie said. “Doctor, this is my jurisdiction – as a Time Agent. I’ll handle this. You enjoy the wedding.”

The Doctor smiled at Jamie’s confidence in her own abilities. But she had a point. It was her kind of operation. He could leave her to it. Except that it went against the grain for him not to get involved.

Ok, he was nosy.

Ok, he was a control freak.

“Ok, you’re undercover security,” The Doctor told her. “You and Wyn, discreetly check out everyone on the guest list, and the caterers, doormen, whatever. Consider the possibility of shapeshifters – Yamelien, Nostrovites, nasty beggers both. Plasmavores, even, though they aren’t usually guns for hire. Haolstromnians, even. Sorry, Jamie. But the possibility of one of your own kind can’t be ruled out. And then there are the sort that can ‘wear’ Human skins. I have heard Raxacoricofallipatorians have developed a way to get into thin bodies now. So consider that possibility…. Or…”

“Doctor!” Jamie stopped him before the list of species got any longer. “I know what I’m doing. You go and mingle or whatever Humans do at weddings.”

“I’m meeting Gillian’s grandparents for a light lunch in a few minutes,” Campbell Stewart said. “You’d be welcome to join us.”

“I’d be delighted,” The Doctor said. “Let’s pop back into the lounge and see if the lovebirds are finished with the paperwork, first. It must be nearly time for them to get their posh frocks on….”

The Doctor stood and headed towards the door to the lounge. As he did, Jamie’s wristlet made a loud noise.

“Proximity to an unlicensed transmat,” she said. “It was in there…” She pointed towards the Devon Lounge. The Doctor was suddenly a blur and the door swung behind him.


They were gone. Gillian, Gordon, and the registrar. They had vanished into thin air. That was the description of what happened that the waiter and four other guests gave when The Doctor turned to ask them. They had all seen it with their own eyes. They swore that was exactly what happened.

“It was like Star Trek,” said the waiter. “They just faded out like they were being… what do they call it, transported. Except there was no sound effect.”

“Oh my God!” a woman guest exclaimed. “Aliens are kidnapping people.”

Never mind Star Trek, Wyn thought as she listened to the voices all around them. What The Doctor needed right now was the gismo from Men in Black, so he could make this lot forget what they saw.

“Everyone, please, sit down, calm yourselves and listen to me,” The Doctor said in a calm, quiet but authoritative voice. “There has been a minor incident, but nothing for you to worry about. There was no ‘transporter’. There are no alien abductions and no danger to anyone. The situation here is completely under control. So relax and enjoy your mid-morning coffee or tea, or dry white wine and don’t worry one little bit.”

“Power of Suggestion,” The Doctor whispered to Wyn. “They haven’t forgotten what they saw. They’ve just stopped worrying about it. It’s FAR better than messing with anyone’s neural pathways, or those little white pills that Torchwood use. Never done so many people at once, before, though. Who’s a clever Doctor, eh?”

“You are,” Wyn answered him. “But don’t get too full of yourself. Gillian and Gordon and the registrar are still missing.

The Doctor turned to where Jamie was using her wristlet to examine the residual energy traces.

“Definitely a transmat, Doctor,” she confirmed. “Low power one. Localised. Maybe a portable machine. No more than 300 yards radius.”

“So they’re in the hotel or grounds,” The Doctor said. Ok, that’s easy enough. The TARDIS can do a lifesigns scan.” He turned and looked at Campbell Stewart. “Sir,” he said in a soft but firm voice. “Believe me, I will get your son and Gillian back, safe and sound, and in time for the wedding. Meanwhile, I think it is important for no-one else to be worried. Least of all Gillian’s elderly grandparents who are arriving very soon. If I could prevail upon you… to meet with them and keep them from knowing anything about this. I know it is a lot to ask. You are concerned about your son… But…”

Campbell Stewart drew himself up, his shoulders square and looked The Doctor in the eye.

“I will do that,” he said. “Thank you, Doctor.”

“I’ll stay with Mr Stewart,” Stella said. “I’ll… I don’t know, pour the tea, maybe, look after everyone.”

“Good idea,” The Doctor agreed. “Jamie, Wyn, you come along with me.”

“You are amazing, Doctor,” Jamie said as they hurried out of the hotel and towards the car park where the TARDIS stood incongruously among the more usual guest transport.

“Well, of course I am,” The Doctor replied. “Nice of you to say so, though.” He grinned his most mischievous grin as he found his key and opened the TARDIS door.

“I mean,” Jamie continued. “The way people like Campbell Stewart just trusted you. For all he knew you were the one responsible for the kidnap.”

“I’ve got an honest face.”

“You’ve got a daft face,” Wyn told him. “But that isn’t important now. Getting those two people back is. So what’s your plan?”


“You don’t have one! No, of course not!”

“Never needed one,” he answered as he moved around to the environmental console and brought up a lifesigns scan of the hotel and environs. He studied it carefully. He noted that the guests were starting to arrive for the wedding. Among them were quite a few Grehkans, friends of the Stewart family, of course. Nobody would know them from Humans without a machine like the TARDIS.

But the only place that a Human and a Grehkan seemed to be confined together was in one of the outbuildings of the hotel.

“That’s the old lodge house,” Wyn said, comparing the lifesigns monitor schematic to a building plan he had found. “It’s closed at the moment. I saw in the reception that they’ve applied for planning permission to turn it into a luxury honeymoon lodge – for when the happy couple who want to be self-catering. Anyway, it’s easy. We materialise the TARDIS around Gillian and Gordon and the registrar and take them to the wedding?”

“Could it be as simple as that?” The Doctor smiled wryly. “That’s why I don’t make a plan. How much do you want to bet it’s NOT that simple?” The Doctor refined the lifesigns monitor, closing in on the lodge house. He counted seven people around there altogether. Assuming three were Gillian, Gordon and the registrar, the others must be the kidnappers. Their movements suggested they were guarding the building.

“I’m betting those are just hired guns,” Jamie said. “The mastermind of it all may be somewhere else.”

“I think you’re probably right,” The Doctor answered. He looked at the three hostages and knew there was something that Jamie had not yet twigged about them. But she HAD spotted something else that The Doctor hadn’t.

“See that white line all around the inside of the building,” she said. “Look…”

“What is that?” Wyn asked.

“Anti-transmat field,” The Doctor explained. “They don’t want anyone jumping in and snatching back their hostages. We’re dealing with people with non-contemporaneous technology. I would get upset about that, but obviously it would be a case of the pot calling the kettle….”

“Why is it a problem?” Wyn asked. “The TARDIS is way better technology than an anti-transmat field.”

“Yes and no. Yes, the TARDIS is WAY superior to just about any technology in the universe. She’s a fantastic ship. But no, an anti-transmat field is not something she wants to mess with. It interferes with materialisation. I couldn’t be certain of not bouncing right off. Trying to materialise around a living being would be fatal to them. Imagine what would happen if they materialised with their head through the time rotor?”

Wyn and Jamie imagined some gruesome scenarios and when The Doctor said it would be even worse than that they decided not to push it further.

“So we have to go in the hard way?” Wyn said. “Through the door. Can we assume these lot have weapons?”

“We can’t afford to assume they don’t,” The Doctor answered. “I'm not sure I want to launch a command raid with the three of us. Yes, I know you’re a time agent, Jamie, skilled in all sorts of unarmed combat. And I taught you to look after yourself, Wyn, but I’m not risking anyone getting shot, none of us, or Gordon and Gillian, and fighting our way up to them might put their lives at risk.

“So… WHAT are you going to do, Doctor?” Wyn and Jamie asked in chorus, feeling as if they would burst with frustration if he didn’t outline a plan right now.

“Watch,” he said and he turned to another part of the console and typed quickly. “This wouldn’t work if any other of my friends was kidnapped, of course. Only Gillian with her ‘magic pen’.”

“Wow!” Wyn couldn’t help exclaiming loudly as she saw the letter box and section of door appear again in front of the hatstand. Then it began to expand. Instead of being just a piece of letter box, it was growing into a whole door.

“What….” Jamie looked at her wristlet. “There is a phenomenal dimensional anomaly around that door.”

“Yes, there is,” The Doctor said. “Outside of the TARDIS it would be incredibly dangerous. We’d be risking busting a hole in reality. But for ten minutes or so we should be ok.” He bounded up to the door and got ready to open it. He checked to see if his companions were behind him first. This was one of the cleverest things he’d done for ages and he wanted them to see it clearly.

He opened the door and stepped through it into a dark room, light coming into it only through the cracks in the boards over the windows. There was no furniture and bare floorboards.

On the floor, tied up and with masking tape over their mouths, were Gillian and Gordon.

Standing above them, his back to the doorway that had just opened where there wasn’t one before, was the registrar. He was holding a gun at the two hostages and talking about how he had waited for his chance to get hold of the royal treasure, and how he would have it before long, or Gordon’s father would get him back in small pieces.

“How clichéd is that?” The Doctor said as he moved across the floor silently and applied a neatly executed karate chop to the back of the registrar’s neck. Wyn and Jamie moved forward and untied the two hostages, pulling the tape from their mouths and helping them to stand up.

“Not a shapeshifter,” Jamie said. “One of their own? A Grehkan?”

“Traitors can be found in all societies,” The Doctor said. “Even my own people had some bad apples. At least they did it for power, out of o’er-reaching ambition – the curse of my race. This one…” He nudged the unconscious man with his foot. If he was a less self-controlled man he might have kicked him. “Money! To betray your birthright for money. It’s unthinkable!” He looked at Gordon and Gillian. “Are you two all right?”

“We are now, Doctor,” Gillian answered. “That’s the second time in my life you’ve come to my rescue. Thank you so much.”

“Don’t mention it,” he answered. “You just step through that door, there, into my space ship. It will tickle a little as you go over the threshold. That three inch thick doorway is spanning nearly 300 yards, but it won’t hurt. Wyn will take you out through the other door and back to the hotel where Gordon’s dad and your grandparents are having lunch and planning a honeymoon surprise that you’re not supposed to know about.”

“We’ll try to look surprised when they mention it,” Gillian promised. She looked around at the sound of footsteps on the stairs outside the ordinary door. “There’s more of them, and they have guns, too.”

“Don’t worry about them,” The Doctor told her. “You go on and enjoy getting ready for your wedding.”

He watched as Gillian and Gordon stepped over that threshold and crossed the console room to step outside into the hotel car park. Wyn closed the door behind them.

“Bring him and get back through the door yourself,” he told Jamie. She nodded and shimmered as she changed to male form. His muscles as a man were better fitted to dragging an unconscious Grehkan through a dimensional anomaly.

“We have about six minutes before the field collapses,” he reminded The Doctor as he stepped through into the TARDIS.

“Time enough,” The Doctor said. He flattened himself against the wall by the door and waited for it to open. He let the first man come right into the room. He saw the anomaly door and walked right up to it. The other was more cautious, stepping slowly inside. The Doctor sent him to sleep with another well judged karate chop to the neck while the one who stepped right into the TARDIS was taken out by Jamie.

“Come and get this one,” The Doctor said as he stepped out onto the landing. He put his fingers to his lips and whistled shrilly before calling out.

“Any hired guns down there, we’ve just captured the man who was going to pay you. So you might as well come quietly with your hands up.”

Well, obviously they didn’t. The Doctor got back into position again, behind the door and Jamie did the same at the TARDIS door. Neither of them could quite believe that the other two guards made the same foolish mistakes and were captured in the same way. But neither did they care. With seconds to spare The Doctor pulled the last unconscious man over the threshold into the TARDIS. The door dissolved away as the field collapsed. He arranged all five men around the hatstand and then knelt in front of the one who had posed as the registrar. He wanted to ask him something more before they went to the wedding. He adjusted the sonic screwdriver and put it into a mode that woke people up very abruptly and not entirely painlessly.

“Truth time, Sonny Jim. Were you working on your own?”

The fake registrar swore at him in Grehkan.

“We both know what that means, and it isn’t true of either of our mothers,” The Doctor replied. He adjusted the sonic screwdriver again. It was in penlight mode, but the Grehkan traitor didn’t know that. “Who are you working with? How many?”

The traitor talked.

“Ok, thanks. That’ll do.” He adjusted the sonic screwdriver a third time and used what he fondly called ‘sleepy-by mode’ to render him unconscious again.

“Ok, nearly sorted,” he said. He went to the console and programmed a short hop to just outside the pre-wedding room where the guests were gathering now ready for the ceremony that would be starting in a very short time. He stepped inside and went up to the stage where a DJ was playing soft, romantic songs that most of the guests were ignoring. He spoke quietly and then took the microphone.

“Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman,” he said. “The wedding of Gordon Stewart and Gillian Peterson will be commencing on schedule at two o’clock in the Cornwall room. But first I have a personal announcement to make.” He cleared his throat and spoke in perfectly clear Grehkan. A dozen or so of the guests who came from that planet, plus Wyn and Stella who heard everything translated because of the TARDIS’s babel fish technology, heard him say that the game was up. Everyone else was under arrest and if the last of the conspirators knew what was good for him he would run now, while he had the chance.

The man ran, straight for the door. He got through it before Jamie closed the door on the puzzled wedding guests, grabbed the traitor and pushed him through the open TARDIS door to join his comrades. The Doctor heard a yelp from the man and K9’s mechanical voice ordering him to sit with his hands on his head. A whirr as his laser fired a warning shot settled any further argument.

“Question is, what to do with them?” Jamie said as he closed the TARDIS door. “That’s six prisoners in this police box now.”

“What do you think we should do with them?” The Doctor asked Campbell Stewart. “Four of them are common or garden hired guns picked up at some space port or other. But two of them are Grehkans. Your former subjects.”

The thought that two of his own people would be so mercenary grieved Stewart deeply. He shook his head at the deep betrayal.

“We had no death penalty on Grehkan. We sent the worst criminals to a penal colony on the far side of the planet. A harsh life, but a chance of redemption at the end of their sentences.”

“They used to do that on Earth,” Jamie commented. “Van Diemen’s Land.”

“Yes, they did.” The Doctor considered the problem and then made a suggestion that Stewart agreed to. “Ok, you go and see how your son’s getting on with his wedding preparations. Jamie, you and Wyn go and look after Gillian. And tell both of them not to worry about anything. The wedding will go ahead as planned. And everything will be perfect.”

He stepped into the TARDIS and looked at the six sorrowful looking prisoners and K9 on guard over them. Then he set the TARDIS co-ordinates. In real time it took just half an hour to go halfway around the world and back in time to 1837. He landed the TARDIS at Port Arthur, the arrival point of the convict ships that brought prisoners from Europe to Van Diemen’s Land – later known as Tasmania.

“You have the same chance here that you would have had in the penal colony on Grehkan,” The Doctor told them. “You work until you’ve served your time. The paperwork here says you’ve all got fifteen years for robbery. Sounds fair to me. Just get into those prison uniforms and we’ll slip you in with the new arrivals.”

The six men looked mutinous, but K9’s mechanical equivalent of a growl and another warning shot made them docile.

“Next time, aim for a limb,” The Doctor told him. “You’re making marks on the TARDIS walls.” He wasn’t, of course, and The Doctor had no intention of letting K9 injure any of them unless they really got out of hand. But it didn’t hurt to let them know he might. As soon as they were changed into clothes that made them indistinguishable from the genuine prisoners The Doctor led them out of the TARDIS and put them with the prisoners gathered on the dock. He passed their paperwork onto the clerk in charge of their processing and as they shuffled along to their future as a convict worker he turned and went back to the TARDIS. Nobody had noticed it arrive in the noise of a busy dock. Nobody saw it go.

Nobody saw it arrive back at the hotel, either. He glanced at the clock and noted that it was five to two and made his way to the Cornwall Room. The guests were assembled. Gordon Stewart, looking very dashing in the traditional plaid of the Scottish clan his family had adopted on arrival on Earth stood waiting for his bride to be.

There was only one difficulty now.

They had no registrar. The Doctor had just left him in Tasmania in the mid 19th century.

“Not a problem,” he said to Campbell Stewart who waited at the door anxiously. He reached into the inside jacket of his new suit and produced a sheaf of official looking papers. “As you can see, I am licensed to conduct marriages in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

“So I see,” Campbell Stewart said. “Is there no end to your versatility, Doctor?”

“Probably not,” he answered. “Anyway, you can send a message up to the bride now. She can make her big entrance.”

The Doctor was aware of all the eyes on him as he walked down the aisle and took his place in front of everyone. He saw Wyn, Stella and Jamie all in their new outfits that had cost him so many credits, all staring in surprise. Gordon and his Best Man looked at him with relief. He had obviously been worried. Then everyone’s attention was diverted by the arrival of the bride. The Doctor looked at her as proudly as her grandfather at her side and her husband to be as she walked down the central aisle in a beautiful white silk dress and a gauzy veil. She wore a necklace of red diamonds inset into silver that sparkled as brightly as her eyes as she came to stand next to Gordon. She smiled warmly at The Doctor as he welcomed all of the friends and family of the couple and began the simple civil marriage ceremony.

“WHEN did you qualify to act as a marriage registrar?” Wyn asked The Doctor much later, after the wedding and the reception and the dancing, and after the happy couple had set off on the surprise honeymoon in glorious Acapulco that both sides of the family had jointly paid for.

“I haven’t yet,” The Doctor said. “I need to submit the application retrospectively later. Don’t let me forget or it will cause an annoying paradox.”

Wyn opened her mouth to say something else, and changed her mind. She couldn’t think of anything that qualified as a reply to such an outrageous comment from him. She swallowed and tried again, but failed to come up with anything that would wipe the grin off his face.

Then the post arrived! She laughed as the section of door with letterbox in it and the welcome mat materialised by the hatstand. Stella beat her to it as something came through the letter box. She brought it back to The Doctor, smiling.

“A postcard from Mexico. From Gillian and Gordon,” she said. “I suppose she must have taken her magic pen on honeymoon.”

“Having a wonderful time, all thanks to you, Doctor.”

He smiled. He would have to find a special place to keep that. Apart from that fact that it came from his friend, Gillian, it was the first thank you note he had received for about four hundred years.