“Hold on to your hat,” The Doctor called out to Donna as he pressed buttons and pulled levers that only he understood the purpose of. “We’re in for a bumpy ride.”

“Nuts to my hat,” Donna answered as she grasped two of the handholds on the console. “Why are we in for a bumpy ride?”

“I’m picking up a strange energy source – strange as in it has no business being in that place and that time.”

“What place and what time?” Donna asked.

“Earth, in 1943,” The Doctor replied. “Press that button by your left hand, if you would, please.”

Donna let go of the handhold to press the button. Naturally it was at that point that the TARDIS dropped out of the vortex – literally dropped, like a lift in freefall. Her hand flailed wildly as she tried to regain her balance. She tried to avoid touching anything on the console itself, but she couldn’t help it. Her hand brushed against a large scroll wheel and it moved a fraction. The Doctor yelped with annoyance and ran around the console, leaning over her arm to re-adjust the setting.

“Sorry,” she said.

“It’s ok,” he assured her. “We’re in the same temporal location. But I had chosen a discreet place to land. Now I’m not quite sure where we’re going to end up and we’re already committed to the materialisation. I can’t stop it, now.”

“We’re not going to end up in a volcano or anything?” Donna asked.

No, I doubt it,” The Doctor answered her. “Seeing as we’re heading for Manchester.”

The TARDIS materialised. The Doctor glanced at the viewscreen and noted that it was dark. Night in wartime always was, though. He checked the lifesigns monitor and confirmed that they were on a flat area of ground a few hundred yards from buildings containing several hundred Human lifesigns as well as the energy source he had noted.

He decided it was probably safe to go outside. He looked at Donna. She was wearing a simple jumper and skirt that could fit in at any period from the late 1930s onwards. No need to worry about period costume. His own pinstripe suit went with just about anything. He reached out his hand to her and they headed for the door.

As they crossed the ground – very good, smooth tarmac, The Doctor noted, a siren began to wail. Searchlights swept the sky and from the top of one of the buildings there was the sound of gunfire. Somebody was operating an anti-aircraft gun.

“It’s an air raid!” The Doctor glanced back at the TARDIS. It was the best place to ride out the bombing. But just then somebody shouted and there were running feet. He put up his hands and urged Donna to do the same as two soldiers pointed rifles at them.

“I don’t know who you are, or how you got in,” said one of them. “We’ll find out later. Meanwhile, get to the air raid shelter. And don’t try anything funny.”

“The thought of doing anything funny had not even begun to contemplate the possibility of crossing my mind,” The Doctor answered as he began to walk in the direction indicated by the bayonet end of the rifle prodded close to his kidneys. Donna said nothing. She just presumed The Doctor knew a way of getting himself out of this.

They were at the door of a wooden hut with steps leading down to an underground shelter when they heard the unmistakeable sound of a crash-landing. The Doctor, Donna and the two soldiers both turned and looked as a plane with one wing on fire and the other clearly marked with the Luftwaffe symbol, the outline of a German ‘iron cross’, came down on the tarmac and ploughed into the TARDIS. The bombs it was carrying exploded with an ear-shattering noise and the fire made the night as bright as day. They felt the heat of it on their faces briefly before the soldiers ushered them down into the shelter.

“Doctor,” Donna whispered as they went down the steps and came out into a large underground room. “The TARDIS…”

“Nearly got a volcano after all,” he said. “It’ll be all right. It’s not really made of wood, you know.”

“No talking,” said one of the two soldiers, a Corporal in a Parachute Regiment beret. “Keep your hands where I can see them and stand still while I search you for weapons. Leading Aircraftwoman Swift, the woman, if you please.”

Leading Aircraftwoman Swift came forward and quickly ascertained that Donna was not carrying anything that looked like a weapon, though she did confiscate her digital watch and mobile phone because they looked like espionage equipment. The contents of The Doctor’s pockets were also confiscated. The Corporal looked at the sonic screwdriver curiously and asked if it was a weapon.

“It’s a tool,” The Doctor answered. “Please be careful with it. You could get hurt.”

“We’ve got experts who can deal with things like that,” the Corporal answered. “Just sit down there, sir. And you, miss.”

“This is a mistake, you know,” Donna said. “We’re not spies or anything. I’m from Chiswick.”

“We’ll sort it all out after the air raid,” the Corporal answered, not unkindly. “Though if you’re not spies, I don’t know why else you’d be out there on the runway.”

“Runway?” Donna was surprised. “We’re at an airport?”

“You don’t know where you are?” The Corporal asked. “How can you not know that you’re….”

“Corporal Mott,” a voice called in a commanding manner. “Don’t fraternise with the prisoners.”

“Right you are, Sergeant,” the Corporal answered. “You two just sit down now. I’ll see if I can get you a couple of cups of tea.”

“Isn’t that fraternisation?” asked The Doctor as he sat on a bench and pulled Donna gently down next to him.

“No, sir. A cup of tea is your right under the Geneva Convention. Even if you are spies.”

He went off to do that. Leading Aircraftwoman Swift watched them for a minute or so, but there was obviously nowhere that two unarmed people could go in the middle of an air raid so she went back to what she was doing and they were more or less ignored by the rest of the soldiers and RAF personnel sitting out the inconveniently timed raid.

“I know where we are,” Donna whispered to The Doctor.

“You do?”

“RAF Ringway, later to become Manchester Airport.”

“And you know this because….”

“Because Corporal Mott is my granddad. And he was stationed at Ringway in 1943, when he was in the Parachute Regiment.”

“Ah.” The Doctor noted this information and to Donna’s annoyance said nothing else. Well done, would have been nice. After all, she had worked it out by herself. She thought that was quite clever.

Maybe he was sulking, she thought. Because she had figured it out and he hadn’t.

“Donna,” he said presently. “You can’t tell him who you are. It would be a very dangerous thing to do. Promise me you won’t….”

“As if I’m that daft,” she replied. “He didn’t even get married until after the war. I don’t even think he’s met my gran, yet. I’m not going to say, ‘hi gramps, it’s me, Donna. You bought me my first doll on my very first Christmas.’”

“Sorry,” he answered her. “That was a bit patronising. But it is important. Really, Donna. You MUST be careful. Not even a hint, not even a flicker of an eyelid.”

“Ok. I get it. Still… it’s kind of a coincidence. Here we are, in the middle of an air raid, with an alien energy source somewhere near here, and my granddad. Small universe, or what?”

“Very small,” The Doctor agreed. It WAS just coincidence, of course. He hated coincidences. Sometimes they weren’t coincidences. Sometimes he was being played. And he hated that.

The air raid lasted a long, terrifying hour. There was very little conversation in the bunker. Soldiers, airmen and a handful of WAAFs all sat quietly and drank the hot, strong tea that was distributed freely.

The Doctor and Donna drank their tea. It was made with powdered milk and golden syrup instead of sugar, but it was welcome, all the same.

“Where is all the Dunkirk Spirit I used to hear about?” Donna whispered to The Doctor. “People singing in the shelters, defying Hitler with a smile and all that?”

“It’s 1943,” The Doctor replied. “I think they’re all a bit too tired for it. The Dunkirk Spirit is flagging a bit. Besides, this shelter is under a building in the middle of a major military target. They’ve got a lot to worry about.”

“But its almost over. The war. Only another year and a half to go.”

“They don’t know that,” The Doctor pointed out. “D-Day is still eight months away. These people don’t even know yet that they’re being prepared for it. The plans are still top secret. And even then there’s a lot to do before it starts looking hopeful. Right now there’s nothing to assure these people that this is ever going to be over, let alone that they’re going to win. And… besides… some of them won’t be there to see that victory.” He looked around the shelter. He didn’t need any special Time Lord powers to know that some of these souls were going to die before the end of the war. There were still bitter fights to be fought in the air, sea and land and they would be in the thick of it.

There were only two people he knew for sure would make it through. One of them was Corporal Wilf Mott, Donna’s future grandfather. The other….

The All Clear sounded. Everyone began to move about. It might have been possible for them to slip away before anyone remembered that they were there, but The Doctor knew that would be counter-productive. What he needed was to see the Commanding Officer and establish his credentials. Then he could get on with sorting out what was going on here.

As others went about their duties, Corporal Mott brought Leading Aircraftwoman Swift to the prisoners and told them to come quietly and without making a fuss.

“I didn’t plan to make a fuss,” The Doctor assured him as they reached the top of the stairs and stepped in line between the two NCOs. “Where are you taking us?”

“To see the Major,” Corporal Mott answered. “He’ll want to know who you are and what you were up to.”

“Ok,” The Doctor replied. “After you.”

“No, sir,” Corporal Mott said with surprising patience. “You and your friend must keep with us. You’re still prisoners.”

“Very good, let’s go. Molte Bene, Allons-y, Avanti.”

“Stop showing off,” Donna told him, elbowing him in the ribs to enforce her order. The Doctor just grinned and strode quickly along the corridor, forcing Donna and the two officers to race to catch up with him. He was a very difficult person to make a prisoner of.

Eventually, Corporal Mott managed to steer The Doctor towards a door with the name ‘Major Henry Marsh’ on it. He knocked and there was a clipped order from within to ‘enter’. The Major looked up from his desk as they stood before him. He gave a very good impression of having been absorbed in his paperwork for hours and only just noticed that they were all standing there, even though he must have been in a shelter like everyone else until a few minutes ago.

“Well?” he asked brusquely.

“These two civilians were found on the runway just a few minutes before the air raid,” explained Corporal Mott. “They’re not armed, but they have a curious collection of personal possessions and they don’t seem to be able to account for themselves.”

“Yes, we can,” The Doctor contradicted him. “If you give me half a minute. I’m The Doctor. This is Miss Donna Noble. I can vouch for her.”

“Can you, indeed?” the Major responded. “And who will vouch for you?”

“Oh, I have the most impeccable credentials,” The Doctor replied. He reached out and took a fountain pen from its stand on the desk and wrote down a telephone number and a long alphanumeric code. He did so upside down so that the Major could read it without turning the page. Donna, who found reading upside down a useful office skill, noted that two of the letters in the code were the Greek T and S.

“Call that number,” he said. “Give that pass code.”

The Major was surprised, but not as surprised as he was when the operator connected him to the number.

“Prime Minister, sir,” he said, practically sitting to attention. “Yes, sir. He’s here, in my office, now. With a woman he says he will vouch for. I…”

The Major stopped taking and listened very carefully for several minutes.

“Yes, sir, absolutely,” he said at last. “Yes, he will have every assistance. Yes, sir. Goodbye, sir.”

The Major put the phone back on its cradle and looked at The Doctor with a new respect.

“The Prime Minister says I am to give you full co-operation in the current situation,” he said. “It seems you’re an expert on… well… the sort of situation we have here. Also… he seems to think you and he have been friends since you were at school. But… er…”

“Don’t worry about that,” The Doctor replied, looking Major Henry Marsh directly in the eyes and exerting a bit of Power of Suggestion. Just a tiny bit. Men like the Major needed to be in control of their own mental faculties.

“So, anyway,” The Doctor added. “I’d like to get my investigation under way. Perhaps these two officers can show me where the strange technology is being kept.”

“Yes, very good,” the Major agreed. “Corporal Mott, Leading Aircraftwoman Swift, you’ll attend to The Doctor and Miss Noble. Show him anything he needs to see. Full co-operation.”

“Excellent,” The Doctor said. “Let’s get along. Corporal Mott, after you.”

This time the Corporal did leave first. The Doctor and Donna followed and Leading Aircraftwoman Swift followed. Outside there was a fire tender dealing with the burning aeroplane on the runway and a red cross ambulance into which a covered stretcher was being put.

“Oh, the pilot,” Donna murmured. “Oh….”

“It’s just a German,” said Leading Aircraftwoman Swift.

“It’s not just anything,” Donna replied. “It’s a Human being who died in a horrible way. One day, you know, the war will be over, and you’ll have to learn to live with Germans in peace. And then you’ll have to think of them as people just like you. They’re not ‘just’ Germans or just anything. They’re Humans.”

The Doctor didn’t say anything. He thought Donna was doing fine by herself. He whistled softly to himself a contemporary song called “Don’t Let’s Be Beastly To The Germans” as he looked through the smouldering remains of the plane to his unscathed TARDIS. He made a mental note to ask Corporal Mott to have it moved somewhere safer later.

“Come along, sir,” Corporal Mott said. “Best move fast. In case there’s another raid.”

He led the way across the runway to a hangar that loomed in the dark. There were no lights allowed in the blackout, of course. There was a small door beside the huge hangar door. It was ajar.

“There should be a guard here,” Corporal Mott said. “This isn’t quite right.”

“I agree,” The Doctor said. “Donna, Sylvia, wait outside. Wilf, with me.” He sidled in through the half-open door, taking care not to move it too much. Donna and Aircraftwoman Swift gave a disgusted look to his retreating back. Corporal Mott tried to remember he was the military man and should have gone in first.

Inside, the hangar was in darkness. The Doctor closed the door and reached to find a light switch. He found several on a board and switched them all on. As the overhead strip lights came on he saw something that made even his eyes boggle. Corporal Mott gaped in astonishment.

“Gordon Bennett,” he said. “I never knew it was something like this they had hidden here. It’s a…. a…”

“It’s trouble,” The Doctor said. He looked at the space ship. If Donna was standing beside him she would probably have said it looked like a pogo ball – the plastic toy consisting of a pressurised rubber ball wedged into a ring for standing on and jumping about that was a must have toy of the mid-1980s. Aside from the ring having a diameter equal to the wingspan of a Hurricane bomber and the ball being the size of a bungalow, she would be right. It defied the laws of gravity by staying perpendicular even though it had to be top heavy. Even without getting out his sonic screwdriver, The Doctor could tell there was a powerful energy source within. He could feel it in his bones. Unless he was mistaken, it was Phalon energy. It was something not dissimilar to the Artron energy that powered the TARDIS and actually was in his own bones, since his Time Lord body was infused with the stuff.

Phalon was only used as a power source in one time and place as far as he knew.

“What’s going on?” asked Donna as she and Leading Aircraftwoman Swift decided they’d waited outside long enough and came after The Doctor and Corporal Mott. “Oh, my God… it’s…”

“It’s a ruddy space ship,” said Corporal Mott. “From outer space.”

“It’s not,” The Doctor replied.

“Not what?” Donna asked as she watched The Doctor investigating the apparently seamless lower part of the ‘ball’. It was textured rather than smooth, but there was no obvious door.

“It’s not from outer space.” The Doctor replied. “It’s a Human space ship from the far future.”

“You mean it’s… a time travel machine?” Leading Aircraftwoman Swift was incredulous. “But that’s not possible, surely? I mean, I’ve read books… HG Wells…. But it’s not real.”

“It’s real, Sylvia,” The Doctor answered. “Time travel is possible. This lot shouldn’t have access to it. They were supposed to have been stopped. But… obviously one of their craft was missed.”

“How do you know my name is Sylvia?” Leading Aircraftwoman Swift asked.

“Yes, come to think of it, how come you called me Wilf earlier?” Corporal Mott added.

“I’m psychic,” The Doctor replied. “It really isn’t important right now. What IS important is preventing immense harm to the future of the Human race.” He disappeared from view as he moved around the base of the ship. When he came around the other side he was looking frustrated. “I can’t open it. It’s unresponsive to my DNA. Donna… come here a moment, please.”

Donna stepped forward nervously. He took hold of her hand and pressed it palm down against the textured surface. Immediately there was a hiss of escaping air and a door began to open up into the ship, the wall morphing neatly into steps up into it.

“Thanks,” The Doctor told her. “It needed a Human palm print to activate the door mechanism.”

“Human?” Sylvia queried. “Why… what are you then?”

“He’s a friend of Winston Churchill,” Wilf told her. “Best not ask any questions. Doctor, what’s going on?”

The Doctor didn’t answer his question. He stepped into the space ship. Donna followed. Wilf and Sylvia looked at each other and then went after them.

Donna had only been in one spaceship before – the TARDIS. It looked nothing like this. Wilf and Sylvia had never been in a space ship at all, and Star Trek was still decades away. They had no expectations at all. In any case the interior décor of the ship was of far less importance to any of them than the fact that six humans were lying on the floor, either dead or unconscious. Four of them were in RAF ground crew overalls, another was in an army Captain’s uniform and the last was in a white laboratory coat. The Doctor was kneeling beside the scientist checking his vital signs. Donna took one look and bent to look closely at the Captain. Wilf and Sylvia took only a few seconds more to do the same.

“They all seem to be alive,” Wilf confirmed. “But what’s wrong with them? And how did they get in here?”

“These would be working in the hangar, examining the spaceship?” The Doctor asked, answering a question with a question.

“Yes, sir,” Sylvia Swift told him. “This is Aircraftwoman Lucy Armstrong. She’s a WAAF like me. We’re in the same barracks. She told me last night that she was on something hush-hush in Hangar three, but she wasn’t allowed to tell me what.”

“That’s Professor Bernard Sharples,” Wilf added, pointing to the scientist that The Doctor was still examining. “I drove him from the station this afternoon. He’s a scientific expert from Cambridge. I suppose they wanted him to look at this.”

“They’ve not been out long,” The Doctor said. “The professor’s watch was stopped by whatever knocked him out. This happened just before the air raid, I think.”

“Where are the people from the space ship, then?” Donna asked. “The… ones from the future that you mentioned?”

“I have a horrible suspicion,” The Doctor replied. He sighed as he reached for his sonic screwdriver. He had really wanted to keep his own future technology out of the way in front of Wilf and Sylvia, but he had to wake the professor. He needed information from him.

He shone the blue light in the professor’s face. At first nothing happened. The Doctor increased the frequency of the mode designed to bring round unconscious humanoids. Slowly the scientist began to respond. But even when he opened his eyes and looked up at The Doctor, he seemed dazed.

“Professor Sharples, I’m The Doctor. Can you tell me what happened to you?”

The professor’s mouth opened and closed and some kind of sound came out, though it was more like a moan than any kind of answer to The Doctor’s question. He stared vacantly at The Doctor but didn’t seem to be able to construct a sentence. The Doctor decided to try a more direct means of communication. He put his hand over the professor’s forehead and gently reached into his mind.

He was shocked. The professor’s mind was almost neutralised. He still had all his memories, still had knowledge about aerodynamics and advanced jet propulsion – his expert field, of course. But he seemed to have been robbed of his power of speech. No, worse than that. It was as if everything that made Professor Bernard Sharples more than a collection of knowledge, his personality, was gone.

“Go back to sleep, old man,” The Doctor told him and applied a different sonic screwdriver setting. He felt the professor drift back into unconsciousness then looked around at the other victims. “Is there somewhere… a rest room, somewhere with soft chairs – where we could put them for now? Somewhere they’d be safe and warm?”

“Not here,” Sylvia answered. “The WAAF sleeping quarters are closest. But it’s right across the runway.”

“There’s a sort of cart thing outside the hangar,” Donna pointed out. “Looks like something used for moving tools or baggage.”

“All right, everyone lift a body,” The Doctor said, pulling up the professor in a fireman’s lift. Wilf also managed to lift a man by himself. Donna and Sylvia between them brought Aircraftwoman Lucy Armstrong and laid them on the baggage cart. When he inquired, Sylvia told The Doctor that she knew how to operate it. He told her to hop aboard and get it started while he and Wilf went back for the other victims.

“Ok,” The Doctor said. “Donna, you hop aboard as well. You and Sylvia look after these poor souls. Wilf and I are heading back to see the Major.”

Donna looked slightly mutinous. She was being sent off to do Florence Nightingale duty while The Doctor and Wilf were going to do the interesting stuff. But Sylvia started up the cart and she didn’t have any choice in the matter. The Doctor nodded to Wilf.

“At the double,” he said. Wilf nodded and adopted a double time marching gait. The Doctor kept up with him easily. Actually, he could have run much faster than the Corporal, but he didn’t want to look too unusual. As it was, sooner or later, Sylvia was going to remember that he couldn’t open the space ship because he wasn’t Human and he would have to do some explaining.


Sylvia remembered it while they were transferring the unconscious people to the beds in the WAAF dormitory. She asked Donna about it. Donna tried to bluff, but Sylvia insisted.

“He seems to know so much about things he shouldn’t – like space ships from the future. He sounded as if he knew what was going on here. As if he recognised that sort of ship.”

“Well, if he did, he didn’t explain it to me.”

“But it’s true… isn’t it? He ISN’T from Earth. He’s from another world?”

“Yes,” Donna admitted. “But don’t be scared. He’s not… you know… some sort of reptile under a Human skin or anything. He’s a nice man. A really nice man. He just happens to come from another planet.”

“I wonder what he thinks of our planet, then,” Sylvia said with a sigh. “I mean, look at us. There’s hardly a bit of this world not at war with another bit of it. He must think we’re terrible.”

“No, he doesn’t, funnily enough. He seems rather proud of us. I suppose because he knows the future. He knows this war will be sorted, soon. And we’ll try to make a better planet. Even if it takes us a long time to get it right.”

“This war… sorted… soon…”

“Oh, I think I wasn’t meant to tell you that,” Donna groaned. “He warned me earlier and I thought he was just being fussy. But… look, forget I said that. Really.”

Yes… But…” Sylvia began. Then she stopped. The door from the WAAF common room opened and somebody stepped into the dormitory. It was one of the WAAFs. She wouldn’t have paid any attention at all, except that she appeared to be Aircraftwoman Lucy Armstrong, who was also in the bed she was standing next to right at that moment. She looked down at the unconscious version of Lucy, then at the fully conscious one who stopped and stared at her and Donna.


Wilf and The Doctor reached the Major’s office. The Doctor knocked peremptorily and then walked straight in. Wilf hung back before following him, hoping that The Doctor would be blamed for the intrusion and not him.

“Sorry, sir,” he said just to be sure. “The gentleman wouldn’t wait…”

The Major was not alone. Professor Sharples was with him – or somebody who looked a lot like Professor Sharples. The Doctor didn’t stop to puzzle over it. He reached for his sonic screwdriver in an eyeblink and aimed it at the professor. Wilf and the Major both gaped in amazement as they saw the Professor shimmer and change into a tall man in a military looking black uniform and a leather mask covering his face except where eye, nostril and a mouth slit were cut. He gave a snarling cry of anger and reached for a weapon in his pocket. Wilf and the Major both reached for their side arms a moment later and fired. The strange man fell back. The Doctor staggered as a bullet from the dying man’s gun slammed into his shoulder. He gritted his teeth against the pain and hoped neither the Major nor the Corporal would notice he was wounded. His alien body would repair itself in a few minutes and that would worry them even more than the fact that he was hit in the first place.

Wilf stepped forward to examine the intruder and pronounced him dead. The major pulled the mask off and noted the ordinary Human features beneath it.

“I expected… well… I’m not altogether sure what I expected. He… came from the spaceship in the hanger? A… a creature that can take on somebody else’s face… but he’s Human.”

“It’s just clever science,” The Doctor said. He reached with his good arm, the other stiff and painful yet, and took the mask from the Major’s hands. He flipped it inside out and showed him the printed circuits on a thin membrane inside. “Very advanced technology. Beyond your imagining, let alone contemporary possibilities. It projects a false image of whoever the wearer has chosen to impersonate.”

“It didn’t just look like professor Sharples,” the Major protested. “It acted like him. It had his knowledge…”

“That’s part of the technology, too,” The Doctor explained. “It’s a psychic receiver. It’s fixed on the real Sharples, using his mind while he’s in a comatose state incapable of even basic brain functions. Or he was. Now that we’ve broken the contact with this one, he should wake up with nothing more than a mild headache.”

“And where is the real Professor?” the Major asked, not unreasonably.

“He’s all right,” The Doctor answered. “He’s with Donna and Sylvia.”

Donna and Sylvia stared at the other version of Lucy Armstrong and the two masked people who stood behind her. They backed away quickly, but not quite quickly enough. At a hand signal from Lucy the two masked men sprang towards them. Donna screamed as one of them grasped her by the neck. Sylvia didn’t even manage to scream. She collapsed unconscious beside Donna.

“Put them on one of the beds,” said the simulacrum Lucy Armstrong to the duplicates of Sylvia and Donna who stood over their comatose counterparts.

“This one…” said the one who had take Donna’s form. “She is… not of this place. She is with a man… called The Doctor. He has knowledge beyond anyone of this time. He knows what we are. He is dangerous.”

“Go and deal with him,” said the Lucy double. “We will continue assimilating the rest of the personnel. The plan will not be compromised by this Doctor or anyone else.”

The simulacrums of Donna and Sylvia stood to attention and saluted the Lucy simulacrum before turning and marching away. Lucy turned and signalled. A group of WAAFs who should have been off duty and a large number of masked men in black uniforms came from the common room, where, with the door wide open, the unconscious forms of the off duty WAAFs could be seen lying on the chairs, or slumped on the floor.

“Later, we shall need to consider storage of the hosts,” Lucy said as she took the head of the strange column of troops and headed for the door.

Professor Sharples waited until they were gone, then sat up and looked around. His eye fell on Donna and Sylvia, left haphazardly on one of the beds. He examined them carefully and shook his head. There was nothing he could do for them for the time being. He left them and the other victims and followed the simulacrums.


“They’re from the future,” The Doctor explained to the Major. “The very far future. The fiftieth century to be exact. They call themselves the Fascisti, which should tell you all you need to know about their political and military objectives. They tried to start a world revolution in 4990, replacing the democratic government with a military junta. They failed and most of their leaders were either killed in the fighting or imprisoned. When it was discovered that they had ships with rudimentary time travel, the danger to causality was quickly realised. The Time Agency was formed in order to combat them. Most were rounded up before they could do any damage. This one must have slipped through the net. They came here, in the ship you have in your hangar.”

“It crashlanded here, in the fields behind the hangar, two days ago,” the Major said. “Obviously we got it under wraps and tried to find out what it was. We thought it was… something Hitler had dreamt up as a new weapon…”

“No, it’s something much worse,” The Doctor replied. “I just can’t quite work out why they’re here. What is the point of taking over this air base? How could that help their cause?”

“Corporal Mott, could you step outside for a few minutes,” the Major said. “There is information I have to share with The Doctor which is of the highest security classification.”

“Yes, sir,” Corporal Mott said, saluting sharply and doing one of those on the spot turns and quick marches that looked so sharp and impressive to a civilian. As he opened the door, however, he was surprised to see Donna and Sylvia outside. They stepped in without a word of invitation.

“Donna, Sylvia,” The Doctor said. “Are you two all right? What about the Professor and the others?”

“They’re being taken care of,” Donna said. “Doctor, you must come with us, now. There is something you have to see.”

“Is it to do with Professor Sharples?” The Doctor asked, appearing to make eye contact with the two women while watching the third person who stepped in through the door. He gave the very slightest of nods and the Professor reached and banged Sylvia and Donna’s heads together hard. They fell to the ground in a crumpled heap. The Major and Wilf both exclaimed at such ungentlemanly treatment of two women, but The Doctor calmly took out his sonic screwdriver again and aimed it at them until the glamour disappeared and they could plainly be seen as two men in leather masks.

“Professor, well done. Major, keep your weapon trained on them.” The Doctor bent over and adjusted the sonic screwdriver. “Wilf, run back to the dormitory and make sure Sylvia and Donna are all right. Bring them back here. Keep your side arm ready at all times. If anyone tries to obstruct you, shoot them… in the leg, if you please. Let’s keep fatalities to the minimum.”

Wilf looked to the Major who nodded to confirm The Doctor’s instruction and then moved off at the double. The Doctor bent and pulled off the masks and then aimed the sonic screwdriver at the one that had been Donna. He woke up quickly to find himself grasped in The Doctor’s vicelike grip.

“What is your mission, here?” he demanded. “Talk or I’ll forget I’m a pacifist and let the Major shoot you. As a spy trespassing on a top security military facility he has the right to do that.”

“I will tell you nothing. I would rather die. Let him shoot me.”

“I think not,” The Doctor answered. He reached and put his hand on the Fascisti’s forehead. He had to concentrate very hard. He was strong-willed, and possibly trained to withstand psychic attack. But he was stronger. He managed to break down the mental barriers enough to see the plan. He withdrew and adjusted the sonic screwdriver again. He put the Fascisti back into a deep sleep.

“The classified information you didn’t want Corporal Mott to hear,” he said to the Major. “It concerns a secret visit to this base by the Prime Minister, Mr Churchill, tomorrow?”

“Yes,” the Major replied. “I mean… how did you…”

“THEY know about it. It’s why they’re here. They’re after Churchill.”

“An assassination?” The Major and the Professor both gasped in horror. “But… but why?”

“Because the war is still at a point where it could go either way. The Allies are strong, but their big counter-offensive is still at the planning stage. You have some limited information, of course. You’ve been preparing your men for a big operation, possibly involving parachuting into occupied territory. You’ve not yet been let into the bigger picture, and it’s not for me to do so. But if Churchill is taken out at this stage, those plans would fall apart. The war would not swing towards the Allies. The Axis powers would succeed in breaking them and fascism would be triumphant over Europe. They would have succeeded in changing history and allowing their kind of totalitarianism to triumph.” The Doctor looked at the two men as the Major handcuffed them to his desk to make sure they didn’t wake up and cause any further trouble.

“No… it’s not an assassination attempt,” The Doctor added as he worked out the rest of the plan. “Nothing so simple. His death would be a blow to morale. It would leave a gap in the government, and a powerful strategist taken out of the equation. But those plans are in the hands of more than one man. And the gap could be filled. Outrage at his death would more than likely galvanise the Allies and stiffen their resolve. No, he wouldn’t be killed. Churchill would be assimilated and his copy would take his place and sabotage the plans. Maybe he would only be the first. They could assimilate the whole Allied Command.”

“They’ve got to be stopped.”

“Yes, they must be,” The Doctor agreed. “Thousands of years of freedom and growth for the Human race cannot be replaced with millennia of totalitarianism.”

“What do we do?” The Major stood and looked at The Doctor. “I am at a loss. I am in charge of this military facility, the men and women under my command. But I do not know what to do. I don’t even know who I actually do command, and who is an imposter.”

Wilf arrived back with Sylvia and Donna. The Doctor looked at them and quickly swept them with his sonic screwdriver – just in case.

“You can count on Corporal Mott and Leading Aircraftwoman Swift, the Professor, Donna and me,” The Doctor told the Major. “That’s not a bad start.”

“Six of us, and only two combatants,” The Major was doubtful. “I can hardly lead a counter offensive with one corporal, a pair of women and two scientists…”

Leading Aircraftwoman Swift couldn’t argue with a commanding officer. Donna Noble could. The Major stepped back defensively from the torrent of words like ‘chauvinist pig’ that were hurled at him. Professor Sharples was slightly indignant, too, at being dismissed so airily. When the two of them were finished The Doctor pitched an idea to the Major.

“What we need is another air raid,” he said.


Any other night, a second air raid would be something the Major would have dreaded. He briefly wondered why he allowed The Doctor to persuade him to do such a thing. But then he couldn’t think of a reason why not, either. He watched as the sirens wailed and the hundreds of personnel on the base ran for the several air raid shelters around the complex.

The Major, with Corporal Mott and Leading Aircraftwoman Swift, all with weapons drawn, made their way to the first shelter, followed by the civilians, The Doctor, The Professor and Donna. The Doctor had his sonic screwdriver held almost like a weapon.

“Have you ever held a gun,” Donna asked him, out of pure curiosity.

“Yes, I have,” he answered. “I’ve used one. I’ve fought in wars. I’ve done what I had to do… done my duty.”

“You mean you’ve killed… the enemy.”

“Yes,” he reluctantly conceded. “But that was… the past. Now… now I shouldn’t have to. I’ve seen too much death. I’ve been the cause of it too often. Now, I hope… I want to be able to find another way.”

“They can’t,” Donna pointed out. “Wilf and the Major. They have to. They’re in the middle of a war. And… what if there is no other way to deal with this lot, these Fascisti? You don’t mean that you’d stand there and watch…do nothing… while good people fight and die…?”

“No, it means I’ll try to make sure they don’t have to.” He looked at his sonic screwdriver in his hand. “Donna, stay behind with the Professor.” He stepped quickly forward and fell into step with The Major and the Corporal. “I’m not an ordinary civilian. And nobody takes a bullet for me,” he said. “Nor do I hide behind guns and let others take the risks for me.”

The Major might have protested, but they were at the entrance to the air raid shelter already. They moved down the steps quickly and quietly and looked at the group of uniformed men and women, soldiers, airmen, WAAFs, ancilliary staff who manned the canteens and cleaned the corridors. The Doctor raised his sonic screwdriver and four WAAFs, two privates and a cleaner all turned into masked men in black uniforms. The Major shouted an order above the sudden exclamations of surprise and soldiers under his command sprang into action, disarming and disabling the Fascisti swiftly.

“Take them to the guardhouse,” the Major ordered. “There are two more in my office, as well.” He detailed a group of soldiers to go and collect them and a half dozen to join him as they moved on to the next shelter. There, they came across a much larger contingent of the Fascisti, the group disguised as Lucy Armstrong and her WAAFs. When The Doctor dispersed the projection they fought back. There were casualties despite The Doctor’s injunction that they should be shot to wound.

“Sorry, Doctor,” the Major said as it was revealed that the former Lucy Armstrong double was among three Fascisti fatally wounded. “But that’s war. And THEY began this, not us.”

The Doctor said nothing. Deep down he knew the Major had a point. But he still regretted it was necessary.

It was nearly dawn by the time they were done. The Major had the All Clear sounded and then ordered a muster of all personnel on the tarmac. The Army, RAF, and others who gathered, men and women, in and out of proper uniform, were puzzled to see a police telephone box in the middle of their parade ground. They were even more puzzled when the light on top of it flashed for several seconds. The Doctor and Donna stepped out of the TARDIS in time to see four more Fascisti revealed among the ranks and quickly taken in hand.

“I expected as much,” The Doctor said “Bound to be a few that slipped through the net. I’ve contacted some people who’ll be taking them off your hands very soon. Then you can relax and get ready for the Prime Minister’s visit.”

“Doctor, you do know that Mr Churchill is coming here to see the space ship in the hangar?” The Major told him.

“Ah.” The Doctor looked thoughtful. “That means…. Ohhh, a recursive paradox. The Fascisti came here because Churchill was going to be here. And the reason he was going to be here was to see their ship. Does your head in, that sort of thing. It really does. Tell you what, though. I think I’ll have another word with the people who are coming to pick up the prisoners. Make sure to keep all your personnel away from the hangar, meanwhile. Strictly off limits to everyone.”

“May I ask who IS coming for the prisoners?” the Major asked.

“Time Agents, from the 50th century, responsible for dealing with the Fascisti menace to Human freedom. They’ll be here in about twenty minutes. Tell you what, might be a good idea if all but a minimum security detail went and had their breakfast right now. What they don’t see won’t hurt them. And make sure anyone who does see signs the Official Secrets Act.”

The Major had another brief moment when he remembered that he was supposed to be in charge of RAF Ringway, and then did exactly what The Doctor told him. Twenty minutes later, he was one of the few witnesses to the space ship that landed behind the guard house and the soldiers from the future who took charge of the prisoners.

A few minutes after the space ship took off again, there was an explosion that completely devastated the hangar where the Fascisti ship was being kept.

“Unexploded bomb,” The Doctor said. “From last night’s raid.”

“If you say so,” the Major conceded. “Mr Churchill will be disappointed.”

“Best he didn’t see it. He might have been too interested in using the technology. You WILL beat Hitler, I promise. But not with weapons that you shouldn’t have for another five thousand years.”


Churchill didn’t come. His visit was called off at the last minute. Donna was a little bit disappointed at not getting to meet a genuine historical character. In compensation, The Doctor took her to lunch in a nice pub not far from Ringway. Corporal Mott and Leading Aircraftwoman Swift were given permission to join them. Later, when they were back in the TARDIS and preparing to leave Donna commented about how cosy Wilf and Sylvia had seemed to be with each other.

“Of course they are,” The Doctor replied. “You didn’t work it out, did you?”

“Work what out?”

“Your mum’s name is Sylvia, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Named after her mum… Granny Mott.”

The penny dropped. Donna’s eyes opened wide with surprise.

“Oh…. You mean…”

They won’t do anything about it just yet. What with the war and not being sure where they might be posted. But afterwards, Wilf will ask her to marry him. They’ll settle down, raise a daughter. Won’t exactly be a happy ever after, of course. Life rarely is…”

“Granny Mott died when I was at school,” Donna said. “That was when granddad came to live with us. Mum insisted he couldn’t look after himself. I didn’t mind. I was always close to him. When mum’s nagging got to much for us both we would escape up on his allotment and drink tea from a flask and eat spam sandwiches and watch the skies through his telescope.” Donna thought about things for a moment. “Won’t he think it weird… when he remembers meeting me?”

The Doctor shook his head. “Before we left I had a quick word with him… well… more than a word. A bit of light hypnotism, really. Blurred the edge of his memory. He’ll remember meeting Donna and The Doctor and some right funny stuff happening at Ringway. But he won’t remember our faces. He might… just… suggest ‘Donna’ as a good name for his first granddaughter?”

Donna considered that for a moment or so.

“Ok. That’s weird, a bit creepy, and it sounds like that recursive whatsit you mentioned before. But I suppose that’s something I can live with.”

“Good. Job done. How about a weekend in Blackpool in the 1990s?”