The TARDIS materialised in what must have been a favourite place if the TARDIS had such a thing. It had stood there for thirty-three years the last time he came to Forêt, here on the platform beside the workroom where he and Dominique and their children had spent their days.

The Doctor smiled as he stepped out of the TARDIS and felt the moist air. It was warm-rain season. Spring in other words. It was nearly four years since he left, after Dominique’s funeral. Little had changed. Nothing did on Forêt. And that was good. It was how he wanted it.

The workshop was quiet. It was shuttered and closed. He was surprised by that. On warm rain days they would work in its shelter, but with the shutters open so they could watch the rain and smell the sweet, natural smell of the new season’s growth.

“Perhaps there is a baton-haute tournament,” he said, to himself rather than to Donna, who stood by the TARDIS and watched him. “Come on,” he said to her. Let’s look up in the living quarters.”

He climbed the wooden ladder to the platform above with the agility of a squirrel. Donna followed a little more slowly, trying not to look down and glad that she had taken his advice and worn trousers. She wasn’t sure who might be looking up the tree, but she didn’t even want woodland animals looking at her underwear, thank you.

When she reached the next level The Doctor was already inside the living quarters, a wooden hut built on the platform, large and homely inside, furnished with wooden chairs padded with cushions and a table with a cloth over it. He had already opened the shutters to let in light and air and was busy searching through a wooden box full of folded linen. He took a pile of cloth from the chest and disappeared behind a silk screen decorated with painted leaf patterns.

No, not just leaves, she realised as she looked closely at it. There were two figures in the centre of the design. They looked something like old pictures of Adam and Eve, in that they were naked except for some judiciously placed greenery and were lying together in a passionate clinch.

And unless she was very much mistake, the “Adam” figure was the dead spitting image of The Doctor. The woman was slim, but not skinny, with all the right sort of curves and beautiful green eyes.

A very passionate clinch, Donna noted. They looked like two people who were very much in love with each other and enjoyed that love in a very physical and real way.

The Doctor and…. What did he say her name was?

“Doctor…” she called out, wondering what exactly he was doing behind the screen but being in no way curious enough to find out. “This woman…. Your wife….”

“Dominique,” he replied. “Yes…”

“You were with her for thirty-odd years?”

“She was my wife for much longer than that, really. I first met her when she was in her early twenties. She was lovely. Are you looking at the panel on the screen, there?”

“Yes,” Donna admitted. “That really is a picture of you and her?”

“She painted it. After I left the first time. As a remembrance of me. We both agreed to live our own lives. I had the stars. She had the village, the forest. I came back… and renewed my love for her. Then I was gone much longer the next time. She thought I was gone for good. And I never knew… when I returned, I had a teenage son. I stayed with them for a while, and got to know him. He learned to call me father – well – since he was French, he called me père – or papa. Anyway, he forgave me for not even knowing I existed all his life, and he learnt to love me. And I loved him. Then I left again. I felt I had to. There were things I had to do. The universe was calling, all of that. I visited often. I watched Dominic become a young man. Then one time I returned and found I had a baby daughter….” He paused. “Stop looking like that, Donna Noble. I know. Absent father isn’t something I ever imagined being. So I… well, I knew they deserved better. So I came here to stay. I gave her… my Dominique… I gave her a lifetime with me. I stayed with her until she died. Saw my Angel grow up and become a mother, too. After she died… I left again. They knew I would. My promise was to Dominique. But I always planned to come and visit and see them again. My children and grandchildren.

He stepped out from behind the screen and Donna was surprised. He had changed from his pinstripe suit into a hand made cotton shirt with a sort of woollen jerkin over it and loose trousers as well as a pair of hand made shoes made of a wooden sole and canvas upper. The whole outfit was dyed in shades of brown and green like the woods themselves. Donna’s first thought was he looked like Peter Pan. Her second thought was he looked like he belonged in this place.

“So… the people here are Human… they came from Earth.”

“Yes. Not Dominique… her ancestors a few centuries ago. Their colony ship crash landed and the survivors made the best of it.”

“So you and her… you’re an alien… I mean… you’re not Human. But you and her could have children together. You’re… compatible. You have a family here. Children, grandchildren.”


“You could have done that with any woman on planet Earth. But you didn’t. And yet, she…” Donna looked at the picture of The Doctor and his tree-house living woman. “She must have had quite an effect on you?”

“Oh, she did,” he answered with a wide smile. “The day I first came here… she literally swept me off my feet. It really was love at first sight. For both of us. That night…” He blushed. He actually blushed. Donna watched his face turn through several shades of pink. “I'm a Time Lord. We… are a very disciplined, reserved people. We keep our emotions in check. We take years in courtship – I mean decades. And we usually marry for financial or political reason. Love is a long way down the line. It’s not exactly against the law, but it would be unthinkable on my world… to spend the night with a woman… so soon after we met.”

“It’s considered a bit fast even on Earth,” Donna pointed out.

“She made me forget I was a Time Lord, a race considered frigid and unloving. I was willing to forget. In the morning… she called me her husband. I was a little shocked at first. But then I realised I liked the sound of it. I called her my wife. Our love was like a flash-fire that burned hot. But it didn’t just die away. It lasted… forever. She is… one of the bright, beautiful lights in my life. Even though she’s gone now, the memory of her warms my hearts.”

“Wow,” Donna responded. “Oh, Doctor. I’m… glad. I’m glad you’ve known some real, Human love. Or whatever you want to call it. I’m sorry she’s dead. I would have liked to have met the woman who made you forget you’re a Time Lord. But… why can’t you… go back and see her again when she was alive?”

“It would be too confusing for her. After we lived so long in a straight line. Besides… even Time Lord hearts can only take so much. I’m here, now, to see my children. Angeletta is the image of her. And Dominic is a fine man. Phillipe, his son… most of the other pictures around the walls are his. Remy and Claude, Angel’s boys… I wonder where they all are? I can’t wait to see them.”

He wandered around the room as he talked, touching things with loving tenderness, the silk hangings on the walls, the rag rugs on the smooth wooden floor, a rocking cradle stored in the corner of the room that brought a catch to his throat.

“I made this myself. For my Angel to sleep in,” he said. “Phillipe slept in it, too, when he was very small.”

“You made that?” Donna looked at the finely carved details on the cradle and was impressed. She caught hold of his hands and looked at them. “Granddad does DIY. His hands are rough. Yours… you’re a pen-pusher. Soft hands.”

“They toughen up after a few days around here,” he said. “I'm a very good carpenter. And I can weave silk faster than anyone else on the planet. And I can make medicines from tree bark and herbs and…”

He stopped talking. There were footsteps outside. The door opened. The next moment his conversation with Donna was forgotten as he hugged a woman who he called ‘Angel’ in deeply emotional tones. She called him ‘mon père in a tearful voice and kissed his cheeks again and again. Donna noticed that she was very heavily pregnant. The Doctor noticed that, too.

“I am pleased,” he said. “You and Pierre-Claude must be so happy.”

At that, Angeletta burst into tears. The Doctor held her tightly until her words became coherent.

“Pierre Claude doesn’t even know,” she sobbed. “He has been in the workcamp for so many months. He didn’t even know I was with child. They won’t let us see the men. We are allowed to see the children once a week, to bring food… but…”

“What!” The Doctor’s joy at being reunited with his daughter turned to horror as the story slowly came out. “Who… work camps… chéri, what has happened here? What about the children? Your boys - where are they?”

“They’re in a camp. Prisoners. The men have to work or the children will be punished. The women… We try to manage. We have to obey the Overlords or our little ones will suffer.”


He touched Angeletta’s forehead gently. First he radiated calming thoughts that stopped her shaking with fear and let her rest quietly in his arms. Then he gently looked at her memories of what had happened. He saw the day, seven months ago, when a spaceship had landed near the old Dalek mine. The aliens had brought smaller ships, over the trees, hovering over all of the villages. The people were transported into holding pens, taken to the mine. The whole population of Forêt, thousands, were rounded up in a few hours. They were sorted – women from men – children separated from them – mothers with very small children were kept with the children. The men were told they must work in the mine or the children would be tortured. The rest of the women were sent back to their villages and told to produce food. The Overlords took a share of it. What was left they were allowed to bring to the children and to the mine to be given to their men.

“These aliens,” The Doctor asked, though he wanted nothing more than to let his daughter rest and not think about such things. “What are they? What race?”

“They call themselves Overlords,” she answered. That was all she could tell him. In her memories he saw tall, thin humanoids, pale, almost blue skinned, hairless, with pallid eyes and cruel looking mouths. They wore leather and had energy guns and electronic whips with which they beat the spirit out of those who might have resisted the new regime that was forced upon the people of Forêt.

“Angel,” The Doctor whispered. “Have any of the women… have you… did they…”

He had trouble phrasing the question. But Angeletta knew what he meant. She shook her head.

“I would kill myself first.”

“You will not,” The Doctor replied. “I’m here, now. I will take care of you. I’ll take care of you all.”

“But… mon père… There are so many of them. You’re just one man. Even one as wonderful as you… How can you….”

“I’ve spent my life liberating people from oppression. The Thals, the Dulcis, the Karfelons, the Gonds… the Human race all over the universe. This is my planet, my people, my children. I won’t let you down. But… what I don’t understand… Angel, why didn’t you tell me sooner? You had the crystal. Or… Dominic… Dominic’s telepathy is strong. He could have reached me. He did before when I was needed.”

“Oh, Papa… that is the worst of it. Dominic took the crystal, to stop me calling you. He… He is a collaborateur. He works with the Overlords. He keeps Thérèse and Philippe in his quarters at the mine… as prisoners.”

“No!” The Doctor’s face paled in shock. “No. No. No. No. Not my son. No. He could not… He would not. Something must be wrong. Somebody must be making him do it. He would not…”

“Doctor!” Donna gave a shriek as the outer door opened and a man stepped in, dressed in a long black cloak and hood that hid his face. She imagined it must be one of the Overlords – or this Dominic who had betrayed them all.

“Marcas!” Angeletta exclaimed. “Oh, my friend. What are you doing here? If you were seen…”

“It’s time,” said the elderly man, taking off his cloak. “Doctor… it is you. I saw… a glimpse of blue between the trees… I hoped….”

“Marcas!” The Doctor echoed the name his daughter had spoken. Marcas O Murchu, the only Irishman on Forêt, was an old friend, one of many he had feared for. He was glad to see him alive. “Angel told me the men were all in workcamps… How did you…”

“I’m too old to work,” he answered. “The old men… they left us in the forest, expecting us to die of exposure. But they underestimated us. The forest is our home. It was hard work, but most of us got home. Our women hide us, find food for us. We’ve managed. But… Doctor… we need your help.”

“I intend to help in every way I can,” he said. “I need to know more about these Overlords… what they are… how they can be beaten…”

“No, I mean… Doctor… we need a Doctor. My daughter…”

“It can’t be,” Angeletta protested. “It’s barely five months.”

“Ah.” The Doctor understood. “Donna… come with me. Angel… will you be all right here on your own?”

“I will be all right, papa,” she answered. “Please go.”

He went. First he shimmied down the ladder and came back a few minutes later with the first aid kit from the TARDIS. Then he ran, Marcas keeping up with him. Donna wasn’t as fast as either of them running along rope and plank walkways that bridged the gaps between the trees. But she managed to catch up with them as they reached another tree house like the one Angeletta lived in. Marcas opened the door and lamplight spilled out and the sound of somebody crying in pain.

“Blessings be upon this home,” The Doctor said as he stepped over the threshold. It was a traditional way of entering another man’s house on his own world and it often served to allay anxieties. In this house, though, there was already so much anxiety it was not so easily allayed.

He wasted no time examining the young woman – in her mid twenties – who lay on the bed, writhing in agony as her mother tried to get her to stay still. He remembered that her name was Louise, only daughter of Marcas and Inès who had born five strong sons before their girl came along. She was in terrible distress. Even the herbal remedies used in these times were doing little to ease her suffering.

“Oh!” Donna looked at the girl and understood the problem straight away. “Er… what do you want me to do, Doctor? Do I boil water or get towels or…”

“Yes, hot water,” he said. “Soap. I need to wash my hands…” There was water already boiled. Donna brought it. The Doctor cleaned his hands and then put on a pair of sterile gloves from the first aid kit. He turned to look at Louise. “We don’t have much time. Donna… just hold the sonic screwdriver for me. And be ready when I say. I’m going to need it.” He quickly examined her and knew the birth was extremely imminent. They had minutes.”

“How long did you say she was pregnant?”

“Five months,” Inès told him. “She… befriended one of them…. the aliens. He… brought her food… it helped… Marcas was weak when he came back to us. She… saved her father’s life… but at such a cost…”

“These creatures have a very short gestation,” The Doctor said, making no comment about the morality of Louise’s ‘friendship’ with the alien. “Louise, look at me, chéri.” He put his hand on her forehead. He calmed her and drew off as much of her pain as he could into his own body. She relaxed enough for him to make a fuller examination. And what he found was disturbing.

“Louise,” he said quietly. “This baby. I don’t think…”

“It’s not a baby,” she answered him. “I know that. I know it’s a… a thing… like HE was. I don’t want it. I don’t even want to see it. Please just take it away.”

“I’m sorry,” he said. And he was. Childbirth should be a joy. Even an unplanned child ought to be a gift. But Louise didn’t even have that comfort. And that grieved him deeply.

The only consolation he could give her was that it was going to be over very soon. The alien child was almost ready to be born. He told Inès to hold onto her as she went into the final phase very quickly indeed.

He knew that Louise was right. The child was not even remotely Human. But even so he wasn’t completely prepared for the sight that met his eyes as he held it in his hands. He took a deep breath and told Donna to give him the sonic screwdriver. He had to repeat himself twice. She was too stunned by what she was witnessing. When she finally did as he asked he used the laser mode to cut and cauterise the umbilical cord and then he quickly turned away from the bed. He didn’t want Louise or her parents to see this.

It was about the size of a Human baby, but it was clearly an alien being. It had a large head with almost translucent skin that had a blue tinge. Its torso was thin and there were two limbs that passed for legs as well as four pairs of tentacles that flopped helplessly as the tiny creature gasped its first and last breaths. It was dying. The Doctor tried to save it. He knew it was a pathetic, unwanted thing that never should have been born, but even so he didn’t want it to die without a chance of life. Nothing deserved that.

But he couldn’t find the heart or lungs. Its anatomy was so different from anything he had ever come across. He didn’t know what to do. Before he could do anything, it was too late. He felt the life ebb away beneath his touch.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. He turned and looked at Marcas and his family. “It’s dead. I couldn’t save it.” He wrapped the body in a towel that Donna passed to him and left it while he went back to attend to Louise. She and her mother both seemed relieved that the child was gone. Marcas didn’t know what to say.

“You sleep now,” The Doctor told Louise. “It’s all over. A few days in bed, food… I’ll bring some good, tasty things over for you. Some extra vitamins, too. You’ll be all right. Put this behind you. When the time is right, when you meet the right man, you’ll still be able to have babies in the ordinary way. I promise you.” He touched her gently and sent her into a peaceful sleep. He turned and looked at her mother and did the same for her. The two of them slept together and forgot the traumatic hours for a while.

He turned and saw Marcas by the table. He had unwrapped the dead child and was looking at it.

“It… there was nothing of her in it… her DNA… she was just a vessel… it’s completely alien.”

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “Yes, I believe so.”

“Then there is nothing for us to grieve over. You will take it away?”

“I need to do an autopsy. I need to know why it died so quickly,” The Doctor answered. “I’ll bring it to the TARDIS.”

“They look like us… the adults. But the child is…”

“Their bodies must change as they grow – perhaps this is the larval stage. I don’t know. That’s one of the things I might find out. I’m sorry this came upon you all. I intend to make it right. All of it. Your sons… they’re prisoners?”


“I’ll bring them home to you, Marcas. I promise.”

“I trust you, Doctor. When I was a younger man than I am now… when you and I met… I saw then the way you care for other people. I saw it more than once. I know you’ll do your best for us.”

The Doctor nodded and wrapped the pathetic bundle again. He carried it back across the walkway. Donna followed him.

“Can you go to Angeletta?” he said to her when they reached the other side. “I don’t think she should be alone, whatever she says. I’ll be back up as soon as I know. Tell her as much as you think she can take of what happened over there. But don’t let her get any daft ideas. Her baby is Human… at least mostly. The rest is a bit of my DNA still floating in the gene pool. But tell her from me she has nothing to worry about.”

“I’ll do that, Doctor,” Donna said. “You CAN help them, can’t you? Do you have a plan?”

“A plan, no. But don’t think that will stop me. I won’t let anyone else on this planet suffer. Except the fiends who brought this on them.”

He hadn’t even seen a full grown, adult Overlord, yet. But his hatred for their race seethed in him. They had brought pain and misery to his people – the people he had lived among for a Human lifetime.

Even so, he didn’t hold that hatred against the pathetic dead child that he brought to the medical room of the TARDIS. It was an innocent whose life he had wished he could have saved, because of all the tenets he lived by, the sanctity of life, all life, was paramount.

But the death of this innocent creature meant that he had an advantage over the enemy. Its DNA, its anatomy, could show him a weakness he could use against them. So sorrowfully, but out of necessity he prepared himself for the autopsy.

It took a little less than an hour. When he was done, he knew several secrets about the ‘overlords’. He made the sad remains decent and returned from his medical room to the console room where he intended to check something on the environmental scanner.

He stopped when he saw the main door open. Donna and Angeletta were standing by the console. Both looked upset. Both began to shout a warning to him, but he already knew somebody was behind him. Somebody had concealed themselves beside the inner door. The oldest trick in the book. He ducked as the lump of wood was about to impact with his skull and came up fighting. His assailant was knocked to the floor.

“Dominic!” he cried out as his own son fought him viciously. Dominic was in his late forties now. He looked older than his father, but he was strong. His part Gallifreyan DNA and a lifetime of manual work combined to give him finely tuned muscles. He fought hard. He clearly didn’t know who he was fighting. But he fought. And The Doctor reluctantly fought back, trying to disable him without actually hurting him.

“Dominic, please, my son. My boy… please stop. It’s me… don’t you know me?”

“You are an enemy of the Overlords,” Dominic replied in a dull, monotone voice. “You must be…”

“No, Dominic,” The Doctor said gently. He was on the floor, pressed down by his son’s body as he kneed and punched him viciously. The Doctor stopped trying to fight him and instead embraced him around the neck, kissing him on the cheek. “My son. You are not my enemy, even if somebody has made you think you are. I won’t fight you. Even if you kill me.”

His hand touched something. At the back of his son’s neck. Something that shouldn’t be there.

“Donna!” he called out. “You still have my sonic screwdriver?”

“Yes,” she answered. “But…”

“Give it to me. Now.”

Donna ran to him, thrusting the sonic screwdriver into his outstretched palm. Dominic had his hands around The Doctor’s neck by now, trying to strangle him. The Doctor adjusted the setting and pointed it at Dominic’s head. Nothing seemed to happen at first. Then he gave an anguished cry. He drew back, hiding his face in his hands.

“It’s all right, son,” The Doctor said, sitting up and reaching to hold him. “It’s all right. I understand. You weren’t yourself.” He looked at the small metallic object that had been embedded in his skull. It was a control device that affected his actions, his thoughts, his whole behaviour. It even suppressed his telepathic abilities.

And it was gone now. He could feel Dominic’s thoughts reaching out to him. He was ashamed. He had let his family down. He had let his father down.

“It wasn’t your fault, son,” The Doctor assured him. “I don’t blame you. Nobody else will. Are you all right? Do you feel well? We can help everyone else. You can help me to save everyone.”

“Yes,” he said. “Yes, I’m well. Father…But…” He turned and saw his sister. She backed away from him. “Angeletta… I’m sorry for what has happened. Please forgive me.”

“Angel,” The Doctor said encouragingly. “He’s your brother again. It’s all right. Come and hug him.”

Angeletta stepped forward cautiously at first. Then she ran the last two steps to her brother and hugged him tearfully.

“Well, they’re all right,” Donna said to The Doctor. “But what about the rest? Her husband and children… His family… everyone else being held prisoner.”

“Dominic… you can help me,” The Doctor called his son to his side. “The Overlords. They came here… for the minerals deep under Forêt, of course. Why do they need them? Is it just the usual greed for valuable Lutanium or…”

“Something called Beryllium,” Dominic answered. “That’s what they’ve had us mining and processing. It’s found in the same seams as Lutanium. They don’t care about that. They cast it aside. But Beryllium… they need that like we need water.”

“Beryllium?” Donna looked blank. Angeletta had never even heard of it. The people of Forêt mined enough base metals to make pots and pans and tools for farming, and a few precious metals to make wedding rings and small trinkets for each other. They had no need for Lutanium to trade on the Galactic Stock Exchange. They had no knowledge of the properties of Beryllium.

“It’s a metal that has a very low melting point,” The Doctor said. “It’s highly toxic to humans if ingested. I hope they give the slave workers face masks down the mines. I don’t know what they need it for. But… tell me… Dominic, do any of the Overlords go down the mine? Do they supervise down there?”

“No,” he said. “They don’t go near it. That’s why… Father, there are others under their influence, like I was. They use them in the mines as overseers.”

“They don’t go down the mines!” The Doctor grinned triumphantly. “Yes. I was right. Oh, that poor child… It must have suffered so badly in the few minutes it lived. I am sorry for that.”

“What child?” Dominic asked. “Father…”

“That’s what they need the Beryllium for. It’s poisonous to humans. Poisonous to Time Lords, for that matter. But their biology is totally different. They need to ingest it – to maintain their internal body temperature. They’re…. like reptiles and snakes… cold blooded animals that have to bask in the sun to get warm. Only they’re the other way around. They have to cool themselves. The Beryllium does that for them.”

“Why do they…”

“They come from a very cold planet. Maybe an outer world of a large system. And as long as they stay there, they’re fine. I’m not going to bother them. But it seems like they’ve got ideas above their station. They want to conquer and colonise. So they need the Beryllium. And they can’t get it themselves. So they have to capture and force slave workers.”

“And you worked out all that from what Dominic just told you?” Donna asked.

“No. I worked out most of it from the autopsy on Louise’s child…. The alien child that died in my arms despite everything I did. The poor thing… it boiled to death. The room was too warm for it. It needed an immediate injection of Beryllium as soon as it was born… as soon as the cord was clamped and its own blood circulated instead of Louise’s. And I didn’t know that. I couldn’t possibly have known that. So… so the poor thing died. And you can’t begin to know how sick I feel about that. Because it was just a child. It didn’t deserve such a horrible death. But… But… the ones who invaded this planet, who have hurt people I love… who have enslaved men and abused women, threatened children…”

Donna and The Doctor’s two children all looked at his expression in astonishment. It was one of pure hatred. It was a face of one who was ready to exact a terrible vengeance on his enemies.

They had none of them seen such an expression on his face.

“Doctor…” Donna asked in a quiet voice. “What do you intend to do to them?”

“I’m going to turn up the heat,” he answered. “They arrived seven months ago. It was autumn then. They’ve not enjoyed a Forêt summer.”

They didn’t understand. But that was all right. His plans looked more impressive if they didn’t see them all at once. Besides, first things first.

Thérèse and Philippe were making a meal in the cramped living quarters afforded to Dominic within the mine compound. It was a poor meal. Dominic would probably say cruel things to her because she could not do better with the rations. But she cooked it anyway, and waited for her husband to come in.

At least the man who looked like her husband, who spoke with his accent and who sometimes, rarely, for a second or two, glanced at her in the way he used to do, before the coldness returned to his face. She knew it wasn’t his fault. The overlords had done something to him. Her one hope was that there was still something of Dominic left inside the cruel, hard shell.

“Mama!” Philippe called to her. At first she didn’t understand why he was calling. She was too lost in her grief to hear the sound that should have been a joy to her - the grinding organic engine of the TARDIS materialising. Philippe, though half blind and ‘slow’ since childhood, knew it at once. As it solidified he reached out and touched the blue and white ‘police telephone’ notice that he couldn’t read, because French was the only written language he had ever grasped even the basics of. The door opened and his grandfather, The Doctor, hugged him tightly as his father ran to embrace his wife and beg her forgiveness for all the hurts she had suffered at his hands while he was under the Overlord influence.

“Papa is here to help,” Dominic told his wife. “He has a plan.”

“The first part of it involves you and Philippe coming in here where you’re safe,” The Doctor said. “Angeletta is here, already, and my Earth friend, Donna, who you will love to talk to. You can keep each other company. Meanwhile, Dominic has a job to do. They think he’s trustworthy. He can reach the other overseers, the others that were put under the overlord influence. And they can start to co-ordinate the rebellion.”

“Rebellion?” Thérèse looked scared.

“Yes, it will be dangerous. I’m going to do something that will make it less dangerous, a clever Time Lord trick. But I’ve always found that people who help themselves out of situations like this do better in the long run than ones who let me do all the work. Dominic, are you ready?”

Dominic hugged his wife and son and kissed them both. Then he sent them into the TARDIS. He held up The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver.

“I know what to do. Five seconds burst near the back of the head and the control spike falls off. Then switch to alpha-delta-nine…”

“Healing mode. Helps them to recover from the disorientation. The other men are fully Human. It will be harder for them than it was for you, son. Look after them. Look after each other. And as soon as you start to see the Overlords getting weaker, you know what to do.”

He hugged his son and then stepped into the TARDIS. He looked around to where the women and Philippe were sitting on the sofa by the hatstand. Donna had made a ton of sandwiches and tea. They were all eating as if they hadn’t eaten in weeks. The rations that were left to them were utterly inadequate, especially for Angeletta, so close to the birth of her baby.

He went to the communications console and answered the incoming signal. He smiled as he saw the other version of him called Nine. He had already let him know what was happening and told him the plan. He had come at once to lend his own TARDIS’s power to the rather incredible effort they were going to put in here.

“Towing a whole planet through the vortex!” Nine said. “You’ve initiated the protective field to hold the atmosphere and gravity in place?”

“Of course. The people are going to see some very odd things in the sky for a few minutes. They’ll be frightened. But they’re already frightened of the aliens who forced them into slave labour. This can’t be much worse.”

“All right. Let’s do it,” Nine said. “On three?”

“Three,” The Doctor agreed. On the monitor in front of him a schematic appeared showing two TARDISes, badly out of scale, it had to be admitted, throwing a metaphorical tow-rope around the whole planet and drawing it into the time and space vortex. The Doctor watched carefully to make sure there was no undue damage on the surface or in its integral structure. It was only going to take a few minutes, though, to move it from its natural orbit, some ninety million miles from its sun, roughly the same as planet Earth was from the star called Sol, to seventy million miles, very close to the distance Venus was from Sol.

The difference was obvious almost straight away. Forêt basked in tropical summer weather. The much bigger sun beat down from the sky and the ambient temperature went up astronomically. Those humans not working down in the mine would be opening windows and putting off their warm clothes. Their bodies would regulate themselves automatically. They would be all right.

But the Overlords had problems. They couldn’t regulate their bodies, and the temperatures were rapidly becoming too much for them to bear even with the Beryllium to help them.

They all headed back to their space ship, of course. But The Doctor got there first. He materialised the TARDIS in the environmental control room and fused the thermostat at the same temperature it was outside.

“Father!” He heard Dominic reaching him telepathically. “It’s working. The Overlords are weak. We’ve captured dozens of them. The men are free. Some of them are heading out to get the children. We’re bringing the captives to the ship to meet you.”

“Good,” The Doctor said as he programmed the TARDIS for a short hop to the ship’s bridge.

“Hello,” he said as he stepped out onto the bridge and pushed aside the Overlord guard who tried to raise his electronic whip. “Lovely weather we’re having, aren’t we? Absolutely smashing. I'm going to get my shorts on soon and go sunbathing. It would do you lot good to get some sun. You’re very pale. Oh, but you can’t, can you? It’s too hot. I’ve moved the planet. Yes, I can do that. I’m really clever like that. I’m planning to move it back as soon as I’ve dealt with you lot. I like Forêt with its temperate climate. I like it when it snows in winter. I can take my grandchildren sledging. Oh, I’m sorry. All this talk of snow is making you homesick for your own planet. I know where it is, by the way. It’s on the outer edge of the Gassinic System. A red star with three dwarf planets that are permanently cold. No need for the Beryllium in your diet. Your ship is programmed to fly right back there with all of you aboard. When you get there, you have twenty minutes to get off the ship before it blows up. You tell your government that your plan to conquer warmer planets is a bust. Because if you don’t, I can come and tow your planet into the tropical zone. And don’t think I won’t.”

The leaders of the Overlords accepted his terms. They had no choice about it. They were dying and The Doctor was not going to give in. Every Overlord on Forêt would be dead before nightfall. The humans would simply have a barbecue under the stars on a warm, tropical night.

He fixed their thermostat so that they had a chance of getting home alive, then initiated the autopilot setting to send them all on their way. He watched the ship leaving Forêt’s atmosphere from orbit, where he and Nine were ready to take the planet back where it belonged as soon as the Overlords had left the solar system.

“Back where they started,” Nine told him a few minutes later when the two TARDISes released the planet back in its proper orbit. “No harm done anywhere. Pretty smooth ride, if I may say so myself.”

“Yeah. Thanks,” The Doctor answered. “I owe you one.”

“I owe you several,” Nine replied. “Are we counting?”


“Have you considered what happens the next time?” Nine asked.

“What next time?”

“The Daleks, Earth mining interests, these Overlords. Forêt is a planet with some very valuable assets. Sooner or later, somebody else will try to take them. The population is tiny. They couldn’t defend themselves even if every man woman and child formed an army. And if they did, they wouldn’t be the gentle people you love so much.”

“So what do I do?” The Doctor asked. “I can’t be here all the time. Besides, that was a dangerous trick. We could have split the planet apart or caused massive forest fires, all sorts of disruption to the climate. I can’t do it again.”

“Forêt needs a strong ally.”

“Not Earth,” The Doctor said. “They won’t have anything to do with the Earth Federation. You know that. They want to be independent of Earth.”

“I wasn’t thinking of Earth,” Nine replied. “Look at Forêt from space. Beautiful, isn’t it? The continent where your beloved forests are is only a fraction of it. Look at that ocean on the other side. As big as the Pacific ocean on Earth, or the ocean of Aguâ Uno.”

“The planet where the people morph into dolphins – where they live as happily on land or in the sea.”

“They have a strong military force, starships. And they’re interested in peaceful colonisation of suitable worlds. If your Forêteans would be prepared to share the planet with another peaceful species, but one with the technology to protect everyone….

“Most Forêteans don’t even know there is an ocean on the other side of the planet. They’ve lived all of their lives in the forest. They’re happy there.”

“And the Aguâns have little use for trees. So there’s no reason for any clash of cultures. I’ll talk to their leaders. You talk to your people. You’re going to stay there for a while? See everyone settled back into their normal lives again?”

“I’m going to be here at least a month,” The Doctor answered. “My Angel is going to have a baby, soon. I’m not going to miss that.”

Nine smiled.

“Give her my love. I’ll see you around the universe.”

The Doctor closed the call and set the co-ordinates for the mining camp again. He had felt Dominic’s telepathic message even as he was talking to Nine. There were a whole lot of men and children who needed a lift home to their villages. Could he help?

Of course he could. TARDIS bus service would be there shortly.

A little over a month later, there was a special celebration in the Hall of Devotions in the village where The Doctor’s family lived. Everyone came to watch as Angeletta and Pierre-Claude brought their newborn daughter to be officially named. Her older brothers, Remy and Claude smiled brightly as Aimee-Marie was presented to the people of the village where she would live her life in peace and joy.

Her grandfather, The Doctor, held her in his arms as they walked to the platform outside their home, where the naming feast was ready to be enjoyed. Later, as an early warm-sun day passed into a pleasant evening and the party continued by the light of rush lights and a warming fire in the brazier, he sat with his daughter and granddaughter on the swing seat where so often he and Dominique had sat together in the past. He sighed with contentment. So did Angeletta. All was well, now. Life on Forêt was getting back to normal. The people were forgetting the nightmare.

“Doctor…” He looked up and saw Louise standing before him. She looked well, though her eyes still told of a trauma that she was still not over. “Would you… dance…”

“I would love to,” he answered and he stood and took her hand. He danced with her in the rushlight for several sets and then she came to sit on the swing seat with him, Angeletta having vacated it. The Doctor looked at her and noted that something of the haunted look had gone from her eyes in the course of the dancing and she smiled warmly at him.

“We’ll be all right now, won’t we?” she asked him.

“Yes,” he said. “You will. You’ll all be fine, now.”

“You?” she queried. “Not we? It is true then that you will be going from us?”

“I’m staying another week,” he said. “I told Angeletta and Dominic I would stay that long. After that, I must go. I belong up there. The stars call out to me. I need to be amongst them.”

“I will miss you,” she told him.

“I’ll miss everyone,” he said. “I will come back. I could never be away from Forêt for long. It’s a place I can call home when I need it.”

“I shall look forward to that day, mon docteur à moi,” Louise promised fervently. The Doctor looked at her face again. And he realised something about the words she had just said. “Mon docteur à moi” was a personal possessive. And it had nothing to do with him being her physician during the past weeks.

Perhaps he had something else to come back to Forêt for.