Donna looked up from the sofa and wondered why The Doctor was frowning so much. She thought they were just dropping in on a planet he knew about that he said she would find interesting.

“What’s the problem?” she asked him.

“Nothing much,” he answered. “Just a bit of navigational trouble. Always the same when I come to Ioza III. Actually, come and have a look.”

She put the book away and came to his side. He showed her the image on the viewscreen. There was a planet there. Well, somewhere there was. She could just about see it within a sort of…

Well, actually, her imagination, her experience, her vocabulary failed to find words for what she was looking at. It was as if the planet was within a sort of outer sphere of loose material – rock or…

“Metal,” The Doctor said. “Millions, billions, trillions of tons of metal debris, caught up in the outer atmosphere, continuously orbiting the planet… well, when I say continuously, bits are always falling out and getting burnt up in the lower atmosphere. One of the things I wanted to show you down there is the non-stop meteor showers. They’re pretty impressive.”

“But what is it?” Donna asked. “How come all this junk is here?”

“Used to be a very advanced society down there. They developed satellites, unmanned probes, rockets, sent them all up here. They had a communications system second to none. There wasn’t a place on the surface of the planet where you couldn‘t get mobile phone reception or perfect High Definition satellite television. They operated relay stations for interplanetary communication across the galaxy. And if anything broke down they just sent up a new one to replace it.”

“Ok, so far…”

“But they never considered where all the broken satellites went, and the discarded rocket boosters and probes, andsspy cameras. Where did they all go when they were finished with, when the new ones replaced them?”

“I don’t know. Where do they all go?” She thought about the satellites around her own planet doing the same thing. She had never really given the question any consideration before.

“They don’t go anywhere. They certainly didn’t here. It all just kept on accumulating, orbiting and orbiting. Some fell into the atmosphere and burnt up. A few larger pieces actually went into slow decay and landed relatively intact. But most just stayed there. They broke up in time and the pieces just added to the chaos, and the more there was, the worse it got. It started to exert its own gravitational pull, contra to the planet itself. It pulled in other debris from space. It all got trapped in the Farran Zone – so named after the scientist who first identified the problem.”

“So… what happened… you said there was an advanced society down there. Was. Past tense…”

Donna felt herself dreading his answer. She knew it couldn’t be good.

“Well, can you guess how much of the sun’s light got through the ‘Zone’? The climate changed. They had a new ice age. It happened very quickly. It took less than five years before the whole planet was frozen. Crops, animals were gone. The people either froze or starved.”

“All of them?” Donna shivered. “Doctor… how horrible. They had no chance at all?”


“Horrible,” she said again.


“We send a lot of stuff up from Earth,” Donna pointed out. “Could that happen to us?”

“It could,” The Doctor said. “But it won’t. You lot got it right just in time. CFC’s. global warming, pollution. By the skin of your teeth you avoided disaster.”

“Oh… good.”

“Only just, mind you. This could have been Earth. Think of it as a cautionary tale.”

“We’re going down there, are we? You said about looking at the meteor showers.”

“Yes,” he said. “I just have to make some very careful course adjustments. Even the TARDIS has trouble getting through the Farren Zone.”

“Shall I hold onto something?” Donna asked.

“Probably a good idea,” The Doctor answered. “Just in case.”

She grabbed a hand hold of the console just as the TARDIS dropped like a white knuckle ride from hell. The Doctor pressed switches and buttons rapidly, none of which appeared to make the slightest difference. Then he picked up the rubber mallet that hung from the console on a hook. He hit several places on the drive control. That seemed to work. He put the mallet back and patted the console apologetically before he initiated their materialisation.

“So... Do I need winter woollies to go out?” Donna asked.

“Not if I’ve got the location right,” The Doctor answered her. “And I have. You’ll be just fine as you are.”

He reached out and took her hand as they headed for the door. Donna was surprised when she stepped out onto an artificial surface something like parquet flooring. She looked around and saw that they were in a sort of reception hall. The TARDIS was parked beside a sign pointing to a shuttle bay. It looked like a cross between an airport check in and a hotel foyer.

The Doctor stepped up to a long counter and queued briefly to purchase two day tickets to ‘The Leisure Dome’ from a smartly dressed humanoid woman.

The Doctor took her by the hand again and led her through a wide door into a place that left her breathless. It must have been about half a mile wide, a huge floor of the same smooth, hardwearing material. The walls were glass panels with metal struts between, curving up to a domed roof. She could see a dark sky above, streaked with the golden and silver showers of the meteorites that The Doctor spoke of. But it wasn’t really possible to watch them properly because the walls and roof were criss-crossed by the most complex and hair-raising roller coaster ride Donna had ever seen. She watched as a long train went overhead, twisting so that the riders were alternatively hanging with their legs dangling in the air or being turned upside down underneath the glass ceiling. Some sort of anti gravity must have been in force, because hair and skirts stayed in the right position no matter which way up they were.

“I don’t think I fancy that,” Donna said. “I’ve been on the Big One at Blackpool and that’s my limit.”

The Doctor assured her that he had no intention of bringing her on the ‘magic meteor’ ride.

“They put all of this in to amuse the tourists. Along with the five star hotel. But we’re just here to see the meteors and maybe have lunch in the restaurant. Come on. The observation lounge is this way.”

They walked across the wide, busy dome full of tourists of various humanoid forms and a few that weren’t even closely humanoid. Donna was getting used to that by now, though. The sight of people with purple heads or four pairs of arms no longer surprised her. The fact that many of them – regardless of numbers of arms or legs - were wearing t-shirts proclaiming that they had ridden the Magic Meteor Ride did surprise her slightly. But she was more interested in what The Doctor had to show her.

The observation lounge was another glass dome, but a lot smaller and much quieter. It was dimmer, too, with only subtle lights set into the floor so that they could find their way to two comfortable seats that reclined so that they could watch the meteor showers in comfort.

It was very spectacular. Donna had seen a few meteor showers with her granddad up on the allotment. But they were mostly just silvery. These were silver and gold, metallic green, flashing red and orange, all the colours of the rainbow – and some more besides. The light spectrum on this strange planet was split into many more colours than she could begin to imagine, and the meteor showers came in every one of them.

All the same, Donna thought she might have enjoyed it more if she hadn’t known the story of how the spectacle came about. It was creepy to think of a whole planet freezing to death. She thought of some of the films of her own time that tried to show what would happen to Earth in the event of sunspots or shifts in the gulf stream or crashing comets and felt a deep empathy with the people of this planet and their terrible end.

“Doctor,” she said quietly. “This… isn’t Earth, is it? You haven’t brought me to the far future of my own planet… you know… like Planet of the Apes, where they land in their own future. You… would tell me, if it was, wouldn’t you?”

“It’s not Earth,” he promised her. “The human race never died out this way. They are the universe’s survivors. Besides, I wouldn’t lie to you that way. This is Ioza III. It’s in a completely different part of space to Earth. You have my word.”

That seemed to satisfy her. He went on watching the spectacular unnatural phenomena for a while.

“The Planet of the Apes scenario isn’t impossible, mind you. I’ve been to a couple of planets that would surprise you. But it won’t happen on Earth.”

She relaxed again and enjoyed the comfortable seat and the warm ambience of the observation lounge. She was almost starting to drift into a light doze watching the meteors fall when she heard somebody call out to The Doctor.

“It is you, isn’t it,” said a booming male voice. “Well, well! Small universe.”

The Doctor looked up at the man and woman who smiled at him. The man looked slightly predatory. The woman smiled at him with genuine affection.

“Sabalom Glitz!” The Doctor spoke the man’s name with a slightly icy edge to his voice. “Mel, dear, are you really still with this reprobate?” His greeting to the woman was much warmer, Donna noted. She looked with interest at the slim red-head with eyes that shone with enthusiasm and excitement.

“He can’t get away from me,” Mel replied in a cheerful tone. “Look.” She pushed up the sleeve of her blouse to reveal an intricate tattoo on her inner wrist. Glitz held up his own arm to reveal a matching one.

“Vallusian marriage tattoos!” The Doctor’s eyebrows raised in surprise. “Glitz, she hooked you good and proper.”

He introduced his two friends to Donna, who warily shook hands with Glitz - a cross between a pirate and a heavy metal biker. She found much more of a rapport with Mel.

“You’re from Earth?” the bubbly redhead asked eagerly. “What period did The Doctor find you in?”

“Early twenty-first century,” Donna answered. ”You?”

“Late twentieth. Near enough. Haven’t been back to Earth for ages, though. There are so many other places to see. Never get around to it.”

“You’ve become a real space gypsy,” The Doctor said to her. “It’s compulsive, isn’t it? But you really should touch base now and then. Go and see your home, family, friends, just once in a while. You never know… you never know if you’ll regret the opportunity missed.”

“If you think it’s so important, Doctor,” I’ll try,” Mel said. “But… oh, it’s so nice to see you. We were going to the restaurant. Would you like to join us for lunch? We can have a good long chat.”

“That’s a lovely ideas,” The Doctor agreed. “My treat.” He took Donna’s hand, noting that Mel had to reach twice for Glitz before he made the same gesture. Hand holding wasn’t really a tradition of his home planet. Even so, they looked like two fairly ordinary humanoid couples as they went from the observation lounge to the restaurant and asked for a table for four.

The food they chose, Donna thought, told her a lot about Glitz and Mel. Since The Doctor had offered to pay, Glitz immediately ordered the largest and most expensive steak on the menu. Mel chose a cheese salad. She was wary of Glitz, but found herself easily enjoying Mel’s company. Usually she would have felt a little jealous of anyone with such a trim, petite figure as her, but Mel was so easy to like. And, of course, they had one thing in common - The Doctor. They talked a lot about him, comparing notes about their adventures in his company. The Doctor put up with that until the end of the main course and the start of their pudding.

“Am I allowed a word in this conversation?” he asked. “Or are you two girls just going to talk about me as if I’m not here all day?”

“We’ll just carry on talking about you,” Mel answered with a cheeky grin. “It’s great catching up on what you’ve doing since I saw you last. I’m almost jealous. I remember the fun we had together. And the scares, of course. But we had lots of fun, didn’t we?”

“And you don’t get that with Glitz?” The Doctor asked.

“Well…” Mel began. “Yes, we do have fun. But it’s a different sort of fun. I mean… you know… I didn’t like the bit when we were running for our lives from the Matriccisa Militia, or when they fired missiles after us as we left the planet. I TOLD him that there would be trouble with that plan. But he wouldn’t listen.”

“Matriccisa?” The Doctor’s eyes narrowed and he gave Glitz a hard look. “Don’t tell me, you tried to steal the great emerald of the Lost Temple of Matricci!”

“It was lost. I found it,” Glitz protested. “Finders keepers.”

“It’s meant to be lost. That’s the point. It was lost to protect it from tomb raiders and rogues. So… what brings you to Ioza, then? What get rich quick scheme do you think you can work here?”

Glitz put on his most honest and wounded expression, which only made him look like he had something to hide.

“I just came to show Mel the meteors. They’re very spectacular, don’t you think?”

“I think they are. But I can’t imagine you paying parking fees for the Nosferatu just to come and see them. Mel, is he up to something?”

“No,” she answered. “He really isn’t, Doctor. It’s our anniversary. He said it was romantic.”

“Glitz doesn’t know the meaning of romantic,” The Doctor replied. Then he saw the hurt look on Mel’s face and his own expression softened. “Well, perhaps I’m being too cynical. Maybe he has turned over a new leaf. Maybe just this once he’s got it right. Anyway, happy anniversary, Mel. And may there be many more.” He raised his glass of iced lime soda and toasted the strange couple sincerely. Mel smiled widely. Glitz grinned like a shark about to devour somebody. But that was Glitz. He was always like that.

“Couldn’t we have stayed a little bit longer with them?” Donna asked later when they were in the TARDIS. “It’s not like we’re on a schedule, and I really would have liked to get to know Mel some more. It was… nice… the four of us. We were like… normal people, having lunch, like two couples. I know we’re not a couple. And Glitz…” She decided not to voice her thoughts about Glitz. “Anyway, I would have liked to talk to Mel some more. Is there some reason you didn’t want me to… I mean, Mel is a nice lady… and…”

“Mel is very nice,” The Doctor said. “And very smart. But she does have a bit of a blind spot for Glitz. He’s as crooked as… as a very crooked thing. And I don’t believe he came here to look at a light show. I don’t think he can even spell ‘romantic’.”

“You think he’s up to something? Oh, poor Mel. It’s their anniversary and he’s…. using her for…”

“He’s always up to something. And I think I know what.”

He accessed the TARDIS database entry about Ioza III and its sad demise. There was a lot of information there, and he read it at lightning speed, his eyes flickering madly. But then he stopped the stream of information and showed Donna one small paragraph.

“This is what brought him here. I’ll bet my remaining lives it is! The Lost Treasure of Ioza III.”

“Lost Treasure?”

“When it was known that the planet was doomed, the government took steps to preserve their culture. All their great works of art, their gold, silver, jewels, precious religious icons, everything that WAS Iozan culture, which would show any future civilisation what they were, was hidden in a deep, deep cavern below ground, the location known only to a few people who knew they only had a short time to live, anyway.”

“You mean… like a time capsule, sort of thing, left for other people to find?”

“The most valuable time capsule in the galaxy.”

“And it was never found?”

“The permanent snow out there is almost nine miles deep. It snowed for two hundred years after the population died out. Only the peaks of the highest mountains are left above the new frozen surface of the planet. There is no way to map any landmark that used to exist, even if anyone knew where to start. The entrance to the treasure caverns is buried deep. It’s lost. Even Glitz couldn’t find it. And that’s how it should be. It’s not meant for people like him.”

“So… Glitz is on a hiding to nothing, then?”

“Yes. But that’s Glitz all the time. Charging headlong into all sorts of daft schemes. I wonder why Mel puts up with him.”

“She loves him. She really does. Goodness knows why. She’s so sweet and he’s… But it’s love. It really is.”

“Yes, it is,” The Doctor agreed. “She really does love him. And he must love her, too. But it doesn’t stop him doing these stupid things. She is going to be so let down when she finds out. So… we’re not going anywhere yet. Mel is going to need us.”

Just for once, The Doctor thought. Just once, I really would like to be wrong.

But he was almost certain he wasn’t.


It was a little over two hours later. The Doctor and Donna were having a cup of tea on the TARDIS sofa when somebody hammered at the door. Despite the built in sound proofing they both heard Mel calling out plaintively. The Doctor stood and sighed deeply.

“I really wish I’d been wrong,” he said, opening the door and getting ready to comfort Mel as she fell over the threshold into his waiting arms. Donna closed the door again as he brought her to the sofa. She poured a fresh cup of tea and Mel sipped it in between sobs and hiccups.

“What did he do?” The Doctor asked when she was finally composed enough to talk.

“He met up with these two men… really rough sorts… and… Glitz had this map… a treasure map. And... Doctor, he said he’d cut these two in on the plan if they’d provide the ‘equipment’.”

“What equipment?”

“I don’t know. But… Doctor… they didn’t just meet on the off chance. It was a pre-arranged meeting. He used our anniversary to meet with these two. And… and they’ve gone off together.”

“How long ago?”

“An hour,” Mel answered. “Glitz locked me in a cupboard in the staff rest room. I was there for ages, before somebody let me out.”

“Glitz did that to you?” Donna was outraged. “Some anniversary.”

“He said… he said… he said I’d be safe there. he said it was dangerous and I couldn’t follow him. but… but…”

“All right,” The Doctor said., “Tell me… the treasure map…”

“Where did he get it from?” She guessed The Doctor’s question. “It’s another of his stupid schemes. It’s pure nonsense. I mean… how many treasure maps has he got in poker games or something like that. None of them ever come to anything. He’s going to end up stranded on a glacier somewhere or…”

“I’d let him stew,” Donna said. “Serves him right.”

“I love him,” Mel said. “I can’t just let him…. Anyway… these two men… if this turns into a wild goose chase… I think they’d kill him. And… well, I’m going to kill him when I get hold of him… but I don’t want them to.. to…”

She burst into tears again. The Doctor put a comforting arm around her. She cried into his shirt.

“We won’t let it come to that,” The Doctor said. “But Mel… I need to know… did you see the map at all?”

“Yes, I did,” she told him. “For a few seconds.”

“That’s enough. For you, with your photographic memory.”

“Yes, but…”

“Think of the map,” The Doctor said. “Concentrate on it.”

She did as he said,. He touched her forehead gentle and read her mind carefully. He saw the map with perfect clarity. Her gift for instant recall of images or spoken words had proved lifesaving to him many times in the past and it was still as acute.

“Thank you,” he said, kissing her on the forehead when he was done. Then he turned to the communications console and began to type rapidly. Mel and Donna stopped watching because it was painful on the eyes trying to follow his fingers. But when he was done there was a perfect copy of the map on the screen.

“Yes, that’s it, that’s it exactly,” Mel told him. “That’s what Glitz had.”

“Do you know exactly where he got it?”

“You know him. Some dodgy card game or shady deal. I don’t know. But if I were to make a guess, I’d say last week on the Beta Nexus space station. It was after we were there that he suggested Ioza for our anniversary.”

“Enough said,” The Doctor told her. “All right,. Don’t worry, we’re going to get after them. An hour start… then they would be… assuming they have…£

The Doctor superimposed the map from Mel’s memory onto a map of how Ioza used to look in the past, and one of the featureless ice desert it was now. Then he smiled triumphantly, like somebody who had done the Times crossword in seconds. Then he moved around the console and inputted a co-ordinate into the drive.

The TARDIS materialised in a dark place, Mel and Donna both looked at the viewscreen and at first saw nothing at all. The Doctor switched on the TARDIS roof lamp and it’s slowly blinking light illuminated a small cavern with walls of glittering quartz imbedded stone. Mel read the data and understood that it was about two hundred meters above the surface of the planet on the side of a mountain.

Two hundred meters above the original surface of the planet, this is. There were nine miles of ice above it, and presumably in front of the blocked off cavern entrance.

“This is the way in to the treasure caves?” Donna asked. “Where the original Iozans brought everything they thought valuable.”

“Yes,” The Doctor said.

“And it’s still sealed. We’re ahead of Glitz and his cronies?”

“Yes,” The Doctor said again. “That’s the idea. Look…” He pointed to a schematic of their immediate surroundings. The TARDIS was, indeed, inside a sealed cavern beneath the miles of ice and snow. And it was perched half over a deep, deep shaft.

The word teetering entered both Mel and Donna’s heads.

“It’s not teetering,” The Doctor assured them. “It’s perfectly balanced according to finely judged mathematical calculations. And Glitz and his pals can’t get past her.”

“Where are they?”

“Not very far away now,” The Doctor said. “Hang on…” He put out all of the exterior lights of the TARDIS. The viewscreen went dark. “You two sit tight there. I’ll be back in two ticks.” He went to the door and slipped out, closing it behind him. Mel and Donna looked at the dark screen and the rather more informative schematic that showed three humanoid lifeforms and a mechanical power source heading towards them at a little over fifteen miles per hour.

The Doctor stood by the TARDIS door and noted how dark it was in the blocked cavern deep under the permanent snowline. He wondered how old the air he was breathing was. Nothing had stirred it for centuries before the TARDIS materialised in it. It was a natural cave, very much like the entrance to the Devil’s Cavern in Derbyshire, a place he had explored when he was a lot younger than he was now. It had several cave systems connected by tunnels going deep into the planet’s crust.

The shaft he had parked the TARDIS upon was not natural. It had been bored out by machines in order to take the precious Iozan treasure to the very deepest place. According to the TARDIS sensors, it went down nearly three thousand metres. That made the treasure cave deeper than the deepest cave on planet Earth, nearly as deep as the deepest cave on Gallifrey, which was beneath the gold mines on his family estate.

And Glitz thought he and his cronies could just go down there and take it!

He could feel the vibrations coming closer. The engine noise was starting to be audible within the cavern. He stood his ground and waited as it got louder and louder.

He heard the crunching as the underground boring machine broke through the blocked cavern entrance and the whine as the screw turned uselessly in empty air. A headlamp temporarily blinded him. When his eyes adjusted he saw the turning screw on the front of the three man capsule moving towards him. He saw the cockpit door open and Glitz stood up, yelling to the man who was driving the capsule to stop and to The Doctor to get out of the way.

The driver didn’t stop. The Doctor didn’t try to get out of the way until the very last moment. The whirring screw was almost up against his chest when he dived sideways. He caught a glimpse of the two men Glitz had hooked up with. They looked like they had been constructed with a ‘build your own thug’ kit. Square, meaty jaws, bullet heads, clad in leather and chains. He saw Glitz jump from the capsule just as the screw crashed into the TARDIS door. It didn’t damage it, of course. The TARDIS wasn’t made of wood. But it did push it backwards. He saw one of the build-a-thugs struggling to get out of his seatbelt as the TARDIS toppled over and the boring capsule followed it. He was half out of the machine when it began to fall and screamed a post-watershed swearword as he realised his own doom.

“Doctor?” In the darkness Glitz called out. “Doctor, are you alive?”

“Yes, I am. Are you?” The Doctor stood up and switched the sonic screwdriver to penlight mode. It illuminated Glitz’s face. “You don’t deserve to be. You idiot. What did you think you were doing?”

“I was…. Oh… Doctor… the TARDIS…. It fell…. Was…. Was Donna inside?”

“Yes. And Mel.”

“Mel… but I left her….”

“Yes, she told us. She also said she was going to kill you when she saw you again. So come on… let’s get after them.”

“But… how?” Glitz asked. “You don’t… expect us to jump? Anyway… what… they’ll be… it’s thousands of feet…”

There was just the faintest of sounds, a muted crump, which told them that something had landed at the bottom – wherever the bottom was.

“That’s exactly what I expect us to do,” The Doctor answered. “At least… I’m going to. If you haven’t got the guts, Sabalom Glitz, then stay here, in the dark, in the cold, with goodness knows how much air left and hope I remember to pick you up on the way back. Or if you want to prove to me and to Mel that you’re not the moral coward I think you are, if you’re willing to take a leap of faith for the woman you love…”

“Moral coward? Now that’s harsh, Doctor. I tried to make them stop when I saw you standing there, I was just… anyway… you know,. the treasure… it was meant to be a nice anniversary present for her.”

“You know perfectly well that Mel isn’t interested in treasure. She’d live with you in an empty freight container if you would just be honest. What she doesn’t want is to be locked in a cupboard while you go off with a couple of criminal types to plunder what doesn’t belong to you.”

“The cupboard… look, I thought she'd be safer…”

“Save the excuses for her. Maybe she’ll forgive you. I don’t have to. I’m going to get them both. Are you coming?”

The Doctor turned his sonic screwdriver to a rarely used mode and stepped off the edge of the shaft.

“Doctor!” Glitz yelled. He stared into the gloom as The Doctor hung over the shaft with his Sonic Screwdriver held up like can umbrella handle without the umbrella. “What… oh… it’s some sort of trick with gravity?”

“The Sonic Screwdriver is drawing power from the TARDIS below us, and creating an anti-gravity corridor. Are you coming down?”

“I…suppose…” Glitz stepped forward hesitantly. He grabbed The Doctor’s arm as he stepped on nothing. Slowly they descended into the darkness.

“Does the TARDIS have enough power for this?” Glitz asked with a note of apprehension in his voice. “What if it fails?”

“It won ‘t,” The Doctor answered. “Really all we’re going is letting gravity do its job. The TARDIS just puts a bit of a brake on things and slows us down a tad. It doesn’t take a lot of power. It just causes a bit of friction heat. The Sonic Screwdriver may not be the same again afterwards.”

It took a good twenty minutes to descend slowly. Glitz stopped asking whether it was safe. The Doctor stopped reassuring him. The question Glitz really wanted to ask was one he didn’t dare put into words.

He didn’t want to hear the answer.

When they finally reached the bottom of the shaft he was glad he didn’t ask. He considered himself a man with a strong stomach, but the sight of the organic soup that used to be one of the ‘build-a-thugs’ made him feel sick. The other one had not fared much better. The capsule had hit the ground at terminal velocity and ploughed into the rock. What hadn’t buried itself had compacted. There were bits that a detailed examination could identify as organic but putting a name to the individual organic being was not an option.

“Doctor…” Glitz’s eyes turned towards the TARDIS. “I… you.. know… I really did love her… I… I’m sorry… I didn’t…”

The Doctor looked at the TARDIS, too. He walked around its length as it lay sideways on, then he climbed up onto the front and opened the door. Glitz saw him drop down and then the door closed. There was a breeze and a dematerialisation sound and then the TARDIS re-appeared the right way up. The door opened and Mel ran out. She slapped Glitz, then hugged him. Then she slapped him again, then kissed him, slapped him a bit harder, punched him in the shoulder, and then hung around his neck, crying and kissing him.

Donna and The Doctor stood at the door and watched them.

“Definitely love,” Donna said. “Although I would have slapped him a few more times, and maybe a kick or two.”

“I’ve never approved of physical violence,” The Doctor replied. “But on this occasion, it was appropriate.” He looked at Donna. Her hair was a bit unkempt, but she seemed to be in one piece. “You two were ok, weren’t you? the anti-gravity cushions kicked in when the TARDIS fell?”

“After about twenty seconds,” she answered. “Your tea set is smashed and there’s a tea stain over the sofa. But Mel and I were ok. The TARDIS is ok… What about… “ She looked around and noticed the remains of Glitz’s former colleagues. “We should count ourselves lucky. Just how far did we fall?”

“A very long way.” The Doctor replied. “Leave it at that.”

Donna nodded and looked around. The cavern was dimly lit, and she noticed a faint glow from a tunnel leading out of it. The Doctor had noticed it, too. He called to Mel and Glitz.

“Come on,” he said. “seeing as we’re down here. Let’s have a look at the treasure you were so anxious to see.”

The map didn’t say treasure,” Mel said as they headed up the tunnel.

“Yes, it did,” Glitz answered.

“No, it didn’t,” The Doctor confirmed. “Do you have the original, still, Glitz?”

Glitz was reluctant to part with the rolled up piece of parchment, but The Doctor held out his hand insistently. He looked at it and then showed it to Donna and Mel.

“The Precious Legacy of Ioza III,” he said.

“Right, treasure,” Glitz said. “Gold, silver, lutanium, jewels, works of fine art. What else would it mean?”

“Weeell…” The Doctor began in a slow drawl as he stepped out of the low lit tunnel into a cavern for which the word vast was hardly adequate. He thought it probably wasn’t completely natural. The Iozans who drilled the shaft may have extended it a bit. There were artificial lights, but none of them very bright. The power was conserved for more important purposes. There was light enough, though, to see all around the cavern. The Doctor laughed softly as if he had just got as joke that nobody else had figured out yet.

Mel and Donna looked around, too. Then they also got the joke.

Glitz didn’t.

“What’s this?” he asked. “This isn’t a treasure trove. It looks more like …like a…”

“Oh, Doctor… look at them!” Mel cried, running to the closest row of cryogen chambers, those at the floor level. They rose up for at least fifty levels, accessed by metal stairs and balconies all around the chamber. There must have been thousands of individuals frozen in time, waiting to resume their lives. “Doctor… they’re…”

“They’re children,” Donna said. “These ones… are just babies. But... what... how…”

“The Precious Legacy of Ioza,” The Doctor said again. “It’s their children. They couldn’t have saved everyone. They knew the would die trying. So they saved their children.

“Oh!” Donna burst into tears sa she considered the terrible choice the people of this planet had. To give up their babies and children and hope they had a future or to see them die of starvation and cold. Mel cried, too. they two women hugged each other emotionally. Glitz stood there murmuring to himself. The Doctor found the central processor and accessed the data that confirmed his guess. He found a message from the leaders of the Iozans, to be read by whoever, in the future, might find the chamber. He read it carefully and nodded in understanding.

“Glitz, come with me,” he said. Glitz followed him. He opened a sealed door at the far end of the cavern. It lead to an other tunnel and, in turn, to another large chamber. He used the Sonic Screwdriver to power up a gravity globe that he launched into the air. The light fell on a sight that made Glitz weak at the knees. It was a huge bank vault with all the treasure he had imaged, gold, jewels, diamonds, works of art, all divided into locked cages.

“See. I told you there was treasure,” he said.

“Yes. But it’s not yours.”

“Well, not all of it. I mean, you and Donna… fair do’s. I’m not greedy. Me and Mel would be happy with half.”

“No,” The Doctor insisted. “You don’t get it, Glitz. It doesn’t belong to any of us/ Look.” The Doctor pointed to the nearest cage. Glitz didn’t see what he was pointing to at first. Then he saw the plate fixed above the lock.

“Plassida Forre, F, 56030727,” he read. “What does that mean?”

“It means that the contents of this cage, that gold plate and diamonds and the bars of lutanium belong to a child called Plassida Forre, a female Iozan born on the 27th day of the seventh month of the year 5603, which made her about one and a half years old when she was brought to the cryo chamber.”

“You mean all this belongs to the kids?”

“Yes. This is their inheritance. A portion for each child. There are instructions for placing the money in trust for their education, their health, for a nest egg to set them up in life when they come of age. The finders of the chamber are to be trustees, ensuring that it is done.”

“Yeah.. but.. I mean… what if… what if those who came weren't’ as honest as we are? Suppose the ones who got here took the loot and abandoned the kids?”

“You mean somebody like the two you led down here?” The Doctor asked.

“Yes,” Glitz said in a small voice. “Yes, like them. I mean… I’m an opportunist, a chancer, a bit of a criminal. I admit it, Doctor. But… stealing from kids… I’d be a… a… I’m not that bad a man, Doctor, honestly.” He looked again at the treasure. “I suppose… there isn’t… you know… a percentage… a finders fee, you know… just a fraction, a tithe from each of the kids…” He met The Doctor’s gaze and gave up with a resigned sigh. “Well, you know what they say…” A little philanthropy is good for the soul.”

“Indeed it is, Glitz,” The Doctor replied. “Come on, back to the other chamber. I want to make sure they have enough power to initiate the re-animation process. Then we need to call in the proper aiuthorites. Providing temporary care for 150,00 orphans is a bit more than I can handle on my own.

The Doctor’s companions were all a bit puzzled about how that feat could be achieved at all. But within an Iozan day the hospital ships SS Marie Curie and SS Grace Holloway were in orbit above thc planet. The children were received in batches of a thousand at a time and given full medical check ups, food, clothing and counselling to help them come to terms with a frightening and confusing situation.

Meanwhile, the luxury diplomatic shop, the SS Isle of Capri arrived in orbit as well. Mel, Donna and Glitz sat in the gallery and watched with admiration as The Doctor chaired the meeting of delegates from the humanoid systems of Adano-Ambrado, Corre Batan, Messaline, Tyree and Beta Delta among others who all agreed to take a quota of the Iozan orphans and arrange adoptions for them. The Doctor set out fair but strict and exact conditions for those adoptions. There would be no plundering of the treasure that belonged to the children. They would go to homes where they would be loved and cherished regardless of how wealthy they were going to be when they grew up,.

He was slightly surprised when he and Donna met with Mel and Glitz in the hospitality lounge of the Isle of Capri to say goodbye. Mel was in possession of a twin hover pram where two Iozan babies were nestled in warm blankets.

“I was really impressed by your speech,” Mel said. “So was Glitz. You should have seen him. His eyes misted over. Anyway, we’re adopting these two. They’re called Rupert and Glenda… at least that’s the closest Earth versions of their names.”

“Time for me to retire from the space life,” Glitzx said. “I’ve had an offer for the Nosferatu. Enough for us to make a good start.”

“We’re going to live in Pease Pottage,” Mel said with a smile. “Not in the 20th century, though. We thought the 25th. It’s a good period of Earth history. Plenty of work, good schools and health care, low crime...”

“Well… “ The Doctor looked at them both.; “I…”

He could think of no good reason to object. They were thee strangest family unit he had ever come across, but perhaps they weren’t the worst. He bent and kissed the two babies and hugged Mel fondly. He shook Glitz by the hand warmly. “Good luck, both of you. Have a wonderful life.”

He hugged Mel again and then turned away. Donna was waiting by the TARDIS door. They both watched as the new family turned away. The Doctor didn't miss Donna’s soft sigh. He had thought about it himself. - sdopting an Iozan orphan, bringing him or her up as his own child. But he and Donna weren’t a couple. They had no long term plans. It was not really possible.

“Come on,” he said, putting his arm around her shoulders as he drew her into the TARDIS and closed the door. “Think of a number between 1 and 100. No... think of five numbers between 1 and 100.”

“Donna did so and watched as The Doctor put the numbers into the navigation drive. She felt the dematerialisation initiating.

“Where it is going to take us?” she asked.

“Don’t know,” The Doctor answered. “Absolutely no idea. Got to be fun finding out, don’t you think?”

“Yeah,” Donna answered with a wide grin.