“Hold down those two buttons,” The Doctor shouted as he pressed and pulled and wound things on his console and used his left and right feet alternatively to wedge a lever and a pedal. He looked like he was playing a futuristic version of Twister.

Donna held down the buttons.

“Can we at least shut off the alarm?” she shouted.

“Yes,” The Doctor replied and reached out with one hand before putting it back where it was. The noise shut off, but the sensation of speed and of being buffeted as if at sea in a gale continued.

“What exactly is that thing?” Donna asked as she looked up at the viewscreen and the angular looking craft that the TARDIS was chasing through the time vortex. It was roughly spherical in so far as it would be possible to build a sphere out of Lego bricks that stuck out at blocky angles instead of being a smooth surface.

“Yes, if the Lego bricks were the size of shipping containers,” The Doctor said. “The dimensions of that ship… it could qualify as a very small moon – we’re talking about a diameter roughly the height of the Eiffel tower. “

“That’s big,” Donna agreed. Where’s it from, and how come it can travel in time? I thought Time Lords were the only ones who did that.”

“Unfortunately not,” The Doctor replied. “Other species developed various forms of temporal relocation. Some crude, others quite sophisticated. This one… if my people were still around, they’d be interested in this. It’s got the sort of accurate dimensional guidance a TARDIS has.”

“So… what… you lot have some industrial espionage? Counterfeit technology Time travel piracy?”

“No, we’re just dealing with a species that’s nearly as clever as us,” he replied. “The TARDIS can‘t even fully analyse what the technology is at the moment. She’s got enough on her hands trying to keep us on course in its wake, without having additional functions to perform.”

“I thought the TARDIS was a lady,” Donna responded. “She should be able to multitask.”

“She’s an old lady,” The Doctor retorted. “Give her a break. Hang on tight. We’re coming out of the vortex.”

Donna held on. She knew the TARDIS well enough by now. Coming out of the vortex was very often bad for the posterior.

There was a jolt, though not as bad as she was expecting. Then there was a stillness and a quiet that was quite surprising after the buffeting.

“Where did the ship go?” Donna asked as she looked at the viewscreen and saw Earth and its moon both shining against a starfield.

“It’s… The Doctor reached and adjusted something on the console and the shape of the mysterious ship became visible.

“I’ve overridden its chameleon cloak so we can see it. It’s a disguise against detection from any scanners or probes on the planet below… or…” He glanced quickly at the temporal manifold display “Seeing as it’s only 1915… any hopeful astronomer with a telescope pointing their way. For the record, the TARDIS is always cloaked in temporal orbit. The telescopes can’t see us. And neither can the Lego Moon.”

Donna was about to ask another question when they both saw a beam come from the underside of the sphere.

“That’s a transmat,” The Doctor said. “A powerful one. Something or somebody is transmatting to earth.” He reached for the dematerialisation switch. “We’d better get after them. There’s mischief afoot.”

The TARDIS gave a few groans in that half-organic, half mechanical way it had and then materialised in a brightly lit corridor. The Doctor looked at the console and frowned.

“We’re on a ship,” he said. “A steamer of the period, I would say by the motion. Quite a large one.”

“And that’s bad because…”

“Depends which steamer and where she is. It’s 1915. There’s a war on, and the Germans have submarines armed with torpedoes in the waters around the British Isles.”

“So… maybe we’d better get the heck out of here?”

“German submarines are a sideshow right now. This steamer also has aliens aboard. I need to check it out. You… can stay in here if you prefer. I won’t be long.”

“I’m not scared. I’ll come with you,” Donna told him. “Unless. .. you think I’d be in the way or something.”

“Course not. Come on.” The Doctor opened the door remotely from the console. As he did so, two things happened. First, there was a tremendous explosion somewhere in the bowels of the steamship which was felt even inside the TARDIS. Secondly, a man carrying a small girl fell over the threshold into the console room. Donna ran to help them. The Doctor was too busy monitoring the degree of list that the steamer and TARDIS had both developed in a matter of seconds.

“They look ok,” Donna reported as the man stood up, still clutching the child. “But what happened outside? Was it…”

The Doctor nodded.

“The ship has been torpedoed. It’s going down, fast.”

The man looked disturbed by that news. The Doctor and Donna both looked at him carefully. He was about forty, dressed in a well cut and tailored gentleman’s day suit. The little girl was in a blue and white striped dress with a wide white collar. She looked about eight. She clung to the man and hid her face against his shoulder.

The man was looking around the console room in surprise, but actually taking it quite calmly.

“Sir,” The Doctor said. “I am sorry, but you shouldn’t be in here. I am afraid I have to ask you to go back outside. There is still at least fifteen minutes before the ship sinks. You should go to the port side. The list is to starboard and they won’t be able to launch the lifeboats from there.”

“Doctor, no!” Donna cried out. “No. you can’t make them…” She ran to the door and closed it manually and stood against it. “No, you can’t. If the ship is sinking, you can’t just throw them back like… like…”

“Donna,” The Doctor began. Then a second explosion rocked the ship outside and the TARDIS inside. The Doctor fell backwards. Donna ran from the door to the console and pulled a lever she knew as the ‘fast return switch’. The Doctor yelled at her as he pulled himself upright, but it was too late. They were in space again.

“I won’t let you put them off the TARDIS to die,” she said, stepping close to the man and child.

“Donna,” The Doctor said with a deep sigh. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done? You’ve taken them out of a fixed point in time. You can’t do that. It could rip apart the very fabric of space and time.”

“And you can’t just chuck them out of the TARDIS,” Donna responded. “You can’t now anyway. If you try to take them back I’ll… I’ll…”

“Excuse me…” the gentleman spoke in a calm, polite, but commanding voice.; “Can you possibly explain where I am and who are you and what is happening? I understand that the ship was hit. The noise, the explosion. It must have been a torpedo. But… we no longer seem to be on the ship. And…” He looked at the viewscreen. The TARDIS was slowly revolving so that he gazed first on the view of the earth, then the Lego Moon with its beam still directed down onto the stricken ship. “Good heavens. What am I looking at? Is that… It’s incredible. I am… standing in the heavens… And…”

“You were on the Lusitania, weren’t you?” The Doctor asked. “Just… to verify… that was the ship you were on?”

“Yes, it was.”

“The little girl…. Is she yours?”

“No. Her name is Mary. I found her wandering and crying. She was separated from her parents somehow. I was taking her to the purser’s office when… a strange blue box appeared in front of me…. Then the door opened. And you know the rest.”

“The Lusitania?” Donna was a few steps behind in the conversation. She was still trying to work out if The Doctor was angry at her for her rebellion. “I’ve heard of that, I think. Not as big as the Titanic, of course. There’s no film. But…”

“Sunk by a torpedo from the U-Boat U-20 that struck her at ten past two on the afternoon of May 7th, 1915. She sank in eighteen minutes taking with her 1,198 souls. She was no more than eight miles away from the south coast of Ireland and only a few more miles from a safe port.”

“You talk as if what happened only a few minutes ago is a matter of historical record,” said the gentleman as The Doctor persuaded the little girl to let go of him and he brought her to the sofa. Donna found a blanket and wrapped it around her and The Doctor found a block of chocolate in his pocket that soothed her distress for a little while. Her rescuer sat on the other end of the sofa and looked at The Doctor steadily, willing him to begin to answer some of his many questions.

“For us, it is,” The Doctor answered him. “This is a time and space travelling ship from the far future. I know that is incredible for you to believe, but it is a fact and I would rather you accepted it. We really don’t have time for doubts and disbelief. The Lusitania sank. Or… it will sink…” He reached out for the fob watch the gentleman wore and looked at the time. “In two minutes time. It is an immutable fact, a fixed point in time. Even I, a Time Lord, am forbidden to interfere in it. Donna, in keeping you aboard my ship, instead of letting you take your chances of escape in the lifeboats, may well have caused a fracture in the time continuum that would echo to the end of time itself. At least it will if I don’t find a way to mend it.”

“Good heavens,” the gentleman said again.

“I’m frightening you,” The Doctor said. “I am sorry. And we haven’t even been properly introduced. What is your name?”

“Hugh Lane,” he answered. “Sir Hugh Lane, in point of fact. Though in light of what you have said, that title seems unimportant. And you… did you say you were a Lord…”

“I’m The Doctor,” The Doctor told him. “Just The Doctor. And this is Donna Noble of Chiswick. We are, as I said, time travellers. Donna is from the early twenty-first century, nearly a hundred years in your future. But…” He was going to say something else, but a sound from the console distracted him. “Would you excuse me? I must attend to that.”

Donna ran to help him at the console. She noted that the Lego Moon had retracted its transmat beam. It was getting ready to move and The Doctor clearly meant for them to follow it. There was a jolt and they were in the vortex once more. It seemed smoother this time.

“I’ve calibrated the helmic regulator,” The Doctor explained. “We’re now invisibly and calmly following that ship wherever it goes. I want to find out what they’re up to.”

“Then you need to talk to Mary,” Sir Hugh told him. “She saw something…. I thought she was just talking nonsense at first. But in light of subsequent developments…”

“Yes, Mary,” The Doctor said as if he had forgotten the little girl was there. He came to the sofa and looked at her. She looked lost and upset, but the TARDIS itself wasn’t bothering her, and the offer of chocolate had endeared him to her. She didn’t seem to mind when he sat beside her.

“Why don’t I make Sir Hugh a nice cup of tea and bring Mary some milk,” Donna said. “Seems like there’s nothing much else to do until the Lego aliens get where they’re going next.”

The Doctor nodded. He always felt guilty when Donna’s role in events was reduced to tea making. But just now that was the best and most practical thing she could do for them all. As she went towards the inner corridor he turned to the little girl.

“What happened to you, Mary?” he asked gently, looking directly into her eyes. He wasn’t exactly hypnotising her, but he was using Power of Suggestion to calm her and let her tell her story without undue distress.

Her story surprised him. She told of being on the promenade deck of the ship, after lunch, walking with her mother and father and her five year old brother when three strange men appeared in front of them. Metal men.

“Metal?” The Doctor was wary. “Were they… silver or grey… did they have holes for eyes and mouth and sort of handles where their ears should be?”

Mary shook her head. What she described was not the cybermen he thought of first, but an android, Human-shaped with a ‘Human’ face, though lacking any distinguishable features. They were gold, not silver. The Doctor admitted he had never heard of anything like them before.

“What did they do, Mary?” he asked. She described how they had pointed something like guns at her parents. But they had not been shot with bullets. Instead a white light touched them briefly. Then one of the metal men had spoken in a strange voice.

But Mary had been too scared to take in the words it had said. Her spoken testimony faltered. The Doctor reached out and touched her either side of her face and gently probed her memories. He saw clearly what she couldn’t express in words. He heard what the android said.

“These are fated to die in twenty minutes. They are suitable. We will take them.” And then The Doctor saw the android raise what he recognised as a transmat marker beam. He fired it at Mary’s parents and brother. As soon as the beam touched them they disappeared. Mary, shocked and scared, but keeping her wits, dived behind a winchgear box on the deck and then ran for a door and down the companionway into the ship. The androids didn’t pursue her, but she was lost on an unfamiliar deck. And then Sir Hugh had found her.

The Doctor knew the rest. He gently withdrew from her mind. Donna was there with the milk. He let her drink it and then had her lie down on the sofa. He tucked the blanket around her and put his hand on her forehead to induce a gentle, refreshing sleep where the terrible events she had been a part of would not trouble her. As he did so he retrieved one more piece of information from her mind. When he was sure she was sleeping soundly he turned and went to the console.

“Mary Susan Maguire,” he said. “Of New York. Listed amongst the dead along with all her family.”

“But… wouldn’t the list have changed,” Donna pointed out. “Things changed. Maybe she was meant to have survived.”

“The TARDIS is in a state of grace. Changes to the timeline would not register in here. That means that Mary and Sir Hugh can be alive in here without upsetting the fabric of space and time – for a while at least. Sooner or later it will catch up even in here. But this is the final record of the dead produced by the Cunard line’s insurers after the investigation. The Maguires are dead.”

“And me?” Sir Hugh said in a surprisingly calm voice. “I’m on that list?”

“I don’t need to look for you on the list,” The Doctor answered. “You’ve got your own Wikipedia page. Sir Hugh Lane, born in Cork in 1875, knighted at the age of 23 for your services to the arts.”

“He’s an artist?” Donna queried. “Famous…”

“Not an artist,” Sir Hugh answered. “Merely a collector of them, a patron of the arts. Oh, dear. Does my…. Whatever that was you said… does it say what happened to my collection? I hope my wishes were carried out…”

Sir Hugh seemed to realise the absurdity of what he was saying and his voice trailed off. In the silence Donna spoke instead.

“I still don’t understand why it’s bad that they’re alive when they could have been drowned right now.”

“Because neither Hugh nor Mary have a place in time now. They don’t belong anywhere. If I took them back, landed them on the pier at Queenstown where the survivors will be brought in very soon, then I put two people back into existence who shouldn’t be there.” He looked at Sir Hugh and smiled. “In your case, at least you could explain your codicil and save fifty odd years of letters to the Times and an international argument on a par with the Elgin Marbles. But the ripples in the timeline, in causality, would be disastrous.”

“So what are you going to do with them?” Donna asked. “They can’t stay in the TARDIS forever, can they? I mean… we have plenty of rooms. But they couldn’t, surely? You said sooner or later it would catch up with them even here.”

“I’ll think of something. But not right now. The Lego Moon has come out of the vortex again.”

Donna hadn’t been looking at the viewscreen. Now she did. They were orbiting Earth again. Again the transmat beam came out from the bottom of the sphere. Again The Doctor followed it down.

The TARDIS materialised in the economy class cabin of a jet plane. It was clearly a plane that was in very desperate trouble. All of the passengers and cabin crew were in their seats, belted in and leaning forward in the ‘crash’ position. There was a murmuring of prayers, crying, mild hysteria. None of them noticed the TARDIS materialise. They were far too terrified to look up.

Nor did they see the androids that transmatted into the cabin and walked down the aisles scanning people. Where they found a suitable subject for their purposes they transmatted them away.

“What is going on?” Donna asked. “Doctor, why are they doing that?”

“I don’t know,” he answered. “But I have a horrible suspicion. One I can’t do anything about just now. This plane is about to crash into the side of a mountain in a virtually unreachable part of Peru and turned into a fireball. Only a partial recovery will ever be made, many bodies never fully identified. The TARDIS can sustain a fair bit of knocking about, but it would still be better if we got out of here now.”

The androids obviously thought the same. As the plane went into a terminal dive, they transmatted out. The TARDIS dematerialised seconds later and re-appeared next to the sphere. The Doctor wanted to get inside it. But the TARDIS’s sensors were telling him that it had some strong defensive shields and he didn’t have time to override them before they were in the vortex again.

“So… Hugh,” Donna said as she realised they had nothing to do but wait again. “You’re a sir, and a patron of the arts… you’re rich then?”

“Donna, behave,” The Doctor interjected. “He’s a lost soul out of his time, not a potential husband.”

“I am quite rich,” he admitted modestly. “Or at least I was. If I’m dead, then my wealth will be divided between those named in my will. My art will go to the gallery I specified. I’m not sure why it will lead to letters to the Times, but quite clearly I will not be sending any of them. I am… dispossessed. A lost soul as The Doctor says. A rather odd situation. I don’t quite know what will happen to me. Even The Doctor… who seems to know more than any of us… is at a loss.”

“There must be something you can do for him, Doctor,” Donna pleaded. “It’s not fair. It just isn’t.”

“I’ll work something out, he promised. “But the best I can do at the moment is a pot of tea and a plate of chocolate biscuits. I'm more concerned with what’s going on with that lot.”

“They’re taking people,” Donna said. “From… places where they won’t be missed. A boat sinking… a plane crashing….”

“A collapsing skyscraper,” The Doctor noted as he followed the transmat beam again and they watched the androids beaming out selected subjects from among those who history would record as not surviving another of those fixed points in time he wasn’t allowed to do anything about. If he could, he would have opened the TARDIS doors and let as many as he could run to safety. But the universe would convulse if he tried. He dematerialised again. Donna looked at him and wondered what was going on in his mind right now.

“Futility, helplessness,” he said even though she hadn’t asked the question. “Being in so many of these places, knowing that so many innocents are dying, and I can’t help them…. And if it wasn’t bad enough that they are dying, now they’re being abducted, too.”

“What are the androids taking them for?” Donna asked.

“It could be any reason,” The Doctor answered her. “My guess is they want slave labour….”

“But…” Hugh looked appalled. “But Mary’s family… they were people of quality. First class passengers.”

“It could be far worse,” The Doctor added. “They could also be for livestock or for vivisection.”

“No!” Donna was appalled. “Doctor, no…. Mary’s family.”

“They were going to die anyway. These creatures… the androids… or whoever is controlling them… they seem to think that people who are about to die, who are about to be erased from the timelines… are fair game.”

“That is outrageous,” Hugh said. “Absolutely outrageous. Somebody must stop them at once.”

“I intend to. The next location they come to, I want to get on board their ship. I can’t do it while they’re in the vortex.”

“I don’t understand your words, Doctor,” Hugh said. “But I understand that you know what this is all about, and that… you feel the same sense of disgust at these abductions that I do?”

“We understand each other very well, Hugh,” he answered.

“Then you’ll be needing my help. To put an end to this deplorable situation? If you have weapons…”

“I never use weapons,” The Doctor answered.

“That’s true enough,” Donna said. “He doesn’t.”

“Then how can you possibly fight these inhuman creatures?”

“I don’t know that, yet. But I will.”

They had come out of the vortex once more. The Doctor checked the temporal location.

“Orbiting above the Atlantic Ocean, not far off the Straits of Gibralrta on December 3rd, 1872,” he said. “I think we’ve just solved the mystery of the Mary Celeste. They were all abducted by aliens.”

“Wow!” Donna exclaimed. Hugh, also, seemed impressed by the information.

“No need to go down there,” The Doctor said. “We know what happened. Let’s see… Donna… Hugh, you can help, too. Donna, take the helmic regulator. Hugh… those purple switches in a line there. Flip every other one up and then count to ten and reverse the process.”

Hugh had never seen anything like the TARDIS console in his life. it looked like something out of a nightmare. But he did as The Doctor asked him to do.

The Doctor, meanwhile, moved around the console adjusting settings and checking monitors of scrolling data as the TARDIS dematerialised and quickly re-materialised inside the strange sphere.

“Good heavens!” Hugh exclaimed as he looked at the new location on the viewscreen. “What is this?”

“I'm going for a closer look,” The Doctor said. He turned to Donna and Hugh. “Somebody needs to watch Mary. If she wakes alone in here…”

“I’ll do it,” Donna told him. “Go on, take Hugh. This is his first space ship. It’ll knock his socks off.”

“I am perfectly happy to accompany you, Doctor. If it means we get to the bottom of these strange goings on. But… my socks need have no part in it.”

“Good man,” The Doctor told him. “Donna, we’ll be back as soon as we can.”

The Doctor and Hugh stepped out of the TARDIS together. Even The Doctor was startled by the scale of what he saw, let alone Hugh, a gentleman of the early 20th century for whom the Chrysler Building in New York was the biggest wonder to date.

The sphere was hollow inside, the space criss-crossed by metal walkways and connecting ladders as if it was a great Meccano construction. Having started with one toy reference for the exterior, The Doctor found it impossible not to let the other one come into his mind. All around the curving walls of the vast space, connected by the walkways, were rooms with glass fronts. The TARDIS was parked next to one of them. The Doctor and Hugh looked inside. There were a dozen people lying on narrow beds or couches, all of them monitored by life support machines and apparently in deep comas. They were attended to by golden androids.

“They seem to be in Roman costumes,” Hugh noted.

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “I’m thinking they might have been zapped out of the last moments of Pompeii. Looks like a family group.”

The android attendant didn’t notice them. They carried on along the walkway to another room. There, also, the people on the couches were in a costume of the ancient world.

“Atlanteans,” The Doctor said.

“Are you sure?” Hugh asked.

“I was there once. Pompeii, Atlantis - two more places where there were no survivors.”

“The look…. comfortable,” Hugh said. “Not… like slaves or… livestock.”

The Doctor agreed. “If anything, they look as if they’re being given the best of medical care. This is strange…. Perhaps… some sort of anthropological study… But it still doesn’t make any sense. I mean… why…”

“You’re the time traveller, Doctor,” Hugh said. “It makes no sense at all to me.” He looked through the glass into the next room. “Good grief, where are these from?”

“Sodom and Gomorrah,” The Doctor answered him. “Yes, the biblical cities. Destroyed by an eruption of burning bitumen from subterranean deposits in that region of the modern country of Jordan. I still don’t….” He froze mid-sentence. The golden android attending to that group of abductees looked around and saw them. Its expression didn’t change. It couldn’t. It didn’t have facial muscles. But it tilted its head in a puzzled way and then stepped towards the window, which rose up to allow it to pass through.

“You are not in your designated travel compartments,” the android said, scanning them with a white light that emitted from its index finger. “Error. You are not designated. You are irregular. Alert! Alert! Irregular!”

“Hush,” The Doctor said to it. “Don’t get everyone upset. This is a spot check, that’s all. I’m from the government.” He reached into his pocket for his psychic paper and held it up. “Spot check of your facilities. I need to speak to your captain, director… Take me to your leader.”

The androids eyes opened and shut mechanically as it studied the psychic paper. The Doctor hoped fervently it wasn’t passing him off as the King of Belgium again.

“Please proceed to the bridge,” the android said. “Follow.”

They followed, in single file, across a narrow walkway that didn’t seem to bother the android one little bit. It didn’t appear to bother The Doctor very much. Or at least he didn’t show any sign that he was bothered. He walked confidently, keeping up with the android. Hugh was more cautious. He had looked down. He knew how far he could fall if he misjudged his step.

“What are you worrying about?” The Doctor asked him. “You’re already dead!”

“I’d really prefer not to die again,” he replied.

“I’m used to it,” The Doctor told him. “Anyway, I think it is very possible that there is some kind of anti-gravity going on. You wouldn’t fall all the way.”

“I will take your word for it,” Hugh answered.

They reached the other side without having to test The Doctor’s theory, anyway and the android brought them into a room with wall to wall computer banks humming away. There was a whole group of androids working at the terminals and in a command seat in the centre was what appeared to be a human, at least at first glance. The Doctor reached slowly into his pocket and took out his Sonic Screwdriver.

“Sorry,” he said. “But I had to know. You’re a cyborg… part machine, part organic?”

“I am Leader Isis,” he said. “I am in charge of this mission. And you are….”

“I’m The Doctor,” he said. “Spot check of facilities….”

It was a lame cover. He knew it was. But before he had chance to think of anything better there was a shimmer in the air and a golden android appeared along with Donna with Mary in her arms. She put the little girl down and she ran to Hugh, who held her hand firmly. The Doctor turned to Leader Isis with an angry glitter in his eyes.

“Your androids transmatted into my TARDIS? How? And why did you bring them here? If you want hostages, you have us already?”

“Hostages?” Leader Isis was puzzled. “I don’t understand your words. You are visitors here? You wish to understand our mission?”

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “Yes, we do. I want to know why you are abducting people from planet Earth and keeping them here on your ship. Why are they unconscious? What are you doing to them?”

“They are safe,” Leader Isis assured him. “They are being prepared….”

“Prepared for what?” The Doctor demanded. “Are you experimenting on them?” His eyes glittered again and there was a set to his jaw that Donna recognised as dangerous.

“They are being prepared for the Destination. They are having their minds prepared for their new future lives.”

“What?” Donna said. “You mean they… they won’t know who they are when they wake up?”

“That would be far too traumatising for them,” Leader Isis said. “They would fret for loved ones left behind, for their homes and friends. They are being processed to believe that they are colonists travelling to a new world, and that when they arrive there is a paradise awaiting them, new homes, good jobs, clean air and opportunities for all.”

“Is there a paradise awaiting them?” Donna asked. “Or is it a big trick?”

“I was wondering the very same thing myself,” Hugh said.

“So was I,” The Doctor added. “I’ve never heard of a paradise planet that didn’t have a really big serpent lurking somewhere.”

“A serpent?” Leader Isis was puzzled. He turned to one of his people who apparently explained what a serpent was. “Why would we place a dangerous creature within our world? We do not wish to harm these souls. We want them to be happy.”

“Why?” Donna and Hugh both asked the question at once. The Doctor just tilted his head quizzically as if to say ‘answer them’.

“I don’t understand the question,” Leader Isis answered. “Please clarify.”

“Why do you want these humans to be happy on a new planet?” Donna continued. “Why take them in the first place? I know they were going to die, but so were lots of people. You didn’t take them all. Just a few, here and there. Why? What is it all about?”

“Please…” Leader Isis seemed distressed. “Let me show you.”

He signalled to one of the androids. Donna and Hugh both made surprised sounds as the android lifted off its own face and its eyes inside glowed before emitting a hologram beam. The three ‘visitors’ watched as an image formed of a planet. Leader Isis told them it was called Destination Alpha. It was an M class planet with oceans and landmasses, an oxygen rich atmosphere.

“It was terraformed by the government of Xsoce V, a planet in the twin solar system to that designated as the Sigma system. Xsoce V was a dying world. Pollution, depletion of the natural resources had brought it to its knees. The only thing it had was advanced technology. The new planet was prepared, and this ship was built to transport the population to the new world, with the androids attending to their needs. They would sleep during the journey and new skills for living in harmony with their new environment would be taught to them. And when they woke, they would begin their new lives.

“All right, so far,” Donna commented. “But how come….”

“The first group of ten thousand were successfully transported to Destination Alpha. The ship returned to Xsoce V, only to find that a terrible disaster had struck. The pollution levels had become so high that the people had been poisoned. Billions were dead. There was only one survivor. The man who had the idea of Destination alpha. A brilliant scientist. He lived, by transplanting his mind from his dying body into a cyborg mind….”

“You?” The Doctor asked.

“I,” he said. “My name when I was organic was Leader Ira Sisko. The androids designated me as ‘Isis’ when I came aboard the ship. I formulated a plan. With the assistance of the androids I fitted the ship with my latest invention – a time drive that allowed me to go back and forward in the temporal vortex. I knew I couldn’t save my own people. It was too late for them. But I searched the stars for planets with humanoid populations and I found souls who were about to die in disasters… who were no longer part of the timeline of their world. I gave them the future that my own people should have had…”

“So… you’re doing this out of… kindness?” Donna said.

“Out of remorse,” he corrected her. “As one of the great thinkers of my people, I ought to have been able to save them. I was too late…”

The Doctor’s expression changed. He was no longer angry or suspicious. He looked at Isis as if looking at a kindred spirit. He understood fully the frustration of having almost unlimited power but not being able to reverse the destruction of his own people.

His solution was to work all the harder to protect other worlds. Isis’s solution was to rebuild his society from scratch in a unique and incredible way.

“It could work,” he said slowly. “People whose timelines have ended… Yet on this new world there is a place for them. The time continuum can handle that. It’s… Isis… I can’t think of a single reason to stop you doing this. I really can’t. It’s… brilliant. It’s genius. Even I wouldn’t have thought of it. It’s….”

He actually was lost for words.

“If this is true,” Hugh said very slowly. “Then, Doctor, the answer to your dilemma about myself and Mary is obvious.”

“You…” The Doctor looked at him. “Oh….”

“She should be with her family, of course. Do I understand she will not remember any of the trauma – the ship, the TARDIS, this place… She will have a new identity, new memories, but she will be part of the same loving family?”

“That is correct,” Isis told him.

“Then… we’d better take her to her family,” Hugh said.

It meant another walk across the walkways, but it was worth it. Mary smiled with joy when she saw her mother and father and brother in their preparation room, sleeping soundly. She was happy to lie down on one of the couches herself. Hugh held her hand until she was asleep then bent and kissed her forehead gently.

“Goodbye, child,” he said. “You won’t know me when you wake. But that’s for the best. You won’t remember being frightened, either.”

He turned and looked at Isis.

“There’s another of these couches? For me?”

“It can be arranged,” Isis told him, and at once the androids became busy. Within a very short time, Hugh was lying on another couch and being attached to the machines that would erase his memory, his identity, and give him a whole new one for the future.

“You’re choosing to do that?” Donna asked him. “Choosing to forget yourself and become… I don’t know, a farmer or something on this new planet?”

“The life I knew is over. What is the point of remembering and regretting? I shall be content in whatever new life I am given. I shall have nothing to regret. Doctor…”

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “Yes, Hugh. You’re doing the right thing. There’s a place for you on Destination Alpha. Goodbye, and good luck.”

The Doctor and Donna walked away before Hugh was asleep. They said goodbye to Isis, too and made their way back to the TARDIS.

“It was the right thing, wasn’t it?” Donna asked as they left the ship behind. “For Hugh?”

“Yes,” The Doctor answered her. “It’s right for them all. They’ll take that batch to the new planet, then carry on, picking up more victims of terrible disasters and giving them life where they had none. It’s… If my people were around, I’m not sure they’d like the idea. They might think it contravenes the laws of time. But… now I’m the only Lord of Time left, and I get to decide… and I think I should let Isis and his androids get on with it. Meanwhile… you liked Hugh, didn’t you?”

“He was nice.”

“Yes, I thought so too. His paintings… he collected works of art from what were then modern painters, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Matisse, those sort. When he first wrote his will, he was going to give them all to Dublin city to be put in a new gallery there. But there was a row about the design of it, and he said he was going to give them to the National Gallery in London instead. Then he felt sorry for being in a huff and wrote a codicil to his will giving them BACK to Dublin. Only he didn’t get it witnessed and he went off to America and came back on the Lusitania. The National Gallery in London refused to give the paintings back. The argument went on for most of the twentieth century. It was actually a bone of contention between the British an Irish governments. But in 2008, the collection was finally brought together where he wanted it.”

The TARDIS materialised. Donna looked at a street where it seemed to have been raining a little while ago, but the sun was shining between the clouds now.

“We’re on Earth,” she guessed. “With weather like that, has to be.”

“We’re in Dublin,” The Doctor said, grabbing his coat and taking her by the hand as they stepped out into the street. “Parnell Square, Dublin. And that lovely Georgian building with all the banners is officially called The Dublin City Gallery, but to most people it’s just known as The Hugh Lane.”

“For our Hugh?”

“Yes, indeed,” The Doctor said. They stepped into the gallery. Donna hadn’t been in very many such places in her life. She didn’t know Manet from Monet. She would be the first to admit it. But The Doctor obviously did and he guided her to what he said was the most appropriate picture for a wet summer day in Dublin.

“Renoir’s Les Parapluies,” he said. “One of Hugh’s collection. My favourite of them, if I had to choose.”

“Brilliant,” Donna agreed. “I think it’s my favourite, too."