"Last night I dreamt I went to Gallifrey again. It seemed to me I stood by the main gate leading outside. I saw the burnt orange of the night sky, and saw the moon glint on the silver leaves." "Where is this Gallifrey?" "It is a planet about 29,000 light years from here." "And you have been there?" "I was born there." Dr Rebecca Browning stopped the tape and looked across the room at Dr. Robert Booth. In his late forties, he had lost the battles against middle age spread and baldness, but was trying to hide the latter defeat by brushing strands of hair across his scalp. He was an eminent psychiatrist -- she had read his work, and had wanted to consult him on this strange case. Now she was in the tip that was his office. The floor was littered with screwed up pieces of paper, open books, and coffee cups. She had declined the offer of a beverage after moving a mug with an active growth of mould in the bottom in order to sit on the chair. "Young lady, I have dealt with many patients who thought they had been abducted by aliens, or were indeed extra-terrestrials themselves." Dr Booth did not seem to notice as Rebecca winced at the condescending form of address. "So, why have you wasted my time by approaching me with this case?" "Dr. Booth, I'm sorry if you think this a trivial, run of the mill case, but there is something else you should know." "And what is that, pray?" "The patient has two hearts, a blood type unlike any on record, and a body temperature that has stabilised at 60F -- they are not human." * * * Wil walked across the warm sand to the beach-bar. Unlike the other people, who lay relaxing in the warm sun, he was nervous, almost frightened. It had seemed like such a good idea three weeks ago -- a relaxing holiday on the most exclusive resort planet in the galaxy. Now it seemed that he might be trapped here. There were, of course, far worse places to be stuck all summer long. Except Wil knew the planet's fate. This was not turning out the way Wil had expected when he had suggested the idea of a holiday to The Doctor. *** "Doctor?" "Mmm?" replied the Time Lord, who remained on his back under the TARDIS console, poking it with an assortment of strange instruments. "You 're not listening to a word I say, are you?" "Mmm." "Should that light on the console be flashing 'Danger'?" "Mmmm." Wil walked over and gave the prone figure a kick. "Oww! What did you do that for? You aren't supposed to kick a man while he's down!" "Sorry, but you weren't listening to a word I was saying!" "Of course I was!" "What did I say, then?" "Errr... Was it the one about the Welshman, the Martian, and the Ogron?" "No, it wasn't." "OK, sorry -- but I am listening now." The Doctor slid out from under the console. He appeared to be a man in his thirties, unless you looked into his eyes -- they told of centuries of life. His hair was of medium length and verging on the unkempt, and he was wearing a white shirt and dark trousers. "I have finished repairing the damage the TARDIS suffered. So you have my full and undivided attention." "After all our recent troubles, I want to spend some time lying on a beach, worrying about nothing more serious than whether to swim or go the bar. Doctor, I need a Holiday." "Excellent idea! Where do you want to go?" "I don't know. You choose." "Wil, whenever *I* chose, we always end up in the middle of some local trouble -- a galactic war, or some other degree of chaos between the extremes. Let me get you a book to help *you* pick the ideal destination." The Doctor strode into the shadows of the vast gothic chamber that was the TARDIS control room, picking up his jacket from the back of a chair as he passed. He returned some fifteen minutes later with a large volume entitled 'The Lonely Galaxy Guide to Beach Planets' and handed the book to Wil. Wil spent several hours studying it before deciding on Paradise, an artificial world built by StarHols, as the perfect Beach Resort Planet. This was to be its first season, and the book was full of photographs of its construction and details of the perfectly managed climate -- rain only at night, and bright sunshine every day. It was described as the most exclusive resort in the galaxy. "Doctor, *this* is where I want to go." "Paradise it is," the Doctor said as he pushed a few buttons on the console and muttered, "I've heard of that resort. I wonder why?" *** It was a restful first couple of days. The sun shone, the water was warm, the drinks good. Wil lay in the sun, its rays filtered by the atmosphere to ensure that there was no danger of cancer. On the first evening he drank himself pleasantly merry and entertained the other people in the bar with jokes. They sat down for dinner on the second evening. The Doctor ordered Venison in a redcurrant sauce, and Wil mumbled something about deer being a well-known vegetable. The Doctor laughed and said, "Oh, I'm sure that all the food here is artificially produced -- there is no more meat in the venison than in the potatoes. Well, at least that's what I'm telling myself. " "I'm enjoying this break. Thanks for bringing us here." The Doctor sighed. "Truth be told, I'm bored with sitting on the beach. Would you mind if I went off to sort out some business that I've been meaning to deal with for a while?" "No problem. How long will it take?" "A couple of years. But *I'll* be back in two weeks, and then we can on to a more active holiday." The Doctor then proceeded to pull grotzis from behind his, Wil's, and the waiter's ears. "There -- that should give you enough spending money for the fortnight." Then he produced another guidebook from a jacket pocket. "Why don't you chose the next holiday destination while I'm gone? I can recommend skiing on the Ice Mountains of Tain, or diving in the waters of Eidos, but don't let me influence your choice." Wil continued to enjoy the rare luxury of relaxation uninterrupted by Cybermen, Evil from the dawn of time, or exploding lettuces. On the day that he had arranged to meet the Doctor, he finally got round to opening the new guide book. He read no further than the introduction: 'ForestWorld will be closed, following the collapse of StarHols last year. The company folded after its star attraction, 'Paradise', was reduced to a lump of lifeless radioactive ash on G.D. 875.87 by an attack from unidentified aliens. ' In just over a week, the world on which he was staying would cease to exist. The thought of leaving all these people to die was terrible, but maybe the Doctor could rescue them when he arrived. When the Doctor did not arrive that evening, Wil decided that he must have been delayed, before realising how silly that was for a time-traveler. The Doctor had probably just forgotten the time they had agreed upon. The last shuttle before the coming destruction left the following day, but Wil was still so certain that the TARDIS would arrive that he made no effort to leave. Now, another week had gone by, and there was still no sign of the Doctor. Wil had been forgotten, or something had happened to prevent his friend from collecting him. Either way, unless he could find a way off this planet in twenty-four hours, he would die. *** The ship tumbled through the void of space towards the artificial world Paradise. The vessel was in the shape of a wheel, with a central hub linked by four spokes to an outside rim, its very design marking it as an alien craft. On board, Flight-Marshall Itrix punched a button on the communications control. The screen above it flared in a haze of static before an image of Itrix's commanding officer resolved itself. The commander looked just like Itrix, just as every one of the crew did, all identical to their Flight-Marshall. "Itrix reporting, Commander." "Proceed." "We are on course for the planet where the hostiles are believed to be. ETA is 10 units. Should I verify their presence before initiating destruction?" "No, Flight-Marshall; that would be a waste of resources. When you are in range, initiate complete sterilisation of the target." "Understood, Sir -- Itrix out." Itrix turned to face his crew. "Continue on course. Check the status of all weapons and prepare to earn the glory of war." "Yes, Flight-Marshall", chorused the crew in ten identical voices. *** Dr. Booth put his index finger onto the bridge of his spectacles, pushed them down, and peered over them. He took a long look at the tall, lanky woman sitting opposite him. "There must be some other medical explanation." "None that I have been able to determine. I have sent the results of the examination to several colleagues, and they are as mystified as the doctor who first obtained them." "How did you get this patient?" "They were found walking down The Mall, clutching a teddy-bear, on the verge of collapse. They were brought to A&E with no identification; they can't remember their name. They have clearly been through a massive trauma." *** In a dark, dank building, a human-shaped creature wearing a black robe was hunched over a screen. The being stared with satisfaction at the screen's contents, the inside of a cell. Huddled in the corner was the forlorn figure of a prisoner. "Oh, my friend, you fell into my trap, and the only way you are leaving it is as a corpse. With you out of the way, there will be no meddlesome fool to interfere with my plan." The creature spoke in a cracked, hissing voice. Then it let out a cacophonous sound which might have been a laugh. *** Brigadier Bambera looked at the pile of papers in her in-tray and sighed. She had not joined UNIT to push paper, but that seemed to have become her lot since her promotion, apart from Operation Broadsword. Taking the top sheet, she started to read, then realized that she was only staring at a set of shapes; no comprehension was occurring. She got up and started towards the coffee machine. There was a knock on the door. "Enter." The door opened, and Sergeant Lock walked in, clutching a sheet of paper. "Brigadier, a report from UNIMS." "What in God's name is UNIMS?" "Ehh, I think it stands for United Nations Internet Monitoring System -- a computer which spies on Internet traffic. It is programmed to react to certain key phrases in e-mails. It's produced an alert marked for your attention." "*My* attention? Why?" Lock merely handed her superior the paper. "Thank you. You may leave." Bambera read the printout. "Following keywords found: Gallifrey Two hearts Daleks Extract: The patient has two hearts, claims to come from the planet Gallifrey. Mentions encounters with alien monsters called Daleks. Source: email@example.com Action: Alert UNIT officer charged with Doctor responsibility." She grabbed her beret and jacket, pulled a file from the cabinet, and rushed out of the room. It seemed that the Doctor was back, and that probably meant there was going to be trouble. It was certainly a break from the paperwork. *** Wil leant against the bar, downing yet another drink. He waved at the barman, a large humanoid with blue skin who was wearing a garish short-sleeved shirt. "Another one, please", Wil said, indicating the empty glass in front of him. "What would you say if I told you that the world is about to end?" "I would say, Sir, that you have had enough to drink." "No, honest -- the whole planet will be reduced to ash by an alien attack." "Yes, of course. Now I suggest you go and lie down, and sober up." As Wil staggered away from the bar he passed a man who watched him intently, then started to follow. Wil walked into the hotel lobby, asked for the key to his room, and headed to the lifts. He did not notice the short, overweight man behind him, and so did not see him walk to a comms booth in the corner, where he keyed a number on the pad, made a connection, and started to talk. "I have just heard a human say that this world is about to destroyed by an alien attack. If our enemies are aware of our presence here, their reaction will be to carry out total sterilisation. I will interrogate this creature, to find the source of his information. I suggest that we prepare to evacuate this world." "Agreed. I will contact the other Rutan agents, and warn them of the possibility that our mission has been critically compromised." The man cut the link and strode towards the lifts. As he reached them, the door slid open, and a couple of women walked out, arm in arm. He pushed past them and pressed the button for the ninth floor. The lift rose and stopped at the requested floor. The man stepped out, checked the wall opposite, and turned left. When he reached room 914, he opened the door and walked in. Slumped on the king-size bed was Wil. The mental processes of the occupying creature were reflected in the man's face as it moved into a cruel smile. *** Dr. Browning was back in her office, writing up the details of her conversation with Dr. Booth, when there was a loud hammering on the door. "Come in." The door opened and a black woman in a military uniform with a blue beret walked in. "Dr. Browning?" "Yes, and who are you?" "Brigadier Bambera, United Nations Intelligence Taskforce." Bambera showed her ID to Browning. "Excuse my ignorance, but what is the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce?" "We are a branch of the UN that protects the Earth against extra-terrestrial threats. I believe that you have a possible alien as a patient?" "Yes." "Is he any of these men?" Bambera opened the file that she had under her arm, and spread eight photographs on the desk. They showed men of different ages and builds. Browning did not even glance at them. "No, my patient is not one of those." "You didn't even look at them, Dr Browning." "I don't need to. You're under a misapprehension -- my patient is not male; she's female." "Oh my God... Has the Doctor regenerated into a woman?"