The corridors were empty and silent. Mike Yates smiled to himself as he wandered down them. He had never known them to be busy, but somehow the knowledge that the whole building was empty made it seem particularly desolate. He passed the door to his bedroom and paused momentarily. There was little point in going in of course; nothing in there was his, and most of the contents had been impounded anyway. He tried the door handle, but it was locked. No surprise there.

It was already hard to believe that such a short time ago - a fortnight at most - this quiet country mansion had been anything but quiet and deserted. Mike remembered the giant spiders which had appeared as if from nowhere; the sudden disappearance of Sarah-Jane and the Doctor; and then a confused series of events... He thought he remembered being blasted by one of the spiders, but that didn't quite connect. It was almost as if he had died, or come close to dying. Then the Doctor had returned, and regenerated, and the next thing Mike Yates remembered clearly was that it was all over, and the Doctor, Benton and the others had all departed. Even the Brigadier had gone with hardly a parting word for his one-time most trusted associate. There had been debriefings of course, but then they had cut Mike loose, and he had been left to resume his meanderings. Nobody seemed to care where he went, or what happened to him. It was hard, being alone again after what had happened. It had only been for a while; one small, short while; but for a few days he had been a soldier again; a valued member of UNIT. He had been needed; relied upon. The Brigadier had been close by. Mike would never have admitted it to anybody, but it was the Brigadier that he missed almost more than anything. Anything except for Sergeant Benton's comradeship, perhaps. The Brigadier was Mike's CO; the man he emulated; the man he looked up to more than anyone else. Even the Doctor did not come quite as high on Mike Yates' list as did Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Mike would cheerfully have died for him, and in the end he had almost killed him. The Brigadier had never trusted Yates since, and Mike could hardly say that he blamed the man. After all, he had not only pulled a gun on the CO; he had joined with the other side; worked against UNIT. His intentions might have been good, but that hardly excused what he had done.

He wandered on down the corridor, trying not to see reasons for being depressed in every corner. Despite his best efforts to work up some good cheer, he felt even worse when he came to Cho-je's office, and the room beyond that where K'anpo had lived in virtual seclusion. Mike had come here to learn something, although he still wasn't sure quite what that had been. In the end all it had brought him was an increased sensation of loneliness.

Thoroughly miserable, Mike sat down on the desk, and rested his chin on his fist. He couldn't believe how badly it had all turned out. His career, his whole way of life; gone in one fell swoop. He had rested all his hopes on this place, clinging to the idea that, maybe, if he could just get everything sorted out in his head, there was a chance that the Brigadier might take him back. He had nearly got that too. There had been all the craziness that he had uncovered; the Doctor had come down to deal with it. Mike had been able to help him, and to help the Brigadier too. Then it had all gone wrong. The Doctor had been killed, more or less. He had become someone else. That warm smile, the gentle eyes; that look of sympathy and comradeship had gone, and in its place was the look of a stranger. It was as though he didn't even recognise Mike. That had hurt. After so long together, as such close colleagues. After all that the Doctor had taught Mike, and all that they had been through together; now the Doctor was somebody else entirely, and the Brigadier had been so busy with him that he hadn't even spared a second glance for his former second-in-command. The members of UNIT had packed up and gone home, and all the various pupils at the School had gone too. They had all had lives to go back to, even if they were lives that they had been trying to escape from. After all that had happened, most of them couldn't leave fast enough. But Mike had nowhere to go.

"Problems, Mr Yates?" The voice was soft and gentle, filled with a rich humour and intelligence. Mike lifted his head, confused.

"Cho-je? I mean K'anpo, I'm sorry."

"Cho-je, K'anpo - all are the same." The little man smiled, and the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes danced about. "I asked you if you had problems."

"Sorry. I was a little surprised to see you here, that's all. I thought everybody had gone."

"Not everybody. You are still here." K'anpo stood in front of Mike, his brow furrowed. "You are weighed down heavily, my friend. Is there something I can do for you?"

Mike smiled. "I think you've already done it," he said with feeling. "You saved my life, you saved the Doctor's..."

"But I didn't give you what you came here for originally."

"I don't even know what that was." Mike stood up. "I'm sorry, Cho-je. I shouldn't have disturbed you."

"Can a pupil disturb a master? When there is still so much that they both can learn from each other?" K'anpo laid a hand on Mike's arm. "You came here to find yourself, Mr Yates. Have you done that?"

"Found myself? What's to find?" He was surprised by the Time Lord's line of questioning. The old man cocked his head on one side, looking up at Mike.

"You still have to find your direction in life, Mike. The way you have to go now."

"I have to go out of here." Frowning, and not sure that he liked the monk's familiarity, Mike headed for the door. Behind him, K'anpo moved with surprising speed, reaching the door before the younger man came close to it.

"Look inside yourself, Mike," he said, speaking gently but firmly. "Tell me what you see."

"Nothing." Mike spoke with a vehemence which surprised him. "There's nothing to see, K'anpo. Now let me pass."

"Maybe I was wrong." There was a sadness in the little man's eyes, and he didn't move aside. "When I healed you before, I reached something inside of you... An understanding, or so I thought. There is so much that I could teach you, Mike."

"Like what? Like how to get the Brigadier to speak to me again? Like how to convince my friends that I'm not a traitor? That I can be trusted? Get out of my way, K'anpo."

"Humans." The Time Lord made a disparaging face. "Always angry, always rushing about. Now I know why the Doctor has always fitted in here so well." He raised a hand, and pointed at Mike. "You want your friends to accept you again, but how can they do that when you don't even accept yourself? When you don't believe in yourself. Hmm?" He prodded the younger man in the chest. "Think. Do you trust yourself?"

"I--" Mike sighed. "You know your job, don't you."

"I came here to help people like yourself, Mr Yates. I have to know my job, or I couldn't do it." The monk smiled. "So, are you ready to learn?"

"Learn what?" Despite his frustration, Mike was intrigued. This man, unlikely though it might have seemed to look at him, was a Time Lord; a man who had all of space and Time at his fingertips. Better than that, he was one of the Doctor's own people; somebody who knew the mysterious scientist, and knew everything that the Doctor did about the universe. Everything that Mike himself had always hoped to learn one day.

"Whatever you want to know." K'anpo took Mike's arm, and led him towards the large, ornate cupboard in the corner of the room. He opened the door and gestured inside. "What do you say?"

Mike stared through the door, recognising most of the equipment that he could see, even though he had no idea what it was all for. He remembered the first time that he had gone inside the Doctor's TARDIS, and had seen all this awe-inspiring majesty for the first time. He wandered towards the central console.

"Why are you showing me this?" he asked. K'anpo shrugged rather vaguely.

"A man gets lonely, especially as he gets older. Seeing the Doctor again made me realise how much I have missed the company of a younger person; someone to talk to, someone to teach. Someone to share my travels with."

"Your travels?" Mike blinked, astonished. "K'anpo, I can't go with you. I have things to do here. I have a life to get back to."

"You have a life to mourn." K'anpo pressed a few switches on the console, making strange sounds start up from somewhere within the machine. "You can't win back what you've lost until you find what it is that you're looking for." He smiled brightly. "So what's it to be, Mike? Do you come with me, explore the universe, learn new things about a million different worlds... or do you stay on Earth, and think back to what you used to be, what you used to have?"

"I--" Mike felt confused. K'anpo had a particularly brutal way of cutting through to the bone. It hurt to admit that the strange Time Lord was right. He was doing himself no favours sitting around wishing that things had happened differently. "Do you fly this thing better than the Doctor?" he asked. K'anpo giggled merrily.

"My infant son - had I such a thing - could fly this better than the Doctor. He always did have his head in the clouds. But his heart is in the right place; as is yours. So what's it to be?"

Mike ran his eyes over the console, watching the flickering lights. He turned to look back towards the office where he had been sitting in silent contemplation of his misery such a short time before, but the doors were closed, cutting him off from the familiar sights. What would he be leaving behind, if he chose to go now? What would he be missing? More importantly, who would miss him? The Brigadier didn't seem to care, Benton had other concerns, Jo Grant had gone away, and the Doctor was not himself anymore. On the other hand, what would he be getting himself into if he left? Would he ever come back? He smiled.

"I suppose, all things considered... I really would rather like to go with you." He paused. "If you don't mind."

"Don't mind?" K'anpo laughed happily. "My dear boy, we've been underway for nearly five minutes. I really don't mind at all."

"We're underway?" Mike stared back at the console. There was no central column to rise and fall rhythmically when in flight, but the noises he heard were familiar. "But what if - what if I'd said no?"

"I would have said hard luck." K'anpo smiled at him, and pointed towards an inner door. "Go and look around Mike. Choose yourself a room. Later I'll show you around properly." He smirked. "You're not air-sick are you?"

"No." Filled with a sense of trepidation, Mike took a few steps towards the inner door. Before he opened it he paused, hand on the handle, and glanced back at K'anpo. The little monk grinned at him, eyes bright and teasing.

"Relax, Mike. It'll be fun. You'll see worlds no other human has ever heard of; visit cities that were destroyed centuries ago... You'll enjoy it."

"You think?" He opened the door, glancing out at the corridor beyond. It looked extremely long. He wondered if there was a map anywhere on board.

"Of course." The little man sounded delighted, like a child setting out on a long and exciting journey. "We'll have such fun, Mike. What could possibly go wrong?"


Mike Yates stretched slowly, and glanced at the chronometer on the nearby wall. It was a grand word, but one could hardly call such an item a clock, since it registered not only relative time within the TARDIS, but also the passage of real Time, in as much as there could be such a thing. He had set it to mark time since he had left Earth; just so that his own, much abused body-clock could have some idea of which way the universe was going. By his time, it should have been December 4th, 1975, somewhere around five in the morning. Not that that mattered in the here and now; wherever and whenever the here and now actually was. He grinned. There had been a time when he had actually believed K'anpo's claim to be able to fly the TARDIS accurately, but as it had turned out, he himself was much better at controlling the machine than was the Time Lord. Even then it seemed to have an uncanny ability to land half a galaxy away from wherever they wanted it to go. Maybe all TARDISes had some kind of a built in unreliability, just to add a little uncertainty to their owners' lives.

Mike closed his book, and yawned. He hadn't realised that it was so late. He had been reading a large book; a somewhat optimistic attempt to fit the history of an entire galaxy into one over-sized volume. It still amazed him that all of these things he read about; all the people and the places and the wars, had been going on all over the universe since before mankind had first begun to develop on Earth. Then again, most of what he was reading about in this particular history book probably hadn't even happened yet, since he had no idea when he was at that particular time. It was an interesting position to be in.

He stood up, replaced the book on the shelf, and headed off towards the console room. K'anpo would no doubt smile pleasantly at him, ask him if he had slept well, and then present him with another sheet of equations concerning Time mechanics. Either that or get him to translate some work of Shakespeare into some obscure alien tongue. He had already translated half of them into more languages than he could remember. His last task had been to copy a complicated Buddhist text into ancient High Gallifreyan. Still, at least he was never bored; and how many twentieth century human retired army officers were there who could successfully hold a conversation in Skarn, or who could sing that blessed Venusian lullaby of the Doctor's in its original language?

"Ah, Mike!" K'anpo was sitting cross legged on the floor, as always looking as though he had just awoken from a deep and refreshing sleep. Mike doubted that he had moved from his place all night.

"K'anpo." He nodded a greeting, and strode over to take a look at the Time clock. "Where are we?"

"What? Oh, no idea, no idea." The little monk leapt to his feet. "Why, have we materialised?"

"Looks like it." He ran his eyes over the instruments, wondering if he would ever learn what half of them were for. K'anpo didn't seem to know either, which was hardly reassuring. "We're about ten thousand feet up in the air."

"Oh." The Time Lord frowned, and adjusted a few switches. "We won't pop outside for a look around just yet then. Hmm... Looks nice from up here, I must say."

"The last time that you said a place looked nice, the atmosphere turned out to be ninety percent sulphur." Mike watched his companion bring the ship in for a landing. A series of peculiar noises emanated from somewhere within the central console, informing them that they had now ceased to move. Mike raised his eyebrows. If he had had a car that made noises like this machine did, he would have got rid of it a long time ago. He certainly wouldn't be driving around the roads in it. So why was he prepared to travel through Time and space in something that probably should have been delivered to the wrecker's yard years before?

"Well the atmosphere checks out." K'anpo smiled and nodded happily to himself. "Not so very different from Earth, in fact. Very breathable."

"Jolly good." Mike reached for the door control, but K'anpo stopped him. "What's wrong?"

"A little caution never hurt anyone." The little man frowned at a few more readouts. "I can't detect any life forms nearby, so we should be safe..."

"Good." Grinning at his friend's worries, Mike opened the doors and walked out. "If I see anybody who looks dangerous, I'll send them on in, shall I?"

"You can mock, Mike." K'anpo furrowed his brows in mock severity. "But don't say I didn't warn you. If you should happen to run into something unpleasant out there--"

"K'anpo, when did we ever not run into something unpleasant?" Mike flashed him a grin, and wandered further out into the fresh air, leaving the TARDIS behind him, well out of earshot. He smiled. There was a feeling of deep relaxation; a wonderful serenity about this place, which told his well-honed instincts that he was probably walking into something that he would much rather be walking away from. Such was life in the TARDIS. He had once thought that the Doctor's stories were rather exaggerated, but he had found that the universe was indeed filled with strange creatures and war-like dictators. What was more, K'anpo's TARDIS seemed to have the same uncanny knack for finding them as did the Doctor's own much-travelled machine.

"At least this place seems peaceful enough." Mike's voice surprised him with its volume. He wondered why this place should be so quiet. The conditions were so perfect that he did not believe that the planet could be without life; so where was it all? Images of carnivorous plants and mad, savage humanoids played about in his mind, and he smiled. He was becoming overly suspicious, just like K'anpo. Just because they usually landed in a world full of evil mad-men and hideous beasts, didn't necessarily mean that every planet housed such creatures.

The merry gurgle of a stream attracted Mike's attention, and he wandered towards the noise, smiling at the sight of the bubbling strip of water which was rushing through the trees by his feet. Flowers of every imaginable colour carpeted the edges of the stream, and he sat down beside it, enjoying the moment. It wasn't often that he got the chance to relax in this way. Moments of peace tended only to come whilst in the TARDIS, and there the effect was hardly the same. He picked a flower and dropped it into the water, watching it race off towards wherever the stream was going. He wondered where that was. Were there people there? If so what were they like? He should really have waited for K'anpo to finish his scans, but restlessness was sometimes too strong to resist.

"Mike!" He heard the Time Lord calling him, and waited for the older man to catch him up, unable to summon the energy to call back. He heard the little man's footsteps, and smiled to himself as they went right past. He caught a momentary glimpse of K'anpo's reflection in the water, and then his companion was gone. He grinned. He should probably stand up, and call the other man back.

Relaxing back against a convenient tree trunk, Mike heard a splashing of water from somewhere close by, and sighed. K'anpo had obviously spotted him, and was making his way back. He opened his eyes, turning his head towards the sound, and froze. Coming towards him, and running fast, was a woman. Her eyes were opened wide with desperation, and as she came closer, he stood. She saw him, stumbling backwards in her uncertainty, and nearly fell over as her feet lost their footing in the wet pebbles of the stream bed.

"Take it easy!" Catching her arm to help her regain her balance, Mike's practised eye swept her up and down. "You look exhausted. Are you alright?"

"They - they're after me." Gasping, she glanced back over her shoulder, looking towards the trees from which she had emerged. "Please--"

"Don't worry. I won't let anybody hurt you." Putting a guiding arm around the young woman's shoulders, Mike led her up the bank and into the cover of the trees. "Now who is after you, and why?"

"I - I mustn't stop. I can't take the chance--" She broke off, looking over her shoulder again. The sounds of pursuit were now easily heard above the stream, and Mike heard loud, heavy footsteps, and the crash of broken undergrowth.

"Quickly." Pushing her under the cover of a nearby bush, Mike dashed behind a tree trunk, watching for a sign of this pretty young woman's pursuers. They broke out of the woodland before him, tearing the branches from the trees in their hurry. Mike swallowed hard. The new arrivals were far from being humanoid in appearance. Large and reptilian, they were grotesque to his Earth-trained eyes. He stared at their green, scaled skin, and at the long, forked tongues which darted from their mouths to flicker about in the air. They jerked to a halt, speaking together in a harsh language which he did not understand. Long yellow teeth caught the sunlight as they spoke, and Mike watched their clawed, powerful hands clench and unclench, showing their rage and frustration. He took a deep breath. Whatever these creatures were, they obviously had something planned for the young woman, and it was something which had reduced her to a terrified, desperate wreck. He bent towards her now, seeing the way that her eyes darted about. She looked up at him, and her lips mouthed desperate words.

"Take it steady." Keeping his voice as low as he could, Mike slipped down to crouch beside her. He pulled the laser gun from his belt, holding one eye on the reptiles and one on the girl. "Do you think you can still run?" She stared at him for a moment, then nodded. He grinned. "Good. Follow my lead, alright? When I open fire, make a run for the next group of trees."

"O-okay." She nodded hard, and tensed herself. He gripped the handle of his weapon tightly, counting under his breath. He stood.

The reptile creatures swung towards him as he rose into view, and he saw them reach for whatever weapons they wore at their waists. Face set hard, Mike fired, obliterating one reptile in a flash of laser fire. The others scrambled for cover, and he caught a momentary glimpse of their dead comrade's body, before it disintegrated in a mass of jelly-like gore. His stomach turned. Everything about these creatures was revolting, even down to the way that they died, and he had no desire to stand and watch them any longer. Sending a couple more shots in the direction of the creatures, he dashed after the girl. He saw her vanish amongst the trees up ahead and with a sudden burst of speed, he skidded after her, dodging the thick foliage which the reptiles had so easily smashed. She slowed to a halt as he drew nearer, and he saw that she was exhausted. His protective instincts grew stronger, and he moved towards her.

"Are you okay?" he asked. She stared at him, or rather at the laser gun in his hand, and then nodded slowly.

"Yes. I think so." She frowned, her eyes showing uncertainty. "You-you're not from around here, are you?"

"No." He offered her a grin, which he hoped might help to reassure her. "My name is Captain Yates, United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. I'm from Earth." He had never become used to introducing himself in a civilian capacity, and still tended to use his old title. Not that that amounted to much here. "You can call me Mike."

"Mike?" She sounded as though the word was unfamiliar. "Earth?"

"Yes, it's..." he shrugged. "Well it's a planet, but I don't suppose you would have heard of it. It's rather a long way away. I think."

"You mean you don't know?" She was looking more confused by the minute, which reminded him that he was supposed to be putting her at her ease. He didn't seem to be succeeding so far.

"Sorry. We've been having a few problems with our ship, that's all." He put the gun away, noting how her eyes kept returning to it. She was probably scared, after all that she had been through. "Are you sure that you're okay?"

"Yes." She sounded distant, than smiled at him. "Sorry. My name is Sudra." She gestured about with an arm. "This is my planet. We call it 209."

Mike frowned. "That's a little impersonal."

She shrugged. "It's a planet. My people are not poets, we're farmers. Or were, until the Chand'raa came."

"Chand'raa? Those are the... the big lizard things?"

"Yes. They took over the planet. We had no defences, and many of us were killed. The others were enslaved." She shuddered. "I escaped from a holding centre, about two days ago, but they caught up with me. If it hadn't been for you..." She took a deep breath. "Earlier, you said 'we'. Does that mean that you don't travel alone?"

"That's right." He was a little surprised by her sudden change of direction, but put it down to confusion. "I travel with a friend of mine. A... scientist. Of sorts."

"Also from... from Earth?"

"No, from another planet." He decided not to mention the Time Lords, knowing how they liked to travel incognito. "I can take you to meet him, show you our ship. If you'd like. I, er... I really feel that you ought to relax for a while. Take it easy. Maybe later we can talk."

"Yes." She smiled, making him feel suddenly self-conscious. There was something odd about the way she looked at him, almost as if he amused her. His old friend Jo Grant had looked at him in much the same way, usually when she was teasing him about his accent, and the way that he was always so stiff and correct. "Thankyou Mike. I'd like to... take it easy."

"Jolly good." He gestured ahead. "This way. I'll introduce you to K'anpo, if I can find him. He's gone off somewhere. I'm rather afraid he could get lost in his own back garden." She laughed at that, and he found himself relaxing a little. She was very pretty, and more or less his own age, as far as he could tell. He liked the fact that he had probably saved her life, and he liked the thought that there might be something he could do to help more of her people. He let his hand rest on the butt of his gun, and strode ahead through the trees.


K'anpo wandered through the forest, wondering where in Rassilon's name Mike could have got to this time. The human had an uncanny knack for disappearing, usually when he knew that the Time Lord wanted to run some scans, or complete some scientific experiments. New worlds had to be studied, examined, tested. Mike just wanted to explore. An old Earth proverb about curiosity and cats came to mind, and K'anpo smiled. The problem with his young friend wanting to explore was that he didn't stop just with exploring things, but tended to become involved in things as well; usually local wars, or on one memorable occasion, a full-scale inter-planetary conflict.

"Mike?" Calling louder as he wandered further from the TARDIS, K'anpo hesitated, and looked around. Just which way was it back to the ship, anyway? Had he really gone that far? He sighed. "Blast. I should have stayed inside..." He wandered on, never one to worry for long, and soon came to the edge of the forest. A pleasant view awaited him, of distant hills and sloping meadows filled with a profusion of brightly coloured plant life. He sighed. Life in the TARDIS was all very well, but it was sights like this that tended to remind a man of the garden and the house he had left behind.

"You're getting soft, old man." The Time Lord smiled to himself as he drank in the scene beneath him. If only the sky had been scarlet, he would almost have felt at home here, lost in the peace and quiet. He was almost glad that he had lost Mike.

"Don't move." The voice came from somewhere off to his right, and rather than obey it, K'anpo turned to see who had spoken. A man stood nearby, just in the shadows of the trees at the edge of the forest. He was clearly humanoid, with a well-muscled torso and a clean shaven face. His hair was blond and straight, reaching to his shoulders, and he was dressed in a short tunic and trousers of a matching metallic grey colour. He held a gun in one hand, pointed unswervingly at K'anpo.

"Good morning! Or afternoon, or whatever." Stepping forward, the gun not even of minor concern, the Time Lord extended his hand in greeting. "I am K'anpo, and I am delighted to make your acquaintance, young man. I'm a visitor here, and I do hope that I'm not trespassing, but I seem to have lost my young friend. Tall chap, not a local. Wearing a blue shirt..."

"Silence." His voice sharp, the man approached K'anpo, gun still raised. "I don't know you."

"No, exactly. I just said that--"

"I told you to be quiet." The young man looked him up and down, clearly not impressed by the small stranger, with his rumpled clothing and innocent eyes. "What unit are you from?"

"I'm not from any unit. My name is K'anpo, and I landed here a short time ago." The Time Lord sighed, recognising the signs of military stubbornness in this man. He would not be easy to talk to.

"Why are you here?" There was a clear note of unpleasantness in the man's voice now. K'anpo sighed. It looked as thought the TARDIS had done it again. He only hoped that someone, somewhere thought that this was funny.

"I must have taken a wrong turning somewhere. I was coming from the Ellyon system. There's a black hole near there, tends to play havoc with navigation..." He tried a smile. "If you must know, I was aiming for a little place called Earth, 1817 local time. I promised to introduce Mike to a friend of mine named Shelley..." He frowned. "I'm sorry, am I keeping you?"

"You're either very strange, or a very clever actor." His captor scowled at him, his brow creased with deep furrows of thought. K'anpo got the impression that thoughts didn't come easily to this man. "I think you'd better come with me."

"I really don't have the time." The Time Lord sighed, a feeling of resignation settling on his shoulders. "Look I didn't mean to come here. I'll just find my friend and we'll leave straight away. No need to bother you any longer."

"I don't think so." Smiling nastily, the man took a few steps forward, towering over K'anpo at such close range. "You're coming with me."

"Yes, I suppose I shall have to." Offering the man another smile, in the vague hope that it might soften the other's harsh expression, K'anpo tried raising his hands in surrender. The man stared back at him, his face showing cold disregard. He fired one shot, and K'anpo felt a ray of light envelop him. He lost consciousness, and the ground came up to meet him.


The TARDIS doors were closed and locked, which told Mike that K'anpo was not on board. He sighed. That meant that the infuriating little man was probably still wandering about among the trees somewhere. He didn't know about the Chand'raa, and how dangerous they were.


"Trouble?" Sudra was sitting on a tree stump, eyeing Mike with a confused expression on her face. He smiled self-consciously. He was, after all, standing in front of a large tree, key in hand.

"Not necessarily. I just rather suspect that my companion has gone off somewhere. Probably communing with nature." He frowned at the trees, knowing full well that there was no way that K'anpo would find his way back here on his own. The TARDIS was just one tree among many. He wondered if he should remove the Chameleon circuit, but then, considering the precedent, decided that it wouldn't be a very good idea. Being stuck indefinitely with a tree-shaped TARDIS was really no better than being stuck indefinitely with a Police Box.

"Is this your ship?" Sudra came to stand beside him, gazing at the large tree. Mike nodded.

"It disguises itself. I'm not sure how it does it, but it's awfully clever."

"It must be a very powerful ship..." She sounded interested. Mike shrugged.

"I suppose so. What it lacks in some departments it makes up for in others."

"Such as?"

He paused before answering, wondering how much it was safe to tell her. Nothing about the Time capabilities of the craft, certainly. One did not go telling all that to complete strangers, even young and beautiful ones.

"It has no weapons, and no communications," he told her eventually. "At least, none that seem to want to work. But it's terribly fast, and very..." He frowned. Wilful would be a good word, or stubborn. Or just down-right disobedient. "Very sturdy."

"It doesn't look it." She shrugged. "Still, it's a ship I suppose."

"Yes. We could take you away, if you wanted to." He knew that K'anpo might take some persuading, but he wanted to make the offer nonetheless. "Find you some other planet where you can settle. I'm not sure that we could do a lot for your people on our own."

"My people?" She smiled. "There's plenty that you can do for my people, Mike. This ship is powerful, I can feel it. It has a Chameleon circuit. I know what it is."

"You do?" He smiled slightly. "I'm sorry. I don't usually encounter people who are aware of such things."

"Don't apologise." She stared at the ship, her eyes showing something very like greed. "We could go back in time to the invasion. Sort out where we went wrong the first time. We could defeat the Chand'raa."

Mike shook his head. "I'm sorry Sudra. That sort of thing just isn't possible. It involves too much interference."

"Meaning you'd let my people die, even though you've got a way to stop it all?" She stared back at him, her eyes harsh and bright. There was the light of a true fanatic burning away inside her, and Mike frowned.

"I'm sorry, Sudra. Really. But even if I did agree, you've no idea how difficult it would be. If we tried to go back ten years here, we'd probably end up three galaxies away. The TARDIS goes where it wants to go."

"I don't believe you." She folded her arms, staring back at him, her eyes beginning to show anger as well as determination. "What is the point of a ship which can't be controlled?"

"I'm still working on that one myself." He sighed. "Sudra, please. At least talk to K'anpo about it. We'll go and find him now. He may well come up with a plan. Please?"

She stared him down, a trail of emotions flickering across her face with surprising speed. Finally she nodded.

"Alright Mike. I'll go along with you for now. But this is a time machine, and my people need it. If your friend doesn't agree to what you say, he might find his ship being appropriated."

"That would be a mistake, Sudra." He spoke quietly, hurt that she would turn against him so quickly, especially after he had saved her life. She shrugged.

"There have been a lot of mistakes on this planet recently. Many people have died as a result, and I want to put that right." She stared at him, her eyes blazing again. "Is that so wrong?"

"No." He turned away, looking back out towards the forest, and the path which K'anpo had taken. "But what if saving this planet causes another one to be destroyed. Could you live with that?"

"Yes." She pushed past him, leading the way deeper into the trees. Mike hesitated for a moment, then plunged after her, deep into the undergrowth. One day, he might actually meet someone normal. There had to be some ordinary people in the universe. Didn't there?


K'anpo awoke feeling stiff and tired. He sat up, for a moment wondering why he felt so bad. He didn't often sleep for long, and when he did he rarely awoke feeling so stiff. He remembered the man on the hillside, and groaned. Of course.

"Feeling better old man?" It was his captor, standing over him, and smiling unpleasantly. K'anpo offered him a smile.

"I have felt better," he replied, his tone even and unconcerned. "Meditation will heal my body, my friend, but I fear it will do little to heal your mind." The tall man frowned, as if uncertain how to respond, then threw a water bag at his prisoner and retreated a few steps. K'anpo took a drink, then crossed his legs and closed his eyes. He heard his captor retreating a few more steps, and smiled inwardly.

"What the hell is that?" The tall young man was evidently speaking to someone, who hesitated a moment before answering.

"Meditation. Some of the priests back home do it. It's supposed to connect you with the universe, or something. Leave him, he's harmless when he's like that. Can't see, can't hear."

"Good." The first man sat down and sighed heavily. "So what are we going to do with him?"

"I don't know. He's not from this planet, which could mean anything. He could be a friend of the Chand'raa, or he could just be a traveller. I'd rather not take any chances."

"So we kill him?" The first man sounded as though he were standing up, ready to carry out the task. K'anpo tensed, pondering over how best to defend himself.

"No. Sit down Garruk." The second man was silent for a few seconds. "There's no point in doing anything until we've spoken to Control. This man may be useful."

"Alright." Garruk sat down again, sounding reproachful. K'anpo got the impression that here was a man who enjoyed to kill. He relaxed slightly, allowing the usual peace of meditation to take him. It would be easy to listen to these men, and try to formulate a plan. If only he knew who they were, and what they were planning. He pondered over what he heard so far. Chand'raa. Control. It meant little. He began to trawl through his remarkable memory, looking for anything which might be of use to him now. Secure in the knowledge that he was in no immediate danger, he allowed himself to relax further. If only he knew where Mike was now.


Mike walked fast, hurrying along behind Sudra. If it hadn't been for his years of military training he would not have been able to keep up with her, and he wondered at how she could be so fit and strong after spending time in prison. She seemed to have recovered fully from her fright earlier on, and that surprised him too. It was as if she had put the experience behind her completely.

"Sudra?" There was no answer, and he called a little louder. "Sudra!"

She turned back. "What?"

"I'm supposed to be looking for K'anpo. He didn't come this way."

"Yes he did." There was certainty in her voice, and he frowned.

"No he didn't. I saw him earlier, and he was heading in a completely different direction."

"Doesn't matter." She began to march on again. He ran to catch her up, and caught hold of her shoulder.


"What?" Angry now, she turned to face him. "Your friend is this way. Whichever way he started out in, my people will have found him by now, and taken him to our camp. So he is this way."

"Your people wouldn't hurt him, would they?"

"Not if they think he might be useful." She tried to walk on again, but he still held her arm.

"I thought you said you'd just escaped from prison."

"I have. But before that I was a member of a freedom group. Dedicated to destroying the Chand'raa on this planet."

"I see." He released her, and she marched off again. "You're sure they wouldn't have hurt him?"

"Would he give them reason to?"

Mike laughed. "Hardly. He's a pacifist. He doesn't even like me to carry this gun."

"Then he should be fine, at least until the unit reports in." She quickened her pace. "This way, Mike. Hurry."

He quickened his pace, anxious himself now. That there should be the suggestion of a threat to K'anpo somewhere in this forest was unthinkable. He was such a harmless man, so small and gentle. It always worried Mike to see the Time Lord in any sort of danger. Somehow the Doctor, with his height and strength, and his strong, commanding presence, gave the impression that he could deal with any situation. K'anpo was different.

"Here." Sudra had slowed to a halt, and stood silently, listening. Mike stopped beside her, looking around. He could see nothing which suggested the close presence of a camp, but he trusted her judgement. She nodded sharply.

"You'll have to give me your gun."

"Not likely." Mike rested his hand on the butt, fixing her with a cold stare. "Now listen, Sudra, I--"

"It's for your own good, Mike. A few minutes, until I can introduce you, show them you're not a threat. Then you can have it back. My people have a tendency to be suspicious, and they don't like strangers. Especially armed ones."

He sighed. Things did have a habit of becoming complicated. Good and bad points weighed each other up in his mind and he scowled, as always hearing the Brigadier's cool voice telling him to sit tight and await further orders.

"Okay." With a feeling of deep misgiving, he handed her the laser gun, and watched as she slipped it into her belt.

"Come on." Without further ado, she strode away. He hurried to catch her up again, as they emerged from the last layer of trees into a large, open area. Three figures sat in the shade thrown by the largest of the trees, two large and well-built, a third grey-haired and diminutive.

"Sudra." One of the larger men looked up, seemingly unsurprised to see his colleague striding towards him. She nodded a greeting.

"Will." He looked from her to her companion, and she smiled.

"Mike, this is Will, my unit commander. Will, this is Mike. He's from some planet called Earth, and he's eager to help our... liberation struggle."

"Oh yeah?" Will stood up, eyeing Mike with an expression hinting at latent hostility. "And just what have you told him about our... liberation struggle?"

"I didn't need to tell him much." She threw Mike a fond smile, which suggested that there was something rather less fond beneath the surface. "He came across a group of our friends the Chand'raa earlier. They were chasing me, and he was good enough to help." She threw him Mike's gun. "It's a good model. New."

"Better than what we've got." Will frowned at it, threw it back, then gestured at the third man, sitting cross-legged nearby. "He belong to you?"

Mike grinned. "I suppose you could say that." He crossed to K'anpo, and knelt beside him. "Earth to Cho-je..." Two bright, beady eyes blinked up at him, and the round face split into a grin.

"Mike, my dear boy! Where did you spring from?" A sulky look appeared, chasing the smile away. "These misguided troublemakers didn't capture you too, I hope?"

Mike smiled. "Relax, old man. They're harmless."

"Harmless!" Standing up with a fierce energy that belied his years, K'anpo appeared to be fuming. "They shot me!"

"Shot you?" There was a dangerous look on Mike's face as he turned to look at the three freedom fighters. "Do you often go around shooting at helpless old men?"

"When we don't know who they are, yes." The other man, to whom Mike had not yet been introduced, scrambled to his feet to show his superior height to its full advantage. "Why?"

"Because I don't take too kindly to it." Mike stepped forwards, but found Sudra standing in front of him.

"Enough," she said sharply, her voice seeming to be directed at Mike, even though it was Garruk she was looking at. "I won't have arguments. Not now that we're so close to success."

"We are?" Will sounded unconvinced. "Found a way to kill all the Chand'raa have you?"

"Sort of." She grinned. "Mike and his friend are the proud owners of a TARDIS, Will. Think what that could mean."

"A TARDIS?" A look of total greed flickered unchecked across the unit leader's face. "Will they fly it for us?"

"Of course they will." Sudra looked back at Mike. "Won't you Mike."

Mike glanced across at K'anpo, seeing the refusal in the other man's eyes. He frowned.

"We can't help you to kill people, even the Chand'raa," he told her, without waiting to hear the Time Lord's views on the matter. Sudra frowned.

"But you've seen them, Mike. You've seen what they're like. This is our planet by rights, not theirs. They'll kill us all."

"There are many ways to fight a battle." K'anpo crossed his arms. "Killing is only one way to attain your goals; and it is the least efficient. Consider the bird in the tree--"

"Not now, K'anpo." Mike shot the Time Lord a warning glance. Now was hardly the time for one of the old man's obscure fables. The little man bowed his head, conceding the other man's point.

"You won't help us?" Sudra did not hide the anger in her voice. Mike shook his head, knowing that he spoke for K'anpo as well.

"I warned you once that we couldn't agree to your plan. It's too dangerous."

"To alter the present by altering the past can lead to great disruptions in the fabric of the universe. All things are inter-connected. All things require stability." K'anpo shook his head, looking grave. "Perhaps you do not realise what it is that you ask of us."

"Oh we realise it." A nasty look had taken over Will's face. "You will help us, one way or the other."

"I don't believe so, young man." K'anpo straightened his back, but Will merely smiled, and pointed Mike's laser gun straight at the Time Lord.

"It's your ship, isn't it?" he said, his eyes narrowed, and his expression cold. K'anpo nodded.

"It is, more or less."

"Good. Then you will take us to where we want to go. You'll take us back a year in the history of this planet, so that we can defeat the Chand'raa." He smiled. "Your friend will remain here, as insurance."

"No." A light of surprising ferocity flashed in K'anpo's eyes. "I cannot agree to that."

"You have no choice." Sudra smiled at the Time Lord, her evident dislike taking in Mike as well. "We have our goal. We will achieve it."

"You're fools, the lot of you." K'anpo was angry now, but he could see that his position was beginning to look increasingly hopeless. Sudra laughed.

"But we will be fools with a TARDIS at our disposal; or you will find yourself without a co-pilot." She flashed Mike what might have been a friendly smile. "You should have turned your back earlier."

"Chivalry always was a failing of mine." He glanced back at K'anpo. "Don't help them. We can't take the risk."

"There are all manner of risks, Mike." K'anpo smiled gently. "When one has to choose between a certainty and a possibility, he must cling to what little hope he has. I'll see you when we get back."

"If you get back." He tried to put a little humour into his voice, but it did not come easily. The thought that K'anpo might not be able to find this place again, and that he might have to spend the rest of his life on the planet filled him with dread. The idea that his life might not be long, should the Chand'raa find him, did not improve his mood any.

"I'll be back, Mike." Without further words, the little monk clapped his hands together. "Shall we be off?"

"Certainly." Will smiled, a cold, particularly unfriendly smile. "Lead the way, Sudra."

"Yes of course." She turned to leave, then stopped, reaching out to take something from Garruk. "You don't mind waiting here for us, do you Mike?"

"Yes." He met her gaze coldly, remembering how he had saved her in the forest, and how good it had felt to be near someone so young and pretty after so long. She smiled at him.

"Hard luck. Oh, and a word of advice... Next time you see a woman in trouble - walk on by."

"Maybe I will." He saw her raise the object she had taken from Garruk, and realised that he was staring down the barrel of some sort of weapon. He barely had time to wonder whether it was set to stun or to kill before she fired, and his world exploded into nothingness.


Mike awoke, staring accusingly up at the blue sky. How dare it look so innocent and cheerful? Slowly he rolled over and scrambled to his feet. Whatever it had been that they had shot him with, it had some unpleasant side-effects. He felt as though he were recovering from a hangover, and his whole body seemed to be stiff and tired.

"I hope that you know what you're doing, K'anpo." Gazing out at the forest, knowing that his friend was probably long gone, the one time member of UNIT heaved a long sigh. His hand fell automatically to the holster on his belt, but it was empty and could give him no comfort.

"Ah well." He strode off among the trees, looking for anything that seemed familiar. It would not be too difficult to find his way back to the TARDIS, or at least to where it had been. He had to look. If there was any chance at all that it might not have dematerialised yet, he had to be there. K'anpo would want to double check everything before leaving, to make sure that he could get back.

Progress through the forest was slow. Mike cursed himself for having chosen the hardest route, but there seemed to be little point in retracing his steps. He struggled gamely on, wishing he still had his laser gun. That could have blasted him a path. K'anpo wouldn't have approved, of course, and would undoubtedly have launched into some complicated parable involving the beauty and majesty of trees. Mike smiled fondly. He could only hope that he had not seen the odd little Time Lord for the last time.

The sudden crash which came from behind Mike made him jump violently. Again his hand fell to his empty holster, reaching blindly for the gun that was not there. He scowled and quickened his pace, looking for a likely place to hide. There did not seem to be anywhere.

"There!" The shout was triumphant, the voice deep and loud. Mike knew that he had been spotted, and he broke into a run, dashing through the trees with a sudden sense of acute desperation. The thick undergrowth tripped him, the branches of the trees reached out to grab at him, catching his clothing and scratching his skin. Behind him he heard loud crashes, the splintering of wood. A loud roar echoed about through the forest, chilling his blood.

The noises came closer. Running hard, Mike knew that he could not stay ahead for long, when his pursuers were able to break so effortlessly through the trees. He saw light up ahead, guessing that he was heading for a clearing, and thought fast. If he could reach that open space with enough time to spare, he might be able to hide somewhere. He put on an extra burst of speed, dashing onwards, certain that he could hear the breathing of his pursuers so close behind him. He ran out into the clearing. He stopped. Five Chand'raa, their weapons drawn, stood before him. He glanced about, mind working overtime as he tried to decide what the best thing to do next might be. His hesitation lasted only a second, but it was a second too long.

"Don't move." He heard the deep, breathy voice almost in his ear, and felt a gun barrel press against his ribs. Anger welled up within him; anger at Sudra and her two friends, anger at his current captors, and most of all anger at himself. He heard the sounds of others approaching, and surrounded completely he was led out into the centre of the clearing. He glanced around. Ten of them at least. Not the most inspiring of odds.

"So now what?" Trying to take in all of them with his gaze, he put on his best look of defiance. The Chand'raa gazed back at him, their expressions unreadable. They were even more repulsive up close, with their flickering tongues, and their cloudy yellow eyes. One of them, larger and more powerfully built than the others, moved towards him, gazing down at the human. Mike had always thought of himself as tall, but right now he felt smaller than K'anpo.

"This is the one." The Chand'raa spoke excellent English, presumably so that Mike could understand him. It was a relief not to have to listen to the creatures' harsh native language, with its bizarre sounds. "He was with the one called Sudra."

"He killed La'cek." The other reptiles were pressing closer, and it seemed to Mike that their teeth were growing longer and more pointed the closer that they came. There was nowhere to back away to.

"He is not one of them." The taller of the creatures spoke with authority, and the others backed off slightly. They were growling, showing anger as well as numerous sharp teeth. Mike frowned. It was clear that they wanted to kill him, and yet for some reason their leader was telling them to hold off. He straightened his shoulders, staring back at them all, determined that any fear which he felt would not be visible.

"He is one of them." Another of the reptiles was contradicting his commander, and its eyes flashed a brighter yellow in response. "He was with the woman, and he helped her. He killed--"

"I know what he did." The leader loomed over Mike. "But his weapon was different, and our scanners picked up the arrival of a craft near here." He stared down at the human. "He could be an ally of theirs, or his arrival could be a coincidence. Who are you?" This last was directed at the human, who did not answer immediately. He wondered whether the terms of the Geneva Convention could be relied upon here, although as he recalled, there was nothing in that about eating prisoners, which was what he was increasingly certain these creatures wanted to do to him. Somehow he doubted that they would settle for name, rank and serial number, either.

"Captain Mike Yates," he said finally, putting as much force and ferocity as he could muster behind the familiar words. "United Nations Intelligence Taskforce."

"From which planet?" The tallest of the Chand'raa was leaning closer, yellow eyes wild and bright. Mike hesitated. It couldn't really hurt.

"Earth," he said finally, wondering if that meant anything to them. The blank looks proved that it didn't.

"Then why were you helping the Invaders?" Another of the Chand'raa leaned in towards him, speaking with a fierce, harsh voice. Mike folded his arms, determined to make some attempt to look like a soldier, even though he hadn't been one now for some time.

"Because you were going to kill her. Because she was afraid. Because--" He broke off. Somehow he suspected that these creatures would be unmoved by the announcement that he had helped her because she was young and pretty, a combination he had always had a marked weakness for. "Because it was four against one."

"And so you jumped to her assistance." There was a note of disgust in the lead Chand'raa's voice. "Because she looked like you, and told you that we were the enemy. And you believed her because we are strange and alien to you."

Mike was not sure how to respond. The creature stared down at him, its oily scales glistening in the sunlight. There was something in its eyes... sadness, perhaps? It lowered its head, and its weapon turned to point at the ground.

"Let me tell you a tale," it said, the harshness gone from its voice, "of a planet that was invaded by aliens. They killed my people, and they destroyed our lands. They killed many of the indigenous species, and they introduced others which brought diseases and death. We fought them, and we were able to win some of the battles, but still they came." The large yellow eyes lifted up again, staring back at Mike. "Perhaps you believe that it is right for them to kill us, because of who we are, and what we look like. That is what they think. They truly believe that they have the right to come here, to take our planet, and to kill us in our thousands."

Mike felt a cold finger trace its way up his spine. He stared back at the creature, suspicious, but with a horrible feeling that it was speaking the truth.

"I--" He shook his head. Part of him was telling him that he had no reason to believe the story, but all of his instincts were telling him that he had made a grave mistake. After all, Sudra and her companions had not acted like honourable soldiers.

"We should kill this man." Another of the Chand'raa spoke up, his voice filled with anger. Mike could hardly disagree with him. He thought about the last few hours, and would have been quite cheerful if the ground had opened up beneath his feet to swallow him.

"No. Stupidity is not a crime." The leader of the reptiles turned away. Mike stared at its proud back, amazed at the multitude of shimmering colours that he could see within its scales at this close range. Its comrades turned away as well, obvious planning to leave.

"Wait." Stepping forwards, Mike stared around at them all, wondering what exactly it was that somebody was supposed to say in such a position as this. "I-- Look, I'm sorry. But there's something that you should know."

"Such as?" The lead Chand'raa turned back towards him again, its head bent in an attempt to bring it down to Mike's level.

"Sudra and her friends. They've commandeered my ship. Well, not my ship exactly. It's a TARDIS."

"TARDIS...?" The Chand'raa did not appear to be familiar with the word. "What does this mean?"

"It means that it's capable of travelling through Time as well as space." Mike sighed, realising that he was more or less announcing a sentence of doom for these creatures. "They made my companion take them back a year. To the time of the invasion I suppose. They said that they could defeat you that way."

"They could." The Chand'raa shook its great head slowly from side to side. "They would know of our defences. They could warn the first wave of Invaders." It sighed. "It would mean the end of my race."

"I'm sorry." Mike's shoulders slumped. "It wasn't exactly the way I wanted things to work out either, you know. I'm stuck here too."

"Then very soon you will find yourself on a dead planet; or one ruled by our enemies." The reptilian head lowered again, the creature's sadness evident in its eyes. "And we must wait here for the end."


K'anpo ran his eyes over his instruments, checking and double checking every little detail. Once he dematerialised there was no certainty that he would ever be able to return to this particular place, and he had to try everything that was in his power to ensure that he would be able to return, to find Mike again.

"What's the hold up?" Sounding belligerent, Will loomed over him, gun in hand. K'anpo sighed.

"Impatience is one of the least virtuous of characteristics," he mumbled to himself. "Patience, however, is--"

"Spare me the philosophy, old man." Will glanced over the instruments. "What is it that you're doing?"

"Planning our flight path." K'anpo shook his head sadly. "I could show you, but I doubt you'd understand. Not all minds welcome new knowledge."

"Just get us out of here." The scanner screen was turned on, and Sudra was staring at it anxiously, as if expecting the Chand'raa to arrive at any moment, somehow aware of their plan. K'anpo saw the direction of her gaze.

"We're quite safe in here, my dear. The TARDIS is quite impervious to all forms of weaponry. Well... theoretically, that is."

"Just fly the ship." Face set hard, Sudra raised her gun threateningly. K'anpo shrugged.

"Very well, very well." He flicked the last in a series of switches. "The flight should not last long." A shudder ran through the ship, and Will grabbed the Time Lord's shoulder, angry and afraid.

"What was that?" he asked. K'anpo smiled sweetly at him.

"Dematerialisation," he said simply. "A somewhat erratic procedure, I'm afraid."

"We're underway?" Sudra looked around, as if expecting something to be different now that they were in flight. The little Time Lord nodded.

"Certainly we are. We should arrive at our destination at any moment."

"A year ago?" There was real excitement in Will's voice. K'anpo nodded.

"I would certainly hope so, yes." He flicked a few more switches. "Here we are. That was quicker than I'd expected." A second shudder ran through the TARDIS. "Dear, dear. I really must do something about the secondary power conduit. I think that's what's causing the problem..."

"Never mind that." Will caught him by the arm. "Where are we?"

"What? Oh, we're, er..." He pulled free, and consulted the central console's main readout screen. "Er... exactly where you wanted to be. One year before we left, and more or less in the same place geographically as well." He frowned. "Well, give or take a kilometre or ten..."

"Open the doors." There was a look of frantic excitement on Will's face. K'anpo complied, watching the threesome vacate his ship with a look of curious detachment on his face. None of the three thought to look back at him as he strolled to the door after him.

"Good luck." The Time Lord smiled, and wandered out into the forest, carefully shutting and locking the TARDIS doors behind him. He had things to do.


"What is this place?" Looking around with interest, Mike took in the fallen walls and broken masonry. "Is it some kind of a city?"

"This was the biggest city on the planet; the centre of our civilisation." Glancing back at the human straggler he appeared to have picked up, the leader of the Chand'raa unit allowed a note of bitterness to colour his voice. "It has been virtually destroyed. We face air raids and rocket attacks every day."

"I'm sorry." Mike wandered closer to the ruins of one particularly large building. It was like walking through an old film of London in the Blitz, or being in the middle of a news report from some war zone back on Earth. "How long do you think that you can hold out?"

"We had thought indefinitely." The Chand'raa shrugged its massive shoulders. "But now we are living on borrowed time." It cocked its head on one side, and Mike thought he saw its forehead wrinkle slightly in a frown. "I wonder how it will happen. Will we just blink out of existence when the time comes?"

"I don't know." Mike shrugged helplessly. "Don't think about it too much. My friend K'anpo might think of something."

"Such as?" The Chand'raa shook its head. "We can only wait for the end. I wonder what will become of my people; whether some will be allowed to survive, or whether we shall all be killed."

"K'anpo will think of something." Mike spoke with a steadfast certainty that he did not quite feel. He thought he saw the Chand'raa smile.

"Perhaps. But he would have to be a particularly enterprising individual. Forgive me, but I am rather of the impression that you are an unimaginative race, on the whole."

"We're not all from the same race. K'anpo is a Time Lord, and I can assure you that he is very enterprising." The human glanced around at the reptilian unit that he had accompanied into the city. "I... Well just in case he doesn't manage to think of something, I want to apologise for jumping to the wrong conclusion about you. It was rather a poor show." He frowned. "If you are all about to disappear... I'd like to know your name before it happens."

The leader regarded him in silence for a moment or two, then shrugged again.

"My name is T'reth," it told him, the name rolling from its tongue. Mike tried out the unfamiliar sound, unable to reproduce it exactly. The creature laughed.

"You are as strange to us as we are to you, I assure you." It gave a sudden sigh, and gestured about at the city. "Go. Look around. You are no longer a prisoner. If the end is about to come for my people, I bequeath this city to you. You can use it to make your final stand, when they come for you." It smiled. "And they will come."

"I don't doubt it." Mike hesitated for a moment, then turned to leave. There had been a note of dismissal in the creature's voice. No doubt it had a lot to talk about with its fellows. He strode away across the dusty, cracked remains of what must have once been a busy high street, looking about at the broken buildings and occasionally catching a glimpse of other Chand'raa. Some were children, peering out at him from vantage points amongst the rubble. Just a few hours ago he had been hoping to help liberate a race of people from these creatures, and now he found himself amongst them, waiting in mute desperation for their end; an end that he was at least in part responsible for. His thoughts turned to K'anpo, and whatever it was that the Time Lord was doing. He was out there, somewhere, in the planet's recent past; and maybe, just maybe, he had a plan. Mike only hoped that it was a good one.


K'anpo clambered awkwardly over ground that he felt certain was designed for younger men. His sandalled feet caught in bushes, and he stumbled over the larger tree roots, losing his balance with frustrating regularity. Despite his difficulties, he maintained his position some two hundred yards behind his three passengers, watching them carefully. Just as he had hoped, they had forgotten all about him, swept away by their anxiety to reach their comrades from the past, and share their knowledge and experience. He had no doubt that with such an advantage, these people would win their fight against their enemies. He had no idea if they were justified in that desire, but he did know that it was wrong for them to go about it in this way. If the Time Lords should ever hear of his involvement... He winced, remembering their treatment of the Doctor, and that poor young fellow's exile on Earth. Now that he had rediscovered his wanderlust, K'anpo had no intention of losing his freedom just so that a gang of over-zealous warmongers could succeed in their battles.

The three soldiers, hurrying on ahead, began to slow down, and K'anpo adjusted his own pace accordingly. He was beginning to formulate a rough plan, and it required him to see at least something of what was to follow. Creeping forward cautiously, he peered through the trees. He saw Sudra, crouching on the ground beside some kind of metal box, half hidden by the undergrowth, and nodded to himself. A communication device, undoubtedly.

"Second Unit Leader Sudra, reporting to Aerial Base." Sudra had given her full attention to the communicator, and although her two companions were apparently standing guard, they seemed to be more interested in watching her than in watching the forest. K'anpo edged closer.

"Sudra? What are you doing on the planet's surface?" There was an angry tone to the voice coming out of the communicator. "I thought you were supposed to be in the back-up ship?"

Sudra grinned. "It's a little hard to explain, Aerial Base. I'm here with First Unit Leader Will and Officer Garruk. We have important information for the Commander."

"He won't speak to you. Get back up here, Sudra, before I put you on report." The voice sounded strained and tired. Will glowered at the microphone, and leaned in closer.

"Aerial Base, this is Will. Listen to me, you desk bound jerk, I'm here to do the lot of you a favour. We just came from a year in the future. We commandeered a TARDIS, and - No, don't make noises, I'm telling the truth. Check your plans, and you'll see that you're scheduled to make a dummy run at the main Chand'raa city tonight. It'll be a failure, and you'll lose all of your ships; the Chand'raa defences are a little more sophisticated than you gave them credit for." He smirked a the radio. "Get back to us when you've found out that we're telling the truth." He pressed a button on the unit, silencing it before the voice could begin to protest. Sudra laughed.

"That's telling him. By this time tomorrow they'll be welcoming us with open arms."

"And I should think so, too." Will grinned at her. "Come on, I have some friends among the ground force. We'll find them, and spend the night with them."

"What about the Time Lord?" Garruk, standing nearby, had finally remembered what the other two had forgotten. Will and Sudra looked at each other, as if exchanging thoughts, then Will shrugged.

"Forget him. What can he do? If our ground forces don't deal with him, the Chand'raa will."

K'anpo pulled back into the trees, an angry look on his face. He disliked being underestimated by primitives such as these, but this was hardly the time to try and prove them wrong. He searched for a calming strength within himself, and headed back towards the TARDIS. The three 'freedom fighters' could think of him as they pleased, but it seemed that they had forgotten the one thing that he could do. He smiled to himself, and quickened his pace.


Mike Yates stood at the edge of the expanse of rubble, staring out into the forest. He wondered about the rest of the planet; whether it too had seen so much devastation. Whether there were other enclaves of desperate Chand'raa, watching the skies and waiting for yet another wave of assault.

"Mike Yates." One of the Chand'raa, a large, hulking creature with only one arm, appeared behind the young captain, its yellow eyes glowing in the darkness.

"Yes?" He turned towards it, by now used to the reptilian features, and the curious, flickering tongue. Odd how just a few hours ago he had believed these creatures to be the enemy, and to be quite unspeakably horrific in appearance. How quickly opinions could be altered.

"T'reth would like to see you." The creature lowered his head in a sign of deference. Mike nodded.

"Certainly. Where is he?"

"In the centre of town." The creature pointed. "With the other of your kind."

"Other?" Interested, Mike began to walk towards the town centre. He wondered who this other human could be. One of Sudra's people, presumably. He hoped that T'reth did not want his assistance in an interrogation.

The Chand'raa leader stood by the wreckage of a huge building, no doubt once of great importance. Mike hurried to his side. The great creature was blocking his companion with his huge girth, but as Mike grew nearer, he caught a glimpse of a small frame, and simple brown sandals.

"K'anpo! What are you doing here? How...?" He ran to the other man, gripping his hand in a salutary shake. "You old devil!"

"Mike, my boy!" The old Time Lord sounded excited. "Your friends really did prove to be most disappointing." He raised a finger, as if chiding the younger man. "Choose your friends wisely, for they--"

"K'anpo... forget it, alright?" Shaking his head in exasperation, Mike indicated T'reth. "You've heard from these chaps about the invasion?"

"Yes." There was a sorrowful look on the old man's face. "I fear we were too easily taken in, Mike. Had I suspected Sudra and her companions from the start, I would have been a little less helpful. I should have taken them somewhere rather less hospitable, perhaps. There are lessons to be learned from everything, are there not."

"No doubt." Mike looked up at T'reth, a little cautious of the new light which was visible in the creature's eyes. "You don't blame him for any of this, do you? He really didn't have much of a choice, and if it's anybody's fault..."

"I don't blame anyone." The huge reptile glanced down at him, his mouth moving in what Mike had come to recognise as a smile. "Your friend has brought us a suggestion. A plan."

"Really?" Interested, Mike favoured K'anpo with a smile. "Such as?"

"A little trip." The little Time Lord shrugged. "We change nothing; that is not permissible. I see no reason, however, why we should not endeavour merely to find our three friends, and return them to this Time, before they are able to put their plan into action." He sighed, shaking his head. "I was a fool ever to have allowed them to enter the TARDIS, but I allowed myself to be intimidated. Fear must be mastered, if such people as those are to be beaten."

"Wise words, my friend." T'reth nodded his huge head in agreement. Mike rolled his eyes. Apparently he was still the only person in the universe who failed to regard K'anpo as a great philosophical genius.

"Are you sure that you can find the right Time again?" Concerned, as ever, about the ability of the Time Lord to successfully reach a planned destination, especially twice in the same day, Yates sounded worried. K'anpo nodded.

"I left a beacon, for the TARDIS to home in on." He sighed, folding his arms. "Now, might I be permitted to have some time alone before we leave? I'm exhausted, and I need to meditate."

"Certainly." T'reth moved to one side, indicating with a clawed hand where K'anpo should go. "It is nearing the time when my people also like to commune with the universe."

"But we have to get going!" Frustrated, Mike looked from one to the other of them. They both smiled.

"Mike, the TARDIS can take us to the right point in Time no matter when we leave here." K'anpo laid a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Meditation will be good for us. It will help to settle us after the worries of the last hours."

"It won't help to settle me." Mike sighed, seeing that there was no convincing either of them. He wondered just how long this group meditation thing was going to last.

"Nonsense, Mike. Open your mind to the universe. Draw strength from the pattern of life that flows through all." K'anpo sighed deeply, as if in ecstasy. "Be guided by the great Tao..."

"I thought you were a Buddhist." Mike shrugged his thin shoulders, and turned away. It looked as though he was in for a long night.


It was a curious group that made its way through the forest the next morning. Mike took the lead, accompanied by the one-armed Chand'raa. He had learned that the creature was a highly respected war hero, who had lost his arm in a battle against the Invaders. Mike had seen a one-armed reptile in the group chasing Sudra the previous day, and he had discovered, not without a little embarrassment, that this heroic warrior now walking beside him had nearly been killed by his laser fire. He was relieved that the Chand'raa did not seem given to acts of revenge.

They walked for some time through the trees. Mike's companion pushed aside the thick undergrowth as if it were the smallest and most fragile of plant life. K'anpo showed signs of distress at this destruction, until T'reth assured him that it took only a matter of days for the vegetation to grow back. Mike did not like to admit that he was too glad to have an easier path made for him to worry much about its effects on the trees. Better to keep such thoughts to one's self; K'anpo would only lecture him on nature's great importance, and the inter-reliance of all species.

They reached the TARDIS a few hours before noon, standing before the large tree as though it were a religious icon. K'anpo opened the doors, gesturing inside.

"This is your ship?" T'reth looked a little taken aback. "We have twenty men. How will they--"

K'anpo held up a hand, forestalling the creature's concerns.

"T'reth, my friend. Never judge by appearances alone. All existence is merely an illusion, and therefore all appearances exist only in your mind. It is as it is, not as you perceive it to be."

Mike nodded slowly, trying to keep up with this new line of conversation.

"Let me show you." He led the way into the ship, through the doors and into the large control room. The familiar wall panels and the large central console were extremely welcome to his eyes. He gestured about. "See?"

"It is magic, of a kind." T'reth nodded, obviously happy with this conclusion. "Magic that I fail to understand."

"Yes, well. Join the club." Mike grinned at him, deciding that this wasn't the time to suggest that K'anpo didn't really seem to understand it either. He glanced over the instruments instead, watching the Time Lord as he ushered the other Chand'raa out into the corridors. K'anpo closed the doors.

"Are we ready?" he asked, as jaunty and unhurried as ever. T'reth nodded, still looking a little hesitant. K'anpo clapped his hands together, obviously excited. "Wonderful. Be a good chap, would you Mike?"

"What? Oh..." Mike flicked the relevant switches, hoping that he knew what he was doing. The familiar judders and groans ran through the TARDIS, and T'reth looked a little alarmed. "Don't worry, it always does that." His words did not seem to calm the creature much.

"We should be there any second... now!" Clapping his hands like an excited child, K'anpo hurried to the scanner screen, and turned it on. Trees and more trees stretched out ahead of them. "Perfect!"

"How can you tell?" Dubious, Mike peered at the screen, unable to tell whether they had gone anywhere at all, or if they had just rematerialised back where they had come from. K'anpo frowned at him, his familiar schoolmaster frown.

"I know," he said simply. "Come along!" Merrily he opened the doors, and led the way out into the trees. "I've tried to land as close as possible to where our friends were when I saw them last. They were reporting in."

"Then the attack on the city could be imminent." T'reth glanced about, obviously getting his bearings. His soldiers crowded around him, whispering together, and he nodded his great head. "This way."

"Wait, we can't go to the city! We have to find some way to stop the attack!" K'anpo hurried forward, but the Chand'raa were already lumbering off together, heading for their city.

"Oh dear." The little Time Lord sighed heavily. "Now they'll get involved, and they'll be changing history too. I shall get into such trouble."

"Forget it, K'anpo." Mike shot him a reassuring grin, then set off after T'reth and the others. He would rather be changing history than sitting back and allowing the possible extermination of his new friends. After a moment, K'anpo followed him.


The skies darkened. In the Chand'raa city of T'bai, the citizens huddled together for warmth and protection, watching the lights which danced above their heads. The spaceships swooped and glid, passing each other in a dazzling display of skill. The pilots laughed as they passed close to the buildings. They could see the terrified Chand'raa; could tell that the besieged citizens knew why they were there. It was just a matter of time until the order to fire was given, and the city would cease to exist.

T'reth burst into the city centre with a bellow of rage. Hard on his heels, K'anpo looked around, desperate that his companion's past self might also be in the city, and determined to prevent them from meeting. Mike did not think that he had ever seen the little Time Lord so agitated; his eyes were wide, and his fists clenched and unclenched in frustration.

"Try not to do anything too decisive." Sounding nervous, K'anpo glanced up at the big Chand'raa leader. "Remember we can't change anything."

"How do you know we are? How do you know this isn't what is supposed to happen?" T'reth gestured to his second-in-command. "Break open the laser cannons. That was where we went wrong last time; not using them in the first instance."

"Oh dear." K'anpo sighed heavily, and smiled up at Mike. "It would seem that I might have made a miscalculation."

"You reckon?" Mike grinned down at him. "Relax. Surely it's better to be changing history for the better than to be follow the Time Lord rules to the letter?"

"No doubt. However the Time Lords tend to see things a little differently." K'anpo jumped as an explosion rocked the ground nearby, and the two men watched as a section of buildings collapsed. "But then, on reflection, the Time Lords are not here, and I think I am perhaps a little more qualified to make an on-the-spot judgement."

"Then it's okay to help them?" Mike glanced about. Warfare was, after all, what he had been trained for, and he knew that he could be of some use to the Chand'raa, even if it was just as a field medic.

"I suppose it can't hurt." The little Time Lord shrugged philosophically. "It's hardly as if I'm not already on the Black List."

"Good man." Mike ran off, heading after T'reth's second-in-command. T'reth looked down at K'anpo, his lips curling in his familiar smile.

"I wasn't here during the original confrontation," he said sadly, his voice heavy. "My men and I were called away by a transmission later found to have been sent by the enemy. If I hadn't gone..."

"I rather suspect that's why we're here now, don't you?" K'anpo ducked as a second shell came a little too close for comfort, but he made no effort to move to a more sheltered position. "Originally, as far as I can see, our friends up there suffered great losses, but were still able to achieve enough of a psychological victory to begin to take over the planet."

"Murdering my people and laying waste to our planet at every opportunity." T'reth nodded. "And now the boot is on the other foot, is it not."

"I can't help you to murder them all, T'reth."

The big Chand'raa looked down at his unlikely ally for a long moment; then he smiled and nodded.

"I will content myself with banishing them," he said softly. "You just worry about how you're going to explain this to your own people."


In the forests outside the city, Sudra and her two companions crouched down to watch the air raid. Will shook his head.

"They didn't listen," he muttered angrily. "They're going ahead with the attack the way they did before. They'll all be killed."

"Not necessarily." Sudra grinned, and held up a small transmitter. "I sent a signal to the city's main defensive force, and instructed them to move to another location. They thought they were getting orders from someone important." She laughed. "There's nobody in that town now except for civilians, and they don't stand a chance. They probably don't even have access to the town's weaponry."

"Excellent!" Delighted, Will hugged her briefly, then turned back to the city to watch the bombs fall. A huge building shimmered in the heat of the flames, then toppled in on itself. A crowd of Chand'raa ran for cover, great heads bowed. Amongst them were two smaller figures, one holding a Chand'raa child in his arms. Will frowned.

"Sudra? There's somebody there you might recognise."

"Who?" Sudra pushed forwards, and through the dust and the smoke she saw Mike Yates, his human figure clearly visible amongst the indigenous reptiles. "How the-?"

"Forget it." Will stood up. "We can't stay here for much longer or we'll get blown to kingdom come with the city." He took one final glance back towards the besieged city. "I always wondered why they didn't fight back as well as they could have done. They were good, but no where near good enough." He laughed. "I never knew that was down to you."

"Neither did I." Sudra laughed as well. "Come on. We should find a patrol ship, so that we can join up with the rest of the fleet." She took a few steps away, then glanced back at the city, catching a last glimpse of Mike Yates before he vanished into a building. A troubled frown crossed her face for a second, then she allowed Will to lead her away. There as no sense worrying over what she couldn't change.

They ran for several miles. The forest was lit up by the battle going on in the nearby city, and they had no trouble finding their way in the dark. Finally the landing lights of an assault transport vehicle led them to a clearing, where a small force was preparing a ground attack. Sudra ran towards them, calling to the commander. He glanced towards her, frowned, and reached for his rifle.

"Commander!" Out of breath, she ran up to him. "You're never going to believe where we've come from."

"Tell me about it." He scowled at her, obviously contemplating whether or not to put her under arrest. "I told you to stay behind on the mother ship. Do you ever listen to a word I say?"

"The mother ship? Oh, yes, I remember that." She grinned. "That was a year ago, Commander. Listen to me; we found this little guy with a time travel machine, and he brought us back here so that we could change the course of tonight's attack, and--"

"Forget it, Sudra." The commander handed her his rifle, coming to a decision. "Take this and lead the left flank. We're heading for that city you can see in the distance there."

"You've got to be kidding." Will sounded disbelieving. "Everybody in that attack force was killed on the night of the invasion. They were hit by an unexpected band of resistance. You can't expect us to--"

"Shut up Will, before I have you both locked up on insanity charges." The commander glanced towards Garruk. "What about you?"

"Me?" Garruk shrugged. "Point me at those slimy green things, Commander. I'm right behind you."

"Good." The Commander moved away. Will shot an incredulous glance at his companion.

"Are you mad, Garruk? You've read the battle reports of that night? This whole unit is going to get wiped out."

"Yeah, but we know that, right? So we can be on our guard against an attack." Garruk began to move away, back in the direction from which they had just come. "Come on. There's Chand'raa out there, waiting to get killed."

Will and Sudra exchanged worried glances. There was little that they could do to argue. Together they hurried after the others, and immediately began to look for signs of the attack that they knew was on its way.


"You okay K'anpo?" Taking a moment's break to inquire after his companion's health, Mike leaned against what remained of a large wall, gazing up at the blazing sky. A volley of laser blasts ripped up the street beside them and the both ducked.

"I'm fine thankyou Mike. I was just composing an essay on the virtues of non-violence." K'anpo smiled. "Where is T'reth?"

"I haven't seen him since he went to break out the laser weaponry." Mike smiled. "I'm sorry about that by the way. I know how you feel about changing history, but short of shooting him ourselves..."

"I know, Mike." K'anpo smiled, then ducked again as another volley came their way. "We should find better shelter."

"There is no shelter." Mike glanced about, seeing, in his mind's eye, the way that this city would look in a year's time; just as he had seen it when he had first arrived. The broken walls and haunted citizens. Whatever the rules were on changing the past, he was glad to break them if it could prevent all that he had seen before. He saw a piece of a building collapse, and saw three Chand'raa go down beneath it.

"Take care, K'anpo," he called, then darted forwards. The ground shook beneath him as an explosion rocked the area, and he stumbled the last few feet towards the casualties. They were all dead. He sighed, and then glanced up, sensing rather than seeing the approach of a groups of Chand'raa. T'reth was leading them.

"Mike!" He seemed pleased to find his new friend unharmed. "The attacks are intensifying."

"I'd noticed." Mike glanced about. "Where's that laser weaponry you went to find?"

"Destroyed." T'reth sighed, looking tired and concerned. "The store took a direct hit. I always wondered why the townspeople never used them; now I know."

"I see. So where does that leave us?" Looking about, Mike recalled the numerous army exercises he had been on in the past. Nothing he had been through seemed to have prepared him for a fight such as this one. He stared up at the skies. "Is there any way that we can use the more conventional weaponry to keep them at bay?"

"There's not a lot of chance, no." T'reth sighed. "I thought that we could make a difference by coming here. Now I find that everything is just going as it went before. We've become a part of history; we're not changing it."

"That is often the way of the universe." K'anpo had appeared beside them, and he joined them in gazing up at the attacking ships. "This is the way it went before, and the way it must go now. I really am sorry, T'reth."

"So we've achieved nothing by coming here?" Mike sighed, wiping the sweat and grime from his forehead with a weary hand. "Then what's the point?"

"The point is that, were we not here, the town would have been left undefended, and been taken." K'anpo shrugged. "Obviously the reason it was able to resist the invaders attacks was because of our presence here. Otherwise, the invaders would have been successful."

T'reth scowled. "I would prefer to have changed something," he growled. K'anpo smiled up at him.

"Wouldn't we all," he answered in a sad tone. "But that very often proves to be harder than we can imagine. Strange though it may seem, T'reth, you have changed the past." He patted the large creature on the arm. "Come on. We have to see if we can be of use anywhere else in the city. There are fires everywhere."

"Alright." T'reth raised his head, trying to convey some hope to his men. "We'll do what we can here tonight, and then in the morning we'll go back to our own time. There may still be something we can do there."

"T'reth?" Suddenly thinking of something, Mike called out to the departing Chand'raa. The big head turned round to face him.

"Yes Mike?"

"Is it okay if I take some of your people and scout around the perimeter a bit? See if we can find something."

"Be my guest." The reptile waved his arm, and several of the Chand'raa soldiers gathered around their human ally. One was the large, one-armed creature which Mike had spoken to earlier. He eyed them all with a moment's trepidation, wondering how he was going to get a band of seven and eight foot reptiles to obey his orders, then shrugged inwardly and headed off towards the forest. He did not need to glance back to know that they were all following him.

They moved quickly through the forest. Some patches were smouldering where stray shots had found marks well beyond the confines of the city. Mike listened to the sounds of battle fade into the distance, and was glad of the quiet. It made it easier to think.

"Mike?" The one-armed Chand'raa had been level with him all the time. Mike glanced towards it.


"Where are we going? What are we hoping to find?"

Mike slowed to a walk. "We're looking for signs that there's somebody else here who knows more than they should." He gazed around at the forest, sweeping around in a full circle. "There are three others here who come from the future, remember."

"Yes, of course." The Chand'raa glanced about. "What do you expect them to do?"

"I'm not entirely sure." He kicked at the ground, wondering what he would do, given their situation. The obvious conclusion was that they would try to undermine the defence of the city, using their knowledge of what had happened before as their guide. He thought about what T'reth had said, about the false call leading the city's main defensive force away on a wild goose chase. That had to have been Sudra and the others. Who else could have thought of it? He wondered if they had yet discovered that the plan had not been successful.

"I think they'd lead a ground assault." The answer was so obvious that he wondered why he hadn't thought of it before. "They are already on the ground, and they'd probably have no way of getting to the attack fleet. Plus they're going to find it very hard convincing people that they really do have any knowledge of what's going on. There's sure to be a ground force though, and those are the people that they'd have to join up with. They'd have no chance on their own."

"True. If my people found them in the forests they would be shot on sight." The big Chand'raa smiled apologetically. "It's justice."

"Remind me never to get on your bad side." Mike frowned. "Do you have a name?"

"My name is Keron." The creature clapped him on the shoulder in a traditional salute. "Come on, Mike. Now is no time for talk."

"No, of course not." They took off at a run into the forest, heading by unspoken agreement towards the area where the vegetation was easiest to negotiate. They had been travelling less than an hour before they heard noises up ahead.

"Get down!" Hissing the words as loudly as he dared, Mike ducked behind a tree, watching as group of humans came closer. They were obviously having trouble forcing their way through the trees and the thick undergrowth, but they showed no signs of giving up, and were forcing their way along by means of sheer numbers. Mike counted at least fifty that he could see. He groaned silently. He had ten, plus himself, and all he had for a weapon was a Chand'raa gun that he doubted he could fire with any real accuracy. It was far too big and unwieldy. He thought about his beloved laser pistol, and wondered where it had gone.

"What do you want to do, Mike?" Keron asked him. Mike stared up at him, then back to the advancing humans. He remembered the city, and realised that this force could do untold damage if allowed to get through. They had to be stopped.

"We have to make a stand." He shifted his grip on the large rifle, and smiled up at his large, green ally. "Get the others to spread out as much as possible. When we open fire we'll have to make it look as much as possible like we're surrounding them. Make every shot count."

"Certainly." Keron faded away and returned moments later. "We await your command."

"Ah." Mike grinned uncertainly. "Fine. In that case... Now would probably be as good a time as any." One of his campaigns for UNIT flitted through his mind, and he recalled similar occasions when he had faced alien fire. He didn't recall ever fighting with anything other than similarly trained UNIT men of infinite expertise. Somehow it was a little different leading a band of unfamiliar reptiles. He shrugged off his concerns and positioned himself carefully between two trees. The vegetation was thick enough to provide him with some cover, but not so thick as to prevent his men from seeing him. He raised his rifle, taking careful aim, and trying to ignore his natural dislike for what felt like a guerilla action.

"Five rounds rapid..." He whispered to himself, although such a command meant nothing with this type of weaponry. Keron heard.

"Pardon?" He asked. Mike smiled, not taking his eyes off his target.

"Nothing," he answered. "Just a... a good luck call."

"Oh. Then I wish you the same, my friend." Keron melted away, off to find his own post. Mike smiled grimly, and waited no longer. He fired.

"No!" Will's anger was equalled only by his fear as he heard the sounds of laser fire breaking out up ahead. "This can't be happening. I've been keeping a watch out. I didn't see anything, dammit!"

"They must be up ahead." Sudra checked the load in her gun and tightened her grip on it. "So we couldn't change the fact that the attack happens. We can still change the outcome, right?"

"Right." Will smiled weakly at her. "Come on." They ran forward, joining with the rest of the main body. Already the squad was in turmoil, and Sudra ducked sharply as a laser bolt singed the top of her head.

"Ouch," she muttered, firing back with more optimism than accuracy. She could not see a thing amongst all the trees; their attackers could be anywhere.

"Damn." Will grabbed her arm, pulling her under the cover of some bushes. "These shots are coming at us from behind as well. We're surrounded."

"Great." She fired off a few more shots, then shrugged. "So where does that leave us?"

"Out of luck." He glanced around, still unable to see their attackers. "Unless we stay here."

"Fine by me." She smiled at him. "I never wanted to be a hero anyway."

"Not unless it was going to pay well." He shifted his position so that he could guard against a possible attack, and settled himself to wait. He was prepared to hide all night if it was necessary.

The gunfire seemed to fill the forest. Mike fired blindly, unable to maintain his position long enough to draw careful aim. He had had several close calls as it was, and he was aware that several of his men were nursing injuries. He wondered how long even the powerfully built Chand'raa could hope to withstand the barrage of laser fire, but he could see no alternative. Above them the sky was lit by the battle going on back at the city, and he imagined the others there, trying to fight off the sophisticated ships armed only with ground weapons. He couldn't allow this squad to break free, or the city would fall, and then history would have been changed after all. Or at least he thought it would have been. In all honesty he had begun to lose track of what exactly was meant to happen and what wasn't.

He felt the tree behind which he was sheltering lurch violently under a new assault, and sent a few shots back. He could take little comfort from the knowledge that his shots had all found their marks this time. Three men down out of a group that big did not seem to help much. He crouched down and began to edge closer to the enemy. There had to be a position from which he could get a better job done. He heard a rustling beside him, and looked up to see that Keron had reappeared. His head was bleeding, and he looked tired.

"Keron, keep back." Mike began edging forward again, but the big reptile held him back.

"We've lost three men," he said matter-of-factly. "Two are wounded badly."

"Oh great." Mike felt a growing sense of loss. "So we're down to five."

"Five of us are worth ten or fifteen of them." Keron glanced about. "The others want to try something, Mike. A final push. We think we can attack with enough force to wipe out much of the squad; if we maintain an element of surprise."

"Are you crazy? They'd see you all coming. There'd be no chance of making it out alive." Mike shook his head. "No way. I won't lead a suicide squad."

"Nobody's asking you to. This is a volunteer mission." Keron was already edging away. "We have to stop them from reaching the city. This is the only way."

"No. There's always another way." Mike racked his brains trying to think of one, but could come up with nothing. "I won't let you do this."

"You have no way of stopping me."

"But--" The Chand'raa had already gone, and Mike groaned silently. The whole lot of them were going to die. He checked the load in his gun and found that it was more than half empty, then smiled grimly. At least he could do something to attract the enemy's attention, so that Keron and the others might have a chance. He stood up.

"Hey!" His voice rang out loudly even above the sound of the guns. Several of the enemy turned, surprised to see him standing there. A few of them lowered their rifles. He pressed closer, trying not to stumble in the thick undergrowth. "Hold your fire for a second, okay?"

Hidden in the trees, Will and Sudra heard his voice and stared at each other in amazement. Sudra's eyes widened. Was this how the attack force came to be wiped out? Because of some ruse that was the work of the human they had encountered? Will stood up, anger showing on his face.

"No way am I going to let that reptile lover do this." He took careful aim, aware that Mike had no way of seeing him. Sudra stood up as well, peering over Will's shoulder. She saw Mike struggling over the rough terrain, and she saw Will's rock steady hands preparing to fire. She raised her own gun, and looked down at it in surprise, suddenly remembering that it was the weapon she had taken from Mike.

"Will..." She began, her voice uncertain.

"Sh..." He was staring at Mike. "Just a little closer..."

"But I've just remembered. I have his gun. You wouldn't believe how easily he took down a Chand'raa with it. I can--"

"Shut up." He pushed her aside and she slipped, losing her grip on the gun. It vanished into the bushes.

"But Will, we can kill them all. We can change what happened." She stared about, desperate to find the gun again, before Will fired and gave away their position to everybody.

"Now." Will muttered the single word to himself with all the venom that he could muster. He pulled the trigger, and saw Mike fall; then saw his comrades turn to face him. He realised, with sudden horror, that all they had seen was an invisible gunman shoot down a fellow human. The last thing that he saw was a fusillade of laser fire blasting simultaneously forth out of more than twenty rifles.

"Will..." Staring down at the remains of her comrade, Sudra felt her body go limp. She glanced up through the trees, and saw the rest of the unit coming towards her, ready to see how many other snipers were hidden there. Behind them she saw the Chand'raa rise up out of hiding, the distraction all that they needed to make their attack. She began to cry out a warning, but it came too late. Laser fire crackled and blasted about between the trees, the smell of burning wood filling the air. Then there was silence.

"Mike?" Picking his way carefully through the undergrowth so as not to hurt his new friend, Keron peered down amongst the tangle of bushes and tree roots. "Are you alright?"

"Just about." Trying to stem the flow of blood from his shoulder, Mike tried to stand, but found his legs unwilling to co-operate. Keron helped him up. "Are they all dead?"

"I think so." The Chand'raa put a hand on his companion's shoulder. "Sorry."

"It's not your fault. And anyway, they were the enemy." Mike pulled away, determined to stand on his own, and walked over to the clump of trees from where the shot fired at him had come. He was only slightly surprised to find Sudra there, crouched over the body of Will.

"Hi," he said. She looked up at him.

"You're supposed to be dead," she told him, with no apparent malice. He shrugged.


"No need to apologise." She caught a glimpse of his gun near her feet, and reached out for it, handing it up to him. He took it, and wondered what exactly he was supposed to do with her now. He couldn't really believe that she was the surrendering kind.

"Now what?" she asked, as if reading his thoughts. He shrugged.

"I take you back, I guess."

"To the future?"

"For starters." He sighed. "What were you hoping to achieve, Sudra? All you've done is help history along; make it what it was always going to be. You can't change the past."

"No, but you can change the future." She shrugged. "I guess I thought I could help them to get it right this time."

"And wipe out the Chand'raa?"

"We didn't realise they were intelligent at first." She smiled at him. "Well you were only too willing to accept that they were the enemy, remember? We never imagined..." She sighed. "And by the time we found out, we were already committed. Our own planet is on the verge of destruction. There wasn't time to find another to colonise instead. It had to be 209."

"Lucky 209." He offered her his hand and pulled her to her feet. "Sorry, Sudra. This isn't your world."

"I know." She shrugged. "But when your whole world is about to end, you don't really give a damn for somebody else's civilisation."


The city lay in ruins, with fires burning everywhere, and wounded Chand'raa huddled together for warmth in every available space. T'reth stood in the middle of a group of his people, trying to decide on the best course of action. They had reached a lull in the fighting, but there was sure to be another attack soon. The wreckage of so many enemy ships should have leant him a little optimism, but he was too tired to feel anything much besides his own exhaustion. He shivered, the gash in his leg making it hard for him to stand. There was so much to do. He saw the approach of Mike's unit and went to greet them, recognising Sudra and registering surprise at her presence.

"T'reth!" Mike was relieved to find the Chand'raa leader still alive. "We found a group of the enemy attempting to attack from the ground, but we dealt with them. She's the only survivor." He hesitated. "You should listen to her."

"Should I?" T'reth sounded disparaging. "If we all survive the next wave of attacks, I may consider listening to her then."

Sudra wandered past them, gazing at the devastation. She had never seen it from the ground before, and the extent of the destruction surprised her. She saw the flaming wreckage of so many of her peoples' ships, and grimaced.

"There won't be another attack," she announced, sounding resigned. "It's nearly dawn. The next assault isn't scheduled for another two days."

"She's right, T'reth." Keron stepped forward. "Remember? After we returned from the false call, it was some time before we had to face the next attack. We had enough time to regroup and assess the damage."

"I... seem to remember..." T'reth lowered his great head in thought. "Perhaps we should return to our own Time, before we meet ourselves returning here."

"Very true, very true." K'anpo sounded extremely relieved at the suggestion. "Come along. No time like the present!"

"I say, have a heart, K'anpo. Some of these chaps are pretty badly hurt, and we could all do with a rest." Mike held up his wounded arm in an attempt to get his message across, but the little Time Lord merely turned to walk away.

"Plenty of time to deal with that in the TARDIS, my boy," he said brightly. "Now we must be off. No sense in tempting fate."

Mike sighed, exasperated. He caught sight of T'reth grinning, and scowled.

"It's alright for you," he muttered as he turned to follow K'anpo. "I have to live with him."


It felt good to be back in the present, or in the future, whichever it was. Since both were filled with impenetrable plant life, Mike saw little real difference anyway. He sat on the steps of what had once been the city library, watching a pair of Chand'raa children showing Sudra around what was left of their world. To his credit T'reth had allowed her to talk, but Mike did not think that it would make a whole lot of difference. From what he had seen there was no love lost between the two races, and he could not see them reaching any sort of an agreement easily.

"Thinking, Mike?" It was K'anpo, appearing with his usual stealth. Mike smiled up at him.

"Not really." He stood up, stretching his arm. It was stiff, but as usual K'anpo had known exactly what to do. "I was just wondering what's going to happen here."

"What will happen, will happen. It is the way." K'anpo smiled sadly. "But we have interfered enough. It's time to leave."

"Well I for one am glad of your interference." Striding towards them, T'reth held out a hand. "I had heard that you were planning to leave, and I'm sorry. I had rather hoped you would stay to see us rebuild our city."

"Perhaps we shall come back, and see it when it's finished." K'anpo smiled broadly at his host. "I'm sorry that we can't stay longer, but that really would be asking for trouble I'm afraid..."

"I understand." T'reth saw that Mike's gaze still lingered on Sudra, and he smiled.

"I've told her that she can go free, and she's promised to speak to her people," he said, his voice suggesting that he was still cautious about the decision. "I am willing to allow her people to make a temporary home here while they look for somewhere more permanent, but at the end of the day the choice is up to them. I would like to think that we can stop fighting now."

"I hope so too." Mike turned away from the human woman and smiled up at Keron. "Well... goodbye."

"Goodbye Mike." Keron clapped him on the shoulder with his usual painful affection. "Come back soon."

"I will." Mike didn't like to say that he had no idea how they had found the planet in the first place, and that he had little faith in their being able to return. With K'anpo's unshakeable belief in destiny it was almost impossible to plan any flight.

"Come along," K'anpo called merrily, already striding away. Mike followed him. He glanced back towards Sudra one more time before they left, and saw her raise her hand in farewell. He waved back, smiling to himself. She really was very pretty. He tried to forget that she was also a fanatic who had come close to killing both him and K'anpo, not to mention a whole planetful of Chand'raa. He didn't seem to have a lot of luck with women, on the whole.

"Where to now?" K'anpo asked cheerfully as they headed off into the forest.

"You mean I get a choice?" Mike asked. K'anpo nodded.

"Of course. Personally I was thinking of Vorus IV. They have a species of flower there which grows up to seventy feet high."

"Fine by me." Mike wasn't going to argue. K'anpo looked delighted.

"Wonderful! There's just one thing..."

"What's that?"

"Er... Which way is the TARDIS?"

Mike laughed, and strode ahead to take the lead. Some things never changed, he told himself, and he only hoped that he was right about knowing the way himself, or they would be in for a long walk. Still, what did it matter? After all, it was a beautiful day.