by Nigel Robinson
The Great Rift Valley, March 1926

The Doctor stretched out his arms expansively, as if to encompass the entire African continent, and gazed down at the vast savannahs of Ngorogoro. The air hung heavy with the smell of the thorn trees and of sun-baked soil. Down below him, in the greatest natural crater known to mankind, thousands upon thousands of lion and gazelle, buffalo and zebra were born, lived and died without ever knowing the world outside, the world of men and war, of love and hate, of treachery and deception.
            It was going to be a long time before they were all extinct, the Doctor thought sadly, remembering all too clearly when he witnessed the very last lion on Earth being shot dead on this very spot.
            Ace was singularly unimpressed. She'd joined the professor to see the Universe, not prat around in some arid wilderness in the middle of the Great Rift Valley. If his idea of fun was being an extra in a David Attenborough programme then he could forget it.
            "This is an enchanted place Ace," said the Doctor. "The cradle of humankind - the place where the first homo sapiens lifted her eyes heavenwards and wondered. I've been coming here for a long time now: the hills and the mountains are like old friends." He gestured towards the mountains, purple and blue in the distance. "Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa," he said, indicating the snow-capped peak. "And Mount Meru. And Mount Kukuruk..."
            "Wrong!" gloated Ace, and pointed to the Baadeker (2002 edition) that she'd insisted on borrowing from the TARDIS's library.
            The Doctor sulked. "Well, perhaps not now - but it will be... A friend of mine will live there one day..."
            Ace looked curiously at the Time Lord. Every day she was learning to trust him more and more, but even now there was something undeniably spooky about a man who could travel into both the past and the future. How much did he know about what was going to happen? How much did he know about the future? The future of the Earth? Charlton Athletic's chances in the Cup? Her own personal future?
            She was about to ask him when she spotted a tall aristocratic figure in the distance, standing, stork-like on one leg on the plain. He'd been there for a long, long time, so much a part of the African landscape that Ace hadn't noticed him until now. He turned slowly and slowly looked up to them, and waved.
            The Doctor waved back and took Ace by the hand, leading her to the figure whose simple red shuka, or toga, belied his status as chief of the Maasai race of Eastern Africa.
            "Greetings, Doctor," he said, in his native tongue. "It has been a long time."
            "Greetings, Naikosiai," the Doctor said in the Maa tongue, and then reverted to English, for Ace's benefit. "Might I introduce my companion, Ace?"
            "Greetings, Ace," said Naikosiai in almost perfect English. "The Doctor here has spoken of you often. It is good that I finally meet you."
            Ace looked challengingly at the Doctor as if to say: And what have you been saying about me this time?
            "Naikosiai, I have an urgent task elsewhere," the Doctor said guiltily. "Would you look after Ace for a few hours?"
            This was the first time Ace had heard of it. "Hey, if you're going off somewhere interesting then, I'm coming too!"
            "Not this time, Ace," the Doctor said cryptically. "This is something I have to do on my own... Naikosiai is an old friend of mine, he'll take good care of you..."
            Ace started to protest but the Doctor was already making his way back to the TARDIS.

39 Dean Street, Soho, London 1909

The white-haired old lady crushed the crepe de Chine dress to her lined and tired face, smelling its luxury, and smiled. It reminded her of the summers of her youth, when her parents would take her and her brother, Edward, over to Paris, on their way to the South of France.
            "Doctor, they're beautiful,' she said, and indicated the chic dresses which were spread out all over the bed. "But who are they for?
            "A young friend of mine," he said.
            Margaret regarded her old friend with a knowing twinkle in her eyes. "It's about time," she chided fondly. "A man such as you should not be alone. You spend far too much time by yourself as it is... It's not healthy."
            The Doctor coloured, and touched the Aztec brooch which he had taken to wearing on the lapel of his jacket as if it were a talisman. "She's just a friend, Margaret." he said Hurriedly. "Her name's Benny."
            Margaret tut-tutted. "Benny! And what sort of name is that for a young woman?"
            "She's a... foreigner," explained the Doctor. She'll be arriving shortly. Do you mind if she has the spare room, Margaret?"
            The old lady smiled: she'd known the mysterious Scotsman for more than half her life, and yet he still treated her as if she were the mistress of this spacious apartment in the heart of London's Soho, when in fact it was he who owned the flat. And if someone had told Margaret that he also owned half of London she wouldn't have been at all surprised. He was a strange one, was Doctor Smith. Strange but also the kindest, most gentle man she had ever known.
            "Any friend of yours is a friend of mine, you should know that by now," she said and added: "After all, we've known each other for - what is it now?"
            "Forty-two years," said the Doctor.
            "That's right. And this is your home, after all," the kindly old woman reminded him. "I just look after it for you. Why, I'm little more than your housekeeper..."
            "You're more to me than that, Margaret," the Doctor said, and pulled an elaborate watch chain from out of his waistcoat pocket. "I have to go now," he said guiltily. "I have an appointment at the bank..."
            Margaret looked accusingly at him, making him feel uncomfortable: there was very little he could keep from this old lady. "I wonder if you could pick up some books for me..." He handed her a grubby business card: Jared Khan Antiquarian Bookseller, 31½, Museum Street, Bloomsbury, London.
            "Of course,' she said, and fixed him with a knowing eye: "And will you be back later for tea?"
            "Soon," he lied. "But perhaps not for tea." Margaret nodded wisely: her old friend need say no more.
            The Doctor opened the door but before he left the apartment he paused, and without turning around, he asked "By the way, Margaret, what are your favourite flowers?"
            Margaret frowned: it seemed a strange question from one who she normally never considered the sentimental type. "White lilies," she said. "But what makes you ask?"
            "Just curious, my dear, dear friend, just curious," the Doctor said and brushed a tear from his eye, as he remembered the first time he had ever met Margaret.
            And the day that she had died.

Coutts Bank, The Strand, London, February 1868

The horse-drawn hansom cab rumbled to a halt outside the exclusive Coutts bank in the Strand, London, in the thirty-first year of the reign of Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and soon-to-be Empress of India. The Doctor leapt sprightly out of the cab, and offered his hand to the pretty young woman accompanying him, who lifted her long skirts to avoid the rubbish strewn in the gutter before the bank's imposing facade.
            She looked around, breathing in once more the sights and sounds ot the greatest city the planet had ever known. It was good to be home, she thought, even though it was only for a short while.
            She looked curiously at the Doctor: he had changed his appearance and it was hard to reconcile the impish scruffily-dressed tramp with the more saturnine creature before her.
            But no matter, he had brought her here in the TARDIS, and beneath his external appearance she could still catch the essence of the man she had once loved and respected above all others, after her father. He had once talked of his family; it was only now that he had returned to her that she realised that she - and all the others who had ever travelled with him - were the only family he had ever known.
            "You're glad to be back in your own time, Victoria?" the Doctor asked, in that curious Scottish burr of his.
            Victoria Waterfield smiled nostalgically. "I miss it sometimes," she said. "But I'm happy in the twentieth century with my adoptive parents..."
            "I'm pleased," said the Doctor and surprised himself by meaning it. "We are here for some very important business you know..."
            Victoria sighed. "I know, there are papers to sign, letters to be sent, monies to he transferred..."
            "Are you sure it won't upset you?" The Doctor's concern was genuine.
            "Father is dead," said Victoria philosophically. "He died on Skaro, a victim of those horrible Skaro creatures..."
            "We know that," said the Doctor. "The authorities think he died in a house-fire in Canterbury..."
            "I'm his sole heir," Victoria continued. "And I can do with his money and his properties what I want..."
            "It must be your own decision, Victoria," the Doctor said.
            "I trust you, Doctor," Victoria stated categorically. "I'll do what you want me to do... And after that, Doctor..."
            "I'd like to see my aunt," she said. "It's so long that I last saw her. She's the closest family I have now... apart from you, that is."
            "Of course you may see your aunt," said the Doctor, as he opened the door to the bank for her. "I've already told her that you would be visiting today. And if I know Margaret Waterfield, she's already put the kettle on!"

The Great Rift Valley, March 1926

"Well, you took your time getting back," grumbled Ace as the Doctor opened the doors of the TARDIS which had materialised just in front of the red mud-hut where Ace and Naikosiai were waiting for him. The sun was sinking low over the horizon, and in the distance could be heard the sound of the African predators as they awoke from their day-time torpor to begin their nocturnal hunt.
            "Was I away for long?" asked the Doctor.
            "It feels like years to me," he admitted. "Has Naikosiai taken good care of you?"
            Ace looked affectionately ac her new-found friend. "It was well wicked, Professor," she said. "He showed me lion and rhino and elephant and..."
            "Just like Out of Africa then," he chuckled and bade goodbye to the Maasai chief. He led Ace into the TARDIS and began to operate the dematerialisation circuit. "And was there anything else Naikosiai showed you on your mini-safari?" he asked.
            "Nah, not really," she said, and then frowned. "Apart from the termites, that is..."
            "Termites?" asked the Doctor, trying to sound casual.
            "Yeah, hundreds and thousands of termite nests," she said. "If I ever get back to Perivale and Miss Crickleshank's biology classes I'm going to be the world's expert." She glanced suspiciously at her friend. "Why do you ask?"
            "Just curious, Ace, that's all," he lied, as the TARDIS vanished from Earth, en route for the colony world of Terra Alpha.
            So, thought the Doctor almost guiltily, the pieces are all in Place - and the game can now begin...

Source: Doctor Who Magazine #203