Back to the Groot Karoo. The Doctor is getting some R&R and enjoying the company of friends. But the peace can’t last for long. Sitting with Stella on the veranda they spot a UFO, followed by the arrival of a TARDIS.

Now, it has always seemed to me that even the last of the Time Lords ought to meet up with other Time Lords now and again. He can travel in time. So it makes sense that he might meet up with Time Lords for whom the Time War has not yet happened. This story explores that possibility, and one obvious reason why The Doctor might not want to meet his own kind out of his own personal time line.

I thought only for a very short time about WHICH Time Lord he would meet. Paracell Hext then jumped into view and wouldn’t be shifted. For anyone who hasn’t read the Theta Sigma series of stories, Hext is an acquaintance of the young Time Lord, Chrístõ, who will become The Doctor in the course of time. He was originally something of a villain, or at least an anti-hero. His name, Hext, comes from one of the supposed names of people working in technical support at MSN who always send the same pathetic excuses for not fixing problems on the forums. My response to these annoying people is the one Chaucer gives to the Summoner and Pardoner in the film A Knights Tale – to eviscerate them in fiction. His colleagues, Shiony and Reugene have both appeared as villains in stories. Reugene, surname Pratt, was the alien-led false Messiah in the story ‘False Gods’. Shiony was a civil servant in the Gallifreyan traffic control who got her just desserts. Hext, when he was first introduced was the most incompetent agent in the Celestial Intervention Agency. He had been captured by the alien enemy and tortured until he gave away the secret of his TARDIS. He was slightly cowardly and it was revealed that when he was at the Prydonian Academy he had bullied Chrístõ. However, they came to terms with each other and Hext redeemed himself. In later stories, he got better at his job and he and Chrístõ actually worked together and started to like each other. Both are key players in the liberation of Gallifrey in the set of Theta Sigma stories where their home world has been invaded by a malicious enemy.

Now, the Unfinished Business stories, involving the Ninth Doctor are very much interwoven with the background I set up for The Doctor in Theta Sigma. The Ninth Doctor uses the name I gave him as Theta Sigma. Although the Ten stories acknowledge that same background, I don’t usually refer to it as often. This was an exception to the rule.

So Hext is somebody who The Doctor knew well in his younger days. But the Tenth Doctor keeps his identity secret mainly in order to shield Hext from foreknowledge of the Time War in which, it is implied, he dies. But of course, there is another reason. In Hext’s time, The Doctor is still a wanted Renegade. And when he receives orders to arrest the Renegade, loyalty to a friend and loyalty to Gallifrey conflict.

Stella’s loyalty to The Doctor is absolute. She takes a desperate risk to warn him. Jumping onto a dematerialising TARDIS is dangerous. Captain Jack, in Utopia, actually got dragged to the end of the universe, but he is special. He can’t die. Stella was only pulled a few miles in space, not time.

The creature disguised as the local parish priest is a Yamelien. This is a type of creature who appeared in a Theta Sigma story – Grandmother Paradox. But it’s such a good creature it was bound to turn up again. The name Yamelien is an anagram of the name of an annoying person. It doesn’t matter who. He isn’t smart enough to unscramble it. Another evisceration in fiction.

Jo as the key to proving that The Doctor is innocent, of course, works perfectly. She was there when the Time Lords forgave him in his third incarnation.

Hext repairing The Doctor’s arm by giving him some of his own lifeforce is a gesture of friendship. It echoes The Doctor’s donation of ten years of his life to the TARDIS itself in Age of Steel.

Hext’s stories in Theta Sigma