Unfinished Business, Doctor Who, Dr. Who, Chris Eccleston, Christopher Eccleston, Doctor who Fiction

Rose and Wyn came into the console room, both with hair slightly damp from the shower. Rose had given Wyn some lessons in Tai Chi after her more rigorous workout with The Doctor in the advanced realms of martial arts Wyn still could only look on at most of their routines in wonder and envy. They both stopped when they saw The Doctor standing by the console looking upset. At least 'upset' was the first word that came to Rose's mind as she saw him. Then as she looked closer she amended it to 'devastated.'

"Whatever it is, I didn't do it," Wyn said at once.

The Doctor looked up at her and half-smiled despite himself. He held out his hands and they both came to him. He hugged them both as if he felt the need of their nearness at that moment.

"Wyn, this is certainly nothing of your doing or that you could have possibly helped." He squeezed her shoulders gently. "But when it is your fault I hope you'll own up as fast as you deny responsibility."

"Depends whether you get that airlock fitted," she said slipping out of his embrace now the moment was over. He laughed a little, but he still looked, Rose thought, like he had been physically hit. She glanced at the text message on the communication console in front of her.

"The King-Emperor of Adano-Ambrado is dying. Please attend." She didn't know who that was, but whoever sent the message knew The Doctor - or at least they knew who he used to be before he was The Doctor. "It's addressed to Chrístõ De Lœngbærrow, Lord of Gallifrey" she said.

"I know," he said as he set the co-ordinates for Adano-Ambrado. "I wish I'd kept in contact. It's been too long. 700 years too long."

"You really are lousy at keeping up with old friends, aren't you. How hard would it be? You have a time machine. You could go round all of them in a few hours."

"I know. I don't know why. I seem always to move on and never back."

"So… the King-Emperor. He was a good friend?"

"Very special friend. He was best man at my wedding."

"Wow. And yet you forgot about him all this time."

"Lost touch." He finished setting the co-ordinates and came to the computer console. He pressed some keys and brought up a photo image on screen. Rose and Wyn both stared at it. "The King-Emperor and myself when we were both younger."

"But… you're…."

"Identical twins," Wyn finished.

"You're related?"

"No. The resemblance was a monumental co-incidence. But when we met we became very close. Anyone who saw us together would have thought we WERE brothers. Brothers with a lot of enemies. Lost count of the times people tried to top me in mistake for him and vice versa."

"700 years?" Wyn asked. "How come he's still alive? Is he a Time Lord too?"

"Can't be. The Doctor was the last of them."

"Penne WAS a Time Lord, for a while, but he lost all his lives when a nutcase mistook him for me and tried to kill him. He was regressed back to being an ordinary Gallifreyan with only one lifespan. But even that meant he could live near enough a thousand years. Which…. is about right. We were about the same age. Born in the spring of the same year. He's 952 now, the same as me, but he has lived one life while I'm on my ninth."

"And now he's dying."


"I hope we get there in time," Wyn said. "It would be horrible if you didn't get the chance to say goodbye to him."

"Yes," The Doctor looked at Wyn and wondered what made her think of that.

"When my gran died… we nearly didn't get there in time. We were stuck in traffic."

"No traffic jams in the time vortex," The Doctor said. "We'll be there in time." Looking at him though, the way he nervously adjusted things and pressed things that they both knew did nothing to the way the TARDIS was flying, Rose and Wyn got the feeling he wasn't absolutely certain about that. Rose went to him and put her arm around his waist. When he turned and kissed her Wyn didn't make any sick noises as she usually did. Even she could see he was cut up about this news and needed whatever comfort was on offer.

The TARDIS materialised in the garden of the royal palace of Adano Gran. It was clearly expected. An escort of smartly dressed Royal Guards brought them into the palace. It was unnaturally quiet within. The servants moved silently about their business, their faces sad and withdrawn. The King-Emperor was a good ruler. His impending death was a body blow for them all.

"You are the Lord De Lœngbærrow?" A tall, middle aged man in a military uniform came down the wide marble staircase to where they waited. He had kind-looking blue eyes that matched his uniform, but a drawn, worried look on his face.

"I am," The Doctor said.

"I'm Coilin, Commander of the Guardia Real, the King-Emperor's personal bodyguard and his Chief of Staff. His Majesty wishes you to come to him straight away." He looked at Rose and Wyn. "Your entourage may come up but they will have to wait in the ante room."

The Doctor nodded and indicated to his 'entourage' to follow him. It wasn't the worst thing she'd ever been called, Rose reflected.

The ante-room was full of official looking people. The sort, Rose thought, who would be on hand for the death of a King. Some of them looked like they might be doctors, but others were lawyers, secretaries, politicians. They all glanced around at the new arrivals then returned to their own conversations. Coilin asked Rose and Wyn to sit down in seats placed by an ornate fireplace. They did so quietly. They were both mere onlookers in all that was happening here.

The Doctor looked at them and tried his best to smile but the thought of his dying friend made it a false smile at best, a mask of his real feelings.

He stepped into the deathroom and felt in his hearts that it was exactly that. There was an aura that seemed to squeeze his soul. He looked at the old man lying in the bed attached to a life support monitor. The machine seemed to do the job of nurse, since there was nobody else in the room.

"I sent them all out," he heard his friend say in his head. "I wanted this moment to be private."

"Penne," The Doctor whispered aloud as he stepped towards the bed. "It is good to see you."

"You're still a good looking man, Chrístõ," Penne Duré, King-Emperor of Adano-Ambrado, an Empire that spanned all the planets in a solar system, told his friend.

"So are you," The Doctor answered.

"That's not true," he said. "I'm old, falling apart. I've not got long."

"I'm sorry I haven't come to see you before now."

"Big universe out there, and you always wanted to be a part of it."

"Yes, but I should not have forgotten friendships as strong as ours. Forgive me."

"There is nothing to forgive. Besides, you are here now. That is the important thing."

"I couldn't not come. But…. Why are you alone? Why is your family not around you here?"

"I have no family."

"I thought you were going to found a dynasty. When I was last here you and your lovely princess had twin babies."

"I did," he said. "Cirena gave me five beautiful children. Two princes and three little princesses. But they took after her…. Not me."

The Doctor wondered what he meant for a moment. Then it dawned on him.

"They had Human DNA not Time Lord?" he said. "ALL of them?" That was unusual. A full-blood Gallifreyan like Penne ought to have had at least one child with his own DNA.

"My bad luck," Penne said. "I outlived all my children, Cirena died at 102. I loved her to the end. My grandchildren…. There were fifteen of them. And nine great-grandchildren. I loved them all. And I thought my line was assured. But…." He sighed deeply. "We were all together on Adano Menor… at the summer residence. A plague broke out on the planet. It swept through the population. I could do nothing. It was too late to send even the little ones away. I had to order a quarantine on the whole planet to prevent it spreading offworld. The youngest died first. A little girl. She faded away in my arms. Then my eldest grandson, the one I thought would be my heir. And one by one, all of them. I wasn't affected. My pure Gallifreyan blood made me immune. But they were hybrids, part Human, and they died along with three-quarters of the population of Adano Menor."

"I'm sorry," The Doctor said with feeling. "But you never remarried? Never tried…"

"For a long time - a century - I felt as if my hearts were frozen. I mourned them all so deeply. This was a sad empire for all that time. Afterwards… when I let myself live again… I just couldn't. I never… Of course I had women. You know me. But I could never bring myself to love one of them. I know I should have taken a wife anyway, just so that I would have an heir. But it didn't feel right. I had married for love once. I couldn't marry for exigency."

"I understand," The Doctor told him. "I really do."

"Your son died, too?" Penne looked at him and he remembered how easily they had both learnt to read each other's minds. "I'm sorry."

"Yes. But he was a man by then. And he had a daughter. And she has children of her own. And… and I… My new fiancée is with me here. My future…"

"I'm glad," Penne told him. "You have your own dynasty."

"Yes.""That makes this easier then. My people will be protected. I can rest easy."

"Penne?" The life support monitor's tone seemed to change in pitch as he laid his head down on the pillow. The Doctor looked at the lifesigns readings and knew there was not much time. The conversation they had, distressing and emotional as it was, had taken its toll. His organs were shutting down as his life ebbed away.

"My advisors must be let in now," he said. "There must be witnesses. Protocol..." But the door was already opening and the medical experts came in first, followed by his government ministers. A king could not die in peace, alone in his bed. The exact moment had to be recorded. There could be no doubt.

"Your Majesty?" Coilin stepped forward from the onlookers and approached the bed. "Your Majesty, you must name your heir. There will be civil war unless you do this now."

"Leave him be," The Doctor protested. "Let him die in peace." But he understood the problem. If there was no heir, then a whole solar system was left without a leader.

"Sir… you must go," Coilin told him but his King-Emperor overruled him.

"No, he stays. He is my…" Penne raised his hands. On his right hand a ring glittered in the light. It was made of gold but encrusted with so many tiny diamonds that they shimmered like a rainbow. He slowly slid the ring off his age-worn hand. "This was yours," he said as he reached and took hold of The Doctor's hand and slid the ring onto his finger. "It is yours again." The Doctor was aware of startled gasps around him but thought nothing of it. His thoughts were for his friend in his last moments.

"You all witnessed…." The King-Emperor said. "It is settled. Come closer, my friend." The Doctor bent towards him and he was startled when Penne kissed his cheek. But that was his last effort. His eyes closed and he let out a deep, soft sigh and The Doctor felt his hand go limp in his. In confirmation the life support monitor gave out a continuous tone and showed that single flat line that was proof that it was all over.

"Goodbye, my dear friend," The Doctor whispered and crossed his lifeless hands over his chest. His face seemed gentler now that it was over, the features relaxed and peaceful. Whatever pain he had known in the last days was over. He truly was at rest. The Doctor touched his cheek gently with the back of his hand before covering his face with the bedsheet and turning to the people who waited in silence around him.

They all knelt and bowed to him.

"Your Majesty…" Coilin addressed him.

"What?" He looked at him, puzzled for a moment. Then he realised the significance of the words Penne had spoken in his last minutes. "You all witnessed…. It is settled." And earlier when he had spoken privately, "My people will be protected. I can rest easy."

"Oh, no!" The new King-Emperor of Adano-Ambrado groaned.


Things happened quickly after that, and The Doctor felt that he was not in control of them. That above all bothered him. He had often been accused of being a control freak, sometimes he had accused it of himself. But to be in control of his own destiny was the only thing he had ever demanded of the universe that asked so much of him. Finding himself in situations he could not control angered and frustrated him.

Rose and Wyn knew from the sudden activity that the King-Emperor, The Doctor's friend, was dead. It seemed odd to them. The few deaths either of them had ever known had been moments when people stopped in what they were doing, said prayers, cried, but certainly stopped. Here, things got suddenly faster.

"Long Live The King," somebody shouted. And that at least they understood. The king was dead, so somebody else was now king. His son, perhaps. Rose wondered if The Doctor knew him.

She looked up as the door opened and The Doctor came out with the government ministers. She stood to go to him but somebody blocked her way and told her to sit down again. She protested, but another arm reached out and pushed her, firmly, though not roughly, back into her seat. She looked around and saw The Doctor being ushered away. He glanced back at her and seemed to be protesting but the government people were insisting that he go with them. Or so it seemed. She really didn't understand what was happening. And she knew she didn't like it. She looked at Wyn. She looked worried too.

"He'll be ok," she said, and hoped it was true.

It was several hours before anyone seemed to even remember they were there. During that time the undertakers had arrived and the body of the dead King removed in an elaborate coffin. Rose heard them say he would be taken to lie in State in the Great Hall, wherever that was. Nobody took any notice of them. Rose thought that if they got to meet the new king she might point out that his hospitality to guests was not too great. But maybe that would be a rude thing to say to somebody whose dad was just dead.

"Come with me, please." They were hungrily sharing a bar of half melted chocolate from Wyn's pocket when a voice finally called to them. Rose stood, searching in her pocket for a handkerchief to wipe her hands and lips. It was Coilin, the King's Chief of Staff. She wondered why somebody that important was sent to fetch them, but she was just glad anything was happening at all.

He brought them to what was clearly a council chamber, with a long polished table surrounded by dozens of straight backed chairs. She saw The Doctor sitting in the chair at the head of the table. He was dressed in a robe of deep red velvet, and - Rose stared in amazement - he was wearing a crown. Not anything elaborate like the British crown jewels she was familiar with, just a gold circlet with spiky bits all around, but it WAS quite definitely a CROWN.

She ran to him. Crown or not he was her man and she had been more worried than she realised. Wyn ran to him too and he held them both tightly as if they were the only safe, familiar thing in his life at that moment and he was afraid to let them go. Eventually he did though, and they sat in the chairs beside him as he explained what was going on.

"You're their new king?" Rose stared at him - or more precisely at the crown that glinted in the slanting sun that came through the window.

"This isn't a joke?" Wyn asked.

"My friend has just died. Do you really think I'd joke?" He sounded snappish as he said that and he quickly apologised to her for that. "It's no joke," he sighed. "I'm the King-Emperor."

"But… why are you?" Rose asked. "You said you weren't related. So why?"

"Penne was of Gallifreyan blood. I am the only other Gallifreyan male in the universe over the age of consent. By default… yes, I am his heir. And…even though we've not met in 700 years, he still trusts me implicitly, knows that I would take care of his people to the best of my ability. That I would CARE what happens to them."

"What IS going to happen to them?"

"If I DON'T look after them, then civil war will happen. There have been rumblings and rumours these past weeks since it was known that he was ill and might die. The proclamations have gone out now. We can only wait to see if the malcontents will accept that the power has been smoothly transferred or if there will still be trouble."

"You're a king," Wyn said. "Wow. That's amazing. So…. How much land are you king of? What's your country?"

"Country?" The Doctor smiled at her. "Adano Ambrado is an Empire of seven planets - an entire solar system."

Wyn said a word that her mother would have been very displeased with and which The Doctor usually pronounced in Low Gallifreyan as &$£%*$.

"That's… really something," she added. "You must feel kind of… I mean… I know you must feel sad about your friend dying. But you know…"

"I don't know what to FEEL right now," he said and he clung to Rose's hand tightly. She moved from her chair and sat on his knee, cuddling him. Crown or no crown, he was still her man and she knew he needed her. "THAT feels nice," he said as she snuggled close to him. "That he died…. I'm not sad about that as such. He lived a good, full life. As long a life as was given to him. When people die before their time it's a tragedy. When they outlive their time, when they try to cheat death at cost to others, it's obscene. But to die peacefully at the natural end of a good life, that's not something to be sad about. Everything has its time and everything dies."

"You said that before," Rose said. "You said it about the Earth when you showed me it being enveloped by the sun at the end of its time."

"And it's true. So, no, I'm not sad about Penne as such. I just regret sorely that I didn't come and see him more often. I should have brought you here to see him, Rose. He'd have been thrilled to meet you. And you'd have liked him. He was a great man. He ruled his Empire with kindness, compassion. He was…. one in a million. And despite my neglect he put his trust in me in his last dying breath. That…. really makes me feel very, very humble and the least king-like." He reached and took the crown from his head and stared at it, turning it in his hands.

"It looks good on you," Rose said, taking it from him and putting it back on his head. The gold circlet against his short black hair seemed strangely to suit him. Funny that he could run around the universe in a battered old leather jacket looking like a navvy, and yet in an instant he could look like a King-Emperor of a whole solar system.

"Your royal majesty," she said with a smile. But he frowned.

"I'm not happy about this. I know it's what Penne wanted. But I can't. I can't be their king. It's worse than being a GOD on SangC'lune."

"I think a god outranks a king." Wyn said, wondering exactly what SangC'lune was.

"Yeah, but a god isn't expected to be there all the time. Not in person anyway. There's the omniscience thing, obviously. Although the SangC'lune's never expected me to be that sort of a God."

Coilin came into the room along with several government men. They bowed to their king. Rose felt rather than heard the low noise of irritation from The Doctor. He hated being bowed to. She moved from his knee and sat back in the seat next to him. The ministers looked at her and Wyn pointedly. But The Doctor wasn't having any more messing about.

"They're staying for now," he said. "I want them with me. You might as well all know that Rose is my fiancée. So if you want me as your king you need to get used to the fact that I already chose my queen."

"Majesty," A man who introduced himself as Deffareé, the Prime Minister of the central government spoke. "That is pleasing to us all. But there are some pressing matters to discuss."

"Then let's discuss them. I don't know why you didn't discuss them before instead of making such an issue about me wearing these robes… this crown…."

"Because the appearance of things is very important at this time. The people need to see a king. A king wears the robes, the crown."

"Point taken. So… the political situation stands how?"

"Precarious, your Majesty," Deffareé continued. "As yet there have been no actions on any of the planets, and we hope that for the majority of our people the fact that we have a new king is enough. But it is yet possible that some will object to his late Majesty's decision to nominate a stranger as his heir."

"I can see why that would be. But who do they favour in my place? And is he any good? Because if he is, let him have the job and everyone's happy."

"Sire…" Deffareé blustered.

"No, he is NOT 'any good'," Coilin interjected and all eyes turned to him. "Jorek Kanrivan is Commander of the army of Adano-Ambrado. He is an accomplished soldier, but personal ambition counts for too much with him. He would not be a good leader of Adano-Ambrado. That is why his late Majesty brought you here as his last chance to avoid a military coup."

"You're military, Coilin," The Doctor pointed out.

"I am Commander of your Majesty's Guardia Real - your personal army charged with the special protection of your person and household."

"The King's musketeers?" Rose said with a smile. Coilin looked puzzled by the literary reference, but The Doctor nodded.

"You are loyal?"

"Your Majesty," Coilin bowed deeply. "There are none more loyal than those chosen for the Guardia Real."

"Then King's Musketeers is an apt analogy. I'm glad you served my friend the late King so well. And hope you will continue to serve me for as long as necessary."

"I hope your confidence is not misplaced, Majesty," Deffareé cut in. "You should know that Kanrivan is HIS brother."

"My loyalty to my king is above my family ties," Coilin assured him with such fervency that The Doctor felt it almost as a physical force. He concentrated his telepathic nerves upon his earnest Chief of Staff and touched his thoughts. He found a man who truly WAS loyal to his new king as much as to the old, who was deeply worried about the rift that was widening between himself and his brother personally, as well as the implications for his world if the people chose between loyalty to king or army. Brother against brother not only at the level of the generals of the two armies, but right through the ranks. At all costs, Coilin was thinking, that must not happen.

"Not at all costs," The Doctor told him to his astonishment. "Open civil war would be all costs. I join with you in hoping to avoid that. But there is little more we can do tonight, I think. We still have a State Funeral tomorrow. The people will, at least, be united in grief at that point. We will take it from there. For now…. My queen and my young friend are in need of food, drink and a comfortable night's sleep. Have that arranged."

"And for your own comforts, sire?"

"I look for no comfort this night. The late king was a friend of mine for more years than any of you can imagine. I will do vigil beside his coffin tonight. See that arrangements are made for that."

"Vigil?" Rose asked as he insisted on her getting into the big bed that was provided. "Why?"

"It is the custom on Gallifrey. The body of a Time Lord is watched over through the night."

"This is because you feel guilty about not seeing him more often."

"No, it is because it is how it is done where I come from."

"Well, let me be with you."

"You could not stand still and quiet for nine hours."

"I've never tried."

"I don't want you to try."

"I want you beside me here," she said. "I'm…. I'm scared. I know it's daft, but this place is so unreal. The whole situation is. And I don't think I could sleep on my own."

"Please try," he begged her. "There is nothing to fear. Your room and Wyn's are both protected by the Guardia Real."

"The King's Musketeers?"


"Which one is D'Artagnan."

"That would be Coilin. He's a good man. I think I could trust him with my life if I had to." He took her in his arms and kissed her for a long time before pulling the bedclothes around her. He slipped into the sideroom and made sure that Wyn was in bed and comfortable.

"I'm ok," she told him. "Hey, Doctor. I know it sucks about your friend. But really, King of a whole solar system. That is incredibly cool, you know."

"Yes, it is," he said with a smile at her. "I'm just not sure I'm the man for the job."

"I'll do it," she said. "Seven planets at once! Wow!"

He laughed and said goodnight to her and slipped out of the suite of rooms called the Queen's chambers, past the smartly dressed and reassuringly earnest men of the Guardia Real who were on protection duty. Coilin slipped into step beside him as he made his way to the Great Hall.

"I don't really need a personal bodyguard, you know," he said. "Especially not for this. I'd really rather be alone."

"Sorry, your Majesty, but I could not countenance that."

"Figured you'd say something like that." They walked in silence for a while before The Doctor spoke again. "I want you to know that I WILL do what I can to prevent your brother from doing anything foolish."

"The only way to do that would be to tie him to a chair," Coilin told him.

"We can do that if you want," The Doctor joked. Coilin half-smiled.

"He has let his ambition dictate his actions for too long. He is not a bad man at heart."

"I hope you are right." The Doctor thought of many men he had met over the years for whom ambition had been the driving passion. Top of the list would be Davros, the man who created the Daleks to fulfil his ambition for ultimate power.

They came to the Great Hall. He stopped for a moment at the door and looked at the coffin placed on a bier in the centre of the elaborate stateroom. Four men of the Guardia Real stood quietly and dignified at each corner with heads bowed and ceremonial rifles pointed down.

Four women, The Doctor corrected himself as he moved closer. Penne would be happy with that, he noted. He wondered if it was one of his final requests. To be surrounded by pretty women in his coffin. It sounded like the sort of thing he would want. He had never quite cured Penne of a certain lasciviousness that his position as ruler made far too easy to indulge. But these were, without doubt, well-trained and loyal soldiers. They were the first four people in the whole building who did not bow to him as he approached. Their dedication and discipline in their last sad duty for their former king did not waver.

The body had been prepared by morticians, dressed in the scarlet and maroon robes of the king. On his breast was a silver brooch denoting the Gallifreyan House he was descended from. The House of Ixion was the second last to die out. The Lœngbærrow House truly was the last now.

He reached out again and brushed his friend's cheek with his hand. It felt different. The body was cold and rigor had set in. It felt less like touching flesh and more like a waxwork model.

Coilin stepped forward on the other side of the bier and The Doctor was touched when he saw him bend and kiss his late king's hands. Then he became the efficient soldier once again. He stood erect beside his new King as he composed himself to wait the night through in vigil. This was not a time for losing oneself in meditation and trance. It was not a time for sleeping. It was for staying awake, staying focussed, staying by the shell of flesh and blood from which the soul had fled because in life that flesh and blood had been dearly loved and respected.

He wondered if anyone would do the same for him at the end of his life. Would there be anyone left to wait the night through? Would he even live long enough to die quietly in bed? He had almost expected that the luck that had held for so many centuries would one day run out and he would die painfully and violently and suddenly. The best he could hope for then would be that somebody might still snatch victory from his failure. He used to think that was a better way to go than lingering on.

Hope I die before I get old. The lyric of a rock song he had first heard on a spaceport jukebox when he was 50 came to mind. He had believed in that philosophy for a long time. But somewhere along the way a desire to get old before he died, to die quietly, had overridden his reckless ideas of his youth.

And yet, he thought again, without Rose, what was the point of it? She would die long before he did and this time he wasn't sure he could accept the loneliness as he had when he lost Julia.

"You'll have your children," he told himself. "When your destiny is fulfilled and Rose is yours, you WILL have children to be your comfort in those declining years."

Penne thought that, too, he argued back. And where are they? Already cold in their graves and he worried in his last moments that his people would tear themselves apart after he was gone. Did he die at peace? Or was he tortured by that worry?

"My people will be protected. I can rest easy." He remembered Penne's last words. Yes, he was at peace.

"You've dropped me right in it," he whispered. "But I'll do my best for you, and for your people. I won't let you down, Penne. But you knew that, of course. That's why you sent for me."

There was the very slightest of sounds in the dark shadows at the edge of the room. The Doctor looked around. Coilin, alerted by his movement darted in front of him, but The Doctor pushed him out of the way as the crossbow dart sliced the air. The guards around the bier were only a fraction of a second slower in reacting to the immediate danger. Their ceremonial rifles were loaded and they shot accurately. The would-be assassin was already dead before he fell from the old minstrel's gallery where he had waited for his chance.

Coilin stood up. He looked at The Doctor.

"Your Majesty," he protested. "It is my job to protect you… not you protecting me."

"NOBODY stands in the gap of danger for me," The Doctor said as he opened his hand and looked at the dart. "Nobody takes the bullet for me." He looked around at the bier. "He nearly died once for me. I nearly died for him. And we were both shot at by a paid assassin of one of his rivals. We accepted the risk for each other. But nobody else… Your life is not more expendable than mine, Coilin. Never imagine that for a moment."

"Your Majesty," Coilin protested. "It IS my duty to protect you."

"And I told you I need no protection."

"Sire…." One of the guards approached him. "The man who shot at you…. He used a crossbow of the type issued to the standing army, and he had this in his pocket." She held out her hand and showed the woven insignia badge of a lower ranked officer of the Adano-Ambrado army.

"So it begins," Coilin sighed.

"So it seems," The Doctor said as he watched the body of the would-be assassin being taken away and the guard of honour resume their places. He, too, returned to his quiet vigil. He tried to put the many difficulties out of his mind.


The Doctor had wanted to keep the events of the night from Rose and Wyn, but he quickly realised that was a forlorn hope. The whole palace was talking of it in the morning and security had been stepped up as the funeral arrangements got underway.

Penne's instructions had been clear. Although he lived in the royal palace on Adano Gran, the biggest and most populated planet of the system, he had been born and raised on Adano Menor, and it was there that his family were all buried after the plague that wiped them out. He wanted to be with them in death. But the shuttle journey to Adano Menor was never going to be a happy outing. The Doctor sat with Wyn and Rose in the passenger seats. The coffin was fastened securely in the freight area behind them.

"You two ok?" he asked as the shuttle passed out of the atmosphere and the artificial gravity kicked in.

"This…." Wyn looked pale. "Never been in a spaceship before."

"The TARDIS is a spaceship," The Doctor told her.

"Yeah but not like this…. With windows."

"You can forget you're in space in the TARDIS," Rose said. She was less traumatised than Wyn but she wasn't exactly happy either. She tried to think about other things than the starfield beyond what seemed an inadequately thin piece of glass. The conversations going on in the other seats were even more disturbing, though.

"Doctor," she whispered. "They're planning your coronation."

"Yes," he said. "I know. I wish they wouldn't. Not in the same shuttle as the coffin. I know it's important to them but…"

"It's just sunk in with me…. You… You're going through with it. You're really going to be their king. Ruler of the solar system."

"At the moment I don't see any other way," he said. He took her hand and held it, stroking the finger where the Gallifreyan diamond he gave her as a seal of their betrothal shone brightly. "Would you like that? Would you like to be queen of seven planets? My queen consort ruling alongside me?"

"Would you be allowed to marry me?" she asked. "Do you think maybe they'd want you to marry a princess?"

"You ARE my princess," he assured her, ignoring Wyn's usual tomboy teen comments whenever he said anything she deemed as 'mushy.' "Seriously, WOULD you fancy the idea?"

"To be honest," Rose said with a deep sigh. "No. I keep hoping there is some other way. I don't want to live on a strange planet. I thought…. When we get married, I kind of thought we'd maybe live in the 23rd century, near Susan, or in the 21st, near my mum. But I didn't imagine not living on Earth."

"Me neither," The Doctor admitted. "Earth is the only planet I could possibly call home if not Gallifrey. And that's not the only reason why I CAN'T let it get as far as the coronation. But at the moment I don't want them to know that. I don't want to let them down. I don't mean - that lot, in the seats there, the Government. I mean the ordinary people. They need to feel everything is ok, that their sky isn't going to fall in just because their king is dead."

"But then what are you going to do? If somebody doesn't rule them there will be civil war. It might already have started. That guy in the night…. You said he was in the Army."

"The Army are saying he was a loose canon, not sanctioned by them."

"So we're told." Rose said. "Do you buy that?"

"Yes. Armies don't send in assassins. They storm the palace. But I think he might be the tip of a nasty iceberg." He sighed and rested his head back against the seat. "This Empire has really only held because it had the same ruler for 750 years. If Penne was not Gallifreyan, if he'd died like most humanoids after 70 or 80 years, and his descendents after him in their turn, people would have got used to the idea of change. They might even have done away with royalty altogether and become a republic by now."

"That would have still meant a war at some point," Wyn said. "Most countries that do away with their monarchy war over it. Look at France and Russia."

"Britain got rid of its monarchy," Rose said. "The twins told me all about the system of government in their time. The Republic of Great Britain…."

"Britain DIDN'T get rid of its monarchy," The Doctor said. "The Daleks did." Rose looked at him. There was a certain note to his voice when he said the word 'Dalek'. It was like a dull pain expressed as a sound. "When they invaded Earth, the first thing they did was exterminate all the governments and heads of state. They did it live on television so that everyone could see and know that they were leaderless and defeated. They went into Westminster when Parliament was in session and exterminated them all where they sat. They went to the Palace and killed the royal family. Then they enslaved the rest of the people. The same happened in every other part of the world. Only a few pockets of resistance were left - like the group David Campbell belonged to."

"But they won, they defeated the Daleks and rebuilt their society." Rose said. "Earth is a peaceful place in Chris and Davie's time.""Oh yes," The Doctor said. "By the time Chris and Davie were born it was. But it was not so easy for their parent's generation." He sighed as he remembered, then smiled as one particular memory came back to him. "The British parliament never sat at Westminster again. They built the New Millennium Dome down river. But I remember… being with the survivors as they faced the task of rebuilding and felt daunted by it. Then they heard Big Ben chime. The sound could be heard right across London because there was no traffic or noise. It heartened everyone who heard it. It was a mere symbol - no more than that, and it seemed ridiculous to have set about fixing that when they needed to build hospitals and homes and farms and restore the infrastructure. But you should have seen the effect it had on the people. It gave them the courage to begin the work. Humans… you're a resourceful lot. All you need is a bit of inspiration and you can achieve anything."

"You call us stupid apes," Rose said.

"Yeah, but I don't mean it," he told her. "You're fantastic. All of you."

"Not sure this lot are fantastic," Wyn said. "Your Adano-Ambradan's They're all acting kind of stupid."

"Yes, I know," The Doctor said. "And I wish I knew what to do to stop them before it's too late."

"It's scary when you don't know what to do," Rose told him. "We feel better when you have a plan."

"I'm winging it," he admitted. "This isn't really my kind of thing. More my father's line of work really. Making peace treaties and averting war." He closed his eyes wearily. "Dad, I need you," he whispered. "I'm out of my depth." He didn't expect an answer. But somewhere on the edge of his perception he thought he heard his father's voice in reply, telling him to have faith in himself. "I do," he said. "But will THEY?"


The funeral was a sad, solemn affair for all concerned. Penne had no living family so his chief mourners apart from his nominated heir were his government and military leaders, but they had all respected him and his passing was genuinely mourned. It was not merely an occasion for 'being seen.' The Doctor was glad of that as he said his last goodbye to his friend. Despite all he had said about a death at the end of a good life not being sad, he FELT sad all the same.

And he was not at all sure how he felt about the public service broadcasting that kept the people of the seven planet Empire in touch with each other. Of course they had to be there. Millions of people needed to know that their King had been laid to rest peacefully and that their lives, even so, may go on as usual. But when he saw the news bulletins as they travelled back to Adano Gran he was uncomfortable watching the scenes. His private grief displayed to a mass audience was not something he had ever experienced before. And he was distinctly unhappy about the angle the journalist had taken about him. He seemed to labour the point too much that nobody knew who their new king was or where he came from, and could they trust a stranger to them all with their welfare.

"On Gallifrey, academic failures go into journalism," The Doctor said in an uncharitable tone. "Coilin, can we have that idiot arrested for treason or inciting rebellion or infringement of the Being Bloody Stupid Act or something?"

"Probably," Coilin answered. "But I think it might look bad if the new King-Emperor is seen to be stifling free speech and gagging the media."

"%*$£*£% to the media," The Doctor said in such a tone that even those who did not speak Low Gallifreyan were in no doubt as to his feelings. But the news pictures had changed as they were speaking. Around the shuttle conversations had stopped as everyone turned to look. The Doctor felt Rose's hand in his but that was the only sensation he had except for a numb, sick feeling. He stood up and walked towards the viewscreen as he watched the scenes.

"Simultaneous bombs exploded in the capitals of Ambrado Uno and Adano Menor, killing hundreds and injuring countless more, while the East Wing of the Royal Palace of Adano Gran is completely destroyed by the bomb there. So far there are no deaths reported. The East Wing contains the royal apartments and private rooms. The Cabinet room and Great Hall, of course are in the unaffected South Wing. Meanwhile unconfirmed reports say that the Royal shuttle carrying the new King-Emperor and his entourage as well as key members of the government has gone missing. The shuttle was on the way back from the funeral of our well-loved King-Emperor. Without any clear leadership the Empire is likely to be thrown into further disarray by this news. Panic buying of food and looting is reported in several of the major urban areas of Adano Gran, while as yet there has been no further statement from Jorek Kanrivan since his denouncement earlier today of what he called 'the usurper king'. If, indeed, the new King-Emperor is dead, Kanrivan as head of the army will be in effective command and will surely place the Empire under martial law until a provisional government can be constituted…..

"We slept in those rooms last night," Wyn said. "We could have been…."

"Don't think about it," Rose told her. "We weren't. We're alive. And that's the main thing. That journalist is stirring it again. We're not missing. We're right on course just as we should be." She stood up from her seat though and went to The Doctor's side. He reached his arm around her shoulder but she thought he did it almost as an automatic movement without REALLY being aware of her.

"We're not 'missing'," she said again. "We're alive." Almost as she said it, though, they felt the jolt as the shuttle swerved. The Doctor told her to go back to her seat and fasten her seatbelt as he moved forward to the cockpit where the pilot had just taken an evasive manoeuvre as a missile streaked towards the shuttle.

"Where did it come from?" he asked. "Who or what is shooting at us?"

"That…" the co-pilot said pointing to a spacecraft that was very clearly turning to make a second attack on the shuttle.

"There's two of them," the pilot said as a second craft manoeuvred into view.

"Three," the navigator added looking at his short range sensors.

"This is a shuttle craft," the pilot continued. "We have no way of fighting back."

"Good," The Doctor said to their surprise. "I have no wish to be in the middle of a dog-fight in space." He looked around. It was a small craft, and there were no more than thirty people on board including the crew and the 'key members of government.' He told the pilot to keep up his evasive manoeuvres for the moment then walked back down the aisle between the rows of seats. In the space where the King's coffin had been placed on the outward journey he took out his key and summoned the TARDIS. He was relieved it actually worked. He had left it in the garden of the Royal Palace - not far from the wing that had been blown to rubble in a bomb attack. They were still several thousand miles from Adano Gran. It was the furthest he had EVER brought it on the remote setting. For a brief moment he thought it wasn't going to work. It seemed to waver half-way into the materialisation. But at last it was there. The most solid and real thing in his life.

He opened the door and told everyone to get inside. Rose and Wyn released their seatbelts and ran straight away. The government ministers followed a little more slowly, all of them asking the same obvious and tedious question - How were they all going to fit into a small wooden box. Coilin brought the two stewardesses from the galley. That left the pilots and navigator. The craft lurched once more as they narrowly avoided another missile attack and The Doctor called out urgently to them to abandon the task. The navigator and co-pilot ran for what they were assured was safety but the pilot kept his seat, turning the craft and trying one more way to avoid annihilation. The Doctor ran back to him.

"Come on, now," he said. "I'm not leaving any man on board." The pilot glanced at him.

"Sire.. I can't leave the controls. Automatic pilot can't make evasive manoeuvres. We'd have seconds before we were hit."

"We only NEED seconds. Come on, NOW. That's an order from your KING." The pilot sighed and reluctantly put the craft into automatic drive. As he did they both saw the biggest of the three attacking craft fire directly at them. "RUN!" The Doctor yelled. The pilot ran. He came fast behind him. He dived through the TARDIS door and slammed it shut just as the shuttle craft disintegrated in a ball of fire.

He looked around at the faces of the crew and passengers. The two stewardesses looked as if they would like to retire right now and become milk-maids or short-hand typists. Anything so long as they never had to fly again. At least two members of the government had actually fainted in shock. He smiled as he saw Rose already at the TARDIS console getting ready to land them back on Adano Gran. He stepped up to the control but there was nothing he needed to do except a small adjustment that brought them directly to the Cabinet room rather than to the royal garden.


"Ok," The Doctor said as he stepped out of the TARDIS. "Let's get organised. The media are saying there is no effective government of the Empire. Let's show them that it's not true." He sat down at the head of the Cabinet table and the ministers almost automatically found their places. Coilin stood at his side. He looked around once and saw Rose and Wyn taking the crew of the shuttle craft to the ante-chamber outside the Cabinet room. He nodded to them, glad that they had taken such an initiative.

"It IS true," somebody said. The Doctor recognised him as the Minister for Agriculture, Rotan Beglen. "With all due respect, to you, SIR…" The Doctor thought his tone didn't have QUITE the right level of due respect at all for addressing a King-Emperor, but he let it go. "What they are saying - that none of us know who you are - that you do not know the people and they do not know you. This is the truth. What right DO you have to rule us apart from the fact that you are wearing the Ring of Eternity."

The Doctor looked down at his own hand, at the ring Penne had put onto his finger in the last moments of his life. He laughed.

"This ring?" he said holding his hand up. "This is nothing to do with your royal line of succession. It is no symbol of authority among your people. This was MY ring. It was given to me when I was 180 years old and I became a transcended Time Lord. All Time Lords have a Ring of Eternity. I gave this one to Penne when HE became a Time Lord. He returned it to me last night. But that was a private matter between the two of us. It is nothing to do with any of you."

"Then what…" Beglen began, but Deffareé cut him off.

"You are from Ambrado Uno, aren't you? The rebel planet. Are you the traitor in our midst.?"

"I am loyal to the Empire," Beglen answered defensively. "Just not to a king who is no king."

"Spoken like an Ambradian. Your lot have always been jealous that the balance of power was held by Adano Gran."

"The balance of power should never have been held by Adano Gran," the Minister for Transport said at the end of the table. "Adano Menor was the birthplace of our King-Emperor. It is where the Empire began and…" His words were drowned by protests from those ministers born on Adano Gran while those from the four colony planets shouted them down.

"So it begins," Coilin murmured as he stood at The Doctor's side.

"So it ends," The Doctor said, rapping the table loudly to get their attention. "The Empire of Adano-Ambrado is based on equality for all. There is no planet that is greater than the other. No life is worth more than any other. Not even the King-Emperor's. The Constitution makes that abundantly clear."

"What do YOU - an outsider - know of our Constitution?" Beglen demanded.

"Everything," The Doctor replied. His eyes as he spoke glittered with suppressed anger at their display of petty disunity. "I was there when it was written. Penne brought together the most capable men and women of all the three major planets around THIS very table. And with one trusted friend - an outsider - they put together the Constitution that would allow all the people to live in peace and harmony, established peaceful and prosperous agrarian colonies on the four uninhabited planets of the system and made Adano-Ambrado the envy of the galaxy for nearly eight hundred years."

"And I suppose you're going to claim you were the outsider who drafted our Constitution? Beglen said sarcastically.

"No. I was there as an observer only. My father drafted that Constitution. It was one of his most skilful acts of practical diplomacy and one he remained proud of all his life because he knew it had brought lasting peace to this Empire. And I will NOT stand by and let you tear up his work now."

The Ministers stared in silence as they took in his words. He allowed himself a half-smile as he looked at Beglen and knew the man was coming over to his side. He could see it in his eyes.

"Ok," he said quietly. "Now we have a Government that agrees with each other, we can move on. Let's get that damn media in here and get them working for us. We need some royal proclamations assuring the people that all is under control and…"

He stopped talking as the dull sound of an explosion outside penetrated even the solidly built and sound-proofed Cabinet room. The same moment Rose and Wyn rushed back into the room. Rose ran to his side while Wyn went to the TV monitor at the back of the room and switched it on. The pictures told the story that words couldn't. The great gates to the palace had been blown apart - that was the explosion - and troops of Kanrivan's army were rushing into the courtyard. They heard and saw the Guardia Real defending the building. They saw many of Kanrivan's men fall to the well-trained and disciplined elite force. But they saw many of the blue-uniformed Guardia killed, too. And they were fewer in number. Sooner or later Kanrivan's army would overrun them.

"Stop this," Coilin said in a voice he struggled to keep steady, sickned by the deaths on both sides. "Your Majesty, if it is in your power, if there is anything you can do, please, do it."

The Doctor looked at him and then back at the TV screen. As the battle continued they saw a man standing by the destroyed gate, dressed in the uniform of a General.

"Jorek Kanrivan!" Defareé said.

"But he…" Wyn and Rose were apparently the only people in the room who were surprised at what they saw. Even The Doctor seemed to view the leader of the rebel army dispassionately.

"You didn't tell me you were twins," he said to Coilin.

"I didn't want you to lose your trust in me," the chief of staff of his personal guard replied.

"You haven't. But tell me, would your brother, even at this late stage, listen to us if we asked for a ceasefire to discuss terms?"

"I don't know," Coilin admitted. "Once, I might have said that he is an honourable man. But bombs in streets, assassination attempts - I don't think I know him at all."

"Shall we try at least?" The Doctor looked at the TARDIS then back at the courtyard where the battle continued to be played out. "Coilin, come along with me. Time for us to do our duty." He opened the door to the TARDIS and slipped inside. Coilin followed. The Ministers watched as it dematerialised then turned to the viewscreen in time to see it appear in the middle of the courtyard. Rose visibly flinched as she saw bullets bounce off it from both sides. Then something she had not expected. The air beside the TARDIS shimmered for a moment and two figures appeared - two hologram projections of The Doctor and of Coilin. For a few seconds bullets continued to fly through the holograms, making them waver slightly as the air was disturbed. Then The Doctor's hologram spoke.

"We're coming out, under a flag of truce. All officers and men under my command will cease-firing. Kanrivan, order your own men to ceasefire and step forward towards the blue box."

The Guardia Real obeyed his order immediately. It took a few seconds longer for Kanrivan to give the command to his own people and for the palace forecourt to fall silent. Kanrivan stepped forward as The Doctor and Coilin stepped out of the TARDIS.

"You wish to surrender while you are still alive?" Kanrivan said to The Doctor when they were close enough to speak to each other.

"I'm not surrendering," he said.

"Well if you think I am…. I have the army and the support of at least half of the people."

"I wouldn't be sure of that," The Doctor told him. "Bombs killing civilians in the streets, unprovoked attacks on an unarmed shuttle craft. Your methods of war are none too honourable, Kanrivan. You will have lost a lot of public support and sympathy."

"The bombings were unauthorised. The attack on the shuttle - my orders were to disable it and bring you all as hostages, not to destroy it. How DID you escape anyway?"

"You don't seem to have much control over those you lead," The Doctor continued, ignoring the question. "Either that or you are lying about these blatant acts of terrorism being unauthorised." He reached out and touched Kanrivan on the shoulder and established a mental link with him. He saw the ambition that had driven an otherwise honourable man to rebellion, but he saw also his dismay at how his attempted coup had caused the loss of so much life. And yes, he had intended for the shuttle to be seized and the new King-Emperor and his government to be held prisoner until he completed his take-over of power.

"It's all gone a bit wrong, hasn't it," The Doctor said as he watched Kanrivan's reactions carefully. "You really thought you could march in here with a show of strength. You thought the Guardia Real would either run or join with you against the "usurper-king". You didn't expect their loyalty. You didn't expect them to fight back."

"Jorek," Coilin said as Kanrivan looked about to speak then changed his mind. "It doesn't have to be this way. Listen to this man. He just wants the best for our people."

"Do you even know what is best, brother?" Kanrivan sneered.

"Yes, I do," he replied. "I know…."

Two shots rang out in the silent forecourt. The Doctor felt a sharp pain as the first went through his hand and hit Coilin in the shoulder. The second ricocheted off the side of the TARDIS and hit Kanrivan in the neck as he turned to see where it had come from.

"Nobody shoot," he yelled despite his pain. Coilin issued the same order to his side. Kanrivan shouted some more orders and the lone gunman was disarmed and taken into custody by his men. He turned back to The Doctor and his brother.

"That was NOT… not my doing," he said. "On my honour…" But The Doctor was not listening to his apology. He was staring at the wounds both brothers had received. He raised his own hand and watched as the bullet hole straight through it began to mend, then he gently but firmly pushed both of them into the TARDIS and closed the door.

"Is the ceasefire still holding?" he asked as he stepped out of the TARDIS into the Cabinet Room.

"Seems to be," Rose told him as she looked from him to the TV screen still focussed on the now empty forecourt and then back at him. "We saw you hit… are you…."

"I'm fine," he said. "So are these two." He brought the two brothers out of the TARDIS. They were still bleeding from the wounds they had both suffered. It was a few seconds before Rose realised what she was looking at. Their blood was orange like The Doctor's. And their wounds were beginning to mend.

"Tell me about your father," The Doctor said to Kanrivan.

"My father?" Kanrivan looked at him in astonishment and suspicion. "What has my father got to do with any of this?"

"Humour me," The Doctor said calmly.

"Our father died before we were born," Coilin told him. "Our mother worked as a palace cook to support us."

"Cook?" Kanrivan snapped. "She began as a scullery maid, laying the fires to keep his royal Majesty warm."

"Penne!" The Doctor laughed. "You never did give up your wicked ways with the servant girls." He half-smiled. "Your father died yesterday. He was Penne Dúre, King-Emperor of Adano-Ambrado. A good man when he wasn't flirting with pretty girls who weren't in a position to say no to him."

"What?" Coilin stared at his brother, and at The Doctor. "You mean…."

"No," Kanrivan stormed angrily. "No. If that was true…. SHE WORKED AS A SERVANT IN HIS HOUSE."

"She was a proud woman," Coilin said. "Perhaps she never told anyone. Not even him."

"She worked as a servant. HE LIVED AS A KING."

"She was a good woman. She brought us up well. And we shared the bounty of this land like anyone else. The best education, the best healthcare. We never wanted for anything. No child in Adano-Ambrado ever HAS. The King-Emperor called us ALL his children and ensured none of us ever wanted for anything, whether the sons of kings or of cooks. And look at us. We are both in high positions within the king's military. He didn't cast us off unwanted."

"So you say, Coilin. You were always closer to him than anybody else."

"Ok, enough, the both of you," The Doctor told them. "The point is, you are closer heirs to the throne of Adano-Ambrado than I am. Which of you is eldest?"

"I am," Coilin said. "But by minutes only."

"Minutes or seconds, you are the heir."

"No," Coilin told him. "No. I won't disgrace my mother's name by telling the seven planets that she…."

"For once, I agree with my brother," Kanrivan said. "Our father died before we were born. That's the only truth we've ever known."

"Nevertheless," The Doctor said. "My abdication statement is written. I suggest you talk it over between yourselves."

"That won't work," Rose said. Everyone looked at her.

"She's right. It won't," Wyn added.

"Really," Deffareé sighed. "This is enough of a farce without mere slips of girls dictating to us."

"I think you mean the Queen consort of your King-Emperor," The Doctor corrected him. "Rose… go on, please."

"Even if Kanrivan accepts Coilin as king, he's got the army and half the people on his side. If they don't accept it, then we could still have civil war. If Coilin gives way to Kanrivan, those who support him would do the same. And what if…. Sorry, Doctor, but you said it yourself. The old king was a flirt with women. What if… what if Coilin and Kanrivan are NOT the only heirs."

"That's what I thought, too," Wyn added, not to be outdone. "Suppose there are other illegitimate kids out there with a claim on the throne. They'll end up fighting their own half-brothers and the people will be choosing sides again."

"The people will NOT accept either son of a scullery maid as the rightful heir," Deffareé snapped. "It is well known that the king was…. Free with his affections… but…"

"If you say one more word that is offensive to the memory of my mother, you will regret it," Kanrivan snarled.

"That goes for me, also." Coilin stood with his brother and the offending Minister seemed to shrivel in his seat. "But unfortunately I think the ladies have told the harsh truth. We can't simply claim right of blood succession. It would cause more trouble."

"Well, we'll have to come up with something," The Doctor said. "Because I'm not going through with any coronation. So cancel the bunting and the souvenir mugs, Deffareé."

"You're going to abdicate?" Deffareé looked at him in astonishment. "But…"

"Yes, I am." The Doctor grinned mischievously. The first time he had looked anything but solemn and sad for days. "You know, I once wrote an abdication speech for a king who wanted out. Damn good one, too. 'I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.' Funny, never thought those words could apply to me!" He looked at Wyn and Rose who were BOTH staring at him and smiled disarmingly.

"You…." Wyn began.

"You're having us on," Rose said.

"December 11th, 1936, it was. It snowed if I remember."

"You name-dropper you," Rose teased. "But… hey… it feels kind of good, in a funny kind of way, being the woman you would give so much up for. Even if it's not true in this case."

"It's true enough," he said. "I don't want any arrangement that doesn't have you in it."

"Ok, this is getting sloppy again, lets focus," Wyn said.

"I am focussed," The Doctor insisted. He glanced at the monitor. "Kanrivan, you have an army standing around looking nervous and trigger happy. I think you ought to send them back to barracks or something. And Coilin, you might call your people back to normal duties too. Then we can get down to business."

Either one of them could have refused. There was a palpable sense of relief around the Cabinet room as they obeyed him. The Doctor felt a lot better than he had since he arrived. He felt in CONTROL. When the two brothers returned to the Cabinet room he had a plan and he knew it would work.

"Ok," he said. "We've got three hours in which to thrash out between us some amendments to that wonderful Constitution my dad put together for you. After that, I am going to read my abdication speech to the media and then this country will be left in the capable hands of its acting President and his provisional government."

"President?" The word echoed around the room. It almost sounded as if some of the ministers didn't know what the word meant.

"President. An elected head of State, chosen by universal adult suffrage. Or at least he will be when you get the results of the election. Until one can be arranged, the acting President will take care of business."

"But who will be…"

"Well that's for them to decide." The Doctor turned to look at Kanrivan and Coilin. "Whichever one of you stands, you will resign from the army. I am not handing power over to a military dictatorship. It is civilian government or you get me for another 2,000 years. I understand you don't want to rule as the illegitimate offspring of the king. But as a respected former military leader, who already has the command and love of a sizeable portion of the people…."

"I have never had any desire to rule," Coilin said. "I would be happy to remain as commander of the Guardia Presidencial. Kanrivan… If you rule wisely you won't find my loyalty wavering."

"Well, of course, there may be other candidates for the job. They must be free elections. You might not win. But THAT would be the will of the people and you should be prepared to accept that will. That's called democracy. I tried to explain it to Penne years ago, but he never quite got it. Maybe finally it will work for you all." He sat down and took the crown from his head. He had almost forgotten it was there. "Is this the whole of the crown jewels of Adano-Ambrado?"

"No, there is a whole room full of treasures."

Kanrivan took the crown from him. He looked it over then placed it on the table.

"A Republic doesn't need crown jewels. It needs its people. Have them melted down and have medals struck for all those who died on both sides of the fight that took place today and for the civilians who died in those bombings. And make sure the dependents of all who died are taken care of in real terms as well. This is a rich Empire. Let those who most need it share in that richness."

The Doctor smiled. "Coilin said he didn't think you'd make a good ruler. I think he might admit that he was wrong."

"I didn't think you'd make a very good king," Kanrivan said.

"Well, you were right about THAT," The Doctor said. "So let's get to work on this Republic's Constitution then I can be on my way. There's a universe out there that needs me as much as I need it." He looked at Rose and smiled at her. "Last chance! Are you sure you don't prefer to be a queen than traipsing around the twelve galaxies with a space gypsy like me?"

She didn't have to answer. Her smile told him all he wanted to know.