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

The Doctor smiled as he watched Rose talking on her mobile. He was glad he WASN'T picking up the bill. He wondered what it cost to phone, not only across a galaxy but across about 10,000 years of time.

"So Wyn is having a good time with Ten?" he asked as she finally put the phone away in the basket underneath the spare sun cream and stretched out beside him on the beach towel.

"Yeah, fantastic," she told him. "It was a good idea, letting her go off with him, though I DO miss her around the place."

"I miss her too," The Doctor said.

Rose looked at him as he lay there under the big striped umbrella he had found somewhere in the depths of the TARDIS wardrobe and put up on their little piece of beach paradise. She knew WHY he missed her. Wyn had filled a gap in his life that even SHE couldn't fill.

She thought about last night, after he had programmed this co-ordinate into the TARDIS and told her it would take twelve hours for them to get there. He had sat in the library and pasted photographs of Wyn into a big photo album. Rose had watched him and wondered firstly about why, with all the TARDIS's super-technology, he preferred to use a pot of glue to put pictures into an ordinary photo album. It seemed such a strange and mundane thing to do.

She wondered, too, about the album and when she looked at it she had noticed that it went back years, starting with pictures of Susan and then a girl called Vicki, another called Dodo, and so on. The last before Wyn was Ace. All the girls who had come with him on his journey over the years.

All his surrogate daughters. That's what they were. Even Susan had taken the place in his heart left empty when his son died. Vicki had filled the gap she left and the others in turn. He had loved them all as if they were his own children. And Wyn, in her turn, like her mother, had filled that hole in his soul.

A hole that still remained even so much as he loved her. She was his girlfriend, his fiancée, but she couldn't touch that part of him that missed being a father.

"You will," The Doctor told her. She was surprised to find he had been reading her thoughts. He reached and caressed her cheek. "You'll be the mother of my children."

"Can you see it?" she asked. "I know you can see the future sometimes. Can you really see it?"

He took her hands and closed his eyes. Reading a timeline from somebody who has travelled even briefly in the vortex was difficult. Rose had been with him nearly six years. Her future was a jumble of criss-crossed paths and patterns of the timelines they had travelled and were yet to travel. But if he tried hard, if he really concentrated, he could catch glimpses. They were fleeting and tantalising. But they were real premonitions of the future. They were enough to tell him that the future they both dreamed of WOULD happen.

"Yes," he said, kissing her hand. "Yes."

If he wasn't a Gallifreyan with a profound sense of duty and honour, those premonitions might come true much sooner than planned. He smiled as he looked at her in a halter necked bathing costume that left nothing to the imagination. He had a very GOOD imagination.

But he WAS a Gallifreyan and when he took her in his arms and kissed her passionately there was a limit on that passion, a line he would not cross.

Even so, without crossing that line it was possible to pass a very pleasant afternoon. And it was a time that they cherished. They hadn't had very much time like this since their engagement. There always seemed to be something going on, and a lot of it had been terrifying.

He didn't mind sorting out the problems of the universe. It was what he DID, after all. But he just wanted a little bit of peace and quiet, a little time, to cuddle his woman on a beach towel in the sunshine.

"Rose," he said after a while. "Tell me something. Do you think… Am I fun to be with?"

"Strange question to ask wearing THOSE swimming trunks," she replied, her hand reaching to his thigh, covered discreetly in knee length yellow and red trunks with a label that said 'Bondi Baggies'. He claimed never to have been to that particular Australian beach, and could not adequately explain how they got in the wardrobe. When she had stopped laughing she had to admit that the contrast with his usual severe black was interesting and it made this even more of a break from their usual lifestyle.

"This isn't really me, though, is it," he said. "I'm the gloomy untouchable guy in black who spends all his time battling evil. But Ten seems different. Wyn is having the time of her life with him. I know they've battled a fair bit of evil together as well, but inbetween they seem to have a lot more laughs than we do."

"I'm not complaining. I get the snogs and the cuddles. I get to touch you like this." Her hand caressed his bare chest over his two steadily beating hearts and it gave her quite a thrill knowing she was the first woman in several hundred years to be so intimate with him.

"Yeah, and that's nice. Especially THAT. Do it again. But still… do you think…"

"Do I feel short-changed? No. I love YOU. Ten is a nice guy. It took me a while to realise that. But he isn't you. At least… He is you, obviously. But he's not YOU. If that makes any sense AT ALL."

"We both have the bad memories. The Time War, Gallifrey. But he has a whole regeneration between him and those events. It's easier for him to leave it in the past. You're stuck with me and my bouts of 'basket case' depression because it all feels too recent for me."

"I still love you, even in basket-case mode," she told him. "And if you want to be the fun guy… come on and swim with me for a bit. That's fun."

It was. They passed a happy couple of hours swimming and diving in the clear blue waters of the tropical atoll, racing each other, splashing and playing. When they were tired - when Rose was tired anyway, he could go on for hours - they retreated to the shade of the umbrella where they drank coconut milk and relaxed again.

"You know, there is one odd thing around here," Rose said. "This is Aquaria? The place where the dolphins are really people?"

"Or the people are really dolphins," The Doctor said in a lazy voice as he let himself relax in the warmth. "Depends on your point of view."

"Well… whichever way around it goes, where are they? I saw quite a lot of fish in the water, but nothing like a dolphin."

"Good question." The Doctor sat up and looked around. "Very good question. Why didn't I think of it? They used to turn up quite soon when I used to come here in my Drop Dead Gorgeous days. We've been here hours."

"You think something might be wrong?"

"Oh, I hope not. Of all the gentle, beautiful people in the universe… I hope nothing has happened to them."

"Where do they live?" Rose asked. "Under the sea?"

"Domed city, several hundred feet down."

"Can't get to it then?"

"I can. I can close off my lungs and recycle my air long enough. You can't."


"Unless…" He stood and reached out his hand to her. "Come here."

She came to him. She always did.

"Trust me."

She trusted him. She always did.

He brought her out into the water and they swam to the edge of the drop off from the clear blue of the atoll to the deeper blue water below. They trod water facing each other and The Doctor took a deep breath, longer than Rose thought it was possible for anyone to breathe in. Then he put one arm about her shoulders and kissed her. He kept on kissing her as he dived under the water. He slowly breathed oxygen into her mouth as they descended through several hundred feet of water. He was like a living aqualung as they shared the longest, sweetest kiss they had ever shared. She was slightly terrified. But only slightly. She couldn’t really be scared while she was close to him. Her arms clung around his neck, his strong arms were around her shoulders as he swam simply with the power of his strong, long legs. She knew she would be safe. .

It seemed a long time before they reached the sea floor. Rose looked in amazement as they swam towards the glass dome that covered the underwater city. She didn't see any way in, but as they approached, The Doctor stretched out his hand. His fingertips slid easily through the glass as if it was a soap bubble, and still holding her tightly with his other arm he swam right through before flipping himself upright so that they landed on their feet in slightly moist, warm, but breathable air.

"Wow!" Rose said and clung to him for a moment while she got used to breathing for herself again. He, too, needed a breath of new air in his lungs. He had used most of it on the two of them as they descended.

"Do you feel ok?" he asked her. "We're a lot deeper than Humans usually go without needing decompression stops, but somehow those rules never seem to apply here."

"I feel great," she said. "That really was a trip of a lifetime. Wow."

"Let's go meet the neighbours," he said, taking her by the hand. He turned and his smile faded. The neighbours had come to meet them and they didn't look like a welcoming committee.


He could not remember the Aquarians ever carrying weapons before. But while they were being escorted through the undersea city by guards with long, sharp, three pronged pikes wasn't the best time to discuss the matter.

"Doctor, I thought these people were peaceful," Rose said. "I thought they were friends of yours."

"We've come here about seven hundred years after my last visit. Those who knew me would be dead by now. But even so, they seem very much more militant than I remember. This is worrying."

The people they passed looked far less friendly and welcoming than before, too. They stared with accusing, hostile eyes. The Doctor remembered being here many years ago as an honoured guest, greeted with joy. He wondered what had happened to change them, and was saddened by it. These WERE wonderful people.

He hoped they still were.

Rose clung to him. She felt uncomfortable with all those dark eyes watching her. She was wearing nothing but that bathing costume and she almost felt naked. She noticed that the sea people - Aquarians? - wore a sort of all-in-one body suit in a kind of grey fabric and a darker grey cloak with it.

"They are beautiful," she whispered. "Even if they ARE mad at us for some reason."

"Yes, they are," The Doctor answered. "Beautiful in their hearts, too. That's why I can't believe they mean us harm. Something IS wrong here."

"Stay here," they were told and their captors pointed to a small door that led into one of the low, single story houses. They went inside. There was a sort of couch in the middle of the room. Rose sat down on it. The Doctor remained standing for a while, looking out through the window at the scene outside. The noise level was rising as a crowd gathered.

"Doctor…" Rose called to him and he turned to look at her. "I'm scared."

"Rose." He sat beside her and put his arm around her shoulders. She was shaking. "We've been in worse places than this. Why are you so scared?"

"I just realised that we're under all those feet of water. And… and the TARDIS is up there and we're down here and we can't even get to it. You don't even have the key. I shouldn't have made you wear those silly swimming trunks. When you're dressed your usual way, when you have your key and the sonic screwdriver, we can never really be stuck. But…"

"I've got the key," he said and put his hand into a pocket in the swimming trunks. Rose was surprised. She never imagined that Bondi Baggies had pockets. "Where would the surfers keep their locker keys otherwise? But we can't go yet. I want to know what's going on. These people used to be my friends. I want to know what's wrong with them. And I want to help them if I can."

"You're such a nice bloke," Rose said. "You even want to help people who've been mean to you."

"Yeah, that's me. The nice bloke."

The door opened. Two of the Aquarians stood in the gap and seemed to be studying them. Rose pressed closer to The Doctor, who put his arm protectively around her.

"You must come to the tribunal of elders," the female of the two Aquarians said. "But please put these cloaks on. Your appearance is disturbing to us."

"They are appreciated. My thanks to you." The Doctor took them as if given as a gesture of friendship, even if they were not. He put one of the dark grey cloaks around Rose's shoulders and stood to fold one around himself. He felt a lot better for it. He wasn't sure he wanted to go to a 'tribunal' dressed in striped Bondi Baggies. The cloak had much the same feeling of protection as his leather jacket had. "But why should our appearance be disturbing? We surely don't look as if we could do harm to anyone."

"Come," the male Aquarian said in answer. The Doctor nodded and took Rose's hand in his. The only way to know what was going on was to do as they asked. Though he had to admit he didn't like the look of things out there. The crowds definitely had the look of a mob about them.

He looked at the two Aquarians that flanked them like a protection detail and then reached out to them with his mind. "You used to be able to communicate with me telepathically. You called it thought-speak. I know it is how you communicate when in swimming form."

"How…" the female looked confused, the male suspicious. "How can you know how to thought-speak?"

"My species can thought-speak, too," he said.

"It does not matter," the male said. "They are strangers and must come to the tribunal."

The tribunal was all that word seemed to imply. The Doctor and Rose were brought to the public area in front of what he remembered the Aquarians called the Temple of Records. It was, he remembered, a library, a repository of their history and culture. But the Aquarians had abandoned the use of the written word and had an oral culture instead. The Temple was simply a remembrance of a different way of life they once had and a focal point of the city because it was the only large building among the hundreds of low, simply built structures they made their homes in.

This much he remembered from deep in his past when he had visited this planet and been greeted as a friend.

But he was not greeted as a friend now. He appeared to be in the 'dock' accused of some crime against the people. In front of him was a stern row of elders, their grey skin paler than the vibrant young people and lined with age. The great throng of the population stood waiting and watching.

"Why did you come here?" One of the elders who seemed to be senior among them stood and addressed The Doctor. "Why did you invade our city?"

"Invade?" The Doctor laughed. "Two people are hardly an invasion."

"You are from above. You bring destruction."

"No," he protested. "What has brought this change on the people of Aquaria? When I was here before you were peaceful, friendly, welcoming. I know I ought not to have entered the city without permission, but I was concerned when none of your people appeared on the surface."

"You lie."

"I never lie," The Doctor replied, though that was not true. He lied a lot. And he was good at it. But he would never lie about anything as important as this. "Please, believe me that we meant you no harm. - and that if harm has come to you, then I can and WILL help. I WANT to help you."

"We accept the help of no strangers," the elder replied.

"Well, you USED to," The Doctor replied. "What happened?" He looked around at the assembled crowd. "Why is everyone so frightened?" But he didn't have to ask. He knew instinctively. It was what he always feared. It was the reason he took the co-ordinate from the TARDIS computer and stayed away for centuries. He half-wished he had left it that way. It was pure vanity, a wish to show off to Rose, which made him search for the place again.

"Strangers have come and done you harm," he said. "That's the truth of it. And now you fear ALL strangers." He shook his head sadly. "Oh, I am so sorry for that. You can't begin to know HOW sorry. But tell me what has happened and I will HELP."

"We ask no help from strangers," the elder insisted. "You will remain here. You will be our hostages. If any more of our people are harmed by the strangers above you will die."

"No," Rose cried. "No, that's not fair. We don't know any other strangers. We are not with them, whoever they are. Please… believe us. Believe…Believe The Doctor. He knows you. He knows that you're good people."

"Silence," the elder ordered.

"No," The Doctor replied. "No, this is supposed to be a tribunal. It is nothing of the sort. And I understand why. You have always lived peaceful lives. You have never had need of courts and justice before. But you are doing this wrong. You have condemned us to be your hostages against attack, but you will not listen when we tell you we are not a part of what has happened to you. A tribunal hears both sides. I can see there is fear here. Fear of the unknown, of the stranger. That is natural to most peoples of the universe. But give me a chance to prove to you that you need not be afraid of US."

"Father…" The female Aquarian who had brought them to the tribunal spoke up. The elders looked at her in surprise. "Father, the tall one understands thought-speak. And when I felt his thoughts, they were not of evil intent. I… I do not wish to seem disloyal, but I believe we should listen to the stranger."

"Ke," the elder said to her. "You should not speak out of turn. But… is this true? The stranger has thought-speak?"

"YES!" The Doctor replied telepathically and he saw the surprise on the faces of all the elders. They turned to look at him. He focussed his mind on the times in the past when he had visited this place, the friends he had made here.

"But those are our ancestors," the elder said. "They have been dead many centuries. How could you have known them?"

"My race lives much longer than most races in the universe," he replied. "If it is any consolation, I find it distressing to return to a place and find that friends are dead and gone. But I know that when good people live to the end of their natural life there is nothing to grieve over."

"He is the visitor of legend who gave us our history," one of the elders said, as he continued to project thoughts of his past encounters with the Aquarians. "It is incredible."

"It is an honour," another said. "And we have done a great wrong." The elders in unison stood and stepped towards The Doctor and then bowed before him. He sighed.

"Don't do that," he said. "I already have a planet that thinks I'm a god, and that's embarrassing enough. Please, at least accept me and my companion as equals and as friends." He stepped down from the "dock" and came towards the elders, reaching out to take their hands.

"Yes," the senior elder said. "Yes, you ARE a friend. Please forgive our hostility. It has become necessary for us to protect ourselves."

"You ALWAYS protected the secret of your underground city from strangers," The Doctor said. "But you were more trusting once. What has changed?" He looked about at the throng of spectators. "Send the people to their homes and then let us talk."

That much was done. The Doctor and the elders went to the wide steps that led into the Temple of Records. He sat down on the steps with the elders. Rose stood nearby hesitantly.

"You don't really need me, do you?"

"I always need you," he said meaningfully. "But…" He looked at the female Aquarian called Ke. "Girls are girls wherever they are. Why don't you let Ke show you around the city? It really is worth seeing. Your first underwater city."

"Are you sure it's ok now?" she asked him. "They wanted us as hostages…"

"That misunderstanding is cleared up now. We're all friends. You go on. Enjoy yourself."

Rose stepped towards him first and kissed him. The elders looked at that with surprise.

So did Ke.

"I did not know that the land-dwelling strangers knew how to katichi," she said.

"How to…" Rose looked blank for a moment then she understood. "Oh, you mean kiss?"

"Yes. I thought it was something our people only did."

"No, I think kissing is universal. Well, maybe Daleks don't do it. But most every other species does. The Doctor's lot don't do it much, I'm told. But if he's an example, when they DO kiss they're sensational."

"Does it make you feel the same as it does for us?" Ke asked.

"How does it make you feel?"

"When Ki and I katichi it is like swimming up towards the light," she said with the sort of smile that Rose instantly recognised.

"Ki is your bloke? Your man…"

Ke's face seemed to turn a darker grey momentarily. Rose realised it was a blush.

"Yeah, I know that feeling," she said. "When The Doctor kisses me… fireworks, Aurora whatsits, the lot. We're not so different after all. Except… Do all your names start with K and end in a vowel? Doesn't it get confusing? There aren't that many names you can get out of that many letters."

"Ke is the simple form of my name. Ke'Ke'Hui'Ke is the longer version. Or in the formal version which will be used when Ki and I are joined it is Ke_______"

Rose was startled. There were not as many syllables in the name as The Doctor's, but at least all the syllables in his name used sounds she recognised as letters of the alphabet. Ke's formal language was something else.

"I'll stick to Ke, if it's all the same. And I'm Rose. On my planet, people - land-dwellers - grow a flower called a rose. My name comes from that."

Ke didn't understand. Flowers and trees were alien things to her. But they KISSED in her world. It couldn't be SO different, after all.

And the city WAS wonderful. Now that the people knew they were friends they looked even more beautiful than they first appeared.

And after all, it WAS an undersea city inside a glass bubble. She looked up from time to time and saw the ocean above. The glass itself must also have been slightly luminescent because the city was light, but beyond the glass was the dark green of the ocean.

Ke took her to the edge of the city where the domed walls sloped down. There she could see the ocean floor and millions of fish swimming in it. It was like being in an aquarium, except that, she realised, SHE was in the tank and the fish were outside swimming free. She felt a little claustrophobic again and turned away.

"You guys must have an equivalent of a coffee shop," she said. "Come on, let's sit and chill and you can tell me more about your Ki."


The Doctor sat on the steps of the Hall of Records, his long legs stretched out. The elders arranged themselves beside him.

"So," he said. "Tell me…. No…. show me what has happened. I can pick up your thoughts if you open them to me."

He regretted saying that a moment later as dozens of overlapping images overwhelmed his brain. He put his hand to his head and begged them to stop. But as he processed the images into a sort of order he understood at once both what was troubling the people of Aquaria and why they had come to fear strangers.

"How many of your people have been taken?" he asked.

"More than thirty. Caught in the traps set by the strangers. That is why we have hidden down here and do not surface any more."

"And it's been going on for about three weeks."


"So far they don't know the city is here?"

"We believe not. But of course, your arrival puts that in doubt. If you could find us…"

"I found you because I have been here before. I know you all. These strangers… If they have sonar equipment then it may only be a matter of time. But don't worry. I'm on the case now."

"What can you do? You're just one man."

"My enemies usually ask that. Just before their plans fall apart." He grinned disarmingly at the elders. "I will do what I can. I promise. Do you know if your people are alive? Are you able to contact them with thought-speak?"

"We cannot project so far. We need to be face to face with the person we thought-speak too."

"That would be why I didn't pick up any distress signals," The Doctor said. He reached in his pocket and took out his TARDIS key. "Please don't be frightened of this," he said. "I'm going to summon my ship here. Your ancestors saw it before, though it had a different shape then."

He stood up and pressed the key. For a moment, nothing happened and he wondered if the expanse of water was interfering with its responses. But then he felt the air displacement and the noise of the materialisation and the familiar shape solidified. He looked around at the elders. They all looked terrified.

"I'm sorry if that frightened you. It's the reason we swam down here before. I didn't want to barge in on your world with my space technology. But you NEED my technology now to find your people."

Rose ran up to him, Ke following.

"Are we going?" she asked.

"We're going to help find some missing Aquarians and put a stop to whoever is messing with them," The Doctor told her. "I know this was meant to be a rest stop, but…"

"What are we waiting for. Ke told me all about it. Some of her friends were taken last week. We can sunbathe after we get them back."

"That's a date." The Doctor grinned as he opened the door. Ke went and stood with her father and watched as he and Rose stepped inside the strange blue box. He DID worry about bringing the TARDIS into the city. These people were not unaware of technology. Their ancestors had built the city, after all. But they had lived since without it, and introducing anything like the TARDIS into their world could do them a great deal of psychological harm.

But then so could having their people scooped up from the water and dragged into ships hovering over the ocean. He felt those images so strongly. The young people playing and swimming in their blue, clear ocean, suddenly plucked from it, their bodies half changed from one form to the other as they were lifted into the air, screaming with fear, those who escaped watching helplessly.

"Rose," he said as he brought the TARDIS back up to the atoll. "Pop outside and grab the picnic basket would you, and then keep an eye on this monitor while I get dressed. If I'm going into action I'm NOT doing it in this silly outfit."

Rose laughed and did as he said. The picnic basket itself wasn't very important, but she wanted her mobile phone and HER TARDIS key.

As she bent over to pick up the basket she heard a noise that surprised and disturbed her and looked out to sea. On the horizon and coming rapidly closer was what looked like a space age fishing trawler. It didn't go on the sea itself, but hovered about twenty metres above it, sucking up the water along with whatever marine life was caught up in it.

She turned and ran inside the TARDIS.

"Doctor!" she yelled. He rushed into the console room, pulling his jacket on over his usual jumper and trousers. He caught the anxiety in her voice. "There's a ship…."

He went to the TARDIS door and looked out. The thundering sound of the trawler engines was unmistakeable, as well as the sound of water being sucked up. He watched as it rose higher to pass over their atoll then he shut the door and bounded back to the console.

"We're going to get on board that, aren't we," Rose said as she slipped a skirt and top over her swimming costume and stepped into a pair of sandals, feeling much more ready for a battle in some proper clothes.

"Yes. I really don't like the look of it, though. Did you ever see modern factory fishing ships on Earth? They can scoop up tons of fish at a time and they're gutted and processed on board in minutes."

"Seen them on Newsround. Oh, Doctor… could they be taking the Dolphin people for FOOD? Oh, that's horrible."

"Because they walk and talk?" The Doctor looked at her momentarily. "I'm not doing a veggie lecture, but really we take it for granted that it's ok to kill creatures for food until it's dolphins in tuna nets or the like."

"But this is different."

"It's not, you know," he told her. "The dolphins of Earth are the same species as the people you've been talking to down there. I don't know if they've regressed so that they only have the swimming form, or if Earth dolphins are so smart they've never given themselves away. But their intelligence is widely known, and STILL people kill them."

"That is sounding like a lecture now."

"End of lesson. Let's go find our friends." He took her hand as they headed for the door. He wasn't sure what he expected to find outside the door. But they faced it together. As they always did.

It wasn't a food processing ship, anyway. That much he realised as they stepped out into the huge deck. It was more like a mobile aquarium crossed with a science laboratory. There were tanks of various sizes down both sides of the deck, with different breeds of fish and other sea life in them. Rose shivered. She disliked aquariums at the best of times. All the fish eyes looking at her as if it was her fault they were captured.

"There," she said. She ran across the deck to the largest tank of all, in which a group of dolphins swam. They all looked miserable. Rose thought that and then wondered how a dolphin could LOOK miserable. But they did. She put her hand on the toughened glass. "We'll help you," she said. "The Doctor will help you."

"Can they understand me?" she asked as The Doctor reached her side. "I tried to tell them you're here to help them."

"They understood," he said. "But they don't believe it. They're afraid." He put his hand on the glass, too, and spoke quietly. "Yes, I'm going to try to free you. But where are the rest? I was told there were more than thirty of you. I only see about twenty here." He listened and Rose saw the muscle in his cheeks tense and his face darken. He put both hands on the tank. The dolphin people nuzzled the other side of the glass as if trying to get close to him. "I promise," he said. "I will do everything I can to help you all."

"What's happening?" Rose asked him. "What have they said?"

"Who are you and what are you doing here?" a female voice echoed across the deck and Rose turned to see a woman in a laboratory coat stalking towards them. "Get away from that tank. That's valuable property."

"Property!" Rose said angrily. "Those are people. You can't call them property. That's slavery."

"Don't be ridiculous," the woman said. "They clearly ARE intelligent creatures, but 'people'? And what's HE doing?"

"He's talking to them."

"Talking…." The woman looked at him, and at the strange behaviour of the creatures in the tank. Then she touched a microphone on her lab coat which seemed also to act as a two way radio. "Security to the aquarium deck, now. We have unlawful trespassers." She stepped forward as she finished speaking and put her hand on The Doctor's shoulder. Rose floored her with a judo throw and pinned her down.

"Don't you touch him," she told the woman fiercely. "And if you've hurt any of our friends…."

"Release Doctor Franks and stand up with your hands over your head!" Four security guards ran onto the deck. Rose looked at them uncertainly as they pointed their weapons at her.

The Doctor turned slowly. He looked at the four men adopting military stand off poses a few metres away and he looked at Rose.

"Let her stand up, but keep a hold on her," The Doctor said. "We're not getting put in one of her tanks." Rose did so. He looked closely at Doctor Franks. "So what are you then? What sort of doctor?"

"Marine biologist," she replied. "This is a legitimate scientific expedition."

"You are nothing of the kind," The Doctor stormed. He looked at the security guards. "I'm not the criminal here," he said. "Your bosses are. This 'doctor' and her associates. You're all party to kidnapping and trafficking in sentient life, contrary to the Olomud IV Declaration of 45/32.5 which defines such sentient life as - and I quote - "Any being capable of free and independent thought and communication of thought by means of speech or telepathic communication.' In short, you are slave traders. And you are all in big trouble. So DOCTOR Franks, you'd better get the rest of your crew down here right now because as far as I am concerned you are all under arrest."

"Arrest… by who?"


"And you are…."

"I'm the person arresting you for kidnapping and trafficking." He was pulling a massive bluff, hoping that his natural air of authority that seemed to work everywhere else worked now. "Get all the personnel responsible for this facility here, right now. And YOU LOT, put those guns away and stand down."

It worked on the guards immediately. They were people who were used to taking orders. Somebody was giving them orders. They obeyed them. Meanwhile several more people who had the clothes and the manner of scientists arrived.

"Scientists?" The Doctor looked at them all. "Scientists are meant to advance knowledge for the betterment of life. Not destroy the lives of free sentient beings."

"WHAT sentient beings?" one of them protested. "These are sea-living mammals, that's all."

"You know they are much more than that," The Doctor said. "You've conducted experiments. They told me." He looked at Doctor Franks. "You, drain that tank, now." Doctor Franks looked at him then at the tank.

"But if you do that, they'll die."

"Do it," The Doctor ordered her. She looked at her colleagues and then slowly went to the controls that regulated the tanks of the aquarium. The water began to drain away. The Aquarians knew what was happening and they moved towards the bottom of the tank. They waited calmly until all the water was gone. Most of the scientists stared in amazement as the Aquarians stood up on their feet and stared back at their captors with accusing eyes.

"Stand back," he told them, and he took his sonic screwdriver from his pocket and began to cut through the glass. It was strong, but not so strong that the screwdriver's sonic beam could not penetrate it. Two of the Aquarians came forward as he finished. They took the weight of the glass piece and moved it aside so that they could all step out.

"Thank you," one of them said. "Thank you for your kindness to us."

The effect on Doctor Franks was startling. She looked at first as if she was going to faint. Then her expression became an accusing one and she turned and looked at the two senior scientists. The Doctor had already decided he wanted words with them, once he had seen to the liberation of the Aquarians.

"Take them to the TARDIS," he told Rose, passing her his key. "Show them where the swimming pool is. They'll be comfortable there."

"What are you doing?" she asked him.

"Sorting out this lot," he answered. Rose nodded and reached out her hands to the Aquarians. Two of them reached hands back to her. She smiled at them. They needed no other words, no telepathic signals. They walked with her across the floor, past the scientists who had thought they might be interesting examples of intelligent animal life, past the security guards who had thought of them as just bigger fish. Nobody stopped them. Nobody dared.

"Right," The Doctor said, after watching them wordlessly. He crossed the space between him and the scientists in a few quick strides and the two he had his suspicions about found themselves in his vice-like grip. "Want to explain how that was no surprise to you?" he asked. "Because everyone else here really did believe they'd just captured some really smart dolphins. They displayed a blatant disregard for the natural balance of life on this planet, and that's bad enough. But you two KNEW you had sentient life forms in your captivity."

"Doctor Morton, is this TRUE?" Doctor Franks stepped towards the one called Morton accusingly. "The SEPARATE experiments you did in your own lab - you knew these creatures could morph into Humans…"

"Not Humans," The Doctor corrected her. "Humanoid life, but not Human. As he will tell be able to you, their DNA is completely unlike that of Human. They are a mammalian life form, but they evolved from a completely different species than the apes you lot came from."

"What do you mean US lot?" Morton asked. But The Doctor wasn't answering questions about himself. And Doctor Franks, to her credit, wasn't distracted by that, but went back to the point in hand.

"You KNEW they were sentient beings," she said. "And yet you SOLD them. You were planning to sell all of them."

"You stood to benefit," Morton told her. "The research you wanted to do into zoo-plankton in the oceans of Omicron Lambda - this would have paid for the whole project. Everyone here stood to gain."

"No." Doctor Franks said. "No. As much as I WANT to do that research, as much as I could learn, could share with the scientific community from that project - I couldn't do it at the cost of beautiful creatures like those."

"Well done," The Doctor said quietly to her. "YOU understand."

"Sentimental fool," Morton told her. But she was not alone. The evidence of their eyes shook the others, too. They all looked at Morton accusingly. Even his accomplice was less sure of himself.

"In there…" he pointed to a door leading from the aquarium. "He has some of them…"

"You lot," The Doctor ordered the other scientists. "Start emptying these tanks - returning these creatures to the sea where they belong. You… show me what you've been doing." He shoved Morton in front of him and made him unlock his private laboratory. Doctor Franks followed. It was she who gasped in horror at what they found.

One of the Aquarians was lying in what could only be described as a sandpit, with a lamp shining continuously on it. He was almost dead from dehydration. The Doctor threw the lamp aside and lifted him from the tank.

"Water," he said and Doctor Franks ran to where there was a hose attached to a tap for sluicing out the tanks. She turned the spray on both the dying Aquarian and The Doctor as he knelt beside him.

"There…" Doctor Franks pointed to another tank and The Doctor gave a low growl of disgust in the back of his throat and left the side of the recovering Aquarian to attend to the two others that were immersed in water that was nearly entirely frozen. Dolphins are mammals, warm blooded creatures. They have fat deposits under the skin to protect them from the cold of the sea, but these were freezing to death.

"Help me," he shouted. And Doctor Franks gave the hose pipe to Morton while she ran to his side. Between them they lifted the top of the tank and broke the ice that had formed on top. They lifted the dolphin creatures from the water. They began to change to the humanoid state as soon as they were in air, and shivered with the cold. The room itself was warm, though, and they began to recover quickly.

"Are these all?" The Doctor demanded of Morton. He told him there were four more in transport crates waiting for a shuttle to take them to customers.

"Customers?" The Doctor's anger was already at near boiling point. If Rose had seen him she would say he was on the point where Daleks started backing off from him. Morton didn't know what a Dalek was, but he knew an angry man when he saw one. He turned to his subordinate and told him to go and release the dolphin creatures from the shipping bay.

"I want the co-ordinates where the others have been sent," The Doctor told Morton. "Because I reckon we're still missing some." He turned to his desk and found them. Doctor Franks looked at the address.

"It's a zoo on Omicron Lambda III," she said. "I know the director. I could come with you and help sort this out."

"You're with me on this?" he asked.

"I said before - I want no part in this. My work WAS meant to be of benefit to Human life. But not at the expense of other life. I'm sorry."

"I accept your apology," The Doctor said. "Whether the Aquarians will is another matter. Come on."

"What about us?" Morton asked.

"Get this slave ship out of this space quadrant," The Doctor said. "I'll be making a deposition to the relevant authorities. When you get back to your base you'll find your grants have been terminated. As for this planet - wipe it from your databases. Destroy whatever information you have on its location. Because if you or any of your kind ever return here - I will know about it. And I'll be back to deal with you."

"How will you know?" Doctor Franks asked as he reached the TARDIS door. "And what is this?"

"This is my ship. And yes, it's a bit unusual. But let's not go into that right now." He stepped inside with the freed Aquarians. Doctor Franks followed. "Rose, take our guests down to their friends. We're going to pop over to Omicron Lambda III to get the rest of them."

"We're four days hyperspace drive away from there," Doctor Franks said. "What do you mean 'pop over?'

The Doctor shrugged and went to the drive control. They were on their way by the time Rose returned and reported that they were all fine now that they were swimming in a pool full of salt water at an ambient temperature.

"We'll get to that sunbathing yet," he promised her. "But we've some more kidnap victims to rescue."

"I know. Ke's friends are still missing."

"We'll find them," The Doctor promised. "That was a neat bit of Judo before, by the way. Well done."

"Nobody touches my man when he's telepathing," she said with a grin. "So is she on our side now?"

"She might prove useful." He looked at Doctor Franks as she stood a few paces away from the console, apparently hypnotised by the movement of the green glowing central column. "You REALLY had no idea what was going on with Morton?"

"No. I was interested in the fact that these seem to be the same species as the dolphins on Earth. I wanted to find out if cross-breeding was possible."

"The dolphins of Earth ARE the same species. They all originated from the same planet tens of thousands of years ago," The Doctor told her. "But don't go looking for them to talk to you. They have more sense."

"I wouldn't. But… Morton…. What he was doing…"

"Testing them in extreme conditions to see how much they could take." The Doctor's voice had that disgusted growl in the back of his throat again. "Obscene. You come from Earth? What is this? The 30th century."

"31st," Doctor Franks corrected. "How can you not know the year?"

"Those kind of experiments on living creatures were banned on Earth in 2130. Sentient or non-sentient, it is unnecessary cruelty."

"It took that long?" Rose asked. "We had petitions about that sort of thing when I was at school. We went around the streets getting people to sign."

"It took that long. But at least you got there. But Morton clearly thinks those laws only apply ON Earth."

"He may be correct about that," Doctor Franks said. "It doesn't excuse him, of course, but I don't think laws made on one individual planet apply universally. It may prove difficult to prosecute him."

"I have always lived by the laws of my planet," The Doctor told her. "If I didn't, the universe wouldn't know if tomorrow was going to follow today. But in any case, your boss is in clear violation of the Olomud IV Declaration, and so are the people we're heading to see."

"That's for real is it?" Rose asked. "I thought you were bluffing."

The Doctor looked at her and smiled. She wasn't sure how to interpret the smile. She made up her mind to look up Olomud IV in the TARDIS databanks later to see if he was telling the truth or not. Come to think of it, he probably WROTE the declaration. Or if he didn't, ten to one his FATHER did. Between them they seemed to be responsible for most of the legislation that protected the innocent of the universe.

What a guy, she thought.

And he just worried if he was fun to be with.


The sea life dome at the Omicron Lambda III zoo was quiet. It was an hour before dawn so that was no surprise. The appearance of a police public call box from mid-20th century Earth was no surprise either as there was nobody to be surprised.


"We've tripped the silent alarm at the local police HQ," The Doctor said as he stepped out and shone a strong torch around. "So let's work fast here."

"You know," Doctor Franks said as she followed. "I thought we were going to have a quiet word with the people in charge and get them to let the Aquarians go."

"They paid 750,000 credits each for the two pairs of 'specimens'. Do you really think they're just going to let them go?"

"But this is stealing."

"It's a covert rescue mission," The Doctor said. "Ah."

The dolphins were in a custom built tank with an underwater viewing window and a platform above for watching them perform. The Doctor looked over the rail and then began to slip his heavy leather shoes off. He slid out of his leather jacket, too, and passed it to Rose. "Back in two ticks," he said and dived into the water, his lean body looking almost as graceful as the dolphins in the air.

"Wow!" Doctor Franks said, impressed.

"He's mine," Rose said fiercely. Doctor Franks glanced at her in the dark and decided that this was territory she was not going to step into.

There was a splashing below and The Doctor broke the surface of the dark water. Two dolphins flanked him. They swam with him to the edge of the tank and beached themselves on the ledge where the zoo staff stood to throw fish and rubber balls to them at performance time. As soon as they landed on the ground they morphed into their humanoid form. Two others followed. The Doctor ran up the steps to the locked gate that would have proved problematic if Rose had not pulled the sonic screwdriver from his jacket pocket and threw it to him. Lock melting was one of its most basic functions.

"I can hear sirens," Doctor Franks said as he slipped his jacket back on and picked up his shoes.

"Me too. But we're out of here now. Come on, everyone. You're going home."

The police arrived a few minutes later. The head zoo keeper with the keys to the area where the alarm had been tripped was not far behind. But by the time they got in all they found was an empty pool, a gate with a melted lock and five pairs of wet footprints leading from it. Several theories were mooted. None came close to the truth.

The TARDIS materialised by the steps of the Temple of Records. The people of the city ran to greet it, hopeful and anxious. When the doors opened and their lost friends and relations poured out there was jubilation. The Doctor was mobbed by Aquarians trying to shake his hand. So were Rose and Doctor Franks, nobody realising that she was one of the enemy who had harmed them in the first place. Rose moved through the crowds and found her friend, Ke, reunited with those she had lost. A great deal of katichi was going on. She hugged them all before going back to her man and claiming a little katichi herself.

"I love a happy ending," The Doctor said with a smile.

"You promised me sunbathing and peace and quiet after we'd sorted out the problems," Rose reminded him.

"So I did. But we'd better drop Doctor Franks off somewhere first."

"Do you think…" Doctor Franks said. "I know it's a lot to ask. But… could I stay a little while? There is so much I could learn from these people."

"Depends what you'd do with what you learnt," The Doctor told her. "Nothing about their lifestyle is of any use to your world."

"I want to learn for myself. I was talking to them while we were travelling back here. Their life is so peaceful, simple, and uncomplicated. I envy them. If they would let me live among them for a few weeks I would be grateful. When I do go back to my home world, I have nothing. I have to start looking for a university that will fund my research, and I can't even expect a reference from Morton. But the chance to know this world, even though I could never breathe a word about it to a living soul, would make it worthwhile."

"I could use a couple of weeks of uncomplicated life, too," Rose said. "She's got a point."

"Yeah, me too," The Doctor agreed, wondering if there was ever a time when his life WAS uncomplicated. "Did we bring enough sun lotion for an extended holiday?"

"Hope so," Rose said. We're a long way from Boots."