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

The next morning was one of partings. Susan and David said farewell to the boys, Susan hugging them both tightly and giving The Doctor all sorts of instructions about looking after them. Later, they dropped Jack off at the space port of Gamma 435. He said SangC’lune was too pious for a galactic sinner like him. Besides, being an acolyte of a GOD was not his thing.

The Doctor didn’t even ASK Rose whether she wanted to come. He knew she would. There was little part for her to play in this experiment but he wanted her with him. He wanted her in his life no matter what he was doing.

They landed the TARDIS in the same place as last time, just before the plain of pyramids and outside the village. The Doctor took Rose’s hand on one side and Chris’s on the other while Davie took Rose’s other hand. As they walked in the pleasant warmth of a fine SangC’lune day Rose thought they must look like a beautiful family. The idea pleased her.

The Doctor, catching the tail end of that thought, agreed, though he could see some obvious flaws in the idea. Here he was, a nine hundred and fifty year old Time Lord with his nine year old great-grand children and a twenty-one year old girl who had just thought how nice it would be for the two of them to have children of their own.

It wasn’t that the idea didn’t seem attractive to him.

Rather it was TOO attractive.

“Your worshippers are coming,” Rose said looking ahead to the village elders who were coming towards them just as they had the last time they came to SangC’lune. The Doctor put Chris’s hand into hers and stepped a little ahead of them. The elders knelt in supplication before him as he greeted them.

“What IS that language you used to speak to them?” she asked as they walked to the village.

“It’s a very ancient dialect of Gallifreyan only used in religious rites and ceremonies. That’s why the TARDIS databanks have no translation for it. Remember, you hear English because of being a traveller in the TARDIS and absorbing some of its psychic side effects. But it doesn’t know that one.”

“You do.”

“I know five billion languages,” he reminded her.

“I still don’t believe that.”

“I was at school for two hundred years. Languages were one of my top subjects.”

“I hate school,” Chris said, joining in the conversation of the adults.

“So did I when I was your age,” The Doctor admitted. “But it’s important. Your mother wants to you to learn the things Earth people know so that you don’t seem different and alien to them and they don’t hurt you. But I’m going to teach you about WHY you ARE different.”

“The others can’t talk to each other without words,” Davie told him. “I can talk to Chris when we are in class and nobody knows.”

“Yes, I thought you might. You’re lucky. Telepathy wasn’t allowed when I was at school.”

Not that he had anyone to talk to. As the half-blood regarded as an aberration and even a blasphemy, he had been shunned by the children of the Great Houses, even some of the pureblood cousins of his own House. Petty prejudice and arrogance had made his childhood a misery. His teachers had to concede reluctantly that his academic capabilities were better than many of those with the ‘true’ pedigree. They could find no reason to stop him progressing to the highest ranks, transcending to full Time Lord in his proper time. But he had fought every step of the way against a tide of antipathy. If he could give his great-grandchildren an easier time of it, then he would.

The people of the village were thrilled to see their Living God return, and when they discovered that he had brought his own Blood Kin with him they were even more overjoyed. The kneeling crowds paying homage to him swelled as he passed. The boys were puzzled by what was happening, but not scared. They walked hand in hand with their great-grandfather, fascinated by the status accorded to them on this, their first alien planet.

All the same, he was glad when they had been installed in the Great Hall, the home, when he was among them, of the Living God of SangC’lune. Food was brought to them and the boys ate hungrily as boys do. The Doctor settled himself on one of the silk and satin covered couches and ate and drank of the food. Rose sat next to him. She ate some of the fruit but avoided the very strong wine.

After they had rested and eaten, The Doctor said they needed to go to the pyramid. There were things he had to do there. They went through the village, again having a powerful effect on the people. They knelt as he passed, and some begged him to give them his blessing on their homes or their children. He made an appearance of doing so, placing his hands on them gently for a few seconds.

“Can you really bless them in any way?” Rose asked. “Do you have any power that can do them any good?”

“Only the power of suggestion,” he said. “They feel that a few moments of attention from me makes them feel good. Well that’s ok. One thing about this place – the people enjoy good health. I think that is part of what we did to the planet. But it does mean I’m not implored to save dying babies or anything I can’t handle.”

They left the village behind them and it was possible to walk in peace and quiet for a while. The perfect family, the Doctor felt Rose think again and he closed his hand tighter around hers. He wished it could be, too. He searched his mind for long buried memories of walking with Julia and Christopher in the woods by Mount Lœng. They had been happy. He had never regretted a moment of the life they had together, only that a Human lifespan was so much shorter than that of a Time Lord. The happy days had seemed so few compared to the sad, lonely ones afterwards. But they WERE happy days. Walking here with Rose and the boys he felt a sweet echo of that happiness. The twins were, after all, his blood kin. Despite what he had told David, they were probably genetically closer to HIM than to their father. Gallifreyan DNA tended to be stronger than Human and the boys were so very clearly Gallifreyan. Any DNA test that might be made would more likely show them to be HIS sons. The two generations between them would scarcely show. He knew that was an awful thing to think. David WAS their father in all the ways that mattered. He had played no part in their lives until recently. He had not even known they existed. But now he did, and they meant a lot to him in so many ways.

Not the least as the future of his race.

He was aware that many of the villagers had followed them out to the pyramids. At the edge of the silent city he turned around and faced them. At once they all fell to their knees. He sighed. He wished they wouldn’t do that.

“Please wait here,” he told them. “My Lady and Blood Kin must come with me now.” He walked with Rose and the boys the last few hundred yards.

“Did I explain,” he said as they walked among the rows of black pyramids. “How this all came to be?”

“No,” Rose answered. He told her of Rassilon, the first Time Lord, who had discovered the secret of regeneration which distinguished the chosen few from ordinary Gallifreyans and set about to share it with the most intelligent of their society to create a new and more evolved race. The pyramids were a part of the complicated society he built, his way of ensuring another kind of immortality for them. The great obelisk in the centre of the pyramid city represented Rassilon, and the great Time Lord Houses he established radiated out. They would have gone on doing so forever but for the Time War and its terrible consequences.

Those consequences were so vividly shown in the silent rows of sealed pyramids they walked past to find the one white one among them. One thing he was glad Rose didn’t ask. He didn’t know, and wasn’t sure he wanted to know, whether inside those sealed pyramids the essences of the long dead Time Lords still existed or if they ceased to be as soon as the last life was over. He didn’t want to know because it was too much to think that something of the spirits of both his father and his son might be near to him now, sealed forever from his reach.

And he didn’t want to think that there was anything of the evil mind of the Master here. He HOPED, all said and done, that the sealed pyramids were empty now.

The white pyramid shone in the bright sunlight of the afternoon. Here The Doctor said, he must go on alone, and he told Rose and the boys to wait. He stepped up to the door of the pyramid and pressed his TARDIS key against the symbolic representation of Kasterborous, Gallifrey’s lost constellation. It opened. He stepped inside and the door closed, sealing him in, separating him from Rose and the children.

There was silence within the pyramid and stillness. But he knew that was just one of the games his other selves played with him, testing him.

“Acknowledge me,” he shouted. “I am The Doctor. I AM Chrístõdavõreendiam?ndh?rtmallõupdracœfiredelunmiancuimhne de Lœngb?rrow.”

“So acknowledged,” his other selves answered, stepping from the shadows around him. He felt outnumbered and even slightly intimidated.

“Why?” his last incarnation asked. “We ARE you. We are one.”

“Yes, I know that,” he said shortly. “But when I was you, I didn’t talk in riddles. I don’t have time for games. And I’m not going through any malevolent tortures to prove myself. Take me as I am, and tell me what I have to do. You KNOW what about.”

“How far do we want it to go?” His first incarnation, the old man, asked him.

“As far as possible,” he said. “As far as they are capable.”

“They are of our blood.” He felt the touch of his fourth incarnation’s hand on his shoulder. That surprised him. He didn’t think they had corporeal form. “They can go all the way.”

“But how? I’m not a teacher. I don’t know what to do.”

“Yes, you do. You have it all in you. Everything you learnt. You were one of the most brilliant students of the Academy. You surpassed everyone’s expectations.”

“They didn’t expect anything of me,” he said bitterly. “I was the half blood.”

“Nevertheless, YOU put them to shame. And it’s all there, in your head. You have denied it for so long, but it is there.”

“They denied ME!” he said. “I was disowned, dishonoured, criminalised.”

“And that hurt,” his third self said. “Yes, we know. But still, you are what you ARE. You are a Time Lord. And you ARE proud of that. You DO honour all that was our race and society. And you CAN teach it to them.”

“You MUST teach it to them. They are our future.”

“I know,” The Doctor sighed. “I knew before I came in here. But are you lot going to help or not?”

“Of course we are,” his third self said. “It’s what we are here for. To share your burdens.” That incarnation came to him and held him by the shoulders and drew him into a brotherly embrace before vanishing. The others did the same until the first remained.

“We are the least alike, and the furthest apart,” he said. “But our hearts desires are the same. You WILL know what to do.” The Doctor nodded and let his oldest self embrace him and vanish. He was alone again - if he ever WAS alone in this place. But he knew what he had to do. He knew HOW to do it, and there was a hope he hardly dared hope sitting in the back of his mind. If this worked….

He stepped out of the pyramid into the bright sunlight again. Rose ran to hug him. He knew the pyramid worried her a little. He could feel it as she held him.

“Time for lessons,” he said as he took the boys by the hand. They walked back to the place where his followers had gathered. When they saw him they all knelt again, but he bid them rise and return to the village, promising them his attendance at Daygone. Then he brought Rose and the boys to the grassy upland meadow that overlooked the pyramid plain. He sat on the grass cross legged and the boys did likewise, forming an uneven triangle. Rose sat a little apart and watched.

He had them hold hands with him to close the triangle and for a moment he paused, gathering his own thoughts.

“First, I want you to swear the oath to our world. I know the words will mean nothing to you yet, but in years to come, I think you will understand them.”

A phrase at a time he took them through the sacred oath he had once sworn. They WERE too young, but it was a tangible connection with Gallifrey and all it stood for, and it was a place for him to begin.

“I swear to protect…. the ancient law of Gallifrey… with all my might and main… and will to the end of my days… with justice and honour…tender my actions… and my thoughts.”

That done he closed his eyes and concentrated. In the space between them an image appeared, projected in the air. Rose saw it was a reddish-looking planet and guessed it was Gallifrey. The globe turned slowly forming a visual aid to the lesson which The Doctor transmitted telepathically to the boys, allowing them to learn in a few minutes hours of long historical detail about their home planet. When the holographic planet exploded violently she knew he had reached the end of the history lesson.

He opened his eyes and closed the telepathic link, but not quite quickly enough. Both of the boys began to cry as the emotional impact of that last piece of history struck them.

“Oh, boys,” he said, sorrowfully, “I never meant you to feel so much.” He reached out to hug them both. Rose moved closer and put her arm about his shoulders as he held the children. He turned his face and kissed her on the cheek. His own cheeks were wet with tears. It ALWAYS hurt him to talk about Gallifrey.

After a while, he sat back on the grass, Rose beside him, and the boys lying on their stomachs, arms propped under their chins to listen to him.

“That’s why we are different,” he said. “Your mother and I are the last Gallifreyans left who were born on our planet. As far as we know you are the only children of a Gallifreyan in the whole universe. The four of us are all that is left of that once proud race. So we have to keep its secrets. And we have to use our powers – our special gifts - for good, and never for selfish reasons. Never to hurt or deceive others.”

“Is it all right for us to talk to each other without words?” Chris asked.

“Yes, that’s all right. And you can talk to your mother that way. She will understand. And you can always talk to ME as long as you don’t shout. I’m going to help you to do that easier and better. Are you ready to play the picture game?”

The boys looked excited at the prospect. He started by sending them pictures and messages. Then he asked them to try. But quietly. “Whisper your picture to me,” he said, bracing himself for a devastating mental blow.

Chris went first, closing his eyes in concentration, and sending a picture that The Doctor identified as a London hover bus, the public transport of the twenty-third century. With the background psyche of SangC’lune dampening it the message came through easily. Davie’s was shriller, and he winced a little. The boy was excited at having a turn. When he calmed down and tried again it was better. They were learning much more easily than he expected. He had, of course, filled the unused parts of their brains with a great deal of information today, and that meant that less of the mind was employed in the telepathy. That had been the key problem to begin with. The education they got on Earth was not enough to exercise their minds. It should be easier from here.

“I wonder.…” After a few more successful projections he thought they could try something more advanced. He took Rose’s hand in his and looked at her. If this went wrong he could hurt her, and he didn’t want to do that. “Boys, remember I told you never to try this game with Humans. Well, this once, we can break the rule. I want you to tell me what Rose is thinking of.” Rose looked startled at that, but he squeezed her hand and she nodded her assent to being the guinea pig.

“It’s a…. a …” Chris frowned as he tried to identify the small furry animal that she had thought of. So did Davie. They both described it fully though, and eventually she burst out laughing.

“It IS a guinea pig,” she said. The idea had popped into her head with the memory of a pet she had once had. “He was called Gregory. I had him for a pet when I was your age.” She turned to the Doctor. “Can they show ME a picture?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea.” He tried to project a picture to her himself, but she was unresponsive, as he expected. SangC’lune kept a dampener on non-Gallifreyan heads. But even as he was about to say it couldn’t be done he FELT Chris’s mind reach out. He only caught a glimpse of it, but Rose laughed out loud.

“No,” she giggled. “I don’t think Gregory would look good in a ballet tutu.” She turned to the Doctor. “It was ok. It didn’t hurt at all. It felt nice… like being hugged.” Then Davie tried, and she shuddered visibly, but laughed as well. “That was cold. Doctor, Davie wants to know if it’s possible to get ice cream on this planet.”

“I think the SangC’lunes would do anything for me,” he said. “Let’s go back to the village and see before we join them at Daygone.”

The SangC’lune’s DID have something very like ice cream, and needless to say they were happy to provide some for the Blood Kin of their Living God. They all ate around a low round table in the Great Hall, sitting cross-legged on mats.

“This is nice,” Rose said, referring not to the sweet domesticity of the scene, but to the taste of the ruby coloured iced fruit with an explosive taste when it touched the tongue. “But tell me one thing. Those people aren’t living on porridge or something while they give us all the best food? Because if they are, I’d rather not.”

“No,” The Doctor said. “I wondered about that, too. But we share in the same bounty they enjoy. This place IS a little Eden in many ways. The people have it good. I still don’t like the God bit, but the only thing I can do is be the BEST Living God and care for the people and their welfare.”

He looked at the boys, who were eating the ice cream so fast they looked speeded up. “Hey, that’s not the way Time Lords enjoy food,” he said. “One spoonful eaten slowly and fully appreciated is better than twenty gobbled down.” He told them all to take one spoonful and put it in their mouths when he said. As they did, he slowed time. The one spoon of ice cream melted slowly on the tongue and the exquisite flavour hung on the taste buds sending sensations of delicious pleasure to the brain.

“Wow!” Rose exclaimed when it was over. The boys were equally appreciative.

“I think you need a bit more practice with your mental capabilities before you do that,” The Doctor told the boys. “But that’s one of the things WE can do. And I will teach you how.”

“Do it again,” Chris asked, and he obliged. The two boys put ice cream into their mouths and he slowed time. At the moment he did, he reached for Rose and kissed her on the lips. In real time, it lasted seconds, a playful little peck. But in the slowed down time it was like a full on kiss that went on and on before he let the time come back to normal. “You see,” he said, smiling at Rose’s bemused face. “There are so many ways we can make fleeting moments of pleasure so much better. But it must be used carefully. ALL our powers must be used carefully. The hardest part is learning when NOT to use them - when to use either the ordinary common sense of your Human side or the intellect of your Gallifreyan blood instead.”

That was all a little over their heads yet. It was a lesson he could repeat when they were older and more prepared. Though it was, of course, something they would have to TRULY learn the hard way – by practical experience.

If Rose could slow down any moment, apart from being kissed by The Doctor, it would have to be the moment when the four of them stepped out into the gathering dusk to the Daygone ritual. Again, she had been dressed by handmaidens as the queen consort of their God. The Doctor looked the part in his robes of spun gold. Davie and Chris had also been dressed in small versions of the same robes, though theirs were in a soft blue and purple and without the strange, elaborate headdress. Rose had no illusions about herself. She was no queen. But she felt elated by the reflected glory as the villagers all knelt before their God, His Consort, and His Blood Kin.

They were a simple people, with simple needs. To feel that their God cared for them all was one of them. The Doctor did his best to assure them of that. Rose knew he DID care for them. He cared for all people in the universe. He loved all creation. She thought that made him more like a REAL God than he realised or wanted. It also made her feel very special to know that of those billions of lives she meant the MOST to him. That was a feeling she wanted to capture and save for. If her life with him should come to an end for any reason that would stay with her forever.

The boys were tired long before the ceremony was over, and when Rose and The Doctor carried them into the Great Hall, neither complained about being put to bed.

“I wish they would work out the sleeping arrangements,” Rose sighed, looking at the two boys asleep in the big satin and silk covered bed that she knew was meant to be for her and The Doctor - an idea they were both uncomfortable with. There was one other smaller bed and he told her to lie down on it.

“What about you?” she asked. He said he was going to sit outside for a bit. The last time they were here a ‘bit’ turned into all night. “I’ll sit with you,” she said. “I’m not really tired yet.” He smiled and took her hand.

It was another lovely warm night with the red and white moons hanging in the sky like lanterns.

“Does this place have bad weather?” Rose asked as they sat looking up at the moons.

“I have wondered about that. I think it doesn’t. Rassilon engineered a perfect little planet.”

“The First Time Lord.”

“Yes. He planned it well, too. This place has lasted millions of years in perfect harmony.”

“So…. All you descendents of Rassilon… are you really the most intelligent race in the universe?”

“Is this another gem from Jack’s bumper book of fun facts about Time Lords?” The Doctor asked.

“Something like that.”

“Yes, we are,” he said. “But actually, that’s not saying much. We haven’t a lot of competition. There are an awful lot of totally THICK races in the universe.”

“Us?” Rose laughed at his unique way of putting it. “You always call us stupid apes.”

“No. You lot, Humans. You’re fantastic. Every shortcoming you have, you figure a way around. You reach for the stars. And you GET there. When it comes to intelligent life, you’re in the top half of the premiership, definitely. I mean, not Preston North End, but Manchester United at least.”

Rose laughed and snuggled closer to him, not because she was cold so much as it was nice to be close. Their conversation drifted off, giving The Doctor time to think. The most intelligent race in the universe wasn’t the epithet they usually had. Most arrogant, most aggravating. David had been right about that.

And it all began with that legendary man, Rassilon, whose name every Gallifreyan knew from the cradle. Rassilon was an ambitious man, and arrogant and self-assured. It was true that was a trait among Time Lords. If you were not self-assured you had no chance of getting through disciplines that could kill those who had any doubt about their own ability. Arrogance tended to come with knowing you are the elite of the elite of the universe. Living among the ‘stupid’ Humans of Earth had rubbed the corners off his own arrogance. Too often he had been outwitted by them despite his superior intellect. But he still had the self-assurance.

No, he thought to himself with a wry smile. Very often he had the appearance of it when a situation was too complex even for him to understand all at once. The chosen few who shared his life thought he knew everything. Sometimes he didn’t. But he would never let them know he was stumped. That was another Time Lord trait in him. Egotism.

He wondered if he had any good characteristics. Everyone seemed to think he was a good guy. But when he examined himself like that, he seemed to have a lot of bad guy about him.

“What’s that?” Rose said, suddenly sitting up and looking at the night sky. The Doctor looked at what could have been mistaken for a meteorite except that its descent looked too perfect – as if GUIDED. He was on his feet when the second strange thing fell out of the sky and landed in the village square. His Time Lord eyes saw through the dark and recognised it as an emergency travel pod from a galactic carrier. As he reached it, the pod opened and Jack climbed out.

“Doctor,” he called out. “You owe me one, right. Just telling you that now before things kick off. I could have been having a swell time. But when I got wind of trouble coming your way I hitched a ride here.”

“What trouble?” The Doctor asked.

“Word is that the Followers of some guy called the Master have plans here,” Jack told him. “SangC’lune is in danger.”

“Something else landed here just now,” Rose said as she caught up. “We saw it.”

The Doctor made a quick decision. “We’re going to have to go out there, Jack, and find it.” He turned to Rose and held her by the shoulders. “This is NOT me being a male chauvinist pig this time Rose - but a worried parent. Go look after the boys and wait for us, please.”

She didn’t argue. If time was of the essence the two men could move faster than she could and clearly the boys couldn’t be left alone. She ran back to the Great Hall at once. The idea that SangC’lune, this beautiful, peaceful place, was in danger, saddened her. What frightened her was the mention of The Master. The only time she had heard of that man was last time they were here. The Doctor told her of the evil Time Lord who would have made this paradise a hell.

But he was DEAD. The Doctor had told her that.

“He’s one problem I don’t have. And he can stay that way,” he had said.

The Doctor was thinking the same thing as he used the sonic screwdriver to home in on the alien craft that had landed somewhere outside the village – very close to the pyramids. And why followers of the Master? Why did the MASTER have followers? There was no cult that followed The DOCTOR and tried to do good around the universe. Why did evil have more of an attraction than good? Why did it have to be followers of the Master messing things up? And WHAT did they want here?

“Agghhh!” The Doctor suddenly staggered and stopped. He grabbed Jack’s arm to steady himself. “No…. NO!”

“What?”

“We have to get back to the village.” The Doctor turned and ran. “The children are being attacked. Chris just sent me a distress call.”

“Oh, hell!” Jack ran nearly as fast as The Doctor, but his superior strength and stamina combined with the fear of a parent for his children gave him a speed nobody could match.

Even so, by the time The Doctor reached the village, it was in uproar. Around the Great Hall the normally placid people were crying and lamenting. The confusion and consternation was such that few of them actually noticed their Living God as he tore up the steps and into the Great Hall.

Inside he found more uproar and several of the elders of the village milling about. He ignored them and went straight to Rose, who was sitting against the upturned table they had eaten at earlier. She was holding Chris in her arms while two of the handmaidens tried to bathe the ugly bruise on her head.

“Oh Doctor,” she sobbed when he took her in his arms. “I tried. I couldn’t hold them both. They took Davie. I couldn’t hold them both and fight. I’m sorry. I failed you.”

“You could never do that,” he assured her, holding her close with one arm while pressing Chris against him with the other. “But what happened? Who did this?”

“There were three of them,” Rose said. “That one.…” She pointed to a man lying on the ground, either unconscious or dead. “And two others with him. They burst in here and tried to grab the boys. I decked that one with the candlestick but they grabbed Davie and one of them hit me. I held onto Chris. I wouldn’t let them get him. But….”

“You did fine, Rose,” he said reassuringly to her. Then he had a word for his great-grandson. “Chris, you did fine, too. I got your message loud and clear. Well done.” The boy managed a weak smile at being praised by The Doctor. Then he left them both and went to look at the man on the ground. He was alive. Rose, slight young thing as she was, had dealt him a hefty blow, but it had only knocked him cold.

He took out his sonic screwdriver and made an adjustment to it before aiming it at the man’s head. Clearly it was not giving him a gentle wake up call. He jerked and groaned as if hit by a jolt of electricity and before he was completely awake he had been hauled up on his feet. The Doctor had an uncharacteristic look in his eyes. Jack, arriving breathless on the scene, recognised it as the sort of look that came just before one man in a spacedock bar brawl broke another’s neck or stuck a knife into his gut. It was called murderous blind rage.

“Who are you?” he demanded. “And what have you done with my boy?” The man glared at him and spat. Jack saw a vein in The Doctor’s neck twitch and thought if he was that man he would save his skin and start co-operating now.

“He is one of us….” One of the village elders spoke in a shocked voice. “A servant of the pyramids.”

“I serve The Master, the true leader of the Time Lord’s, True God of SangC’lune.” The look on his face was one Jack also recognised from the myriad life of space-docks across the galaxy. The religious fanatic.

“Traitor!” The elder screamed at him.

“And what do you want with Davie?” The Doctor demanded.

“The boy is of Time Lord blood. He will be the vessel of the Master’s renewal.”

“Over my dead body,” The Doctor said. “But yours first.” His eyes narrowed as his hand closed on the neck of the traitor. Jack sprang into action. He would have done the job himself in a heartbeat. But the Doctor was not a killer.

“No,” he said, his hand on the Doctor’s arm. “He could be more useful alive. And we have no time to lose here if you want to get your kid back alive.”

“Alive is not the issue,” The Doctor told him, though he relaxed his hold on the traitor, who was taken in hand by two of the SangC’lune acolytes. “They didn’t take Davie to kill him. The Master wants his body - his potential lives as a Time Lord. Oh!! Susan will kill me!” For a moment he seemed to lose sight of everything but his grief and worry. He was uncommonly Human in that moment. He was not a God, not a leader, but a man whose child had been kidnapped.

Jack took command of the situation. He ordered the traitor bound so that he could walk but not escape and organised the search party of acolytes. He looked at Rose and Chris. “You’d be safer here.”

“No, we won’t,” she protested. “We weren’t before. We go where The Doctor goes.”

“It’s not a good idea,” Jack said, but The Doctor had recovered himself.

“They’re coming,” he said. “I’m not letting anyone else out of my sight until we have Davie with us again.” He took Chris by the hand. “Come on, son. We’re going to find your brother.”

Rose silently came to his other side and took his spare hand. The decision was taken.

The party came out of the Great Hall. At the top of the veranda The Doctor looked at the assembled people. He raised his hand to quieten them. They at once knelt obediently.

“Please,” he said, doing his best to steady his own voice. “Go to your homes. Take care of each other. Yes, an evil has touched the face of your planet. But I mean to remove it as quickly as it came. I give you my word on that.”

As they passed among the people, many saw the prisoner among them and muttered angrily. The Doctor moved next to him.

“You’re one of these people are you, Jimbo?”

“I am born of these people,” he said. “I have served the Time Lords faithfully. But YOU are a false God. And I do not recognise you.”

“I never said I was a God,” The Doctor retorted. “And I ask no recognition from one who would turn against his own people to side with the devil incarnate - to say nothing of using an innocent child for such ends. I’m just wondering what to do with you when this is over. That looked like the makings of a lynch mob back there – wouldn’t you say, Jack.”

“Definitely,” Jack agreed, although he still didn’t like the look in the Doctor’s eyes. But then he wasn’t, as far as he knew, a parent. He wondered if he would look the same in The Doctor’s position right now. He rather suspected he would.

The effect of this dialogue on the Traitor was profound enough. The man docilely indicated the way to the rendezvous.

“Rendezvous with whom?” Jack demanded. “How many are you?”

“My job was to bring the Takers to the hall, to take the child, and bring him to where the Followers waited. After that, I know nothing.”

“You fool,” Jack said. “You were not even one of them. They used you for the dirty work and you aren’t even in on the plan.”

The Doctor dropped back to where Rose and Chris walked. He took hold of them both again. “Are you all right?” he asked.

“I’m hanging in there,” Rose said. “Head aches though,” There was a very bad bruise right across her left temple, and a cut across the top of her eye. The Doctor clicked a couple more settings on the sonic screwdriver and told her not to worry as he shone its ethereal light on her head. Rose gasped as she felt the sensation of a cooling balm applied to the bruise. The headache faded with the outward signs of the injury she had sustained.

“I’m sorry you were hurt,” The Doctor said. “Jack and I fell for a trap. We should not have left you alone. I am so sorry for that.”

“It’s ok. You did your best as always.” She rubbed her head and looked at the sonic screwdriver. “Is there anything that thing can’t do?”

“Well,” he grinned. “It’s actually NOT very good at being a screwdriver.” She laughed, as he meant her to, giving her the spirit to fight the apprehension of what still lay ahead.

He lifted Chris up in his arms. The boy clung to his neck and rested his head on his shoulder. The Doctor kissed his forehead lovingly. He had been brave through a hard enough time already, and he wasn’t sure what more there was to come. He had no idea how he would explain it to Susan. He had promised to keep them safe and had brought them into the worst possible danger. The thought that he had let her down so badly weighed against his determination to make things right and deal justice to those who had put his family into danger.

“Here,” the traitor said after they had walked for maybe an hour. “Here is the place of meeting.” They were at what seemed like an old stone temple, with broken arches and overgrown pillars. In the centre of the flat, paved area two bodies lay. Jack went forward and looked at them. Their throats were cut.

“Two hired thugs, I reckon,” he said. “Looks like they got their payment in full once they delivered the goods.” Jack saw the hard glint in the Doctor’s eyes and regretted using such impersonal terms.

The traitor looked at the two bodies. He glanced at Jack, who was looking murderous. He couldn’t bring himself to look at The Doctor, but if he had, murderous would have been too mild a word for the expression on his face. He bit down on the poison capsule his comrades had given him. He had refrained from using it until now, certain that the Followers would liberate him. He gasped just once and then he was dead.

But what now? With no guide to where the Followers had taken Davie the quest was momentarily halted. Even The Doctor was uncertain.

“Doctor.…” Rose spoke slowly, as if working things out. “They want to use Davie to revive the Master…. Then… won’t they have gone to the Master’s pyramid?”

“Yes,” he said. “Yes. That has to be the plan. But there are millions of pyramids. I don’t KNOW which one it is. I could work it out if I knew the Master’s real name. But….” He closed his eyes and tried to focus his mind. “Aghhh!” he groaned. “I think my memory of THAT was lost at the same time I forgot my own name.”

“Damn,” Jack swore softly

“Doctor!” Rose spoke again. “Doctor… Look at Chris.” The Doctor turned his head to look into the face of the child in his arms. He was awake, his eyes wide open. He seemed to be talking but no sound came from his moving lips. The Doctor stood him on the ground and looked at him.

“Chris, can Davie hear you?” The boy nodded. “Can he tell us where he is?” He shook his head and The Doctor’s heart sank. Perhaps because the boy was frightened he was unable to make a connection to him or to Chris either. They were locked together telepathically and had cut off all others.

“Chris,” he said gently. “Tell Davie not to be frightened. Tell him I’m coming for him as fast as I can. Tell him I love him, I love you both, and I won’t let any harm come to either of you.” Chris nodded and mouthed the words. “Say the words in your head,” The Doctor told him. “It’s harder, but the message is stronger.”

“Davie says.…” Chris spoke haltingly. His head must have been bursting with the frightened cries of his twin. “Davie says he loves you, Granddad.” The Doctor held him tight and kissed his tear-stained cheek. “He… He’s that way….” Chris pointed and everyone turned but there was nothing to see.

“Can you find him?” The Doctor asked. Chris nodded and began to walk the way he had pointed, but The Doctor picked him up again. “Just tell us which way,” he said. “It’s my job to lead the charge.”

“Doctor,” Jack whispered loudly. “Look how tired he is. And we could be miles away.”

“I know,” he replied. “But it’s the only way.” He caressed the boy’s head gently, brushing his soft hair back from his face. “Don’t sleep yet, my brave little boy. You can both sleep when we have your brother again.”

It was difficult going. Chris WAS very tired. It told in his eyes as they trekked towards the pyramid city, their footsteps echoing. The Doctor spoke to him soothingly every so often, making sure he was calm, but awake.

It was dawn when their journey came close to the end. The sun came up over the horizon and glanced off the one white pyramid among the millions of black ones, sending warm golden rays of light reflecting off it. One refracted beam bathed them all in light. The Doctor rolled his eyes.

“I STILL don’t believe in omens!” he cried out cryptically.

Then Jack, who had been scouting ahead, signalled them to be silent. The Doctor put the nearly unconscious child into Rose’s arms, and told him he could sleep now. He went ahead to where Jack was pressed against the side of a pyramid looking around its edge carefully.

There were four Followers gathered outside the black pyramid of The Master. Now he was there, The Doctor recognised the symbolic representation of his mortal enemy’s family. But he didn’t stay on that for long. He looked at the foot of the pyramid, where Davie was tied between two of the black obelisks, his arms painfully outstretched, his feet barely touching the ground, and his head drooping with tiredness. He would have been angry to see ANY child treated so cruelly. That it was a child of his own blood incensed him. But he held the anger in and concentrated on what was important.

“Davie,” he called telepathically, reaching out for the child’s mind. Chris had fallen into a deep, exhausted sleep, and now there was a chance that he could get through to him. Among the hard minds filled with hate, he touched the innocent, frightened mind of his great-grandson and soothed it gently. “I’m here, Davie, close to you. I’ll be with you soon. Be brave and calm.” He felt the boy’s response with relief. He was frightened but he believed what his great-grandfather was telling him. The Doctor felt a surge of pride in the courage of his offspring. Chips off the old block, he thought with a smile despite the seriousness of the situation.

The Followers seemed to be beginning some sort of ritual. They took their places at the four corners of the pyramid and began to chant, low and ominously.

“What the hell are they doing?” Jack asked. “Can they raise this Master one with a load of mumbo-jumbo?”

“THAT mumbo-jumbo, yes, possibly,” The Doctor said grimly. “It’s a very ancient rite of rebirth. It used to be used to trigger regeneration before we fully perfected the method. It COULD be used to extract the Master’s essence from the pyramid and allow him to possess Davie.”

“Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s grab the kid.”

“That one has a Tissue Compression Eliminator,” The Doctor said, pointing to the Follower on the left corner nearest to them. “A nasty weapon favoured by The Master. You don’t want to be in its line of fire.”

“We can’t wait around, either,” Jack told him. “Look…” He pointed to the apex of the pyramid where a strange, ethereal glow was beginning to surround it. The jet black marble was starting to turn white. “I can take him. We have the element of surprise.”

“After my signal, count three seconds, Jack,” The Doctor said, making the decision. “Then take him.”

“What signal?” Jack asked and the Doctor said he would know.

He reached out telepathically and found the minds of the innocent Humans around him, Jack, Rose, Chris, and two acolytes who had been with them from the start. He enfolded them with his thoughts, blanketing them mentally. Then he told Davie to SHOUT! The boy did so, not with words, but with his mind. The Doctor felt it like a blow, but those he protected only registered a mild discomfort at the noise.

For the Followers, it was agony. He saw them all clutch their heads in pain even as he folded the time around himself and ran to Davie. He had already set the sonic screwdriver to burn away the cords that bound the boy. He grasped his small body in his arms and rolled to the ground, covering him as he heard Jack dash forward and grab the Tissue Compression Eliminator from its stricken owner. He pressed himself as flat as he could without hurting the child he was shielding while the weapon whistled in the air above his head. A second whistle and he felt something surprising in the atmosphere, then two more shots before Jack told him they could get up now.

He got up slowly and lifted Davie to his feet. The boy was shaken but unhurt. He clung to his great-grandfather, who put his arm tight around him as he looked around. His eye fell first on Jack, who was holding the only remaining Follower in a headlock. The man was looking at The Doctor with pure hatred on his face.

“Who ARE you?” he asked the man. “Why did you seek to use my blood kin to resurrect that monster?”

“I am one who has served The Master as my father and my father’s father did before me.” He said. “A curse on your House.”

“No, I don’t think so,” The Doctor said. “The curse is on The Master, as it always has been. And it is a curse he brought on himself by his evil.” But the Follower never heard those words. Twisting in Jack’s grasp, he pulled the Tissue Compression Eliminator towards himself and forced Jack’s finger onto the trigger. There was a short whine and the man disappeared.

“Handy atomiser that,” Jack said in the empty silence that followed. Rose came forward. Chris, who was awake again, ran to his brother’s side.

“It’s not an atomiser,” The Doctor said, putting a protective arm around both boys. “It’s worse than that. Look!” He pointed to the ground at Jack’s feet where a figure the size of a doll lay, stiff and dead – a miniaturised Follower.

“Euggh,” Rose said as she tried and failed to imagine how painful it would be to die by having every organ suddenly shrunk.

“Exactly,” the Doctor said, picking up her thoughts in the telepathic aura that still remained after his connection with all of them. He pointed to the four corners of where the Master’s Pyramid had stood, where three other miniaturised Followers lay. The Doctor walked to the middle of the space and picked up what looked like a palm sized model of a pyramid. He looked at it, and looked around at the white pyramid which shone brightly in the sunshine of the early morning. “One thing more to do,” he said.

He walked with the Master’s pyramid in his outstretched hand. The others followed as they always did when the Doctor had given no firm instruction otherwise.

“Doctor?” Rose said. “You said these pyramids are arranged by family….”

“Yes,” he said.

“Well… the Master’s pyramid is so close to yours….”

“How come you never passed those O’levels with a brain like yours?” the Doctor asked her. “Yes, we were distant kin.”

“How distant?” Jack asked. But the Doctor would not be drawn further. Jack and Rose and the boys again waited as the Doctor opened the white pyramid and stepped inside.

This time he had no time for riddles and games. He put his fingers to his lips and whistled sharply.

“Don’t tell me you don’t know what’s been going on,” he said as his incarnations appeared protesting at his offhand way of summoning them. “Take this as a souvenir of our adventures.” He thrust the pyramid at the nearest of them then he turned and walked out again.

“Can that be done?” Jack asked. “A pyramid in a pyramid.”

“It’s the only way to prevent anyone trying that again.” The Doctor said.

“Doctor!” Rose called urgently and he turned to her. She was standing a little further away, beyond his son’s pyramid, with Chris and Davie holding hands with her. When he joined them he gasped in astonishment to see the two new white pyramids, only the size of a small car from Rose’s Earth, but complete with their twelve obelisks.

“What does it mean?” Jack asked.

“Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it,” Rose said. “He’s not the last Time Lord any more.”

“Well, I won’t be when the boys are fully grown and have learnt all they need to learn to be fully-qualified Time Lords.” He smiled before turning around and pressing the TARDIS key to summon it to them. “Another cold start, short hop,” he sighed. “But the boys are too tired to walk back to the village.”

They put the boys to bed as soon as they got back to the Great Hall. The Doctor walked outside in the warm morning sunshine, talking with the village elders, reassuring them that the evil was removed from their planet, that it would not touch them again. And more importantly, that he bore no ill will towards them for the actions of the foolish man who had been swayed by lies and misinformation into betraying them.

Rose and Jack sat on the veranda and waited until, at last, he came to them.

“I owe you MORE than one, Jack,” he said, reminding him of his words last night. “You were fantastic. But don’t forget what I said about destroying the Tissue Compression Eliminator.”

“Will do, Doc.” Jack said, but he sighed regretfully.

“Doc?” He sat down, looping his arms around Rose and pulling her close to him. “I think not. Doctor is the only name I answer to outside of the pyramid.” But he was smiling as he spoke. Rose snuggled closer to him as they sat in peace once more in THEIR place on the veranda of the Great Hall. She was also sorry that evil had come to SangC’lune. She had come to think of it as a place where only nice things happened. But the Doctor had prevailed as ever. The evil was vanquished. And she knew that the people, with the guidance of their benevolent living God would soon forget the touch of it upon their little slice of Eden.