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

Jean returned from that amazing room that The Doctor blithely called the Wardrobe wearing a navy blue cashmere shift dress and matching tights with a red silk scarf tied around her throat for a dash of colour. She didn’t expect any comment from The Doctor about her choice of fashion unless it was wrong for the climate they were heading to.

They were heading to her home town on the Isle of Bute. Cashmere was a good bet on all but a dozen or so really hot days around mid-June. She had no illusions about that.

I’m afraid we need to do a bit of a detour,” The Doctor said. “Something’s come up.”

She tried not to be disappointed.

“I… suppose it would be all right. This is a time machine, after all. We can still go to see mum and uncle Iain the same weekend we planned?”

“Yes, of course,” he replied, but in a vague sort of way as if her travel plans were the last thing on his mind.

“Is this something VERY important?” Jean moved close to the computer panel he was studying closely. She was slightly surprised to see a BBC news website page open on the screen. She would have assumed that Time Lords had some more sophisticated way of getting important information than the internet.

“Thieves loot Greece's Ancient Olympia museum.” The article went on to mention that two masked men had broken into the rather clumsily named Museum of the History of the Olympic Games in Antiquity, overpowered the guard and smashed glass cases to get at priceless bronzes and pottery.

“It doesn’t say WHAT was taken,” The Doctor sighed with exasperation. “But I can’t take the chance. I must see for myself.”

Jean knew he wasn’t talking to her. He was flicking through dozens of versions of the same story from the MSN news page, Yahoo, the Guardian online, Reuters, several Greek newspapers that he read just as easily as the English ones. So could she, of course, thanks to the TARDIS’s babel fish effect.

The reports all said much the same thing – and all were deliberately vague about WHAT had been stolen.

Jean slipped away back to the Wardrobe to find something in light cotton with a wide-brimmed hat, suitable for May in Greece. As she changed she considered what might lie behind the newspaper articles. Something of immense intrinsic value had been stolen, something that would be immediately recognisable when the thieves tried to sell it. That was why the police weren’t revealing details, surely?

But what did that have to do with The Doctor? Of course, he was somebody who loved a good mystery. She had learnt that much in the short time she had known him. But his sort of mysteries involved huge things like the vanishing moon of Xak-Latu Omicron. The terrified people of Xak-Latu had been prepared to give up all the wealth of their mineral mines to the being called the Celestial Architect until The Doctor came along. It was he who had discovered that the moon had been hidden by a huge light-bending ray. He had further discovered that the Celestial Architect was just a conman called Winford Late and only just prevented him from living up to his surname in the most terminal way by wrapping Winford up in his own light-bending ray and smuggling him off the planet. He was last seen on the space station Addecco trying to interest people in his ‘find the lady’ card game. The Doctor reckoned that was the most mischief he would dare to get into for a while and left him to it.

Yes, those were the sort of mysteries The Doctor got involved in. Not the sort that the Greek authorities ought to be able to handle for themselves.

“Do you know very much about Greek antiquities?” The Doctor asked her as she returned to the console room.

“Elgin marbles, that’s about it, really,” she answered. “Scottish history is my specialty subject.”

“Come here.”

Jean approached The Doctor without question. That was one of the odd things about travelling with him. When he said something like ‘come here’ she did it without even wondering if it was a sensible thing to do. She trusted him implicitly, even though there was no good reason to do so.

He put his hands over her ears and pulled her forehead towards his. She was surprised to feel how cool his skin was pressed against hers, as if his body was a much lower temperature.

There was a sort of electric tingle, too, then a sensation behind her eyelids like the longest film she had ever seen going in super fast forward so that it took less than thirty seconds.

When The Doctor let go of her head and stepped back she remembered that humans needed to breathe and exhaled and inhaled deeply.

“What was…” she began. “Oh… my… God! Where did all that….”

“I transferred everything I know about ancient Greek culture into your mind,” The Doctor said. “There’s rather a lot, I’m afraid, but I think your brain can handle it.”

“You… THINK my brain can handle it?” Jean tried to convey her indignation and outrage about several assumptions he had made. First, that she would appreciate having information placed in her brain and not regard it as a gross violation of her body. Then he had assumed that she didn’t need warning of any risk to her mind that this violation might create.

The Doctor wasn’t even listening. He was busy choosing a landing site for the TARDIS.

“As close to the Museum as possible,” he said. “This matter is urgent. We don’t have time for sightseeing.”

Well, of course, that was true, but Jean felt strangely disappointed. Here she was in one of the birthplaces of culture and learning and she didn’t have a chance to see it properly. The temples of Hera and Zeus, the stadium, the actual Olympic stadium where the ancient games took place, and where the torch was lit every four years heralding the modern Olympics, all of these and more were within a half mile radius and she couldn’t see them.

Then she wondered why she cared. Of course, it was all very interesting, but it wasn’t the sort of history she had bothered with before.

That was the stuff The Doctor put in her head, of course.

The difference between the climate controlled TARDIS interior and Olympia at a little before midday was startling. The wide-brimmed hat kept the glare of the sun from her eyes, but Jean felt straight away the kind of heat that made Greece a popular holiday destination for Britons used to grey skies and drizzle. The warm air was scented with something pleasantly natural, perhaps coming from the trees that surrounded the area. The sky was all the shades of blue of a perfect summer’s day. She looked around and saw the modern town of Olympia in one direction, looking neat and clean from this distance, at least.

Turning, she saw ancient Olympia, or the remains of it, columns and collonades, statues and mosaic paving scattered around wooded areas and signposted paths for the tourists.

Again she felt regret that she couldn’t explore those fantastic ruins. But The Doctor was speaking to the armed and uniformed policeman guarding the main door of the museum. They were being admitted.

“Doctor John Smith,” he said again to a woman who waited in the foyer. “Attached to Interpol as an investigator of antiquities theft. This is Professor Jean Ferguson, my assistant.”

“I didn’t know any expert was coming,” the woman admitted. “But of course… you will want to see the scene of the crime. I’m Professor Sofia Petrakis, chief curator. If there is anything you need….”

“A complete list of the missing artefacts, with pictures, for preference,” The Doctor said. “I am sure you have already provided the same to the local police authorities, but this is for the international investigation.”

Professor Petrakis showed them the ransacked exhibition room before going to find the information The Doctor had requested.

“You couldn’t have used the TARDIS to hack onto the computer system and find that list?” Jean asked.

“Easily. But I need her out of the way. I need anyone out of the way who might want to chatter and distract me.”

Jean began to speak, then realised that she, too, might be considered a distraction. She stood by the door and waited as The Doctor’s boots crunched on the broken glass from the display cases that was still scattered over the smooth wooden floor. He stopped in the middle of the room – Jean thought he was probably EXACTLY in the middle, but she couldn’t prove it without bringing in some surveyor’s equipment that would definitely count as distracting.

The Doctor closed his eyes and held out his left arm at full stretch. He turned slowly around full circle and then stopped. His hand dropped. He opened his eyes.

“So… what WAS that all about?” Jean asked him.

“I had to know two things,” he said. “Well, more than two really, but mainly two things. First, I needed to know if the Rod of Rassilon really had been among the artefacts stolen.”

“The Rod of….” Jean suppressed a giggle as a thoroughly un-classical notion entered her head.

“My people were very stoical,” The Doctor said, apparently apropos of nothing. “They didn’t have a sense of humour as a rule.”

“So they didn’t see anything funny about the Rod of Rassilon?”

“It was one of the relics of the Creator of the Time Lords. The Lord High President was entrusted with it on his… or her… Investiture.”

“You mean, like the sceptre of the Crown Jewels?”

“Yes, only not so ornate. It was made of obsidian, with a silver orb at the top. It was much heavier than it looked. I was always glad to put it down at the end of ceremonies.”

Jean wondered if he w as telling her that he had once been ‘Lord High President’ of his world. She was about to prompt him on the subject when Professor Petrakis returned with the list of missing items. Jean took it from her and looked through it carefully, noting the figures for insurance purposes beside each item.

“Greece is still in financial trouble, isn’t it?” She asked the question to herself. The Professor had gone to answer a telephone in her office and The Doctor was studying the broken glass on the floor. “This will kill off the insurance industry in the country. But, Doctor, I don’t see anything made of obsidian here. It’s all bronzes and ceramics. In any case, why would a precious artefact from your world be here?”

“When our world was doomed, when it looked as if our enemies might take the secret of the Matrix from us, the Four Indices by which the secret was invested in the Lord High President were sent to safety on other worlds. I had the Rod of Rassilon hidden here in Olympia – hidden among the artefacts, behind a perception field that would give it the appearance of an ordinary Olympian relic to any ordinary eyes.”

“And I’ll just BET you don’t know WHICH of these missing items it WAS,” Jean guessed.

“I’ll know it when I see it. A thing of Gallifrey – it will practically shout out to me. But I still don’t know for certain whether the Rod was incidentally stolen along with the other artefacts or if it was the intended target of the raid and the other items taken to cover it up….”

“Or because it didn’t shout out to whoever wanted it?” Jean suggested. “So they took everything to be thorough. Is that likely - that your Rod was stolen to order, for a reason?”

“It’s very likely. If the four Indices, the Rod of Rassilon, the Great Key of Rassilon, the Sash of Rassilon and the Coronet….”

“Of Rassilon….”

“If they all fell into the wrong hands….”

“End of the world as we know it?”

“The unravelling of time and space, of the universe as we know it.”

“If it’s an ordinary theft, by humans, for money, then it’s ok. They don’t know what they have, and it can’t be used to unravel the universe. But if aliens were involved….”

Professor Petrakis came back again. She didn’t look pleased.

“Interpol haven’t sent anyone to investigate the theft. Who are you, really?”

“I’m….” The Doctor began, then put on a very contrite expression like a boy who had just been caught with the biscuit crumbs on his jumper and the empty packet hidden behind his back.

“You’re some sort of intergalacticpol,” the Professor continued. “I heard you talking. And that’s what made me suspicious. She was talking in English… which I speak very well, because a lot of the tourists are British or American so I need to know English. But YOU were talking some other language entirely, only SHE understood you. And so did I. That’s how I knew something strange was going on. But then you were talking about the Rod of….”

The Doctor looked at the professor, then at Jean. She looked at them both.

“She has worked here, in the presence of the Rod, for years,” The Doctor said to Jean. “She’s absorbed some of the same kind of energy the TARDIS has. That’s why she can do languages.”

“That… kind of makes sense. And it proves that the Rod was here. But….”

“Professor, you can help us,” The Doctor added. “Help us to help you to help….” He paused and started again. “You can find the Rod of Rassilon, and your museum will recover its treasures as well.”

“How do I do that?” she asked.

“I’ll explain as we go. Come on.”

“I’m in charge here,” the Professor argued. “I have to wait for the real authorities to come and….”

“They won’t be any use. Just get your janitor to clean up the glass while we’re gone.”

Professor Petrakis looked at The Doctor steadily for half a minute, then nodded decisively. If she was pressed, she couldn’t have said what it was that swayed her decision unless it was the feeling that his eyes were portals into eternity and she wasn’t going to try to explain that to anyone else.

She followed The Doctor and Jean out of the museum and into the fragrantly warm air of a late spring in Greece. It was a contrast to the air-conditioned museum that even a Greek woman, brought up in this climate, needed to adjust for.

“You’ve been around the Rod all this time,” The Doctor recapped. “That makes you more likely to find it than me. I won’t really know it until I’m looking at it. But all you have to do is feel for it.”

“Feel for it? But how? The police said that the robbers would be miles away by now. How can I…?”

“Try,” The Doctor told her gently. “Close your eyes and picture the missing treasures. One of them will stand out in your mind. And you’ll know where it went. Feel it with your soul, Sofia.”

“I can’t,” she protested. “I’m Human. I’m ordinary. I can’t do something like that.”

“You can,” The Doctor reassured her. “Just try. It won’t hurt. In fact, connecting mentally with a semi-sentient thing like the Rod should feel rather exhilarating.”

“Doctor, are you sure about this?” Jean asked. “What if she can’t?”

“She can,” he insisted.

“Yes!” she murmured. Oh, yes, I can. I can feel it. And… yes it’s an exciting feeling. I can feel it….” She opened her eyes and looked around. “That way.”

She pointed towards the green, wooded hill that rose above the ancient city.

“Mount Kronos,” Jean commented. That was The Doctor’s doing, though. Until that moment she neither knew nor cared what it was called. “That makes a kind of poetic sense. Kronos…. The Titan god of time and the ages. Where better to take a thing of Time Lord power?”

“Where else, indeed,” The Doctor replied. “Sofia, lead on. We will follow.”

Sofia led, compelled by the thing of power that was calling to her, while at the same time bewildered by the very idea. Half an hour ago she was caught up in a major crime scene. Her world was in turmoil. But it was in turmoil within normal parameters. Thieves in a museum was a terrible thing, but understandable in Human terms.

Now her world was upside down and she was well outside any parameters that made sense to her.

“If it’s any consolation, I felt just like you did the first time,” Jean said to her.

“Like… what?”

“Like I couldn’t be certain which way was up any more. He has that effect on everyone.”


“It’s worth it, though. You’ll never forget this day… meeting The Doctor, touching his universe.”

“I thought getting to work and finding the place ransacked was memorable enough.”

“Just you wait. I’m not sure what will happen, but it will blow your mind.”

Mount Kronos wasn’t a spectacularly high mountain. It was mostly covered in trees except one swathe that had been set on fire at some point in the previous summer. There, the brighter green of new growth was coming up from among the grey and brown devastation but it would be a scar on the mountain for a few years to come.

What made it historically noteworthy, apart from being named after the ancient Greek God of Time and the Ages, was the series of ‘Treasuries’ built on a terrace at the base of the mountainside. These small temples dedicated to Sicyon, Syracuse, Byzantion, Sybaris, Cyrene, Selinus, Metapontium, Megara and Gela – as Jean found herself able to remember - would have once looked very much like the entrances to crypts in an old cemetery, except that no bodies were ever left there. The treasures they once kept were anyone’s guess since they had all long ago been plundered. The elaborately decorated walls had fallen down. Since the first excavation of ancient Olympia in the 1870s the floors and a few courses of rough wall had been uncovered for the tourists to look at, but there was obviously no place here to keep stolen bronzes and ceramics.

“I don’t understand,” Sofia admitted as they stood before the remnants of the treasuries of Cyrene and Selinus, trying not to get in the way of the tourists taking photographs. “I FEEL that this is the right place. I really do, just as you said, Doctor. I could see it in my mind’s eye… something like one of the treasuries when they were newly built, with a great stone door bearing a bas-relief of a huge bird with its wings outstretched. But, of course, all of the treasuries are ruined. Am I missing something?”

“If you are, then so am I.” The Doctor reached into his pocket for his sonic screwdriver. There was no point in hiding it. Sofia knew that he was alien. He used it to scan the air above and around Treasuries.

“Ah!” he said at last. “Yes, I see. At least, I will in a moment. Stand back, ladies. This is going to be interesting.”

He pointed the sonic screwdriver at the gap between the Treasuries of Cyrene and Selinus. There was a noise like stone grinding on stone. Jean and Sofia both gasped in surprise as the two remnants of ancient structures pushed aside to make room for a brand new Treasury. It rose up from the ground before their astonished faces, an elaborately decorated temple with a stone door bearing a bas-relief of a bird with its wings outstretched.

Funnily enough, the tourists didn’t seem to have noticed anything unusual. They carried on photographing the ruins without rushing to look at the sudden new addition to the scene.

“Harry Potter!” Jean murmured. The Doctor shot her a disgusted glance.

“A perception cloak,” he said. “A very clever one. It not only disguised the fact that something was here, but masked its dimensions, too.”

“For how long?” Sofia asked. “The Treasuries were uncovered a hundred and forty years ago.”

“For a very long time,” The Doctor answered “In your terms, anyway. For a Titan, not very long at all.”

“A Titan, the children of Zeus… the Gods of ancient Greece?” Jean queried.

“That would be your Human interpretation of them,” The Doctor answered as he ran his hand across the bas-relief of the bird. “The Titans in the history books of my people were a powerful race of eternals cast out of the Calibi-Yau dimension by the Chronovores. They travelled in this universe looking for planets to conquer and rule. Some of them found Earth when its people were still relatively primitive and easily moulded. They started their moulding in what you would come to know as Greece where they created a civilisation that worshipped them as gods while they planted just enough knowledge in their minds to make them greater than the savage and unenlightened races around them. They let them conquer and expand their civilisation, and doubtless they would have carried on doing so if the Chronovores hadn’t decided to put a stop to them. They devoured the Titans and returned to their Calibi-yau dimensions. The Greek gods became no more than myth and legend, part of the heritage of this part of your world. Ah….”

There was an audible click as The Doctor pressed hard with both hands on the wing tips of the bird. The door slid sideways with a grinding sound.

“That was quite smooth,” Jean commented. She looked down at the floor. There were marks on the ground where the door had rubbed against it. A lot of marks. “I think this has been opened at least once before.”

“Well observed,” The Doctor complimented her. He turned the sonic screwdriver to penlight mode and stepped over the threshold. Jean and Sofia looked into the dark chasm and hesitated. It occurred to both of them that the door could just as easily close on them when they were inside.

“Hang on.” The Doctor adjusted the sonic again and aimed it at the door. It slid halfway. The Doctor flipped the sonic and it slid back partly. He did that several times until there was a more terminal grinding noise and the door stuck when it was less than a quarter closed. “A sonic screwdriver in the works.” He reverted again to penlight mode as the two women joined him in the gloom.

“Agggh!” Jean exclaimed as the penlight beam fell upon a body. The Doctor widened the beam to reveal three more dead men. They were all dressed in t-shirts and jeans and wearing scarves around their faces. Sofia stepped closer.

“I think they’re the ones who robbed the museum. They’re on our security camera. But….”

The Doctor reached and pulled the scarf from one of the faces. It was aged beyond belief. The skin was wrinkled and grey, the eyes rheumy. The hair was so white it was hard to believe it ever had any colour.

All four men were the same. They looked at least a hundred years old.

“I don’t believe four old men robbed the museum,” Jean commented.

“They weren’t old when they did that,” The Doctor assured her. “They’ve had their lives drained by a creature that eats time.”

“Uggh,” Jean and Sofia both said in answer to that. “Why?”

“Because they were finished with. They brought the treasures here, and they were no longer useful after that.”

“No honour among thieves,” Jean remarked.

“Not when the thieves are commanded by a Titan,” The Doctor explained.

“One of the old Greek Gods who were really aliens?”


“But you said that they were all gone,” Sofia protested. “They were devoured by the….”

“Chronovores,” Jean finished the sentence for her.

“Obviously one survived, hidden in here for eons, feeding every so often on some poor soul it lured in here.”

He widened the beam of sonic torchlight still further to reveal even older bodies right at the back of the oblong shaped treasury. The newest might have been about fifty years old. Wisps of white hair still clung to the skull. Others were much older, some crumbling away. “Maybe one victim every fifty or sixty years – a youngish man with maybe that much life left in him. These four all at once will have made the Titan feel invincible. Plus he has the Rod of Rassilon. He’s going to be full of himself.”

“Where is he?” Sofia asked. “This is no bigger than the other treasuries. And apart from the bodies, it is empty.”

“I bet there’s a secret door,” Jean commented. “There’s got to be. I mean, the whole thing was hidden from anyone who doesn’t have a sonic screwdriver. There’s bound to be another secret way into some sort of ‘inner sanctum’.”

“Spot on,” The Doctor confirmed. “Stand back, both of you. It might be a bit showy.”

The torchlight went out, plunging the treasury into echoing darkness as The Doctor adjusted the sonic screwdriver yet again.

“You should get something multi-functional,” Jean commented. “It’s a bit annoying losing the light when you need it for something else.”

“I think we’ll have all the light we need, soon,” The Doctor replied. “I’m sensing a huge metaphasic shift around the back wall.”

“Don’t ask him what that is,” Jean warned Sofia. “He’ll give us a lot of technobabble and then dumb it down to ‘magic door’ or something.”

“It’s a magic door,” The Doctor said. The treasury was filled with a bright silvery light. When their eyes adjusted his two Human companions saw a swirling circle like a huge pool of mercury on the wall.

“It’s a portal between worlds,” Jean noted. “Lik Stargate.”

“Not quite, just between dimensions,” The Doctor replied. “Like I said, showy. This is no different to the TARDIS door, but he had to be clever.”

“We’re going in, aren’t we?” Sofia asked.

“I am,” The Doctor answered. “Not you two.”

The two women protested loudly. The Doctor waited for them to stop calling him a male chauvinist pig and various other epithets before he went on.

“Remember those bodies over there. The Titan can rob you fragile humans of your future in a matter of minutes. You won’t stand a chance. You really ought to go right outside the treasury, back into the ordinary world that you know and trust. This is a job for a Time Lord. We were the only non-immortals the Eternals of Calibi-Yau ever messed with at their peril.”

“Thing is, Doctor,” Jean said. “I’ve no real desire to reach my hundredth birthday this afternoon. But, even so, I’m coming with you.”

“Me, too,” Sofia added. “What you say is perfectly sensible, but I feel as if the best place to be right now is next to you.”

“BEHIND me,” The Doctor insisted. “Step through the portal together. It will be less nauseating with two bodies absorbing the ion particles. Of course, Time Lord bodies absorb ion particles without side-effects.”

“Well, of course!” Jean stuck her tongue out to his back as he turned and stepped towards the portal. Sometimes he could be just a bit too alien. Or was it plain arrogance? What would two Time Lords be like if one was this bad?

As The Doctor disappeared into the silvery oval she felt Sofia grasp her hand timidly. They had both chosen to face the unknown, she with slightly more idea just how dangerous it might be. It didn’t hurt to give each other a bit of moral support, though.

They stepped together into the portal. What happened next could have taken a few seconds or it could have taken several terrifying, disorientating minutes. Afterwards they weren’t sure, but as the dizziness passed, along with the strange ringing in their ears and the sort of feeling in the stomach that usually came after a white knuckle ride at the seaside, they found they couldn’t remember anything about it.

Besides, the portal was nothing compared to the vista in front of them.

“It’s ancient Olympia,” Jean observed. “When it was new.”

“Yes,” Sofia confirmed. “Yes, it is. That’s the Temple of Zeus in its full glory. It’s magnificent. Oh, it was worth it to see that.”

“Did we travel back in time?” Jean asked. “Is that what happened?”

“No,” The Doctor replied. “This isn’t real. It’s….” He looked up at the sky. The two women did, too. It wasn’t a sky. It was a swirling mass of blackness, a void that looked as if it could suck a body straight in if it got too close. “We’re actually inside Mount Kronos. This is a natural cavern about fifty metres across. But there is a transcendental illusion at work. It’s a very real one. We can walk through the streets of Olympia as if they were actually there. But try to remember that it isn’t. We’ll be saner for it.”

“Where are we going?” Jean asked as The Doctor set off downhill towards the ancient city.

“The Temple of Zeus,” Sofia answered. “Doctor, I can feel it, again. That’s where your Rod of Rassilon is.”

“Good,” he replied. “That saves us a bit of time. Not that time will have any meaning in here. This isn’t a place where time passes.”

He set off towards the most famous of the temples, housing one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the great Statue of Zeus. Nobody knew for sure, since it was destroyed by fire in the fifth century AD, but it was reputed to be as much as forty-three feet tall in its enthroned position. How tall the god would be if he stood up was another matter of conjecture. It was constructed of ivory and bronze, both rare enough to make it priceless in its time.

Sofia, who had worked all her life in the museums of Olympia, and Jean who had acquired a love of Greek antiquity only this day, both shivered in anticipation. The Doctor may be right about it not being real, but even so, they were going to see the statue of Zeus.

And it was everything that artistic impressions and fanciful reconstructions promised. The white and gleaming bronze statue sat enthroned with a flaming torch in one hand, a globe – possibly Earth - in his other, long flowing hair and beard and robes so exquisitely carved they looked as if they could move in the breeze.

“Look!” Sofia exclaimed. “The treasures.”

The floor of the temple was strewn with bronzes and ceramics, stone statues and assorted memorabilia of the ancient Olympic games – the loot from the museum robbery. Sofia recognised them from working in the museum for years. Jean recognised them from the list of stolen items.

“Is the Rod of Rassilon among them?” she asked.

“Yes, it is,” Sofia answered. “I…”

She stopped speaking as Zeus stood, his head almost touching the ceiling of the great temple as he stepped down from his throne. Sofia and Jean both moved back instinctively, concealing themselves behind heavy and ornate pillars, reasoning that the giant wouldn’t choose to snap them like pencils since they were holding up the roof of his temple.

“Who dares enter my presence?” he called out in a booming voice.

“I dare,” The Doctor replied. “So get off your high horse about it. I’m The Doctor, Time Lord of Gallifrey. You’ve been a very naughty Titan and you’ve got to be punished. So leave that statue alone and face the music.”

“A Time Lord!” Zeus roared. “A mere mortal creature dares to command me?”

Contemptuous laughter echoed around the temple before halting abruptly. The great statue shivered as if it had been dealt a blow. The Doctor braced himself for a counter-attack and when it came he only barely kept his feet by grabbing onto a pillar.

“He’s duelling with it!” Jean exclaimed. “Some kind of mental duel.”

“O Tee µ??!” Sofia responded. Thanks to the TARDIS translation Jean understood it to be a mild Greek swear word. Several choice phrases that the fishermen of her native Scottish isle used – mostly in the presence of tourists – crossed her mind, but they seemed superfluous.

The Doctor was holding his own in this fight, anyway. He had twice forced the giant Zeus to stumble backwards towards his throne while he stood his ground and resisted the counter-attack.

He didn’t have it all his own way, though. Jean and Sofia saw him fall once, and when he stood his hair was white and his face lined. They realised that the Time Lord and the Titan were duelling with time – with years of life. The Doctor had been hit by a huge dose of ages.

But it didn’t affect him as it would affect a Human. He stood strongly and attacked the Titan again. This time the statue aged visibly. Its beard was already white, but the face crazed over with wide cracks.

It fought back and The Doctor staggered as he was hit by another hundred years. Jean tried to leave her hiding place to help him, but he waved her back. He stood tall despite the onslaught of extreme old age and redoubled his attack on the Titan. The giant was in trouble. The effects of age on ivory and bronze were even more debilitating than they were on the flesh and blood of a Time Lord. He was winning.

In proof of that, the extreme years fell off him and his young face split into a grin as he forced Zeus back onto his throne. He hit him again, twice in succession, and the face of the statue began to crack and crumble. The globe rolled out from under Zeus’s hand and the torch toppled. His face split into two and broken pieces slipped down his torso to land at his feet. Those, too, were crumbling. His whole body was falling to bits with age and neglect.

“He’s had it,” The Doctor said, turning and reaching to pick up the torch that Zeus had dropped. It was rather larger than an Olympic torch, being proportioned for a forty-three foot statue, but he held it aloft and spoke in a language neither Sofia nor Jean recognised. There was a shimmer in the air and the torch turned into an obsidian staff with a silver orb on top. He let his arm drop after a moment, ‘oofing’ to indicate that holding something so heavy was hard work.

“He had the Rod of Rassilon, and you still beat him?” Jean asked. She and Sofia stepped out of hiding and came to his side. “How come?”

“It is a powerful thing, but on its own its power is limited. Only with the other indices can the Matrix be forced to lay all of time, past, present and future, before the one who holds them.”

“And the other indices are safe?” Jean asked.

“I know one of them is. The others were somebody else’s responsibility. I can only trust that she did her duty while it was still possible. Anyway, as long as all four indices are scattered across the universe the fabric of time is safe from harm.”

He held up the Rod again and spoke that untranslatable language. Around them the magnificent temple vanished. So did ancient Olympia. The illusion was broken. They were standing in a dark cavern with one sliver of daylight coming from a narrow cave entrance.

“Inside Mount Kronos?” Sofia wondered. She looked at the museum treasures lying on the ground. She picked up one of the bronzes, then another, and another. There were too many for her to hold.

“That’s the way out,” The Doctor told her. “As soon as we’re in mobile phone range Jean will make an anonymous phone call to the police giving them the GPS position I’m about to work out with my trusty sonic screwdriver. Your treasures will be back with you in a few days, as soon as the investigation is complete.”

He put the Rod of Rassilon down among the treasures. Before their eyes it turned back into a carved stone torch.

“You’re just going to leave it here?” Jean asked. “After all the trouble we went through to find it?”

“The museum is the safest place for it. That’s why I left it there in the first place. It’s even safer, now, with Sofia to keep a special eye on it.”

“That’s… a huge responsibility, Doctor,” Sofia told him. “And… an honour. Thank you.”

They walked towards the sliver of daylight. The entrance to the cavern was a mere crack just wide enough for an adult to pass through, and from outside it was hard to see it at all with the trees of Mount Kronos crowding around it. Jean made the phone call before they walked down the mountain and back through the ruins of Olympia. The treasury of the Titan was gone, along with the bodies of the four robbers. Their fate would remain a mystery long after their loot was recovered.

They reached the entrance to the museum. The Doctor paused by the TARDIS door. He held the key in his hand and smiled at his two companions.

“Sofia, I think you deserve a treat. Come into my spaceship. Don’t worry about what it looks like. It’s just one more wonder on a day that you were never going to forget.”

Jean touched her on the shoulder reassuringly. Sofia decided to trust them both. She stepped aboard the TARDIS. It was a wonder, as The Doctor said, but not as wonderful as the ‘treat’ he had in mind. When the door opened again they walked out into the real ancient Olympia. Sofia Petrakas, who had studied ancient ruins and relics all her life burned with excitement as she saw all those ancient ruins restored to their former glory. When she stood in the Temple of Zeus and looked at the real statue she thought her legs would give way under her.

“Oh, I wish I could take photographs,” she said. “I’ve got my phone. I suppose…. No, it wouldn’t be right, would it? Just let me look at it all one time, so that I can remember it forever.”

The Doctor smiled indulgently. Of course she could look at it for as long as she liked. That was her reward for being the keeper of one of the last remnants of Gallifrey.

Jean just looked up at the quite benevolent face of Zeus and glared at him.

“Don’t you dare move, sunshine,” she said.