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

“That suits you,” Rose said to The Doctor. He smiled warmly. He thought it did. He adjusted the strap of the baby carrier so that his week old son was even more snugly held against his chest. He felt hardly any weight at all, though he had put on several pounds since he was born.

“I like being a dad,” he said. He looked at his eldest son, walking beside them, carrying his four year old sister, and he clasped his wife’s hand. “I’m a very happy man.”

“But you’re still a restless one. Being a dad will never be enough for you,” she told him. “Which is why we’re on our way to Susan’s to get into some heap of mischief with the boys.”

“Yep,” he said. “Time we got their TARDIS up and running. They’ve been very patient these past few days, but if I don’t help them…”

“They’ll try to do it all themselves again and turn the universe upside down.”


“Susan is not crazy about them having their own TARDIS at seventeen years of age, you know,” Christopher said.

“I would have committed TREASON to have my own TARDIS at FIFTY,” The Doctor answered. “Let alone seventeen. It’s different now. They know as much as I did when I was in my hundred and eighties. They’re ready. Davie accused me of trying to hold them back. If I don’t let them… when there’s no excuse not to… then he’ll be right.”

“They’re smart kids,” Rose said. “Trust them.”

“I DO,” The Doctor said. “Don’t worry. We’re going to get their TARDIS working, take it for a quick test drive out into time and space, and then home for tea.”

“Still have to convince Susan,” Christopher pointed out.

Susan was not convinced. But she and David at least agreed to bring Sukie out with them so that the whole family were witnesses to this seminal moment in their sons’ lives. There was almost an air of ceremony about it when Davie and Chris unlocked the doors of the Chinese TARDIS, mundanely disguised as a potting shed at the bottom of the garden of their ordinary suburban home. Everyone followed them inside. The boys led the way through the corridors from the console room to the Cloister Room.

Everyone but The Doctor and the boys were surprised at how the Cloister Room looked. They were used to the way The Doctor’s one looked, a sort of Gothic cathedral style. This one was like a Buddhist temple with walls of warm colours and elaborate gold ornamentation. The well cover over the place where the Eye of Harmony should be was like a pagoda made of black and red laquered wood and more gold.

“Isn’t it beautiful,” Rose said, looking around.

“I love it,” Chris said. “I hope it stays this way. I love the Chinese theme to the whole of the interior. But I think it might change once we’re imprinted on it.”

“It SHOULD change,” Christopher noted. “When the power is restored and they are accepted as the new owners. It should absorb something of their thoughts and ideas.”

“Well, that can’t be helped.” The Doctor looked at the twins. They looked back at him expectantly. This was their TARDIS, but he was their teacher, their mentor, who had made it all possible. “Davie, are you ready?”

“I am,” he said. “Everyone stand back.”

They did so. There was something about the box-like mechanical device that Davie had brought to the Cloister Room that was disturbing. It wasn’t just that it was glowing. It was the fact that the glow seemed alive. And of course, it was. The energy of the Eye of Harmony was a living thing.

“What happens now?” Rose asked as she felt The Doctor reach out and take her hand. “And is it safe for the children?”

“Now we let the Eye do its own thing,” he said. “Just watch.”

They watched. The glow from the box intensified until it lit the room. Slowly the pagoda began to split into four segments and fold out like a flower spreading its petals. Beneath it was a space that looked as if it was dark nothingness that went on for eternity.

Now, the glow was increasing until the room was too bright for Rose and David with their purely Human eyes. Even those with Gallifreyan DNA found it painful.

“It IS just light isn’t it?” Susan asked. “Not radiation? Are you SURE we’re safe?”

“It’s Artron energy,” The Doctor assured her. “Perfectly safe in this form, at least. And you should know to trust me, Susan. I would not have brought the children here if I thought otherwise. Wait. Watch.”

There was a crash as the lid flipped off the box and the piece of the eye rose up into the air, spinning like a perfect diamond as they had seen it do in Ireland. It hovered above the open well and then slowly descended, still spinning. Rose wondered if the darkness would envelop it and extinguish it.

It didn’t. Rather, it extinguished the darkness, replacing it with the bright, clear, silvery light of the Eye of Harmony. And as it settled itself within its rightful place it sucked in the light from the room as if it was a physical thing. The room darkened except where the Eye cast its light.

Then the four ‘petals’ began to close and the light was hidden. The room was pitch dark for a moment. Sukie and Vicki both cried out before their parents hushed them with reassuring hugs.

Everyone felt it at once. A vibration that they were always aware of in The Doctor’s TARDIS, but which had been absent until now in this one. And at the same moment lights came on around them. The Chinese TARDIS was alive again. It had power in all of its systems.

“Yes!” Davie cried in triumph. He turned to his brother and they hugged joyfully.

“It’s still not yours to command until you’ve been imprinted upon it,” The Doctor said. “Console Room…”

The twins led the way again. Whatever the TARDIS might itself have thought, they felt it was theirs. And everyone else deferred to them.

“What do we have to do?” Chris asked The Doctor.

“Put your hands on the console. Both of you. Both hands.” They did so.

“What…” Chris began, but then he knew. They both felt it. They felt as if they were a part of the TARDIS and it was a part of them. He looked at his brother and felt his thoughts as the time rotor rose up from the centre of the console, glowing a cool blue. They matched his own and were best described as sheer elation.

“Look!” Susan cried. The TARDIS was changing around them. They all gasped in surprise as they saw it take on the same appearance as The Doctor’s own console room with the coral-like organic construction. Then it changed again to 1920s art deco style, then a rather grand Victorian drawing room, a sleek spaceship interior and a light, airy café. Chris grinned and closed his eyes and whispered something. Davie agreed with him and it returned to the Chinese style with the red laquered panels and the inscriptions warding off evil.

“I like it like this,” Chris said. “I don’t want it any other way.”

“Me neither,” Davie agreed. “But… now it’s OUR choice, not Li Tuo’s. It’s our TARDIS and we can do anything we want with it.”

“Anything SAFE,” Susan corrected them. “Boys… please… promise me you’ll be careful.”

“What’s that?” Rose asked, pointing to the top of the time rotor. What looked like a miniature gold pagoda was perched on top of it. It looked in perfect harmony with the décor but entirely out of place on top of a time rotor.

“Oh!” The Doctor breathed. He stepped forward and reached for the pagoda. He lifted it reverentially. “Oh, how could I have forgotten?”

“What is it?” Davie asked him.

“It’s…. it’s the remains of Mai Li Tuo. His ashes. I placed them there before I deactivated the TARDIS. After his funeral ceremony.”

“Oh!” Christopher echoed his father’s exclamation.

“He was a Time Lord….” Rose looked at the casket in The Doctor’s hands.

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “He died in exile on Earth. His one regret was that he could never return to our home… to Gallifrey.”

“I can understand that,” Susan said.

“So can I,” Christopher added.

“I know.” The Doctor sighed. “But it was harder for him, knowing that home was out there and that he could never return. For us, exile is our only choice. We know there is nothing to go back to.”

The Doctor held the casket in one hand and with the other he put his arm around his child as he slept peacefully against him. New life and old death. There was an irony there.

“Boys,” he said. “If you really want to test your new TARDIS…” He passed a co-ordinate to Davie telepathically and he punched it into the navigation control before moving to the drive console and initiating the dematerialisation.

“What!” Susan shrieked. “We came on board for a few minutes. We’re not going anywhere.”

“Yes we are,” Christopher told her. “We’re in the vortex.”

“But….” Susan stared at the viewscreen. “I’ve never seen the vortex like that before.”

“The blue vortex takes us back through time and the red forward,” Chris said.

“What does GREEN do?” Davie asked.

“It goes to a place that does not exist in time or space,” Rose told them. She had guessed what the co-ordinate was. She had an idea what The Doctor wanted to do. She didn’t have the telepathic connection with him now. That faded once Peter was born. But she had been with him for more than eight years. She knew him well enough. And the mood that had taken him when he found that casket was one she knew. There was something he had to do or it would niggle at him like a loose tooth until it was done.

“Take us home,” Susan protested. “David, tell them.”

“Is there any point?” David said. “This is what they’ve been leading up to ever since The Doctor came back into our lives. Face it, Susan. Our sons are grown up now. And this is what they want to do. And we might as well go along for the ride. At least if we see them manage it for themselves, if we know that they’re able to control their own TARDIS for themselves, we won’t worry so much in the future.”

“Exactly,” The Doctor said. “Come on, Susan. Relax. This is not our old familiar TARDIS, but it IS a TARDIS. Just like we used to travel the universe in together.”

“We’re an hour away,” Chris told everyone. “Sit down and relax.”

“Sit where?” Susan asked. “There are no seats.” But Chris grinned and pressed a button and two long sofas in red leather that matched the lacquered walls slid smoothly out of the wall.

“All the conveniences granddad’s TARDIS DOESN’T have,” Davie said. He pressed another button and a low table rose out of the floor with coffee and sandwiches for all.

“Not bad at all,” Rose said, bringing Vicki and Sukie to sit at the table and putting sandwiches on plates in front of them. They happily tucked into the unexpected picnic. “You’d better give me Peter,” she added to The Doctor. “He needs to be fed soon. Does this TARDIS have baby changing facilities, by the way?”

“Not sure about that,” Davie said. “Better check the bathroom.”

“I like this TARDIS,” Christopher said, making himself comfortable and pouring coffee. “I might even go so far as to say it's better than yours, Father.”

“Yeah, how come you never put in any nice touches like this?” Rose asked The Doctor as he sat beside her and stretched out lazily. It wasn’t often he got to be a passenger in time and space and he was going to make the most of it.

So he told himself.

Though his eyes were drawn inexorably towards the console and if he didn’t busy himself with something – if only coffee and sandwiches – he knew his hands would be moving of their own volition to work an imaginary console in front of him.

“I never needed the ‘nice touches’,” he said. “My TARDIS always suited me. But this is what the boys want. Their choice.”

“I’ve hardly ever travelled by TARDIS,” David said. “More than forty years married to a Time Lord’s daughter and I kept my feet firmly on the ground. But now my own sons are taking me to the far reaches of the universe. I’m proud of them, you know. Very proud.”

“So am I,” Susan admitted. “I really am. But I wish….” But she couldn’t really express what she wished. Yes, she was proud of her sons. She watched them working together at the console of their own craft. She knew just by looking how skilful they were. They reminded her so much of her grandfather at the controls of his TARDIS. They played the controls like a musical instrument, and they did it in tandem, the two of them working together perfectly. She knew they would be able to pilot the TARDIS anywhere and any time just as he could. She had nothing to worry about.

Though she knew she always WOULD worry. She was a parent, after all.

“We’re there,” Davie announced. Everyone looked at the viewscreen. Christopher stood up and walked towards it.

“Father….” he said. “THIS….”

“Oooh….” Susan whispered and she, too, stood up and moved near to the viewscreen.

“Granddad…” Chris asked, wondering about the deeply emotional signals he was picking up from his mother and grandfather. “Where IS this?”

“It’s where Gallifrey used to be,” The Doctor said. “You’ve brought Li Tuo home at last. Brought us all home.”


It had seemed a good idea at the time. Now he was less sure. He looked at his son and granddaughter. They stood together, their hands clasping, as they looked at the viewscreen. He saw Susan turn to her father and he closed his arms around her.

They had both accepted that their homeworld was gone. They had cried for it, grieved for those they loved.

And now he had opened the wound again.

“This is really THERE?” Davie asked, his eyes shining with excitement. “Gallifrey…”

“It’s the space where Gallifrey should be,” The Doctor said. “Or as near as we can get. Everything that WAS our world, our solar system, was pulled into the black hole that formed after the supernova collapsed. We’re a safe distance from its event horizon. But close enough for me to do what we came here to do.”

He took up the golden pagoda shaped casket and placed it on the floor. He stood a pace back from it and bowed formally.

“Boys,” he said. “Time to test that transmat beam of yours.”

Davie nodded and reached for the control. A beam of white light enveloped the casket and it disappeared. Automatically they all turned to the viewscreen and saw the casket materialise in the vacuum beyond and begin falling through space towards the patch of even more intense darkness that was the black hole. Li Tuo was returning to his ancestors at last.

“Goodbye old friend,” The Doctor whispered. He realised that everyone was standing now. Rose came to his side, holding Peter in one arm as she put her hand in his. Susan was flanked by Christopher and David. Sukie and Vicki came to him. Davie and Chris stood away from their console controls respectfully. It felt like a funeral. And in a way it was. The Doctor was paying his last respects to his old friend. They were all paying their respects to their lost planet and all they cared for on it.

Davie broke the silence.

“See mum, nothing to it. We just step out into time for a quick adventure and back home for tea.”

The Doctor laughed. The boys were even using his own words now. His eyes glittered with pride as he watched Davie turn back to the console and reach for the dematerialisation switch.

“What’s THAT?” Susan cried out and everyone turned again to the viewscreen. All but Davie who turned to the console and set it to analyse the ship that had materialised in front of them.

“Nothing should be in these co-ordinates,” The Doctor insisted. “Only a very powerful ship with time travel functions could do it.”

“That IS a very powerful ship,” Davie told him. “It's….”

“Sontaran,” The Doctor finished his sentence.

“Yes,” Davie said. “That’s what the database says.”

“You recognised it by sight?” Chris asked The Doctor.

“Yes,” he answered tersely.

“The database of any TARDIS lists every species known to the Time Lords,” Christopher said.

“I know,” The Doctor replied to him. “I added quite a few they didn’t know about. Even so I wouldn’t rely on it. The Time Lords thought they were the most powerful people in the universe, don’t forget. They tended to underestimate their enemies.”

“It hasn’t seen us,” Davie said. “We’re cloaked.”

“We are?” The Doctor looked surprised. “You’ve installed an in-flight cloaking device?”

“Of course,” the boy said. “Stealth mode activated automatically as soon as a ship the TARDIS identified as hostile came into proximity of us. They don’t know we’re here.”

“Then why are THEY here?” David asked the obvious question. “What does an old enemy of the Time Lords want in the location of their dead planet?”

“We’re going to find out,” Davie told his father. Susan looked at him and then turned to her grandfather.

“This is you!” she said. “You could never leave a mystery alone. Anything piqued your curiosity, you had to be there, investigating, interfering. Even if you had to deceive me and everyone else to do it.”

“Guilty as charged,” The Doctor answered her. “But are you really surprised? Susan THIS IS their destiny. What else did you expect them to be?”

“When they were very little, they wanted to join the space corps,” David said. “They had model ships and badges and posters, just like every child on Earth and they dreamt of being astronauts. But we knew they couldn’t be, didn’t we. For the same reason they couldn’t be professional footballers or athletes or...”

“Or anything else that required a medical examination that would reveal they weren’t Human,” Susan finished.

“So now they’re fulfilling their dreams the only way they ever could. As what they really ARE,” The Doctor told his granddaughter. “And they’re doing it wonderfully.”

“Where are we going?” Rose asked, looking back at the Sontaran ship. “We’re following THAT?”

“Yes,” Chris said. “We’ve hacked into their computer and we’ve matched our flight plan with theirs. Wherever they’re going, we are.”

The Doctor said nothing, but he took Peter from Rose’s arms and put him back into the baby carrier that strapped firmly to his own chest and then he took Sukie and Vicki and sat down on the floor of the TARDIS, his back against the bulkhead wall. The rest of the adults got the idea with moments to spare before the Chinese TARDIS followed the Sontaran ship into a hyperspace jump.

“Peter!” Rose screamed as they came out of the jump. She stepped through the puddle of spilt coffee and debris of broken china that were evidence of a traumatic few minutes. “Our baby…. Is he….”

“He’s fine,” The Doctor told her as he picked himself up from the floor. “He’s beaten my record. I was six weeks old when my parents took me to a new planet through hyperspace. He’s…” He put his hand on his baby son’s head and felt his dreaming thoughts. The baby was listening to his father’s hearts beating next to his own body. He was aware that they were a different sound to his mother’s heartbeat, but that he was loved just as much, and was safe and warm as long as he was near that sound.

And that was all he needed to know.

“Is anyone interested in where we are?” Davie asked. “For the record we’ve travelled one hundred and fifty light years from where we started. And we’re in real time now. The hyperspace jump took us out of the null time envelope that still exists around Gallifrey’s location.”

“Real time when?” David asked.

“Earth date 300,000,” Chris told his father. “But we’re a long way from Earth. The Sontarans seem to have a permanent space station in orbit around this planet.” He punched keys and brought up a picture of a small planet that looked not unlike Earth. “A breathable atmosphere, though there seems to be a lot of industrial pollution in the lower stratosphere, land masses and oceans. I’m picking up a small population centre.”

“A Sontaran Academy planet?” The Doctor knew as much about that race as anyone in the universe. He knew that colonising planets like the one he was looking at now wasn’t how they worked. They asset stripped planets – usually for metal ores and other materials for building their warships and weapons. If they populated a planet it was with giant breeding ‘Academies’ where their young were bred by the thousand from infant to adulthood as soldiers. No other career choices were open to Sontarans. They were BORN to be soldiers, born to kill or oppress anything not of their own kind.

“No,” Chris said. “Nowhere near enough lifesigns for anything like that. Besides I’m picking up….” His face turned pale, but it was excited, too. “Granddad… I’m detecting OUR kind of DNA.”

“Time Lords?” Rose gasped out loud as The Doctor sprinted to the console. He reached for the keyboard and then stopped. He looked at Chris and Davie, knowing this was THEIR TARDIS and he had no automatic right to take over even the environmental control.

“No,” Chris said. “Not Time Lords. But…. But Gallifreyan. Ordinary Gallifreyan DNA.”

“He’s right.” The Doctor breathed deeply. “He’s right. OUR people are on that planet.”

“How is that possible?” Christopher asked. “Nobody survived the destruction of our world.”

“I don’t know. But….” Again he turned to the boys and deferred to them, though it went so against the grain not to be in charge.

“Let’s go find OUT,” Davie said and he set co-ordinates for the middle of that population centre.

“I really think the children ought to stay in the TARDIS,” Susan said as they stepped out and looked around them. The TARDIS had disguised itself rather alarmingly as an abandoned car. The street they stood in seemed to be full of abandoned cars. And abandoned homes, too.

It looked like the worst nightmare of Earth city planning, Rose thought. Even the housing estate she had grown up on was nothing like this.

“We stay together,” she said, glancing at The Doctor as he put a protective arm around the baby carrier. She lifted Vicki into her arms. This wasn’t a place she really wanted to bring either of their children, or Sukie, either. She saw her cling to her mother in trepidation. But sticking together was her first instinct.

“I can hear telepaths,” Chris said. “In that house, there…” He pointed to one of the dilapidated houses. It was as miserable looking as any of the buildings, but if Chris said there was somebody inside, then everyone was willing to believe him.

“Well, I’d be glad to get off this street,” Susan said. “If we can’t just go back into the TARDIS, then let’s at least be inside.”

The door was locked. But Davie opened it with his sonic screwdriver. They all stepped inside. They expected it to be dirty. It wasn’t. But it was dark. The light fittings had no bulbs in them and looked like they hadn’t for a long time.

They could all smell cooking somewhere. There were no voices, but Vicki and Sukie both had the look on their faces they got when they were listening in to telepathic conversations.

They know we’re here,” Chris whispered suddenly. “They felt us.”

“Ok, I’m the one with the diplomatic credentials,” The Doctor said. He stepped in front of everyone else and walked forward slowly towards the source of the cooking smell. He pushed open the door carefully and as electric light spilled out of what was obviously a kitchen he moved his hand quickly. A female voice yelped and there was a clatter as something metal fell to the floor.

“I’m sorry if I hurt you,” The Doctor said. “But….” He stepped into the light and the woman saw the baby carrier and gave a cry of horror as she thought about the hurt she might have caused with the knife she had raised to the intruder. He looked around the kitchen and took in the cleanliness of it, but at the same time the signs of poverty. The windows were cracked and boarded and the meal that was cooking on the old electric stove was a stew that was bulked out with the very cheapest vegetables and very little meat protein.

Around the table three other women sat with nine children of various ages.

And all of them were Gallifreyan. He could sense the DNA patterns instinctively. He swallowed hard as he looked at them.

“Where are the men?” Rose, coming beside him, asked that question.

“They are working,” the woman who had held the knife said. One of the others put down a child of six months old and went to the cooker to take over the serving of the meal. The children all seemed to be looking forward to their one meal a day with the hunger that comes of never quite having enough to eat. It was a feeling none of the visitors had ever known, but they had compassion enough to recognise it in others.

“They need a pay rise,” The Doctor remarked dryly as he watched the children fall to eating the stew as if they didn’t know when they might eat again. The women ate more slowly, knowing the food would seem more filling that way, even if it was not.

“Pay?” One of the other women laughed. “If we’re given enough food rations to stop us starving we’re lucky. Nobody has worked for money since….”

“Since the Sontarans arrived?” The Doctor took a seat at the big table. Rose sat next to him and the others took it as a cue to do the same. Vicki and Sukie sat with the children of the family and immediately began a telepathic conversation with them.

“You’re Caretakers,” Christopher said. The women looked at him and The Doctor and knew at once what they were looking at.

“You’re Oldbloods?” the first one said. “My Lords…”

“None of that,” The Doctor told her. “We’re all refugees now. The hierarchy that made us high born and you the servant classes is long gone. They call me The Doctor, by the way. This is my son. His mother called him The Miracle, but I think he prefers to be called Christopher.”

“I am Brina,” the woman who had been ready with her knife said. “And you are welcome, sirs. As are your kin. And yes, you are right. We ARE refugees.”

“But… how did you survive? When Gallifrey….”

“We were not on Gallifrey. We… our men anyway… were miners, on Karn. When the holocaust came… Some of us managed to get to the freighters…. The ones that carried the ore. We got as many people as we could into the ships instead and got as far away as we could in the time we had. Four ships…. About two hundred people in all, including the crew. We made the jump into hyperspace moments before Karn was engulfed in the same inferno that destroyed the homeworld.”

“Rassilon defend us,” The Doctor murmured. “The High Council and all the great Houses of Gallifrey burned. But those we considered the least among us, the Caretaker class who cleaned our homes and offices, who grew our food and mined our precious metals... they saved themselves.”

“Yes,” Brina said. “Though there have been times when I would have wished we had all died.”

“I’ve often felt that, too,” The Doctor said. “But as you can see I have found a way of making a better future for myself. And you, too, have had children, have made a future for yourselves?”

“We came to this planet. It was an Earth colony. We made our homes among the Humans and worked, as we have always worked. This planet, too, has metal ores as its chief asset. Our men did the same work they have always done. We raised our families. We were no better or worse than we were when we were Gallifreyans.”

“Then the Sontarans came?”

“Yes,” Brina said. “They conquered the planet - the few defences it had were easy to defeat. The planetary government were simply put to death. Every able bodied man or boy over a certain age was made to work in the mines. The women and children are allowed to live, are allowed to survive as long as the men work. The ore that is mined here is valued by the Sontarans. But they have no labouring class. They have only soldiers.”

“That I know,” The Doctor said. “Why waste their own on such things when they can take slaves.”

“But where are the Humans?” Davie asked. “We picked up only OUR DNA profiles.”

“There was a plague. Naturally the Sontarans cared nothing for our health. It wiped out the Human population. We survived because we don’t get the same diseases as Humans. The Sontarans weren’t particularly concerned. They reasoned that a small colony of hardy workers was better than a large population of a feeble race that died so easily. Nearly as productive but needing less guards. Our men work twenty six hour shifts in the mines. They are allowed two hours rest and one meal every rest period. We are allowed to visit them one day every month. It is their incentive to work, so that we receive our rations. And it is their disincentive to rebel. We would be punished if they refused to work.”

Rose looked at the woman with the smallest child and wondered how desperate anyone had to be to bring a child into the world in such circumstances.

“Caretakers!” Christopher looked around the room and his voice was scathing when he spoke. “This is WHY you were the servant class on our planet. You lack imagination. You lack leadership skills. You lack initiative and drive. You have let yourself be enslaved.”

The Doctor said nothing. His son had been brought up in a high caste house just as he had. Caretakers were the cooks and cleaners and servants of their home. They didn’t expect them to show any of those skills. Nobody of his class did. Their meritocracy offered the sons and daughters of the Caretaker class the same educational opportunities as the sons and daughters of the aristocracy. Even the Prydonian Academy, the most elite of them all, accepted its quota. But few ever graduated. And the reason given by those who conducted demographic studies was that they lacked the skills that Christopher had identified.

Of course, there WAS the age old argument that they could not compete with the higher caste students because of their social disadvantages. Many of them dropped out because their families could not support a student who was earning no wage. And after all, the same school of hard knocks that pushed him down for being a half-blood was no kinder to the full bloods of the lower ranks of their society. It wasn’t easy for a Caretaker to demonstrate leadership skills when he was being kicked in the head for being what he could not help being. The Doctor thought about that argument and looked again at the people before him.

“You’re not Caretakers now,” The Doctor said. “And you had the initiative to escape once. You could have it again.”

“But where would we go?” Brina asked. “This planet is not much, but it’s not a molten rock.”

“Earth,” Christopher said. “Two hundred of you or thereabouts… You could easily fit into Earth society just as you did here. New Gallifreyan DNA – new Houses…. Father… Rassilon’s vision of the future – New Gallifrey on Earth – Time Lords and Humans striving together… they could be a part of it.”

“But the Sontarans would follow us,” Brina said.

“Fight the Sontarans,” David told her. Everyone looked at him. And everyone of his family remembered that HE had once been a member of an enslaved race. Earth had been enslaved by the Daleks in the same way the Sontarans had taken this planet. It was virtually the same scenario except that THESE people didn’t have a resistance movement such as he had been a part of.

“I agree with dad,” Davie said. “Fight them.”

“Women and children?” Susan asked. “How?”

“Not women and children,” Chris said. “The men in the mines. And we can help. We can deal with the space station where the Sontaran control is.”

“There are several mines. And they are deep,” Brina said. “They are guarded.”

“You said there were less guards now,” The Doctor said. “A concerted effort – all working together. It can be done.”

“HOW do they work together?” one of the other women asked.

“You’re telepaths,” Davie told them. “All of you. Even the children. Look at them… Sukie and Vicki… they’re telling the other kids stories. Can you hear them LAUGHING in their heads.”

“I tuned it out,” The Doctor admitted. “I was trying to concentrate on the adult issues.” But he knew Davie was right. All of the children had telepathic abilities. All the adults must have, too.

“Yes,” Brina said. “We keep in contact with our men that way. But…”

“If I hear the word BUT anywhere around here one more time,” The Doctor said. “I will give up on the lot of you. You’re Gallifreyans. We’re a proud, honourable race, and we will NOT be slaves. We WILL be the princes of the universe. And the universe will respect us. ALL of us.”

“Don’t shout,” Rose said quietly. “You’ll disturb Peter.”

The Doctor looked at her and smiled.

“I am still a Prince of the Universe even carrying a baby prince along with me,” he said more quietly. “And it seems like you lot DO need some leadership. And that’s my job.” He sat upright in the chair and put his hands on the table.

He closed his eyes and reached out beyond the room they were in. He could hear the telepathic chatter of the children and he was on the point of asking them to be quiet so that he could concentrate, but he didn’t have the hearts to do it. No, he thought. The laughter of children is the reason their fathers, uncles and brothers had to fight now. He held onto that sound and brought it with him as he cast his mind out beyond the dead city with its pockets of women and children in houses similar to this one.

He found the mines. He could not reach the men who were working below. The ore they were mining was one that muted telepathic powers. But he COULD reach those who were above ground. They were startled when they felt that happy sound of children, and even more so when he identified himself.

“Lord….” Most of them replied and he sighed.

“Ok,” he said. “I’ll accept you calling me that. Because it seems like I need to get you all on the one side and being your social superior seems to be the only way I can do that.”

“Social superior?” He picked up a dissenting voice. “The Time Lords left us to die.”

“No,” he replied and even telepathically there was a catch in his voice. “The Time Lords died. There were none left to help you. But I’m here now. I would have come sooner if I had known. I have so longed to meet my own kind. I have travelled the universe and hardly dared hope. And when I do find you, I find a conquered people. It won’t do. It’s time to throw off your shackles. It’s time to be free men - free Gallifreyans.”

“A Lord talking revolution!” It was the same dissenter, he was sure.

“Am I going to have trouble with you?” he asked. “Do you want to lead? Because actually, it would be better if you did. If you free yourselves, you will truly be free. You won’t be beholden to a Time Lord. And it's maybe time you weren’t.”

“I can’t lead them into death,” the dissenter protested. “The Sontarans are invincible.”

“No they’re not,” The Doctor said. “I’ve fought them many times. There is a simple way to kill a Sontaran. You can do it. You have picks, you have hand tools. You have enough of you to distract a guard while one of you has the courage to get around the back and hit him on the probic vent at the base of the neck. It’s even easier than getting a Dalek’s eyepiece. It kills them stone dead. I’m not entirely sure why. It must be connected to their central nervous system. But anyway, it’s how you kill a Sontaran. So pass the message on. Pass it to those in the other mines.”

“Do it when you see our sign…” The Doctor was surprised. It was Davie’s voice. He looked around. The boys weren’t there.

“What sign?” he asked the question at the same time as the dissenter asked it.

“You’ll know it,” Davie said. “Give us twenty minutes. Be ready. This is going to be the fastest revolution in the history of the universe.”

“Ok,” The Doctor conceded. He wasn’t sure what the boys were doing, but he knew there was nothing he could do about it. They were communicating from space. They had gone out to their TARDIS and put it into orbit above the planet. They were next to the Sontaran space station and he knew they were planning something that would put it out of action.

“What were the Sontarans doing in that piece of space near Gallifrey?” Rose asked as they waited for the signal the boys promised. The Doctor didn’t answer her at first. He was busy listening to what was happening in the mines. Twenty minutes didn’t seem long to organise a revolution, but it was actually proving time enough. His telepathic message was being passed on down into the mines all over the planet. Men who thought their oppressors invincible were stunned to discover how simply they could be defeated. They were asking each other why they had not realised it before now. But they were also gripping hold of their mining tools with a new sense of purpose. The Doctor was impressed with himself. It was the best piece of battlefield communication in the history of warfare. Everyone was ready. They just awaited the signal.

Rose repeated the question and he looked at her with his brow furrowed.

“Good question,” he said. He looked at the women, hardly expecting an answer.

“The Sontarans traced our species to that location,” Brina said. “They are looking for the planet we come from so that they can enslave the rest of us. They don’t know….”

“That we’re the last…” one of the other women said.

“We’re not the last,” The Doctor said. “We’re the first. The New Lords of Time. And you will ALL be Lords. I promise you. All of you. All of you who are listening to me. Rassilon promised me the Time Lords would live again. On Earth. I thought he meant through my own children alone. And I had wondered…. One genetic line alone would not be enough. But you all… You won’t be Caretakers. Your children will have the chance. We’ll organise education programmes. Your children WILL be Time Lords.”

“We just need our children to be free and happy,” a voice said. It was the dissenter again. “The rest can wait.”

“You’re right,” The Doctor said. “I’m always telling the boys about the dangers of ‘o’er-reaching ambition’. I should take my own advice. Let’s just….”

He stopped talking. He felt it deep within himself. Sudden death. It was his enemy that was dying, an enemy he intensely disliked, but he felt their souls – even Sontarans have them – scream as their lives were suddenly terminated. He jumped up from the table and ran outside. The pale blue sky was full of burning streaks as fragments of the space station burned up in the atmosphere. He could hear the boys laughing in triumph. And he heard the other part of the ‘fastest revolution in the history of the universe’ begin as the men on the surface saw the signal and passed on the message. Sontaran guards were being killed by those they had oppressed. And he was not sorry. But….

The TARDIS rematerialised in the middle of the street. This time it didn’t even bother with a disguise. It looked like a plain grey box with the seal of Rassilon embossed on each side. The boys stepped out, smiling. But their smiles faded as they looked at their great-grandfather.

“WHAT did you do?” he asked. “The space station….”

“Thermic Torpedoes,” Davie said. “Another one of our improvements.”

“You ARMED your TARDIS?” The two boys flinched back from him as he turned white with anger. Peter woke and began to cry his tearless cry of fright and Rose ran to take the child from him. “NO!” he yelled. “No. No. No. A TARDIS is NOT a battleship. It is NOT… we are NOT warmongers. Yes, I know, I have planted a fair few explosive devices in my time. I’ve killed… I don’t know… I’ve lost count how many times. I’ve killed with my bare hands when I had to. But NOT with my TARDIS.”

“Why NOT?” Davie asked, finding his voice at last. “Plenty of things have attacked you in the TARDIS. Why not fight back?”

“Because an armed ship will ALWAYS be attacked. An unarmed one… nine times out of ten it gets left alone. Besides, we don’t do that. We’re Time Lords. We go through the universe peacefully, UNARMED. And where the hell did you get a thermic torpedo?”

“Jack…” Davie began.

“I’ll deal with HIM when I see him, as well. But as soon as we get back to Earth that gets disarmed.” He looked at them both. “You don’t understand, do you. You’re seventeen years old. And… and you have just fired a weapon of destruction, without warning, against sentient beings. You’ve committed an act of war. You’ve killed. It changes you. I always knew one day you would. But not yet. Not while you’re so young.”

“Three hundred years ago on Earth boys our age fought in a war,” Davie said quietly.

“I know,” The Doctor responded equally quietly. “But I thought we might all have learnt something since then.” He knew Susan and David were behind him. He wasn’t sure if they had heard. Peter was crying pretty loudly and there was so much telepathic noise around them it was starting to give him a headache. He hoped she hadn’t heard. He wasn’t sure he wanted Susan to know that her sons had become men in the most terrible way possible. “When we get home,” he repeated. “And be sure I’ll be watching. Meanwhile…”

“Doctor!” Brina shouted. “It’s over. The Sontarans… they’re all dead. “We’re free.”

“I can hear,” he said. The jubilation of free men who had overcome their own taskmasters overwhelmed his psychic nerves for a long while. Then he turned to his own family and told them to get into the TARDIS. He turned to Brina and the Caretaker family. “EVERYONE pack what you can carry of your belongings and get into the TARDIS,” he said. “We’re evacuating this planet. Boys…” He turned back to them. They stood by the door of their ship, still considering his anger, still considering the consequences of actions that had seemed quite heroic and clever at the time. “We’re not leaving anyone alive on this planet. So Chris… lifesigns scans. Davie… that transmat of yours…. Is it as good as you think it is?”


“Ok.” He closed his eyes and mentally reached out to hush nearly two hundred jubilant people. “Ok, get ready. We’re coming for you.”

The Doctor stood and watched as the boys disassembled the thermic torpedo pods from their TARDIS. They seemed to have accepted his argument and did it quietly and without argument. He was glad of that much. He wasn’t sure they realised yet just what they had done. They had killed. Yes, it was Sontarans. But Sontarans were a sentient lifeform. And taking life was not something that should be easy or without consequences.

Except he didn’t WANT consequences for the boys. He wanted them to be seventeen years old, full of the joys and hopes of life, and not to have this preying on their minds.

And there was another thing.

“Granddad? What are you doing?” Chris asked him as he heard the sound of memory cells being purged.

“Removing the co-ordinates for Gallifrey from the flight records,” he said. “It was necessary, I think, for us ALL to be there that once. But I don’t want you going there again. You have all of time and space to explore. I… I give it to you. What was my domain… is yours now. You’ll have wonderful adventures, the two of you. But not there. There is nothing but heartbreak there.”

“I understand,” Chris said. “Really? We can go anywhere…. Anywhere in time and space?”

“Well, I personally think you should have a set of L-plates on the TARDIS still. If your mum had any say in the matter it would be training wheels. But yes, the fourth and fifth dimensions are your toys now. Just try not to break them.”

“We will,” Chris promised as he stepped out into the cool evening air with him. The mournful sound of the trash compactor turning the thermic torpedoes into their constituent atoms was cut off as Davie closed the inner door and crossed the console room to join him. The Doctor put his arms around them both and hugged them tight.

“You’re not mad at us now?” Davie asked.

“I’m holding it in for the sake of peace and tranquillity, he said. “But don’t push your luck.”

“Father,” Christopher came to stand with them. “Congratulations. You have a refugee camp on your lawn. Everyone seems to be ok. But first thing tomorrow I have to get moving on getting them all homes and jobs. You know, if the Pure Earth movement got a whiff of this we’d all be in big trouble.”

“The Pure Earth people are so wrong about everything,” The Doctor said. “They’re especially wrong about one thing. This planet is underpopulated. It has yet to fully recover from the Dalek Invasion. There is plenty of room to absorb two hundred people who once they are settled will be able to make positive contributions to their communities.”

“I’m going to be pulling some serious strings to get it done.”

“That’s the advantage of having a Cabinet minister in the family.”

“I may be a Cabinet minister, but they look to you as their leader. Wherever on this planet they go, you’re the one they will look to… the highest born and most senior Time Lord.”

“I think we just fulfilled another biblical analogy,” The Doctor said. “I’ve brought the children of Israel to the promised land. But what else could we have done? They’re safe here. They always will be. Our future… the future of our people… is assured.”

“As Rassilon promised.”

“Yes. I wish he’d do his own leg work now and again though. I was supposed to retire. I promised Rose I would.”

“Yes, but I don’t think she EVER believed you.”

The Doctor searched for an answer to that but he couldn’t find one. He smiled as he looked across the meadow and felt those lives he had saved and was, when he weighed up the way the day had gone, fairly proud of himself.