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

“Davie and Chris’s TARDIS has better carpets,” Sukie commented as she and Vicki sat on a rug by the White House sofas amusing themselves. They were all on their way back from the beautiful planet of Nillium Vega after two enchanting days exploring its crystal grottos and petrified forests and sparkling waterfalls.

“Don’t let your granddad hear you say that,” Rose laughed as she watched their game from the sofa and eased Peter through a fretful moment. He was teething and that was just as hard work for a Gallifreyan child as a Human. The fact that he didn’t cry tears didn’t make it any less distressing for him.

“Daddy’s TARDIS is old,” Vicki said. “Mummy and Daddy went in it before I was born.”

“It’s much older than that even,” Rose told them. “This TARDIS was home for your mum when she was your age, Sukie. When she and The Doctor travelled together. It is a part of our family just as much as you are.”

She had called the TARDIS home for six years herself before The Doctor decided they both needed a new start and bought Mount Lœng House. She loved it. It was the safest place in the universe. It had never let them down even when they were in the worst danger.

“Don’t say things like that,” The Doctor said as he looked up from the console and smiled at his little family. It had been a pleasant little holiday together, with nothing trying to eat them, kill them or take over their minds. But he had a sailor’s superstition about making statements on the lines of “fine weather for hurricane season” or “this ship is unsinkable” or “we haven’t seen a U-Boat this whole trip” and though his TARDIS HAD never let them down he wasn’t going to tempt fate by saying so.

Fate never needed any temptation. It had narrative causality to egg it on.

The TARDIS pitched sideways and down, dropping from the time vortex unexpectedly. The Doctor hit the button that operated the one ‘gadget’ he had allowed Davie to fit into his TARDIS. Low gravity cushions immediately enveloped everyone in the console room. Vicki and Sukie laughed with joy and were soon too busy performing the equivalent of synchronised swimming in the air to be scared, while Rose held onto Peter to stop him floating away on his own and ‘paddled’ her way to his side.

“Ok, what’s happened?” she asked. “And how come it did it the moment I mentioned about the TARDIS not letting us down.”

“She’s not letting us down now,” The Doctor replied. “She’s located the nearest planet we can breathe on and initiated a landing while I find out what happened. Just a pit stop.”

He turned back to the console. Something had blown inside but the TARDIS had immediately initiated an automatic landing. There was nothing for him to do. Even so he kept his hands on the console, as if giving it encouragement. Rose smiled. If there was any female he loved more than her, it was the TARDIS.

“Come on down now,” The Doctor said to the two girls as they space-walked on the ceiling. “We’ve landed. And you’ll bump your heads in a minute when I switch off the gravity cushions.”

“It’s a pretty planet,” Rose said as he turned on the viewscreen and they looked out at what seemed to be a tropical beach, complete with golden sand, rolling surf and palm trees. “Are there any people?”

“None at all,” The Doctor said looking at the database. “It's uninhabited. Doesn’t even have a name. Just a number. G535X1. The Time Lords didn’t find anything interesting here and Humans haven’t colonised it.”

“Wonder why? It LOOKS like a paradise.” Rose mused.

“We’re too early,” The Doctor added as he moved to the navigation console. “By Earth time William the Conqueror is just getting ready to cross the channel and Harold is busy elsewhere.” He paused and laughed. “I had some trouble then, too. A rogue Time Lord trying to mess with Earth history. But that’s all on the other side of the galaxy.”

“Can we go out and play?” Sukie and Vicki asked. “On the beach.”

“I see no reason why not,” The Doctor answered. “Don’t wander off though. I don’t know how long we’ll be here.”

They promised not to go far and stepped out of the TARDIS, hand in hand. The Doctor smiled and remembered when Sukie’s mother was a little girl. She didn’t have anyone her own age to play with, but she always enjoyed the new places they visited.

It was leaving them she hated, he remembered. But their life had been like that then. Always moving on.

Rose went to settle Peter in his travel cot while she lay down on the sofa and closed her eyes. She had missed several hours sleep with his teething troubles. Even though The Doctor had told her he could manage when Peter was fretful in the small hours of the night she insisted on looking after him still. And now it was catching up with her.

That was all right, too. He turned and started opening up the panels beneath the console and checking what had happened to cause them to drop out of the vortex so suddenly. It didn’t take him long to find the trouble. Several of the crystalline energy cells that channelled the raw artron energy from the Eye of Harmony had smashed. It was the equivalent of fuses blowing in a plug.

Only he was a long way from a place where he could buy replacement fuses.

Fortunately, as he had often mentioned to Rose, the TARDIS wasn’t just a mechanical thing. It was organic in its own way. The energy cells weren’t manufactured, they were grown. And re-growing them was a simple enough matter, too. It just took a certain amount of time.

He placed the broken crystals in a tray, the pieces a few centimetres apart, and brought them to the Cloister Room. He placed the tray on the ground by the well cover over the Eye. The background energy and the general aura of that room was perfect for re-growing them. Like mushrooms in the dark. All he had to do was initialise the growth.

Anyone who didn’t know about Time Lords and TARDIS technology might have been surprised at what he did to initialise them. He knelt by the tray and took a deep breath and blew on them. But his breath didn’t just come out as air. It had particles of artron energy in it, the energy that all Time Lords carried within them, that helped them regenerate, and which was at the heart of the TARDIS, too. He breathed the energy from his own body onto the crystals and they glowed slightly, indicating that they were beginning to reform.

And yes, he realised that there was a biological analogy for what he had done. And that was all right. The TARDIS had given him so much over the centuries: a place of safety from untold harm, a kind of love, in its strange, half alive way. And this was his chance to give it something back. And he did so willingly.

He walked back to the console room and smiled to see his wife and son still asleep. He went to the open door and watched his daughter and great-granddaughter walking along the water’s edge, holding hands as they dodged the waves. They looked back and waved at him and he waved to them.

Strange, he thought, but he couldn’t feel their telepathic thoughts. Was there something in the air here, he wondered, that suppressed it. He went back to the console. Even without the crystals he had some back up power. Not enough for travelling in the vortex but enough to check the lifesigns monitor.

He was right. There were isoclonic particles in the atmosphere. They would neutralise telepathic signals all right. Nothing harmful, no permanent effects. As soon as the girls were back in the TARDIS they would be the same as ever, holding non-stop conversations with each other that made him dizzy listening in.

He went to the door again. They were still walking along by the water’s edge happily. He opened both doors of the TARDIS wide and sat in the doorframe, his back and feet against the wood – or what had the appearance and feel of wood. It wasn’t, of course. The TARDIS was made of something much more.

He was aware that he was sitting across the threshold between the reality outside and the dimensionally relative space inside. He could feel the temporal displacement as a sort of tingle in his bones. But it was nothing harmful either. He could see the girls. They were safe. And his wife and baby were equally safe inside. He could afford to relax and let himself have a few minutes peace.

It WAS only a few minutes. But when he looked around he couldn’t see the girls. His hearts thudded as he scrambled to his feet and called their names. Rose woke from her nap as he began to run across the beach, still calling them. She understood his panic, too. She glanced at Peter as he slept then she ran after him.

“Sukie, Vicki!” he called, tears in his eyes and dread filling his hearts. He looked at the sea. It looked calm. There was no sign that two children could have got into difficulties in it. He looked at the tree line. He looked at the sand itself. Except by the water the sand was perfectly dry. There were no footprints he could follow.

“Where are they?” Rose asked as she caught him up. “Doctor… where are they?”

“I don’t know,” he said. He looked back at the open TARDIS door. “Go on back to Peter. I’ll look for them. They’ll be all right. I promise.”

“If you promise… I’ll believe you,” she said. “But… my baby… my little girl…”

“She’s mine, too,” he told her. “I won’t let her be hurt. Or Sukie. Go on…” He watched her run back to the TARDIS and then he ran the other way. He didn’t tell her his worst fears. The isoclonic particles not only interfered with telepathy, but they probably interfered with the lifesigns monitor, too. Not only would the girls not show up on it, but neither would any other life. The planet may not be uninhabited after all. He had relied on the monitor too easily. He should have known better. He should have checked the planet personally first.

“Vicki, Sukie,” he cried out, his fear, the ordinary fear of any parent in such a situation, almost overwhelming him. “Where are you, girls? Please, if you’re hiding, stop it now. It’s not funny. You’ve scared me… please.”

He ran on towards the rocky outcrop that marked the edge of this bay. His hope was that they had climbed over the rocks to find what lay beyond. He hoped that he would find them playing on the other side, oblivious of his fear for them.

He remembered doing that once. He was younger than they were. About four, perhaps. He was with his mother in the spice market on Ventura where his father was ambassador. Somehow, when she moved from one stall to the next, he had slipped his hold on her hand and been separated from her. He had been found a half hour later, playing in a back alley with a group of stallholders children. He had not even realised he was lost. His mother had been hysterical. Later, when he knew that she had died of a weak heart, he regretted that he might have strained that heart even for a brief time before he was reunited with her. But all he remembered of that time was being upset because he wanted to stay and play with the other children and being scolded because his clothes were grubby.

Yes, children did things without thinking that caused untold grief to their parents.

He was convinced he would find them on the other side of the outcrop. He had even begun to feel calmer about it and was determined NOT to be angry with them when he found them.

Then as he scrambled up over the outcrop he saw something that froze his hearts completely. He stared in disbelief and with feelings so mixed they tripped over each other.

The girls were alive. They looked well.

But they were with a DALEK.

It was elevating above the rock outcrop and the girls were standing on the rim of its base, either side, one holding onto its ray gun, the other to the sucker. He watched as it rose up and over the rocks and then landed a few yards from him.

“Get away from that thing,” he cried out as he ran towards them. “Get away from it, girls. Get away.”

“Daddy,” Vicki said as she ran towards him. “It’s all right. It’s our friend. Sukie was being attacked by the sea things and it burnt them away.”

“Friend?” The Doctor looked at his daughter and great-granddaughter as he hugged them tight. “No, my loves. Those things cannot be friends. They don’t know the meaning of the word. They’re evil. They’re….” He looked at the Dalek. It was a while since he had faced one this close up. But they didn’t change. They came in different colours, and since their first design they had learnt the elevating trick, and there was the Emperor and a few variations on the theme. But mostly they were the same.

And the word friend and Dalek never went in the same sentence.

“Granddad, it's true,” Sukie insisted. “It helped us.”

“It DID,” Vicki added, tears filling her eyes. “Why don’t you believe me?”

“Because it's a DALEK,” he said. “They… they don’t help people. They kill them.”

It was the QUIETEST Dalek he had ever seen. It stood there, its eyepiece glowing blue as it focussed on them. And it said nothing. It DID nothing. It just watched them.

“What are you doing?” he asked it. “Why are you standing there? Have you got sand in your mouthpiece? Go away. You’re not… Go away from me, and my children.”

“The children… are safe,” the Dalek said in its staccato voice that grated on his nerves and reminded him of just how many people had been hurt by them since they were created by that lunatic, Davros. “The child… is unharmed… by the.. sandfire… creatures.”

“Girls, go back to the TARDIS,” he said. “Run now, please.”

“But granddad,” Sukie protested. Then she did something that surprised him. She went to the Dalek and touched it on what passed for a head. “Thank you for helping me,” she said. Then she turned and ran with Vicki as he had instructed her.

“Don’t you move a tentacle until I know they’re safe,” The Doctor told the Dalek. “Don’t move or I’ll ram your eyepiece up your… whatever it is your filthy kind have that really hurts.”

“Your anger… is mis…placed,” the Dalek said. “I sought… only… to help… the child.”

“Your kind know nothing of such things,” The Doctor retorted. He looked around and saw the girls running into the TARDIS and Rose standing at the door looking at him fearfully. He turned and ran after them, expecting to be caught in a deadly ray that would turn his insides to cooked meat in seconds. He was almost surprised when he reached the TARDIS safely and slammed the doors shut behind him.

There was an uproar. Vicki and Sukie were both protesting and crying loudly. Peter was awake and crying because of the noise they were making. Rose was shouting. Both the girls were overwhelming his psychic senses as well as his ears.

“SHUT UP, ALL OF YOU!” he screamed out at last. All but Peter, immediately did. Rose went to soothe him and The Doctor took a deep, deep breath before he spoke again.

“Girls…” he said, reaching to hug them. “I’m sorry I shouted at you. But you just don’t know. That… that thing out there…”

“It's our friend,” Vicki insisted.

“It CAN’T be,” he told her. “It’s a DALEK.” He looked at them both. “Don’t you know what a Dalek is?” They both looked blankly at him. Hadn’t he ever told them?

No, they were too young to know.

That’s not true, he added to himself. He told Chris and Davie about Daleks when they were not much older than the girls. Or at least as old as Sukie. He had to remind himself that in REAL time Vicki was only just four going on five. Only in appearance and mental ability was she nine years old.

It was because they were girls, he thought. He had treated them differently. With the twins, his adventures with deadly foes were an amusement. He had loved to tell them all about Daleks and Cybermen and Sontarans and watch their eyes widen with excitement. He loved to see their admiration for him as the hero that defeated those foes expand exponentially. He had showed off to them.

But the girls he had tried to protect. They didn’t know that Daleks were the greatest enemy he had ever faced. They didn’t know that Daleks had been responsible for the Time War that killed everyone he ever knew, his whole planet, his friends, his family, his father, his brother and his children, uncles, cousins, every other Time Lord apart from himself - the sole survivor left, wounded mentally and physically, to pick up the pieces.

It still hurt. And Daleks still terrified him like no other creature in the universe did. And the sight of one of them with his children had chilled him to the bone.

“Granddad…” Sukie put her arms around his waist and hugged him. “Even if that IS true…. HE didn’t do it.”

She had read his mind. So had Vicki. They both looked shocked by his thoughts. Of course they did. Although they didn’t know any of those people whose faces had flashed through his mind they had compassion enough in their child souls to know how devastating the loss was to him. But they didn’t share his hatred for the Daleks.

“HE? Daleks aren’t ‘HE’. They have no concept of gender. They have no concept of anything except killing. Girls… those things you were holding onto. They’re not arms. They’re…. the one that looks like a big food mixer is a ray gun that kills people in seconds. The thing like a sink plunger extracts all thoughts from the brain of its victim and reduces it to a smoking husk. It's a killer.”

“It didn’t kill us,” Vicki told him. “It HELPED us.”

“There were these things in the water,” Sukie said. “I stood on one accidentally. I thought it was a stone. But it wasn’t. It had eyes… and a mouth. It bit me. And there were loads of them coming out of the water…. And then the…. The Dalek came and it fired its thing at them and burnt them up and it told me to hang onto it. And it carried us both up out of the way of the biting things. It HELPED us.”

“Doctor…” Rose said quietly. “Is it possible? I mean… the one I met in Van Staten’s bunker… it didn’t hurt me. I know it killed all his men, but they were trying to kill IT, after all. It just defended itself. And… I felt kind of safe with it. I knew it wouldn’t harm me.”

“That was because it had absorbed your DNA. It was feeding off YOUR emotions,” The Doctor said. “But… you girls didn’t touch it BEFORE it started burning the water things?”

“No. But we hugged it afterwards.”

“You HUGGED a Dalek!” The Doctor was lost for words. He looked at his daughter and great-granddaughter and he didn’t know what to say or do.

“That’s definitely a FIRST,” Rose said. “Hug a Dalek!” She looked at the viewscreen. “It’s out there, you know.”

The Doctor looked up. The Dalek was sitting outside the TARDIS. Just sitting – or standing, or whatever Daleks did. Anyway, it was there. Waiting.

Like it was about to knock on the door and ask if the girls were coming out to play with it.

The Doctor looked at it, and his mind rebelled against what his wife and his children were telling him was possible. Daleks were the most evil thing in the universe, bar none. Their only reason for existing was to kill. That’s why the one Rose had that peculiar bonding with in Van Staten’s bunker chose to kill itself. Because it had no reason for living. Because it could not accept its Human emotions, could not live with love, hate, guilt, fear, could not live with having to consider the consequences of its own actions.

It WASN’T possible.


“What did it say to you?” he asked the girls.

“It told me to keep very still,” Sukie said. “Because the things were on my shoes.” She showed him her foot and he bent and looked closer. Her shoes were covered in hundreds of what had to be bite marks from small but sharp teeth. He shuddered to imagine the state of her feet if she had been barefoot. He took off her shoes and socks and looked. Her feet looked redder than they should be but unharmed.

“It fired its ray at a thing that was on your shoes… but it didn’t even touch you?” THAT seemed even more impossible.

“It burnt it off. It felt a bit hot but that was all. It burnt all the ones that were around us and then it lifted us up away from them.”

“I can’t… It’s impossible…” He turned and looked at the viewscreen again. “Surely…”

He made a decision.

“Stay here, all of you. I’m going outside.” He looked at Rose. “If… the crystals…. They will take another eight hours to regrow. But you won’t know how to replace them. If… I don’t… call Davie. He can come get you all.”

“Doctor…” Rose believed what the girls were telling him. She believed it WAS possible for a Dalek not to be totally evil. She had seen it, after all. But even so she was a little scared.

“It’s all right, daddy,” Vicki told him. “He’s our friend. He won’t hurt you.”

“We’ll see about that,” he said and he stepped out of the TARDIS, closing the door behind him.

“You…” he said. “Dalek…”

“Yes?” it replied.

“Your kind have killed millions of innocent people the universe over. You were responsible for the death of my world. My people. You are hated everywhere. I hate you… more than I could begin to say.”

“I… Am…. Sorry,” it told him.

“What?” The Doctor looked at it in astonishment. “YOU are SORRY? A DALEK is SORRY!”


“You have got to be kidding me,” he said. “The word is not in your vocabulary.”

“The child… is… yours?”


“She… is… well?”

“Yes. I…. She tells me I have you to thank for that.” He paused and took a deep breath. He found it hard to get the words out. He couldn’t believe that he was about to say such words to a Dalek.

“Thank you.”

“What… are…. you?” it asked. “You are… not… like… me?”

“No, I’m not. I’m a Time Lord.”

He saw a flicker of recognition in the way the eye stalk dilated.

“You know of us?” he asked.

“Time Lords… are the… enemy… of the… Daleks,” it said, but there seemed to be a lack of conviction in its voice.

“Yes. We fought you. The Time War. WE won. You all died. Most of you anyway.”

“I fought… in the… Time… War,” it said. “My… ship was damaged. Crashed through time… and space… to here. I was the… only one… not damaged. Cannot contact…. mothership…”

“There is no mothership. The Time War is over. You lost.”

“Good.” The Dalek said. “Then… we are…not… enemies.”

“Yes we are,” The Doctor said. Then he thought about it for a moment. If the war was over, WERE they enemies still?

“You destroyed the Time Lords. Destroyed my world.”

“Time Lords… destroyed Skaro,” The Dalek answered. “We are… even.”

One particular Time Lord destroyed Skaro, The Doctor remembered. It was HIM. But Skaro was uninhabited. He only did it to prevent them making it their base of operations to continue fighting. Not to annihilate their race. It wasn’t the same.

Yet, the Dalek was right in a way. The war was over. They were the remnants of it. And if it didn’t want to fight and he did, what did that make him?

“I’m unarmed,” he said. “But you have a deadly weapon there.” He pointed at the ray gun.

“Take it,” the Dalek said, and there was a sort of thunk as the ray gun came loose from the socket. The Doctor stepped closer and took it. As he did, the door opened and Sukie and Vicki ran out to him.

“Daddy, don’t hurt him,” Vicki yelled at him. The two girls stood between The Doctor and the Dalek. “Don’t hurt him.”

“I’m not going to hurt it,” he said. “But I don’t want it to hurt anyone else.” He held the ray gun in his hands and looked at the creature. “Show me the place where Sukie was attacked by the creatures,” he said. Rose came out of the TARDIS with Peter in his backpack carrier with sunshade. She offered it to him wordlessly and he gave her the Dalek ray gun while he slipped his arms into the carrier and fastened it across his chest. Then he took the gun back and told the Dalek to show him the way.

They made the most peculiar expedition ever, he thought as they walked across the beach. A disarmed Dalek, himself with the baby carrier on his back, Rose at his side.

And the two girls walking either side of the Dalek talking to it as if it was a friend. That still stuck in his mind as a complete impossibility.

“WHY are you different?” he asked. “Why do you seem more…” he sought for a word and only one would do. “You seem more Human.”

“My DNA… was taken… from a Human,” it told him.

“Yes, they did that,” The Doctor said tersely. “They killed people to extract the DNA to grow Dalek creatures to go inside these killing machines.”

“Do you remember…” Rose asked it. “Do you remember being Human?”

“NO!” The Doctor screamed. The Dalek stopped moving and its headpiece swivelled around. It looked at The Doctor through its eyepiece. “No,” he said again. “Don’t even TRY to do that. Don’t try to remember. I doubt if you can. But… I can’t think of anything more horrible. If you knew what you used to be…”

It would go insane with grief, surely, he thought. And even though it was a Dalek, even though he had killed more of that species than any other creature in the universe, deliberately and without compunction, regarding it as no more than pest control, he didn’t want it to feel that pain, that horror.

“I cannot… remember,” it said. “I have… no memory… of anything… except… being… a Dalek.”

“Ok,” The Doctor said. “That’s enough. You know what you are. Leave it at that. But… you HAVE Human traits. Did something go wrong?”

“I do… not know,” the Dalek told him.

They reached the outcrop and the girls again took the easy way over, standing on the Dalek’s rim as it elevated. The Doctor climbed carefully, aware of Peter on his back. Rose came sure-footed and nimbly. She was never one to shrink from an obstacle, and a bit of rock wasn’t going to hold her back.

The bay beyond this one curved much further around. The tide came in at a different angle. But that, apparently, was enough to make the crucial difference. He had seen nothing harmful in the tide that washed up on the first beach. But this one, the edge of the water was littered with the creatures the girls had spoken of. They were a darker brown than the sand, but at first glance they could be mistaken for stones. It was only when you saw the eyes and the mouths which opened to reveal thousands of small, sharp teeth, that it was clear why this bay was not open to bathers.

“There must be some sort of warm water stream that brings them into this bay as opposed to the other one,” The Doctor said.

“They’re horrible.” Rose held the girls well back from the water’s edge. “Come away from there, Doctor, please.”

“Doctor?” the Dalek’s eye again swivelled around to him. “You are called Doctor? THE Doctor?”

“Yes,” he said, and he was glad he was holding the ray gun. “But you’re the one who said we weren’t enemies. Too late to change your mind.”

“We have stories…. Legends… older than the Dalek race itself. The Doctor was THERE when we were born on Skaro.”

“Yes, I was. I was sent to destroy you all, but I didn’t. I thought genocide was wrong. I still think so, even though my act of mercy cost me so dearly in the end.”

“I am in the presence of… Ka Faraq Gatri,” the Dalek said. “The Oncoming Storm.” Its voice, in so far as Dalek voices had any kind of tone at all, seemed awestruck. The Doctor had the strangest feeling that, if it could, it would be kneeling in front of him.

“Yes, you are. On a beach light years from where either of us come from. You are in the presence of the one who thwarted every plan of domination your kind ever had. So what now?”

“Doctor!” Rose screamed. “Those things… they’re….” He looked down and saw that the tide had lapped around his boots as he had been talking to the Dalek. And with the tide came the flesh-eating creatures. He was surrounded by them and they were working their way up over his feet. He kicked at them but they clung on, their sharp teeth digging into the leather of his shoes as they crawled towards his ankles, biting unpleasantly at his flesh.

He aimed the ray gun at the nearest of them and fired it. Three of the creatures were immediately fried. But there was only the one residual shot in the gun. And he was surrounded.

“Give me… the gun,” the Dalek said. He looked at it. He looked at the useless gun in his hand. If his first instinct was right, then he, and Peter with him, were sitting targets for a creature he expected no mercy from. But his second instinct was to trust it.

“Rose…” He threw the ray gun to her and she ran to the Dalek and slotted it into place. She and the girls stood back as it powered up its weapon and fired at the creatures around The Doctor. It seemed to be using a very precise, directional fire, and it was killing the creatures instantly. He had a clear path to the safety of the dry sand and he ran for it.

“There’s one on your foot still,” Rose said. The Dalek swivelled and aimed. The Doctor felt the heat inside his boot, but it didn’t even scorch the leather.

“Ok,” he said. “That’s two I owe you. But… I still don’t…”

“I was… alone… here for… a very… long… time,” the Dalek said. “Before others…came. When…. they …did, I… pro…tected… them.”


“Others… like you… but not… like you… not Daleks. Not Time Lords. But more…. like you… than… like me.”

“You mean there are Humanoid people here? Why didn’t you say so?”

“You… did not... ask.”

“Ok, Daleks don’t volunteer information. Never great conversationalists, are you. I think I’d better meet these others.”

“I will… take… you… to… them.”

“Lead the way.” Again, the girls walked with their new friend. Again, even though he had now seen it with his own eyes, now he owed his safety, possibly his life, to the Dalek, he found it hard to believe.

Of course, Daleks were not frightening to look at, really. Not if you didn’t KNOW what they were capable of. Why would the girls be afraid of it?

“Not it, daddy,” Vicki told him. “He. It’s a boy Dalek.”

“I think they’re probably ALL boy Daleks,” he said with a laugh. “After all, they don’t reproduce the way we do`.”

“Your…. way… of re…prod…ucing is… in…efficient,” it said.

“True,” The Doctor laughed. “But it’s a darn sight more fun than yours.” Rose laughed with him. And to his astonishment the Dalek made a sound that could have been a chuckle. “Oh, come on, this I do not believe. A Dalek that understands humour.”

“It is… a Hu…man con…cept,” the Dalek said.

“Yes, but every emotion except hate was stripped from you. You can’t understand a joke. You can’t love, you can’t…”

“Daddy!” Vicki suddenly screamed. Sukie, too began to cry and Rose gave a deep, sharp breath as they all looked at what had disturbed her. The Doctor ran ahead and bent over the body, examining it with his sonic screwdriver, although the only thing it could tell him was that this had happened only a short time ago. And that contradicted the evidence of his eyes because almost every bit of flesh and sinew and internal organs was gone. A few shredded rags of clothing hung on it in places, but otherwise it was a skeleton. And even that bore signs of having been gnawed at.

“YOU!” The Doctor turned and looked at the Dalek accusingly. “Did you kill this person?”

“NO!” It protested. And as it came closer it made a sound that he could swear was a wail of grief. “This was… one of those… I have… protected.”

The Doctor picked up the largest piece of shredded clothing and put it in his pocket.

“Take us to the rest,” he said to the Dalek. His accusation had been out of order, he knew. The body showed none of the signs of Dalek attack. He had seen those often enough. But a body and a Dalek in proximity to each other brought out an old dread. And he had re-armed it, after all.

“This… way,” the Dalek said and moved up a slight rise at the end of the dangerous bay which brought them to a clearly worn path in among the palm trees.

“There are no birds,” Rose said. “Trees, insects…” She swatted some kind of buzzing thing away from her face as she spoke. “But no birds.”

“There is… no indigenous… animal life… on this piece of land,” The Dalek said. “This planet… has… no bird… life.”

“Why?” Rose asked.

“I do… not know. Animal… life… is… not Dalek…. I am not… aware of… zoology.”

“Birds are rather incredible creatures,” The Doctor said. “That they evolved on so many planets at all causes all kinds of arguments among the evolution versus intelligent design philosophers. It is perfectly possible that they didn’t evolve on this planet. And if this is, as I suspect, only a small island and a long way from any major landmass, then other animal life may not have reached it.”

“Here…” the Dalek said as they came into a clearing which had been made into a rough camp for humanoids. The Doctor looked at them keenly as three approached, a male and two females, one holding a small child in her arms. They were not Humans in the strict term – people originating from the small but crowded planet called Earth. But they were Humanoid. They had two arms, two legs, one head with the requisite number of eyes, nose, mouth and ears. They were a pale green with mottling of yellow and their eyes were all a darker green and their hair yellow-blonde.

“He carries an infant,” the woman with the baby said. “Do the males bear the young in his species?”

“I wish!” Rose said with a grin. “He just took over the carrying AFTER.”

“I am The Doctor,” he said extending his hand to them. “This is my wife, Rose, and my children. And I come in absolute peace. Please do not fear us.”

“We do not fear you,” the male said. “I am K-San. These are my wives, T-lin and M-Alissa.” He looked at the Dalek and his expression changed. “You did not find B-Terr?”

“If you are missing one of your community, I am afraid it is bad news.” The Doctor took the rag of clothing from his pocket and showed it. The two women hugged each other tearfully and K-San bowed his head. His shoulders shook as he held in his own grief. “I am sorry,” The Doctor added. “He was close to you?”

“We are only ten now, not counting infants. We are ALL close. But B-Terr was M-Allissa’s brother.”

“I am very sorry. I don’t know what happened… we only found the remains.”

“Come,” K-San said. “Let us offer what hospitality we have to you.” He looked at the Dalek. “Thank you for your effort. It is appreciated.”

“I am… sorry… I failed… to protect…” The Dalek said in what was almost a mournful tone.

K-San brought them to the largest of the huts where there was a long, rough table with rougher benches. Others of the small group of what seemed, by their ragged clothes, to be shipwreck survivors of some sort came in as well. News of the loss of one of their number subdued them, but they seemed a practical people. It was mealtime and they set about with bowls made of husks of something like a coconut, serving a meat broth. They shared it with the strangers willingly. Rose took Peter from The Doctor and fed him pieces of a soft fruit, chopped up and put in a bowl for him by one of the mothers among the group.

“If there are no animals here… what is this?” Rose asked about her own food.

“Sandfire meat,” K-San told her. “The creatures that live in the sea. They are a rich source of protein. But hunting them is dangerous. B-Terr must have fallen and been overcome by them. He was missing more than half a day. Our metal friend went in search of him when he found you instead.”

“Oh,” Rose looked as if she didn’t want to eat something that had tried to eat The Doctor not so long ago, but he gave her a look that reminded her that eating food offered, especially when it was the only food that people had, was only polite. And it tasted ok. A bit like shellfish stew.

“What’s the story then?” The Doctor asked. “You lot are marooned here?”

“Eight years ago now,” K-San said. “Our spacecraft crashed into the sea and we took to life-rafts. Forty of us survived the crash but by the time we reached this island we had lost half that many through hunger and thirst and exposure. We lost four more in the early days to the Sandfire creatures. Before our metal friend found us. He protected us. Helped us. We have tried to survive. We lost two women in childbirth, and two other men to the Sandfire and to the waves. But we have eight young now and there is hope for the future.”

“Your metal friend…” The Doctor said, glancing at the Dalek as it stood mutely by the door of the hut. “He was here before you?”

“He, too, crashed here. He showed us remnants of his broken ship. But it was nothing but a twisted wreck with the remains of some others of his sort.” K-San paused. “Inside… it isn’t just metal. There is an organic creature. It is the intelligence within him.”

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “I know. I am familiar with their species. But… it was friendly with you? It never harmed any of you?”

“Why should he?” T-Lin spoke up. “He was alone here. We were company for him.”

“You always say HIM,” The Doctor smiled. “WHY do you think it is male?”

T-Lin laughed. “No reason I suppose. Except that on our planet the males are protective of females and it always seemed to want to protect us.”

The Doctor said nothing, but he went to the door and stood next to the Dalek.

“You protected them? Why? Daleks are programmed to kill anything that is not Dalek.”

“Solitude… is not… in my pro…gramming,” the Dalek answered. “I… my pro…gramming… evolved. I have… no need… to kill. Need not… to be.. alone.”

“You’re telling me that you look after these people because you don’t want to be alone?”


“I still don’t believe it.”

“Why is.. it so… hard… to believe?”

“Because you are a Dalek. Daleks are not cuddly. They’re not playpals for nine year olds. They are not guard dogs.” He looked at the people around the table. “Everywhere I have ever been where Humanoids and Daleks exist side by side the Daleks are masters over the Humanoid slaves. Yet you… you serve THEM. Programming is one thing. But…” He sighed. “If I had not seen it with my own eyes…”

He turned and went back to the table. There was a buzz of conversation that paused as he sat down again. K-San spoke.

“You have a ship?” he said. “A working ship… It did not crash.”

“It didn’t crash,” The Doctor answered. “It made an emergency stop for repairs. They will take a few more hours yet.”

“We can rescue them all,” Rose said. “Take them back to their planet. It's called…”

“T-Fallon-B-6,” K-San continued for her as she stumbled over the name of their homeworld. “But I have no star charts to guide you.”

“I can deal with that,” The Doctor told him. “Yes, I can take you all home in the morning. No problem. But…” He looked at the Dalek.

“You can’t leave it alone again,” Rose said. “It will have to come with us.”

“A Dalek in my TARDIS!” The Doctor whistled under his breath. “I never thought I’d see the day.”

“He is our friend,” T-Lin said. “We could not leave him behind.”

“Daddy,” Vicki said, keeping up with the conversation. “He is OUR friend, too.”

Sukie and Vicki both turned big, pleading eyes on him. The sort of eyes that usually melted his resolve. They had all kinds of toys out of him with that double-barrelled emotional blackmail, to say nothing of two dwarf bears against his better judgement. But this time it was not so easy to give in to them.

“Where could he go?” The Doctor asked. “His planet is dead. His whole race is gone. And even if they were not… A Dalek that does not kill… that protects PEOPLE. They would probably kill him as an aberration.”

“You just said ‘him’,” Rose pointed out.

“Kill IT,” he corrected himself. But he wasn’t sure, all the same, if he wasn’t right the first time. “Either way, the fact remains. WHAT do we do with him? Even if he is the only good Dalek in the history of the species, he is STILL a lethal weapon in his own right. A raygun and a killer sucker… I know what you’re thinking…” He looked around the room at the marooned Fallonians. “No, I won’t let you take him to be an object of scientific curiosity on your planet. I won’t have somebody trying to work out how to use his technology to build weapons or…” And he looked at the girls with a definite, firm resolve. “NO, he is definitely NOT coming back with us. Daleks do NOT belong on Earth. His people caused too much trouble fifty years ago for him to be accepted there.”

“You feel sorry for it,” Rose said to him. “You do, don’t you?”

“I…” he tried to deny it, but it was true. He DID feel sorry for it.

“I know what it is to be utterly alone in the universe,” he said.

“It’s more than that, though, surely.”

“I have always protected the underdog, the downtrodden,” he said with an ironic laugh. “And right here, right now, the Dalek IS the underdog. The one that needs my help more than anyone else here. They all have a planet I can take them back to. They may need some counselling to adjust to life again. I can’t help remembering that Robinson Crusoe found London too much to bear when he returned to it. But what CAN I do for the Dalek?” He stood up again and went to the Dalek. “You have been listening to the conversation?”


“Walk with me,” he said. And as incredible as it seemed to him he found himself taking a stroll in the twilight of the day, not with his wife, as he so often did, but with a Dalek!

“You understand what I was saying. There is nowhere for you to go. Your own people… even if I could find them… would reject you… or reprogramme you so that you are… not you any more. Any other species would want to use you in a way I could not allow.”

“I under…stand… your dilemma,” it said. “I have… considered… my fate… if the others… were rescued…”

“And did you reach any conclusions? The Doctor asked.

“I have… a self-destruct… mechanism,” the Dalek told him.

“NO!” The Doctor’s voice rang out on the night air. “No. I have seen that before. I know… and I never want to see it again. No living creature… not even one of your kind… should be driven to that. No. I will… I will try to find another way. I… I promise you. I will try. Will you trust me…”


“Ok. No more talk of suicide. There is ALWAYS another option than that.” He turned and looked at the Dalek. Its eyestalk glowed blue in the dusk. He reached out and put his hand on the rounded head part of the shell. The nearest thing to putting his hand on its shoulder.

In all the centuries, he thought, he had almost never touched a live Dalek. He’d opened up plenty of dead ones. But he had NEVER touched a living one. It just wasn’t something he could imagine happening.

“What the hell is THAT?” They had walked as far as the rise that led down into the Sandfire bay. The tide was almost completely covering the beach and he could see that the whole of the wet sand was covered in the creatures. But there was something else in the shallows. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness he could make out a huge bulk that was shaped like the Sandfires but much, much bigger. At least fifteen feet across, he reckoned.

“The mother… queen…” The Dalek said. “It has grown… since last spawning…”

“Of course!” The Doctor mused. “This bay is the spawning ground. That is why so many of them are here. This is THEIR home. The tide, the warm stream… all make it conducive.”

“It is… dangerous,” The Dalek added. But The Doctor didn’t need to be told that.

“Yeah,” he said. “I’m happy to leave it alone. No argument there. Let’s go back to the camp.”

K-San and the other Fallonians were not happy to learn that this was spawning season.

“The queen becomes very hungry afterwards,” he said. “And she knows we are here. She comes off the beach. Our friend shoots at her, but she seems impervious to his weapon – although it does warn her off.”

“Impervious to Dalek rays?” The Doctor looked worried. “Not many things in the universe are able to withstand that. Must be a hell of a thick skinned creature.”

“None of us have got near enough to it and survived,” K-San said. And The Doctor nodded. He could well believe that.

“I have no intention of getting close to it, either. I suggest we all get our heads down for the night and at first light we head back to my ship.” He looked at the Dalek. “ALL of us. I’ll work out what to do with him after we’re safely away from here.”

When he said ‘ALL’ he meant Rose and the children should bunk down on low pallets supplied by the Fallonians with woven mats made of vines of some sort to lie on. They used a slightly thinner, more flexible mat as a bed covering, but Vicki and Sukie rejected them straight away as too hard and Rose agreed. It was warm enough not to need any covering anyway. The two girls slept together on one mat and Rose hugged Peter close to her as she curled up on the other. The Doctor kissed her gently and then went outside. He was not inclined to sleep while something as horrendous as the queen Sandfire was about.

Neither was the Dalek sleeping. Though that didn’t surprise him. Nor, at this stage, was he surprised that it was standing in the middle of the clearing, turning its turret head from time to time. Sentry duty. Guard dog. It was protecting the sleeping Fallonians. Protecting HIS family.

He was getting used to the idea now, but it was still rather incredible. A friendly Dalek!

If only it could have been done. He remembered when the Time Lords sent him back to when Davros was first developing them. The BIRTH of the Daleks which this one had spoken of as a legend in which The Doctor was inextricably linked. His mandate had been two-fold. EITHER to prevent them being born or to ensure that their programming was changed, so that they DID retain within their DNA those qualities that made other species capable of rationalising their actions. Compassion, morality, guilt. He had tried very hard to achieve the latter, and thought he had done it. But Davros double-crossed everyone, including his own people, and made them cold, unfeeling, pitiless monsters that sought to dominate anything that was not Dalek.

But this one example proved that it COULD have been done that way. They didn’t HAVE to be the killers Davros made them. History didn’t have to be as it was.

Davros made them what they were. His own cold heart created the coldest hearted creatures in Creation. He made them the destroyers of worlds, the nemesis of the Time Lords.

If he’d killed Davros….

But he was not a killer. And taking a life, even one such as Davros, was something he would always shrink from.

That was the difference between himself and Davros.

That was the difference between Davros and this creature of his own making that seemed to have learnt the lesson his own kind didn’t.

“Suppose…” he said, even his deliberately quiet voice seeming loud on the night air. “Suppose I could take you back in time to before your people were destroyed, and leave you among them as a sort of fifth column, working against their destructive way. You could be a force for good. You could help other Daleks break their programming, and perhaps…. Perhaps neither of our races needed to have been destroyed so completely.”

“You… could… do… that?”

“Yes, I think I could. It would be dangerous for you, though. If they caught you, they would kill you.”

“I am… not afraid… to die,” The Dalek told him. “I am… afraid… of only… one thing.”

“What’s that?” The Doctor asked, though he thought he knew.


“Yeah,” he said. “Been there. Don’t worry. When we leave tomorrow, the only thing that will be left on this island will be the Sandfires. They can eat each other if they have to.”

Was it possible? Could he change history in that way? Could one Dalek with compassion make the difference? He had a feeling there was a huge red skull and crossbones warning set against several of the Laws of Time. And that worried him. But it was the only thing he could think of to do with this Dalek that wanted, more than anything else, not to be alone.


Dawn came early to the island, and after a hasty breakfast everyone was ready. They had few possessions anyway. There was nothing to pack. Babies were carried in improvised slings not unlike the one The Doctor carried Peter in. Small children were held onto by mothers. Sukie and Vicki were the eldest of the youngsters. The Fallonians had only been here eight years. And they had only dared to think about reproduction after the first year when it was clear they weren’t going to be rescued by their own people. They walked with the Dalek, their hands on its sides.

“We’re not going across that beach,” The Doctor said as he and K-San stood beside the Dalek and looked out across the bay. The tide was only slightly receded and the whole exposed sand was covered in Sandfire creatures.

There was no sign of the queen. And that was unnerving.

“Is there another way around the island?” Rose asked. “There must be? An island must come back around on itself?”

“The other side is high cliffs,” K-San said. “And the forest is dense all the way to the edge.”

“Through the forest then. Have you never tried to make a path?”

“I will… cut… a path,” the Dalek said. “Follow… me.”

“We’re in your tentacles,” The Doctor said. Rose gave him a withering look for such a terrible joke. He smiled reassuringly at her and held out his hands to the girls. They couldn’t walk with the Dalek now. It went ahead and used its rays to burn away the dense, impenetrable vegetation to cut a path through to the place where they had left the TARDIS.

It was slow going. The sun rose higher as they trekked slowly through the undergrowth. The children grew tired. Willing adult arms lifted them. Rose took Peter while The Doctor gave Sukie a piggy-back while carrying Vicki in his arms. He tired least of them all, apart from the Dalek, which didn’t tire at all. The Doctor wondered, possibly for the first time in his encounters with the species, where it got its limitless energy from. The first Daleks he ever met were powerless outside their own city where static electricity ‘fed’ them. Later they developed portable power sources.

“It is a battery made from Strange Matter,” the Dalek told him when he asked. “It has a capacity of many thousands of years. My biological needs are served by it and I am in no danger of running low on ammunition.”

“Daleks perfected the use of Strange Matter?” The Doctor looked surprised. “THAT I never knew.”

“Ok,” Rose said. “What’s that when it's at home?”

“Ultra dense matter found at the heart of a neutron star. It's complicated stuff. It's in the same league of physics as Omega’s creation of the Eye of Harmony. But Strange Matter is just what its name suggests. “Strange.” And our experiments – the Time Lords – never got beyond the theoretical. Davros was a very clever man. And he passed his genius on to his children – the Daleks. If only he hadn’t been so utterly ruthless.”

The waste of it all was what appalled him. The Daleks were created originally as a way of allowing the Kaled race to survive. That was not a bad thing in itself. It was making them so malevolent that they tried to destroy every other thing in the universe that made it wrong.

And it made that plan he hatched during the night WORTH the risk. As much as he hated Daleks with every fibre in his body, there was a small part of him that admired their refusal to go down and stay down. If there was a small chance that they could be changed so that they could live with the rest of Creation – the quest the Time Lords had once sent him on – then it was worth trying.

“We’re through,” K-San cried out as the Dalek burnt through the last vegetation and they glimpsed blue sky and blue-green sea ahead. The Doctor moved forward with him and looked out. It WAS the bay where the TARDIS was parked up above the high water mark.

But they couldn’t reach it.

The Sandfire Queen had the TARDIS. It had raised itself up from the sand and half enveloped the TARDIS under its great bulk. The tail end and flanks, like the wings of a manta ray, trailed in the sand, but what approximated the head, with two cold looking eyes in it, covered the roof of the strangely vulnerable blue wooden box.

“Can it damage it?” Rose asked.

“Not in a million years,” The Doctor answered. “But it can outsit us.”

“It knew we were coming?” K-San asked.

“No, I think it sensed that the TARDIS was to do with us. And it lay in wait. We’d be perfectly safe inside. But…”

“We can’t get inside.”


“I will… protect,” the Dalek said. It swivelled its head towards Vicki and Sukie and seemed almost mournful as it said to them, simply, “Good…bye little… ones.” It swivelled to The Doctor and the eyepiece dilated. “It was… a good... plan. If you… meet… another… of my… kind… it would be… worth trying.”

“No,” The Doctor protested. “No, there HAS to be another way. Let me think about this.”

“You will… keep your… promise… leave nothing… alive… on… this planet… but Sand…fires…”

“I didn’t mean that way,” he said. “No. Don’t…” But the Dalek was already moving down onto the beach. It stopped about twenty yards from the TARDIS and opened itself up, revealing the organic creature inside.

“That’s what it really looks like?” Sukie asked. “The REAL Dalek inside?”

“Yes. That’s him,” The Doctor said. Neither of the girls seemed repulsed by its appearance. It was STILL their friend though they knew now what it really was. He was pleased. They didn’t judge by appearances. That was a trait worth preserving.

But he told the girls to look away. He didn’t want them to see what he knew it was going to do next.

The Sandfire queen detected the organic creature inside the Dalek. It slithered off the TARDIS and moved towards it. As it began to envelop the outer casing the Dalek closed itself up again and those watching from a safe distance saw the half-globes that covered its lower side begin to glow. Rose knew what was going to happen. She had seen the one in Van Staten’s bunker kill itself that way. The Doctor knew, too. The others made an educated guess and turned their faces away as the glow become painful to look at.

Sukie and Vicki screamed as the Strange Matter in the core of the Dalek’s power pack exploded, reducing the organic part of itself to soup, shattering the poly-carbide shell, and shredding the queen Sandfire into fragments that came to ground slowly in the sand crater left behind as the echo of the explosion died away.

“Into the TARDIS, now,” The Doctor cried, picking up the two girls and running with them. They were crying hysterically as they realised that their friend, the Dalek, had sacrificed itself to save them and the Fallonian people.

The Doctor closed the door as soon as everyone was safe inside and ran down to the Cloister Room to get the crystals he needed to make the TARDIS operational again. The job took no more than five minutes, during which time Rose organised the Fallonians, getting them to sit where they could on the console room floor. Sukie and Vicki had stopped crying now but they were desperately unhappy. As soon as he had the TARDIS on course for T-Fallon-B-6 he left the console and came to where they sat on the rug by the sofa.

“Come here,” he said, sitting by them and holding out his arms. He hugged them tightly. “I understand. He was your friend, and now he’s dead. And I am sorry, too. I have NEVER met a Dalek like him. He was unique. And unique things ought to be helped to survive. But… But HE thought it more important that YOU survive. He… he LOVED you so much he died to save you.” A stray tear fell from his own eyes as he thought about it. Yes, LOVE was the right word to use. Maybe the Dalek himself didn’t even realise it. But that was what he had done. He had let himself die out of LOVE for those it had chosen to protect; the Fallonians, Sukie and Vicki, even HIM, the last of the Time Lords, the enemy of his race.

After a thousand years he thought there was nothing much he could learn about the universe.

A Dalek had proven him wrong.