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

The Doctor smiled as he remembered that he had once rejected the very idea of being ‘domestic’. He couldn’t even remember now what his objection had been. Because it got in the way of his life? But if truth be told, his life was never complete. All of time and space had belonged to him and he wandered through it trying to find something MORE. It took him a long time to realise that what he needed was what his granddaughter had left him to find years before. Roots, home, a place to put his feet on the ground. He needed ‘domestic’.

And it was a good kind of domestic, he thought as he glanced around the room. Outside the double glazed French door an October gale battered the house, but they were safe inside; warm, comfortable, with a micro-disc of Turandot in Beijing playing in the background. Rose and Jackie were together with their feet up on one of the big sofas looking through a maternity catalogue. Jackie looked happier than he thought he had EVER seen her. She had a long way to go yet. But she was coping better than he expected. He wished Rose would reconsider wanting to wait to add to their family, but her reasons were sound. And being a grandfather again was as nice a prospect as being a father.

His eyes turned on the children. Vicki and Sukie were teaching Peter to spell his name in brightly coloured blocks. Rose had pointed out that he was only six months old, but they were determined.

One generation teaching the next. He had set the ball rolling with Chris and Davie and now it was gathering momentum.

Another part of the generations was even more ambitious in his efforts to impart his knowledge. Chris’s telepathic signals from the meditation room were interesting stuff to eavesdrop on. He was reaching out to find receptive minds. Not among the young Gallifreyans, but elsewhere. He was fully convinced that the meditation method he had developed COULD be taught to others, to Humans with latent telepathy, to other people of non-terrestrial origin on Earth. He could bridge the gap between the races.

And he had found a half a dozen minds already that were receptive to his idea. He was talking to them now about his plan for a sanctuary where he could teach his “Way” to them. The Doctor smiled as he saw how the initial plan had grown. He glanced through the window at the meadow beyond the formal garden and he, too, could see the new building in his mind’s eye.

“First you have to come down from your higher plane and get all the mundane things like architects drawings, planning permission, builders and plumbers, glaziers, plasterers…” The Doctor told him mentally. “And I’m wondering what the neighbours are going to think about living next door to a cult.”

“It’s not a cult,” Chris protested. “I hope nobody thinks that. It’s a new way of living for all.”

“You don’t have to convince me,” The Doctor assured him. “Just bear in mind that the meadow is only so big. Temper the ambition just a LITTLE bit. You might have to drop the all-weather football pitch and the tennis courts.”

“It was never going to HAVE those things,” Chris laughed. “But granddad, listen. Let me introduce you to my new friends. This is Chiv and Mac. They live in Penzance. They’re brothers, 17 and 18. And they are strong telepaths.”

“That you are,” The Doctor said to them as he heard their shy hellos. Chris had obviously told them something of his legend and when he addressed them directly they were rather awestruck. “You’re Human, both of you?” he asked.

“Yes,” Chiv answered. “But we’ve always been able to talk to each other. Nobody else knows about it. Not even our mum knew – when she was alive. She died two years ago.”

“Sorry to hear that,” The Doctor said with feeling. “It’s rough on any kid. But you have each other.”

“Dad’s a trawler skipper. He’s away at sea a lot. We look out for ourselves and we talk to each other no matter where we are,” Chiv explained.

“Scared the living daylights out of us when Chris came in on our chat,” Mac added. “We never knew there was anybody else. Is it true… that you’re from another planet?”


“Wow. That’s totally cool,” Mac said.


“My first novices on the path to the Way,” Chris told his great-grandfather proudly. “What do you think?”

“Do either of them know anything about brick-laying?” he asked.

“Chiv is an artist,” Chris said. “I thought he could DECORATE the sanctuary when it’s built.” The Doctor laughed. “Yes, I know. Bricklayers first, then decorators! My head is so full of it all at the moment. I just wish I could get started on it. I hope I DO get the planning permission for it on the meadow. I mean, it COULD be built anywhere, of course, but it feels RIGHT that it should go there. Where I first had the vision of it.”

“Chris,” The Doctor said. “Calm down. It WILL all happen in time. And you have all the time in the universe. But your “Way” is about peace and calm. Take a breath. Focus your mind. Where’s Davie? Get him to play a game of multi-dimensional chess with you.”

“He’s away, with BRENDA,” Chris answered. “It’s the weekend, remember. I think he said something about taking her to renaissance Italy.”

“He’s in love. Let him be,” The Doctor answered. All their lives they had done everything together. Now, for the first time, they were leading separate lives. Davie was working on converting the blueprints of the TARDIS into something he could retro-build from scratch. His first prototype time machine. In between that work, he was dashing off every weekend with his fiancée. Chris, meanwhile, was full of this grand plan of his that would allow him to fulfil his own ambition, his higher purpose.

“We keep in touch always,” Chris assured him. “Davie and I... we’re still two halves of the same soul. But it is right that we should stretch ourselves in the separate directions we choose. We have always had two different minds. We’re only now learning to use them differently.”

“Perfectly right,” The Doctor said. “Besides, you’re making new friends now.” He talked a little more with Chiv and Mac and then left them to it. He felt like a dad intruding into a teenager’s bedroom while he was on the mobile phone to his friends. They had all been polite and well-behaved in his presence, but were itching for him to leave them alone.

“Daddy,” Vicki called to him as he focussed on the world around him again. “Peter can spell his name.”

He looked down at the children on the rug. The coloured bricks with letters on were arranged in two slightly uneven rows spelling out

De Loengbaerrow.

Children’s building bricks didn’t tend to come with ligatured characters like ‘œ’ and ‘æ’ even in the 23rd century. Otherwise it was spelt correctly. He looked at the two girls and smiled.

“Go on, admit it, you HELPED.”

“No,” they assured him, and seemed a little aggrieved that he should think them capable of such a fraud.

“They didn’t,” Jackie assured them. “We were watching.” And as The Doctor watched Peter reached and rearranged the letters.

“Degenerate robe prowl?”

“Anagram of his name,” The Doctor said. “Very clever for a six months old baby. I’m still suspicious.” He looked at the two girls and they met his stare for all of thirty seconds before admitting they had been mentally telling him which brick to choose. Jackie and Rose laughed, and The Doctor thought there was something of relief in their laughter. When they thought it really was Peter it had been worrying. He WAS only six months old. Even with Time Lord DNA it was a bit too much.

“You can make 2062 words out of his name,” Sukie said, to prove that SHE was a bone fide child genius. Vicki, not to be outdone, started reciting them but The Doctor stopped her after the first twenty.

“I’ll take your word for it,” he said. He grinned at Rose. “Our kids are geniuses. But we knew that already.”

“They get it from you,” she told him. “But lets not rush to make Peter into a know it all. Let him be a baby for a little longer. We lost enough of Vicki’s innocent years.”

“You’re right.” The Doctor picked his son up and held him close to him. “Peter, my little boy. No need for you to rush. You have all the time in the universe to learn it all in.” The baby smiled at him, gurgled appreciatively and dribbled on his shirt.

He grimaced as Rose cleaned it off with a moist wipe. He held the baby with one hand and the other snaked around her waist, pulling her closer as he kissed her lovingly.

He was still holding her when he was jolted by a psychic shock that made him reel dizzily away backwards. Rose grabbed Peter from him as he steadied himself.

“What the…” He looked around and he knew Sukie and Vicki had felt it too. They looked shocked and pale. He was not surprised. His own head was still spinning and he felt slightly sick. “Chris… are you there?” he asked mentally.

“Yes, I am.” Chris’s telepathic voice told a similar story. What was the psychic equivalent of a piercing scream had seared his mind, too. “I’m trying to get Chiv and Mac back. I hope they weren’t hurt. They’re Human, and they’re not used to outside forces.”

“Hi, we’re here,” Chiv said to Chris’s obvious relief. Mac spoke too.

“Are you two ok?” The Doctor asked them. “Chris is right. You two are way more vulnerable than our species.

“I feel sick,” Mac answered. “But I think I’m ok.”

“What was that?” The next telepathic voice he heard was his son, Christopher. “I was in a committee meeting and I thought my brain wanted to jump out of my skull.”

“Not our doing,” The Doctor answered. “Some outside source. I’m trying to locate it again.”

He might have managed to do that, but there were too many other voices now. Whether awake or sleeping, at rest, work or play, all of the Gallifreyans scattered around the British Isles, his Children of Israel making their new lives in exile on Earth, were affected by the same psychic distress call. He recognised some of them as the pupils he was training up to be new Time Lords.

They all wanted to know the same as Christopher. What was THAT.

“One at a time,” he told them. “Quietly. First of all, is anyone hurt?”

A little less loudly everyone confirmed that the telepathic burst had been painful but nobody was injured by it.

“Ok,” The Doctor told them. “I’m going to get to the bottom of this. All of you calm down. Chris, I’ll need you. Brón, Glen…” he called the names of two of his pupils. “These two here are Chiv and Mac. They’re telepathic Humans and only just learning that they aren’t the only ones with this gift. Can you two teach them the exercises I taught you last week. How to block your telepathic senses against attack. If that happens again they need to protect themselves.”

“Yes, Doctor,” they answered dutifully. Then he withdrew from the telepathic conversation. He looked around at Rose and Jackie, at his children, and Chris as he came into the room.

“Something with a very strong psychic voice called out. It sounded like a distress signal. We need to find out where it came from, and help if we can.”

“So much for a quiet night in,” Rose sighed. “Mum… can you look after Peter and the girls? I don’t like to leave you on your own, but Christopher will be home before supper time…”

“You’re coming with me?” The Doctor looked at her.

“Any reason why I shouldn’t?”

“None at all.” He reached out his hand to her. Vicki looked worried as she realised both her parents were leaving her, but the promise that she and Sukie could stay up as long as they liked appeased her. They both hugged the children fondly before making their way to the basement where the TARDIS was parked as usual.

“It’s good to have you on board,” The Doctor told Rose as she took up her old, accustomed position at the navigation console. Chris stood by the environmental console and as the TARDIS dematerialised and re-materialised in stationery orbit above the British Isles he ran a very sophisticated lifesigns detector, looking specifically for their own kind, for Gallifreyans. The Doctor smiled as he came to look and saw them scattered across the islands, across England and Scotland and Wales and Ireland.

“Did it come from one of them?” he wondered aloud and closed his eyes as he tried to concentrate. “Is one of my people in trouble?”

“His people,” Rose smiled.

“Well, they are,” Chris answered her. “His new Lords of Time.”

“It wasn’t one of them,” he said opening his eyes. “But I’ve found one of them who thinks he knows something.” He touched the screen over the south-west coast of Ireland and the map closed in on the jagged coastline. “We’re going to county Kerry.”

“What’s in Kerry?” Rose asked.

“Mountains, valleys, stunning coastlines, and one particularly lovely bay which has a thriving population of dolphins,” The Doctor answered. “Our man in An Daingean says the dolphins sent the telepathic signal.”

“Dolphins.” Rose nodded in understanding. “Of course.”

“I didn’t know Earth dolphins were telepathic,” Chris said.

“They never have been as far as I’m aware,” The Doctor answered him. “But we know that they are descendents of the Lagenorhynchians along with our friends on Aquaria and Aguâ.”

“Something must have seriously worried them if they have broken their silence,” Rose noted. “Oh, I hope…”

“Dolphins are a protected species around the British Isles. Whatever is bothering them, it’s not any kind of ordinary Human interference with them. Not to generate the sort of fear we all felt.”

“What kind of fear?” Rose asked. “How bad was it?”

“It felt like I feel whenever I see a Dalek,” The Doctor answered quietly. “Whatever it was, it frightened them in the same way.”

“You should have stayed home, Rose,” Chris told her.

“I don’t think so,” she replied. “I’ve seen plenty of stuff with The Doctor. Including Daleks. I can handle whatever this is.”

“Course you can,” The Doctor said, smiling at her. “It’s good to have you along for the ride. Just like old times.” He reached out and held her around the waist as he initialised their materialisation. It did feel good to have her with him. As much as he enjoyed Chris and Davie’s company in the TARDIS, she was the one who had shared all of their greatest adventures until they embarked on the greatest adventure of all – marriage and parenthood.

The TARDIS materialised against the sea wall of An Daingean harbour. Although the pier was busy with people they were all intent on watching the harbour entrance in the storm. There was only one witness to their arrival - a young man in a fisherman’s oilskins who seemed to be expecting them.

“Doctor?” he queried as he stepped out, accompanied by Rose and Chris. “It is you, isn’t it? I saw you only briefly when you brought us from that awful planet. But I have been attentive to your lessons. I dream of the day when I may transcend and take my place as a Time Lord of New Gallifrey.”

“Brendan,” The Doctor said, clasping his hand. “Brendan Maguire.”

“On Gallifrey I was named Brindiron. I chose the closest local name.”

“Of course,” The Doctor said. “Well, I am glad to meet you, of course. But what is happening here?”

“Something bad,” Brendan answered. “They’re bringing in the bodies now.” He waved his hand towards the crowd on the pier. The Doctor realised that among the crowd of oilskin clad fishermen and general bystanders were several local gardai and paramedics. He turned and saw an ambulance waiting on the road behind them. There was a surge of noise and one of the fishermen pointed. The local lifeboat was entering the harbour and it soon drew up beside the pier. Four bodies were lifted from the boat and placed on waiting stretchers. Their faces were covered but as the lead stretcher passed by the wind blew back the sheeting.

As he looked at the dead man’s face The Doctor knew this was not just a boating accident in bad weather.

The man looked as if he had died of fright.

“Donal!” Brendan called to a man who came off the lifeboat last. He wore the uniform of a lifeboat captain and he looked anxious. “Donal, you look like you need a drink.”

“That I do,” the man called Donal said as he approached. “I’ve never seen anything like it…”

“I have,” The Doctor said. “I am here to help. I suggest we ALL go for that drink and we can pool information.”


“It wasn’t a boating accident,” Donal said as soon as he had taken a sip of his drink. “Those men were working on the wind platform. And they didn’t die from drowning.”

“Wind platform?” Rose looked to The Doctor for explanations.

“Ireland has always been a place that looked to its natural resources. Coastal winds are something it has never been short of. From the early 21st century it began tapping that resource as an energy source. Wind farms out at sea. By now the entire country is ringed by wind turbines. They have replaced every form of fossil fuel energy production with the cleanest, simplest solution of them all. Out in the bay there is one of their new super-platforms – up to a mile wide, a floating electricity generating station, anchored in place, over a hundred windmills going full strength.”

“And four men from the plant are dead?” Chris was listening in to the conversations around the pub. The tragedy was the hot topic, of course. “They all have what looks like electrical burns down one side of their bodies and an expression of horror.”

“That’s just pub talk,” Brendan said, dismissively.

“It’s not,” Donal told him. “I was there. In all the years I’ve been in the lifeboat service I have NEVER seen anything like that. I’ve pulled bodies out of the water that have drifted for days. I’ve seen victims of propeller accidents, boat fires, the lot. This was different.”

“I believe you, Donal,” The Doctor assured him. He glanced at the window of the pub. Only a couple of hours ago he had been safe from that same gale behind the double-glazed windows of his comfortable home. Now he was on the edge of the Atlantic ocean, the cradle of the storm. And he knew he was going to have to get closer to it, yet.

Then the lights went out.

Everything went out. The lights, the jukebox, the beer pumps, the central heating. It all went off. And all over the town burglar alarms sounded instead, tripped by the power cut. In the surprised silence of the pub they could hear them easily.

“If something happened out there… if the power from the platform has been cut, then the whole COUNTY will be without power,” Brendan said. “Doctor...”

“We need to get over there.”

“In this weather?” Donal protested. “We only barely made it to harbour. Nobody is going anywhere until this storm breaks.”

“We’ll take my craft,” The Doctor said. “Donal, I think you’re a man who can handle another surprise today.”

He stood up. Rose and Chris were both standing with him immediately. A quiet afternoon in a comfortable bar was never going to be an option when there were four dead men and a mystery about how they died, to say nothing of the original mystery that brought them here.

Brendan, who knew well enough what The Doctor’s craft was capable of was ready and willing. Donal looked about the dark and rapidly colder pub and drained his glass before deciding he might as well join the team.

“Why do they do that?” Rose asked as they walked down to the pier again. She noticed that both Donal and Brendan paused briefly to touch the head of a rather elegant statue by the harbour. It was a statue of a dolphin, its graceful body curving up and the mouth open as if it was making one of those high-pitched, laughing calls that so completely endear them to Humans.

“That’s a statue of Funghi, the first dolphin to come into the bay here,” The Doctor explained. “Way back in your time, when it seemed an unusual thing to happen because mankind and nature didn’t get on so well. The dolphin put this town on the map. Tourists came from all over to see him. Now, of course, there are hundreds of them thriving out in the bay. On a better day than today they’d be playing out there around the boats.”

“We always touch him for luck,” Donal explained. “I know it's a bit of a soft idea. But even in the 23rd century sailing and fishing folk tend to be a superstitious lot. We never quite stop believing that dolphins are the souls of drowned sailors come back to greet us. And killing one of them would be unthinkable.”

Chris smiled and touched the cold, rain-wet head of the statue. Rose did, too. The Doctor smiled and followed suit. Who was he to buck a trend? Besides, he knew a lot more about the souls of dolphins than anyone else on this planet.

“This way,” he said, steering Donal towards the strange blue box parked against the sea wall where it was afforded some protection from the elements. He was on the point of asking why what was clearly an ENGLISH antique was sitting on a pier on the south-west coast of Ireland when The Doctor opened the door and invited him in. The others followed, smiling despite the seriousness of the situation. The look on the face of a TARDIS novice was always interesting.

“What…” Donal asked in astonishment. “But….” He looked at The Doctor and everyone could see he was working things out rather faster than most Humans. “This is alien… You…”

“Yes, I’m an alien,” he replied. “By birth at least. I have lived almost as long on this planet as I have on my native world, and I have had more to do with its survival and well being than anyone else. One day, it would be nice to think of myself as a naturalised Earthman. But yes, I’m an alien. So is young Chris. My wife is Human. Brendan…”

“I’m an alien, too,” Brendan admitted. “I’m from the same species as The Doctor. He is our leader and teacher. He is the greatest Time Lord since Rassilon. And I am proud to be allowed to stand here in his TARDIS, in his presence.”

“Steady, Brendan,” The Doctor told him. “Not that I don’t mind compliments – greatest Time Lord etcetera - but that was verging on hero worship and I really don’t do that. Besides, you’re scaring Donal.”

“No,” Donal assured him. “I’m… you’re all alien and this is an alien ship. I can live with that. But does that mean the problem here is alien? Are you some kind of alien taskforce that deals with that class of thing?”

“Funnily enough, Donal,” The Doctor answered him. “If my first suspicion is correct the problem isn’t alien at all.”

“What?” Rose looked at The Doctor curiously. But he was busy at the console and not answering questions. He told them landing on the platform in this sort of weather was tricky. Rose didn’t believe him. She thought the TARDIS was perfectly capable of handling a bit of weather. She stepped close to him. “What is it?” she asked him. “What aren’t you sharing with us?”

“An old enemy resurfacing after all these years,” he said. “I suppose I always knew they would. But I put them out of my mind.”

“Not Daleks?” Her heart froze at the thought. “Doctor…”

“I have other enemies than the Daleks,” he answered. “Besides, I’m not sure. Those bodies put me in mind of something I have seen before. The panic among the dolphins would fit, too. But I could be wrong. Need to investigate closer.”

“You’re hardly EVER wrong,” Rose told him.

And it was true. Only on this occasion he was wishing he was. Let this just be bad weather and some carelessness with safety protocols, he hoped.

But then what scared the dolphins?


The weather DID make it harder to land on such a relatively small area as the platform. But he managed it. The TARDIS materialised beside the heliport used for more conventional arrivals.

“Inside would have been my preference,” Rose commented as she got into an oilskin coat and pulled the hood over her face. “Never mind, let’s go.” And she and Chris were the first to step out of the TARDIS onto the gale-swept platform. Donal and Brendan followed, The Doctor bringing up the rear after checking something on the life support console that did not please him one little bit.

They were the first, therefore, to spot the three bodies lying up against the door to the rest quarters. Rose didn’t scream. She was pretty much immune to the sight of death after her years with The Doctor. But it was upsetting, all the same.

The Doctor examined them and grimly confirmed they were the same as the four that had been brought ashore.

“Why were they just left here?” Donal asked. “Just lying around.”

“I don’t know,” The Doctor answered as he opened the bulkhead door and held it for them all to get inside. He glanced again at the bodies and decided against moving them for now. “But I can tell you two things. One, the power cut is affecting the platform, too. The emergency generators are running. And two, according to the TARDIS there are only a fraction of the lifesigns here that there should be. I picked up twelve out of over a hundred and fifty people who should be working here.” He looked around and got his bearings and set off down a corridor. “The lifesigns were this way,” he added.

“That leads to the mess hall,” Donal said as he and Brendan tried to keep pace with The Doctor’s long-legged stride. Rose and Chris both knew well enough not to try. He had a way of walking that WAS still a walk, but yet covered as much ground as a jog from most people. It was his way of getting somewhere urgently without appearing to be urgent about it. Apart from anything else it helped him keep his ‘cool’ image.

“He’s not cool inside,” Chris whispered. “He’s worried. But I don’t get what he’s worried about. He just keeps thinking ‘let me be wrong’. What is it he doesn’t want it to be?”

Rose began to answer then found herself flat on the floor with Chris covering her. Brendan had knocked Donal to the floor in a similarly abrupt tackle as they both received a telepathic warning and acted on the instant. The Doctor, meanwhile was still standing. He opened his outstretched hand slowly. A bullet dropped to the floor with a clatter. He reached out and took the handgun from the shocked looking young man who had fired the shot.

“I… th… thought… thought… you… w…e…ere one of the monsters,” he stammered.

“No, I’m the good guy,” he said. “Come on… This is a mess hall. There must be a pot of tea going. Milk, two sugars, please.”

The young man scurried away, too relieved that he hadn’t killed a man at point blank range to examine too closely how he missed. Chris helped Rose up from the ground and she ran to The Doctor’s side as he slid the mess hall door open far enough to admit them. He noticed there was a rudimentary sort of barricade behind it.

“No use blocking a door that opens OUTWARDS,” The Doctor said as he stepped inside and looked at the dozen assorted people assembled there. Most of them were women in checked overalls who were clearly catering staff. The young man who had fired the shot from the utterly inadequate handgun seemed to be a technician. The other man had the look of one who worked in inhospitable conditions like oil rigs. A roughneck, The Doctor remembered the term was.

They ALL looked like people who were coming down from a state of heightened fear as they realised the intruders were ordinary flesh and blood people like them.

“We thought it was…. the sea monsters…”

“What sea monsters?” The Doctor asked sharply. “What did they look like?”

“Like demons from the sea,” one of the catering women answered with a choked voice.

“It’s happened before,” another of the women added. The young man, called Liam, was taking The Doctor’s instruction literally and making tea. The roughneck didn’t seem to want to talk at all. “There have been twenty-five unexplained deaths off this platform since it opened ten years ago. This isn’t an old fashioned oil rig. This is a SAFE, modern facility, but we’ve had these things happening since day one. The company investigated thoroughly every time. Health and Safety did independent inquiries. We had detectives once because the widow insisted it was murder. Nobody could explain it. Then… the past four days, since we started work on the new extension, we had fifteen people missing and the four bodies that turned up earlier today… and then…”

“After the lifeboat left… The platform manager was on the videophone to Headquarters, demanding they evacuate all personnel… they were telling us to stay put and keep the power station going. Then the cables were cut.”

“Cables?” The Doctor took the cup of tea he requested and sipped it as he listened to the story. “You mean the ones that carry the electricity to the mainland?”

“But you couldn’t just CUT a thing like that?” Rose said. She was no expert on these things. She was well out of her depth here and wondering if coming along WAS a good idea. She was just an extra body in potential danger for The Doctor to worry about. But she knew it wasn’t just a matter of taking a pair of wire-cutters to them. How big would cables be that transferred the mains electricity for a county to the transformer stations where the overhead wires would distribute it to the grid? How much power was that? And if it was cut, surely the person who cut it would be fried.

nless it wasn’t a person, was her chilling afterthought.

“The power cables, the fibre-optics for the phones, too. And the radios are just static. We were cut off. And then these things came up out of the sea. Faces like prehistoric animals but bodies like…. well not exactly Human, but they walked on two legs and they had weapons…. They killed everyone who got in their way. A few of us managed to hide out in here...”

“I bottled it,” the roughneck admitted. “I bottled it. I left my friends to die and ran for it.”

“You didn’t bottle it, Martin.” Maire, the youngest of the catering ladies put her hand in his. “You came to rescue us. You’re a hero.”

“I’m not,” he insisted. “I… I stared one of them in the face. It was going to kill me. And I ran.”

“You think you’re a coward because you were unarmed and ran from a deadly weapon?” The Doctor looked at Martin. “You’re nothing of the sort. I’m sorry for your colleagues but I’ll try to make sure nobody else gets hurt.”

“You?” Maire looked at The Doctor. “What can you do? You’re just one man.”

“I’m one man who has dealt with Sea Devils before.”

“With what?” Even Rose didn’t know what they were. Chris looked interested. It was one of the stories of his childhood. The Doctor had taken on the Sea Devils twice, and their land-dwelling relatives the Silurians, too.

“So you know how to defeat them?” Chris asked him. “You CAN help?”

The Doctor sighed.

“You have to understand this about Sea Devils,” he said. “They are not just mindless monsters. They are a very old and ancient race. Older than Human beings. They were the dominant species on this planet long before mankind. They knew a disaster was imminent – the one that caused the death of the dinosaurs – and they went into hibernation intending to reawaken when the Earth was inhabitable again. But they overslept and when they woke it was to find that Humans were now in charge of the Earth.”

“Wait….” Liam looked startled. “You mean I’m not hallucinating. These things ARE real. Or are you part of the hallucination?”

“I’m real. The Sea Devils are real.”

“But you defeated them,” Brendan asked. “Doctor you must have…”

“I didn’t defeat them. The military did. They blew their undersea shelter to pieces. I wanted to try to negotiate with them, get them to accept that they must share the planet with the Humans.”

“Are you going to do that now?” Chris asked while the Humans around them were trying to take in the fact that a man who looked at most 45 years old met the Sea Devils two centuries ago.

“I will try,” he said. “I will always try a peaceful option if there is one. But you see, my real problem is that the Sea Devils have a point. Humans ARE the invaders as far as they are concerned. This WAS their planet first. What I ought to do is move the Human race to some empty planet and let them have it back.”

“You mean you’re on their side?” Martin stood up and flexed his shoulders. The Doctor looked up at him and noted that he WAS a powerfully strong man. “They KILLED people, without mercy, without even ATTEMPTING to negotiate with us. They just KILLED them.”

“I’m NOT on their side. I am just explaining WHY they are doing this. And you have to realise there are MILLIONS of them out there, hibernating. This is just one local nest.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“I’m going down there, to negotiate with them.”

NO!” Rose shrieked. “Doctor…. No. These things… they kill Humans… without mercy, without asking questions first. They just kill.”

“Rose, I’m not Human. And I can make them listen. I think I can, anyway. I have to try. FIRST. Before the Irish navy turn up to blow them to smithereens, I have to try.”

“The navy isn’t coming. We have no way of contacting them,” Martin pointed out.

“Somebody will be coming,” The Doctor answered him. “County Kerry is without power. Somebody will be coming to find out why. But I want to try to do it without any more death and destruction first. I’ll contact them from the TARDIS. Tell them to stand off.”

“What’s the TARDIS?” Maire asked.

“My alien spacecraft. It’s how we got here.”

“Can WE get away on it?” Martin asked. “If we stay here we’re sitting ducks when the Sea Devils come back. There’s nothing we can do to get the plant up and running again. Liam is a radio operator without a radio. I’m a team-leader without a team. And the ladies do chips.”

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “I’ll take you all back to the mainland first. Then I’ll come back and talk to the Sea Devils.”

“Just you?” Rose asked him. “But Doctor…”

“No,” he insisted. “There is nothing you could do. I’m not even sure if I can do anything. But there is no need to risk anyone else’s lives.”

“Doctor… I won’t wait behind while you…”

“Yes, you will,” he answered. “If you don’t do it because I asked you to, then I will…”

“You’ll what?”

“I’ll invoke the articles of our Alliance of Unity in which you vowed loyalty and obedience to me.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Try me.” He stood up. “Come on, everyone.”

The Doctor took the lead as the party made their way back to the heliport. He kept Rose close beside him. She said nothing as she matched his pace. She was wondering if he had meant what he said about the articles of Alliance. In six years of marriage he had never invoked the archaic vows that formed a part of their wedding ceremony. He had laughed about them and told her not to worry about it. But now she wondered just what kind of marriage they would have if he insisted on the strict adherence to those vows.

Not the sort of marriage she wanted.

They reached the outer door and all thoughts of marriage vows were forgotten. All three Gallifreyans yelped in pain as they felt again the telepathic warning cries of the dolphins.

“They’re back!” The Doctor cried out. “The Sea Devils…. They’re…” He pushed open the door onto the gale-swept helipad and looked around. “Quickly, everyone… into the TARDIS. Don’t ask any questions about what it looks like. Just go…”

Rose ran ahead. Chris was with her. They got the TARDIS door open and herded the puzzled refugees into it. The Doctor brought up the rear, his eyes alert for danger.

And before he reached the TARDIS the danger was there. He saw Chris slam the door shut as the Sea Devils surrounded it, cutting him off. Four of them began to push and pull the TARDIS towards the edge of the platform.

And he was surrounded. The dolphin warning came too late. The platform was swarming with Sea Devils. He turned and saw their energy weapons all focussed on him. One deadly beam would kill a Human. He could probably take two, maybe three hits before his own body succumbed. As he waited for painful death to envelop him from all sides he wished his last words to Rose had been kinder ones.

“Rose,” Chris called out urgently. “Rose, drive control. I’ll take navigation. Let’s get us out of here.”

“But what about The Doctor….”

“I’ll come back for him,” Chris promised her. “I have to get you and these other people to safety first.” He felt the TARDIS teeter on the edge of the platform. They had to dematerialise before it was tipped over. Rose looked at him for a moment then obeyed. “Last position on the pier,” he said. “Sorry it couldn’t be somewhere warmer but it’s quicker that way.”


The Sea Devils wanted him alive. He wasn’t sure why, but instead of killing him four of them had taken hold of him, forced him into a crudely Human shaped container and sealed him in. There was barely a square inch of air around his face. He closed off his lungs and recycled his breathing and he was in no immediate danger of suffocation as the container was pulled down into the water. Even so, an instinct that must have come from the small trace of Human DNA in his Gallifreyan blood screamed and panicked. No amount of cool logic that said they wanted him alive so they would hardly let him die on the way down to their base would convince that part of him that there was nothing to worry about.

It took no more than three minutes. It just felt like more. A Human could just about survive that long, though they would have been gasping for breath by the time they were released from the container.

He looked around him and took in as much detail as he could. He was in a small cell along with four other people. Three of the walls and the floor were rock. A barred force field formed the fourth wall. He could see through it that there were several similar cells, the others more closely packed with what he took to be the bulk of the crew of the wind platform.

“We’re different,” one of the prisoners said. “They separated us out of the crowd because they know we’re different.”

“How are you all different?” he asked as he turned his gaze towards three roughnecks and a man in a suit with a white coat over it who he guessed worked in the electricity generating plant.

“I’m Yalterian,” the man in the suit answered. “At least my parents were. I was born in exile on Earth.”

“Cirenian,” one of the roughnecks added. “So is he…” He pointed to a younger man. “My cousin. And he…”

“I don’t know what you’re all talking about,” the fourth man said. “I’m not a stinking bloody alien. I’m Human.”

The Doctor reached and took hold of the man’s hand. He looked at the bone structure and the nails, flatter than Humans and with a slight yellow tinge that wouldn’t be noticed by anyone who didn’t know what to look for.

“No you’re not. At least one of your parents was Yalterian, the same as your man there. Most likely on your mother’s side.”

“My mother was from Dublin…”

“Via Alteria,” The Doctor assured him. “Me, I used to be the last Gallifreyan, but we’re actually quite a growing ethnic minority now. We’d grow faster if my wife wasn’t so upset by what I said to her earlier that she’ll probably kick me out of bed tonight…”

“Tonight?” The Yalterian who identified himself as Kevin Mullaney, plant manager, laughed hollowly. “I don’t know what their plans are for us, but you won’t be sleeping with your wife tonight or any night. None of us will. As for your wife… if she’s among the Humans she’s as good as dead. Do you know what they’re doing down here…”

“No,” The Doctor answered. “Surprise me.”

“They have a chemical that turns Humans into them,” Mullaney answered. “We’re the ‘lucky’ ones. It doesn’t work on us. It was meant to turn Human DNA to reptile.”

“Why would they need to do that?” The Doctor asked out loud, hardly expecting an answer. “There are millions of them in hibernation.”

“Millions of those stinking reptile aliens out there….” the Yalterian with an identity crisis was entering a new level of panic. The Doctor turned to him impatiently.

“Yes, millions. And yes, if they are re-awakening the Earth has real problems. But they’re not aliens.” He sighed and repeated what he had told the people up on the platform. The others took the news philosophically. The panicking one was unconvinced.

“Is your mother alive?” The Doctor asked him. “I suggest when we get out of this you go see her and sort a few things out. For the record, Yalterians are a fine, noble people. You should be proud of your heritage. But it’s your problem, not mine. Mine is dealing with the Sea Devils.” He looked at the force field bars and took out his sonic screwdriver. He adjusted the screwdriver and applied its beam. It didn’t do what the others thought it would do – break the bars. But it DID attract a Sea Devil guard.

“Take me to your leader,” The Doctor said. “It’s time we had a chat.”

“You are refuse, to be disposed of,” the Sea Devil answered. “You will not speak.”

“I am The Doctor, and I will speak to your leader. If he does not listen to me then your destruction will be ensured. Only I can stop the whole Irish navy converging on this place and blasting you and all of us with you to oblivion.”

Of course, he thought, the Irish navy was four corvettes intended to keep foreign fishing fleets from their territory. But they wouldn’t know that.

He hoped.

“You have information. You will come,” He pocketed his sonic screwdriver and waited for the force field to be dropped. He stepped outside and was flanked by a Sea Devil guard.

“Just hang in there,” he said to the other prisoners. “I’ll sort this out.”

He hoped.

The Sea Devils all looked more or less alike. He wasn’t sure what made the one he was brought before the ‘leader’ but the others were obsequious towards him. He looked at The Doctor as if he was something he would usually step on.

“So… you are NOT a Human. Why do you speak for them?”

“I speak because you have overstepped the mark. I have always defended your right to co-exist with humanity and you have always abused my trust. But what is this about you turning Humans into Sea Devils? Do you have any idea how many intergalactic Treaties ban DNA manipulation of that kind?”

“We care nothing for your Treaties. Our species has the right to survive. We cannot survive unless we have new blood.”

“What happened?” The Doctor asked. “You had millions in hibernation.”

“I cannot speak of other nests. Here, the hibernation galleries were damaged by those cursed platforms built by the Humans. Only a few of us survived. But with this new technology we can defeat our enemy and create a new army of drones at the same time.”

“It won’t happen,” The Doctor told him. “I will stop you.”

“YOU will stop us?” The Sea Devil leader laughed hoarsely. “HOW?”

“With a little help from my friends,” he answered. He smiled broadly. He was sensing something on the edge of his telepathic nerves. Something that was getting stronger. Then he heard a familiar sound. The sound of his own TARDIS materialising.

“Granddad, get down!” He heard Chris’s voice in his head a moment before the TARDIS door opened. He threw himself on the floor as a blur that was Chris in a time fold emerged from the TARDIS firing his sonic screwdriver in the blast mode he had argued bitterly with him about. Right now as he heard the Sea Devil leader’s dying scream he reflected that a sonic screwdriver with one function at least that was an effective weapon wasn’t SUCH a bad idea. He heard several more shots in rapid succession and around him Sea Devil guards were falling before they even saw what was shooting at them.

“Come on…” Chris called to him as he came out of the time fold. “Quickly…”

“I can’t,” The Doctor answered. “There are others… prisoners….” He rolled and grabbed a weapon from the nearest dead Sea Devil. “Chris… you know how we’re both supposed to be pacifists…”

“Yes,” he answered.

“Later, we really need to discuss the meaning of that word. Meantime… Look out…”

Chris ducked a fraction of a second before he fired at the Sea Devil behind him.

“The score seems to be Time Lords eight, Sea Devils nil at the moment. But we don’t want to push our luck. Let’s get the prisoners.”

“WHAT prisoners?” Chris asked as he grabbed another Sea Devil weapon and followed his great-grandfather. “I came for you… we don’t have much time. The dolphins are….”

“The dolphins are what?” The Doctor asked as he dispatched two more Sea Devils. He felt bad about that. He stood fully behind what he had said about them having a right to co-exist with Humans. They WERE indigenous to this planet and he SHOULD be able to find a way. But every time he tried he ended up having to fight them in order to preserve the Human race.

To preserve his own race, too, he reminded himself. The Sea Devils had no love for any warm-blooded species. They wanted the Earth to themselves. He wondered if his hope for a peaceful solution was always hopeless.

Right now, it was academic. He ducked as Chris fired at the last Sea Devil barring their way to the cell area. He took out his sonic screwdriver and set it to disrupt the force fields and release the prisoners.

“This way,” he called to them as he brought down the bars. “All of you, quickly.”

“VERY quickly,” Chris told them. “The….”

He didn’t finish what he was saying because he and The Doctor both had their senses overwhelmed by the ultrasonic sound that pierced the air.

“What is it?” The Doctor asked telepathically as he ran. “What’s doing it?”

“The dolphins, of course,” Chris answered. “They’re fighting back.”


“Because I asked them to.”

“You…” The Doctor winced as the frequency gradually increased. “Never mind… TARDIS, quickly….”

The Humans were unaffected. The frequency was far too high for their ears. The remaining Sea Devils, coming to prevent their escape, were in agony, though. They thrashed about, screaming. Some of the prisoners wanted to take revenge while they were incapacitated but Chris insisted they had to get into the TARDIS.

As they reached the chamber where he had materialised it they saw why. Not only was the sound affecting the Sea Devils, but it was affecting the structure of their underwater base. Cracks were starting to appear in the roof and walls and water was seeping through.

“But Sea Devils are amphibious,” The Doctor pointed out as he looked at the scene outside on the viewscreen from the safety of the TARDIS console room. The cracks were widening and water was rushing in, sweeping the incapacitated Sea Devils off their feet and rapidly filling the chamber. “This won’t kill them.”

“THEY will,” Chris said as he stood by his side. They looked and saw the cracked and breached walls bulging as if something was pushing them in. The Sea Devils were crushed as the walls collapsed in on them and The Doctor was startled, and even a little appalled to see dolphins swimming over the wreckage. He heard their cries. They sounded triumphant.

“They fought back,” Chris told him. “Yes, I know, they’re pacifists too. But they knew their way of life was in danger, as well as ours. And when they weighed up the odds they decided if they had to fight, they would fight OUR enemies.”

“They didn’t need to BE enemies,” The Doctor said. He gripped the edge of the console so tightly his knuckles were white. “There SHOULD be another way. There should be a way for us ALL to co-exist on this planet. Humans, Sea Devils, Silurians, Gallifreyans…. There IS room for us all.” Around him, Humans, Gallifreyans, Yalterians and Cirenians were celebrating the defeat of their enemy. But The Doctor knew there was no victory in this.

“Look…” Chris said. He turned back to the viewscreen and saw the dolphins ringing the TARDIS. They were producing a big air bubble that spread out and surrounded the exterior of the ship. He went to the door and opened it. Outside there was enough air for him to step out into. Chris stepped out alongside him.

“Thank you for your help,” he said to the dolphins that hovered outside watching him. “I am only sorry it ended this way. In the defeat of the Sea Devils. I ask you, who chose to live your lives in the seas of this world, to try to do what we, who live on the land have failed to do. Will you TRY to find a way to live WITH these creatures should you find another colony of them. Will you try to make them see that compromise IS possible?”

In his head he heard a reply. It was not so clear a voice as the dolphin people of Aquaria had when they spoke. Their relatives here on Earth had lost the ability to morph into humanoid and their ability to communicate with other species was rudimentary. But in halting, broken language they told him that they had TRIED to do what he suggested many times. But the Sea Devils recognised their intelligence only so far as to try to enslave the dolphin species to their own purposes.

“I see,” The Doctor sighed. “So when you sent out the warning cry that we heard, you were calling others of your kind to fight your common enemy.” He waited for the reply. “Yes, OUR common enemy. Yes, it seems I must accept that they ARE our enemy. I would wish it was otherwise. They will be extinct sooner or later. And that feels so wrong to me.” He listened again to the dolphin voices. “Yes, your race has faced extinction and fought back. So has mine.” His voice had a catch in it when he said that. “But I don’t like the idea that another race must perish for us to survive.” He sighed again and bowed his head. Outside the bubble the dolphins did the same then he turned and went back into the TARDIS. He looked at the dazed and confused group of prisoners, the missing staff from the wind platform, those who survived either being shot at by the Sea Devils in their raids or being taken to be turned into Sea Devils.

“I’m taking you all back to the mainland,” he said. “When the authorities ask you what happened, tell them what you know. But I’d appreciate it if you were all as vague as possible about your trip in this alien space ship.”

His eye fixed on the half-Yalterian who still seemed worried about his situation. “You call your mother,” he told him. “You and her have a lot to talk about.” Then he dematerialised the TARDIS and set the course back to An Daingean harbour.

His preference would have been to leave straight away. But there were a FEW things he had to explain to the local authorities. They ended up spending the night at Brendan’s house, where his Gallifreyan wife was overcome with the honour of extending hospitality to The Doctor and his family.

Early the next morning they walked down to the harbour. The storm had blown itself out now and the sky was a cold but bright blue. The sea was calm. They all touched the statue of the first An Daigean dolphin as they stepped onto the pier and looked out across the harbour to see dozens of his descendents playing in the calm waters.

“Goodbye,” The Doctor whispered as he heard their dolphin voices in his head. “Good luck.” He said the same to Brendan and they exchanged formal bows in the Gallifreyan way before he stepped into the TARDIS and closed the door. He set the co-ordinates for home.

“Rose is still mad at you, granddad,” Chris told him as he nodded towards where she was sitting on the White House sofa.

“I know,” The Doctor sighed. She had been relieved to see him last night when he got back to An Daingean and reported that the Sea Devil crisis was over. But he knew there was still an unresolved issue between them. And it was up to him to resolve it.

“What are you thinking about?” he asked as he stepped close to her.

“The vows of Alliance of Unity,” she answered. “I never really thought about them, even when I was learning to say them for our wedding. I never thought that they ARE binding. When you said… about invoking them….”


“If you were to insist on it,” she went on. “I would be bound to obey you in every detail of my life. I would never be allowed to speak a word without your permission. I can’t have any money of my own. But that wouldn’t matter because I could never leave the house without your leave. Never be seen in mixed company without an approved chaperone. And I must submit to your command in the… in the bedroom… and bear children to you until I drop.”

“In a nutshell, that sums up the vows. Yes.” He sighed. “Those vows are tens of thousands of years old. They have NEVER been changed. But nobody has actually stuck to them for generations. My parents certainly didn’t live that way. Nor did my grandparents. And in Earth time they got married the year Stonehenge was built.”

“Even so, they are binding, and you could make me live that way.”

“I doubt it,” he answered. “You would never put up with it.” He looked at her. “Rose… Have you really been worried about this?”



“Because you SAID it,” she snapped. “You said you would invoke….”

“I didn’t mean it,” he assured her. “I was wrong to say it. And I’m sorry. I love you. And that’s not just words, Rose. I love YOU. The way you have always been, never afraid of saying your piece, giving me a good telling off when I deserve it. I love that about you. And I would never….” He grinned. “Well, actually, the bit about you submitting to me in the bedroom….”

“Yes, ok, that bit…” she admitted, matching his grin as her fears melted away in the sincerity of the expression in his eyes and she willingly submitted to his loving embrace.