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

Under a crisp early February sky Chris walked proudly around the concrete foundations where his Sanctuary would be just as soon as it could be built. He had the architect’s drawings in his hands and he was enthusiastically showing his father, grandfather and great grandfather his dream. He showed them where the living quarters and the meditation hall, the dojo and the lecture theatre would be, and the reflecting pool and gardens of tranquillity.

“I’ll be able to accommodate up to 150 disciples…” he said.

“Disciples?” David smiled. “Chris, don’t take your first name too literally.”

“Novices might be a less emotive word,” The Doctor suggested. “It’s a great dream, Chris. A place where our own kind can come and train their minds and bodies…”

“Not just our kind,” Chris insisted. “My meditation technique can be taught to Humans, too. You’ve said before, that there are many Humans with latent telepathic skills. I want to find some of them and train them, too. I know they can’t be Time Lords, but they could at least learn to be the best Humans they can be, with their skills honed.”

“That could be difficult,” Christopher pointed out. “Maybe in a generation or so, when we are strong enough not to have to hide what we are.”

“You think there will be a time when Time Lords can ‘come out of the closet’ and be known for what we are?” The Doctor asked his son.

“One day, yes,” he said. “That’s MY goal. For us to hold our heads up high as a people.”

“Mine is to have a quiet life,” The Doctor said. “I have the woman I love, my children. I don’t need anything else.”

“I’m…” Chris began to say something but it was lost in a scream of pain. His father was the first to reach out to him, trying to hold him as he fell to his knees, jerking as if he was in a fit.

“What in Rassilon’s name….” Christopher swore as he saw blood ooze through the back of Chris’s shirt. He reached and pulled it off him and they all stared as raw, bloody stripes appeared on his back as if he was being whipped continuously. The stripes disappeared slowly as his regenerative cells did their work, but new ones replaced them.

“Help him,” David cried out. “Help him.”

“I don’t know what’s happening,” The Doctor answered. Chris’s eyes were full of tears as he cried out in agony with each invisible whiplash that seared his body. They were deep and cruel and the longer it went on the harder it became. More of the lashes were staying on his body for longer.

“His body can’t cope with it,” Christopher moaned. “David, hold him. As best you can.”

“I am holding him,” David answered. “Chris, son, I’m here for you.”

Chris looked at his father through tear-filled, pain-filled eyes and tried to speak. But he couldn’t. He gripped his father’s shoulder once and fainted. David held him and tried to hold back his own tears of confusion and fear.

“Let me,” Christopher said. David tried to lift his son in his arms, but Chris was not a child any more but a young man of eighteen, and David was an old man in his sixties. It was too much for him. Christopher lifted him easily with his Gallifreyan strength. He was careful not to touch his back, which still continued to bear the stripes of some strange torture as he began to run with him to the house.

When they saw Susan, Rose and Jackie all running towards them they thought it was because they had seen that Chris was hurt. But there was worse news.

“Davie’s in trouble,” Rose said breathlessly. Susan was in no fit state to talk. When she saw her other son’s condition she went to pieces. The Doctor looked to his wife and to his son as he held his stricken great-grandson and made a decision.

“Take him upstairs. Look after him. David, Susan go with him. I’ll find out what’s happening with Davie.….”

He ran through to the drawing room as Christopher mounted the stairs followed by Chris’s frantic parents. Jackie picked up Peter from his playpen and took Sukie and Vicki and their pet bears out through the open French window away from the trouble that need not disturb them while he answered the videophone call from Brenda.

“Doctor!” she cried out when he came in view of the screen. “Oh, I’ve found you at last. It has taken me so long to get the call through. Hours and hours. Davie… he’s…Oh….”

“Brenda,” he said calmly, though he was anything but calm. “Brenda, what’s wrong. What has happened?” Her face was streaked with tears and she could barely speak from sobbing. Even if he didn’t know already that something was very wrong her face told him volumes.

“Davie has been arrested. They say he’s murdered a man. They…. Doctor, they took him to be flogged… to make him confess.”

“Flogged?” The Doctor looked around sharply. “Oh £%$@&. Chris... He has Davie’s wounds. That’s what’s happening. He’s suffering Davie’s pain empathically.”

“Oh my God!” Rose, standing by his side as she ever was when there was trouble exclaimed in horror.

“Brenda, I’m coming,” he promised. “Right now. Hold on there.”

“Please hurry,” she begged. “Doctor…. They’re talking about a trial and…. And if they find him guilty they’ll execute him. Please…”

“I’m coming,” he told her.

He ran first upstairs to the room where Chris had been laid on a bed. He was face down because his back was still receiving punishment. They stared in horror as the deep, raw, bloody wheals continued to appear on his flesh.

“Grandfather,” Susan cried, turning to him as she had always done in a crisis. “Grandfather, help him. Make it stop.”

“I can’t,” he told her. “Not until it stops for Davie, too.” Susan went even paler than she was, her shock increased by a deeper grief as he told her what Brenda had told him, and what he believed was happening to Chris.

“God love them,” David said. “They’ve ALWAYS shared every hurt and every joy in their lives. Chris is bearing his brother’s pain….”

“As Davie always bore his,” The Doctor added, remembering their Transcension. “I’m going there… to find out what happened. To try to help Davie.” He looked at Susan and David. One at least of them should come too.

“They want to execute my little boy,” Susan stammered. “No…”

“Susan,” David told her gently. “You stay here with our other son, and our daughter. Take care of them. I’ll go… I’ll take care of Davie.”

“If you fail… if they do…” She clung to The Doctor. “Come and get me. If my child is to die… then he won’t die without me there to hold him one last time…”

“Susan,” The Doctor promised her. “It won’t come to that. You have my word.”


The planet was called Nesistia. It was in the same quadrant as Brenda’s home planet. The people were technologically advanced. But The Doctor was not inclined to admire their beautifully planned city or the monorail system that travelled almost silently at roof height along the main streets, or the fact that they had done away with all other forms of transport within the city by use of the personal static transmat.

He was interested in a justice system that thought it could beat confessions out of the innocent.

“Doctor!” Brenda cried as they entered the police-station-court-prison complex known as the Justice Hall, which was in, he noted, Justice Square. She ran to him and he embraced her tenderly. She was crying inconsolably. He was hardly surprised at that.

“Brenda!” David spoke anxiously. His thoughts on his son. “What’s happening? Where is Davie?”

“He’s in a cell. They’ve stopped hurting him now. But… he’s in a cell. And the trial is in an hour….”

“An hour?” David looked at The Doctor accusingly. “How long did you take to get us here? How long have my boys been suffering?”

“It’s only an hour since I called you,” Brenda said. “You were here much sooner than I hoped. They…. They call it fast justice. They don’t allow crimes to go unpunished, they say. They deal with them within the day.”

“Fast justice!” The Doctor said scathingly. “No such thing. Justice is a thing that should NEVER be rushed. I smell scapegoating.”

“Relatives of prisoner no. 89775 may be permitted to visit before the trial,” a voice announced. They turned to see a man in a dark blue police uniform waiting. He pointed to a turbo lift that would, apparently, take them to the cells. They stepped into it and were a little startled by how far down they went. The cells seemed to have been built very deep underground.

“No access except by authorised elevator,” The Doctor noted. “No escape. Not even…” He concentrated and felt in his mind the layers of the underground complex they were passing through. “Yes, layers of lead and an anti-transmat field. I couldn’t even get the TARDIS down here. No chance of a rescue.”

Brenda sobbed again. David looked at her and thought he would be doing the same if she wasn’t there. He felt the need to be strong for her.

“Come here,” he said, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket and drying her eyes. “I know you’re hurting. But… try to look like you’re all right. For Davie’s sake. When we get in there, kiss him. Tell him you love him. But hold back the tears when you’re with him. Don’t dishearten him.”

The Doctor nodded. David was right. They all had to be strong for Davie.

The lift opened and another man in dark uniform escorted them along a clean, brightly lit corridor to the cell where Davie was being held. They were told they could stay with him until it was time to take him to the courtroom.

It was a clean room. That had to be said. Clean floor, clean walls, a chair and a table and a pallet bed with a clean blanket and a small door leading to what was, presumably, a clean toilet facility. The table had a bowl of water and a towel and a clean shirt folded neatly. Brenda said she had brought it for him. For the trial. Then she said nothing else for a long time.

Davie was kneeling in the centre of the floor in the meditation position he had learnt from The Doctor years ago. David knelt beside him and touched him on the shoulder and he opened his eyes and turned his head. He had been in a light trance, The Doctor noted. Just enough to calm himself in the face of his ordeal and repair the wounds of his torture.

“Father,” he cried and reached out to be held by David. Brenda knelt by his other side and they both hugged and kissed him. The Doctor waited until they were done with their understandably emotional greeting then he reached and lifted Davie to his feet.

“I don’t need you to tell me you are innocent,” he said. “I can see it in your eyes.”

“They don’t believe me,” Davie said. “They beat me… in a room down the corridor. They have whips… they beat me for hours to make me confess.”

“You didn’t?”

“No. They had to stop. If they killed me before I could be tried they would be in trouble.”

“Damn right they would be.” The Doctor looked at the white shirt Davie was wearing. The back of it was stained with his blood, but when he unbuttoned it and slid it from his shoulders his back was clean and unharmed. “Your regenerative cells work well for your age,” he told him. “Or perhaps it is because Chris shared the pain.”

“He did?” Davie looked shocked. “Oh…”

“He hurt as much as you did. That’s why we knew you were in trouble. You’ve been in contact with him? He didn’t tell you?”

“He’s been with me all along. The lead walls make it difficult. But I can feel him. I’m sorry he was hurt. I never meant…”

“Two halves of the same soul. You feel each other’s pain.”

“When they were children,” David said. “They always had the exact same bruises and cuts. And when Chris broke his arm once falling off his bike, Davie did, too.”

The Doctor didn’t say anything else. He sat Davie in the chair and calmly washed his face with the water in the basin and dried it with the towel, then he took the clean, pressed shirt and helped him put it on. Then from his jacket pocket he found a comb and made his hair tidy. “That’s better,” he said when he was done. “Now you look ready to make a good impression.”

“I can’t believe they mean to put him on trial for something he didn’t do,” David said. “And in less than an hour.”

“It's how they do it here,” Brenda said. “No lawyers. They use a psych transmitter to show the facts and then the jury returns a verdict. I’ve seen it before. Not… not close up. But somebody from Tibora was accused of a crime here… it was on our TV… He was found innocent. The psych transmitter showed he was not the one responsible.”

“Psych transmitters?” The Doctor frowned. “You mean where people’s memories are shown on a screen. The ultimate eye-witness?”

“Yes,” she said. “It’s amazing technology. But…” She looked at Davie. “He isn’t responsible. He didn’t do it. I know he didn’t. And surely the psych transmitter will show that. But I’m still afraid…”

“So am I,” The Doctor said. “But be brave. Both of you. We can only see what happens when the trial begins.”

“If they have this technology, why the torture?” David asked.

“It is in their statutes,” Davie answered. “When the case is murder… it is permitted to extract a confession by coercion. Then they skip the trial and go straight to execution. They had one of those psych transmitters. A small one. They kept trying to get me to show them what I did. But I didn’t do it. So I couldn’t.” He bit back his tears as he remembered being strapped to the torture frame. He remembered steeling himself against the first blow, expecting pain, but not anything like he actually felt. The whip broke his skin every time. He bled from the first lash to the last. A man in the corner counted how many he received at first. But he gave up after the first fifty. The fact that his body mended so easily seemed to enrage the one directing the ‘interrogation’. It seemed as if seeing the suspect horribly wounded was one of the perks of his job and Davie was denying him his fun.

The Doctor held him by the shoulders and as he talked he saw it in his mind and felt all he had gone through as keenly as Chris had felt it. Not having the scars to show for it afterwards so often led people to believe that his kind did not feel pain. But that was wrong. Davie had suffered all that his torturers had meant him to suffer.

He wondered how many people gave in and let the psych transmitter show what the interrogators wanted to see.

“You were very brave,” The Doctor told him. “Keep on being brave. And we’ll all get through this.” He stepped back from him and let Brenda hold him again. He could feel her fretting to be near him. He understood well enough. They WERE very much in love and she wanted to share every precious moment she could with him while it was still possible.

“Doctor,” David turned away from his son and his girlfriend kissing and hugging as if it was their last chance to do so. “He DIDN’T do it, did he?”

“David!” The Doctor was shocked that he could even think it.

“I had to ask. In case… in case what we see in the trial makes it look otherwise. I need to be sure in my own head that he is innocent. So that nobody can make me think different.” He paused and took a breath that echoed in the quiet cell as Brenda and Davie confirmed their love for each other telepathically.

“Look,” he continued. “I know about eye-witness evidence. On Earth, centuries back, it was proven that it is unreliable. A trial would not even go ahead with so little to go on.”

“Same on my planet,” The Doctor said. “I understand what you’re saying, David. I have a terrible feeling we’re going to see a travesty done here. But what worried me most is that this place has a death penalty. Earth did away with that barbarism a long time ago. I wish Gallifrey had. Even though the cryogenic cells on Shada are an unimaginable torture, at least… where there is miscarriage of justice… amends CAN be made.”

David shuddered. He had no answer for that. He wondered what form of execution a planet where people were flogged mercilessly to extract confession might have. And he knew it would not be a clean, painless one. He looked at his son and his mouth went suddenly dry and he could not have said a word if he had wanted to. He was aware of The Doctor’s hand on his shoulder. And he knew that he, for all his superhuman strengths, all his mental capacity, was going through the same terrible feelings right now.

“You must leave now.” The cell door opened and blue-uniformed guards came in. Brenda tried to hold onto Davie but they pushed her away. David and The Doctor both held her as they left the cell. Just before the door was slammed shut behind them The Doctor saw one of the guards putting leg and arm manacles onto Davie. He reached out to him mentally and told him to be brave.

“I’m trying to be,” Davie answered.


The courtroom was in the same building. It didn’t take them long to reach the waiting area. It was busy. This trial had attracted a lot of voyeuristic attention. The trial of a non-Nesistian for the murder of what was, apparently, according to the scraps of gossip The Doctor sifted out of the hubbub, a very high profile member of Nesistian high society.

“He was,” Brenda told him. “He was a sort of television personality. I thought he was big-headed and full of himself. And he was about sixty and his wife my age.”

“Well, I can’t exactly comment on anyone else in the cradle snatching stakes,” The Doctor remarked dryly.

“More like she was gold-digging,” Brenda answered. “She didn’t love him. I could tell.” She blushed. “Yes, I KNOW I’m not supposed to read other people’s minds. I didn’t. It was more the aura they had. She was his young trophy. He was her fortune.”

And on cue, the grieving widow came into the room. There was a sudden hush and the crowds parted as if it was intended that the woman should see Brenda standing with The Doctor and David as she walked across the floor.

“Did she buy the widows’ weeds in anticipation?” The Doctor whispered. And it was not merely an uncharitable question. The death of her husband had occurred a little over six hours ago, and already she was immaculate in a long black dress and veil which, nevertheless, showed enough of her face to reveal her immaculately made up to be pale of cheek and red of lip with dark shadowed eyes. Waterproof make up, he guessed, because the tear that rolled down her face in what looked like the finest Hollywood contrivance didn’t leave a track at all.

He and David both put a hand on Brenda’s shoulder as their eyes met. He wondered if there was going to be some melodramatic scene. But all that happened was a flash of a camera. They looked scathingly at the man with a photo ID card hanging from his lapel that said PRESS in big letters. The widow smiled through her tears at the photo opportunity – herself and the suspect’s girlfriend in the same shot. It almost seemed as if the scene had been set up. The more so when the woman turned immediately afterwards and walked away. Her own supporters closed around her and the crowd continued their gossip.

“The Merry Widow?” David said.

The Doctor allowed himself a grim smile at the apt description. He hadn’t read her mind, either. But he had felt very strongly that her grief WAS only an outward appearance. Gold digger? Yes. Well compensated for her loss. If she had been truly grief-stricken he would have had sympathy for her even though she accused his dearest blood of a capital crime he was innocent of. As it was, he felt only disgust for her and distaste for this whole affair.

The hour they had with Davie passed all too quickly. The ten minutes before the trial began seemed an agonising wait. Time, as The Doctor knew, was cruelly relative when it came to things like this. At last they were called in. They found seats near the front of the public gallery. The Doctor wished he could have been closer. He wished he could be more than a spectator. If this was a trial by Earth standards he could have taken his place as Davie’s defence counsel. That useless law degree he got so many centuries ago might have had a purpose at last. But on Nesistia they were so sure of their method they didn’t use lawyers. They had stewards who operated the psych transmitter and relied on their technology to show the truth.

David and Brenda groaned unhappily as Davie was brought into the court and made to sit in a barred dock flanked by two guards. Another man came into the dock and his still manacled arms were raised while something was injected into his arm.

“What’s that?” David asked in a panic.

“Truth drug,” The Doctor said. He had asked Davie telepathically. “ALL the witnesses will be given it.”

“Truth drug?” David looked hopeful. That means… That means the true story WILL be seen, surely.”

“Truth is more relative than time,” The Doctor said. “Ask any journalist.” He glanced around the court. He noticed The Merry widow sitting not too far away. “Isn’t she a witness?” he asked. “Come to think of it, so are you, Brenda. You shouldn’t be in here. You’re not supposed to be influenced by the prior testimony.”

Then he remembered that was how it was done on Gallifrey and Earth and other planets where justice didn’t rely on truth drugs and psychic technology.

The judge entered the court and took his seat. The jury were sworn in. Then the prisoner was asked to state his full name.

Davie managed a half smile as he spoke his name out loud for the court recorder.

“Davõreenchrístõdiamòndhærtmallõupdracœfiredelunmiancuimhnemilágrodánte de Lœngbærrow-Campbell,” he said. The court recorder looked startled and began to ask for the name to be spelt.

“The Accused will henceforth be referred to as The Accused,” the Judge said, interrupting him.

“You will state your planet of birth and occupation,” he was told.

“Earth,” he replied. “And I am a Lord of Time.” He spoke clearly and proudly. There was a stir among the crowd as he said that. They had clearly heard the term.

“The charge before the court is that The Accused did wilfully and with malice aforethought kill Louis J. Mahove, citizen of Nesistia. The circumstances of this murder will now be seen and judged wisely.”

The first witness was called. He sat in the special ‘psych’ chair and a screen lit up behind him. The Doctor and David both noted that there was no oath taken. Apparently it was accepted that the truth, the whole truth, would be seen on the psych screen.

The man stated his name as Calderic Bell and he stated that he was a tour guide who had escorted a group of specially invited guests to the megalith at Mysanni to witness the solstice. As he spoke pictures appeared of the group of tourists being driven to the site which appeared to be outside the city on the plain beyond. It was a structure built in some ancient time of Nesistia’s past in such a way that a room otherwise in total darkness within, was filled with light on the solstice.

The Doctor nodded in understanding so far. He had come across similar ideas on many planets. His own planet had such a place. Earth had several. This structure was not unlike the one at Newgrange in Ireland that he took Rose and the twins to see when the boys were ten. And like Newgrange, you either had to be a celebrity who could pull strings or on the waiting list for years to get to see the solstice.

Or you had to be a Lord of Time with a machine that could go back and put you on the waiting list retrospectively. The Doctor understood what he had done. He did it himself all the time. That’s how he always had tickets to the first nights of the best operas and concerts and theatre productions. It was slightly dishonest, of course, but not on the same scale as using time travel to fiddle the lottery.

At least he hadn’t used psychic paper, The Doctor thought. THAT would have been difficult to explain. As it was, Bell confirmed that The Accused had a valid ticket for himself plus one. The view on screen showed Davie and Brenda surrendering their ticket at the entrance to the megalith. The Merry widow, dressed in pale blue silk and the victim, Louis J. Mahove, were behind them in the queue and seemed irritated that somebody less important than them was ahead. When they were told they had to sit on the ground within the megalith the Widow complained even more so. The courtroom was treated to Bell’s recollection of her demanding to know why they had to come to such a disgusting place and Mahove pointing out that it was a privilege to be there and she should be grateful for the chance. The scene on the psych screen was very dark, as it was bound to be with only torchlight to see by in the inner sanctum. And even darker once everyone was seated and the lights were extinguished. The guide had begun his commentary about the dawn that was only a few minutes away and the history of the megalith. He was interrupted several times by complaints by the soon-to-be widow Mahove, about the hardness of the ground, about the heels of her shoes breaking, and then, more loudly and urgently, about somebody touching her in an inappropriate way. She had squealed loudly and demanded that Mahove do something. There was a scuffling and then a choking sound and the widow began screaming that there was blood on her. On screen torches were lit again and the widow was not the only person with blood on her. Those closest to Mahove when his throat had been cut ALL had blood on them. Davie and Brenda, who had been sitting next to the celebrity couple before the lights went off, were among those. Davie immediately went to try to help the victim, but he was already dead. His blood was pooling around his body and the Widow’s screams were echoing around the chamber.

“Then somebody noticed that the knife was in the young man’s belt,” Bell said, and on screen everyone could clearly see when Davie turned that a short handled craft knife was hanging from his belt. The blood that was still on the blade and the hilt it made a rust-coloured stain on his shirt and the top of his trousers.

“Like he would have put it there if he did it,” The Doctor thought. “It was obviously planted.” And how easy it would have been to do so in the confusion and the dark. Davie was just conveniently close when the real murderer struck.

Several other witnesses from the party were called and their evidence was very similar. The obvious thing seemed to be that nobody actually SAW the murder. Which made the psych evidence rather pointless.

And there was another thing. ALL the witnesses were in the court. They were all watching each other’s testimony.

David was correct when he said that eye witness testimony alone was discredited on Earth. It was discredited long before David’s time. In the late twentieth century criminal psychologists proved time and again that eye witnesses got things wrong. The simplest tests used to involve students learning criminology, those who were training to be observant. A man would walk into their class and do something surprising and walk out. The tutor would say something like ‘Which pocket did the black man take the gun out of.” And very few of the students would put up their hands and point out that it was a white man with a knife. The mind was so easily led by suggestion.

And just because Nesistian trials used a more sophisticated way of presenting the eye witness evidence did not make it any more reliable. Just because the witnesses were injected with a truth drug before they entered the court did not mean that they didn’t believe their own memory to be the truth even if it was distorted.

The press and public in the gallery were starting to look glazed and bored when finally the three most interesting witnesses were called forward. First Brenda. She looked scared as she walked to the stand. But she held her head high. And she told as much as she knew. And it was the same story as everyone else had told. Except that in her version Davie was sitting behind her with his arms around her the whole time from the moment they sat down to the moment the lights came on, when he went to try to help the stricken man.

“Liar!” The Merry widow screamed and the judge told her she must not call out and ordered her comments to be stricken from the court record.

“I am not a liar,” Brenda protested. “That is how it happened. I don’t know how the knife got into Davie’s belt. Somebody must have put it there.”

Obviously, The Doctor thought. And if this was Earth a forensic scientist would have lifted fingerprints by now and determined that. To base their evidence solely on eye witness accounts was utterly ridiculous.

The Merry widow went up next. And they learnt that her real name was Kalla Mahove, married to Louis Mahove for just three months. And she put on a pretty show of weeping and swooning and gasping for air. She was passed several glasses of water and took several long breaks to compose herself as she told her own version of the story. Of how some man was continually touching her when the lights went out, how she felt so uncomfortable with his attentions that she asked her husband to intervene, how she had felt somebody brush against her as her husband rose to his feet. And then she felt his blood all over her and screamed.

Blood spatter, The Doctor thought. Again, even in the latter half of the 20th century on Earth they knew about that sort of thing. They could work out from the blood on everyone’s clothes, on the ground, on hands and faces, exactly where they were standing. THAT was the sort of evidence that was irrefutable. It was REAL science. The sort The Doctor believed in. This ‘technology’ just made shaky evidence look pretty. But it proved nothing. Kalla Mahove BELIEVED that somebody had touched her, so that was what was seen and heard on screen. She BELIEVED that somebody brushed against her.

Was she lying or was she convinced it happened that way? The Doctor wasn’t sure. But either way, she was wrong. What she saw and heard and felt may be HER truth but it in no way was THE truth.

Finally, the Merry widow, as The Doctor still mentally called her, stood down, weeping into a lace handkerchief edged in black, and congratulated by the judge on her fortitude in this difficult time.

Now, Davie was called to give his account of things. He was led from the dock to the psych chair, still manacled hand and foot. He was made to sit in the chair and he slowly went through what he knew of the events in the inner sanctum of the Myssanni megalith. He told of sitting with his arms around Brenda. He told of hearing Kalla Mahove complaining about being uncomfortable and her husband replying to her. The pictures of those events, mostly dark shadows, came up on the screen. He told of her starting to say somebody was touching her, but when she did he was still holding Brenda and wondering what the woman was fussing about. He felt the warm blood spatter hit his face. He felt somebody touch his own back but thought nothing of it in the confusion. And as soon as the lights came on he stood up and went to try to help the dead man. Then Kalla cried out about him having the knife and somebody grabbed hold of him.

Nothing pointed to Davie having done it, The Doctor thought. Only the knife in his belt. And ANYONE could have put that there. It was the most ridiculous, flimsy evidence possible. Even Kalla did not know for sure who, if anyone, had brushed against her. Even she could not say who touched her – if anyone DID.

Yet the trial went on. Davie was taken back to the dock in chains and made to wait while a sort of edited highlights of the evidence was replayed to the jury and then they went to consider their verdict. The gallery cleared. Although he felt sick in his stomach, The Doctor took Brenda and found a coffee machine and made her drink a hot drink. He gave one to David, too, and forced himself to drink as well.

“Do you think….” David began, but his question would not come.

“I don’t know,” The Doctor said. “I think… I think they want a scapegoat. Davie is a foreigner, from offworld. The dead man is a local celebrity…”

“What will I tell Susan?” he asked.

“That he is innocent and this is a… a…” Brenda began to speak but the words choked in her throat. The Doctor put his arm around her shoulders and held her. He could feel her grief and her fear as sharply as his own. David, too. They all felt sick with fear. He hardly dared hope. He knew that the evidence was pathetic. He knew that important facts were being overlooked because these people believed too readily that their technology told them the truth. And he was horribly sure that the truth was the last thing they were interested in.

He hoped he was wrong. He hoped that the jury would see how ridiculous the whole thing was. He WANTED to be wrong.

But as the jury returned to their seats and the foreman stood his latent precognition was hammering at his brain and he knew what the verdict was going to be.

He wished he had been wrong.

The memory of Davie’s face as the death sentence was passed on him would stay in his mind as long as he lived. Brenda’s screams would ring in his head forever. He didn’t know how he kept his own composure.

David was devastated. As strong as he had been before, helping Brenda to hold it together, the verdict, the sentence took the heart out of him. He looked like a broken man as he stumbled from the courtroom. He looked, The Doctor thought, ten years older.

They went back to the detention centre. They had been told they could see Davie now the trial was over. The guards were impassive as they escorted them to the cell. They didn’t care whether he was innocent or guilty. Their job was to keep him there until he became somebody else’s responsibility.

The Doctor stood aside and let David and Brenda hug him. They needed to be near him so much more.

Davie, for his part, held himself up well. He was scared. That much was obvious. But he was holding himself up. He comforted Brenda even though she was there to give him comfort. He told his father to give his love to Chris and to Sukie and to his mother.

“Chris knows you love him,” David said. “He always has. So does your mother.”

“Davie,” The Doctor said as something struck him. “You’re in connection with Chris still?”

“Yes,” he said. “All along. He… he told mother… the verdict. She’s….”

“She’s devastated,” The Doctor said. “Of course she is. But… Davie… There is so little time. In case we run out of options… You have to close the connection with your brother. You have to cut him loose from you.”

“Why?” he asked. “I need him. I don’t think I can do this without him….”

“Davie, Chris has bled with you, every lash of the whip, every scourge has hurt him as much as it hurt you. He has been as hurt as you have. And… and… Davie… you don’t want him to DIE with you?” He heard David’s soft gasp as that possibility struck him.

“No!” Davie cried. “No, no.” David closed his arms around his son’s shoulders. “No. I don’t want that.” He was silent for a moment. The Doctor felt him in his own head. He felt him tell his brother goodbye. Then he felt him withdraw, close his mind to everyone. He was alone in his own head for the first time in his life. It showed in his eyes. He looked so much more afraid. So much less sure of his own courage.

“Davie…” The Doctor said. “I am going now… I’m… I’m not going to stand around here doing nothing. Your dad is here for you. He’ll be with you until the end. So will Brenda. But I’m… I’m going to try…. One last possibility.” He hugged his great grandson and kissed his tear-streaked cheek and then he turned and left the cell.

As soon as he was clear of the detention centre he began to run. The TARDIS was the other side of the so-called Justice Square. He noticed that it was already filling up with people. In another hour, when the execution was to take place, there would be a capacity crowd.

An hour. He would have to work fast.

The first thing he did was put a call through to his granddaughter.

“Susan,” he said as soon as her tear-stained face appeared on the viewscreen. “Susan my child, I have never broken a promise to you. But I must. I can’t get you here in time. Even in the TARDIS I can’t. And if I try, I might lose the one chance I have to stop it happening. Will you… please, Susan, in case I fail… forgive me.”

“Grandfather…” Susan sobbed. He saw Rose and Jackie come to her side. They both looked wrecked, too. But Susan was destroyed. “Grandfather… is there… is there something you can do?”

“There might be, but I daren’t give you false hope. Wait. Keep faith with me. I will do what I can. I’m sorry. I must go now.”

He closed the connection and got ready to do what he hoped he could do.


Davie felt very alone and very frightened as they brought him to Justice Square. The huge crowds that jeered and cried out as they saw him didn’t help matters. But what scared him most was the floodlit arena in the middle of the square with a stake set into the concrete. He wasn’t sure how he made his legs move as he was marched across the square. He could hardly feel them. He tried not to make any kind of sound that would give away his fear. But it was just too much. He kept on hoping that it would be all right, that somebody would stop the execution any moment, that somebody would realise the trial was a mess and that he couldn’t be guilty.

He kept hoping that The Doctor would come and help him. He knew he was trying to do something, but he didn’t know what. And time was running out.

He tried to refuse the blindfold, but the guards insisted.

“You killed a man in the dark, you can die in the dark. We’ll not have you pretending to have more courage than your accusers”

In a way it was easier. He couldn’t see that baying crowd that blamed him for something he knew he hadn’t done.

But it was hard. He tried to be brave, but he felt so alone. More alone than he had ever been in his life. He couldn’t stop the tears filling his eyes. He couldn’t help feeling more miserable than he had ever felt in his life as he waited. He wondered how long it would take for him to die. Even Humans could take hours of agony executed in this way. His body would try to fight back. For a while he would mend as fast as he was hurt. But there was a limit to even his endurance.

“Let me die quickly,” he whispered. “Let it be over.”

The crime he had been convicted of was read to the crowd over a PA system. The sentence repeated. Death by stoning. Then there was a silence for a long, long moment. Then a shouted order. He steeled himself against the first blows.

They never came. Or if they did, they didn’t reach him. He heard a sound that had gladdened his hearts for many years and he cried for joy as he felt the TARDIS solidify around him. He felt the warmth of the console room. He heard the sound of the time rotor. Then he heard his great-grandfather’s voice and the blindfold was taken from his eyes, the bonds that held his hands and feet cut, and he fell into two loving arms that supported him as his legs gave way beneath him.

“It’s all right, Davie,” The Doctor said. “It’s all right. I’ve got you. I’ve got you, son.” He lifted him into his arms as if he was still a child and carried him to the cabin bed in the corner of the TARDIS. “Lie still,” he told him. “Contact your brother. Tell him you’re ok. I’m going to get your dad now.”

David and Brenda had gone back to the space port where Davie’s TARDIS was parked. They didn’t know what else to do. They didn’t know where else to go, except that they knew they didn’t want to be in that horrible square. David hugged the girl who loved his son tightly as she cried inconsolably. He looked at the clock and wondered how long the execution would take. How long before his son was dead?

“He’s not dead,” Brenda said suddenly, sitting up straight and then standing. “Davie… he’s…. Oh….” By the time the TARDIS fully materialised, David was standing too. He didn’t know why his heart suddenly felt so much lighter than it had, but he felt as if he had been a drowning man who was suddenly offered a lifebelt.

“Come quickly,” The Doctor said as he opened the door. Neither needed to be told twice.

“Davie!” Brenda screamed and as she crossed the console room The Doctor could swear her feet never touched the ground. Davie struggled to sit up on the bed as she enveloped him in her arms. David looked at the wooden stake that still stood in the middle of the floor and the loosened ropes.

“You took him…. from the square?” He asked The Doctor.

“Yes,” he said. “I did. He’s my own flesh and blood and he’s innocent. Do you think I would stand by and let him be killed in such a way?”

“Are we going home now?” Davie asked.

“Not yet,” The Doctor said. “You’re safe. And I mean you to stay safe. Inside the TARDIS, you’ll always be safe. But I need to clear your name. We can’t have this hanging over you. You’ll never be able to travel anywhere in this galaxy until you’re proved innocent.”

“Then what……?”

“They tried to hurt one of my own,” The Doctor said. And there was a look in his eyes that made David, standing closer to him than Davie and Brenda, shiver. He looked as if he was capable of committing murder right now himself. “I’m not going to play nice. I’m not going to play by the rules.”

The TARDIS rematerialised in Justice Square. There was uproar outside. The police were holding people back while they investigated the scene of the abduction of the condemned prisoner. They were startled when they saw the machine that had taken him return to the spot. They stared at it for a long moment before their captain barked an order and they formed up around the police box and opened fire on it with their guns. They were surprised that the apparently wooden box was not even dented by the volley.

“If there is so much as a SCRATCH on the paintwork somebody will pay dearly,” The Doctor’s voice boomed over the PA system. “Stop shooting at my TARDIS and stand fast. You may be needed soon.” He paused. “EVERYONE stay where they are. You based your justice system on eye-witness evidence. Lets have as many eye-witnesses here as possible.” As he spoke the giant viewscreen where the execution was to have been shown in close up for those who wanted a better view flickered and resolved into a picture of the crowd that still waited to find out if there was going to be an execution after all.

“NO, there will be no execution tonight,” The Doctor said over the PA system, patched in from the TARDIS. “No innocent blood will be spilled. But before every one of the witnesses here, the real guilty party WILL be revealed.” He operated the controls that panned the view of the audience and focussed it on the place where Kalla Mahove was sitting on a grandstand with the judge and the mayor of the city and some other dignitaries. With a slight move of his hand on the TARDIS controls he focussed on her and moved the camera in closer.

“What happened in the dark, Kalla?” The Doctor asked. “What is the truth of it? Because I know you know the truth. You hid it well. It takes some strength of character to lie under the influence of a truth drug. Or… perhaps… you convinced yourself it WAS the truth. But now it's time for the real truth to be known.”

“Who are you?” she screamed. “What do you know about me? You can’t see into my mind.”

She looked around in surprise as her voice was heard on the PA system. How was it being done? She couldn’t tell.

“I could if I wanted to,” The Doctor replied. “But I’ll let the pictures tell the story. Psych transmission. Your society thinks it's perfected the art. Let me show you what the technology of MY world can do.”

And what they thought was an outside broadcast viewing screen became the screen for a psych transmission. Kalla looked up in shock as she saw her memories broadcast not only to the people in the square, but, apparently, to anyone watching television on Nesistia. They saw her a day or so before her husband’s death, meeting her lover. They saw her going into the megalith with Mahove. And although the inner sanctum WAS pitch dark, in her memory she saw what she was doing. So on the screen they saw her reach into her pocket and take out the knife. They saw her begin to scream about being touched though nobody was anywhere near her. Everyone saw her lash out and slit her husband’s throat and they all saw her put the knife into the belt of the young man who had tried to help him.

“No!” she screamed. “It wasn’t like that. I didn’t.”

“But that’s what you REALLY remember,” The Doctor told her. “That’s what really happened. Isn’t it!”

“No!” she cried. “I showed the court what happened, before.”

“Kalla Mahove, formally Kalla Hasforn,” The Doctor said. “The critics rated you as a very good actress. They said you were always very convincing, especially in roles that called for tears. They said that you were very good at method acting – and that your method was to play out the role in your head in order to invoke the mood. Even under the truth drug, Kalla, you played the role of innocent victim, complete with tears and sighs. But in reality, when you scratch the surface, underneath is a woman who murdered her husband for his money, who framed an innocent man, was prepared to see him die so that she could live in luxury with her lover.”

“NO!” she insisted. But even as she protested her thoughts flashed upon the screen. Confused thoughts now, flashes rather than continuous narrative, but they involved the lover, the husband, the knife, and they all pointed to Kalla being the one who wielded that knife and then planted it on Davie Campbell.

“No!” she screamed as two policemen took hold of her. “No, it’s not fair!”

“No,” The Doctor said. “It’s not fair. Wait. The whole truth isn’t known yet. Kalla, that’s still NOT the full truth, is it?”

“Yes, yes it IS,” she said. “I killed him. I was tired of him. I wanted his money, but not him. And if I divorced him I would get nothing…”

“But you DIDN’T kill him. The knife was yours but you didn’t kill him, did you? Kalla Mahove, Lady Macbeth, you had your lover do the deed for you, didn’t you? Oh, you’re guilty as hell, and you’re going to pay for it. But you weren’t alone in this, were you? Let’s try again. Let’s see if the REAL truth might come out this time.”

“How do you know…” David asked The Doctor as he fine tuned the link to the PA so that her new confession would be crystal clear.

“I can feel her mind. There are secrets, still. Look…”

Again the scene was played. Only this time in the dark somebody crossed the floor, led by her voice as she claimed she was being touched. She pressed the knife into his hand and he used it to kill Mahove before giving it back to her. As he returned to put on the lights she searched for the nearest scapegoat.

“I’m afraid this is an unashamed Scooby Do moment,” The Doctor said. “Any moment now somebody is going to cry out in astonishment “why, it's Calderic Bell, the tour guide!”

“He was her lover?”

“Seems so,” The Doctor said as he saw the police take hold of Kalla and elsewhere in the crowd there was a brief struggle as Bell was arrested. “Though I think the relationship might be over now.” On the viewscreen Bell was weeping and saying, as Kalla had said, that it was not fair.

“Not fair?” David looked around at Davie and Brenda holding each other tight. “She did that to my son…. She didn’t even know him. He was just there. Somebody to plant the murder weapon on…”

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “It wasn’t personal. It was just her greed. That’s all. It was about MONEY.” He turned to the console again. He adjusted a dial and outside on the big screen the judge who had passed sentence on Davie appeared on screen. He was standing on the platform they had just dragged Kalla Mahove from. “Your HONOUR,” The Doctor said, his voice again coming over the PA system for all to hear. “I think we need to hear from you now. You have passed a terrible sentence on an innocent man. You have amends to make.” He turned and reached out his hand to Davie. He came, Brenda and David following him. Together, they all stepped outside the TARDIS. They stood in the middle of the Square together and waited to hear what the judge had to say.

“The accused known as… as…”

None of The Doctor’s companions knew how he did it. How he was able to manipulate the screen psychically. But he did. Davie’s full Gallifreyan name appeared in large letters for all to see.

“Davõreenchrístõdiamòndhærtmallõupdracœfiredelunmiancuimhnemilágrodánte de Lœngbærrow-Campbell…” the judge managed eventually. “…is acquitted of all charges having been found, on appeal, to be innocent. The sentence is hereby rescinded.”

“That’s what we had to hear,” The Doctor said. “What you do to the real guilty parties is up to you. Frankly, I think your justice system leaves a LOT to be desired. But it's your problem, not mine. We’re going now. Goodbye.”

And with that they turned and went back into the TARDIS. The Doctor prepared to return to the space port and slave the Chinese TARDIS for a return journey to Earth together.

“Call your mum on the videophone,” The Doctor said to Davie as they left Nesistia behind them. “Tell her we’re coming home.”

“She knows,” Davie said. “Chris told her I’m ok.”

“Tell her yourself,” The Doctor said. “She’s your mum and she’s worried out of her mind. She needs you to tell her.”

Davie nodded and put through the call. When he saw his mother’s face and her tears of joy that he was alive and well he knew that he needed this call as much as she did.