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

“Chris,” Davie called to his brother telepathically. “Are you all right in there?”

“Of course I’m all right,” he replied. “I’m ready for the experiment.”

“I wish I was!” Davie answered. “This is one of the nuttiest things you’ve ever done, you know, Chris.”

“I know it is,” he answered. “But I believe that I can control my TARDIS entirely by thought. I believe I will be able to pilot it faster and more accurately than any TARDIS has ever been piloted before.

“You may be right,” Davie answered him. “But I don’t like the idea of you doing it on your own.”

“Your TARDIS is linked to mine through the imprimatur. If I get lost you can come and get me. But I won’t get lost. Granddad says I could never get lost. I know where I am in the universe instinctively.”

“Just be careful,” Davie told him. “If anything happens to you, mum will kill me.”

“If anything happens to me it won’t be your fault.”

“Tell mum that.”

“Anyway,” he said. “I’m ready.”

Chris cut the mental connection with his brother. He felt quiet and lonely afterwards. He always did. But he needed to be able to concentrate without any possible distraction. And Davie was a distraction, if a welcome one.

He lay down on the specially prepared pallet he had set up in the console room. It was a simple arrangement, with merely a thin bedroll and a single pillow for his head. He looked up at the ceiling of the TARDIS and concentrated. The ceiling transformed itself into an interactive planetarium. He focussed on his position just now. He was in his TARDIS parked by the River Thames, in London, on Earth. He concentrated and in an eyeblink he was in orbit around Earth. He had got there just by thinking about it. But that was a relatively simple dematerialisation.

The view now displayed on the ceiling was the view he would have seen on his viewscreen if he had piloted the TARDIS in the ordinary way. But it was even more breathtakingly beautiful to watch the shining Earth and its moon come into view this way. He watched it for a little while before he reached out with his mind and the solar system stretched before him. By the power of his mind the TARDIS set its course in real time flight. He wanted just to watch those planets pass by until he emerged into ‘outer’ space. Mars, the red planet, now a rapidly growing Earth colony, with its bio-dome visible from space, then the asteroid belt, which called for careful navigation around the more erratic pieces of debris.

He recalled a chilling story about the asteroid belt. He wasn’t sure if it was true or not, but it was said that millions of years ago, before Earth even had sentient life on it, a planet orbited the sun here. It was destroyed by the Time Lords, because it was home to an evil race called the Fendahl, who sucked the life force from beings they came across. They had the potential to destroy life throughout the universe and the Time Lords were compelled to act against them.

Whichever way he thought about that story it made him shiver. Genocide was something he took seriously. After all, he was a child of two races that had been all but annihilated by a deadly enemy. The idea that his own ancestors had done the same to another race, even a race of monsters, did not sit comfortably with him.

Jupiter came into his view as his journey continued. Earth scientists were working on ways to use the energy that its hydrogen core had in abundance. When they did, he knew, it would be the start of Human exploration of the universe. It was what would give them the ability to reach beyond their own solar system. Meanwhile the four major satellites had Human scientific colonies on them. He wondered what they would make of him if his ship was visible to them.

It wasn’t, of course. His TARDIS was invisible to the sort of scanners that Humans employed.

Beautiful Saturn with its rings of icy particles came into his view. He smiled as he saw it. Before he knew he was part Gallifreyan, when he was a youngster with pictures of space corps heroes on his bedroom wall, Saturn had been his favourite planet. He dreamed of visiting it. He little knew then that he would see far more amazing planets. But Saturn was still a planet he loved.

Uranus, cold and blue, slipped past him, so did Neptune. No, he amended. He slipped past THEM. But it didn’t look that way. It was as if the planets came to greet him as he moved through their piece of space.

Then there was Pluto, the dwarf planet that had been the edge of the known solar system for many years of the twentieth century. And Sedna, the tenth planet, discovered, The Doctor always said with a smile, in the year he took Rose away from Earth – 2005. Discovered by Earth scientists, that is. HE always knew it was there.

Chris smiled and stretched his body on the pallet. Even that journey was relatively easy. It was quite ordinary real time space flight. But now he was ready for the vortex. He let his mind reach out. He saw the planet he intended to visit. SangC’lune, the first planet he had ever visited, with his great-grandfather, when he was only eight years old. It seemed long ago now. It wasn’t. But it felt it. SangC’lune was the perfect place for him to go on his first solo trip.

He fixed its position, relative to his own, and then turned his mind to the vortex drive.

“Wow!” He cried out loud as he felt the power of the vortex reflecting in his mind. It was so different to the usual experience of travelling in a TARDIS. It was utterly exhilarating, something like downhill skiing or parachuting or racing a jet powered car. There was no exact equivalent for the rush he was feeling.

And even better, he was in control of it. He could feel it respond to every little inflexion of his own mind. He was piloting the TARDIS through the vortex with the ease of the aforesaid downhill skier. And just knowing he had that skill was a high.

Lord of Time! Until then he had never REALLY thought about those words. He had never really completely understood what it was to be a Time Lord.

Now he knew.

He WAS a Lord of Time. Time and space obeyed his command.

How far could he push it? Were there limits?

The vortex span in his head as he increased the speed. The downhill ski analogy no longer applied. He was going too fast for that. Not even racing a car. More like a test pilot in a new plane, finding out what it could do with an expert in the cockpit.

Davie would love it, he thought. Next time he would bring him along. He would be thrilled.

Davie would be frustrated, he thought, not to be in control himself. He was like granddad in that sense. A control freak who fretted when he was not at the helm.

This time, for once, HE was the one in control.

And it was beautiful.

At least it was until he tried to slow down. Then it began to get scary. He began to feel he wasn’t quite so in control after all. He could hardly see his console room. He could see the console and himself on the pallet beside it, and the vortex seemed to be spinning out of control around it. The walls of the TARDIS were indistinct and far away, as if their dimensions were being stretched to extremes.

And he couldn’t stop it. He tried to disengage, but it wouldn’t. He was trapped in the vortex.

“No,” he cried out loud. “No, SangC’lune. I’m going to SangC’lune. Take me there.” He focussed his mind on that planet, on where it was in the universe.

He felt the TARDIS engines change tempo as he dropped out of the vortex but his head was still full of it and he felt, in the moments before he blacked out, as if it was trying to pull him back.


Chris opened his eyes and was sure he was dreaming. But if he was, it was one of Davie’s dreams, not his own. Because he had never dreamt of being attended to by women dressed in floaty, gauzy, near see-through silk from head to toe, with only their eyes visible.

Actually, he wasn’t sure his brother ever had THOSE sort of dreams either!

“Where am I?” he whispered and the effect on the women was profound. They all of them dropped to their knees, bowing their heads.

“Hey,” he said. “There’s no need for THAT.” He sat up and noted that he was wearing nothing but a black robe of the sort he associated with minor Gallifreyan ceremonies. It had a simplified version of the seal of Rassilon embroidered on the front, slightly higher than where his two hearts were. His hand went to his throat and he felt the silver chain with the 16th century crucifix he had kept since he was ten years old. He wasn’t worried about his ordinary clothes, but he was glad whoever had put him in the robe had left that alone.

He rather suspected it was these women who had undressed him. But there probably wasn’t any point in getting embarrassed about that, now.

He looked around him. He was in some sort of temple. That was the word that sprang to mind. It had a temple sort of look to it. Lots of columns with elaborate bases and capitals. Thank you, granddad, for all those trips to ancient Greece and other places of architectural interest that equipped him with the vocabulary!

He had been lying on something that looked like a bed, soft and covered in the same kind of silk cloth the women were dressed in, and that was in front of something that looked like an altar in anybody’s religion, except, again, for that simplified form of the Seal of Rassilon.

Rassilon was not a God.

“Where am I?” Chris asked. “How did I get here? How long have I been here?”

“You are in the Temple of the Blood Moon, Lord,” said one of the silk-covered young ladies who approached with a bowl of water scented with some kind of incense and proceeded to wash his hands and face and his bare feet. He was ready to call a halt to the proceeding if she wished to work on any other part of his body, but so far it was soothing and pleasant. “You have been in a deep sleep for seven nights and days.”

Another of the women brought food, and the other drink. The food included bread and cheese and a red citrus fruit that he and his brother had always enjoyed when they visited SangC’lune. The drink was the rich red wine made from the vines that grew on that planet.

“I made it,” he murmured. Of course, he reminded himself. Temple of The Blood Moon! SangC’lune loosely translated MEANT Blood Moon. He looked up through a skylight in the roof and saw that moon shining brightly.

That was odd, though. SangC’lune should have TWO moons. The red one and an ordinary white one such as he was accustomed to.

And this temple…..

Yes, there WAS a ruin of a temple on SangC’lune, a mile or so from the village where most of the people lived. He remembered with a shudder the first time he saw it. The night when his brother had been kidnapped by the Followers of The Master and they had been led there in the course of the search for him. They had visited it many times since. There was a hidden entrance to a cavern here, deep underground, where Time Lord rites took place in the old days. He and Davie had performed several of them there under their great-grandfather’s supervision before their Transcension.

But he had arrived in the wrong time. He must be hundreds of thousands of years BEFORE his own time. Maybe longer. He looked again. How long would it take for a second moon to become fixed in the planet’s gravitational field? Later he would have to check the positions of the stars against what he knew them to be. But with a sense of shock he examined his own body clock and reckoned he must be at least thirty million years back in the history of this planet.

And his Time Lord ancestors had already made it their dominion. The women called him LORD. They knew he was one of their living gods.

Hence the washing and the food and drink.

“Lord,” the woman who had brought him food said. “I am Fírinne, these are my sisters, Dóchas and Grainne. We are your handmaidens.”

“Er…” Chris was at a loss. “Er… that means you bring me food and drink and washing water?” he said. “Is that all?”

“We are yours to do with as you will,” Fírinne answered him. “We are given to you, Lord.”

“Food and drink and washing will do for now,” he said. “And if it’s all the same to you girls, I’ll dress myself in future. But where is my TARDIS?” They looked blank. “When I got here… I was in a ship… only it probably didn’t look like a ship. I think… I think it had disguised itself as a sort of…” He looked around and gave a sigh of relief. Between two of the pillars was a tall, rectangular cabinet, styling itself in the light grey stone of the temple, but otherwise a default TARDIS with Rassilon’s seal on three sides and on the fourth, where the door was, the ying yang symbol he and his brother adopted as their identifying marks.

Either side, between the pillars, there were two other rectangular boxes, not as sophisticated looking as the TARDIS, just plain grey boxes, but he had the oddest idea that they were of the same technology.

Time Lord technology.

“You came through the portal, as the Lords always come,” Dóchas told him. “But you were ill. We cared for you, and offered prayers that your life would be spared.”

“Well, I can’t complain about that,” he said. “Seeing as I’m alive and as well as I ever was. But…”

He stopped. How many times had he said the word ‘but’ since he regained consciousness. He knew where he was, he knew roughly when he was. And the sisters knew who and what he was. What was there to worry about?

As long as the sisters didn’t want to provide any more advanced services for him, he could spend a few days here. It WAS the place he set out to reach, just not in the TIME he planned.

“What time is it?” he asked. But he knew that was a silly question to ask people who had no watches. “Is it dawn yet?”

“It will be very soon,” the one called Fírinne said. “The sun will come into the temple as it rises.”

“A light chamber?” Chris was interested. He had visited several such places in his travels with his great-grandfather. Newgrange in Ireland, and the beautiful Abu Simbel in Egypt sprang to mind. He never knew that the temple here on SangC’lune was the same.

Well, he wouldn’t, of course. The temple was a ruin in his time.

He stood and went to the great pillared door and looked out. There was not much to be seen yet except a gradual lightening of the sky to the south. He was used to a world where the sun rose in the east, but he knew that was not universal. GALLIFREY’s sun rose in the west. And SangC’lune’s rose in the south.

“Lord,” Fírinne said as she came to his side.

“I love sunrises,” he told her. “Sunsets, too. But sunrises – the dawn of a new day - a fresh new beginning. Nothing like it.”

He felt the girl slip her hand into his as he leaned against one pillar and watched the sky lighten gradually. She stood beside him quietly and they watched together as the sun rose in a clear, cloudless sky. He saw the rays of the newborn sun racing towards their position and felt himself bathed in warmth and light. He turned and looked at the interior of the temple as the morning sun turned the pale stone walls to glittering gold and highlighting all that had been shadow before.

It was breathtakingly lovely. And so was the view when he looked back over the valley below the rise where the temple stood.

The Valley of the Pyramids. But where he had known it as thousand upon thousands of black pyramids of dead Time Lords, here there were no more than a few hundred and all of them were white. Pristine, bright white, reflecting the sunlight.

So this was the early days of the Time Lords. The first generation of them that Rassilon created. These were his own ancestors from thousands of generations back.

It really WAS a new sun, he thought. A new planet. A new race of people.

One of those pyramids, he thought, belonged to the first Lœngbærrow. His ancestor. The House of Lœngbærrow was sired by Rassilon himself. They were among the oldest of the Oldbloods.

He felt small somehow, as the weight of those millennia seemed to press down on him.

“Lord,” Fírinne said. “My sisters have prepared breakfast. Will you come and eat with us.”

“That I will,” he said, and he turned and went back into the temple again.

He did his best to eat the breakfast himself. The three women were ready to feed him. They kept trying to put pieces of fruit in his mouth.

“Please,” he protested. “I haven’t had anyone feed me since I was old enough to sit at the table without a highchair!” They didn’t know what a highchair was, of course. But they understood his body language. They stopped trying to do everything for him.

“There are people coming,” Dóchas said as they finished eating.

“The villagers?” he asked.

“Come to greet you, Lord,” Grainne told him. “Will you receive them?”

“Of course I will,” he answered. He stood and went to the entrance again. He sat on the steps as the villagers came to him, first the elders with bowed heads, then the ordinary people, asking his blessing on their lives. He was given babies to hold and children and adults alike came just to touch his hands.

It was not the first time, of course. He had been to SangC’lune with The Doctor and they had all received this royal treatment. But this was the first time he had been here by himself. It was strange being the one they came to see. He did his best to act with dignity and with graciousness towards them as he had seen his great-grandfather do so often.

Much of his day was spent in the performance of those duties. It seemed that the people looked forward to the visits of their gods and he was glad to spend the time with them. He wished he had some real power to grant the simple blessings they asked. But it seemed it was enough to be touched momentarily by him to settle their hearts.

His three handmaidens sat close to him throughout. They had made it their mission to be at his beck and call should he need anything.

“If I decide to walk down to the pyramids I suppose you will accompany me?” he said when he and the girls were alone again. He was curious about them. He had studied the early history of Gallifrey carefully and to see the pyramids of the founding fathers would be almost as much a thrill as to meet any of them in person.

Of course the girls came with him. They walked by his side, Fírinne usually managing to be at his right side while the other two took it in turns to be at his left. They were quiet and deferential to him, but it was nice to have their company all the same.

“Do you know what any of the symbols are on the pyramids?” he asked the girls, but they did not. “They’re the Houses the Lords belong to,” he explained. “That is Arpexia and that one is Oakdaene and Ravenswode. And that one is the House of Ixion, and…..” He gave a sigh of delight as he came upon the symbol of two silver trees with their branches meeting in the middle. “The House of Lœngbærrow. My ancestor. This one belongs to one who has the same blood as I do.”

He was more affected by that than he thought. He stepped close to the pyramid and put his hands on the sun-warmed translucent wall and concentrated on the name of the man whose pyramid this was. He was pleased when a very faint but very real vision of what he looked like came into his mind.

“Yes,” he whispered. “My people.”

He looked around at the pyramids again, and more than ever before he felt his ancestry as a Time Lord of Gallifrey. Even before when he had come here and seen the ranks of black pyramids, he had not really grasped it fully. He had not really felt as if Gallifrey was anything to do with him. He was born and raised on Earth. Until he was eight years old he never knew his mother came from another planet, even though he knew he and his brother were different from other children. Even when he learnt of Gallifrey, as much as the history fascinated him, it WAS just history. He didn’t seem a part of it.

Now he did. He FELT as if he WAS a Gallifreyan. And he was proud of that fact.

Davie would love this, too, he thought. And even mum. She had hardly even left Earth since she married his father. But she would love to see this.

“Lord,” Fírinne said. “Do you have a pyramid here?”

“No,” he said. “Not yet. I will, one day.” My pyramid will be here. So will thousands more. The Time Lords will thrive and so will your people.”

“That is good to know, Lord,” she said.

“Come, Lord,” the one called Grainne said to him. “You should rest in the temple before the Daygone festival.”

“Rest? But I’m far from tired.”

“Nevertheless, it is our duty to attend upon you while you rest. You are our Lord and we must be at your command.”

“I have not taken an afternoon nap since I was four years old. And I have never been attended to while I do so.”

“There are ways we could entertain you,” Dóchas told him. “We can sing and play music. Or we can…” Though only her eyes were visible, Chris was certain that the girl was blushing. “Lord, if it is your wish, we are given to you for your pleasure.” And her body language at that point left no doubt about what she meant. Chris looked at all three of them and felt their anxiety to please. But this offer was not one he could accept.

“No,” he said, stopping in the sloping meadow that led them out of the pyramid valley. As he sat down on the grass, they did too. “No,” he repeated gently. He didn’t want to upset them. “I cannot. You ARE all very lovely and if my brother had not already got himself a girlfriend I’m sure he’d be interested. But I’m not. I have committed myself to a life of contemplation. A…. wife… and definitely not three wives - is not part of the plan.”

“But we give ourselves to you, our Lord,” Fírinne repeated. “Let us be your chalices.”

“My what?” Chris was startled. “No,” he said as his imagination worked out the euphemism. “No, please. That is not on. Besides, Lord or not, I’m a stranger to you. Don’t you…. aren’t there men among your people you would rather be with?”

“My sisters have men they would be betrothed to if they were not chosen,” Fírinne answered. “I do not. The man I loved was killed a year ago.”

“I am sorry for that,” he said. “An accident?”

“Yes,” she said. “He was felling trees in the woodland and…”

She didn’t need to elaborate. He understood. It was an ordinary death in ordinary circumstances. She had grieved with the people of her village. And life had gone on.

“I think I should like to speak to your father,” he said. “Take me to him.”

It was surreal, walking through the village with the three girls. Everyone stopped in their tracks and bowed to him as they came to the home of the village stonemason. He was working in the cutting yard outside, carving a fine piece of ornamental stone with no more than a simple hand held chisel and hammer. When they approached, he put down his tools and knelt.

“Please rise,” he said. “I want to speak to you about your daughters.”

“They have not pleased you, Lord?” The man looked worried.

“They please me greatly,” he answered. “They are kind, sweet girls. They looked after me when I was ill. But sir, they must not…” He looked around. Many of the villagers had gathered. They were listening. “From now on, no more handmaidens. No more young women offering themselves to the Lords who come through the portal. These two… I am told they have men they wish to be betrothed to.”

Two men stepped forward hesitantly. Chris took the girls and brought them to their men.

“These women belong with these men. Let nobody prevent that from being. Now…please, go on with your lives. I am returning to the temple to perform my own rituals before Daygone.”

With that he turned and walked away. The crowds parted as he made his way through the village and returned to the temple. He was there before he realised he was being followed.

“Fírinne,” he sighed. “Don’t you understand? I don’t want you to attend to me.”

“Then let me keep you company, Lord.”

“I don’t need company,” he answered. But as he walked on she kept pace with him. When he reached the temple he prepared to perform one of the shorter meditative Rites he knew. Three hours in level one trance, his mind open to the background psychic that infused the planet. As he had expected, the experience was enriching to him.

When he opened his eyes at the end of it Fírinne was kneeling by him, quietly watching. When she saw he was finished she ran and fetched a cool cup of buttermilk for him to drink. He was grateful. The meditation always made his throat dry.

“All right,” he conceded. “You can stay by me.” He sat up on the silk covered bed, his legs crossed under him. She sat beside him. He asked her about her life in the village. She answered him. It was an idyllic life all told. Apart from the tragedy that befell them last year it was a happy, fulfilling life. And she had been pleased when she and her sisters were chosen from among the young women of the village to be handmaidens of the Lords of Time, the Living Gods of SangC’lune.

“It is an honour,” she said. “And sometimes…. Many of the Lords have taken handmaidens to be their wives. My cousin, Marissa, was chosen that way.”

“That’s an irony,” Chris told her. “The Time Lords didn’t scorn mixed marriages in the early days!” He looked at Fírinne. “I’m sorry. But I don’t want a wife. Besides, I AM a Lord of Time. But I do not come from Gallifrey. I live on Earth, another planet many thousands of light years away. And I don’t live like a prince. You would be disappointed.”

“What is your world like, Lord?” she asked.

“It is busy,” he replied. “There are many more people than there are here.” He touched her forehead and showed her with his mind the wide and varied natural beauty of Earth. She was especially taken with his pictures of England in winter, with rolling hills dusted with snow.

“It doesn’t snow here?” he was surprised. But then, he knew, the planet had been modified in many ways by the Time Lords. There were no variations of climate. There was enough rain to make the crops grow and that never harsh. He laughed and envisaged a thunder and lightning storm and the joy of being soaking wet in a sudden downpour.

And somehow, in what had merely been a vision of English weather, they were both in it. He could feel himself running through pouring rain, and there was a girl by his side, running with him, laughing, clinging to his hand. Then they stopped in some kind of shelter and pressed close together. Chilled bodies seeking warmth.

In the vision he could see her face. But she had been veiled from him all the time.

Chris reached out and took the veil from her face and realised that he had known her features even before. In his mind he had known it.

“You are very beautiful, Fírinne,” he said. “I almost wish I could….”

There WAS nothing stopping him, of course. It wasn’t as if he had never kissed a girl. He and his brother had gone to a mixed school and they experimented with romance just like any other boys. But none of them had ever meant anything to him. Davie teased him about it, and hinted at his interests lying elsewhere. But that wasn’t true, either. He just had no romantic interest in either sex. He had willingly made his vow of celibacy and chastity and prepared to dedicate his life to contemplation.

But now, in this instance, he knew what it was he had chosen to give up.

Neither celibacy nor chastity barred him from kissing a girl, he told himself.

No, he responded to himself. But can you leave it at that?

“Yes, I can,” he told himself firmly. He reached to hold her around the shoulders and he kissed her lips. It was a long, luxuriant kiss that went on for several minutes before he moved his face back and looked at her again.

“That was sweet,” he said. “You’re very sweet, Fírinne.”

“You are my Lord, forever,” she told him.

“Yeah,” he laughed. “I think I’ve burnt my boats good and proper.”

At the back of his mind was a voice telling him he was weak. That he had broken his own vow the first time a pretty woman turned a smile on him.

Fallen at the first fence.

No, I haven’t, he answered. My Sanctuary is still going to happen. I still have that dream intact. But who says that Fírinne cannot be my first and most precious student? I can teach her the discipline I have worked out. She will learn and grow in understanding and at the same time, she will be my special one.

Yes, he thought. He could. She could be his just as Brenda belonged to Davie. It would be a pure love. It would not be consummated until they were joined in Alliance of Unity. Until then she would be his gentle handmaiden who smiled at him in that way and reached again to kiss him.

“My Lord,” she reminded him as they once more paused to breathe. “It is almost time to gather for Daygone.”

“Yes, it is,” he answered her. “You will be at my side, my Fírinne.”

And she was. Her father and mother and sisters, with the men of their own choice, were among the crowd that gathered at the temple for the Daygone ritual. In later times, they gathered by the Great Hall within their village. But they had not built one yet. Now they came to the temple and chanted prayers as the sun set over their lovely world.

And then they were gone and he was left alone in the temple with his handmaiden. She prepared a meal for them both. She sang softly as she worked. He listened to the simple love song and smiled. And a song came into his head that seemed to fit them well. He sang it to her as the blood moon rose above the temple and they ate together in the lamplight.

You are the moonlight I am the stars/Together we light up the night
You are the passion I am the flame/We are both one and the same

i am the taker you are the chance/This is the rule of romance
I am the seeker you are the find/Together we are two of a kind

Two hearts one love beating together/I am yours you are mine
Two hearts one love always forever/Standing the test of time.

There was something miraculous about the moment as he, a young man from twenty-third century Earth, sang a song from the 20th century to a girl who was born when that planet’s people were still evolving from apes and the very continents were still forming.

This was what being a Lord of Time was about, he told himself.

Of course when the song ended they were kissing again.

“My Lord,” Fírinne whispered. “When you sleep tonight, let me lie with you.”

Chris thought of a million reasons to say no but he knew there were none he would say to her. She was his handmaiden and he could not refuse her.

“Chris,” he told her. “Call me Chris. See me as a man, not a god, and call me by my name.”


“Yes. Is there something wrong with that?”

“In my language, that is a word which means ‘clean’.

“I can live with that,” he told her. On Earth, his name meant “Christ within,” and he wasn’t going to complicate matters by trying to explain that to a girl who thought he WAS a god.

“Yours means Truth,” he added. “A good name.”

“Chris, my Lord,” she whispered.

“No, just Chris,” he corrected her as he took her in his arms and sang again, this time dancing slowly with her. When they finished dancing he brought her to the low bed. He laid her down first and then slid beside her, holding her tight in his arms, kissing her gently, but no more than that. He was true to the moral code of his ancestors. His recent ancestors, at least, who believed in consummation of love only after marriage. He had other thoughts about his ancient ancestors and how they behaved on SangC’lune.

Firinne stayed by his side through the night, every night, and day after sweet day filled with the meditations he came to do, as well as long walks in the sunshine, the rituals of Daygone, quiet evenings together, singing and talking. He would have to go eventually, he knew. But not yet.

They were dancing in each other’s arms after Daygone one night… it must have been ten days after he first woke there. They were happy, contented. Davie was thinking of the warm comfort of the bed and a pleasant night by her side.

Then a sound disturbed them. They both turned and stared and he found himself holding Fírinne protectively as the two ‘portals’ either side of his TARDIS made noises just like a TARDIS did when it materialised. The doors opened and a dozen or more men in the same black robes he himself was wearing, stepped out. They all looked startled at the sight of the two of them in the temple.

“This is a sacred place,” one of them said, stepping forward. “I never expected anyone to come here for base reasons.”

It was a second or two before Chris realised they were speaking to him in High Gallifreyan. He replied in the same.

“There is nothing base about my intentions. This girl is my handmaiden and I am a Lord of Time.”

“You ARE?” The one who seemed to be a leader looked at him curiously. He turned to the others and Chris felt that he had passed a message to them telepathically but it had been blocked from him.

“Yes, Lord Rassilon,” they answered and left the temple to go about some business.

“Lord Rassilon!” Chris looked at him in astonishment and he felt as if he ought to be kneeling before him.

“Why?” Rassilon asked him.

“Because you are the Creator of my race, the immortal one who sired the House of my birth,” Chris answered.

“Am I, indeed?” Rassilon smiled. Chris looked at him. He maybe WASN’T immortal yet. He looked about fifty years old in Earth terms. He was a little younger than his father, a little older in appearance than his great-grandfather – and that sentence could only make sense in HIS family.

“You are the one who discovered the secret of regeneration, and who mastered time itself.”

“That I am,” Rassilon answered, still smiling. “But you are not one of my Time Lords. There are only a few hundred of them and those who are not my own sons I chose from among the men of Gallifrey to be reborn as the Guardians of Destiny.”

Rassilon stepped closer and touched his face. The effect on them both was electric. Chris gasped as he felt the touch of the most powerful Time Lord in the history of their race. Even more powerful than The Doctor.

Rassilon gasped as he read the thoughts of a Time Lord born thirty million years after he founded the race.

“You are proof that I was right. The Time Lords will never die.”

“We came close,” Chris said. “Very close.”

“So I see. New Gallifrey. New Lords of Time. Who is this one you consider to be as great as I am?”

“That’s my great grandfather, The Doctor. And he IS as great as you, Lord Rassilon. And in our time, you know it. He is the one who saved your Creation from extinction by making me and my brother Time Lords.”

“Ah,” Rassilon said. “Yes, I see it now.” He took his hand from Chris’s face. “There is much there about the future that it would do no good for even me to know. But you speak the truth. You ARE a Young Lord of Time. And you have conquered time to come here to this place. Not JUST to find a handmaiden I trust?”

“No,” Chris answered, blushing slightly. “To test my mastery of the vortex. And in truth, I made a mistake. I did not mean to come so far into the past.”

“A Time Lord who admits to a mistake!” Rassilon laughed. “Times must have changed. I created something of an arrogant race. That is why I didn’t let them become immortal. They would be far too much trouble.” He paused then and seemed to be listening to a message. Again, the message was blocked from Chris.

“Young Time Lord,” he said at last. “This planet is in danger. Will you join in our effort to protect it?”

“Of course I will,” he answered. “But…” He looked at Fírinne. She had been dutifully silent through the conversation between her Lord and the grand master of all Time Lords.

“Child,” Rassilon said kindly. “Kiss your Young Lord and then run to your people and warn them. Let them prepare this night for tribulation while we, your Lords do what we can to help you.”

She still could not find voice to speak to Rassilon, but she did as he said. She put her arms around Chris’s neck and kissed him lovingly. Then she turned and ran. He and Rassilon walked slowly down towards the pyramids

“You know,” Chris said as they walked. “Granddad always HATED that the people here think we’re gods. He said it was WRONG. He always thought the people made a mistake about who we are. But it seems it was your deliberate plan to keep them in such servitude to us.”

“I brought them here three generations before that of your young handmaiden,” Rassilon answered.

“You BROUGHT them here? They are not indigenous to this world?” Chris was shocked. It had never occurred to him before that the people were anything but native to the planet.

“I did it for two good reasons,” Rassilon told him and Chris was astonished to realise that Rassilon seemed anxious to justify himself to him, the youngest and least of his race. “First, because their planet was about to implode, through nothing they had done. It was tectonically unstable. And secondly, in order that they would tend to the pyramids. I had to pretend I was a god in order to persuade them to come with me from their dying world and make the one I offered them their home instead. But that would become legend in a few generations and the pyramids DO need to be tended to. I reasoned that if we were their gods, they would honour our relics.”

“But their ceremonies…. Daygone for instance…”

“Their ceremonies have nothing to do with us. On the world they came from they worshipped nature. They prayed thanks for the sun that warmed them and the moon that lit their night time, and the rain that kept them from thirst and watered their crops. They still do that. When one of us visits here, to ensure they are still thriving, we are guests of honour at their ceremony, not the object of worship.”

“All right,” Chris conceded. “But there’s another thing. You should know this. I have decreed as a living god of SangC’lune that they no longer need to give their daughters as temple handmaidens.”

“You have?” Rassilon looked at him in surprise, amusement and, Chris thought, respect. “May I ask why?”

“Because having Time Lords come here to ‘enjoy’ the young women of the village has nothing to do with the reasons you just outlined to me for letting them think we are gods. I think it’s a disgraceful idea. I thought Time Lords were far more honourable than that.”

“Ah!” Rassilon laughed. “Very well, I shall make it known that the young women of SangC’lune are not to be ‘enjoyed’ in future.”

“Good,” he said. “That’s all right then.”

“I don’t think YOUR young maiden will be happy about it.”

“Fírinne is coming with me when I am done here. She will be my Lady and my life companion. But she is the last. And for your information I have not yet ENJOYED her in any sense but the purely spiritual.”

“Who am I to argue against such determination?” Rassilon said, again with a faintly amused tone in his voice.

“You’re my Creator,” Chris answered. “I suppose you have a right to strike me dead. But I always thought you were a fair and just Creator. So I don’t think you would.”

“Interesting logic, Young Lord. Perhaps we will speak of this again. But for now…”

Chris followed his gaze across the pyramid plain. The Time Lords who had come with Rassilon were splitting up and taking up positions among the pyramids.

“What IS the tribulation that is coming?” he asked. “What are we here for?”

“Look up,” Rassilon answered. Chris looked up and he saw something glowing in the sky, bigger than a star, smaller than a moon. He was sure it was not there before.

Or perhaps it was, but it had not been so noticeable.

Or perhaps he had been too engrossed with Fírinne to pay attention.

“What is it” he asked.

“An asteroid,” Rassilon told him. “On a collision course with SangC’lune.”

“Oh, no!” Chris murmured. “Oh, no. But… but the planet cannot be destroyed now. It is there in my own time. I have visited often.”

He looked up at the blood moon and remembered.

“It will become the second moon.”

“Yes, but only if we can use our will to force it into a steady orbit. Otherwise it will crash into the planet and destroy it.”

“You need my will along with yours?”

“I think perhaps we need your will more than any. You ARE a strong telepath. The millennia between us, the generations, have bred in you one with strength I could hardly have hoped possible. The fate of this world is in your hands, Young Lord.”

“Tell me what to do,” Chris said. “I’ll do it.”

“Focus,” Rassilon instructed. Chris felt himself brought mentally into the group he had been closed from before. He felt the minds joining with his own as they all focussed on the object that threatened the peace of this world.

He saw it clearly. It was about the size of the planet’s existing moon and it was moving very fast.

“Is this natural?” Chris asked. “I have heard of races that use meteors and natural space objects as weapons.”

“The boy has a point,” one of the Time Lords said. Chris felt a thrill of excitement, despite the urgency of the moment when he realised it was his own ancestor, the one with the crest of Lœngbærrow on his pyramid.

“We shall investigate that later,” Rassilon said. “For now, stopping the destruction is paramount.”

Chris felt as if his head was going to explode as he joined his mind in the effort to slow the meteor that sped towards the planet. But just as he had felt the control when he manoeuvred the TARDIS through the vortex, he felt the results of his effort. The meteor WAS slowing. It was going to be caught up in the gravitational force of the planet instead of smashing through it.

But not without some repercussions. They all felt the ground beneath their feet tremble and quake as the pull of the new moon settling into its orbit caused shifts in the continental plates. The pyramids stood. But they heard the crashing of trees in the woods, they heard a devastating sound and looked up to see the temple falling apart. And they all felt the cries of fear and grief among the villagers as the quake reached them.

“Fírinne!” Chris felt her cry of pain among the others as if, even after such a short time as he had known her he already had a special connection with her.

She was hurt. Badly hurt. He looked up at the new, bright moon of SangC’lune. He knew they had done it. The planet was safe. But at what cost?

“Go to her,” Rassilon told him. He felt he needed permission. But once he had it he turned and ran. He folded time desperately as he headed towards the stricken village.

Some of the houses had fallen, some were intact. It was utterly random. Chance, fate, no more than that, dictated who had lived, who had died, who had been injured by falling timbers.

The house of the master stonemason was no more. It was a heap of wooden debris. And it anyone imagined a house of wood was an easy thing to clear away then they didn’t see the stonemason and some of his neighbours frantically working.

Fírinne’s sisters stood by, weeping. Just from the look on their faces Chris knew the worst. He ran to her father’s side and began to search with him. He called out to her in his mind, but there was no answer. He feared the very worst.

And the worst was realised. As they cleared one huge roof timber away they saw the torn shreds of silk and bruised and bloody flesh beneath. Chris hurriedly cleared the rest and lifted her broken body in his arms.

“No,” he cried. “Oh no.” But there was nothing he could do. She was too badly injured. Her back was broken in two places at least and her neck was limp as he held her close to him. She was bleeding internally from the crush injuries. She was barely hanging on to life.

“Fírinne,” he whispered, blinking back his tears. She opened her eyes and looked at him. She couldn’t speak. She was too far gone for that. But he knew what she wanted to say to him.

“Yes,” he said. “I love you, too.” It was the truth. He had loved her for a short time. But he HAD loved her.

He looked at her father and sisters.

“You understand, don’t you,” he said to them. “You understand that I can’t do anything to save her. Lords of Time we are. Living gods. But we can’t change what is. We can’t give life when that life is gone.”

“I understand,” her father said. “I could not ask….” His tears fell unchecked. His other two daughters cried with him as Chris turned to look on the face of the girl who had captured his own hearts. He held her head steadily as she clung to one second more of life.

“Fírinne,” he whispered. “Sleep well.” He kissed her lips as her last breath mingled with his own. He felt her heart stop beating and when he looked again her eyes were still fixed on him but there was no life in them.

“You understand that I could do nothing, either.” He looked up to see Rassilon standing there, the one who was his ancestor beside him. “As powerful as I am, that is the one thing I cannot do. Return life to the dead. It is not given to ANY of us. It would be too dangerous a power to have.”

“Yes, I understand,” Chris said. He stood and lifted her body in his arms. The crowds parted as he walked, not, this time, because he was a Time Lord, but because he held Fírinne. He stopped and looked about him. He didn’t know what he should do next. Then he turned and walked towards the ruined temple.

The roof had completely caved in. So had most of the walls. Only a few pillars stood, and the altar, and three cabinets that had stood along one wall.

He laid Fírinne’s body on the altar. Behind him, the villagers brought others who had died and they were laid among the ruins of the temple, too. Then Time Lords and SangC’lune people knelt together and kept a vigil until the sun rose the next morning. It was not a cold night and the new white moon alongside the blood moon made it bright. But it was a sad vigil.

“That new moon,” Chris said once as he looked up at it. “Call it Fírrine. The Moon of Truth.”

“Yes,” Rassilon said, nodding. And he knew that long after the girl was forgotten, her name would live on.

In that moment, he remembered something he never remembered before, because it had not been true until that moment.

The white moon of SangC’lune WAS called Fírinne. The Doctor had told him that the first time they came to the planet. But he didn’t know why it had that name.

The next day, they buried the dead in and around the ruined temple. Fírinne’s father carved a stone to go over her grave himself. Chris told him what to write upon it. The man wondered at the words, but did as he asked.

“It is time for us all to leave now,” Rassilon told Chris when the funerals were over. “We shall let the people pick up the pieces of their lives in their own way.”

“Yes,” he agreed. They walked together to the place where the TARDIS and the two time portals stood. Rassilon looked at the TARDIS with undisguised interest.

“This is still a dream of mine,” he said. “A machine that truly gives us the freedom of space and time. The portals only allow us access to static positions such as this one. Again, I am gratified to know that my ideas WILL prove successful. The darkness that I see in your head is disturbing. But to know my vision of Arcadia will last as long as it does…. Everything has its time. Everything dies. That is the way of the universe.”

“Yes,” Chris said. He didn’t risk saying anything else. He did the one thing he had not yet done but thought he should. He bowed to the man who created the race he was born of and whose future was vested in him. To his surprise, Rassilon bowed to him in return.

“Remember me to you great-grandfather,” he added before he stepped into the time portal, followed by his Time Lords. Chris stepped into his TARDIS. He went to the console. This time he would not risk experimental piloting. He set the TARDIS into temporal orbit above SangC’lune. He watched the two moons in their orbit around the planet and then he set his TARDIS to go forward to his own time, while still remaining in orbit above the planet.

“Chris!” He heard Davie’s voice in his head as he came out of the vortex once more. Then he felt a change in his TARDIS’s engines. The Chinese TARDIS had connected with it. A moment later the door opened and Davie stepped through from his own ship.

“Hello, brother,” Chris greeted him.

“'Hello brother?' That’s ALL you have to say?” Davie was almost indignant. “You have been missing for a MONTH. Mum and dad are sick with worry. I’ve been SEARCHING for you. So has granddad and Christopher. I knew you were alive somewhere. I kept telling mum that, every time she cried. But it was scary, not knowing.”

“A month?” He was startled by that. “It felt like years when I was in her arms. I felt as if I had known her forever.”

“You dropped right off the radar,” Davie continued, not taking in his brother’s cryptic remarks. “I couldn’t even reach you telepathically. We tried everything. We tried detecting your TARDIS in the vortex. We found a signature that pointed to SangC’lune, but the people said none of us had been there for months. We searched anyway, in case you’d stayed hidden from them for some reason.”

“I WAS on SangC’lune,” he said. “Just not…” He was too weary to tell the story in words. He opened his mind enough to let a jolt of unsuppressed emotions reach his brother.

“Wow!” he exclaimed. “What happened to you there?”

“I’ll tell you,” he answered. “But right now let me call mum and dad, and granddad and tell them I’m ok. Then can you slave the TARDISes together and take us back to SangC’lune? I want to show you something.”

It was thirty million years. But life didn’t change much on SangC’lune. ‘Progress’ had never disturbed the people there. And disturbance of another kind had rarely touched the ruins of the temple. It had crumbled and decayed but slowly. The ancient temple was in no worse condition than a Greek one of a mere ten thousand years. Something of the psychic energy of the place kept it together, he thought.

And within the ruins there was still a slab laid down with an inscription in High Gallifreyan. They had never looked for it before. The temple was a curiosity but not one they were especially curious about. But now Chris went to the spot and knelt beside it.

Davie stood beside him and read the inscription.

“Here lies the handmaiden of a Lord of Time. She was the passion. He was the flame.”

Davie looked at his brother. The words sounded vaguely familiar. Both of them had musical tastes taken from the 20th and 21st century of Earth, where they had spent a great deal of their childhood. But he had preferred a heavier kind of rock than Chris, and had teased him regularly for his ‘girly’ choices.

“Shania Twain.” Davie laughed but this time he didn’t tease.

“Two hearts, one love,” Chris whispered. “My two hearts. My one love.”

“You really loved her?” Davie asked. “What happened to your vow of chastity?”

“My vow is unbroken. We never…. But I still loved her.”

“Come on,” Davie said, knowing it would not do to let Chris dwell on this too much. “Let’s go home. Mum won’t be happy until she can give you a good telling off for scaring her and then smother you in kisses. And I think you and Granddad have a lot to talk about.”

“That we do!” Chris remarked, remembering his conversation with Rassilon. “A HELL of a lot.”