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

“Are we nearly there yet?” Rose asked in a playful voice.” The Doctor grinned and turned from the TARDIS console to grab her in his arms.

“The kids have never said that to me, don’t you start,” he told her as he kissed her.

“I want to get back to them,” she replied. “It’s been nice these past days, just the two of us. But now I want to get back to them. I miss my babies.”

“So do I,” The Doctor assured her. “Though I don’t suppose they missed us. Susan and Jackie between them will have spoiled them rotten.” He smiled and glanced at the child seat on the console that Vicki used not so long ago. Peter was nearly old enough to sit up in it now, almost ready to start taking notice of what his father was doing. Vicki was about ready to learn how to operate non-essential parts of the console. He had started the twins learning to use the lifesigns monitor and radiation detector when they were eight. Susan was even younger when she first stood on a little step and read off numbers for him as they travelled through the universe.

Who said he couldn’t be a Lord of Time AND a family man?

“Oh, &#@$£!” he swore as a light blinked urgently.

“What!” Rose asked with just a little too much sharpness in her voice. “Oh, Doctor. No. Don’t tell me there’s something wrong with the TARDIS. You said our ‘holiday’ out of time wouldn’t affect it.”

“It hasn’t,” he assured her. “This is something else. I’m not sure what it is exactly. But …”

Rose saw him grab the handholds on the console. She moved closer. He put her hands into the same handholds and covered her with his own body, protecting her as they went into a lurching, sickening drop out of the vortex. Rose looked at the viewscreen and saw Earth, usually a comforting sight, but not when it was coming closer at such a speed.

“Are we crashing?” she asked.

“No,” The Doctor answered. “But it is going to be a bumpy landing. We seem to be in some kind of temporal funnel. The TARDIS is trying to break out of it, but its pushing us back.”

The view of the rapidly expanding Earth vanished as the TARDIS dematerialised and then rematerialised at the destination it seemed inexorably to be heading towards. It was a relatively smooth landing, all considered. The only problem was that the floor was a wall and they were hanging from the console with their legs hanging down in empty air. The viewscreen showed an expanse of blue sky.

“We’ve landed on our side,” Rose said, though she had a feeling she was stating the obvious. The Doctor reached with one hand and hit a switch on the console. At once, the floor slowly moved around to its normal horizontal position. But the room, the walls, the door, had remained where they were. It was like the haunted swing at the fairground. She laughed as she saw the door still sideways on along the floor.

“I can sort that out later,” The Doctor said. “Meanwhile, let’s have a look at what caused the emergency pit stop.”

“Can’t we just get going again?” Rose asked. “I really DO want to get home to the kids.”

“We really should see if anyone needs help first,” The Doctor replied. And he was right, of course. They couldn’t just walk away. That was the problem with being the good guys.

“Ok, so where are we? When are we?”

“We’re in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, somewhere south-south-west of Ascension Island. It’s August, 1982,” The Doctor said as he looked at the computer database. “Busy time for that bit of ocean,” he added.

“Why? What was going on?” Rose asked.

“British troops returning from the Falklands war. Slightly before your time. I wasn’t around Earth much in that era, either. But it looks like we’re taking a retro trip.”

“Are we on one of the ships?” Rose asked as she followed him to the door, picking up her coat from where it had fallen in a heap by the rail of the gangway.

“I think we must be. The TARDIS doesn’t usually land on water.”

“How come there’s no movement then? Shouldn’t we feel it a bit?”

“Good point,” The Doctor answered. “Smart girl. Always were. That’s why I married you.”

“I thought that’s why I married YOU,” she countered with a grin. She slipped her coat on and The Doctor opened the sideways on door. They both ducked and scrambled out on hands and feet, grinning at the absurdity of it. But as they stood up and looked around their smiles faded.


The TARDIS had landed on the top deck of a rather large ship. A fairly modern cruise liner, Rose thought. Although she wondered why there was a military helicopter parked up on it. The last ship the TARDIS had deposited them on was the Titanic, so anything was an improvement on that, anyway. But there was something very wrong with this ship, and with the sea around it.

She stared at the sea. It looked as if it was frozen. The waves were as still as if they had been captured in a photograph or a video on pause.

She wondered at first if it WAS frozen. She had seen that on another planet once, where the sun had suddenly stopped shining and the sea had frozen solid.

But that place had been freezing. It was cold here. She was glad she was wearing jeans and she pulled her coat closed around her. But it wasn’t anywhere near that kind of super-freezing that she was thinking of. And the boat should have been frozen, too. She had already put her hands on a railing before she even thought of it. If it was THAT cold the skin would be frozen off her fingers.

“Ah.” The Doctor turned and examined one of the lifeboats. “We’re on the HMS Canberra.”

“That should be SS Canberra,” Rose corrected him. “It’s a commercial passenger liner. HMS is for Royal Navy. Mum once knocked about with a sailor. I know these things.”

“The Canberra was conscripted into the Royal Navy for the duration of the recent hostilities,” The Doctor said. “It’s temporarily HMS. I used to knock about with a sailor, too.”

“Did he snog as good as Jack?” Rose countered with a teasing smile despite being more than a little anxious about the odd situation.

“Cheek,” The Doctor answered with a grin. “Besides, I was talking about Harry Sullivan.”

“Oh, yes,” Rose said, her smile fading slightly. She had liked Harry. They had been to see him and Sarah back in the 21st century very many times before his death. She knew he and The Doctor had been good friends several regenerations ago.

“But… anyway….”

She thought about the very little she knew about this time. She had vague impressions of ships going off to war, of battles on land and sea, a couple of ships sunk and terrible casualties on both sides, Britain eventually forcing the Argentineans to surrender, the islands liberated. Her knowledge didn’t amount to much. It had all happened four years before she was born, and according to the national curriculum when she was at school history only started thirty years ago. Even before she met a time traveller for whom past, present and future were one and the same she thought that was a stupid notion. But the result was that any essay by her on the subject of the Falklands conflict could have fitted on one of the post it notes The Doctor used around the console room.

But she was absolutely certain that no part of that history included ships that were immobilised on frozen seas.

“Time is standing still,” The Doctor said. “Stuck in a single moment. I think it’s quite localised. Probably only for a few miles around this ship. Beyond it, life is going on as normal and nobody realises anything is wrong.”

“Did we do it?” Rose asked. “We were in a single moment for ages in the TARDIS. Was it us?”

“No, it wasn’t,” The Doctor reassured her. “But it IS something that uses very similar technology. I just don’t know what or why. Come on, we’d better take a proper look.”

Rose followed The Doctor as he made his way down the companion way from that top deck. As they reached the next level, though, Rose really wished they had stayed up top. It was just too horrible.

“Ohhh!” she groaned as she looked at sailors busy at the work of running the ship, and soldiers who were the passengers on this journey home from war, all frozen in a single moment, unmoving. One of them was near the top of a companion ladder from the deck below, his hands clamped to the rail. “Oh, my. We can’t leave him like that. What if this suddenly sorts itself out and he falls?” She reached and touched his hands. She almost expected them to be hard as if frozen. They weren’t. They were still flesh. He felt warm, although when she reached and felt his wrist there was no pulse.

“You’re right,” The Doctor agreed. “That’s not safe.” He reached for his sonic screwdriver and turned it to laser welding mode. He gave it to Rose. “Cut through above and below his hands. I’ll pull him up when he’s free.”

She did as he said. As soon as she had made the four cuts The Doctor took the strain and lifted the immobile sailor, laying him down on the deck. He was still holding two sections of the companion ladder in his hands.

“He’s going to be a bit puzzled when time snaps back, but at least he won’t fall down. Come on, let’s get to the bridge. I might get some idea of what happened from the ship’s navigation.”

“Stop right where you are,” called a voice with a distinctly authoritative tone that they could not ignore. The Doctor and Rose both turned and looked at the man with a machine gun pointed at them. He was curiously dressed for wandering about a ship, in surgical scrubs and a mask pulled down under his chin.

They recognised him at once, though it was perfectly obvious to both of them that he could not possibly recognise them.

“Put up your hands,” he said. “And don’t try anything stupid.”

The Doctor didn’t put up his hands. He put them out in front of him, palms up in a gesture of friendship.

“Harry,” he said. “You’re a doctor. You don’t use firearms. Put it down, there’s a good chap.”

“What? Who are you… How do you know my name?” Lieutenant Surgeon Harry Sullivan demanded. “I don’t know who you are. Neither of you should be on this ship. And… what have you done to these men? Was it you?”

“I didn’t do anything. Of course it wasn’t me,” The Doctor answered him. “Harry, the last time we saw each other I looked a lot different. We’d just dealt with the Zygons. You said you’d take the train back to London with the Brigadier. Sarah and I went off in the TARDIS. We got rather diverted for a while. Sarah probably told you all about it. When I accidentally left her in Aberdeen instead of Croydon, she called you for help.”

“Doctor?” Harry looked at him in surprise, amazement, and, Rose thought, relief. He lowered his weapon and made it safe. “But you look…”

“Regeneration. You know about that, too. The day we first met I’d just regenerated for the third time. You tried to stop me leaving the infirmary and I tied you up and shut you in a cupboard.”

“You never did!” Rose laughed out loud despite the seriousness of it all.

“He bloody well did,” Harry answered. “And that was only the start of it.” He stepped closer and grasped The Doctor’s hands. “You’re real. I almost… No, I couldn’t have imagined you. If I did I’d have imagined you as you used to look.”

“I’m real. So is Rose. So are you. And whatever is happening here is very real, too. What do you know about it?”

“Nothing,” Harry answered. “Except it started about an hour ago. And I seem to be the only one not affected… until I found you two.”

“Why is HE not affected?” Rose asked The Doctor. “If everybody else is?”

“Residual Artron energy. Harry’s a former TARDIS traveller. Must have been a hell of shock finding yourself alone like that. Right in the middle of an operation? What happened to your patient?”

“He’s… still on the table. He’s frozen, too. I didn’t know what to do.”

“I’d better take a look at him. Lead the way.”

The Canberra’s hospital was on D. Deck. Harry led them down the stairs. There were lifts, but none of them felt confident about those.

It was a busy hospital. Far busier than it would be on an ordinary passenger cruise. They walked through the silent ward, looking at the wounded men in the beds, all of them frozen in time. Harry shook his head sadly.

“These men have gone through enough. Not that anyone cares. I’ve heard the news from home. I know what people are saying. That it was a war we shouldn’t have fought. Arguing about whether it even WAS a war, whether the dead should be inscribed on the war memorials. But they don’t know. They weren’t there. They didn’t see it. I haven’t seen anything like it since…” He laughed softly. “Since the Thal/Kaled war on Skaro. There’s a war story I haven’t been able to share with anyone for a long time. But what’s happening, Doctor? And why have we been dragged into it?”

“I don’t know, Harry,” The Doctor admitted. “But I mean to find out.” He stepped closer to one of the time-frozen patients and examined him carefully. “They’re all right,” he said. “Just like all the others. They’re alive. But time is standing still for them. They are between heartbeats, between breaths. Nothing can harm them.”

“Well, that’s good to know, Doctor,” Harry said with a deep sigh of relief. “But what about the one on my operating table?”

“He should be the same,” The Doctor said. “Is that through there?” He strode purposefully towards a room with ‘Do not enter’ on the door. He entered.

It was a small operating theatre, but fully equipped. At the moment, though, it looked like a waxwork tableaux of one. There were three medical orderlies in scrubs frozen on the spot. The respirator was still. The life support monitors that usually blinked and bleeped constantly were showing the last heart rate, the last blood pressure readings before time stood still.

On the table, a man was lying, in a paper gown open over his abdomen. There was an incision already made. One of the orderlies was frozen in the act of swabbing the wound with cotton wool.

“It’s horrible,” Rose said. “Oh…”

“You’re not scared of blood,” The Doctor told her as he gently moved the one with the swab and leaned him against the wall. He did the same with the others, clearing a space around the table. Then he began to wash his hands and put on a gown and gloves and a face mask. “You need to change your gloves, Harry,” he reminded him. “You’ve contaminated those with the gun. Rose, you scrub up, too. You can help.”

“We’re going to continue the operation?” Harry asked. “Is it safe?”

“Safer than doing it in real time,” The Doctor answered. “His blood pressure is steady. His heart and lungs are fine. He’s not even going to bleed very much. What was it that you were doing?”

“Emergency splenectomy,” Harry answered. “He already had two operations on his stomach. Shrapnel wounds. Very nasty. But complications set in.” Harry looked at The Doctor carefully. “I never knew… that you had medical qualifications, Doctor. I always thought that you were called ‘Doctor’ for some other reason.”

“I’m every kind of Doctor you need,” he answered. “I always knew you were a good surgeon. So come on. Let’s take care of your patient. Splenectomy. That’s easy enough. I had a much tougher operation than that a few months back.”

“You had an operation, Doctor?” Harry looked surprised. “What…”

“He had a nose job,” Rose said. “The one he had wasn’t long enough for a nosy parker like him! You notice how he’s taken over here!”

“They did an excellent job,” Harry remarked. The Doctor grinned before the two of them became very serious, concentrating on the patient, speaking only to ask Rose to pass them various instruments from the tray as they performed the operation. It WAS very strange. There was almost no blood as they worked inside the abdominal cavity. The blood wasn’t pumping, of course. This was a frozen moment between heartbeats as The Doctor had said.

Rose considered it and realised it was possibly the safest, quickest operation ever. The whole thing happened in an eyeblink. For the patient at least. For them it was nearer an hour before the wound was sutured and the patient bandaged and transferred to a trolley and then tucked up in a comfortable bed in the ward. They returned to the operating theatre to tidy up and clean themselves and dispose of the gloves and used surgical gowns. Harry noticed that Rose, having cleaned her hands, reached in her pocket and replaced several rings, including a solitaire and a gold wedding ring. He turned and noticed that The Doctor had also put a wedding ring back on.

“Good heavens,” he exclaimed. “You two are….”

The Doctor smiled.

“I saw a coffee percolator at the nurses station on the ward. Let’s take a break and I’ll tell all.”

They sat in comfy chairs where the medical orderlies relaxed when the ward was quiet. It was quiet now, for all the wrong reasons. They tried not to look at the frozen figures at the desk whose coffee they had stolen. Even The Doctor felt uncomfortable around them, Rose thought.

“It’s not them,” he said. “I’m a Time Lord. Time is a part of my very being. And I’m starting to feel ‘stretched’. This frozen time is pulling at me like a sore tooth. But.. Harry, you wanted to hear a love story.” He sat back, Rose sitting by his side, his arm around her fondly as he told about meeting a shop girl with just that little extra spirit that told him she could be so much more. He told of their adventures, saving each other, saving worlds, and how they slowly came to realise what everyone else knew. That they loved each other and were meant to be together for the rest of their lives.

“That’s wonderful. I’m pleased for you, Doctor,” Harry told him. “Both of you. And… children. The Doctor is a father! That will keep your feet on the ground. But…” His warm smile turned to a frown. “Doctor… I was wondering. Sarah… Sarah Jane…”

Rose looked from The Doctor to Harry. There was something deep between them and she had a feeling it wasn’t going to be spoken aloud while she was there.

“There was a café down the way,” she said. “I’ll go see if I can find some food that isn’t from a vending machine.” She jumped up and kissed The Doctor on the cheek before she ran off. He watched her go, appreciating fully the sight of her trim figure in jeans and t-shirt before turning back to Harry.

“Sarah Jane…” he said, echoing Harry’s words.

“She and I… after you left her… we’ve got to be good friends. She writes to me when I’m away on active duty. Even during the conflict. It was hard to get letters out there. But when we did… she’d written to me. And she requested songs for me on the forces radio. She’s been my link with home. My reminder of why we were fighting. But we… Doctor… we could have been much more than friends. She might have been my sweetheart, my wife, waving me off as this ship sailed out from Southampton. But she’s always held back, waiting. Waiting for you, Doctor. And… and you’re never going to come back to her, are you?”

The Doctor hesitated. He understood that there was so much more in Harry’s question than in his mere words. There was an underlying rebuke, an accusation that he had done wrong by Sarah Jane. And he had. He knew he had. Sarah Jane had been a young woman, only a little older than Rose, when he first knew her. He had never really asked about her private life, but he guessed that romantic attachments had been brief and unfulfilling. He knew she had dated Mike Yates once or twice in the early days, before he regenerated, when she regarded him as a sort of surrogate father. Then he HAD regenerated, into a much younger man, and one with a certain physical attraction, he liked to think. And he had known he could have had that sort of relationship if he had pursued it. For his own reasons, some of them plain selfish, he held back. He had hoped, when they parted, that she would get on with her life and not worry too much about him. And he knew that eventually she did. But her heart had to mend first.

He was the one who had broken her heart.

Harry was the only one who could mend it.

“What do I do, Doctor?” he asked. “I can’t just tell her, I met The Doctor and he’s married to somebody else, so there’s no point waiting for him. Be mine, instead. I won’t run off to the other side of the universe and leave you in the lurch.”

“Please don’t say that. Any of it,” The Doctor begged him. “Don’t… it would be better for a lot of reasons not to mention meeting me at all. But you and her… you ARE meant to be together, Harry. Don’t hold back because she has feelings for me. You prove to her you’re the better man. As far as she is concerned, you ARE.”

“Doctor,” Harry said. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. I….”

The Doctor turned as he heard a noise he knew had no business being heard on board this ship. It was the sound of a transmat beam in an enclosed space. And when its actinic light faded there were three figures standing there. A second beam deposited three more. Then three more. All were armed with multi-phasic energy weapons. Harry instinctively reached for his gun before remembering he had left it in the operating theatre. But they were outgunned anyway and he couldn’t risk harm to the patients.

“Who are they?” Harry whispered as they moved down the aisle between the frozen patients in their beds. “They’re even uglier than the Sontarans.”

That was a good first impression of these creatures. They were six foot tall and almost half as wide, with a thick, short, almost non-existent neck and grey hide like a rhinoceros. They had one large eye in the centre of a permanently wrinkled forehead and a bulbous nose that covered most of the face. Below that was a jaw full of teeth that were evolved with the express purpose of tearing flesh.

“They’re called Jec-Tet,” The Doctor answered as he ducked behind the nurses station and pulled Harry down with him. “They’re quite repulsive. They smell like distilled body odour and their breath is rank. They’re a military race, the universe’s guns for hire – mercenaries. They know military tactics, military orders. That’s about all. They tend to steal technology and use it. So if THEY have done the time freeze they…”

“You, come out of there with your hands where they can be seen,” said the leader whose leather jerkin had a larger collection of dull metallic ornaments in the shape of skulls and bones to differentiate him from the others. Of course they would be spotted. The Doctor knew there was no chance of them escaping. He and Harry stood up, their hands raised, and turned towards their captors. His hearts were heavy. He knew they were ALL in big trouble. He had been considering what could have caused their situation all along. He had hoped it was some kind of natural phenomena that he and his TARDIS could sort out. He had half expected alien interference. He had hoped it was at least accidental and could be straightened out with some diplomacy.

But diplomacy wasn’t a word in the Jec-Tet dictionary. They were one of the races that tested his pacifism to the limit. They were soldiers who enjoyed their job too much. They bullied. They were cruel and merciless.

And thousands of innocent people were at their mercy right now on this ship. Surrender was his only option, and it was a dismal one. He expected to do no more than appease them and prevent any harm coming to the crew and passengers of the Canberra who, as Harry has said, had already been through enough.

“You will surrender,” repeated the Jec-Tet that surrounded them as they moved forward.

“We ARE surrendering,” The Doctor answered. “We’re not going to do anything stupid while you’ve got so many hostages. We’re surrendering right now. I’m The Doctor, by the way. This is…”

“Doctor? You are a physician.” The Jec-Tet leader moved closer. “Good. Our scans were correct. You will be useful to us. Is he a physician, too?”

“Yes, he is,” The Doctor answered. “This is Harry Sullivan.”

“Hello,” Harry said on cue.

“Physicians are needed. You will come to our ship. You will tend to our wounded. If you do not these will die. If you obey they will live” The Jec-Tet waved a hand around the hospital ward of silent, still, patients and Medical Orderlies. The Doctor and Harry both realised that he meant ALL the people on the ship, not just them.

“But…” Harry began.

“Why do you need physicians?” The Doctor asked. “Where are your own?”

“Our medical centre was damaged in battle. There was a hull breach and decompression. Our medics all suffocated. But we have many wounded who must be attended to. You will come.”

“Now wait a minute,” Harry protested. The Doctor said nothing. There was nothing to say. They were captured. Besides, it occurred to him that the Hippocratic oath Harry had sworn and he at least tried to live by meant that they were duty bound to give medical assistance if they could.

He would have preferred a polite request for help than being kidnapped, mind you.

He especially objected to being kidnapped by transmat. As the light surrounded them he grabbed hold of Harry. The effects were less stomach churning if shared between two bodies rather than just one. They both stayed on their feet as the medical centre of the Jec-Tet ship solidified around them. They saw at once the extent of the damage. A large section of the bulkhead wall was nothing but a force field holding back the vacuum of space. Harry turned away after looking at it once. The Doctor wasn’t thrilled about it either. Nor was he too impressed by the facilities. They were no more than a basic field hospital. It resembled something from the war front in Vietnam.

“Mend,” he was told as two wounded Jec-Tet were brought in on stretchers and placed on two separate operating tables. They both had abdominal wounds that seemed at first glance to already by septic until The Doctor realised that their blood WAS a sickly yellow-green colour.

“Ok,” he said. “We’ll do our best. Harry… you take that one, I’ll handle this one. I’ll want a couple of people to maintain the respirators.” He thought of asking for some of the medical orderlies on the ship to be revived but he really didn’t want to drag them into this. Instead he pointed to two of the Jec-Tet and demanded that they help. They looked to their leader who told them to obey. “Just stand downwind of me, please,” The Doctor added. He was glad to put on a surgical mask that kept their unpleasant smell at bay before he began work.

“Harry,” he said as Harry Sullivan put on a mask and gown and followed suit. “Jec-Tet are more or less the same anatomically as humans except they have two lower bowels. There shouldn’t be anything here you haven’t dealt with already.”

“Yes, I see that,” he answered. “I think I can handle it. This one has lost a lot of blood. Do they have a blood bank?”

They did. Though not the sort Harry was used to, made up of donated blood. The Jec-Tet, rather like Time Lords, The Doctor noted, had no specific blood type and ANY blood from any carbon based being could be transfused into their bodies. So they took blood from those they conquered by force. Sometimes until the victim died of blood loss. They considered it spoils of war.

“Even with blood supplies, some might die, you know,” Harry said. “In a field hospital or any hospital some fatalities are to be expected.”

“None will die,” the Jec-Tet leader insisted. “If any one dies, ten of yours will die. For each one that lives, two of yours will live.”

“That’s your bargain, is it?” The Doctor asked as he worked at removing shrapnel from a sickening wound. The insides of a Jec-Tet smelt as foul as their outsides and he was working as hard as he could to get it over with.

“It is not negotiable.”

Rose was one of the people on the ship. The Doctor thought of her as the Jec-Tet repeated its threat. Out of the corner of his eye as they surrendered to the enemy he had seen her drop and hide behind one of the beds. But it was not just her he hoped to protect. All the innocent lives mattered to him. The sailors who had brought that ship to a war zone and back, the soldiers who had done their duty regardless of whether they were appreciated for it at home, many of them wounded, too many of them young, too many having experienced war for the first time.

The Doctor had experienced war many times. He wondered what sort of war the Jec-Tet had been fighting. Was it a just one? He doubted it. Just wars rarely needed mercenaries to fight them. Judging by the wounded that were coming to him as if on an assembly line as fast as he could patch them up, they had come off badly. Perhaps they were the losers, limping away from the field of victory.

Rose had seen and heard everything from her hiding place. She heard what it was all about. She understood the situation fully. She wasn’t scared.

Yes, actually, she was a lot scared. And she was worried. Those aliens didn’t look like people who would keep a bargain. When they were done, there was no reason to suppose they would send The Doctor and Harry back or release the ship.

She was lonely, too. With them near her she had been able to cope with the frozen people around her, but alone she felt their silent presence as something that pressed on her soul.

“Come on,” she told herself. “You can’t fall to pieces. The Doctor needs you. Do something. Do something to help.”

What exactly, she didn’t know.

Go back to the TARDIS? Would that help? Was there anything she could do in the TARDIS?

Find out what sort of alien ship it was, maybe? Find out if it was one ship or a thousand. Was it an invasion?

Couldn’t be, surely? The only invasion in 1982 was the one the British forces had just repelled in the South Atlantic.

But The Doctor had often reminded her that time was in flux. Events in the past could change. Yes, the Earth could be invaded in 1982 and everything could change.

She ran to the TARDIS, up the several flights of stairs, still ignoring the lifts. She was out of breath by the time she got there, but it felt so good when she crawled through the sideways on door into the familiar place. A warm, safe place away from the horror outside.

“Ok,” she said to herself. “What now?” She went to the environmental console and looked at her immediate surroundings. The lifesigns monitor told her that she was the only living, breathing soul on the Canberra. It was true in the sense that none of the people frozen in time had breathed for a long time. But they WERE alive she reminded herself.

She turned to the long range scanner and searched for the alien ship. Yes, there it was, in geo-stationary orbit directly above them. The time funnel beamed down from it, keeping the Canberra in its thrall.

Could she go up there and rescue The Doctor and Harry?

But then what? The aliens could retaliate by killing people on the ship.

She didn’t know what to do. She felt helpless.

The lifesigns monitor suddenly bleeped. She turned back to it. She was puzzled. It was registering four Human lifesigns in what she was SURE was the hospital on D. Deck. To be sure she overlaid a schematic of the ship. Yes, definitely Human. Not the aliens, and not The Doctor, either. His lifesign was different.

But then who….?

Only one way to find out. She fixed the position and dematerialised the TARDIS. It re-materialised in the middle of the main ward. It was still on its side, of course. She crawled out and stood up.

Some of the patients were moving. One man was sitting up. He was looking at the TARDIS and her with a very puzzled expression. Another was calling for a nurse. She went to him.

“What do you need?” she asked the patient.

“Nothing,” he answered. “But... he needs help.” He pointed to the man in the bed next to him. Rose turned and saw that the patient was having trouble breathing. He was meant to have had an oxygen mask on, but it had slipped. She replaced it and checked his pulse as he began to breathe more easily and his heart and lungs calmed to their regular pace.

Some more of the patients were awake. Maybe ten of them now. She went to those that called out. Some just needed simple things like water, or reassurance that they weren’t going mad. One needed the dressings on his wounds changing. She went to the nurses station and found what was needed and set to work. She knew about being a field nurse. Her mind went back to the time when she had been with The Doctor at the Battle of the Somme. That was an experience she would never forget.

Around her more men were calling out. She didn’t know how to cope with them all. Then she saw one of the patients climb out of bed. His feet were bandaged, but he managed to limp across to attend to one of his comrades who needed a bed pan. Then another man struggled to his feet. His arm was in a sling but he could walk.

“Who are you?” he asked her. “What’s happening?” Around them, at least fifteen men were awake now and asking the same question. They looked at the frozen medical orderlies and the other men still frozen in their beds and they needed to know.

Rose explained. The first reaction was disbelief. But the evidence was in front of them.

“They took Doctor Sullivan?” asked the man with the arm in his sling.

“Yes, and The Doctor… my Doctor… my husband. We’re here by accident. But they wanted doctors, so they took them both. We’re hostages to make them obey. I think… the reason you’ve all been revived… They said that some of you would live in return for the ones The Doctor and Harry save. So I’m guessing they’re releasing a few of you each time. But they’re not playing fair. They’re releasing the wounded, the sick, not people who could fight back. They’re being deliberately cruel. Reviving men who need medical attention but not the nurses who could give it.”

“Who said we can’t fight back?” answered the man with the wounded feet. “I didn’t get my toes shot off back there to be bullied by some alien on my way home. Get me a wheelchair and somebody who can push. I know where the armoury is. If they try to polish us off we’ll be ready.”

I’m not sure…” Rose began. But several of the men who were capable of standing agreed with him. And what could she do to stop them?

The Doctor and Harry were both working flat out. Harry was an experienced field surgeon. He worked quickly and efficiently. He did his best for each patient.

“Oh, no!” he groaned as one more patient was pushed onto the table. He looked with dismay at the multiple injuries this one had suffered. The left arm was almost severed and the already ugly face was badly lacerated. There was another abdominal wound to be fixed. “This arm will have to come off,” he said.

“No, mend,” he was told. “Make whole. We must be ready for the counter-offensive. All soldiers must be fit to fight. The arm must be mended. He must be made whole.”

“I CAN’T,” Harry protested. “It’s impossible.”

“Swap places, Harry,” The Doctor said quickly as he saw the murderous expressions on the Jec-Tet guards around them. “This one is fairly routine. I’ll handle that one.”

Harry did as he said. The Doctor pulled his sonic screwdriver from his inside pocket. He had not had to use it yet. As a medical tool it was a last resort. But this WAS a last resort. He switched it to tissue repair mode and slowly applied it to the severed nerves and sinews of the injured Jec-Tet soldier. Tissue repair was usually used on flesh wounds, cuts, occasionally in place of suturing of a deeper wound. It wasn’t meant for this kind of micro-surgery. It was a better job than Harry could do in the circumstances, but he wasn’t entirely sure the Jec-Tet WOULD have use of the arm. He was doing his best to make it look like he was repairing it. Hopefully they would be long gone before that was known.

There were another half dozen men awake and Rose was explaining again what had happened when the able-bodied ones returned with weapons. The one with the arm sling, who identified himself to her as Lieutenant James Haywood of the second Parachute Regiment offered her a gun and ammunition.

“To protect yourself,” he said.

She looked at it hesitantly and then took it. It was a standard issue machine gun of the period, the SMG. The lieutenant started to explain to her how it worked, but she surprised him by slamming in the magazine smoothly, loading the breach and locking the safety catch.

“My husband is a pacifist,” she said. “But nobody told the rest of the universe. Sometimes we have to protect ourselves. For preference I’d like a good sharp sword. But this will do.” She glanced around at the men. There were eight of them more or less able bodied. Some of them had put at least part of their uniforms on. They didn’t want to fight wearing hospital pyjamas. She wondered what she must have looked like to them, a short blonde woman with a gun.

“Ten years from now, when you see a film about a smart-thinking American hero type and a leggy blonde saving a ship from terrorists, please don’t compare me to the leggy blonde. I don’t scream half as much, and I KNOW what I’m doing.”

Her private army all looked at her with puzzled eyes. She grinned back. She still wasn’t sure what they were going to do, but she felt pretty sure they COULD do it.

The Doctor and Harry had been working for an hour or more. They had patched up countless wounded Jec-Tet. They wondered how many more. Then there was a sound of raised voices by the door to the medical room. Harry and The Doctor both turned and looked as another wounded Jec-Tet was carried in by six of them at once. It was larger, a darker hue of skin, and they knew at once that this was an important one.

“No,” The Doctor insisted as soon as he saw the injuries. “No, we can’t treat him here. Not with this limited equipment.”

“You will mend. He is our general. Our leader. You will mend and your people will all be set free. If he dies, all die.”

“That is an impossible bargain,” The Doctor answered. “He is dying already. He’s lost so much blood. And these wounds…” There was a chunk of metal embedded in the Jec-Tet General’s side, and he had a head wound that was worrying, too. “He could die any moment.”

“Then your people will die, and you will die.”

“Oh for Pete’s sake stop saying that,” The Doctor snapped. “What use is it to threaten things like that? Even if you line up victims and shoot them in front of me I can’t perform miracles. THIS patient is going to DIE. He’s beyond my help.”

“Bring us back to our operating theatre,” Harry said. “We can do our best there. We can’t do it here at all. But there, we can try.”

“Yes,” The Doctor conceded. “He has a better chance there. There’s better equipment.”

A dozen or more Jec-Tet surrounded them. Then they felt the dizzy, sick feeling of being in a transmat again and when they looked around they were in the modern operating theatre on board the Canberra. The Jec-Tet General had been conveniently transmatted onto the operating table. Around them half the guards kept their guns trained on them. The other half headed for the door, under instructions to secure the rest of the hospital.

Lieutenant Haywood and his men all reacted as they heard the door to the operating theatre open. The one with the toes shot off dived under a bed, his gun held in front of him. Others took up defensive positions around the ward. Haywood pushed Rose down behind the nurses desk and took up his position next to her. He told her to stay still. She was not meant to be in the offensive, only to look after herself if she had to.

She peered around the desk as Lieutenant Hayward told his men to ‘Stand to’ and called for the Jec Tet to drop their weapons. The answer was a swift one. A multi-phasic energy weapon fired at the desk. The Lieutenant dropped back as the desk disintegrated, getting in front of Rose as he rolled and came back, opening fire. His men did the same. They fired accurately and four of the Jec-Tet went down. The fifth was taken out by a shot fired from under the bed by the man with the wounded toes. The last retreated into the operating theatre, firing wildly as he did so. One of the frozen patients was wounded in the arm by the stray fire and one of the fighting men was injured in the leg. One of his comrades rushed to put field dressings on both as two of the soldiers moved forward, towards the operating theatre.

“No!” Rose cried out. The Doctor and Harry might be in there.” She made as if to run at them, but Lieutenant Haywood restrained her.

“It’s ok,” he assured her as the two men took up positions by the door. “Those two are SAS. They’re trained in this sort of thing. They won’t hurt any non-combatants. Especially when the enemy is as big and ugly as those.”

The Doctor and Harry had heard the gunfire as they operated on the General. They concentrated on removing the huge piece of metal, little by little, carefully trying not to damage any of the internal organs that had been miraculously missed when it was embedded. The piece pulled free finally just as the door burst open. He saw the flashbangs roll into the room and shouted to Harry to cover his ears and close his eyes a fraction of a second before their world turned brilliant white and ear-splittingly loud. The Doctor was affected by the sound as badly as any other being, but his eyes automatically protected themselves. He saw the two men burst into the room, sighting their weapons quickly and firing off single shots. For a brief moment a gun was aimed at him before he was identified as a non-combatant, then a bullet whistled past his ear and exploded in the brain of the Jec-Tet standing right behind him.

It was over in moments. As the ringing in his ears subsided he heard a cry and Rose ran into the room, brandishing a machine gun. She stopped and stared as he and Harry both picked up scalpels and turned back to their patient.

“It’s ok, Doctor,” she said to him. “You can stop doing that, now.”

“No, I can’t,” he answered. “I’m a doctor. So is Harry. We can’t walk away from a patient. WE have that much honour at least.” He looked at the two SAS men and at Lieutenant Haywood as he followed Rose to the door. “It’s not over yet. If the ones above realise they’re not communicating… Rose, the TARDIS…”

“It’s right outside,” she said. “Still sideways. I wish you’d fix that.”

“I’ll sort that later. But right now… The anti-transmat generator. The one that stops us being kidnapped from the TARDIS by any Tom, Dick or Harry – sorry Harry! I want you to turn it right up. It should be strong enough to protect everyone aboard from being transmatted up and stop any more of THEM transmatting down. You do that. Lieutenant, troopers, you and the others need to be on stand by just in case they get through before she can do that. Secure the hospital.”

“As easy as that?” Rose asked as she ran to do as he had asked. The Doctor turned back to the patient. He scanned the head injury with the sonic screwdriver.

“That’s the really tricky bit,” he said to Harry. “There’s a piece of metal of some sort wedged in the base of his skull. If that doesn’t come out he’ll be brain dead.”

“Brain surgery is a bit out of my league,” Harry admitted. “Can you…”

“Not easily, but I’ll give it a try.”

“I don’t get it,” said a young soldier who came to the door and stared at the dead Jec Tet around the theatre and the one The Doctor and Harry were trying to save. “Why not let it die?”

“No,” answered Lieutenant Haywood. “No, he’s right. It IS his duty. Even to the enemy. We did the same. We gave medical assistance to the Argentinean POWS we captured. He’s right. But what happens when you’re done? Will they go away and leave us in peace?”

“I hope so,” The Doctor answered. “At least they can’t harm anyone else once Rose gets the field in place. And they daren’t attack the ship as long as we have their general. The battle has turned. WE have the hostage now.”

Rose did as The Doctor said. Time was, all of the instruments on the console were a mystery to her. But now, she could operate the TARDIS and its functions as well as The Doctor could as long as everything was working. What she didn’t know was how to fix it when anything went wrong. What was under the console, under the floor panels, was still his domain. But she could certainly handle resetting the anti-transmat field so that it enveloped the Canberra as well as the TARDIS.

An LED lit up as she did so. It told her that there WAS only a limited time that it could do that without burning out the circuits. Just over an hour. That was worrying. How long would they have to maintain the widened field for? When The Doctor had finished operating on the wounded alien general what WOULD happen?

She was about to go back to him when she noticed a light blinking on the communication panel. She reached to switch on the videophone and accept the transmission. Her heart leapt as she saw who was calling. When he was finished she turned and ran out of the TARDIS. Again she ran up the stairs from D-Deck to the sun deck – currently doubling as a helipad - where the TARDIS had first landed.

She was out of breath again but this time she felt nothing but joy as she watched a speck in the sky that quickly resolved into a space shuttle. It hovered over the deck and ropes dropped from the hatchway. She recognised the uniforms of the 22nd space corps as they descended. She ran and hugged their officer as he took off his helmet and smoothed back his hair.

“Jack!” she cried. “Oh, it’s been AGES since we saw you. Why can’t you just drop by for supper instead of the middle of a crisis?”

“I’ll do that some time,” promised Major Jack Harkness. “But first let’s get this crisis straightened out.” He dispatched his men to check the ship for any other Jec-Tet still at large. They checked the lifesigns monitors on their wrists and spread out. Jack took four men with him at the double and headed for the hospital. Rose, having got her second wind, jogged alongside him and explained the situation. “Nice job,” he told her. “We expected a standing fight. Is the Doc okay?”

“He’s fine,” she answered. “How did you lot get involved?”

“We were fighting the Jec-Tet fleet. We had them surrounded. The mother ship was badly damaged. Hull breaches all over. A lot of the crew killed. Then they initialised some kind of time technology and we lost them. We’ve been trying to trace them for days. When we found out they were headed for Earth we were seriously worried. Then we picked up the TARDIS’s signal and I figured it was all over bar the shouting. We’ve got the mothership under control now. It’s been disabled apart from life support and under tractor tow.”

“Then why are all these people still frozen?” Rose asked as they threaded their way past the silent passengers and crew. “Shouldn’t they be back to normal?”

“We’re maintaining the funnel for now. So we can clean up and get everything out of here without them having to know. This is a serious temporal anomaly. We’re beyond our jurisdiction, even. This is Earth before official First Contact. We’ve got to make sure as few people as possible know what happened.”

“Right,” Rose said. “Well…”

They stepped through the bulkhead door onto D Deck and headed to the hospital. As they stepped through the door they were immediately confronted by Lieutenant Haywood and his men. Jack’s people cocked their weapons but he waved them back.

“We’re the cavalry, Lieutenant,” he said, pronouncing the words the English way despite his American accent. “You can stand down now, you and your men.”

Lieutenant Haywood didn’t recognise the 22nd Space Corps uniform, but he did recognise Jack’s insignia of rank and stood to attention and saluted. Jack acknowledged the salute neatly, remembering that these 20th century men were the direct forerunners of the Space Corps he was a member of.

As his men debriefed the 20th century ones and arranged for removal of the Jec-Tet bodies, Jack and Rose stepped into the operating theatre together. The Doctor and Harry were still working on the General, but it was clear the operation was all but over. They were suturing the minor wounds and applying dressings. Around them more Jec-Tet bodies oozed unpleasantly.

“Hello, Jack,” The Doctor said in a surprisingly casual voice. “You missed all the excitement. All your people have to do is mop up.”

“Will he live?” Jack asked, ignoring the gibe.

“Yes,” The Doctor answered.

“Good,” Jack said. “He’s got a long list of war crimes to answer for. Wouldn’t want him to get off easily. And he’ll want to be fit for a life sentence mining Pentallium on the penal moon he’s headed for.”

“He’s all yours,” The Doctor said as he and Harry stood back from the table, peeling off their surgical gloves and taking off their masks. “Our duty is done.”

Jack’s people transferred the General to a stretcher to take him to the shuttle. The bodies were bagged up and removed as well. Meanwhile the 20th century soldiers were sent back to their beds. Everything had to be restored to as near normal as possible. Rose helped make them comfortable, not minding their sometimes risqué comments about having a pretty nurse take care of them. Then Jack nodded to The Doctor. He used one of the sonic screwdriver’s less frequently used functions to erase their memories of what had happened and send them into a peaceful sleep.

“I won’t remember any of this?” Lieutenant Haywood asked as The Doctor persuaded him to lie down quietly. “Not even the beautiful blonde?”

“The beautiful blonde is mine,” The Doctor told him. “You’ve fought one traumatic battle already. That’s enough for you to deal with when you get back to England. Best if you don’t remember this one, too.”

“You’re NOT doing it to ME,” Harry insisted as he watched The Doctor erase Lieutenant Haywood’s memory of his part in the liberation of the Canberra. “You don’t have to. I’m still formally attached to U.N.I.T. I know about alien incursions. And somebody needs to make a report to them about this.”

“You’re right, Harry,” The Doctor answered him. “You’ll be the one man who DOES know what happened. You do your duty. The old Brig has retired by now, hasn’t he? But his replacement isn’t a bad sort, so I’ve heard.”

“I think that wraps everything up,” Jack told him. “We’ll be off. The time funnel will be dispersed in five minutes. That gives our ship and the TARDIS time to get away before time unfreezes.” He turned and hugged Rose, saluted Harry and shook hands with The Doctor. If they had been somewhere more private he might have hugged him, too. But here he made do with a handshake. Then he was gone. The Doctor left Rose with Harry for a moment and went into the TARDIS. There was a brief sound and some air displacement and it turned around. The Doctor stepped through the properly upright door. Rose went to his side.

“Harry,” he said. “You told me that Sarah Jane is waiting for me to come back. But right now, she’s not. She’s waiting for YOU. You’re her war hero. When this ship docks at Southampton, when the crowds are waiting at the quayside, she’s going to be the one waiting there for you. Once you’re debriefed, go find her. Hug her, kiss her. Tell her you love her. Call her by her NAME. Don’t call her old girl, or old bean, or any of those easy substitutes. Go for it, man. Hold her and never let her go. Have a good life, a fantastic life. Rose and I will catch up to you eventually. You’ll be at our wedding. I am sorry that we won’t be at yours. But really it is better that way.”

“You mean all that, don’t you?” Harry said. “Doctor… thank you.”

“Thank YOU, Harry, for looking after my best girl.” He winked at Rose. “My FIRST best girl. I had to wait for Rose to be BORN. Her mum hasn’t even left SCHOOL yet in this time.”

“I’ll see you then, Doctor,” Harry told him, deciding that this conversation could go mental very quickly if he didn’t cut it short.

“See you, Harry,” The Doctor answered, then he took Rose’s hand and stepped into the TARDIS. Harry watched as it dematerialised. A few moments later he felt the engines of the Canberra vibrate beneath his feet. He felt the swell as the ship caught the waves of the South Atlantic. And around him people carried on conversations that had been halted what for them was just a second ago. None of them realised anything was wrong.

None but the ones in the operating theatre. Harry ran back and saw the Medical Orderlies in their scrubs, one of them still holding a blood-stained swab. They were looking for the patient.

“It’s ok,” he said to them very calmly. “The operation is cancelled. Go and take a coffee break. Thank you, everybody.”

He wished he had The Doctor’s power of suggestion that could make it all seem more plausible. There WAS no explanation he could give. None they would believe anyway.

Which was just what he expected when he encountered The Doctor.

“That’s why, isn’t it,” Rose said as she stood beside The Doctor at console and watched the time rotor move up and down hypnotically.

“Why what?”

“Years ago, when you first took me to meet Sarah Jane. Harry came home and looked at you and said ‘Hello Doctor,’ or something like that. He knew you, even though you had regenerated loads of times. And I always wondered how he knew.”

“So did I,” The Doctor admitted. “Didn’t like to ask. Now we both know. So…”

“So, all the mysteries solved. Bad aliens vanquished. Good alien is the hero even though Harry is the only one who knows it. Now… Doctor… unless you want to be the first divorced Time Lord in the history of your race, take me home. I want to hold the children. I miss them so much.”

“So do I,” he told her. “This time we ARE going home. I promise.”

They went home.

In loving memory of Ian Marter, 1944 – 1986

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