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

“So... where are you taking me?” Sukie asked with an excited smile on her face as she watched her brother piloting his TARDIS.

“Birthday surprise,” he answered.

“I’ve already had a party and loads of presents, and a trip to SangC’lune with Chris,” she pointed out. “And tea in the park in the 19th century with Earl.”

“Special surprise, just from me,” Davie answered. “For my favourite little sister.”

“I’m your only little sister,” she pointed out.

“There you go, then!” He smiled widely at her. “In another year’s time you’ll be an aunt, and it’ll be your job to do surprise presents for my kids. So make the most of this opportunity.”

“Are those packages over there part of the surprise?” she asked, pointing to a large squashy parcel and a box left by the TARDIS door.

“Yes, they are. We’re nearly there. You can open them.”

It was her fourteenth birthday. She regarded herself as a young woman, and was very caustic with anyone who forgot that. But her eyes lit up with a childish joy as she ran to open the parcels. She unfolded the brand new custom made firesuit and looked at the logo on the breast pocket. It was the fiery Ying Yang symbol that her brothers had adopted as their own, and which was the Team Campbell racing brand when Davie indulged his favourite sport. This suit, though, was in racing green, her favourite colour, and had her own name, Sukie Campbell, under the Ying Yang symbol.

She opened the box and found a racing helmet in matching green with her name above the visor.

“Wow!” she said. “But... I can’t drive a car, you know. And mum would freak if she thought you were trying to teach me.”

“I know you can’t drive a car,” he answered. “You’re too young. But you’re actually a little bit old to get started on karting. There are kids who graduate from pedal cars to the kart track. You’ll have some catching up to do.”

The Chinese TARDIS came to a stop. Davie opened the door. Sukie carried her new outfit with her as she stepped out of what looked, when she turned around, like a luxury camper van. Then she lost interest in the TARDIS’s disguise for today as she looked at the track. There were already a half a dozen karts going around the circuit, and her brother was right. Some of them were driven by children much younger than her.

“This is June 2013,” Davie said. “The golden age of motor sports. Before the oil crisis really dug in and made fast petrol-guzzling cars unpopular, and long before the Dalek war did away with almost every kind of recreational activity on the planet. This is Woodside Karting of Rochester, where two of the most famous Formula One winners of this era learned to be champions before they were old enough to hold a driving licence. So I expect good things from you, Sukie. You’re a Campbell, after all!”

“Where do I start?” she asked, her eyes glowing with enthusiasm.

She started by signing up for the three day beginners course. Then she joined a group of youngsters in a classroom for safety lectures and instructions. It was two hours later before she got to put on her new outfit and sit in a kart for the first time. Davie watched from the trackside as she put her foot down on the accelerator and moved down the pit lane onto the circuit. He touched her thoughts telepathically and felt her joy at being in control of an engine, of turning a steering wheel and feeling the kart turn around a bend, of putting her foot down a little more and feeling the speed increase, of applying just a little brake to control the speed around the first tight corner where he lost sight of her for a few minutes before she reappeared at the end of her first lap. He saw in her thoughts exactly what he expected to see. She took after him when it came to anything involving fast engines and control over them, anything from a TARDIS down to the kart she was gradually getting the feel for. She was a little nervous for the first few laps, but she soon gained confidence and he watched her do lap after lap with ease.

“She’s a natural.” He looked around at a man who came to stand by his side. “Your sister, isn’t she?”

“Yes,” he answered.

“You’re Davie Campbell. I’ve seen you drive,” the man said. “I’m Simon Rowe. I run this place. But I go up to Brands Hatch for race meetings. I’ve seen you win a few trophies. I hear people say good things about you. So young and naturally talented. And a mystery man, too. Nobody knows where you came from. You just sprang onto the scene in the past couple of seasons.”

“I came into some money and indulged my passion for cars,” Davie answered more or less truthfully, leaving out the fact that he made his money in the twenty-third century. “A passion my sister shares. The rest of the family are a little dubious about it. Mum took a bit of convincing to sign the consent forms! But, you’re right. She’s a natural. In a few years’ time I’ll have a great co-driver.”

He smiled as he let his imagination fill in the picture - Spenser, Stuart and Sukie making up his team on the touring car circuits and the endurance races. His mum really wouldn’t like it. But he knew they would work together so well. It was a nice dream.

When the new kart enthusiasts stopped for lunch, Sukie was ready to share the dream. She was flushed with excitement when she met Davie in the reception dressed in a bright yellow t-shirt with a picture of a kart streaking across the front. She hugged him enthusiastically and thanked him profusely.

She talked about karting all through lunch and was raring to get back to it in the afternoon. After another hour of theory she was out on the track again and setting personal best times for herself as her confidence grew exponentially. Tea was again dominated by the subject of engines and speed, as well they might since she was actually taking part in her first competitive race in the evening. It was only against the other beginners who came on the weekend course, but it was still a race, and the idea thrilled her.

“Racing in the evening, the light is going to be changing all the time,” Davie told her with a voice of experience and authority. “Especially on that track with trees all around it. You’ll come out of a shaded part to the sun shining directly into your face or go from full sunlight into deep shade. Even worse is when the sun is shining through trees and you’re flashing by them at speed. It can be like a strobe light flickering in front of your eyes. Your visor has a reactive tint, but it doesn’t react as fast as that. You have to take extra care.”

She listened to his advice. He’d won prizes for five different endurance races in the past year and a half. He knew all about the problems different light or different weather could make for a driver. She took note of all he had to say.

“You’re better than all the rest,” he told her finally. “You go out and show them. You’re one of Team Campbell, after all.”

“You know, Campbell isn’t a good name to associate with speed,” Sukie pointed out.

“It is now,” Davie assured her. “With the two of us in the business. You go and win your first race and do our family name proud.”

He waved to her as she went to do just that and found himself a place to watch near the first turn. There were other parents and friends there, and after the race got under way Simon Rowe came to talk to him again. The man was obviously a major motor sports enthusiast and something of a fan of Team Campbell. He talked about Davie’s modest successes as a driver admiringly.

“I think you have a future on the touring car circuits,” Rowe told him. “As for your sister... she’s got very good instincts and reflexes. It really is hard to believe today was her first time in a kart. Is she going to take regular lessons?”

“That’s my plan,” Davie answered.

“Future Formula One driver,” Rowe suggested. “Not many girls go all the way. But I could see it.”

So could Davie. The idea made him smile. He wasn’t sure it was possible. One reason why his own achievements were ‘modest’ was that he had tried not to draw too much attention to himself. He loved competing. He loved the challenge of racing. He probably could have won quite a few more races than he had. But he held back, worried first of all that his competing was changing time lines, but also because he didn’t want too much Press interest in himself. He didn’t want anyone finding out that he didn’t exist in the twenty-first century. He had no home, no school, no background of any kind. He hadn’t learnt to race karts as a teenager at a centre like this one and then graduated to cars when he was old enough. And if some journalist questioned all of that, he wasn’t sure what he could do about it.

But neither he nor Sukie could pursue this kind of hobby in their own time. Brands Hatch and some of the other racetracks still existed physically. He rented a pit garage there and practiced regularly. He had taken part in a couple of amateur races. But there was no real motor sport ‘industry’ in his own time, just as there were no football or rugby leagues, no Wimbledon tennis tournaments, no Olympic games uniting the nations of the world. All of those kind of pursuits were brought to a halt by the Dalek invasion a generation before he was born. Half the world’s population died. The rest was displaced from their homes and families. Getting back essential infrastructure like transport, schools, hospitals, local and national government had taken his parent’s generation their whole lives, and then the Dominators had almost undone all of their work. Sports and recreational activities were only just starting to be organised again, and it would take a couple more generations before there were things like Grand Prix racing or a football World Cup on the scale that they existed in the early twenty-first century.

That was why he bought cars that belonged to this era, like his beautiful McLaren F1 and the Holden Commodore, or the Ford Focus that he and Spenser were getting ready to enter in the British Touring Car championships of 2014. He used time travel to allow him to experience the sport he loved at the height of its popularity.

And if Sukie really did want to pursue the same hobby, she would have to do the same thing. He would have to enrol her in a proper course here at Woodside and bring her in the TARDIS for the lessons. She would develop her career as a driver in the second decade of the twenty-first century.

She was winning the race. Of course, it was only against other children who had started learning karting this morning. Her times would be nothing against more experienced karters. But she was way ahead of the competition. She took every corner confidently. Davie thought he recognised some of his own technique in the way she handled the kart. He smiled proudly as he watched her take each lap easily.

But he, of all people, knew that anything could happen on a race track, and nothing was ever certain until the chequered flag even for a clear winner.

And it all went wrong for Sukie in a few seconds as she came past the pit lane and towards the first turn. Davie uttered a cry of alarm as he saw a boy run out across the track, right in her path. He felt Sukie’s momentary panic as a sharp jarring telepathic note before she hit the brake hard and span out of control. The boy bounced off the front wing of her kart and sprawled on the track as Simon Rowe and his assistants rushed to stop the race and make sure nobody else was involved in the accident. But Sukie’s kart was careering out of control into the advertising boards at the side of the track.

Davie didn’t hesitate. He jumped over the fence and ran towards her. He wasn’t the only one. Simon Rowe was there before him, telling her to keep still and not to remove her helmet yet. She was crying, because the crash had hurt. But she was more worried about the boy. Out loud and telepathically she kept asking if he was dead.

“I don’t think so,” Davie answered. “You didn’t hit him hard enough. Anyway, it wasn’t your fault. He had no business being there. You keep still and don’t worry.” He looked at Rowe, who confirmed that an ambulance was on its way for both of them.

“But I can’t go to hospital,” Sukie answered him telepathically. “I can’t. What if they see that I’m....”

“You’re going to hospital,” Davie insisted. “Mum would kill me if she found out I hadn’t made sure you were all right after a crash like this.”

The ambulance turned up swiftly. The boy, still unconscious, was put onto a stretcher while Sukie was attended to. A paramedic put a neck brace onto her before carefully removing the helmet while not moving her head at all. Then she was equally carefully lifted from the kart and made to lie down on a stretcher where her head and back were fully restrained against the possibility of serious injury. She was carried into the ambulance and the stretcher fixed in place. Davie got in beside her. He had no intention of being anywhere but at her side. As the door closed, Simon Rowe called out that he would be following in his car.

“I’m all right,” Sukie insisted as the paramedics checked her blood pressure and other basic first aid measures. “I’ve got a bit of a headache, but I’m all right.”

“You need to have an x-ray to make sure there’s no damage to your neck or spine,” the paramedic replied. “And you’ll probably get to spend a night in a comfortable hospital bed. Don’t you worry at all, young lady.”

“They can’t,” Sukie told Davie telepathically. “I can’t have an x-ray. Or... or... they’ll know I’m....”

“No, they won’t,” he answered her. “That’s where you have a big advantage over me, sweetheart. You’re a hybrid with only one heart and Human blood. Everything else will look perfectly normal. But you really should get the x-ray. Even a Time Lord can break his neck in an accident like that.”

“Good job you haven’t crashed your car,” Sukie told him.

“I’ll have to use a lot of Power of Suggestion on them if I ever do,” he said. “As it is, I get around the pre-race medicals by stopping my right heart while they listen to my chest and a couple of other little tricks.”

“What about him?” Sukie asked, coming back to the other casualty. She couldn’t turn her head to look at him. Davie glanced around. The boy was regaining consciousness now, but he was restrained, too, and wearing a neck brace in case of hidden injuries. His arm was in a sling and the paramedics had staunched the bleeding from a leg wound, but he looked as if there was nothing seriously wrong with him.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Davie assured her. “And you are not to let this put you off karting. Mr Rowe and I have you down for the first woman to win the British Grand Prix in ten years time.”

“Why wait ten years?” she asked. “I’ll be old enough to drive in four. I don’t want to give up. But... if the boy dies... it would be horrible.”

“The boy isn’t dying. Hush now. We’re nearly at the hospital. You’ll be looked after.”

Things happened quite quickly after the ambulance arrived at the historically named Medway Maritime Hospital near Chatham docks. Sukie was rushed on a trolley straight to triage for assessment and then down to the x-ray department. There was only a very short wait there before she was given not only an x-ray but an MRi scan to make sure there was absolutely no damage to her brain. Davie was confident that nothing about her body would seem unusual to the technicians and doctors looking after her, but he was very glad when she was done with both machines and taken back to the casualty department. There she was put into a bed and told to rest until a consultant came to see her. Davie was allowed to sit with her.

“What did you put down on the form for our address?” Sukie asked out of curiosity as she lay there looking at the ceiling.

“Grandma Jackie’s flat in London,” Davie answered. “It’s a real address and I know the postcode. Good enough for now.”

“If I’m going to come here and practice karting regularly, you should rent a flat somewhere,” she suggested. “It would be cheaper than a hotel. And that way we’ll both have an address to put on race applications.”

“That’s not a bad idea,” he acknowledged. “Chatham and Rochester are quite nice places. Something near the river, maybe. We’ll think about it another time. Right now you concentrate on getting well. You’re still technically in shock, after all. That was a traumatic experience.”

“Where did he come from?” she asked. “I keep running through it in my head... one moment the track was clear ahead of me... the next... he was there... as if he materialised in front of me.”

“He didn’t,” Davie assured her. “He ran out of the woods beside the track. I saw him. But I wasn’t expecting him to run out like that. Funny thing... thinking back... he looked scared even before then. As if he was running for his life.”

“I’m ok here for a bit,” Sukie told him. “Go and find out about him. I’ll feel much better if I know what happened to him.”

Davie thought he would feel better, too. He kissed her on the cheek and stepped out of the cubicle. He was not entirely surprised to see Simon Rowe waiting outside.

“Sukie’s ok,” he told him. “The x-ray was fine. But we’re waiting for a consultant to give the all-clear. Then she’s pretty insistent she wants to sleep in her bunk in our camper van tonight so I’ll get a cab and take her back.”

“I’ll drive you,” Rowe promised. “It’s... the least I can do. She was injured on my track... the liability... my responsibility.”

“Nothing you could have done,” Davie assured him. “And the whole accident was handled properly by all concerned. I’ve no complaint against you or your company.”

Rowe looked relieved. This period of British history was noted for its ‘compensation culture’. People sued each other for all sorts of things. But he had no interest in that.

“I am interested in that boy, though,” he added. “I’m wondering where he came from and how he ended up on the track. I’m sure he wasn’t one of your students.”

“He wasn’t,” Rowe said with a sad shake of his head. “He’s from Parklands... the place right next door to us. It was built as a scout camp, adventure holidays for kids. I used to get quite a bit of summer income from the kids who did karting as an extra. Then they got into financial strife and it closed. It re-opened again for a couple of summer seasons, then closed again. This spring the Home Office took it over and used it as what they call a ‘resettlement centre’ for asylum seekers. Child asylum seekers, without any parents owning up to responsibility for them.”

“Seriously?” Davie was shocked. He had noticed the big building on the other side of the dense woodlands from the kart track when he brought the TARDIS into land at the centre, but he hadn’t given much thought to what it was. “So... it’s basically a prison for refugee children?”

Rowe shook his head again.

“I feel sorry for them. There I am running a facility for kids whose parents can afford to give them everything. Karting is a really expensive hobby, let’s face it. And over the fence are kids with absolutely nothing, no family, no future, who are probably just going to be tossed back where they came from in the end. Talk about haves and have nots.”

“That boy was so desperate, so scared... he ran out across the track... What the hell are they doing to them in there? Where do they come from that is SO terrifying?”

“Doesn’t bear thinking about,” Rowe answered. “They wouldn’t even let me see the kid. I was worried. He got injured on my property, after all. Not that he’s in any position to sue. But I wanted to see if he was ok... and I’m not allowed near.”

“Who’s stopping you?” Davie asked.

“A pair of gorillas in suits on the door. The boy’s in a private ward. They’re not letting anyone in except medical staff. And they’re checking them.”

“Does that sound normal to you? Even if the boy is an illegal immigrant and they’re worried about him absconding. That’s... unusual.”

“To say the least. I wish I could do something to help him.”

“Maybe you can’t,” Davie said. “But I can. Could you... do me a favour and go sit with Sukie. I’m sure she’ll be glad to see you. She’ll want to let you know she’s ready to get back in a kart tomorrow. In fact, wild horses wouldn’t stop her.”

Rowe agreed to do that. Davie checked his pockets for a few essential items then walked the other way, towards the private side rooms. It was obvious which one the boy was in. Gorillas in suits was a good description of the guards on the door. They had no obvious identification. He was sure they weren’t police, not even plain clothes ones. Whoever they were, it was way over the top for one boy.

His psychic paper did the trick as he walked up to them and said he needed to do a blood test on the patient. He was allowed in. He checked the boy’s chart quickly then stepped close to him.

“Patric Stanescu,” he said. “Don’t be scared. I’m here to help you.”

He spoke in Slovenian. He had never learnt Slovenian. He had never been to the place. But he was a Time Lord, after all, and that gave him a certain flexibility with languages.

Patric’s tired, worried eyes lit up hopefully. Hearing those words in his own language was enough. He didn’t question what was happening when Davie used his sonic screwdriver in tissue repair mode to mend the wound on his leg and ease the bruising around it so that the boy could walk unaided. He didn’t say anything when Davie put a small brass key on a piece of string around his neck, and told him to put his shoes on and come with him quietly.

The perception filter worked. The guards weren’t expecting to see the boy walk out of the room with the young medic, so they didn’t see him.

Sukie wasn’t expecting to see him, either, but she had travelled in the TARDIS too often for perception filters to work on her. She looked at him curiously before giving her attention to the consultant who was telling her she had no long term injuries and no concussion, and was free to go home at any time.

Simon Rowe wasn’t immune to the effects of a perception filter, but he noticed where Sukie was looking and his eyes crossed disturbingly as he saw the boy out of the corner of his eye.

“We definitely need your offer of a lift,” was all Davie had to say as soon as the consultant left. “As quickly as possible. Sukie, put your shoes on and take my jacket over the hospital nightie. We don’t want to hang around any longer than we have to.”

The boy was in a hospital gown, too, but nobody who wasn’t expecting to see him was going to notice him as they moved quickly through the casualty department. It was Friday evening and already getting busy and nobody had time to question Sukie’s strange attire. They made it out of the building and to the car park. Davie was making sure Patric’s seatbelt was fastened in the back of Rowe’s car when he noticed the two gorillas in suits running out of the hospital. He kept his head down as he moved to the passenger seat. Simon Rowe got into the driver’s seat and made sure everyone was buckled up before he drove away carefully, slotting his ticket into the machine that opened the barrier out of the car park and onto the public road.

“I think we made it,” he said. “Now what?”

“Back to your place,” Davie answered. “My camper van is there.”

“You’re going to hide him there?” Rowe was a little sceptical. “It’s a bit close to where he escaped from.”

“Trust me,” Davie said. “Nobody is going to find him in there.” He turned to the boy and spoke to him again in his own language. He was scared, still. Of course, he had a broken arm and he was in a car with three strangers. That was reason enough to be frightened. But Davie thought there was something more.

He managed to say a few words, but none of them especially coherent, even in Slovenian. Sukie reached out her hand to him and whispered gently. Her voice calmed him a little. After all, she was the Healer. Davie tried again. This time the boy managed to tell him something more. Something that really startled him.

“Wow!” he said. “That’s... Sweet Mother of Chaos! What are they thinking of? It’s absolutely monstrous.”

“What?” Rowe asked. “What is it?”

“He says that they are being made to go into a spaceship with monsters,” Davie answered. “He says there’s a ship parked in a clearing in the woods. An invisible space ship, with creatures aboard that scared him so much he ran for his life. That’s how he got tangled up in the race. He was so scared he ran without thinking about anything else. He climbed the fence onto the track because he thought he would be safe away from the woods.”

“Spaceship?” Rowe shook his head. “Is he delirious, still? And how come you speak his language?”

“I know lots of languages,” Davie replied. “And I’m pretty sure Patric isn’t delirious. I think there was an invisible spaceship the other side of those woods. I just hope it’s still there. There’s a chance I can put a stop to this abomination.”

Simon Rowe glanced at his passenger then turned his face forwards and concentrated on his driving.

“You believe in aliens.”


“Are...” Simon swallowed hard. “Are you an alien?”

“No. I was born in Southwark. I’m a British citizen. But I’m only half Human. My mother is from another planet.”


“You haven’t stopped the car and thrown us all out,” Davie noted. “You don’t quite believe me. But you’re ready to be convinced. That’s good. Because I need some local knowledge and I’m ready to let you in on a big secret in exchange for that knowledge.”

“Davie,” Sukie called out from the back seat. “Patric is REALLY scared. He knows we’re driving back towards the place he ran away from. I think it would be better if he went to sleep for a bit.”

“Good idea,” Davie answered her. Sukie put her hands around Patric’s face and let her mind slip into his. She gently soothed away his fears and relaxed his mind until he fell into a soft, dreamless slumber.

“Poor boy,” she said. “He’s an orphan. He came to England with three older boys, but they got separated. He was picked up by the police, questioned by immigration, sleeping in police cells until they decided what to do with him... then he came to this place... a big prison for children... and then....”

“Do you think... the aliens... are they taking the children somewhere better?” Simon Rowe asked.

“You believe in them, now?”

“I’m not sure... but if they are....”

“No,” Davie answered. “I don’t think they’re taking them somewhere better. He said monsters. There’s something terrifying inside that ship. And I don’t think it has the welfare of these children at heart.”

“In that case,” Simon Rowe said. “There are even worse monsters outside of the ship.”

Davie was thinking ahead, running through a list of species he knew that had cloaking technology for their spaceships. He didn’t quite understand what Rowe meant at first.

“The people who run that place,” Sukie prompted him. “The HUMANS who think it’s all right to let aliens take these children just because nobody else wants them.”

“They’re the real monsters,” Rowe said. “If that’s what’s going on.”

“Yes,” Davie agreed. “And it’s going to stop.”

Rowe pulled his car up in the car park beside his kart track. The camper van was the only vehicle left. All his other students had gone home with their parents by now. Davie lifted Patric out of the car and carried him towards the camper. Simon Rowe looked uncertain.

“Come and see inside MY spaceship,” he said. “And things will make a bit more sense.”

Rowe probably thought he was joking, but he followed Davie and Sukie into the camper van. Sukie closed the door and then sprinted across the console room to the inner door. She came back a few minutes later dressed in a pair of jeans and a t. shirt and gave Davie his leather jacket back. Patric was asleep on the sofa. Rowe, who had got over all the obvious questions about the console room by then was watching the viewscreen as they hovered over the woods that gave Woodside Karting its name.

“That’s the clearing,” he said, pointing to a roughly square area of ground covered with yellowy-white gravel. “It used to be a picnic ground for the scouts. But I can’t see anything, there, now.”

“Neither can I,” Davie said. “And I’ve got a cloaking filter on that should show up anything trying to hide. It’s already left with the kids aboard. See those dark marks... thrust engines taking off. Nobody would notice the noise with the M2 running right by this place.”

“Left for where?”

“There must be a mother ship in orbit. That was just a shuttle.” He reached for the dematerialisation switch, and moments later the TARDIS was in space. It revolved slowly, giving Rowe a unique view of his home planet and its satellite, but there was no sign of an alien ship.

“It might have gone?”

“Or it might be hiding,” Davie pointed out. “You would not believe how many alien ships use the dark side of the moon to conceal themselves. But in this case, I just need to adjust the cloaking filter. There we are.”

“Errk,” Sukie commented. Rowe’s expression matched it. The spaceship revealed was the ugliest thing either had seen. It was a sickly grey-yellow colour and shaped like a legless, wingless insect.

“Vlahbe!” Davie exclaimed. “We’ve got to get those kids back. Rowe... how’s your stomach? Strong enough for some nasty business?”

“How nasty?”

“If I tell you, you won’t want to come with me.” Davie brushed his hand over the drive control and the TARDIS dematerialised again, this time to resolve itself inside the alien ship.

“The children!” Rowe looked at the viewscreen again and saw a cage in which thirty or more youngsters huddled miserably, some of them crying, others just shivering with fear. The arrival of the TARDIS hadn’t helped much. It was just one more frightening detail of their ordeal.

“Sukie,” Davie said. “Give Mr Rowe your sonic screwdriver in lock-busting mode. You stay in the TARDIS and show the kids where to sit. Don’t give me that look. Mum will skin me alive if she finds out I’ve let you loose on a hostile alien ship. Besides, you can do the healing thing and try to get them to sleep. They’ll be easier to manage that way.”

“What are you going to do?” she asked as she watched him turn his sonic screwdriver to laser mode. “Granddad said you shouldn’t use the sonic as a weapon.”

“I know. But I’m less patient than granddad, and I’ve already passed the point of no return as far as this sort of thing is concerned.”

He reached for the door release and stepped out. He raised his sonic screwdriver in laser mode straight away and aimed it at the creature that bore down on him.

“Good God! What was that?” Rowe asked as he turned his face away and tried not to retch. He moved his feet away from the yellow-green bile that passed for the creature’s blood. Its body resembled a seven foot wood louse that walked upright. Davie had scored it across the torso with the laser and killed it stone dead.

“A Vlahbe,” Davie replied. “Or more correctly, A Vlahbe drone. There will be a hive mother somewhere on this ship... something about ten times the size of that one. I’m going to slice it to pieces. It’s the only way to put a stop to this horror.”

He strode off. Simon Rowe watched him go then turned his attention to the lock on the gate. He pressed the button as Sukie had told him to do and was surprised to see the metal melting away. He pushed open the door and called to the children. He remembered that they were all foreigners, some from Eastern Europe, others from Africa and Asia. Yet they all seemed to understand him. Perhaps it was his tone of voice. He tried to sound kind and reassuring as well as impressing on them the urgency of getting out of there. They all stood and did as he said. They looked at the TARDIS door anxiously, and he was hardly surprised. What used to be a camper van was now just a grey cabinet about the size of a phone box with a ying yang symbol surrounded by a fiery dragon emblazoned on each side.

The cabinet was obviously more inviting than the cell, though, and the children filed in, two at a time. The last of them had passed through the doors when Rowe heard a hissing sound and saw three of the Vlahbe drones bearing down on him. He froze in fear for a few seconds, then aimed Sukie’s sonic screwdriver at the closest creature. It was still in lock melting mode and the effect on the Vlahbe anatomy was disturbingly graphic. Rowe used the few moments when the other Vlahbe slithered in a pool of stomach bile to sprint through the TARDIS door and slam it shut behind him.

“They’re surrounding us,” he said. “Your brother can’t get back. And... what if they get in”

“They can’t get in,” Sukie answered him calmly. She was doing as her brother had suggested, gently easing the frightened children to sleep. The console room floor was hardly a feather bed, but it was safe, and they soon calmed down. She left them and went to the console. Rowe watched as she pressed buttons apparently at random. He looked at the viewscreen and saw the gruesome creatures falling away.

“What did you do?” he asked.

“Electrified the outer hull of the TARDIS,” she answered. “Handy trick when we’re under siege from nasty things like that.”

“What he said earlier... about not being Human... He wasn’t kidding, was he? You’re both....”

“I’m more Human than he is,” Sukie answered. “I take after my dad. Davie and his brother are more like mum.”

“There are more of you?”

“Yes. But we’re the good guys. Nothing to worry about. And... I still want to learn karting with you, if that’s all right.”

“It... it’s fine,” he answered. “But... you’re so calm about this. You and your brother fight alien creatures all the time?”

“He does. I’m not really supposed to. I’m only fourteen. There’s no point being scared, though. Davie is the best. He’ll come through.” She glanced at the environmental monitor and frowned. “Mind you, I think he could use some help right now. See that green button in the middle of the panel there. Hold it down for twenty seconds.”

She moved quickly around to the drive control. She had never had more than a few rudimentary lessons in TARDIS piloting from her great grandfather and from her two brothers, but she knew how to make it home in on Davie, the Time Lord with whom the TARDIS was symbiotically linked.

She was shocked when he materialised on board the TARDIS crouching on his knees with one arm outstretched, clutching his sonic screwdriver and the other holding onto something beneath him. His clothes and hair were covered in yellow-green bile. He slowly stood up, still holding onto a small, dark skinned girl who whimpered and clung onto him until Sukie did her Healing on her and laid her down to sleep with the others.

“That’s the last Human child taken back from these fiends,” Davie said as he pulled his jacket off and began to dematerialise the TARDIS. “And the creature responsible is dead. I need to call Torchwood, down on Earth. They’ve got a weapon that can blow the ship to smithereens. Unexpected meteor showers in the northern hemisphere tonight. I also want a word with the Prime Minister. But first....”

The TARDIS materialised in a sparsely furnished dormitory where another fifty or so children slept on mattresses on the floor with a single pillow and one blanket. Davie stepped out and began waking them up and telling them to go through the door with the warm, bright light. He was half finished when a strong light switched on above him and a man demanded to know who he was and what he was doing.

“I’m taking these children where you won’t be able to harm them,” he replied. “Go on, kids, keep moving. Take no notice of him. He’s never going to see another child except in pictures for the rest of his life.”

“You have no authorisation. This is a Home Office establishment. Stop this....”

Sukie was standing at the TARDIS door. So was Simon Rowe. They both saw Davie punch the man so hard he was thrown clear across one of the pathetic beds. Davie dragged him upright again and turned him to face the straggling line of children making their way to unexpected safety.

“Do you know what those creatures wanted them for?” he demanded. “What was going to happen to them?”

“They’re refugees, foreigners. Nobody wants them. Why should I care what happens to them?”

“Because you’re supposed to be a Human being,” Davie replied. “Those creatures... they use organic life... people... as fuel. They wire them up to their drive computers and use their life force to travel across space. When they’re done... when they’re nothing more than dried husks, drained of every spark of life, they’re cast aside... like used batteries. That’s what you were doing, you... you MONSTER!”

Davie pushed the man again. He fell, sprawling on the floor. He left him there and went back to his TARDIS. The door closed and the grey box with its fiery ying yang symbol disappeared.

Davie put his TARDIS in temporal orbit while he made a series of calls on his communications array. The first was to Torchwood who were surprised by his call but willing to comply with him. The second was to the Prime Minister.

“Davie Campbell,” Harriet Jones said with a smile that faded when she saw his cold expression on the videoscreen. She listened as he demanded to know which department of her government had authorised the handing over of asylum seekers to a hostile alien race. She assured him that her administration had not given anyone leave to do anything so monstrous and that immediate action would be taken.

“You can start by arresting everyone involved at the Parkside centre,” he said. “But somebody at a much higher level knew what was happening. See that they are all punished, whoever they are.”

“And the asylum seekers...”

Don’t worry about the children. They’re in my care, now.”

“Your care?” Harriet Jones was surprised by that. “But... I cannot allow that. I must insist... I AM Prime Minister, remember.”

“Of the United Kingdom,” Davie pointed out. “These children are not citizens of the UK. That’s why they were dumped at Parkside and promised as fodder for the Vlahbe. I’m taking them where they’ll be safe. Don’t think you can overrule me. You may be Prime Minister, Harriet, but I am a Lord of Time. I’m the highest authority in this galaxy.”

“You take after your great-grandfather,” she told him.

“Yes, I do,” he replied.

“The children will be safe with you?”

“That goes without saying.”

“Then... do what you must. I will ensure that those responsible will be punished to the full extent of the law.”

Davie ended the call by promising to drop around to Downing Street for tea some time. That surprised Simon Rowe even more than the fact that he considered himself above the leader of the British government.

“So... you just race cars for... relaxation?” he asked. “As a way of unwinding after fighting some alien monster or other?”

“Something like that,” he answered as he placed another call. Chris was a bit surprised when Davie asked him to come and pick up eighty children and give them temporary refuge in his Sanctuary until granddad Christopher could pull some strings and find them new homes in the twenty-third century.

“I’ve no problem doing that,” he said. “Anything you say, brother of mine. But why can’t you just bring them here yourself?”

“Sukie needs to get some sleep before the second day of her karting weekend, and I need the space in my TARDIS. I saw a 1968 Ford GT40 in Automart. Dirt cheap, needs some work, of course. But Spenser will faint in shock when he finds out what we’re driving at Le Mans. It’s one of the coolest cars ever made.”

Chris shook his head. He never understood his brother’s obsession with cars, and now he was getting their sister hooked. But he promised to meet him and take his collection of refugees off his hands. Davie turned from making the call and saw Simon Rowe looking at him curiously.

“Yes. That’s another thing,” he admitted. “We’re from the future, as well as not being entirely Human. It’s a good future for these kids. The world is less over-populated than it is now, and there are plenty of people who would adopt them. Some of them could even go back to their own countries. Slovenia is beautiful and peaceful. All the Eastern European countries are. Even Africa is an easier place to live than it is now. They’ll be fine.”

“I believe you,” Rowe said. “About that GT40... Do you really think you’ll have it ready in time for Le Mans?”