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

Tristie de Lœngbærrow Gregory ran into his TARDIS, clutching the hand of his new wife. He closed the door and initiated a dematerialisation and then turned and swung her into his arms, kissing her fully on the lips. When he was done kissing her, Trudi leaned back and laughed joyfully.

“I can’t believe we did it,” she said. “You and me… married.”

“We’re married according to human custom,” he pointed out. “We still have to do it properly by Gallifreyan ordnances.”

“When do we ever have twelve hours to spare for a full on Gallifreyan Alliance of Unity?” Trudi replied. “And who would I invite in the thirty-first century? This way was fine.”

Their wedding clothes were far from anything seen in an Alliance ceremony. Tristie was wearing jeans and a checked shirt. Trudi was in a mini dress. It was traditional white, at least, but not really a wedding dress. They had been married by the registrar at Brighton and Hove registry office with the bride and groom from the next wedding as their witnesses. The date on the certificate folded carefully in Tristie’s pocket was July 8th, 1976, which would have been Trudi’s twenty-first birthday if she had lived one day after the other and hadn’t gone off into time and space with her dashing young Time Lord.

That was five years ago in her personal time - five incredible years longer than she expected when she first stepped aboard his amazing ship. She always thought that he would tire of her, or she would tire of him and they would one day part company. But that day never came, and yesterday, while they were walking on the promenade in Brighton, he had asked her to marry him. She had said yes without hesitation. He had then taken the TARDIS back six months in time and rented a flat with their names on the tenancy, in order to qualify as residents in the town, then forward three months to register his intent to marry her. Then they had gone to July 8th, the day after his proposal, and turned up at the registry office in the first clothes they found in the TARDIS wardrobe.

“It was the best wedding, ever,” Trudi insisted.

“We WILL have to do it properly when mum and dad find out,” he reminded her. “But they don’t have to find out, yet. We’re on our honeymoon. Where would you like to go?”

“For a honeymoon?” Trudi smiled widely.

“We can go anywhere in time and space - a galactic cruise ship in the 50th century, the Year Zero on Planet One….”

“Somewhere on Earth where I can wear a bikini,” she answered. “I’m never sure if it’s safe on a beach with purple sand and an orange sky.”

Tristie grinned. When he first met Trudi in that old record shop she worked in, he hadn’t really been looking at her body. He just thought she seemed like a nice girl. It was later, when the TARDIS wardrobe came up with a default style for her that involved little hotpants and crop tops that he noticed how lovely she was. Not that he fell in love with her because of long legs and an enticingly bare midriff. Well, not just that. He liked her company. He liked her bright, bubbly nature. He loved her down to earth way of looking at the wonders of the universe that he had shown her, and he wanted to be with her forever. Getting married was the best way to ensure that.

“I know the perfect place,” he said and went to set the co-ordinate.

Playa de Papagayo was one of the treasures of Lanzarote, itself a treasure of the Canary Islands in the warm seas of that part of the Atlantic ocean that washed upon the continent of Africa. It was clearly formed from volcanic activity. Even the cliffs that sheltered the bay were black basaltic extrusions worn down by the actions of the waves.

It was a public beach, popular with tourists. The honeymoon couple didn’t have it to themselves once the sun warmed it. But what was the point, Tristie thought, of having married a lovely young woman who looked sensational in a bikini if there weren’t people around to appreciate that he was the lucky man who got to sit on a beach towel by her side and rub sun-lotion over her.

First thing in the morning when the sun rose over the island they had the beach to themselves. Tristie’s TARDIS was parked above the high water mark, disguised as a closed down lifeguard station. Honeymoon couple though they were, both rose early each morning to enjoy a peaceful walk on the seashore, the cool water of the outgoing tide lapping their bare feet.

At night, the beach was quiet again. They watched the sun go down over the Atlantic beside a campfire on which Tristie cooked their supper. They lay on the still warm sand looking up at the stars, many of which they had visited. Once they threw off the few clothes they were wearing and swam in the rolling surf before coming back to the sand for what Trudi called a ‘From Here To Eternity’ moment. The film allusion was lost on Tristie but he enjoyed the experience anyway.

It was shaping up to be a quiet, uneventful honeymoon until the night the Earth moved.

Even inside the TARDIS they felt the tremor. It woke them both a little before dawn. Tristie jumped from his bed and grabbed his clothes, pulling them on as he headed for the console room. Trudi dressed before following him. He glanced appreciatively at her tight shorts and bikini top before giving his attention to the monitor again.

“It registered 5.6 on the Richter Scale,” he reported. “That’s classed as moderate.”

“It didn’t feel moderate,” Trudi commented.

“That’s because we were right on top of it,” Tristie explained. “We’re very nearly at the epicentre about a mile offshore.”

“Wow.” Trudi looked at the outside viewscreen, and then stepped to the door to look properly at something that she didn’t quite believe she was seeing.

“Where did the sea go?” she asked.

She stepped out of the TARDIS and walked down the sand to be sure she really was seeing what she thought she was seeing. There was no mistake. The bay here was almost circular, with two promontories curving around so that the tide came in through a narrow entrance. Usually it was turquoise blue and perfectly calm, sheltered by those natural breakwaters.

The water was gone. She stared at the sand and rocks, seaweed and a few pools of water where suddenly stranded fish floundered. What had happened? Did the earthquake make a hole in the sea floor? Did it drain away like a bathtub? That didn’t make any sense at all, of course, but it was the only explanation she could think of at that moment.

“Trudi!” Tristie called her name urgently as he ran after her. “Trudi, run, back to the TARDIS, now!”

“Why?” she asked. “What….”


He pointed to the narrow entrance to the bay. Trudi didn’t know what she was looking at to begin with. Then she realised it was a wall of water approaching the bay. The narrowness of the entrance held it back for a split second, but then the giant wave crashed through with a noise such as she had never heard before. Tristie grasped her hand as they ran back to the TARDIS together. He pushed her through the door before him and slammed it shut moments before the wave engulfed the disused lifeguard station, tipping it over and tossing it around like a beach ball.

The TARDIS’s two occupants were pinned to the floor by gravity cushions that prevented them from falling when the ceiling became the floor and the walls became the ceiling and every other permutation. It kept them safe, but it meant that Tristie couldn’t reach the console and initiate a dematerialisation. They had no choice but to ride it out.

“We’re under water!” Trudi cried out fearfully. “We’ll drown.”

“We won’t,” Tristie assured her. “The TARDIS is watertight.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure. Trust me. Trust my TARDIS.”

“I trust you,” she assured him. “What happened? Why did the sea do that? We’re on Earth. Weird stuff like that only happens on other planets.”

“The earthquake disturbed the sea bed, causing a tsunami wave to form. All the water from the bay was sucked into it before the ordinary tidal forces brought it all crashing back. It’s not a really huge one. It won’t have gone more than a few hundred yards inland. We’re probably the only people affected by it. In places like Indonesia – where the word comes from – tsunamis devastate whole communities. We’re lucky.”

“It doesn’t feel lucky right now,” Trudi said as the TARDIS plummeted alarmingly and was thrown back up again by the powerful tidal forces.

“We’re alive, we’re safe. We’re together,” Tristie told her. “Did I ever mention I love you like mad?”

“Quite a few times,” she responded. “But not usually in the middle of a tsunami.”

“Then call this a brand new experience,” he said. “I love you like mad, Trudi de Lœngbærrow Gregory.”

Trudi smiled. The novelty of having that surname almost made her forget the traumatic situation they were in, even when the TARDIS smashed against something hard and rebounded alarmingly.

“We were thrown against the cliff face,” Tristie told her. “Don’t worry. The TARDIS can’t be damaged that way. Its outer skin is made of tempered trialluminum, the strongest alloy in the universe. It could survive a nuclear blast.”

“Have you ever tried it out in a nuclear blast?” Trudi asked. “Or does it just say that in the owner’s handbook?”

Tristie laughed. That was exactly what he loved about her. She was scared out of her wits, and lying like this, not knowing whether up was down for two moments at a time was hardly comfortable. But she still managed a clever and wonderfully Human response to his scientific logic.

“I think it’s calming down a bit,” he said after a while. There was a softer bump than they had experienced before. “I think we’ve stopped. The TARDIS landed back on the beach.”

“Yes…” Trudi agreed. “Just one problem….”

“It landed upside down.” Tristie released the gravity cushion holding him down and carefully swung himself towards the console table. He hung from it precariously and reached out for TARDIS’s shremec control. There was a smooth sensation of movement and his body tipped back towards the natural floor. He ran to release Trudi from the gravity cushion and helped her to her feet, stealing a kiss as he did so.

“That’s better,” she said.

“Much better. Let’s go and have a look outside and see what the damage is.”

The TARDIS had been deposited back on the sand only a few yards away from its original position. That was the most remarkable thing about it after it had been tossed around by the waves for so long. The beach was covered in debris thrown up by the tsunami, but otherwise it seemed remarkably untouched, too. The morning sun shone upon a calm turquoise half circle that lapped gently onto silver sand. It was hard to believe something very dramatic and perilous had happened.

“Look at this stuff!” Tristie exclaimed, examining some of the debris. The piece he picked up looked like nothing at all to Trudi, covered as it was in seaweed and barnacles, but he declared it to be a part of a pottery vase, and then identified it as ancient Roman.

“How does an ancient Roman vase end up here?” Trudi asked, interested despite herself.

“There must be a wreck out there in the deeper water. Down there since the Roman Empire ruled the seas as well as the land. The earthquake disturbed it and the wave pulled this stuff along with it and deposited it on the beach.”

“Just broken pottery?” Trudi asked. “No jewels or gold, you know, treasure?”

“Not that I can see. But the sort of people who care about archaeology would think this WAS treasure. Later, when word gets around, this beach will be swamped with people collecting the bits. And I’ll bet anything they get a dive team together to look for the wreck.”

“No chance of any sunbathing today, then,” Trudi conceded. Then she spotted something near the waterline that made her forget about pottery and archaeologists. Tristie saw it a moment after she did and ran after her.

“Is he all right?” Trudi was already bending over the body when he reached her. “Let me see. I know CPR.”

He knew a great many things. Trudi watched in admiration and pride as he compressed the small chest of a boy of no more than eight years old then bent to blow air into his mouth. It looked hopeless. She was sure the child was dead. But then his body convulsed. Tristie leaned back as he coughed up seawater and took a deep, ragged breath. He was still unconscious, but he was breathing now and his heart beat strongly. Trudi realised she was holding her own breath and gave a deep, deep sigh of relief as she let it out.

“Let’s get him into the TARDIS,” Tristie said. He lifted the child into his arms and ran with him. Trudi followed. As they did, a helicopter flew overhead. She looked up as it hovered low and saw the words ‘salvamento maritimo’. It belonged to the Spanish coastguard service that was responsible for air-sea rescue around the islands. They didn’t need rescuing. The helicopter rose up again and went on its way.

“Maybe we should have waved them down,” Trudi said as she stepped into the TARDIS. Tristie had laid the boy on the sofa and was examining him carefully. “He might need a hospital.”

“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” Tristie replied. “He’s not Human.”

“He’s not?” Trudi drew closer, looking at the naked boy in the strong light of the TARDIS console room. His skin was distinctly greyer than it should be, and the texture was peculiar. Tristie lifted one of his hands and showed her that his fingers were much longer than a Human child of that age should have, then spread them gently. She gasped in surprise. His fingers were webbed. His feet, again, had much longer toes than expected and were webbed.

At least they were. Before their eyes the webbing dissolved and the fingers and toes shortened. His skin took on a pinker tone.

“If we’d seen him now, instead of a few minutes ago, we wouldn’t know,” Trudi said. “He looks normal.”

“Externally, yes,” Tristie replied. He adjusted his sonic screwdriver and passed it across the boy’s abdomen before looking at the readout on the very tiny screen on the handle. “His internal organs are all very different to yours – or mine for that matter. He only has one heart, but it’s larger and more centrally placed than it is in a Human body and he has dual lungs.”

“You mean he has two of them? But that’s normal.”

“No, I mean the two lungs are split into two differently functioning organs.” He turned the boy’s head gently and examined his neck. “See that faint line just behind his ear. When he’s in water, he has gills and webbed hands and feet and uses the secondary lungs. When he’s in air, he breathes like we do and the webbing disappears. He must have been halfway between the two states when he was caught in the tsunami. He was trying to breathe underwater and his lungs filled up.”

“He’s alien?” Trudi used that word carefully. To most people her husband with his two hearts and blood that conformed to no known Human type and various other less obvious differences would be called an alien, but he was born on Earth and so were his parents and most of his grandparents. He came from Earth. He just wasn’t Human.

“Exactly,” Tristie said. Even after all this time she was still surprised when he read her thoughts that way. But it saved her trying to put all that into words. “I don’t think he’s extra-terrestrial. Like me, he’s a native of Earth that isn’t from the dominant homo sapiens species. Unlike my race, which is relatively new to the planet, I think he might actually be a genuinely indigenous species, though.”

There was a time when Trudi wouldn’t have known what the word indigenous meant. She left school at sixteen without any particular academic distinction and worked in a shop. But she wasn’t stupid, and five years travelling with Tristie in his TARDIS had taught her more than any education system ever could. She understood at once the distinction he was making.

“But I’ve never heard of people who have gills and live in the sea,” she pointed out.

“Homo sapiens are SO dominant and so frightened of anything different,” Tristie reminded her. “If they did know about them, they wouldn’t be safe. Do you know how many animal species from this planet became extinct in the history of Human beings?”

“Lots of them,” Trudi admitted, feeling for a moment the full guilt of her race for its ravaging of nature. “But he’s not an animal. They wouldn’t harm him.”

Then she thought about that. By Tristie’s century, it was known that there were more than just humans living on Earth. His people were respected and admired as some of the greatest scientists working for the good of the Human race. When he was a boy his school had provided an ‘advanced stream’ for children like him, both Human and non-Human, and fully encouraged and nurtured his talents.

But this was 1974, her own time. And though she didn’t know any non-humans living in her native Birmingham, she had seen enough television programmes and films about the way humans dealt with ‘aliens’. She had no doubt that the same sort of paranoia and suspicion would happen in real life. If anyone in this time knew that her husband had two hearts and orange blood they would probably find a pair of windowless cells to keep them both in.

“Ok, they would harm him,” she conceded. “So what do we do?”

“We need to get him back to his own people,” Tristie replied. “He can’t be the only one. Somebody is missing him.”

“His parents?” Trudi had never really thought about being a mother herself. She had only been married for two weeks, after all. But something innate in her surfaced as she imagined what the boy’s mother might be thinking just now. She had no doubt that people who had gills and dual lung systems hurt just as much as humans when they were frightened or grieving.

The boy stirred and opened his eyes. They were an unusual deep green. He looked up at his two rescuers and those eyes widened in fear. His mouth opened and he looked as if he was screaming. No sound came out, but Trudi put her hands over her ears because they suddenly hurt as if there was a very loud sound nearby.

Tristie didn’t seem to be affected at all. He moved his hand in a slow, rhythmic way in front of the boy’s face. His eyes followed the movement and he gradually calmed. He closed his mouth. Trudi moved her hands away. The pain had stopped.

The boy opened his mouth again as if he was speaking, but still no sound came out.

“His vocal range is above that of Human hearing,” Tristie explained. “Like a dog whistle. It’s almost out of my range, too, but I can just about make it out. The language is unusual, but I think I understand.”

“You do?” Even after all this time Trudi never ceased to be amazed by the things Tristie could do. Calming the boy with hypnotic hands, understanding his language was yet another incredible talent her had. No wonder she had caught her breath from time to time in these past weeks when she realised that he was her husband and she was going to spend the rest of her life with him.

She was amazed all over again when he began to speak back to the boy. To her it was silent. He seemed to be mouthing the words. She felt a slight pressure in her ears, but not as painful as when the boy screamed.

“There are a lot of people on the beach,” she noted, looking at the viewscreen. “They look a bit serious.”

“Go and find out what they’re doing,” Tristie told her. “I’m just having a long talk with Maral.”

“Maral? That’s his name? You found out his name?”

“That’s the closest to it in Human syllables,” Tristie explained. “But don’t worry, we’re getting on nicely here. You go and mingle on the beach.”

She was a slender girl in shorts, sandals and a bikini top. The people who were on the beach were a mixture of coastguards who had come ashore in an inflatable from a larger boat that was moored beyond the entrance to the bay and some men in suits with portable instruments that they were setting up around the beach. Mingling with them wasn’t easy. She hardly looked like one of them.

On the other hand she was a slender girl in shorts, sandals and a bikini top. The men in suits didn’t mind one little bit explaining to her that they were seismologists measuring the micro-quakes that followed the major tremor that had occurred a little while before.

“You got here very quickly,” she noted. The seismologist explained that there was a monitoring station on the island. It being a volcanic outcrop and situated on a fault line, tremors of varying sizes were common, and it was an ideal place to research the way earthquakes behaved. This morning’s quake and the localised tsunami were very exciting. They hoped to get a lot of very important data.

There were also some men on the beach who were looking closely at the pottery pieces that Tristie had noticed before. They were talking excitedly about the importance of the historical finds and contemplating the possibility of diving to a hitherto unknown wreck somewhere beyond the shelter of the bay.

Then coastguards, seismologists and archaeologists all stopped in their work and stared as they spotted a man swimming towards the shore. When he reached the shallows he stood up. Trudi couldn’t help noting that he was naked. It was rather difficult not to notice that. But she also noted that his skin was grey and that he had webbed feet and hands.

The coastguards had guns. They reached for them and called out to the grey man to stand still. He didn’t. How could he know that was what they were saying? He didn’t understand Human languages.

“Don’t shoot him!” Trudi cried out. “Leave him alone.”

She ran to put herself in front of the man from the sea. The coastguards called out to her to get out of the way.

“Don’t hurt him,” she insisted. “He’s not doing any harm. He’s not… not….”

She felt the pain in her ears again and put her hands over them. The grey man was screaming. The pain increased, but she pressed her hands tighter and blocked it out. Around her, the coastguards, seismologists and archaeologists were in trouble. They fell to their knees groaning in agony.

“Quick, run!” Trudi said to the grey man when he stopped screaming and she could take her hands away. He didn’t understand her, of course. She grasped his still webbed hand, noting how cold it felt, and urged him to come with her. They moved between the stricken men who were struggling to their feet, dizzy and nauseous and thoroughly disorientated. She felt a little dizzy herself, but she had known what was happening and protected herself. She wasn’t as badly affected.

The TARDIS door opened as they reached it. Tristie slammed it shut as soon as they were safe and dematerialised. The TARDIS rematerialised on the cliff above the beach with the invisibility cloak engaged.

“Can’t do that for long. It plays hell with the engines,” he admitted. He turned to the grey man who was turning pinker by the minute. He spoke to him in the silent language. The man replied. Then he ran past Tristie and embraced the child. Trudi didn’t need to know their language to know that a father and son were reunited.

“He was looking for him?” she asked. “That’s why he risked coming ashore. But there were too many men on the beach.”

“Yes,” Tristie confirmed. “You were terrific out there, by the way. Very brave, sticking up for him. Well done.”

“I couldn’t let them hurt him. His voice… it made them all fall down. My ears are still ringing.”

“You heard the boy scream earlier at a slightly less extreme pitch. It acclimatised you, so you were able to cope with the adult pitch. They’ll all have really bad headaches for a while, double vision, a bit of nausea, but no permanent harm. Meanwhile, let’s get these two home. Maral was able to give me a bit of an idea about where he comes from. His father might be able to give me a more precise location.”

“We’re going to help them get home?”

“Of course,” Tristie replied. “On my honour as a Time Lord I could hardly abandon them, could I?”

“Should we put some clothes on them, first?” Trudi asked. Sitting down on the sofa, hugging each other tightly wasn’t as disturbing as when they were standing in front of her, but it still felt a little strange being in the presence of a grown man and a child who were both completely naked.

“They don’t wear clothes,” Tristie explained to her. “They were surprised by us, and we’re fairly casually dressed. They don’t understand why we find it necessary to cover ourselves.”

“Ok. Well, as long as you don’t object to me looking at a naked man other than you. I can’t keep turning my back on him. It would be rude.”

“I was taught to accept other people’s customs and traditions. Besides, when we get to their home, there will be naked women, too. And it would be rude for me to turn my back on them.”

He grinned as he went to the console and took hold of the controls. He put the TARDIS into ‘hover’ mode. It was still invisible as it rose up from the cliff and flew over the beach where they had enjoyed their honeymoon so far. It passed between the two promontories of the bay and then descended. Trudi watched as turquoise water filled the viewscreen.

“Go to the door,” Tristie suggested. “You’ll get a much better view.”

“The door?”

“We’ve opened it in space to look at nebulae and ion storms,” he reminded her. “Open the door. The forcefield will hold the water. You’ll be glad you did.”

Trudi opened the door carefully, half expecting him to be wrong and for the ocean to pour in on them. She gazed in wonder at the translucent wall of water that met her eyes. They weren’t very deep down, yet, and the sun was high by now. The water was bright. She could see fish swimming. It was like visiting an aquarium, except she was inside and the marine life outside.

Maral came to stand beside her. He put his hand in hers. She looked around and saw his father at the console with Tristie, pointing out something on the monitor. The boy pointed to something, too. She wasn’t sure what, and he couldn’t tell her.

“How did they get lost in the first place?” she asked.

There was a quiet minute while Tristie asked the question at a frequency beyond her hearing.

“They were on a fishing trip,” he explained. “When the earthquake hit, their boat was capsized. Marak tried to hold onto his son, of course. What father wouldn’t? But the current was too strong. They were separated. He knew the tides would drag him towards the island, but he had to search all of the beaches before he found the right one.”

“Poor man. That must have been heart breaking. And when he did find the right place he had guns pointed at him.”

“Yes.” Tristie shook his head sadly. It was a universal truth. People were afraid of what was unlike themselves no matter what kind of people they were. They invariably reacted badly.

Maral tugged at Trudi’s hand excitedly and pointed again. He recognised the part of the sea bed they were hovering across. He was almost home.

Except his home was gone. The boy cried out mournfully, causing Trudi to clasp her hands over her ears again. Marak was distressed, too, but he managed to control himself as the TARDIS hovered beside the ruined town. Broken shards of the glass-like dome that protected it from the elements were only the start of the devastation. Hardly a single habitat within was undamaged. There were bodies everywhere and grey people with webbed hands and feet were wandering among the debris or sitting helplessly beside what was left of their homes.

“Trudi, put this on,” Tristie said, pushing a set of earmuffs made of pink and white fluffy fur at her. “Those people are seriously distressed and when they come into the TARDIS their voices will knock you out flat.”

“You’re going to get them?” she asked. “All of them.”

“Yes,” he replied. I can’t use the transmat beam under water. It would beam tons of water in with them. But if I can get the first couple of them to follow me, maybe the rest will get the idea.”

He plunged through the shield into the water, swimming swiftly towards a woman with two youngsters huddled beside her. Trudi watched him using a strange kind of sign language to the woman, and pointing to the open TARDIS door. Then he took hold of one of the children and swam back. The woman and the other child followed. They all came in through the shield and stood, dripping seawater, inside the console room. Trudi resisted the urge to offer them towels and brought them to sit on the floor in a solemn little huddle.

Tristie went out again and brought back a woman and a very small child. Maral and Marak both rushed to her. This, Trudi guessed, was the boy’s mother and baby sibling. The baby was wearing a sort of helmet over its head and they pulled it off anxiously as soon as they were in the air. Tristie took the child from its mother and performed a very delicate and careful CPR on it before giving it back to the grateful parents.

“They don’t get full use of their gills until a year old,” Tristie explained for Trudi’s benefit. “The baby would have died in a very short time if we hadn’t got to them.”

The people were starting to understand that there was safety for them in the strange submarine and were coming towards it now. Tristie told his wife to make sure they were all sitting quietly while he went out in search of any who could not swim by themselves. With his lungs closed off and recycling his breathing he hunted among the debris for trapped survivors and brought them back to the TARDIS. Trudie opened up the room beside the console room which Tristie used as a martial arts dojo and let them sit in there. She found biscuits and milk in a store cupboard and distributed them between the children, hoping that people who lived under the sea could actually digest such things.

Finally, Tristie came back without any survivors at all. He sadly went to the console and did a check for lifesigns. He found none. The rest were dead. Marak told him that the community had been over a three hundred strong. He had rescued less than half that number. Their grief was overwhelming as well as their relief at having been saved.

“Where are they going to go?” Trudi asked. “What will happen to them?”

Tristie didn’t have an answer to that question until he spoke to some of the elders among the survivors.

“They say there are other groups of them living under the Atlantic ocean,” he said. “He knows of one about two hundred miles roughly west of here. I think it must be just off Tenerife. That’s well away from the affected earthquake area. The people there will take them in and look after them.”

“There are people living under the water all around the Atlantic?” Trudi asked incredulously. “Seriously?”

“Seriously. Is it really so surprising? This planet has so much going for it. The oceans and landmasses. Life has evolved in all parts of it adapting to the environment.”

The elders weren’t able to give any kind of accurate co-ordinate for the other underwater settlement. Tristie had to scout around for quite some time off the holiday island of Tenerife before the lifesigns monitor recognised a community whose DNA matched that of the survivors from the devastated town. He turned the TARDIS towards it and he and Trudi looked at the magnificent intact dome.

“It’s camouflaged from above,” he noted. “Any humans diving down would see nothing unusual.”

“That’s how they’ve stayed hidden from us?” Trudi nodded. That made sense. She looked at the dome carefully. “Where’s the door?”

“You’ll see,” Tristie answered with a grin. He moved the TARDIS slowly towards the side of the dome then it passed straight through as if the apparently solid walls were no more substantial than a bubble. “It really is too complicated to fully explain,” he added. “But it works.”

He stopped the TARDIS in what looked like a town centre with a wide plaza and then began unbuttoning his shirt. Trudi looked at him curiously.

“We’ve got to meet with the elders of the township,” he said. “They don’t understand about clothes.”

“You mean we have to….”

She sighed and reached to unfasten her bikini top.

It wasn’t as embarrassing as she expected, being naked in a crowd of people of both sexes. Everyone was the same. They didn’t think anything of it. When the elders of the community heard the story she and Tristie were feted as heroes and invited to a grand feast that took place in the town square itself. It was both a celebration of the rescue of the survivors of the Lanzerote community and a wake to remember those who died. The food, inevitably, was mostly fish, but cooked in very creative ways. For Trudi the only drawback was that she had to wear the ear-muffs, still. The high frequency voices of the crowds would have been unbearable, and she still couldn’t speak their language. Tristie translated everything that was said to her. But the goodwill of the people was obvious.

When they went back to their TARDIS they were followed by grateful crowds who waved to them as they stepped into their ship. Tristie closed the door and went to the console. Trudi took off her earmuffs and joined him as he carefully manoeuvred the TARDIS back out through the dome before dematerialising and setting a fast return to Lanzarote. Playa de Papagayo was still busy with seismologists and archaeologists and some very puzzled coastguards who were still trying to work out where the naked web-footed man and the pretty girl had gone. Tristie took the TARDIS up the coast to Playa Blanca where the sun-worshippers were out in force on their sunbeds and towels. Trudi took one look on the viewscreen and headed for the door.

“Hold on, sweetheart,” Tristie called out to her. “That’s not a nudist beach out there. Better put your bikini back on.”