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

The red and silver twin moons of SangC'lune shone from a pale blue sky in which the noonday sun shone warmly. It was another perfect day on the blessed planet. On the high meadow above the pyramid city four TARDISes stood. Two of them had been stuck in the shape of an old Earth police box for so long that nobody could imagine them any other way. The one known as the gothic TARDIS because of its interior design was much more suitably styled as a small wooden hut. The one with the futuristic style that went with Tristie de Lœngbærrow Gregory’s personality had styled itself as an outdoor toilet beside the hut. Tristie had not been very happy about that, but everyone else, even his wife, had laughed at the joke.

There was still one TARDIS missing, the Chinese TARDIS that Davie Campbell piloted so ably. Nobody was particularly worried. He had mentioned that he was going to check out some anomalous energy readings in the Leon quadrant but it was probably routine and he would get to Sang’Clune in time for the ceremony.

Meanwhile, SangC'lune was playing host to every other Time Lord who lived on Earth and a whole group of young Gallifreyans who were going to become Time Lords before midnight.

It was Transcension Day for the first new candidates since Chris and Davie had become Time Lords on their eighteenth birthday. It was a big day for everyone. Not including Tristie and Sukie’s boyfriend, Earl Gregory, who both came from the future, there were still only five Time Lords living on Earth - The Doctor, his son Christopher, his grandsons, the Campbell brothers, and Spenser Draxic who had been transcended by the spirit of a long dead Time Lord in the Medusan Cascade.

Tomorrow, there would be twenty more.

Only the first, The Doctor thought as he stood by his TARDIS door and looked across the Pyramid Plain. He remembered the first time he had come to SangC'lune, when there was just the one gleaming white pyramid among the obsidian black ones. Then his hearts had grieved for his lost race.

That all changed. First, his two great-grandsons had proved worthy candidates by themselves. Then he found his long lost son and he was restored to Time Lord life. Now, it wouldn’t be very many years before his eldest daughter transcended. In a few years after that, his second born son, then the twins would be ready….

And meanwhile, ten of Chris’s students from the Sanctuary and the strongest and most able of the adults who had come to Earth and made it their home while remaining faithful in exile to the honour and memory of Gallifrey were going to transcend tonight.

This was the reason he had given up the life of the lonely wanderer in time and space and settled on Earth – to be patriarch and leader of the New Lords of Time, guiding them to their destiny and ensuring that Gallifrey would always live on in them even though the planet was dust being slowly sucked into a black hole.

It was right that the ceremony should take place here on SangC'lune. Of course, they had another hallowed place now, on Earth, at the Hill of Tara. But the cavern beneath the hill here on the Time Lord’s blessed planet was more suitable for the grand ceremony this was going to be. It was designed millennia ago by the same generation of Time Lords who built the Panopticon in the Capitol for such rituals and ceremonies. It was imbued with the spirit of the past and the hope for the future.

It was going to be magnificent. He felt that in his hearts.

He looked up at the twin moons again and smiled.

“Hey, daydreamer!” The Doctor looked around to see his wife coming up the hill with his daughter, Vicki and her boyfriend, Jimmy.

Vicki had a boyfriend! It hardly seemed like yesterday that she was in nappies.

“Daddy, stop thinking about me in nappies,” Vicki told him telepathically. “Not in front of Jimmy.”

The Doctor laughed.

“I’m going to show Jimmy my pyramid,” she added. “We’ll be back in time for Daygone.”

She walked down the slope hand in hand with Jimmy.

“I remember when he used to pull her hair in the playground,” The Doctor added. “Now they’re going for a walk together… under one of the most romantic skies in the galaxy.”

“We used to go for walks under this sky,” Rose reminded him. “Before we had five kids.”

“You still don’t look old enough to have a fifteen year old daughter,” he replied with a mischievous grin.

“I’m not,” she reminded him. He put his arm around her shoulder and kissed her cheek.

“You’re still my girl,” he told her. “Remember the first time we came here?”

“Jack was with us, playing gooseberry. You threw a wobbly and wandered off in the night to talk to yourself. The second time, we were invaded by nutters who wanted to turn Davie into a vessel for The Master.”

“But we had plenty of other times when we just snogged under the moons?”

“We did a bit more than snog. Peter was conceived here.”

“Where is he? Playing with Garrick?”

“The two of them are soul mates. They’re exploring the village together.”

“It’ll be their turn soon enough. Two years before they’re old enough to be Dedicated and become Time Lord candidates.”

“Don’t,” Rose said. “Looking to the future that way is almost as terrifying as looking back and realising how much time has passed.”

“We have plenty of time left. You’ll be my girl for hundreds of years. I’m hoping we’ll still have a few more kids, yet.”

“Not yet,” she answered. “Let’s get the ones we have into high school first.”

“Fair enough. Come on. We’re both still young enough to enjoy a walk under those beautiful moons. Let’s be by ourselves for a little while.”

Jimmy Forrester looked around at the pyramids, most of them obsidian black and silent. The white ones were just as awe-inspiring, especially when Vicki explained to him what they were all about.

When she showed him the pyramid with her own name on it in Gallifreyan symbols he went beyond awe and was just plain stunned.

“So… let me get this straight… when you’re about… five hundred years old or something….”

“Probably much older than that,” Vicki added. “But I have to be at least five hundred to regenerate for the first time.”

“I doesn’t really matter. I’ll be dead long before then… but you….”

“This incarnation will die… but I’ll regenerate into another body and the essence of this life will reside in this pyramid for eternity. Of course, it will be bigger then. I’m not transcended, yet. I won’t be until I’m eighteen at least. Even that’s cutting it fine. In the old days on Gallifrey it wouldn’t happen until at least a hundred and eighty. But daddy changed that when Chris and Davie transcended.”

It all seemed perfectly normal and natural to her. She didn’t realise just what an effect it was having on Jimmy. He turned his face away from the Pyramid of Vicki Katerina de Lœngbærrow. He looked up at the sky, but the sight of two moons and a sun all at the same time was mind-blowing. He was on a different planet, a long way from Earth. Vicki and Sukie had brought him here in their time and space ship disguised as an old English police box.

He couldn’t look at the sky, but that meant looking at more of those pyramids.

He closed his eyes.

That was better. He couldn’t see the strange alien place where they were. He was just standing there with a pretty fifteen year old girl with dark hair and eyes and a smile that drove him nuts. He remembered when they were both kids in junior school, when he used to bully her and her cousin, pulling their hair and stealing their sweets. Everything had been normal back then, even though it was a miserable kind of normal. Then the aliens had come and everything normal was gone. Even his surly and abusive father who was the worst part of his normality was taken away. He must have died. He had never been heard from again. Everything changed that year when he was eleven. In amongst the fear and the chaos, it was the time when he started to think of girls in a different way. He no longer wanted to pull their hair. He wanted to get to know them. Sukie and Vicki, his former victims, had been the two he had found easiest to know. Sukie lost interest him when she met Earl, but Vicki had smiled warmly at him and listened when he talked. He had listened when she explained how different she was from other girls. He had tried to understand. Up until now he had managed to cope with it all.

But this was all just a bit too much.

Vicki’s small, delicate hand pressed into his. He opened his eyes and looked at her. She wasn’t smiling. She looked anxious.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “This is all just a bit too….”

“I know,” she told him. “It scares me, too. Sometimes I wish I was normal… ordinary… Human.”

“You ARE Human. Part of you at least. Your mum is, isn’t she?”

“Yes. But my father is… he is the greatest Time Lord since Rassilon, the Creator of Time Lords and….”

That wasn’t helping. Jimmy had stepped back from her. He was still holding her hand, but there was a lot of space between them. If he stepped back any further he would have to let go of her.

“Please, don’t,” she told him. “Jimmy, you’re the only person outside my family who knows the whole truth about me. That’s why I brought you here. I wanted you to know it all. But please don’t hate me because of it.”

“I don’t hate you. But this is all too much. I just… we’re fifteen. We’re not even supposed to be boyfriend and girlfriend, yet. Not properly. The future… for me… is passing exams and getting to college. But when I do think about what I might be doing in five or ten years… I always hope that you’ll be doing it with me.”

“I hope so, too,” Vicki told him. She knew he would be. She had seen the future neatly wrapped up. She and Jimmy were going to get married. But he didn’t need to know that right now.

“But I don’t think I want… Vicki, do you HAVE to be a Time Lord? Do you have to do this thing that everyone is doing tonight? Can’t you stay… normal?”

“Being a Time Lord is something I have wanted for as long as I can remember,” she said. “It’s what I was born to be. It’s my destiny.”

“Fifteen year old girls don’t talk about destiny,” Jimmy said bitterly. “That’s… the problem. I don’t think I can cope with this.”

He let go of her hand. He turned away and ran, ignoring her calling out to him. She tried to follow him, but he was a fast runner and he was soon out of her sight among the pyramids. Besides, if he wanted to run away from her, was there any point in running after him?

She turned and walked slowly in the opposite direction, past her brother Christopher’s tall, shining pyramid with one of the thirteen obelisks black because Christopher had regenerated once, before she was born.

Beyond that was her father’s pyramid. All of the obelisks were black. He was in his ninth life when he met her mother, and made a bargain with Rassilon, the Creator of all Time Lords, to live one good life with his wife by his side instead of three more without her.

He had given up thousands of years of life. She had given up being fully Human. They had made a sacrifice for each other, for love.

Why couldn’t Jimmy understand those things? Why was it so difficult for him?

She had been crying all along and hadn’t even realised it. She leaned against the entrance to the pyramid and felt the coolness of the white crystal against her hot cheek. In the back of her mind, her understanding of basic physics told her that the outside of the pyramid, under the midday sun, ought to be hot. But it was a Time Lord pyramid. It didn’t have to obey the laws of physics.

What she did feel was a curious kind of comfort from being close to it.

“Daddy,” she whispered. “Help me.”

Peter de Lœngbærrow was seven and a half years old. Garrick, who was either his uncle or his nephew, depending on which way he looked at his confused family tree, was five. On Earth, nobody would allow them to walk around on their own. Even though they were intellectually superior to most seven and five year olds, they still looked like little boys and it was unthinkable.

But this was SangC'lune, the planet of the Pyramids. The people who lived here farmed the land, made everything they needed for their daily life, and tended to those pyramids. They held the Time Lords in high honour, and the children of Time Lords were perfectly safe in their presence.

They had enjoyed the freedom to explore together, watching the women spinning and weaving, the men tanning leather or making clay pots, all in the open air under the sun. They had seen the blacksmith shoe the horse-like beasts of burden they used to pull carts and ploughs. They had been given tasty food treats by women cooking over open fires. Everyone had smiled at them and called them ‘young masters’.

“On Earth, we’re just little boys in first and second class at school,” Peter noted.

“I do finger painting,” Garrick added, thinking of the very basic lessons he was learning alongside the Human childern.

“You listen to papa’s lessons on temporal physics while you’re doing it,” Peter reminded him. “And the finger painting you do at home is very advanced. I saw your version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.”

“At school I just did stick figures and a big round yellow sun,” Garrick said with a giggle.

“Even the advanced stream doesn’t really move fast enough for us. But that doesn’t matter. We go to school to learn how to be friends with ordinary humans and not frighten them with what we really are.”

“I don’t really have any ordinary Human friends, though,” Garrick pointed out. “I don’t play with any of them outside of school.”

“Me, neither,” Peter replied. “But it doesn’t matter. We can play together.”

Garrick nodded. He didn’t really need other friends as long as Peter was there. And he had been there for as long as he could remember. Peter got his first proper bed in the nursery when Garrick was put into the cot after outgrowing the crib in his parent’s room. Then they had twin beds in the same room. Mount Lœng House was big enough for them to have separate bedrooms but they didn’t want to be separated.

There were village children playing. They watched their games, but they were the sons of the visiting gods. The idea of inviting them to join in didn’t occur to the youngsters in homespun clothes with their hand-made ball. Peter and Garrick walked on until they had left the cluster of houses and workshops and stables that made up the village and they were walking between fields on a rough path cut by the farm carts. They didn’t worry how far they were walking. The sun was still high and they knew how to get back again when it was time.

Brenda noticed the older boys walking together, but she knew they would be all right. She and Carya, her brother-in-law’s wife, and Susan, her mother-in-law, and Jackie, whose exact relationship to her needed careful working out, were looking after the younger members of their extended family. Tilo and her twins were asleep inside the cool hall. The toddlers, Julia, Jack and Sarah Jane were playing on the veranda with Stuart and Spenser’s adopted daughters, Georgina and Josephine.

She should have felt content. The low-level background psychic energy of SangC'lune was soothing to her mind. But there was one thing that was spoiling the afternoon for her.

“Davie isn’t here yet,” Susan commented. She didn’t say anything more, but there was a distinct note of criticism in those few words.

“He will be here,” Brenda assured her, even though she was starting to wonder about that herself. “He promised he would. This is an important ceremony, and he’s mentoring several of the candidates. He’ll be here.”

“It really isn’t fair. Everyone else is here, but he’s off somewhere, probably getting into trouble. I thought being a father might calm him down, but he’s just as bad as ever. I really don’t know why you put up with it.”

“I put up with it, because that’s who he is,” Brenda answered. “He’s a free spirit. He needs to be able to explore and challenge himself. He wouldn’t be himself otherwise.”

“He’s as bad as The Doctor,” Jackie commented.

“He would consider that a compliment. Really, I don’t mind. He IS a good husband and a good father, and he does wonderful things when he is out there. He’s probably saving an entire race from oppression or stopping a sun from dying. He’s everything The Doctor is and more. He’s magnificent. And I am so proud that he chose me for his wife.”

“Even grandfather stopped running around the universe when he had a family to look after,” Susan insisted. But neither she nor Jackie could shake Brenda’s faith in her Time Lord husband. Yes, she was missing him. She really wished he was there with her, but she tried very hard not to mind when he was away, and she wouldn’t hear any criticism of him from anyone else.

“He’ll be here when it matters,” Brenda assured them all, including herself.

Vicki was surprised when the door to the pyramid slid open quietly. She looked at the dark space inside warily then stepped over the threshold. The door closed behind her. It wasn’t dark, even though it had looked it from outside. There was a diffused light coming from all directions.

The inside of the pyramid was much bigger than the outside. That was no surprise. It was a Time Lord thing, after all. Just how big she wasn’t sure. There was a white mist that made it impossible to see more than a few yards, and her feet made no sound even though the floor was the same hard substance the outside of the structure was made of. She couldn’t tell if it was a mile wide or just the size of a big concert hall.

“Hello?” she called out. “Is… anyone there?”

She wasn’t at all surprised when a figure stepped from the mist. She recognised him straight away, an elderly man who walked with a stick and stooped slightly, disguising the fact that he was quite tall. He had grey hair and kind eyes, despite a rather stern expression. He looked at her curiously.

“Susan?” he said. “My dear, you shouldn’t be here. It is quite improper.”

“No,” she answered. “I’m not Susan. I look a bit like her. People have said so. Not as much as Sukie does, but a bit. I’m Vicki.”

“Vicki?” the old man looked puzzled. “But Vicki can’t be here. She married an ancient king of Troy….”

“Yes, you told me the story,” she answered. “And about Katarina who died to save you all. I’m Vicki Katarina Rose de Lœngbærrow. I’m named Rose after my mother. And you… you’re….”

She paused a moment and looked at the old man. She felt a tiny little bit frightened, but not of him, not really. She knew there was no need.

“Daddy,” she said in a small voice.

“Yes, oh yes, my dear child,” he answered. He reached out to her. He felt solid, real, not like a ghost. She let him hug her tightly. “Vicki, my dear. Oh, yes, I know who you are. You still shouldn’t be here. But I can see you’re troubled. Why don’t you sit down and tell me about it?”

She was puzzled, then, because a big, squashy old-fashioned sofa appeared out of nowhere. The Doctor sat down on it, laying his walking stick against the arm. She sat beside him. His arm curled around her shoulders and she felt warm and comfortable, just as she always did when she was with her father. She knew she could tell him her problem and he would understand.

Chris had noticed the absence of his brother from the planet, too. He wasn’t worried. He was used to Davie’s solo trips around the universe, by now. Like Brenda he fully expected that he was doing something spectacularly brave, utterly foolhardy and ultimately good for some deserving people. He was quite certain that he would succeed, and that he would reach SangC'lune in time for the Transcension ceremony.

He could have done with the help, if he was honest. There were twenty candidates to prepare for the evening ceremony. Some of them he knew well, those of his own students who were of Gallifreyan blood: Brón, Shone and Daryl, Cól, as well as Marton Pallister who was The Doctor’s special student, mentored by him. There were also some older men and women who had been leaders of the scattered Gallifreyan community on Earth: Brendan from Ireland, Rhys who was the leader of the Welsh contingent, Virgilo Calderone who lived in the Highlands of Scotland with his Gallifreyan sister Venna, another candidate who Chris knew only in passing. They had all been trained by The Doctor to be among the first new Time Lords who weren’t actually a part of his own family.

He had assistance, of course. Spenser was there, and Tristie, who was a confident young Time Lord and fully capable of mentoring Candidates. There was Earl, too. He was young, but again he was smart and resourceful and Chris had enlisted his help. Trudi, Tristie’s young Human wife, and Sukie, were somewhere around talking girls talk. They had plenty in common, after all. Sukie and Earl were Tristie’s grandparents – or would be in fullness of time. Chris thought there was probably a law against this confusion of generations back in the old days on Gallifrey, but those things didn’t seem to matter now.

With all of the people around him, he still missed Davie a lot. It grieved him most that the psychic connection that they had since they were small children was broken now. He used to be able to reach out to his twin brother easily, even across time and space, but these days they both had so many separate responsibilities it was easier not to be inside each other’s heads. He tried to reach out to him, now. Being on SangC'lune, with its psychic background, being here in the old ruined temple, above the Time Lord cavern where the Transcension ceremony would take place later, it ought to have been easy. But wherever Davie was, he was unreceptive.

He looked around. The Candidates were all deep in meditations, preparing themselves for what was going to be the most traumatic and possibly painful experience of their lives. The other mentors were sharing the experience with them. He needed to concentrate a little harder. He had too many things on his mind to fully relax. Davie was his main concern. But the ruined temple really wasn’t the best place for him to clear his mind. He had some very specific memories of being here long ago, when the temple still stood, of the pretty girl who had first tested his resolve to be a celibate teacher of others. His eyes turned with very little more encouragement to the tomb where his precious Fírinne had been laid to rest. He looked up at the moon that was named after her so long ago that the reason had been forgotten. He had never forgotten. He still thought of her, even after all this time, even though he was happy with Carya who had finally made him realise he could be a man in every sense of the word and still teach a pure way of being to his students.

“You’ve done well, Chris,” said a voice he knew almost as well as Davie’s. He looked around and smiled at Davõreen de Lœngbærrow, his other soulmate, his brother in spirit. He had a golden glow around him. Rassilon’s own eternal squire always did.

“I can’t go anywhere with you today,” he said. “We have important things to do.”

“I know. That is why my Lord sent me to be with you. Today our Time Lord race truly begins to live again and much of it was your doing.”

“Granddad… The Doctor… did most of it,” Chris replied, not wanting to take credit for the dream that was about to be realised. He had merely shared in it along with everyone else.

“You are the Light, Chris. You laid the foundation stone that allowed The Doctor to be all he dreamed he might be when he was young and ambitious. You set it all in motion.”

“Don’t,” he said. “When I think about all of that, it makes me dizzy. We’ve got twenty Candidates to transcend tonight. That’s a good beginning. The rest, is too big even for my mind to hold. Don’t let’s talk of it just now. Sit with me and let’s enter a deep meditation together. With you beside me, I know I can clear my mind at last.”

Davõreen knelt in the formal way, even though the ancient stones of the temple floor were hard and unyielding. Chris did the same, but using a rush mat beneath him. He let go of all his thoughts, his anxieties, his distractions. He touched the dreams that had led him to this place and time and let them overwhelm his senses.

Stuart Harrison wasn’t involved with the preparatory rituals on the temple hill. He had stayed for a while, watching. It was something that was important to Spenser, after all. But watching a lot of people keep completely still and quiet wasn’t particularly interesting to somebody who had spent his whole life among the bustle and noise of his pub.

This planet didn’t even have a pub. The people made wine and ale, but only for use in their own homes. The focal point of their community was the great hall and the ceremonies they held every night. It was, as far as he could see, a good, happy community, but there wasn’t an awful lot here that interested him.

He had walked down from the temple towards a wide, fast flowing river that he had seen reflecting the sunshine. It looked inviting. There were grassy banks either side and trees that bore some deep red fruit that proved to be sweet and juicy and edible. He picked a few and put them in his pocket as he walked, listening to the rushing water and the singing of birds in the trees. If Spenser wasn’t busy with the meditation thing it would be a nice place to walk together, to sit for a while and steal a kiss under the alien sun and the two moons that were fixed in place above them no matter what time of day or night. He smiled as he thought about coming down here after dark, just the two of them under that moonlight, for a bit of al fresco lovemaking. Maybe when these ceremonies were over tonight they could get away by themselves.

His mind snapped back from such thoughts as he spotted somebody sitting by the riverside, a boy in a t-shirt and knee length shorts. His trainers and socks had been left on the bank and his feet were dipped in the cool, flowing water.

“Hi,” Stuart said. “It’s… Jimmy isn’t it?”

The boy looked around and nodded.

“I thought so. You’re one of the few full-blooded Humans around here. I could smell that fresh earthy smell….”

“Smell?” Jimmy looked at him coldly. “Oh, yeah, you’re the one with the weird alien thing going on.”

“Well, I wouldn’t call it that, exactly. It’s just how I am. But I was born on Earth. So was everyone in our crowd, even if we’re not all from the indigenous species.”

“I’m… fed up of aliens,” Jimmy responded, looking up at the twin moons, then at their reflection in the river. He threw a stone into the water to break up the image. “I want to go home.”

“If you really feel that way, I suppose somebody could take you home. But what’s the problem? You’re Vicki’s boyfriend, aren’t you?”

He could tell the boy had been crying, even though he had tried to hide it. There were streaks on his face that were unmistakeable.

“I’m not so sure about that,” he said. “I think I might have blown it. I….” He looked at Stuart and shrugged. “You wouldn’t understand. You’re an alien, too. How would you know what it’s like finding out all this weird stuff about pyramids and everything?”

“I’m married to a Time Lord,” Stuart pointed out. “I’ve been through it all. It’s the first time I’ve been here to see the things for real, but I knew about the pyramids and the thirteen lives, and all the other stuff. It was all a bit daunting, but I love Spenser. I took him for better or worse, all that he is, even the weird stuff. And I’ve never looked back.”

“I’m not sure I can do that.”

“You’re just kids. Why do you have to worry about it, anyway?”

“Because… we won’t always be kids. And I want to be with Vicki. I’d like us to be… you know… married…. I know it’s a soft thing to think about, but I really do want to be with her forever. Only… it isn’t forever. I’m Human. I’ll get old… I’ll die… and… what happens then? What happens with Vicki?”

“Same as with Spenser. When I’m sixty or seventy… eighty… I’ll be married to a gorgeous man who looks half my age… and he’ll still love me as much as he does now, when we’re both young. He’ll look after me when I can’t look after myself, and he’ll never stray to somebody younger and fitter. Time Lords… don’t fall in love easily, but when they do, it is true love and it is enduring.”

“Yes, but what happens after that? When you’re dead and gone… what will Spenser do?”

“I think he’ll probably find Davie Campbell’s shoulder to cry on,” Stuart admitted. “And that’s ok. I’m glad he won’t be lonely.”

“Vicki… she’ll find somebody else?”

“If she’ll be your girl for life, does it matter what happens afterwards?”

“I guess not. But it’s too late. It’s not going to happen. I said some stuff to her….”

“Nothing that can’t be fixed by saying sorry, surely?”

“I asked her not to be a Time Lord,” Jimmy answered.

“Oh.” Stuart thought about that. “And what did she say?”

Vicki told the first incarnation of her father everything that Jimmy had said, everything she had said to him. He nodded wisely.

“It is difficult for humans to understand about us,” he said. “But some of them do. My first wife came to terms with it all. Your mother must have had to find out, too.”

“I tried to show Jimmy that it was nothing to worry about, but I think the pyramids were the last straw. They scared him, and I don’t know how to make him see that it’s all right.”

“Is he really the one? You’re both very young….”

“I know. But I’ve seen his timeline. We’re going to be married when I’m twenty-three. He’ll live to a hundred and five years. That’s really old for a Human. We’ll have two children, both of them with mostly his Human DNA. They’ll live ordinary Human lives, too, which makes me sad to think of it. I’ll outlive all of them. I think I’ll probably end up marrying a Time Lord eventually, because it’s less lonely. But Jimmy is definitely going to be my first husband… at least if I haven’t scared him away with everything he saw here on SangC'lune.”

“I expect he just needs a bit of time to get used to it all,” The Doctor told her. “Why don’t you go and find him now and talk it all over together? He’s had some time to think about things, too. Perhaps you’ll find the problem isn’t as insurmountable as you think.”

“I hope so,” she answered. “Thank you... daddy.”

The old man smiled, his face seeming to get a little younger as he did so.

“It’s been a long time since anyone called me that. A very long time, indeed. Thank you, my dear. Run along now. And remember, if you feel troubled again, you can always talk to me.”

“Yes, I can.” She stood up and walked away into the mist. She looked back and he was still sitting there, smiling at her. Then the door opened and she stepped out into the sunlight.

Jimmy was about to answer Stuart’s question when they were both surprised by the sight of two boys walking along the shallow part of the river. They were wearing nothing but wet shorts. They were both soaked from head to toe and were carrying t-shirts, socks and shoes that were dripping.

“Peter, Garrick,” Stuart called out. “What are you doing? Get out of the river. What happened to you?”

“We were trying to find Omegallium in the river, like Chris and Davie do when they’re here,” Peter replied as if it was perfectly obvious.

“Only we fell into the deep part,” Garrick added.

“You did what?” Stuart was relatively new to parenthood, but his senses reeled as he imagined the two boys, much the same age as his little girls, floundering in the fast flowing water.

“It’s all right,” Peter continued. “We learnt to swim.”

“It was fun.”

“You mean you fell in the river and learnt to swim right away?” Jimmy stared at the boys then looked at Stuart. “Is that something else Time Lords can do?”

“I don’t know. Spenser learnt to swim in the 18th century. We’d better get these two back to one of the TARDISes before anyone sees them.”

The quickest way was back through the Pyramid plain. They were passing The Doctor’s pyramid when Vicki stepped out of it. She looked at Stuart and Jimmy, then the boys who were leaving wet footprints on the marble flagstones.

“Peter, what have you been up to?” she asked with all the imperiousness of an older sister. “You’re supposed to look after Garrick. He’s younger than you.”

Peter opened his mouth to explain but Jimmy cut him off.

“You really don’t want to know. We’re trying to get them back to the TARDIS before anyone finds out what they’ve been up to. There’ll be a big fuss, otherwise.”

“Come on,” Vicki said, taking charge of the situation.

She brought them all to her own TARDIS. While Stuart supervised the showering and changing and disposal of wet clothes and shoes, Vicki sat with Jimmy beside the water feature in the recreation area under the console room. For a few moments there was awkwardness, then they both started to talk at once.

“Look,” Jimmy started again. “I know this Time Lord thing means a lot to you. I understand that. But what if… I mean… Couldn’t it wait? What if you didn’t do it when you’re eighteen. What if you waited until you’re… I don’t know… a hundred or two hundred or… whatever. I mean it’s weird enough knowing that you can live for hundreds of years….”

“Thousands,” Vicki started to say, then changed her mind.

“Can’t you be a Time Lord later? How about just being my girl for one lifetime? Isn’t that enough?”

“Daddy sort of expects me to do it as soon as possible,” she pointed out. “But if I explain it to him… I suppose it would be all right.”

“Ok, then.”


“Yes. Ok.” He grasped her hand and drew her close. When Stuart came up from the wardrobe with two dry and suitably dressed boys they slipped past unnoticed and left the TARDIS quietly.

A peaceful afternoon passed into an equally peaceful evening. Before sundown, everyone got ready, first for the Daygone ritual that the people of SangC'lune observed every night, giving thanks for a day of work and leisure and for the quiet coolness of the night in which they would sleep the sleep of people who worked hard in the daylight hours. The Doctor and Rose, as the elders of the Time Lord family who had gathered on the planet, gave their blessings to those who presented themselves.

Then, when that ceremony was over, it was time for the greater one to take place. The Trancension of the new Time Lords.

“Davie still isn’t here,” Brenda anxiously proclaimed when they were all ready to walk in procession to the temple hill, and down into the cavern below. “There must be a problem. He wouldn’t let us down like this if it was within his power.”

Susan and Jackie both said cutting things about his recklessness. Brenda’s eyes filled with tears because she couldn’t wholly deny them. Chris tried to comfort her, but he was upset, too. He couldn’t believe that Davie would be late for this special night unless something was very desperately wrong.

“I still can’t contact him at all,” he said. “I wish he wouldn’t cut himself off like that. If he needs help, we don’t know where to reach him.”

“We really can’t start without him,” Christopher observed. “We don’t have enough experienced Time Lords without him. We need him to mentor at least three of the Candidates.”

Chris looked at Davõreen, who stood a little aside from the worried group of his family’s descendants. He had Rassilon’s own power at his disposal. He could mentor all of the Candidates if it came down to it. But that was never their intention. They had all come this far by their own merit. Davie had been a part of it from the beginning. He had to be here.

Then there was a welcome sound of a TARDIS materialising. Chris’s hearts thudded with relief. Brenda broke ranks and ran to embrace her husband, berating him for his lateness. Then Susan gave a soft scream of delight and ran to hug the man who stepped out of the TARDIS with him.

“Grandfather, it’s good to see you,” she said to the man they all called Ten, who looked far too young to be her grandfather. “That’s what he was up to? Going to fetch you to help us out at the Transcension ceremony?” She turned to her son and kissed him on the cheek. “You’re forgiven,” she told him.

He was forgiven by everyone as the procession finally got under way. Once they reached the temple and descended to the cavern, the Candidates and Mentors, and all of their friends and family who came to watch and to support them, and to congratulate them afterwards, his late arrival had been forgotten. The nine Time Lords who had been brought together from different time zones, different worlds, ignoring the old Laws of Time that would have prevented them being there together, recited the ancient words while the Candidates lay on silk covered palettes and began the descent into deep meditative trance that would allow the Transcension to begin. Their minds were prepared, their bodies ready for their very DNA to be undone and remade with the quadruple helix of a Time Lord. For some it was painful and harrowing. They needed their mentors to encourage and comfort them. For others it was a serene and enlightening experience. For all of them it literally was life-changing. When they woke from the trance after nearly an hour they were new people. They had all of time and space in their heads. They had secrets ordinary men and women could not begin to know. Their hearts pounded. Their minds reeled with something half ecstasy and half shock as they realised that all their hard work, all the pain, was more than worth it for the gifts they had received.

At the Great Hall, the villagers had laid on a feast for the newly Transcended Time Lords and their friends. The party went on beyond midnight as the silver and blood red moons shone down. Some couples left the festivities after a time. Stuart and Spenser went in search of that quiet spot down by the river. Others had similar ideas about their own favourite romantic places.

Vicki and Jimmy didn’t go quite so far. They sat on the veranda and let the sounds inside the hall and the quiet of the night outside both wash over them.

“It wasn’t as creepy as I expected,” Jimmy said. “But even so….”

“If it’s what you want, I will wait,” Vicki promised. She took his hand in hers and closed her eyes. He had travelled quite a few times in the TARDIS, now. It was hard to see his timeline, but if she concentrated she could piece it together. Yes, he would live a long life for a Human and she would be with him until the end. What could anyone ask for but that certainty about the future?

Davie Campbell saw the two young sweethearts as he slipped away from the party for a breath of air. He left them alone. So did his brother when he followed him.

“WAS that the only reason you were late? Going to pick up Ten?”

“No,” Davie admitted, knowing there was no sense in lying to Chris. “I don’t know what happened. I never got to the Leon quadrant. All I remember is being in the time vortex, with everything working just fine. Then I woke up on the floor of the console room. Four hours had passed. I was cold and my head pounded. The TARDIS was hanging in ordinary space a few parsecs from the colony system where Ten lives. I picked him up and headed for SangC'lune, but I must have been hungover, still. I didn’t take the missing hours into consideration when I set the Helmic Regulator. That’s why we arrived late.”

“Davie!” Chris put his hands around his brother’s face and reached into his mind. He found nothing, no matter how deeply he probed, except a four hour void. What might have happened to him in that time he couldn’t say.

“I’m ok now. Honestly.”

“I believe you. But Davie… please… when we get home, park your TARDIS in the workshop and leave it there until after Christmas. The universe can manage without a superhero for a while. Stay home and be a husband and father, and give Brenda and mum a break.”

“Ok,” he agreed, more readily than Chris had expected. “Honestly, I promise I’ll do that. Don’t look at me that way. I mean it.”

“I know you do. Come on, let’s go back to our wives and have a couple of glasses of SangC'lune blood wine – have a real reason for a headache in the morning.”

They walked back into the great hall together, still paying no attention to the teenagers on the veranda.

Davõreen, squire of Rassilon, watched the two brothers and shook his head. There was something not right. Something was going to trouble them both in the coming months. But as powerful as he was, he couldn’t do anything to prevent what must unfold. He had to trust that Chris’s boundless inner strength would be enough to see his brother through the crisis.

On the other side of the Galaxy, an angry chief scientist berated his colleague.

“Four hours was too long. The Time Lord will know something was wrong. He may even break through the memory blocking and remember what was done to him.”

“It took that long to extract the necessary bio-data,” the other scientist replied. “If I had rushed it the subject might have suffered permanent brain damage, and then the effort would be useless. We need a living, thinking Time Lord to carry on as if nothing had happened until we are ready to put the next stage of the experiment into practice.”

“And how long will that take?” the chief scientist asked.

“If nothing goes wrong, sixty standard galactic days.”

“Sixty days. Yes, I can be patient that long.”