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

Brenda liked the freedom having her own car gave her, but she had never learned to love motorways, especially not motorways with traffic jams on them. She sighed as she was forced to stop the people carrier once again. She sent a quick text message to Davie letting him know how far away she was and promising to reach Brands Hatch by lunchtime, though she was starting to doubt it.

“Don’t either of you say it,” she warned the two boys in the seat behind her. “No, we’re not nearly there yet. And I’m sorry if it’s boring, and I know we should have travelled by TARDIS. But Davie had so much to do today and I get fed up of sitting around waiting for him, and so do the twins. I thought it would be nice to go by car, but it isn’t.”

“It’s all right, Auntie Brenda,” Peter told her. “Garrick and I can play a game in our heads to stop being bored. We can teach it to the babies, too, when they wake up.”

“No,” Brenda answered. “You’re both too strong at telepathy. You might hurt them.”

Of course she wasn’t actually aunt to either Peter or Garrick, but working out the Lœngbærrow-Campbell family tree made her head spin. She was probably their great-great-niece-in-law or something. Aunt made a bit more sense to everyone, including herself.

The twins had fallen asleep in their baby seats in the rear of the people carrier. She could feel their dreams in one part of her mind, quiet, soft dreams from their year old perspective. They understood that they were going to see their father at the racetrack. Sebastian’s dream included the roar of a fast car’s engine. They hadn’t learnt to worry about their father doing anything so dangerous, just to associate that sound with him.

Peter and Garrick were wearing t-shirts and baseball caps in the Team Campbell livery that Davie had got them for Christmas. The Doctor had given them football kits in Preston North End’s early 21st century colours. There was a sort of tug of war between him and Davie about which sport the boys might be more interested in. At the moment it was a tie. They had taken time trips with The Doctor to see his favourite team play at their home ground of Deepdale in three different decades of the twentieth century and Davie had invited them to watch him in his first race weekend of the year. They were excited about an excursion with neither of their fathers watching them and Uncle Davie introducing them to new and thrilling ideas.

He was practicing for when he could indoctrinate the twins into his mad hobby, Brenda thought. But the babies were too much of his blood not to want to follow in all of his endeavours and the best she could do was be proud of them when they did.

“If this traffic doesn’t move soon, I am going to call somebody with a TARDIS. Or Spenser and Stuart with their time car, at least,” she decided. “I am so fed up of this. We don’t have traffic jams on Tibora.”

That wasn’t true, of course. In the cities of Tibora there were just as many problems with keeping the traffic moving. But she had always lived in the countryside where cars were only seen in volume on the large parking area where the tourists left them to go rambling in the mountain forests or sailing on the lake.

Thoughts of Tibora in the spring gave her a warm feeling for a few minutes before she had to edge forward again past the roadworks that were causing the problem. WHY were there roadworks on a motorway used almost exclusively by hovercars, Brenda wondered. Just how much wear and tear could the surface actually get?

Then she heard the two boys cry out together. The twins whimpered, too, but she couldn’t do anything to reassure them because she felt her own body immobilised as what she recognised as a transmat field enveloped her. She screamed briefly before the nauseating feeling overwhelmed her and she passed out.

She screamed again when she regained consciousness in a white, featureless room. She looked around and saw Peter and Garrick sitting on the floor beside her, gripping each other’s hands for comfort.

She didn’t see her own children.

“Where are they?” she cried. “Where are my babies? Where are we? Why have they been taken from me?”

“Auntie Brenda!” Peter reached out and touched her hand with his. It was small, but not so small as the baby hands of Sebastian and Mark. She closed her palm around his and it was a comfort, but she was still grieving for her little ones.

“I don’t think they’re here with us,” Peter told her. “I think they might still be in the car.”

“In the car!” Brenda shrieked so loudly the boys had to stop holdings hands and cover their ears instead. “In traffic… on the motorway.”

“They’ll be all right,” Peter said. “There was a police car near the roadworks. Somebody will find them. And when they find out that we’re missing….”

“My daddy is a cabinet minister,” Garrick added. “Peter’s daddy is a lord. And you’re married to the most famous racing driver in England. Everybody will be looking for us.”

“Yes, but they won’t find us. We were transmatted. That’s why I fainted. Transmat’s always make me sick. And that must have been a really powerful one. And… we’re in a spaceship, now. I can feel the engines.”

The boys looked worried again. Then Peter nodded with a wisdom beyond his years.

“Daddy will find us. And Uncle Davie. They’ll come for us.”

“Yes, I’m sure they’ll try,” Brenda admitted. She reached out to hug both boys. If she couldn’t hold her own babies, then these two, who looked like twins and had many of the same family traits as Davie, were an acceptable substitute. “But how will they know where to find us?” she wondered. “We could be light years away by now. We might never see Earth again. We might…”

“Brenda,” Peter’s telepathic voice touched her thoughts. “I believe in my daddy.”

“Yes,” she agreed. “I believe in him, too. And Davie… he’s going to be so angry. Whoever took us… he’s going to make them regret it.”

Brenda was a quiet, passive woman most of the time. And when he was with her, Davie was, too. But not for nothing was he known as The Warrior in many places in the universe. His wrath would be hot against whatever beings had taken them. And she was not sorry for that.

Peter was right. Puzzled motorists soon drew the attention of the police to the car whose driver and passengers had disappeared leaving a further obstruction on the already restricted motorway. The police were bewildered to find three seatbelts still fastened and two babies still in the car.

Davie Campbell, registered owner of the car, was the first to be informed of what had happened. It was he, keeping as calm as he could, who phoned The Doctor. He in turn headed for Whitehall where his eldest son was in Cabinet Office Briefing Room C discussing the possibility of formal diplomatic relations with the peaceful community of aliens living on Santurio in the asteroid belt.

Christopher de Lœngbærrow left the meeting at the urgent request of the President. She was waiting with The Doctor and assured him that he would have the highest level of assistance in finding his missing son.

“Thank you, Moira,” he said with heartsfelt gratitude. “But I don’t think the people who did this… a transmat… from the car.… This isn’t an ordinary kidnapping. It’s not political. I’m not sure there’s anybody you have authority over who can help.”

“Then at least take my prayers and thoughts,” the President of the British Federation answered. “And of all your friends and colleagues.”

He thanked her for that, too, before hurrying with his father to his TARDIS parked incongruously in the entrance hall of 10 Downing Street. He kept his composure until they were both in the console room and the TARDIS was heading to the location Davie had transmitted directly to the navigation control.

“It’s all right,” The Doctor said, holding his son in a close embrace. “Those Human tears that were so disparaged on our home world… we need them more than anyone ever imagined.”

Christopher cried in grief for a few minutes. Then he forced himself to be calm. He tried to think as a logical, stoic Gallifreyan. It only partially worked. His head was spinning and his two hearts both thumped loudly in his chest.

“Does Jackie know?” he asked. “She must be climbing the walls.”

“She’s with Rose and Susan. They’re all upset, but they’re looking after each other. Chris was on Santurio. He’s heading back to be with his mother. It’s up to us to find out what happened to our children.”

The TARDIS materialised in the waiting room of the East Surrey hospital where the Campbell twins had been taken while the police contacted their father. The Doctor and Christopher found Davie in a private ward in the paediatric department with two police officers guarding the door. The babies were awake but calm. Davie was hugging Sebastian. Christopher picked up his other great grandson and comforted him.

“They took Brenda and our boys,” Christopher noted incredulously. “And left two helpless babies in the car.”

“Yes,” Davie responded tersely. “I don’t know why. I’m glad they did. I know they’re safe, at least. But Brenda must be going mental wherever she is. The police moved the car. It’s in their compound. They’re doing forensic examinations… all the things they’re trained to do. But that means they’ve destroyed our best chance of tracing those who took them. They disappeared instantly, with the seatbelts still fastened, the engine ticking over, the childlocks on the doors still engaged. The only explanation is a transmat beam, either local or… or even from orbit.”

The Doctor sighed deeply. Davie was right. The Human police in sticking by their usual procedure had destroyed any chance of picking up an ion trace. By now hundreds of cars would have passed the spot where the abduction occurred, dispersing the particles. It was too late.

“Does that mean it’s hopeless?” Christopher asked.

“It’s never hopeless,” The Doctor assured him. “Between us, we’re three of the smartest men on this planet. We’ll find another way.”

“Four,” Chris Campbell said. Davie turned to see his brother stepping into the room. He felt his gentle touch on his mind like the physical embrace he gave him moments later.

“I thought you were staying with mum?”

“Carya is with her. Mum told me to look after you. I’ve got my TARDIS outside. I’m ready to do whatever has to be done.”

“Four Time Lords. That ought to inspire fear and contrition in whoever was mad enough to think they could kidnap our children,” The Doctor said.

“Then let’s get going,” Davie said, shifting his hold on Sebastian so that he could reach for his TARDIS key.

“You’re bringing the babies?” Christopher asked.

“I’m not letting them out of my sight until I can put them both into Brenda’s arms,” he answered. “Besides, they’re safer in my TARDIS than anywhere else. No transmat beam gets into there.”

There was a look in his eyes that reminded The Doctor of why Davie was his chosen heir as protector of the universe, and reminded his grandfather and brother of just why that universe knew him as The Warrior. They almost felt sorry for the beings who had kidnapped their loved ones.

“Who are they?” Brenda wondered as long minutes passed in the featureless white room. “What are they? What do they want with us?”

Any number of horrifying possibilities crossed her mind. She thought of many of the races Davie had warred against, the Sontarans, the Dominators, the Zygons, even the Daleks, though they seemed the least likely. Any of those might want to harm her in order to take revenge on him. The boys must have been taken by accident, but she had little reason to expect mercy for the children from such creatures.

If the babies were safe, at least that would be a comfort. If she died now, then at least she had given Davie his heirs first. But she yearned to hold them one more time, to kiss their baby cheeks and feel their hearts beating next to hers.

“Don’t be afraid, Auntie Brenda,” Peter told her. “I don’t think they mean us harm.”

“How can you know that?” she asked. “They haven’t even shown themselves to us yet. We have no idea what they want… or what they might do if they don’t GET what they want.”

“Please don’t worry,” Peter repeated telepathically. “You’re scaring Garrick.”

“Why aren’t you scared?” Brenda asked. Peter had been as frightened as a boy his age ought to be at first, but now he was strangely calm.

“Garrick can’t feel what I can. He’s a telepath like me, but he’s younger, and he hasn’t trained as much. And he doesn’t have the same kind of mind as I do.”

“I don’t know what you mean about the same kind of mind,” Brenda answered. “You’re both part-Human, part Time Lord. You have almost the same DNA.”

“Like Uncle Davie and Uncle Chris,” Peter answered. “Uncle Davie thinks fast and loud. Uncle Chris thinks slow and quiet. I’m like Uncle Chris. Garrick is more like uncle Davie. It means I can think slow, deep thoughts and I can feel different things in my mind.”

Yes, now she knew just what he meant. She had often noted that difference between Davie with his big ideas about righting the wrongs of the universe and winning fast races inbetween and Chris’s quiet ambitions to spread his calming influence over that same universe slowly but surely. She hadn’t thought of the boys in the same way, but now that she did she saw Garrick, frightened, because he was a little boy, but at the same time ready to fight the first alien creature who approached them. Peter, meanwhile, was calm and thoughtful, and not at all frightened or defensive.

“So… what do you feel?” Brenda asked him. “Why aren’t you frightened?”

The three TARDISes were in a synchronised orbit above London, the Chinese and Gothic TARDIS both in default outer form, the other stubbornly remaining as a police box. All three pilots were desperately scanning the planet for either Peter, Garrick or Brenda’s lifesigns.

“The two boys are close enough to my DNA,” The Doctor said dismally. “If they were anywhere on the planet my TARDIS should be able to find them. She knows them.”

“It can’t find them,” Christopher noted. He bit his lip sadly and stared at the wall, holding back his emotions and trying to be the sort of Time Lord he thought he was before he had children to tug at both of his heartstrings.

“I can’t find Brenda,” Davie said over the open communicator. “My TARDIS recognises her DNA. She’s the mother of my children… It would find her if she was there.”

“All right, they’re not on Earth,” Chris said. “So we look elsewhere.”

“Chris, do you know what you’re saying?” his brother said to him. “Elsewhere is the whole of space – space and time if we’re talking about REALLY advanced technology.”

“I know that. And I know we already know there’s nothing else in orbit around Earth. So the ship has gone. But there’s no way it can take them with it, so long as we’re on their trail.”

“Except we’re not,” Christopher pointed out. “We’re just waiting.”

“Davie, slave my TARDIS to yours,” Chris said. “I can’t think about helmic whatdo-you-call-thems while I’m doing this.”

The Doctor smiled wryly despite his worry. Chris could fly a TARDIS by instinct alone. That was why he never bothered to master the proper terms for any of the components. Christopher was too wrapped up in worry to get the joke. Besides, he wasn’t entirely sure about the components, either. He was good at politics, negotiation, debate. There wasn’t anything he could do here. Even if they did catch up with his son’s abductors he was certain, between his father’s carefully controlled wrath and Davie’s barely suppressed fury there wouldn’t be much negotiation going on.

“They don’t want to hurt us,” Peter insisted. “I can feel that. All around us, in this place… the people who took us… they are glad we’re here.”

“Well, yes,” Brenda pointed out. “Because we’re worth a fortune to them as ransom. Your father is rich. Garrick’s daddy is a Cabinet Minister. They might be trying to blackmail him into giving them some secret. Davie….”

Davie was rich, of course. But after making sure his family had everything they could possibly want or needed, he tended to plough his money back into his scientific research or into cars and racing.

Nobody would go to these lengths, surely, to prevent Davie from competing in a car race? It couldn’t be anything to do with that. Of course, unscrupulous people had tried to steal his solar power project before, but they did it with a van, not a spaceship and a transmat. That didn’t make sense.

It had to be one of The Doctor’s enemies, or one of Davie’s. They were very much the same, except that Davie generally had far less mercy for them.

“Brenda, just because I’m seven doesn’t mean I don’t understand,” Peter told her. “Believe me, they don’t mean us harm. They need something, but it isn’t money or secrets, or revenge. Don’t be frightened.”

“If they don’t want to harm us, then they shouldn’t have taken me away from my babies,” Brenda protested.

“Brenda, trust me,” Peter said calmly. “It’s going to be all right.”

She tried, but it was difficult. She was too worried for her children, for herself, for the two boys she was responsible for, even for Davie, who would put himself in harms way to rescue them. She couldn’t take in what Peter was telling her. She reached out to hug Garrick, who wasn’t reassured by Peter’s words, either, and tried not to cry again.

Davie stepped through the joined door from the Chinese TARDIS to the Gothic TARDIS and looked at his brother. He was lying on his meditation mat in the middle of the floor, his eyes closed and his hearts and lungs still. He was in a deep trance, concentrating on the universe beyond the walls of his time machine. Davie knew that because a hologram of the universe was coalescing in the air above Chris’s prostrate body.

He didn’t even try to contact his brother telepathically. He thought it would probably burn out his own brain. Chris was visualising the whole universe at once.

“Chris faced the Untempered Schism after he had transcended,” The Doctor told him by communicator, not by telepathy. Nobody wanted to risk upsetting the psychic aura Chris was creating around himself. “I don’t think any Time Lord ever did that before. He was already remarkably in tune with it to begin with. Now, he could probably bend the universe to his will if he chose.”

“Just looking at a hologram of it is freaky enough,” Davie admitted. “It makes me feel… small… Human and unimportant. But Chris is… master of it.”

“So are you, my dear boy,” The Doctor reminded him. “But I think Chris is drawing on your strength, too. That’s why you’re feeling so overwhelmed. He’s got some of your ego as well as his own at the moment.”

Davie knew that. He closed his conscious thoughts from his brother, but it was a one way door. Chris was drawing from him and he willingly gave all he needed. If it meant that they found Brenda and the boys then he would give much more.

The universe in the air above Chris was changing. Now he wasn’t looking at it from outside – which was a terrifying idea even for a Time Lord. Chris’s mind was moving through the stars and nebula, seeking his target.

“He’s doing it,” The Doctor said in an awestruck whisper. “He’s locating them. Sweet Mother of Chaos, he’s actually doing it. And he’s feeding the co-ordinates into our TARDISes at the same time.

The universe stopped spinning. Davie looked at the holographic image of a double planet with a single moon that had a curious figure of eight orbit between them both as they in turn orbited a sun – the only two planets to do so. Both planets looked as if they bore the scars of war. Even the moon was pockmarked with craters that must have come from constant missile attacks upon its surface. One sector of it had a glassy surface where the heat of thermo-nuclear war had seared it.

As Chris’s mind focussed on the planets Davie noticed a spaceship in synchronous orbit around the moon. It was gleaming white and saucer shaped. It could have been anything up to a mile wide.

There were symbols on the side of the ship that he didn’t recognise, a language his TARDIS didn’t translate. He didn’t recognise the ship. He didn’t recognise the planets it was orbiting or the sector of space this odd solar system was in. He had never been there and neither had The Doctor, whose memories he could always access at times like this.

“It’s called ?????????? ????????,” Chris said opening his eyes and sitting up as if he had merely taken a ten minute power nap. “The English translation of the name would be ‘warring twins’.”

“Never heard of it,” Davie commented. “However it’s translated.”

“These co-ordinates,” said The Doctor to Davie, still using the communicator. “They’re almost impossible. They’re in zero time and zero space. We shouldn’t even be able to get there by TARDIS. How could any other craft do it?”

“Zero space?” Davie asked. “You don’t mean E-Space, do you? Beyond our universe.”

“No. E-space would be negative co-ordinates,” The Doctor explained. “I’ve been there. The maths involved in getting out again is atrocious. This is zero. It’s neither positive or negative. It’s time and space neutral.”

“The TARDIS database has nothing about it,” Davie observed. “The Time Lords have never recorded its existence.”

“Of course not,” Chris said as if it was obvious. “The Warring Twins were banished from time and space before the time of Rassilon. The Time Lords never knew of their existence.”

Davie looked at his brother curiously. There was something about the way he said those words that was unnerving.

“Granddad, let’s get on with it,” he said. “I don’t like the way they’ve been messing with Chris’s head. Let’s get our family back and go home.”

“I’m slaving both your TARDISes to mine,” The Doctor said. “I’m not going to risk us being separated on a trip like this.”

“All right,” Davie agreed. Any other time he might have argued about who was going to take control. He considered himself a far superior TARDIS navigator than his great-grandfather and had plenty of his mother’s anecdotes about them getting lost on simple trips to back him up. But Chris had already fed the co-ordinates directly into all three navigation consoles by the phenomenal power of his mind, and their destination was the place where Brenda and the two boys were.

Besides, if he wasn’t piloting he could be with his own children. They weren’t missing Brenda as much as she was almost certainly missing them. They were wide awake and alert, looking around at the console room that was as familiar as their own nursery to them. He had taken them on trips in time and space ever since they were a few weeks old.

He sat them both on his lap and held them. He could feel the small part of their DNA that came from their mother, and it was both a comfort and a gnawing reminder that his life was incomplete without her.

“They’ll be all right,” Chris promised him. “We’ll get them back.”

“I’m going to rip that place apart until I find them,” Davie responded with a fierceness that startled his brother as well as the two little ones, who were unused to harsh words from him. “It’s all right, my brave boys,” he said. “I’m not angry at you. I could never be angry at you. But whoever took your mother from you is going to pay dearly.”

“Davie, maybe it isn’t what you think,” Chris told him. “You and granddad are both thinking the worst – that they were abducted for revenge, by some enemy one or both of you have bested. You’re expecting to have to fight, even to kill, in order to get them back. But I’m not so sure that’s what it’s about. I didn’t feel any malice when I reached towards them.”

“No malice?” Davie replied scathingly. “In a system called the Warring Twins?”

“I don’t exactly know what that means,” Chris said. “Except we’re not the twins who are at war, so don’t shoot me down in flames for having another view than yours.”

“I don’t,” he answered. “But… just don’t tell me that the people who took the mother of my children to the far side of the universe meant it as a philanthropic gesture.”

“I’m not,” Chris insisted. “I’m just telling you not to jump to conclusions. Things might not be what you think. And come here. You can’t hold onto both of them and fiddle with your sonic screwdriver at the same time.” He reached out and took Mark from his brother. He kissed his baby cheek and grinned. “We younger twin brothers have to stick together, kid,” he said. “Or they’ll think those couple of minutes extra breathing they had makes them something special.”

Davie laughed despite the knot of anguish twisting his stomach. This was the first time he and Chris had travelled together for a long time. It was too long since they had shared that kind of joke.

“Whatever you grow up to be,” he said to Sebastian. “Mark will always be the other half of your soul. Never forget that, my son.”

Sebastian was not ready to make intelligible words yet, but the gurgle he did respond with sounded as if he understood.

“Hold on tight,” The Doctor called out. “We’re getting close to that zero point. It might be bumpy.”

Davie and Chris put the babies back in their travel seats and engaged the gravity cushions before grabbing handholds for themselves. But The Doctor was wrong. It wasn’t bumpy. It was just very surreal. The time rotor moved up and down in slow motion and the air shimmered with an iridescent light. Chris raised his hand in front of his face and it was like watching stop motion photography. His voice when he tried to speak was a slowed down and stretched sound.

Brenda tried not to cry out in fear when she saw one of the people that had abducted them step straight through the wall of their cell. At least she thought he had stepped through. It was possible he had been standing very still against the wall and she just hadn’t seen him until he moved. He was seven foot tall, thin, with a bald head and no eyelashes or eyebrows. He was the same pure white as the walls, except for green irises in his eyes. He was dressed in a long white gown under which bare white feet could be seen when he walked towards them.

“Leave the children alone,” Brenda said, mustering all the courage she could summon. She embraced both boys and tried to turn away from the humanoid.

“??? ?? ??????? ?? ????? ?? ????,” he said, reaching out his arm towards them.

“I don’t understand,” Brenda replied. “What language is that? I don’t know what you want. But please, let us go home. We’ve never done you any harm. We don’t even know who you are.”

“??? ?? ??????? ?? ????? ?? ????,” he said again. Brenda shook her head. She didn’t know why she couldn’t understand him. She ought to be able to hear any language in either the English she spoke on Earth or her native Tiboran. The artron energy she had absorbed through travelling in Davie’s TARDIS translated everything for her. But she didn’t understand what the alien was saying.

“He said that they need the Rock of Peace,” Garrick whispered to her.

“What?” Brenda looked at the boy. The sight of the tall, chalk white alien was not frightening him as much as being left alone in the curious cell. He actually thought the alien looked a little comical, like a thin snowman.

Peter wasn’t frightened at all. He extricated himself from Brenda’s embrace and stood up. He took the Team Campbell baseball cap off his head and smoothed his dark hair.

“The Rock of Peace,” Garrick repeated.

“He means me,” Peter said.

“What!” Brenda shrieked in horror. “No, Peter. No, you can’t go with him. Please, don’t. Come back.”

She watched in surprise as Peter took three steps forward and stopped. The alien looked at him and then bowed very solemnly and held out both hands towards him.

“??????????? ??????????????,” the alien said. “?? ?? ????????.”

“Yes,” Peter replied. “Yes, I will try.”

“The alien called him ‘blessed peacemaker’ and asked him to ‘save them’,” Garrick whispered to Brenda.

“What does that mean?” Brenda asked. “How can Peter save anyone? He’s just a little boy.”

“I don’t know,” Garrick answered. “Peter told me in my head what the words mean, that’s all.”

Peter looked at them and smiled, then went to follow the alien. Brenda cried out in panic.

“No! Don’t… please don’t take him away from us.”

Peter stopped and turned back to her.

“It’s all right, Auntie Brenda,” he told her in a calm, reassuring tone. “I told you it would be. Come on. Both of you, come with me, and you’ll see that it is.”

Brenda didn’t want to go anywhere. But she didn’t want to be left in this strange room, and she certainly didn’t want Peter to go away with the alien unless she and Garrick went with him. She stood up, holding the younger boy tightly by the hand. Peter didn’t need to hold anyone’s hand. He walked with his head held erect, like a man, not a boy. Brenda still didn’t understand it, but she felt strangely proud of Peter, as if he was doing something magnificent.

She just didn’t know what.

“I know,” Garrick told her telepathically. “Peter explained it to me. Shall I tell you, Auntie Brenda?”

“Yes, I think you’d better.”

Garrick explained. Again, Brenda felt a sense of pride. But at the same time she was worried.

“But he’s just a little boy,” she said again. “He can’t. He can’t do that. If great and powerful people like them couldn’t, how can they really expect Peter….”

“I don’t know,” Garrick answered. “But he does. So don’t worry about him, Auntie Brenda.”

That was easier said than done. She grasped Garrick’s hand even tighter as they followed Peter and the alien through the wall which became strangely insubstantial until they were on the other side and then solidified again. She blinked in surprise at the huge room they came into. It was as wide as the lake she had grown up beside, and when she looked up at the white ceiling it might have been as high as the sky. They were on a balcony overlooking the vast floor where thousands of people dressed in white sat waiting as if for something important to happen.

The important thing clearly involved Peter. Two more of the aliens stepped forward from out of the white shadows. One wrapped an iridescent white cloak around Peter’s shoulders, covering the colourful sweatshirt he was wearing. The other guided Brenda and Garrick to seats near the front of the balcony. They sat, looking down at the gathering below.

Peter was led onto a platform that began to descend towards that vast and crowded floor. He seemed perfectly content to do so. The presence of so many alien people didn’t daunt him in any way. Nor did the task that they all seemed to think he was capable of performing.

Brenda was still sure they had made a mistake, and hoped that they wouldn’t be angry with Peter when they found that he was, after all, just a little boy.

Chris realised he had been holding his breath for very close to the fifteen minute maximum that his Gallifreyan respiratory system could manage. He exhaled and took a deep breath in. Davie did the same then looked around fearfully at his children.

“They’re fine,” Chris assured him. “They thought it was great fun.”

“I shouldn’t have brought them,” Davie replied. “We don’t know what’s out there, what danger we might all face.”

“You used to trust me,” Chris said. He calmly picked up baby Mark again. “Looks like us younger brothers have to lead the way again,” he said to the child as he headed for the TARDIS door. “Put away your sonic laser. Granddad, you too. You’re the one who taught us the sonic should be a tool not a weapon. Christopher, you’re the politician of this family. Tell him to keep cool. Come on, everyone. Step quietly and calmly.”

Davie kept his sonic screwdriver in a mode that could be used with lethal intent if Chris was wrong, but he was usually right to trust his brother. He picked up Sebastian and carried him with him as he stepped out of the TARDIS into a featureless white room whose walls looked both very solid and oddly insubstantial at the same time. The three TARDISes were incongruous in that setting because even the default grey cabinets were an unaccustomed colour. The Doctor’s blue police box stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb. In any case, their arrival had been witnessed by a tall, chalk white humanoid who stepped away from the camouflage of the wall and made himself known to them.

“I didn’t understand what he said,” Davie noted. “Why not? My TARDIS should translate every known language.”

“Mine, too,” The Doctor added. Both had instinctively reached for their sonic screwdrivers like western gunslingers, but Christopher stayed his father’s hand and Davie found it impossible to handle his properly because Sebastian had wriggled in his arms and made it necessary to adjust his grip on him.

“He said, greetings, kin of the Rock of Peace,” Chris said in a quiet, even tone. “Come to the Hall of Reconciliation.”

“How do you know, when we don’t?” Christopher asked.

“Because my mind is in tune with theirs,” he answered. “They are the ???????? ?? ???? – the Guardians of Peace. And I’m a pacifist, too. I think like they do.”

“If they’re pacifists, why do they go around kidnapping women and children?” The Doctor demanded. Davie looked as if the same question was forming on his lips.

“It’s not exactly that,” Chris explained. “At least, it looks that way to us, but they see it differently. They meant well. They….”

“Chris, have you lost the plot completely?” Davie asked. “They took Brenda and the two boys from the car, left my babies alone in the middle of the motorway… and they MEANT WELL!”


Davie started to speak again just as they reached a white wall that appeared solid until they were right up against it and then felt no more substantial than a mist as they passed through it. He forgot to glance around at the wall afterwards to see if it was solid again because he found himself on a wide balcony overlooking a crowded hall. When he saw Brenda sitting there nothing else mattered. He ran to her and tried to hug and kiss her at the same time that she tried to grasp Sebastian from him. When they both realised that one year old Gallifreyans still needed space to breathe in Davie backed off and let her cuddle the two babies while he watched all three of them intently. Christopher grasped his own son to his chest and promised never to let him go again. Garrick was startled by the implications for his independence if his father took that promise literally and actually struggled against his embrace.

The Doctor looked around with frantic eyes.

“Where’s Peter?” he asked.

“Down there,” Chris told him. “In the centre of the crowd. He’s their Rock of Peace. Peter… in Judeo-Christian tradition, the name comes from the Greek ??f?? or Kephâs in the latin alphabet. It literally means ‘rock’.”

“He’s named Peter after Rose’s dad who died when she was just a baby,” The Doctor responded impatiently. “I don’t care where else the name comes from or what it means. WHY have these people taken my son and what are they doing to him?”

“Granddad, you’re a pacifist, too. You taught me those lessons, remember. Calm down and try to listen to them. You should be able to understand what it’s all about.”

The Doctor looked around with Chris’s words ringing in his ears. He had been ready to unleash his wrath upon an enemy who had taken his son by force. But Peter didn’t look as if he was in the midst of enemies. He looked more like the Lord High President of Gallifrey presiding over the Panopticon, except that Presidents were usually very old and usually very wise men and the regalia of Time Lords attending High Council sessions tended to be a full spectrum of blazing colour.

“You’re not far off the mark, Granddad,” Chris said. “These are the Guardians of Peace, and they have been keeping the Warring Twins from making war on each other since before Rassilon created our race. They surrounded the planets with the zero field that meant no time passed on the two worlds. Nobody was born, nobody died, nobody got old. They have been in limbo for those countless millennia while the Guardians tried to find a peaceful conclusion to their bitter civil war.”

“That much I understand,” The Doctor replied. “I’ve brokered a few peace treaties in my time. But what does Peter have to do with it?”

“He’s the key to it all,” Chris answered. “He’s the Peacemaker.”

“Oh!” Davie sighed. “I think I get it. When I travelled into the future... our future... as a family... Peter grew up to be a diplomat, a Peacemaker. Everyone said he followed his grandfather’s footsteps, even though he never knew him....”

“The Rock of Peace,” Chris confirmed.

“But he’s a child,” The Doctor protested. “They got it wrong. They needed him at a later time, the man, the experienced diplomat. What use is he to them now?”

“It doesn’t matter, child or man, all that Peter will be is within him in potentia,” Chris explained. “And he IS the individual they need to complete what has to be done here.”

“Look,” Brenda whispered. Everyone turned and looked at the impossibly high ceiling of the Hall of Reconciliation. An image of the two planets was superimposed upon it. Or perhaps it was the actual planets. Something was happening to them. They were drawing closer as if under new and unusual forces of gravity.

“But they can’t,” Christopher said. “They’ll both be pulled apart. That can’t really be happening, can it? It’s an illusion of some sort.”

“No, it’s not,” The Doctor answered. “It’s really happening. The two planets are merging. Their molecular patterns are being overlaid onto each other. It should be impossible. Everything any of us knows about planetary mechanics says it is. But it’s not. It’s actually happening.”

The two planets didn’t pull each other apart. They didn’t collide. They merged as if they were two balls of modelling clay being moulded together to become one piece of clay. It was a remarkable sight. The continents and oceans, the frozen poles all reshaped themselves gently. Chris gave an excited cry.

“The two populations... they’re still intact... not a single life lost. But there should have been earthquakes, landslides, tidal waves....”

“Of course,” The Doctor said with a wide smile. He stood next to Chris and looked down at his son. “That’s what happens when you ask a seven year old to solve the problem of two warring planets firing weapons of mass destruction at each other. He’s bent every law of astro-physics to make them all live on the one planet, together, where they’ll have to learn to understand each other.” His smile widened even further. “That’s my boy.”

“He certainly is,” Chris answered. “But you need to start thinking about how you’re going to explain all of this to Rose. You know how she feels about giving the children normal Human lives as far as possible. It’s bad enough that Vicki and Sukie are going about in their own TARDIS every weekend. Now Peter has a career in interplanetary diplomacy and he hasn’t even started tying his own shoelaces and doing joined up writing.”

“We’ll get to those before he’s much older,” The Doctor admitted. “As for Rose… I’ll think of something before we get home.”

Peter had done his work. He was walking through the crowd of white robed Guardians of Peace, who parted for him. He and his escort stepped onto the lift that brought him back to the balcony.

“Hello, daddy,” he said.

“Hello daddy?” The Doctor reached out and lifted his son into his arms. “That’s all you have to say? We were worried, all of us. Your mum thinks you’ve been kidnapped by aliens.”

“They wanted help,” Peter answered.

“Next time, they should ask me if you can have a sleepover,” The Doctor said.

“Can I still go to the car race?” Peter asked.

“Yes,” Davie told him. “But uncle Chris has to go back to London and get your mums and my mum and figure out a way of explaining all this so that they’ll actually let you out of their sight again. And he can take you home again. After the race, I’m going to take my wife and children for a winter weekend break at our lakeside lodge on Tibora. Chris, you can explain that to mum, too. She’s expecting us for supper tonight.”

Chris accepted that duty willingly. Brenda clutched her husband’s hand happily. A chance to have the undivided attention of her husband and the peace and quiet of rural Tibora almost made all of this strange experience worth it.