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

Susan Campbell sought out her daughter-in-law in the glass-domed rooftop terrace of one of New York’s finest twenty-third century hotels, the Hotel Metro on West-Thirty-Fifth Street. The dome was a modern addition to the original Terrace, made of reactive glass that filtered the glare of the afternoon sunlight and kept the wind and rain off the guests so they could enjoy the view even in rainstorms.

It was that magnificent view of Old Manhattan that drew guests to the Terrace, but Brenda Campbell wasn’t interested in it at all. She sipped a cup of Earl Grey and deliberately avoided looking at the view, focussing her attention on a potted ficus decorated with pin point yellow and green lights. Her twin boys were sitting up on the wide leather chair next to hers drinking milk out of baby cups with Beatrix Potter designs on them. They were both dressed in blue and white sailor suits and were delighting the waiting staff with their good manners.

Susan sat down with her. Brenda poured her a cup of tea which she accepted graciously. For a little while neither woman spoke, then Susan decided she had to say something.

“You don’t seem very happy, my dear,” she said. “Is everything all right?”

“Yes,” Brenda answered too quickly for absolute truthfulness. “No, it’s not,” she amended. “It’s Davie… he….”

She paused. A Tiboran wife was expected to be loyal to her husband. Criticism of him to anyone, let alone his mother, was unheard of. And a Tiboran wife of a Lord of Time had still less reason to complain. She was consort to a living god!

She had not lived as a Tiboran for a long time. Here on Earth most of her female companions were liberated women who said what they liked, but even so it was difficult for her.

“He’s behaving strangely,” she admitted.

“He’s very busy, of course,” Susan reminded her. “This project is important to him.”

Both women looked at what Brenda had been avoiding up until now. New York was a city of magnificently tall buildings, some of them even rivalling those in the great Capitol of Gallifrey. Even in the twenty-third century one of the grandest was among the oldest – the Empire State Building completed in the year 1931. They had a fine view of it from the terrace. Near the top scaffolding was being carefully taken down now that the work was finished and the grand switch on ceremony only hours away.

It was Davie’s most public work since he began his first energy project, and the most ambitious. The art deco mooring tower at the top of the Empire State Building had been covered in his inch wide solar panels. That was a magnificent feat in itself, and had taken nearly six months to complete. The panels themselves were fixed in place by the end of last November, before the harshest winter weather set in. Then it took until this first week in March to finish the storage system within the tower and connect it up to the electricity grid. When it went online at midnight, the whole of New York State including the great population centre of New York City would be powered by those tiny panels on the tower. The switch on would be heralded by two million individual lights fixed to the Empire State Building, half a million of them forming a fiery dragon encircling a ying-yang symbol – the trade-mark of Campbell Enterprises.

Davie had been in New York for three weeks, making sure everything was going to plan. Brenda and the children had joined him six days ago. Susan, along with Chris and Carya and their son, Tilo, had arrived by TARDIS this afternoon to be with Davie in his moment of triumph.

But he hadn’t met them. They had come to the hotel and booked in without him. They still weren’t sure where he was.

“He’s… cold, distant… towards me, and the children,” Brenda continued. “He was away from us nearly a month. I thought he would care about that. I thought he would want to spend time with us. Before he left, he talked about all the wonderful sights of New York that we could explore together. But we haven’t gone anywhere. I’ve waited in the hotel every day with the children. Even when he is with us, Davie hardly looks at them. He hasn’t even picked them up at all since we got here, let alone hug them or anything.”

“That’s strange,” Susan admitted. “He adores them both. When I video-phoned him last week he was talking about how much he missed them – and you. He said he was going to give you and the boys a month’s worth of hugs all at once.”

“But he didn’t. At Kennedy he just bundled us all into a taxi and brought us to the hotel. He unpacked our bags, and then he said he had a meeting and went out. He never even kissed me once. He hardly has, since. And… Susan, he hasn’t slept in the hotel bed with me. Every night, he just sits by the window looking at… at that place!” She looked up at the Empire State Building as if it was somehow at fault. “I’ve asked him to come to bed, but he just said he wasn’t tired. But he must be… staying awake all night like that then working all day. He’s hardly been eating, either.”

“Has he really been so wound up with work? Neglecting you and the children, no sleep, no food… Not only strange, but worrying, too. He’s going to be ill if he carries on like that.”

“He’s going to be ill and have nobody around to care that he’s ill,” Brenda retorted with uncharacteristic bitterness. She put her hands over her mouth after she had said it. “I know it’s a terrible thing to even think that way. He’s my husband and my Lord, and I vowed my love and obedience to him….”

Susan grasped her daughter-in-law’s hand gently.

“Brenda, even on Gallifrey it has been a long time since anyone took the vow of obedience literally. You are not Davie’s possession to be discarded at his whim. Bad enough he spends so much time on his cars and this racing obsession of his. Now his work is taking him over, too, and you and the children are suffering for it. There is no binding vow that gives him the right to treat you this way. Don’t ever think it. He can’t be allowed to do this.”

“I don’t mind the racing,” Brenda admitted. “I’m proud when he wins. And when he comes home, he is always so very contrite about being away from me. He kisses me so much I have to remind him to let me breathe. And he is always so very passionate when we’re….” Brenda blushed. She had been married to Davie for nearly three years. She had given birth to twins for him. But Tiboran women didn’t talk about what went on between a man and a woman in their bedroom.

“But all of that was before….”

Susan glanced up again at the building that was the centre of Davie’s attention now. She wondered briefly if there was anything else… anyone else… that accounted for his coldness towards Brenda.

Another woman?

Another man, even. Susan had never fully come to terms with her son’s relationship with Spenser Draxic. She had told herself she would respect his decision and that she would love him just as much no matter what he did. But she was relieved when he set the date for his Alliance to Brenda and began to spend a little less time in Spenser’s company. Was it possible, all the same, that Davie still had those kinds of inclinations and had indulged them in the month he had been alone in New York? Did he resent his wife and children being here to cramp his style?

“I don’t think it’s that,” Brenda said. Susan was a little taken aback. She didn’t think her thoughts were so easily readable. “I’m sure it isn’t, even though he has closed his mind to me and I don’t know what he’s thinking at all.”

He had closed his mind to her! Susan’s anxiety level turned up a notch. She had been married to a Human for over fifty years. She had never experienced it for herself. But she knew that the telepathic connection a Gallifreyan man had with his wife was an extra level of loving intimacy that non-telepathic races could never begin to understand. Brenda, as a Tiboran with telepathic skills equal to her husband’s, should have enjoyed that intimacy to the full.

“Why has he….” Susan began. Then she saw her son striding across the Terrace towards them. He was dressed in a very well cut suit with shirt and tie, which was unusual enough for him. If he was home he usually dressed casually. In his workshop where engine oil and all kinds of messy liquids and compounds might be around he wore overalls. On his race days he had those custom made ‘Team Campbell’ firesuits. Other times he might wear a martial arts gi, or even a robe in the Gallifreyan style. But a business suit was unusual for him.

He looked good in it, Susan admitted to herself. He could have walked into the New York stock exchange and nobody would have questioned his right to be there. He even carried himself with that kind of self-assurance.

“There you are,” he said before either his mother or wife had a chance to greet him. “I was looking for you.”

“I told you I was having tea,” Brenda responded. “There’s nothing to worry about.”

Sebastian and Mark both gurgled happily and reached out their toddler arms to their father, but he didn’t seem to notice them at all. Susan moved over and cuddled them both. They liked the attention from their grandmother, but she could feel their disappointment that their father had rejected them.

“I just came to tell you that I’m going to be busy all afternoon,” Davie continued. “I’ve got meetings and final preparations. I don’t have time for anything else. I’ll see you at the ceremony tonight… eleven o’clock.”

“Not until then?” Brenda was shocked. “Davie… can’t you at least spare time for dinner… and to put the children to bed. They haven’t seen you all day….”

“I’m busy,” he responded coldly.

“Davie….” Brenda pleaded.

“David,” Susan said telepathically. “You look so fine in those clothes… You look like I ought to call you that. Davie… that was what we called you when you and Chris were babies. It fitted you then. It always seemed to fit when you were a boy. But you’re a man now, with a wife and children of your own, and a business that’s growing every day. We should call you David. You….”

He wasn’t listening. He looked at her impassively and turned away. Susan watched him go.

“That isn’t my son,” she said with a dread certainty.

“That’s what I mean,” Brenda told her. “He’s acting so strange.”

“No, I mean that ISN’T my son,” Susan insisted. “It’s NOT Davie. I know my own boy. I’ve known him since the day he was born… before that, even. When he’s near, I can feel the tie between us, even without acknowledging the psychic ident of a transcended Time Lord. That’s not Davie.”

“But….” Brenda was puzzled. It looked like Davie. Every strand of his silver highlighted hair was familiar to her. Even if he was acting out of character….

“Exactly,” Susan added. “Brenda, it isn’t him. It’s some kind of duplicate, an imposter.”

Brenda bit her lip uncertainly. If Susan was right, then her husband wasn’t deliberately trying to hurt her. But that huge load was lifted from her heart only to be replaced by an even more terrible anxiety.

Where was Davie? Was he hurt, was he dead? What had happened to him, and when?

“Stay here, look after the children. I’m going to follow him and find out what this is all about,” Susan decided. `

“You can’t,” Brenda protested. “Whoever did this… they can’t mean any good by it. You’re….”

“I’m a woman? A middle aged one at that?” Susan smiled softly. “Brenda, that may be true. I’ve spent most of my life as a wife and mother. But I’m also the granddaughter of the greatest Time Lord who ever lived and the mother of the one destined to be even greater. I’m not going to sit here helplessly waiting for some fiendish plan to unfold.”

With that she turned and stepped purposefully towards the elevators. Of course, the imposter had a head start. She noticed the numbers above one of the gates counting down as it descended. There was a ping and a second elevator opened its door. She stepped into the steel box and jabbed at the ground floor button. In the twenty seconds that she was descending she breathed in deeply, wondering if she really had the courage to do what she said she would do. Then she told herself she did. Long before her sons were born she had fought Daleks twice, on their own planet and this one, she had risked the wrath of the Aztecs, almost been sent to the guillotine in revolutionary France….

She was ready to do as much and more for the sake of her own son.

By the time she reached the reception the imposter was long gone, of course. She asked the doorman who told her that Mr Campbell had gone left towards Fifth Avenue and then right. Of course, he was heading for the Empire State Building. Whatever was going on, it centred on that place.

Built in 1930, opened in 1931, one hundred and two floors, one thousand, two hundred and fifty feet high, not counting the antennae that was added in the 1950s – Susan had learnt the facts about the Empire State Building in geography class at Coal Hill School in 1963. It felt like a lifetime away, but she easily accessed those facts as she walked towards the famous building. It was in the same classroom that she had learnt about the mooring mast, intended for transatlantic airships, with departure and arrival facilities for passengers within the tower.

She also recalled from somewhere – she was sure it wasn’t in her geography lesson – that more than thirty people had committed suicide by jumping from the observation deck and one woman had survived with no more than a broken hip having been blown back into the building by the prevailing winds.

She doubted if any part of that knowledge was going to be any use to her. It just stopped her from thinking about Davie and what kind of danger she might be in as she followed in the imposter’s steps along Fifth Avenue.

“Mum!” She almost didn’t hear the voice that called to her. She was looking up at the highest building in New York and thinking about that would-be suicide who survived. The physics involved in that were mind-boggling even to somebody who had once argued that a piece of geometry on Mr Chesterton’s blackboard was impossible without using the fourth and fifth dimensions.

“Mum!” Chris Campbell caught her in his arms and hugged her. “Are you all right?”

“I’m….” She looked at her second born son and reached out to touch his long, curling hair that made him look like a renaissance prince or a 1970s pop star. She remembered when he first decided to grow it long, asserting his independence from her and from his twin, who had come back from a hairdresser one Saturday afternoon when he was fifteen with his dark brown hair streaked with silver highlights.

“He thought it looked cool,” Chris said. “It did, too. I almost went and copied him, but we had agreed it was time to be two different people, and our hairstyles were the first step to doing that.”

“You read my thoughts!” Susan let out a deep sigh of relief. “It’s really you. Chris, Davie is….”

“Yes, I know. I felt it when I tried to talk to him. I’ve sent Carya and Tilo to look after Brenda. You should stay with them, too, mum.”

“No,” she insisted. “I’m going to find my son. The imposter went in there. He must be doing something with Davie’s power scheme. Sabotage or….”

“Or something worse,” Chris added as they stepped, together, through the big glass doors into the tall, wide lobby of the Empire State Building.

“Wow!” Susan breathed, despite her desperate reasons to be there. “It reminds me of the Citadel on Gallifrey… The rows of art deco elevators…. They’re like the static portals that some of the High Councillors used to travel from their homes to attend the Panopticon.”

“Yes,” Chris agreed. He had seen the Citadel once. His mother had been there more often, but only as a very small child in her grandfather’s arms. Either way they both easily conjured an image in their minds of the centre of Gallifreyan power.

“There’s nothing like that in the Citadel,” he added, looking at the gold bas-relief of the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ – on the back wall of the lobby. Susan noted that the artist had depicted the building with rays of light or energy coming from the top and spreading out across a map of the ‘Empire’ State of New York.

“Davie’s energy project,” Susan noted. “Limitless clean electrical power for all.”

“I don’t think they could have predicted that in the 1930s,” Chris answered her. “Nice idea, though.” He turned and looked at the rows of elevators. There were seventy three of them in all, a peculiarly odd number that jarred with his concepts of symmetry and order. But that wasn’t the main problem with them. “Mum, you do know you can’t just summon a lift here like you do at Marks and Spencers. Most of them are for the tourists.” He nodded towards the queue behind a rope line that shuffled forward slowly as elevators became available. “People with businesses in the tower have their own passes, and visitors sign in at the desk there. But I don’t think the imposter will have put us on a list, and we really don’t want them alerting him that we’re here.”

With that he reached into his pocket and approached the reception desk. A few moments of conversation and he returned with two ‘all access’ visitor’s passes. He pinned one to his mother’s lapel before doing the same for himself.

“You used psychic paper?” she asked as they stepped into the executive elevator and pressed the button for the eighty-sixth floor.

Chris looked at the card he had pulled from his wallet and grinned.

“This is a loyalty card from the dry cleaners that does the Sanctuary laundry,” he said. “I used Power of Suggestion. I’ve not had to do that for a long time. Deception doesn’t really go with my plan for harmonious life. But neither does kidnapping my brother and putting a clone in his place.”

“A clone?”

“Some sort of biological copy, anyway,” Chris added. “Close enough to fool most people. But he doesn’t have Davie’s mental abilities, and definitely none of his charm.”

“Chris, is the real Davie… is my son… alive?”

“I don’t know for sure. I can’t feel him in my mind, anywhere. But anyone smart enough to clone him would know how to block him from making telepathic contact with me. I’m hoping that they need to keep him alive until their plan comes together. Every sort of clone I’ve ever heard of, Zygon, Sontaran, flesh avatars, even Autons, need the host kept alive.”

“You didn’t sound like you, talking about those things,” Susan told him. “You were more like Davie, or Grandfather. You chose a different path than theirs, and I was proud of you for it.”

“Granddad taught both of us everything he knew about the universe,” Chris admitted. “The evil that is in it and the good. I’ve concentrated on the good, hoping it could overwhelm the evil. But sometimes I need to face it head on the same way my brother does.”

Susan looked up at his face, something she had done since both boys grew taller than her.

“I can do it, mum,” he promised.

The elevator reached the eighty-sixth floor. That brought them to another reception desk. To go further up to the old mooring tower that now housed Davie’s energy project, they needed another pass and a key.

Power of Suggestion was enough to secure both. Again, Chris pinned the credit-card sized pass to his mother’s lapel, but he shoved the other one in his pocket and looked up at the ceiling of the self-service elevator to the very top of the tallest building in New York.

“Ever since their invention, right up to the 300th century, lift designers have put an access panel in the top of the cage. This is where all the tai chi comes in handy.”

“You don’t expect me to do that, do you?” Susan asked. Chris had taken one aerodynamic leap to push open the panel and another to swing himself up through it. “When I was a teenager, maybe. I used to wear trousers, then. But a skirt suit….”

“You’re going to distract the fake Davie,” Chris answered. “While I find the real one and get to the bottom of all this.” He laughed softly. “Given that we’re approaching the hundred and second floor, I should probably say the ‘top of all this’. I don’t really want to think about the bottom when I’m in the lift shaft.”

He closed the panel just as the elevator stopped. The doors opened and Susan stepped out into a room full of equipment. Most of it was concerned with solar energy conversion, storage and distribution. She recognised it from Davie’s blueprints.

There was something that didn’t fit into a solar power project though. She hadn’t done practical science for decades, having given it all up to be a housewife and mother, but Susan recognised what belonged and what didn’t, and the glowing particles enclosed within a long glass tube held in a steel framework didn’t belong anywhere on this planet.

“An anti-matter chamber?” she said aloud. “Davie, what does that have to do with solar energy?”

The imposter turned from the control panel where he was working and looked coldly at her.

“What are you doing here?” he demanded. “I told you I was busy. You don’t need to be here until the ceremony later.”

“I wanted to spend some time with you,” Susan answered. “Just the two of us like it used to be. Remember letting me help you in your workshop, before you could afford dozens of research assistants? I held test tubes and soldered wires to panels for you.”

She had never done that. It was Chris who had been Davie’s first research assistant. But that was something else the imposter didn’t seem to know.

“I don’t need any help. Everything is ready.”

“Yes, but ready for what?” Susan asked. “Davie, WHY have you got anti-matter here? Where did you get anti-matter FROM? You know Grandfather would never approve of you doing those kinds of experiments.”

“Grandfather?” The imposter spoke scathingly. “The Doctor! He is a weak-minded fool. All of Creation knows it. He won’t get in the way of my plans, still less a feeble woman like you.”

“Davie!” Susan protested. “Or whoever you ARE. You have my son’s face. Do you have one iota of him in you? Or are you just….”

Chris knew time was running out. He knew his mother could buy him a few minutes at most distracting the imposter. He swung up from the top of the elevator. The shaft narrowed above and contained the winding gear. Of course, there were access panels. There were ALWAYS access panels. He opened one and crawled through.

There was a space beyond. He sensed it was a small room with a low-roof, though it was so pitch dark even his superior Gallifreyan eyes couldn’t process enough light to see by.

“Who’s there?” he called out. He felt the presence of another mind as soon as he dropped into the room. A moment later he knew his question was superfluous. He felt his brother’s psychic touch. “Davie, where are you?”

“Here,” he replied telepathically. “Look with your mind, not your eyes. If anyone can do that, you can.”

He could. He walked confidently and touched his brother’s face gently. He was manacled to the wall by his hands and feet as well as his neck, but he was unharmed.

“The walls are lead-lined, of course,” he said. “That’s why we couldn’t find you before now.”

“I was hit with a neural inhibitor. I was out of it completely for at least two days. The stuff is still making me dizzy. I can feel it in my veins. I’ve been here a week. That thing… the clone… it’s been with Brenda… taking my place.”

“It’s had insomnia all week, sitting up at the window while she slept.”

“Good,” Davie responded. “The thought of that… thing… with her….”

“Brenda is ok. You’ll have to do a lot of romancing when you get back to her. She’s feeling neglected. The kids need a hug, too. Keep your head still while I get the brace off your neck.”

“It took my sonic screwdriver. Besides, I could hardly use it with my hands manacled.”

“Did you try using the power of your mind?” Chris asked as he pressed his hand against the neck brace and felt it break apart beneath his psychically enhanced touch. He did the same for the arm restraints and bent to free his brother’s legs. “You could have melted the screws or something.”

“Neural inhibitor,” Davie reminded him. “It stuffed my mind up. I feel as weak as a kitten.”

“Stand still for a few minutes more, then,” Chris told him. “Let me shift that stuff from your bloodstream. Granddad always said letting our enemies get the recipe for neural inhibitors was a really bad idea.”

He was actually holding Davie upright. Between the drug and the fact that his limbs had been restricted for days on end, to say nothing of hunger and dehydration, he would have collapsed otherwise. He gently reached into him and forced the neural inhibitor’s molecules to separate from his blood before forcing it out of his body through the pores of his skin.

“So you’ve been here for a week, fretting about what the clone might be doing with your wife?” he asked as Davie began to stand under his own volition and flex his aching muscles.

“Mostly I’ve been fretting about what the clone might be doing with this planet,” he answered. “Chris, this is bigger than you think. They wanted my power project, but not to give free electricity to the State of New York. There’s something dangerous… something really terminal going on. The clone was made by something else. Sontarans, maybe, Zygons, Dominators, Raxacoricofallipatorians, I don’t know. But something with an interest in damaging the Human race, damaging this planet… and we have to stop them.”

“Why do you think we’re here?” Chris answered calmly. “Come on. Mum can’t hold out much longer.”

“Mum? She’s here? She’s involved? But….”

“I guess you don’t get it all from granddad,” Chris said. “Mum is a bit of an adventurer too underneath the ‘mother’ bit.”

“We’ve got to get to her. Come on.”

They didn’t bother with access panels. Now that both of them were firing on all thrusters, minds and bodies both working fine, they made short work of the iron door that locked Davie’s prison. That brought them to a narrow, winding stairway.

“It goes down to the old airship arrivals lounge where my equipment is set up,” Davie confirmed.

“That’s where the clone is, and mum.”

Chris didn’t need to point that out. They could both hear their mother’s voice calling out in defiance and a cold simulacrum of Davie’s own voice replying. They burst into the lounge to see Susan holding the glowing anti-matter container defensively as she backed away from the imposter.

“Stay back, both of you,” the imposter said. “Or I will break her neck.”

“Touch me and I throw this through the window,” she responded. There was a floor length plate glass panel behind her with afternoon sunlight shining through. It would be easy to carry out her threat. She made it even easier by smashing the metal edge of the container against the glass, shattering it. The wind that blew in almost took her breath away. The top of the Empire State Building had its own weather system – invariably windy. It blew her hair and clothes, but she stood her ground, holding the container precariously close to the drop.

“If you do that, you will die,” the imposter answered her. “If the container breaks, the anti-matter is released. Manhattan will be destroyed. Remember your children, those little babies waiting for you….”

“You were going to kill us all anyway,” Susan responded. “Chris, Davie… that’s what this was all about. The anti-matter was connected to the grid. When the switch was thrown the containment field would collapse, and anti-matter would be unleashed… the electricity would be the catalyst to make it spread out from the top of the Empire State Building - like the picture down in the lobby – engulfing the whole world. This way at least only Manhattan will be destroyed. The rest of the planet will survive.”

“Yeah, we get it, mum,” Davie said. “Trouble is, he knows you’re bluffing. You’re a mum and a grandmother and you care about all of us. He knows you can’t let Seb and Mark and Tilo die in a holocaust of antimatter, let alone all the other innocent people in this city. But he doesn’t care about anything. He’s not me, or any part of me. He’s a clone, created with one purpose, with one idea in his head - to make all of this happen. He doesn’t care if he dies now or at midnight. He was never meant to live. He’s a tool of his masters, whoever they are.”

“You’re wrong about that,” the imposter replied. “My mission is to destroy this planet. My masters have no use for a hole in the ground in the Northern Hemisphere. They want Earth to become a portal into the anti-matter dimensions.”

“Why? Chris asked. “What use is that to anyone? Never mind, it’s not going to happen, and we’re not going to stand around here like extras from a James Bond film waiting to hear the plan from Mr Exposition. Mum, let me take the container. I’ll deal with it.”

Susan hesitated for a moment then she threw it towards Chris. It wasn’t a particularly good throw. She had only gone to a Human school for a little over a year, and she never really had enough practice in things like netball. But she threw the container. Chris, who had mostly preferred to play football but never especially liked being in goal, watched it carefully and moved just at the right moment to catch it safely, nevertheless.

His plan had been to distract the imposter and let Davie reach his mother. But it didn’t quite work that way. The imposter grabbed Susan instead, gripping her around the neck.

“Give me the container, or I’ll kill her,” he said.

“Chris, don’t you dare,” Susan said. “You hold onto that thing. And don’t you worry about me. Just remember Elvita Adams.”

“What?” Her two sons both yelled out loud as Susan stepped back, through the broken window, dragging the imposter with her. Chris almost dropped the anti-matter container in shock. Davie got to the window before him and looked down.

What he saw amazed him. Of course, they were on the hundred and second floor. Directly below them was not the ground a dizzying thousand and more feet below, but the roof of the enclosed observation deck a mere sixteen floors below. He saw his mother actually land on the flat roof on her feet before stumbling and falling and holding on tightly as the powerful wind whipped around her. He heard the Doppler sound of the imposter falling much further, but the body was already beyond his line of sight. He could only guess what would happen in a few moments when it impacted on Fifth Avenue. Terminal velocity would have been reached long before then. There was no chance that the imposter could survive, no matter what sort of clone it was.

“Chris, put that thing down carefully. I’ll deal with it later,” he said. “Come on.”

“Come on, where?” Chris asked. “Davie… what about mum?”

“Just don’t ever tell dad we let her do anything quite so mad,” Davie answered as he raced down the stairs, ignoring the elevators as well as the usual Human necessities to breathe and blink while running down sixteen flights of stairs.

By the time they reached the Observation Lounge Susan was sitting on a chair, wrapped in a blanket, with a polystyrene cup of coffee in her hand. There were crowds milling around, tourists taking her photograph, a journalist trying to get her to tell her story. They all stepped back as Davie approached. There was a look in his eyes that brooked no refusal.

“Elvita Adams,” he said. “She was the only person to try to commit suicide off the Empire State Building and survive. The winds blew her back in through a window. She suffered a broken hip. History doesn’t seem to have recorded what she did after that.”

“Mum!” Chris was taking it all less calmly, despite being the one who practiced meditations every day. “You could have been killed.”

“I knew the winds were strong enough. As long as I let go of the clone at the right moment, I knew I’d be blown back. I’m sorry if I scared you, sweetheart. Just don’t tell your father about this, will you?”

“I won’t,” Chris promised.

“Neither will I,” Davie added. “But if you ever say another word about me and Sukie and fast cars, I’ll remind you about this. Talk about dangerous sports!”

“At least it’s all over, now,” Susan told him. “The clone is dead. That anti-matter container isn’t connected to your power system. You need to talk to Brenda, though. And hug your children like you haven’t seen them in a week.”

“I will,” he said. “But there’s one more thing to do first. Chris, you take mum back to the hotel and tell them I’ll be along soon. Take the elevator, please.”

Chris laughed at that last comment and did as his brother suggested. He and his mother were both waiting in the Hotel Metro’s rooftop terrace with his own wife and son and his brother’s family when Davie joined them. He was smiling as he kissed Brenda and hugged the twins, but there was a seriousness behind the smile when he sat down at last and was persuaded to take a cup of tea.

“I analysed the anti-matter container. It had traces of crystalline DNA on it.”

“Crystalline DNA?” Chris frowned. He knew of only one species that could leave such evidence of their presence.

“Rutan fingerprints,” Davie added. “THEY created the clone using technology stolen from their enemies, the Sontarans. They intended to turn Earth into a vast anti-matter portal to power their new ships – run on anti-matter, of course. A base for their war against the Sontarans. It’s an old story, just a new twist to it.”

“What’s to stop them coming again?” Brenda asked.

“They’re gone. The fleet was in cloaked mode just outside our solar system. I launched the anti-matter container into their midst, along with a few grains of old fashioned TNT. When it exploded, it created a temporary, localised anti-matter portal – lasting no more than ten seconds – long enough to suck the Rutan fleet into it before it collapsed permanently.”

“So the world is safe, thanks to Davie?” Brenda smiled widely. “I’m sorry for doubting you, my love. I should have known you would never be so cruel to me and the boys.”

“You’re forgiven for your doubts,” Davie assured her. “As long as you’re right by my side in a sensational dress at midnight tonight when my solar power goes online and lights up New York State.”

“In all the right ways,” Susan added remembering that bas-relief that seemed so prophetic of this day. It was very nearly prophetic in a cataclysmic way, but between her two sons and her own small part in the drama, it was all right, now.