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

Christopher de Lœngbærrow had been in his element for the past few days as a politician and a diplomat, negotiating terms between two alien species, the Demonites of the Scarlet Empire and the Boolians of the Cassandra sector and the Earth representatives. It had been decided that Earth would supply rock salt to the Demonites and raw silica to the Boolians. The Demonites who needed salt to live, but were running out of it on their own world, traded a highly protein rich grain called Allum-Corn which could be processed into a variety of tasty foods for the population of Earth. The Boolians were the finest glass-makers in their sector and needed a plentiful supply of good quality silica – or sand as it was commonly known on Earth – in return for which they had an abundance of a substance they called screed, and which humans called iron ore, a substance they needed as much of as possible to make steel for their rebuilding programmes in the wake of the Dominator destruction and for their renewed space programme that would see them beginning to break out of the solar system by the middle of the twenty-third century.

The negotiations had taken place on Santuario, the peaceful sanctuary planet in the asteroid belt with its beautifully appointed conference facilities maintained by the robot caretakers for whom service was a matter of pride.

With the Treaty signed and the two delegations heading home in their respective ships, Christopher happily joined his wife and daughter for a drink in the hospitality room on the top floor of the tower overlooking Welcome Plaza. He sat in a window seat and looked down at the wide public square dotted with pieces of sculpture designed by the very creative Cessalian settlers who had populated the city.

“The Demonites are the oddest looking people I’ve seen for a long time,” Jackie commented, just to make conversation. “I’ve seen the two headed Applans and the four headed Cregans, but no heads at all….” She shook her head as she thought about the nearly squat beings with very short legs, long arms, and faces coming directly out of their chests.

The Boolians were more or less humanoid, except they had horns coming out of the top of their skulls and curling up and around. They looked as if they were each carrying a gnarled tree on their heads.

“I haven’t seen any species that didn’t pass for Human for a long time,” Susan admitted. “I know there are all sorts around. Our own family is Human, Gallifreyan and Tiboran, and Chris’s students include at least four other hybrid species, but none that would raise an eyebrow in the supermarket queue.”

“I wonder how humans would react if they were asked to make room for Boolian and Demonite immigrants on Earth?” Jackie considered. “They’ve come to terms with aliens who look like them since the Naturalisation Bill settled the argument. But what would people say about a Boolian living next door to them?”

In fact, she knew very well what they would say. She had lived in the twentieth century when the colour of skin set people apart. She had heard what people said to Rose when she was dating Mickey Smith. Two centuries later the same prejudices had just moved over to a different set of people.

It would be a long time before skull-trees would be acceptable accessories on planet Earth.

“That’s one reason why Santuario is such a perfect place,” Christopher said. “It provides all the facilities we need for inter-species conferencing without upsetting anyone on Earth. But one day the Human race WILL have to accept that there are other races that look nothing like they do.”

“Not until the generation that faced the Dalek invasion are dead and gone,” Susan commented. “When THAT nightmare has faded into history instead of living memory there might be a chance.”

“You could be right,” Christopher said. “I forgot just how much trouble Earth has had. On Gallifrey we had the Transduction Barrier to protect us. Generations of us had lived in peace and security before the Time War. We had nothing to fear. Humans have suffered so much at the hands of other races.”

“I was lucky,” Jackie commented. “The first alien I ever met was your father. And he sorted out all the really revolting ones like the Slitheen. Then you came along, and aliens didn’t seem such a bad thing to me.”

Christopher smiled at his wife. She was the reason he didn’t FEEL like an alien on planet Earth. She had made it a new home for him, a new life, one that didn’t seem second best to all he had lost on Gallifrey.

He was pulled from his reverie by the arrival of one of the little robots that ran all the facilities on Santuario. They used to be all identical, but Sukie and Vicki had spent some time here and they had named all of them and even assigned genders. Now every robot had a name printed in a suitably robotic font on a plate above their stomach monitors. This one was called Meggie. It flashed a message on its monitor, informing Christopher that there was an unscheduled capsule coming from outside the solar system.

“Unscheduled?” Susan queried. “Surely ANYTHING coming from outside the solar system is unscheduled. We don’t exactly have a traffic control system, yet.”

“That is why Meggie and her friends are concerned. They want me to take a look at the signal and decide if it is hostile.”

The word was perhaps not well chosen. Both women looked worried as he stood and followed the robot to the control centre.

It was true, of course, that Santuario had no defences against attack if anything dangerous did enter the Sol system. The array set up to protect Earth was just outside the moon’s orbit. Santuario depended on its position within the asteroid belt to keep it safe. Any traffic heading towards Earth would be too concerned with navigating the belt to look for viable life within it.

But something was coming towards them, now. He looked at the scanner in the main control room and although navigation was far from his expert subject he could see that the capsule was not headed for Earth. It was on a trajectory that would bring it through the asteroids directly to Santuario.

“What is it?” he asked. The robot operating the scanner – Dougie - beeped and displayed his best guess on his screen. “I will be glad when Davie gets around to fitting you guys with voices. This is a clumsy way of passing on information.” In his silent way Dougie told him the approximate size and shape of the capsule – a rounded cone about three metres long and two metres in diameter at the widest end. The scanners had attempted to measure the mass and weight but they could not confirm either figure. The speed of the object was slowing gradually as it came through the asteroid belt. A revised trajectory indicated that it would soft land in the middle of the city – right in Welcome Plaza – in the next half hour.

Dougie beeped again and a new set of data appeared on his screen. Christopher stared at it. The capsule was sending out an automatic transponder signal.

The transponder code was in Gallifreyan.

“What? This capsule is from… from home?”

His mouth felt strangely dry. Was it really possible - a capsule from Gallifrey, after all this time?

Could it really be true?

Or was it a trap? Was somebody using the Gallifreyan transponder to fool him into thinking it was a friendly ship? Could this be the attack that young Davie had sometimes voiced a fear about when he considered how defenceless Santuario was?

“Sir,” a staccato voice addressed him. The only being in the control room that spoke was the Dalek that his granddaughter had ‘rescued’ from Skaro. It had a name plate, too. Sukie had christened it Dahl.

“Yes,” Christopher answered as the Dalek approached. Its weapons had been replaced by a grip and an interface for connecting to the computers, but it still looked very much like the species that had destroyed Gallifrey and tried more than once to invade Earth. He was uncertain how he felt about it.

“Sir,” Dahl repeated. “It is con…firmed. The cap…sule orig…inat…ed on Gall…if…rey, the Time Lord plan…et. It is trans…mmit…ing inter….gal..actic sig…nal of peace.”

“Very well,” Christopher answered. “I will meet it peacefully. I have no choice. May I suggest… if there are survivors of the Time War aboard… it would be best if you keep a low profile. They might be upset to see you here.”

“I under…stand,” Dahl said. The voice actually sounded a little disappointed. Christopher felt bad about that. It was true that the Dalek, quite possibly the last of its kind, had behaved impeccably since it came as a refugee to Santuario. It worked alongside the robots in the control centre and was accepted by them as part of their team.

But even he, who had never even seen another Dalek at close quarters, felt a chill when he thought about the evil they had done across the galaxies and he couldn’t quite say that he shared his granddaughter’s feelings about this one.

He looked at the scanner again and a robot called Donny confirmed that Welcome Plaza was the landing zone for the incoming capsule.

“All right,” he said. “I’ll go to meet it.”

If there were unfriendly aliens aboard what seemed to be a peaceful Gallifreyan ship, then standing there on the plaza, waiting for them to emerge, was dangerous. But he had no choice. As a diplomat, as the only Time Lord currently on the planet, it was his duty.

He stepped out onto Welcome Plaza. As usual there were groups of Cessalians sitting by the fountain or among the sculptures, reciting poetry to each other or painting landscapes out of their own imaginations. He knew he ought to order them to get inside and find a place to hide until he was sure it was safe. But if it turned out to be all right he would only be frightening them for no reason.

“Father….” Susan ran to his side. Jackie stepped off the lift inside the tower and came to join him. “Is it true? There is a capsule coming from Gallifrey?”

“I don’t know for sure. You should both go back inside. It might be anything….”

“If it’s from Gallifrey… it might be… friends of ours,” Susan argued. She grasped his hand in hers. Her dark eyes pleaded with him silently. She had been away from home for a long time, too. There were more Time Lords on Earth now than there used to be, but only because her sons and his father had helped to train a new group of them and take them through transcension. To meet some of their own kind, people who were part of the society they knew, would be more than they ever hoped for.

“Even if it is from Gallifrey it might not be friends,” Christopher reminded her. “There were traitors among our own kind, too. Even in the peaceful times. Who knows what cowards may have taken their chances in the confusion of those last days. These might be Renegades, criminals.”

“How come it’s taken so long to get here?” Jackie asked. “I mean, the Time War was ages ago. Your dad talks about it as something that happened way before we met him on Earth.”

“Gallifrey was always outside of ordinary universal time. The Time War destroyed causality in the Kasterborus sector. A ship could have been thrown out of its proper timeline.”

Jackie didn’t understand. Susan wasn’t sure she did, either. But they both trusted that Christopher knew what he was saying. They understood his caution, too, but neither left his side as they waited for the capsule to land.

It did so surprisingly quietly. There wasn’t even the sort of sound that came with the TARDIS landing. The capsule simply glided down through the air and came to a halt with its nose pointing upwards. It was a bronze colour, tarnished and scratched by solar winds and space dust, but otherwise in good condition. It was hexagonal, the sacred shape of Gallifrey. There was no obvious door, but even Jackie wasn’t surprised by that.

“It’s a Celestial Intervention Agency capsule,” Christopher said. “They use them for covert missions or sometimes for transporting prisoners.”

That knowledge made him wary. He had no idea what to expect. A group of Gallifreyan criminals would certainly be a disappointment. Like Susan he had hoped to meet friends, not the worst of their society.

He was ready for just about anything when the near invisible door slid open.

He wasn’t ready for a dozen children who spilled out and ran to the fountain in the centre of the Plaza exclaiming joyfully at the sight of clear water tumbling freely.

Susan and Jackie both turned to look at them. They seemed to be all right. The Cessalians were talking to them. There was nobody safer than a Cessalian.

“Wait there for a minute,” Christopher said as he stepped aboard the capsule. The children didn’t look as if they were running away from anything. Rather they were running to the open air and the fountain. They weren’t afraid of what was aboard the ship.

Inside the capsule were dozens more children who looked nervously at him. He looked back at them curiously.

“Where are you all from?” he asked. “Who are you?”

“Athenica,” replied one of the boys timidly. Christopher was surprised. Athenica was the second city of Gallifrey, on the southern continent. He hadn’t heard the name for so very long, and to hear it from the lips of a child was surprising.

“You’re Gallifreyan? All of you?”

“They are,” said an adult voice. Christopher looked around at the man who stood by the one man drive controls of the capsule. “We have been travelling for months, trying to find our way to the Sanctuary planet. When I found the signal, so very far from where I expected it to be, I was hopeful.”

“This IS the Sanctuary planet,” Christopher answered. He looked at the man. He was tall, dark haired with brown eyes and a pale complexion. There was something familiar about him, but his name remained elusive, and he couldn’t read his Time Lord ident – the psychic marker they all had that allowed them to know each other no matter how often they regenerated.

“There are three hundred and fifty children,” the man added. “They are weary of these walls and anxious to follow those impatient ones who ran out of the door. May I allow them to disembark?”

“Yes, of course,” Christopher answered. “I will see that they are given food and drink.” He stepped outside and signalled to one of the robots. This one was called Karrie and came at his command, zipping away again to convey his order for large scale refreshments. Meanwhile the children filed out of the ship and into the fresh, sweet air of the plaza. Soon all of the fountains were ringed by children. Every bench was occupied. The Cessalians gave up their seats to them. Others sat on the cool flagstones while cartons of drink and biscuits were distributed by a small army of robots.

Jackie and Susan picked their way through the children and into the now empty control room. They noted that it was something like a stripped down TARDIS without the usual comforts of long distance travel and a much more simplified drive console.

“Oh….” Susan approached the man hopefully. “Oh, I know you. Yes, I do. It’s… Garrick… surely you are my Uncle Garrick. I remember you… when I was a little girl. My grandfather….”

“Garrick?” Jackie was surprised. Her own son was named after The Doctor’s half-brother, Christopher’s uncle, presumed dead in the Time War. “You mean….”

“I suppose he could be,” Christopher conceded. “But why can’t I feel anything? I can’t read his ident or….”

He stepped closer. So did Susan. The man who might have been her next closest relative to her father and grandfather reached out and touched her hand.

“Susan? My great niece, Susan? The last time any of us saw you, you were only five years old, an infant.”

“Yes,” Susan answered. “Yes, that’s right. I remember. I remember… you and grandfather argued. I don’t think you meant to. The day started out well. You pushed me on my swing in the garden. You and grandfather tried to be nice to each other. But then you argued. After you had gone, he cried. You probably didn’t know that. He….”

She stopped and drew away from him, her eyes filled with grief.

“It’s not him,” she said. “It’s just a hard light hologram. I thought it was real. But he must be dead, after all.”

Christopher reached out and touched Garrick’s arm. It did feel very real. But just below the sleeve of his robe was the tell tale bracelet, the hard-light receiver that made the hologram take on a near corporeal form. He would have been able to pilot the ship indefinitely, never needing sleep or food. He would have as much of Garrick’s memories and personalities as the hard light module needed to produce a convincing likeness.

“I have ALL of Garrick de Lœngbærrow’s personality and memories,” the hologram said as if it had read his mind. “He downloaded everything to the module before I left. I know you both. Susan and… Christopher, my nephew, my brother’s son and heir. Rassilon’s Grace. We thought you dead for all these years, and yet you are alive and we… we are dead.”

“I was lost,” Christopher said. “My father found me.”

“Your father… my brother…. He is alive?”

“Yes, he is. He talks of you often. He would be so very glad that you….”

“No, he wouldn’t.” Susan pressed her hand over his. “Father, this is NOT Uncle Garrick. Remember that. He’s dead.”

“I do know that,” he assured his daughter. “All the same, I need to talk to him, to find out exactly what happened. Can you and Jackie sort out the children. It will be night here on Santuario soon. They will need a proper meal and somewhere to sleep. I know three hundred and fifty of them are a lot, but I trust you.”

“We’ll do what we can,” Susan promised. She and Jackie turned away and left the capsule. Christopher looked around and then sat down on a wide padded seat near the console.

“I know you don’t need to sit, but please do. It will feel… right.”

Garrick sat. Christopher felt he should call him that, in his own mind, as well as when addressing him. That felt right, too.

“Everyone on Gallifrey IS dead,” he said. “We’ve known that for a long time. We thought nobody else got off the planet alive.”

“After my brother left with the Omega Weapon, The President ordered the evacuation of the women and children – the Academies, too, along with their teachers. As many as forty capsules managed to get away before it was too late. This was the last. I brought as many of the children from the southern continent as possible. They are the children of the Oldbloods and Newbloods, and Caretakers from the mining settlements, too. All that we could find, and whose parents would let them go. Some were reluctant.”

“Your own children,” Christopher prompted. “I mean… Garrick’s own children.”

“They’re here. Their mother was in command of the second last ship. She took all of the pregnant women and those with small babies. Garrick knew he couldn’t follow. He knew his job would keep him there until the last moment. He fully expected to die. That is why he placed all that he was within the hard light. I was… to do what I could… until the children were reunited with their mother, at least. I have done my duty to him… and to all of them.”

“No,” Christopher groaned sadly. “No, I’m afraid not. This is the ONLY capsule that has ever reached Santuario. Forty ships…. So many of our people who might be alive….”

He had come to terms with them all being dead. Now there were three hundred and fifty children found alive, including some he had a blood relationship with. That was a reason to rejoice. But the possibility that so many others had been lost in the other ships that left Gallifrey before this one re-opened the deepest wounds in his hearts.

Garrick was visibly upset by the news, too. Christopher was surprised. He never expected that much emotional response from a hologram. Just HOW much of himself did his uncle put into the hard light module?

“I am sorry,” he said. “I truly am. The loss cuts deeply within my soul.”

He spoke as a Gallifreyan, in very formal terms. But the proof of his grief was in his eyes. Tears inherited from his Human mother pricked them. Garrick saw that and nodded. He reached out and brushed Christopher’s cheek.

“Just like your father, of course.”

“That… is the greatest compliment any man could give to me,” Christopher said. “My father is a great man and a great Time Lord.”

“I know,” Garrick answered. “It was meant as a compliment. For all the times we were at odds with each other, I never felt anything less than pride in my brother. He IS a great man.”

Garrick was happy to talk about The Doctor, and if Christopher had any doubts about how much of his memories were in the hologram programme, they were easily dispelled as he recalled happier times when the younger of the brothers had aspired to emulate the elder. He steered clear of the issues that had driven a wedge between them in later times.

“You seemed so happy, then,” Christopher commented. “Why were you at such odds later? I have never understood. My father never told me why.”

He WAS still talking to the hologram, but it held the answer to questions that still haunted his father, the more so because they were unresolved. The death of his brother along with everybody else meant that they could never forgive each other, never make amends.

The hologram looked at him for a long time, as if he was considering whether to answer the question. It was, after all, mainly between Garrick and his brother. Perhaps it was a confidence too many.

“Father….” Susan came to the door. “Davie is on his way. Santuario has always been his special charge. When he heard what had happened here….”

“Yes, that is good. I can talk to him about the children. Susan, come here. Come and sit with him. You must have so much you want to talk about, too?”

“There is a lot I would like to talk to my uncle about,” she answered. “But this is… just a hologram. It’s not really him.”

“Susan,” Christopher quietly urged. “Please come and talk to him. Don’t think of him as a hologram. Think of him as Garrick. He has all of his memories, all that is him.”

Susan stepped closer. The uncertainty was in her eyes, but she took her father’s place on the seat next to the hologram of her uncle.

Christopher stepped outside. The plaza was quiet again, now. The sun was going down and the Santurian dusk drawing in. He hadn’t realised just how long he had been talking to the hologram of his uncle. He needed those reminiscences more than he realised.

Three children were still sitting on a bench along with Jackie. As he approached he knew their faces all too well. The boy was the image of his father at the age of fifteen. The two little girls took after their mother, a daughter of the House of Ussian with characteristic fair hair, blue eyes and near translucent skin like a pair of china dolls.

“They don’t want to go to bed in the habitat with the others,” Jackie explained. “They want to stay in the capsule with their dad.”

Christopher was puzzled. Didn’t the children KNOW that it was a hologram of their father? Surely Garrick hadn’t deceived them in that way.

“They know that he isn’t… really...” Jackie explained. “But they’ve been travelling with him for a month and I suppose they feel… you know.”

“Yes, I think I do,” Christopher answered. He bent and picked up the youngest of the girls. “What’s your name, little one?”

“Vera,” she replied.

“I’m Christopher,” he told her. “I’m your cousin. Your father and mine are brothers. I have a little boy the same age as you. He’s named after your papa.”

Vera smiled sweetly at him and hugged him around the neck. He held the child tightly and wondered if a stranger who had just told them of his familial connection could comfort them when they found out that their mother was lost and their father long dead back on Gallifrey. It was going to be hard for them all, for the little girls and for the boy who was approaching the age when he needed his father’s advice and counsel.

“I’m called Garrick, too,” the boy said.

“Of course, you are,” Christopher told him. “It is tradition on Gallifrey to name an eldest son after his father. We broke with tradition because my daughter already had a son called Chris.”

“It’s going to get confusing with three of them around,” Jackie commented.

“Tw….” Christopher was on the point of correcting her, but that would have been cruel to the children.

“We ARE going to look after them, aren’t we?” Jackie continued. “I mean, until their mother arrives. You are their nearest relative, and there is plenty of room at home. The little ones will be playmates for Rose’s children and Garrick… this Garrick… Chris will probably take him under his wing and start training him as a Time Lord.”

Christopher was surprised. He hadn’t even thought beyond sleeping and feeding arrangements for this first night. But, of course, something permanent would have to be done. All of the children were orphans. They would need to be looked after. The Gallifreyan community scattered around the British Isles would surely rise to the occasion. There would be families happy to take in the youngsters. The older ones could well find a home within Chris’s Sanctuary community. It could be done.

And, yes, his uncle’s children would have a home with him for as long as they needed it. There was no question about that.

The sound of the Chinese TARDIS materialising broke into the plans that were racing through his head, now. It parked next to the capsule and a few minutes later Davie stepped out, accompanied by The Doctor. Christopher wondered if his presence made things harder or easier. He was going to have to break some difficult news to him.

Then Susan ran out of the capsule and hugged her grandfather around the neck. Large tears were pouring down her face. Susan had never spent enough time among Time Lords to fully grasp the notion of stoicism. She wore her hearts on her sleeves at all times.

“You’re here,” she cried. “Thank goodness. It’s not too late. Grandfather, you have to go in there, right now. Talk to him… before… before….”

The Doctor was puzzled, but he did as she suggested. Susan came to join the others sitting by the fountain that was now uplit with soft lights as the stars came out in the night sky.

“He’s dying,” she said. “I’m so sorry, children. I really am. The capsule was only programmed to bring everyone here to Santuario. The power source was set to burn out once it arrived. The danger of hostile agents getting hold of the technology was too great.”

“They never considered the possibility of friendly agents waiting at the other end?” Davie Campbell asked. “I could have used the technology in my TARDIS building programme.”

“That’s not the point,” Susan told him. “The point is that the hologram draws its power from the capsule, too. He will die as soon as his reserve power is gone.”

Christopher noted that Susan called the hologram Garrick ‘he’. She had been the most insistent that it wasn’t her real uncle, but she, too, had seen that everything he was, all but the flesh and blood body, was there, and now she understood how devastating a blow it would be for them all when the hologram programme was gone.

“Papa!” Vera and her sister Cassia were full blooded Gallifreyan. They had no tear ducts. But their grief was clear. The boy, too, was devastated. The hologram was their father as far as they were concerned. They had accepted him as such.

“He thought his work would be done when he got here,” Susan continued. “He thought that he would be bringing the children to their mother. They would grieve their father, but they would have her.”

“Oh, no,” Jackie murmured. She reached out to the two girls and offered all she could in the way of parental solace to them. “Oh, I am so sorry.”

“We should… let them say goodbye,” Christopher suggested, then wondered if that was a good idea, either. For all of his skills as a diplomat and a politician, he was at a loss in this crisis.

“The hell with that,” Davie said. He turned and strode off towards the capsule. Christopher looked at his wife and daughter with the three children and then followed him.

At any other time the design of the ship that had made the journey from Gallifrey through all the fluxes of causality that the Time War had inflicted would have fascinated Davie Campbell, but right now he was aware only of the burning emotions that overwhelmed his telepathic senses as he crossed the threshold into the dim light of a fast fading reserve power. The Doctor was crying openly, something he had only seen a few times in his life. Beside him, the hologram of his half-brother was flickering and fluctuating badly, becoming transparent and losing the corporeal consistency it had maintained until now.

“Granddad, help me,” Davie said. “You’ve got your sonic screwdriver with you, haven’t you? You never leave home without it, any more than I do.”

“Yes,” he answered. “But a sonic screwdriver can’t power a failing hard-light hologram. Nothing can.”

“The sonic can hold the charge for ten minutes while I transfer the power source to the Santuario mainframe. It’s Time Lord technology, remember. It can maintain the hard light indefinitely. You take care of it while I do the programming.”

“Why didn’t I think of that?” The Doctor asked.

Christopher knew why. His father was so emotionally charged up that he wasn’t thinking straight. He had come to terms with losing his brother long ago, only to be given this one brief time to say all that had to be said, before losing him all over again.

It was exactly how he had felt, but a hundred times worse because The Doctor still had so much left undone with his brother.

“I’m smarter than you,” Davie replied with a characteristic grin. “You taught me everything you know, Granddad, and then I learnt new stuff on top of it. So… come on, let’s do this.” He looked at the flickering hologram and aimed his own sonic at it. The figure solidified but it wouldn’t last long. “You understand there is a risk - we might lose you. We’re going to do our damndest not to, but there is a possibility.”

“I understand. If it doesn’t work, tell the… tell my children… tell them that I….”

Christopher shook his head in wonder. The hologram was displaying emotional responses. It shouldn’t have been possible, especially not from a Gallifreyan hologram. If any race was going to design computer generated simulacrums of themselves with all the intellect, all the memories, but none of the emotions, it would be the Time Lords. But the evidence to the contrary was in front of them all.

“You can tell them yourself, later,” The Doctor told him. “This is my great-grandson, a real chip of the family block, and he knocks spots of both of us for cleverness. He can do it.”

Garrick smiled, but that was almost too much for the hard light. It was failing rapidly. The Doctor adjusted his sonic screwdriver and aimed it at the metal band. The hologram shimmered and faded. The band fell to the floor with a clatter. Davie picked it up and held it carefully.

“Have we done it right?” The Doctor asked. “I feel as if… I might have killed him.”

“No, you haven’t,” Davie said. “Not as long as that little red light keeps blinking on your sonic.”

The Doctor looked at the little red light as if he had never seen it before, then he and Christopher both followed Davie out of the dying capsule and into the Chinese TARDIS. Davie set the co-ordinate for the central control room. Ten minutes was just barely long enough. They needed to take every short cut they could.

The arrival of the TARDIS caused a stir among the robot population who regarded Davie as their leader, the de facto governor of Santuario and the greatest of all Time Lords. He did his best to live up to their faith in him.

“May I be of ser…vice?” Dahl asked. The Doctor glanced at him and shook his head.

“It’s ok, sunshine,” he said. “We’ll manage without you this time.”

He didn’t mean to dismiss the Dalek. It was difficult to remember it was an ally with the weight of so much experience against it, but he usually managed it whenever he visited Santuario. Davie didn’t waste any time talking to anyone. He got straight down to programming a computer interface with the hard light module.

He was working fast, so fast his hands were a blur on the keyboard. The computer was Gallifreyan and was built to take that kind of pace. Even so, it needed a lot of work to persuade the central computer to accept the new programme. Time was counting down.

The red light was still blinking, but it was doing so less frequently. When it became steady, it would be like an organic body flatlining. The data would be lost. It would be over.

“Damn, this is harder than I thought it would be,” Davie admitted. “WHY in the name of Chaos did Time Lord technicians put such vital data on a module with no permanent save mechanism? Sukie doesn’t even do her homework on something that doesn’t have a hard drive.”

He knew why, of course. A hard light module with the whole knowledge of a Time Lord on it was as dangerous in enemy hands as any other technology, and when Garrick put himself into the hologram his people were at war with the most deadly enemy the universe had ever known. He couldn’t risk becoming a tool of destruction for that universe.

And Davie was struggling with the fact that the hard light was a piece of state of the art technology just before the end of Gallifrey and the central console here on Santuario was developed about a thousand years before that. There was a measure of incompatibility that made it just that much harder.

“Sir,” Dahl spoke up again as the time ticked by and the red light blinked more and more infrequently. “I can be of assistance.”

He moved towards The Doctor, who resisted the urge to back away. His interface reached out towards the sonic screwdriver and connected. A blue glow surrounded the tip of the sonic and he felt the transfer of power in his arm as he tried to hold it steady. The light blinked rapidly again.

“I don’t believe that,” Davie commented. “I’m having trouble interfacing two pieces of Time Lord technology, but a Dalek was able to connect to the sonic screwdriver?”

“My sonic isn’t Time Lord technology,” The Doctor pointed out. “I bought it from the factory at Villengarde. Maybe Davros got his spare parts from the same place when he built the prototype Daleks.”

Davie considered that possibility than turned his attention back to his work. For whatever reason he had been given more time – a lifeline for the sum of all that was Garrick de Lœngbærrow. He overcame the incompatibility problem that was getting in his way. It was something surprisingly small and simple but he couldn’t have done it within the ten minute deadline.

At last he gave a satisfied whoop. The hard light band glowed as it interfaced with the control centre and drew power from the fraction of the Eye of Harmony deep below this room that provided everlasting energy to Santuario. When the glow faded, he picked it up and placed it on the ground. Then he took The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver and pressed it against the band. There was a brief crackling sound and then the hologram of Garrick de Lœngbærrow expanded and solidified with the band on his wrist as before.

“Are you… ok?” The Doctor asked him.

“Ok?” Garrick looked puzzled. “Oh… I had forgotten about your use of Human colloquialisms. Father was always telling you not to do that. It ill befits a Time Lord of your stature.”

“Yes, he used to tell me that all the time,” The Doctor agreed. He laughed softly and reached out to hug his brother. “So much lost time,” he said. “I’m sorry for that. And for so many other things I could have done something about and didn’t. I am so very sorry.”

“You’ve got all the time you need, now,” Davie told them. “The hard light module is keyed to this computer, now. It will draw energy from it anywhere within the city. Take him out to the plaza to see the kids. Maybe they’ll go to bed if he promises to tuck them in.”

“He can live here… on this planet… within the city?” Christopher asked. “But nowhere else?”

“It’s a big city – a Time Lord city at that. He should be ok.”

“You seem to use the Human colloquialisms a great deal, too,” Garrick told Davie.

“I am part Human,” he answered. “I’m allowed. But what do you think? There’s plenty of work to do here. I’m supposed to be in charge, but I have so much going on in my life, I could use a deputy-Governor looking after the population. I think the kids would be happy enough living here. And you can send out as many signals as possible, to direct those other ships here. There’s every reason to hope about that.”

“Jackie will be disappointed,” Christopher said. “I think she wanted to adopt the little girls. But we can visit. I know my Garrick would love to meet the man he was named after.”

“We’ll all visit,” The Doctor said. “There’s still a lot to talk about.”

“And we have all the time to do it in,” Garrick admitted.

“Thanks to a Dalek,” Christopher added wryly.

“I think we just redefined irony,” Davie said.