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

Chris Campbell looked out of the hoverplane window at the glacier filling the valley below. Fifty miles back it reached the sea where icebergs broke off and drifted out to sea. Another hundred miles and a thousand feet above sea level the glacier was fed by the continuous cycle of ice formation.

He closed his eyes and imagined the great depths of densely packed ice pressing down, gouging the soil and the rock of the valley, turning it into the classic u-shape that he had learnt of long ago in his most basic early geography lessons. This far into the arctic circle, of course, the glacier would never melt and reveal the land beneath. This glacier had already existed for thousands of years and would go on existing for thousands more.

“Stop thinking about ice, its giving me brain freeze,” his brother whispered in his ear. Chris opened his eyes and laughed.

“I didn’t know you were listening,” he answered. “It’s a long time since we shared each other’s thoughts.”

“We’ve been leading separate lives for the past few years. Our families, our ambitions….”

“This is a nice break from all of that.”

“A break from our wives!”

“They’re not interested in us, right now, anyway. Every woman in the family except Sukie and Vicki are going nuts about Jackie’s impending baby.”

They both smiled. It was wonderful news that their extended family were going to be extended a little further. Chris and Davie thought it especially wonderful that they were about to acquire a new uncle or aunt so many years younger than they were. But being away from the fuss for a few days was quite a relief, all the same.

“I must say, I’ve always wanted to visit this place,” Davie said, looking across his brother to the vista of glacial valley and rugged mountain peaks that was the chief topographical feature of the arctic island of Spitsbergen. “They installed my micro-cell solar system two years ago, allowing them to gather enough energy during the summer months to sustain the facility in the dark arctic winter. They’re energy self-sufficient, now.”

“Hence the VIP invitation,” Chris pointed out. “To acknowledge your contribution to the project.”

“I’m not the only one,” Davie answered. He glanced around the hoverplane. A dozen or more VIPs who had excelled in various fields of science were aboard. He recognised Professor Ian Holden, who had made advances in the field of hydroponics, Ailis McManahan, who specialised in developing disease resistant varieties of food crops, Wan Chi, the eminent geneticist, and several others he knew personally from various conferences or whose reputations went before them. He and his brother were very obviously younger than most of these scientific luminaries. He was used to being mildly teased for being a child genius among them. His Gallifreyan DNA worked against him in that regard. He expected to look under thirty for at least another seventy years – which was going to be a long time to be patronised by his peers, but he was getting used to it.

“There it is,” Chris whispered and they both looked towards the neon green patch in the snow field ahead. It was an illuminated art installation that greeted all visitors, whether by air or land to the Svalbard Global Seed Bank. A fraction of the solar energy that Davie’s invention produced went into lighting it up in that beacon-like way.

Only twice since the facility was established in the early twentieth century had those welcoming lights been extinguished. During the Dalek invasion of Earth that their parents remembered only too well, the staff had locked down the facility and prepared to guard it with their lives. Tragically, and ironically, they all died of hunger before the invasion was defeated and they could be relieved.

The second time was the Dominator invasion that was still fresh in living memory, especially for Davie who had been a front line combatant. This second time the facility was locked down with provisions for the personnel to last at least ten years in extended living quarters and they had done so, maintaining a radar screen that made the facility near invisible to the invading aliens until the war was over.

But now there was peace and the original remit to store seeds that could restore the planet's food stocks in the event of disaster continued unabated. In addition to actual seeds, the facility now included genetic samples that could be used to create plants without starting from a seed and other innovations that could be vital to the future of the human race.

And the lights shone out across the snow to welcome the selected visitors on the hover plane that descended vertically onto the frozen landing zone. The passengers donned thermal coats for the short walk to the entrance.

For such an important facility the first impression was not especially spectacular. The only section visible above ground looked like a giant version of a very old fashioned desktop computer stack - an allusion probably only the Campbell brothers would even think of. The steel door that rolled open as the visitors approached was no bigger than an ordinary garage door.

"Good afternoon," said a woman in a smart grey skirt suit bearing a name tag identifying her as Hilde Lansing, Director of Public Relations. "Welcome to Svalbard. Please step inside."

They did so, though if anyone expected it to be warmer in the long passageway cut directly into the mountain, they were quickly disabused.

"The living quarters are much more amenable," Miss Lansing explained as the VIP guests found seats upon an electric 'bus' that would take them on the official tour, starting with the half mile passageway to the vaults.

"You will find all the comforts you expect there, later," she continued. "But this is the main corridor that has existed since the year 2008, designed not for human comfort but for delivery of seed samples directly to the vaults. Only in recent decades has the research aspect of the facility meant a larger staff living here semi-permanently and the building of laboratories and workshops to facilitate their work."

That accounted for the purely functional look of the place. The rock walls still bore the marks of the cutting machinery that created the corridor. Rubber-coated power cables were bunched together in swathes running along the roof. Doors leading off into storerooms and maintenance portals were plain grey steel.

"No expense spared on internal decoration," Chris noted. But why would there be? Aesthetics were not what this place was about. The wonder was in the way an abandoned coal mine had been turned into this subterranean repository for the reserve food crops of the planet.

"Although deep underground," Miss Lansing continued. "The vaults are far above the maximum sea level should the poles melt. They are deep enough to withstand a nuclear blast. The seed bank is impervious to every possible natural or man-made disaster, even those on a planet wide scale."

Chris knew all that already, but hearing it said aloud made him shiver more than the cold. The creation of a repository for any and all types of seed against a future scarcity was a noble idea, but also a frightening one since it envisaged disasters of a global nature that would change the world they lived in.

Chris liked the world as it was. He didn't want it to change in such a catastrophic way.

"I'm with you there, brother," Davie told him mentally. "All my work with solar energy was to make life easier for people on this planet. I don't want to see it all in ruins. Mostly, though, global disasters aren't why this facility is here. It’s for local problems... crops washed away by tsunami in Indonesia, wheat harvests destroyed by summer hail on the prairies of America. They even have a hundred varieties of blight resistant potato. Forty-two of them came from the Irish department of agriculture in a kind of remembrance of the famine that happened there because of potato crop failure."

"You weren't paying attention in history class," Chris told his brother. "The famine wasn't just because of the potato crops failing. It was obstinate laissez-faire policies by well-fed politicians who failed to act to save lives. In any case, there is nowhere on Earth now with such subsistence level farming or reliance on a single food crop for sustenance of a population. We have learnt from the past."

Miss Lansing was saying much the same thing in a less emotive and practiced way as the 'bus' reached the end of the tunnel. The guests walked the last few yards to a security gate that blocked the way to the first of the vaults. When the party was ready the gate was unlocked from within and they stepped forward.

Again, no expense had been spared on decoration. Energy efficient lights were fixed into the rock ceiling high above the endless rows of metal shelves containing hermetically sealed crates kept at a temperature of minus eighteen degrees centigrade and a humidity level of zero. A binary code system was used to index the contents of each crate. As they walked between two rows Miss Lansing demonstrated that crate 1011101 contained five hundred sealed packs of five thousand seeds of the variety of rice called Oryza Longistaminata. She explained that this, and the other two of the original three vaults contained samples of organically grown seeds. Four more vaults contained similar samples of naturally grown seeds, while eight more were dedicated to genetically modified plants such as dwarf species of wheat and barley which grew shorter stems that were less susceptible to being blown over by hurricane winds or flattened by hailstorms.

"This is amazing," Chris admitted. "I knew it was amazing from reading about it, of course, but seeing it for real brings home JUST how amazing it is."

"Utterly amazing," Davie teased him before amusing himself by translating the binary codes in his head. They had moved from the rice to the wheat sections with something like two hundred distinct varieties of that one grain crop. Intellectually he knew why there were so many - to suit different soils and climates, but a little part of him still wondered whether it all tasted the same when the bread was baked.

The tour of the vaults dragged a little. One row of crates was a lot like another. Even the genetic banks with their samples kept in cryogenic chambers were not particularly visually stimulating. Both of the brothers allowed their attention to wander. Chris focussed on his fellow VIP visitors and noted that many of them were starting to think about refreshments and other comforts.

"A dozen PhD's, four Nobel Prizes," Davie remarked. "All thinking about hot coffee and ham sandwiches. There is something profound about the nature of mankind there, but I'm not sure what it is."

But Chris didn't laugh. Something else was distracting him. Davie gently touched his brother's immediate thoughts and was startled by what he saw. He turned his head and looked at the woman in a white lab coat working at a computer bank in the second genetic bank vault.

He recognised her at once. His memory stirred a whole range of emotions from anger to repulsion before he felt Chris respond.

"No, we shouldn't feel that way," his brother said. "Time has passed. We've all moved on. We can forgive her what she did to us and be pleased that she has found a job that utilizes her keen intellect and gives her satisfaction."

"But Zoe Beckett ...." Davie protested. "How did she even GET a job here. She was so mentally unstable...."

"Not officially," Chris reminded his brother. “We never reported her to any authority for kidnapping me and performing illegal cloning experiments using my DNA. She had her memory modified so that she didn't even remember doing those things and we sent her back to her parents. Perhaps she went a different direction with her life... Got it right the second time."

"Well., I hope so," Davie conceded. "But don't you think it’s an odd coincidence that she's here?"

"She had a couple of PhD's herself," Chris recalled. "And this place would always be on the lookout for smart thinkers."

"I guess," Davie decided. "Still.... Let's try not to let her know we're here on this trip. If she is making a new start it would be better for her and for us not to dig up the past. But if there is some Meritocrat mischief going on, we might get to the bottom of it before she realises she's been rumbled."

Chris agreed with the first part. His forgiving nature wanted the misguided woman to have found a better life.

The second part he just hoped wasn’t true.

Presently they were taken to the hospitality suite where coffee and sandwiches waited. They were supplied with an array of brochures about the seed bank's past and present achievements and the prospects for the future.

"The brochures don't tell the whole story."

Chris looked up from an idle perusal of one of the brochures. Zoe Beckett was standing there by the armchair he was sitting in. He quickly looked around to see Davie in animated conversation with the Chinese geneticist and the Irish lady agronomist. He began to reach out to him telepathically but Zoe distracted him as she leaned close and spoke in a low, conspiratorial voice.

"They're doing things in the lower section… things so unethical even I wouldn't do them."

Chris said nothing and he tried to keep his face impassive, but she must have seen a flicker of his eyes.

"I know what you're thinking. I don't blame you. What I did.... You tried to wipe my memory. I suppose it must have been my superior intellect or something, but it all came back to me... Bit by bit at first, like fragments of a nightmare, then in a terrible rush. I felt so ashamed of what I did. I must have been a little crazy to think I could get away with it. But I've tried to make up for it all. I've tried to make something of my life. And I thought I had until I found out what the people here are doing in the sub vaults. That's when I knew I had to show somebody. Its why I added you and your brother to the VIP list. I knew you could help."

"You added us?" It was probably the least important part of what she had said but it was the only part he felt ready to question.

"I hacked into the admin database and amended the list. You two should have been on it anyway. Your brother has done so much for the environment with his clean energy and you are a leading figure in education. But anyway, the important thing was getting you here. I want you to see what I discovered...."

"What HAVE you discovered?"

"It would be easier to SHOW you. Can you come to the hydroponic lab at midnight… both of you?"

"I suppose so... but why? Can't you tell me what this is all about?".

She shook her head nervously, casting about the room as if looking for somebody. Chris looked around to see who might worry her that much. When he looked back she had left his side and was hurrying to the door.

"What was that all about?" Davie asked. "And what happened to not letting her know we're here."

"She already knew we were here," Chris answered. He quickly related all that she had said. Davie listened incredulously

"She faked our invitations? That's a bit of a kick in the teeth. There I was thinking we were here amongst our intellectual peers on merit."

"That's hardly the point," Chris pointed out. "What do you think they're doing here that disgusts even her?"

"Selectively breeding low-brow tabloid readers," Davie suggested. "Who knows. Do you believe her and are we going to meet her at midnight?".

"I suppose we'd better. Otherwise we'll never know what it's all about."

"It could be a trap."

"I can't see how. Besides.... She seemed for real. I think she MIGHT be changed. I think we SHOULD believe her."

"All right. I'll go with your instinct. We'll meet her tonight. But if you're wrong...."

"If I'm wrong you get to cut my hair and put blonde streaks in it like yours," Chris said.


They both tried to put it out of their minds for the rest of the afternoon and evening. After refreshments the VIP’s were treated to an audio-visual presentation about the history of the Svalbard Global Seed Bank and the few other similar installations around the world doing the same good work for the sake of mankind. It was interesting stuff, but the brothers found themselves distracted by their own thoughts and more often each other’s thoughts as they overlapped each other telepathically. The questions rolled around in their minds – is it a trap? Can we trust her? If it is real, then what is it all about? What could possibly be going on in the lower vaults that would compel somebody like Zoë Beckett to bring them here?

They had no answers, and even though the possibility of some kind of trap remained in the forefront of their minds they knew full well that they would be going to the appointed place at midnight.

The Seed Bank was, of course, a place with maximum security installed, but most of it was focussed on the exterior doors. The vaults, once locked for the night, were assumed to be safe.

Even so, Davie looked dubiously at the security cameras placed at regular intervals along the corridors.

“Surely somebody must be wondering why we're on a midnight stroll near the secure vaults?” he remarked. “I'm surprised we haven't been challenged by now.”

“Me, too,” Chris agreed. “Does that make us feel less concerned about a trap or more so?”

Neither were sure of that. But it was too late to turn back. They were outside the hydroponic laboratory. A window overlooked the vast area where plants were grown in water instead of soil under artificial lights that induced photosynthesis.

“That kind of thing has been done since the late twentieth century,” Davie observed. “Though not quite on this scale. But there is nothing sinister about hydroponics. She must just want us to meet here and go on to see something else.”

“Well, it didn't need a superior intellect to work that out.” Zoë’s voice was toned with sarcasm as she stepped from an alcove and approached. “The lowest vaults are out of bounds to all but a few senior technicians. I only found out by chance how to override the security codes.”

“What is this all about, Zoë?” Chris demanded. “What do you want to show me?”

“Just come, quickly,” she replied.

They were obviously getting nothing else from her until they did as she asked. Reluctantly, still aware that there were too many unanswered questions, they followed Zoë into a lift. They noticed immediately that they were on the lowest floor with ordinary button access. Three floors below this one needed keys. Zoë produced one and inserted it in the lowest keyhole.

“You have a key?” Chris queried.

“I made a copy,” she answered.

“Very enterprising of you,” Davie remarked. “Did you disable the security cameras while you were at it?”

“They’re all running a ten minutes loop of empty corridor,” Zoë answered. “Come on! That’s dead easy. A child could set that up.”

“That’s true,” Davie conceded. Chris gave him an odd look. “Well, it is! Granddad used to do it all the time. Anywhere with a central security base can be flummoxed just like that.”

“I’m not quite so into espionage as you and granddad,” Chris admitted. “I did bring the traffic on Magna Visalia to a standstill like the Italian Job once, though. I was so fed up of the pollution and noise, I thought it would be nice to have a peaceful afternoon.”

“You rebel!” Davie responded before the lift door opened on the lowest floor, the one where terrible things were happening according to Zoë.

All humorous thoughts were driven from their minds as they stepped out into the vast chamber carved out of the depths of the mountain. They stared at the rows of coffin shaped chambers that lined the walls and the complicated computer array in the centre.

“Is this what I think it is?” Davie asked as he approached the nearest of the chambers. “They’re experimenting with cryogenic freezing… of human bodies.”

He had heard of the concept, of course. He had encountered races that used the process. In the far future the Human race themselves would wait out global disasters in this long sleep. Davie felt one of The Doctor’s memories stir within him as he looked around at this subterranean experiment.

“But Humans can’t be doing this yet,” he murmured. “They’re nowhere near ready for this sort of thing.”

“Only a part alien would say that,” Zoë told him. “As if you had the right to decide when Human intellect should develop.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Chris protested. “Surely you see that this is wrong…..”

“Some of these chambers are already occupied,” Davie observed, cutting off the philosophical discussion of Human intellectual evolution. “Look at this one.”

Chris looked. Within the opaque Perspex chamber a figure could be made out, standing upright, but in a position of repose with arms crossed over the chest as in death. A binary tag was stamped on the door as with the seed deposits in the upper vaults.

“Andrew MacPherson!” Davie exclaimed as he translated the binary to English. “McPherson the Scottish bio-engineer – the man who developed high yield fruit crops. He’s in there… frozen….”

“He announced that he was taking a year out from his work to hike across the Gobi desert or something.”

“This is Amar Desai, the climatologist,” Davie added. “HE was reported DEAD last month. They said it was a sudden heart attack while travelling to a conference in Scandinavia.”

“You mean, like THIS one?” Chris suggested.

“Yes. Exactly like this. Except….” He translated the next binary label and his blood froze. “Wan Chi….. He was with us this afternoon. How could he be in here?”

“This is what you wanted to show us?” Chris asked Zoë. “They’ve been kidnapping scientists and putting them in cryogenic chambers?

“Not exactly,” Zoë answered. “Come over here.”

She brought them to an empty set of chambers. They looked no different from the first ones they had seen, except….

“No!” Davie exclaimed. He recognised his own name in binary without need of translation. It was written that way on Santuario when he went there to see how the colonists were getting on.

He turned sharply at the sound of footsteps. Miss Lansing and a male technician had already grabbed Chris and pushed him into the chamber with his name on it. Davie tried to resist but he was seized from behind by another pair of heavily built men in technician’s white lab coats. As he struggled against them he felt a sting in his neck and the iciness of a neural inhibitor spreading through his body.

“You… lied to us….” He managed to say before it was fully effective. “You tricked us.”

“And how easy it was,” Zoë answered, leaning close to him. “For superior beings you’re so naïve, so trusting. You really believed I would betray my Meritocrat family in that way?”

“Meritocrat criminals,” he answered. “Kidnapping… all these people… for ransom!”

Around him there was a ripple of cold laughter. Again Zoë bent close to him.

“Such limited imagination. This isn’t about ransom. It’s about the new world where the stupid, ignorant masses will be kept where they belong – as slaves to those of us who deserve to rule over them.”

As every muscle in his body froze and he was unable even to speak, Davie heard the most horrific plan for world domination possible. He had no doubt that it would be possible, and that everyone he and his brother loved would be victims of the horror.

And he was powerless to do anything. He was lifted bodily into the chamber and the door closed on him. Even before the cryogenic gas started pouring in he felt frozen deep in his soul.

Tears of grief and frustration frosted over his eyes as his body shut down entirely.

Against all hope, the next voice he heard was his brother’s. He felt a warm blanket around his shoulders and a cup pressed to his lips that brought the heat of brandy to his throat. He opened his eyes and saw that he was in the hospitality room. It was crowded with people he slowly recognised - the eminent men and women of almost every branch of applied sciences and engineering who had been incarcerated in the cryogenic chambers.

“You’re all free,” he said through chattering teeth. “How?”

“They didn’t freeze me,” Chris explained. “They thought they had, but the same way I dropped my body temperature when I was locked in the glass igloo with Carya, this time I raised it so that the cryogenic gas never got to my body. I created a sort of heat bubble around myself. It was risky. They spent so long getting you in I was worried about suffocating. Luckily Miss Exposition stopped talking to you and got on with putting you in the chamber. Once they were gone I could bust out and start release everyone else.”

“You gave us a bit of trouble, young man,” explained Allis McManahan, who offered him a sandwich assuring him that it would do him good. “Your brother said it was probably the neural inhibitor they stuck you with that slowed down your recovery.”

“Very likely,” Davie considered. “Did I miss much?”

“Only a really impressive counter revolt considering we’re a bunch of eggheads without much brawn between us,” Amar Desai told him. “We have all the staff incarcerated in the spare vault on sub-level 2. Some of them claim they were being coerced by the Meritocrat mob, but that’ll be for the authorities to sort out when they get here.”

“Authorities?” Davie queried. His mind still felt fuzzy. Calling the authorities sounded right. He felt sure there was something he needed to tell them.

“The Norwegian division of U.N.I.T are on their way,” Chris answered him. “They seemed like the best choice for dealing with this lot. They’ll be here in about half an hour. Everyone here has a story to tell about being lured here and either drugged or physically forced into the cryogenic chambers. The evidence is going to put them all in jail for a long time.”

“Ok, good. But... there’s more to this than just kidnapping.”

Davie pressed his hands against his forehead, trying to clear his thoughts. He remembered Zoë laughing at him as the neural inhibitor took hold of him. He remembered her telling him that the plan wasn’t about kidnapping. It was more than that – much more.

“No!” As her terrible words came back to him, he screamed out loud. “No, they have to be stopped. They mean to kill everyone.”

Chris saw Zoë’s exposition in his brother’s head even before he spoke the words out loud. His horror was a step ahead of everyone else within hearing.

“They have planted thermo-neutron bombs at strategic points at both poles,” he explained. “The plan is to cause the ice to start melting. The sea levels will rise. Remember we were told this place is above the level of a polar melt. But elsewhere populations will be decimated. Governments just won’t exist. The Meritocrats intend to wait it out in cryogenic sleep for a couple of decades while all semblance of social order falls apart then emerge to take charge of the depleted Human race and make them slaves of their new order.”

All the scientists had family somewhere in the world who would be victims of that terrible plan. Their reactions were predictable.

“What did they intend to use us for?” Ailis asked. “None of us are Meritocrats.”

“We would be their elite slaves – skilled in areas of science they were lacking. We’d be set to work according to those skills restoring the infrastructure of their new society. They figure we would have no other choice when everything and everyone we care for is gone.”

Again the reaction was predictable.

“It’s not going to happen,” Davie insisted. He shrugged off the blanket and stood up. “My head is clear now. I know what I have to do.”

“You don’t have to do anything,” Chris told him. “U.N.I.T. are on their way. They have people who can deal with the bombs.”

“I’m not going to sit here like a victim. Where is Zoë Beckett?”

“With the other Meritocrats we rounded up.”

“Get her,” Davie commanded. There was a look in his eyes that booked no refusal. Two of the former victims of the Meritocrat plot went to fetch the prisoner. When they returned with her she faced a gauntlet of hate before she was brought in front of Davie.

“I want the co-ordinates of the two devices,” he said to her.

“I don’t know that,” she answered. “And even if I did…. You have not won. When the world drowns we shall have our vengeance.”

“First, drop all the melodramatic nonsense about vengeance. Second, I know you have a photographic memory. If you saw those co-ordinates for a moment they’re lodged in your psychotic mind, and I don’t NEED you to say anything.

With that he grasped her head in his hands. He forced his way telepathically into her mind. He wasn’t gentle. She cried in pain. He was past caring about her welfare. His compassion was spent on the people who would die if the bombs detonated.

He found what he was looking for just as he had guessed and committed the two locations to his own memory.

“Let her go, now!” He felt Chris touch his own mind with all the gentle compassion in his hearts. “You have what you want from her. Anything more is just spite, and that’s not you.”

He let her go. She slid to the floor crying. Her former victims turned from her in disgust. Chris turned from his brother and lifted her to her feet.

“Don’t take me back to the others,” she pleaded. “I’ve betrayed them.”

“Under duress. They can’t possibly blame you….”

“I betrayed the cause. There is no mitigation.”

“You betrayed me. I trusted you despite your past and you played on my forgiveness. If I am lenient to you now will you take advantage again?”

“No. Just don’t put me back with the others, please.”

“All right.” Chris called on two of the women among their group and had them sit with her. She was given food and drink but she could not leave her two watchers.

Chris turned back to speak to his brother.

He was gone.

“Where are you?” Chris asked telepathically. He had reached his brother over time and space before. A mountain wasn’t going to block him.

“I’m in the hoverplane that brought us here. I can reach the north pole bomb in an hour in this. It can do Mach 1, you know. It was flying way slower than that to give us tourists a view of the glacier on the way up.”

“You are flying to the North Pole?” Even for seasoned TARDIS travellers that seemed an amazing feat.

“Its not difficult,” Davie answered. “The first scientifically confirmed attainment of the geographic north pole was in 1926 by an airship called Norge that set off from Svalbard. I’m heading for one of Russia’s drifting ice stations near the pole. That’s where the bomb is.”

“You still didn’t have to do it yourself. The military powers of either Norway, Russia, the USA or Canada could get there just as easily, and some of them would know more about defusing thermo-neutron bombs than you do.”

“I have to do it.”

“It’s because they got you so easily. And because they hurt you more than everyone else. You were the last to recover. You said it yourself. You won’t be a victim. So you have to do something brave and heroic to restore your pride.”

It was a half second before Davie replied.

“You’re right. You can see right through my soul. You’ve found me out. My pride is my Human flaw. But I’m still going to do this. Get in contact with the authorities and make sure they send somebody to the south pole co-ordinate.”

“I will,” Chris promised. “Just… be safe. Don’t blow yourself and the arctic ice sheet up out of pride. I still don’t know what you know about bomb disposal.”

He left it at that. He could have stayed in contact through the whole of Davie’s journey to the pole, but he wasn’t sure he really wanted to be in his brother’s head all of that time. He had some demons to exorcise.

When the hoverplane returned to Svalbard some hours later, U.N.I.T. were in charge. The Meritocrats had been formally arrested and their victims were making their statements. A relief team of technicians with no suspect ideologies were being flown out to take charge of the Seed Bank’s important work.

Chris met his brother with a forgiving hug.

“The bomb is dealt with?”

“Yes. What about the other one?”

Chris laughed softly.

“U.N.I.T. called on their best expert…. Granddad. He went off in his TARDIS and sorted it out. I’m not even going to ask how HE knows how to defuse bombs, but the world is safe. The people we love are alive and well and shopping for baby clothes. By the time U.N.I.T. have put out a cover story for what happened the rest of the population will never know how close they came to annihilation. And that’s how it should be.”

“Just one more loose end then,” Davie said. He caught a strand of his brother’s long hair. “You’re getting a haircut when we get back to London. Maybe it will remind you of YOUR Human flaw – trusting people too readily.”

“Fair enough,” Chris conceded.