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

The source of the expert opinion took everyone by surprise.

“Jack!” Rose exclaimed as a grinning face appeared on the TARDIS’ communication monitor. Since moving to Boeshane to be near his mother he kept in touch like most people living far off – at Christmas and birthdays. He had his own life to get on with.

He was the last person she expected The Doctor to contact for ‘expert opinion’.

“So… what do I owe this pleasure?” he asked once the greetings were done with. His tone implied that he expected anything BUT pleasure from this unscheduled communication.

“Dane Kodyn,” The Doctor answered, idly holding the time agent’s ID badge between his fingers. He had been hoping Jack knew the name, might even have known him.

He wasn’t expecting the stricken expression, the suddenly pale features, the beads of sweat on his brow, obvious even across time and space.

“He’s dead,” Jack said in a dull tone.

“Yes… we know. We were there,” Jackie commented before The Doctor could signal to everyone not to reveal any part of their involvement.

‘You… were?” Jack looked even more disconcerted than before. In fact, Rose thought, she had never seen him that worried, not even in the London Blitz where she and The Doctor had first met him, or in the middle of their battle with the Daleks, or any other time when they had all faced peril together.

“Yes….” He said after a long pause. “Yes…. I think you were there. I didn’t know…..”

“Jack… time for the truth,” The Doctor said.

“This was before I knew you… before London in 1941. Before everything. I was one of the Time Agency’s golden boys. So, when one of their guys went rogue, they sent me after him. To bring him back to the twenty-first century.”

“Dane Kodyn was the rogue?”

“Yes,” Jack answered.

“Wait….” Jackie and Rose both looked at him accusingly. “YOU were the one fighting with him at Notre Dame. YOU….”

“I didn’t kill him,” Jack protested, and even over light years of space and centuries of time his anguish was, again, evident. “I mean… not deliberately. We were fighting pretty hard. Neither of us was really thinking about where we were or how dangerous it was. He went backwards over the side. I tried to grab him. The only thing I got was his vortex manipulator. It was all I had to prove he was dead when I reported back. But… Rose… Jackie…. Yeah… I didn’t know you then, or The Doctor. You were just faces looking up in horror…. But you saw everything. You MUST have seen that I didn’t push him.”

Rose and Jackie looked at each other and carefully replayed the scene that took place only yesterday morning in their personal body clocks.

“Yes… I suppose….” Slowly they came around to a conclusion. “Yes… it might have been that way.”

Jack looked partially relieved. Jackie and Rose both believed him, and as he recalled the affair, they were the closest witnesses to it all.

“I never even put two and two together,” he said. “Even after I met you all. It was already a long time back for me. I’d left the Agency… gone even more rogue than Kodyn…. After all I was only in it for myself. He had a bigger aim.”

“Which was WHAT?” Christopher asked. “Why was your agent running around twenty-first century France?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Jack answered. “His death closed the case. It was over. You don’t need to know any more.”

“Yes, we do.” All four spoke at once before The Doctor took the lead.

“Yes, we do, because we found the ‘clue’ he was following and we’ve continued his quest.”

“Oh…. #*&@#$£!” The word Jack used was one spoken by space pilots in disreputable weigh-stations on the far side of the galaxy and was really only meaningful to species with more than two legs. But it sounded rude, anyway, and Jackie was the first to rebuke him.

“We’re in the TARDIS. We know alien swear words,” she reminded him.

“Yeah, sorry. But, honestly, Doctor… give this up. It’s a really bad idea. My bosses thought so. That’s why they sent me to stop Kodyn. Don’t get involved. Please.”

“Sorry, Jack, but we already ARE involved,” The Doctor said. “We’re going to follow it through. Nothing you can say will change that.”

“I think it could….” Jack answered. “But… I’m not even sure I SHOULD tell you. It’s too big… even for you.”

”Oh, please don’t tell me it’s the Holy Grail,” Rose said.

“Better not be,” Jackie added. “Remember what I said about the bloody Da Vinci Code?”

“It’s… bigger than the Holy Grail,” Jack said. “Please… give it up.”

“No,” The Doctor answered. “Sorry, Jack, but without more information from you… without a much better reason than you’ve given us, we’re going ahead. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about Dane Kodyn’s killer coming after us, and it’s probably high time you got all that off your chest. But we’re going on with the quest.”

He said a few more words to Jack, then closed the transmission. He turned to see his son, wife and daughter\mother-in-law looking at him apprehensively.

“Are you sure he wasn’t right?” Christopher asked. “What if this is something best left alone?”

“You’re not right about everything,” Rose told him. “But… neither is Jack.”

“Bigger than the Holy Grail?” Jackie mused. “What COULD be bigger than that? That sounds scary.”

“You’re not scared of scary, Jackie,” The Doctor told her. “None of you are.”

He looked at each one of them in turn. It was a test, in a way. Who did they trust more – him or Jack? Rose had faced it before, right back with the gas mask zombies in the Blitz. Jack’s charm had almost swayed her more than once.

But in the end she had trusted The Doctor.

Jackie had always been faintly suspicious of The Doctor, the MUCH older man who had seduced her daughter in more ways than one. But even in those first days, with the Slitheen and policemen who weren’t policemen and dangers she had hardly comprehended, she had somehow trusted The Doctor.

Christopher had never had reason to doubt his own father, but Jack Harkness had never been THAT desperate to dissuade him from anything. He wasn’t as certain as he ought to be.

“If we don’t go on, we’ll never know,” The Doctor pointed out.

Funnily enough that seemed to be the argument that won through. Christopher decoded and translated the next clue and they set off to the next location.

The Metropolitan Cathedral–Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia, La Iglesia Catedral-Basílica Metropolitana de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora de Valencia in Spanish or Església Catedral-Basílica Metropolitana de l'Assumpció de la Mare de Déu de Valencia in the local Valencian or Valencia Cathedral to anyone in a hurry didn’t look like it fitted with the gothic theme they had become accustomed to in the past days. The official guidebook explained that the original thirteenth century basilica had been added to over the centuries in early Romanesque, Valencian Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical styles.

“It’s nice that Valencia has its own unique culture, language and history,” Rose admitted. “It separates it from the Spain everyone from the Powell Estate thinks of – beaches, hotels and way too much drink. But… we’re already in cultural overload. I’m not sure I can take in what makes Valencian gothic different from other gothic. Let alone the rest of it.”

“Never mind,” The Doctor told her. “You’ll have enough to contend with when we get behind a queue of people wanting to see the Holy Grail.”

Rose was momentarily worried, but Jackie punched him on the arm and scolded him.

“I’ve seen that on one of those programmes about conspiracy theories. It’s not THE actual grail. It’s a really fancy chalice that some people THINK is the grail.”

“Besides, we’re looking for something BIGGER than the Holy Grail,” Rose added.

They couldn’t miss the Valencia Chalice, because the clue led them to the Fourteenth century Chapter House, in the original gothic style, which had been, since the early twentieth century, the Chapel of the Holy Chalice, where the purported grail was kept on proud display.

That meant that they were thoroughly hemmed in by the pilgrims who came to see the chalice, many of them saying prayers, reciting rosaries and displaying absolute belief in the chalice as the one true Grail.

“It can’t be,” Jackie murmured. “But all these people believe so strongly in it. I don’t know whether to admire them for their… you know… their faith… or think they’re all mad and delusional.”

“Jack told me once that there is no religion in the fifty-first century,” Rose said. “Only a few ‘cranks’ in little communities here and there that most people laugh at. Otherwise, nobody believes in anything, and all the old churches and cathedrals, temples, mosques, are museums just for tourists.”

“Well… I suppose…. It must be more peaceful when people don’t kill each other over religion?” Jackie mused. “But… I don’t know… I never really…. Losing Pete, bringing you up on my own… it never felt like any God was looking down on me. The only people who ever tried to talk to me about it were Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons and they were just a nuisance coming to the door. But a world where nobody believes in anything….”

“Yeah… it’s a strange idea,” Rose agreed. “As if life would be somehow emptier. Maybe that’s why Jack is the way he is.” She thought about that for a bit, then shrugged. “No, I don’t think Jack can use his environment as an excuse. He’d be the same anywhere.”

She turned her attention to The Doctor and Christopher. Both were looking up intently at the ceiling. It was well worth looking at, of course, with an elaborate eight pointed star reaching out from the centre to eight corners of the octagonal room. She couldn’t quite work out what the lines making up the star were made of. They might have been light brown pieces of Lego, but she rather doubted it. In the centre was what she thought might be called a ‘medallion’ in terms of architectural decoration. Anyway, it was a round painting in surprisingly vivid colours, of two people with halos around their heads. She couldn’t see for certain who they were – Jesus, Mary, just about anyone from the Bible, but somebody back in the fourteenth century, before the invention of binoculars, had gone into exquisite detail over something almost impossible to see clearly.

She knew that The Doctor and Christopher both had Time Lord tricks to get around that and guessed that they had found something.

“Ceilings again?” she queried. “Is our man running out of ideas?”

“Very tiny lettering around the central feature,” Christopher explained. “Nobody who wasn’t on this quest would have known they were there or what they meant.”

“Had to be the ceiling,” The Doctor added. “It is the only bit of the interior that hasn’t been titivated up when they installed the chalice in here. Even the floor has been redone to allow for all the feet trotting over it.”

“But we’ve got the clue, now?”

“We have.”

“So, off to another exotic destination? We’re really getting around. France, Italy, Spain. Mind you, we don’t get much time to see anything other than the places with the clues.”

“Yes, I know. It’s a real whirlwind tour,” The Doctor admitted. “Would you and your mum like to hit the beaches for a bit. That’s where the non-religious tourists generally go in Valencia. There’s a ‘beach bar scene’ that’s quite popular.”

Once, a long time ago, it seemed, though not really, both Jackie and Rose would have jumped at the kind of sunshine and sangria holiday that Spain was notorious for. But somehow, that just didn’t seem interesting to either of them any more. She wondered sometimes if they were becoming culture snobs or something, but if so, they couldn’t help it. Neither of them were the same people they were back on the Powell Estate, and for the most part they considered that a good thing.

“I can’t wait to find out where we’re going next,” she conceded. “Though I suppose we could decipher the clue over a drink in a nice, sunny, beachside café.”

The few hours they spent in Valencia’s tourist sunspot were appreciated retrospectively when they arrived at the next destination and it was raining hard from a grey, sullen sky.

“Wells Cathedral,” Jackie said in a disparaging tone. “Bit of a come down after those fantastic European places.”

“Well, not really,” Rose considered. “It’s definitely gothic like the other places, and impressive apart from the rain. And the clue says we want the Lady Chapel. That’s indoors, at least.”

Even on a grey, rainy day the five tall, wide, gothic stained-glass windows of the Lady Chapel let in a kaleidoscope of light and it was impossible not to stand and look at them in awe for a while before they began to look more carefully for the next part of their quest.

“This is another octagon, like the Chapter House at Valencia,” Rose noticed. “There are five walls, but also three arches leading into the main cathedral.” She looked up. “And another eight-pointed star on the ceiling,” she added. “Is that significant religiously?”

“Not as such,” The Doctor answered. “It’s a typical feature of decorated gothic called lierne vaulting. Just a coincidence, I think. I don’t see our clue in it like we did in Valencia.”

They looked around carefully, automatically discounting the windows because glass was often replaced over centuries. It was unlikely that a hidden message in the leaded pieces would survive.

The floor, too, a rather lovely tiling with an eight pointed star to reflect the roof, must have been restored regularly with the footfall it would get.

The walls were disappointing. Except for the middle one, screened by the High Altar, they were just slightly discoloured slabs of stone with no decoration on them at all.

“This is an Anglican cathedral,” The Doctor pointed out. “Converted in the Reformation. A Lady Chapel is something of a Roman Catholic idea. At some point they probably removed the more overtly papist symbolism from the walls.”

All of the Cathedrals they had visited before had been in predominantly Catholic countries – France, Italy, Spain, that hadn’t been affected by the Reformation. It was almost a shock to remember that rather dull school history about Henry VIII dissolving monasteries and forcing Cathedrals to be converted and to see the effects upon a building like this.

“It’s all right, I’ve found it,” Christopher said. “In the moulding around the sacristy door over on the right.”

‘One of the bits that weren’t messed with in the reformation,” Rose noted. “Has it occurred to anyone else that whoever put these clues in was really careful to choose locations that would still be around centuries later. In Valencia, the ceiling wasn’t affected by the conversion to house the Chalice. The roof of the mausoleum was too big to mess with. The angel WAS moved, but only out of the weather and erosion. This was something the reformists wouldn’t destroy.”

“That means...” Jackie began to say something, then stopped, uncertainly. “It means….”

“Go on, sweetheart,” Christopher told her. “We aren’t going to laugh at you.”

“I just thought…. It kind of looks…. As if the person who put the clues in place might know about the future…. About what was a safe place to put them. Could he have been another Time Agent?”

The Doctor looked at her for a long moment, then nodded emphatically.

“I should have thought of it myself. You’re absolutely spot on. I should have thought of it.”

Jackie grinned. She had put one over The Doctor. He met the grin with one of his own before getting serious again.

“We need to talk to Jack again,” he said. “And this time I want the whole story from him.”

Jack wasn’t happy about the second call. He made his position very clear. But so did The Doctor.

Jack sighed deeply.

“Yes, there was another time traveller. He wasn’t an agent. He was a member of one of the crank groups who clung to religious beliefs. This lot were convinced that there was a relic somewhere in Europe that would renew belief in Christianity in the fifty-first century. Something so amazing that everyone would have to believe.”

“What could be that amazing?” Jackie asked.

“Nobody knows,” Jack answered. “This guy… his name was Haydn Colbert…. He did his research. He thought he knew where the relic was. But by the fifty first century the planet had been messed up so much… buildings were lost in all the wars over time, or just fell down because they were ancient. So he decided he had to go back in time to find the relic. The story goes that he DID find it, but he had used a handmade vortex manipulator that broke down and trapped him in the sixteenth century. He planted clues all over the place and eventually died in the hope that somebody in the future would follow them to where he had hidden the relic.”

“And a clue was found?” Christopher asked. “The vellum Dane Kodyn was carrying?”

“I’m not sure where or when it was found, but it was kept at the Time Agent HQ, locked away with other things thought too dangerous to investigate further. But Dane Kodyn had joined one of the crank groups and believed that he should be the one to recover the relic and bring religion back to humanity. He stole the vellum and a vortex manipulator and went off on his own. I was sent after him. The rest you know.”

“Well, at least it all makes sense, now,” Rose remarked. “Why all the clues are gothic churches and the like. It’s all about religion.”

“And its bigger than the Holy Grail,” Jackie added. “It would have to be.”

“You’re not going to give up, are you?” Jack said. “No matter what I say?”

“No,” The Doctor decided. “I don’t think we are.”

“Then… if you succeed… if you DO find the relic….“

Jack looked more serious than any of them had ever seen him. He exuded sincerity even on a videophone connection.

“If you find it…. Ask yourself a question before you go any further.”

“What question?”

“You’ll know what question if you get where you’re going,” Jack answered cryptically. “Really, Doctor… I wish you weren’t doing this.”

But nothing Jack could say would stop them, now. Though there was no way to be certain, they all felt they were close to the end of the quest. Perhaps the next location, or the one after it would be the resting place of the thing that was bigger than the Holy Grail and had the power to change the way the fifty-first century world thought about religion.

At least the sun was shining when the TARDIS brought them back to Spain, this time to Oviedo in the Northern region of Asturias.

“It’s as far away from the Costa del Sol as it is possible to get without leaving Spain,” Rose commented after looking at a map on the TARDIS information console. “I bet nobody from the Powell Estate ever came here.”

“It’s a long way from Valencia, too,” Christopher noted. “I did wonder if it was correct…. Since we’d already been to Spain. But… I suppose there is no reason why not. It’s not as if there are rules of any kind.”

The division of planet Earth into unique and autonomous countries was something that Christopher had puzzled over when he first came to live in London. It was a concept found on very few other planets, least of all his own. Now that he had understood the idea he certainly saw no reason to question why this quest should bring them back to one of the countries, and neither could anyone else.

“I hope there’s nothing silly like drawing lines from one place to another on a map and coming up with some kind of mysterious symbol,” Jackie remarked. “That would be daft. But why else go from France to Italy, Spain, England, back to Spain.”

“Probably to ensure only somebody really determined would follow the trail,” The Doctor said. “Anyway…. Oviedo….”

“The only Cathedral in Europe built on an extinct volcanic plug,” Rose commented as they stepped out into the warm afternoon. “It came up in a Google search.”

“I’m not sure if that is going to help us much,” Christopher remarked and Rose agreed, though she still thought it was an interesting bit of trivia.

“It’s the smallest of our Cathedrals,” The Doctor commented as they approached the clean, cream walled edifice of La Catedral Metropolitana Basílica de San Salvador. “But it might be the most important. The clue directs us to the Cámara Santa.”

“Not being sacrilegious or anything,” Jackie commented. “But that sounds like a football player. Or maybe a car.”

“It’s neither,” The Doctor assured her as they skirted the main cathedral and came to a smaller, grey-walled, but still distinctly religious building adjacent to the pre-Romanesque tower of the Cathedral where they joined a small queue of pilgrims. “You should all know, thanks to the TARDIS translation circuits, that it means Holy Chamber.”

It was a rather dark space inside, with the windows high up on the walls. Candlelight and the murmured prayers of the faithful lent a rather strange ambiance to the place, one they hadn’t encountered in the previous locations.

“It’s a reliquary,” Rose noted after studying an information panel. “It contains the Arca Santa – holy chest – it also translates as Holy Ark, but I’m not getting into that one. We found the Ark of the Covenant in Ireland ages ago.”

The Arca Santa of Oviedo was a large wooden chest covered in silver-gilt with elaborate relief ornamentation. Another information panel told them that it contained several holy relics.

“A piece of the True Cross, pieces from the Crown of Thorns and the Holy Sepulchre, some bread from the Last Supper, and some of the Virgin's milk,” Jackie read. She definitely didn’t want to be sacrilegious again, but the religion she had never followed in her difficult life had most probably been Church of England and therefore sceptical about relics. The Virgin’s milk was especially troubling. So was the Sudarium of Oviedo, which was described as the cloth wrapped around the head of Jesus Christ after he died and left folded up in the tomb after the Resurrection.

“All that in the one box?” Rose asked in perfect seriousness. “Is this….” She dropped her voice to a whisper. “Doctor…. Is this it? Could these relics be what we’re looking for?”

The Doctor looked at the gilded reliquary for a long moment then shook his head.

“Firstly, what we’re looking for is apparently very carefully hidden and secondly something unknown to Christians of this time. And… thirdly…. As impressive as that list sounds… Especially the Sudarium… does it strike you as being something that absolutely, without a shadow of doubt, would make people believe in God?”

“The Sudarium…. Sounds like the Turin Shroud or…. What’s the other one… the Veil of Veronica… People have argued about those for years, about whether they’re the real thing. Scientists taking bits to test, all that. They’re on all those conspiracy theory documentaries. Nobody is CERTAIN. So…. I’d say… no. We’re not there yet. For a moment I thought we were. But, no.”

Christopher was moving closer to the Arco Santa, along with the pilgrims. When he was as close as he was ever going to get he dropped to his knees and reached out, feeling the front panel with its relief of what another information panel described as Christ in majesty on a mandorla carried by four angels and flanked by the Twelve Apostles. Rose wondered if she would find the mental energy to Google the word ‘mandorla’ later while pilgrims murmured aloud, some scandalised that he was touching the Arco so thoroughly, others stunned by his apparent act of piety.

Eventually a couple of docents in scarlet blue cassocks urged Christopher to come away from their precious relic. Jackie took his arm and assured them that he just needed to get out into the fresh air, and nothing for anyone to worry about.

“Did you get something?” The Doctor asked him.

“Very tiny lettering, nearly invisible. Maybe a blind person who was used to feeling raised script might notice it, but not if they are that sensitive about anyone touching it. Funny thing is, the Arco was damaged in an explosion during the Spanish Civil War, but fortunately, the restoration included our clue.”

“That was a close one for Haydn Colbert, picking out places that wouldn’t be lost in history,” Rose commented. “So… you memorised the letters?”

“Yes, of course.”

“And decoded them?”


“And then translated them.”

“Beneath the place where the Crown of Thorns resides,” Christopher said.

“About the only thing that wasn’t in that box in there,” Jackie commented. “They only had a couple of the thorns.”

“But… assuming that’s a real thing, and not like the Turin Shroud and the other conspiracy stuff….” Rose began.

“And Virgin’s milk,” Jackie said. “That one has me a bit worried.”

“Yeah… that too,” Rose continued. “All right, WHERE does that lead us?”

The Doctor smiled.

“I’m not gloating, I’m really not,” he promised. “But you weren’t paying attention right back at the start.”

“Notre Dame…. Notre Dame in PARIS?” Rose and Jackie both queried as they stepped back into the TARDIS.

“But that can’t be right,” they argued. “Dane Kodyn said he had the wrong Notre Dame. The poor man died saying that.”

“Wrong Notre Dame to start the quest,” The Doctor said as he set the co-ordinates. “But not wrong for the END of it?”

He moved around to the database console and typed quickly before inviting Rose and Jackie to read.

“At the time of the Crusades, Emperor Baldwin II of Jerusalem yielded the relic to French King Louis IX. Kept in the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris until 15 April 2019, when a fire ravaged the cathedral, the relic has since been kept in the Louvre Museum.”

“Obviously, we’re not going to the Louvre,” The Doctor said with a smile. “Apart from anything else that features heavily in the Da Vinci Code and you were quite emphatic about that, Jackie.”

“We need to go back again before 2019,” Rose agreed. “But not to the same day. We don’t want to be mixed up again in that man’s death.”

“Definitely not,” The Doctor agreed.

They picked a different day. It was a little bit rainy, because Paris wasn’t always sunny. Inside the Cathedral they did what they hadn’t got around to doing the last time – they joined the queue to visit the treasury room adjacent to the choir.

There they looked at the gilded circular reliquary in which, they were assured, the actual, genuine, Crown of Thorns was encased. This piece of bling was commissioned, they learnt, by Napoleon Boneparte when he was Emperor.


“Oh…..” Christopher almost uttered one of those rude words spoken in disreputable spaceports but he was far too polite even when he wasn’t in a sacred place. "Father... I think we were being too clever. Look….”

The Doctor looked at another information panel that began with the information about Emperor Baldwin II of Jerusalem giving the relic to French King Louis IX. But it had additional information.

“It only came here after the Revolution…. During Napoleon’s reign,” The Doctor confirmed with a groan and a heavy dose of hubris. “Before then it was in Sainte-Chappelle.”

“What’s that and where is it?” Jackie asked as she and Rose nobly forbore any gloating at his mistake.

“It is the ‘holy chapel’ – a gothic chapel in the medieval Palais de la Cité, the residence of the Kings of France until the 14th century,” The Doctor answered. “Before Versailles and all that. It’s actually not far away, here on the Île de la Cité along with Notre Dame. We could walk it.”

“It’s raining. We’ll TARDIS it,” Jackie insisted.

If they had been merely tourists admiring European gothic architecture Saint-Chapelle would have surpassed everything they had seen already. Even with their overriding mission they found themselves caught up by its beauty.

“The glass,” Jackie whispered. “It’s….”

The tall, majestic gothic arches of stained glass were the most striking feature. There was so much of it that the walls were reduced to mere tracery holding the windows together. Even on a rainy day the colours were iridescent. The vaulted ceiling was a constellation of silver stars on a blue that could only have come from the use of expensive lapis lazuli stone imported from afar. The floor was a colourful tiled mosaic.

Breathtaking didn’t begin to cover it.

“This place is amazing,” Rose commented. “And I bet most tourists are too busy doing the Eiffel Tower and going to see the Mona Lisa to even think of coming here.”

It was busy, all the same. Several tours were going on at once, pointing out the fine details of the glorious Holy Chapel.

One tour brought them from the glorious main chapel to the lower chapel – underneath it.

They looked at each other expectantly. The clue had said they should look beneath the resting place of the Crown of Thorns – which was that lovely royal chapel with all the glass and light.

Could this be it?

The lower chapel was glorious, too. The windows were smaller, but chandeliers made up for the lesser light while gilding and enamel gave it colour. The shape was much the same as the Royal chapel with another gloriously ribbed ceiling over what was the parish church for the Île de la Cite, especially after the fire made services at Notre Dame impossible.

“But this can’t be it.” They all came to that realisation very quickly. This was another very public place. Nothing had been hidden here for centuries.

“So… what now?” Rose looked around and saw The Doctor. He was standing very still amongst the throng of tourists, his eyes closed, his feet planted firmly on the ground.

Something about the way he looked reminded her of one of the things he had told her at the very start, when she didn’t know who or what he was – when he talked about being able to feel the turn of the Earth.

It was as if he was doing that now.

Then he turned and looked around the room and grinned.

“We need to get back to the TARDIS,” he said. “What we want isn’t on the regular tour.”

They were all a little puzzled but they followed him out into the courtyard of the Conciergerie, the nineteenth century complex of public buildings that surrounded the medieval Chappelle. The TARDIS had been parked there discreetly, ensuring their rain free visit.

It took only minutes for The Doctor to bring them to what he fervently hoped was the last step on their quest.

“Ooh!” That was the sound both women made as they stepped out into a space that had perhaps not been lit for many centuries. The air felt that old until one rarely used TARDIS function kicked in and freshened it.

This was a replica of the Royal chapel, except that there were no windows. The stone tracery held magnificently coloured enamels. Neither Rose nor Jackie had ever seen anything larger than a brooch made of decorative enamel so this vast hall was mind boggling in that respect. The ceiling used so much lapus lazuli they thought there must be a hollowed out mountain somewhere in Afghanistan. The floor was more marble than they thought possible.

“We must be underground.” Christopher said. “I can feel the weight above us.”

“Directly beneath Sainte-Chappelle’s two great chapels,” The Doctor answered.

Jackie looked around and pointed out that there was no door.

“No,” The Doctor agreed. “I think King Louis IX had this secretly built along with the upper levels, and the entrance blocked up and hidden, forgotten by the march of time.”

The word ‘why’ died on everyone’s lips as their eyes adjusted fully to the light provided by the TARDIS lantern and they noticed two things that were not in either of the chapels above ground.

The first was a reliquary perhaps half the size of the one at Oviedo but with twice the bling in the form of gold and jewels. It was placed on a marble altar directly below, if the floor plan was the same, the one where the Crown of Thorns had been displayed by the devout Merovingian Louis IX.

In front of the altar was the mummified body of a man in what was just identifiable as the chain mail and white jerkin with a red cross symbolising a Crusader. The Doctor looked carefully at the body without touching it unduly.

“The room was hermetically sealed,” he said. “But now we’ve introduced new air he’ll probably crumble to dust.”

“Who was he?” Jackie asked, though she thought she could guess.

“His teeth are far too even and straight for a genuine crusader,” The Doctor confirmed. “He’s a bit taller than the average thirteenth century nobleman, too. We’ve found Haydn Colbert. I’m thinking he used his makeshift vortex manipulator to send the first clue – the one written on vellum – forward to the fifty-first century, then either snuck in here, or very likely had the king order his people to wall him up in here.”

“You mean…. to die?”

“The last act of a zealot who had ensured that he would be followed by more zealots who would redeem the relic.”

“That’s… actually a bit potty,” Jackie said.

“Utterly potty,” Rose agreed. “But… kind of brave, too. Is THAT the relic?”

She stepped towards the reliquary, then stopped. She looked around at the others. They all looked as hesitant as she did.

“Something bigger than the Holy Grail,” Jackie said in an awed whisper. “Bigger than the Crown of Thorns that used to be upstairs. Bigger than headcloths, pieces of the True Cross, nails from the Cross, Virgin’s Milk, even. It’s… in there. The thing that would make everyone in Jack’s century believe absolutely in Christianity…. In God, Jesus…. Everything in the Bible.”


Jackie caught hold of Rose’s hand, drawing her away from the altar and the reliquary.

“Does it frighten you?” Christopher asked her. “Surely it is something wonderful for the Human race… for your species?”

“Yes, I’m frightened,” Jackie answered. “That sounds like something so very powerful, who wouldn’t be frightened. But… it’s more than that. Because… I think I know the question Jack said we should ask.”

“I think we all do,” The Doctor told her. “But you say it in your words.”

“If… if we had proof that there really is a God…..” Jackie began. “I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I think I’d actually be angry with Him. I’d want to know why he decided to take Pete from me and leave me to bring up my baby girl by myself. What did I do to deserve that? And then… all those wars…. All the misery…. The Daleks that David and Susan fought…. I don’t think I’d be the only one who would be angry, not thankful, not worshipping, not happy about this discovery. And if we were to take it to the fifty-first century, where people have learned to get on without religion, and… and the wars and the problems that religion brings…. Wouldn’t we be responsible for a lot of hurt and misery and things going wrong?”

“Like a war between those who welcome it and those who don’t?” Rose suggested. “And what about those who realise they no longer have any choice about it…. They HAVE to believe. Taking away free will….”

The Doctor and Christopher looked at each other, and for perhaps the first time they felt completely alien to Planet Earth, to the Human Race. They knew the question wasn’t theirs to ask. It wasn’t theirs to answer.

It was a question for humans.

It was a question for the two humans present at this moment - Rose and Jackie of the Powell Estate, London.

“If we went away and left it here,” Rose said. “What would happen if… if somebody else stumbled across it? I know we have the first clue, and the rest of them are so obscure and so scattered that it is unlikely anyone would follow them. But… I don’t know…. Paris might need a new sewage system or their version of Crossraill or… whatever. It might be found accidentally. It might fall into the hands of somebody who would use it for the worst things. Like Hitler wanted the Ark and the Spear of Destiny to be all powerful. If he’d known about this he’d have dug up Paris. And maybe there are worse than him.”

“So….” The Doctor left the question hanging.

“Do something with Sonny Jim there, first,” Jackie said, pointing to the sad remains of Haydn Colbert. “Use the sonic or something… then put his ashes in a box or… or whatever. Then bring that…. Stick it somewhere in the TARDIS where it’ll never be seen again. You said there are hundreds of rooms in it.”

“If I did that…. Are you sure you’d never want to take a peek?” The Doctor asked. “Curiosity wouldn’t get the better of you… just to see what it actually is?”

“No,” Jackie insisted.

“Me neither,” Rose added.

“I believe you,” The Doctor said. He took out his sonic screwdriver and stepped towards the body. Performing clean cremations wasn’t in the huge list of things the makers thought a sonic could be used for, but perhaps the list could be expanded.

He brought the reliquary to the TARDIS cloister room until he could decide on a better place for it. He wondered if he shouldn’t use the same sonic function as he had on Haydn Colbert’s body and scatter the lot in the vacuum of space. But being forgotten in the depths of the TARDIS was nearly as certain a form of oblivion. He could live with that.

Meanwhile he took his family to Nice to enjoy the beach and a view of a promenade mostly built in the nineteenth century with no Gothic features of any sort.