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

The Doctor sat by the reflecting pool of The Sanctuary. He smiled as he watched the young acolytes enjoying the peaceful serenity of the courtyard between the classes that Chris promised would lead them to enlightenment. They were a cheerful lot. He listened into their conversations with no shame about using his enhanced Time Lord senses to eavesdrop. He was pleased to note that their quiet conversations were of the things they had learnt in the weeks they had been students of The Way. They truly were leaving the outside world behind them and embracing Chris’s vision.

Some were even practicing the things they had learnt. A group of them were sitting in a ring trying to reach the first level of meditative trance as Chris had taught them. He focussed his attention on them, not exactly reading their minds, but reading their emotions. They were still a little too intense. They concentrated too much on concentrating when all they needed was to relax and let it happen naturally. He was proud to see that that did it in the end, but they would have got there faster if they had relaxed about it.

He left them to it and glanced around at the others. He gently read their emotions. Joy of life and yearning to learn was the most intense feeling he picked up from them all. Ambition, yes. They all wanted to be the best. That was why they were here. To learn how to be the best. But it was not a selfish ambition. They were here to learn how to be the best so that they could be of benefit to the world they lived upon.

He focussed on one young woman with auburn hair and hazel eyes who sat eating an apple and thinking her own thoughts. Her ambition was to care for animals. She had thoughts of travelling in the plains of Africa to help protect endangered species. She hoped that the methods of mind over matter that Chris promised she could learn would help her to communicate with the animals.

Miss Doolittle, he thought. But why not. Yes, it was possible to use telepathy to look into the mind of animals. You had to be careful. Unlike with sentient beings, looking into the mind of a cow, or a tiger or an elephant, you were looking into a bunch of instincts rather than ideas. You had to be careful not to lose yourself in those instincts.

You might not be able to come back.

He passed from the hopeful animal lover to another solitary figure sitting by the poolside. It was a young man with dark hair and green eyes and a lithe, athletic figure. The Doctor knew, at a glance, that he was one of the people Chris had contacted who were not originally from Earth.

He stood and moved around the pool until he was close to the young man. He watched him for a moment as he sat with one hand trailing in the water. The Doctor noted that he was analysing it, detecting the trace minerals in the water through his touch.

“That’s very clever,” The Doctor told him telepathically. “I never managed to do that with liquids. I usually have to taste them.”

“That’s dangerous, though,” he answered. “What if it’s poisonous.”

“Then my body can expel the poison without ingesting it,” The Doctor told him. “But your way is quite effective. Marton, isn’t it? Marton Pallister. I’ve had you in my classes a couple of times already.”

“Yes, Doctor,” he said dutifully. “Of course, we all know you. The Great Gallifreyan.”

“One nomenclature is enough for me,” The Doctor laughed. “But where are you from?”

“Tibora,” he answered in spoken words. “You know of it?”

“Of course I do. And it explains why you know of Gallifrey. Our legends are part of your culture. But you yourself must have lived on Earth for some time.”

“What makes you think that?”

“You don’t get hot flushes and start bowing whenever you see me. Tiborans are wonderful people, but I wish my race hadn’t taught yours to be quite so subservient. We’re not gods. And you are far from slaves.”

“I am glad you recognise that,” Marton answered him. “I have long believed my people should throw off the shackles of Dominionship.”

“Spoken like a true rebel,” The Doctor told him. “You have no argument from me. Besides, with Gallifrey gone, there is no Dominionship. You ARE free.”

“We still behave like we are subservient. You said it yourself. The bowing towards you, simply because you are the last of the race that ruled us for millennia. Just so you know, I don’t bow to anyone.”

“You do in my dojo,” The Doctor replied, though he admired the spirit he saw in the lad.

“With that one exception,” he conceded. He looked up as The Doctor did and their eyes met. The Doctor gasped slightly as he felt the boy’s willpower. He was very sure of himself. No wonder he had issues about his people.

“Steady on,” The Doctor told him. “I’m on your side.”

“Yes,” he answered. “I suppose you are.”

“Give me your hand.” Marton looked at him and then reached out to him. The Doctor clasped his hand firmly and as he made physical contact with him he felt something startling and unexpected.

Marton’s DNA was NOT just Tiboran.

It was at least PART Gallifreyan.

“Marton… will you come with me, please,” he said. “I would like to talk to you some more about… about your future here with us at the Sanctuary, and what you would like to do beyond these walls.”

Marton nodded and stood. The Doctor led him to the private room of the dormitory block where Chris and Davie came when the day was done to relax and talk together. Marton looked out of the big window and smiled as he viewed the courtyard where the other students sat at leisure and the dojo and meditation halls with their white walls and roofs.

“It is a beautiful place,” he said. “I’m glad of this chance. My mother was always worried about how I would learn to control my telepathic skills. I never really fitted in at school. Of course I had to pretend not to be so much smarter than all the others, to hide who I really am. This is a chance to learn more than I could learn at an ordinary Earth college and to be with people who are like me.”

“Yet you don’t seem to have made friends with any of them?” The Doctor noted as he handed him a glass of milk and took a sip of one himself. “Are you finding it hard to settle in?”

“No, not really,” he answered. “I suppose I am just too used to being by myself. It’s hard to… you know…,” He looked at The Doctor. “No, I don’t suppose you would know. A great man like you….”

“Don’t know what it’s like to be the kid nobody wants to play with? The one sitting alone at a desk made for four people, walking home alone and in fear of the bullies hiding behind the next corner?” The Doctor smiled wryly. “Actually, yes, I do know about that. It burns inside and you just want to make the ones who humiliated you suffer ten times as much as they made you suffer.”


“Most of the people I felt that way about perished in the same inferno that destroyed nearly everyone I ever loved,” The Doctor said as he looked beyond the walls of the Sanctuary to the rooftop of his own house next door. “On Earth they have a word for that… a Pyrrhic victory.”

“I’ve heard the expression,” Marton said. “I could have beaten the bullies any time. I could have fried their brains as they sat in class. I could have… forced their parents’ cars to drive off a cliff or… or set fire to their houses….”

“Could you?” The Doctor looked closer at him. “Is your power THAT strong?”

“Yes.” As if to prove it he grasped his hand around the milk glass so hard that it shattered. He yelped in pain as a shard pierced the skin between his thumb and finger. The Doctor held his wrist and staunched the blood with his handkerchief. He noticed three things as he did so.

The blood was much lighter than Human blood. More like his own.

He stopped bleeding very quickly as the wound healed.

And although he had been shocked and pained by what had happened Marton shed no tears.

Because he had no tear ducts.

“I’m sorry… I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean… sometimes I get so….”

It’s all right,” The Doctor assured him. “No use crying over spilt milk as they also say on this planet.” He picked up the broken glass carefully and put it in the waste bin before finding a cloth to wipe the milk from Chris’s beautiful new floor. “See, this is how much of a Living God I am. I do domestic chores.”

They both laughed as they thought of what an image of him on his hands and knees with a cleaning cloth would do for his reputation on Tibora. The Doctor finished cleaning up the mess and dusted off his hands.

“But you were saying… why you never did take revenge on the people who hurt you.”

“I don’t want to be a murderer,” he said.

“Good answer,” The Doctor told him. “Some might have argued that these lesser species aren’t important, that killing them isn’t murder.”

“You don’t believe that?” Marton looked shocked.

“Of course I don’t, and anyone who does has no place here.”

“I want to learn to control my abilities and to channel them in the right way,” Marton told him. “Then I can live a normal life here on this planet. Because even if it isn’t where I was born, it’s home now, and I have to make the best of it.”

“Good lad.” The Doctor touched him gently on the shoulder. “Do you want to risk another glass of milk?”

“I have a meditation class soon,” he said. “I don’t want to be late.”

“You’d best get along then. I’ll talk to you again. And… whatever happens, even if you make the odd little mistake with milk glasses… you will always have a place here where you are welcome. No matter what.”

He meant that.

He still meant it after he had used the blood dried on his handkerchief to trace Marton’s DNA and discovered his true parentage.

But he WAS very puzzled.

He wasn’t taking a class in the dojo until after tea. He had time.

Strange irony, he thought as he programmed the TARDIS to take him to the small Devon village where Marton’s Tiboran parents lived and worked as Humans. Here he was, a teacher, going to see the parents of a pupil who was puzzling him. It was a long time ago now since two young teachers called Ian and Barbara had come looking for him because they were worried about Susan.

He sincerely hoped Marton’s parents would be nicer to him than he had been to Ian and Barbara.

He had forgotten that they were Tiboran. As soon as they saw him they recognised him as a Gallifreyan. They had lived on Earth long enough to lose some of the awe that those still living on the dominion planet had for him, but they were still pretty much blown away by his presence in their home, and by the fact that he was their son’s teacher.

“I never realised this place Marton was so excited about… the Sanctuary… was run by the Lords of Time themselves,” Mrs Pallister said as she plied The Doctor with tea and sandwiches. “I feel a little less worried about him knowing that. It’s the first time he has been away from home.”

“Is he all right?” Mr Pallister asked. “He hasn’t done anything wrong has he?”

“He’s quite all right,” The Doctor assured them both. “And no, he hasn’t done anything wrong. You know, of course that he is a strong telepath?”

“We’ve always known that. And it has been a source of worry for us. In case he hurts himself or somebody else.”

“Then he is in the best place now,” The Doctor assured them. “We can help him. But I was wondering…. I know this is impertinent of me, but is Marton adopted?”

“No,” Mrs Pallister answered immediately with a note of surprise in her voice at the question but not, The Doctor was certain, any attempt at deceit.

“Then… are you both Tiboran?”


“In that case….” The Doctor was just coming to the third possibility, and trying to find a diplomatic way of phrasing the question when he saw Mr and Mrs Pallister exchange anxious glances. He felt the telepathic wall block him out as they exchanged more than glances. Mr Pallister reached and held his wife’s hand as they both turned to look at him again.

“We have never told anyone about this. And… to be telling it to YOU, knowing how strongly the Lords of Time opposed such techniques… I feel we should beg your forgiveness….”

“You need not do any such thing. I think I know where this is going. But please… it would be better to hear it from you than me making guesses.”

“We couldn’t have children. We tried for a very long time. And then… we were on holiday, offworld. We heard of a facility where they offered a procedure. It wasn’t on any planet, or under any jurisdiction. It was a privately funded space-research station.”

“It was dreadfully expensive,” Mrs Pallister continued as her husband paused. “It took all of our savings. But it was worth it. The procedure worked first time. And we had the son we had always wanted.”

“We know he is not biologically related to me,” Mr Pallister said. “We understood that from the start. But even though his conception was a scientific process my wife bore the child in the ordinary natural way. I was there at his birth. I loved him from the first moment. I have always called him my son.”

“And so you should,” The Doctor assured them both. “I hope you will always have cause to be proud of him. I don’t blame you for anything. Yes, my people opposed that kind of thing. They believed, and so do I, generally speaking, that cloning produces soulless beings with no sense of family or of belonging. But your son is proof that my people are not always right every time. And… and he is proof of something else, too.”

“What’s that?” Mr Pallister asked.

“That nurture wins over nature,” he replied. “The home and the love that you gave him made him who he is, not the genetic material in his DNA, for which we can all be thankful.”

“I don’t understand,” Mrs Pallister said. “But we have always loved Marton. We did our best for him.”

“Yes,” The Doctor took her hand and held it gently. “Yes, you did. You did everything right and you need have no regrets. Thank you for answering my questions. Especially as they proved so very much more personal than I expected them to be. Before I go, will you please answer one more question. Where was the facility where you received the treatment.”

Mr Pallister told him. He nodded and thanked them again. At the door Mrs Pallister had one more thing to say.

“Marton doesn’t know. Please don’t….”

“It won’t come from me,” he promised. “You have my word of honour on that.”

But what he knew now made him even more uncomfortable, and just a little angry - though not at Mr and Mrs Pallister, and certainly not at their son.

He went home. Nobody even knew he had been away. Even Rose, Jackie and Susan, when he stepped out into the garden, thought he had just been inside for a half an hour. He went and sat with his wife. Peter toddled to him and he sat him on his lap.

“Are you all right?” Rose asked. “You seem a bit… I don’t know.”

“Something on my mind. But it’s nothing to worry about. At least I don’t think it is. I don’t want you to worry about it anyway. You’re not to worry about anything except…” He leaned over and kissed her and put his hand against her stomach. “Look after my babies,” he told her. “They are more precious and unique than you could possibly realise.”

“I look after all your babies,” his wife assured him. “Vicki, Sukie, be careful. Don’t run by the side of the pool. I’ve told you a million times.”

“Oh listen to her,” Jackie laughed as she lay on a shaded deckchair with her baby in her arms. “She never used to take any notice of me telling her off that way. But she expects her own kids to do as she says.”

“That’s the way of it,” The Doctor said with a smile. “She’s the mum now. You’re the granny.”

“I’m still a mum, too.”

“That you are. Do I get to hold my youngest grandchild before I have to go teach the New Way acolytes to kill with their bare hands?”

“Course you do,” Jackie told him and passed the child to him. He looked at the deep brown eyes that looked so lovingly back at him. “Careful how you hold his head,” Jackie told him. He gave her a rueful smile as if to remind her that he was far from inexperienced with babies, himself.

“He’s beautiful,” he said as he gave his grandson back to his mum. “We’re lucky. All of us. We have what we always wanted and more.”

“You need to get out of that soppy mood before you start teaching that lot,” Rose warned him. “Or they’ll make mincemeat of you.”

He laughed as he kissed his wife and strolled out of the garden. He slipped into the Sanctuary by the fire door and went to prepare himself for the lesson.

They were progressing fast. He had to admit that. He divided them into pairs and set them to practicing falls. He still had a few mutinous ones who objected to being made to go back to basics, but they knew there was no point in arguing with him.

Marton was one of those starting from scratch, but he was also one of the fast learners. Then again they all were. Every one of them was a frustrated individual who had never quite fitted in to school, college, work, who had known there was something more and came here to find it. And they WERE finding it. It was hard work. It was painful. But they were getting there, together.

“Time to learn to defend yourselves,” The Doctor said, demonstrating a blocking move in the most basic level of Shaolin Gung Fu. His students responded with varying levels of proficiency. He made them practice it until it looked right. Then he called Marton forward and told him to defend himself.

“Against you?” he looked nervous about that.

“What’s so scary? I’m an old man. I’ve got grandchildren. Surely you can handle me.”

“You’re The Doctor,” he answered. “You’re the greatest Time Lord….”

“Level playing field. Everyone is equal on this floor. Get ready.”

He threw a punch at him. He barely had time to react. But he DID react. His block worked and he responded with a return thrust that gave The Doctor opportunity to prove how good he was at the falls he had been teaching the class. As he hit the floor, though, he sprang back up and sent a flying kick towards Marton’s head. He didn’t block this time. He was clearly too surprised by the fast come back. But The Doctor pulled back at the last moment and didn’t connect with him.

“Remember this is the one place where you DO bow,” he whispered as he straightened himself out and then bowed to his opponent who remembered himself in time. “Good work. Keep practicing.”

“Sir.…” Marton said suddenly. “My Lord… tell me… please…. Did you fall deliberately? I could not have… you are a MASTER of these disciplines. I could not have beaten you even for a moment.”

The Doctor sighed. He knew the question would be asked. He wished he had done it in private, instead of in front of all the other students. But since he had, and since they were all listening, waiting to hear the answer to the question they had all wanted to ask, he answered it.

“You think I was going easy on you? You think I took a fall to boost your confidence and make you feel you were getting good at it?” Marton nodded. “What would that achieve? What use would it be for you to THINK you can do something when you can’t? No. You did it. Maybe it was luck rather than skill. We’ll see. We’ll see when you’re properly trained and we meet as true equals. When I have taught you all you could possibly learn, I will accept your challenge. And we WILL see.”

“Yes, sir,” he said with a bow of his head.

“Ok. Fair enough. Go on and get showered all of you. And get along to your next class.”

He watched them go. Every one of them had a story to tell. The young Gallifreyans among them had been born in slavery under the Sontaran regime. Even before then, their parents had been the menials, the workers, of Gallifreyan society. They none of them had the chance before now to reach their potential. But most of them, all of them, would transcend to become the new generation of Time Lords with the universe at their feet to do with as they chose. The others, the Tiborans and Alterians, the Humans, were all singular in a way he was so familiar with. Their latent abilities had made them ‘different’ and people could be so cruel to ‘different’.

He remembered Marton’s answer to his question. Why didn’t you take revenge? Here at the sanctuary they were equipping all of them with the means to exact such revenge. He was giving them the physical ability. Chris was teaching them the mental disciplines that would give them the courage and confidence. He hoped they would also be able to teach them that revenge was an empty goal.

As for Marton, there was a mystery there. And he itched to solve it.

“Granddad!” he heard Davie’s voice and looked around to see him standing by the entrance to the Dojo.

“Come for a rematch?”

“No,” he answered. “Just lurking about purposelessly.”

“Ah!” The Doctor said with a smile. “You have time on your hands. Do you feel like a quick field trip and home for supper?”

“Sounds good to me. Your TARDIS or mine?”

“Yours. It’s closer and I won’t have to explain to Rose that I’m going offworld.”

“There it is,” Davie said as they materialised in the space co-ordinate The Doctor had given him. “The Gamma Beta Epsilon Medical Research Centre.”

“Epsilon!” The Doctor smiled a thin, humourless smile and wondered if that was just coincidence. Epsilon was the school nickname of his one time friend and long time adversary, The Master.

It was a coincidence too many.

“Land us in the short term parking hangar bay,” he said. “And get your psychic paper out. We’re going in undercover.”

“Thought we might be,” Davie grinned. “But WHY are we investigating this place? It’s a fertility clinic.”

“I don’t suppose you ever saw a twentieth century film called The Boys from Brazil?” The Doctor asked.

“If Cliff Richard wasn’t in it, then no,” Davie answered, thinking of the microdisc collection of ‘classic’ films in his family home. “Why, is it important?”

“Could be,” The Doctor said. “I have a strange feeling somebody HAS.” He looked at Davie and his mind went back to the first time he took him and his brother away from Earth, to teach them what their true potential could be.

“The Followers of The Master,” he murmured.

“That lot?” Davie was surprised. “We haven’t heard from them in years. Didn’t you and Jack kill them all?”

“I doubt if that was ALL of them. But their quest has always been to restore The Master. When he was executed on Skaro there was massive security to prevent them from effecting his escape. It was sickening to see how many deluded fools there were actually supporting him.”

“You were there to see him executed?”

“Yes,” The Doctor said quietly. Davie looked at him in surprise.

“I don’t like the death penalty,” he told him. “You know that. I’ve mentioned it about ten million times. Even for The Master, even for one as evil as him, I don’t like it. I had to witness it. I was sent by the High Council for that purpose. They wanted to be sure he was gone this time. He had been a thorn in their side as much as mine, after all. But I will never forget his face as the atomiser was turned on.”

“He was scared?”

“Yes, he was. And that’s not surprising. It was a horrible way to die. But he was SMILING, too. As if there was a joke only he knew. Of course, he didn’t completely die. He had dabbled with so many unnatural ways of prolonging life that his essence remained even in his ashes. We had one more showdown between us…. And one more….”

“But he’s gone for good now?”

“I thought so,” The Doctor continued. “But that’s what I’m not sure of now. I think something of him DOES live, still.”

Davie neatly materialised the TARDIS inside the hangar bay. It disguised itself as a small two man shuttle. Davie teased The Doctor about the fact that HIS TARDIS couldn’t do that.

“I could EASILY fix the chameleon switch you know,” he told his great-grandfather as they headed towards the reception.

“So could I,” he admitted. “Could have done it centuries ago. I LIKE it like that. It suits me.”

Davie looked at his great-grandfather, dressed in the same way he had dressed the day he and his brother first met him, in black trousers and a v-necked jumper and a battered, scuffed old leather jacket. He was never entirely sure what other people saw. Because they almost never reacted to him as if he was just a space hobo in old clothes who had no business being there. Or if they did, that was just their first reaction. Very soon after they tended to be hit between the eyes by the hidden power within him.

The old leather jacket was a chameleon disguise in itself, just like the scuffed wooden panelling of the old police box.

“Yes, it suits you,” Davie said as he took out his psychic paper and got ready to watch The Doctor in action.

“I’m Agent John Smith of the Intergalactic Ethics Committee,” he said. “This is Agent Davies. This is a warrant to inspect this facility and all of its files.”

The receptionist was an Emotimorph, The Doctor noted. A humanoid species with no bodily hair, only an interesting pattern of mottling on the scalp. Emotimorphs changed colour depending on mood and watching this one go through several shades of colour denoting shock, nervousness, uncertainty, panic, would have been amusing to a less compassionate man.

“Relax,” he said. “If there ARE any irregularities here they’re not YOUR fault. This goes much higher. Just tell your boss I’m here.”

The receptionist touched the ear piece that allowed her to transmit messages to her superiors telepathically. The Doctor smiled. Clever little idea that. Ideal for the sort of office where sensitive information was passed around. But not if there was a natural telepath standing there. The Doctor smiled as he heard the reply from the director of the facility that they had nothing to hide and the inspectors could see whatever they wanted to see.

“We’ll see about that,” he thought as the assistant director came and introduced himself as Doctor Greben. He, too, was an Emotimorph, and The Doctor recognised the pattern. The man was a little nervous about being inspected, but otherwise he was calm. He really DIDN’T seem to have anything to hide.

“We are not under any particular legal jurisdiction,” he explained. “But that is not to say that we are acting unethical in any way. No more than, for example, Klatos Research with their permanent space-born research station.”

“I understand that,” The Doctor said. “But even in these enlightened times many people have qualms about this type of procedure. I understand that your fertility treatment involves the use of genetic material from donated sources.”

“That is correct. Most often, the material is donated before death by individuals who wish to find a sort of immortality in knowing their genes have, after all been passed on to the next generation. They are quite often people who have not been able to have children of their own, and they wish to help others in their position.”

“So… somebody about to die would give a skin sample or blood, from which you extract DNA?” Davie asked, intrigued though he still didn’t know what it was about.

“That’s correct,” Greben said.

“How many fertilised embryos could be created from a single donation?” The Doctor asked, though he was fairly sure he knew the answer. Even a piece of skin a millimetre thick and an inch square was made up of thousands of cells. Each cell had a DNA nucleus that could be fused with an egg to make a cloned embryo. Even allowing for a certain number of failures that still meant….

“Several thousand,” Greben told him. “But we have as many as half a million patients a year and we have been in business for one hundred and fifty years now.”

“And of course, stored embryos using such genetic material could have been kept right from the start of the facility?” The Doctor asked.

“Yes,” Greben said. “Cryogenically there is no deterioration of the material.”

Material. The Doctor mentally cringed at the use of such a term for what was, by his definition at least, life. Including the twins Rose was carrying now, he had fathered five children in his lifetime. They had been living beings from the moment of conception as far as he was concerned. MATERIAL! If HE was an Emotimorph he would be turning some very interesting shades right now.

“So there could be several generations of children from the one donated sample,” Davie said, filling the gap in the conversation while his great-grandfather battled with his own conscience. “There could be old men, middle-aged ones, children, babies, all with the same biological parent who died a hundred years ago.”

“Yes,” Greben answered him. “That happens all the time. Of course it is unlikely that two such products of the process would meet. Our patients come from the four corners of the galaxy, from all walks of life.”

“As long as they can afford your prices,” The Doctor added. “But I would like to see some of the data. I understand that there must be client confidentiality, of course. But as you can see here, I obtained permission to view the data for this particular donor.” The Doctor produced his psychic paper again and Greben studied it for a long time before taking the data chip that he took from another pocket and interfacing it with the computer. The relevant data appeared on the screen. The Doctor looked at it for several minutes. Davie watched him with interest. He knew his great-grandfather could have processed even the several screens of information in front of him with a single glance. He wondered why he was spending so long at it. He was not quite so good at reading minds as his brother, but he could do it. And he was startled by what he saw.

The MASTER was a donor whose genetic material had been used for nearly eighty years. Thousands of embryos had been created from it. Not all had been successful of course. That was par for the course in this kind of procedure. But he was reading of hundreds of successful conceptions, hundreds of children born over those decades.

Eighty years, ago, in real time, was when The Master was executed on Skaro. He remembered what Greben had told him.

“Most often, the material is donated before death by individuals who wish to find a sort of immortality.”

But The Master had been held under close guard. He would never have been granted permission to donate his DNA. His DNA was supposed to have been destroyed utterly. This was the last thing anyone wanted.

Except his followers, of course. They would have loved the idea of him being reincarnated a thousand times over.

He read back into the database. What WAS the original genetic material.

“Hair follicles?” He looked at Greben.

“Anything that contains DNA can be used. The technique has been perfected. A sample with a few dozen complete follicles could produce thousands of DNA nuclei.”

The Doctor’s hands froze above the keyboard. His memory reached back to that day when he had witnessed The Master’s end on behalf of the Time Lords. He had not found the experience pleasant in any way. Yes, The Master was evil. Yes, he was a danger to the existence of the universe itself. Yes, he had tried to kill him more times than he had counted. But he WAS a Time Lord like himself. He was a former friend, of sorts. He was a kindred spirit in a way. And he WAS a distant relative of his. For many reasons he had felt sick at the prospect and he had been glad of a chance to see him one last time in his cell. He had actually wanted to give him a word of comfort as he faced an awful end.

What was said between them in that cell was a secret he would never tell to anyone. He rarely thought about it himself. It was a buried memory. But now he recalled walking to the cell, in company with two Skaroan guards to make sure The Master didn’t try to use his visitor to effect an escape. He recalled two other guards escorting a young woman with a case in her hands. The case was see-through and he had noticed that it contained hairdressing tools. A brush, comb, shaver. When he went into the cell he noted that The Master was looking very neat and tidy. His hair had been combed and cut and so was his beard. He had joked about how the woman had been so devoted to him that she considered it an honour to do that last service for him.

And who would have thought to search a hairbrush? She could have carried away with her all the genetic material necessary. It could have been preserved, brought to this facility as donor material.

“Some of this material still remains,” The Doctor noted. “It says here that you have both the nuclei and fertilised embryos cryogenically preserved.”

“Yes,” Doctor Greben replied.

“I want to see where it is stored,” he said.


“I was told you had nothing to hide. I don’t expect to have my requests questioned.”

“Of course sir,” Greben apologised. “This way.”

The Doctor followed him. Davie walked alongside him.

“You think the Master’s followers wanted to recreate him? Make a NEW Master.”

“I think that was the idea. But all they did was make a lot of childless couples all over the universe happy. They didn’t get their megalomaniac.”

“Here.” Greben showed him the numbered cryogenic unit in a row of such units in the special room that took four different key codes to enter. According to the figures he had read there were still several hundred embryos and the genetic material for hundreds more behind that vacuum sealed door.

And every one of them created using the cloned DNA of The Master.

Somewhere in the universe there were already thousands of people, aged between eighty years and new born with his DNA. Marton Pallister was one of them.

Men and boys whose biological parent was the most evil man in the universe.

And if just one of them inherited the megalomaniac impulses of that biological parent….

No. The Doctor rejected that immediately. No. That wasn’t how it worked.

People, whether they were Gallifreyans or Tiborans or Humans, didn’t become megalomaniacs because of their genes. They became so because something in their upbringing, some combination of hurts, of disappointments, of festering resentments, some quirk of fate, tipped them over the edge. If he thought about it long enough he could probably pinpoint when in their personal history The Master had chosen the path of darkness and he the path of light. It was when they were both youngsters, anyway. The Master had walked that path for so long he couldn’t even recognise the many chances he had to get off it and redeem himself.

A thousand living beings born to parents who so desperately wanted a child they went to the far reaches of the universe for the chance. These were children who were loved and nurtured, given every chance to get it right. Those who had taken his genetic material and used it this way clearly thought they were raising an army of Masters. But they were wrong. Instead they raised his chance of redemption. Through honest young men like Marton, products of loving parents, the Master was reborn into the light.

Yes, there was a possibility that one of them could turn to the darkness. So could any child born of any parents. There was no more and no less likelihood of these children turning out wrong than any other child in the universe.

He looked at the sealed door. If he unsealed it, turned off the power, the embryos would die. There would be no more clones using that genetic material. And some, if they knew what the Master had been, might urge him to do that.

He didn’t.

He had always lived by one overriding ethos. Life is precious and should be protected above all things and at all costs.

Let The Master have his immortality in that way.

“Did you find out what you needed to know?” Davie asked him as he found the TARDIS and prepared to return home.

“Yes, I did,” The Doctor answered.


“And it’s all right. It’s quite all right. It’s… in a way it's a good thing. I did think of him as a friend once. When we were both at school. I’m glad I can be a part of his redemption.”

“Granddad.” Davie looked at him curiously. “You’re not making sense.”

“I know,” he answered. “I do that sometimes.”

“Just so long as you know it,” Davie countered. “So… what was it you were doing when you went back to the computer database after you stared at that fridge for ten minutes.”

“I wiped the record. Nobody knows where that genetic material came from or where it went. I want The Master’s children to walk in the light. Or if they choose the darkness let it be of their own choice. I don’t want his lunatic followers getting hold of them and turning them into monsters.”

“Tell you one thing,” Davie said after a while. “You believe these children of the Master will grow up ok in the right environment and his DNA in them won’t change anything.”

“Yes. Nurture not nature.”

“Ok. But… you go around saying that Chris and me are ‘chips off the old block’ and putting down the fact that we’re so brilliant to YOUR DNA in us. Don’t you think that’s a contradiction?”

“No,” he replied. “Because you also had my guidance and teaching and the benefit of my experience to show you the way. And the love of your parents. Without us, you wouldn’t be who you are.”

“Ok,” he said. “At least you’re making sense now. That’s an improvement.” Davie turned to his TARDIS console and began to programme their return home, setting the time co-ordinate so that they WERE only gone for the hour before supper that The Doctor had suggested for their little field trip.

“Yes, I am,” he said. He was making a LOT of sense. And so was Davie. He thought about how he had taken the two of them when their telepathy was just starting to scare their mother and their differences from other boys were beginning to set them apart in a cruel way, and he had trained them to be what they were destined to be.

And what was Marton Pallister destined to be?

He thought he knew.

When he got back he went to find Marton. He was pleased to see him in a group that had just finished a session in the Meditation Hall. He was talking with two girls who seemed interested in what he had to say. When The Doctor approached and asked to speak to him it RAISED their opinion of him and they waved and promised to talk to him later.

“I wanted to ask you,” The Doctor said to him. “If you would like to train to be a Time Lord.”

“A....” Marton was stunned. “But… I’m not….”

“Your people are only different from mine in a matter of half a dozen genomes. And you are the brightest and strongest of your kind I have ever come across. I think you could do it. I think you could transcend. You would be a Time Lord in your own right. What you do after that is up to you. I hope you will walk in the light and do good. But it is your life to do as you choose.”

“I could really.…” If HE had been an Emotomorph he would have been a kaleidoscope of colours. He was rapidly passing between a dozen emotional responses at once.

“I am Tiboran.” He fixed finally on the one central point. “If I became a Time Lord, I would be one of the gods, one of the Lords of Time, one of those my people bow down to.”

“You wanted to change that. Here’s your best chance. Perhaps that is your destiny, Marton. Or you could be a despot and rule the people you came from. It’s your choice. I’m offering you the opportunity. How you use it is up to you.”

“Doctor….” Marton looked at him for a long moment. “Doctor, thank you.”

As he walked back to his home and family and his supper he thought about the possible consequences. He was going to train a new Time Lord who was, in all essence, The Master, the most evil Time Lord of their entire race. He was training a NEW Master, in effect. And banking on him being a good man because of the love of his parents who had brought him up far better than The Master’s parents did.

And he claimed not to be a gambling man!

He might have rolled the scariest pair of dice in the history of the game.