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

The Doctor looked at the young faces around his TARDIS console. four Time Lord candidates, his latest apprentice, Marton Pallister, among them. They had all enjoyed the weekend field trip offworld. So had the eight others who were travelling in Chris and Davie’s TARDISes as they moved through the vortex in formation. Each and every one of them had shown signs that they were capable of the responsibility of being a Time Lord. Marton had a lot of catching up to do on the others, but he had done very well. The Doctor was already planning on taking him out on his own for a couple of trips so that he could spend some one on one training time with him.

“It’s ok to talk out loud,” he said to them. “There’s a deadly silence around the TARDIS and the telepathic noise is deafening!”

They all laughed a little nervously before one of them plucked up the courage to speak.

“I enjoyed the trip,” said Brón, the only girl among his four. “That planet was amazing. Those birds…. Watching them made me want to fly with them.”

“We can’t, can we?” Marton asked. “That’s not a Time Lord skill is it?”

“Sorry, no. We’re definitely not aerodynamic. Few humanoid lifeforms are. Superman was a fraud.” Again the candidates laughed. The Doctor was glad to hear them. Mostly he taught them serious things like temporal physics and the long, complex, and ultimately tragic history of Gallifrey. There weren’t enough moments when they could laugh together. He reminded himself to make more of them. They needed laughs or they would all turn into the same dry, phlegmatic people that the old Time Lord race was.

“Just don’t lose your enthusiasm, any of you,” he said. “It’s good that you find new planets exciting. I hope you won’t lose that when you are fully fledged Time Lords. I’m afraid too many of us take it all for granted…”

“Speak for yourself, granddad,” Davie said telepathically from his own TARDIS. “I love seeing new planets. And you have to agree, it was a good choice for a field trip.”

“A planet where the only evolved species are birds. A very good choice, Davie. You’re the one with the exploration gene in your generation. That’s for sure.”

“I’ll be glad to get home to my girl, all the same,” Davie added. “I was a bit disappointed that Brenda didn’t want to come with us. I always imagined the two of us travelling in our TARDIS like you and Rose did.”

“So did I,” The Doctor admitted. “History repeating itself. But Brenda is a stay at home girl. She loves being around Peter and Garrick. And I rather think she doesn’t want to leave Rose’s side until the twins are born. Even with another nine months to go. She’s going to be a good wife, Davie. She’ll be mother to your children. She’ll be faithful to you. Always there when you need her. That’s something to be glad of. And when you’re out there in space and time, you’ve got Spenser, who is also faithful to you, for most of the same reasons.”

The telepathic equivalent of a blush radiated out from Davie. The Doctor grinned and let him off the hook. Teasing him about his devoted apprentice wasn’t entirely fair.

“Are we going to take the scenic route through the solar system?” Chris asked. “I’ve been preparing my students to join me in controlling the TARDIS psychically.”

“That’s a slightly scary thought even for Time Lords,” Davie commented. “Five of you zoned out of the real world and communing with your TARDIS.”

“It’s a level of control over our technology that we could have aspired to, but never did,” The Doctor answered.

“The Ancient Ones, you mean?” the candidate named Cól Vaehn asked.

“Ancient Ones?” The Doctor laughed. “Yes, I suppose we are a bit. Yes, son. The old Time Lords of Gallifrey had a problem. They took their knowledge so far and then stopped. They stagnated. They never tried to stretch themselves any further. Chris, you push the boundaries where you want to push them. The future is yours, my boy.”

“Ok then, get ready to drop out of the vortex at the sol outer marker,” Davie said.

The Doctor smiled proudly. Davie was the real leader of the expedition. When he gave orders like that, even he had reached for the Helmic Regulator and waited for his mark. He, The Doctor, last of the ‘Ancient Ones’ who the Candidates stood in awe of.

Maybe retirement wasn’t as far away as he thought.

The three TARDISes came out of the vortex in formation, right on the outer marker of the ‘Sol’ solar system, as Davie, the commander of their fleet, and Chris, the navigator with perfect instinct for where he was at all times, intended them to be. Earth was barely a speck in the far distance. Pluto and Sedna, the small, cold, outer planets, looked like a pair of marbles. But they were on the edge of the system they all called home, regardless of where their roots were.

“What the *&#@£$ is that?” The Doctor yelled as something else filled his viewscreen. Davie calmly gave out information, data about the mothership and the fleet of smaller craft that had overtaken them as they hung in orbit. The mothership was at least a mile wide and half a mile deep, big enough to carry an entire army and its strategic command. The other craft, fifty of them, Davie reported, were fighter bombers.

It was an invasion force.

“They’re heading for Earth?” One of the candidates, The Doctor was too distracted to notice which one, asked the question.

“Yes,” he answered.

“But they can’t,” Chris responded. “Rassilon’s Envelope…”

“Has never worked since it was put in place,” The Doctor said bitterly. “And if they’ve brought that kind of firepower, these don’t intend for it to work now.”

“What are they?” asked Brón. “Sontaran?” She shuddered. She was one of those born in captivity, as slaves of the Sontarans. The thought of them coming to invade the planet where she had known freedom and happiness for a relatively short time was devastating.

“No, not them,” The Doctor answered. “Not Daleks, either. But it IS an invasion fleet. And Earth is defenceless…”

“Earth doesn’t even know,” Chris added.

“We’ve got to warn them. Everyone… please hush a minute. No telepathic chatter. I need to concentrate.” He put his palms against his temples and shut out everything else as he reached to contact his son, his eldest son, Christopher. He should have been in Whitehall today, at a Cabinet meeting. He was the one best placed to raise the alarm.

“Father?” he felt him reply. “What’s wrong? Are you…”

“Christopher, tell Moira… she needs to alert Earth Defence. There’s a fleet on the edge of the solar system, heading towards Earth. I don’t think its intentions are friendly.” He concentrated hard as he passed the image of the fleet to his son. “They have to be ready,” he said. “Don’t take any flimflam or political nonsense from them. They MUST act…”

“Sweet Mother of Chaos,” Christopher swore. “Is it…”

“No, it’s not them. But it’s bad enough. If we are to avoid Earth sharing the fate of Gallifrey, we must all act fast.”

“What are you going to do, father?” Christopher asked. But he didn’t answer. He cut off the telepathic communication and gripped the console dizzily for a moment. Christopher’s telepathy over distance was not as good as it ought to be. It took a lot out of him to maintain the connection.

“What do we do next?” Chris asked.

“We get on board the mothership and find out what we’re up against,” The Doctor answered. “That is to say, I'm going to do that. And Davie. Chris, stand by. Davie, I’m dropping my transmat shield. Transfer these four and your candidates over to Chris’s TARDIS. Chris, you take them home. Back to Earth. You look after everyone there. Your acolytes at the Sanctuary, they need to be prepared…”

“We can’t help?” The candidates all protested, but The Doctor insisted.

“You’re not ready for this. Go with Chris. And…” He reached out and touched each of them on the shoulder. “Rassilon’s blessing on you all.”

He stood away from them as the transmat enveloped them. He heard Chris say he had everyone safe aboard. Then he was surprised to find himself enveloped by a transmat. He looked around as the Chinese TARDIS resolved around him.

“Chris has your TARDIS in tandem,” Davie explained. “He’s bringing it back to Earth with him. We’ll do this with a TARDIS that still has a functioning chameleon circuit.”

It made sense. They were going into an unknown, but certainly hostile, environment. He was slightly put out by the way Davie had taken the unilateral action, though.

“This is no time for an ego battle, granddad,” Davie told him. “Let’s just do it.”

“Wait for me.” Both of them turned as Spenser rematerialised by the environmental console. “I'm not leaving you,” he said. “You wouldn’t leave me… I won’t leave you.”

“Spenser…” Davie began. But it was too late to send him back. Chris had already dematerialised. He was on his way home to Earth.

“Ok.” Davie turned to his console and hit the dematerialisation switch. A moment later the Chinese TARDIS materialised in a low lit service corridor in what he read as a non-essential part of the ship not far from the bridge. The lifesigns monitor was not being entirely helpful. It seemed to be giving back unreliable readings of how many beings of any kind were aboard the ship. But it at least clearly indicated that the bridge had a crew of twelve, of a humanoid type, though he was getting no information at all about what species they might be.

“There are anti-transmat walls all over this ship,” Davie confirmed. “I don’t even fancy our chances of using the TARDIS to move within the ship now we’re aboard.”

“We’re going to have to do it the hard way,” The Doctor said. “Walking…”

“Looks like it.” Davie paused before making a decision. “Spenser, you stay here and monitor us. Granddad and I will check out the bridge.”

“How?” Spenser asked. “You can’t just walk in there.” But Davie had the answer. He opened a panel beneath his console and pulled out two objects. They looked a bit like time rings, the primitive form of space/time travel that Time Lords occasionally used for getting around without a TARDIS. But the marking were different. They had Davie’s own insignia, the ying yang on a fiery dragon, tooled on them.

“Personal perception filters,” he said. “I designed them a while ago. Based on notes in the database. So far I haven’t used them for anything except a rather elaborate game of telepathic hide and seek with Sukie and Vicki, but they work.”

The Doctor slipped one over his wrist, noting the very slight tingle as the metal touched his skin. Davie did the same. Spenser blinked.

“I know you’re there,” he said. “But I can’t see you…”

“See, it works,” Davie said. “We’ll be near invisible on the lifesigns monitor, just a vague shadow. But keep an eye out for anything we can’t handle.”

“What can’t you handle?” Spenser asked. And that was the question that worried them most as they stepped out of the TARDIS. It had disguised itself as an airlock. The Doctor looked at the language in which the words ‘emergency airlock’ were written. It looked a lot like old Earth Cyrillic. But it wasn’t. Earth was just one of many planets where a language of that sort had evolved. In fact, he noted, the form that was being used on this spaceship had evolved much further than the Earth language. So, for that matter, had the species who used the language, and who built this ship. This was far in advance of Earth technology.

And that meant that Earth was in trouble. It DID have a form of defence system, based on the moon. It was put in place by the generation that survived the Dalek invasion. But it wasn’t going to hold out for long against what was coming, even if Christopher managed to alert the world’s leaders.

“Granddad…” Davie was examining an interactive plan of the ship, all written in that same Cyrillic language. “This… is something we should look at.” The Doctor looked. There was a central area, a core, that seemed to be one huge room. It was labelled cy-dorm. “What does that mean, do you think?”

“You find out,” The Doctor answered. “I’ll go to the bridge.”

Davie frowned. He didn’t like the idea of them being split up. But he had a strong hunch that ‘cy-dorm’ was important, and they couldn’t waste any time aboard this enemy ship. It was the only option.

“Ok,” he said. “Granddad… take care..”

“You, too,” The Doctor answered. Davie felt a touch on his shoulder and the telepathic equivalent of a hug before his great-grandfather turned and went the other way and he approached the hermetically sealed bulkhead door. He knew it would be tricky to open it without setting off any alarms. But his sonic screwdriver ought to be up to the job.

The Doctor felt strangely vulnerable when he parted from Davie. He was acutely aware that he was heading towards a bridge full of people who would do him and Davie great harm. But he was no coward. He steeled himself to the task.

He found the bridge. He stepped onto a railed platform that looked down on it. He could have got closer if he needed to, but he didn’t need to. He could see everything from here. He noted that the bridge was manned – and that was the correct word, this was a male only fleet command – by humanoids. They were tall but thickset, stocky figures that seemed all muscle beneath the uniforms that involved a lot of leather and something like black sheepskin. They had low foreheads and hooded eyes and their mouths were fixed scowls. Their spoken language was guttural, and they sounded as if they were all in a permanent bad mood with each other. Even a simple command to turn on the viewscreen was hurled out with a snarl.

He knew what they were from the moment he saw them.

And the knowledge filled him with fear for planet Earth.

There had been a small hope, in the back of his mind, that this wasn’t an invasion, but some sort of diplomatic mission, some attempt by an interstellar envoy to make peaceful contact with Earth and forge diplomatic links. The military appearance of the mothership and the fighter craft accompanying it made that a long shot, but he let the possibility rest in his mind.

Now, that hope evaporated. He knew he was in the midst of an enemy that had no good will towards Earth or its people. They were here to conquer a planet with rich resources, not the least of them being the billions of slaves that could be taken in one fell swoop.

Davie smiled as his sonic screwdriver overrode all the security and opened the bulkhead. There was a hiss of escaped sealant and he had a feeling there ought to have been some portent-laden Wagnerian music to accompany it. But there wasn’t. One moment it was shut, the next open, and he stepped through into the vast Cy-dorm – whatever that was.

The Doctor paid attention as the Commander gave an order. On the huge viewscreen above the command seat, he recognised the part of the solar system where Earth was. The enemy couldn’t see the planet. Rassilon’s Envelope protected it. But they knew it was there. The Commander barked another order. Two of his subordinates at the weapons array pressed buttons feverishly. A beam of glowing energy shot out from the mothership, across the millions of miles that still lay between the fleet holding at the outer marker of the solar system and the third planet. The Doctor suppressed a scream as he saw the energy surround the still invisible Earth, forming a glowing, pulsating ball in space. Was it that easy? Earth destroyed remotely, suddenly, without any chance to fight back? His hearts grieved for his family. Rose, his children, Christopher, Jackie, Susan, David, Chris, who he sent back to Earth, to be trapped there. The horrible déjà vu of seeing Gallifrey destroyed, along with so many of his friends and family hit him in the depth of his soul.

“My babies.” More than any other, his thoughts fixed on his two unborn children and the life they never had a chance to live.

Then he gasped with something close to relief as he looked at the screen again. Earth was there. It was still blue and green and shining like a jewel. He saw the data that filled the screen. The population of Earth still numbered in billions. Nobody was dead.

He knew what had happened.

Rassilon’s Envelope was gone. Earth was fully visible to the invaders. They had all the information they needed to begin their invasion. He only wondered why they didn’t begin it right away.

“Granddad!” Davie’s voice in his head commanded his attention. “Cy-dorm. It’s an army. At least 150,000. They’re ten floors deep. All in their ‘containers’.


“I can’t think of any other word. It’s like a giant toy shop with soldier dolls in plastic blisterpacks stacked on the shelf. They’re…. I’ve never seen anything like this. Only read about it. They’re cyborgs. Spenser is picking up lifesigns clearly now that I’m in here. Before the TARDIS couldn’t penetrate fully. They’re part organic… they have faces of flesh… and I guess under the battle armour they’ve got an outer skin of flesh. But their skeletons, their brains are metal… artificial. The organic part must be cloned. They’re all identical. They…” Davie gave a hollow laugh, despite himself. “They remind me of…. bald versions of Russell Crowe in Gladiator…”

The Doctor laughed softly, too at the incongruous cultural reference and wondered very briefly how Davie had seen that film, since his mother’s microdisc collection consisted of the collected works of Cliff Richard and a selection of other 1950s and 1960s musicals. Then he saw in his mind’s eye Davie’s vision of 150,000 bald Russell Crowe’s in battle armour. There was nothing funny about them.

“It’s not a cryogenic unit.” Davie added. “They just seem to be ‘at rest’, switched off.”

“That would be the case,” The Doctor answered. “They’re probably being fed information – strategy – for the invasion.”

“It IS an invasion – of Earth?”

“Yes,” The Doctor told him.

“Then we’ve got to stop it.”

“Electro-magnetic pulse,” The Doctor told him. “There should be some kind of control system within the dorm. Use it… feed a pulse into the units. It will fry all their brains.”

“Yes, I see the control panel. I could do that. Take about five minutes. But… Do you really want me to do that, granddad?” The Doctor knew why he was asking. Cloned flesh, metal brains, but a form of life. And if he had impressed anything upon the twins as he trained them to follow in his footsteps, it was that life in all its varieties was sacrosanct. To ask him to kill 150,000 cyborg soldiers with five minutes of tinkering with a computer was a huge thing.

“Your mother, father, sister… Brenda… Chris….” The Doctor reminded him. “For them, you must. And I must… my soul won’t be clean, either. I have a task here…”

“What task?” Davie asked.

“It may take longer,” he replied. “When you’ve done what you have to do, get back to the TARDIS. Don’t try to reach me. Do you understand that?”

“Yes, granddad, I do,” Davie answered. “But…”

“No buts,… Do your duty. I’ll do mine.”

Davie did his duty. A terrible duty that went against everything he believed in, but he did it. He accessed the system that kept the cyborgs in low power mode until they were ready to be transported down to the planet as ground troops of the invasion force. He worked quickly, rerouting the power so that it reverberated through the system as a brief but effective electromagnetic pulse. He breathed deeply as he prepared to connect the final circuit. He thought of his family, Brenda, his sister, his mother and father, his brother.

“Chris, I'm buying your peace with my soul,” he whispered as he pressed the switch. Around him, above and below, in their massed ranks, the cyborg soldiers were eerily lit by arcing electrical power surging through the system.

“Oh… hell!” he murmured aloud. “Granddad, I’m visible. The EMP nullified the perception filter.”

“Get out,” The Doctor ordered. “Quickly… back to the TARDIS.”

“I’m going,” Davie assured him. He turned on his heels and ran. In his head he could hear Spenser telling him that there were guards on the way. He had seconds to reach the TARDIS airlock. He took a deep breath and folded time. Even so, the guards were closing in and as he came out of the time fold by the faux airlock they reached the corridor. He heard their screams to halt as he reached to open the door. At the same moment, not even giving him the opportunity to surrender, the lead guard opened fire on him with a plasma bolt gun. The projectile slammed into his shoulder as the door opened inwards and he fell over the threshold into his TARDIS.

The Doctor knew that Davie was injured. He had felt his pain before he broke the mental connection with him. But he couldn’t do anything to help him. Even if he didn’t have another task to do, he couldn’t get back to the TARDIS now. The security breach at the cy-dorm had sent the whole ship into lockdown. Bulkheads were slamming down all over as sirens wailed annoyingly. He had to trust that Spenser could look after him.

Meanwhile on the bridge the discovery that the cyborg army had been neutralised was causing a furore. The commander was barking out orders so fast his voice was practically a monotone of rage and fury. The Doctor noted that they immediately knew it to be sabotage. They never even entertained the possibility of a system failure. He wasn’t sure what that told him about them. That they believed their systems infallible but their security vulnerable to saboteurs?

Anyway, the resultant confusion was his opportunity to get down onto the bridge and across the floor to the environmental controls. It was the least vital command post and unattended at present. If anyone had seen the keys being pressed by an invisible operator, the game would be up. But they were all too busy paying attention to the commander. It was laughably easy to access the tactical command and begin sending conflicting instructions to the drive computers of the fleet of fighter bombers. This was where he abandoned his pacifist principles. Each of those fighters had twenty men aboard. Not cyborgs, artificially created, but living, breathing people. And he was giving their computers kamikaze instructions. He was killing them.

The Commander’s attention was drawn to the large viewscreen, as it filled with fighters firing upon each other, blasting each other into oblivion. The panic stricken cries of the pilots and navigators trying to regain control of their own ships filled the air, along with the screams of rage from the commander and the protests from the tactical command officers that it was nothing to do with them.

“Then who?” demanded the commander, grasping the first tactical officer by the throat and flinging him to the ground. “Who is doing this? Who is the traitor on this ship?”

“My Lord!” cried the second tactical officer. “It is within this room. The computer is being overridden by another…. It is…” He swung around and stared at the environmental command post. But there was nobody there. The seat swung slightly as if somebody had been there a few seconds ago, but nobody was there now.

The Doctor moved quickly and quietly. He had regained the platform above the bridge when something on the large viewscreen made him stop and stare, despite that fact that he lost precious seconds that would allow him to escape from the bridge.

Spenser hit the door seal before he grabbed Davie in his arms. He was alive. He was conscious. But he was hurting. The plasma bolt was still in his shoulder and in addition to searing flesh and sinew, it was sending agonising plasma shocks through his body, making him convulse painfully.

“So…nic…” he gasped as Spenser knelt on the floor, holding him tightly. He felt him reach into his jacket pocket for the sonic screwdriver. “Setting V-3-X… 67.” He screamed and convulsed again. Spenser supported him with one arm while he adjusted the setting and applied the sonic pulse to the place where he was wounded. It neutralised the plasma shocks, but the bolt was still embedded in his flesh. Spenser reached to pull it but Davie screamed. It was too painful to remove it manually.

“Got to force it back out telekinetically,” he said. “Help me do that.”

“It’ll still hurt,” Spenser told him.

“I know, but it’s the only way. My shoulder can’t mend until it’s out.”

Spenser hugged his arms around Davie’s shoulders and held him tightly as he closed his eyes and focussed on the bolt. It was resting against his clavicle, bruising the bone. But slowly, as they both concentrated on it, it began to slide back, millimetre by millimetre. Davie tried to keep as still as possible. It was easier that way. But he couldn’t help the woeful groans through gritted teeth as he bore the pain.

“Almost there,” Spenser told him. “Stay with me, Davie. Stay with me, my Captain, my friend… my….”

Davie looked up at his face and saw his face almost as anguished as his own. Spenser was sharing his pain. He was surprised. He’d never had anyone else do that before except Chris. Their blood connection made it impossible for either of them not to feel each other’s pain, as well as their joys. Chris would know, right now, that he was hurt. But he would also know that he was being comforted.

“Spenser,” he whispered. “You know that I love Brenda, don’t you? She’s the one…”

“The one you wish was holding you now?”

“Yes… but you’re a close second. I promise you that.” Then to Spenser’s surprise he reached with his good arm around his neck and pulled him close. He kissed him on the lips. Spenser gasped in surprise for a moment, then reciprocated warmly. In his dreams, the object of his affection wasn’t bleeding from a ghastly wound when he kissed him, but he was in no position to complain. As the plasma bolt finally came loose from the wound, he grabbed it and threw it across the floor then grasped Davie all the more tightly. He kept on kissing him as the painful wound slowly repaired.

“Are you…” Davie felt Spenser’s question in his head. “Are you pretending it’s Brenda kissing you?”

“No,” he answered. “I know it’s you. And it feels ok. It may never happen again… at least not unless I get shot again and need something to take my mind off the pain. But I know it’s you. And… thank you for being here, for not leaving me.”

Spenser said nothing. Even being a distraction from pain was good enough.

The unexpected intimacy was broken by an insistent alarm coming from the console. Davie pulled away from Spenser’s embrace gently and stood up. He yelped as he jarred his still aching shoulder, and he felt slightly dizzy as he gained his feet, but he propelled himself towards the console, searching for the source of the alarm. He was surprised to find it coming from the computer database. He had expected an incoming transmission, not something from within his own TARDIS computer.

He looked at the file that displayed on the monitor.


His memory flew back to the time when his TARDIS had accidentally brought him to the future, when he had met his great grandfather in the thirty-first century. He had told him there was a storm coming. And he had left an encrypted file that he said would activate when the time came.

The time had come. Davie opened the message and read the first part. His hearts sank.

“Granddad,” he called out telepathically. “Granddad, can you hear me?”

“Yes, I can hear you.” The Doctor replied to Davie’s telepathic message. “Davie… you have to get going. Don’t wait for me. I'm trapped here. They don’t know I’m here. The perception filter works, but there are at least four bulkheads between me and you.”

“Granddad… that’s what I had to tell you. I’ve got a message – it’s from you. It’s telling me I have to go. I have to get out of here… leaving you.”

“A message from me?” The Doctor was puzzled. “Well… then do it. Go… Be the first person to actually do as they’re told in a situation like this. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Because… Davie… I’m looking at their viewscreen right now. And… this is only the vanguard of the invasion force. We’ve only halted them for a matter of an hour or so. They’re still coming. Three more motherships and hundreds of fighters… they’ll be through the hyperspace jump in a few minutes and then… then the invasion begins.”


“Go,” he said. “Get away while you can. Tell my… my children… tell Rose…” His voice, even telepathically, was breaking with fear and sorrow. “They know, of course. But tell them anyway…”

“I will, granddad,” Davie promised. “I will. Goodbye… for now.”

The Doctor felt so lonely as Davie closed the telepathic connection between them. He knew that the TARDIS had dematerialised because the guards who had been trying to get into the airlock after the intruder reported that it had disappeared into thin air. The commander swore at them in his guttural language and called them liars and fools, but the technician at the environmental control confirmed that there had been an energy surge at that very moment.

“Trace it,” the commander snarled. “Find out where it originated and kill them…”

The Doctor knew there was no way to trace the TARDIS once it had dematerialised. Davie and Spenser were safe.

For now.

“They’re called Dominators,” Davie told his companion, reading from the notes The Doctor had left for him. “A surly, highly aggressive race that once claimed to have conquered Ten Galaxies. Their massive warships swept through whole systems fuelled by absorbing radiation from the stars themselves. When they found a populated planet, they enslaved the inhabitants, making them work, asset stripping their own planet, building new warships to conquer still more worlds….” Davie gasped as he read the next bit. “When they had used all the resources of a planet they would fire sub-thermic weapons into the atmosphere, turning it radioactive and using it to fuel their ships. The enslaved population would die in the poisoned wasteland that remained.”

“The Doctor sent you that information in a message from the future?” Spenser asked.


“Then it won’t happen to Earth. We’ll be all right.”

“Doesn’t work that way. Time is always in flux. Anything could happen to change the future. It might have happened already. We’re in the TARDIS. State of Grace. The message could exist even if the future it is written in doesn’t, because paradoxes are neutralised within the relative dimensions.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure. Chris and I learnt all this stuff from Granddad when we were kids. It might be ok. We’ve got an advantage. Granddad has told me what I have to do. What we all have to do. But we can’t rely on any certainty about the future. That’s what I’m telling you.”

“We have a chance, though?”

“Yes, we have a chance. I know what to do.”

He set the TARDIS to take them home. That was the first thing The Doctor told him to do. Minutes later his Chinese TARDIS materialised beside Chris’s Gothic TARDIS and The Doctor’s Police Public Call Box on the meadow between the formal garden and the Sanctuary. Usually that was a peaceful place, but today it was a scene of uproar. Chris and the students he had brought home were there, and so were Rose, Jackie, Susan and Brenda. Jackie had her baby in her arms. Susan was holding Peter. They were all talking at once. When Davie stepped out of the TARDIS, Brenda ran to him, hugging him tight and kissing him hurriedly.

“What’s happening?” Susan demanded. “Davie, Chris said that there’s an invasion on its way… that Earth isn’t safe. He wants us to get away.”

“Yes,” Davie said. “Yes, that’s what you all have to do. Chris, get your people from the Sanctuary. You’re taking them to SangC’lune. Granddad said to take them there. You’ll be safe there. I’ll come and get you when it’s all over. Or… if it isn’t…”

“Davie, I can’t leave you,” Chris protested. “I can’t…”

“Yes, you can,” he answered. “Do it now. Quickly. I have to get our family to safety.”

“What about OUR families?” Marton Pallister asked, and the others within earshot murmured excitedly.

“I’m sorry,” Davie told them. “There isn’t time. We have an hour at most. Chris, go and get the others. Marton, help him. And you, Spenser.”

“No,” Spenser answered. “I’m staying with you.” He slipped his hand in Davie’s. “I’m not leaving you.”

“All right,” he said. “But everyone else…”

Chris turned. He told his students to get into the TARDIS. The others were already running out of the Sanctuary. They had picked up the telepathic signals and were ready. That was good, Davie thought.

“Susan, Rose… Granddad told me… You two… you take his TARDIS. You can both pilot it. You get everyone else to Tibora. Brenda… your people can look after them.”

“Yes, but… why can’t I stay with you. If HE can?”

“I need you safe,” he answered. “I need my family safe. Mum… where’s Sukie? Vicki?”

“They’re coming,” Chris told him. “So is dad. Christopher called him. He’s on his way.”

“What about Christopher?” Jackie asked. “And The Doctor…”

“Christopher is staying at Whitehall,” Davie said. “It’s his duty. Yours is to take Garrick and be safe. Rose… The Doctor… he’s alive. I promise you. He’s doing what he can. He told me… he loves you. But you didn’t need to be told.”

“I’ve never run away before. I’ve always been with him.”

“Not this time. You have the babies to look after.” He turned as Chris embraced him once and then his mother, and ran to his TARDIS. He shut the door and it dematerialised. The first evacuation was under way. The second…

There was a screech of brakes on the driveway and Davie saw his father running to them.

“An invasion?” he managed to say as he gasped for breath. “Davie… is it true? What is it? Daleks?”

“Not this time,” his son told him. “But it could be just as bad. Only this time… you don’t fight. You run. You go with mum and Rose and Jackie, look after everyone.”

David looked around at the group hovering by the TARDIS door.

“Sukie?” he asked.

“She’s coming. I can hear her in my head. They’re minutes away.”

“Ok. What about?” He looked at the house. “Mr and Mrs Grahams and the two girls who clean the house. Are we going to leave them?”

“No. Go get them. Bring them out here, dad. We can’t leave anyone in that house.” He cursed himself for forgetting them as he looked up at the part of the roof he knew was going to be destroyed in a bombardment any time soon. Nobody was going to be left in there.

“Get in,” he said to the others. “Get ready.”

“Not without Vicki,” Rose said. “My little girl.”

“They’re here,” Davie said as he heard another car on the driveway. It drove across the grass and crashed through the topiary at the side of the formal garden to stop in the meadow itself. Vicki and Sukie jumped out and ran. Behind them came Miss Wright, their teacher.

“Get in the TARDIS,” Davie told them. “Quickly.”

“Not without Yogi and Boo Boo,” Sukie told her brother. The two girls ran off towards the bear shed. Miss Wright, breathless and heart-racing looked at the two young men who had once been her pupils.

“I brought the girls home. They told me… they said… Is it true? Is it… really an invasion. I… I’ve been through all of that before… I can’t…”

“You get in the TARDIS, too, Miss Wright,” Davie told her calmly. “There’s room for you. You’ll be all right.”

“Thank you,” she said. She turned as the girls ran back with their pets. She took hold of their hands and brought them to the TARDIS.

“Are you sure it isn’t a mistake?” Brenda asked. “I know something funny happened earlier. It was like lightning, only I felt every telepathic mind near me yell out. Everyone in the Sanctuary…”

“THAT was Rassilon’s Envelope going down,” Davie explained. “The first act of the invasion. That’s why there’s no time.”

He looked up at the sky as it darkened suddenly. The mothership was blocking the sun as it entered the atmosphere, flanked by a formation of the fighter craft. He heard screams as his father ran with the housekeeper and butler and the two maids, as well as Martin and Geoff, Christopher’s CPO’s who were lurking in the kitchen as they usually did when they weren’t on duty. It was the maids who were screaming as they looked up into the sky. He heard his father urging them on.

“Get them all inside, dad,” Davie told him. His father didn’t hesitate. Brenda was the last one. She wrapped her arms around him. He hugged her tightly. It broke his hearts to have to say goodbye to her. He didn’t know when he would see her again – or if he ever would. But he kissed her and then pressed her firmly towards the TARDIS.

“Go,” he said. She stepped inside. The police box doors closed. They were gone. He turned and looked at his own TARDIS and at Spenser.

“There’s something we have to do before we can go,” he said. “Granddad told me we couldn’t leave any time travel technology where it could be found by the enemy. I have to destroy my workshop and the prototype.”

“Oh, no!” Spenser knew how much that work meant to Davie.

“I have all the plans in my head,” he said. “Still… damned shame. I’ll never get hold of another DeLorean!”

They both ran to the workshop. Davie opened the bonnet of the car that was more than a car and began re-routing wires feverishly. Spenser stood by the door and watched the skies as the mothership and its flanking fighters moved slowly across London.

“Do you think they’ve gone to other cities, too?” he asked. “New York or Washington, or France…”

“The Daleks did, when they invaded,” Davie said. “It makes sense. Take out the central government…” He shivered. Christopher was part of that central government. He was at Whitehall now, along with Moira Greenwood, the President, and other members of the Cabinet. Would they be killed?

“I wish I’d spent more time with him,” he said.

“With who?” Spenser asked.

“Christopher… my grandfather. Chris and I were teenagers before we knew him. He always seemed second best to The Doctor… HE’s the one we call granddad. It was harder to get to know Christopher. He tried, really hard. But we always seemed to be apart. And now… I hope we have another chance. I’ll tell him how I feel. That I really do love him.”

He stepped back from the car. It WAS a nice car. But it wasn’t as important as the lives that could be destroyed if it fell into the hands of the Dominators. He looked at Spenser and said one word.


They both ran, side by side, back towards the Chinese TARDIS in the meadow. They were at its door when the workshop blew up, a plume of smoke rising over the main house. As it did so, they heard the sound of other explosions, near and far. The fighter-bombers were attacking London. The explosions were followed by the ringing of alarms, burglar alarms, fire alarms, car alarms, all set off by the vibrations, and more smoke plumes. They could hear screaming, too.

Then one of the fighter-bombers was above Mount Lœng House. They saw the laser canon fire strike the side of the house where Vicki’s bedroom was, blowing out the wall and part of the roof. Davie thought of how often she and Sukie played in that room and was glad they were safe.

“It’s not an attack on us,” he said. “It’s not personal. They’re attacking randomly. It’s a scare tactic.”

“I think it’s working,” Spenser said. “I can feel it building. Fear… all around us.”

“I know,” Davie answered. “We’ve got to get away. Get on with the mission Granddad sent us on.” He opened the TARDIS door and gently pushed Spenser inside. He looked once more at the broken, burning wing of the house Rose and The Doctor had bought as a place of love and peace.

“We’ll be back,” he promised. “We’ll be back to make that right. But first, there are things we have to do.”