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

Chris was at the controls of his Gothic TARDIS. The Chinese TARDIS was in tandem with it and Davie and Spenser joined his brother and his passengers in the console room for the journey. Neither had much to do. Chris didn’t need any help. He flew his TARDIS part manually and part using his powerful mind to link with the semi-sentient part of the machine.

It meant it was better not to try to talk to him when he was working. Davie watched him and felt his mind in ‘navigation mode’. It was almost frightening. His head seemed to be one great star chart. His thoughts were co-ordinates, vectors, triangulations of distances in four dimensions. Even Davie, with all of his own knowledge of temporal physics, plus the wisdom of his great-grandfather that he could call upon when he needed it, was slightly bewildered by what went on in Chris’s head sometimes.

He was always a little worried that one day he might not come back from it. Davie didn’t want a brother whose mind was welded to his TARDIS.

He turned and looked at the passengers. MacKenzie Ross, Mac to his friends, sat beside his father. Cardew Ross looked around the TARDIS with rather dazed eyes. Most people who came into it for the first time, did. But in this case it was more than just astonishment about the relative dimensions.

Spenser approached them and asked if they would like tea or coffee, the one thing they COULD do while Chris was busy with the piloting.

“Tea, please,” Mac answered. “Dad… the nice man asked if you want a cup of tea.”

“Yes, please,” Mr Ross said. “When will the plane be landing?” he added.

“In about twenty minutes, sir,” Spenser replied. “Your other son will be waiting to see you. And his wife.”

“My other son?” He looked confused. “Chiv? He doesn’t have a… he’s only fifteen.”

“Chiv is twenty-one, dad,” Mac said in a firm, patient voice, but with a despairing undertone. “He’s been married for six months. I told you about Mishiko. They’re having a baby. Chiv is happy living on Tem-Enara with her.”

“Chiv went to Ireland,” Mr Ross said.

“No, dad,” Mac answered him. “He went to live on another planet. We’re going to see him. We’re going to have a nice little holiday there. It’s a nice, peaceful place. You’ll like it, dad.”

“When does the plane land?”

Spenser went and made tea. He brought a tray for two and left it with Mac to pour a cup for his father. He brought a mug to Davie, who leant against a safety rail and watched his brother.

“No point in offering him one?” Spenser asked.

“No, but I’ll make sure he gets a drink when we land. And something to eat. Prolonged psychic activity drains the protein levels in the body.”

“Pity it’s not so easy as that to restore Mac’s father.”

“Yes,” Davie looked sadly at the old man and his son. “He’s only just sixty. Not as old as he looks. And this has come on very fast. Mac said he was fine when he saw him just before…”

“The Dominators…” Spenser shuddered. “The things they did to people.”

“I’m not sure if this was their doing or not. Dementia affects humans almost randomly. Some remain sharp and clear of mind for a hundred years. Others lose it as early as this. It’s a tragedy. We Time Lords have a saying – A man is the sum of his memories. But what happens when those memories become fragmented and unreliable?”

“Maybe seeing Chiv will help him.”

“It can’t do any harm. The calm ambience of Tem-Enera will be good for him anyway.”

“If we could bring the whole population of Earth there for a rest…”

“Nice idea,” Davie agreed. “But most of them will have to work it out for themselves. At least we’re all ok. Dad and mum… they’re busy with the scheme to rehouse those whose homes were destroyed in the bombardments and the clearances. Granddad is looking after The Sanctuary while we’re away and giving Marton extra tuition in temporal mechanics so he can join my advanced group. Rose, Jackie and Brenda are practically fighting over whose turn it is to cuddle the twins. Jack is doing ok now Hellina is on the mend. We came out of it all ok. We’re lucky.” He looked at Spenser. He was content, too. He liked nothing better than to travel with him. Davie reached out and put his arm around his shoulders. Spenser sighed blissfully. An acknowledgement now and again, of the bond of affection between them was all he needed to be completely happy.

“When you’ve finished cuddling, can I get a cup of tea, too?” Chris said as his eyes refocused on the real world. “We’ll be landing in a few minutes, now.” He looked around at his passengers as Spenser went to get him that drink. “Mr Ross… I could feel his mind. The TARDIS can, too. It’s so fractured it was almost an interference. I had to block it out in order to navigate properly.”

“Well, if you just pushed buttons like the rest of us do, instead of getting so up close and personal with your TARDIS…”

“Pushing buttons isn’t real piloting. I’m sure this is how a TARDIS is meant to be flown. It’s what the Gallifreyan engineers intended.”

“Maybe. But I miss you when you’re so spaced out like that.”

Chris smiled warmly at his brother and reached out to touch him telepathically. Davie smiled, too, as he felt the unique bond that no other relationship in his life could possible match. Neither Brenda, his fiancée, or Spenser, his platonic lover, could match his own twin brother for unconditional and undemanding love.

“Just you be careful,” Davie warned him. “One day you’ll leave half your brain in the TARDIS.”

Chris smiled again and looked at the viewscreen as the TARDIS initiated the materialisation on the planet according to the instructions he had given it before separating his mind from it. Even Davie didn’t quite understand how it worked. That was why he worried. But Chris knew there was nothing to worry about. He knew he was in control.

Spenser brought him the tea and then turned back to stand next to Davie as they watched the viewscreen. The time vortex dissolved and the view that resolved as they materialised was breathtakingly beautiful. The Mountain of Grace with the Temple of Harmony at its foot, a huge building, nevertheless dwarfed by the natural wonder around it. The Lake of Contemplation was glassy and still beside it.

There was something new beside the Lake since they were last there. They headed towards it when they stepped out of the TARDIS, Chris walking ahead, Mac and his father behind them, and Davie and Spenser bringing up the rear. There was a small village of finely built wooden houses, all decorated with painting and carving depicting the story of the Pashivas and the chosen ones when they came to this valley to fulfil their destiny and defeat the powers of darkness. They all recognised Chivney Ross’s artistic style - the same style which decorated the walls of the Sanctuary.

“My brother has been busy since we left him,” Mac commented. Then he smiled as Chiv emerged from the largest of the houses and ran to embrace him. Chris and Davie both felt a familiar telepathic signal. Chiv and Mac weren’t twins, but their brotherly love was as strong as theirs. They had missed each other more than they were letting on.

“Dad!” Chiv embraced his father, too. He was surprised when the old man didn’t respond to him at first. “Dad, it’s me, Chiv… Chivney… I’ve not been gone so long? You can’t have forgotten me?”

“Chiv,” his father said at last. “Hello, son. What have you been up to, lately?”

“I’ve been… busy, dad,” he answered. “Come… come on and meet Mishiko. She really wants to see you.”

He took his father by the arm and brought him into the house. It was simple, of course, a few rooms all on one level. The smooth wooden floor was covered by a handmade rug and woven fabrics covered the walls. There were no modern appliances or technology. The people of Tem-Enara had no use of such things.

Mishiko stood from a soft cushioned chair as they entered. She was obviously pregnant. The phrase ‘blooming’ was appropriate.

“You worked fast, Chiv,” Mac told him. “It’s only just six months since we left you here.”

“In Earth time,” Chiv answered. “Here, time moves differently. It’s closer to a year. And it has been a good year, as you can see. We built this small hamlet near to the Temple for those who stayed to serve The Pashivas. Mish and I were married… a simple ceremony, but The Pashivas himself did the honours, of course.”

“We should go and pay tribute to him later,” Chris said. “It would be appropriate.”

“He is not at the Temple just now,” Mishiko answered him. “He is in the south, by the great sea, bringing his light to the people there.”

“Oh,” Chris answered. “I’m sorry to have missed him.”

“Chris was hoping to spend some time in company with a man who really is a god, and compare notes about being a supernatural being.”

“Something like that,” Chris admitted. “But I am glad to see that everyone is happy and at peace here. The followers of Lucigire have not given you any trouble?”

“None at all,” Chiv replied as he brought his father to sit by the hearth. It was unmade in this warm summer season, and a vase of fresh flowers was placed under the chimney breast, but it was still the central focus of the living room and a chair there was a place of honour.

“Who is this young woman?” Mr Ross asked as Mishiko sat in the chair opposite.

“Oh, dad,” Chiv murmured sadly. “She’s my wife. She’s carrying your first grandchild.”

Mac turned away and stepped outside the house. Davie followed him. He wasn’t surprised to find him crying softly on the step. He sat down beside him and reached out a comforting arm.

“I’m sorry for being such an idiot,” he said. “But dad… I really hoped he would be better here. I thought he would recognise Chiv… I’m the oldest. But Chiv… was always dad’s favourite in a lot of ways. When we were young, he’d be the one who got to sit in his lap, while I’d be beside him… when he came back from a sea trip and he sat in his old armchair and just wanted to relax, you know… and be with his children. He didn’t neglect me, don’t get me wrong. But he hugged Chiv maybe a bit more than he hugged me.”

“I think I know what you mean. Chris is only a few minutes younger than me, but my dad’s the same. He was the baby of the family, at least till our sister came along.”

“Your dad can still remember your childhood… And know that you’re a man now at the same time. He seems to be able to do one or the other but not both.”

“I am terribly sorry,” Davie told him. “I wish there was something I could do. But even our Time Lord powers have limitations.”

“I know. I don’t ask for anything… just… I’m glad we have you and Chris as friends. I don’t feel quite so much as if I’m managing on my own.”

“Speaking of managing… If your dad gets much worse, he won’t be able to look after himself. It’ll change your plans. You were going to spend a year at the Sanctuary and then come and live here with Chiv and Mishiko. But your dad… You won’t just abandon him, surely?”

Mac nodded. He obviously had thought about it, and it was even more obvious that he had to make a hard decision.

“Chiv will be ok. He’s got Mishiko, and the baby. And The Pashivas when he’s around. He’s twenty-one years old, and stepfather to a god in corporeal form. That’s enough for him to think about. He doesn’t need me.”

Davie hid his first thought about that. He and Chris had plenty going on. Chris was a young prophet in the making with his acolytes and his philosophy. He was busy rebuilding his workshop and designing time machines, as well as exploring the universe with Spenser. Sometimes they could be a galaxy apart, but he needed Chris and Chris needed him.

“I would have liked to have done all those things. But dad needs me. Maybe… after… well, you know… He can’t last more than a few years. The degeneration of the brain is a physical thing, too. Sooner or later it will kill him. Then… then at least I can come back here and be with Chiv… But of course I won’t abandon him.”

He didn’t complain about the unfairness of it. Chiv had his life here. Mac had made plans but had to leave them aside to look after his father. It wasn’t fair. But he didn’t say so, and as far as Davie could tell, gently touching his mind, he wasn’t even thinking it.

“You can count on us as friends, always,” he promised.

Spenser came to the door. The one thing he was good at was being discreet. So discreet he almost made himself invisible. He did it a lot when Brenda was with them, somehow fading into the background when it was obvious that his presence wasn’t needed. Now, he tried not to intrude on Mac’s distress while trying to attract Davie’s attention.

“Mishiko has prepared a meal,” he said. “A celebration of us all being together.”

“Thanks,” Davie replied. “We’ll be there in a minute.”

“I’m ok,” Mac said. “Don’t let them know I’ve been crying.”

“They’re going to guess anyway,” Davie told him. “Let me…” He brushed his fingers against Mac’s eyes, one at a time, soothing the redness around them that would be such a giveaway. “That’s better. Trick Chris and I have known for years. For when we didn’t want mum and dad to know that we’d been bullied at school.”

They stood and went into the house. A long, low table had been set on the floor, with cushions around. Chiv helped his wife to sit. She was at the stage where that was far from easy. The others took their places to eat a meal of celebration. It was simple but good food – cornbread and cheese, a delicately spiced egg dish, another with preserved fish and rice, and slices of some kind of meat. There was a dessert something like a syllabub made of whipped cream, and plenty of fresh fruit. Glasses of rich wine washed it all down. They all ate well. Mac made sure his father got plenty of food, even if he occasionally had to remind him to lift the fork to his mouth.

Mostly Chiv led the conversation as the sun went down. He talked about the village that he had helped to construct, for the people who served The Pashivas. That was most of the young people who had come with him to the Temple on the ‘Journey of Grace’. The Pashivas lived within the temple most of the time, and pilgrims came to be blessed by him. But he travelled, too, with his own group of followers, reaching those of his people who couldn’t come to him, bestowing his blessings on them.

“They come here to see Mishiko, too,” Chiv added. “As the mother of the Pashivas there are some ideas about her, as well. I’ve tried to make sure they understand that this baby is an ordinary child, my child… nothing sacred about him or her. The Pashivas released Mishiko from all responsibility for him.”

“He may have done,” she said. “But I gave birth to him. I love him as my son.”

“Even though he looks older than you,” Chiv said to her with an indulgent smile.

“He always was older than me,” she answered. “He is as old as the planet. He chose to be born through me, in corporeal form… but he was never just a baby.”

“If I hadn’t seen it,” Davie said. “I wouldn’t have believed it. But I saw Chris lay him on the altar… and the next he was a full grown man, smiting the enemy… and saving my life. I was seconds from death when he reached me.”

“The Book of the Pashivas is very colourful about what happened to you,” Chiv told him. “It describes you doing quite a bit of smiting yourself. The Warrior of The Pashivas.”

“We all did what he asked of us,” Mishiko said. “All according to our gifts. Davie… you are a warrior. Chris… you have a mind nearly as gracious as The Pashivas himself. Chiv’s gift was compassion – for me and for him when he was a helpless child. And you, Mac… your gift is your inner strength that we all draw upon.”

That much was true. But as they watched him taking care of his father, who almost dropped his wine glass when he forgot he was holding it to his lips, all of his friends wondered if that inner strength had limits.

Still, the evening passed in pleasant, friendly conversation. They touched occasionally on the disturbing recent events on Earth, but since Mac had missed most of it, being safe on SangC’lune and his father couldn’t give any coherent account of his own experiences, there wasn’t a lot to tell. The fact that Davie had again been a warrior, this time fighting for his own people, interested Mishiko.

“Your soul is heavy with the memory,” she said. “The Pashivas would be able to bring you peace, if he were here. I regret that he is away from us.”

“I’m coping,” Davie assured her. Though Chris and Spenser both glanced at him when he said that. They knew better.

The house had only two bedrooms. Chiv and Mishiko slept in one, of course. Mac and his father had the other when bedtime came. Beds, in any case, were sleeping mats with hand woven coverlets and pillows made of fabric packed with straw. Three such mats were laid out in the living room for Davie and Chris and Spenser as they retired for the night. Davie was in the centre of the group, flanked by his brother and by Spenser. He dropped to sleep with Spenser’s hand on his shoulder and Chris’s arm over his chest, gently protective of him.

Neither stopped him experiencing the recurring nightmare that had troubled him of late. Nor did the peace of Tem-Enara, the most blessed planet in the galaxy now that the forces of darkness were driven out. He sat up carefully, so as not to disturb Chris or Spenser. He needed to walk around in the fresh air and unwind from the nightmare. And it was better he did that alone, though both of his companions would be more than willing to be by his side while he worked it through.

It would probably be called post-traumatic stress syndrome if he were to take his problems to a psychiatrist. In the cool air as he walked down towards the Lake of Contemplation, the dream faded, and so did the feelings that went with it. When he was awake and his brain working in a conscious way he wasn’t worried. He did nothing in the war against the Dominators that he was in any way ashamed of. He felt no guilt about destroying thousands of the cloned cyborgs. Although he fully endorsed several treaties which acknowledged cloned life as life, and accorded citizen status to people born by that method on those planets where such things went on, he knew that the cloned warriors with computerised brains, programmed to obey the murderous orders of their creators, were not the same thing. They were war machines, and he had to kill them for the sake of everyone he loved.

He didn’t feel any guilt about the Dominators he had killed, either. Yes, they were sentient beings, and as such he respected their right to life. But they had declared war on him and his world. They would have destroyed everything and everyone he held dear if they had not been stopped. He did what he had to do.

No, he didn’t feel guilty. So why, when he slept, did he have that same dream where he strangled the life out of one of the clones and pulled off the helmet to see Chris’s dead eyes staring at him in shocked disbelief, or Spenser, or his own father. Why did he feel, when he slept, as if he was guilty of genocide, as if he had committed a terrible, dreadful crime for which there was no absolution, no forgiveness, that would blacken his soul forever.

“Whose guilt am I feeling?” he wondered. “Doctor? Is it yours? Do you still feel troubled by the Time War? Is that what it is?” He was used to his great-grandfather’s soul nestling within his own, now. It didn’t trouble him, usually. It was a source of strength. He was sure it had helped him get through the war. When he might have felt his courage failing, he felt The Doctor’s own courage supporting him. But he knew, also, that The Doctor had some very deep regrets, not the least about his part in the Time War.

But it didn’t feel like that. It was his own guilt that was emerging when he slept. Even though he didn’t think he had any when he was awake.

He had to stop it, one way or another. He was losing so much sleep, and sooner or later, if it didn’t stop, he would lose his mind.

But he didn’t think an ordinary psychiatrist could help. His problems were just a bit too complicated for that.

He was thinking through so much when he noticed the light shining on the Lake of Contemplation. He was alert at once, wondering what it was. It seemed to be growing, whatever it was. And getting bigger.

“Oh!” he cried as he recognised the figure within the glowing aura that approached him. “Oh, it’s you.”

“My people usually have a more reverential response to my apparitions,” The Pashivas replied. “But you, my Warrior Prince are not awed by anything.”

“I… try not to be,” Davie answered. “Is… it really you… or… you said apparition.”

“It is a thought projection,” The Pashivas answered. “My corporeal body is still many hours’ ride by fast horse from my Temple. Which is why I was so glad when I felt your presence. I have need of you… my Warrior Prince. There is a danger coming to my people. I must call upon you once more to defend them until I can be there.”

“We arrive… and a danger threatens. Is this destiny manifesting itself? Or are you the god of amazing coincidences?”

The Pashivas smiled at his question but did not answer it. Davie wasn’t surprised. He was pushing his luck speaking to a god in that way.

“What sort of danger? And where is it coming from?” he asked.

“I’m sorry, I cannot say. Corporeal form limits my precognition. But it will be soon. Be prepared.”

“What would you have done if I hadn’t been here?”

“Mourned the deaths of so many innocents who did not deserve to die,” The Pashivas answered. “Their lives are in your hands, my friend.”

“What’s new?” Davie shook his head, sadly. “I will do your bidding,” he added and bowed his head in respect to the god of this one planet, from a prince of the universe. The Pashivas was accustomed to full body bowing from his devotees, but that was the best he was going to get from Davie Campbell de Lœngbærrow.

“I am coming to you as fast as I can,” The Pashivas said. “I can only give my protection to my people in person. My powers do not extend over great distances. And… understand this, my Warrior Prince… when I was newly manifested, I was able to give life back to those who had been sacrificed in my name – you were one of those. But that was the most special circumstances. Now… I can save those near death. But if life is already extinct…”

“I understand,” Davie said. “My own powers as a Time Lord are similarly limited. And that is as it should be. It is up to me now not to let anyone die. Least of all myself. I will do what I can.”

“Thank you, my Warrior Prince,” The Pashivas said. “Thank you.”

The glow faded. The Pashivas – or the projection of him – was gone. Davie stood alone by the waterside. He looked around. Everthing seemed normal. He wondered just how imminent the danger the Pashivas spoke of was. Maybe he had time to organise a defence.

All the same, Davie drew his sonic screwdriver from his pocket and adjusted it to laser mode. It wasn’t intended as a weapon, of course. His great-grandfather would never have allowed him to build a sonic device with anything intended primarily to be a weapon. But the laser was a tool that could be used as a weapon.

He heard a sound behind him. Footsteps… hesitant ones. He concealed his sonic screwdriver in his hand as he turned.

“Mr Ross!” Davie was relieved it was nothing sinister, but alarmed to see the old man wandering in the dark, only partially dressed. He was in his bare feet. His trousers were on, but they were not fastened and his belt buckle hung loose. His shirt was buttoned wrongly, and the cuffs were loose. He had the appearance of a small child who had attempted to get dressed without help.

“Mr Ross, be careful. The water is deep right up to the edge.”

“I can’t find my boat,” he said.

“Your boat isn’t here, sir,” Davie answered, remembering that Mr Ross used to be a trawler captain. “You’re not at home, remember. This is a lake, not the sea.”

“Oh.” He looked puzzled. “Who are you? Do I know you?”

“I’m Davie Campbell. I’m a friend of your sons. Sir… let me…” He reached out to restrain him as he teetered on the edge of the deep, cold lake. Mr Ross recoiled as if frightened, and exactly what Davie had feared happened. He kicked off his shoes and shrugged off his heavy leather jacket before jumping in. There was, he noted, an undercurrent to this apparently still lake. It had already pulled Mr Ross far from the shore. He had to swim to reach him and then swim back against the current with him in his arms. The old man was conscious, but apparently oblivious to his peril. He at least didn’t struggle. But he was heavy, and even with his superior Gallfreyan strength Davie wasn’t sure how he was going to pull him up out of the water.

A voice calling his name gladdened his hearts and a sonic screwdriver in penlight mode gave him a guide to the shore. Spenser leaned over to pull the old man to safety and Chris held the sonic screwdriver in his teeth as he reached for him.

“You’re safe,” Spenser said as Chris turned to look at Mr Ross. “You’re both safe.”

“Yes,” Davie answered. “No, don’t hug me. You’ll just get cold and wet.”

Spenser didn’t care about that. He hugged him. So did Chris after confirming that Mr Ross hadn’t swallowed enough water to cause him any harm and would be all right once he was warmed up a bit.

“Good job you were here, Davie,” Chris told him.

“Yeah,” he agreed. “But I don’t think Mr Ross was the danger The Pashivas warned me about.”

“What warning?” Chris asked. Davie started to explain before something in the sky caught his attention.

“Oh, %&*£$~@,” he swore, using one of the most colourful Low Gallifreyan oaths he had picked up from his great-grandfather.

“What is it?” Spenser asked.

“It’s a spaceship. It’s coming down fast. I think it’s going to crash.”

He watched as the small, fast moving speck of light got larger. It was in a crash landing mode, and it was crashing close to the village.

“Oh, no!” Chris whispered. “Oh, please, no. Don’t let anyone be hurt.” They all shared a horrific vision of the village ripped to burning shreds by the crashing ship. Mac and Chiv, and Mishiko, and all the other good people who had come to that little community would be killed.

It missed. But only just. It screamed over the low rooftops and hit the lake, skipping across it like a stone thrown by somebody really skilled at making it skim across the surface. Each bounce was reducing the speed and when it finally impacted on the far side of the lake, it remained almost whole and there was no explosion or fire.

“Chris, take Mr Ross back to the village. Keep everyone calm and don’t let anyone follow us. Spenser… I suppose there’s no point in wasting my breath asking you to stay…”

“After all we went through together in the war…” Chris passed him his sonic screwdriver and turned to do as Davie instructed. He didn’t question his brother’s judgement at times like this.

Davie grasped Spenser’s hand as they ran, but only because he wanted to fold time and it was easier if there was physical contact between the two of them. Their bodies blurred and vanished into the darkness. Spenser barely had time to realise that Davie had cut across the corner of the lake itself, but they were going so fast their feet barely caused a ripple on the surface. On this planet, he reflected, somebody walking on water was hardly a surprise.

Davie let time snap back into place as they looked at the steaming wreck of the crashed ship. It wasn’t very big. Only about the size of a large family car. But it was, very clearly, a powered craft, not a meteor or anything natural. “What is it? Do you know?”

“Only from the database,” Davie answered. “And by reputation. It’s Rutan. Probably just a scout ship. See the crystalline structure. They take a single crystal and bombard it with radiation until it grows, then hollow it out and fit it with warp engines. The Rutans couldn’t travel in a metal ship. Their own bodies would react against it. They’re a sort of air-breathing jelly fish with an electric charge running through them. Dangerous to get close to, let alone touch. Not that you’d want to. They’re pretty ugly things.”

He was scanning the craft with his sonic screwdriver as he talked and found what had to be a hatchway. He adjusted the tool again and aimed it. There was a hiss of hydraulics and the front of the ship opened out to reveal the cockpit within. Spenser and Davie both automatically sealed off their lungs and recycled their breathing. The smell was terrible. Something like burnt rubber and discharged static electricity mingled with an organic smell of decaying flesh. The sight of the three creatures within the capsule wasn’t reasurring, either.

“Are they dead?” Spenser asked. “I mean…they’re not MEANT to look like that, are they?”

“They’re dead,” Davie confirmed as he looked at the deflated green bags of flesh from which the organic elements of the unpleasant smell was coming. “They’ve been hit by a sort of opposite of an electric shock. It drained them… killed them stone dead.”

“What could do that?”

“Specialised weapon from something that dislikes Rutans,” Davie answered. “And that means…”


“That means THIS isn’t what the Pashivas was warning me about, either.” He looked up into the sky and spotted another object coming closer. This wasn’t crashing. It was homing in on the Rutan ship. “Come on, hide, quickly.” Again he grabbed Spenser’s hand, this time to pull him towards the stand of trees.

They concealed themselves just in time as the ship landed. Again, it wasn’t very big. A scout class capsule, this one almost spherical with a geometric pattern over the metallic skin. And Davie knew exactly what kind of creature was going to come out of it.

“A Sontaran!” he murmured. “That’s what shot down the Rutans.”

“Sontaran?” Spenser knew about them. He had talked to so many of the young Gallifreyans who had grown up as slaves of that race. They frightened them, even more than the Dominators who had only recently emerged as a threat to their freedom. He watched with Davie as the hatch opened and one single Sontaran emerged, short, squat, covered from head to foot in armour. It lumbered towards the Rutan ship and seemed satisfied that its enemy was dead. Then it looked around at the lake and the village beyond where lights were shining in homes where sleep had been disturbed.

Davie and Spenser listened carefully, with the benefit of their Gallifreyan hearing, as the Sontaran lifted its helmet and spoke into a wrist held communicator.

“This planet is populated, possibly by humanoids. But it would make a good forward base for our operations in this quadrant. The indigenous population could be enslaved. I will explore further.”

“Over my dead body!” Davie murmured. He signalled to Spenser quietly and both left their place of concealment and closed in on the Sontaran. Davie knew perfectly well how to deal with one of that species. He let no qualms about killing a sentient being bother him as he crept closer and jammed the end of his sonic screwdriver into the probic vent at the back of the Sontaran’s neck. That alone would be enough to injure a Sontaran, but he had adjusted it to laser mode again and he pressed the button as he pushed it in. The Sontaran gave an agonised yell as its neck was seared by the laser. It flailed around, its energy weapon firing randomly, then it crumpled as if there was nothing inside the armour and the thick, leathery flesh.

“That’s sorted,” Davie said, in a matter of fact tone with no sense of victory. Hitting an enemy in the back of the head was hardly warrior-like, but it was the only sure way of defeating this enemy.

Then he saw Spenser on the ground a few yards from the crumpled remains of the Sontaran. He hadn’t uttered a sound when he was hit by the dying Sontaran’s random fire.

“Spenser!” He knelt by his side and looked at the wound in his stomach. His clothes were blackened rags. His flesh was seared as the ray burnt into his body. He must only have been only briefly caught by it. Otherwise he would be dead. But it was bad enough.

“I’m… ok…” he whispered.

“No, you’re not,” Davie answered him. “This is bad. I’ve got to get help for you.”

“No,” Spenser told him. “You’ve got to do something… he contacted his mothership. Others will come. Protect the people. You told The Pashivas you would.”

“And he told me he couldn’t raise anyone else from the dead, Spenser. I can’t leave you.”

“I’m coming, brother.” Davie heard Chris’s voice in his head and he saw him do the same as he had done – crossing the corner of the lake in a time fold. His brother was at his side in a moment. “Go do what you have to do. I’ll take care of him.”

“Don’t let him die,” Davie said. “At least not… not until I can be with him.”

Davie left Spenser’s side reluctantly. He was right. There was a job to be done. There was still danger to the community, to the planet. Davie had seen the Sontaran evil at first hand before. He had no wish to see this world enslaved.

The last time, when he and Chris were not even eighteen, before they had become Time Lords in their own right, The Doctor had been angry at them for blowing up the Sontaran command centre. He had been horrified that, at such a young age, they had bloodied themselves by such an act of warfare.

But now he WAS a Time Lord. He was an adult. He was a war veteran, and though he respected his great-grandfather’s broadly pacifist ideals, he had his own beliefs, his own views.

And one of them was that no Sontaran was ever going to set foot on this planet again.

He accessed the controls easily. Sontaran was a relatively easy language with a limited vocabulary. He sent an encrypted text message, first, to say that the initial findings were wrong. The planet was not suitable for use as a Sontaran base and that what appeared to be intelligent life was in fact just a primitive species of primate.

Then he rigged the capsule to return to the mother ship by automatic pilot, and set the nuclear powered engine to go critical as soon as it arrived on board. It took less than five minutes for him to do that. It felt like longer. He turned away and went back to where Chris was trying to help Spenser.

“He’s got damage to his internal organs, kidneys, liver, stomach, as well as the open wound in his flesh,” Chris told him. “He’s in a lot of pain, but he won’t admit it. I’ve tried to ease some of it. But the tissue repair mode on the sonic screwdriver is only for minor wounds. This is too much.”

“Spenser,” Davie said as he knelt by his side. “Spenser, you’re not going to die on me. I won’t let you. We’re going to get you into the warmth and get your wounds bandaged. And you’re going to make it, you hear.”

“I… I’ll do anything for you, Davie,” Spenser answered. “My Captain, my love.”

“Stay alive. That’s all I ask.” He looked around once as the Sontaran ship took off. Then he looked the other way as he saw lights coming towards them by the slow path around the lake. He recognised Chiv at the head of a group of villagers who brought a stretcher to lift Spenser onto.

There was a spectacular and unexpected meteor shower as the procession returned, carefully but quickly, around the lake. Davie looked up at it briefly and felt nothing at all about what he had done, the thousands of Sontaran lives he had taken, no sorrow, no pleasure. He could think of nothing but getting Spenser into warmth and light where he could be properly looked after.

He was brought to Chiv and Mishiko’s house where he was laid on a bed in the main room next to Mr Ross, who was sleeping now, having been given a herbal soporific to quieten him. Mishiko was already working on more herbs in an ointment to put on Spenser’s wounds.

“Isn’t he a Time Lord like you two?” Mac asked as he looked at the efforts being made to help him. “Shouldn’t he heal himself?”

“He has a defective regenerative gene,” Davie answered. “He doesn’t heal easily.”

“That’s not good news,” Chris said. “This is a very bad wound. Too many of his internal organs have packed up.”

“The Pashivas will save him,” Mishiko said. “He will heal him for you. Trust in The Pashivas.”

“Only if he gets here in time,” Davie answered. “He told me… if life is extinct, he can do nothing. He said he could only save those who were near death. Not…”

“How long did he say he would be?” Chiv asked.

“He said he was many hours journey by fast horse.” Davie answered. “And that won’t be soon enough. Spenser hasn’t got a single hour in him.”

“A fast horse is not the only means of transport on this planet right now,” Chris said. “Davie, don’t give up hope.”

Chris turned and went out of the door. Everybody else wondered where he was going. Davie knew. He had hope. He turned to Spenser and held his hand tightly.

“If I’m going to die… at least you’re here,” he said.

“No, don’t say that,” Davie answered. “It’s daft, sentimental stuff only good for holovids. I’m not here to watch you die, Spenser, to kiss you once and let you go or any of that. I’m here to help you through until The Pashivas gets here. So just stay still, and quiet, and let me do the talking. Because I’m not going to let you die. We’ve been through too much for you to do that, just because you got in the way of one stray shot from a dying Sontaran. Remember the time we really thought we’d had it, when we were on that Dominator troop ship – we set the engines to blow, and we had about twenty seconds and the airlock jammed between us and the TARDIS. That would have been one very quick death. Our atoms would be scattered through Earth’s atmosphere now if that Dominator hadn’t opened the door from the other side. I was too surprised to think. YOU shot him through the head. We were barely inside the TARDIS door when the ship exploded around us. We were knocked down. Both of us lost consciousness. When I came around you were trying to kiss me.”

“I wasn’t… it was… CPR.”

“Either way it was a nice way to wake up. We did good together, Spenser. We never gave up fighting those fiends. We kept on going, destroying as many ships as we could, doing our own bit for freedom and peace. We didn’t give up. And we’re not giving up now.”

“Could… use… a little CPR… right now,” Spenser said in a weak, slow voice.

“No, you don’t. You’re still breathing and both your hearts are beating.”

“Could… use a kiss then…”

“I can do that,” Davie assured him, and he bent and kissed his lips gently. Spenser smiled through his pain as he looked up at the man he loved. For a few brief seconds he was his. That was as much as he ever longed for. It was ironic that the most tender moments between them always occurred when one or the other of them was in pain.

“Like I said,” Davie added. “No nonsense about dying happy now. Don’t even think about dying. You’re going to lie there and talk to me. If the pain gets to much, then I’ll help. Yes, if that means kissing you again, then ok. As long as you don’t tell Brenda when we get home. But you’re not going to die.”

“No, he isn’t,” Chris said as he stepped back into the house. Davie looked around and smiled as he saw the Pashivas following him. Even in his corporeal form, he glowed like a supernatural being. Chiv and Mishiko, his chief servants, bowed low in his presence but he smiled and raised them up.

“We bid you welcome to our home,” Chiv said. “My Lord…” He gestured towards the bed where Spenser lay.

“I know. I have come to help.” He turned. So did Davie, who uttered a cry of alarm. While his attention had been elsewhere Spenser had slipped into unconsciousness.

“He lives, still, do not fear,” The Pashivas said as he came closer. “He was injured in the effort to save my people?”

“He was,” Davie answered. “You said you could heal as long as life was still present?”

“I can,” The Pashivas answered. He knelt by Spenser’s side and put his hands over him. The glow that surrounded him increased in intensity and spread out around Spenser. Davie, kneeling the other side, saw his body mending within the glow. He saw his face relax as the pain was replaced by a sense of utter bliss.

“He is healed,” The Pashivas said. “He will sleep now, peacefully. When he wakes he will feel refreshed and invigorated.”

“Thank you,” Davie said to him. “Thank you, so much.”

“There are others here who need to be healed,” The Pashivas said. He looked around and then knelt by the other bed. Mac and Chiv both looked on in surprise as he put his hands over their father. The same glow enveloped him for several minutes.

“You never thought to ask me?” The Pashivas said as he stood and turned to the two brothers. “You who did me such great service never asked the favour of me?”

“We… didn’t know we could,” Mac answered. “Is he…”

“He, too, will sleep and wake refreshed, with his mind restored as you had both prayed it could be.” The Pashivas smiled faintly. “Chiv, you know that I have been sparing in the working of miracles. If my people came to rely on me too much they would become indolent and stupid, expecting me to cure every ill and hold back death. They must, for the most part, make their own medicines and accept death as a welcome peace at the end of a life lived well. But I can be generous.”

“Thank you,” the two brothers said.

“Mac… why do you think you must choose between your father and your brother?” The Pashivas asked. “He is an old man. He deserves to live in peace and tranquillity in his retirement. Let him do that here. A home can be provided for you and him, near your brother. You already had thoughts of serving me along with him.”

“I…” Mac nodded. He didn’t think of it. It might still be difficult to persuade his father that leaving Earth to live on another world was a good idea. But then there was Chiv and Mishiko, and a grandchild due very soon. They might be enough to persuade him.

“Chris, would you mind?” Mac asked. “I signed up for the full year at your Sanctuary, but I’d be falling short if I decided to stay.”

“You have my blessing,” Chris answered. “I’ll come and visit and see how you’re all getting on.”

“That is another soul at peace,” The Pashivas said with a smile. “And no miracle was needed this time, only some gentle advice. But there is still one more in need of healing.” He turned and looked at Davie. “My Warrior Prince, come and walk with me in the quiet of the night.”

Davie rose from Spenser’s side and came with him. The meteorite trails still streaked the sky as the remains of the Sontaran ship fell through the atmosphere.

“Your work, at my bidding,” The Pashivas noted.

“Yes,” Davie answered. “It was the only way to save this planet from a terrible fate. The Sontarans would have enslaved your gentle people and laid waste to this paradise. As for you… a corporeal god… I dread to think what use they might have made of you.”

“You killed them to save me and my people. You have killed others to save your own people.” Davie opened his mouth to ask how that was known, then realised it was a pointless question. “All the lives of your enemies lie on your soul. You are troubled.”

“Not when I’m awake,” he explained. “Then I know that I did the right thing – the only thing I could do. But in my dreams…”

“There is one… who you hold equal to me in stature, though you know he is not divine. The Doctor?”

“My great-grandfather. The leader of my race – the Time Lords.”

“He taught you to value life, not to kill.”

“Yes. Since my brother and I were young he taught us that. Even though… even though he knew it was not always possible. He taught us to look for another way if there was one.”

“But you are a warrior and you know that sometimes there is no other way.”

“Yes. There was no other way against the Dominators. Even The Doctor knew that. There is no other way against The Sontarans.”

“When you sleep, your warrior soul sleeps. Your pacifist soul is appalled by what you have seen and done. It troubles you.”

“I… suppose.”

“I can help. First, by releasing you from my service. I shall not call upon you to be my Warrior Prince ever again. You shall not need to spill any more blood in my name. And second…” He reached out his arm and touched Davie on the shoulder. The glow enfolded them both. Davie felt the pure soul of The Pashivas touch his own and he almost recoiled. It was almost too pure to bear. But he let himself be touched. He let himself be healed. The Pashivas touched the two parts of his soul – the warrior he was called to be and the pacifist he had thought he should be and reconciled them. He did the same for the soul within his soul. The Doctor, too, in his long lifetime, had found himself taking arms against foes that would not be stopped unless by force, and that same dilemma haunted him, too. The Pashivas reconciled every inner conflict that troubled Davie.

“Find the other way if there is one. But if you and your sword arm are all that stands between the forces of darkness and innocent lives that seek to walk in the light, then do not hesitate to do what is right, and do not trouble yourself with any doubt that you ARE right.”

“Thank you,” Davie gasped, unable to find any other words. His hearts felt lighter than they had for a long time. He felt truly healed.

“There is still an hour before dawn,” The Pashivas said. “I shall retire to my temple. You, my friend, should sleep. There is a touch of the divine in you, prince of the universe, but more of the corporeal. And your body needs sleep as well as spiritual refreshment. Go and lie beside your friend who is more than a friend and know the same peace he does.”

“Thank you,” Davie said and bowed to The Pashivas. He was only a little surprised when The Pashivas bowed to him in return. Then the living god of Tem-Enara and the Prince of the Universe parted company. Davie went back into the small house where Chiv had taken his wife to bed now and Mac had brought his father to his own bed in the other room. One lamp remained lit as Chris lay and waited for his brother’s return.

“You’re different,” Chris told him as Davie lay down between him and Spenser. “He HAS healed you. You don’t feel scarred inside any more.”

“I know. I think I’m still a warrior, though. Still the ying to your yang and all of that. But one with less hang ups about it.”

“Good. What will you do now?”

“I think… I’ll stay here a couple of days. Maybe talk with The Pashivas a bit more, you know, living god to living god. Then I’ll take Spenser back to Earth by the scenic route, teach him a bit more about how to fly a TARDIS. You?”

“I think I’ll be providing a home from home shuttle service. Mac and his dad will need to collect a few things from Earth before settling here for good. Then I’d better get back to my Sanctuary. I’ve lost two of my students, but I still have plenty more.”

“Good plan,” Davie agreed as he stretched himself on the sleeping mat and felt Spenser, in his sleep, reach out his arm across his chest and Chris reach out to hold his hand as they all three slept safely and peacefully for what was left of the night.