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

Davie looked at Brenda and Trudi on the sofa, chatting together as girls always do when they get together. He grinned at Tristie across the console.

“The double date thing seems to be working well,” he said. “For them, anyway. Did it seem like neither of us could get a word in edgeways through the meal? Or watching the aurora on the observation deck. And they’re still at it, now. I might as well have brought Spenser as my date!”

“I’m happy,” Tristie said. “It’s nice being back in this TARDIS, with you… my mentor. I learnt everything I know about piloting and maintaining a TARDIS right here with you.”

“Well, you will do,” Davie added. “In a couple of centuries. To anyone else this would be a crazy situation. My sister has only just started high school and I’m travelling with her grandson, who in my lifetime I still have to teach all those things he’s so grateful to me for. Only in our family!”

Tristie laughed.

“It’s great travelling with you, like this. You’re more laid back, not as strict about things than when I was your apprentice. You could be really tough on me sometimes. But you’re still cool, now.”

Davie wondered how strict he might be in that future Tristie talked of. He always thought he was a cool kind of person, and always would be. But then again, he took his work teaching temporal mechanics to Chris’s acolytes seriously. And mentoring a Time Lord Candidate was even more serious. Spenser wasn’t difficult of course. He worked hard to please him. But he suspected Tristie would be more than a handful.

Just like himself and Chris, he thought. When The Doctor was teaching them, he shouted at them more than a few times for doing stupid things.

And now he was the teacher.

“They’re talking about us, of course,” Tristie said, returning to the subject of the girls. “Brenda thinks it’s time I made an honest woman of Trudi.”

“Have you made a dishonest woman of her?”

“No, of course not. But I haven’t asked her to get engaged, either. Trudi has never really given the impression she wants to, mind you. She seems to enjoy travelling around with me, no strings attached. But Brenda might just put the idea in her head.”

“How long have you two been travelling about together?” Davie asked.

“Two years, now. We’ve seen some interesting stuff. It’s certainly more fun for her than working in a grotty record shop in Birmingham.”

“Granddad used to travel with women without it getting to the engagement ring stage,” Davie considered. “At least before he met Rose. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t carry on that way.”

“I know. But I do love her. And if I don’t show her that in some concrete way, she might think it’s time to move on… to go back to her old life in the 1970, even if it is dull and boring and she hated it.”

“Is there any reason not to do it, then?” Davie asked. “Has she met Vicki… your mum, I mean… Does she…” It felt strange asking that question when Tristie’s mother was in the same high school class as Sukie, But he had to ask.

“She adores her. So does grannie Sukie,” Tristie answered. “So does great grandma Rose. She thinks it’s wonderful that I met a nice, ordinary girl, working in a shop. Just like The Doctor met her. It would just be an ordinary Earth engagement, of course. Trudi has nobody I could bring a Bond of Betrothal contract to.”

“Do we still do that in your century?” Davie wondered. “I thought that tradition might have gone by the wayside as we integrate into Human society. But, anyway, I think you should go ahead. I’ve never regretted being engaged to Brenda.”

“Even when you’re with Spenser?” Tristie grinned cheekily.

“Not even when I’m with Spenser. That’s different. Brenda is the girl I’m going to marry. And if you’re as happy with Trudi, then I’ll be glad for you.”

“Thanks, uncle Davie,” Tristie said with another cheeky grin. Davie smiled back. He thought he was too young to be an uncle yet, but giving advice about relationships was something he did feel he was qualified for, given his own complicated love life.

Then his smile faded as he looked at the TARDIS console. They had come out of the vortex, but nowhere near where they planned to be – the 31st century Sedna space port where they had left Tristie’s TARDIS before going on together to the Omicron Psi Orbital Restaurant. They appeared to be heading towards Earth in the late 19th century, and the TARDIS was already committed to a materialisation. Stopping it now could throw them into chaos.

“Something pulled us off course,” Davie said. “Something…”

“Davie!” Brenda called out. “You don’t have to take after The Doctor SO completely. You can actually get us to the right place once in a while.”

“At least it happened after dinner,” Trudi pointed out. “And if it’s somewhere we can stretch our legs, I suppose it won’t be so bad. I’m not in any hurry to get back to the space port.”

Davie took the heckling from the women in good grace.

“You know, Brenda,” he replied to her. “I think I used to prefer it when you were afraid to answer me back because you regarded me as one of your people’s living gods. This is not exactly worshipping me.”

“Oh, I still worship you, my Lord!” she answered with a giggle. “I just don’t trust your navigation.

“That’s the thing about living gods,” Tristie said as the time rotor came to a stop indicating that they had landed. “They’re not infallible.”

“Where are we, anyway?” Brenda added. “And when?”

“Earth… September, 1899,” Davie answered. “But I’m not exactly sure where. There’s some kind of localised interference going on. It’s making it hard to get a spatial reference. Anyway, the temperature outside is about right for the northern hemisphere at that time of year, so if you really do want a walk, we might as well. Our dinner clothes should pass for fashionable young ladies and gents.” He reached for the door release and stepped forward. Brenda came to his side, taking his hand graciously. Tristie and Trudi followed them out of the TARDIS. Davie looked back to see Tristie close the door behind him. It resolved into a stone door in what he first took to be a small building, then he realised it was meant to be a tomb.

They were in a churchyard. One with some very old gravestones going back at least to the 18th century. There was a small church in the middle distance behind the TARDIS, and as he turned to take in his surroundings, Davie noticed the remains of a larger religious building, a cathedral or abbey.

“Very romantic, Davie,” Brenda teased. “A cemetery.”

“Oooohhhh!” Trudi breathed out in excitement. “Ohhh. I know this place. I’ve been here when I was a kid. It’s the old churchyard on top of the cliffs at Whitby… the place where Dracula did his stuff with Lucy in the film.”

“Oh, yes!” Davie nodded as he looked again at the Abbey ruins. “Yes, I recognise it, now. I came to Whitby with Spenser once. We didn’t come up here, though. We had tea in a little café down in the town and walked up the other cliff to see the Cook memorial. It seemed more appropriate for us, as explorers of the universe. It’s a really beautiful town, completely unspoilt. It’s hardly changed in our time from now, in the late 19th century, when it’s a fashionable summer resort.”

Brenda tried not to look jealous of that little anecdote. It sounded as if Davie and Spenser had enjoyed something of a romantic afternoon in Whitby. She accepted that Spenser travelled with him when she was happy to stay at home with Rose and the babies. And she knew that it wasn’t just because Davie was teaching him to pilot the TARDIS. They visited interesting places. They went to tea shops and looked at monuments together. And there was nothing wrong with that. But she did wish Davie hadn’t mentioned it just now.

Davie saw her expression and reached his arm around her shoulders. He kissed her cheek lovingly.

“I’ve taken you to far more places than I’ve taken Spenser,” he assured her. “You’re still my sweetheart.”

“I know,” she said. “But sometimes… I do find it hard having to share you.”

“It’s two o’clock, local time, according to the old church clock,” Davie added. “We can take our time walking down to the town and have tea in the very same café when it was new.”

Brenda smiled. He was still her man, after all.

“Er… Davie…” Tristie called to him. He looked around and saw his great nephew standing with Trudi on the edge of the cliff that overlooked the town and the harbour beyond. “What town?”

“What do you mean, what town?” he answered. “Down below you.”

“There’s… nothing there. Nothing but… I’m not sure what it is.”

Davie held Brenda’s hand and moved towards the other two. He was startled by what he saw. Instead of a panoramic view down a steep cliff to a town of red brick houses with tiled roofs sloping down to a harbour full of fishing boats, there was nothing but a sea of swirling white-grey.

“Mist,” he said. “Coming off the sea. It’s just mist. It probably happens a lot around here. There are cliffs either side of the town and the mist gets trapped between them.” He looked at it closely and revised his first impression. If it was mist, then it was the densest he had ever seen. It almost looked like liquid.

He looked around and spotted the railings at the top of the famous steps that brought sightseers up to the churchyard. He walked towards it and held the handrail as he descended into the mist.

He heard his own scream as if from a distance as a cold such as he had never known before enveloped him. He heard Tristie calling to him and vaguely felt somebody grabbing him by the shoulders and pulling him back out of the numbing coldness before he passed out.

He woke on the sofa in his console room. He was tightly wrapped in warm blankets with heated thermal pillows inside next to his body. There was a portable heater beside the sofa, too. He felt warm, but the memory of the cold he had experienced before he lost consciousness made him shiver.

Brenda was beside him. She brushed his hair from his eyes and leaned over to kiss him. Her lips felt warm and soft and drove away the lingering remembrance of coldness.

“What happened?” he asked. “All I remember is going down the steps.”

“Tristie pulled you out,” Brenda told him. “He saved you. Another few seconds and you’d have been dead.”

“It was just mist,” he protested as he pulled the blankets off himself and stood up. His legs felt strange, and he leant on Brenda’s arm as he staggered towards the console. Tristie was there, examining something carefully. Trudi stood by his side, holding a pipette and a piece of sponge on the end of a long plastic handle. Tristie took both from her and used them to take samples from something in a jar sitting on the ledge in front of the time rotor. He put the samples into the receptacle on the console for analysis and was startled by the results.

“Look at this,” he said to Davie, pointing to the specimen jar. It was full of the stuff that very clearly wasn’t anything as mundane and ordinary as mist. In the jar it resembled liquid mercury, except it swirled as if in perpetual motion and the ice on the outside of the jar indicated that it was below freezing.

“You took a sample. Good thinking.”

“It definitely isn’t mist,” Tristie told him. “Mist is vaporised water. This is nothing remotely resembling water. The TARDIS database can’t identify it at all. It seems to be a compound of two unknown elements. Unknown even to Time Lord science. And that’s about the most advanced kind of science in the universe.”

“I always thought so,” Davie conceded. “Well… if nothing else we might have discovered a couple of new elements, even the Time Lord periodic table has blanks. That means we get to name them. Brendanium?”

“Trudium,” Tristie retorted. “I found it, after all. You just nearly froze to death in it.”

Davie looked at the data the TARDIS computer had managed to come up with. It showed that the compound of “Brendanium” and “Trudium” was liquid at minus fifteen degrees Celsius. And furthermore, even though the small sample had been sitting on the console in the warm console room, it was still minus fifteen degrees Celsius. It hadn’t warmed up by even a single degree.

“Stable temperature, regardless of surrounding environment.” Davie’s fascination told in his voice and the rapt expression on his face. “Have you tried heating it?”

“You must be joking,” Tristie replied “For all we know it might explode. Beside… I think science experiments need to wait for a bit. There are other considerations.”


“People,” Trudi said. “There are people down there. Or there should be.”


“That’s so you,” Tristie told him. “Whenever you get involved with something scientific you lose contact with reality. Whitby… the town somewhere underneath this stuff. Davie, there should be over 9,000 people living there.”

“There… still are…” He said, looking at the environmental console. “This is showing me 9,324 living beings down below in the town.”

“They’re alive!” Trudi and Brenda both exclaimed at once.

“But, how? You nearly froze to death in a few seconds. And you’re a Time Lord. How can any ordinary Human be alive?”

“I don’t know,” Davie answered. “But I think we should find out.”

He moved around the console, glad that his legs seemed to feel like they belonged to him again. He reached for the switch that transferred the TARDIS drive control to manual. His companions were surprised when they felt the forward movement. They all looked at the viewscreen as the TARDIS hovered towards the cliff edge.”

“No!” Brenda screamed as the TARDIS hovered above the strange compound and Davie slowly pushed the lever that made it descend. “No, it’ll get inside the TARDIS. It’ll kill us all.”

“It won’t,” Davie assured her. “A TARDIS can withstand the heat of volcanic lava or the depths of a deep ocean. Or extreme outside temperatures. We’re safe inside.”

“I don’t like it, still.” She looked up at the viewscreen as the TARDIS descended. The view outside was grey as they sank slowly down through the strange stuff. “Davie… don’t you feel it… the cold…”

“It’s not cold in here,” Davie assured her. “The TARDIS can withstand outside temperatures. It’s fine in here. A nice warm room.”

“But I can feel it,” she insisted. “I can feel it coming in. It’s going to get us.”

Trudi reached out and held Brenda. Davie looked up at her and saw her panic-stricken face. She was pale and shivering as if she really was cold. Tristie reached and took the drive control from him and he stepped towards her. She felt warm to the touch, but she still shivered and cried as if she was hurting.

“Your telepathy is different to ours,” he said. “It’s more instinctive than trained. It’s possible you’re picking up something that Tristie and I haven’t.”

“The cold… it wants us, Davie,” she whispered, trembling with terror. “It wants our souls.”

“Come on, sweetheart,” he told her. “Let’s come and sit down. You’re all right. We’re all just fine. You sit here with me.”

He wrapped one of the warm blankets that had revived him around Brenda and held her tightly as she continued to cry and complain that the cold was trying to get to her. He put his hand on her forehead and tried to calm her mentally, but she was too terrified to let him in. She was putting up mental barriers against something that she felt was attacking her and there was no way in for him to comfort her.

“It’s all right,” he said again, in the face of the facts. Brenda wasn’t all right. She was drifting further away from him every minute. He could do nothing but hold her and hope that she snapped out of it soon.

“Davie,” Tristie called from the console. “Sorry to bother you. But… look…”

Davie looked up at the main viewscreen and felt despair. He needed to attend to what he was seeing there. But he didn’t want to leave Brenda right now, either.

“I’ll look after her,” Trudi said. “I’m not much use at anything else. I don’t know how the TARDIS works, and I’m not psychic. All I know about is 1970s pop music. But I can look after her while you do the clever stuff.”

“I really think you should come and look at this,” Tristie added. Davie reluctantly let Trudi take hold of Brenda. He pulled another blanket around them both and told Trudi to keep herself and Brenda warm. He kissed his girlfriend on her cheek and then moved away to attend to the larger matter of more than 9,000 souls in peril outside of the TARDIS.

He looked again at the view outside. Through the opaque grey he could see buildings, a cobbled road where the TARDIS had touched down. He saw people. They looked as if they might have been going about their ordinary business in the street when the strange substance overwhelmed them. He saw an old woman in a dark blue dress floating in the swirling, freezing liquid. Her hair was spread out around her face, which was bone white. Next to her was a barrow that had obviously held some kind of bread or cake that she sold door to door. Muffins, he thought they used to be called. They were floating, too. He had a strange, stray thought about whether they would still be edible before panning around to see an even sadder sight. A woman with a big, old fashioned pram and two children alongside her, all suspended in the liquid, hair awry. Even the baby was floating above the pram, its blanket trailing.

He looked at the environmental monitor. It registered them as alive. He tapped the screen as if it might be giving a false reading and that might help. It stubbornly kept registering the same data. The people outside were alive.

“They must be in suspended animation,” he concluded. “Or something. If they’re feeling the same terror that Brenda is… the children… Oh, it’s horrible.”

“Can we help?” Tristie asked. “This TARDIS has transmat capability, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, but… I can’t help them all. Nine thousand people… Where do I start?” He looked at the mother and children. If he was going to try, then he would start with them, of course. And the muffin lady, and the butcher’s boy floating above his delivery bicycle with a string of sausages swirling around his neck.

He moved around the console to the transmat panel and focussed the beam on one of the victims. Tristie gasped in surprise when the baby materialised on the TARDIS floor. Davie ran and picked the child up in his arms. He was surprised. It was cold, but not freezing. And it was dry. It opened its eyes and looked up at him as he cradled it gently. He put his hand on the tiny forehead of the girl child and radiated calming thoughts. He wasn’t quite ready to deal with a crying baby right now. He took out his sonic screwdriver and examined her carefully. She seemed to be well enough. Lacking in a few vitamins, perhaps. But he wasn’t sure if that was because of her exposure to the strange liquid, or because poor people in 1899 sometimes didn’t get all the right vitamins from their food.

The baby was definitely cold, though. He brought her to the sofa and placed her in the blankets in Brenda’s arms. That motherly instinct that made her hug babies whenever she was near them took over. Despite her own discomfort she pulled the child close and kept her warm.

“Why the baby?” Tristie asked. “Why not one of the adults who could tell you what happened?”

“They’d be too freaked out by the TARDIS to tell me anything. The baby doesn’t know anything except that it’s warm, now. We’ve really got to figure out what this is, though.”

“It hasn’t harmed any of the people,” Tristie pointed out. “That suggests that… whoever, or whatever is responsible… is sentient… and their agenda… isn’t malicious.”

“No,” Brenda called out as she clutched the child. “No, I can feel it, still. The cold… cold, heartless… it wants our souls.”

“Is that what you feel, sweetheart?” Davie asked. “I’m not disbelieving you, I promise. But I am trying to find out what is happening out there.”

“I felt it…the liquid… it’s alive, Davie. It’s alive and it’s hungry. And it’s taking something from the people. Something you haven’t noticed. The baby… you didn’t see it in the baby. It’s not old enough… but the other people…”

“Hold onto the baby, Brenda,” Davie said. “Look after her.” He stood and went to the console again. He selected a subject for transmat and pressed the lever. The muffin woman collapsed to the floor. He ran to her side and quickly examined her. She seemed physically well, except that she was unconscious and nothing he did would revive her. He put his hands on her forehead and tried to read her mind and then he understood.

“It’s not their souls it wants. It’s their minds. It couldn’t do anything with the baby. It’s mind wasn’t mature enough. But this woman… her memory is almost completely gone. That’s why she won’t wake up. She doesn’t know how.”

“It’s harvesting minds,” Tristie said. “People’s memories.”

“Powerful things, minds. Look at ours. The things we can do, telepathy, telekinesis. As well as ordinary thinking and communicating. And our brains automatically work our bodies at the same time. What could an entity with no obvious central nervous system do with the collected minds of thousands – maybe hundreds of thousands – of people?”

“You’re going on the premise that it is a single entity?”

“Yes,” Brenda said. “Yes, that’s it. It’s one mind. A powerful mind. I can feel it. I feel as if it’s trying to get to me, to take my mind.”

“Trudi,” Davie asked. “Do you feel anything at all?”

“I’ve got a little bit of a headache, but nothing dramatic.”

“It’s not affecting us?” He looked at Tristie. “Why isn’t it affecting us?”

“We both practice mind-blocking exercises regularly,” Tristie answered. “To prevent psychic attack. And that’s exactly what is happening. The TARDIS is protecting us, too, of course. But our minds are immune to it. They’re too well protected.”

“In here, they are,” Tristie reminded him. “What about outside?”

“If we go outside, we’ll freeze to death,” Davie pointed out. “Or… at the least… we’ll end up like them… in suspended animation.”

“Don’t you have any enviro-suits in this TARDIS?”

“Yes. But….”

“No!” Brenda’s scream made them all wince. “No, Davie… you can’t. Don’t go out there. It almost killed you already. Don’t go. Don’t leave me. Please…”


“No, it’s all right,” Tristie said very calmly. “I wasn’t suggesting for one minute that you should be the one. You can’t risk your life. Because if you die now, then you’ll never be my teacher and we wouldn’t be here together. And that would be a powerful paradox. I’m going to do it.”

“No!” Davie insisted. “It’s my TARDIS. I’m in charge…. I decide…”

“Yes, it’s your TARDIS,” Tristie added. “So if you die, who gets the rest of us out of here? I can’t pilot the TARDIS without you. Just show me where the enviro-suits are.”

“They’re in a walk in cupboard, second on your right,” Davie said.

Tristie turned and walked towards the inner door of the TARDIS. Trudi stood up from the sofa as if to follow him, then turned towards Davie.

“Is it really that dangerous?”

“I don’t know. The enviro-suit will protect him from the cold. But his mind… he will only have his own strength to protect that.”

“Tristie IS strong,” she said. “I’ve seen him do loads of really clever things. He’s brave, too. And… he says you taught him everything.”

“Yes, I think I probably will. Which means… if he doesn’t make it… it’s my fault. I probably taught him to be that stubborn and determined, too.”

“I think… maybe… that’s a family trait,” Brenda told him. “There probably wasn’t much you could do about that.” She turned to Trudi and grasped her hand. “I… want you to know… I’m not glad that Tristie is doing this instead of Davie. He isn’t expendable. And I know you care about him very much. I shall be just as worried about him.”

“I know,” Trudi answered. She sat and waited quietly until Tristie returned dressed in the enviro-suit. It was just like an old fashioned space suit with a helmet that he had not yet fitted in place and an oxygen pack on his back. Trudi stood and went to him. He embraced her lovingly and kissed her on the lips deeply.

“I love you,” he told her. “I should have said that more often. But I do, Trudi. You’re not just a girl from a shop that I picked up along my way. You’re special to me. I mean it.”

“You…” Trudi answered. “Tristie, I love you. Be careful out there. Come back to me… especially… come back knowing who I am and that I love you.”

Davie helped him put on the helmet and clipped it securely. He checked the gauges to ensure it was airtight. Trudi couldn’t kiss him now, but she put her hands either side of his visor and told him once again that she loved him. He replied through the microphone. His voice came out of the speaker on the TARDIS console. Then Davie gently moved her aside and Tristie stood in position. Davie went to the transmat control and he disappeared from the TARDIS and was seen almost instantly on the street outside, moving slowly in the weighted boots in the strange, liquid.

“Brenda,” Trudi said quietly as they watched him take several slow steps. “Davie… does crazy things like this, too, doesn’t he?”

“All the time. Sometimes I know about it, sometimes I don’t. I’m not sure which is better.”

“Do you ever have any doubts about being engaged to him, knowing that he could get himself killed doing something mad to save other people?”

“No. I love him. I want to marry him, when the time is right. I trust him not to get killed before then.”

“I would… if Tristie asked me. I would say yes. But I worry about him. I’d be lost without him. I couldn’t go back to the life I used to have, ordinary, boring, boring stuff. Even if I didn’t love him, I wouldn’t want this to end. I wish he would ask. I would say yes. Even if I spend the rest of my life scared for him.”

“Well, there you are, then!” Brenda told her. She looked at the baby she was holding and smiled. “One day, I’ll travel with Davie in this TARDIS, and I’ll have his own children with me, showing them the wonderful things we’ve seen. I shall be honoured to be the mother of his children. You and Tristie will have that joy, too.”

Trudi sighed and looked at the viewscreen. Tristie was still there. He was standing still, in the middle of the eerie, submerged street. Davie was watching his lifesigns closely, with his hand on the transmat control all the while. Then he pulled the lever and Tristie re-appeared in the middle of the TARDIS floor. Davie ran to him, though Trudi got there first. She held him as he sagged wearily, his head drooping under the weight of the helmet. Davie released it and pulled it away from him before he could speak.

“I spoke to the entity… it tried to get my mind, but I was too strong. It couldn’t break down my mental barriers. But… I made a deal, Davie. It promised to release all the ordinary Human minds if I let it have one greater mind.”

“One…” Trudi shrieked in terror. “You mean you’re going to give yourself….”

Brenda jumped to the same conclusion.

“Tristie…you can’t ask Davie to make such a sacrifice…”

“I’m not. I didn’t mean any of us. I meant…. Davie… when I was out there, with it all around me, I could feel it… whatever the substance is, the matter that the entity is composed of, it’s like Artron energy, except cold. Artron energy is…”

“Is a fragment of a star,” Davie finished. “But…”

“But a TARDIS is semi-sentient. It has a mind of its own, of a kind. A huge, super mind that can calculate the vast distances in time and space that we travel. It’s a mind like the entity’s own mind. And I convinced it that it could join with it. I told it we would open up the TARDIS to it.”

“You… offered it my TARDIS?” Davie looked horrified. “No. There has to be another way.”

“It’s the only way that we can save all those innocent people out there. We can fight the entity. We might even kill it. Or it could kill us. But the people out there would still be destroyed. And that can’t happen. It shouldn’t happen. I’m not big on history, but I’m pretty sure there was never a town full of mindless vegetated people in 1899. So we must come up with something. And this is the best idea I can think of.”

“Well… let me think of something. There has to be some other way. We can’t…”

“Davie,” Brenda said to him. “The TARDIS… isn’t more important than all those people.”

“It… is to me,” he answered. He looked up at the viewscreen and knew how selfish that sounded. “I lost all of my work… my prototype… because of the Dominators. I’ve had to start again. Now… my TARDIS…”

“Davie...” Tristie put his hand on his shoulder. “Davie, I know how you feel. I spent fifteen years as your apprentice. This was my second home. I know this TARDIS like I know my mother… like I know Trudi. It hurts. But it’s the only way. We have to let the entity have the TARDIS’s mind.”

“But…” Davie hesitated. Then he looked down at the old muffin seller, still lying on the TARDIS floor. He had put a cushion under her head and a blanket over her, but she was still in the same catatonic state. “It… promised… these people will be restored? It meant it?”

“It’s a powerful mind, but a relatively simple one. I couldn’t sense any deceit. It intends a straight swap.”

“All right,” Davie conceded. “But first we have to put the old woman back where she was. And the baby. If the entity releases their minds, then it’s no good them being in the TARDIS where all the shields might interfere.” He turned to the transmat and the old woman vanished, reappearing outside by her barrow. Brenda came forward reluctantly with the baby. She didn’t want to let it go back outside in the numbing, dreadful cold. And she was worried Davie might let her fall instead of putting her back into the pram.

“It’s a precision instrument,” he assured her as he watched her kiss the baby’s forehead and place her on the floor. “Watch. It’ll be all right.”

He pulled the lever carefully and the baby reappeared outside, in her pram. The blankets were awry, but that couldn’t be helped. Until the entity was dealt with, no further harm could come to anyone outside, anyway.

“All right,” Davie said. “What next?” He looked at Tristie. “This is your call.”

“Open the door and drop the shields,” he said.

“The entity will flood the console room,” Davie replied. “We’ll all be caught up in it. I’m not putting the girls through that.”

“Trust me,” Tristie told him. He took back the helmet from the enviro-suit and put it back on his head. Davie fastened it for him. “Ok, now open the doors. Put a ten second delay on the shields, time to get in position.” Tristie moved around the console to the jar containing the specimen. Davie opened the door and wondered briefly what his position should be. Then he sprinted across the floor and sat between the two women, holding them both tightly. He closed his eyes and concentrated and generated a protective shield around them all. It wasn’t a particularly strong one. He hadn’t done that very often on his own. Usually he and Chris combined their strengths to do that kind of mental projection. But he might be able to hold it for long enough. As long as Tristie was right and the entity meant no deceit. If it did, then he didn’t know what he could do to fight it.

The girls clung to him as they watched the open door. There was a slight shimmer as the shields collapsed and then the entity began to pour into the TARDIS. At first it flowed along the floor, spreading like cold lava. But soon it began to get deeper. Davie poured all of his mental energy into the effort to protect himself and the women he and Tristie cared about. He felt the shield holding. He didn’t dare open his eyes and look at it, but he could visualise it, mentally. He could see the ice cold semi-viscous liquid against the invisible mental shield, gradually getting higher.

Safe for a while, he considered. If this took too long oxygen might become a problem. But he had to try.

“I can feel the cold,” Brenda murmured. “I can sense it. So cold…”

“Try not to think about it, sweetheart,” Davie answered. “Both of you, close your eyes. Don’t look. Trudi, don’t look at what Tristie’s doing. It will only scare you.”

Tristie was still holding the jar with the sample that was part of the entity. The greater part that was pouring in from outside began to snake up his legs, around his body, towards it. At the same time, the sample began to writhe around as if it was alive, and slip over the lip of the jar to join with the greater whole. Then the entity began to retreat away from Tristie, who backstepped into a small portion of the TARDIS floor that was not yet invaded. The entity began to swarm up and around the console, towards the central time rotor which was pulsating green, bright green, then a duller green in turn.

Davie was still witnessing it all through his extra sensory perceptions, not his real eyes. But that meant he could feel what was happening as well as see it. He felt the Artron energy that drove the time rotor meeting with the cold energy of the entity. It was like a glacier falling into a volcano, if that was possible.

“Let go of the Human minds,” he whispered. “That was the deal. If you want to join with the TARDIS mind, give them up.”

Again his extra sensory perception told him that it was doing so. The entity was letting go of the ordinary, mortal minds that weren’t anywhere near enough to satisfy its need, and it was pouring through the TARDIS door and into the heart of the console, down the great conduits that led, ultimately, to the Eye of Harmony. It was only a fragment of a star, barely the size of Brenda’s fist, but the energy it produced filled a deep pool in the Cloister Room. And that was where the entity was going. It was joining with the other sentient energy that it found there.

It took a very long time. The entity had filled a whole valley, submerged a town. Now, all of that matter was being drawn into the TARDIS. Davie wondered if it could contain it all. It seemed as if it could. What he couldn’t do was maintain the shield for much longer. He opened his eyes and looked. It hadn’t flooded the whole console room. It poured in through the door in a steady stream, but it was only about a foot deep and it was being fed through the time rotor at the same pace. He told the girls to put their feet up on the sofa and he let the shield collapse.

“It IS cold,” Trudi said. And Davie agreed. The ambient temperature in the console room was dropping fast. He pulled the blankets around them all and held on as he watched and hoped that there would be an end to it.

There was. Suddenly, the stream of silver-grey living, sentient entity came to an end. The last of it was pulled into the time rotor. It glowed bright green one more time, then dulled. The lights went out on the console, and around the console room. Trudi and Brenda both cried out at the sudden darkness. Davie moved off the sofa and ran to the console. It was completely dead. Nothing worked.

“The TARDIS is dead,” he said mournfully.

“The Artron energy and the entity cancelled each other out,” Tristie explained. They’re both neutralised. The TARDIS isn’t dead. It’s just powerless.”

“You knew that would happen?”

“I hoped it would. Fire and ice… enough fire and you end up with a lot of steam and enough of that puts out the fire. Simple thermodynamics as Granddad would say.”

“Nothing simple about it. But did it work?”

Davie turned and looked towards the door. Brenda was already running outside. He followed her and saw her helping the two children and the mother to their feet. He took her cue and went to assist the old muffin lady, who was disorientated and extremely upset about the fact that her muffins were spilled all over the floor. People were picking themselves up all over the street and asking each other what had happened, and why they all felt so cold.

“It was a freak ice storm,” Davie said to the nearest group of shopkeepers and passers by. “It came in off the sea, shrouded in mist, and was trapped between the two cliffs. It was so cold for a few minutes that everyone passed out. But it’s over now. The sun is shining. You’d best get a small group of citizens together to knock on doors and make sure everyone is all right. Some of the elderly and very young might need assistance. But I think you’ll be all right now.”

Later, they might wonder why a strangely dressed young man was giving them advice, but for now the merchants of Whitby did as he said. Everything seemed to be all right. Tristie and Trudi had followed them out of the TARDIS, which had reverted to default shape now that it had no power to maintain its disguise.

“Go find a carter,” he told Tristie. “We’ll get the TARDIS hauled down to the harbour where it will look a bit less conspicuous.” Meanwhile, he stepped into an alleyway where he wouldn’t be noticed and reached in his pocket for his mobile phone. It was still working. He called his brother.

“Chris,” he said. “My TARDIS is dead. I need a tow. Can you meet me in Whitby in September, 1899. We’ll be down at the harbour watching the boats.”

He ended the call and walked back into the main street where he prised Brenda away from the baby and small children and waited for the arrangements to be made with the carter.

“Chris said it probably isn’t completely dead,” he told her. “He says he’ll take us to Cardiff in the early twenty-first century. Park it on the rift there for two or three days and even the Eye of Harmony can be recharged with the residual energy from the last time the rift was activated. He can drop Tristie and Trudi back at their TARDIS, or they can join us for a romantic weekend in Cardiff. We can visit the Scott memorial. Another great explorer like Captain Cook and us. And Maybe Tristie can find a nice, ambient spot to propose to Trudi while we’re there.”

“I don’t care where we go, as long as we’re safe, and we’re together,” Brenda replied. “And warm. Tell Chris to take us to Cardiff in the summer, please.”

“It’s in Wales,” Davie pointed out. I’m not sure it HAS a summer!”