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

The Chinese TARDIS slipped smoothly out of the vortex into the space time co-ordinate Davie had specified. He was almost surprised that it did. After the refuelling stop in Cardiff he wasn’t completely certain that it was working properly. This was the shakedown trip to make sure everything was completely primed, and he was still not entirely sure it would behave properly.

The idea of possibly getting lost in space in a malfunctioning TARDIS had not appealed to Brenda. She went home with Chris after they saw Tristie and Trudi off on their own travels. He had a text message on his mobile to say that she loved him and was thinking of him. And to be careful. She always sent messages like that when he was away in the TARDIS. He appreciated the first thoughts, but the injunction to be careful – he always told her that was unlikely with the genes he had inherited from his Time Lord family line.

Spencer didn’t care if he was careful or not. When Davie called and asked him if he wanted to come on a quick trip to test the TARDIS’s drive controls he jumped at the chance. Once he had been reluctant to get involved with any TARDIS travel at all. He wanted nothing but to be left alone in his Northumbrian hermitage to live the quiet life he could never have had in the past. But now, for reasons that might not have anything to do with the freedom of travelling in space and time, he was happy to come aboard as Davie’s co-pilot, and now he shared his satisfaction in the successful test flight.

“It works better when I have you helping out,” Davie admitted. “TARDISes were never meant for solo flight. All the same, you really should have a TARDIS of your own one day. Trouble is, my work was set back when I had to blow up the workshop.”

“I’m happy as I am,” Spenser insisted. “I like being with you.”

“I know. But…”

“But Brenda doesn’t like it?”

“No, it’s not that. Brenda is ok about you. As long as we don’t go anywhere together that she considers ‘romantic’. What I was going to say was, you’ll be a fully qualified, transcended Time Lord in a few years and your own TARDIS ought to be part of the package. After all, that’s what a Time Lord is – somebody with command over time and space.”

“But there’s nowhere I want to go on my own. And besides, you would be lonely travelling by yourself, and so would I. We’re good together, Davie. That’s all I want. To be with you.”

It was possible that he wasn’t just talking about travelling in the TARDIS. Spenser knew perfectly well that anything else was just wishful thinking, though. Davie smiled warmly at him. “Don’t break his heart,” Jack had advised him when it first became obvious that Spenser had feelings for him. Davie had promised he wouldn’t.

“Yes, we are,” Davie answered him. “You’re right. There’s no reason why you can’t carry on being my co-pilot. That fits in fine with my plans. I want to be a traveller, an explorer in time and space just like granddad. I want to follow in his footsteps – be like him – to be him. He told me I would. One day people would call me Doctor. I’ll be the one to take on his burden. And… and you can share that burden, Spenser. I would like that. Brenda wants to be a wife and mother waiting for me back home. This life isn’t for her. I’d love to have you here, as my… what do you think the rank should be? Co-pilot? First Mate…. Captain Davie and First Mate Spenser?”

“Admiral Davie and Captain Spenser!” Spenser answered with a laugh. Either way, he liked the idea.

“Anyway!” Davie turned and looked at the main viewscreen. “What do you think of that? Is it magnificent or what?”

“It’s impossible,” Spenser replied. “By all the laws of physics it shouldn’t even be there. It’s not even in orbit around anything. Not a sun, or a planet. It’s just there, in space. Existing, despite all reason.”

“Yeah!” Davie breathed excitedly. This was what he travelled for. To see things that were impossible, that shouldn’t be there, that defied the laws of physics.

It wasn’t a planet. Not if a planet was, by clear definition, a sphere large enough to have gravity and atmosphere, and that was how Davie had defined the word for as long as he could remember. This wasn’t even a sphere. It looked like a piece of what might have been a sphere once, before some cataclysmic occurrence. There was a vertical plane which the TARDIS automatically measured as having an area of a little over fifty thousand square miles. It was flat, of course, only from a distance. In close view it was covered in the sort of craters and pock marks that were inevitable on anything that didn’t have gravity and atmosphere to repel or burn up the meteorites, asteroids and various space flotsam and jetsam of space.

The rounded section, something like a fraction of a hemisphere, had suffered much the same fate, but it had something unexpected to be seen, too.

A city - a monumental city of spires and towers and shining domes. It reminded Davie of the principle city of Gallifrey in the second hand memories of it he inherited from The Doctor.

The TARDIS measured the city and gave its area as some fifty square miles. About the size of Cardiff, Davie thought, remembering the city he had left a few days ago. Except that Cardiff had a thriving population whereas nobody, at least no organic life, lived in the city of Santuario. The TARDIS was clear about that, too. Population, 0.

The city was built right up to the broken edge of the planetary fragment, where the vertical plane began.

“Was it built like that?” Spenser wondered. “Or does it have an erosion problem like my house on the cliffs?”

“Good question,” Davie answered him. “Maybe they just wanted a spectacular view.”

“Who exactly are they?” Spenser asked. Again a very pertinent question. “Who built it? And why?”

“The TARDIS database doesn’t say,” he answered. “The Time Lords were aware of its existence. They studied its non-orbital nature and plotted a probable course through space over about ten billion years – in case it was in any danger of colliding with any inhabited planet – and that’s all that was recorded. I don’t believe that’s full story, actually. I am sure the Time Lords would have been more interested than that in something so incredible. My TARDIS database has only a truncated entry. The complete record must have been in the Matrix on Gallifrey. Even this much was encrypted. It took me a full day when we were in Cardiff to unlock it.”

“I bet Brenda was thrilled at you spending all that time doing that,” Spenser observed.

“She was too busy shopping with Trudi,” Davie answered with a wry smile. “Anyway, I intend to complete the record with my own findings. That’s what Time Lords used to do, in their day. They recorded things like this. Added to the sum of knowledge of the universe. And I think that’s a pretty good thing to want to do.”

Spenser had been watching Davie’s face as he talked about unlocking the encryption. His eyes had been positively glittering with enthusiasm for the challenge. Getting his TARDIS to the mysterious non-planet was another challenge that he had risen to. The prospect of exploring it made his whole face light up. If his head had spun, Spenser wouldn’t have been surprised. Davie was his great-grandfather in so many ways. That was one of them. The sheer joy of facing the unknown head on.

“There’s no atmosphere at all,” Davie added as he checked his controls and initiated a materialisation in the city of Santuario itself.

“Last one to the space suits is a snail,” Spenser answered with a boyish grin. Davie laughed and pressed the materialisation switch before turning and chasing after him, along the corridor to a small room next to the general Wardrobe where protective clothing like hazmat suits and fully pressurised space suits were kept. The chase had been in fun, a chance for the two young men to act a little like boys for once. But as they put on the suits they were both perfectly serious. It was a serious business, getting ready to step out into a hostile environment. Davie checked and locked the seals on Spenser’s suit and double-checked the oxygen tanks. Spenser did the same for him. It was an exercise in mutual trust.

“Ok,” Davie said when they were both ready. “Let’s explore.”

Walking through the TARDIS in the heavy suits felt strange, even though Davie turned down the gravity to get them used to the feel of it. When they stepped out onto the planetoid surface though, it was even more unusual. The suits had their own artificial gravity, preventing them from floating away. Every time they lifted their feet to take a step they felt the suit trying to force the foot back down again. It took a few minutes to feel that they were in control of their own movements. Long enough to cross the plaza the TARDIS had brought them into. Looking down at their feet they noted that the floor was made of some kind of ornamental polycarbide, roughened to make a non-slip surface. There was a geometric pattern across it that might have some significance if they could see it as a whole, possibly from the top of one of the tall buildings that surrounded it.

They headed towards the tallest of the tall buildings. It seemed to be made of the same sort of polycarbide as the plaza – or at least faced with it. Perhaps there was some other substance beneath. There was a door made of what Davie was guessing was a see-through version of the same material everything else was made of. It opened smoothly as they approached. That was no great surprise, of course. Sensor-operated doors had been around on Earth since the twentieth century. They both took it for granted. What was amazing, though, was the automatic lift in the middle of what was clearly a foyer. They didn’t actually realise it WAS a lift at first. It just appeared to be a raised platform with a model of the tower on it. Spenser stood on it and touched the top of the model. Suddenly the lift began to rise. Davie looked at him and then jumped up beside him. Wherever it was going, they would go together.

Neither thought of jumping off. Spenser, for all his lack of ambition, shared Davie’s enthusiasm for the unknown at least that much.

“What’s doing it?” Spenser asked as they passed through the ceiling of the foyer into a lift shaft with luminescent white walls punctuated at each floor by a green strip of light. “What’s holding us up?”

“Anti-gravity,” Davie answered. “Or something like it.” It puzzled him, and he thought he was good at physics. If there WAS no gravity, then how did anti-gravity work?

Maybe it was something that depended on belief that it was working. If he questioned it, maybe it would stop working and they’d plunge down the hundreds of feet they had come already at terminal velocity.

It worked. He accepted that it did. He let Spenser hold his arm as they both kept to the centre of the platform and waited for it to reach the floor Spenser had accidentally selected when he touched the model.

“We should make some rules about not touching things when we explore,” Davie said.

Spenser pointed out the impracticability of that. They had to touch things. And besides, the model hadn’t looked like anything dangerous.

Davie conceded the point.

They reached the top. The lift emerged from the shaft flush with the polycarbide floor of what immediately struck them as an observation deck. It was subtly lit with uplights set into the floor and downlights in the ceiling, but all around the polygonal room were windows from floor to ceiling.

“This room is octadecagonal,” Davie stated as he looked around and quickly counted the windows. “Eighteen sides.”

“Significant?” Spenser asked.

“Only in so far as the builders had ideas about symmetry. It’s an even number. A regular polygon. But architecture all over the universe, except for some post-modernist oddities, tends to lean towards the symmetrical. There’s no surprise there, really.

They stepped towards the windows and looked down at the plaza they had walked across. The TARDIS was disguised as an eighteen sided building made of roughened polycarbide. It looked very small from up here.

“The pattern on the ground,” Spenser pointed out. “Weird.”





“Very weird,” Davie agreed. “Seems almost like….”

“Davie….” Spenser clutched his arm suddenly. “I heard…”

They both turned around. The lift had descended, a cover sliding into place over it. They heard the faint whine of it descending, but only a short way. Then a few minutes later it ascended again. Davie reached into the pouch on the arm of his spacesuit and grasped his sonic screwdriver. He wasn’t sure he could adjust it with the thick gloves of the suit, but he had last used it in laser welding mode. That would do if anything hostile emerged.

What did emerge was a small robot. It stood about three foot tall, but as the lift stopped it rose up another three foot so that it’s head was level with the two six foot something men. That is if the rounded part on top of the square part could be called a head. It had no obvious facial features, but Davie surmised that it held the central processor while the larger square bit was for propulsion.

He and Davie were both surprised when an LCD screen lit up on what they both automatically called the ‘stomach’ of the robot.

“Tellytubbies!” Davie exclaimed, recalling a late twentieth century Earth cultural icon and finding himself unable to stop the comparison forming in his mind. Having made that connection, he found it impossible to believe that the robot was hostile to him.

“What is that?” Spenser asked as a row of digits appeared on the screen.

“It’s… wow… It’s binary code,” Davie answered. “A series of ‘1’ and ‘0’ arranged in sets of eight. It’s the language of computers.”

“So… it’s a message for us in binary?”

“Yes, it is. What else would a robot send a message in! All computers use binary in their basic programming. What we usually see is a translation through all kinds of processes into language we recognise. But it’s all just, basically ‘0’ and ‘1’.”

“So… how do we know what it says?”

“Chris and I learnt binary when we were kids,” Davie told him. “Haven’t used it in conversation, mind you. It says…. H…E…L….. HELLO. The robot says hello to us. Hello in binary.”

“That’s nice of it,” Spenser said. He looked at Davie. He had turned back to the window and was looking at the pattern on the plaza.

“The digits aren’t arranged in sets of 8,” he said. “But it’s the same principle. Now I’ve figured it out, it’s easy. The plaza… says WELCOME.”

“Good,” Spenser replied. “Nice, polite city. Nice polite robots. Welcome and hello.”

Davie turned back to the robot and spoke slowly.

“Hello. We are travellers. We have come to see your city.”

The screen flickered and a new set of binary codes appeared. Davie’s pupils dilated as he read them quickly.

“‘You are welcome, traveller, to Santuario.’ Yes, I agree. It makes a real change to be welcomed anywhere.”

A new sequence of binary code scrolled down the screen. Davie read it, this time a lot easier. He was getting used to translating in his head.

“Please stand by for bio-mechanical analysis.”

“Er…” Spenser sounded dubious about that. Davie wasn’t keen, either. But nothing happened except a small aperture opened in the head of the robot and a low-level green light scanned them both for a few seconds.

“You are biological entities known as humanoid. Oxygen breathing,” the binary message read. “Please wait sixty seconds for adjustment of atmospheric conditions to suit your species.”

“Wow, really?” Davie was impressed. He looked at the monitor on his space suit sleeve. He could feel the difference anyway. The airless vacuum was filling with a suitable mixture of oxygen, nitrogen and other elements that they called air. There was artificial gravity being applied, too. He felt the difference in the way his body no longer had to force itself to be upright with his head pointing to the ceiling. He put his hand to his neck and released the pressure seal. It was good to take off the helmet. He ran his hand through his hair, then stopped as he noticed Spenser, with his own helmet off, grinning.

“Yeah, ok, I look like an advert for hair gel, doing that,” he answered him. “But we’re VIP visitors here. They gave us an atmosphere and gravity specially. We don’t want to present ourselves with helmet hair, do we?”

“I don’t think a robot that can only communicate in binary cares what we look like,” Spenser answered. “But now what?”

“Guided tour, apparently,” Davie said as he read the next message. “Please step onto the gravity lift.”

“Ok, no problem.” Spenser walked with Davie onto the lift. The little robot hovered and then settled beside them. The lift began to descend.

“Where are we going, do you think?” Spenser asked as the lift descended the shaft and passed briefly through the foyer before carrying on down again.

“Hospitality, apparently,” Davie answered. “Our friend here just said so.”

“We are…” Spenser looked at the robot and then at Davie. “We are safe, aren’t we? I mean… just because there are huge welcome signs and a friendly little robot who doesn’t look like hostile is in his vocabulary – even in binary – what if it’s just a way of luring us into something dangerous?”

“Hmmm. Good point,” Davie conceded. “But I really want to find out what this is about and I think for the moment we have to take his word that he’s a good guy.”

The lift halted and a door slid open smoothly to reveal a well lit corridor. The robot hovered and they followed it, surprised and pleased to find that the corridor had a moving floor that was very restful after walking in the space suits with weighted boots. They were the only beings that did need the moving floor. Robots like the one that was guiding them hovered on by, going about their business.

“Do you have a name?” Spenser asked the robot.

“He’s designated Auto Guide Alpha,” Davie said, reading the reply. “I think we’ll call him Aga for short.” He turned and addressed the robot. “I’m Davie and this is Spenser.” Aga clearly understood the concept of names. He repeated them on screen in binary form. 01000100 01000001 01010110 01001001 01000101 and 01010011 01010000 01000101 01001110 01010011 01010000 01010010 and then decided to call them 01000100 and 01010011 for short.

“It’s amazing the way you do that,” Spenser said as Davie asked another question of Aga and got an answer. “It’s brilliant.”

“I could only work it out on paper when I was younger,” he admitted. “But after I Transcended, I felt the whole universe in my head. And I found I could read machine code, binary, base six, hexadecimal, as easily as English. They are the only languages I have to work at, of course. The TARDIS doesn’t think that it needs to translate computer languages, only written or spoken languages. Base Six is important to know. It’s the key to Sontaran command codes. They only have three fingers on each hand, of course. So their numeric system is based on six digits.

Spenser looked at his hands and smiled.

“Seriously? That’s why we use a decimal system – because we have ten fingers?”

“Yep. I did a project about it when The Doctor was teaching us. I researched different humanoid species and examined their numeric systems. The most prevalent is decimal. This arrangement of fingers and thumbs is the most common in the universe. But there are a couple of species that use binary because they only have one finger and a thumb, and the Tessalla who have eight fingers on each hand, and the Marri who have four hands with six fingers each. It’s all about our race memory of before we understood numbers or language and our hands were our tally sticks and calculators.”

“I have a lot to learn about the universe if I’m going to travel with you. I never knew any of that.”

“Most important lesson I ever learnt from The Doctor – you learn something new every day. I don’t know everything. Neither does he. Nobody does. That’s what makes TARDIS travel so exciting. And if there isn’t something we can learn in this place then we don’t deserve to call ourselves Time Lords.”

“Davie, Aga is trying to tell you something.”

Davie looked at the rapidly scrolling binary code on Aga’s screen and mentally kicked himself. Yes, you could learn something new every day. But only if you had your eyes open and were paying attention. He had been so busy teaching Spenser that he missed what he was supposed to learn.

“Wait, Aga,” he said. “Run that again, a little bit slower, please.”

‘A little bit slower’ was still faster than Spenser could read the computer language, and Davie’s eyes dilated alarmingly as he kept up with the scrolling digits.

“Oh!” he said at last. “Oh, I am sorry to hear that. I truly am.”

“What?” Spenser asked. Davie turned to answer him, but at that point the walkway stopped at another lift entrance. They had come, he reckoned, at least the length of the first building they were in and possibly another one of the same length. The city was obviously connected by underground corridors.

The first building seemed to have no obvious function except as an observation tower. This one, when they emerged from the lift, was clearly hospitality. The room was, again, a regular polygon – a twelve sided dodecagon, and it was obviously intended to be a rest and recreation area for humanoids. There were soft chairs and low glass tables. Aga invited them to sit and the table in front of them glowed momentarily before a pot of what smelled like coffee and the necessary cream and sugar, as well as cups, saucers and spoons for two appeared.

“I think we can assume at this point that there is no hostile intent,” Davie said as he poured two cups of coffee. “Besides, Aga’s story…. Here, have a drink while I tell you. It’s not a pretty tale, I’m afraid.”

Aga’s screen flashed on and off as if in confirmation of that fact.

“You know, he’s an unusual little robot,” Davie commented. “He may only be able to communicate in binary, but there is some kind of artificial intelligence that gives him basic emotional responses. The word Sontaran… it actually scares him. And the word Time Lord gives a completely different response. I’m not sure about that bit, yet. But the Sontarans… They’re the reason this place is like it is. They destroyed a whole solar system. Nine planets and the sun they orbited…. I suppose it was in the way of their war with the Rutans. Or perhaps the people resisted in some way. Aga’s database isn’t absolutely clear. Maybe nobody knows why they did it. But… anyway, they did something to the sun, turned it into a red giant that consumed all but the outer planet in the system – and that was broken apart by the huge stresses exerted on it. Most of it disintegrated. One chunk – this part – was flung out into deep space. Of course, the organic beings were killed. No air, no gravity. Most of the robot lifeforms were lost, too. They would have drifted off into space and either burnt up in the atmosphere of some planet or just kept going till their power cells died. But… apparently a few survived – in the underground sections. Air and gravity didn’t matter to them. But their programming did. They… their job was maintenance and building. So they carried on doing that – maintenance and building – of the city of Santuario.”


“For…” Davie wasn’t sure about that. “Well, because they’re robots. And they only do what they have been programmed to do. Their programming told them to keep going, maintaining the city. So they did.”

“So they have a beautiful, fantastic city that nobody can live in on an impossible rock in space?”


“And if anyone does come here, they give them a welcome and hospitality.” Spenser looked at the coffee and then asked a question so obvious that Davie wondered why it never occurred to him.

“Where does this come from?”

“I don’t know. Obviously it’s synthetic. I can tell by the taste. It’s not quite the real thing. My TARDIS has a food dispenser that produces coffee like this. I never use it if I can help it. I prefer to make proper food and drink in the kitchen.”

“Even synthesised food needs a protein source,” Spenser pointed out. “Seriously, where does this come from. And I sure hope it’s NOT what was left of the organic beings when the planet went bang.”

Davie asked Aga.

“Sanctuary stores,” he answered.

“Whatever that means.”

“I suppose that there is some kind of food store. I hope you’re right about the organic remains.”

Aga’s message display scrolled. Davie read quickly.

“He says that the protein store was installed in order to provide hospitality to visitors.”


“Santuario!” Davie turned the word over on his tongue. “I never gave it a thought until now. The name of this city. It’s….”

“Italian for sanctuary – or refuge.”

“On Earth, it’s Italian. By a monumental coincidence, the same word is used in Gallifreyan to mean exactly the same thing. I never even thought of it. I’m so used to the TARDIS translating everything for me. But one of the languages I can actually speak without any help from the TARDIS is Gallifreyan. I hardly use it… except for Low Gallifreyan swear words, and Brenda tells me off for those, anyway. But I can speak Gallifreyan. And…” He turned at looked at Aga again and asked him a question, in Gallifreyan.

“Who gave you your programming?”

“The High Council of the Time Lords of Gallifrey,” Aga replied.

“What…..” Spenser looked at Davie for an explanation. “How…. He speaks Gallifreyan? I mean… he writes Binary for Gallifreyan…”

“He understands the language of the Time Lords. I think I know why.” Davie drained his coffee cup and stood up. Spenser did the same. “Refreshments were nice. But it’s time we got on with some work, Aga. Show us your central command room.”

Aga’s screen turned on and off and then the Gallifreyan words for “Follow me” were spelled out in Binary. They followed. Down the lift and along another moving walkway that went on for much longer this time.

“Neither of us have ever seen Gallifrey,” Davie said to Spenser. “But it’s a part of our being. Our race memory if you like. Granddad used to show Chris and me images of it in our minds when we were kids. He taught us Gallifreyan history and geography, and folk literature. And if I concentrate I can still reach his real memories of it. You… probably can, too. If you access your father’s memories. He came from Gallifrey, too.”

“I’d rather not. I hate to go back into that.”

“I know. But even unconsciously, I’ll bet you can remember the Capitol. The main city of Gallifrey.”

Spenser closed his eyes to concentrate. When he opened them he swayed a little. Davie steadied him.

“Yes,” he said. “I saw it. Monumental. Beautiful. The shining city on the edge of the Red Desert.”

“That’s it. And… don’t you think… Santuario looks a lot like it?”

“Yes,” he agreed.

“I thought so when we first got here. At the back of my mind. But I didn’t give it much real thought. This city is a replica of the Capitol of Gallifrey.”

“Why?” Spenser asked. “And please don’t point out how often I’ve asked that question today.”

“I wasn’t counting,” Davie answered him. “’Why’ is the big question over this whole situation. Why does this place even exist? What is it for? And how are the Time Lords connected to it?”

“Do you have any ideas, then?” Spenser asked. “You looked like you did.”

“Santuario,” Davie continued. “That’s the clue. I’m not sure. I have to look at a bigger database than Aga’s. Preferably one with a language parser. It’s getting a bit tedious doing all this translating.”

Aga’s screen blinked. Davie looked at him and blinked, too.

“Sorry, no offence.”

“You hurt its feelings?”

“It seems so. Even though it’s a robot and shouldn’t even have feelings. I suppose there’s a lesson in that. Don’t take little robots for granted.”

The walkway stopped and a door slid open. Davie and Spenser followed Aga into a room that, this time, had only six sides – a hexagon.

“The Time Lord’s favourite polygon,” Davie commented. “Supposedly a sacred shape in ancient times, before Rassilon.”

“So… the Time Lords have been here?” Spenser looked around at the walls of the wide, spacious control room. Hexagonal panels covered it, all of luminous white material. In the centre was a bank of computers that put them both in mind of the TARDIS console. It was six-sided, too, but at least four times as big as the TARDIS controls.

There were a half a dozen robots doing what must qualify as maintenance work. They took no notice of the arrival of two organic beings in their midst. Aga stayed beside them. His role as guide was still valid, even though they had probably seen enough at this point.

Davie stepped towards the console. He pulled up a chair and sat. He scanned it carefully and noted that it was very much on the same principles as his TARDIS except doing something a bit more specific.

He switched on a monitor and typed rapidly at a keyboard which he was gratified to find was an extended one that included the extra characters that corresponded to the Greek alphabet, but were in fact part of the Gallifreyan one. Apart from being exactly the sort of keyboard he learnt to type on, it was absolute proof that the Time Lords had something to do with Santuario.

But that “Why” still seemed to bob in front of his eyes like a constant motif on everything he was doing. He knew he would have to answer it or go mad, trying.

At least he wasn’t reading binary any more. This computer had a full language parser and the language that filled the screen was Gallifreyan. He could read that as easily as English. It was his second language. It was as useless, in some ways, as Latin to an English public schoolboy, but a language he was proud to learn because it was a part of his heritage as the son of a native born Gallifreyan.

“This is what was missing from my TARDIS database,” he said. “The secret hidden even from most Time Lords. Maybe even from the President. Because granddad was Lord High President once, and he couldn’t tell me anything about it.”

“That’s one hell of a secret, then,” Spenser agreed. “But what is it?”

“Santuario,” Davie answered him. “The Time Lords found the original planet… the outermost of the system, uninhabited… uninhabitable, really. But rich in minerals, especially metal ores. They established a building programme. They employed the people and the technology from the inner planets. It was they who brought the robotic workers. We – Time Lords – never had that sort of technology. Aga and his kind actually physically built a city, with everything there, ready to be used. In case anything happened to Gallifrey.”

“What? Spenser looked at the data on the screen. He could read Gallifreyan, too. It was his father’s language. He read and confirmed what Davie was saying. “When?”

“About a thousand years ago in Gallifreyan linear time,” he answered. “Around about when Granddad was born. It was about five hundred years after that when the Sontarans destroyed the solar system this planet was in. Oh… I see…” He paused and whispered an invocation of Rassilon’s mercy – the nearest thing a Gallifreyan had to a prayer – in memory of the billions who had died in that terrible annihilation. “It wasn’t part of their war with the Rutans. It was an attack on the Time Lords. The Sontarans tried to invade Gallifrey about then. They failed. This was their act of revenge. They destroyed everything. Except, by a billion to once chance, the city survived. It was damaged, of course. But the robots fixed it. The Time Lords found it, saw what they were doing and…” He breathed in deeply, awestruck by what he read next. He felt Spenser’s hand on his shoulder as he stood behind him and read. They were both amazed and a little proud of their own ancestors and their ingenuity.

“I’ve always been told that we are the most powerful people in the universe. But I sort of… I didn’t exactly disbelieve it. But I had thought… after the Time War… we’d lost some of our power – we’d been slapped down by the Daleks. But we, the Time Lords, the sons of Rassilon, we really are incredible. We… didn’t start again. We took this fragment and installed this – a drive control. It looks as if it’s floating aimlessly, but it isn’t. The fragment is actually in temporal stasis. That means that any ordinary space ship, Sontarans, Daleks, anything else, couldn’t even find it. They couldn’t plot it on any star chart. Only with the co-ordinates that I unencrypted, could anyone even get here. Only a Time Lord, in other words. But even if anyone else had, it was dead, useless, a rock floating in the vacuum, except for the city the robots had rebuilt faithfully, keeping the place ready for when the Time Lords would need it. Should Gallifrey have been in such peril, if it should be on the brink of destruction, they were going to evacuate to Santuario – the Sanctuary. It would become the new Gallifrey – the new home of the Time Lords.”

“A dead rock in space without any atmosphere or gravity?”

“No,” Davie replied. “No, that’s the really clever bit. When they were ready for it, they were going to move Santuario to a new location. Look…”

There was a projection on the screen of the Time Lord plan. It showed how the fragment of the planet would be moved through the vortex to a place and time that the Time Lords had chosen. The final destination was within an asteroid belt of a solar system. There, the fraction of the Eye of Harmony which had kept it going all this time would be used to create two things that were nothing short of miraculous. First, it would create a field that would virtually recreate the planetary sphere, so that to an astronomer’s eyes, looking through a telescope from somewhere else in the system it would seem to be whole. It would also allow the fragment to spin on an axis and create an illusion of atmosphere and gravity. Meanwhile, a powerful force would draw into the virtual planet rock and dust that would, eventually, after thousands of years, form a whole, real planet again, with the city of Santuario ready for the Time Lords to make use of it.

“Oh, we are so clever!” Davie whispered.

“Not so clever,” Spenser replied. “It didn’t work. They didn’t come here.”

“They didn’t anticipate the Time War,” Davie answered him. “They didn’t expect to be time-locked and besieged on Gallifrey. Their last back door was bolted. They couldn’t use it. They were destroyed before the evacuation could happen.”

He swallowed a lump in his throat and refused to cry for the Time Lords of Gallifrey and their destruction. He was, himself, a Time Lord and it was beneath his dignity to shed tears for them.

“Davie!” Spenser tightened his grip on his shoulder. “Davie… look at the screen.”

For a moment, Davie didn’t respond. He was so caught up in the emotional moment.

Then he looked.

“It’s asking if I want to initiate the final phase. If I… me… it’s asking if I want to…”

“To create a new planet.”


“You’re a Time Lord, Davie. You put your hands on the controls. It recognised you. It thinks you’re the advanced party of Time Lords come to set up the new home world. It’s waiting for you.”

Davie turned and looked at Aga.

“Is that what you think we are? Why we came here?”

Aga’s screen blinked.

“My Lord,” he spelled out in binary.

“Then… I can’t let you down, can I?”

He was scared, it had to be said. He was a Time Lord in ninety-eight percent of his DNA. But the two per cent that was merely Human had a bit of an identity crisis for a moment or two. Then he reached and pressed the key that answered the question.


The screen filled with fast scrolling data. The console lit up all over with the same eerie green that his TARDIS console glowed with. He could feel the build up of power after all the years of waiting.

Then a box appeared on the screen. It flashed twice and the words ‘Presidential Code’ appeared.

“Oh.” Spenser was disappointed. “Oh, I suppose they didn’t mean for just any Time Lord to do this. Oh… well…”

Then he watched in surprise as Davie typed in a code.

“455Alpha39Ceti165Psi92. Thank you, granddad, former Lord High President of Gallifrey.” He pressed send and the code was accepted. He stood up and reached for Spenser’s arm. As the enormity of what he had initiated overwhelmed him, he felt the need for his support.

“You did it,” Spenser said to him as they looked up at the main viewscreen and saw the vortex swirling around them like an endless tunnel. “We’re travelling through time and space. The whole planetoid, everything. The city, the robots, your TARDIS, everything is moving.”

The robots were excited. They really were. Davie looked around at them and wondered if their mechanical minds were going to implode. He thought his own might at any moment.

“It’s what you’ve been waiting for, Aga,” he said to the little robot that had been their companion since they arrived.

“Yes, Lord,” he replied in binary.

“Stop all the Lord stuff, now,” he admonished the robot. “I’m Davie, or 01000100, if you please.”

At last the vortex cleared. Davie looked at the data on the monitor, at the schematic that showed the planetoid in the middle of an asteroid belt.

Not just any asteroid belt. It was Spenser who actually realised that when he looked at the data closely.

“It’s OUR asteroid belt. Sol… Earth’s system. The Time Lords planned to have their new Gallifrey in Earth’s solar system.”

“Of course,” Davie nodded. “Legend has it that Time Lords’s blew up the planet that was here originally, to destroy the deadly Fendahl. It’s fitting. The dust and debris from that lost world will form the new one. In… ohh… about two thousand years, it says.” He looked at the temporal date. “It’s three hundred BC by Earth years. That means the planet will be complete by the time Humans have good enough telescopes to see it.”

“Ceres,” Spenser said. “The dwarf planet in the asteroid belt.”

“Discovered by Giuseppe Piazzi on New Years’ Day, 1801.”

“My father was really excited about it. I remember… his memory of it. He never knew… Nobody does. We must have…”

Davie tapped at the keyboard.

“Yes. There’s a perception filter over the city. We didn’t want Piazzi getting upset about the possibility of alien intelligence. But that means… in our own time… it’s there, waiting for us. A place where Time Lords… we could all move there from Earth. Or the New Galifreyan government could meet there in session. Or…. I don’t know. We’ll find a use for it, anyway. The hard work Aga and his friends put in won’t go to waste. But… Wow. We did it. Spenser…. We’ve just created a planet.”

“I know.”

They hugged each other in recognition of the joyful moment.

“You did it, you know,” Spenser told him. “You’re the Time Lord who made it happen.”

“I just pressed the buttons. The ones who came before us did the hard work.”

Even so, he did feel quite proud of himself. His great-grandfather, The Doctor, had told him he would be a great Time Lord, and would do wonderful things. This was, he thought, the first of them.

“I need to go home, soon. I need Sukie to beat me at multi-dimensional chess and mum or Brenda to nag at me for something I should have done. I need to be ordinary again, not a god, a planet creator.” He turned to Aga and regarded him for a while.

“I don’t think this place needs a tour guide anymore. How do you fancy coming along with me and being part of my TARDIS crew? I could use a smart little robot. I might upgrade you so you can display English, though. Binary is a bit too much trouble on a daily basis.”

The robot’s screen blinked on and off and a simple message displayed. Davie smiled and replied in binary.

“01011001 01001111 01010101/01000001 01010010 01000101/01010111 01000101 01001100 01000011 01001111 01001101 01000101/01000110 01010010 01001001 01000101 01001110 01000100.”

“You are welcome, friend.”