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

Susan pushed open the door of Davie’s rebuilt workshop and stepped inside, surprised at how bright it was, lit from above with strong halogen lights. She didn’t see her son at first. He was down in the pit under a sleek and expensive looking twentieth century sports car that he was working on. There were sounds of nuts being untightened and a gurgling as if old oil was being released from the sump. There was an annoyed yelp as if the oil hadn’t gone where he planned.

Susan let him get on with the work and looked around at the plans and blueprints on the walls. Not all of them had anything to do with cars. There was also something mysterious glowing brightly in a glass fronted container with a radioactive warning sticker on it. She edged away from it.

Davie climbed up out of the pit, wiping oil from his face and hands with a cloth before he proceeded to open up the bonnet of the car and pour clean oil into it. Susan smiled to see him at work. He looked so very strong and capable. And he hadn’t yet noticed she was there. She was reminded very much of her grandfather, The Doctor, when he was absorbed in something scientific or mechanical. But he reminded her of someone else, too.

“You’re so like your father when he was young,” she said. “I never noticed before.”

He turned, startled by her voice, and smiled happily to see her. His teeth looked very white in contrast to his grimy face.

“I thought I took after your side of the family,” he answered her.

“In your blood, yes,” she told him. “In your driving ambition, and your genius. But you look like your father. He was a handsome young man. And brave… the risks he took to look after me and grandfather when we were fighting the Daleks. You didn’t hesitate to fight the Dominators the same way. It was your father’s blood that drove you. Not mine. Not Grandfather’s. You’re a fighting Campbell.”

Davie’s smile widened. He finished his work on the car and tested the engine. It purred satisfactorily. He turned and unzipped his overall and stepped out of it. Beneath he was wearing a much cleaner pair of slacks and a t-shirt. His hands were relatively clean. He stepped close to his mother and hugged her.

“I’m proud of all of my ancestors,” he said. “Human and Time Lord. If I seem too pre-occupied with being a Time Lord, sometimes, then forgive me. You and dad.”

“You’re too busy being a Time Lord for me to even see you most of the time,” she told him. “That’s why I came up here this afternoon. Your dad is in Kent, at a seminar of some sort. Sukie and Vicki are away with grandfather in his TARDIS. Chris doesn’t seem to be around…”

“He’s taken his ‘followers’ to SangC’lune – field study,” Davie explained.

“So you’re the only one of my children I can talk to right now,” she said. “The only one I could find.”

“Oh, mum!” Davie hugged her again. “I am sorry if we’ve neglected you. I promise I’ll try to spend more time with you in future. Chris, too.”

“Just… hello… now and again,” she said. “I’m only a mile away. But… I miss you, both.”

“I’m not very busy now,” he told her. “I’ve finished working on this car. I was going to take it for a test drive. You can come with me, if you like. Then we can talk all you want.”

Susan looked a little dubiously at the car. The registration plate proved that it was from the late twentieth century, or perhaps early twenty-first. She was no expert. When she lived in that century cars were far simpler looking, even the sports ones. This one looked more like a small space craft than a road car. It was glossy black, the colour she would expect Davie to choose, with more headlights than she thought were strictly necessary. It was very low at the front and high at the back, with a ‘spoiler’ fin across the back windscreen. And inside, it had the strangest arrangement of seats she had ever seen. The driver’s seat was in the middle, with two passenger seats either side, set just slightly back. It must have been a futuristic dream when it was made. Even now, two hundred years later, they didn’t make cars like that for average people to drive.

“It is just an ordinary car, isn’t it?” she asked. “Not a time machine?”

“It’s a 1998 Maclaren F1, at the time the fastest legal road car on planet Earth,” Davie said proudly. “To do anything else to it would be criminal. I’ve registered it as a classic road car. Even a hover conversion would spoil it. It was made to run on tarmac.”

“Where did you get it?” Susan asked.

“From an auction in Finchley. It was in terrible condition when I got it. The engine block was completely seized up and had been for decades and it was missing a lot of electrics. It was covered in grunge. I don’t think the people selling it even knew what it was. I think it had been in a parking garage since before the Dalek invasion! I got it for scrap value, would you believe! When it was new, it cost nearly three quarters of a million pounds. I had to go back to the late 20th century to get some of the parts for it. They just don’t make cars like this any more.”

“I’m not surprised,” Susan commented. “You must have worked hard on it. It looks nearly new.”

“Labour of love. It’s a beautiful car,” he answered with a smile. “I’ve made a space for it in my TARDIS console room… like a carport, so I can take it to places where I can drive it properly. Next week, I thought I’d take it back to the 21st century and try it out at the Nürburgring.

Susan had no idea what the Nürburgring was, and right now she didn’t want to ask. She might not like the answer.

“But you are still planning to make time machines?” she asked as she looked about at the blue prints, wondering what was more dangerous – fast cars or bending the laws of physics - and which scared her more when her first born son indulged in it.

“Oh, yes,” he answered. “I'm getting two cars in next week for conversions, like I did with the prototype. I might even be able to experiment with a dimension circuit this time. That’ll be a big step forward. And then there’s that…” He pointed to the glowing object with the radiation warning. “It’s a crystal from my own TARDIS. I’m bombarding it with Artron energy to force grow it… I’m growing a TARDIS from scratch like they used to do on Gallifrey.”

“How long will it take?” Susan asked.

“About five hundred years in that small bombardment chamber,” he answered. “With power from the National Grid. That’s where this comes in.” He pointed to one of the blue prints on the wall. “Super condensed solar power convertors. If I cover the roof of this workshop with six centimetre square panels, they would produce the same amount of electricity as a quarter mile wide solar generator in the Sahara Desert. I could cut down the growing time to twenty years. By the time baby Jack is ready to be a Time Lord, I can give him his own TARDIS.”

“Davie…” Susan was astonished. She knew he was clever in lots of different ways, but this was beyond even her imagination. “That’s really clever. But… why haven’t you done it?”

“I can’t afford it,” he answered. “It cost me a lot to rebuild the workshop. And, yes, I know, the F1 was an indulgence. But even without that, the cost of making the panels is out of my league. I need industrial strength funding.”


“I’ve got it in hand,” Davie assured his mother. “I’ve spoken to the National Power Company. They are very interested in my work. Well, why wouldn’t they be? This could completely free Britain from any need to fall back on fossil fuels. Renewable energy forever. They’re willing to make me an offer for the rights to mass produce. They’re just a bit worried by the fact that I’m twenty-one years old, left school at seventeen and have never seen the inside of a university. They can’t figure out how I did it.”

Susan laughed. “I wanted you to go to university. But you’ve been too busy being a Time Lord. Still, what could anyone on this planet possibly teach you? My brilliant, clever son? I’m proud of you.” She looked at the car again. She still wasn’t sure about it. But… “Oh, go on. It’s a beautiful day outside. I think a ride in your new car would be very nice. Wash your face first, though, my love.”

“Five minutes,” he said and dashed off into a side room where Susan heard the hum of an ion shower. A few minutes later he emerged, slightly pink but scrupulously clean, a slender, handsome young man in black jeans and shirt and the leather jacket he loved to wear. The winter sunshine caught the blonde highlights in his hair as he pushed the car off the ramp and out of the workshop before inviting her to get in. She watched him seal the workshop doors with his sonic screwdriver.

“Double deadlocked for security,” he said as he scrambled over the right hand passenger side to reach the central driving seat. He fastened the racing style seatbelt and moved the car slowly forward on the gravel path. “Apart from the artron bombardment chamber, I really wouldn’t want anyone getting their hands on my blueprints. I want to get paid for my work, not have it stolen by industrial spies.”

“Could that happen?” Susan asked. “Davie… you are safe, aren’t you?”

“Of course. Apart from a couple of executives at the NPC, who would think of looking for revolutionary new technology in the lock up garage of a dilettante petrolhead?”

Susan laughed. She looked at him as he drove the car confidently along the roads of South London, heading towards the M25 motorway. She looked out of the window and saw pedestrians turning to look at his unusual car. Davie smiled at the attention it was getting, and at the way other road users, the people in more mundane hover cars, were behaving. When he pulled up at a junction, there were hover cars either side and a taxi in the public transport lane directly above. The car on his left revved as if the owner wanted to race him. Davie waited fifteen seconds after the lights changed and let it go ahead. He wasn’t interested in playing games.

“Where did my little boys go?” Susan asked. “It doesn’t seem so long since you and Chris had pedal cars that you raced down the garden path. Now Chris is… when I look at him, I feel like I ought to bow or kneel before him. He practically glows. And you… you are so grown up, it’s frightening. Those executives at NPC shouldn’t be wondering. Inside, you’re already so much older than your face.”

“I had to grow up fast. When the Dominators came… I couldn’t be your little boy any more. I had to fight… for you and dad, and Sukie…. Everyone on this planet. Dad understands that. I talked to him about it. It was the same for him when the Daleks came, after all. But that’s over now. I’m not a soldier any more. I just want to explore the universe, the way granddad did. And… right now, I’d like to get out of this congestion and onto the motorway where I can drive my car properly. I’d love to see if it can really do two hundred and forty.”

“Not with me in the passenger seat,” Susan replied. “Besides, the speed limit is ninety even on the motorway.”

“I know that. If you’ve nowhere you want to be, I thought we might go down to Brands Hatch. The raceway is open to the public this time of year. I can try a couple of laps at full speed. There’s a nice comfy tea bar next to the track. You can watch.”

“That doesn’t make me feel much better. What about Brenda? Does she like you driving a racing car?”

“It’s not a racing car. It’s a road car built by racing car makers. And… I haven’t asked Brenda what she thinks, yet. Spenser was with me when I bought it. He thinks it’s amazing.”

“Yes.” Susan was quiet for a minute. Then she spoke again. “Davie, you bought a car with three seats. You in the middle… and Brenda and Spenser…”

“I never thought about it like that. It would be cool, though.”

“I’m not so sure. Sweetheart… I’ve never said anything about you and him. And Brenda seems to accept your relationship. But… I mean, I almost thought Chris might be… he was always so sensitive. I never expected you…”

“The word is gay, mum, and I’m not. We’re cool, the three of us. And… yes, this car would suit us fine. It’s my bachelor car. For enjoying the company of both the people I love. At least for a year or two, anyway. When Brenda and I are married… when we have children, it’ll be different. Me and Spenser… that’s a way of things that we know won’t last forever. Sooner or later I’ll need a people carrier for the family I’m going to have. And Spenser… I hope one day he’ll meet a nice young man who will be everything he knows I can’t be for him.”

Susan might have said something else, but they finally reached the motorway junction he needed and once into the fast lane Davie put his foot down on the accelerator. He told his mother the car was capable of reaching a hundred miles an hour in less than five seconds. He took a bit longer to reach the maximum ninety, and it felt too fast for her. True, she had flown through time and space in the TARDIS, and the speeds that involved were mind boggling. But that didn’t feel the same as racing along tarmac with the outskirts of London flashing past.

“Do you have to drive quite so fast?” she asked. “I’m really not sure…”

“I just wanted to put London behind us,” he said. “But if you’re really not happy…” He started to decelerate. Then noticed he had a problem.

“Mum,” he said. “I’m not doing this to scare you. But I can’t slow down. Because that car close behind us is doing ninety as well and if I slow he’ll smash into us. I have to…”

He signalled to go into the lane to his left, where he could safely slow down. When he did so, the lane was clear. But as soon he made the manoeuvre he saw another car accelerate until it was nearly on his rear bumper, marking the same speed. Meanwhile, the one he had moved away from in the inner lane was keeping pace on his right, preventing him from moving back into that lane. He couldn’t speed up to get away from them because he was already at the limit and the automatic speed cameras every twenty yards would catch him.

“Mum,” he said again. “I still don’t want you to be scared, but I don’t think this is coincidence. These two cars are trying it on. I think they want to force me into breaking the speed limit in my flash car. I can’t slow down and I can’t switch lanes.” He looked to his left and saw a van in the slow lane. That also seemed to be blocking him. Then Susan yelped in panic as he heard the sound of a vehicle hovering over the top of his car. He knew something was really wrong now. Overtaking that way was not permitted on the motorways, and in any case, it had to have broken the speed limit in order to get in front of him. Somebody didn’t care about breaking the law.

“What’s going on?” Susan asked. “What are they doing?”

“We’re boxed in,” he said. “Deliberately. And it’s not just to make me speed up. In fact…” He decelerated as the car in front dropped its speed. “I think they’re forcing me to slow down. I think… I think it’s a car jacking.”

“Because this is such a flashy and expensive looking car?”

“I suppose so. Mind you, is it worth it? Four vehicles, all capable of matching my speed, just to get their hands on this one?”

“Where are the police? Surely this looks wrong. Somebody must have noticed.”

“There aren’t any transport police,” he answered. “The police force are still undermanned after the war. They’re relying on the automatic cameras to spot speeding and other criminal activity. But we’ve dropped down to seventy now. We’re nowhere near speeding. The cameras won’t flag us at all.”

“We can phone for help.” Susan reached for her mobile phone. She was startled to see that it was out of range.

“They’re jamming the phones,” Davie said. Now he was really scared. Was it just about stealing his car?

He had no choice but to co-operate with them right now. He couldn’t get out of the box. He couldn’t speed up. He couldn’t even slow down faster than the cars ahead and behind him were doing. There was nothing he could do. He regretted not putting in the hover conversion. At least then he could have hovered over the lead car and got away. But his ground car, capable of up to two hundred and forty miles per hour was being forced down to sixty, fifty, forty…..

“Where are we?” Susan asked as she looked around at what seemed to be rough scrubland and straggly trees either side of the motorway.

“Just North of Merstham, coming up to the sliproad for the M23,” Davie answered. “I think they want to force me that way.”

But they didn’t even get close to the sliproad. He was being forced to go slower and slower and he was being edged onto the hard shoulder. The van pulled ahead as the car to his right and the one behind edged him further and further off the road. He felt a crunch as the left front wheel of the F1 ran onto the grass banking. The low front bumper had been damaged. It was never meant to be an off-road car, and they were forcing it further onto the grass where it came to a shuddering halt even before he applied the brake to prevent any further damage to the engine.

“Right now, I wish I’d bought a Land Rover,” he groaned. “Mum… get your seatbelt off but stay where you are. I’ll try to….”

If he had been in any other car he would have been all right. He could have simply slid out onto the ground and come up fighting. But getting out of the racing style seatbelt and crawling across the empty right hand passenger seat before he could open the bat wing style door cost him precious seconds. There were eight men in dark clothing and handkerchiefs around their faces closing in on them. They all had knives. He took the first two out with a mixture of the several different martial arts disciplines he knew, but a third one came up behind him and he felt the cold, razor sharp steel at his throat. Even then he might have been able to fight if he hadn’t heard his mother’s muffled scream. She had been dragged from the car and a knife was being held at her throat, too.

“One more clever move from you, sunshine, and we slit her jugular,” said the one who held him. “Come on, quick – into the van.”

He had no choice but to obey. He let himself be pushed towards the van. The back door was thrown open and his mother was pushed inside first. He thought he might have a chance then, and struggled against his captors, but he just got a vicious kick in the kidneys and a blow to the head that left him reeling and unable to stop them bundling him into the back of the van. He felt his mother’s arms around him as four of his captors got in after him and the door was closed, enveloping them in semi-darkness.

“Are you all right, Davie?” she asked, gently feeling to make sure his head wasn’t bleeding. “Sweetheart…. Talk to me.”

“I’m all right, mum,” he answered. “Are you ok…”


“No talking,” one of their guards said. “Just stay down and stay quiet till we get where we’re going.”

“I wonder where we are going,” Susan said telepathically. “What do you think this is about?”

“Well, it’s not about the car,” Davie replied. “They left that by the roadside. We’re on the M23, I think. I felt the van turn a wide left as if it took the slip road. That becomes the A23 after a while and heads back to London through Purley and Croydon.”

“So we’re going back to London.”

“Yes. But that’s not a lot of help. Mum, I daren’t make a move against them. They could hurt you.”

“I don’t want you to make a move. You stay right here, where I know you’re all right.” She stroked his head gently as he lay sprawled on the floor of the van beside her. “You did your best, son. There were so many of them. And they had knives. You couldn’t have done anything more.”

“I won’t let them hurt you,” he said.

“When did it get to be your job to protect me?” Susan asked. “I’m your mother. I protect you.”

“Since I’ve been taller than you,” Davie replied. “I promise I will protect you. I’ll get you out of this.”

“We don’t know what they want. Why have they kidnapped us?”

“Because I drive a very flash car and live in the grounds of a mansion,” Davie considered. But that seemed too simple. He wondered how they even knew he would be driving this afternoon. It was a spur of the moment thing. He didn’t even decide his route until he was in the car. Had somebody been watching him? He tried to remember if he had seen any of the four cars involved in the manoeuvre at any time before he came onto the motorway. The van was nondescript enough. It might have been there all along and he wouldn’t have noticed.

“I fell right into their hands,” he groaned. “Stupid.”

Susan continued to stroke his head and face. She knew he felt frustrated, humiliated. He had done so many things, been so many places, and he was brought down by a simple trick a few miles from his own home. She wished there was something she could say that would make him see it wasn’t his fault, that she certainly didn’t blame him. And that, as scared as she was, she had faith in him. She knew he would think of something, just like her grandfather always had when they were in trouble, just like his own father had done when he was a resistance fighter battling against the Daleks.

But, then again, that scared her more. She never wanted her son to be a fighter. She remembered being so afraid for her grandfather, and for David in his turn. She had never expected to feel that kind of fear for somebody else’s safety again. Then her son grew up to be just like the other men she loved in her life, and she feared for him instead.

“Davie,” she said, again telepathically. “Isn’t there anyone we can reach? Your brother… or… what about your TARDIS? You summoned it to you with your mind once. Brenda told me all about it. Couldn’t you….”

“It wasn’t as far away last time. And I knew where I was in relation to it. Chris can do it anywhere. But I’m not as good at telekinesis as he is. He can concentrate his thoughts so much more clearly. As for reaching him… He’s on SangC’lune. The background psychic always makes it harder to reach him there. And… I think he might be in the underground temple. I can’t find him. Even if I could… Chris… he’s not soft, or stupid. But it’s always been my job to protect him. Not the other way around.”

“Grandfather… where is he… or Christopher.”

“Can’t reach granddad. Same problem at the Eye of Orion where they went. Those positive ions in the atmosphere play havoc. Christopher – I’m not sure where he is, possibly at Whitehall. Most of the committee rooms are electronically shielded from transmat technology now. I can’t get through to him, either. We’re on our own, mum. There’s nobody. At least… except for…”

The van stopped. The door was flung open and they were bundled out of it. Again, knives flashed. Davie had no chance of fighting without risking his mother’s life. The best he could do was focus very carefully on the few brief clues about their location he had between being pushed out of the van and pushed into the lock up industrial unit they were stopped in front of. It was no more than three steps, but he managed to fix himself spatially. That information would help, later.

They were both brought into a room lit by artificial lights because the windows had all been sealed up. It looked like a workshop or laboratory. One wall was taken up by an electronic screen on which part of a scientific formula was written. There was a man standing by the screen. He turned to look as Davie was made to stand in front of him.

“Yes, that’s the one,” the man said with a greedy smile. “Doesn’t look much, does he? Child genius, apparently. The fragment of his class project for cheap solar energy that he demonstrated to the NPC was absolute poetry.”

“I know you,” Davie said. “Your name is… Sallins. You were at the meeting… at the NPC. When I presented my proposal.”

“You remember me? Unfortunate. Not for you, so much. I need you alive for now. But who’s she? Not your girlfriend, surely?” Susan squealed as the knife-wielding guard took hold of her in a murderous way. Davie was left in no doubt that he would kill her at a nod from Salins.

“Leave my mother alone,” he said. “Whatever you want… deal with me. But leave her alone.”

“Fond of your mother, are you? Never could stand mine. Not even sure where the old bag is. Lost her when the Dominators came. Didn’t bother looking afterwards. Can’t say I care very much more for yours. She’s collateral, that’s all. The leverage I need to make you do as I say.”

He nodded and two of his lackeys dragged Susan towards a low table. They made her kneel with her arm outstretched over it, her fingers spread apart as a knife hovered over her ring finger.

“No,” Davie protested. “I told you… I’ll do what you want. Just don’t hurt her.”

“Perfect,” Sallins snarled. “An obedient worker. That’s all I need. Gag her and fasten her down over there. You… come here.”

Davie was pushed forward as his mother was dragged away. She was gagged, tightly and cruelly, and handcuffed to a strong metal table. They at least let her sit on a stool, but two men with sharp knives stood either side of her.

Davie knew there was nothing he could do to help her. He turned and looked at the formula on the screen. He recognised at least part of it. It was a segment he had given to the NPC as proof that he really could do what he proposed.

“That’s what you want? My solar energy idea? Why? I was going to sell it to them anyway. I’ve got an appointment in two days time to finalise the contract.”

“For a fraction of what this is worth,” Sallins replied with a sneer in his voice. “You are a fool. You have no idea what you have.”

“I know exactly what I have,” Davie answered. “My proposal to the NPC was a fair one. I get lots of money for my research. They get the means to produce cheap, abundant, renewable energy for the whole of Britain. It would still take them years to set up the conversion plants and bring it onto the National Grid. They need to invest far more money than they’re paying me to get it off the ground. But that’s up to them. Anyway, what’s your plan, then?”

“Selling to the highest bidder,” Sallins told him. “I have contacts in Korea, Saudi Arabia and the USA who will pay fifty times what you’re asking. Oh, sooner or later the NPC will get a chance to buy the technology. But the price will be much higher.”

“Not only a thief and a kidnapper, but a traitor, too. And you expect me to hand my work over to you?”

“At the meeting, when the director asked about the blueprints, you said they were in your head. They laughed. You said you had a very well-organised head. I don’t think they believed you. But I did. You should take that as a compliment. I know the information I want is inside that stupid looking head of yours. And I want it. So get working on that formula. And don’t take too long about it. Your mother gets no food or water until I’m satisfied that you’ve given me what I want. And don’t think I’ll be fooled by some meaningless rubbish, either. I’ve got people in my pay… they couldn’t fathom the rest of your formula. But when it’s finished, they will be able to tell me if it’s real or not.”

“Oh, you’ve had somebody messing with it!” He laughed softly, knowing it would rile Sallins. “I thought as much. They’ve got it all wrong.”

They had, too. He looked at the bits of formula that had been added on. They all went to a dead end. He picked up the virtual marker pen and turned it to eraser mode. He removed all of the erroneous formula and slowly added in a bit of his own. Yes, the whole thing was in his head. The blue prints hanging in his workshop were tangible records of his work. But the main bulk of the project was always with him, taking up a portion of his mind.

He wrote far slower than he could have written. He stopped every so often and erased pieces. He put in blind alleys that the people Sallins claimed to have in his pay might just miss, if he was lucky and they weren’t as clever as they thought they were. Even if he finished the formula, he had no intention of handing over his hard work to be used by people who didn’t deserve it. He had meant to give the world – starting with the country he lived in – something that would improve their lives. It was his contribution to the planet. He would have given it freely to the NPC if he didn’t need some of the money to continue working on his own projects. But he wasn’t going to let it be stolen by people who only saw the money that could be made from it.

While one part of his mind was on the formula, another part reached out and found the one person he knew he could contact right now.

“Spenser,” he said telepathically as he felt his platonic lover’s mind. “I need you.”

“Davie, you have no idea how I long to hear you say that.”

“I know,” he answered. “But unfortunately I don’t mean that way. I’m in trouble. I need help.”

“I’m in Northumbria,” Spenser pointed out. “What can I do?”

“I need my TARDIS. I know you can’t do anything about that, either. But you can contact somebody who can.”

Jack Harkness softly closed the door to Hellina’s room. She was sleeping, now, under the influence of the drugs that relieved the pain of the latest set of skin grafts. He felt content. She was getting better every day. It was possible to look towards a future where she could lead a normal life. One day, possibly, they could both return to the military life they loved.

His mobile phone rang. He didn’t recognise the number, but he recognised the voice of the caller.

“Spenser? Are you ok? What…” He listened as Davie’s sweetheart told him what was happening and what he needed him to do.

“Ok, I can do that, I think. But…. Are you sure there’s no other way? All right. I’ll be with you as soon as I can.”

He broke into a run, along the landing and downstairs. Rose and Jackie were in the drawing room with their children. They looked around as he burst in. He tried to look a little less anxious.

“Could… could one of you go and sit with Hellina in case she wakes?” he asked. “I have to go out. It’s important. And I don’t want her to be alone.”

“I can do that,” Jackie said. “But are you all right, Jack? What’s wrong?”

“I can’t tell you,” he answered. “Nothing for you to worry about. I promise. But… please look after my wife for me.”

As Jackie went to do as he asked, he carried on out through the French doors and across the formal garden. He sprinted down to where the old house used to have stables and now had Davie’s workshop. He carefully inputted the code Spenser had dictated to him that released the double deadlock seal. As instructed, he replaced the seal before he picked up the keys off the rack by the door and stepped up to what looked like a walk in tool cupboard. He unlocked Davie’s TARDIS and stepped in.

He was probably the only Human who wasn’t married to a Time Lord who could have done what he was asked to do. The Artron energy that had once coursed through his body, bringing him back from a death he thought was final, had a number of side effects. One of them was that he could make any TARDIS respond to his touch. He didn’t know enough about piloting them to go anywhere without help. But at least the controls sprang to life as he ran his hands over the various wheels and buttons and sliding handles according to the instructions Spenser was giving him by phone.

“Be with you any moment,” he said as he felt the machine begin to materialise. He glanced up at the viewscreen and saw the Northumbrian coast and Spenser waiting anxiously. He opened the door and the young man ran in. He didn’t waste any time with questions. He went straight to the TARDIS drive control. Jack took up position beside him.

“He’s still in mental contact with you?” Jack asked. “He’s ok?”

“He’s ok, so far. He’s bluffing it out with them. But we’ve got to get to him quickly. They could hurt Susan if they find out he’s not giving them what they want.”

“Cowards,” Jack snarled. “Using a woman for leverage. Can you do what Davie wants you to do?”

“Yes,” Spenser answered. “I’ve only done it with supervision before. But Davie reckons I can fly the TARDIS as well as he can.”

“Do your best,” Jack said encouragingly.

“For Davie… I never do anything less,” he replied with a feeling in his voice that Jack fully empathised with. Unrequited love made you say and do things like that.

“Come on, then, let’s go get the love of your life and his mum.”

Spenser took a judgement call as the TARDIS went into materialisation. It was the right call. Susan sobbed with relief as the console room solidified around her. She was still gagged and fastened to a table, but she and the table were in a safe place, now.

So were the two men with knives, but while they were still bewildered by their new environment, Spenser and Jack moved fast. It didn’t take long to disarm both of them and leave them sprawled on the floor groaning in pain. Spenser used his own sonic screwdriver to open the handcuffs and then passed them to Jack.

“Do you have the key to these?” he asked the two men. They shook their heads. “Neither do I. Maybe we can find a policeman with a hacksaw later.” He handcuffed the two men together and stood up, pressing his foot down on their backs to impress upon them just how much he didn’t want them to move right now.

“Davie is still out there,” Susan gasped. “Help him.”

“That was the general plan,” Jack said. “Although I think he’s helping himself, now.” He looked at the viewscreen showing what was happening outside and grinned.

Davie had not been idle. As soon as he saw the TARDIS materialise he grasped the virtual pen in his fist and punched Sallins square in the face before sweeping his feet out from under him. He saw the movement of his lackeys but by then Davie’s hand was pressing down on the place on a Human neck where the slightest change of emphasis could bring either temporary or permanent paralysis – or worse.

“Back off, or your boss gets the oxygen cut off from his brain and becomes a vegetable,” Davie said with a hardness in his tone that convinced them to hesitate. “Now drop your weapons.”

Two of them did. Two others stepped closer, testing to see if he was bluffing. He pressed harder and made Sallins scream. Inflicting deliberate pain wasn’t something he liked doing. But he was willing to make some exceptions.

“You don’t have the bottle,” said one of the lackeys. “You’re nothing but a science geek.”

“I am much more than that,” Davie answered him. “And something else, too. I’m not alone.” He gave a half smile as Jack grabbed the talkative lackey around the neck with one arm. With his free hand he grabbed the lackey’s wrist, making him drop the knife. Spenser took out the other with some neat martial arts.

“Is that them all?” Jack asked as he set about plasicuffing the four guards. “I make that six, plus the boss man.”

“I think there are two more on patrol outside,” Davie answered. “There were eight of them when they grabbed us.”

“Call them in,” Jack said to Sallins, who looked mutinous until Davie applied the pressure on his neck again. They let him use his mobile phone to summon the other two guards, who were quickly immobilised.

“Thanks,” Davie said. “I’ll call the police from the TARDIS. They can come and get this lot. I think they’ll be making some interesting statements. Car-jacking, kidnapping, industrial espionage.”

“I’m not making any statements to anyone,” Sallins snarled defiantly, despite being plasicuffed and tied up.

“Oh, yes, you are,” Davie responded. “Because if you don’t…” He put his hand on Sallins’ forehead. He had learnt, long ago, how to use the power of his mind to soothe and ease the anxieties of others. Conversely, he could use the same power to fill a mind with terror. He no more than hinted at what he could do to make Sallins’ life one of pain and misery. It was enough.

“I am far more than a science geek,” he said as he walked away. He looked at the nine men they were leaving for the police to deal with. He looked at Jack and Spenser. “We fought to free these scum from the Dominators. Was it worth it? Are these what Hellina nearly died for?”

“Your granddaddy wouldn’t ask that question,” Jack told him. “Don’t let these pathetic examples disillusion you. Come on. Let’s get home. You and your mum can make your statements in comfort.”

“I need to take a detour, first,” Davie said as he stepped inside his TARDIS and Susan ran to hug him. “I want my car back.”

His car, left on the grass banking at the side of the M25-M23 slip road, had attracted the attention of the few traffic police that were around the motorway. They already had a low loader ready to tow it away. Davie parked the TARDIS a little way from it and stepped out to explain the situation. He returned a few minutes later looking none too pleased.

“Apparently I owe a fine for abandoning the car in a dangerous place. Despite the fact that I was car-jacked and kidnapped. Until I pay it my car goes to the pound.” He paused as everyone looked at him and then grinned. “I think not. I’ll pay the fine, ok. I’m a law-abiding citizen. But like hell that car is going to the pound.”

He stepped up to the console. First he accessed the online system and paid the fine. Then he moved to the transmat control. A few moments later his only slightly damaged MacLaren F1 was sitting in the space he had made for it and the police outside were looking very puzzled. He dematerialised the TARDIS and set the course for home.

“Nice car, Davie,” Jack told him. “Which boy or girl gets to ride with you in that?”

“Both of them if I’m really lucky,” he replied, catching Spenser’s hopeful expression. “Unless my mum wants another trip.”

Susan laughed. “I think I’ll leave it to you from now on, sweetheart.”