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

Davie smiled at his fiancée’s image on the videophone screen. She smiled back at him.

“I’m glad you’re enjoying your visit to your parents,” he said. “But I do miss you. I’ll be glad when you’re home.”

“Home!” Brenda smiled. “I like that. Earth really will be my home when I come back again. Forever.”

“We’ll still have our holiday retreat on Tibora,” Davie reminded her. “And we’ll visit your family often. But the new apartment will be finished by February. You can start furnishing it then. And in April… you’ll make a lovely spring bride.”

Brenda’s smile widened.

“I can’t wait. I’d better go now, though. This call will be costing Spenser a fortune. Goodbye, Davie. I love you.”

“I love you, too, Brenda,” he replied. And he did. But even so, when he switched off the videophone and closed the antique cabinet doors that stopped the modern technology from spoiling the look of the elegant, eighteenth century themed living room, he came back to sit on the wide sofa in front of the fire. And he didn’t object to being kissed as Spenser’s arm snaked around his waist and pulled him near.

“She knows that I’ve spent the past three weeks doing this with you,” he said to his male lover as he relaxed into his warm embrace. “She’s a very understanding woman. Good job her parents don’t know, though. Tibora is such a conservative society. The wedding would be off and the pair of us would be horsewhipped or something.”

“That would be true in quite a lot of places,” Spenser answered. “Even here, some of the people in the village look at us oddly. Its not as if we ever hold hands in the street - they just think me having a male friend staying and no woman about the place is wrong.”

“The landlord of the Ship Inn doesn’t think we’re wrong,” Davie told him. “He just thinks it’s a pity he didn’t make his move on you before I came to stay.”

“Really?” Spenser grinned. “I didn’t notice.”

“I did. Maybe you should talk to him some time.”

“Would you mind?”

Davie did mind, just a little bit. But he knew he wasn’t supposed to. He smiled reassuringly.

“Why should I? I’m marrying Brenda next year. I’ve always told you to find somebody special for yourself. I’d be thrilled.”

“Ok, but you’re not married to her yet and I haven’t found anyone more special than you. So stay right here beside me until bedtime.”

Davie smiled and let himself slide back into that comfortable position on the sofa. He enjoyed being close to Spenser in that way. Their four Gallifreyan hearts beat in double syncopation as they relaxed together. Outside, a late autumn thunderstorm raged. Inside, a warm open fire blazed brightly and the evening slipped by quietly. They ended it with a mug of cocoa each that they brought up the stairs with them. On the landing, they kissed goodnight and went to their own bedrooms.

Spenser drank his cocoa in bed and reached out telepathically to Davie in the room next to his.

“There’s no point in us sleeping in separate rooms if you’re going to do that,” Davie told him. “I might as well be there with you.”

“Nothing stopping you. You have before. In the TARDIS and here.”

“But I AM getting married to Brenda. It’s better if we don’t. I know we’ve never done anything except snuggle up under the blankets and keep warm. But it still isn’t….”

“I know,” Spenser admitted with a sigh. “Goodnight, Davie.”

“Goodnight, Spenser,” Davie responded. Spenser kept the telepathic link with him all the same. He felt Davie finish his drink and then lie down in the bed. He cleared his mind and let himself slip into restful sleep. Spenser touched his thoughts gently and made sure his dreams were good ones. He slowly withdrew the connection and began to clear his own mind.

At least he tried to. He was finding the storm outside distracting. Odd that it should affect him, and he had lived here on the cliff for centuries. Davie, who was used to living in the more benign suburbs of London, was already asleep.

He tried for two long hours to get to sleep before giving up altogether. He rose from his bed and went to look out of the window. The storm was coming in from across the sea, battering the east side of the house. He was glad it had been moved this summer away from the edge of the cliff. Taking a whole house apart stone by stone and rebuilding it was a traumatic event, but it was now a good quarter of a mile from the precipitous edge and it would stand another century at least. This storm, as bad as it sounded, wasn’t going to harm it.

He wrapped a dressing gown around himself and went from his bedroom across the landing to the room he used for meditation and martial arts practice. A screen with Gallifreyan symbols of inner peace and harmony covered the window, but he pushed it aside and looked out to the west. The village that was once several miles away from his house was now quite close. On clear nights he could see the lights of the beer garden in front of the Ship Inn. Tonight, with the storm raging, he couldn’t even see the fence that marked the end of his own property.

But that was all perfectly normal. Nothing strange was happening out there. It was just bad weather.

And yet, something disturbed him. Something felt wrong about this night. It wasn’t anything he could identify, but the longer he stood there at the window, the more he felt that something wasn’t right.

He almost jumped out of his skin when he felt a hand touch his shoulder. Then he realised it was Davie.

“I thought you were asleep.”

“I was, but I felt your thoughts. They woke me. What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know,” he answered. “Trying to work it out. Something… feels skewed. As if….”

His words froze on his lips as he saw the energy wave spreading out from where the village lay. It was orange, like raw ion energy, but without the sparkle. And it was moving rapidly towards the house. Spenser’s instinct was to run. So was Davie’s. But where could they run to? The wave would hit them in seconds.

They were on the landing when they felt it coming through the walls. Spenser was overcome by nausea and dizziness and slowly passed out, falling across Davie’s body as he slumped to the floor before him.

It was daylight when Spenser woke stiffly and picked himself up from the floor. Davie groaned and did the same. They reached out for each other and held on until they felt sufficiently clear headed to stand unaided.

“How much did we drink last night?” Davie asked.

“Not enough to do that to us,” Spenser replied. “Do you remember… the energy wave.…”

“It came from the village.”

“We should go and take a look. What time is it?”

“Seven o’clock – in the morning,” Davie replied. “The pub won’t be open yet, I’m afraid.” He grinned conspiratorially at Spenser, but he wasn’t taking the bait.

“I’ve lived here for over four hundred years,” he said. “It’s my community. I know the people. I used to know their parents and grandparents – at least my father did. And something sinister happened there last night. I care about that.”

“Of course you do,” Davie assured him. “Come on, let’s see what we can do.”

They walked to the village. The air was damp from the overnight storm and the sky was grey-white with promise of more rain later. But that was normal enough for October in Northumberland. Spenser tried to feel for the same oppressiveness he had sensed last night but had to admit it had gone now.

“The energy must have dissipated,” Davie considered. “Hopefully it was just a freak thing and no lasting side effects for anyone.”

“Are we that lucky?”

“Not usually,” Davie sighed. He looked around as they reached the boundaries of the village. It was a small place. It had existed since Saxon times when it was a huddle of wattle and daub houses sacked from time to time by the Vikings. It grew into a more substantial hamlet despite marauding Scots and various other hazards. The industrial revolution and migration to cities and towns where work was available shrunk it down again, but the village of Embley remained. The Dalek invasion of fifty years ago affected it as it did every other community. The Dominators caused as much trouble in rural places as they did in the cities. But life returned to normal for those who survived that onslaught – rural life that centred around the pub, the cricket field, the church - as it had done for centuries.

“It’s very quiet,” Spenser pointed out.

“It’s only seven thirty in the morning. That might not be…” A movement caught Davie’s eye. He pointed and then both ran towards the only other person up and about on this grey morning. As they drew close they recognised the landlord of the Ship Inn, Stuart Harrison. He appeared to be trying to break into one of the stone built cottages in the terrace that formed the main street of the village.

“What are you doing?” Davie asked him.

“Trying to break into this house,” Stuart answered as if it was patently obvious. “There’s a baby in there. Can you hear it crying? It’s only six weeks old and the mother is gone. It needs help.”

“Gone?” Spenser queried. “Never mind. You can explain later. Davie…”

Davie was already reaching for his sonic screwdriver. He used it on the ordinary Yale lock. There was no chain or other obstruction. He pushed open the door. The sound of the baby crying was louder now. All three of them headed for the stairs. They found the cot in the front room beside an unmade bed that had been slept in a few hours ago. Davie picked up the baby. Being held, even by a stranger, appeased the child a little, but a pungent smell accompanied it, and it obviously had some immediate needs. Spenser slipped back downstairs and returned with a bottle of baby formula from the fridge. By then Davie had located nappies and other necessities and was attending to the first and most pressing need.

“That will need warming,” he said about the bottle of formula. Spenser looked at it and then held the bottle in his two hands while he generated extra heat within his body and transferred it through his palms to the milk. Davie took the warmed bottle from him and fed the baby girl. She stopped crying and settled in his arms.

“You’re very good at that,” Stuart commented. “You have kids of your own?”

Spenser looked at Davie and wondered about his answer. The natural and easy way he was holding the baby as he fed her reminded Spenser of the time when Davie had been a parent very briefly. Did he have some residual memory of it?

“No,” Davie answered. “But I’m getting married next year. Might as well get in the practice. What’s going on around here, anyway? Where is this child’s mother?”

“She’s gone, along with everyone else. The aliens took them, in the night.”


“Come back to the pub,” Stuart suggested. “I don’t feel safe here.”

Davie grabbed a blanket to wrap the baby in and stood up. He and Spenser followed Stuart down the stairs and out of the house. The street was still silent as they moved quickly, though without obviously running, back to the Ship Inn.

Once inside the door with his name over it as the registered licensee, Stuart locked and bolted it and checked that the blinds were down at the window. Then he went behind the bar and set the coffee machine hissing.

“I’m tempted to pour a double from the optics after the night I’ve had. But it’s probably a BIT early.”

“Just a bit,” Spenser answered. “Coffee will do. But what happened here? What kind of night have you had?”

Stuart poured the coffees and brought them to a table. Davie shifted the now sleeping baby onto one arm so he could drink his safely. Spenser sat opposite him and Stuart between them.

“It was about two-thirty,” he said. “I wasn’t asleep. The storm was driving me nuts, and I felt… I don’t know… kind of freaked out.”

“You, too?” Spenser said. Stuart looked at him and Davie wondered if something telepathic had passed between them, but it seemed like body language was doing the job well enough.

“Something happened. It felt like… I don’t know, the blast wave of an explosion. Except nothing was damaged. But it knocked me across my bedroom, and I was paralysed. I was wide awake, but I couldn’t move for at least two, three hours. When I felt it wearing off, I struggled to the window. I saw them… the aliens.”

“They were obviously alien?” Davie asked. “I mean….”

“They were seven foot tall, stick thin, with long faces, like… you know… that picture, The Scream. Pale green, hairless… no eyes… at least none I could see. And their fingers could emit sparks.”

Spenser and Davie swapped glances. Davie shook his head.

“Don’t recognise the species. No eyes. That sounds like they use telepathy or some kind of sonar, like bats, to move around. Might explain why they arrived at night. Sounds like they can store electrical energy, too – like conga eels. I don’t like this picture so far. What were they doing?”

“They were going from house to house, rounding up everyone in the village - men, women, children. Nobody protested. They all seemed hypnotised in some way. I guess it was the energy wave. They used their fingers like cattle prods to herd them away. They also… their hands were like divining rods. They used them to find people… making sure none were left. They must have missed the baby. Perhaps she’s too young for their purpose. Or maybe, being so small, and sleeping in the same room as her mother, they just didn’t sense her as a separate soul.” Stuart looked at his two guests. They were saying nothing, but their eyes were questioning. “That’s my guess, anyway.”

“They didn’t take you, either,” Davie pointed out. “Or us. We were within the range of the energy wave. It knocked us out. But no skinny green things came looking for us. And they missed you, right under their noses.”

“I don’t know why that is,” the landlord of the Ship Inn said. But there was something in the way he said it that didn’t ring true.

“Try again, Stuart,” Spenser told him gently. “Before we go any further we might as well have complete truth.”

“I’m not Human,” Stuart admitted. “My parents are from a planet called Dulus in the Cassiopia sector. My DNA is different to Earth humans. My blood has a different chemical make up, and my heart is on the right hand side of my body, not my left. They… my parents… settled on Earth just after the Dalek invasion… when the population was still fragmented and nobody really noticed new faces in the village. They bought the pub and I was born a bit later. I took over the licence when they died. My species is pretty healthy. I’ve never needed a medical. Nobody ever knew I was different. Except….”

“Except us,” Davie commented. “Because…,”

“Because you’re different, too. I’m right, aren’t I? I always thought… whenever you were in the pub… I always sensed it. I can do that, you know… I can sense species.”

“He said you were watching me because you fancied your chances,” Spenser pointed out. Stuart blushed.

“Well… yes. That, too. But I thought you and him were an item. So I didn’t try.”

Spenser smiled at him in a way that raised another blush from Stuart and made Davie feel like he was encroaching on his territory.

“When this thing is over, we can talk about that,” Spenser said. “Being able to sense species… that’s pretty good. I can do it if I’ve made physical contact. But not from across a crowded bar-room.”

“I’ve handed you change a couple of times,” Stuart reminded him. “Anyway… I’m right… you’re not Human. Not fully Human, anyway.”

“We’re like you,” Spenser admitted. “Second generation exiles.”

“Which was what protected us all from those creatures,” Davie surmised. “They missed us, because our DNA reads different, or something like that.”

“That’s got to be it. Question is, what do we do now?”

“We… go and find the alien ship and rescue everyone,” Stuart replied without hesitation. Davie laughed softly and moved his arm slightly as the baby stirred in her sleep. “What’s wrong with that?” he added with a note of indignation in his voice. “These people… in the village. I’ve grown up among them. They’re good people. They were hurt enough by the Dominators. We can’t just stand by and let them… I don’t know… what would these creatures want with hundreds of humans?”

Several possibilities crossed Davie and Spenser’s telepathically linked minds. Slavery, food, hostages, lab rats. Those were just some of the nastier reasons for such abductions.

“Dulus?” Davie said. “Don’t know it off the top of my head. But they make them brave there. And loyal. And that counts for a lot. We’re not happy about extra-terrestrial species messing with humanity, either. That’s why we both fought the Dominators. And we’re going to fight this lot, too. But we need a plan.”

“The plan is, you stay here and look after that baby,” Spenser replied. “Stuart and I have local knowledge. We can find the alien ship if it’s still parked anywhere around here.”

“You have to be kidding,” Davie responded. “I’m the most experienced at dealing with this sort of thing. I’m….”

“You’re taking care of a vulnerable casualty of this situation,” Spenser continued. “And you’re our back up in case things do go pear-shaped. In which case, don’t bring the baby. We’ll just have to hope she sleeps between feeds. But we’ll try to manage without you.”

Davie stared at him in surprise. Spenser really WAS suggesting that he should stay behind with this child while he and Stuart went in search of the missing villagers and the aliens who had taken them.

But as the baby girl stirred in his arms again and whimpered in her sleep he realised he was actually right. Somebody had to look after her. And he was the obvious choice. Besides, he was just being vain, expecting to be the leader, the hero, in everything they did together, with Spenser tagging along as his faithful sidekick. It didn’t have to be that way. Spenser had fought the Dominators as vigorously as he had. He had bled as much as he had when they battled hand to hand with the clone army. He was as able as he was to tackle this situation.

“Here…” He pulled his sonic screwdriver from his pocket and handed it to Stuart. “Setting Sigma Eight is a laser cutting tool. It could open a bank vault if I was inclined towards burglary. And if you absolutely have to… it will slice a skinny green extra terrestrial in half. I was taught a whole lot of really fine things about pacifism by a very good man. But sometimes, I think he’s wrong. Sometimes you’ve got to fight. If this is one of those times, you fight. Both of you.”

Stuart looked at the tool nervously. Spenser took it from him and set it to the laser mode and warned him not to point it at anything he didn’t want a hole burnt in.

“Ok.” Stuart ducked behind the bar and produced two motorcycling helmets. “Have you ridden pillion before?”

“No, but there’s a first time for everything.” Spenser took the spare helmet and followed Stuart out through the back door of the pub. Davie sat there nursing the child. He had a mental connection with Spenser, and could feel his apprehension as he sat behind Stuart on the classic BMW offroad motorbike. As they set off, the apprehension changed to a kind of euphoria that Davie knew well enough. Spenser shared his love of fast motors of any kind. There was another emotion, too. The adrenaline rush of heading at speed towards adventure and danger was heightened by the sensual pleasure of being physically close to a man who had expressed more than a passing interest in him. Davie felt a twinge of jealousy then remembered he had nothing to be jealous about.

He turned his attention to the baby he was holding. She was awake, but not distressed and not in need of anything, yet. She had soft grey eyes that looked back at him. She seemed perfectly happy to be held by him instead of her mother. And that was good, of course. But he did wonder. He had never really thought of himself as naturally good with babies. Those months he had spent fighting and killing the enemy every waking moment had scarred his soul so much he had wondered sometimes if he could be anything other than a warrior, a killer. He wondered if the life Brenda looked forward to, when he would be a husband and father, was possible. But now, with this child in his arms, those doubts evaporated.

What puzzled him was not that he could clearly see himself as a father, some time in the near future, holding a child that Brenda had borne for him, but that it felt as if that had already happened. He knew exactly what to do for this baby as soon as he saw her. He had changed her and fed her as if he had been doing it every day of his life. Of course, nappy changing was hardly temporal physics. But even so, why did it feel like second nature to him?

He put the question aside as he felt Spenser’s thoughts sharply change. They were close to the alien ship.

They had left the bike at the entrance to a wooded area known as Blain’s Dell for reasons lost in history. Stuart was convinced it was where the aliens had landed.

“I’m right,” he whispered as they trod carefully along a natural path through the deciduous trees. “I can smell them.”

“Smell them?” Spenser was surprised. “THAT’S how you sense different species? By their smell.”


“I’m not going to ask. I’m not.”

“You’re kind of like horse chestnut trees after a rain storm,” Stuart said. “You and your friend. Ordinary humans are more… earthy. Then there’s… did you ever meet a Haollstromnian. They exude pheromones like other species exhale. Being near one of them is like being high. As for….”

He stopped talking and pulled Spenser off the path and behind a large oak tree.

“The skinny green ones smell of stagnant pond water. And there are two coming this way.”

He gripped the sonic screwdriver Davie entrusted him with. Spenser did the same. They watched as the two aliens moved along the path. They passed relatively close to them, but didn’t seem aware of their presence. That seemed to bear out Davie’s theory that this species was somehow tuned to detect humans by their DNA patterns.

They not only had no eyes, but their mouths were rudimentary. They obviously communicated telepathically. Spenser carefully shielded his own thoughts as he reached out mentally to touch theirs. Then he shuddered so violently that Stuart, standing close to him, was shocked. He was even more shocked when, with a double flick of his wrist Spenser cut the heads off the two aliens. He watched as they fell to the leaf-strewn ground.

“You could have warned me,” Stuart complained. “Are they….”

“They’re dead,” Spenser confirmed as he stood over the two bodies. “But….” Spenser uttered a loud oath and the laser tool hissed again as it sliced into the black-ooze covered creature that crawled out through the gaping neck of one of the decapitated bodies. He moved to do the same to the one that was trying to emerge from the other body. He hesitated and switched his sonic screwdriver to stasis mode, holding the creature in suspended animation for several long minutes.

“Now!” he called out. “Stuart, kill it. For Rassilon’s sake, kill the foul thing.”

Stuart nearly dropped the sonic screwdriver at first, but recovered and turned it on what looked like a cross between a crab, a spider and a thin membrane bag of writhing worms. He stepped back as the laser cut into the creature, closing his hand over his mouth and nose.

“I’ve made a terrible mistake,” Spenser said. “I shouldn’t have… these two… they were innocent… I realised it when I saw the parasite brains… They’re just hosts… being used by those things. They couldn’t help themselves. They were….”

“Those revolting things were controlling them?” Stuart was having trouble breathing. His heightened senses were in overdrive in the presence of the two dead parasites. “Then… it was a mercy killing. You put an end to their suffering.”

“I hope so,” Spenser replied. “But… this both complicates things and tells us something we didn’t know before.”

Stuart couldn’t speak. His eyes were watering and it was all he could do to breathe. Spenser turned the laser on the two parasites again and burnt them to cinders. That seemed to help.

“The green guys are victims, too. We have to save them as well as the humans. And I know now why they were taken.”

“No! Oh, no. No.” Stuart was already pale and sickly, but his face blanched even more. “They’re going to use them that way… as…. As….”

“Host bodies,” Spenser confirmed. “Yes. That’s why we’ve got to move fast. But we’re not going to kill any more of the green guys. We’re going to save them, too. I wish I’d known before. But when they came close, I couldn’t feel their minds at all. All I could feel was… was the evil intention. This village… this is only the start. When they’ve taken over the people here, they’re planning to spread out, to make the whole Human race into their hosts.”

“Why? If they already had the green guys?”

“I don’t know. Maybe their bodies are too limited. Or there aren’t enough of them. The Human race is huge, after all. They could conquer the rest of the galaxy using them as their foot soldiers. And that’s why I attacked them. My mind was just filled with rage, horror. But if I’d taken a few more moments to realise, I might have found a better way. Davie would have. He would have done as The Doctor always did. He would have found another way.”

“Don’t beat yourself up over it,” Stuart told him. “You didn’t know. You couldn’t have known. Besides, you might not have any choice. If their minds are so completely taken over by those disgusting things, then it could be kill or be killed.”

Stuart was right, of course. But he still felt guilty. He also felt ever so slightly out of his depth. He knew what he wanted to do, but he wasn’t entirely sure how to make it happen.

Davie would know, he thought. Davie always knew. Even when he didn’t have a plan, he could wing it so confidently he looked as if he knew what he was doing all along.

He looked at Stuart and pushed away those thoughts. It had been his idea to leave Davie behind. He thought he could handle it. He thought he could show Stuart that he was a hero.

He was trying to be clever, trying to look clever, just because he had been given a hint that Stuart was interested in him. But if he failed, if people died, because he had bitten off more than he could handle, then there was more than his love life at stake here.

“The ship is close,” Stuart said. “I can smell the guards. Two sentries by the main hatchway, I’m guessing.”

“Ok,” Spenser adjusted his sonic screwdriver and took Davie’s one and did the same. “This is a neural disrupter. It will knock out any being with a central nervous system at ten paces and give them a thumping headache, but nothing permanent. Davie developed that setting when we were fighting the Dominators. Not that we used it much. Nine times out of ten killing those was the safer option. A Dominator with a thumping headache was twice as much trouble.”

“Some time, I’d like to hear about that,” Stuart told him. “Unless you’d really rather not remember. But if you want to talk about it… over a drink… a quiet drink with me…”

“Is that you asking me on a date?” Spenser asked. “If so… then the answer is yes. But… let’s do this, first.”

That made it a little worse. Stuart really WAS making a play for him. He really didn’t want to disappoint him by turning out to be less than he had made himself out to be.

But there was no turning back now. Even without the ability to smell alien species he knew that the ship was ahead of them.

“You were right, two sentries,” Spenser said as they approached the clearing carefully and saw the pod shaped ship with a hatchway open. On the inside it seemed metallic like any space ship. On the outside it looked like something organic. A dull pea green marrow or watermelon came to mind. It was even ribbed in a ‘grown not made’ kind of way. “That ship must have some sort of relative dimensions within, though. How many villagers are missing?”

“About two hundred,” Stuart answered. “More if they got to the hotel on the main road and some of the farms. But… relative dimensions?”

“It means something is bigger on the inside than the outside,” Spenser explained. “Anyway, you take the guard on the left. I’ll take the one on the right.”

For a few moments he wasn’t even sure it was going to work. The possibility that the obviously sightless sentries couldn’t detect their non-Human presence was the only thing that saved them from death or injury before the neural disrupters finally knocked the sentries out.

“Slight snag,” Spenser pointed out. “The parasites controlling them DON’T have a central nervous system. It takes a while to overcome them.”

“Yes… but… when you do… ugghh!”

Stuart covered his nose and mouth again. Even Spenser was aware of the smell this time. He watched in disgust as the green skinned alien mouths stretched much wider than they ought to have done and a parasite crawled out of each one. Spenser quickly switched his sonic screwdriver back to laser mode and incinerated them both, then he turned his attention to the hosts.

“They’re alive,” he said. “And.…” Another adjustment and his sonic screwdriver did the reverse of a neural disrupter on one of the aliens, soothing the brain and reviving it. He then put his hand gently on the alien forehead, noting how cold the skin was. There was a brief flicker of confusion because the language was so different from his own but then he made a mental contact. He felt the alien mind’s confusion and grief.

“You’re all right now,” he told it. “You’re safe. The thing that was infecting you is gone. You’re free.”

“Free!” He felt the alien’s understanding of the word. He felt its relief. “Free… at last.”

“Yes,” Spenser told him. “But two of your friends are dead and others are still being used as hosts. Will you help us to help them?”

“Yes.” The reply was emphatic. He reached and helped the alien to stand. It reached a hand down towards the other sentry, feeling the air above it.

“He’ll be all right,” Spenser assured it. “He’s just unconscious. But there are others, your own people and ours. The people who were taken from the village.... show us where they are. What’s your name, by the way? And do you have any concept of gender in your society? Are you a guy or a girl?”

The alien indicated that its name was Ga, and that it did not understand the concept of gender.

“Ok,” Spenser turned to Stuart, who obviously hadn’t been party to the conversation at all. “This is Ga. And I’m going to call him ‘he’ because ‘it’ sounds like I’m talking about a pet gerbil. He’s on our side. He’s going to take us to the missing villagers.”

“Good. You can explain how you worked all that out later. As long as you’re sure he’s with us, now.”

“I am. I’m asking him to lead the way. He can’t see you. Or me, either. He knows I’m here because I’ve made contact with him mentally. But he doesn’t know you’re there. They’re blind and deaf. They communicate with each other telepathically. They have a sort of bat sonar to get around. They wouldn’t even have known about Humans if those damn parasites weren’t using them. They let them ‘tune in’ on Human lifesigns.”

“So the ones who still have the parasites won’t know we’re there until we zap them with the neural whatsit?”

“That’s our advantage.”

They followed Ga into the ship and at once Spenser understood why it appeared so small. It wasn’t relative dimensions. It was simply the tip of the iceberg. Inside the gangway was a narrow ledge around a platform. At Ga’s urging they stepped onto it and it began to descend. The walls of the tunnel were metallic, but they glistened as if they were lubricated by some kind of liquid. Spenser noted that Stuart was holding his breath. When he found he had to breathe or die, he gasped an explanation.

“I can smell those things… the parasites… as if they’re all around me. This ship… is it possible that it’s….”

He gagged and covered his mouth again. Spenser, for his part, noted that the air was musty, but it wasn’t affecting him as badly.

“That’s an inconvenient kind of skill sometimes,” he noted. “Hang on in there. We’re nearly there, I think.”

But when they reached the bottom Stuart was close to passing out and Spenser knew why. He stared in disgust at the creature that squatted in a shallow pool of pale yellow liquid in the middle of the floor. It was a huge version of the parasites, crab like legs extending out from a grey-black body that writhed as if something was moving around inside.

And it was. Spenser watched in horror as the thing ‘gave birth’ to half a dozen smaller parasites, these no more than three inches wide. As it did, the skinny green slave aliens picked them up and took them to a cage where the villagers were kept. They were all clearly under the influence of the hypnotising energy wave, still. They stood mutely and unprotesting while a few at a time they were taken from the cage and forced to open their mouths to receive one of the slimy parasites that slid down their throats. The new hosts were then taken to a separate cage which had two dozen or more already waiting.

“When they’re done, they’ll be taken back to the village… they’ll be allowed to resume normal lives for a few weeks, until the parasites grow enough and take a hold on their minds… and then they’ll simply be the first of many more host bodies as this filth spreads its feelers out across the country… across the planet.”

Ga gesticulated and Spenser felt his thoughts.

“It’s what happened to his planet. They’re all slave hosts now. Nearly a million of them.” He turned to Ga and touched him on the shoulder. “We’ll help. I promise. My other friend has a ship… He can take you and your people home. And you can free the others. I promise.”

He stopped speaking as his telepathic senses were overwhelmed by an agonising noise. He looked around to see Stuart, having overcome his nausea, attacking the ‘queen’ parasite with the laser mode of Davie’s sonic screwdriver. It was the queen that was screaming, out loud and telepathically, and it was as much of a disability to Spenser’s senses as the smell was to Stuart’s. But even so, he couldn’t help thinking he had the right idea. He adjusted his own sonic screwdriver and two lasers burned through the vile flesh, cutting it to pieces and killing the unborn parasites. He felt no qualms about doing so. He had listened to Davie and his brother both talk about things like genocide and valuing life in all of its diverse forms. But these parasites had already defiled one other form of life – Ga’s people. And now it wanted the Human race. He was fighting back on behalf of his mother’s species.

The screaming died away as they reduced the creature and its offspring to charred fragments floating in the pool of amniotic fluid or whatever it was. Spenser and Stuart looked at each other and then looked around. There were a half dozen or more of Ga’s people milling around uncertainly, as if they didn’t know what had happened, and there were the villagers, those processed and those unprocessed. In all over two hundred souls in this subterranean room.

And the room was self-destructing. The walls were decaying like wilting vegetation.

“She was a part of it,” Spenser guessed. “The ship is semi-organic and it was a part of her. And now she’s dead, it is… and we’re trapped… all of us.” He turned and looked at the platform. Noobdy was getting out that way.

“You didn’t plan for this did you?” Stuart said to him.

“I… honestly didn’t plan any of it,” Spenser answered. “I was winging it… I thought I could do it. I’m sorry.”

“We’re going to die… all of us… your green friend and all of his mates… the villagers… both of us.”


“But we’ve saved the Human race? We stopped that… thing… from turning this planet into… whatever it was she wanted them to be.”

“Yes, we have,” Spenser conceded.

“Then… that’s… Ok. It’d be kind of nice if the Human race knew we’d done it. We’d be heroes… statues, plaques... that sort of thing… maybe a library named after us or….” He shook his head. “Ok, stupid, I know. But… dying and nobody even knowing what happened is a bit miserable.”

Spenser looked around. Ga’s people seemed aware that something was wrong. They were trying to reach the platform, even though it was unlikely to work. The Humans were still insensible. They wouldn’t know anything. It would be an easy death for them.

“Did you really fancy me?” he asked Stuart. It seemed a stupid question right there and then, but if they only had minutes before they were buried in a couple of thousand tonnes of earth underneath Blain’s Dell at least there was a nicer way to go than standing there helplessly.

“Yes. Still do. Even if you can’t save me from dying, and even if you were winging it, I was impressed. This is what you and your friend do all the time?”

“We don’t usually get ourselves killed in the process,” Spenser replied. “But… the reason I was asking….”

He reached out and pulled Stuart close to him.

“I’m not usually this fast, you understand. But….” He cupped his hand around the back of Stuart’s head and drew him into a kiss. It was a good kiss. He knew Stuart was enjoying it as much as he was.

In fact, they were enjoying it so much they didn’t even notice that they were no longer standing in a dying organic space ship. Instead they were standing in the console room of a semi-organic and very much fully functioning space ship – the Chinese TARDIS. Ga was beside them and seemed surprised by his new surroundings. As Spenser looked around the air shimmered and three more of Ga’s people and some of the Humans materialised. Davie was using the transmat beam to bring them in. He was, Spenser further noted, doing it one handed while holding a sleeping baby wrapped in a blanket in one arm.

And he was doing something more than that. He was using the transmat to separate the parasite species from the aliens and the Humans. Spenser let go of Stuart and turned his sonic screwdriver on the writhing parasites as they landed on the floor.

“You came for me!”

“I was your back up, remember. I decided me and the baby didn’t need to hang around the pub. I headed back to your house and picked up my TARDIS. Let Stuart finish off those things, by the way. The TARDIS is projecting a gravity field. It will hold up the roof of this section of the ship for a while. But go and get the unprocessed villagers, quickly. Take them down to the cloister room. They’ll be safe there.”

Spenser did as he suggested. He took Ga with him, and between them they herded the still hypnotised Humans into the TARDIS and through the console room while Davie used the transmat to separate the parasites from those who had been infected already.

“Ok, that’s everyone,” Davie said at last. “Close the door. Let’s get out of here. There’s going to be some subsidence in the woods. Might even be a bit of an explosion when the non-organic engines collapse in on themselves. We can use that as an excuse for the villagers all being in the parish centre when they wake up, which I reckon they’ll start to do in about half an hour. You’re going to have to use a hell of a lot of Power of Suggestion to convince each and every one of them that they were evacuated due to an unexploded bomb alert.”

“Me?” Spenser asked. “What about you?”

“I’m going to have a long chat with your friend Ga and his colleagues and see what can be done about their own planet. I think with them as a fifth column, and some advice about how to get rid of the parasites, they might be able to save their own people.”

“Ok,” Spenser said. “That’s fine by me. Give the baby back to her mother, first, won’t you? You’re looking just a bit too comfortable with her.”

Davie grinned. He materialised the TARDIS inside the village hall and set about transmatting the villagers out of the cloister room. When they were all accounted for he gave the baby to Stuart to return to her mother. He did so with a sigh of regret and a yearning look at the child. He looked a little regretful, too, when Spenser walked by Stuart’s side out of the TARDIS.

Just after last orders in the Ship Inn that night, Davie returned from his mission. When the pub was empty, Stuart poured coffee for the three of them and he and Spenser listened as he told how he had taken Ga and the others back to their home planet to find that a revolution had already started. The death of the queen creature on Earth had loosened the hold of the parasites on the gentle telepathic beings.

“They have transmat technology same as the TARDIS has. I showed them how to use it to separate the parasites from their bodies and then destroy them. As more of their people are freed, the easier it will be. Soon they can reclaim their lives. And they were beautiful lives before the parasites took them over. They spent their time making telepathic music, poetry, sharing it with each other. Chris would be in his element among them. They’ll get over the trauma, hopefully and they’ll make poetry again.”

“So we saved two species,” Stuart said. “And neither will give us plaques or name a library after us.”

“Remind me to tell you about Dynosi X, some time,” Spenser told him. “They named a couple of things after the alien who saved their planet and ended up turning it into a nasty religious cult. It’s best if we don’t get remembered. We just do what needs to be done.”

“The two of you against a universe of evil parasites and creepy stuff? You’re a team?”

“Captain Davie and First Officer Spenser!” Spenser said with a smile.

“Sounds like a team nobody should be breaking up.”

Stuart sipped his drink and avoided eye contact with both of them. Davie put his glass down and nodded towards the TARDIS, parked in the corner disguised as a staff only door.

“I’m going to give Brenda a call on the videophone,” he said. Spenser watched him go and then turned back to look at Stuart.

“Me and Davie…” he said. “I’ve loved him since the first time I set eyes on him. And… when he realised it was possible, he loved me back… in his own way. I think he always will. And I’ll always love him. And the two of us have plans… we’ve got a universe to explore together. Plus a lot of car races to compete in. Team Campbell… that’s us, either way. But… I’ve always known I can’t have him… not the way I want. He’s going to marry Brenda and have lots of kids with the weirdest mix of Human and non-Human DNA of us all. He’ll be a great dad. I know that for a fact. Not sure I ever would be. My father wasn’t a great example. I’ll tell you about him some time… when you’re sitting down with a strong drink in your hand. I’m not sure if it’s his fault that my personal preference is for other men, or if that’s just me. But I’ve known it for years. Trouble is, where else would I find somebody like me… somebody who I don’t have to hide anything about myself from… and who also prefers men to women?”

“You never thought of looking in your local pub?” Stuart asked as Spenser ran out of words.

“No, I didn’t,” Spenser replied. “Not until now.”

He reached out his hand. Stuart let him grasp it. Both of them started to say something, but words weren’t really necessary.

Right now actions spoke much louder.

He just hoped Davie planned a really LONG call to Brenda.