The Night Before Christmas is not a full length story. It really serves as a filler, moving two subthemes along before getting on with bigger stories in the New Year. The first, is the birth of Toshiko’s second child. I didn’t want another story centred on the childbirth, so I focussed instead on the other issue – Darius and Shona’s love-hate relationship.

I set the story in the tower of Glasgow Chambers – Glasgow’s City Hall, which by perfect chance happens to be in George’s Square. The Glasgow Cenotaph is outside the Chambers, which would be a draw for the military minded Shona. By contrast to the dignity of the Cenotaph, the rest of George’s Square is gaudily and brightly lit at Christmas and has amusements for children. This is something likely to annoy Shona, even without idiots trying to urinate on the cenotaph. Incidentally, a Teeside man was prosecuted only recently for doing the same thing, but I definitely wasn’t seeking to pay homage to him when I wrote this.

Darius and Shona ARE made for each other, of course. And this story more or less cements their relationship. It explains a bit more of their backstory, and confirms what I had planned to reveal about Shona since I invented her character. She is the niece of Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, first Commanding Officer of U.N.I.T. In other words, she is a girl with a lot to live up to.

The fight with one of Darius’s old adversaries, Vilius, is really just to pad things out a bit and add a bit of action to the short story. It does serve to seal Shona and Darius’s relationship fully when she gives him her blood to save his life.

We also get a surname for Darius, Petkus, a derivative of the personal name Petjko, of Slavic origin. It can be compared with the Russian Petr or the English Peter.