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

“I know this place,” Tegan said as she stepped out of the TARDIS onto a grassy hill with a view across a grid of terraced streets and back alleyways. The view uphill was rather more spectacular. There was a magnificently palatial Victorian building spreading across the top of the hill. It was notable for its warm yellow brickwork, a rose window with a glass domed roof rising over it and a tall television broadcasting mast on the south-east end of the façade.

“Alexandra Palace,” Tegan added as Turlough and The Doctor joined her. “I came up here for a picnic with Aunt Vanessa once. About a week later the building caught fire.” She glared at Turlough, who looked as if she was about to say something facetious. “I saw the pictures in the papers. It was sad. This place is where television first began, all the way back in 1936.”

She looked around again at the view of London, then back at Alexandra Palace long before that fire in the summer of 1980 that spoiled the magnificent façade.

It was long before television aerials. The roofs below were all curiously naked compared to the London she had been living in while she prepared for her dream job as an air hostess.

“It’s AGES before then, isn’t it,” she said. “It’s not… Doctor… IS it 1936?”

The Doctor smiled in a charming way and pulled his hat out of his blazer pocket, unfolding it before setting it on his head.

“I thought you might both be interested in such an historic occasion.”

“Oh, yes, please,” Tegan answered with a huge smile on her face. Turlough was a little more bemused. He looked up at the huge tower that must have been taller than the building was wide, giving the whole structure a peculiarly unbalanced appearance. He was only slightly aware of the history Tegan was so entranced by. Television was not generally favoured at the Brendan School except for strictly educational programmes.

But he caught the spirit of occasion from The Doctor and Tegan and cheerfully followed them up to the main entrance to the building known informally as the people’s palace because it was built as a theatre and cultural centre before the word culture was even associated with ‘people’ in the general sense.

“Ah,” The Doctor said, looking up at the mast. “They’re doing a quick test transmission.”

“Really?” Tegan looked up but she couldn’t see anything.

In Muswell Hill police station, virtually in the shadow of the transmitter tower mounted on Alexander Palace, Constable James Porter was taking one of the regulars down to a cell.

“It’s not even three o’clock,” he said to his prisoner, known as Plastered Pete for obvious reasons. “How can anyone be as drunk as you at this time of a day?”

“Dunno, Const…able,” Pete slurred. “Jus’ a tal…ent… o’ mine.”

“You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” the constable told him. “Go on, in you go. Sleep it off before you see the magistrate in the morning.”

Pete started to step into the cell. He wasn’t too worried about it. It was cool and quiet and out of the way of his wife. And once he had slept off the drink the duty sergeant would probably just tell him to go home rather than going through the paperwork involved in sending him to the magistrate.

Then he realised the constable wasn’t with him. He looked around. The door was open and the corridor outside the cells was empty. He wandered quietly back to the front office where the duty sergeant should have been. There was nobody there. The sergeant and the constable who had brought him in were both walking down the road in a stiff, peculiarly unnatural way.

Pete watched them disappear from view, then he stepped out of the police station. Nobody called out to him to stop. He kept on walking until he felt sober enough to face his wife, then he went home.

“I can feel the resonances,” The Doctor explained to his friends. “They’re trying the Baird system. In a little while they’ll be testing the Marconi system.”

Tegan and Turlough both looked at him with puzzled expressions, not because he could feel the resonances from the invisible television broadcast, but because they both recognised the names of Baird and Marconi. John Logie Baird was the man credited with inventing television. Marconi had already invented the wireless telegraph among other things.

“Actually, it’s the Marconi Company, not the man himself,” The Doctor told his two companions with the air of an enthusiastic teacher with a couple of interested students. “Baird had developed one method of broadcasting television signals and the Marconi Company had developed another. They will both be used today and in the next few weeks to see which one works best.”

It seemed a strange idea, the more so when they got to see the two separate rooms where the equipment was set up for the two broadcasts. They were given a full VIP tour. For some reason, the Director of Television Production, Mr Gerald Cox, recognised The Doctor immediately and was delighted to show his party around before inviting them to watch the inaugural broadcast.

“The first broadcast was only an hour long!” Tegan was surprised when she read the souvenir programme she was given before being shown her seat.

3.0 Opening of the


By Major the Right Hon. G.C. TRYON, M.P., H.M. Postmaster-General


(Chairman of the BBC)


the Right Hon. The Lord SELSDON,


(Chairman of the Television

Advisory Committee)

Will also speak.

3.15 Interval

Time, Weather


3.30 Variety


Musical Comedy Star.


Comedians and Dancers.


Chinese Jugglers.


Leader, Boris Pecker


Produced by DALLAS BOWER

4.0 CLOSE.

“At least the speeches are only going to take fifteen minutes,” Turlough noted. “But then we get an INTERVAL. Surely nobody needs ice creams after only fifteen minutes.”

“A half hour of entertainment, that’s all?” Tegan sounded disappointed. “Why couldn’t it have gone on a bit longer?”

“Mr Cox thinks that television watching might be bad for the health. He recommended short periods of broadcasting with regular breaks,” The Doctor explained.

“Wow!” Tegan laughed ironically. “He has no idea what the future has in store. Remember when we were at the millennium party in 2000. TV in Britain had gone twenty-four hours by then, and there were five main channels and hundreds of satellite ones.”

“And everyone seemed in perfect health,” Turlough noted.

“Better than now, in a lot of ways,” Tegan added. “There weren’t very many children with rickets wandering around Trafalgar Square, and nobody had gone blind from watching television.”

“Their IQ’s might have dropped from some of the rubbish that was being shown,” The Doctor noted. “Lord Reith’s vision of broadcasting to inform, educate and then to entertain wasn’t so much in evidence by the end of the twentieth century.”

They were sitting alone in the section of seats for the guest audience when they had that conversation. Soon, though, the empty places filled with men and women dressed in evening clothes even though it was still not quite three o’clock.

For people born at the other end of the century, who took for granted colour television with a full and diverse range of programmes, news, sport, education and entertainment of all sorts, for all tastes, it was a peculiar experience. All of the lights and huge cameras, all the cables leading through to the control centres they had already visited, were focussed on one microphone where a man in evening dress was doing a sound check. It all seemed incredibly static and dull despite so much effort.

Even the momentous broadcast itself was a little disappointing. Tegan and Turlough both thought that the first five minutes of television history could have been something brighter than “Major the Right Hon. G.C. TRYON, M.P., H.M. Postmaster-General” talking followed by two more stuffed shirts who hadn’t yet learnt how to look at a camera while reading a speech.

“The invention of the auto-cue will do wonders for this sort of thing,” Tegan thought as her attention wandered and she looked at the ceiling where the light riggings were and a man carefully walked around a gallery adjusting things.

Margaret Brennan – Maggie to her customers - was busy in her corner shop on the junction of Golders Green Road and Finchley Road. She had been behind her counter with her wares spread out on the shelves behind her for thirty years, now. She was a constant in a changing world, carrying on weighing out quarters of sherbet lemons and pounds of soap, biscuits or flour through two coronations, war and depression.

She was weighing a half ounce of pipe tobacco for Mr Engals when she did something completely out of character. She put down her measuring scoop and turned away. She opened the hatch in the counter and walked out. Mr Engals enquired if she was all right, but she didn’t answer. Some of the other waiting customers asked what was wrong, but most grumbled and complained about being delayed as she opened the shop door and walked away.

The customers waited a few minutes for her to return before drifting away. The last one to leave turned the ‘open’ sign to ‘closed’ and pulled the door shut firmly before heading down the road to find another place to do his shopping.

The interval over, the programme of broadcasting resumed with ‘Movietone News’, which was a recorded newsreel of the sort usually seen in cinemas of this era. It was shown to the live audience on a small screen while being broadcast by slightly more sophisticated means. The top stories of the day were mostly political. It was 1936, after all. Hitler was looming on the European horizon. Tegan felt rather sad for the people around her who didn’t yet realise what was coming.

In a brand new, modern villa overlooking Dulwich Common, Michael Enwright was making tea for his elderly mother. She had been persuaded only recently to leave her big, draughty old house and come to live with her widower son. Taking care of her was so much easier with only one short flight of stairs to the bedroom and an electric stove to boil the kettles on for her hot water bottles and pots of tea and to heat up the soup for her lunch.

In the middle of warming the pot, Michael turned and walked out into the garden. His mother didn’t hear the gate open and then close behind him. The kettle boiled dry and then the electric ring burnt a hole in the bottom. The smoke from the small kitchen fire that ensued was spotted by a neighbour who called the fire brigade. They rescued the bedridden Mrs Enwright and she was taken to hospital since there was no sign of her son and nobody else to look after her.

Adele Nixon was a pretty woman with a nice voice who sang a song specially written for the occasion all about the magic of television. She was followed as promised in the souvenir programme by Buck and Bubbles the Comedians and Dancers and the Lai Founs, Chinese Jugglers. They were just standard music hall stuff, rather less impressive because they had only a very small stage area to perform in to the static camera.

And after that it was all over. There was a ripple of polite applause from the audience who perhaps felt that unbridled enthusiasm wasn’t appropriate.

Or perhaps they had been bored, too?

“Oh, go on,” The Doctor said as they walked back to the TARDIS in the gloom of a rapidly darkening November day. “It was an interesting experience, at least. History in the making.”

“Yes, it was that,” Turlough and Tegan both admitted.

“But it was BORING,” Turlough added. “It’s hard to believe that television as we know it came from THAT shambles.”

“It really WAS a boring hour,” Tegan confirmed. “Except for the girl singing. ‘By the magic rays of light

That bring Television to you…..’ That wasn’t a bad song. Jazz it up a bit, it could be a hit.”

“I think Lord Reith probably thought it was ‘jazzed up’ enough already,” The Doctor replied.

“Lord Reith is a right old stick-in-the-mud,” Tegan replied. Turlough agreed with her.

The Doctor laughed. In all honesty he had to admit they were right, on all counts.

“It was a nice try, Doctor,” Tegan assured him. “Educational and informative. It just fell down a bit on the entertaining side.”

“Let’s see if we can find something a bit more fun, then,” The Doctor promised as they stepped into the TARDIS and prepared to dematerialise the TARDIS.

A little after nine o’clock on the day that television history began, Anne-Marie Worthing, aged sixteen, was mending her stockings in a quiet corner of the drawing room of the terraced house in Kilburn where she lived with her mum and dad. Stockings were the bane of her life. She had to look presentable as a waitress at the ABC café, but the cost of stockings cut deeply into her wages.

“I wonder if we ought to look into getting that television,” her dad commented about the report on the radio about the new service from the BBC.

“It’s not for the likes of us,” her mum replied. “Our Annie has airs and graces enough for one of her age.”

“I work in a café,” Anne-Marie protested.

“Exactly,” her mum said. “The candle factory was good enough for me. But I suppose you hope to be walking out with some gent with polished shoes and a bowler hat before long.”

It was a familiar discussion. Anne-Marie had heard it before.

But neither of her parents expected her to just stand up and walk out of the room. They both expressed their disapproval of her bad manners, but to no avail. When she opened the front door and stepped out into the dark street her mum began to cry, blaming the ‘high up job’ that Anne-Marie did for her getting ideas above her station.

“And you and that television nonsense,” she added to her husband. “A lot of nonsense. It’ll go nowhere. Airs and graces, that’s all. Not for the likes of us.”

In Finchley, the fire brigade put out a devastating fire caused by an unattended fish fryer in the chip shop on Ballards Lane. They rescued four people trapped in the two flats above the shop but they couldn’t find Mr James Hatcher, proprietor of the shop who should have been attending to the fryer.

The TARDIS materialised outside a pair of red brick and Portland stone buildings of Victorian Gothic design. Tegan and Turlough both stepped out and looked around disparagingly at the sluggish river and the more easily identifiable landmarks like Big Ben a little further down the road. It was starting to get dark on a dreary wintery evening. There were street lights penetrating the gloom as people hurried to get home at the end of their day.

“Somewhere more fun?” Tegan queried as The Doctor followed them out. “This is just London AGAIN.” She watched a car turn into the yard between the two buildings and made a guess at the decade. “In the pre-war era again?”

“About a month after we were here last,” The Doctor admitted. “It’s November 30th, 1936.”

“That’s a police station,” Turlough noted, looking at the building they were parked next to. “A big police station.”

“Scotland Yard,” The Doctor confirmed. “Or New Scotland Yard to be precise, the one with the famous Whitehall 1212 phone number. It replaced Old Scotland Yard in 1890 and was itself supplanted in 1967 by the modern building of your generation which I suppose ought to be New New Scotland Yard.”

“That’s just silly,” Tegan commented, but The Doctor wasn’t listening. He headed to the main entrance and informed the policeman behind the desk that he was here to see Detective Chief Inspector Pryce. His name surprised and animated the officer who immediately rang to say that The Doctor was here.

“What’s going on, Doctor?” Turlough asked. “Why are we here?”

“Something funny going on in London,” he answered. “I think it might be something we can help with.”

“Something funny isn’t the same as something FUN,” Turlough pointed out.

“Duty calls,” The Doctor told him apologetically. “We’ll get to the fun later.”

“This something funny – you think it might be alien?” Tegan queried.

“Possibly.” The Doctor might have said more, but they were being directed upstairs to the office of the Detective Chief Inspector who greeted The Doctor as an old friend and talked about his help in clearing up several apparently notorious crimes of the past decade, none of which his young friends knew anything about.

“I’ve been with you since you regenerated,” Tegan pointed out in a low voice while the DCI called for tea for his visitors. “I’ve never seen you thwart a theft from the British Museum.”

“I haven’t done that one, yet,” The Doctor admitted. “Sounds intriguing. The others are from an earlier life. But I used a bit of Power of Suggestion to make him forget what I looked like then.”

Once the tea was brought the DCI got to work at once, directing The Doctor and his friends to a large map of London with pins placed in it.

“Over the past month one hundred and fifty people have disappeared from their homes and workplaces in these locations around London. All of them just walked away from whatever they were doing without a word. Witnesses described them as looking blank, as if hypnotised. We have no idea where they went, nothing that connects any of them. The first to go missing were a pair of police officers from Muswell Hill station on the afternoon of the second. Then a couple of ordinary people on the same day. The next day the Treasurer of Hounslow Borough Council upped and walked out of a meeting. We’re not entirely sure if that one is connected, to be honest. It turns out there might be a motive, there – apparently money is missing from the housing fund.”

The DCI paused before continuing, allowing the seriousness of the situation to sink in.

“The most serious disappearance of all is Sir Anthony Lainey….”

“The Minister of Public Work?” The Doctor queried. “Yes, that’s serious. No wonder Scotland Yard are involved.”

“Sir Anthony was on his way to his club where he was having drinks with the Duke of York. He stopped his car on Victoria Embankment….” DCI Pryce paused again, seeing the question in The Doctor’s eyes and Tegan’s glance towards the window that overlooked that very place. “Yes, practically outside New Scotland Yard. A bit embarrassing, as you can imagine. But also why we’re fairly sure it wasn’t a kidnapping. By all accounts, including that of his driver, he just walked away.”

“Did anyone check which direction he walked?” Tegan asked.

“His driver said south, across the river. But after that… London is a big place. It’s easy enough for one person to be lost in the crowds. Nobody notices….”

“We were in Muswell Hill when it started,” Turlough commented. “The first disappearances… we were only a little way from there at Alexandra Palace.”

“He’s right,” Tegan commented, looking at the details of the first case. Witnesses had seen the two policemen leave the station together. “It was about the same time… just before three o’clock.”

“Coincidence, surely,” The Doctor told them. “What could the opening of the Television Service possibly have to do with these people disappearing?”

“They all rushed off to buy televisions so they wouldn’t miss the Chinese jugglers?” Turlough said under his breath. Tegan suppressed a giggle. The Doctor gave them both a look as if they were a pair of misbehaving school children.

“Yes… but…” Tegan reached into her coat pocket. She still had the souvenir programme from the event of November 2nd. “Look… The two policemen disappeared around the time they were doing test transmissions just before the broadcast. The lady from Golders Green and the man from Dulwich went missing between three and four o’clock – while the first broadcast was on. The girl from Kilburn and the man from the chip shop in Finchley…. They disappeared between nine o’clock and ten, when the second broadcast of the day was going on – ‘Television Comes to London, A BBC Film’ and 'Picture Page, A Magazine of Topical and General Interest’.”

The Doctor looked at the map and then asked the DCI if he had copies of the Radio Times for the past four weeks. He hadn’t, but there were magazines in the refectory. He sent a man to look.

“This is something to do with the television?” he asked. “We were assured the signals were perfectly safe. I’ve heard some daft rumours about it causing the brain to go funny, but they said that about radio twenty years ago and we take that for granted now.”

“Yes,” The Doctor mused. “It does seem far-fetched, doesn’t it. And yet….”

The constable returned with four copies of the Radio Times, going back to the start of November. The Doctor gave one each to Turlough and Tegan and one to the DCI before opening a copy himself. He carefully stopped himself from reading the whole magazine in half a minute’s super-speed reading and studied it at a regular pace.

Between them they checked the times of disappearances against the broadcast times of TV programmes.

“The only day of the week when nobody disappeared was Sunday – when there are no TV broadcasts,” Turlough confirmed when they were done. “But not every broadcast time has disappearances happening. Only about half.”

“Wait….” The Doctor looked carefully again at the times when people had so mysteriously walked out of their lives, then he reached for the DCI’s telephone and placed a call to his other friend in 1930s London, Mr Cox, the Director of Television. His two young friends were startled by his questions but slowly they started to understand the point of them. DCI Pryce was utterly bewildered.

“These people all disappeared when the Baird system was broadcasting, not the Marconi system,” he concluded. “Something about the Baird system is affecting certain people.”

“Which people?” DCI Pryce asked. “And why?”

“That I don’t know,” The Doctor admitted. “I’ve seen people controlled according to their blood type before, using certain resonances to influence them. It’s a very old method of mass hypnotism. But not enough people are affected for it to be one of the common blood types and too many for the rarer ones. There has to be something else.”

“Doctor, what ARE you talking about?” DCI Pryce asked. “It doesn’t make sense. At least it doesn’t make any kind of sense I can put into a police report. It’s as bad as those ‘Allinites trying to get the Crown Jewels. If I hadn’t seen them with my own eyes… ugly one eyed, green things with jewellery embedded in their foreheads. I did what you said, that time… put it down to anarchists trying to undermine the monarchy. But what is it this time?”

“I’m not sure, yet,” The Doctor answered, filing the information about Allinites away for future reference. “But I’m beginning to suspect something unearthly messing around with the television signals.”

“We should check out the Crystal Palace, then,” Tegan said, waving a magazine to attract attention. “The Baird equipment is all set up there according to this article in the Radio Times. They only moved some of it up to Alexandra Palace for the broadcasts.”

“Well done, Tegan,” The Doctor told her. “To Syddenham, then.”

“I’ll organise cars,” DCI Pryce said. “And enough men to deal with any eventuality. We were almost caught out last time at The Tower.”

“Good idea,” The Doctor said. “My colleagues and I will get along in our own transport and you can meet us there.”

“Of course, Doctor,” Pryce acknowledged.

“You’re sure we won’t get lost?” Turlough asked as they stepped back into the TARDIS. “I mean, you know what this old thing is like. We might end up on the other side of the galaxy instead of a few miles the other side of the Thames.”

“Good point,” Tegan added, knowing the TARDIS’s peculiarities for longer than Turlough had.

“You two should both have more faith in the old girl,” The Doctor replied. “She’s following the resonances from the last broadcast. She can’t possibly get lost.”

“Oh, really?” Tegan and Turlough were both sceptical, but on this occasion they were both proved wrong. The Doctor’s faith in his old Type 40 TARDIS was rewarded. They arrived only a few minutes later at Syddenham Hill, the second home of the beautiful Crystal Palace, built originally in Hyde Park for the 1851 British Empire Exhibition and later transplanted to the place it occupied until.

“Oh… dear,” The Doctor murmured as he recalled today’s date. His friends looked at him quizzically but he gave them a wide smile and walked nonchalantly towards the Crystal Palace. It was getting darker by the minute and glass and steel wonder of Victorian engineering was lit from within. It looked inviting in the cold drizzle of the evening.

Or it might have done if they didn’t know something bad was going on there.

“There’s an exhibition on,” Tegan noted. “Home making for the future.”

“I don’t think that’s got anything to do with what we’re looking for,” Turlough pointed out.

“It doesn’t sound like it,” The Doctor admitted. “And, yet….”

They entered by the south entrance and headed up the stairs to the second floor where the Baird equipment was set up in a large conference room. On the landing they were aware of a voice coming from the exhibition hall. A double door led onto a balcony above the main floor.

The speaker wasn’t discussing kitchen appliances.

Or if he was, he wasn’t discussing them in English.

“What is THAT?” Tegan asked.

“It’s machine code,” The Doctor answered. “Programming language for computers. But I don’t quite understand why….”

“Come on,” Turlough said. “We can see what they’re up to, at least.”

“Yes,” The Doctor agreed. “You and I will do that. Tegan, go and do what you can to put the Baird transmitters out of action.”

“You want me to destroy the work of the man who invented television?” Tegan asked, appalled by the thought of such wanton sabotage of historic achievement.

“He’ll still be remembered for that,” The Doctor assured her. “But this… I think it was inevitable. Do as I ask, please. Many lives might depend on it.”

Tegan did as he asked. When she saw the strangely humming machinery within the room she felt no qualms anyway. Something told her that this was the source of the trouble that had affected London. She found a red-handled axe next to a fire extinguisher and began breaking everything within her reach. The sound of valves breaking was soon complementing a smell of burning electronics as she caused short-outs and fuses in everything.

Meanwhile Turlough and The Doctor slipped onto the balcony and carefully looked down at what was happening in the hall. There were at least two hundred people there, standing in regimented lines in front of a dais where a man was speaking in a monotone voice. He didn’t look like a political leader. He was dressed as a fishmonger. The Doctor recalled the details of a Mr Edgar Samuels of Lewisham who was one of the missing from the first week of this curious business.

As The Doctor had already identified, the language was machine code. On a huge screen behind him data scrolled almost faster than the eye could see.

The people – among them a girl of sixteen who wore black stockings to work as an ABC café waitress, a man who fried fish and chips for a living and a Cabinet Minister – watched the screen unblinkingly.

“Some kind of hypnotism, then?” Turlough whispered to The Doctor.

“No,” he answered. “Instructions.”


“None of these people… are Human. Humans don’t receive information through machine code. These are some kind of simulacrums… hiding within the Human population. Sleeper agents….”


“This is an army, being prepared to go to war,” The Doctor said. “An invading army of aliens.”

“Doctor, you can’t be serious.”

“I’m deadly serious. That’s how sleepers work. They hide in plain sight, within a community, for ten, twenty, thirty years, before their real purpose is triggered. The broadcasts were used to piggyback a signal, bringing them here. Now they’re receiving their instructions.”

“To do what?”

“Anything,” The Doctor answered. “The Cabinet Minister might have explosives within his own body that could destroy the government. The policemen could walk into Scotland Yard and murder every officer there. Even the girl could go to County Hall on the pretext of paying a bill and massacre everyone in sight.”

“How?” Turlough asked, but the next moment he had his answer. The man on stage raised his right arm as if in some kind of salute, but his arm wasn’t an arm any more. It had morphed from the shoulder to the hand into a blade. It didn’t look like it was made of metal. If anything, it was as if flesh and bone had organically grown in a sword shape, but there was no reason to doubt that it was deadly sharp, capable of plunging through an ordinary Human body.

“What!” Turlough yelped in astonishment as the missing people, the sleeper agents, if The Doctor was right, repeated the salute. Their arms, too, had become blades.

Then the screen behind the leader flickered. The machine code scrolling down it became distorted. The fishmonger stopped talking. His sword arm became an ordinary arm again and he looked at his hand as if he hadn’t seen it for a long time.

All the sleepers were waking up, literally. They all looked around at each other and at the place they were in. They murmured and cried or loudly demanded to know what was going on - depending on their Human temperament.

Then Tegan ran onto the balcony, still holding the axe, and shouting even louder than the crowd below.

“Fire,” she called out. “The building is on fire.”

“Yes, of course it is,” The Doctor said in a surprisingly calm voice. “It’s all right. We’ve got time to get them all out. DCI Pryce’s people should be along soon to help.”

He called out to the bewildered people. Enough of them looked up and saw a tell-tale red glow to alert the rest. They started towards the fire exits – of which the Crystal Palace was thoroughly well equipped, of course.

“Quick,” Tegan urged The Doctor. “Before we get trapped. It was my fault. I hit this weird thing that was repeating that machine code in a weird voice and it exploded.”

“That must have been the source of the transmission,” The Doctor said as they hurried down the stairs. “Nothing to do with Mr Baird’s work, of course. If there was likely to be anything left by morning, I could have worked out where it came from, but never mind. It’s finished.”

While Tegan and Turlough ran outside to join the fully awoken Sleepers, The Doctor checked that there was nobody else left. He found the fishmonger still trying to work out where he was and what was happening to him.

“The last thing I remember, I was packing a box of salmon with ice to send up to the Ritz hotel. But I can’t even smell the fish on my hands. I can’t remember when I last had hands that weren’t all fishy.”

“Your hands are the least fishy thing around here,” The Doctor told him. “But if you don’t want to end up as a smoked kipper you’d best come with me.”

The fishmonger followed him. The Doctor noticed a caretaker who would have been responsible for locking the doors after the evening session looking upset as he watched the fire spread.

“Don’t even think about going back in there,” The Doctor said to the man. “Come on, get as far away as possible, now.”

The caretaker had tears in his eyes as Tegan took him by the arm and led him away. She fully understood. She had seen pictures of the place engulfed in flames. Everyone knew that the Crystal Palace burnt down. She just didn’t know it happened on THIS night.

The approach of a half dozen police cars and a van as well as the distant sound of fire engines on their way to the scene added to the hubbub of voices. The crowd had swelled by now with people from the neighbourhood of Penge who had seen the flames and come to watch in awe and dismay, and perhaps some measure of entertainment. It was impossible to tell who were the Sleepers and who were ordinary members of the public.

All but one, at least. Turlough found the Cabinet Minister in his well-pressed pinstripe suit beneath a good Ulster coat and brought him to where DCI Pryce’s car had drawn up.

“We’d better take you back to the Yard, sir,” the DCI said. “Best you’re not mixed up in all this when the Press get here. Doctor, I presume you have an explanation about missing people and the destruction of a national monument?”

“I do,” The Doctor answered. “I’ll explain back at the Yard after I’ve given the Minister a brief medical examination - just routine, of course.”

The examination was far from routine and The Doctor used a number of instruments that he had to explain as ‘experimental, from St. Barts, where they were testing them out.’ Once he was satisfied he told the DCI to send the Minister home in an unmarked car to avoid any possible scandal. His absence from Westminster could be put down to exhaustion at some later time.

“None of them know what they are,” he said. “In any medical examination they would seem to be perfectly normal humans. Without the transmission sending out instructions for them to become soldiers, they will go on living their normal lives. You don’t need to worry about any of them, anymore.”

“You’re sure of that, Doctor?” DCI Pryce asked doubtfully.

“I’m sure. Leave them alone.”

“If they’re not Human… what about that girl… the sixteen year old. What about her family?”

“I’ll bet anything she was adopted when she was young,” The Doctor answered. “I expect a close look at any of them would reveal a detail like that – even the Cabinet Minister. As I said, normal humans by all measures. They all grew up in the usual way. They probably can’t have children of their own. Their alien blood will die out in the course of time. Nothing to worry about, now.”

DCI Pryce nodded. If The Doctor was so adamant that it was all right, then it must be.

“I think perhaps I’d better keep the names on file, under top classification, just in case,” he decided. “We’ll know who to look for if anything DOES happen. But otherwise, that’s that.”

“Indeed. It’s been a pleasure meeting you again, Chief inspector. I hope our paths will cross again in less hectic circumstances.”

They made their goodbyes and headed back to the TARDIS parked on the now very dark and quiet Victoria Embankment. Above the landmarks of the City of London there was a red tinge to the sky that wasn’t dawn and wouldn’t start to die away until long into the morning. But that was just history, now.

“I’ve seen it before,” The Doctor said as the TARDIS flew on through the vortex to ‘somewhere fun’. “They call themselves Cell 114. Even I’m not sure what they really look like. They take on the physical forms of the species they infiltrate. I came across a whole planet once where the indigenous population of blue scaled humanoids had been replaced by Cell 114 operatives. I didn’t get a chance to do anything about it. The neighbouring planet’s government launched a thermo-nuclear attack and blew up the planet along with the imposters.”

“I don’t suppose you even know why they’re called Cell 114?” Turlough asked. “I know it probably doesn’t matter now, but I’m curious about the apparently random number.”

“That’s one of the few things about the universe that puzzles me, too,” The Doctor admitted with a wry smile. “Just occasionally there ARE things I don’t know.”

DCI Pryce was helping himself to a strong drink while a uniformed man put everything to do with disappearing people into a file marked ‘Strictly Confidential’ when a stranger came into his office without knocking. The man was dressed in a vaguely military style, though with no obvious rank and held himself in a manner that suggested much higher authority than a Detective Chief Inspector.

“I’m from Torchwood,” he said. “I’m here to take those files. We’ll be handling this from now on.”

DCI Pryce wondered who in the world Torchwood were, and why they thought they were above the police, but he also realised he had very little choice in the matter. In a matter of minutes everything to do with the case was bundled up and signed over to Torchwood.

The stranger looked at the top sheet casually and then raised an eyebrow in surprise.

“The Doctor was here? He was involved in this?”

“He just left about ten minutes ago,” the DCI responded.

“Missed him, then,” the Torchwood man said with a note of deep regret in his voice. “All right, we’re done here. I suggest you consider this top secret and don’t discuss it with anyone, not even your superiors, Detective Chief Inspector. If you do, it might not end well for you.”

With that he left. DCI Pryce wondered if he had just been threatened, then decided that he probably should do as the Torchwood man had suggested.

Two floors down a uniformed constable made a phone call.

“We’d better not try to activate the second group yet,” he said. “Torchwood have taken over the case. They know about us.”