Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Heist School [5th Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan & Adric]

Doctor Who:
Heist School
John Davies

“As for making a difference, I don’t think we really influenced anything at all.”

It had been a roller coaster of a ride for the TARDIS. Ever since the time machine had materialised on Traken, each landing had just blended into the next, with little or no time to recover. The craft had to accommodate new travellers at an alarming rate, each bringing a new, unique dynamic to the group, and such was the helter-skelter nature of things that the travellers themselves had not even had sufficient time to change the clothes they had worn upon arrival.

Adric, lying on his bed, was clutching his stomach, his face pale. He had eaten way too much food at the Cranleighs’ during their most recent adventure, and as a result was suffering from a bad case of indigestion. Being the calm, mature, level headed individual he was, he was complaining about it bitterly, but aside from offering him some tablets, everyone else just left him to recover in the privacy of his room. They had their own issues to deal with.

In the room that she shared with Tegan, Nyssa was holding a sequin-encrusted headpiece, with two long antennae denoting it was supposed to represent some type of insect. As the lighting imbedded in the TARDIS ceiling made the individual sequins sparkle, two appeared to merge in the halo they were imbued with. Two separate sequins, sharing the self same glow. . .just as she and Ann Talbot had. Nyssa closed her eyes, and saw her world explode once more, and then the planets surrounding it being blotted out forever by entropy … by the Master.

Even now it wrenched the core of her being that such an evil, twisted presence as the Master, the Doctor’s archrival, had managed to infest her peaceful home world of Traken. In each occasion that their paths had crossed since, she had had to put up with the fact that physically he now resembled her father, or rather a younger, more groomed version of the parent she had adored. Nyssa had vowed to herself that she would never allow anyone else to see how much this still affected her, and apart from occasional comments on the subject, she somehow always managed to appear calm and serene – upholding the values of decorum that had nurtured her from birth.

The Master looked like her father, Ann had looked like her … even though Traken was gone, and gone forever, it gave her hope that out there in the Universe, be it through accident, design or pure coincidence there were echoes remaining.

An audible sigh broke the silence as Nyssa placed the headrest on a stand. Tegan was resting on her bed, staring upwards, but at nothing in particular. After her baptism of fire into the Doctor’s world, she was thinking about how disturbingly normal their last landing had been. Oh, there had been the usual intrigue, the by now standard level of suspicion from those they met, but no deranged alien menace had emerged from the shadows to threaten them, and the world, and nothing had attempted to penetrate and control her mind. It was almost of if they had landed in the world of an Agatha Christie novel, with human concerns, human deviousness, and human frailty. All of this had, of course, re-focussed her mind on the loss, correction the murder, of her Aunt Vanessa. Nyssa wasn’t the only member of the current TARDIS crew to have suffered at the hands of the Master. On her way to a job interview, the car she and her Aunt had been travelling in had suffered a flat tyre, and Tegan had stumbled across an old fashioned Police telephone box on the Barnet by pass. From that moment, any sense of reality had deserted her life forever, and while the Master was callously ending her Aunt’s life, Tegan had found herself lost within the endless corridors of what she know knew was the TARDIS. Landing on the railway platform, watching a game of cricket, dancing the Charleston at a lavish ball had allowed Tegan to ‘touch base’ with some more familiar aspects of life again, and even though there had been the ever present mystery to solve, as they had filed back into the TARDIS after the personal revelations of the Cranleigh hose had been exposed, she felt calmer, but introspective, thinking about her own family again – especially her Aunt. There was something she had to do.

“Are you alright, Tegan?”

The voice was soft and gentle, the intonation measured. Turning her head in the soft pillow that cradled it, Tegan focused her gaze on Nyssa, who was now standing a few feet from her bed. “Yes,” she said, “Just thinking about Aunt Vanessa.”

Nyssa nodded sympathetically, “Yes, I think we’ve all been thinking about our lost ones since leaving the Cranleigh’s. I overheard Adric talking to himself about his brother earlier.”

Tegan propped herself up on her elbow, “We’re a fine bunch, aren’t we? All orphaned in someway or another.”


“I bet the Doctor sometimes wonders what he’s done to deserve us, me especially. I’ve not exactly been easy to get along on with at times.”

“You were scared, Tegan, lost and confused. I’m sure the Doctor understands and appreciates that.”

Tegan looked doubtful, but said, “Well, I certainly hope so – I’ve got a favour I need to ask.”

Nyssa’s usually impassive brow creased, “You’re not wanting to leave us, are you Tegan?”

Tegan laughed, “No, I’m not going to ask him to take me Heathrow, I think that time’s passed. I just need to sort something out for my Aunt.”

“Well,” Nyssa said resolutely, “If the Doctor can help, I’m sure he will.”

“I hope so, Nyssa,” Tegan said calmly, “I need to lay a ghost to rest.”

In the TARDIS control room, the Doctor was stooped over the TARDIS console, absorbed in a book he had rested upon the instrumentation there. His hands were rammed deep in the pockets of his long Edwardian cricket blazer, and only his right hand emerged periodically to turn to the next two pages of the factual novel. So absorbed was he in the work, that he did not notice the door to the bowels of the ship click softly open, and Tegan enter the main control room, her mauve airhostess uniform standing proud from the white walls that surrounded him.

Not usually reticent in announcing her presence, in fact one friend had pointed out that she had all the innate subtlety of a mourner taking balloons to a funeral, Tegan raised her hand to her mouth and coughed gently.

“Hmmmm?” the Doctor murmured, clearly still in search of a rare, elusive bloom, “Do you need another gaviscon tablet?”

Tegan’s face flashed a faint shade of crimson, almost as though the material of her dress uniform was reflecting upward on her countenance. Firmly placing her hand on her hip, Tegan reverted to form, “Now look here, Doctor, I’m not Adric!”

The Doctor’s head snapped up, “Tegan!” he exclaimed, his tone almost sounding like a wince. Closing his eyes, the Doctor’s mouth contracted in the fear that Tegan had detected that note to his voice. We’ve not had breakfast yet, please let’s at least get through half a day without a confrontation.

“Tegan!” he said again, this time with a youthful exuberance. Swirling round, his coat tails flaring out behind him, he whipped his half moon glasses from his nose and beamed a wide, open smile at his Australian companion. “Of course you’re not, Adric, no Mathematical Badge of Excellence!”

Tegan’s eyebrows arched, but she knew she could not afford a standoff at this precise moment. Also realising that the Doctor, as ever, was only trying to placate her fiery temperament, Tegan relaxed her posture, and looked earnestly at the youthful figure of the Doctor.

“I need to ask you a favour, Doctor.”

The Doctor crossed over to her, “Indeed?” he said, his voice sounding breathy even though he had walked mere steps. “What ever can I do? Oh no!” he suddenly moaned, “Not Heathrow again?”

Tegan shook her head, “It is London, Doctor, but not Heathrow.” She paused, clearly collecting her thoughts, and thoughts that looked painful. “I’ve been thinking about the Master.”

The Doctor’s expression turned to one of total concern for his young friend, and he rested his palms on her padded shoulders, “The Master’s gone, Tegan. Do you honestly think he could have survived what happened on Catrovalva?”

“Well, it is the Master we’re talking about, Doctor – who knows?” Pulling herself together, Tegan continued, “Well, it’s not so much him, as what he’s done …”

The Doctor had had many faces, and bodies, over the years, but it was in this one that his powers of empathy had fully matured. He instinctively knew what Tegan meant, over and above the personal sacrifice he had made upon their initial meeting. “Aunt Vanessa?” he said, calmly and quietly.

Tegan looked up at him, and nodded once, her eyes moist, but determinedly not shedding a tear.

The Doctor let his arms fall, and briskly announced, “Well, in that case, London it is! Just tell me where.”

Galvanized into action, Tegan began to tell the Doctor everything …

A three wheeled van. A plastic pig! A pregnant beetle! An upturned pram! All the usual insults coursed through Knowles’ mind. What a Mickey Mouse operation!

“Look for something inconspicuous,” he had said, “Chose something that will go unnoticed.” Well, at least the damn thing wasn’t yellow. Knowles closed his eyes, trying to rid himself of the image of the operation looking like some second rate episode of Only Fools and Horses.

Knowles crossed the road and wrenched open the drivers door. The man inside flinched, and killed the engine.

“So, boss, what do you think?”

“A lot more than you do, evidently!” Knowles said, his Dundee accent laced with sarcasm.

“What do you mean?”

“You think that no-one’s going to notice us in this? It sticks out more than a leper in a naturist colony!”

James, the driver, started to laugh, sounding remarkably like Mutley, and then saw that Knowles wasn’t smiling back. He quickly stopped laughing; there were no medals on offer today.

“It was cheap.” James confessed, lamely.

“You don’t say!” Knowles exclaimed, “I’m just surprised they didn’t pay you to take it away. Oh, and please tell me this time you didn’t sign with your real name?”

James looked embarrassed, clearly recalling the time the police had tracked them down through the paper work he had signed. The heist had gone well, but through Crimewatch the car had been identified, and it had only been a matter of time before the police caught up with the blissfully aware robbers.

Obviously, that had been a few years ago, several of them spent at her Majesty’s Pleasure.

Back in the present day, James scowled, “I don’t know why we didn’t just knick a car, torch it afterwards.”

Knowles drew in a deep breath, “You know why. I grew up seeing friends and family have their cars stolen all the time, later to be found gutted, fire-bombed. I am not a common criminal, James. If you want to be, I’m sure the McGregor’s will have you. Only a few of them can actually read, so it wouldn’t even be noticed by them if you signed things John Smith, let alone Freddie James.”

James’s face was ashen, the stories of what the McGregor’s were capable of clear in his mind’s eye. Even now he felt queasy at the sight of blood, his at any rate. “N-no, Chris, I’ll stick with you.”

Knowles quickly sat on his haunches, and pointed a trembling, angry finger in James’ face. “Don’t,” he barked, “You ever call me by my Christian name again, understand? I work with you, it doesn’t mean that I actually have to like you!”

James gulped, but nodded his compliance. He thought back to the time he had actually had a job, a mundane nine to five affair, and recalled someone there who could never quite grasp the fact that being a work colleague did not automatically grant them a passport to being a friend. Everyday they would: arrive (usually late); complain about the traffic (as if anyone cared); start telling them about the problems with their car (as if anyone cared); loudly, and with much profanity (not that swearing actually bothered James, but even he has a threshold) describe a story they had told countless times before, laughing on the in-breath to punctuate when his audience (an audience bound by professionalism into actually listening, on whatever level), should actually laugh. In fact, James realised for the first time, that that annoying individual had been the only person in his entire life he had ever truly hated. He did not want to be thought of in that vain, ever.

“I’m sorry, Knowles, it won’t happen again.”

“Good!” Knowles said, resting his palms on his thighs as he rose once again. “Now, where’s Douglas?”

James looked up, his eyes reacting to the glare of the sun behind Knowles’ silhouette, “He’s on his way, just collecting the you-know-whats.”

Knowles smiled, a thin, humourless smile and rubbed his leather-clad hands together, the creak causing James’ skin to crawl. “Excellent.” Leaning into the car, Knowles cupped James’ chin in one of his cold, gloves right hand and purred, “Let’s just hope he didn’t buy pea-shooters because they were cheap, eh?”

James gulped, loudly, and felt an urgent need to visit the bathroom.

Adric was feeling much better, his Alzarian physiognomy aiding his recovery. Entering the TARDIS console room, he saw the Doctor and Tegan together at the console. Amazed, he noticed that they actually appeared to be co-operating.

His mind quickly brought back memories of when he had first joined the Doctor, or rather stowed away. Initially, he had felt out of place, and had tried to bluff his way through things, but once Romana had left, determined to help the Tharils, the Doctor and he had got on remarkably well. Maybe that’s why he didn’t’ adjust so quickly to the new Doctor, so secure was he in the bond that had developed between him and the Doctor as he had appeared. It had been easier for Nyssa and Tegan, they had barely known the older, more authoritative man Adric had spent many hours talking with in the manner Tegan appeared to be now. Suddenly, Adric felt as though he was the longest serving face in the TARDIS, but this new countenance the Doctor wore was claiming its authority, its dominance. It had taken him awhile, but Adric had grown to accept the more youthful Doctor, had stopped pointing out that the other Doctor would have done things a different way, and he felt more level and secure in himself as a result. He let the Doctor go, just as he had been forced to let his brother go, but it hadn’t been easy, and he sincerely wished that no-one would ever have to let his memory go in a similar fashion.

A sixth, or with him being a Time Lord maybe a sixteenth sense alerted the Doctor to another presence in the Console room, and turning round he saw his young male travelling companion in the doorway. “Adric!” he said, “Just the man!” Turning back to the instruments, he waved his arm behind him beckoningly, “We need some help with the fine tuning.”

“You,” Adric said, incredulity clear in his voice, “Want my help?”

The Doctor paused in showing Tegan the display he was explaining, and straightened up. Facing Adric, he said, “But of course! You’ve always been very good at the details in programming special co-ordinates!”

“Well, I am a Mathematic genius.”

The Doctor quickly clamped a palm across Tegan’s mouth, the expected exhalation smothered and muted before being completely audible. “That’s just what Tegan was about to say, isn’t it, Tegan?”

Able to breath through both nose and mouth again, Tegan took the Doctor’s ‘hint’ and, facing Adric, nodded, “Oh, absolutely. The Doctor’s okay with the large brush strokes, but you’ve always been the one to help with the finer details.” Smiling sweetly, she added under her breath, “Even when no-one wanted you to!”

Darting Tegan a quick, sideways look of reproach, the Doctor ushered Adric to the console. “Now, this is where we need to be,” the Doctor announced, indicating the address Tegan had jotted down on a spiral-bound pad, “This is where we are –“ a finger pointed at a series of numbers – “and this is the route I propose to take.” So saying, the Doctor indented a key, and a small black screen scrolled a sickeningly rapid scroll of digits.

Adric followed the equation with ease, “Well,” he said, slowly, “You’re nearly there.”

The Doctor was about to say, “Nearly?” but caught himself just in time. Tegan noticed, and stifled a giggle. “Really?” the Doctor actually said, “Good, good, now you go and help Tegan with the rest, while I go and see if Nyssa’s ready.”

Ignoring the “oh, thank you very much” expression Tegan was displaying, the Doctor smiled, said he wouldn’t be long and made his way to check on Nyssa.

Douglas had arrived with the weaponry, bringing Thomas in tow. Knowles’ considered the group, as he always did at this moment: James, Douglas and Thomas. James was reliable, if given to displays of immaturity; Douglas was committed, but frequently hot tempered, and Thomas, well, Thomas was Thomas. No one ever had that much to say about Thomas, but he was always there, the results delivered. It was as if his efficiency erased his presence, but Knowles’ saw it, appreciated it… almost, almost depended on it.

They were all in the three-wheeled car, time ticking by slowly, each of them sweating, but none through fear. Apart from the one mistake very early in their career, they were a crack squad. Fifteen of their sixteen armed robberies remained unsolved, and they planned to make it sixteen of seventeen.

“Did she do it, Thomas?” Knowles asked.

From the back seat, the scrunched up Thomas nodded, “Yeah, we gave her enough time to settle in, the usual flirty-flirt routine with the boss. It worked as usual. Don’t worry, the cameras will be off.”

Knowles gave a quick laugh, “It’s a good job you’re not the jealous type, you know, the stuff we get Marie to do.”

Douglas nodded, his eyes hard, “Yeah, if ever I found out that Helen was doing half the stuff your Marie does, I’d –“

Knowles’ raised his gloved right hand, and Douglas fell silent, his eyes on the cigarette burned floor mats.

“Sorry, Knowles.”

Knowles dismissed the apology, and indeed the original statement. It was irrelevant to this job. The important fact was that Marie, as always had wormed her way into the bank well enough to gain the boss’ trust, and had access to all the CCTV tapes and equipment. All that was needed was a text message two minutes before they were due to storm the bank, and the surveillance would be cut, their anonymity assured as they burst in, faces obscured by both tights and balaclavas, guns in hand, boots kicking in doors, or pushing over those stupid, or stunned, enough to still be standing.

“Everybody, get down now!” Knowles smiled his idiosyncratic smile as the phrase echoed in his head, and he gently let his leathered fingers entwine. That was the moment of pure adrenalin: the plan coming to fruition, the preparation, and the anticipation, over. It was here, it was now. He was in control. He dictated what happened to everyone in that room. It was his stage, and all the players strutted and fretted to his vision of the world.

His eyes closed, he reclined in the passenger seat. Almost purring, he ordered James to start the car and drive. James turned the key in the ignition, checked the mirror, indicated and pulled away – careful to avoid looking at Knowles. The Boss always scared him when he started caressing his own fingers.

The Doctor gently rapped on the door of Nyssa and Tegan’s bedroom.

“Come in.”

The Doctor eased the door open, and sidled inside. “Ah, Nyssa,” he said, “We’re about to land. Tegan – “

Nyssa, sat on the edge of Tegan’s bed, titled her head slightly, her curled hair still holding her Traken tiara firmly in place. “Tegan has to bury her relative?”

The Doctor nodded, “In a way, yes.”

Nyssa rose, brushing the layers of her dress down automatically. “Then we should be there together, her new family.”

The Doctor’s eyes betrayed his thoughts, even though his honesty still insisted on verbalising them, “I wish there was a way I could help with your family, Nyssa.”

Nyssa smiled, “But you do, Doctor. You live. You carry on. You will find a way to defeat the man who killed my father one day, and I hope to be there – with Adric and Tegan. Then we can all finally be free of his evil.”

The Doctor wanted to say so much. He wanted to express how much he valued Nyssa’s calming, direct outlook on their situation. Instead, he simply said, “We can only hope so!” before turning on the heels of his white trainers and commencing the walk back to the TARDIS console room. Nyssa took her stage direction, and followed.

The Robin Reliant made its way through the traffic, Knowles still gently massaging his own fingers, his eyelids closed.

James slammed his foot down on the accelerator, and as the car jolted, Knowles was jerked from his reverie of power. Knowles instinctively looked for any obstacle that James had been attempting to avoid. Realising that James had swerved the car deliberately to rouse him, Knowles’ eye became icy.

James realised he had transgressed the line in his humour. As the leather glove was peeled off, each finger eased from the garment by Knowles’ teeth, James felt the cold grip of unpleasant anticipation assail him. It was only when the stinging whip of the same glove left a welt on his face that James finally understood just how much the Boss wanted his “happy time”, and returned to driving safely.

In the back seat, both having flinched at the slap, Thomas and Duncan were preparing their tights and balaclavas. Once they had donned them, they gave each other the once over, and nodded. They were ready.

Passing two similar bundles over to Knowles, Thomas and Duncan relaxed as much as they possibly could in the confines of this particular car, and sat back, slowly stroking their guns.

The TARDIS console room was crowded – all the occupants were there. Adric was confident that he had worked out the route to within a matter of metres, but was unaware that as the Doctor checked the findings he made a few slight alterations.

“Well done, Adric! That seems to be absolutely splendid!”

Tegan was still to be convinced, “Let’s reserve judgement till we get there, shall we?”

Nyssa, ever the placater, said, “Now, Tegan, where’s your faith?”

“Somewhere to the left of a certain TSS Machine, if you must know.”

Adric was about to defend himself, when the Doctor interceded, “Now, now Tegan let’s let sleeping dogs lay shall we? Let’s not forget Adric wasn’t the only one to lose control on Deva Loca.”

“At least I wasn’t myself, I was possessed.”

Adric gave a derisory snort through his nose, “Typical woman, the Mara obviously saw a weak mind.”

The Doctor rushed between Tegan and Adric, his arms wide, a referee calling a halt to round one. “Please, can we have no more of this? I know we have all been roughly thrown together, but I thought by now we’d outgrown these petty little outbursts.”

Tegan and Adric looked suitably shamefaced, and mutually apologised.

“That’s better!” the Doctor said, his voice carrying the faintest trace of a sigh. “Now, Nyssa, can you check to see how we are progressing?”

Nyssa was near the console anyway, so a simple glance down allowed her to report that everything seemed to be in order.

“Wonderful. So, Tegan,” the Doctor said, fully addressing the young Australian. “Are you ready for this?”

Tegan nodded, “Ready as I’ll ever be, Doctor.”

Adric was intrigued, “Ready for what? What are we here for?”

The look in Tegan’s eyes clearly showed that she wasn’t quite ready to explain it, but it would be perfectly acceptable for the Doctor to tell them on her behalf. “We’re here to ensure that the estate of Tegan’s Aunt Vanessa is in order.”

Adric looked solemn, while Nyssa’s face conveyed her empathy. In a move that surprised everyone, it was Adric that spoke first. “No wonder you’ve been a bit sharp, I’m sorry Tegan.”

Tegan shrugged, “When am I not sharp?”

Adric smiled, and crossed to give Tegan a hug, “Usually when you’re asleep.” There was no malice in his voice at all, and Tegan warmly reciprocated Adric’s embrace, “I just wish I could so something similar for Varsh.”

Tegan gently pulled the hold apart, and saw a real level of maturity in Adric’s eyes, “I know you do, Adric.”

The raw emotion was obviously affecting Nyssa, for in a rare display of spontaneous emotion, she declared, “At least they are dead. At least they can rest. My father cannot. He is trapped, forever dying, giving the Master continued life.”

Within seconds, the three young companions were hugging each other tightly. Looking on, the Doctor smiled. The nursery was progressing to senior school, totally by passing the junior stage.

Why couldn’t he do this from home, or even work? All it would have taken was a quick phone call, but of course it was never as straightforward as that, was it? All he wanted to do was check to see whether his ex-wife had sent that money she had promised for Charlie’s birthday present, but you had to go in person to find out. He had never really considered how inconvenient this was until his Internet connection had gone awry. He usually sorted his finances out on line – and just his luck he lived in the one area where the nearest internet café was further away than the bank in question. So, on a particularly hectic Thursday, Trevor Simpson was spending all sixty minutes of his lunch break to discern something that should really have taken seconds to find out.

Or so he thought.

It was a hot day, and the sun was at its apex as Trevor struggled through the constant stream of human traffic. After his seventh refusal to part with a pound for a copy of the Big Issue (“Two free staples with every copy!”), he felt the collar of his shirt start to adhere to his neck, and he roughly loosened his plain blue tie.

Plain? That was another word for boring, wasn’t it? And that’s what he was, at least according to Andrea, Charlie’s mother, and his ex-wife.

“Stop berating yourself,” Trevor uttered aloud, alarming an elderly woman at shoulder height, “Remember what the councillor said, ‘You’re not boring, just not suitable for her’.” Trevor laughed, and the old woman visibly wanted to be somewhere else, “Say it enough times and you may actually begin to believe it.”

He walked on, leaving the old woman behind, much to her evident relief. As the booted and suited figure of Trevor Simpson continued on its way, the old woman shook her head emphatically, “You can dress it up, but I still say Care in the Community was a terrible idea!” Shuddering, Edna elected to buy a lucky dip for the lotto. She felt lucky.

The Robin Reliant was parked up, the engine silent, in a side street. A few people spotted it as they crossed the road, and some actually nudged the friends they were with, pointing to the car and chuckling. Jason wished they would stop. For everyone that laughed, he received a hard, leather clad jab in his shoulder.

“Ow!” he complained as a young skater boy nearly failed to complete his leap of the pavement safely at seeing the three-wheeled car. “I said I’m sorry, didn’t I?”

“Sorry is a word, you need to feel your sorrow physically.”

Jason’s eyes momentarily betrayed his fear that Knowles was a few stalks short of Ker-Plunk, but her recovered quickly. “Yes, well my shoulder is certainly feeling it, Boss.”


Neither Knowles or Jason had slipped into their facial disguises, they didn’t want to attract any further attention. Knowles smiled slyly, well not yet anyway.

The sun was bright enough in the sky to cast shadows that obscured the back passenger seat, so Thomas and Duncan remained silent, inert, bar for their obsession with stroking their guns.

“Boss?” It was James.


“Why are we doing this job now? We normally hit them as they’re closing. More vulnerable, you always said.”

“That’s true. The human body is tired and drained by the close of business, fatigue has set it and reactions are slowly, the reflexes lazy.”

“The ‘human’ body?”

“Just a figure of speech, James, just a figure of speech.”

“Yeah, well whatever it is, it hasn’t answered my question.”

“You’re question?” Knowles was clearly struggling to remember something he had dismissed as irrelevant, “Oh that!” he exclaimed at long last, ”We are here at this time because we are doing something different.”


“Yes, this time we will court publicity, not evade it.”

Jason beamed, “So the three wheeler was a good idea!”

Knowles jabbed Jason’s shoulder again, harder than ever.


From the back seat, Thomas asked, “So why did we have to do the usual cloak and dagger with the CCTV?”

Knowles laughed, “Old habits die hard, that’s all. Well, not completely all.”

“What do you mean?”

“The bank manager is an old flame of Marie’s. She wanted an excuse to rekindle that flame. Could there be a better one than this, helping your husband in his job?”

“What the -!” Thomas cried, for once refusing to play the silent part. “You twisted, evil …” he broke off, the one question he dared not even think about suddenly coming from his mouth, “Did they?”

Knowles’ shrugged, “How should I know? Mind you, if not he’s a fool.”

Thomas frowned, “What do you mean?”

“Well, let’s just say I’ve always found her very accommodating in our private planning meetings.”

“No, no, no!” Thomas exclaimed, his voice cracking with emotion, “You’re making this up, you’re just trying to psyche me up to go in there, angry, not caring about anyone in there.”

Knowles simply shrugged once again, “Oh, am I? Just ask yourself why you are here, though, when you actually contribute so little yourself. Why else would I consider you indispensable? And you know how much I hate having to rely on anyone else.”

“You’re just fuelling me, I know you are, I know you are ….”

Knowles didn’t say anything, but closed his eyes and let his head tilt back on the rest. Sharply, he felt his head pulled back by his hair, and his eyes snapped open. Before he could open his mouth to say anything, Thomas hissed in his ear, “You’d better be just gearing me up for this job, Knowles, because if you’re not it’s the last job you’ll ever do… with legs.”

For the first time he could recall, James saw a look a fear in Knowles eyes, and he smiled in his minds eye. Thomas getting Bolshy, eh. It was true what they said – it was always the quiet ones.

The TARDIS had landed in a small city centre park, one of those vain attempts to break the monotony of the urban greys of commerce. The time machine had seemingly done the Doctor proud, it arrived unnoticed, and apart from a few disturbed leaves any passers by would simply accept it as always having been there. Failing that, they would have thought it was some new modern art exhibit, rolled their eyes, and carried about on their own business.

Inside the craft, Tegan, Nyssa, Adric and the Doctor watched as the scanner screen retracted upwards, affording them a view of the world outside.

“Well?” the Doctor asked, “Is this where were supposed to be?”

Tegan’s eyes scanned the images, and nodded, slowly at first but then with growing enthusiasm. “Bravo, Doctor - Adric” she added, catching the young Alzarian’s face fall slightly, “ I think you’ve done it.”

Adric was about to say, “Well it was all perfectly simple really, just a matter of relating the equations given and adjusting them to the reference point you provided” but he didn’t. He simply said, “I’m pleased for you, Tegan.”

“As are we all, eh, Doctor.”

“Hmmm? Oh yes, of course, Nyssa, we’re all delighted for you. Shame the accuracy is for such an occasion, mind.”

Tegan smiled, “Don’t get too carried away though. This could be one of the two times a day you can tell the time.”

The Doctor frowned, and then remembered Tegan’s accusation that he was like a broken clock when he had tried to take her back to Heathrow. “Yes.” He said, keeping his meaning vague.

“Well?” Nyssa inquired, politely bringing them all back to the matter in hand.

The Doctor inhaled deeply, “Yes, no time like the past, eh?” So saying he used the large, red knobbed lever to start the outer doors opening, grabbed his hat from the coat stand and strode briskly and purposefully out into the bright, sunny day.

No one noticed the Doctor’s quick glance at a display, and the brief frown that followed.

A few seconds after his departure, the Doctor’s three companions followed him, Adric activating the lever again to close the doors after they had left.

In the ‘park’, the TARDIS crew surveyed their surroundings. It looked right, it felt right. Despite the reasons for them being there, Tegan felt elated. Then she noticed that the Doctor’s honesty was causing his brow to furrow.

“Doctor, what is it? There’s something wrong, isn’t there?”

“Well, I wouldn’t actually say, ‘wrong’ as such, I mean we can still do what we came here to do –“

At that moment, a teenage boy dressed in baggy, ill fitting clothes sauntered past, and a piercing electronic warble emanated from his jeans pocket. Without consciously thinking about it, the boy extracted a small, rectangular device from his pocket and pressed a button on a keypad there. “Jules!” he announced excitedly, “Whatssssuup?”

As the youth ambled on his way, his laces trailing behind him like a poor man’s version of the twine used to navigate the Minotaur’s lair, Tegan was speechless. Well, momentarily.

“Doctor, what was –?”

“A mobile phone, Tegan. Impossible in your time, I know, I’m sorry. We’re not where were supposed to be temporally, I did try, but you know what that TARDIS is like.” The Doctor closed his eyes, awaiting the inevitable explosion, one that would carry a half-life of fifty years. It never came. Cautiously, he opened one eye, and he saw Tegan shaking her head slowly, but clearly amused. Amused? The Doctor was very scared now.

“I knew it was too good to be true!” was all she actually said, much to everyone’s surprise.

Nyssa was intrigued, “So what went wrong? Did Adric get the co-ordinates wrong?”

Adric was quick on the defensive, “All of my calculations were correct.” Suddenly assuaged by doubt, he added, “Weren’t they, Doctor?”

The Doctor took his hat from his head, and carefully rolled it up before placing it in his pocket. “Yes, they were, Adric. It’s my fault.”

Nyssa was incredulous, “You’re fault? How?”

“I thought I saw an error in Adric’s logic progression. So I amended it. I mistook a “zero” for an “O”, it’s easily done.”

“But that was the crux of the flow, Doctor!” Adric proclaimed, “That was the temporal drift compensator!”

“I know, I know. I’m sorry! Tegan, I really am sorry, I only did it with the best of intentions.”

“You always, do, Doctor. That’s your problem.”

“So you’re not … mad?”

“Am I shouting, ‘rabbits’?”

“Well, no…”

“It’s strange, I actually feel this is better. Her estate is still there, we can still make sure it’s ok … but somehow being this far away from the event is easing it in my mind.”

“But Tegan, time is relative.” Adric pointed out.

“To you and Nyssa, possibly, to the Doctor certainly. But I’m only human. I still think in terms of seconds, minutes and hours. I know it’s a placebo, this, I suppose artificial bridge, but it’s helping me.”

The Doctor smiled widely, “And that, after all, is all that matters!”

Nyssa sidled over to Tegan, “Are you sure you’re alright? You’re not just saying it to prevent hurting their feelings?”

Tegan laughed, her Australian twang more evident than usual, “How long have you known me, Nyssa?”

Nyssa smiled, “True. Well, I’m truly glad you’re not upset.”

Tegan paused, unsure whether to say what was on her mind, in her heart. She elected to brave it. “And I, “ she said, “Am truly happy to have my friends, my new family, here with me to do this.”

James rolled up the sleeve of his T-shirt, wincing at the bruises that were already forming there. He’d worked with Knowles for years, and yet sat in this car, he had learned more in the span of minutes than he had years – and he did not like what he was discovering.

James was a simple soul, just trying to make ends meet beyond the confined of his giro. He knew he had over stepped the boundaries of accepted morality a number of times on these jobs, and he was not proud of it, but it was simply a means to an end.

Eric Matthews, 38, father of two was shot dead in an armed raid this afternoon.

In a callous act, Melanie Brown, 26, was shot in the head as she handed the cash bags over to the robbers

Police have said that there was no need for the shooting, the robbery was over. However, the friends and family of Mark Sheard will take cold comfort from those words tonight

A brutal jab to his exposed shoulder brought James to the here and now. Quickly rolling the sleeve down, as if it made any difference, James turned to face Knowles.

“Ten minutes.”


Knowles leaned forward and curled his gloved fingers on the dashboard, the sound of creaking leather loud within the confines of the car. “We go in ten minutes!”

Trevor Simpson checked his watch again. He had moved two feet in twelve minutes. He gently tilted his left shoe and rubbed it against his right calf, attempting to relieve the pins and needles that his bad circulation was causing. It only made him wince. He checked his watch again. Thirteen minutes. At this rate he would have to leave soon, go back to work, the job unfinished. With the casual disinterest of someone noticing a bad chip in their polystyrene tray, Trevor noticed four bizarrely dressed people enter the bank. They didn’t concern him. Charlie’s expectant face in three days time concerned him. The look of disappointment that there was, once again, no present from his mother … the mother he continued to miss … the mother, the ex-wife, Trevor bitterly hated but would never allow his son, his precious son, to hear a bad word about. It was the marriage that had failed, not their one night of union. However boring his wife though he was, Charlie adored him, and Trevor lived for his son. Seventeen minutes. Why on Earth didn’t banks put more people on during the dinnertime rush?

Chris ran down the street, crumbling tarmac occasionally threatening to make him fall head first, but his footfall was assured. He was running to his friend’s house, his face ruptured in glee. He had spent his mother’s last bit of housekeeping on a packet of football stickers, and he had found the one sticker – the one sticker – that his friend needed to complete his set.

His friend, John, was obsessed with this series of stickers. He had bought the album from the newsagent as soon as his pocket money allowed, and gradually the book had been filled. Well, nearly. Even while running, Chris laughed. John had even gone without his school dinners to ensure he got a packet of stickers a day. Chris ran faster, delirious, and school fed. He had the sticker. He had it …

Panting, the eight-year barged through the green pained thigh high to an adult gate and pelted up the drive. Banging his fists against the front door of the Wraggs’ front door, Chris waited for John’s mother to open it.

The front room window’s curtains twitched, and after a few minutes Carole Wragg opened the door, cigarette, as always, clamped between her teeth.

“Oh, it’s you. He’s upstairs.”

“Thank you, Mrs Wragg.” Chris gasped, and started to cross the threshold when a forty-a-day cough stopped him in his tracks.

She didn’t say anything, but then again she didn’t need to. She slowly, and deliberately extracted the cigarette from her mouth and pointed the lit end toward the ground.

Chris understood immediately, and sat on the bottom stair of the stairwell. Crossing one leg over the other, and then the other one over the other one, he wrenched his shoes off and handed them to John’s mother. Taking them from him as though they were radioactive, Mrs Wragg tilted her head upstairs and placed Chris’ shoes as near to the doorway as possible. Grunting, she went back to the living room to ignore her husband.

Chris pell-mell padded up the stairs, almost throwing John’s bedroom doors of its hinges. His lungs tired, his forehead glistening with perspiration, Chris stood in the doorway, grinning inanely.

John had been crouched down, putting vinyl on his record player when the explosive entrance of his friend made him start, and drop a 7”.

“Chris,” John said, clearly shocked, but evidently happy to see his friend.

“I’ve got it, John. I’ve got what you want.”

John was clearly bemused. “What do you mean?”

“I have….” Chris paused, and reached into the back pocket of his denim shorts, “This.” He held aloft the sticker, John’s treasured sticker. Chris felt his body temperature rise as he saw the look of need in John’s eyes. The moment lasted forever, and Chris loved every moment of it. He had what John wanted and he knew how desperately John wanted it.

“Chris, t-that’s –“

“Oh, I know,” Chris said closing the door. All ideas of nature or nurture collided, argued and agreed to disagree. Chris took his father’s lighter from his other back pocket, but held it behind his back. “How much do you want this?”

“Chris, you know….”

“It will complete your collection?”

“Yes! You know that I need that one!”

“How much do you want it?”

“I don’t get you?”

Chris laughed. It was a quiet laugh, but it made John’s blood run cold.

“You have to beg me not to burn you.” So saying, Chris publicly introduced the Zippo lighter into the room, and John started to cry.

In the Robin Reliant, Knowles was rubbing his fingers together frantically. Oh, he had given in then. The tears had broken through. They wouldn’t now. They hadn’t since that night. John had got off lightly, his sticker album complete due to John wetting himself as the flame neared his face. He had been pathetic that night – and by “he” Knowles meant himself.

Trevor Simpson stared at his reflection in the mirror. He was bored with checking his watch. He wasn’t aging too badly, he should be able to find another girlfriend, partner … he shuddered as the next word passed through his mind … wife. He had gone on a number of dates recently, but none had progressed any further. A couple of the women he had oh so originally taken to a restaurant had been very strange indeed. They would look up at his face and then avoid his gaze, their shoulders struggling to contain their undisclosed amusement before focusing on the pasta in front of them. Confused, he had run his fingers through his hair, a habit stemming back from childhood, and for some reason that set them off even more. Ah well, Trevor sighed, it was their loss.

In the Bank Foyer, the Doctor’s party were ensuring that Tegan was ready to go through with what they had come for.

“I’m fine, Doctor, absolutely fine. I’ll join the queue, you three wait there,” Tegan indicated a sectioned off area lined with chair sand tables, a few children’s toys also in evidence, “It’s time I said goodbye.”

Nyssa shook her head, “I’m coming in with you, Tegan.”

Secretly, Tegan had been hoping that Nyssa would volunteer to come with her. “Are you sure, Nyssa?”

Nyssa was resolute, “Absolutely. Sisters, remember?”

Tegan smiled, and she and Nyssa moved off to join the queue. Adric and the Doctor went across to the waiting area, and sat down. It did not take long before Adric was bored. The Doctor sensed this instantly, and suddenly feeling rather playful, winked at his young companion. “Go on, I won’t say anything.”

Adric frowned, “What do you mean?”

“Let’s build the highest tower we can with those building blocks.”

“But that’s childish.”

The Doctor’s face showed his disappointment, “Is it? So what? It’s also fun.”

“If you say so, Doctor.”

Looking like an overgrown child in a romper suit, Adric went over to the box of children’s building blocks and dragged it to where he and the Doctor were sitting. Both squatting in front of the low table, the Doctor upturned the box and the blocks tumbled onto the floor, a riot of noise ensuing.

Adric remembered the last time he had been in a similar situation, playing with toys. He recalled how scared he had been as Hindle had held the cardboard person in his shaking hands, crying, “You can’t mend people!”


“It’s nothing, Doctor, just remembering something I’d rather forget.”

“The best way to forget bad memories is to divert the mind, Adric.”


The Doctor smiled, “Not really, but it’s more fun.” So saying, the Time Lord placed a cube with the letter “B” on every face on top of a cube proclaiming its allegiance to “G”.

Shrugging, Adric joined in, his contribution “E”.

The text message had been sent as scheduled, and Knowles was now cracking his knuckles. The sound of dislocating bone and creaking leather caused the other three to wince involuntarily.

“Right, pass the disguises.” Knowles commanded, and once the bundles had been handed forward, he and James slipped fist the tights, and then the balaclavas over their heads.

“Are you ready, Boss?” James asked, his voice muffled, but still clearly carrying the sound of causing adrenalin.

Knowles grunted. James was about to unfasten his seat belt and reach under his seat for his gun, when he felt Knowles right hand clamp his shoulder, tightly.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“To the bank.”

“I don’t fancy walking.”

“What do you mean?”

“I told you this time was different. Drive.”


“Drive the car into the bank.”

“But –“

Knowles’ shallow reserves of patience snapped, and he yelled, “Just drive the damn car into the bank, James. NOW!”

Although scared of the possibilities of self-injury, James was more terrified of Knowles. Muttering a simple, “Yes, Boss.” James turned the key in the ignition, and pressed his foot down on the accelerator.

The car pulled away from the kerb, driving toward the bank across the road.

“Faster, you moron! FASTER!”

James swallowed hard, hurting his dry throat in the process, but blindly obeyed. He laughed inwardly, blind was the word. As the car gathered momentum and sped toward the bank’s glass and concrete frontage, after ensuring there were no pedestrians in the immediate path he was taking, Jason flattened the accelerator to the floor and closed his eyes.

In the queue, Nyssa had turned to look back at the Doctor and Adric. The Doctor never ceased to amaze her. There he was, one of the most intelligent people the universe had ever produced, sat playing with a child’s toy. Adric as well! Gifted beyond measure, and still joining in. Nyssa felt a warm glow. That was the sign of real friendship, when you didn’t even think twice about doing something others may consider trivial or facile. If the friends didn’t care, why should anyone else? She gently nudged Tegan with her elbow, but a sight she could scarcely believe she was witnessing had arrested Tegan’s attention. The man had paint on his head. Three quarters of the way along the queue was a man with … paint on his head, or a dye of some kind.

Nyssa caught the incredulous stare on Tegan’s face, and followed her gaze. “Tegan,” she whispered, “Has he –“

Tegan nodded, but her eyes remained fixed … transfixed by the vision before her. The man was clearly bald, or at best down to a fine layer of stubble like follicles, but his actual head was black. Well, to be more precise, a shade of bluebottle black.

“Why doesn’t he just -?”

Tegan raised a palm to Nyssa’s mouth, for once the tactful one. “Men rarely do admit to going bald, Nyssa. But all the same, doesn’t he realise how ridiculous that looks?”

All further conversation was prevented by the alarming and unexpected din of a car crashing through the bank’s automatic doors before they even had time to open, and the screams of customers as they blindly threw themselves to the ground in a vain attempt to protect themselves from the shards of glass and other assorted debris that now filled the foyer.

Tegan was not one of them. Instinctively, she had thrown her mind into the routine of thinking like an airhostess when the plane was in danger. Even though visibility was limited, she knew the way to the cashiers’ windows having stared so intently in that direction only seconds (minutes?) before.

She heard the sound of car doors opening, and blotting out the sound of voices shouting orders behind her …

“Everybody get down NOW!”

… she managed to get to the counter unnoticed by whoever was now in the bank, and furtively got the attention of a panic stricken cashier. She gestured under the counter, and the startled brunette took the hint immediately. Under the general mêlée, she was able to press the panic button without anyone noticing. The girl, Susan Harris according to her name badge, pointed to the staff door nearby. Tegan smiled, and as the Susan unlocked the door, Tegan started to open it slowly, carefully … then the training wore off and she remembered Nyssa.

In the main body of the bank, Nyssa came round, the smell and taste of concrete cloying her senses. Recovering quickly, she carefully looked around for her friends. There was no sign of the Doctor and Adric, but she caught sight of Tegan barely feet away, calling her over.

“I said everybody GET DOWN!”

How could she get to Tegan? She needed a diversion. It came from a source near the front of the bank. A woman screamed, and her terrorised cry was punctuated by the sound of a single gunshot being fired. As several people joined in the screaming, Nyssa seized her opportunity. Keeping low, she crawled the short distance to the door Tegan was holding open. Whiplash like, the noise of some sort of projectile zipped past mere inches above her head, and she heard a voice shout, “Leave her … for now” as she reached the door, and she joined Tegan in the area behind the counter.

They were safe. Shaking slight, Nyssa heard two words rebound in her mind: “For now.”

Looking at Tegan, Nyssa voiced the thought they both shared in the aftermath of their immediate escape, “Adric and the Doctor!”

Knowles strode from the area of the car, the sound of breaking glass punctuating every step. His two colleagues flanked him, and calmly they made their way to the counter, stepping over dozens of dazed and bewildered people.

Behind the car, Adric and the Doctor watched the gunmen cross the room. They had been protected from the impact and resultant rain of shattered building material by the chairs in the waiting room. The Doctor had seen the car approach the bank, and had thrown his arm around Adric, dragging them both under a large settee. They had remained still throughout the initial barked orders, fearful of discovery, flinching at the sound of gunfire. As it became clear that the new arrivals were walking a way from their location, the Doctor had tapped Adric on the shoulder and they had tentatively raised their heads to allow eye line sight of the room.

Whispering, Adric asked, “Can you see them, Doctor?”

The Doctor shook his head.

“Well, well, what do we have here?”

As one, the Doctor and Adric turned to face the owner of the voice … a masked figure stood nearby resting a gun across his forearm, pointing it directly at them.

“ Doctor, he’s got – “

“A gun, yes, Adric I know. They’ve already fired twice, don’t forget.”

“But they look so primitive.”

“Believe me Adric, weaponry doesn’t have to be sophisticated to kill.”

The gunman gestured with his gun for the Doctor and Adric to join the main body of the bank. As the two rose from their protective cover, both with their arms raised in surrender, the sound a cracking glass could be heard again. Knowles had heard the exchange between Adric and the Doctor, and was intrigued.

“Primitive?” he said, the intonation still clear through the masks he wore.

The Doctor tried to bluff his way out of the situation, “Just a turn of phrase, you know, nothing meant by it.”

“It’s not just the word, it was the tone. It was said too calmly, you are not scared. Why?”

“A strong constitution?” the Doctor suggested hopefully.

Knowles was not convinced. “No, there’s something else. This kind of situation is not new to you. Either of you.”

Adric was nodding, “Not at all, we’ve been – ouch!”
The sentence cut off by the Doctor’s quick kick to his shin, Knowles rubbed his chin with his gloved hand. “You, interest me. I don’t know why, maybe it’s the lack of fear. I like to see fear, I’m intrigued to see what it would take to make you scared.”

John was crying, but a hand was preventing the sobs from being heard elsewhere in the house. Chris inched the lighter nearer and nearer to his friend’s cheek, a yellow glow already shining on his skin. The smell of ammonia halted the hand, and looking down Chris could see a dark patch spreading through John’s second hand trousers. Shoving his hand firmly into his friends face, he left the bedroom as John fell backwards, tears streaming down his face.

Chris paused, and hurled the sticker onto the floor, “Here, it’s yours.”

With that, he left the house, and he never spoke to John again.

“Tie them up.” Knowles ordered Thomas, “They could be trouble.”

At the counter, Douglas and James had ordered the panic-stricken bank workers to start filling cash bags. Following procedure, they complied, trembling fingers pillow stuffing them with notes of all denomination.

Under the counter, completely out of sight, Nyssa and Tegan were holding each other for comfort.

“Hurry up!” Douglas demanded, and the cashiers speeded up their activity. It was only when they tried sliding the bags back to the robbers that they realised they had over filled them. If there’s something worse than a guns expert, it such a person with a short fuse. If it was possible to have anything worse than that, it was a gun expert with a short fuse under pressure.

“All of you, GET DOWN!” he bellowed, and pointed his sawn off shotgun at the weakest point of the glass partition.

Trevor was face down on the floor, his hands behind his head. All of this could have been avoided, he realised, had been able to make that simple phone call.

Boring! A voice in his mind said. You’re being boring again. In the middle of a bank raid, you’re thinking about the mundane again, the trivial.

Another voice announced its presence in his thoughts. Not any more! It said, Trevor was shocked to discover he was actually about to stand up.

Just about to pull the trigger, Douglas was alarmed to find his centre of gravity spin on its axis. He felt arms surround him, and furious to be halted in his work, he followed through on the trigger. A loud explosion filled the bank, many screamed, but only one howled. His thigh shattered, Trevor fell to the ground, a pillow of his spilled blood vainly cushioning his collapse. He hardly noticed though, unconscious claiming him, taking him mentally from the scene.
Physically, however, he was still there, and in need of urgent attention.

The gunshot had halted Thomas in his binding operation, basic human reaction to unexpected loud noises breaking his concentration. Then the moment passed. People got shot all the time in this line of work. Turning back to his task, he was alarmed to see he only had once captive left to constrain.

“Let me help him!” The voice was strong and authoritative, completely at variance with the young, almost fey looking man who said it.

Under the counter, Tegan recognised the voice. “Doctor!” she cried out, and then immediately regretted it. Nyssa closed her eyes, hoping against hope no one had heard her friend.

Of course they had, but it was the Doctor’s reaction to the cry that paved the way for what was to follow that day. So caught up was he in wishing to help the fallen man, he had been caught off guard when Tegan called his name. He flinched, and Knowles saw him do it.

“So, you have a friend here, err, ‘Doctor’?”

He was tempted to attempt a denial, but he knew it would be fruitless, and anyway, his main concern at that moment was staunching the flow of blood from that man’s wound.

“Yes, a very good friend. I wouldn’t recommend harming her.”

“Oh really? And why not.”

“Because there’s more to me than meets the eye.” The Doctor said calmly.

Knowles laughed, “I’m seeing the proof of that with every passing second. Never the less, while I won’t harm her, for now, I want to see her. She may prove useful.”

“Can I tend to this man?”

“Well, being a ‘doctor’, Doctor, you would seem to be the most qualified person here, but NOT before your friend comes forward.”

The Doctor looked agonised, torn between helping the shot man, and protecting Tegan from this clearly unbalanced gunman. When Trevor, still unconscious, emitted a deep, choking sod, the decision was made for him.

Tegan made to stand up, the man’s cry compelling her to give herself up, but Nyssa tried to pull her back down. Waving her assistance away, both with a hand and a scared, yet friendly stare, Tegan stood up fully, and announced, “I’m the Doctor’s friend.”

The Doctor flashed her a glance that conveyed both regret that this exposure had been necessary, but also enormous pride in her actions. Tegan shrugged, non-verbally saying, “Did I really have a choice?”

Before she could leave the more secure, supposedly bulletproof environment behind the counter, Douglas did something brave – he took the lead.

“Load that trolley!” he ordered Tegan, “Put the money on it and bring it with you.”

Knowles turned on Douglas, “In future, remember who is in charge here. Never the less, you will do as he said. Pile the cash bags on the trolley, and bring it with you.”

As Tegan transferred the weighty, cash filled sacks to the trolley, the Doctor was painfully aware of the time ticking by, and the blood trickling from the gunshot victim on the floor. “Hurry up, Tegan” he whispered under his breath – or so he thought. Knowles had heard him.

“You really do care about him, don’t you?” he sneered.

“It’s life, a life that I could be attempting to ease, or even save, while you parade your insignificant authority around this building.”

Knowles’ finger instinctively squeezed the trigger on his gun, and Douglas prepared himself for the shot to be fired, the bullet to fly and this idiotic, foolhardy … and yet brave, the bravest man Douglas had known as no-one stood up to Knowles … fall to the ground, coming to rest on top of the person he had been so concerned about.

The shot never came.

Knowles was laughing. “You really do not fear me at all, do you?”

The Doctor’s lack of reaction spoke volumes.

“Very well, tend to him. However,” he paused, “Thomas – bring his other friend here. I want to ensure co-operation.”

Thomas half led, half pushed Adric to where Knowles stood. “Right boy,” Knowles said, “Face away from me.”

Adric complied, and turned his back to Knowles. The gunman grabbed Adric’s shoulders, and the young man saw the barrel of Knowles gun at the side of his head. As Knowles applied pressure to his shoulders, Adric sank to his knees, wincing in pain.

“There’s no need to hurt him!” The Doctor said, sharply.

“Doctor, I decide what is necessary here, and don’t you forget it!” So saying, he roughly rammed the barrel of his gun squarely in the back of Adric’s head. “If your friend in there tries anything, your friend here will die. Understand?”

“I don’t doubt it for a second. So can I now, finally, help this man?”

Knowles gave his assent by jabbing his gun, causing Adric to gasp.

“I take that as yes. Hmmm?”

The Doctor did not wait for confirmation, but knelt to deal with Trevor’s wound as best he could. As Tegan continued to stack the money on the wire framed trolley, it did not take the Doctor long to realise this injury was well beyond rudimentary first aid. He had hoped the wound looked worse that it was, but it was clearly worse than it looked. He should have realised with the speed he had lost consciousness. His body had gone into shock. If he wasn’t transferred to hospital soon, there was a very strong possibility he would die.

The Doctor knew there was no chance of appealing to the gang leader’s better nature, as he evidently didn’t have one. Why did he love humans so much, when their gene pool was capable of producing such twisted, callous individuals as this gun wielding man? For a moment, the Doctor tried to convince himself it may not have been his fault, that events had shaped him this way. Maybe they had, but there must come a point when the individual concerned takes some responsibility for what that have become … and that’s what the Doctor sensed, and feared, most in this man: a lack of responsibility to anyone but himself. Her was evidently self-obsessed.

This could very, very dangerous.

The Doctor’s was brought back from his reverie by the sound of metal clunking against wood, and the squeak of badly oiled wheels. As he tended to the gun shot victim as best he could, Tegan pulled the cash-bag laden trolley through into the main bank area, over toward Douglas. Even while binding the wound, the Doctor never lost sight of Tegan. That had been a brave move, surrendering herself like that. Even though his reaction had been spotted, the Doctor had been tempted to carry on the bluff, but thinking logically that might only have led to one of the gang going behind the counter and discovering Nyssa … among the pinstripes, her clothing would have intimated she was with him and all four would now be in jeopardy. They all were, he knew, but at least Nyssa was out of immediate harms way.

Adric and Tegan, however, were a different matter entirely.

Douglas was about to order Tegan back to collect more money, when Knowles shook his head. “That’s enough.”

Douglas was dumbfounded. “Enough? That’s only the spare change, Boss. There’s the safe, the vault.”

It was for James that realisation dawned first, and it made him careless, “Knowles, this isn’t it, is it?”

Furious at having his identity revealed, Knowles forgot all about Adric and rounded on his sidekick. Clasping the gun with both hands, he swung his arms back and brought the weapon round with a velocity that afforded James no time to react. As Adric took advantage of the situation and scurried over to the Doctor, a billion fireworks, all coloured yellow exploded in James’ mind and in his vision. He was only briefly aware that the side of his face was getting cloyingly damp before the firework display ended, and he collapsed onto the floor.

“MORON!” Knowles screamed, kicking the fallen man in the chest. The people in the bank looked on in horror. If Knowles was capable of seriously injuring one of his own men, none of them were safe.

Then, in the way only truly unbalanced people can, he swiftly became calm again. “But an insightful moron.”

Tegan was appalled at what she had just transpired, “You animal!” she spat, glaring venomously at Knowles.

The Doctor gestured for her to calm down, and calling on all her reserved of patience, she did.

Knowles simply nodded his head in agreement, saying, “I suppose in your definition of things, I am. As if that bothers me.”

The Doctor sprang to his feet, “But what should bother you is the state of the man your thug shot earlier.”


“Because if we don’t get him hospitalised soon, he will die.”

“People die all the time.”

“But this is totally unnecessary!” The Doctor’s voice was becoming more agitated, increasingly breathless, “If you allow us to call an ambulance for this man I will testify that he was shot in self defence. You have my word.”

“Really? Aww, how sweet.” Knowles tapped Trevor’s leg with the tip of his show, the Doctor’s improvised splint holding well. “Try harder. If I can’t get you to fear me, I can enjoy hearing you beg.”

With virtually everyone’s attention focused on the Doctor and Knowles, it was only a lady nearby that saw Nyssa slowly emerge from the kiosk area, and slowly, slowly advance of Knowles, a strange metallic device in her hand.

Go girl! Melinda Griffin mentally urged her on. But be careful!

The Doctor saw Nyssa approach Knowles, but composed himself, carrying on with his confrontation. What was that she was holding?

“So, in order for the man to live, I have to pander to your ego, do I?” It was her Traken tiara! Her hand obscured it, so to an untrained eye it could be anything.

“Exactly, Doctor.”

“Let me get him an ambulance and I’ll dance to whatever tune you want, but he needs to go now!” Would Nyssa’s bluff work?

“Still not enough conviction in your pleading, I’m afraid. What the –” Knowles felt a combination of warm flesh and cold metal at the base of his neck, just below where his mask ended.

Rallying to their boss, Thomas and Douglas were about to prime and aim their guns on Nyssa, when she said, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“Nyssa!” Adric cried, distressed.

“It’s all right, Adric, I know what I’m doing.” Addressing the gunmen, Nyssa continued, “You may find this hard to believe, but I am not from this planet. What I have in my hand could kill him, give me enough time to turn it on both of you, before you even attempted to fire on me.”

Tegan’s face paled, and she felt her stomach churn.

Douglas laughed, “Yeah, right. Come on let’s blast her.” Shocked, Douglas lowered his gun as he saw Knowles shake his head.

“I’m NOT human,” Nyssa said, conviction clearly audible to all.”

On the floor, Melanie was mesmerised. Well, for a lie it was hardly the appropriate time to spin it. She believed her.

“And neither is the Doctor.”

In spite of the seriousness of the situation, Melanie found herself smiling. Proof! She finally had her proof. Aliens did exist! She always knew they wouldn’t be little green men.

Knowles chuckled, “Now that makes sense. I suppose the young boy and the trolley dolly are aliens as well?”

“I am,” Adric concurred, “But Tegan’s human.”

“I try,” she said, hollowly.

“So,” Nyssa continued, “Does this poor man get an ambulance or not?”

Knowles raised his hands in a gesture of supplication. “But of course, my dear – you only had to ask.”

Relief coursed through the Doctor’s body! At last, things were finally getting moving. The relief was short lived however. In a movement that was both agile and unexpected, Knowles twisted around, grabbing Nyssa’s arm and raising it aloft.

“A headpiece? You were threatening me with a stupid piece of costume jewellery?”

The Doctor, Adric and Tegan looked on, all feeling totally powerless.

Knowles slid his hand around Nyssa’s throat and slowly started to squeeze, the usually frantic cracking of leather eerily slow, deliberate, deadly.

Suddenly, Nyssa felt his grip relax, and she fell to her knees, her lungs painfully gasping in air.

The Doctor simply said, “Thank you for not killing her.”

Knowles shrugged, “It would have been easy. Anyway, you four fascinate me. I want you to be here to witness everything.”


“You’ll find out in time. Now, get someone to call for a damn ambulance, just get that body out of here. It’s boring now. But don’t call from here, I don’t want it traced – and arrange for the body to be taken elsewhere.”

The Doctor looked around the sea of horizontal customers, and was grateful to see someone proffering a mobile phone. He ran over, bending down to take the phone.

“Thank you. I promise you’ll be alright.”

Melanie smiled, her face in awe. “I trust you.”

Slightly put out by the near reverence in her eyes, the Doctor simply nodded, and rose. Dialling 999 he started pacing, his air assured, his voice, as ever in these situations, carrying the earnest conviction of a martyr. Knowles’ standing gunmen assured that no one in the bank gave to game away while the Doctor talked, their guns aloft.

“I need an ambulance. A man has been shot. Where? Err, near the main Bank. What? Really?” The Doctor broke off, but only Nyssa, Tegan and Adric recognised the look he was expressing, “Yes, yes, the crossroads? Ten minutes? Ok.”

Ending the call, the Doctor handed the phone back to the woman on the floor. She reclaimed the object almost as if it now held some religious significance, but the Doctor’s mind was too pre-occupied to notice, or care.

“Knowles,” he sad, placing his hands in his striped trouser pockets, and leaning forward slightly, directly into the gunman’s masked face. “The ambulance will arrive in ten minutes, but I need to move him to where they think he is.”

“Very well.”

“What, you’re not worried I’ll just run off, alert the authorities?”

“No, Doctor.”


“Because while you and your young male friend re-locate that body –“


“Whatever. While you are doing that, I will have the pleasure of viewing the lovely visages of your two female friends in my gun sights.”

“You’re taking them hostage?”

“Taking?” Knowles laughed, “Don’t be ridiculous. How can I take what is already mine? They are hostages already. You ALL are!”

“I suppose you do have a point there.”

“A point, and a lot of bullets.”

“And a lot of issues. Tell me, have you ever considered playing cricket? It’s a great way to relieve tension.”

“So is shooting someone that is annoying you, Doctor. And no, I gave up on sport a long time ago. “ Knowles appeared briefly distracted, but he quickly regained his composure. “Anyway, what are you waiting for – shift this body. It’s what’s you’ve been begging me to allow happen thus far.”

The Doctor really wanted to point out that he had not been begging, at least not to the level that he knew Knowles wanted, but he realised it was not the time. Between them, the Doctor and Adric managed to lift Trevor in a way that did not compromise the splint, or put any undue pressure on his bloodied leg and manhandled him toward the door.

“Brave heart, Doctor!” Tegan called, and the Doctor paused mid stride, turning his head to wink at her.

He and Adric then passed the three-wheeled car, crossed the threshold to the bank, and led Trevor outside.


Knowles was lost, oblivious to Thomas’ voice as he watched the enigmatic Doctor and his young friend escorted the shot man outside. That man, the shot man … his hair looked unnatural …


“What?!” Knowles cried, clearly angry to be made aware he had drifted away.

“What now? Why don’t we just scarper? What are we waiting for?”

Knowles was about to reply when a voice, a new voice, carried through the air.

“I think you are waiting for me.”

A man emerged from the cashiers’ room. He was a slender man, dressed in black from head to toe, but with a silk mask obscuring his upper face.

Knowles, Douglas and Thomas saw and heard the man arrive, and ordering the latter two to ensure the hostages were still subdued, Knowles posed the question that that opening statement needed asking.

“And you are?”

The stranger laughed – a deep, rich laugh. “Me? Just call me the Panini Avenger.”

Knowles was bemused, but in an angry way, “Look, just take your Marvel Comics issues somewhere else. I’m expecting someone else, someone much more important than you.”


Knowles nodded, to the evident confusion of his henchmen. “Yes, really!”

“And who in the McGregor world would that be, eh?”


Their shoulders aching, the Doctor and Adric had managed to carry the limp, and therefore extraordinarily heavy body from the bank. Adric noticed that the Doctor was looking around them.


“Not now, Adric. We just need to take him, ah, there,” he said, indicating a route to the right, before immediately setting off to the left.

As they crossed the road, which was surprisingly deserted of moving traffic, both mechanical and human, the Doctor continued to stare at the nearby buildings and parked cars.

Once they were out of sight of the bank’s entrance, the Doctor visibly relaxed. “Right, where are you?” he said, his voice just loud enough to be audible to anyone within a few feet.

His answer came from a gloved hand waving in assured, quick flicks of the wrist from a row of parked cars.

“Ah, there you are!” the Doctor breathed. “Come along, Adric, I’m sure we can leave this man in these capable hands.”

Confused, Adric asked, “Whose hands? What’s going on, Doctor?”

“Quick lad,” a mature, confident voice came from the direction of the waved hand, and not wishing to drop their injured charge Adric had no choice but to follow the Doctor as he aimed their trek to that voice.

Once behind the line of stationary vehicles, Adric was amazes to see dozens of uniform clad humans, the majority armed, sprawled on the tarmac ground. Each had a large oblong of plastic, clearly a defensive shield of some kind, and all looked poised, ready for action.

Two of the uniformed figured detached themselves from the ground, and took Trevor from the Doctor and Adric, and started taking him toward one of the several ambulances the Doctor now saw parked not far away.

“Doctor, how did you know?”

“Remember when I called for the ambulance, and they asked where the body was?”

“Yes, you said it was near the main bank.”

“Well, the person on the other end of the line was obviously well trained in recognising acoustics, because they asked me if I was in the bank itself. Apparently, the panic alarm had been hit alerting the police to the problem awhile ago – and they were outside waiting for a chance to take charge of the situation.”

“But there’s been gunfire, why didn’t they just go in then?”

“You’ve seem what that man is capable of, Adric, the police have to be careful if they are to avoid further instances of this. They prefer to establish some kind of dialogue first, discover motivation and demands.”

One of the policemen, beckoned for the Doctor to come closer. As they scrambled over, keeping low behind the line of protection of the cars, Adric noticed the yards of tape preventing access to parts of the area … there had clearly been an evacuation of some kind.

“Are you the man who made that phone call?”

The Doctor nodded, “Yes, I just had to get that man medical attention.”

“That was very brave, if a little foolhardy. However, it does show that you evidently can negotiate with this group. Can you tell us anything about them?”

Adric piped up, “Well one of them called the man. ‘Knowles’ is that means anything.”

The policeman shared a knowing glance with a colleague, “Oh, it does indeed, son. And it also proves we were right not to go in before the negotiations your friend here mentioned.”

“He seems unstable to me,” the Doctor observed.

“He is, err –“

“Doctor, and this is Adric.”

“Unusual names, but never mind. Knowles is unstable, Doctor, but very clever. We’ve only ever been able to pin one job on him, and that was down to a slip up on one of his lackeys behalf.” The policeman paused, suddenly concerned that he was telling a complete stranger sop much information.

The Doctor detected the confusion, and smiled a wide, disarming smile, “I have that effect on most people. Just ask Lethbride-Stewart.”

“Brigadier -?”

“The very same.”

“So you’re the –“

“Yes, but don’t hold it against me.”

The policeman was thinking something through. “You could just be exactly what we need, Doctor. Would you mind being wired?”

Adric looked bemused, but the Doctor was still smiling, “Anything to help.”

In the bank, Knowles stood mask to mask with the new arrival.

“So, you came.”

The man in the silk mask nodded. “Who could resist such a blatant invitation as this? It was either an invite, or the work of particularly stupid group.”

Knowles felt the blood pound through his veins, and no longer caring who saw him, whipped off his balaclava. “McGregor!” he breathed through the tights deforming his face.

Thomas and Douglas exchanged a worried stare, before realising they were now torn between pointing their guns at McGregor, and continuing their intimidation of the bank’s staff and customers.
As Knowles peeled off his tights, his skin tingling as his blood moved more freely and fresh air once again had access to his face, McGregor laughed.

“Christopher Knowles … Petty minded, sadistic, ego-centric … and most definitely stupid.”

Douglas’ temper flared, and he rapidly brought his gun to bear on McGregor. “The Boss is not stupid!”

Knowles blood was still pumping, but this time with rising anger. He only succeeded in maintaining his composure by reminding himself just how unthinkingly brutal the McGregor’s could be. Even so, his voice was trembling with ire as he said, “I’m stupid? At least I didn’t come here alone!”

McGregor laughed again, “Neither did I!” So saying, he clicked his fingers, and several of the banks customers started to clamber to their feet, all producing guns from inside their clothing. Behind McGregor, three members of the bank’s staff also rose, and crossed over to be with him.

Knowles’ mind raced. How had the sneaked in after the raid had started? It was too much of a coincidence for them all to be here before they had crashed into the entrance … but the bank staff? They had surely been there…. He swallowed, his legs turning to lead as he realised it had all been a set up.

Knowles fixed his eyes on those behind the mask, “How did you know?”

“Now that would be telling, wouldn’t it, Chris.”

Tegan noticed another member of the banks staff emerge from behind the desk area. She was an attractive woman, and carried herself in a self-assured manner that Tegan actually found disturbing.

“Then shall I tell them, honey?” The woman said, slowly lifting McGregor’s mask enough to kiss him briefly on the lips before allowing the mask to fall back into place.

“MARIE!” Thomas howled, a sound of pure bewilderment and loss. Nyssa’s face paled slightly, recalling a similar tone in many of the dreams she had experienced about Traken.

“Marie!” Knowles also said, his tone laced with resignation. It made some kind of sense. If she was willing to sleep with him to gain a few extra perks in life, despite being with Thomas, it followed through that she would be more than willing to do so with someone else. “How long?”

“Long enough, Chris,” McGregor said, “Long enough to ignore a text message asking for the cameras to be turned off this time.”

“You what?” Knowles started to attempt putting his mask back on, but he knew it would be too little, too late. With options deserting him, he fell back on what he knew best: bullying rhetoric. “Stop calling me, Chris, will you? You don’t know me.”

“Don’t I?”

“You know me as I know you, through reports, reputation – that’s all.”

Marie smiled, and for the first time both Thomas and Knowles saw the true, previously hidden darker side to her nature. She was not the dutiful girlfriend helping out through some sense of misguided loyalty, nor was she the girl who had been swept away by the power of mystique of Knowles. She was, as Knowles had surmised to himself earlier, a woman with her own agenda, and someone who knew exactly how to achieve it.

“Aww, honey, they look confused – even Tommy in his mask over there. Shall I explain, or will you?”

McGregor gave a slight shrug, “You can have the honours, dear. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the moment.”

Marie slowly ran her hand down the middle of McGregor’s chest in thanks, causing Thomas to clench his gun tighter through jealousy, before she moved to stand behind him. Taunting Knowles’, she looked over McGregor’s shoulder at him, and with a playful raising of her eyebrows, asked, “Are you ready?”

Knowles grunted.

“Very well!” she said, and slowly, sensuously, lifted, rolled back and then removed the mask from McGregor. “Et voila!” she exclaimed, flourishing the mask like a magician would have waved a brightly coloured handkerchief that had once been a bunch of plastic flowers.

The face that was revealed was stern, but handsome, in an average, run of the mill sort of way, and it showed signs of worry, but in his line of work that was only to be expected. It was a face that would pass you by in a crowd and largely go unnoticed. It was just that, a face. It was also a face that Knowles had never seen before …

Then he realised.

This face was also one of those faces that could cause you to have a nagging feeling once the crowd had swallowed it up again. It was a face that when you saw it for a few seconds, would remind you of someone, and you would swear you knew the person.

And, of course, Knowles did know the person behind that face.

At least he had.


“Hi, Chris,” John McGregor said, “Long time, no see, eh?”

“You know him, Boss?” Douglas asked, “You actually know John McGregor.”

Knowles struggled to find the words, and then the breath for a reply, but quickly gave up the ghost. McGregor came to his rescue.

“He did, a long time ago. We were actually very good friends. Remember that, Chris?”

Knowles nodded, and although his dry throat caused his words to crack, said, “So you changed you name.”

“Only my surname. In our game, that’s all I needed to do. As you so rightly said, we know of each other, reputation and all that, but rival gangs hardly send each other their holiday snaps if they wish to carry on their vendetta, do they.”

Tegan could not keep quiet any longer. “So you two groups have been carrying out crimes, inflicting injury, causing untold damage just to get one up on each other? And all from something that happened in your childhood.”

“I have, Miss -?”

“Tegan, Tegan Jovanka.”

“Well, quite. I have been carrying out these crimes, as you call them, for that reason, Chris here, on the other hand, has done them simply because he likes to. He’s always enjoyed seeing the look of fear, and pain, on others’ faces. Haven’t you, Chris?”

At that moment, the sound of crunching, cracking glass could be heard, heralding the return of Adric and the Doctor. Unbidden, they immediately made their way to the Knowles and McGregor, and their friends. The Doctor stood particularly close to Knowles.

“Are you alright, Tegan? Nyssa?”

Before they could reply, McGregor gave a short laugh, “We’re you four on your way to a fancy dress party or something?”

Nyssa, rather primly, said, “I wear this to remember those I have lost, people wiped out by a man who has no care for consequences.”

“Hmm,” McGregor mused, “Maybe you should introduce him to old Chrisey boy here, I’m sure they’d get along famously.”

“Why you hypocritical –“

“I don’t kill, Chris. You do, that’s the difference – the real, significant difference. Simply by threatening I get what I want. You have to resort to the base, the physical – because, at the end of the day, that’s all you are, all you’ve ever understood. Even when we were friends, all those years ago.”

Knowles so wanted to say the right thing, find the appropriate words, but, of course, he could not. Reverting to type, he lifted his gun, pointing it at the ceiling.

“I have had ENOUGH of this!” he roared, and brought the gun to bare on the Doctor.

Why me? The Doctor thought sadly to himself. Why were the guns, the scythes, the bombs always targeted at him? Ah well, better him that his companions.

The atmosphere in the bank was charged, almost tangible. The standoff was intense, the two rivals, the two childhood friends, each holding the others face in the sights of their weapons.

Adric watched the two, his mind taking him unbidden to the stupid, petty arguments he and Varsh had exchanged. They never amounted to anything, as they were always trivial, and always forgiven due to the bond of friendship that went as deep, if not deeper that their brotherly blood. He would never see Varsh again, never know how he would have looked had he lived to the age these two were. Aware that his face was flushing, Adric was seething with anger, boiling with the loss of his brother’s future … a future taken by misunderstood violence.

He felt the Doctor’s hand on his shoulder. His friend was evidently trying to advise him to keep calm, but Adric could not. He just could not. These two, especially Knowles, were responsible for causing his pain in others, but deliberately. Shrugging the Doctor’s hand away, Adric darted forward, grappling with Thomas. If he could get him to fire the gun, the police would have to come in … they must have heard Knowles’ cry through the microphone hidden near the Doctor’s celery-holding lapel. They must be aware that the silence indicated a watershed moment. Just one shot …

“Adric!” Nyssa cried, as he managed to jolt Thomas’s gun arm, causing his finger to tighten on the trigger … just … enough … to …

Outside, the policeman under headphones heard the gun shot in stereo – both in his ears, and also emanating from the direction of the bank.

“Alright!” He heard Wagstaffe shout, “Prepare to go in!”

“Sir, sir!” the surveillance policeman said, “Be careful in there. McGregor’s gang are there, as well.”

Wagstaffe smiled, “Well, well, well… anyone would think it was my birthday!”

Addressing them all, Wagstaffe exclaimed, “Now!” and the ranks rose, and advanced on the bank.

The bank was silent in the aftermath of Thomas’ gun going off. However, while the sound of sobs, crying, muted voices, the police and in the days to come workers and customers would help break erase that silence, Knowles would never break his. He was dead – gunned down by one of his own gang, and to some extent his rival in love. Or rather lust.

As McGregor stared with some degree of sorrow at the lifeless form of his one time friend, the Doctor was striving to revive James. While his face was smothered in purple bruising, the Doctor had only managed to detect superficial lumps on his skull. Physically he should be all right.

Adric was on the floor, shaking, comforted by Tegan and Nyssa’s joint embrace.

Unseen by anyone, Marie sidled back into the staff section, already concocting a story she hoped would exonerate her. However, even she knew that with Thomas and McGregor still alive this might not be that easy. Would they keep quiet? Would Thomas keep his mouth shut in the hope that she would fully come back to him?

McGregor reached inside his trouser pocket, and slowly knelt down by the body of Knowles. Peeling the back off the sticker he produced, he carefully stuck it to Knowles’ forehead, covering the entrance hole the bullet had made.

As he sobs subsided, John sat holding the sticker in his hand. Rocking himself for comfort, he decided not to complete his book. He would leave it incomplete, unfinished . . .

Gently caressing the cheek Chris had tried to scorch, John vowed to get his own back. What did adults call it? Revenge?

Yes, one day, one fateful day, he would have revenge.

Instantly, blood started to seep into the footballers top, and before long the sticker was saturated and started to lift off the cooling skin.

John looked into Chris’ eyes, and sighed heavily. No, it had not helped. He was not experiencing the catharsis he had hoped for in seeing the look a fear and surprise in his face.

Revenge was empty.

Standing up, John McGregor looked deflated. He made no attempt to escape, despite the anxious looks from the members of his gang. It was over.

At that point, the police started to pour into the bank, and the heist school officially ended.

“I don’t understand.”

Walking back to the TARDIS, Adric was confused. They had been allowed to go after all four had given statements, and the policeman that had wired the Doctor assured them that all medical care needed would be given.

Tegan had alerted them to Marie’s presence, and despite her pleas of innocence, and appeals to Thomas for help, none came. She was arrested along with everyone else. Even without CCTV, guilt was evident all round. As McGregor had been handcuffed, his gaze had met with Tegan’s, and she read his expression, fully understanding it.

“What don’t you understand, Adric?” Nyssa asked.

“Well, we came here so Tegan could sort out her Aunt’s affairs.”

“That’s true.”

“But she didn’t. Why didn’t you, Tegan? I though you wanted to let her go.”

Tegan considered her words carefully. “It was McGregor.” She said, simply.

It was the Doctor’s turn to be confused. “McGregor? How?”

“I saw his eyes as he was been led away. He’d been carrying an image, or rather memories of someone for years – that whole bank raid was orchestrated so he could lay his ghost to rest.”

“I still don’t understand, Tegan.” Adric persisted, “He did lay that ghost to rest. Knowles is dead.”

“No Adric, he didn’t lay the ghost to rest, he simply allowed another one to live. McGregor is now haunted by his initial memories, and those created today. He achieved nothing.”

Tegan paused, before announcing, “I know Aunt Vanessa is dead, and I can live with that. That’s all the closure I need. For now. When all this is over, when we all part company, maybe then will be the right time.”

Seeing the look in her friends faces, Tegan smiled, “Oh, don’t worry, that won’t be for a long time yet. You’re stuck with me.”

The Doctor smiled, and even he was amazed by the genuine emotion within it, and himself.

No comments:

Post a Comment