The Doctor sat on a log and stared morosely at his foot, which, as it was covered in mud, looked more like it would be happier attached to the leg of a Marshman than a Time Lord…
He glanced at Fyffe who was revolving slowly on the spot and smiling to herself. Occasionally, she would stop to stare at a seemingly random direction within the jumble of trees. The Doctor guessed that she was trying to work out where they were going. He didn’t bother to ask her, he was almost afraid of what kind of answer she would give him.
‘Fyffe, will you stop doing… whatever it is you’re doing.’
She completed her pivot slowly until she was facing him and sat down suddenly, cross-legged, on the ground. When she looked up at him, she realized that something was not happening how it would normally happen. The Doctor was looking at her with a confused jumble of expressions that clearly expressed his total incomprehension of the girl.
‘Don’t worry,’ she said in what she hoped was a soothing tone, ‘you’ll feel better soon… about loosing your box and your shoe and everything.’
‘It’s not a box,’ said the Doctor defensively, ‘it was my ship! The last of it’s kind, my last link to my people, my home, my vessel, my guide, my translator, my security blanket, my escape from danger, my, my… sort of friend, my life!’
Fyffe nodded as if she understood. ‘And what about your shoe, was that just a shoe?’ She looked down at his feet. ‘You’ve always got another one, I suppose.’
The Doctor followed her gaze and glanced back down at his feet. After staring at them for a moment, he wiggled his toes and let out a small laugh.
‘Yeah, good point,’ he said, and Fyffe beamed at him.
A long time ago, a strange conclusion had come to the Doctor that he should never ask to much, or anything if he could help it, from those that he met. Since losing everything, he never felt as inclined to talk about who he was, and had reasoned, that he shouldn’t expect people to talk about themselves either.
He watched as Fyffe pulled herself up and once again began revolving on the spot. She had already made it clear that she did not want to talk about herself, but it didn’t stop his constantly running mind from trying to understand her better.
‘This way,’ said Fyffe triumphantly, and set off between two trees that looked exactly like every other tree. The Doctor wondered how she could tell.
It didn’t seem that long ago since they had left the empty remains of the TARDIS, but he realized, as he trudged through the dense bracken after Fyffe, that it had almost been a full day. It hadn’t meant much to him, he could easily go a day without sleep, but it did make him wonder about the blond haired, bare-footed girl who was leading him.
There was no doubt in the fact that Fyffe, of all the thousands of life forms he had met, was single handedly the most confusing and least understandable. She had even said herself that she didn’t think in the right way…whatever that meant, but…
Fyffe stopped again and considered a large bush in front of her. The Doctor came to a halt next to her and watched. She was deep in thought, and he saw a slow smile creep across her face.
…for all of Fyffe’s strangeness, and for all that the Doctor simply couldn’t comprehend about her, there was little that could actually make you dislike the girl. She seemed to accept what was told to her in a happy and mild mannered way. From what he had seen, she appeared to be the elite optimist and, despite the Doctor’s inner turmoil of trying to find a city and do… something, it was clear that Fyffe felt some sort of connection to him. Maybe it was because she found him, rescued him from under his ship.
Once again, for a split second, he relived that jolting sensation as the living essence of the ship was torn away from its body and lost forever… The force that jolted forward…painfully, angrily and with such power, that it was gone in an instant…
‘There all gone now,’ the Doctor mused to himself. ‘The entire TARDIS species… extinct.
Standing in front of him, the girl’s face suddenly paled slightly and, though she said nothing and continued to gaze stonily at the bush, she began to nervously fidget with the hem of her clothing. It was the first time that the Doctor had seen her act with anything other than her strange and serine calmness.
He took a hesitant step forward, suddenly intent. ‘You know what a TARDIS is?’
She nodded mutely.
The Doctor felt his pulse quicken.
‘What else do you know?’
The city shuddered.
It wasn’t just the fact that it was the city that was being destroyed –
She skidded around a corner and was nearly bowled over by a clump of screaming people. A large building had collapsed right across the road and the roaring flames were already beginning to lick at the surrounding buildings.
One, single sob escaped her. From within the collapsed building, she could hear the cries and screams of those trapped within, and there was nothing that she could do. The smoke from the fire was beginning to engulf the entire street in chocking black fumes, and
With streaming eyes, she squinted upwards at the building on her left, and saw with horror that it was beginning to fall…
‘Run!’ she screamed to the street in general.
Through her hazy vision she saw people begin to move, screaming and stumbling past each other and through the rubble.
Not sure what she was doing, but to afraid to stop running, she ran through the blackened and deserted city centre and towards the large city gates that marked the only way out of Tendra.
There was silence within the forest.
Very slowly, the Doctor walked forward until he stood in front of the girl.
‘Fyffe?’ he said carefully, ‘what do you know about the TARDIS?’ She shook her head quickly and he gripped her shoulders, ‘Fyffe! Please!’
Still twisting her clothing, she looked up. There was a sense of surprise nestled within her eyes, as though she hadn’t expected the Doctor to act this way, and couldn’t understand why he would appear so anxious.
'I'm sorry, Doctor,' she said, 'but I don't know anything.'
He opened his mouth to speak, eyes desperately searching for something within the girl's face that he could attach himself to. Fyffe realized that the TARDIS, clearly meant a great deal to him.
‘I heard you say the name,’ she explained quickly, ‘when you were unconscious… I, I,’ a brief look of inner turmoil flashed across her face, ‘I don’t know what it means, but it’s what you said.’
He stared at her then, very slowly, lent backwards with a forlorn look etched into his face. She watched him, overwhelmed by pity for the man, and wished sincerely that she could have given him a better explanation.
‘Sorry,’ he said, removing his grip on her and plunging his hands into his pockets, ‘I thought… cause you knew the name, that you would…’ he sighed, ‘I dunno… be a Time Lord or something.’
He looked at the floor and didn’t see Fyffe gaze at him with the single strangest expression on her face.
‘Is that what you are? A Time Lord?’
‘Yep,’ he said gloomily.
‘And the TARDIS is…?’
‘Well, it was my ship, all gone now.’
Fyffe bit her lip, ‘what happened to it?’
‘I… it… it’s gone…’ the Doctor rubbed his tired eyes, ‘the part of it that was living, the heart of the TARDIS, was somehow separated from the physical elements of the vessel… like if you were separated from your soul…’
Fyffe stared at him intensely, and then nodded her head in understanding. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said, ‘I didn’t mean to give you hope… it must be hard to loose those you care about… but, why would you think I’m one of you?’
He shrugged half heartedly, ‘maybe the way you acted, or you said something that was familiar… probably, it was just me wanting you to be one.’ He sighed, ‘I shouldn’t have tried to convince myself. It would have been blatantly obvious to me if you have been a Time Lady… even a Gallifreyan, I would have been able to tell.’
The large cloud of Gloom that had settled over the pair, cast its dreary shadow from above. Fyffe, in a vague attempt to cheer the self confessed Time Lord up, pulled the twig from behind her ear and once again offered it to him.
He gave it a cautious look.
‘It’s okay,’ he said, ‘I really really don’t want your twig.’
Fyffe ran her eyes over it thoughtfully.
‘It’s a nice twig,’ she hazarded.
The Doctor gave her an encouraging nod. ‘Yes, yes it is. Look, Fyffe–’
‘Maybe I should think about a name…’
Without warning, a large, rumbling explosion broke the forests usual stodgy silence. Below their feet, the soft ground gave a weak tremble and through the trees could be seen an intense flash of burning light.
As the Doctor spun around, Fyffe looked up from the twig.
‘Ah,’ she said conversationally, ‘I think it’s that way.’
The thick, dark smoke that had sprouted from the raging fires had already begun to waft itself lazily over the city. But it was not as bad as the scene that met her eyes as she gazed speechlessly at the gate.
Where the giant metal structures had once stood, was now only a gaping hole. They had been blasted apart and, even now, were still burning fiercely. It was clear from the smell that some sort of petrol bomb had been used… and this meant that the fire was so ferocious; there was no way of getting past it.
People were coughing and moving away from the blackened metal structures, and even as she stood and stared in horror, the street before her began to empty.
As another cloud of chocking smoke engulfed the street, she spun around and saw Ryan sprinting towards her.
The ground shook again.
‘What the hell is going on?’
Hazily in front of her, Ryan shook his head in silent shock.
‘Anything!’ Her face pleaded to his.
‘There’s no point being here, Mad,’ he said, his voice strained with fear, ‘the factory’s been bombed, no work today.’ He let out a hysterical laugh, then his face turned ashen.
‘My house has gone,’ he said, and for once,
Blinking the ash and smoke from her eyes, she peered into Ryan’s face. ‘Ryan, what is happening? I’ve come through the main square and there’s just people screaming… where’s the army? Where’s the shelter where we can all hide? Who’s fighting back, whose defending us?’
Ryan said nothing, unable to communicate anything beyond the deep set pain and loss that he now felt.
Her voice was lost in the almighty force of another explosion. It was so close by, that the ground pitched and lurched with a sickening gut-wrenching force. Both Madison and Ryan fell, landing heavily, and feeling the hot lick of flame wafting over their backs.
She began to stagger through the smoke and dust, trying to find some fresh air to clear her head. Through dimmed ears, she made out the unpleasant noise of cracking masonry and, as she peered upwards through the smoke, she saw the city walls begin to drop towards her…