Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who.
A TARDIS lies forsaken in an old junkyard. Bereft of its partner, it is dormant and alone.
"This indicates Time Lord mind speak"
"This indicate TARDIS mind speak"
Long ago, in an abandoned and derelict part of the Universe, a being died. His name was known in almost every culture across the thrashing mesh of Space/Time. His stories have become legends, passed down through generations. His myth remains. No one remembers his face.
But when he passed he was all but alone. Only one other was with him- a creature whose grief was so great that she nearly followed him. Nearly. Such was the composition of her soul that, though she had lost half of her very being, she could not follow he whom she loved the most. This is her end, as it was seen through another's eyes.
The story opens on the face of a large sign. Simple bold black letters read 'Totter's Lane Yard, L.M. Foreman, Prop.' Great rusty iron gates, chained shut, hide the contents of the yard from view of the outside world. It is a little island of isolation, cut off from the rest of the world. It is a junkyard in a remote corner of England. And it is not completely empty of life.
The locals fear the large square yard. Tales are whispered of strange wheezing, ghostly noises coming from the area at night, of disappearances and re-appearances and of a blue box that everybody knows has always been there, but no-one can remember actually seeing it. Maybe it is a waypoint, or a place where lay lines cross, or maybe it's a Bermuda Triangle that got lost and forgot what shape to be. Who knows?
Deserted decades ago, the junkyard is littered with engine parts and heaps of twisted metal. A few bits of scrap metal litter the edges of the space, clinging like bloodsucking parasites to the high walls of the wooden fence. Despite this, one thing alone dominates attention. In the exact centre of the junkyard, equidistant from every corner, is a rectangular blue box lying on it side, battered and dusty. White lettering adorns the top of the box, but years of filth and neglect have caused it to become illegible. Altogether, the thing looks like everything else in the yard- a useless item that may once have held some value for somebody, but is now no use to anyone. However, there is something about the bizarre object that would cause any onlooker to turn away as quickly as possible. It's almost like…looking at the body of an animal by the roadside- it feels…dead…
Tyrus checked the co-ordinates he'd been given and sighed. Earth- a tiny, ignorant shit-hole of a planet. The Matrix alone knew why the renegade had favoured it so much. There was talk of his ancestry, of him being a half-breed, but mostly the young Time Lord technician ignored it. He was simply doing his job- collecting a piece of stolen equipment. He rested a hand on the sleek black console of the brand new Type 57 he'd been issued with, feeling the just perceptible hum under his fingertips. It was a beauty, smother, faster and more accurate than the Type 56s, with a far more extensive design pattern that could be controlled by the pilot.
Absently, Tyrus wondered if the redevelopment of the TARDISes would ever stop. He sighed. He might be outdated with this view, but he'd preferred it when the time machines had had a bit of character. The symbiotic links had been stressful at times and difficult to channel, but there was more emotion, more feeling to the great machines that gave the Time Lords their status. Now, the TARDISes were just automotive machines to be managed and controlled like a primitive space shuttle.
A soft whooshing hiss from the Time Rotor indicated that they had materialised. At least that was an improvement on the old wheezing groaning cacophony. Tyrus checked the viewer and took his tool kit, curtly ordering the doors to open. He stepped out into the fresh, chilled English air and frowned distastefully at the mess that surrounded him. Humans were such a filthy race sometimes. He spotted the old Type 40 immediately and headed over to it, clucking disapprovingly- the renegade couldn't have been very skilled in TARDIS operation if he allowed it to consistently fail its chameleon programming. He glanced back at the Type 57 and saw that it had become a large pile of twisted iron scrap.
Turning his attention back to the obsolete model he sighed again. Turned over on its side, the worn out old machine looked strangely forlorn, like a tree that had been knocked over in a thunderstorm. He stepped up to it and frowned again- this close he should be able to sense the buzzing aura of the TARDIS, even though its recent owner had passed away. Maybe it had been abandoned for so long that it had slipped into a dormant state. Remembering the respect needed to deal with the temperamental old devices, Tyrus cautiously placed a hand on the stained surface, shocked at how cold and still it felt. This Type 40 felt like any other inanimate object, not the sentient being that it was.
Concerned he knelt, disregarding the dirty floor, and pressed both of his hands against the upper surface of the TARDIS. He tried the doors. Hmm, locked from the inside. No surprises there. He reached out with his mind, trying to find any spark of life.
"Type 40? Can you hear me?"
"Type 40, please respond, I have come to help you."
No answer. This was impossible- even this ancient model couldn't just die. He tried again, making his mental tones as welcoming as possible.
"Lady? If you can, please answer me. I have come to take you home."
He felt a stirring within the device. It seemed to be struggling to talk to him, but suddenly its answer burned across his mind with a fierce intensity.
"YEARS! YEARS ALONE! NO HOME! NO HOME WITHOUT HIM! DEATH! DEATH OF TIME!"
Tyrus winced and clapped a hand to his brow. The presence settled into the back of his mind, calmer now, sad somehow. "Easy, Lady. I can help you. I can erase this pain and take you back to Gallifrey where you can be properly reintegrated into the Time Matrix."
Stark refusal. Anger. Flashing emotion, confusing, whirling thoughts.
"No. No going back. No home. Death."
The Time Lord's brow creased with concern and he tried to sort through the jumbled thoughts at the back of his mind. He hadn't expected this resistance. This TARDIS was as stubborn and highly-strung as one of the earliest 'intelligent' time machines. "Come, Lady. I can repair you. I can re-house you in a faster, stronger shell. No malfunctions, no navigational problems. Peace." He made his voice as persuasive a possible.
"I'm staying." The voice, clearer and more coherent, now bordered on petulant.
Tyrus shifted in annoyance. He wasn't going to waste this trip- bad enough that he had to the leave the comfort and security of Gallifrey, let alone having to come to Earth of all planets.
"I like Earth."
Startled, he stared at the Type 40. "What?"
"I like Earth. No electromagnetic barriers, no Time warps, no rips in the Space/Time continuum," the voice became mournful and melancholy again. "He liked Earth."
"Why?" Tyrus was fascinated. He didn't know the TARDIS persona could develop to such an advanced level- was that love he felt fluttering in the heart of the being?
The voice became disapproving. "You need to understand…"
He heard a click and the doors swung inwards. He stood up, brushed off his robes, then deftly clambered into the machine. After a moment of temporal uncertainty, he found himself standing upright at the entrance of the console room. At least the angle adjustment circuits were fully functional. Tyrus looked around and saw that the room, despite obvious recent changes, had reverted to the standard-issue white roundels and simple structure. The lights inside the TARDIS were flickering and dull and the Time Rotor stood quiet, dark and still. He made his way to the console and tentatively tested a few of the controls. They remained unresponsive.
"Lady?" He questioned, wondering why the old machine had let him in.
Suddenly, a host of images began to flash through his mind. He saw scenes of violence, of hatred, of death, disaster and destruction. But he also saw selfless courage, desperate struggles for survival, a race to save civilisations from evil inherent within them. He saw ordinary people made extraordinary through the coaxing teaching of their wise ageless companion. He saw a Time Lord who stood opposed to the relaxed attitude of his fellows, who chose outcast and peril over the safe life of a watcher. He saw a knight in dull armour working secretly to help the little people. He saw a renegade in shining colours at the forefront of a revolution. He saw the many facets and faces of a hero.
Stunned, Tyrus staggered back from the console, cradling his hands as if they had been burned. The images, now branded into his mind, continued to pirouette and revolve as he stared at the Time Rotor. "This…this is the Doctor? But the books proclaim him a liar, a thief, a destroyer of worlds!"
The voice of the Type 40 was low when it spoke again. Tyrus could hear years of heartbreak echoing through every syllable, the pain of an entity to whom life is now an enemy. "I loved him. And now he is gone. I am alone."
"How long? When did he leave you?"
"One cannot measure time in the agony of eternal loss. Leave me."
Tyrus reached out to place a hand on the console again, feeling the mental connection strengthened by the contact. The voice was beginning to lose its power, fading back into a dormant, unmoving state. "Let me help you."
"No one can help me."
"Let me kill you."
Hope surged, a spark of life burgeoning into a tiny flame. "Yes! Please! End the pain!"
The Time Lord set to work, systematically annihilating circuit after circuit as he burnt out every piece of equipment he could, feeling the presence become weaker and weaker as it slowly died. When he was finished, he looked again at the Time Rotor. Carefully, deliberately, he set his sonic screwdriver and virtually melted down the entire system.
It was a pensive, woeful figure that left the now empty husk. He had killed the Type 40. He touched his fingertips to the cold blue surface, wondering if he should perhaps deconstruct the outer shell of the machine. A shiver vibrated up his arm, and he felt a smile curve in his mind as a whisper of a voice said, "Thank you."
He cuffed at his eyes, denying that there were tears and trudged back to the Type 57. As he stepped into the stark black console room. He sighed heavily, contemplating, just for a moment, following the path of the Docotr, turning his back on society to become more than an observer. His hand hovered over the controls, the he shook his head. He quickly set the co-ordinates for Gallifrey and, with another quiet hiss the Type 57 TARDIS, humming with life, dematerialised.
Somewhere in the fabric of the Universe, past the immortal boundary that separates the living from the dead, a hero smiled. Welcome home, Old Girl.