WHO – 'An Old Friend.'
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Dr. Who and its future adventures…
By Scott P Vaughn. Copyright 2004
The fog parted in silent protest
against the strolling movements of a cane and pair of dapper linen
pants. Both belonged to an old gentleman making his way along the
cobbled streets of London. He stepped into Totter's Yard and past the
battered, wooden gates that read 'I.M. Foreman, scrap merchant',
flashing the small torch along his path. Worming his way between the
piles of junk, he came at last to his destination, the ship that had
taken the form of a British Police Box. The Doctor opened the door
easily enough, and he slipped inside when he was certain no one on
this backward planet was watching.
"Funny how things work out," he thought to himself as he passed through the dimensions. He now stood inside the large interior console room of his TARDIS, wondering what had compelled the 'borrowed' capsule to bring he and his precious cargo to this time and place. The people of this world were primitive still, with their smoke and noise, anger and hate. The similarities to his own home world were evident, certainly, but that made this era no more tolerable. Strangely Susan seemed to adore the place, regularly attending that ridiculous school. He suffered her excited descriptions of life on Earth each night, but only because it made his granddaughter happy. Besides, he was usually paying more attention to the repairs he was always trying to affect while she chattered on rather than actually listening to her.
His old knees creaked as he knelt slowly down, removing the outer panel from the six-sided control console's main podium. He thought about the condition he'd been in when he had decided to leave Gallifrey. What might have happened if he'd decided instead to wait until some surely-impending regeneration before allowing his passions to whisk he and Susan from the stuffy confines of their home? He shook the thought away, deciding it sounded positively mundane. The choices had been made, and those things he had taken from his home world were now under his care. He focused his attention on the problem at hand, as always, and peered into the technology-strewn inner workings of the TARDIS console.
Between the flashing lights and criss-crossing mechanisms within the device's center sat a curious object, lodged somehow. The old man's sharp eyes peered closer, finding the cylindrical little stick caught there to be none other than a sonic screwdriver. The Doctor's hand came to his lips, suppressing a little laugh. The sonic tool must have been dropped there by the very maintenance crew on Gallifrey he had later stolen the TARDIS from. He reached for it, finding the path through the twisting cables to be less passable than initially thought. His hand became stuck on several occasions, and when he tried to push parts aside to better reach he got a shock for his troubles.
"Well," he said, his hand recoiling, "that's not very nice, is it?" he cursed the offending machine. "No, no, no." He gave the console an evil look, his sneer curling his lips into a nasty smile. "Well, I don't need it anyway, do I, hm? No." He took another sonic screwdriver from the nearby toolbox and shook it at the console, as if to show it up. And with that final act of defiance he stood up again and made his way over to the coat stand to grab his scarf.
"Dear oh dear." A sigh of resignation escaped the Doctor's lips as he slipped back into the old fashioned coat. "Oh, I'm beginning to wish I never started all of this." A feeling of concern invaded his thoughts. Some weeks before he had left an item of his cargo in a graveyard, and now he was having some misgivings regarding that decision, especially as he was having such a hard time getting the ship to work in his favor. Forgetting the console repairs entirely he decided to go back out into the foggy evening.
"We're all agreed then. Risky, but it could work. I'll
report back." The first Doctor's face disappeared from the
console room's scanner screen.
"We'll have to strip down the force field," the third Doctor pointed out.
The second, and decidedly most agreeable, Doctor considered the implications. "Its worth a try," he finally agreed with a grin, and dove beneath the controls to get to work. The others, including 'that chap in the fancy dress that I'll become,' were all nattering on while the Doctor got on with most of the work, as usual.
"Funny how things work out," the little man thought to himself as he began his task. Here he was, pulled from time by the very overlords he had made himself a renegade from, and dumped into his own future. Meanwhile, the strange yet familiar aspect of his past scowled down at them both, seemingly unperturbed by the series of events that had changed so much of all of their lives. Would anything ever be the same again? How much of any change to his lives would he truly, despite being a Time Lord, be aware of?
The Doctor opened the next service hatch, at last finding the elusive force field generator, right next to a sonic screwdriver that had fallen in there, as well as... "OH!" All thoughts of regenerations and screwdrivers were cast overboard at the site of a small, blue candy striped pipe. "I've found it!"
"Found what," the third Doctor asked incredulously.
"My recorder! It must have been there all the time; right in the core of the force field."
The third Doctor rolled his eyes.
K-9 noisily scanned the TARDIS
console again. There was a moment's silence after the metal
computer's ears had stopped waggling. Frustrated, the fourth Doctor
gaped at both 'loyal' machines. "Well?"
"Insufficient data, Master," K-9 replied.
"What?" the Doctor cried melodramatically.
"Unable to compute TARDIS malfunction. Suggestion: How about a nice game of chess?"
The Doctor barely heard the dog-shaped robot. "Hmm? Yes, yes, all right, K-9. You get the board."
He pulled his head back out of the console's guts. "What now?"
"Negative, Master," K-9 repeated. "Statistical analysis shows you are incapable of playing chess while distracted by other activities."
Frustrated, the Doctor let out an annoyed breath. "K-9," he said, containing his anger.
"Go fetch." K-9's reply was to silently roll out of the room. Meanwhile the Doctor poked his head back under the console, fixated on whatever object had caught his eye. When his vision finally adjusted again, he saw the object lodged deep under the column. "Huh," he laughed to himself. He gathered a length of scarf in his hand in a flippant attempt to guard it against any unforeseen shocks. He then reached towards the old sonic screwdriver he could see still caught there.
The TARDIS shocked him anyway.
"Ah!" he cried in momentary pain. After another second of staring indignantly at the malfunctioning console, he rolled out from beneath it and stood up. "I think I'll go and play a nice game of chess with K-9," he said to himself, exiting the room.
"So much has happened to this old
console in recent memory," the fifth Doctor mused to himself. Among
those events were the cybermen's blasts, and that thought brought
memories of Adric. He pushed such thoughts aside and began his
redesigns once more. Reconfiguring the console was a time consuming
process of managing both the interior and exterior of the six-sided
control unit. Using the 'old fashioned' control room, deep within
the TARDIS, he had punched up the coordinates for the Eye of Orion
and then set to work back in the main console room. Tegan had passed
through several times already in an attempt to converse with him, but
he always ended up ignoring her to the point where she would
disappear for hours. When they had finally arrived at their
destination, only Turlough had been around to quietly gather his
things and let himself out into the calm air beyond the doors. The
Doctor looked forward to the same excursion, but, for once, he
decided he was going to finish what he had begun.
The new console was taking shape at last, so he dove beneath the glittering new device to begin his repairs, hoping the old girl was appreciative of his efforts. Everything was going smoothly until he noticed once more the sonic device still sitting there after all of those centuries. Hundreds of years, countless adventures and, more recently, the loss of his own sonic screwdriver had occurred since he first piloted the old, 'obsolete' time capsule from his home world of Gallifrey and gone out into the universe. He had become lost in space and time since then, caught between the mission that drove his renegade existence and the thoughts of the things that had always eluded him. Funny how things worked out. "No," he said to the console, reaching in only as far as he needed to repair the circuits he needed. "No, you keep it this time. After all, that's how it all started."
He was over one thousand years old now.
The seventh Doctor, alone in his TARDIS as it skirted silently
through the continuum, tapped his chin thoughtfully with the red
handle of his umbrella. He was staring at the console of his time
machine, gazing at the roundels of the walls that had been the same
old home for so long. If nothing else during this regeneration, he
had definitely tried to affect change. It was time for another one.
He dimmed the lights and left the room, determined to reconfigure the
'old-fashioned' wooden looking console room into something a bit
more gothic and becoming.
Hours later he returned. He had been in need of a vital tool during his repairs when a thought had struck him. The last time he had noticed the sonic screwdriver he now needed was when he had been in his sixth body, just before… yes, before the cybermen again. He had been trying to repair the chameleon circuit, though why in the world he would want to do that still eluded him. Being the brash, stuffy, determined man he had been then, he had worked for longer than the previous attempts to retrieve the device caught within the console's innards. The Doctor had given up after the third shock, moving on once more.
Now he stared once more past the wires and cogs of the battered old controls. It was still there, unmoved in all of the times and tumbles the TARDIS had been through. The Doctor shrugged, deciding it had been too long a forgotten item, and that it indeed was a missed accoutrement of his attire. This time his hand moved freely and deftly through the obstructions. He reached back and pulled the sonic device out, placing it in his pocket, nodding at the TARDIS in, hopefully, mutual respect. The machine new when and where the Doctor was needed, he had long since realized. Perhaps it knew when he needed the screwdriver, too.
Delving for just a moment into the cupboard before leaving the old room behind, the Doctor found what else he had been looking for. He grabbed a metal chest, emblazoned with the seal of Rassilon, on his way back to the 'new' console chamber. An inkling that he may need it soon had jogged his sensitive mind, much in the same way that he had been reminded of the tool caught within the console. He put it under his arm and left the chamber.
The seventh Doctor began making adjustments to the sonic screwdriver as he walked down the halls towards the cloisters, happy to have the old friend back once more...
The eighth Doctor opened the crushed paper
bag and gasped aloud, looking first to Lee and then Grace. "My
sonic Screwdriver! Thank you!"
"Funny how things work out," he thought.