To the future Companion who is reading this:
Congratulations! I hope you had a fantastic time passing your "initiation" of surviving an alien attack. If you're reading this, you're traveling with the Doctor. Having passed his test, you've probably already figured out that he's impossible. Trust me, he's always like that. I'll do what I can to help you.
I'm Rose. I was his companion too, once. I traveled with the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. Yes—Ninth and Tenth. The same person, with a different life. You'll understand later—hopefully before you witness it first hand. He may be a lot of fun, but there's a lot of things he tend to forget to tell people, so I'll tell you some of them. There're also some rules that you'll need to follow if you want to have any hope at all.
I'm from South London. I met the Ninth Doctor when he blew up the shop where I worked. We were being attacked by store window dummies. We faced so much. Of course, if you're reading this, I'm not here. Someday, I'll try and find my way back. Someday. You won't stay here forever, you can trust me on that. So please, please, continue this book.
This book is going to be a rulebook, a guide, and a journal. The TARDIS is alive, you know, a living ship, and she'll make sure you find this. Please use it like I have—record the lessons you've learned in between running for your life, keep track of where you've been, and tell the ones who'll come after you what your experienced, so that they'll learn better.
That's all I ask: that you follow these rules and write down the ones you find out.
Rose Tyler, Companion to the Ninth and Tenth Doctors.
-First page of the Companion's Guidebook
Megan Cooper leaned against the doors, catching her breath. She was still winded from the battle. "So. Not exactly a police box, is it? It's..."
"Yes, yes, I know it's bigger on the inside than on the outside," said the Doctor impatiently.
She looked at him cooly. "I wasn't going to say that. Occasionally it's beneficial to be polite, you know."
He looked at her. "That's not fair. She just accepted that I'm occasionally, unintentionally rude. Can I get a refund?"
"Well, I'm not her, whoever—what did you just say?"
Megan stood right in front of him, managing to look down on him even though he was six inches taller than she was. "That wasn't nothing. Did you say can I get a refund?"
"Nope. Absolutely not."
"Yes, you did." She slapped him, as hard as she could. Which was pretty hard.
He took three steps back, staring at her. "Second time in my life I've been slapped, and the first time by someone I've asked to join the TARDIS crew. If I can't get a refund, can I trade you in for a better one?"
"Do you want to get smacked again?"
"No." He took something silver out of his pocket and pointed it at the floor. It lit up and made a dzz-zz-zz! noise, and a section of the grating moved. He jumped down under the floor and crawled underneath the console and out of sight. "Go explore the TARDIS, why don't you?"
"Alright." She flounced out a door at random.
Down the hallway she went, turning at random, not really caring where she ended up but mapping her path in her head so that she could find her way back. She came to a door at the end of the hallway. "Mind your step," she read from the sign, and entered the room. The stairs took her by surprise, and she went sprawling. Her head hit the wall with a clang.
She sat up. "Mind your step," she repeated, and made a face. "I sure did that well." She hit her head on the wall, on purpose this time. Clunk."Wait," she said. "First it clanged, then it clunked. She hit her palm against the wall. Clunk. She moved to the right and tried again. Clunk. And again. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. Clang.
"Thank you," Megan whispered. She pulled her lipstick out of her pocket and marked an X on the sweet spot. She then ran back to the control room.
The Doctor was still under the console. Megan strolled casually over to the controls. "You've got quite a ship."
"Is that good, or bad?"
"Thanks. Don't touch the sonic screwdriver, by the way. It can be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing."
She picked up the silver thing he'd used earlier. "It this the sonic screwdriver?"
"I don't know. I can't see it from down here."
"It's long and silver, with a black tip on one end and a...bluish glass tip on the other."
"Yes. Leave it alone."
"Course I will," she said, and pulled an ordinary screwdriver out of the toolbox on the floor. Resting both tools on the console, she asked, "If you don't mind, why a screwdriver?"
There was a loud clank and a yelp before he called, "Let's not start that. I like it, so it doesn't matter what you think."
"I think it's brilliant," she said honestly. She pulled a piece of paper and a pen out of her pocket and began writing a note. "I was just curious."
"Well, it was on-hand," he said. "I had a lot of cabinets to put up."
"That'd make it go faster, I reckon," she said, rolling the note tightly around the ordinary screwdriver. "I mean, a sonic screwdriver would make putting up cabinets faster."
"Yep. And I didn't have to actually, physically drive any screws."
"Yeah." She laughed and picked up the sonic screwdriver. "What else does it do?"
"Opens the floor. Makes computers work. Unlocks things. Well, it opens almost anything. Almost. Makes living plastic dead again...blows up Christmas trees...enters passwords..."
"So, basically, a pretty multipurpose weapon."
"Cool." She ambled towards the door. "I'm going to explore some more, alright?"
She followed her path back to the room with the hollow wall, and this time, she minded her step. She frowned as she saw that the X she'd drawn was almost completely gone, but it was enough. She took the sonic screwdriver and turned it around in her hand. There, that had to be the switch. She pointed the tool at the wall and pressed it.
For a second, nothing happened, and then a panel on the wall opened. She reached in and pulled out a blue notebook. Across the front cover were written the words The Companion's Guidebook, and in smaller letters below that, A Field Guide to the Universe as Seen Through the Eyes of the Doctor's Companion.
"A field guide, huh?" Megan asked herself. "Who wrote this, I wonder?"
She opened it to the first page. There was a letter written there. She read it quickly. "Rose Tyler, Companion to the Ninth and Tenth Doctors," she said, tracing the name with her finger. She stood up and managed to stuff the notebook into her jacket pocket, and returned to the control room.
"Hey, Doctor," she called. "Is your ship self-cleaning?"
"She's alive," he said, his voice muffled through the floor. "I don't know. She doesn't organize things, I don't think..."
"Oh, you'd know," said Megan quietly.
"...but I never have to dust her."
She replaced the normal screwdriver on the console with the sonic one. "Fascinating."
"Yep. Why did you ask?"
She waited for a moment, and then said, "Earlier, you said something about—her. You didn't say who she was. Was her name Rose Tyler?"
There was silence. Not even the clanking of him tinkering with the TARDIS could be heard. Megan had the sinking feeling she'd said something she shouldn't have. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
For another moment, he didn't answer. Then, he said, "Yes. Yes, her name was Rose Tyler."
He didn't speak again, and Megan retreated to the safety of an empty bedroom. She pulled out the notebook and looked at the letter on the first page.
"Who were you, Rose Tyler?" she asked aloud.
The pages of the notebook offered her no answer.