Broken Star

I look down at the object in my hand, a small blue star edged with gold. Or at least it was a star, a star which was broken when the Doctor thrust it into the Cyber Leader's chest unit, and I feel tears pricking my eyes as I remember when it was whole. This was Adric's badge, awarded to him for mathematical excellence, the one he was almost never seen without. Now, in its broken state, it is more than just a badge; it is the symbol of a young life lost.

"Adric," I whisper, my voice choked with tears. I cannot hold back any longer. I remember the words the Doctor said to Tegan and me not long after Adric died, telling us we should not mourn unnecessarily, that Adric would not want us to dwell too much on our loss. But I can't help it; the sight of that broken star in the palm of my hand reminds me that our band of time-travellers can never be the same as it was before. The tears start to flow down my face and my body is racked with sobs, as I cry for the friend we have lost.

For Adric was a friend to all of us. He may have been difficult to get along with at times, may have clashed with the Doctor and Tegan on more than one occasion, but none of us ever wished to lose him in the way we did. Every time I close my eyes, I see the freighter plunging towards Earth and hear my voice screaming Adric's name, as if doing so would somehow prevent what we all knew was going to happen. Then, as the explosion whited out the scanner, I turned away, unable to speak, and sought refuge on Tegan's shoulder. None of us were able to speak in those first few moments, although Tegan found her voice long enough to say the words "Adric?", then, in a tone which demanded answers, "Doctor!" The Doctor did not reply; the look on his face told us everything we needed to know.


I then find myself thinking of various incidents involving Adric. Our first meeting in my father's quarters on Traken, the day we met up again on Logopolis where I had come in search of my missing father, the moment we (together with Tegan) witnessed the Doctor's regeneration, Adric's capture at the hands of the Master which led to our bizarre adventure in Castrovalva, the time he nearly fell under the influence of Monarch, our encounter with the Terileptils on 17th Century Earth, the fancy dress ball at Cranleigh Hall . . . I can almost smile at the last memory, recalling how I called Adric a "pig" for spending most of the time we were there raiding the buffet. But these memories only serve to remind me that Adric is gone, that he is no longer part of our group and never can be again. That thought makes me cry harder.

There are times I still expect to see Adric in the corridors of the TARDIS, to have to mediate in one of the frequent arguments between him and the Doctor or Tegan. I was always the peace-maker in our little "family". Any death leaves a void that can never be completely filled. It may become gradually smaller until you no longer notice it most of the time, but it never disappears entirely. And, right now, I am extremely conscious of the void Adric has left. We started out as friends, but, shortly before he was killed, our relationship reached a new level; we became physically attracted to each other. Sometimes, I think that, if only I had known this would happen, I might have . . .

I look back down at the broken badge in my hand. It is the last tangible trace we have of Adric; the explosion which killed him was so powerful that the freighter and everything in it was instantly obliterated. That's why we did not take the TARDIS down to the crash site, partly because the heat and the flames generated by the explosion would make it impossible to get near, but also because we knew there would be nothing left. There was no body to recover, no body to bury or cremate. All we had left was a broken star-shaped badge. I let my tears fall onto the metal, as if that will somehow make it whole again and restore Adric to us. But that is something even the Doctor cannot do, as he told Tegan when she suggested we used the TARDIS to go back in time and get Adric off the freighter before it crashed, something we had been unable to do at the time because the TARDIS console was damaged during our fight with the Cybermen. The Laws of Time, we were told, forbid anyone (anyone who can time-travel at least) from changing the outcome of established events.

The worst thing is that Adric needn't have died. Not because he was a young boy (the youngest member of our group) and should have had his whole life ahead of him, but because there was no reason for him to be on the freighter. It had gone back in time to before there were any humans on Earth to be killed by the impact and the resulting explosion; instead, it became the "meteorite" that killed the dinosaurs. Adric unknowingly sacrificed himself in a vain attempt to prevent something that was going to happen anyway. True it stopped the Cybermen's plan to crash the freighter into 26th Century Earth, but at such a cost . . . And, though the logical part of my mind tells me Adric would not have suffered, that the explosion would have killed him instantly, that is small comfort.


Perhaps the hardest thing of all was the brief remembrance ceremony. This was held in a room deep within the TARDIS, a room lit by a diffused light, a room with no furniture except a stone altar. The Doctor explained that it was used as a shrine to honour his deceased companions; he had only used it twice before, but had hoped never to have to do so again - certainly not with someone as young as Adric . . . But, with no mortal remains, this was the only way we had of acknowledging our friend's passing. I remember standing next to Tegan, listening as the Doctor spoke of Adric, of his bravery and determination, of his mathematical skill - a fact of which Adric himself had reminded us on more than one occasion. But I did not take most of it in; my mind was replaying the moment Adric and the Doctor left the TARDIS to search the freighter. That was (although we didn't know it at the time) the last time Adric stepped through the TARDIS doors, the last time I saw him alive.

Occasionally, I glanced at Tegan. Normally the most outspoken of us, she was standing silently, tears slowly tracing their way down her face. She was, I am sure, thinking of all the times Adric annoyed her and wishing there was some way she could apologise to him for all the fights the two of them had. But it was too late for that now; Adric was forever lost to us, his life cut short just when he was beginning to show his full potential. I remember, after we picked up the survivors from the freighter, Captain Briggs telling us about the logic codes which Adric tried to solve, how he had been entirely focused on the problem and determined to see it through until the end, even refusing to evacuate with the crew. And I remember Tegan telling me that the Cyber Leader tried to force the Doctor to choose between her and Adric, threatening to have her killed unless the Doctor left Adric on the freighter. In the end, Adric chose to stay behind, promising to catch up later; Tegan was the last member of the TARDIS crew to see him.

Next, the Doctor placed a framed picture of Adric on the altar, setting it next to the two already there. One of these pictures showed a dark-haired woman in a long gown; the other was of a woman in what appeared to be a uniform. For a moment, I wondered who these women were and how they had come to die. Had their bodies been lost, as Adric's had been? But my gaze was drawn back to the picture that had just been placed; it showed Adric smiling, unaware of the fate which awaited him. I did not say anything the whole time we were in that room and neither did Tegan. The grief was still too strong for both of us.

Now, Tegan too is gone, left behind on Earth after our first adventure without Adric. I miss her - she was a good friend, in spite of her sometimes bossy manner - but at least I can console myself with the thought that she is getting on with her life. Adric, on the other hand . . .


"Nyssa?"

I look up, my face still stained with tears. The Doctor has been standing there without me realising it. He looks the same as ever, right down to the ever-present sprig of celery on his coat, but his face is etched with sorrow. Indeed, ever since that fateful day, I have seen that expression on many occasions, the expression which tells me the Doctor is thinking of Adric. Adric was like a son to him; though their relationship after the Doctor regenerated was characterised by frequent arguments, there was still a bond beneath the surface. That has made the knowledge that we failed Adric just when he needed us most especially hard to bear. So we try not to think of it, instead finding things to do and places to visit to keep our minds off our loss. Even so, there are times when the grief still resurfaces.

The Doctor walks across the room and sits down beside me, putting his arm round my shoulder. I lean against him, vaguely conscious of his two hearts, and we stay like that, each drawing comfort from the other's presence. Adric's badge is still in my hand. Though we managed to retrieve most of the broken pieces, we decided not to try and repair it. Instead, it will stay forever broken as a reminder of the sacrifice its owner made.

Just for a moment, I imagine that Adric is there with us, looking exactly the same as he did in life. Same dark hair, same brown eyes, his badge for mathematical excellence pinned to his shirt as usual . . . But the vision soon fades and I am left with only the memory of the boy I knew. And, though that memory still pains me now, I know I will never forget Adric or the Close bond we shared for as long as I live.

I slowly close my fingers around the broken star in my hand.