Chapter One

TARDIS Industries was the world leader in innovative technological research and production. Clara still couldn't believe she'd managed to get an interview at the London-based company, even if it was just for a receptionist's position. She'd moved to London after university to look after the Maitland children for a few weeks before starting off on a tour of Europe with some friends. Then, their mother died, and she put her travelling plans on hold to help them adjust to the lost of their mum. While Clara didn't regret her decision to serve as a nanny for the past three years, she was certain that a degree in history and experience in child-minding didn't make her resume stand out in the pile.

But she got an interview. She took the train into the city and tried to look like she fit in with the businessmen and women walking about in their finely tailored suits as they sipped coffees from Caffe Nero and chatted on their expensive mobile phones. The TARDIS offices were located in one of London's iconic skyscrapers, and she had to go through a metal detector and get a badge at the security desk before she was directed towards the lifts. Clara looked down at her badge, which even had her name printed on it, and thought of the security system at the Maitland's house. She still remembered the code – 792227.

She second-guessed every life decision she'd ever made on the ride up to the eleventh floor. She tapped her foot on the tile floor, grateful that most of the other lift passengers had gotten off on the fifth floor so she could fidget in peace. Once the doors opened to the TARDIS offices, however, Clara set her shoulders back and walked confidently into the large, sweeping room that took up the entire floor.

She paused to stare at everything around her. It was a very modern arrangement, all clean lines and soft lights, and the environment was strangely soothing. Even the sound of the ringing telephone was more pleasant than jarring. Clara smiled, immediately falling in love with the place. She then approached the reception desk, where a redheaded temp asked her who she was there to see.

"Madam Vastra," she replied, feeling her faux confidence seep out of her pores when the woman met her eyes.

"Ah, yes. You're the new receptionist."

"Oh, no," Clara replied with a smile and a polite laugh. "I mean, hopefully. It's just an interview."

"Not from what I heard."


The woman nodded towards something over her shoulder, and when Clara turned, she saw a tall, elegant woman standing there with a patient smile on her lips.

"You must be Clara Oswald."

Vastra gave her a quick tour of the offices; apparently the majority of what she saw was just the marketing division. Several other floors housed many of the other departments, as well as the research and development labs. Clara was fascinated by everything and everyone she saw. The tour then ended when they took a seat in Vastra's office. Clara sat awkwardly on the edge of the seat in front of Vastra's desk, watching the woman take a sip of her coffee with curiosity.

"So, Ms Oswald—may I call you Clara?"

She nodded.

"Excellent. If you could describe yourself in one word, what word would you choose?"

Vastra crossed rested her arms on the surface of her desk and watched Clara curiously. Clara's lips parted as she tried to think of a word, any word, but nothing came to mind. She felt like her brain was malfunctioning. "I dunno. I suppose… Hard-working?"

Vastra smiled and shook her head. "Don't tell me what you think I want to hear. Tell me what you really feel about yourself."

Clara stared blankly at the nameplate on Madam Vastra's desk and then said, "Feisty."

That earned a small chortle of amusement. "Really?"

She nodded and gave a non-committal shrug.

"And if you could describe TARDIS Industries in one word, which would you choose?"

She thought long and hard about that one. "Future."

"Good," Madam Vastra replied, unsuccessfully holding back a smile. "And how do you think 'feisty' will add to the 'future', Ms Oswald?"

"Smashingly," Clara offered, earning another laugh. This was not how she expected a job interview at a major company to go.

"I would imagine so." Vastra slipped on her spectacles and her tone shifted to something slightly more professional. "You're from Blackpool?"


Madam Vastra pulled out a piece of paper that Clara recognized as her resume. "You moved to London in 2008?"

"Yes, ma'am."

Vastra's eyes rose to meet Clara's in what was one of the most intense and peculiar moments of her life. She felt like the woman was trying to peer into her soul, as if she could read her thoughts and tell if she were lying. Clara tried not to fidget in her seat.

A wide smile spread across Vastra's lips. Apparently she approved of what she saw. "When can you start?"