Part 3 – The Impossible Choice
What was this incredible find that the final Time Lord now looked upon with his faithful companion in similar disbelief. He pulled himself forward and swiftly crawled on his hands and knees up to the opening in the clock. Though different to the Doctor’s coral interior design, there was no mistaking the TARDIS control room inside. Despite the obvious fact that it was bigger on the inside, there was a wide sweeping staircase that spun out from the opening and could be seen on the far side nearing the lower ground floor, from which there was a huge engine pillar the was glowing a soft blue – no matter how long it had been waiting there, the life of the TARDIS could not be extinguished, it was almost like it was waiting for the Doctor to arrive. And now here was here, and the engine groaned again, as if to suggest it was waking from a slumber – welcoming its Gallifreyan comrade to the resting place it had waited in for so long.
The Doctor, still suffering from the silent shock which spawned a rumbling of double heartbeats throughout his chest, continued to pant as he stared in disbelief at the room he still refused to accept he was seeing. Then there was a grip on his arm; it was Martha.
“Doctor?” she asked softly. He didn’t even notice her intervention on the moment.
“Doctor!” she said louder. he snapped out of it and his head jerked across to see her "Should we…go inside?”
“I don’t….I can’t…”
“Calm down Doctor,” Martha pulled him to his feet “let’s just go inside and see it”
They took steps together, ducking beneath the low entry of the clock’s door and finding their way through the dim light of the sleepy shadowed TARDIS to the bottom of the stairs. Around the room and the levels of the console platform were lights glowing at strategic intervals that hung in the dark like stars in the night sky. From the bottom level Martha looked up to the door above on the opposite side where a blaze of Arizona sunlight shone through. She was in amazement, much like she was when she first entered the Doctor’s TARDIS for the first time. Her Time Lord friend had already jumped ahead of her and started clicking buttons and leavers to try and revive the ancient travelling machine. Suddenly the room filled with light and the real theme came to life; it was a large square shaped room with dark, almost granite coloured walls which falsely looked as if they bent slightly towards the roof, upon which was an amazing piece of art; circles and stars of different colours all enveloped within each other, closing in to the central circle which bore a strikingly realistic painting of a blood soaked lion standing proud over the carcass of his defeated foe – a great bear.
The Doctor peered up at the art with his mouth open for many minutes, trying to decipher what the art meant or which Time Lord it might have belonged to. So many of the Time Lords personalised their ship to make their own mark; even the most ferocious took part in this almost ritualistic act. Even so, with the amount of Time Lords he had known and the numerous TARDISes he had seen gave him far too many possibilities and not one that matched this specific design. He slumped down onto the chair large leather seat in front of the control console and thought silently to himself for a few moments. Martha cautiously approached and sat with him, not knowing what he might do or say next; this was obviously a huge moment in the Doctor’s life, the size of this moment was unlike anything she had encountered so far and she had absolutely no idea what was going to happen next. Unfortunately it wouldn’t take more than a few seconds to come.
“Martha…” the Doctor muttered “…this TARDIS, do you know what it represents?” he turned to her
“Not really” she felt a little silly for not knowing the answer
“This TARDIS is the vessel of my people, the survival of this ship is a beacon; a symbol that Time Lords never die. Oh Martha, if we knew what this ship knew, if we could have seen what this TARDIS had seen…” then he stopped. He sat bolt upright and pulled his glasses off “THAT’S IT!” he shouted and dropped to the floor in front of the chair.
“What is it?” but the Doctor didn’t answer. Pulling out his sonic screwdriver he shone it over the metallic clamps of an access panel, peeled the floor open and dived inside to investigate a great torrent of machinery, wires, cables and lights; behind which he disappeared. All was quiet for a moment, then Martha asked again
“Doctor! What is it?”
Then his upper half surfaced again to address her
“If I can reconnect the signaling matrix I can find out where this TARDIS has been, if we do that, we can go back and find out who left it there…”
He continued to fumble and switch with instruments under the metal surface, then there was another silence. After a moment or two, a new section that had remained dormant and dark lit up. The Doctor sprung up from under the level and rushed over to the section which had a screen attached to it, he pulled it around and started analysing the display with is specs on. Martha was 10 minutes behind him, she still hadn’t gotten her head around this situation, let alone try to comprehend what the Doctor was doing about it, so she just stood there watching in silence – wishing she could somehow help.
“Aahhh the tracking system is damaged!” the Doctor said in a frustrated fuss. He ran his hand through his hair and scratched away for a few seconds at his infinitely clever head. Then he stepped back again, looking a little upset with something he had just realised.
“Martha… this TARDIS is different”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, my TARDIS is old and derelict; it isn’t meant to exist. It was only chance that brought the ship to me, stealing it from the decommissioning yard was lucky for both of us. Even so, that TARDIS is old and broken. It’s falling apart and slowly it is dying, but this TARDIS Martha, this TARDIS is unspoilt, it won’t ever make a mistake and it can take us further than we’ve ever been before – to the furthest reaches of the galaxy and back in the blink of a eye…” he paused “…but to do that I’d have to reboot the static loops and we’d lose the tracking co-ordinates”
“So we have a choice…” Martha said
“An impossible choice” he told her. He began to walk slowly around the island of the console, looking at the towering engine while running his right hand lightly over the buttons and gadgets on the more modern console; the kind of console he hadn’t seen in 2 regenerations. Martha waited patiently for him to speak again. As he approached the full lap of the control room he stopped and looked at her “Either we go forward with a new TARDIS and explore new words, or we go back and find out how this got here. But if we intervene, I can’t guarantee where this ship will end up, so it’s one or the other…”
TO BE CONTINUED