I confess that I am far more interested in meeting a new Time Lord than I am to save the universe from certain destruction. I’ve learned over the decades that any crisis, no matter the size, can always wait at least sixty seconds for a quick meet and greet. The way I see it is if every living creature is going to die in the next few minutes, we might as well be cordial about it. I learned that from the Doctor too. That man … that amazing man could stand in front of an legion of Daleks and still be sure to ask if they would like a cup of tea. The scanner beeps and begins a countdown to the end of all existence in one of its corners. Fifteen minutes. Not much time to waste then. Even still, “I wonder who it is?” is all I can think to say.
“Who cares?” Amy cries from beside me. “The universe is blowing up, River! Do something.”
“All right, mother,” I say with a smirk, “I will.” I glide behind her over to the main navigation section of the console. Well, it should have been the main navigation section. The Doctor, in his latest incarnation, had for whatever reason chosen an antique typewriter to use to enter spacial coordinates, rather than the traditional telepathic circuits, which I noticed he had converted into an old-style pinball machine. I typed as fast I could and then swiped the carriage back to the left. “Pull those levers there!”
“Which lever? There’s like a dozen of them.”
“The two red levers next to the big green one. Those control horizontal pitch. We need to realign the TARDIS to account for the neutron flow from the rift.” My pulse is racing now. This is the kind of thing I live for, much better than movie night at Stormcage.
“Okay, I have no idea what you just said,” Amy sighs as she grabs the levers. “Which way?”
“Left one up, right one down.” I finish typing line two and slap the typerwriter back again. “Now.” Amy pulls on the levers gently, as if she was trying to lift a crystal sculpture with a forklift. I can feel the TARDIS fighting back against the controls, so I grab identical red levers next to me. The TARDIS is really meant to be flown by at least six people, but the Doctor and I prefer to just do it ourselves, scuttling around the perimeter of the console like children on a playground. It is much more fun that way anyway. Between Amy and me we are able to position the TARDIS right where I want her to be.
“What now?” my mother pants from across the console.
“What else? We try to save ourselves a Time Lord.”
“And how do we do that?”
I lock the levers and then tap the pink gas tank attached to the communications systems. “We go fishing.”
“Are you serious?”
“What else? There’s a big, gaping hole in the universe below us right now. I’m just going to lower a line into the hole and see if I can snag something.”
“Fishing. For Time Lords?”
Ah, I love the innocence of my parents. They see the universe through such a smaller window than the Doctor and I do. She was seeking understanding while I was having the best day I’ve had in weeks. “Sounds like fun to me. Okay, hold your levers steady a moment.” I hop to the next section of the console and flip a few switches. “Tachyon beam engaged. Now, we hook the bait.”
“Bait? You mean like a worm?”
I can’t help but smirk. “Something like that, yes.” I flip the last switch and stand back to admire my work. The TARDIS continues to groan and shimmy around us, fighting against the pull of the apocalyptic event horizon nearby. “There now, all done. Let’s see who we can catch today.”
“What did you do?”
“Don’t let go of those levers!” I command, holding back a giggle. She really didn’t have to hold them anymore. I’d already parked the TARDIS right where she needed to be. I just wanted Amy to feel useful while we waited. “I’m sending a tachyon pulse down into the rift. Anyone else will dismiss it as background noise. But to a Time Lord, the pulse will sound like a tune they should easily recognize. Then they can lock onto it and with any luck, pull themselves right up to us.”
“It’s the planetary anthem of Gallifrey.”
“You mean like ‘All Hail the Queen?'”
“Oh yes.” Personally, I think it is a catchy tune, though I doubt humans would enjoy it very much. To them, it would sound like Mozart being broadcast through the jet engine of an airplane. It is impossible for their minds to fully comprehend the song anyway since some of the music must be received telepathically while it is played. The scanner beeps, and I pull it back towards me. “Well, that was faster than I thought. We’ve got a bite. Oh! Oh, that’s quite clever,” I say as I finish reading the analysis. “Now, we need adjust the shielding to let them in.” I walk over to a final station and turn a few dials, reducing the strength of the shields around the TARDIS just enough to let my catch inside.
“River,” my mother moans, “what is that?”
Directly next to her, the air in the TARDIS has started to blur and twist in on itself. “It’s a transmat portal. Our guest is about to come on board.” I’m giggling. I can’t help myself, I am just too excited. This will be the first Time Lord besides the Doctor I ever met. He has told me a few things about his people, the rest I’ve learned from legend and myth mostly. Some considered Time Lords to be noble, scholastic watchers of law and order over all the cosmos. Other saw them as tyrants, imposing their will over others without due consideration on the part of the oppressed. So many planets and civilizations bore the scars of the Last Great Time War, very few spoke highly of the Time Lords nor mentioned any individuals in a positive way. Well, everyone treats me the same way, I suppose. I couldn’t wait to see what this Time Lord might be like. The blur of the portal begins to focus around its center and then extends up to the same height as my mother. A moment later, the tall blur coalesces into the form of a woman.
She is a tiny thing, barely a hundred pounds, with long, black hair that flows down to her waist. She’s wearing the red uniform of a Chancellery Guard with thin, white stripes that extend from her shoulders down the front of her chest. Instead of the traditional red and white pants I’d seen in archival images, she wore a matching silk skirt that flowed to her ankles. Her face is covered with scratches and dirt, but her eyes … oh, her eyes are ablaze with wonder. She scans the room and then leaps to the console, her white cape billowing behind her. “What,” I stammer, “what are you doing?”
“No dog left behind,” she says with a smirk, typing quickly onto the typewriter, far faster than I ever could. Then she slaps the carriage back, and a new transmat portal begins to open behind her. This time the portal is floating just above the floor, only a few feet wide. A moment later, the blur solidifies into a silver box. A smaller silver and red box, the thing’s head, extends out its front and bobs up and down. On top are its ears, two small radio dishes, that whir and spin as they scan the area. The woman knells down next to the robot and pats its head. “Are you alright, K-9?”
“Affirmative, Mistress,” the robot dog answers with a high-pitched, robotic voice. “All systems normal.”
“Good then,” the woman says as she turns back to the console. “We need to get away from here as quickly as possible and then decide what to do next.” She looks over the console with a puzzled look on her face. “Where is the dematerialization matrix?”
“The spinning anemometer on your left,” I answer quickly while realizing I’m trying my best to be impressive to the Time Lady from the end of the universe.
“Thank you,” she says with a confident tone and shuffles past Amy to the controls. “This TARDIS,” she demands, “where did you get it?”
“We live here,” Amy answers before I could.
“Two humans? Living on a TARDIS? There must be quite the story to tell.” She starts to pound calculations into an ancient computer keyboard, probably preparing a message to send out. But then she pauses, looking up from her work with a strange, puzzled look. “This TARDIS … I’ve been here before.” She looks up at me, her mouth agape. “Is he here?”
I thought that she was shocked to see me naked, but it’s clear by her expression that I must appear clothed to her. That means this Time Lord has a telepathic link to my TARDIS. She had been on board before. “Who?” I ask with a frog in my throat, already knowing the answer. My blood began to simmer with jealousy.
“The Warrior, of course.”
“The … warrior?” I sputter, my fists slowly unclenching. My scanner beeps, and the TARDIS is kind enough to display some biographical information about our new guest.
“Yes. This field matrix stabilizer has his trademark on it. I remember he modified it to destroy a fleet of Dalek battle cruisers using limericks. Only he could have one retrofitted like this.”
“We don’t know any warrior,” Amy barks. “Just who the hell are you?”
“Mother, please,” I whisper, finishing the report. “We must show some respect. This is Romanadvoratrelundar, the former Lady President of Gallifrey, the leader of all the Time Lords.”
The woman whirls, extends her hand out to my mother and smiles. “But you can call me Romana.”