The TARDIS was acting up again as the Doctor raced around her controls, trying to get her to stabilize.
Phaze and Anji were sitting on the chaise lounge, clinging to it as the ship bucked and tossed through the time vortex while Fitz clung onto a railing nearby. “I see what you meant,” Phaze called to Fitz. “This kind of thing does happen a lot. But I can’t say that I can really get used to it.”
“Give it a while longer, you haven’t been with us very long yet,” Fitz answered.
The Doctor ignored their conversation as he focus on his ship. “We’re slipping out of the Vortex. It’s as if there were some type of sinkhole, pulling us down.” He said, almost more to himself than anyone.
“Yup, same old same old,” Phaze said with a smile to Anji.
Anji just shook her head and called over to the Doctor, “can you fix it?”
“I’m trying, Anji,” he answered.
Suddenly they were all thrown to the floor with a violent lurch from the TARDIS before everything became still.
“Everyone all right?” the Doctor asked as he climbed back to his feet.
“A few new bruises, but I’ll live,” Fitz replied as he got up.
“We’re fine,” Anji said as she stood and helped Phaze to untangle herself from the chair.
“Good. Now, let’s see where we ended up,” the Doctor said with a grin as he switched on the scanner.
They all looked at it for a second before Fitz said, “Well, all that fog means we must have landed back in London.”
The Doctor studied a few readings before he said, “No, I don’t think so. The TARDIS isn’t giving any readings on the place or time. She’s usually really good on detecting Earth by now.”
Fitz shrugged but Anji asked, “Could it be the Toymaker again?”
“No, I don’t think so. His place gives no reading at all on a place or time, this is almost as if it is everyplace and time. The readings are all across the board and constantly changing. I think that something might be interfering with her sensors.”
“What do we do?” asked Phaze.
“We check it out, of course,” the Doctor said with a flashing smile as he led them to the door.
Tegan had had about enough of these rough landings and she was going to let the Doctor know that when she stormed into the control room. “Doctor, you’ve been flying this thing for who knows how many centuries, you’d think that you could learn to give it a smoother landing by now!”
The Doctor and Turlough were standing over the TARDIS computer, looking at the readings, and ignoring her completely. “I mean, you could at least warn me when you’re about to send me sprawling to the floor yet again.”
“It wasn’t his fault this time,” Turlough said to her.
“This time?” the Doctor said indignantly.
Turlough decided to ignore him and continued. “Something happen with the time vortex and we literally fell out. We’re lucky that it wasn’t much worse.”
“Well where are we then?” Tegan asked as she came over to the men.
“Something is interfering with the TARDIS sensors,” the Doctor said. “It can’t get a fix on our location or time.” He gave her a grin and said, “We’re just going to have to find out the old fashioned way.
Tegan rolled her eyes as she knew exactly what that meant.
“The fog is really thick, Doctor,” Phaze said as she stepped out just behind him.
“Yes. I think that it would be best if we all held hands. We wouldn’t want to become separated in this.” He reached back and took Phaze’s hand, who took a hold of Fitz’s, who grabbed Anji’s. One by one, they began to wade through the blanketing fog.
“I can’t see a thing!” Tegan exclaimed as she stepped outside. “I live in London, but this is ridiculous.”
“I believe that it would be prudent if we held hands,” the Doctor said to them as he took a step out.
“You want to actually go walking around in this stuff?” Tegan cried. “We’d be lost in no time. And what’s to keep us from wandering off the side of a cliff or into a river?”
“Tegan, where’s your sense of adventure,” the Doctor admonished as he grabbed her hand and pulled her with him. Turlough quickly took her other hand, not wanting to be left behind.
The four companions walked carefully through the fog. After a short while Anji asked, “what is this place? There seems to be nothing here.”
“Yes, that’s a good question Anji,” the Doctor said. “There’s no noise to speak of and the ground doesn’t even seem to change.”
“What can it be?” Phaze asked.
The Doctor shook his head and was about to say he wasn’t sure when they heard a slight noise to their right. He paused, bringing them all to a standstill as he listened.
“What…?” Fitz began, but the Doctor shushed him. As they listened, it sounded like some very large creature was shuffling around in the fog somewhere nearby. Phaze could swear she heard it sniffing at them.
“When I tell you to run…” the Doctor whispered to them.
But suddenly whatever it was roared a high-pitched screech making them all jump. “Run, get back to the TARDIS!” the Doctor yelled.
Phaze’s hand slipped from Fitz’s as he stumbled in his hurry to retreat. She pulled at the Doctor to hurry with her but, with a sudden rush of passing air, he was wrenched from her grip as he yelled in pain.
“Doctor!” she yelled. But he was already gone. She stood there, alone for a moment before she began to run in the direction that she hoped the TARDIS was.
The three companions hadn’t gotten very far before they heard a piercing roar not too distant from where they were. “What is that?” Turlough demanded as they came to a sudden halt.
“I’m not sure,” the Doctor said. “But I think that we might want to get back to the TARDIS.”
“I agree,” Tegan said as the Doctor turned around and began leading them quickly back the way they had come.
Phaze ran blindly through the fog, stumbling over her own two feet. She had to get back to Fitz and Anji so they could figure out how to find the Doctor. She knew he had been taken by whatever had made that horrible noise, but there wasn’t much that she could do for him. She just hoped that she was heading in the right direction.
She was becoming nervous when she was sure that she had been running for far longer than need be to reach the safety of the TARDIS when she practically ran right into the blue box in front of her.
She heaved a relieved sigh as she leaned against the door to catch her breath. Suddenly she heard the sound of the TARDIS beginning to dematerialize. “Hey! I’m still out here!” she screamed as she pulled her key out and jammed it into the lock. She leapt in and slammed the door closed behind her just as it faded from the fog.
“What’s the big…” but she never got to finish her question. She stood stock still as she looked around the stark white room and the three stunned faces staring at her, one of them she recognized.
“You!” Phaze exclaimed. “How’d you get here?”
“I suppose I could ask you the same question,” the Doctor said as he came around from the control console to face her. He stood in front of her with his hands in his pockets.
“Phaze, where’d you come from!?” Tegan exclaimed.
“Which one?” the Doctor asked Phaze, ignoring Tegan for a moment.
“What?” Phaze asked bewildered by the strange question and wondering how this woman knew her name.
“Which regeneration did you just leave?”
“You mean you? I think it was your eighth, though you weren’t all that sure.”
“Ah, it must be then. He’s the one who gets some memory problems, or so I believe. So you found him again then?”
“Doctor,” Turlough interrupted, “She doesn’t seem to recognize us,” he indicated himself and Tegan
“What do you mean, found him again?” Phaze asked as she became increasingly more bewildered.
The Doctor’s smile faded as he said, “You mean, this is the first time you’ve left him then?”
“First time? I’ve been with your eighth form since I left my planet. And where’s Peri?” she said with a look at Tegan and Turlough.
“Peri?” Tegan asked
“Ah,” the Doctor as he reached behind his head and began to scratch it. “I think that we’re having some continuity issues again. We never seem to meet in the right order.”
“What do you mean?!” Phaze said, getting a little flustered.
“You see Phaze, we’ve all met before just, in your future,” the Doctor tried to explain.
“I’ve met you, but…” she began but the Doctor cut her off.
“Um, if you don’t know Tegan and Turlough, then it is a good bet that you met me in my future and it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to tell us too much about that.”
“Alright,” Phaze said as she crossed her arms. “Then take me back to where we were so I can get on board the right TARDIS this time and I won’t have to worry about telling you something you shouldn’t know.”
“Oh dear. So it was my fault then… That’s going to be a little difficult…” the Doctor said.
Fitz and Anji made it back to the TARDIS and raced inside as soon as Anji got it open. They stood in there panting for a moment before Fitz turned to Anji and asked, “Where’s Phaze and the Doctor?”
Anji looked at him wide eyed as she said, “I thought they were behind you!”
“We got separated!” Fitz said. “But I thought they were still close.”
“You lost them!” Anji accused as she turned to go back outside.
“Don’t you think we should wait for them to come back?” Fitz said. “What if we miss them in the fog?”
“And what if they are hurt or in trouble?” Anji asked.
But her worries were cut short when the Doctor stumbled through the door, holding onto his shoulder. A small amount of blood was showing between his fingers.
“I really need to stop ruining jackets this way,” he said as he glanced under his hand at his shoulder.
“Doctor!” Anji exclaimed. “What happened?”
“Where’s Phaze?” Fitz asked.
The Doctor looked up suddenly and around the room. “She’s not here?”
“I lost my grip on her but figured she was still with you,” Fitz exclaimed.
“Well I was pulled into the air by something or other and then dropped here,” the Doctor said.
“Then where’s Phaze?” Anji asked again.
The Doctor was just reaching for the lever to open the doors again when something materialized between him and the controls.
“Phaze!” Anji exclaimed. But the figure of their friend flickered for a second before it focused again.
“No, it’s a hologram,” the Doctor said, staring at the unseeing eyes of his lost companion.
“How?” Fitz began, but the hologram began to speak.
“I hope that you’re getting this Doctor. This message has probably been inside the TARDIS data banks for a very long time. I also hope that you all got back all right…
I’ve sent you this message to let you know that I am fine. There is no need for you to look for me because I’m not there anymore. I’ve come across an old friend…” her imaged smiled sarcastically. “It’s your fifth self, Doctor. Somehow he got pulled into this place at the same time as us. When I ran, I was so disoriented that I ran right into his TARDIS as it was taking off. It was too late to try and bring me back and he says that it is nearly impossible to find you now since he has no idea where you are going to be.” She sighed before continuing.
“He has offered to let me stay with him until I know what I want to do. Maybe I’ll just keep traveling with him, but since he is a younger version than the one we already met, then it obviously won’t be forever. I only hope that somehow I find you again.”
“Doctor?” Anji asked. “What is going on?”
“Shh,” the Doctor replied as the image continued.
“Fitz, Anji, I’m going to miss you both and if we don’t meet again, I want you to know what wonderful friends you have become. We may have all had an auspicious beginning, but I know that I at least have learned a lot from both of you. Take care of the Doctor, as you are so good at doing, and maybe someday, we will all meet again.”
“She was just here,” Fitz said. “I don’t understand…”
But the message wasn’t quite finished yet. “And Doctor… Thank you. You have shown me a better way of living and I cannot thank you enough for trusting me and allowing me a place on board your ship. I hope that you find what you are looking for because no one deserves a happy ending more than you.
Good bye for now my friends…”
With that, the message cut out and the light faded.
“Doctor?” Anji asked as she looked at him for an answer.
She could have sworn that there was a tear threatening to fall from his eye, but he blinked once and it vanished before he turned to answer her. “We should go. Phaze will be alright.”
“But we left her out there!” Fitz protested. “How could she have sent that message to us if she’s still out there?”
“She is with my past life. You remember him Fitz, you helped saved his companion, Peri. She accidentally wound up in his TARDIS, which is this one, only younger. She recorded that message and timed it to play at this point.”
“I understand, Doctor,” Anji said. “But why couldn’t he just return her here?”
The Doctor was thoughtful for a moment before we walked up to the console and fiddled with something for moment. Some words flashed up on the tiny screen and he took a second, reading through them. “Yes, I rather thought it might be something like that,” he said to no one in particular.
“Doctor?” Fitz and Anji asked together.
“It is highly unlikely that after they left that my younger self would have been able to make it back here. We never should have gotten here in the first place. It’s not meant for us.”
“Where are we?” Fitz asked.
“On a Chronosphere… a place that exists outside of time and space. The reason that everything was so misty to us was because it is so alien that we are unable to process what we saw.”
“And that creature?” Anji prompted.
“I’m not sure what it was,” he answered as his hand once again clutched the bloody tear in his shoulder. “But it obviously didn’t want us here. It grabbed me and dropped me off just outside the TARDIS. It didn’t seem to want to hurt me, just make sure I knew that we are not welcomed.”
They were all silent for a moment before the Doctor began adjusting the controls again saying softly, “We should go.”
“Will we see her again?” Anji asked as the sound of the TARDIS engines began to groan.
The Doctor didn’t respond right away. Finally, when the sounds died away he sighed and said, “I don’t know, but I hope so.”