Return to Gallifrey, chapter 17


Martha was silent.

“I’m not surprised,” murmured the Doctor resignedly. “I never should have told you.”

“You tried to defend your planet,” said Martha slowly, “when you thought it was under fire. Why wouldn’t you? I’m sure I would have done the same…”


The Doctor remained quiet. Then, after a painful few seconds, he gathered his courage and looked her in the eyes. “Then, would you have run?”

He stood up. “A cowardly little novice, that’s all I was then,” he said, his voice heavy. “And Martha…there is absolutely nothing I regret more, not in my 903 years. You must understand that.”


“But Doctor,” she consoled him, “you were so young back then! Young, foolish—surely your years have taught you that? If living with that burden for nearly 600 years isn’t enough of a penance, I don’t know what is! Please, Doctor, just try to let it go.”


He was silent. “I just hope,” he said, almost inaudibly, “that the other Time Lords haven’t caught on to the ghosts yet…we’re very perceptive, you know. A message here could travel to the other end of the planet in less than thirty seconds if one of us used something called Contact. I’ve found it useful in the past…” He paused, remembering all the times he had used it to communicate with other Time Lords, and, on one occasion, with himself. Shaking his head, he said, “I just need to hope no one saw any of that. No Time Lords, anyway.”


He mustered a smile, despite his conflicts. “Well!” he said, waving vaguely at the Citadel, “We need to make it over there sometime, haven’t we? Allons-y!” Without warning, he leapt up and dashed off, Martha not far behind.


The emotional atmosphere seemed to hang in a heavy cloud around the Doctor as the pair stomped their way through the jungle. “We still need to be careful, Martha,” said the Doctor, hacking away at some vines with his Screwdriver. “It’s not over yet. In fact, we need to hurry…” he swallowed, disturbed.


Before Martha could ask him why, the familiar sound of the cannons began to resonate, louder than they had ever been. Instinctively, Martha froze. The Doctor, on the other hand, was running at full speed ahead.


“Martha, the wildlife is very nice and everything,” he shouted, stopping briefly, “but now is neither the time nor the place to admire it! They’re too close to us now! There’s no point in bypassing their radar! We need to run!”


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