Short Stories

What the TARDIS thought of ‘Time Lord Victorious’

As it’s 11 years since The Waters of Mars, here’s what happened on that incredible adventure and the birth of the Time Lord Victorious from the TARDIS’ perspective, written by James Goss.

Find out what happened after The Waters of Mars at

I fall through time, or rather time falls through me.

I've travelled with many Doctors, I will travel with many more. Like me they change their appearance to never blend in with their surroundings and sometimes the windows are a bit wrong, but the sight of them always brings comfort and a feeling of home.

The Doctor. The TARDIS. We have learned how to travel together.

This one, the current one - the one who is all Allons-y and so so sorry in the rain - he thinks he has finally learned how to pilot me. He thinks I take him where he wants to go. But. I'll let you into a secret, shall I?

I take him where he needs to be. Which is sometimes also where he wants to be. But not always.

London 1965, for instance. I could have got there in a second. If only he'd asked nicely. If only he hadn't been having fun. If only he hadn't been learning a lesson. About who he really needed to be, not who he wanted to be. But there we go – the old man had run away from his people intent on being a wanderer and never interfering. Instead those two schoolteachers taught him more about himself than he'd have learned in a thousand years of walking alone in eternity.

Each Doctor likes to think they made themselves, but I've helped shape them with a lot of carefully accidental wrong turns. Skaro instead of Shoreditch. Aberdeen instead of Gallifrey. And Heathrow. Heathrow can always wait, Tegan Jovanka.

And this Doctor? He's afraid of Death. He can feel her coming and he wants to teach her a lesson. I can feel all of eternity with every breath, but he feels trapped in the moment. He rescues Adelaide Brooke from certain death. And as soon as she steps out onto the snows of Davies Street a paradox is born. He says he's the Time Lord Victorious, but the universe is having none of it. Not one line.

Adelaide's single step creates a paradox, every foot in the snow widening it into a Time Fracture. And there I can see it. A plan forms. I already know where I'll take him. What I'll do with this Time Fracture.

I can see the Fracture spreading out through time. A few centuries back that-a-way I can see an alien race open it with a temporal disruptor until all of existence collapses. But that's back there. And here and now I can use it.

So. When Adelaide is dead, when he staggers back in, shaken by his future, I will take him to his past. To the past of every Time Lord.

Many years ago, or just now, Rassilon declared the Dark Times off limits. He timelocked the time before the Time Lords (because Rassilon could never use “time” enough in a sentence). Too much damage could happen to history if anyone went there. But the Dark Times are where this Doctor needs to be. He has unfinished business there that he's not even started yet.

He has to make a mistake. A very bad mistake. He's going to change the future and the Doctor needs someone to tell him that's wrong.

So he'll need other Doctors to join him. Which is easily done. Remember – I stay in the same place and I move the universe around me. The one before him – leather jacket and tired smile, oh I miss him – he's beaten by losing a war against Death. So maybe it's time he won one? I can arrange that. Already have arranged it. Will arrange it in a tick.

And a bit further back - ah, there he is - the last of the carefree Doctors. The last one who looks at his past without fear. The frock coat, the smile, no idea what's hiding round the corner. Right now he's moving towards a trap. He can sense time changing already – worlds where history has skipped a beat, cities where wastelands should be, weapons where peace once was. He'll make a terrible alliance with the Daleks. You don't need to be me to see how that will end. But they'll want him to take them back to the Dark Times – and I'll oblige. Because that's where they need to be.

(Hold on – sorry. I got distracted there – an Ood was falling through the Time Vortex. I had one look at him and realised that he'd be useful, so I've given him a little nudge. He's also an expert in death, so can help at least one of the Doctors in the Dark Times. No, don't mention it. All in a day's work.)

Now, if I look a little further back, there's a Doctor who played terrible games with eternity and pullovers. He thought he was the only one to do this, running from one end of time to the other between moves. If only he could see me now (I can see him. Always). Would he be proud of what I'm doing? Would he be angry? Or would he claim it was all part of one of his schemes? That's just like him.

Well, I'm bringing three Doctors together to learn from each other, pulling them through the Time Fracture to the Dark Times. Looks a mess, doesn't it? Well, none of them are going home until it's tidy.

And meanwhile Adelaide Brooke is still walking home through the snow, every footstep widening the fracture in time. She pauses at her door, turns back and looks at the Doctor. And I see her. I see her step into her house and back into history. She smiles sadly as she goes. I know that look. I have worn it many times as we leave battlefields and wastelands. She thinks she takes the last steps alone, but time goes with her.

As she goes I can see what I'm going to do next. Where I need to be next. In a few moments, the Doctor will turn to me, sad and angry and scared and he'll step inside. Wanting comfort. Because that's what I always give him. But not this time. Because that's not what he needs.



Find out what happened after The Waters of Mars at

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