Homecoming – A Doctor Who Story

“You lied to me! You told me you would keep me safe! You said I would see my home again!”

The words played over in his thoughts a million times.

Again and again.

It had been more than two weeks since he pulled himself from the rubble of the Sorehn high city in which the Daleks were in control. His mind was still racing, his body still aching and awkward; changed, but some how familiar.
Through the period of the last few days his memories began to form slowly like pools of water in the rain.
Many beautiful memories of he and Ahpa and their many adventures through both time and space together.

“Ahpa, save your strength! The walls of the citadel are crumbling about you and you’re going on about my character flaws! Can we get out of these sewers first before you pass judgement on me? I’m trying to save us both here!”

“I am cold!”

“Here, then! Take my coat, my dear!”

“Thank you……..umm… Doctor?”

“Yes?”

“They are all dead up there? Even the children of the Sorehn people?”

“Yes, Ahpa. Yes, I’m afraid so.”

The memory seemed to pause in his mind there as he stumbled over the remains of a Dalek casing in the desert sands; it’s darkened eye stalk barely visible beneath the dunes. He reached down to examine the creature as the ground beneath him began to pulse ever briefly with life. The stalk flickered as the man stumbled backwards into the sand.

“Doc—–tor!”

The metallic voice spoke slowly, the words broken and fading.

“You—-are—–an—–ene—-my—-”

The voice faded out leaving only the howl of the wind behind. If the man ever needed confirmation of his identity before he had awakened, these dying creatures in the sands always seemed to confirm it. Their words and behavior frightened him weeks ago when he found himself coming to in the sewers of planet Sorehn. Covered in the dust of the fallen city and the sand of a dead world, he now seemed far more frightened of who he was before the tragedy than of the enemy he faced….

“Why, Doctor? Why could we not save them as we have saved ourselves?”

….the words echo through his newly formed brain like they have been there forever; the oldest question he could never answer.

Why couldn’t he save them all?

“The city fell, Ahpa! The Daleks destroyed the entire city when the pulse we sent up into space wiped out their fleet! How was I to know they had already launched an offensive targeting the high city? All of our efforts to mislead their attacks failed horribly, my dear, and only those of us in the sewers have survived I’m afraid!”

“The Magistrate? We just parted with him and the others before the bombardment….”

“If he and his people returned to the city…”

“Doctor!!! The ceiling is caving in!!!!”

The Doctor dropped to his knees under the weight of the memory; the memory he had only now recovered. A tear began to form in his eye.

“Ahpa….my dear, Ahpa. I am so sorry.”

The Doctor closed his eyes, trying desperately to fight back the flood of memories as they pounded at his newly regenerated body. His hands shook, quaking from the onslaught of emotions he now felt as he remembered awaking from the rubble that had snapped his spinal cord in half and crushed his dual hearts.
The confusion he had felt in his head at that time and the subsiding pain in his mind where there was none in his newly formed body was all consuming. New aches and pains took their place. New likes and dislikes. Essentially, a new man….with new problems.

But this new man had retained a very true sense of urgency from his previous self: the need to find Ahpa.

A few moments later would reveal what his mind had tried to block out.

Near him, on the ground lay his young friend Ahpa, cradled with The Doctor’s coat in her arms. Her body was unharmed by the debris, but the dust and particles in the sewers were far too much for her fragile lungs to handle and she had succumbed to the deadly air.

“You lied to me! You told me you would keep me safe! You said I would see my home again!”

The Doctor clenched his fists in the sand, letting his grief overtake him now.

“Sorehn IS your home, Ahpa!”

“No, it is not! The TARDIS is my home now!”

“Don’t be silly, child. Your home is with the Magistrate and he will keep you safe. He may be a bit rough around the edges….”

“He is an evil man, Doctor. He is not at all what he would have us believe…”

“…I’m sure that our adventures have at the very least broadened your perspective on his ability to care for you far exceeding that of my own….and besides…..you were officially due back home yesterday!”

“Doctor…”

“Not another word, Ahpa! To Sorehn we go!”

At the time, during the confusion of regeneration, he presumed the child clinching his coat to be no more than another of the many bodies he would encounter on his search for the TARDIS. 

With the knowledge of Ahpa’s death now confirmed in his mind, he stood slowly and turned around to the direction of the fallen city. He had to return there. Ahpa deserved a proper burial. As did all of the people of Sorehn. He trudged onward through the sand and wind. The TARDIS would be fine, wherever it was. This was his only opportunity to make good on what his previous self had made so poorly of; make Ahpa’s homecoming right.

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