Chapter One

The tall, striking-looking man blinked as he attempted to familiarise himself with his surroundings. He was still a little dazed and extremely exhausted from the ordeal he had so recently been through, but there was something oddly comforting about the dome-shaped room in which he stood. The roundels arranged in tiers up the walls; the ramp – a gangway nearly – leading to what looked like a front door with translucent windows at the top of it. He turned and over-balanced slightly in his haste to take in the features of this room, but reached out to automatically grab onto one of the tree-like support structures in the room. Then he saw it. The console. A mish-mash collection of knobs and dials and instruments atop a curved structure that resembled a segmented mushroom with a large tower-like structure in its centre reaching to the ceiling. It was glowing with a greenish light, generated from the inner workings of the tower structure as they pulsated up and down. The man steadied himself properly now and his face broke out into a huge grin which seemed to light up his whole face. His blue eyes sparkled as he moved over to the scanner screen attached to the console.

“I wonder where the TARDIS is headed for this time,” the Doctor thought as he turned the screen to read the course flight plan. “Earth,” he sighed out loud in a soft Northern English accent. “Why is it that we keep returning there all the time? Better there than a lot of other places I could think of, I suppose,” he said, seemingly rhetorically questioning the TARDIS.

At that moment, he looked down and was taken aback by the sight of what he was wearing. A velvet jacket and trousers made of some synthetic fibre, obviously a remnant from his eighth incarnation. The outfit just didn’t feel right somehow with this new body – his ninth. “One of the disadvantages of regeneration,” he thought, “is that a Time Lord cannot choose the new features or body. However, a Time Lord can at least choose the clothes he wears!” He glanced back at the console screen, satisfied himself that nothing was amiss and then walked out through the internal door of the console room into the maze of corridors and staircases that were the inner TARDIS.

Eventually, he made his way to the TARDIS’ wardrobe room. This room was a seemingly endless cupboard with a huge variety of clothing, mostly on racks, but strangely always the right size. Nearby was a full-length mirror. But this Doctor was not interested in what he looked like, at the moment, so the mirror was an irrelevance. Later, undoubtedly, he would wish to see what his new face and body was like, but not now. At this point in time, he just wanted to change into something more serviceable that would enable him to do the job. Finding underwear, a jumper, a pair of black jeans and a serviceable, but comfortable, pair of black boots, he quickly changed. A somewhat battered, even battle-hardened, double-breasted black leather jacket caught his eye. It was hanging on a coat hook just inside the entry to the room. He took the jacket down and tried it on for size – naturally, it fitted perfectly. It just felt so right for this new incarnation. With his wardrobe finalised, he quickly returned to the console room to monitor the TARDIS’ flight and the next stage of the journey.

If he had been interested enough to look at his appearance, the Doctor would have seen a tall man, apparently (in Earth years) in his early forties, with close-cropped dark hair, high cheekbones, a large nose and a wrinkled brow – as if he worried a lot or had a lot to worry about. He had a pair of very expressive blue eyes which were so intense that an onlooker would swear the Doctor could look right into their soul, if he so desired. Added to this was a generous mouth which was prone to break out into a wide, almost schoolboy grin at times, a strong chin, a long neck and, surprisingly, a pair of rather prominent ears, but not unpleasantly so. His body was trim to look at, but muscular and athletic – well-suited to a man of action – and perfectly set off to the best advantage in the black jeans, jumper and leather jacket that he had chosen. Most would have described his appearance as good-looking, even striking, but definitely masculine. This was a man who was no pretty boy, but tough as he was, would most certainly be sexually-attractive to any women he met in his travels. And by the look of him, would enjoy that attraction, even if he hadn’t sought it!

However, the Doctor was unaware of any of this as he leaned over the console and adjusted one of the many knobs on its surface. He busied himself at the controls, trying not to turn over in his mind the most recent and horrific events which led to this latest regeneration.

Regeneration always causes a bit of an adjustment process while a Time Lord grows accustomed to the newly regenerated body – the way the body moves, the way it looks, the way the voice sounds, the manner of speech, the tricks of personality. But always in the end the character of the Time Lord remains the same because the mind, the memories and the feelings are all retained through the regenerative process. For instance, he could still remember the circumstances and pain of parting from his granddaughter Susan, as if it were yesterday, even though it must be five or six hundred years ago and in his first incarnation. Equally so, he could remember much less endearing memories like those leading up to his regeneration.

As the TARDIS settled into a normal flight pattern, these memories started to intrude again into the Doctor’s consciousness…..

(* To be continued….. *)