The sound of the waves were joined by the sound of a great whooshing. Slowly, out of thin air, a large, blue police box materialised. It was the TARDIS, it’s light blinking as the door opened.
The Doctor stepped out. He was dressed in his usual dark trousers, blue shirt and long, black coat. Pinned to his lapel was a yellow smiley-badge. He looked around him and nodded in approval. They had made it at last.
The second person to step from the TARDIS was Danny, dressed in a dark, grey jacket and jeans. He looked disinterested in his surroundings and instead sneered at the water that had splashed up and soaked his trainers.
The third person to emerge from the time machine was a small woman with shoulder-length, dark, brown hair. She was wearing jeans, a black jacket and a bright, red top. Caroline Fieldgate - as she was now calling herself. She looked a little lost and confused, her eyes flitting all around. Unsure of what to make of her new surroundings.
“Well,” said the Doctor, “we made it.”
“This is Equinox?” asked Danny.
“Yes. This is Equinox.”
The Doctor had told them all about Equinox. The small moon which contained the home of Aleena, the Doctor’s friend who had rescued him after his fairly recent regeneration.
“It looks a bit bleak,” said Danny, noting that the entire shoreline was surrounded by rocks and cliffs.
“She didn’t exactly choose this location,” said the Doctor. “This was were the equipment was found and she built it into an abandoned lighthouse.”
“What’s an abandoned lighthouse doing on an uninhabited moon?” asked Caroline.
“The moon resides in a particularly hazardous nebula. The lighthouse was used to warn oncoming ships of the nebula.” The Doctor knelt down and picked up a small red rock. “As time went on, however, the nebula became more well known and the lighthouse became redundant.”
“And Aleena found the time equipment and built it into the lighthouse?” asked Danny.
“Exactly,” said the Doctor, tossing the rock into the sea.
“And why are we here exactly?” asked Caroline, her hands in her pockets.
“Because we need to get Matthew to Aleena. She can examine him and maybe find some way to re-integrate him into my body.”
“And so our trip to Thornsby is on hold?” asked Danny.
“For now,” said the Doctor, putting both arms around his two companions. “It’s been a few days now, and I’m sure we’ve all seen enough of Thornsby.”
Caroline nodded sadly. She didn’t know what to think anymore. She’d lost the love of her life and what she had considered to be her home. She wasn’t really sure what she wanted these days.
Danny, meanwhile, had tried to block out his terrible experiences with Lisa in 1988. He had told Caroline all about it and she had sympathised.
She didn’t blame the Doctor for what happened, but she couldn’t help feeling a little animosity towards him after what had happened to the pair of them.
And surely travelling through space and time was supposed to be fun?
She closed her eyes and cleared her head, instead pretending to think that William was just out or had gone away to another country to fight in a war…as long as she remembered, they’d still have each other.
“Come on then,” said the Doctor, striding off over the pebbled beach and towards the cliff face.
“Aren’t we taking Matthew?” asked Caroline. “Is it wise to leave him alone in there?”
“He was alone for a whole year stuck in the TARDIS and he never even noticed it. He’ll be fine. Once we’ve found Aleena we’ll go and collect him. I don’t want to bombard the poor woman!”
Danny and Caroline followed the Doctor, but hung back a little.
They eventually reached the cliff face and the Doctor began to climb, grabbing hold of rocks and finding foot holes.
“Be very, very careful,” said the Doctor. “There are plenty of places for you to grab hold of, but if you fall…well, I don’t really need to tell you what might happen.”
“Life and soul of the party as always, eh Doctor?” said Danny, helping Caroline up.
After a good five to ten minutes of struggling up the cliff face, they arrived at the top. Red dirt covered their fingers and hands and the three of them were exhausted.
The Doctor looked out over the vast expanse before him. The strange, purple grass blew gently in the wind and on the horizon he could see a few purple-leaved trees. His gaze shifted to the right and standing about half a mile away was the red and white lighthouse.
“It looks like a lighthouse on Earth,” said Danny, shielding his eyes from the sun.
“It was built by Humans,” said the Doctor, making off in the direction of the structure.
Danny and Caroline, once again, followed, but this time Danny slowed down a little and leaned in towards Caroline.
“Are you okay?” he asked. “You haven’t said much since we got out of the TARDIS.”
“I’m fine,” said Caroline quietly. “It’s just…difficult, you know? Getting used to all of this again.”
“I know,” said Danny. “I think the Doctor’s trying his best.”
Caroline nodded, but she didn’t smile.
“Tell me about her?” she said. “Lisa. My great-great…whatever she never was.”
Danny sighed, thinking back to his time in the 1980’s. He was still struggling with everything he had gone through. His falling out with the Doctor, his falling in love with Lisa and her tragic death. It was difficult to piece together in his head anything that made any sense.
“She was…very caring. Very kind and,” Danny looked at Caroline, “she was like you in a way. Not looks, maybe, but certain mannerisms reminded me of you.”
Caroline smiled. “I wish I could have known her.”
Danny went quiet.
“I’m sorry,” said Caroline.
The three of them continued for a little while longer before they finally arrived at the large, imposing lighthouse building.
“Impressive, isn’t it?” said the Doctor.
“I’ve always liked lighthouses,” smiled the Doctor, “apart from an unfortunate incident I had at one a while back.”
“So she lives in there?” asked Caroline, walking over to the battered wooden door and touching it.
“She did the last time I was here.”
The Doctor crossed over to the door and knocked on it. There was no reply. He knocked again and this time called out Aleena’s name. Still no response.
“Perhaps she’s gone to the shops,” said Danny.
“Very funny,” said the Doctor. He looked down at the lock and it appeared to be blackened and scorched. “It looks like this door’s been hit with a high-energy weapon.” He turned the door handle and it opened, creaking eerily on it’s hinges. “Anybody in there?” he asked.
Still no response.
“Is there a light switch?” asked Caroline, stepping inside the darkened doorway and feeling around the walls.
There was a click and lights flickered on inside the main building.
“Congratulations,” said the Doctor, smiling. “Aleena? Aleena are you in here?”
“Are you sure you’ve got us to the right time?” asked Danny. “Perhaps she moved out years ago.”
“No,” said the Doctor, ushering his companions inside, “I’ve got the right date. It’s only a month since I last left. Well, to Aleena anyway. It’s been a little longer for me.”
“Well she must have packed her bags and moved on,” said Caroline.
The room they were in was large with white-washed walls. There was an old wooden-framed doorway over on the other side which led to the lighthouses tower and spiral staircase. All along the walls there were pictures of various spaceships and even one of the TARDIS against a star field. In the centre of the room was an old wooden table with a bowl of half-eaten soggy cornflakes. A chair had been knocked over and the spoon was on the floor.
“Looks like there was a struggle,” said the Doctor, grimly.
“Or maybe she just had to go somewhere in a rush,” said Danny.
“Look at these scuff marks,” said the Doctor, kneeling down and looking at some muddy boot prints on the wooden floorboards. “She’s definitely been taken. Hopefully.”
“Hopefully?” said Caroline. “Why hopefully?”
“Because I’d rather her be a prisoner than be dead. There are many races out there that would kill to get their hands on the technology inside this lighthouse.”
“So you think they might still be here?” asked Danny, looking around a little nervously.
“Undoubtedly,” said the Doctor. “We need to go and have a look around.”
The three travellers made their way through the main building and into the tower of the lighthouse. They followed the old, dusty spiral staircase up around a quarter of the way when they discovered a door slightly ajar.
“The radio room,” said the Doctor. “I remember visiting it when I was last here.”
They went inside and found a bank of dials and buttons across the room, a chair at some kind of control desk and a set of headphones which were dangling over the edge of the chair.
The Doctor went over to the chair and sat down.
“What are you doing?” asked Caroline, looking around herself nervously.
“I’m hoping that Aleena has left us a message.”
“Doctor, if she didn’t have time to finish her cornflakes, then I doubt she would have had time to record you a greetings card.”
“She did!” said the Doctor, happily. “The Doctor flicked on a switch on the desk and a computer monitor lit up. On it there were a number of lines of computer code and at the bottom, in green computerised writing, it said “PLAY MESSAGE”.
“Okay, okay,” said Caroline, “so she did leave you a message.”
The Doctor pressed the return key on the keyboard and a flickering image of the blue-skinned, blonde-haired Aleena came up on the monitor. She looked nervous and there was a deep cut on the side of her face, green blood had been seeping from it.
Danny, raised his eyebrows. “Do you always pick the good looking ones?”
“Quiet,” said the Doctor as Aleena started speaking. The audio was distorted, but they could just hear what she was saying.
“The lighthouse is under attack. I don’t know who by, but a huge ship has just crashed about a mile away at the crater. I was going to get out and investigate, but I’ve seen on the monitor that the survivors are running over here. They’re heavily armed. I think they want the lighthouse. I knew I should have put the shields up. I don’t know what shot them down, but they’re almost here now.”
There was an explosion in the distance and Aleena turned her head to look to the side.
“They’ve just shot the lock off the main door. They’re inside.”
She turned her head again and then back to the camera, her voice much more urgent.
“If there is anyone watching this then you have to make sure the lighthouse is secure. Make sure nobody else can get here. You don’t know the danger that this place can be to other worlds if the tech falls into the wrong hands. Please…”
The monitor went off.
The Doctor sat there in silence for a moment and then turned to Caroline and Danny. “It’s obvious she was taken. She must have been eating her cornflakes when she heard the ship crash. Then she went to investigate, found that they were coming and made the message.”
“So who’s taken her?” asked Danny.
“I have no idea. And if they’ve taken her, where are they now?”
“Maybe back at their ship,” suggested Caroline.
“Quite possibly.” The Doctor thought for a moment. “Our main priority is to get the shields up around the lighthouse.”
“Surely our main priority is to find your friend,” said Danny.
“No,” said the Doctor. “This lighthouse contains Dalek technology. It can view any event and any person in the entirety of time and space. It has a vortex manipulator built into it so a user can then beam into any time and any place. If hostiles want this place then it can’t be for any good reason. We need to secure it first.”
Caroline had a thought. “Why don’t you let Danny and I go out there and investigate the ship while you try and get the shields up.”
“Too dangerous,” said the Doctor, getting out of the chair.
“Doctor, I survived one year without you, not to mention the 29 years before I met you.”
“With all due respect, Caroline, you didn’t spend one year on a barren moon, did you?”
Caroline could see what he was getting at, but she wasn’t willing to back down. “I’ll make my own decisions,” she said.
“Caz is right,” said Danny. “If your friend Aleena is over in that crashed spaceship, then she probably needs help.”
“I know, I know,” said the Doctor, getting irritated.
“Then let us go. If it’s too dangerous, we’ll come back to you and find another way,” said Caroline. “Let us take some of the work off your shoulders.”
The Doctor sighed. He knew there was no way Caroline and Danny were going to take no for an answer. In the past year they had become extremely independent and no longer relied on the Doctor.
He turned to look at them. “At the first sign of trouble, you come back. Clear?”
The two of them nodded.
“Take a first aid kit from the kitchen and take a couple of Aleena’s blasters.”
“You never carry weapons,” said Danny, grabbing the two, short laser blasters mounted on the wall.
“I’m not carrying them.” He looked at the pair of them. “Use it for defensive purposes only.”
“Understood,” said Danny, popping the blaster in his back pocket.
“Let’s go then,” said Caroline.
A few minutes later Caroline and Danny were trudging past the lighthouse and across the purple grass in the direction the Doctor had pointed them in. The clouds above swirled in the sky, casting large, dark shadows across the plain and the wind had whipped up a bit, making Caroline shiver.
“You okay?” asked Danny, turning to the dark-haired woman.
“I’m good,” said Caroline bluntly.
“This is strange, isn’t it?”
“Us two - and him in there,” he said, thumbing back towards the lighthouse, “- travelling together again.”
Caroline swallowed and turned to Danny. “It’s just…strange. Yes, you’re right. I feel so lost, like I don’t belong anywhere anymore.”
“How do you mean?”
“When I was in Thornsby, I wanted something more from my life, but then when I started travelling in the TARDIS I knew that I just wanted to get answers about myself and then go back home. And then when I was with William…well, that just felt right. Now I know I’m never going to see him again. So all I want to do is go back to him, but I know that I can’t ever do that.”
Danny smiled at her sympathetically. “We should be enjoying this, Caz,” he said. “How many other people get the chance to go off into time and space?”
“I know,” said Caroline, “but how many other people are stranded in the early nineteen-hundreds, fall in love and then get ripped away from their future husbands?”
“I completely understand,” said Danny, “don’t forget, I lost Lisa too.”
“I know,” said Caroline, sounding embarrassed that she had forgotten about Danny’s recent tragedy, “and I’m sorry.”
“We have to try and look at the positives,” said Danny, as they started climbing a gently rising hill. “We both got to experience something we never thought we would. And now we just have to get back to normal and try and enjoy our travelling.”
Caroline shook her head. “How can we do that? I’ve got some secret, hidden powers inside me and you’ve got that Apparite still inside of you.”
Danny looked a surprised.
“It’s obvious, Danny, and the Doctor knows it as well.”
Danny nodded. “It’s trapped. We’re both holding each other in place.”
“The Doctor’s trying to help,” said Caroline.
“But is he? He says he can’t take us back to Thornsby. Is that true?”
“He almost ripped the ship apart trying,” said Caroline.
“True,” said Danny. “Maybe if we could get to the bottom of this then we’d start enjoying ourselves a bit more.”
“Maybe,” said Caroline.
The hill had become a little steeper and there was less and less purple grass and more red dirt and stone. Eventually they reached the top - a ridge - and peered over the edge. It was the crater that Aleena had mentioned in her message and in the centre of it was a large, shattered spaceship. It had a tough-looking design. It was gun-metal grey and looked like it was built for battle. And it looked much bigger than the education ship that had crashed on Trixatin.
“Shall we?” asked Danny, extending his hand towards Caroline.
“Let’s go,” said Caroline, taking his hand as they made their way down the other side of the ridge and into the crater.