Prologue: Our Childhood, Our Home
Nobody who lived in the Drylands of Gallifrey mattered.
At least, that was the word spread from the Capitol home of the Time Lords to the world outside their protective transparent sphere.
Al-Lee Kirsch liked to think that she still mattered.
If not on Gallifrey, then somewhere else in the universe.
She was the last living descendant of Leela, a warrior of the savage tribe Sevateem on a lost colonized planet, before she traveled with Gallifrey’s greatest hero: the Time Lord known universally as “The Doctor.”
Stories used to be told to Al-Lee about how her great ancestor fought monsters alongside the Doctor…how she journeyed to different time periods…how she even been to the fabled planet of Earth, a favorite of the Doctor’s. And this was all done before she settled on Gallifrey with Andred, a member of the Chancellery Guard.
Al-Lee longed to have a life like the one Leela led.
Alas, if it was meant to be, it would have happened a long time ago; instead, she spent her days traversing the Drylands on her hover-bike.
It wasn’t until one fateful day that she got the excitement she wanted.
During one run across the desert region, she spotted what could have only been a temporal storm looming on the horizon. Such storms on Gallifrey were never to be trifled with; it had been known to remove people from existence or transport them to another time entirely. It was unwise to cross such hazardous conditions.
She was just about to turn around until she sighted another troubling spectacle: a group of marauders chasing after a young girl.
The storm raged on behind them.
Al-Lee would’ve believed they were all running from it, if it weren’t for the lasers the marauders fired on the girl.
Never one to ignore a child in danger, Al-Lee rushed on her hover-bike to the scene. Coming to the girl’s rescue, she made quick work of the marauders. First, she executed a sensational flip off from her hover-bike; and then, she displayed acrobatic kicks and punches that the marauders hardly saw coming.
Seeing the storm nearing their area, Al-Lee gestured to her hover-bike and shouted to the girl, “Get on!”
She did exactly as she said, and the two women escaped.
The marauders, recovering from Al-Lee’s surprise attack, were left right under the ominous shadow of the storm. In an instant, they were wiped out of existence when caught in the rain. On Earth, it would be considered similar to the effect of acid rain, except it atomized its victims.
Al-Lee brought the girl to her hut, taking shelter from the storm.
The hut’s metallic structure was all that prevented it from falling under the storm’s influence. It might as well have been normal rain in the way the drops sounded, tapping on the hull.
Regaining her breath, the girl was taken aback by how much bigger the hut seemed on the inside compared to the outside. Its vast, complex, and ultramodern technological interior totally misled the simplistic exterior.
“Is this your T.A.R.D.I.S.?” She asked.
“Not exactly,” Al-Lee remarked. “It doesn’t fly or travel through time like most T.A.R.D.I.S.es. It’s stationary.”
The girl nodded, comprehending the motif.
“Hey, thanks for saving my butt back there,” the girl expressed.
Al-Lee noticed the way in which she dressed; it was a very non-Gallifreyan style.
“You’re not from this planet, are you?” Al-Lee confronted her on the topic.
The girl timidly shook her head. “N-No, ma’am. I’m actually from Earth…but I was born on Gallifrey. I’m Gallifreyan on my father’s side – at least that’s what he and my Ma told me before they sent me with the Doctor.”
Hearing the name of Gallifrey’s Time War hero out of the girl’s mouth, Al-Lee’s interest in her peaked. “What do you know about him?”
“Not much…only that he wears a funky, long scarf and has the buggiest eyes I’ve ever seen. Oh, and he also has this super sweet candy called ‘Jelly Babies.’ Once you’ve had one, you become addicted to those suckers.”
Al-Lee cringed in confusion. “Jelly Babies?”
The girl chuckled. “Yeah, I don’t suppose ya’ll have them here.”
“What’s your name?”
“I like to be called Zoe, but the name my parents gave me is Candace.” The girl’s attitude turned somber as she added, “Only ’til yesterday did I find out my real name in Gallifreyan: Neas.”
Al-Lee’s eyes enlarged with astonishment.
This entire moment, she was talking to the infamous Gladiator of the Time War.