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Smoke & Memories

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“Miss Nyssa,” began LOKI as the duo began surveying the surface of the planet on which they had recently landed, “I think you should return to the ship immediately. I don’t like the look of this place.”

Nyssa sighed, turning to her small robot guardian. They had come to the planet Recosa to help victims of a new and rapidly-spreading plague and this was no time for him to be skittish. “You say that about everywhere we land, LOKI. Any signs of life?”

“Scanning...Atmosphere mainly consisting of carbon and sulfur oxides. Fire damage and rainstorms. Life signs minimal; either organic or non-organic. I believe it is best we leave as soon as possible.”

“We have only just arrived.” Nyssa assured him. “And we have a job to do. Distance to the medical facility?”

“Medical facility in eight point three seven kilometers.”

As they approached the silver, clinical building, Nyssa sniffed the air. A peculiar odor wafted through the air. The scent of smoke; probably due to a recent fire, Recosa was known
for them. She paused, and in moments felt transported back to a time when she was several decades younger…

“We thank you, our honored guests” began Arlid, the chief elder of Acantha-VII, whose ceremonial dress made him appear to be more like a giant lizard than a humanoid, “for saving our planet from the wrath of these metallic menaces! Please enjoy this banquet as a token of our everlasting gratitude!”

His words were nearly drowned out by the joyous tones of music wafting in the cool early evening air. Women and children were dancing, Adric was busy helping himself to his third or fourth piece of purple melon, and Tegan was chatting away under a giant palm leaf with a young native she had met. Nyssa, meanwhile, found the Doctor sitting quietly around a roaring fire pit watching the planet’s small red sun began to disappear behind a cluster of stars.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” he asked her; moving onto a nearby rock to give her room to sit down.

Nyssa looked wistfully up at the sky. “It reminds me of Traken. My father and I would watch the sunset in the groves together. ”

“Oh,’ the Doctor paused and placed his hands in his pockets, “Nyssa, I’m so sorry. I can’t begin to imagine how you must feel.”

“Doctor, I don’t know how to feel” Nyssa began, the firelight dancing in her tear-filled eyes, “I’m afraid if I start to grieve, I won’t be able to stop. I lost my family, my world, everything I cared about is gone. I hope this never happens to you.”

The two of them stayed there talking for what felt like forever; until the fire began to go down and Nyssa began to fall asleep. When she awoke the next morning in her bedroom aboard the TARDIS, she noticed her clothes and hair still smelled of smoke. The scent lingered for days and seemed nearly impossible to get out.

“Miss Nyssa, I’m detecting an imminent threat."

LOKI’s panicked words drew her back to the present, but Nyssa never got over how something as simple as the smell of smoke on a diseased planet could take her back to a night so long ago.