Sarah Jane stepped out of the Tardis and looked at one of the most amazing and alien landscapes she had ever been privileged to see. The Tardis had landed near the edge of an escarpment, and she could see for miles. She breathed in the air that tasted of things she had no words for, feeling the warmth of a sun that was different from her own, and let the full wonder of it all sing in her veins.
This was Flane, one of the planets they had all worked together to save along with Earth. Donna had not gotten to see this, and now Sarah could never tell her. Harriet had never left Earth, never even known the names of all the planets they had saved. That Sarah Jane was here, present in this time and place, was a gift she fully knew the value of, as well as the price.
In one direction were mountains that reared up, their steep flanks folded into valleys and hummocks punctuated with outcroppings that rose like spires twisted into fantastical shapes, defying gravity. The angles and peaks of the mountain tops looked sharp enough to cut the sky, jewel-bright and hard against the shifting swirl of lavender-silver-green that domed the sweeping view. Where mountains on Earth would be dotted with verdant meadows or ranks of trees, bushes of every shade of brown or green or yellow, these looked to be covered in a filigree of pierced and lacy metal — brass, bronze, copper, gold and iron, here a verdigrised slope glinting cobalt and ruby in the spaces between the metal, there spicules of silvery grey poked up amongst a frozen froth of brazen bubbles, greeny-gold and red-brown flowing around clumps of iron-black to mingle in a streaky rainbow of a metallic cascade.
The metal was alive: a faint ting and click and clatter like wire on glass came to Sarah Jane's ears borne on the moving air. A mountain's worth of wind-chimes.
In the other direction, down the long slope of the glacis at the base of the foothills that glittered with remnants of the metal overlay, the view stretched to a airy distance that ended only where a bright line met the sky. An ocean perhaps, sheened like mercury or glass. A layer of cloud lay close to that far, flat ribbon, darkly purple against the lighter haze of the receding distance, and marching across the top were cloud-waves, great curls and combers rising up like wind-whipped water. They moved with an eerie, slow majesty, their tops bent forward, holding their shapes rather than toppling over and breaking into wrack and foam. She imagined that there was life on that gentle plane, in that distant sea.
She turned to the Doctor standing beside her. His hair was as wild it its own way as the white mane or riot of brown curls of either of the incarnations she thought of as 'her' Doctors, his eyes as bright, nose as distinct as any of the ones she had known. Most of all, the sheer force of his presence was undiminished. He cleared his throat under her clear gaze, but didn't, for once, seem to have anything to actually say.
"Thank you," Sarah Jane said quietly. "Thank you for letting me see this. I'm ready to go home now, back to Ealing and Luke."
For a moment the Doctor looked like he wanted to protest or persuade or simply piffle her into staying with him and adventuring again, but she wasn't going to let him do that. She smiled and put a finger on his lips before he could open his mouth. "No. It's time I was going home. But I'll never forget, you know. None of us do."
And presently there was the sound of the Tardis vanishing into the vortex, and in the wind of her passage the metal leaves chimed like bells.