Name: Compassion (Formerly Laura Tobin).
Time of Origin: 1996 (In a rather roundabout way).
Time Span: Interference Book One – The Ancestor Cell
Doctor: Eighth Doctor.
Fellow Companions: The Brigadier, Sarah Jane Smith, 3rd Romana, Samantha Jones, and Fitz Kreiner.
From the beginning, Compassion was unique as a companion in that she was the only companion who would definitively have never travelled with The Doctor as she was before she met him; other companions had the potential to be more than what they were from before their meeting with The Doctor, but Compassion would never have travelled with The Doctor if it hadn’t been for the events. From the beginning, Compassion was unique as a companion in that she was the only companion who would definitively have never travelled with The Doctor as she was before she met him; other companions had the potential to be more than what they were from before their meeting with The Doctor, but Compassion would never have travelled with The Doctor if it hadn’t been for the events.
Compassion’s full history began as a woman from an Earth colony in the future called Laura Tobin, Tobin being captured and forcibly recruited by The Doctor’s time-manipulating foes Faction Paradox at about the same time as Fitz was, the two of them subsequently being trapped in the past as members of the Remote on Anathema. A future Earth colony completely dependent on media signals, the Remote are sterile due to the time-travel biodata they were programmed with, resulting in them ‘reproducing’ via a unique form of biomass which is shaped according to peoples’ memories of the deceased person, resulting in them gradually changing and shifting over time to literally become what others perceive them as rather than what they were originally. Compassion is a version of Laura – she came to be called ‘Compassion’ due to Tobin’s comments that compassion was her middle name, an ironic comment on her caustic personality – based on peoples’ memories of Laura, allowing her to adapt over the centuries it would take for Anathema to reach Earth, her people basing all of their decisions upon the signals they receive from local media via their implanted receivers, located behind their ears.
Compassion, Kode and Guest – another member of the Remote – were sent to Earth by the Faction in 1996, attempting to interfere in Earth’s history to draw the Time Lord’s attention to gain access to a TARDIS to activate an artefact called the Cold – the Remote believed that it was one of the ‘spirits’ they worshipped but was really a Time Lord weapon -, they were met by the Eighth Doctor, subsequently using his companion Samantha Jones to provide them with a better understanding of Earth’s culture (Another agent of the Remote going on to capture Fitz so that he could go back and become Kode). Although the plan failed after The Doctor and Sam revealed the true nature of the Cold, the principles that Compassion and Kode gained from observing Sam’s thoughts after she was connected to the Remote left them with too much new information for them to fit into Anathmea. With nowhere else for them to go, The Doctor allowed them to travel with him, using the TARDIS’s knowledge of Fitz to ‘recreate’ Kode as a slight variation on the original Fitz, although he was unable to restore any degree of Laura to Compassion due to his lack of contact with the original. With Compassion now a companion, The Doctor resolved to help her explore and develop her humanity like he had aided other beings to accomplish in the past, doing what he could to encourage her to be more human.
Compassion’s basic outlook on life could be best described as a sociopathic child; when she originally met Sam, she was unable to fully understand why Sam was angry at the sale of weapons that only killed only a few dozen people at any one time when cars killed thousands of people every year, feeling that the only difference was in scale without considering the moral implications of a weapon designed to kill and the comparatively small chance of death being the result of anyone going for a drive. Even with her new principles of sacrifice and resolve added to her personality – although she was originally unwilling to take action where her own life would be at risk -, she retained this partly simplistic attitude for some time after joining The Doctor, such as when she couldn’t understand why Fitz and The Doctor didn’t burn The Doctor’s books to keep warm while they were in a cold hut in “The Blue Angel”. She was also rather cynical on several occasions, often expressing doubt or disdain that the Doctor’s intervention in situations actually accomplished anything that couldn’t have been sorted out on its own (A fact that wasn’t helped when they spent time investigating a corrupt company on a distant colony when even The Doctor was uncertain if they’d made any positive impact on the situation in the end (“Frontier Worlds”)), even if she still assisted The Doctor due to the strength of his world view providing her with an appealing signal to obey.
The Doctor eventually worked out what appeared to be an ideal solution to the problem of Compassion’s receiver, attaching a filter to the receiver that, due to its link with the TARDIS, would block out any random impulses that might affect Compassion’s behaviour in ways that would impact her own development (Although Iris Wildthyme, an old flame of The Doctor’s, attempted to remove the filter for reasons that weren’t explained At the time) (“The Blue Angel”). After this, Compassion’s personality ceased being influenced by random impulses from the world around her, although she was still capable of receiving – and sometimes even manipulating – media signals, as shown when she used her sensitivity to radio waves to turn the defences of a base against her enemies in “The Taking of Planet 5” or was able to hack into a damaged alien network in “Parallel 59”. Her connection to the TARDIS also resulted in her beginning to absorb some aspects of The Doctor’s morality and personality due to his long connection to the TARDIS telepathic circuits, giving her a greater interest in the problems they encountered even if she still remained emotionally detached, finding the strength of The Doctor’s world-view easy to follow even if she was more willing to resort to violence than he would like.
However, it wasn’t until “The Shadows of Avalon” that Iris’s reasons for attempting to remove the filter were revealed, her actions being connected to Marie, a ‘living’ TARDIS from the Time Lords’ personal future that the Doctor had encountered during his prior dealings with the ‘Future War’, a war between the Time Lords and an initially-unidentified Enemy. When The Doctor, Fitz, Compassion, and The Doctor’s old friend The Brigadier were trapped in the world of Avalon – a dream-world linked to the human subconscious – when the TARDIS was apparently torn apart when caught in the reality barriers between Earth and Avalon, the four of them became caught in a war between the Celtic tribe and the Fair Folk – altered Silurians who had travelled to Avalon centuries ago – that was being escalated by two Time Lord agents sent by the current Time Lord President – the third incarnation of The Doctor’s old companion Romana – to trigger the creation of a new element that would be of assistance to the Time Lords in the Future War. Although The Doctor, The Brigadier and his companions were able to avert the war in Avalon, the agents achieved their goal by shooting Compassion off a tall tower, triggering her transformation into the Type 102 TARDIS; the filter that the Doctor had added to Compassion’s receiver had been detecting signals from the TARDIS, transforming those signals into block transfer computations – seen in “Logopolis” and “Castrovalva” – that would alter Compassion’s very being into the Type 102 TARDIS, a living TARDIS whose chameleon circuit allowed her to disguise herself as other people rather than objects. Although Romana attempted to take Compassion back to Gallifrey to use her as breeding stock for the War – The Doctor having previously encountered Marie, a Type-103 TARDIS from Gallifrey’s future who also possessed a human form (“Alien Bodies”) -, The Doctor refused to allow this to happen, he and Fitz fleeing Avalon in Compassion as the rift between the two realities was sealed once again. Acknowledging his responsibility for Compassion’s new state, The Doctor resolved to keep her out of the Time Lords’ hands until Romana recognised that the future had multiple possibilities and she needn’t focus on preparing for the War by sacrificing Gallifrey’s principles, in the meantime accepting his fate to be on the run from his own people, destination unknown, in a TARDIS that he could barely control, much like when he originally began his travels (“The Shadows of Avalon”).
In terms of her interior, Compassion’s structure as a TARDIS was vastly different from The Doctor’s original ship, even when ignoring The Doctor and Fitz’s obvious discomfort in essentially travelling inside their friend (Fitz in particular tried not to think about the implications of going to the toilet inside her (“The Fall of Yquatine”)). When they originally entered Compassion, they found themselves in an ornate corridor decorated with portraits of The Doctor’s friends, family and past selves in varying artistic styles, progressing to another corridor with doors leading off to Compassion’s subconscious – with such contents as Awful Truths, Hopes for the Future and That Dream About Fitz, the last featuring Fitz’s voice screaming about something -, along with a narrow bridge over the dark chasm of her unconscious leading to the console. The emotional part of Compassion’s mind was represented as a forest to reflect its state of existing beyond the civilised self – as well as representing Compassion’s new awareness of this part of herself -, Compassion’s console room existing in a cave in this forest at the end of a long tunnel of pipes and valves; she also insisted on putting The Doctor and Fitz’s rooms in that part of her, The Doctor speculating that this was the result of her subconscious terror at what she had become ‘punishing’ him and Fitz like a woman will scream abuse at the father of her child while giving birth. Her console hovered over her subconscious blackness on a stone platform, the console itself possessing harsher angles than The Doctor’s original TARDIS and featuring a large crystal as its centre, with Compassion as a TARDIS being far less easy to control than The Doctor’s ship due to her own lack of certainty about what she had become.
The attempt to escape the Time Lords wasn’t as easy as it had been when The Doctor went on the run originally. Putting aside their greater interest in finding him now, Compassion originally refused the Randomiser that the Doctor had used to evade The Black Guardian from his fourth incarnation, and when he installed it, it sent her into such pain that she expelled him and Fitz from her and left them on the planet Yquatine. When she tried to force Fitz to remove it, the resulting spasms of pain after the Randomiser fully integrated itself into her systems sent the two of them back a month in Yqatine’s past, Compassion abandoning Fitz out of fear when she nearly killed him, only to find herself randomly drifting through the Time Vortex when she tried to override the Randomiser and leave the planet only to find herself unable to repeat the process and return. Fortunately, Compassion was finally able to return to Yquatine in time to save the planet, disguising herself as its President and surrendering to the invaders, accepting The Doctor’s reasons for installing the randomiser even as she ordered him not to do something like that again (“The Fall of Yquatine”). As time went on, Compassion grew more attached to her new role as a TARDIS as she began to accept her now powers despite her natural fear at what she was now capable of, growing beyond her old restrictions as a corporeal entity; she even began to perceive the higher dimensions of reality as her transformation progressed, although she still decided to remain with The Doctor and Fitz. Her physical abilities were also altered, her status as a TARDIS rendering her essentially indestructible and unharmed even after falling several hundred feet – although the damage caused by the fall destabilised her interior to prevent anyone entering her for the next few hours – (“Coldheart”) while also allowing her to create a force field around herself that could shock anyone attempting to attack her if the need arose (“The Space Age”).
Despite The Doctor’s precautions, the Time Lords still tried to get Compassion, the most effective attempt being an arton inhibition field that prevented her from dematerialising and The Doctor from regenerating until the field was shut off, forcing Compassion to ‘latch on’ to a ‘host’ to keep herself even slightly stable while The Doctor sought a solution to the problem. However, although The Doctor managed to disable the field in time to escape, the Time Lords managed to acquire information about how to predict the Randomiser, and when Compassion next materialised, in “The Ancestor Cell”, the Time Lords were waiting. In the resulting conflict on Gallifrey against a future version of Faction Paradox, Compassion befriended a technician called Nivet after he realised she was much more than a machine, also ‘reuniting’ with The Doctor’s restored TARDIS as it sought to protect The Doctor from the Paradox virus that he had been infected with lifetimes ago when the Faction changed his history and killed his third incarnation ahead of schedule. When the battle ended, at the cost of Gallifrey, Faction Paradox, and The Doctor’s memories, it was Compassion who, with the Randomiser gone, took The Doctor to 1889 to allow him and the TARDIS, revealed to have survived its apparent destruction, to recover, and then took Fitz to 2001 so he could meet The Doctor after he’d recovered.
Compassion than departed, taking Nivet along to keep her functioning due to the loss of the Eye of Harmony cutting her off from conventional power sources. Although her final fate is unknown, it was implied that the mysterious Madam Xing – who was encountered by the amnesic Doctor during a visit to the planet Espero in “Halflife” – was actually Compassion in disguise, with her possible return being hinted at during the conclusion of “The Gallifrey Chronicles” when The Doctor said that he had sent the returned K9 to Espero on a mission of some sort (Most likely to ask for her assistance in restoring his lost memories and providing a secure new ‘home’ for the Matrix, The Doctor having downloaded the Matrix into his subconscious before Gallifrey had been destroyed).
Her continued survival in the present series is uncertain (Particularly if we assume that the Doctor’s plan to restore Gallifrey was successful only for the restored Gallifrey to be destroyed once more in the Time War against the Daleks discussed by the later Doctors). The Tenth Doctor and the Eleventh Doctor have stated that his TARDIS is the last one in the universe (“Rise Of The Cybermen/The Age Of Steel” and “The Doctor’s Wife”) following the Time War, suggesting that Compassion has been either destroyed or forgotten, but given that the Doctor always treated Compassion as a companion even after she became his mode of transport, it may be that the Doctor doesn’t consider her a TARDIS in the strictest sense of the word, preferring to allow her to make her own way in the universe as a person rather than draw attention to her continued existence as a TARDIS.