It’s been three days since they left Musgrove Hill, the Wire and the coronation, all of it behind them. The Doctor’s been in a mood – not angry, not anymore – certainly not at John. But she was furious, he knows; he’s learned to read the signs, like a seismologist gauging aftershocks in the wake of a big one.
Morose silence, broken by flashes of humor and strange, rambling lectures about whatever happened to be floating through her head. At breakfast, it had been a lengthy description of pastry dynasties on a planet in the Cygna arm of the Milky Way, on a planet called Glomb. Something about filling wars, and how things had gotten so desperate they’d resorted to chemical warfare, pudding powders and fruit compotes. All the while she was talking, she absently plaited her hair into the most elaborate braid John had ever seen, fingers moving surely and steadily. Another aftershock: her blond locks in new and intricate styles, so complicated human hands couldn’t possibly accomplish them.
John is yearning for a stop, to step outside the TARDIS doors and into a new adventure, but the Doctor doesn’t seem inclined to land them anytime soon. He needs some sort of distraction, something to help him forget being trapped inside the Wire. The sharp, stinging crackle of electricity across his consciousness, trapped in cold darkness, without corporeal form, screaming out for the Doctor with a mouth he no longer had.
There’s no distraction, though, because they’ve been idling in the vortex, and when John asked if they could visit Glomb and try the pastries, the Doctor shook her head sadly and told him the planet was uninhabitable; the people had turned the oceans to cream cheese filling, during one of the more intense chemical campaigns of the war.