Compassion (Doctor Who)
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|Doctor Who character|
|First appearance||Interference: Book One|
|Last appearance||The Ancestor Cell|
|Portrayed by||Jackie Skarvellis (voice)|
Compassion (or Laura Tobin) is a fictional character in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novels based upon the British science fiction television series, Doctor Who. Compassion was originally from a people known as the Remote, a splinter group of the time travelling voodoo cult Faction Paradox. The Eighth Doctor met her in the novel Interference: Book One by Lawrence Miles, and she went on to become one of his companions.
Laura Tobin was born on Earth in the 26th century; her name was first mentioned by her sister Alison in the Bernice Summerfield novel Ship of Fools by Dave Stone set in 2593, although Laura did not appear herself. As stated in Interference, Laura became one of the members of a Remote colony established by Faction Paradox on the planet Ordifica in 2594. When the Time Lords attacked Ordifica two years later, the survivors were evacuated by the Faction to the 18th century to establish a new colony.
The Remote, although originally human, are sterile. When one of them dies, a replacement is created from raw biomass and its personality reconstructed from the memories of the people who knew the deceased. Hence, each iteration is not quite the same as the previous one. Laura Tobin was "remembered" several times through the centuries, until the iteration that would be named Compassion emerged in the late 20th century, meeting the Doctor and his companions in 1996.
Compassion often appeared disdainful of the people around her. Her name came from Laura's sarcastic comment that "Compassion" was her middle name. She frequently responded to any observation with the dismissive remark, "Obviously."
The Remote also have the ability to pick up transmitted signals and use them to give themselves purpose. When Compassion had travelled in the TARDIS for some time, the signals of the Doctor's time machine began to turn her into a living TARDIS. The Doctor had previously encountered a living TARDIS in the novel Alien Bodies by Lawrence Miles, a Type 102 which came from his relative future. When Compassion began to evolve, the Time Lords realised that she was meant to be the prototype of the future Type 102s and sought to capture her in attempt to create that new class of time ship. They also believed that she might have the ability to close the Eye of Harmony on Gallifrey, the Time Lord homeworld. When the Doctor's TARDIS was lost for a time, the Doctor and Fitz travelled in Compassion while fleeing from the Time Lords.
Compassion parted company with the Doctor and Fitz at the end of The Ancestor Cell by Peter Anghelides and Stephen Cole, after the Eighth Doctor had destroyed Gallifrey to avert a future war. The aftermath of that act rendered the Doctor amnesiac and Compassion left him in the late 19th century to recover, along with the recovered but embryonic TARDIS, the size of a matchbox, which would take roughly a century to grow back to its initial police box size. She next left Fitz at the beginning of the 21st century, to await the Doctor's eventual recovery. She then flew away towards the stars and has not been seen since, although it is strongly hinted that the character of Madame Xing of the planet Espero in Halflife by Mark Michalowski was Compassion in disguise. At the conclusion of The Gallifrey Chronicles by Lance Parkin, the Doctor sent K-9 on a secret mission to Espero, possibly to seek out "Xing".
These events are difficult to reconcile with the continuity of the re-launched television series. During the events of the 2005 series episodes "The End of the World" and "Dalek", the Ninth Doctor claimed that Gallifrey and the Time Lords had been destroyed in a Time War. Whether or not Compassion was likewise destroyed has not been addressed, although the Tenth Doctor believes that his TARDIS is the last in the universe ("Rise of the Cybermen").
Compassion and her other iterations continue to appear in the Faction Paradox series of novels and audios. In the audios, she uses the alias of Mary Culver and is voiced by Jackie Skarvellis. In the Faction Paradox novel Warring States by Mags L Halliday, Compassion appears in the guise of Kuan Yin, the boddhisatva of compassion or "Goddess of Mercy" in Buddhist and Taoist lore.
In the Faction Paradox novel Of the City of the Saved... by Philip Purser-Hallard, Compassion established an afterlife known as The City of the Saved for all humans and human-descended sentient beings. The original Laura Tobin appears there as well, as does Compassion's son, the living time ship Antipathy.
In the first Faction Paradox book, The Book of the War, the film Mulin: The Ghost Kingdom is a fictionalised version of the events of the audios, relocated to a Japanese village. Compassion is represented by the sorceress Awaremi (Japanese for "compassion").