"Hmmm?" His voice was almost inaudible, muffled as it was by the console he was working under; although, she noticed that his hearing was working just fine.
"I was wondering..."
"Hmmm? What were you wondering, dear?"
She wasn't sure how to approach the subject; she wasn't sure how he would react. After all, she knew so little about him.
"I found something in the wardrobe..."
"Find something you like?"
"Well, yes and no..."
"Well, don't just stand there, girl. Spit it out. I don't have all day." For some reason, she didn't know why, but for a brief moment, she could have sworn he sounded like a crotchety old man. She disregarded it and forged ahead.
"I found a little skimpy animal skin suit in the wardrobe..."
She was interrupted by the sound of his head hitting the bottom of the console. A moment later, massaging his head, he came out, a cross look on his face. Then he smiled.
"Melissa, I assure you, any... thoughts you may have had about the ultimate purpose of that little piece of clothing, you are wrong, dead wrong. As it so happens, one of my earlier companions was a savage, a member of the Sevateem tribe. She was most comfortable in her native dress. A good thing, too; with that knife..."
Melissa smiled. "Wow, Doctor. That must have been some time in your life. Was this companion... er, recent?"
"Oh, no. Leela was one of my companions during my fourth life. That was, oh, roughly 100 or 200 years ago. Not recent at all." Then he sat down on one of the couches, and she sat down next to him. "Would you like to hear more about it?"
"Sure. I always like to hear about any of your adventures."
"Good, because this one was a good one. Let's see... about halfway through my fourth life, Leela, K9-"
"Wait a minute. K9?"
"My first robot dog. Very resourceful construct, actually. Except for two things: it seemed to be afraid of the console room, and it had this rather irritating habit of calling me "Master.' Based on recent events, you can see why this would irk me slightly."
Melissa laughed, as the Doctor continued the story. "Anyway, Leela, K9, and myself were unexpectedly called back to Gallifrey..."
Melissa smiled as she continued down the corridor. She had liked the story of the Gallifreyan assassin, and it seemed that he had many other stories like that, just waiting to be told. But, strangely, the Doctor clammed up for a while afterward. She had no idea why; was there something that the Doctor was trying to hide? Was he afraid that if he told her too much, she'd figure out his secrets?
*Well, Doctor, by not telling me anything at all, you've made me that much more curious.*, she thought. *But I've decided to leave you alone for now. When you decide to tell me more, you will.*
She entered the gothic-furnished console room... to find the Doctor apparently in a bad mood. He was shouting to the air around him.
"Would you please shut up!"
Surprisingly, a voice answered from the air around them.
"No, Doctor, I won't. This is just too tempting to resist."
Melissa grimaced at the evil, ominous voice coming from the air, and looked at the Doctor. "It's the Master again, isn't it?"
"Why, yes, dear, it is. So good to see you again, Miss Chambers. How are you? Enjoying your stay in this rustbucket, I trust?"
"Why don't you put a sock in it, you egomaniac! Can't you see the Doctor's busy?"
"Yes, of course I can. That's what intrigues me so. Now, old friend, what would possibly be so important for you to get up out of bed and make a course correction in the middle of the night, hmmm?"
Melissa looked at the Doctor. "You've changed course? But I had my heart set on going to 1590 London to see Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth!"
The Doctor looked at her, pleading. "I know, I know. I did, too. But this is more important."
"What is more important?"
"Yes, Doctor, what indeed?"
"You stay out of this!" At Melissa's shocked look, the Doctor hastily said, "Him, not you."
"Doctor, I'm worried. Does this have something to do with your dream?"
"Dream? What dream?" The Master was intrigued now. The Doctor looked at the sky and bellowed, "Would you please be quiet?" The air was silent, as the Doctor continued.
"Yes, Melissa, it has to do with my dream. I... saw something very bad, and I'm afraid that it's just the beginning." He turned to the console and began to pull levers and buttons. Melissa walked over to the other side of the console and looked at the controls, but all of them were completely foreign to her. Still, she was determined to help.
"Well, can I help?"
"No, you can't." The Doctor was now completely preoccupied with his work now; he spoke in a very distant monotone. This worried her greatly. She had never seen him so intent before.
"Well, since we're not going to London, can you at least tell me where we are going?"
"No, I can't."
"I can." The voice reappeared out of the air.
The Doctor looked up. "She doesn't need to know."
"Well, I think she does."
"Well, I think she doesn't!"
"Oh, that is just like you, isn't it? Always keeping information to yourself. I never understood your reticence, but then again, neither did 'she', did she?"
The way the Doctor stiffened made Melissa notice what the Master was saying. *What is going on here?*, she thought.
"So, out with it. What's up?"
"I can't tell you. You must trust me on this, Melissa. And don't listen to him, either." He indicated the air. "He doesn't have the slightest idea what this is about."
"Well, if you don't tell me, I'll just have to get it from him, won't I?" She crossed her arms defiantly, as the Doctor punched some buttons. The Master acted surprised. "So it wasn't supposed to happen this way, eh? Don't you know it's very bad to change history? I do..."
"Doctor, what the hell is going on here? I want to know now!" The Doctor stared at her. For a long moment, the staredown continued, then the Time Lord sighed.
"All right, then. I'll tell you." He looked up at the air. "And no butting in!"
"I wouldn't dream of it. That is, unless you hold back something."
He moved over to the couch, and Melissa sat down next to him. She had a feeling that he was going to tell her another story; however, she had a sinking feeling that there wasn't going to be a happy ending.
The Doctor sighed again. "Oh, where to begin..."
"Try at the beginning."
"All right, the beginning. Well, in my seventh life, I, along with my companion of record, Melanie Bush..."
"Wait a minute, you had a companion named Melanie? Did she like to call herself Mel?"
"Yes, she did. Now, could I get on with the story, please?"
"No, hold on. Does this companion have anything to do with the little face you make every time I want to be called Mel instead of Melissa?"
"Yes, but I can't go into it right now." He stared her down again, and decided to continue.
"In my seventh life, Mel and I traveled to this barren planet known as Iceworld. While there, we met a young girl. Her real name, I found out later, was Dorothy, but she very much preferred to call herself Ace."
He had paused for a moment. Melissa urged him to continue. "Go on."
"At the end of our adventure on Iceworld, Mel left me, and Ace stayed on. We had several adventures together..."
"And then the walls came tumbling down." The Master intoned. The Doctor looked up at the air, which remained silent.
"We eventually arrived in 1940's England, where we found out about an ancient evil's plan to rule the world with the Nazis and some vampire-like beings known as Haemovores. I was able to stop Fenric's plan, but in so doing, I... alienated Ace."
"Can't say it, can you? He betrayed her! Was about to send her to those monsters..."
"Shut up! I had to do it! She was keeping them back!"
"What? I don't understand..."
The Doctor paused for a moment. "The Haemovores fed on victims who showed no faith; indeed, the spread of a faithless evil was their whole purpose. In order to trap Fenric and the Haemovores, I had to give them a target, bait."
"Exactly. But they wouldn't fall into the trap. Her faith was keeping them away."
"Faith in what?"
The Doctor paused for a moment. "In me. Her faith in me was so overpowering that the Haemovores stayed back. I had the spring the trap; if I didn't, Fenric would have won..."
"So he tore down the one person who believed in him unquestioningly, in front of everyone." The Master spoke again.
"You did what?" Melissa was astonished; she couldn't believe what she was hearing. The Doctor, a man whom she thought possessed infinite compassion for life, had done this?
"I don't believe this... What exactly did you say?"
"It's not important..."
"He told her that she meant nothing to him, that he in fact brought her to that spot to serve Fenric." The Master voice changed, became disgusted. "And I thought you were different, old friend. But you're just as manipulative and dishonorable as the rest of those stagnant Time Lords. To turn your back on your friends like that... But, then, that wasn't the first time, was it? Remember Peri..."
"SHUT UP!!!" The Doctor strode to the console and pulled out a mass of wires. The Master's voice sounded garbled as he said, "You won't get rid of me that easily..." Then the air was simply, finally silent.
The Doctor muttered, "You won't guilt me that way. I've guilted myself enough to last a lifetime." Then he sighed again, and returned to the couch. Melissa began to ask, "Who's-", but the Doctor forcibly silenced her with his hand.
"Don't ask. Just don't ask me, all right?" His voice was forceful at first, but by the end, it came out more like a plea. Melissa decided to not push the issue, and as she nodded, the Doctor lowered his hand.
"So, what happened to you and Ace?"
"We continued our adventures together, but things were never the same again after that. She left me, finally. The parting was... bitter, at least for her."
"So, what does this have to do with your dream?"
"I had a dream of Ace... being killed by something. I have to find out the truth."
He stood up and went over to the console again. Melissa followed him and stood, once again, on the other side of the console, opposite him. "So, where are we going?"
"We're going to a planetoid known only as Hinire Upsilon 3249. At the time we're going to be arriving in, it had been a Dalek base for its war against Earth." At Melissa's shocked look, he smiled-slightly.
"Don't worry; we're going to arrive after the Daleks have left the area. According to the historical records I have, Ace was a member of a Spacefleet search-and-rescue mission there in late 2580 AD. There, inexplicably, improbably, she disappeared."
"You mean, you didn't know it was going to happen?"
"No, I didn't. It's not supposed to happen. Ace was never killed in that manner. So, obviously, something is messing with time. I intend to find out what."
James Tiberius Kirk strode purposely onto the bridge of the Enterprise-A, ready for command. The only problem was, his heart wasn't in it. At least, not anymore.
Lieutenant Saavik stood up from the command chair, turning to the captain. "Captain on the-"
Kirk silenced her with a wave of his hand. "As you were, everyone. No need to stand on ceremony for me."
"But, sir, Starfleet Executive Order 398 specifically states-"
"I said there is no need to do this. Is that understood?" Kirk's voice was meant to sound steely, but instead, it sounded very tired, Saavik noted. *And not due to sleep, either*, she thought. *Has he really given up on everything?*
Saavik relinquished the command chair to Kirk, who sat down and sighed, as if the very action was killing him, which it was, inside. The very thing that meant the most to him was being taken out from underneath him, and he could do nothing.
This went not unnoticed by Spock, who had just entered the bridge and stood in his customary science station to the right of Kirk's chair.
*This sadness at the loss of the ship is tearing you apart, Jim.*, he thought. *We both have had a great deal to live with in the past several days. Be strong, Jim. There is an old Vulcan saying: "Faith manages." You must believe...*
If Kirk could actually hear his friend's thoughts, he gave no outward sign. Instead, he turned and spoke to Spock with an air of detachment, as if their mission really didn't matter at all.
"What exactly are we doing here, in this God-forsaken asteroid belt out in the middle of nowhere?"
"According to Starfleet, there are reports of possible dilithium stores in the Narigeron Belt. We are to take preliminary readings and tests of the rock samples and report them to Starfleet, who will then send a geological survey team if the results warrant it."
"But why us, Spock? I'm sure they could've found another ship, a better ship, to do the job."
"Perhaps so, sir, but we were the closest ship to the belt, and the surveys will only take three point five days out of our schedule. We have our orders."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. But don't you think that Starfleet is just... I don't know, delaying the inevitable, by doing this to us?"
"Yeah, this is just some stupid excuse to hold off on putting us in the coffin until they're ready." McCoy had entered the bridge a moment- actually, it was more like a staggering limp. Kirk shot McCoy a look.
"Bones, are you all right?"
"Yeah, yeah. And I'm not drunk." This last was directed at both Spock and Saavik, who were looking at him curiously. "I'm just still a little tired, and I think my knee joints are locking up a little bit. Damned arthritis..."
Just then, Saavik looked at her board, and called out, "Captain, I am detecting some kind of disturbance enveloping the ship!"
Spock looked at his scanners, and replied, "Miss Saavik is correct, sir. I am picking up some kind of particles from inside the disturbance. These particles are consistent with spatial-temporal phenomena."
"Spatial-temporal- do you mean that something is moving through space and time, at the same time?" McCoy was astonished, to say the least.
"That is correct, Doctor." Kirk looked at Spock.
"Is this something hostile?"
Spock was about to speak, when a voice came out of the air.
"No, Captain, I assure you, I am not hostile."
Kirk gaped. "That voice... I couldn't be..."
Suddenly, there was a flash of light, and a figure appeared in front of all on the bridge. The man was black-haired, about thirty-five, dressed in a simple black jumpsuit.
Every on stood there for a moment, dumbstruck, until Kirk finally stammered, "Gary Seven..."
The figure nodded. "Sorry for the entrance, Captain, but I'm in a hurry. I have information of great import to reveal to you, and they're not far behind."
"Who, Gary? Who isn't far behind?"
"You know them as the Darkness, Captain."
The word hit Kirk like a bolt of lightning. "The Darkness? Are you sure?"
"Yes, I don't have much time..."
"Jim, what in the devil is this all about?" McCoy, now completely awake due to Gary Seven's entrance, sputtered. Spock looked his friend. "Yes, I agree with Doctor McCoy, though not quite in exact syntax. I do not understand..."
Kirk silenced them both with a wave of his hand. "Bones, Spock, not now. Now, you said the Darkness is coming. Are you the Light from my dream?"
"No, Captain, I'm not. I do know of him, though. The Guardian is a being of far greater power than I. He called for you, and this means that you are very important to his plan."
"Plan? What plan?"
"His plan to defeat the agents of the Darkness, totally and utterly. You, the Champion, and one other..." He trailed off.
"Then you aren't the Champion, then?"
"No. He is a man of many faces, of many lives, of many deeds. You will know him when the time comes."
"Stop talking in riddles, damn it! Who is the Champion? Who is this Guardian? What are those blue things from the dream, the ones who took the woman? Is the woman dead? What is the Darkness? And what the hell am I supposed to do to make a difference? I want answers, straight answers, and I want them now!!!"
Gary Seven sighed. "All right, Captain. I will tell you what I can. Not what I know, but what I am permitted to tell you. The White Guardian is a being of immense power. His duty is to fight the forces of Darkness, led by his counterpart, the Black Guardian. I, along with the rest of the Argus Project, are primary agents of the White Guardian."
"What is this White Guardian... God?" McCoy muttered. Gary Seven smiled slightly.
"In a way, yes. Not like the God you know, but similar. May I continue?"
"The agents of the Darkness are the beings you saw in your dream. There are other names to call them, but that is the only one that matters. The woman you saw is very important to the balance, which is why the agents took her."
"Then she is alive, then?"
"Yes, she is. For now, at least. How long she remains that way, however, is up to you, the other, and the Champion."
"Why is she important to the balance? For that matter, the balance of what?"
"You would call it the balance between Good and Evil. A primitive term, but it will do. She is important, because she is a being out of time."
"Out of time? You mean... a time-traveller?"
"Yes, but in a very limited way. Nevertheless, she is important because of the things she has accomplished, and that which she has yet to do. There are several like her, people throughout history that have established themselves as crucial to the balance."
"Apparently, the agents have seen fit to take these special people out of time, and hold them hostage. Without them, the fabric of time will be irrevocably damaged, and the Darkness will prevail. We cannot allow them to succeed. We cannot!!!"
He said this so emphatically that even Kirk began to feel more important. *I'm special... Important to Time's balance*, he thought. *Maybe I'm not washed up yet.*
"And who is the Champion that the Guardian spoke of?"
"He wears the face of man, yet he is not a man. He is a Lord of Time, an nearly immortal alien who has travelled through time and space for over a thousand years, battling evil and injustice in all its varied forms."
"Such an invaluable agent of the Light has he been that the Guardian bestowed upon him the title of Time's Champion. It is your destiny to assist him and the other to defeat the agents of the Darkness and return the hostages to their proper place in Time, restoring everything to what it was, is, and will be."
McCoy couldn't believe it. "You mean that Jim here has been given this charge to save the entire Universe, along with this 'Time's Champion' and some other guy? Who is this other guy, anyway?"
"I cannot tell you much about him at all, except that he is also an important human agent of the Light, like Captain Kirk. That is all."
"That's it? Why can't you tell us anything else?"
"I think I know Gary Seven's motivation." Spock announced. "I would surmise that the 'other guy' that Doctor McCoy speaks of is actually from our future. We must not know of our futures, lest the timeline be altered before we can have a chance to save it."
Gary Seven smiled. "That is correct, Mister Spock. But don't worry, Doctor McCoy. You will understand when the time comes."
"Now, what is that supposed to mean-" McCoy didn't get to finish his sentence, because Chekov's board beeped. He took a look at it and spoke.
"Keptin, there is another spatial-temporal disturbance forming outside the ship!"
Kirk looked at Gary Seven, who nodded. "It's them, Kirk. They're here."
"Chekov, shields up, quick!"
"I can't, sir. The controls are not responding..."
"Shields aren't any good against time-travellers, you should know that." Gary Seven suddenly turned, as another flash of light appeared on the bridge. When the light dissipated, a blue alien stood in its place.
*The alien from my dream... the one who took the woman!* Kirk thought, shocked. Then, faster than anyone could react, the alien raised its hand and released a bolt of energy at Gary Seven. Kirk expected his friend to vanish, like the others, but was surprised to see the other alien crumple to the ground, unconscious.
"No!" Kirk shouted as a security man entered the bridge. The officer fired his phaser, but the bolt caroomed harmlessly off the alien, who then turned and fired another energy bolt at the officer. There was a blossom of light, and then the man vanished, vaporized.
In the commotion, Spock had sprung over the railing separating the science stations from the rest of the bridge. He kneeled next to the fallen form of Gary Seven and attempted to pull him off to the side.
But before anyone else could move to help him, the alien turned, paused a moment, and then fired a bolt at Spock. Kirk sprang out of his chair, moving toward his friend. *Got to help him...*
But James Kirk could not move faster than light. As he watched, the bolt hit Spock. He did not die, Kirk realized; the Vulcan froze there for a moment, just like the woman in his dream, and then vanished, along with the alien.
Kirk stopped suddenly, as if he couldn't believe it. *Spock gone, just like the woman. The way the alien paused on Spock like that... Could he have been the alien's quarry all along?*
"Jim!" McCoy had made his way to Gary Seven's body and scanned it hastily. He looked at the tricorder's readings, and as if he didn't believe them, scanned the body again, more slowly. He looked at the readings again, and then shook his head. "I don't believe it."
"What? What is it, Bones?"
"Last time we saw Gary Seven, our phasers had no effect on him whatsoever. But whatever that... thing was shooting, it was much stronger than anything I've ever seen..."
"What are you saying, Bones?"
McCoy's next words came out as a whisper, and the fear and sadness that emanated from them caused Kirk's hair to stand on end.
"Gary Seven... is dead, Jim."
When the wheezing stopped and the light stopped flashing, the box stood there, slient, for a moment. Then, the door suddenly opened, and voices could be heard from the interior.
"Do I really have to go, Doctor?" The female voice seemed a little shaky, fearful of the unknown that awaited outside the protection of the TARDIS.
"But isn't this the main reason you came with me, Melissa? To explore the unknown?" The voice of the Doctor was calm, with just a little bit of impatience. He had come here to find clues of Ace's fate, and nothing would deter him.
"Well, yeah, but you said that this place was crawling with Daleks. From what I saw in the TARDIS computer banks, they're pretty nasty creatures."
"I said that this place WAS crawling with Daleks. Emphasis on the past tense. We've arrived at a point of time where the Dalek forces have been scattered by the Spacefleet. There is absolutely nothing to worry about. Come on."
He held out his hand as he stepped out of the TARDIS onto the deserted landscape. Melissa took it and followed him out. Upon seeing the surface, she gasped.
"It-it's so dead-looking! Was it always like this?"
"No, it wasn't. Many centuries ago, around the time of Earth's Renaissance, this planetoid was home to a thriving alien civilization. The planet was lush and full of life."
"What happened, Doctor?" But she already knew the answer, even before the Time Lord spoke.
"The Daleks happened, Melissa. They came and stripped the planet bare, using it as a base for their little war with Earth."
"And those that lived here before the Daleks came..."
The Doctor shrugged. "I don't know. The Daleks didn't kill them, if that's what you're thinking. I think the previous civilization was gone some time before the Daleks even arrived."
He looked at his companion, and pointed off into the distance. "Look there. Some kind of Dalek military installation. Probably abandoned once the war ended. Let's go. They may have some answers."
"Who? The Daleks?" Melissa croaked a little; she didn't want to face them at all.
The Doctor smiled. "No, silly. The computers that were left behind. Now, come on, or I'll leave you here." He strode off puposely toward the installation, some three or four miles distant.
As they walked, Melissa asked some more about Ace, and the Daleks. The Doctor decided to tell her about the time when the Daleks had come to 1963 Earth and took over the Coal Hill School (after the First Doctor had left with Ian, Barbara, and Susan, of course). He had just finished with... "And once the Daleks' home planet of Skaro was destroyed..."
"Wait a minute... I don't understand. You destroyed the Daleks' home planet with this Hand of Omega thing, right?"
"So, why are there Daleks here, now? And exactly when is now, anyway?"
"All right, listen closely. 2580, and the Skaro that was destroyed was in the future. Several decades from now, in fact."
"What kind of answers are those?" Melissa was miffed again, but the Doctor didn't notice. He smiled.
"Reverse order. You didn't say how you wanted them answered. Now, then, here we are." And indeed they were.
The installation was a large building, colored gunmetal gray. At the top was a large rod, protruding into the heavens. Melissa pointed to it.
"Doctor, what is that?" The Doctor, who was busy using his sonic screwdriver to pick the lock, pretended not to hear her. She asked again, a little louder, and the Doctor looked at her.
"Hmmm? What's what?" She pointed again, and the Doctor looked at the rod thoughtfully. "Well, it appears to be a electromagnetic pulse weapon." He stood there for a moment, and spoke again. "Now that I look at it a little more closely, doesn't this whole building look a little familiar to you?"
Melissa thought about it for a moment, then she snapped her fingers. "Yes, it does! It looks like..."
The Doctor finished her sentence. "Like a giant Dalek. One thing about Davros; he'd never make it as an artist. Not an originally creative bone in his mutated body." He laughed a little, and fiddled with the lock for a few more seconds. Suddenly, an audible click was heard.
"Ah, there we go." He looked at Melissa, who began to pale. "See, there's nothing to be afraid of..."
Melissa said nothing, just took the Time Lord by the shoulders, and turned him around.
Standing there in the now-open doorway were a trio of gray Daleks, side-by-side and pointing their guns at the Doctor and Melissa.
"Oh, dear." the Doctor said resignedly, and put his hands up.
Artwork by Robert Sankner, Copyright 1997
Cris Lawrence, alias Doc8 on Dalnet, is a 20-year-old sophomore Political Science student at Miami University of Ohio. In addition to this story, he is currently working on two other Eighth Doctor stories: "Picture of Guilt", featuring the first adventure of Melissa Chambers and the Doctor; and "The Play's the Thing", which, with some revision, will hopefully become my first published New Adventure sometime in 1998. Cris is also a fan of the DC Comics character The Flash, and you can see the culmination of his obsession on his Scarlet Speedster Web Page
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