Lyta looked on, unconcerned, as the Doctor spoke. "Oh, no, Captain, you may speak for me as well. I do not condone killing for purely personal motives, and I never will."
Melissa piped up. "That goes for me, too. You're insane if you think otherwise of any of us, Lyta!"
As the other faces around the room nodded their assent to Melissa's succinct statement, Lyta spoke.
"Why not? Would you let Gary Seven's death be in vain?"
This time, it was the Doctor who spoke with force. "No, I would not. But, there are other ways to achieve justice for wrongs than cold-blooded murder."
"Ah, the belief of the Time Lords. Let someone else handle it; we're too special to interfere. That's a crock, and you know it, Doctor! Remember Skaro?"
Now, the Doctor's fury increased. "Oh, no, you don't. That was justified. They would have used the Hand of Omega to enslave the Earth centuries before it was supposed to happen. That was not a personal reason; the entire balance of Time was at stake!"
Kirk held up his hand for silence. "All right, both of you, quiet down, or I'll put you both in the brig. Now, we won't help you, Lyta. Is that clear?"
Lyta sighed. "Oh, all right. I should have know better. But, mark my words, I will have my revenge on my... friend's killers, with or without you."
"Very well. Is there anything else useful that you would like to say, other than revenge rhetoric?" Kirk was still angry, and everybody knew it.
The rest of the bridge crew were thankful that Lyta hadn't thrown David Marcus's death back at him, as an example. They reasoned that as stressed as he was, he would've exploded. Lyta leaned back, a cat-like smile crossing her face.
"As a matter of fact, I do. I know who killed Gary Seven."
Kirk folded his hands over his chest. "Well, that's great! Mind sharing with the rest of us? The same people that killed Gary also kidnapped Spock, and I want to know what I'm up against."
"Certainly, Captain Kirk. They have had many names, but we know them from our records mainly as the 'Ancient Shadows'. The name comes from their advanced age. Though, they're not as ancient as the Time Lords, mind you," at this, she shot a look at the Doctor, who didn't respond, "they are quite old."
"The 'Shadows' name refers to their ability to become intangible and invisible. They also have the ability to change form to look humanoid. They have used these powers throughout Earth's history."
"So, they are time-travellers, then?"
"Yes, they are. They hide in periods of great historical significance, doing their work in secret, covered by the event themselves. The Great Plague, cholera epidemics, other viral outbreaks, natural disasters. The history books record the events, but the work of the Ancient Shadows are never noticed."
"Yes. The best place to hide is always in plain sight." The Doctor mused. "Favorite method of time-travelling villainy, in my experience. What exactly do these Ancient Shadows do, Lyta?"
"They steal neural energy from human beings, and use it to feed. It is their only sustenance."
McCoy flustered, "That's barbaric! Absolutely unethical!"
As everyone sat there in stunned silence, a voice spoke up. "Only to us, Doctor. Not to them."
Everyone turned to face Saavik. McCoy was the first to speak. "Are you out of your logical Vulcanoid mind, Lieutenant? How can you possibly condone this?"
The Doctor spoke. "Miss Saavik is right, Doctor McCoy. As wrong as it sounds to us, we must remember that this energy is their only food source. Do we allow a sentient life-form to starve to death, or worse, kill it outright, only because we don't believe in the way it lives? That, Doctor, is barbaric."
"No, we must retain our focus. We should only be concerned with finding those who have been taken from us, and bringing them back to their own timelines safely. Anything else would bring a crisis of conscience that I, for one, would have a great deal of trouble justifying."
McCoy sputtered. "How do you call yourself a doctor when you allow this to happen?" Kirk raised his hand again. "Bones, that's enough. The Doctor's right; we cannot let our own personal feelings for their lifestyle infringe on our mission to get our friends back. Is that understood?"
Heads slowly nodded in assent; the Doctor spoke.
"For the record, Doctor McCoy, I want you to know that 'Doctor' is more than just a stylish name I picked out for myself. I am a Doctor in several areas, of which medicine is only a small part. Remember that when you presume to tear down my ethical beliefs. That, and I've had to make ethical decisions that have shaped planets. I don't exactly like some of those decisions," he shot a look at Lyta, "but I do not regret any of them, and I never will. Despite what others do to guilt me."
The Doctor remained silent, as Kirk spoke. "Thank you, Doctor, for reminding me, at least, that humans aren't the only beings in the Universe. Some are very different, and we have to respect their differences. After all, that's what the Prime Directive is for."
He turned to Lyta. "Is there anything else that we should know about?"
"Only that they can travel through both space and time, so they could have hidden Captain Spock and your friend, Doctor, anywhere. Absolutely anywhere."
"Thank you, Lyta. And with that, the meeting is adjourned. You have the Bridge, Lieutenant Saavik. Maintain Yellow Alert status until further notice. Doctor, Lyta, may I have a word?"
The Doctor, Melissa, and Lyta remained behind until everyone had left, then Kirk spoke. "Miss Chambers, you do not have to be here if you do not wish to. I can have someone show you to guest quarters..."
Melissa nodded furiously. "No, Captain, that's all right. I'll remain with the Doctor. I've already figured out that part of the job; to make sure he doesn't get into too much trouble. Although, he does seem to get into a lot of trouble even when I AM around, so..."
Kirk laughed. "Suit yourself, Miss Chambers. Now, then, we have sensor information from both Gary Seven's entrance and that of these 'Ancient Shadows'. I would rather have you together and escorted at all times on the ship, as to not create suspicion..."
He broke off as he looked at Melissa. "Miss Chambers, are you all right? You don't look well."
Melissa, who had been growing pale during Kirk's comments, began to sway a little as she responded. "No, no really. I think I'll take you up on those guest quarters..." She trailed off as her eyes began to roll into her head, and she fell toward the ground.
The Doctor caught her before she hit the ground. He held her with one hand while pressing the other to her forehead. Meanwhile, Kirk pressed a button on his console.
"Kirk to Sickbay! Medical emergency in the Conference Room. Hurry!" The Doctor kept his hand on Melissa's forehead for a moment longer, then spoke.
"Oh, dear. This is what I was afraid of..."
"What do you mean? What's wrong with her?"
"Time Lag. It's very rare; it's where the body has trouble adjusting to the rigors of traveling to different times. Very similar to Jet Lag, in fact..."
"I'm familiar with the reference. Is there anything we can do here?"
"I don't know. I'll have to look at whatever Doctor McCoy suggests for the symptoms. As I said, it's very rare. I've only had it happen to my companions one other time, but then, Adric wasn't exactly human to begin with..."
The Doctor cut short his monologue, as McCoy arrived with a nurse and an anti-grav stretcher, followed by Saavik. She spoke, as McCoy began to examine Melissa, whom the Doctor has laid on the floor.
"Is there anything I can do, sir?"
"Hold on a second, Lieutenant. What's the prognosis, Bones?"
McCoy ran the medical tricorder over Melissa's body a third time before responding. "I don't know for sure, Jim. Her brain waves are all over the place. I'll know more when I get her to Sickbay." The stretcher was brought over, and Melissa was loaded onto it.
As McCoy left with his patient, the Doctor spoke. "I really should be with her, Captain. Perhaps Lyta could go on without me with an escort..."
"Please, call me Jim. And I meant it when I said that you two weren't going to be separated while you're on my ship. Lieutenant?"
Saavik spoke. "Yes, sir?"
"I want you to escort the Doctor and Lyta to Sickbay. And hurry; the Doctor will want to assist Doctor McCoy."
"Yes, sir." Saavik began to lead the pair out of the conference room, but Lyta resisted. "I have no interest to see someone being ministered to when I could be getting valuable information on the Ancient Shadows."
"What's wrong, Lyta? Has your little vendetta dulled your belief in the sanctity of life as well as brightened your already sunny disposition?", the Doctor replied acidly.
"I will not be lectured to by you, Time Lord." She turned to Kirk. "I demand to see that sensor information, Captain Kirk."
"No. I want you two together, where I can keep an eye on you. And that's final. Saavik, take them to Sickbay."
As Saavik led the Doctor and Lyta out of the conference room, Kirk entered onto the bridge and sat down in his chair.
*God! Spock, I hope you have some idea of what I'm going through here, trying to get you back... because if we do manage to get you back, I'm never letting you forget it.*
"About time you got here, Doctor. Her brain waves are still erratic, but I didn't want to do anything until you got here."
The Doctor nodded. "Have you had this problem with others before?"
"Yeah. We used cordrazine, and he got a full recovery within 24 hours."
The Doctor looked at McCoy. "Cordrazine? Do you have any idea what an overdose, no matter how small, of that drug will do to a human's brain wave pattern?"
McCoy nodded. "Yes, I do, Doctor. Had a very personal experience with the drug several years ago. Damned near screwed up history, too..."
If the Doctor was surprised at McCoy's comments, he said nothing. "How much do you suggest?"
"I was thinking of 10 ccs to start, then 5 ccs every two minutes afterward."
"Two minutes? That soon?" Lyta decided to speak at this point, despite her professed non-interest.
"It sounds good to me. The effects of cordrazine on the neural net is fairly immediate. Doctor, do you have any suggestions?"
The Doctor hmmmed for a moment before speaking. "Might want to go to three minutes instead. That way, we can more adequately measure the changes in the brain waves before we administer the next dose."
McCoy nodded. "Agreed. Nurse Benton, prepare a hypo."
The nurse handed him a hypospray. "Already done, Doctor."
"Thank you, nurse." The Doctor and McCoy surprised each other by responding at the same time. An uneasy moment passed, then the Doctor looked at McCoy. "Do it, Bones."
McCoy nodded grimly, and pressed the hypospray to Melissa's neck. An uncomfortable few seconds passed, then the arrows on the readout above Melissa's head began to lower. After a few more seconds, McCoy looked at the readout and smiled. "Look. They're almost normal already. With only 10ccs, that's amazing."
"Yes, it is." The Doctor nodded. After a few more seconds, the arrows, stopped falling. "There." McCoy smiled again. "That did it; her brain waves are at human standard. She is human, right?", McCoy joked.
The Doctor smiled. "She looks to be sleeping right now. When will she wake up?"
"Yes, the sleep is a side effect of the cordrazine. She should be safe to wake up in about an hour or two."
"Good. That gives me time to take a look at that sensor data. Lyta, Miss Saavik?" The Doctor was all business once again. Except for the whistling of "When the Saints Go Marching In" that could be heard in the corridor immediately after the Doctor and his party left. McCoy smiled, and whistled along.
In the corridor, Saavik held back a few feet to talk to the Doctor. "Doctor?", she tentatively asked in Vulcan.
"Yes, Saavik?", the Doctor quickly responded in kind, surprising Saavik.
"You know Vulcan?"
"Yes, and a good many other languages as well. Remember, I get around." The Doctor smiled. "What can I do for you?"
"I do not trust Lyta, Doctor. I cannot be certain, but I think she is not telling us the whole truth."
The Doctor nodded. "I agree, Saavik. Keep alert for anything suspicious. She is hiding something; I just hope we find out what it is in time."
"Would you two please stop conversing in obscure alien tongues and tell me which way to go? I want to look at that information and leave as soon as I can."
The Doctor sighed, and he and Saavik hurried to catch up with Lyta.
"Come on, Data! You're not going to let him slash us to bits, are you?"
Data looked at her with the same infinitely wise look she had often seen from the Seventh Doctor. She smiled inwardly. *Man, it's going to be something else when these two get together.*
"No, Ace, I am not. But, there is the possibility that the blaster could hurt him seriously, or worse, enrage him even more."
"So? I say we take the chance. Better him than us."
"No, Ace. You do not understand. Kahless either now is, or soon will be, the Emperor of the Klingon Empire. It is a vast expanse, and its dealings with the Federation are part of my history. I cannot allow that to be changed."
He looked at Ace and the man behind them. "Take..." He looked at the man expectantly. The man straightened up a little.
"Captain John Harriman, USS Enterprise, United Federation of Planets." He stuck out his hand. Data ignored it. "There is no time for pleasantries. Take Captain Harriman and go to safety. I will handle this."
Ace looked at Data incredulously. "But you'll be decimated!"
The infinitely wise look returned to Data's eyes, and if he were human, he would have smiled. "Do not worry, Ace. I am, as you put it earlier, 'a big, strong android'. I can take care of myself. Now, go."
"But, about Harriman..." Data knew what Ace was going to ask, and he cut her short.
"No time to explain. I will do that later. Go, now."
Ace looked at Data, fully wanting to argue with him, but she sighed instead. "Fine, have it your way. But, be careful."
Data watched Harriman and Ace go off behind a group of rocks out of the corner of his eye, and then turned his attention fully to the form of Kahless, his blade making lethal circles in the air. He held up his hand, and spoke.
"Hold, honorable Kahless. I wish to have words before combat."
Kahless stopped short at this; he obviously didn't expect Data to stay at all, much less ask to talk. The Klingon spoke to the android, cautiously.
"Who are you, strange one? And why do you not run, like the other strange one at the sight of the mighty Kahless?"
"My name is Data, and I do not run from you, mightly Kahless, because I honor you rather than fear you."
Kahless was now quite surprised. Not only does the strange pale one call himself "Data", but he does not fear the great and mighty Kahless, ruler of the Klingons?
"And why do you not fear me, strange one called Data?"
"Because I have no emotion whatsoever. I am incapable of them."
Kahless then did something very strange at this point. He smiled, a feral grin. Then he spoke. "One who shows no fear must be a great warrior."
Now, it was Data's turn to be surprised a little. He did not expect this development. However, it could be an advantage, he reasoned. And in this situation, he needed every advantage he could get. "There is that interpretation."
Kahless smiled again, a more feral grin than the last. "There is another. You are not a warrior, but a coward, who does not know how to use fear as a weapon. I like that... interpretation better." He swung his blade around in circles in front of him, and assumed a battle stance.
"Now, pale one, feel the blade of Kahless, mightiest of the mighty!" And with a growl, he launched himself at Data, blade pointed in front of him, looking to run the android through.
Ace saw this, and began to move toward Data. Harriman pulled her back. "Forget about it, girl. Your friend is dead. The Klingons fight to win."
"Let go of me, you idiot!" She struggled against Harriman's grasp, but the man held firm. "You're a coward, Harriman! I can't believe that you and Data came from the same ship, the same Federation!"
Harriman looked at her blankly. "What are you talking about? The same ship? I've been captain of the Enterprise-B for almost three years, and I've never met your Data, whoever he is."
This comment brought Ace back to herself, and she looked at Harriman, as if seeing him for the first time. "Oh, god..."
Meanwhile, Kahless's charge was stopped short when Data abruptly grabbed the end of the Klingon's blade between the palms of his hands. The blade was rooted there, as if stuck in cement.
Kahless struggled to free his blade, but it didn't move. He swore. "Let go of my batleth, you monster, or I'll rip you to shreds!"
Data responded to Kahless's threats by lifting the blade, still caught in his hands, over his head. The Klingon, went after it. Losing his grip, he landed on his back on the ground behind the android. Moving quickly, Data turned around, held the batleth in his hands, and with a quick turn of the blade, had Kahless's own weapon at his throat.
Ace yelled out to the android. "Data, don't kill him! He's obviously trapped here, like us!"
Data replied, never taking his eyes off the Klingon at his feet, "I know that, Ace. I would not have killed him." He turned his attention to Kahless. "I have bested you in fair combat, mightly Kahless. Do you yield, and promise not to harm us again?"
Kahless nodded... or tried to, as the blade was still inches from his throat. "Aye, I will swear upon my blade that has been turned from me, I will do you no harm."
Data nodded, and moving the batleth to one hand, used the other to pull Kahless up. After the Klingon had dusted himself off, Data returned the first ever Klingon ceremonial blade to its rightful owner. Kahless accepted, grinning.
"I take back what I said, Data. You are indeed a warrior, and a fine one at that. I will follow you, as we try to find our way out of this... mystical imprisonment."
"I welcome your assistance, Kahless. This is my companion, Ace." He motioned to Ace, who had come out of her hiding. Ace smiled and shook Kahless's hand. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Emperor." She nudged Data, and whispered, "I knew you could do it, Data. By the way, how did you do it?"
"Klingon martial arts technique. I forgot to mention that the security officer on the Enterprise is a Klingon." Data whispered back. Ace smiled again, as Data moved on to indicate Harriman. "And this man, the man you were chasing is John Harriman."
Data didn't use Harriman's title, Ace noticed, and she knew why. Bad enough that Harriman was obviously from Data's past, but the possibility that Kahless would get angry at another with rank, and a believed coward at that, was just too great. Harriman simply nodded at Kahless, who took the lack of greeting with obvious stoicism.
"Now, Kahless, would you mind telling us what you were doing when you were taken?" Data asked. Maybe there was a connection somewhere between their appearances, he reasoned.
"I was on the hunt, hunting a wild karg that had been plaguing a nearby village, when there was this most unusual beast. It enveloped me in some kind of magical light, and then I was here. Is that sufficent?"
"Yes, it is, thank you. Harriman?"
Harriman looked at Data with obviously surprise. "You want me to tell you what I was doing when I was kidnapped?"
"That is correct."
"I can't do that. Classified mission from Starfleet Command. And somehow, I don't think you have the proper security clearance." Harriman was much more in control now than earlier, and it showed in his attitude. Clearly, he wanted to take charge.
Ace wasn't buying it, though. "'Security Clearance'? Listen here, you pompous little twerp, don't you realize..." Data held up his hand, and spoke quite forcefully.
"Ace, you are not helping matters. Please restrain yourself." He turned to Harriman. "I do not believe you understand, Mister Harriman..."
Harriman bristled. "It's Captain Harriman to you, and I don't have to take this from you. I'm the commanding officer of the Federation flagship, and for all I know, you could be a Romulan spy or something. The girl there said that we served together, but I've never even heard of you. What's your stake in all of this, anyway?" Harriman folded his arms in defiance.
Ace was about to speak up again, as well as Kahless, but a stern look from Data kept them both silent. Then, Data spoke, calmly and distinctly. "Sir, I will not mince words with you. First, I am a Lieutenant Commander in Starfleet, and the second officer on the Federation flagship, albeit a different Enterprise than yours. That, I believe, entitles me to at least a little respect on your part."
"Second, I am not a Romulan spy. Third, as I said earlier, we both serve on ships named Enterprise, so what Ace said earlier is essentially correct. However, my Enterprise is the Enterprise-D. Approximately 90 years in your future. I had hoped that you would not have to learn this information, but the deed is done."
"Last, I have expert knowledge concerning our captors and their motivations, so I would like information from you to attempt to discern a pattern to their action thus far. However, if you do not wish to cooperate with my requests, we have no choice but to leave you here while we search for answers on our own. Now, hearing these points, do you wish to change your mind?"
Harriman was about to speak when a voice from the rocks behind them spoke for him. "You do not have to threaten Captain Harriman. He will give you all the information that you require." As the voice finished speaking, a figure appeared out of the rocks.
A tall figure, Ace noticed, remarkably ordinary looking, except for two things. His eyes had the light of wisdom and age in them, very much like the Doctor, she thought. The second thing that drew her attention were the pointed ears.
The figure climbed down from the rocks, and stood before them. Harriman was dumbstruck, Ace noticed. *Good for him. Guy needs to be taken down a couple pegs.* Data, for his part, remained unconcerned, although Ace thought that he would have the same look if the sky came crashing down around them. As for she and Kahless, well, they didn't know what to think.
Then the figure spoke, and somewhere, Ace could imagine music playing. It was that melodious, that powerful, that... logical.
"I am Spock. And I have come to help."
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
Return to the Aphelion main page.