Lyta turned around and looked at the two, as the Doctor let loose a sparse giggle, most likely in response to a joke that he had just told. Her eyes, hooded black dots, narrowed on the Time Lord. Her voice, carefully controlled, betrayed still a hint of venom, like a snake who was impatiently waiting to strike.
"Now, if you two are done, we can get to work. Lieutenant, if you please..." Lyta motioned to one of the computer terminals. Saavik nodded, and with a quick look to the Doctor, she moved over to the terminal and began to punch in a series of commands. As she did so, she spoke with a level of emotional detachment.
"I am now calling up a series of sensor sweeps that were taken of the two disturbances that involved the Enterprise. The first, of course, was the entrance of Gary Seven; the second, the entrance of the alien that killed Gary Seven and abducted Mister Spock."
"Of course, of course. Now, move away; I can take over the operation of the device." She began to move toward Saavik, but an arm held her. It was the Doctor. He spoke softly, but forcefully.
"Why don't you let the young lady do her job, Lyta? I'm sure she's as anxious to be out of your way as you are to be out of hers. Have patience."
Lyta, seething, turned on the Doctor. "And you would know a lot about patience, wouldn't you, Doctor? You and your Time Lord 'non-interference' policies. You just sat there and stagnated, while the Universe was left to rot in meaningless wars and destructive conflict!"
The Doctor's voice remained calm, but there was also a hidden anger there behind his response that belied his calm.
"You, madam, are grossly mistaken if you think for a moment that I had anything to do with the policies of the Time Lords. In fact, I fled Gallifrey and conceded myself to live the life of a renegade for the simple reason that I couldn't stand by and let the Universe rot! So, next time you try to get my dander up, madam, you might try doing your homework first."
It was a decidedly un-Vulcan response, she reasoned later, but in the uncomfortable silence that followed the Doctor's impassioned response, Saavik did the only thing she could think of. She quietly clapped in applause.
*Good show, Doctor. That woman needed to be put in her place.*, she thought, rather emotionally. This was also not a Vulcan response, and it served to remind her that for all of her training, she was still not a Vulcan. But in that moment, she didn't care.
The Doctor grinned, and bowed at the applause, the silence broken. Lyta looked at two, and in a huff, moved over to the computer console. She looked at the readings intently, and after some long moments of study, she allowed herself a small smile.
"There is no doubt. These readings are consistent with those of the Ancient Shadows' movements." She stepped back from the console, a look of satisfaction crossing her face. The Doctor looked at her.
"I still don't understand. I've never heard of these Ancient Shadows before. If they're as dangerous and as firmly entrenched in human history as you claim, then why haven't they been found out before this?"
Lyta looked at the Doctor with barely-concealed contempt. "It is possible, Doctor, that the Time Lords did know about the Ancient Shadows, but allowed them to rampage across human history unimpeded because it suited them."
"No. The Time Lords wouldn't allow something this... destructive to be unleashed on Earth without some kind of stopgap measure..." The Doctor trailed off, suddenly remembering the movement of Earth that the Time Lords had affected as part of his second trial. Lyta noticed the look on the Doctor's face and smiled.
"You know that the Time Lords have no love for Earth, Doctor. It would be just the thing for the Time Lords to do to allow the Ancient Shadows to feed on human life, without fear of reprisal. Who knows what the effects on human life could be if they continue their rampage?"
The Doctor remained silent, lost in thought. Then, he came out of it, and moved over to the console. Lyta smiled.
"That's it, isn't it, Doctor? You're just as incensed by the Ancient Shadows' actions as I am. And to think, your precious Time Lords could be in the middle of it..."
The Doctor turned on Lyta. "You know, I don't really care about these Ancient Shadows, or the Time Lords, for that matter. The only thing I care about right now is getting Ace back. That's it." He turned back to the console, as Lyta spoke acidly.
"Who knows what they've done to her already? She's human, is she not?"
The Doctor turned to Lyta, and in a bound, was in front of her. His voice was full of fury and fire, showing more emotion that Saavik had seen thus far in the Time Lord.
"She is alive, you hear me? Ace is alive, and I will not even entertain the notion that she is dead." He looked into Lyta's eyes, and she tried to move out of his sight. "If you ever, ever try to guilt me into joining your little death crusade again by implying that Ace's dead, you will regret it, do you understand me?"
For a long moment that stretched into a full minute, then two, no one said anything at all. Lyta recoiled away from the Doctor's pentrating gaze, for once silent. Even the normally verbose Saavik was speechless. The Doctor just stood there, working to control his rage at Lyta's unfeeling response.
Then, the shadow of anger, of rage, of doubt, passed, and the face of the Doctor was bright again, as if it had never been crossed by shadow. He looked at Saavik, a smile coming over his face. "Now, then, Lieutenant, why don't I have a look at those readings, eh?"
He moved lithely over to the computer console, and began to punch in commands. A different set of numbers and letters appeared, and the Doctor looked at them intently. "Hmmm... This is interesting.", he noted.
"What have you found, Doctor?" Saavik asked, curious.
The Doctor stood there, lost in thought, not even noticing Saavik's remark. Then, he suddenly came to, and looked at her.
"Eh? Oh, I was just wondering about these readings. You see, Lieutenant, I was able to use the computer to isolate and magnify two very distinct radiation signatures inside the spatial-temporal disturbance that abducted your Mister Spock."
"Toward what end, Doctor?"
Lyta spoke, the venom once again apparent in her voice, as she moved in to take a look for herself. "Yes, Doctor, for once I have to agree with Lieutenant Saavik. I fail to see what the isolation of these specific radiation signatures has to do with anything at all."
The Doctor looked at Saavik and Lyta, and smiled. "But I do. You see, if I'm not mistaken- which I'm not, usually-, I've seen these specific radiation signatures before."
But the Doctor was already on the move, as he walked quickly out of the computer lab and down the corridor. As he did so, he called over his shoulder, "Come now, ladies. We mustn't dawdle. Time waits for no man, or Time Lord, for that matter." He flashed a beaming smile at the women behind him, who finally caught up to him as they reached the turbolift at the end of the corridor.
They entered the lift, and the Doctor turned to Saavik. "Where is my TARDIS being held, Lieutenant?"
"Cargo Bay Five, Deck Eight, Doctor. It has been there, guarded by Security personnel, since you and Miss Chambers arrived."
"Capital! Take us there, if you please." Saavik punched in a few commands, and the lift began to move. The Doctor looked around the lift as it sped on, as if noticing it for the first time.
"Hmmm, quite a remarkable contraption, this lift of yours. It is not voice-controlled, I gather?"
Saavik shook her head. "Yes, Doctor, it is. Unfortunately, the ship was heavily damaged in her most recent battle, and Mister Scott has been unable to repair the voice-control computer components. They have very specialized circuit pathways, and are very difficult to repair properly..."
"I understand completely. More of a hindrance than a help, in this case. Tell you what; since your captain was so kind in helping me with my search for Ace...", the Doctor broke off as the lift stopped, and everyone got out and started down the corridor toward the Cargo Bay, "I will repair your voice-control circuitry as a show of my gratitude. When this mess reaches its customary happy ending, of course."
He flashed his smile again, and Saavik nodded. "I am sure that Captain Kirk will agree to your bargain."
"Good. Ah, now. Here we are." He walked into the Cargo Bay, and up to the TARDIS. He patted the side of the Police Box affectionately while he looked for something in his pocket. After a moment, he muttered, "Aha!", and pulled out a shiny silver object. Saavik spoke.
"What is that?"
"This is my TARDIS key. And this, of course," he waved his hand around as he opened the door to the Police Box, "is my TARDIS."
"The time-space travel device you spoke of earlier? But, it looks quite... small."
The Doctor looked at Saavik, and smiled. "I assure you, Lieutenant, that the TARDIS is much bigger than the outside would lead you to believe." And with that, the door opened, and the Doctor went inside.
Saavik and Lyta stood there for a moment, until the Doctor stuck his head outside. "Come on, now, we can't waste any time. Besides, Lieutenant, I'm sure you'll want to report this to Captain Kirk; you might find that he's probably much more interested in the TARDIS than you think."
He took the science officer's hand, and pulled her inside. As he did so, he called out, "Lyta? You sure you don't want to have a look?" Lyta looked at the Time Lord with a look of contempt on her face.
"No, Doctor, I most certainly do not. I've been inside a TARDIS, and believe me, once was enough." She tried to hide a grimace at the memory; if the Doctor noticed this, or thought anything strange about the fact that the time-traveller had been inside a TARDIS, he didn't show it. Instead, he looked at her with a face that seemed to say, "Suit yourself", and resumed his pushing of Lieutenant Saavik inside the time machine.
"I know what you're thinking. It's too lavish, isn't it? Well, my last incarnation seemed to like it, so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm not quite sure yet." He walked over to the main console and patted it again, as he whispered, "How are you holding up, old girl? Enjoying it here? Has the Master come back to bother you?"
The lights on the console seemed to brighten then and the Doctor patted it again. "That's good; I thought I didn't pull out enough wires." He looked around the console, searching for something, as Saavik spoke.
"You... talk to your machine, Doctor? And it understands you?"
"Yes, Lieutenant. She is... I suppose you would say semi-cognizant, almost sentient in a way. She is connected to me directly, through the telepathic links all TARDISes share with the Time Lords who operate them. This one especially is very connected to me; we've been through a lot together. You might call the TARDIS an extension of myself." Then he smiled.
"You know, you can talk to it, too, if you'd like."
Saavik was quite surprised. "Me? I can talk to your TARDIS?"
"Yes, you can. The TARDIS is especially responsive to psi-sensitives, telepaths ideally, due to her connection with me. Go on, give it a try."
She looked at the Doctor. "What do I do?"
"Just open your mind, Saavik. Let go, and open your mind to the possibilities of time and space..."
Saavik relaxed, and put herself into a light mental trance. As she began to relax even more, images began appearing in her mind's eye...
*A young woman, perhaps no less than fifteen, looking at her, it seemed, with wonder and great sadness, as a voice intoned, "I will come back."*
*Another woman, a little older, shimmering and shining before her eyes, and then looking at her, saying, "What do you think of this look?"*
*Another figure, a man now, piloting some kind of ship, into fire, into oblivion...*
*A woman again, her head without hair, looking at her with eyes unseeing, as she disappeared in a flash of light...*
*A woman, trapped, unable to move, as a blue light, a light that enveloped her, took her out of sight, her last thoughts an imploration: "Please, Professor, help me..."*
Then, all of a sudden, the images stopped, and she was shocked back into reality as the Doctor's hand touched her shoulder. He looked into her eyes, a look of concern flitting across his face.
"Saavik, are you all right?"
She shook off the last feelings of the mind-link as she responded, "Yes, Doctor. I am unharmed. Was I unresponsive for a long period?"
"What? No, no, only about five or ten seconds. What happened? I've never seen the TARDIS do that before."
"Go that deeply inside a person's mind before. I almost lost track of you myself; that's why I touched you, to try to break the connection." He thought for a moment.
"It must be your Vulcan mind-techniques; not even Nyssa was that in-tune with the TARDIS, and she was a natural psi-sensitive. So was Ace, for that matter, and she was here the longest."
He stood there for a moment, lost in thought again, when Saavik spoke. "Doctor, we have to go."
"What? Oh, yes, of course. I found what I was looking for, at any rate." He smiled, slightly. "Lead the way, Lieutenant." The Doctor motioned to the doors leading out of the Console Room, and they began to leave. The Doctor stopped Saavik, though, as they were about to reenter the Cargo Bay.
"Wait a second. I want to know; what did you see?"
Saavik paused for a moment, then spoke, rather softly, the Doctor noticed.
"I saw scenes of great loss and sadness... but also, I saw scenes of great love."
The Doctor looked at Saavik for a long moment, then sighed.
"I do not understand.."
"Don't try to. Come on." He motioned to the outer doors. "We've got work to do."
The Doctor and Saavik exited the TARDIS to see Lyta still standing there, tapping her foot expectantly. "What took you so long?"
"We had to find something." The Doctor led the way out of the Cargo Bay and back out into the corridor. Moments later, they had returned to the computer lab.
The Doctor held up the object that he had gotten from the TARDIS, and moved over to the computer console, which stil showed the previous information. He looked at the console curiously. "Hmmm... there seems to be no direct interface. How am I going to get the component structure information from this air sample into the computer?"
"Air sample?" Lyta and Saavik looked at the container that the Doctor held. "From where, Doctor?"
"From the place where Ace was taken by these 'Ancient Shadows' that Lyta speaks of. I scanned the sample on board the TARDIS, and it turned up a distinct radiation signature. In fact, the same radiation signature that accompanied the abduction of Mister Spock."
"I do not understand, Doctor. It merely confirms that your companion and Mister Spock were abducted by the same party."
"Of course it does, Lieutenant. But we still have no name for it."
Lyta looked at the Time Lord. "I don't understand why the radiation needs to be identified. It serves no purpose."
"But it does, Lyta. Identification of the unknown is the first step in the scientific method for a reason; it gives us a basis for further investigation. Through the identification of the radiation surge, we can find out who our mysterious abductors really are."
"We know who they are, Doctor. They are the Ancient Shadows The scourge of evil and pestilence! They must be stopped!" Lyta's voice escalated in pitch with every word, so that the last sentence turned into a screech.
"Lyta, calm down..."
"I will not calm down, you insufferable Time Lord! Always, it is science over everything else. You're perfectly willing to sit around and analyze the enemy while it destroys worlds and takes innocent life!"
"That is not true. I want to find out what it is exactly we're dealing with, so that we may find an appropriate way to stop them."
"There is only one way to stop these monsters. To utterly destroy them! And if you don't believe that, then the blood of your companion and your Mister Spock is on your hands!" With those stinging words, Lyta left the room, leaving the Doctor and Saavik staring after her.
After a moment, Saavik spoke. "It appears that her wish to see Gary Seven's death avenged has not abated in the slightest."
The Doctor paused for a moment. "I don't think that's all there is to it, Saavik. For a moment there, during her rant, I thought I heard something... familiar in her voice."
"As in dangerous? Evil? Insane?" Saavik prompted, hoping to get a better answer out of the Time Lord.
"I'm not quite sure. Just very familiar, as if I should know it, but I can't recall..." Then he shrugged. "Oh, well. I'm sure it'll come to me in time." He looked at the console. "Now, we have to figure out how to identify this radiation signature..."
A short while later, the Doctor entered Sickbay, and noticed Doctor McCoy. The Doctor smiled. "Hello there, Bones. How is our little time-lagged patient?"
McCoy smiled a little. "The cordrazine did wonders; she's absolutely fine now. I should start prescribing it to all my time-lagged patients."
The Doctor laughed. "You certainly have as much of a wit as the files say, Doctor McCoy." At McCoy's questioning look, he smiled.
"No, Bones, I can't tell you the future, and you know it, so don't ask again."
"How did you know that was what I was going to ask? Are you a telepath?"
"No, I'm not. I have just become so adept at reading body language when the subject of my time-travelling comes up that I've learned to anticipate the question." He looked over McCoy's shoulder at the ward behind him. "Is Melissa in there?"
"Yes, she is, but she was sleeping last I checked. You might want to look in on her first."
"Thank you." The Doctor walked into the ward and found Melissa laying in one of the beds, her eyes closed. After a moment of watching her, the Doctor experimentally coughed. Melissa opened her eyes and looked at the Doctor, smiling.
"Do you always do that when you want attention?"
"Yes, I do, because I know I'll always get it." Smiling, he perched himself on the foot of her bed. "How are you feeling?"
"Much better, thank you. Still a little queasy, but better." At the look she saw in the Doctor's face, she continued. "Why? You want me to start throwing up on you, would that make you feel better?"
The Doctor smiled, but said nothing. Melissa became concerned. "Doctor, what's wrong?"
"I couldn't find out what the radiation signature is. I'll have to go to the next time period. Their technology is more advanced; I might be able to find something more there..."
"Wait a minute. What's with this 'I' stuff? I thought we were in this together."
The Doctor sighed. "We are, Melissa. It's just that I think it would be a better idea if I went this leg of the journey alone."
"Well, for one, you're still not completely well, and there's a good possibility that the radiation that was here and on Hinire Upsilon may have contributed to your time-lag symptoms. You'll just get worse until you get acclimated. And to do that, you'll have to stay in one place for a while, so you can get well."
The Doctor paused for a moment. Melissa noticed this, and spoke.
"There's more to it than that, isn't there?"
"Yes, there is... Why can't you just accept what I give you as an explanation, and leave it at that?"
"Because you know that's not the way I work. If you wanted someone who would blindly follow your instructions, you would've stuck with UNIT. At least, that's what you've always told me."
"Okay, okay. I just don't want you to get hurt, that's all. If this heads where I think it will, I will be far too busy keeping everything together to look after you."
"I can take care of myself, Doctor. You know that."
"I know, Melissa. But these 'Ancient Shadows', from what Lyta says, are very powerful, perhaps even more powerful than the Time Lords." He paused again before speaking. "I may not be able to stop them, and I don't want you in the middle of things if I can't."
"Doctor, you're not making much sense..."
"I know, I know. Just... trust me on this, will you? I promise, you'll be safe here, and besides, I need you to do something special for me."
"Let me guess; you want me to watch over Lyta. You think there's something not quite right with her, and you want me to make sure that she doesn't go off the deep end and sacrifice us all to her little death wish. Am I right?"
The Doctor smiled. "Exactly. Am I that transparent?"
"No, not exactly, Let's just say that great minds think alike." Melissa smiled. "Okay, okay. I'll do it. But I won't like it much."
"That's my girl. Thanks." He touseled her hair, as he got up to leave. "I'll be back to get you as soon as I can, I promise."
The Doctor was almost out of the ward when Melissa spoke.
"Be careful out there, Doctor. I... wouldn't want to be stuck here."
The Doctor nodded; he understood her perfectly.
"I will. You do the same."
He smiled again, and left, with Melissa watching after him. As he exited Sickbay, she noticed a tear roll down her cheek. She brushed it away, and laid back down on the bed.
*I'll do what you ask, Doctor. Just... come back to me.*
*The Doctor is close to identifying the radiation signature. He will not be dissuaded, Mistress.*
A female voice, but not Lyta's, rang in her head.
*Nor did I expect him to be, Lyta. His archaic principles are a strong part of his life; they cannot be dissolved easily.*
The voice in Lyta's mind continued.
*Let him come, Lyta. And whe he does, he will not be able to survive the traps I have laid. Soon, he will be dead, finally and utterly, and I will be on my way to complete rule of the Galaxy!*
The last thing that Lyta heard before she lost consciousness was the laugh of the other in her mind, an evil, deprecating laugh... the laugh of the mad.
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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