*If it hadn't been for that insufferable Doctor's meddling, and the Master's incompetence, I would have completed my objectives by now.* Her objectives, it should be noted, weren't terribly deep, or profound. She quite simply wanted everything she could, and given her genius, that concievably included the entire Universe.
She had tried many times before to achieve her goals, but was twarted each time by either one or the other of the male Time Lords. *As if being male allowed them the liberty to destroy my dreams*, she thought morosely. She remembered her little time-trip to the time of Earth's greatest triumphs, its Industrial Revolution.
Her full intention was to use those great minds, those inventive brains, to complete her plans, and through those plans, sweep through the entire Universe. But, she had not counted on two things. First, that the Doctor, her one true equal, would be at the same place at the same point in history, along with his insufferable companion... Peri, her name was?
*Why did he have to choose female companionship, and inferior human females, at that?*, she thought again, her fury beginning to boil.
*He could have had me... me! His intellectual equal, with the vision and ambition to carry out the grandest plans. With his help, I could have ruled over all!*
She forced herself to calm down, as she pictured the second obstacle to her successes: the Master. She smiled as she thought of his fate.
*Vaporized by the Daleks, on Skaro. A fitting end, you incompetent fool, to be destroyed by a group of... pepperpots! You were too full of grandeur, too drunk with power and lusting for the Doctor's regenerations. A pity you weren't more like the Doctor himself...*
She thought back again, to her last meeting with her foe, on Lakertya. *I wanted the other one, the... sixth life. To exact revenge for the earlier failure on Earth. But, no; he had to go and regenerate on me.* Then she smiled.
*That proved to be an advantage, as I realized that he was dazed and confused over his regeneration. So, I tried to convince him of his rightful place by my side. The only thing I didn't realize was that I had to do it as his other insufferable companion. Mel; ugh, what a name. And those outfits; completely horrendous!*
Her reverie stopped suddenly, as she entered the main control room of the structure. She walked over to the hexagonal console, and pulled several levers. A screen moved into place in front of her, and with the touch of a button, it flickered on. The bright glow illuminated her hardened features, and long red hair.
A few seconds passed, and then she spoke.
"Search team, report."
An image appeared on the screen, that of a group of outcroppings. A voice sounded from the screen.
"Yes, Mistress?" The voice was low and delightedly ominoussounding. She smiled; she had trained them well.
"Have you found our quarry yet?"
"No, Mistress, we have not. But, our scans of this area here", obviously indicating the group of outcroppings, "indicate a decidedly human prescence. One of them was here, Mistress."
"How long ago?"
"Unknown. At best estimate, a day ago."
*We're only a day behind them*, she mused. *Good.*
She mentally cursed the portal technology that allowed her followers to move about in time; it was crude, and primitive, and it had lost track of their targets in transit.
They could be anywhere on this vast planetoid, she knew; the discovery of such a fresh trace of the humans, at least, was a fortunate occurrence. But, she wondered, what of the others?
"Have you any luck finding the android?"
"Not as yet, Mistress. As we discussed before, the radiation envelope that surrounds the planet makes our scans difficult. It also shields the android's energy output signature to some extent. But, rest assured, Mistress, we will find it. And the others, as well."
She pressed on. "The Klingon? The Vulcan?"
"No, not a trace of them, Mistress. They could have landed somewhere else; we have another search team looking for them specifically. Their readings aren't as jumbled by the radiation, thankfully."
"All right, Search Team Leader. Carry on." She flicked a lever, and the picture of the landscape faded away. As the screen moved out of sight, she sat down in her chair, and leaned back.
*Yes, they have been trained well. They were such a shambles when I found them a year and a half ago; depleted of energy, struggling to survive. But, I used my knowledge to save them, and now they are mine. It will be a pity to destroy them.*
She leaned back in her chair, took a deep breath of the recycled air, and coughed slightly.
*Of all the indignities... But it will be well worth it, to see the Doctor dead, whatever his incarnation.*
She closed her eyes, and slowed her breathing rate.
*Now, I should check in on my trusting little spy. See if the Doctor has returned to the 23rd Century. He would have to, eventually; his latest companion, Melissa, is still there. And if there is one thing that is certain about the Doctor, it it that he doesn't like to leave his companions. Normally.*
After a few seconds of searching, she made contact. Her spy's mind was open to the wishes of her Mistress, as always. She sent out a message.
*Lyta, hear the words of your Mistress...*
Lyta was walking through the corridors of the Enterprise-A, clearly bored. The Doctor had obviously found something interesting in the later time period, for he had not returned as yet. Lyta passed by Sickbay, nonchalantly noticing Melissa sittting on her bed. Melissa noticed her, and spoke.
"Lyta, come in, please. I think we should talk."
Lyta looked at Melissa suspiciously for a moment, then must have decided that a few words with the Time Lord's companion wouldn't hurt. She entered the room cautiously, as Melissa waved her over to a chair.
"Sit down. I promise, I won't bite." Melissa smiled, and despite herself, Lyta relaxed slightly. She sat down, thinking, *I should not be angry at her; after all, she is only his traveling companion. It is very likely she has no idea what kind of being he is.*
"How may I help you, Miss Chambers?"
"For starters, cut the formality. I can't stand it, really. Call me Melissa, or even Mel."
Melissa seemed to listen to something for a second, then turned her attention to Lyta. Lyta questioned, "Why did you do that?"
"What? Oh, that. Well, it's sort of a running joke between the Doctor and I. I half-expect him to grimace whenever I ask to be called Mel. I'm not sure why, exactly, though I have found information on one of his past companions, Melanie Bush, who also happened to be called Mel. I wonder what she did that was so horrible that he would make a face at the name?"
"Perhaps this Melanie Bush betrayed him, and he does not like the memory."
Melissa thought about this for a moment, then shook her head. "No, I don't think so. For the most part, what I have been able to get from the Doctor is that he genuinely cared about his companions. Judging by his treatment of me, that appears to be a fair assessment."
"Unless he is hiding something from you..."
Melissa looked at Lyta sharply. "You just don't give up, do you?"
"You never stop finding reasons to take down the Doctor. What did he do to you, anyway?"
"It is not what he did, Miss... Melissa. It is the way his people have treated those who have time-travel abilities. The Time Lords believe that due to the advanced age of thier civilization and thier slightly better, but only slightly, timetravel techniques, they should have a monopoly on time-travel."
"The Time Lords are that strict?"
"Rigid to a fault. The Time Lords have had a habit of interfering in the affairs of other developed worlds. They have done so for millenia."
Melissa thought about this for a moment, then spoke.
"Like what? Can you give examples?"
"You already know of the Doctor's interference of the timeline of the Daleks' home planet, Skaro, I presume?"
"He mentioned blowing the planet up with some kind of thing called the 'Hand of Omega', yes..."
"The Hand of Omega is one of the greatest weapons in the Universe. The Doctor hid the Hand on Earth in order to have it when the time was at hand to destroy the Daleks."
"He told me that he had no choice. The Daleks were after the Hand, and they eventually got it, but it backfired on them, destroying both their fleet on Earth and Skaro. It wasn't his fault; the Daleks did it to themselves."
"Or so the Doctor has led you to believe." Lyta responded tartly.
Melissa folded her hands over her chest and spoke forcefully. "Well, you're going to have to do better than that to convince me that the Doctor is evil."
"I've never said that he was evil. I said that the Doctor is a major member of a dangerously powerful race. Time Lords are isolationist by nature; they will defend that isolationism vehemently. That includes interfering in the histories of other worlds to make sure that they never gain enough power to become a threat."
"And you say that the Doctor is helping the Time Lords?"
"Sometimes, yes. Even though he is considered a renegade for his spirited defense of primitive worlds, especially Earth, the Time Lords have used his services on occasion. In fact, he was once the Lord President of Gallifrey for several centuries, even though he never actually remained on the planet to assume the position."
"I'm sorry, but nothing you have said so far has changed my belief in the Doctor."
"I did not expect to do so, Melissa. I merely wanted you to know these facts about the Doctor and the Time Lords. You may find need of them someday."
The two women were silent for a moment, then Melissa spoke. "You know that the Doctor and the crew of this ship don't trust you at all. They see you as some kind of overzealous revengemonger. Tell me truthfully, Lyta; would you kill to avenge Gary Seven's death?"
Lyta was silent for a moment, a long moment, then she spoke softly.
"Yes, I would."
"But, why? Surely killing the Ancient Shadows won't solve anything..."
Lyta looked at Melissa sharply. "But it will, Melissa. It will ensure that those... murdering leeches will not harm any other lifeform, including humanity, ever again."
"You see, Gary Seven, as well as myself, were born on Earth. We were the only ones out of the entire Argus Project to come from Earth, and because of that, we felt a unique kinship toward our home planet."
"When we heard about the Ancient Shadows' attacks on Earth's history, we felt personally threatened, out of love for our people. I wanted to strike against them, but Gary Seven was able to convince me then that violence was not the answer. He sought to rally the forces of the White Guardian in an attempt at diplomacy." She spit out the last word as if it were a curse.
"And what happened?"
"At the time, the White Guardian felt that the Ancient Shadows had done nothing to provoke any response, diplomatic or otherwise. Gary Seven saw the rising power of the Ancient Shadows, before even the White Guardian. He actually witnessed an earlier event in 1880's Earth where a group from the future was able to barely dispell an invasion force of Ancient Shadows."
"Buoyed by this, he asked the White Guardian for a chance to reach a peace with the Ancient Shadows. The Guardian agreed, but before anything could be implemented, the Ancient Shadows began their kidnappings. Instead of a peaceful venture, the White Guardian asked Gary Seven to implement a rescue plan."
"His death was the result. And now, I will implement a different plan... one of death!"
She said this so forcefully that it suddenly hit Melissa:
*I originally thought that it was just an emotional response to Gary Seven's death. But it's not; she's deadly serious about this. She'll kill the Ancient Shadows... and anyone who gets in her way. I've got to tell Captain Kirk, make him aware of this. And the Doctor, too, when he gets back... Oh, Doctor, where are you?*
In Lyta's mind, the voice of her Mistress echoed in her head.
*Report! Has the Doctor returned?*
*No, Mistress, he has not. But I believe his companion...*
The voice of the Mistress cut Lyta off in mid-thought.
*Do not trouble yourself with the companion. She is of no consequence; they always are. Just remember your mission.*
Faithfully, like some kind of wooden soldier, the words sprang from Lyta's mind.
*My mission is to lure the Doctor to his doom.*
She didn't know how she knew, but Lyta could somehow sense her Mistress was smiling evilly. It scared her.
*Mistress, will I still get my revenge on the Ancient Shadows?*
*Of course, my dear. Once the Doctor is completely destroyed, the fate of the Ancient Shadows will be yours to decide.*
Lyta's mind remained silent for a moment, then a thought came to her.
*Why will you not reveal yourself to me, Mistress? I do not know who you are...*
*And it is not your business to know! You are getting your revenge, sweet as it is, and that is all you need to know. Do you understand, or should I make it clearer for you?*
Suddenly, a lancing pain lanced through Lyta's thoughts. She thought frantically, *I understand, Mistress, I understand! I will not ask you again! Just make the pain stop!*
The pain stopped, and Lyta could sense the Mistress' smile again. Pure evil.
*Now, take care that you don't forget that, my dear. As well as your mission; keep to it, and you will get your prized revenge.*
Lyta felt the prescence recede from her mind, and she turned her attention back to Melissa...
Melissa was broken out of her reverie by the sound of a strangled shout. She looked at Lyta, who appeared to her to be contorted in pain.
"Lyta, are you all right?"
An uneasy moment passed. Lyta's face returned to normal, and she looked with ice-cold eyes at Melissa.
"I am fine, Miss Chambers. Do not trouble yourself with me. You should be worrying about your dear Doctor. He could be in the hands of the Ancient Shadows right now. And believe me... the experience will not be pleasureable. Excuse me..."
As Lyta left the room, Melissa looked at her, shocked.
*The Doctor? In the hands of the Ancient Shadows... Oh, no...*
With that horrifying thought gripping her mind, Melissa lay back on the bed and sobbed softly.
*Please, Doctor, come back to me... I need you.*
"I am Spock, and I have come to help."
Spock looked at Harriman evenly, as the younger man stammered under the Vulcan's prescence.
"Yes, sir. Of course, sir."
Ace smiled to herself. *Boy, this Spock character must be some kind of Starfleet bigwig, to be able to instill that kind of reaction in a jerk like Harriman. Good for him.*
Data looked at Spock, and raised his hand in the Vulcan salute. "Peace and long life, Captain Spock."
Spock looked at Data curiously, but returned the salute. "Live long and prosper..."
"Lieutenant Commander Data, sir. USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-D."
Spock nodded. "Of course. From the future; I deduced as much from the clothing. And these are..."
Data raised his hand and gestured to Kahless. "This is the honorable Kahless, Emperor of the Klingon Empire."
Spock nodded at Kahless, who said nothing. But his stare grew hard, as if he was expecting trouble from the new arrival.
"It is a pleasure, Emperor. I have read a great deal of your exploits." Spock looked at Ace, who, surprisingly enough, fidget nervously. *Crikes, he looks at me like the Professor, when he's about to explain something to me. I feel like a kid caught after school.*
Data must have noticed her reaction, as he spoke. "This is Ace."
Spock said nothing, but his eyebrow went up. This made Ace even more nervous, as she coughed slightly, as she spoke. "My real name is Dorothy, sir. But I would really rather be called Ace, if you don't mind, sir."
Spock nodded, and seemed... bemused by Ace's discomfiture. "Ace it is, then. And there is no need to be formal; you are not under my command. You may call me Spock."
Ace seemed to relax a little, as she spoke again.
"If I may ask, what are you? I mean, Data's an android, and Kahless's a Klingon..."
"I am a Vulcan. You have not heard of us?"
"No, Spock. You see, I seem to be a little time-lost... again."
"You are from the future, as well, then?"
"Well, not exactly. When the Devidians picked me up, I was in the future, but I'm originally from the past."
"Ah. And how did you get from the past to the future?"
"First, a timestorm brought me to a planet called Iceworld, and then the Professor took me around a bit. He's really called the Doctor, you see, and..."
Harriman cut her off. "Why do we have to listen to this mindless drivel? It certainly look like she has nothing to contribute..."
"You bog off, you cowardly little scumbag!"
"Why, you-" Harriman was cut off by Spock's stare. The Vulcan turned to Ace, who was staring at Harriman, fire in her eyes.
"I agree with Mister Data; we must learn all we can about our extenuating circumstances before we can formulate a plan of action. Unfortunately, we also have a greater concern."
"And what is that?" Kahless moved into a battle position.
"No, Emperor, not enemies. The climate. It has gotten progressively colder in the past several minutes. We must find shelter from the cold for the night. I know that Emperor Kahless is hardy enough to stand it, and Mister Data, as an android, is not affected by extreme cold..."
"But we humans don't take kindly to being popsicles." Ace finished for him, a bemused smile on her face. "What about you, Spock?"
"Vulcans cannot stand extremes; they are even more susceptible than humans." Data said, and Spock nodded. Ace spoke.
"Right, then. So, first order is to find shelter; then what? Find some way to keep warm, right?"
"Correct. And I saw some kind of cave behind me." Harriman pointed in the way he and Kahless had come.
"Then that is where we shall go. I will take the lead; my night vision is more acute. Then Mister Harriman, Mister Data, and Ace. Emperor, you will guard the rear." Kahless nodded, pleased with his role.
They set off, and after a couple of indecisive moves by Harriman, they found the cave. They looked around, and not spying any animals lying in wait, went inside.
They stopped a few feet inside the cave, and Data looked at Ace. "May I have your weapon, Ace?"
"Sure, although I'm not sure what you're going to use it for."
Data looked over the blaster, and hmmed softly. Ace smiled. *Between Data and Spock, the Professor would have a time, if he were here. I hope you can, Doctor, because... you're the only one who can.*
"So, Data, come up with any gems?"
"Hmmm? Oh, yes. I have an idea as to how to use this weapon effectively."
Data gathered several rocks, and placed them in a pile in the middle of thier area of the cave. He pointed the blaster at the pile, and fired.
The rocks soon glowed with heat energy... and warmth. Ace smiled.
"Wicked magnificent, Data. You're a veritable idea fountain."
"Thank you, Ace, but it is a standard Starfleet survival technique."
Spock spoke. "I would now suggest that we get some rest."
"What are we going to do tomorrow?"
"That is simple, Ace. We are going to find these Devidians that have kidnapped us, and attempt to get home."
"Sounds good to me." Ace laid down on the ground, as the other humanoids prepared for sleep. She looked at Data.
"What about you, Data? Oh, that's right; you probably don't need sleep, do you?"
Data looked at her. His amber eyes seemed to shine, illuminated by the soft light generated by the rocks.
"No, I do not, Ace. I will keep watch."
"Okay, suit yourself. But," she added softly, "if you *do* get tired..." She smiled flirtatiously.
"I... see, Ace. Good night."
"Good night." As she fell into unconsciousness, she mentally reviewed what she had said. *Oh, Gods, I must have been crazy to flirt with him like that. I mean, he's not even human...* Then she reviewed her earlier comment, when they had met. *He does look human, though... very human, indeed.*
With that thought, and Data's image in her head, she smiled as she fell asleep.
*It might be exciting, that...*
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 his 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.