"Correct. Omega, one of our greatest figures, managed through a feat of solar engineering to capture the power of a black hole and channel it through the main Eye of Harmony on Gallifrey. The almost unlimited power of the black hole provides Gallifrey and its TARDISes all that they need to survive."
"Couldn't the Time Lords cut you off from the power of the main Eye?"
The Doctor thought about this for a moment. "When I met Omega during my third life, he managed to curtail the power collection process to Gallifrey, and thus, my TARDIS was affected. However, Omega was a Time Lord of great power. No Time Lord other than he could possibly do that, as far as I know."
Picard nodded, not quite understanding what the Doctor was saying, but taking it all at face value. "This Cloister Room is quite ornate, Doctor. How do you manage to create all this detail in the TARDIS?"
"The room creation programming is wired through the telepathic circuits of the TARDIS. So, it's basically a matter of thought becoming deed. I wanted a more gothic-style look to the TARDIS, and it just became."
"What did the TARDIS look like before this?"
"Oh, it was really quite antiseptic, let me tell you. Roundels and such all over the place. It worked fine for the first three-quarters of a century, but once I neared the end of my seventh life, I desired a change. But, before he-that is, me-could get accustomed to the change, I regenerated into this form. Fortunately, I liked it as well, so I decided to keep it, at least for the time being."
The Doctor led Picard out of the Cloisters and into the other rooms of the TARDIS; the sickbay, which was so advanced, Picard remarked, that "Beverly would never leave this place", to which the Doctor chuckled; the gym, still relatively untouched since Ace was the sole occupant, although Roz and Chris did use it from time to time; and the pool, which looked somewhat out of date next to all the gothic adornments. As they walked back to the console room, Picard spoke.
"Don't you ever get lost, Doctor?"
"Oh, no, never. You see, I'm so tuned into the TARDIS, that all I have to is think about where I want to be, and the TARDIS routes me there." As if to demonstrate, the Doctor opened a door, and the two found themselves in the console room again. Picard was astonished; the Doctor, merely amused.
"That door didn't lead to the console room when we went in."
"No, it didn't, Jean-Luc. The TARDIS merely moved the rooms around to illustrate the fact that I can't get lost."
"The TARDIS can move rooms around?"
"And save them if it wants, and delete them if they wear out their usefulness, and so on. The internal relative dimension of the TARDIS isn't really infinite, but very, very close." The Doctor smiled, as the TARDIS beeped to its pilot. The Time Lord walked over to the console, and punched in a few keys on the old-fashioned keyboard situated on one of the console surfaces.
A group of script appeared on the scanner screen, which the Doctor read and nodded. "Thank you, old girl. You got us there with no incident."
"What is that?"
"Ancient Gallifreyan. Looks a little like Latin, but very different linguistically. The TARDIS was just telling me that we've arrived at our first destination."
"I can't tell you, or even show you, I'm afraid. To do so would tip you off to things you really don't need to know about right now."
"So, asking to come out would be out of the question?"
The Doctor smiled. "Absolutely, Jean-Luc. Don't worry, though; everytbing will become apparent in just a little while."
"Is the other person you mentioned before here?"
"Oh, yes. As well as my companion and another person who has become attached to this particular mystery. I'm sure she'll ask to come along, out of a sense of duty to her employers." *Which I'm beginning to think more and more have nothing to do with the Argus Project.*, the Doctor thought.
The Doctor flipped a few switches, and with the push of a button, the ornate door to the outside opened.
"Give me ten minutes, Jean-Luc." As he walked to the door, he whispered to the air, "Make sure he doesn't try to find out where he is, all right, old girl? I don't want to do anymore than I have to later on."
A shrill beep could be heard in response, and the Doctor called back to Picard, "Remember, don't touch anything. You might send the TARDIS out of phase a second or two, and that won't help anyone."
"All right, Doctor."
The Doctor walked out of his time machine, and right into the cargo bay of the Enterprise-A. Kirk, Melissa, and Scotty came into the cargo bay a second later.
"You've been waiting for me, I trust?" The Doctor flashed a smile to the group. "I see you're feeling better, Melissa."
Melissa nodded, smiling. "I was beginning to wonder if you'd ever come back, Doctor."
The Doctor looked sternly at his new companion. "This Doctor doesn't leave his companions in the lurch, you know that." He turned to Kirk then, and spoke. "It's time to go, James. Time to meet your destiny."
Kirk nodded, and turned to Scotty. "You have the bridge, Scotty. You know the drill."
Scotty nodded, "Aye, sir. Just be careful out there... and bring back Mister Spock. We lost him once already; I don't know how we'll handle losing him again."
"I understand completely, Mister Scott. Just mind the store until I get back."
Kirk clapped the engineer on the shoulder, and moved toward the door of the TARDIS. Suddenly, from behind him, came a voice.
"Thought you could leave without me, could you, Captain, Doctor?"
The group turned to see the indignant face of Lyta, who marched right up to them. The Doctor smiled. "Well, truth be told, we thought we could try, Lyta. You see, there is something very familiar about you, and it's something I don't particularly trust."
"Well, I can't say I don't feel the same way about you, Time Lord." Lyta looked squarely at the Doctor. "Are you going to allow me to go with you, or not?"
"Well, I could, you know... but I can't definitely prove you have a hidden agenda, so I'm going to have to give you the benefit of the doubt." *I just hope it doesn't come back to haunt me later*, was his unspoken thought.
The Doctor waved his arms toward the time machine, and the group filed in. As they entered the console room, Kirk stopped suddenly. He had caught sight of something, and it wasn't the spaciousness of the console room.
The Doctor noticed Picard too, and nodded. "Say hello to your future, James."
"Hello, Captain Kirk. I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise NCC-1701-D. I am from some 80 years in your future."
The two Enterprise captains shook hands, as Melissa looked on, astonished. Only Lyta wasn't impressed; rather, she was deep in thought.
*The three are together now*, she thought. *We will find the Ancient Shadows soon enough, and then my Mistress's mission will reach fruition. The death of my mortal enemies, and of the Doctor!*
Lyta smiled evilly to herself, as, from far away, the being known as the Mistress looked on through the eyes of her agent. *And the stupid Time Lord and his pitiful human companion won't know what hit them. As for Picard and Kirk... it's unfortunate, but there must be no witnesses, no one to stop me from carrying out my plan.*
As she noticed the Doctor bustling about, making adjustments to his time machine, she thought acidly, *Enjoy your time now, Doctor... because you don't have much of it left.*
Lyta resisted the urge to laugh out loud, but inside, she was screaming with evil delight at her trickery. She knew that there was no way any of these pathetic humans could stop her now. Soon, her mission would be complete, and the timelines would fall under the control of her Mistress.
"Why doesn't everybody take a seat, so we can be off?", the Doctor said, smiling, as the group did so. Everyone except Lyta, that is; she sullenly refused to get comfortable in the enclave of the enemy.
The Doctor, to his credit, didn't push her, and instead moved over to the console. He pulled some levers and pushed buttons, and again the Time Rotor moved in its majestic fashion in the center of the console. Once they were in temporal transit, Melissa spoke. "Everytime it happens, I get goosebumps. It really is a fantastic sight."
Picard and Kirk nodded their agreement, and Lyta remained sullen. The Doctor motioned with his hands over to the bookshelf. "There are many ancient texts there; you may peruse if you wish. It will take quite some time, subjectively, to reach our destination."
"Where are we going, Doctor?"
Picard answered for the Time Lord. "Devidia Two, circa 2372, am I correct, Doctor?"
The Doctor nodded. "I discovered while on the Enterprise-D that the 'Ancient Shadows' that are responsible for our troubles are in fact members of a race of time-travellers called Devidians. We are going there to attempt to track their movements to the source. Hopefully, Ace, Data, and Spock will be there."
Lyta spoke then. "Devidians..." It was as if she was trying out the word on her tongue. "So my hated enemies have names. It will make no difference in the final outcome."
Picard looked at Kirk. "Ambass-er, Captain Spock has been taken by the Devidians?"
Kirk nodded. "Apparently, Captain Picard. To these Devidians, he's important to the balance of Time." He looked at Picard a little more closely. "You know Spock?"
"Yes, sir. We've met. And, please, call me Jean-Luc." Kirk smiled.
"And you can call me Jim. It's good to see that the grand name of the Enterprise continues into the future. Tell me, do you get into a lot of trouble, or was it just my generation?"
Picard laughed. "Oh, no, Jim; trouble is something all Enterprises have in common. It must be the name; it's cursed."
"Or blessed, depending on what happens to you." Kirk laughed, as the Doctor sidled over to Melissa.
"I see you're feeling better, Melissa. The cordrazine helped, I gather?"
"Oh, yes, Doctor. That plus a day or so of rest. I wish I could have come with you, though. The 24th Century seems like a wonderful place."
The Doctor nodded. "Yes, it is. A little different than your time, of course, but the fundamental rules of humanity still apply. As I said once a long time ago in the future, the human race is indomitable. Unable to be beaten."
"In fact," he whispered conspiratorially, "beyond the Federation lies a vast Earth Empire, stretching the length and breadth of your galaxy, and even beyond. The human race remains the lynchpin of galactic peace even a thousand years in the future. Remember that, Melissa, when you complain about the state of things in your own time; time changes things greatly. Sometimes for good, sometimes for ill, but time will change things. It is its way."
Melissa smiled. "Thanks for the lecture, Doctor."
The Doctor grinned back. "You know I never miss an opportunity to educate. Now then, I think we should find something nourishing for our guests. I believe there's some tea and scones in the kitchen."
Melissa made a mock-grimace, and then brightened into a smile, as the Time Lord went out of the console room.
Meanwhile, Kirk and Picard were looking at the books in the shelf, and Kirk pulled one out. "Look at this, Jean-Luc; 'The History of the Universe... From Before The Dawn of Time and Beyond The End of Eternity'. I wonder if we should take a look at it?"
Melissa had moved over to the Starfleet officers by this time, and noticed the book. She smiled. "Don't you two get any crazy ideas about looking up your futures, now. You might not like what you find out."
Picard nodded. "She's right, you know. However, I am curious as to whether a certain future will come to pass..."
Kirk looked at him then. "What do you mean by that?"
"Not too long ago, I found myself mentally shifting through time. First forward twenty-five years, and then back seven years to the commissioning of the Enterprise. I found later that the purpose of the shifting was to key me to the destruction of the universe through a very unusual temporal singularity... a phenomenon that I inadvertently caused in the past."
As Kirk and Melissa looked on, speechless, Picard continued. "The future I saw wasn't really that pleasant, and I guess I have a strong desire to see if that future really comes to pass, despite my efforts to change it by telling my crew about my experiences."
Melissa was enthralled by the story. "Why was the future so unpleasant, other than the singularity?"
"My friends, my crewmates, had all been separated, and had lost touch with each other and their own lives. For example, my first officer and my security chief grew to despise each other due to animosity over my ship's counselor."
"You mean that Worf and Deanna are involved?" The Doctor had come in then, carrying a tray of tea and scones.
"Yes... apparently, they grew close over a series of very surprising events. It shocked me at first, but I accepted it. Will, unfortunately, never did, and it created a rift between them that never healed, over twenty-five years."
The Doctor was going to speak then, but another voice interrupted.
"Could we please quit this senseless gossiping?" Lyta had been trying to contain her frustration, but she hadn't been entirely successful. "We have work to do, people we all care about that have to be saved, and you're sitting here chattering like old women in a quilting bee!" She was practically screaming now, and the humans shrank away from her ire.
The Doctor, however, was unperturbed. "What are you suggesting, Lyta? That I try to make the TARDIS move a little bit faster? Impossible; the Time Vortex would rip us apart. There's really nothing we can do right now, so I was trying to be a hospitable host and help my friends, and incidentally myself, get our minds off our worries for a while. But, dear Lyta, if you must insist on being a killjoy, then I certainly can oblige your wishes as well!"
Furious, the Doctor moved over to the console, handing the tea and scones to the flabbergasted Melissa. She stammered, "I'm sorry, sirs. He's not usually like this. He's really much more..."
"Hospitable?" Picard offered. "It's all right, Melissa. We understand; he's trying to keep his mind off of Ace's position. And you," he pointed a finger at Lyta, "are not helping!"
"Well, I can't help it if I'm the only one who grasps the severity of the situation! A close friend of mine was killed by these beasts, and I'll have my revenge, even if I have to go through all of you to do it!"
At that, the Doctor looked over from where he was working on the console, presumably trying to prepare the TARDIS for landing. He fixed Lyta with such a venomous glare that everyone involuntarily gaped.
His voice, however, was resolutely calm, as cool as steel and just as hard. "I will only say this once; if you ever threaten anyone, friend or foe, on board this ship again, I will have it land and you will be deposited on the first desolate planetoid I can find. Then you can spout your revenge rhetoric until you're blue in the face. Do you understand?"
The look in his eyes was so devoid of anything resembling his usual ebullience that Lyta was, for the first time, afraid of the potential powers of the Time Lord. She really had no idea what the Doctor could do, and if his manner was any indication, it wouldn't be very pretty. She muttered, "Yes, Doctor."
"Good. Now, it would do everyone a great deal of good if you could please control yourself for the remainder of this journey. To use Earth vernacular, you're on my turf now, Lyta, and I expect you to treat me and those whom I travel with with respect."
Lyta nodded dumbly, her spirit for the moment leaving her, as the Doctor continued, looking at Melissa. "Let this be a lesson to you, Melissa. Grief and resolve can be powerful tools, if channelled properly. But improperly used, they can twist you into an instrument of revenge, and that can only bring more hurt and pain, not only to yourself, but to those you care about."
Kirk and Picard listened to this, feeling in his words a very personal message, not only to Melissa, but to all of them. They had each known periods of grief and resolve which turned into revenge, and they knew how destructive revenge could be.
Kirk thought of his son, David, killed by the Klingons for no apparent reason but to prove their superiority in a situation which no one had the upper hand. Kirk had killed the one responsible by his own hand, but he carried an fear of the race that had only recently been assagued.
Picard thought of the nights after his rescue from the Borg and their foul conditioning and the horrible nightmares in which he was forced to relieve his part in the near-conquest of Earth. He had never told anyone, not even Beverly, but he could hear their voices in the darkness, even now, years later, calling out to him, the only human ever to escape the clutches of the Borg, to find them and avenge their deaths. It was a mission that Picard, feeling completely responsible, had thought about taking on more than once.
Melissa thought of the night her beloved Carlos had died, could still hear the gunfire and smell the smoke, could see his body lying motionless on the ground, and her first thought had been revenge on the cruel, ruthless gang life that had taken young men and turned them into instruments of destruction, and had taken this life that was so precious to her. It was a wound that had not healed, and may never do so.
All of them heard the Doctor's words, and felt his pain behind them, and added it to their own, and understood why he traveled; not only to explore the Universe and Time, but to help protect others from the pain he had experienced. He had taken pain and remorse, and turned it into quiet resolve and a never-ending mission for what was right and good.
There was a long moment of silence after the Doctor's pronouncement, which was broken like some magic spell by a beeping from the TARDIS console. The Doctor came to life, and looked at dials and pushed buttons. The familar wheezing and groaning noises that signaled dematerialization could be heard, and then a mild bump. The Doctor smiled then, and pulled a small lever on one of the console surfaces.
In response to his action, the scanner screen flickered to life, and in it, the group saw a cavern, rock and sand and light. The pattern enhancers from the Away Team's survey could still be seen forming a irregular parallelogram around the time machine.
Melissa breathed, "We're here, aren't we, Doctor?"
"Yes, we are, Melissa. Doesn't it look familiar?"
Melissa looked for a moment, and then she saw it, almost hidden by years of sand and sediment; a single jewel, set into the wall...
"The mural-thing we saw in the cave on Hinire Upsilon... But, that means that they're the same place!"
"That's correct. In two hundred years, this cavern, and this planet will be the place where Ace disappeared. Where it all began."
"And now," the Doctor continued, "it will be the site of another beginning... the beginning of the end of the Devidians' plans to take over the timestream. Look out, Ancient Shadows, Devidians, whatever you choose to name yourself, because the Doctor is right behind you, and he's not giving up until he wins the race."
The Doctor smiled at his deft analogy, and suddenly, a different countenance appeared on his face. For a moment, he looked more as he did in his last life, the planner, the manipulator, the over-confident Time's Champion.
Then, the look flitted away, and he smiled, as if remembering a private joke. "Come on, troops; we've got work to do!"
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
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