"The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-03-21 12:13pm

Short 27 - Intervention

Losing my chance to regain Katherine left me catatonic for a time. To have worked so hard and come so close, and to reclaim someone lost to something so avoidable... it was frustration like I can't describe.

At first the frustration got to me. I made other... inquiries as to alternative methods. None panned out. Bit by bit the last flickers of hope died.

I... stopped at that point. To lose her, gain hope for regaining her, and to lose her again... it was just too much.

I knew I had to get over it. Grief and loss is part of life, after all. Katherine was gone and there was nothing more I could do. But it gnawed at me. It always gnawed at me. The knowledge of what I could have done. What my potential was.

I'm a Time Lord, after all. Why hadn't I used that? Why hadn't I crushed Ryan Steiner before that bomb was ever conceived? Why had I been so... so cautious?

I could do so much more.

Eventually I started traveling around again. Looking for Cracks I hadn't yet closed. That sort of thing. And that was all. I had no Companions. I... couldn't, at that point in time. Losing Jan and Cami had been bad. Losing Katherine had been worse. And it had reminded me how fragile other species could be. I simply could not open myself up to such loss again.

And yet... the TARDIS remained ever so lonely. I couldn't bring myself to put up Katherine's necklace or my mementos of Jan and Cami's time. And every time I looked at them it reminded me of the joy I'd had with someone to share the entirety of Creation with.

And so there I was, locked between my loneliness and my fear of more loss, burning with frustration.

That was the state I was in when I received the phone call.

Once I tell you the city I went to, you would know whom I was called by.

And you would know why.

So I will not bother with further establishing description. I would rather not recall this at all, but it was an... important moment for me. It involved a friend trying to help me, even if I was so wrapped up in my own problems that I refused to see it at that time.

I materialized the TARDIS into the warmth of early summer. I left it in an alley and made my way into the meeting point, a pub.

Under other circumstances I might have looked forward to finally visiting McAnally's Pub, but I had a good idea why I had received the summons.

The pub's proprietor looked at me closely as I entered. Black pants, white shirt and apron, and a rather ordinary-looking human. Mac looked at me and tilted his head to indicate a sign beside me. "Neutrally Accorded Territory". The Pub was neutral ground in the "supernatural" world of this cosmos. Anyone fighting here would be in violation of the Unseelie Accords and could expect the opprobrium of the supernatural political scene. That was usually fatal.

Of course, I was not an official signatory of those accords, but I had never broken them either.

I nodded in reply and went into the pub proper. Its design was not normal for such an establishment, but given the clientele that couldn't be surprising. The layout was intentionally used to disperse the random energies of magic practitioners and other entities.

My caller was already at a table in the corner. I recognized him from the brown duster and the scraggly stubble. "Hello Harry," I said. "I take it Burger King wasn't the proper venue?"

"Not for this," Harry Dresden replied in a low tone. I looked at his brown eyes - although not into them for obvious reasons - and could see disappointment and anger in them.

Ah. Yes, as I suspected.

"Shall we exchange pleasantries or skip to the reason you're looking at me like I ran over Mister?", I asked flippantly.

"I think you know damn well what my problem is," Harry said coldly.

I nodded and blinked. "My gift to Mab."

"It was a hell of a way to find out about Katherine." Harry thumped his hand on the table. "What.... I don't... I know you're better than this, Doc. I know it."

"If you've heard the whole story, Harry, you know why I did what I did," I answered calmly.

"No, no I don't!", Harry retorted angrily. "I don't know why you thought you had the right to give a mortal over to flipping Mab! I don't see how anything could justify that! Anything!"

"He will not be killed," I pointed out. "As far as Mab is concerned, I am still in charge of his destiny. He's a... loaner."

"Oh, I know Goddamn well how you played that game." Harry pointed his finger at me. "But you also know that doesn't justify throwing a man to monsters.

"He killed dozens of people, Harry."

"And that means you have the right to decide how he's punished?" Harry shook his head. "Listen, I get it. You were pissed. Katherine meant a lot to you and this bastard blowing her up shocked the hell out of you. But dammit, Doc, you know better. You damned well know better than to hand a man to monsters."

"As far as I'm concerned, he was a monster too, and he deserves it," I said coldly. "He's damned lucky I gave him an outlet to go free one day. His employer wasn't so lucky."

Harry glowered at me. "What did you do?"

I smiled mirthlessly. "The Source Wall," I answered. "I threw Ryan Steiner into it. An eternity as conscious stone in a prison for those who grasp for too much power. I thought it fitting."

"Hell's bells," Harry muttered in horror. "My God, Doc.... this is..." He struggled with his voice. "...this is wrong, Doc. You're wrong."

"Perhaps," I said. "But what's done is done. Katherine, her mother, and the others have justice."

"No they don't," Harry countered. "Don't even dare to pretend that was justice. That was revenge. Cold-blooded revenge."

"They're the same thing sometimes." I shook my head and, despite myself, chuckled. "If Mab knew the full truth she would have loved it even more. It was such perfect symmetry."

"What was?", Harry asked, his voice still cold.

"I changed that timeline, Harry," I answered. "I altered things. And yet... it didn't prevent the bombing. The damn bomb still got planted, by the same man, for the same employer, in the same method. Do you want to know the only difference?" i cackled again. "Katherine was there! She was bloody there to get blown to bits because of me! And this, oh, this is the beautiful part. The reason she wasn't there in the timeline that would have existed without me was because she was in on the bomb!"

Harry blinked. "What?"

"I caused her to make different choices, Harry," I laughed. "I kindled her imagination, her wonder, I made her direct her ambition toward that end. If not for that, she would have grown up a spoiled princess to the point that she'd become a megalomaniac! She would have been part of the bomb plot to kill her mother, and then she would have manipulated the people against her brother and other members of her family until she literally tore their nation apart. She would have undone the work of her father and grandmother out of her lust for power, killed millions, and gotten away with it. I changed that. Me."

The response I got was stunned silence. "Doc." Harry shook his head. "I..."

"She was just a little girl when I first saw her, Harry," I continued. "A sweet and innocent child. Why couldn't I divert someone of such promise to better ends? And I did. And she was brilliant. She stopped a war, Harry! She did so much! So don't tell me I was wrong."

"Did she have a choice?", Harry asked bluntly.

"Yes," I insisted. "She had many paths open to her. She chose to be the young woman who traveled with me. Up until that bastard you're pining over killed her."

Harry's fist thumped the table. "I'm not saying he deserves a teddy bear, Doc. I'd toss him to the authorities myself. But you didn't do that! You gave him to Mab!"

"Yes." My face contorted with anger. My words had brought the memory of loss back up. "And he's going to spend decades growing mycosia flowers in the freezing cold of Winter, remembering how he used that flower to murder my Companion and her mother, all while Faeries of Winter torment him for the slightest infractions. And I won't shed one bloody tear. My only regret is that I didn't do enough to stop the bombing from happening." I thumped my hand on the table now. "Because I could have, Harry. I could have done so much more. I'm a bloody Time Lord! I could have crushed Ryan long before he conceived of that bomb. I should have."

"You know damn well you can't just do what you want with timelines, Doc. We had this conversation before, remember?"

"Time Lord brain. Of course I remember," I guffawed. "And I've seen how I was wrong. I've saved so many worlds, Harry. So many cosmoses made better. And I could do so much more." I waved a hand at him. "Even for you. All of the threats I could help you pre-empt. I could make your life happier, I could tell you about the secret that's going to..."

"Knock it off," Harry growled. "You don't get to bribe me with future knowledge to justify the idiot schemes bouncing around in that souped up brain of yours!"

"...I can help you dammit!"

"Not like you are now." Harry shook his head. "We talked about this. Remember that whole 'tapestry' argument? You're talking about yanking at threads now. The threads of my life included! This world is getting crappy enough without that thrown in. I mean... are you even listening to yourself?!"

I went to answer and stopped. "I'm tired Harry," I finally said. "All I have is what I am now. I am the Doctor. I make people better, I make worlds better. And I could do so much more. Let me."

"Go talk to Michael," Harry insisted. "If I can't get through to you, he might."

"Dammit, Dresden, I don't need someone to hold my hand and 'get through to me'!", I shouted angrily, drawing attention from others in the pub. "I am offering you the chance to save people you love. I'm offering you the chance to help save..."

Before I could utter the name of "Susan", Harry waved his hand and cut me off. "You're offering me the chance to throw everything haywire," Harry said. His voice was growing harder while in his eyes I saw... not just anger and disappointment, but fear. Growing fear.

He was... afraid? Afraid for what I was.... no, that wasn't it.

He was afraid of me.

The thought of Harry being afraid of me actually chilled me. I could understand him being angry with me. But what had I done to warrant fear? The truth, of course, was that my argument was making him realize what I was becoming. A Time Lord unbound by the Laws of Time, by the caution that a time traveler must always keep to avoid ruining history. A Time Lord who presumed he could change things for the better and force history to bend to his will.

At that point, a Time Lord, even the Doctor, ceases to be a force for good and becomes something rightly terrifying.

But I was not ready to think such thoughts. My frustration with what had happened to Katherine and my desire to do good in the Multiverse was becoming a toxic compound.

"I can fix things, Harry," I hissed. "I can make this world better, please, trust me."

"Do you really think you're wise enough?", Harry asked hoarsely.

"I'm a Time Lord," I answered, believing that sufficient.

"That's not a real answer," he pointed out. Harry shook his head. "Doc, you need your head on straight. Please go talk to Michael."

"I don't need to be psychoanalyzed and told how I should trust God to make things alright," I countered. "Listen, I respect you, Harry. I understand you're frightened by the thought of what I could do. But don't let fear dictate your actions. You know better."

"Doc, I've been there," Harry said softly. "I've felt those feelings before. But you've got to recognize limits. The Laws of Magic, the Laws of Time, they all exist for a reason. You're still a Human, even if you've been turned into a TIme Lord."

"How do you know that?", I asked. "I thought I was Human, yes, but it's become clear to me that was just confusion from my memories being blanked."

"Okay, maybe not literally, but even Time Lords still share Human qualities. We're almost the same. Except you're even more dangerous to yourself and others if you lose control." Harry reached over and took my wrist. "Dammit, don't ignore this! You need to get your head back in order before you do anything you'll regret."

I didn't answer at first. A part of me wanted to shout at him, wanted to deny what he was saying and express anger at his clear mistrust.

But there was yet a small part of me that was not ready to take the final plunge. A part that recognized Harry had a point, that I needed to think more on this, before it was too late.

"I'll think things over," I promised Harry, standing up. "But I'm not going to stop doing what I believe is right."

"Just..." Harry swallowed. "You need someone to travel with, Doc."

"Not anymore," I answered. "I can't do that. I need to face this alone."


I answered by turning my back to him and walking away. A part of me actually began calculating my options. Yes, those options. Harry's mistrust was starting to effect me like that. I was now suspicious on whether he would follow me out and attack me. Attempt to subdue me and drag me to Michael or whomever to be talked down.

And for those moments, I actually considered fighting Harry. The ways I could hurt him, stop him, put him down so hard he'd never come at me again.

And, quite possibly, never be my friend again.

I forced that thought down. Harry wasn't here for a fight. If I were to start trouble, start trying to screw with events, then yes, he might fight. He'd do so for the noble purpose of saving me from myself. I wasn't sure which way such a fight would go; I might be a Time Lord, but Harry was a powerful combat wizard, even if he had yet to claim the mantle of the Winter Knight. That was another decision of his in the not-so-far future that I could change.

All I'd have to do is get the right weapon, deliver the right information.... and I could undo that. I could stop the changes coming in Harry's life. And....

My thoughts were interrupted when Harry called out to me. I turned, a fair distance from his table by this point, and just as I completed the turn an object flew from his right hand into my hands. I looked down at it and recognized the device.

It was the temporal beacon. The one I'd left him, that let him turn even an old land-line into a phone connection he could call me with.

"Harry?", I asked, holding it up.

"Don't worry, I'll take it back," he answered, nursing a bottle of Mac's best beer, which I still had yet to partake of. "But only after you show me you've got your head on straight. I'm not having you rampaging around when I've already got a bad situation going down."

"Harry..." I almost threw it back. But I could see the stubborn determination to refuse it in his eyes.

He'd made his choice.

And so I made mine. I pocketed it and walked out of Mac's without another word.

I returned to the TARDIS. As I opened the door I felt a presence behind me and turned. I expected it to be Harry. "Change your mind Har-...."

The figure was most definitely not Harry. He wore the cowl of his cloak up on his head, casting much of his face in shadow. But I could make out the desert-tanned bronze of his skin. And the glass eye.

"To what do I owe the honor?", I asked.

"I came to see how far you'd gone," the Gatekeeper answered calmly, his voice a soft English accent. "You wield great power, Doctor. Now you feel it tempting you. I plead with you, do not give in to the worst of those impulses."

"Did Harry call you?", I asked, pointedly. "Is this some sort of wizardly intervention for me?"

"No. He did not need to." The Gatekeeper settled his staff on the ground. "They say the road to Hell is paved by good intentions, Doctor. That is the road you are choosing to follow. I ask you, step off of it."

"A fair warning," I admitted.

"Yes.." The Gatekeeper sighed. "Harry considers you a friend, Doctor. He could not bring himself to raise his power against you, even for your own good. I have no such limitation."

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up on end. As much as I'd considered the possibility of a fight with Harry, I'd known that prospect would be a tight one and the outcome unclear. And against arguably the most senior member of the Senior Council of the White Council?

Against that power, even at my best I would be hard-pressed to just get away.

"I pray you make wise decisions, Doctor," Rashid continued. "Listen to your reason."

He turned and walked away.

I stood for a moment at the TARDIS door, silent. I thought hard about things. On my choices lately. On the fire that was growing inside me, the demand to do more, the frustration with things going wrong.

Was I on the wrong path?

For a moment, a key moment, I thought about going to the Carpenter house after all.

It is what I should have done.

But I didn't.

I got into the TARDIS and left Harry's cosmos.

And in doing so, I missed my last chance to avoid what was coming.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-03-22 12:17pm

Episode 18 - No More

Time travel can be tricky. There are so many rules, so many guidelines, dictating what the traveler can safely do and what he cannot. These rules and guidelines were wrapped together and made into the Laws of Time, the code of conduct for all Time Lords.

It can be hard to reconcile this with wanting to help people. Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes those bad things are necessary. Deadly incidents that lead to necessary reforms. Fights that end the life of beings who would have caused great suffering if they had lived on. That sort of thing. Because of this, short-term positive intervention in a timeline can lead to negative consequences in the long term. It takes care, wisdom, to change events. You have to be willing to make sure your changes haven't caused more harm than good. And the effects of a change can be exponential, so the bigger the change you make, the more that can go wrong. The more work you must take up. The more possibilities you must consider. At some point, it can get too much for even a Time Lord.

So you must balance altruism with realization of your own limits. Physical limits, mental, even spiritual. It helps to have someone close to you provide an anchor. An alternative viewpoint to keep you honest and thinking. To make you see when you're losing control.

I no longer had that.

It's not like I dove from the cliff into insane changing of the timeline, mind you. It came gradually. Saving the Air Nomads, thwarting the Catalyst so that Commander Shepard had her victory, that started it. That fed my appetite for saving entire civilizations. Losing Janias and Camilla had deprived me of the Companions who had seen me at what had been my lowest point, Companions who knew I was fallible and on whom I could depend on honest dissent from.

Then Katherine came. Poor, brilliant Katherine. I was her hero. I was the Doctor, the man from the magic box who stopped someone from shooting her as a child and who had pledged to her to show her all the wonders of Creation if she was a Good Girl. And so we had. But where Jan and Cami had tried to restrain me, Katherine just as often did the exact opposite. She wanted to help people too.

And so we did. My victories continued.

And then she died.

Fury, grief, loss, all of it was bad enough. Then the hope that was dangled before me on getting her back just for it to be dashed. After all of my victories, all of my triumphs, I was defeated.

Frustration was now added to the toxic blend of ego, hubris, and arrogance that had begun to swell within me. And in that state, I ignored the pleading of a good friend to reconsider my decisions.

And so nobody would be there to keep me from giving in to my worst enemy.


I traveled to travel. Constantly moving, helping where I could, struggling with the issue of how much I could or should do. In this case, I directed the TARDIS to Dromund Kass, intending to help out some poor people kept as slaves on the Sith homeworld and to do a little... creative editing of Sith Imperial broadcasting.

But when I stepped out, I wasn't greeted by perpetual Dark Side-fueled thunderstorms under a dark cloudy sky. I looked up to see the outlines of a biodome of transparent aluminium, crossed with a web of light gray support structure. My eyes settled down on the horizon. Outside of the dome was a planet with a dark red atmosphere. A distant volcano thundered on the horizon.

I realized the TARDIS had materialized on the top of a structure in this massive dome. Not a very tall structure, mind you, as I looked around and saw some modest skyscraper-sized buildings about. I looked down into the streets milling with anti-grav bikes and pedestrians wearing futuristic-looking jumpsuits. At least most of them were. Others were in maroon jackets with black trim and gray, gold, or white clips over the left shoulder, matched with black pants, similarly-color coded shirts beneath the jackets.

Starfleet uniforms. The ones from the 2280s to 2340s.

"Where am I?", I mused aloud. "When?"

Before I could investigate more the ground shook beneath me. People in the streets cried out in surprise. I fell back into the TARDIS door until the shaking subsided enough for me to get back up. I looked back over the horizon.

The volcano had exploded. Gushing mounts of orange and yellow light now erupted from where the top had been smoldering before. It was somewhat eerily beautiful, if quite terrible to behold.

I racked my mind to think of any case I personally knew of this event. It wasn't familiar. I went to the TARDIS controls and the display screen, checking my coordinate data for the date and time. "Stardate 22622," I murmured. "Sometime in... 2345? The Glicken Colony on Pyrovia...." I stared in horror at the record I read.

The volcano's detonation was just the first blast. Pressure was even now building beneath the colony for a powerful aftershock that badly-installed sensors missed the signs toward. The aftershock would spew melting rocks and some lava into the colony and weaken the dome... critically. The entire colony would be destroyed in the dome collapse before any evacuations could begin.

"Fifty thousand people," I breathed, looking at the population figure of 50,291 residents and support personnel. And then I spied the survivor list.



Over fifty-thousand people were about to die. All because some fool didn't check the sensors right.

I couldn't allow that to happen.

I wouldn't allow that to happen.

I moved the TARDIS somewhere quiet before getting to work. I only had a few hours to act, so I moved at a brisk pace, using the psychic paper and the sonic screwdriver to get into doors I needed to use.

From the records, two Starfleet vessels were near enough to help. But they would be called in too late due to the sensor failure. The solution, thus, was twofold.

I used the sonic to slip into an office for one of the functionaries. I ignored the various mementos to family and friends and past that the occupant had, noting them only enough to see the person was an Andorian, and went to the computer on the desk. The sonic whirred happily as I ran it over the system, tapping in commands with the other hand when I had to. The computer security was not very tight. Glicken was not a highly strategic facility demanding such.

Thanks to that, I quickly worked through the security systems and sent out the distress call on all frequencies. A moment later and the comm dish was locked into that call, protected from override.

That left the sensor.

As I raised myself to my full height the door swished open. An Andorian of one of the female genders entered in a civilian jumpsuit. Her eyes narrowed as she looked at me. "Who are you and what are you doing in my office?"

"Me?" I held up the psychic paper. "Doctor Smith, Federation Science Council investigator. I received reports of faulty installation in Glicken's sensor and communications systems. I... believe I came to the wrong office."

"They actually let you enter offices without permission?', the Andorian demanded.

"In a critical enough situation, yes. You've got a volcano exploding less than ten kilometers away and I was sent to double-check the functioning of your underground warning sensors."

The woman's face hardened. Not in anger but from controlled fear. The colony in question had been placed as safely as possible, but since its entire purpose was to mine local rare minerals and to do scientific monitoring of the volcanoes of the planet, it was understandably still in a precarious, potentially dangerous position. The large-scale people-moving transporters for evacuation to the orbiting space station were there for this purpose.

Of course, their use was predicated on warning time. Which the faulty sensor was taking away.

She found her voice. "I... I can't authorize you access to those, sir. You'll have to talk to Commander Legsh and Director Sturek."

"Of course, of course," I said, walking around the desk. "Please, take me to central operations."

I had inwardly cursed at being found. It seemed far easier to get in and out without being seen, fix the sensor, and let the evacuation happen. But now I had a chance to make sure of things. By showing the heads of the colony that their sensor was malfunctioning, they would begin emergency evacuation as a precaution, at an earlier time-scale and without the tricky issue of the fault possibly being in the physical sensor and not the operating systems.

The central operations center for the colony looked like a starship bridge, almost. Blue paneled LCARs controls were on several stations and along walls. Diagrams of the volcano, the planet, and the mining tables beneath Glicken were on several. "Commander, Director, this is Doctor Smith from the Science Council," my guide said, ignoring another small rumble in the ground. In the distance the volcano threw off more lava.

A Tellarite in the maroon uniform of Starfleet and a Vulcan man in a black and brown set of robes turned to face me. "Doctor Smith? I am Director Sturek. I was... not informed that the Science Council was sending anyone out?"

"Oh, last minute change of orders," I said. "There has been some concern about the seismic sensor installation for Glicken. I've come to double-check them." I peered out at the erupting volcano. "And not too soon, I see. Given the nature of the fault lines here that eruption could come right under this colony."

"There is only a one percent chance of that," Sturek pointed out. "And I am confident in our sensor systems' efficacy to give us warning time."

"And if you're wrong, you've got what, two transports before the colony is destroyed?", I asked pointedly. "That's fifty thousand dead. I don't think you want that, do you? Let's inspect them together. You can decide the best course of action then."

The Tellarite, Commander Legsh, looked at me with some suspicion. He went to another station and spoke quietly while Sturek led me to a panel. He typed in commands. "These sensors are subjected to hourly diagnostics. We have had no trouble."

"You know as well as I that a diagnostic doesn't find all faults. Improper installation and connection failures can be missed by standard diagnostics. When was the last time you ran a high level diagnostic?"

Sturek considered me quietly. "As frequently as regulations require. In this case, one month."

"Ah. A rather... lax schedule, you must admit," I said.

"High level diagnostics require taking the system offline and putting in backup systems, Doctor, it is not something easily done."

"Well." I frowned. "I suggest we do it."

Sturek showed no emotion visibly, but there was some irritation in his eyes. "That is not logical. It will take two hours to get supplementary systems in place."

"Two hours? Two bloody hours?", I answered. "That should only take half an hour at most with proper training, Director."

"Resources for such training are not a logical expense for such a purpose," Sturek insisted. "These sensor systems are the latest development in the Federation, as you well know."

I sighed and raised my head to look upward. "You've got fifty thousand people living on a volcanic, geologically unstable planet and you're cutting corners because systems are new?!", I thundered. "You should know better, Director Sturek! Attitudes like that are what disasters are made of!"

"I have taken every necessary precaution." Sturek narrowed his eyes. "Your emotional outburst is entirely unbecoming a scientist."

"My emotional outburst is because we're sitting on a ticking time bomb and..."

The door swished open and two Starfleet officers entered. In body armor, with phasers in their hands.

Oh dear.

Commander Legsh stepped up beside them. "Director Sturek, step away please," he said .

Sturek noticed the armed men and actually frowned. "Commander, what is the meaning of this?"

"Him." Legsh pointed at me. "I just ran his image through Starfleet databases and checked our internal sensors. This man isn't Human, and he certainly isn't from the Science Council. He's a time criminal called the Doctor, and under Standing Order 30 I am placing him under arrest."

I sighed. "We haven't got time for this!", I insisted.

Sturek looked to me. His eyes grew more intense as he ran the information in his head. "If you are a time traveler and you have come here..."

I looked to him. A small smirk crossed my face. "Ah. Enlightenment, I see? Yes. Sometimes one in a hundred happens, Director. This colony will be destroyed within hours when your sensors fail to register the buildup in pressure underneath. The blast will blast through your dome and cause it to collapse. Thirty one people will survive."

Sturek paled at my revelation. Legsh waved at his security officers, who brought their phasers up. "Come with us," he ordered.

I rolled my eyes in contempt. "You lot are so dogmatic about it. I just told you fifty thousand people are going to die, Commander!" I raised my voice, making damn sure everyone here heard that. "Thirty one people from this entire colony survive! Out of over fifty thousand! I'm here to stop it and you're going to brandish phasers at me?!"

The security guards visibly stiffened. Legsh took a moment to compose himself. "This is a violation of the Temporal Prime Directive, sir," he finally said. "You.. you don't know what the consequences can be if you change our history!"

"I doubt they'll be that bad compared to the guaranteed consequences if I don't!", i retorted. "Are you willing to see fifty thousand Federation citizens die for the Temporal Prime Directive, Commander?"

Legsh's dark eyes focused on me. The Tellarite curled his face in an expression of sheer frustration tinged with uncertainty. I could see him struggling with his decision.

Sturek had a new look on his face. "I will not allow my people to die," he declared. "It is not logical."


"Commander, you are not my overseer," Sturek barked. He looked to me. "Doctor, you seem to have great knowledge of our systems. Do you have any suggestions? We will need time to evacuate."

"Begin immediately."

"The other stations may not have the room for us all," one operator, a Betazoid given her dark pupils, said.

"I've already sent a distress call on your behalf," I said back. "Two Starfleet vessels are on their way. For now you just need to begin evacuation. I'll try to buy you more time."

"You're not going anywhere," Legsh insisted. "By the authority of the Federation you are under arrest for repeated violations of the Temporal..."

Before he could continue I brought the sonic screwdriver up. The phasers in his guards' hands exploded in sparks. They recoiled, dropping the disabled weapons to the ground and favoring the slight burns on their hands. Legsh looked at them in disbelief and then to me. "I have more where that comes from."

"And I'll disable them all if I have to," I countered. "I am here to save you people and this is my thanks? All because I actually have the courage to save lives instead of cowering behind the Prime Directive and its ilk? No, sir. The Federation has no authority over me and the more you try to assert it, the more I will put you down." I gestured toward a control chair. "Now I suggest, Commander, that you get your personnel working on overseeing the evacuation."

"What will you be doing, Doctor?", Sturek asked.

"Trying to find out how to buy you more time," I answered. "Excuse me now, but I must go get a suit. It's going to be boiling outside."

Environmental suits are not the most pleasant things. Even with Federation technology they're bulky and awkward, filled with life support mechanisms and insulation to protect from extreme temperatures. Like the kind you find on a volcano planet.

The TARDIS hovered outside the dome where I now reviewed the scan results. I'd given up on repairing the sensor; there was no point when I had thoroughly convinced Sturek of what was coming. The key now was to buy time for the evacuation by delaying the eruption.

Hrm. Tricky. But that's part of being a Time Lord.

I gave the TARDIS control a pat. "Well, you brought me here, I'm afraid I'm going to need you to take some bruises, my girl," I murmured. Scans were showing me the lava channels that were forming beneath the surface, on their way to destiny.

Ah, destiny. We don't see eye to eye.

"Here we go! Tally ho!", I shouted as I triggered the TARDIS controls. The TARDIS rushed groundward. Her protective fields reshaped themselves and let her smash through the ground, tunneling through rock until she emerged into the lava stream. Sensors warned of the external conditions.

I think that should explain my suit, shouldn't it? Safety first, kids.

At my control the TARDIS moved through the stream and them back upward, breaking through to the surface again. I brought her back down smashing through the ground, creating a third hole. And then back up. Down and up. Down and up. The rocky terrain began to resemble a form of swiss cheese.

Lava began to softly ooze out of the holes, reaching the surface. "There," I muttered while checking my TARDIS for damage. "Sorry for that girl. Good cause and all." Seeing there was no major damage, I turned my attention to the oozing orange and red fluid pushing out of the holes. That should relieve the pressure for later shocks sufficiently and keep it from breaking through the ground beneath the colony.

I didn't feel it in the TARDIS, but my sensors could sense the savage rumble in the planet as another burst of energy erupted below. The magma began to gush from the holes I'd made, shooting at least thirty feet in the sky and very nearly to my TARDIS. I pulled it up another twenty meters to be safe and looked out at the field below me. The ground was covered in magma now. The high temperature of the planet meant the magma wasn't going to be cooling for days and that it would stay nice and fluid as it flowed freely down the hillside...

...toward the dome.

"Oi! I cannot catch one break!", i shouted. If the lava reached the dome it would start to damage the structure anyway. And if they raised shields to stop it, they wouldn't be able to beam out. Not unless.... ha ha! "Of course!", I shouted as the idea came to my brain. I could alter the shields to be directional, leaving the top of the dome unshielded for transporter signals!

I quickly worked the TARDIS controls and brought her back to the operations center. I was removing my helmet as I stepped out and faced Legsh and Sturek. "I've relieved pressure, but we have a new problem now," I told them.

"We observed," Sturek noted. "Our surveyors did not account for lava flowing from that area."

I said nothing, cursing inwardly. That had been the best spot to relieve pressure, but I'd missed the fact that a substantial lava flow would move toward the colony. "Yes, well, that's why I'm going to alter your shields. We'll leave a gap at the top of the dome for the transporter signal."

One of the Starfleet crew, a Human woman with bright green eyes and the complexion and facial structure of a Central Asian, looked at me with surprise. "Sir, how can you do that? This model isn't made for directional shielding."

"On the fly modifications, my dear Ensign," i answered brightly. "It's something of a hobby of mine. I'll be in the shield generator room if you need anything!"

As I stepped back into the TARDIS, intending to move her directly to that point, I also took a moment to waggle the sonic screwdriver in the vague direction of one of the displays. Enough to, say, turn that display into a bug. I was still suspicious of Legsh trying something. Another reason I was taking the TARDIS with me.

When I got into the shield generator's adjacent control chamber I went to work on it, dragging out a few parts from the TARDIS. At a time like this I found myself missing a Companion to help, but I pushed those thoughts from my mind.

I went to work making my modifications. Altering the emitters was pitifully easy in concept but an annoyance given the design of what was clearly a second-rate civilian shielding system. Given the lack of an underground shield system it was enough to show the problems with Glicken; it was built on a narrow budget and with an overreliance on technology creating too many points of disaster-level failure. The Federation would learn from what happened here today. Fifty thousand dead does that.

Of course, I'd be saving the people, but the failure points would still be seen. The reforms should still go through. They would go through if I had to personally bribe or disagrace half the Federation Council to ensure it. Fifty thousand people shouldn't have to die for common sense to be found.

After meticulous careful alterations to the power distribution systems and the capacitors to handle the changes to power flow from the new emitters, I was ready. I imagine an hour must have passed since I started. No, make that fifty minutes.

"Here we go," I murmured, returning to the controls. I fired the shields up.

The shield generator thrummed to life. I smiled and went to work checking it and making sure the form it was taking was the right one.

And then the first spark came. My eyes widened and I focused on the readings. "No no no no," I grumbled. "No. Oh come on! I thought the Federation was past that 'made by the lowest bidder' nonsense?!", I cried out in frustration.

As it turned out, the shield generator's power grid connection was made of subpar materials. Materials that were never meant to handle the draw being demanded by the generator.

More sparks flew from around the room and the entire generator died.

No wonder this bloody place got destroyed.

Or maybe it was Time itself. I didn't feel any Fixed Points forming, but temporal inertia could still be coming into play. It could still be working to doom the people of this inhabitants.

"Bugger to that," I muttered. "You won't be beating me that easily. You won't!"

I probably sounded a bit unhinged. But perhaps that was the way I felt. One thing I was certain of: I wasn't going to let History condemn fifty thousand without a fight.

Time could be shifted. Fate altered. I'd done it before. I'd do it again.

I was a Time Lord. I was the Doctor.

Never give up. Never give in.

Possibilities ran through my mind. "Okay, okay... ha! A ha ha ha ha! You won't stop me that easily! Come on then, come on if you think you're hard enough!", I cried out, sounding like an Ankh-Morpork football hooligan as I rushed to the TARDIS. I had some spare power conduits; I'd use the TARDIS itself to power the generator if I had to. It would work, long enough to make the evacuation possible.

As I got to work, I heard my "bug" in the operations center come to life. A transporter pattern had been detected. I looked at my readings and noticed a Federation starship was in orbit. A smaller vessel, not one of the ones I had called in, but the design schematics resembled a Renassiance-class design. Clearly a fast ship with a high warp sprint capability. Just what was it doing.... oh.

I brought up the visual aspect of the bug and saw figures in dark uniform, but not Starfleet ones, with Sturek and Legsh. "...dead on your conscious?", Stuvek asked with barely constrained emotion. I suspected he wasn't the most observant Vulcan.

"It's not right to just change the timeline...", a young man argued, but the Vulcan with him held a hand up.

"The timeline has already been contaminated. It is not logical to sacrifice fifty thousand Federation citizens in an attempt to restore it. Our ship will aid your evacuation." The Vulcan, a slim woman I could see as she turned slightly, nodded to her junior partner.

"Thank you, Agent T'Lyr," Stuvek said.

I grimaced. Of course. DTI. Bloody time cops.

"Commander Legsh, we will need your security forces' cooperation. The Doctor is supremely dangerous and will not be easy to apprehend."

"He blew up our phasers in a motion from his device," Legsh grumbled.

"We will provide countermeasures we have derived against his energy manipulation tools. We should hurry, however, as he may already know we're present."

That I did. But I couldn't flee without abandoning Glicken. Without the shields the lava would strike the dome and begin to degrade it in.... twenty minutes.

So I would have to hold off DTI for hours.

Well, I'd do so then. Because I wasn't leaving. And I wasn't letting them take me or my TARDIS.

As I began my own preparations, the young man with Agent T'Lyr turned. My eyes focused on him and narrowed. Oh, that was bloody great, wasn't it?

He was young, early twenties I figured. A rookie agent, clearly. But the hair, the facial expression, of course it would be the same. Consistancy was what he did, after all.

T'Lyr's partner was Agent Gariff Lucsly.

And this would obviously be his first meeting with me.

I smirked. Well, I'd make it one to remember, all right.

If only I'd known just how memorable I'd make it.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-03-23 10:32am

Securing the shield generator control room and access room started by locking the door and sealing it. With the TARDIS I set up an anti-beaming field to guarantee against that angle of attack. I checked the schematics for the area to see where they might blow the wall in. There were few positions of such, at least. But they came in places that, if they came in all at once, they might overwhelm me.

The TARDIS would be my redoubt. It would have to be. I stood by it and the controls, monitoring how the shields were working and the beginning of the evacuation. The lava came ever closer to the dome and the shield now protecting it. I looked to another control panel and tried to re-purpose it to use their security systems. The defenses on those systems were becoming more and more complicated. Of course. They had Starfleet computer security procedures active now to keep me out.

I checked the TARDIS sensors next. I'd relieved the pressure that would be accumulating under the colony but eventually it would become too great despite my efforts. And then boom.

On one screen I watched the lava reach the shield. Blue light came to life, acting as a breakwater to hold back the glowing red and yellow of the magma pulsating around it. The air on the monitor wavered from heat.

So far so good. Given time the shield should take enough energy from the laga to begin cooling it back into rock. And all the while the evacuation happened above me.

There was a tone at the door. A voice came through the intercom speaker inside the control and access room. "I am Agent T'Lyr of Vulcan in service to the Department of Temporal Investigations. I request you surrender to my custody immediately. Resistance will only lead to pointless violence."

I held up the sonic screwdriver and used it to remotely key the control panel. "Well hello Agent T'Lyr. I'm trying to recall, have we met? I distinctly remember a voice like your's on Capraxi around, oh, 2310 Earth Calendar and I'm normally good with voices."

There was brief silence. "I was, yes," she admitted.

"Ah. And what about your partner? Didn't you have a Human partner too? Miss Hamri? Nice lady, handled time travel metaconcepts pretty well as I recall? How is she?"

"She did, yes. She has retired to raise her family."

"Good, good," I breathed as I went around preparing for their eventual entry. "Had to be better than dealing with T'Viss all the time. So, is this the part where I remind DTI I'm a Time Lord and tell you to go away? I admit it's getting a tad old. Plus I'm just here to save lives, really."

"You are in violation of the Temporal Prime Directive as we speak," T'Lyra answered.

"So it's more important than 50,000 people, is it?"

"You know the issue of tampering with the timeline is more important than that."

"Is this where you try to lecture me about consequences of changing the timeline?", I asked pointedly. "I do so love being lectured at, you know."

There was a pause. "You are attempting to delay me."

"Well, I certainly have my own distaste for violence, so staving it off seemed a good idea," I answered as I got back to the main controls for the shields and monitored them. They were holding well, but I didn't like the look of the feedback into the generator itself. "Can we talk about this after we make sure fifty thousand people aren't going to be killed because this place was apparently built by a Ferengi miser?"


"Oh, right. Wrong point in time. Silly me." I hit a switch and moved toward a corner. "My point remains. I'm trying to save lives. You're trying to stop me because I'm a dastardly time criminal that makes the universe better. Can you at least wait until we know this place isn't going to be buried under lava?"

My answer was the series of explosions that came from each entry point. T'Lyr and her partner came through the main door alongside Starfleet Security, which poured through the other entrances. Phaser rifles and pistols were leveled at me as I brought my sonic disruptor up. "We are well aware of your capabilities, Doctor," T'Lyr stated calmly. "You are under arrest. Please do not resist. Our weapons have been adapted to your energy manipulation device and cannot be remotely disabled."

"Well, not easily, I agree," I responded flippantly. "But you'll understand if I'm not in a hurry to be stuck in New Zealand for the next few centuries. Wonderful place, normally. Beautiful scenery. But I'm a bit of a wanderer."

"We have you surrounded," T'Lyr reminded me. "You will not be able to summon your craft before we open fire."

I shook my head. "I'm not surrendering."

"Stun him," T'Lyr ordered.

Their phasers fired.

My setting 42 shield caught them, flaring blue against blue. Surprise flashed over T'Lyr's face and disbelief over young Lucsly.

I smirked. "That's me, always with the new tricks."

Another series of beams fired, at higher settings, as they sought to overwhelm my shield. "Doctor, at these settings you will likely die when your shield fails," T'Lyr pointed out. "You will be given a fair trial if you surrender."

"Sorry, I'm not in the habit of being told what I'm allowed to do by stuffy suits," I replied with clenched teeth. My disruptor would be hard-pressed to withstand all of this firepower as their settings went higher. Blue beam after blue beam struck it.

Just as I wanted to have happen.

Frustration appeared like a ghost over the Vulcan woman's face. She looked to be in her thirties... by Human standards of course, since I knew she was actually closer to seventy in actual age, and therefore she was still quite young for a Vulcan professional and didn't quite have the emotional control of someone like Spock. Although she was still better at it than Sturek. She kept up the fire with the others, not ordering any let-up. In other words, she was perfectly willing to kill me. That was how much a threat DTI considered me to be.

Needless to say, I'm not much of a fan of attempts to kill me. I like, well, breathing.

With my free hand I brought up the sonic screwdriver and set it to wide arc setting. I pressed the activation key and watched the tip light up with purple and begin whirring.

The whirring filled the room and was promptly joined by sparks. Phasers overloaded and exploded with energy in the form of those sparks, forcing everyone present to drop them. Everyone regarded me with surprise, including T'Lyr and Lucsly.

I smirked. "Ha! See what I mean? I'm a Time Lord and you lot never seem to get it in your thick heads what that means! It means that I will always beat you!"

T'Lyr went to her feet and assumed a martial arts stance. "We still have sufficient numbers to subdue you."


I held up the sonic disruptor and triggered setting 21, wide arc. Everyone present save T'Lyr started to scream and collapse to their knees. T'Lyr staggered and grimaced, clearly trying to resist the effects of the neural disruption.

So was Lucsly, who was proving surprisingly robust.

I brought the sonic screwdriver over toward him and triggered its narrow-focus sonic burst. Lucsly screamed, clasped his ears, and fell to the ground, nearly unconscious.

T'Lyr continued to advance. In fact, she put her hand on my wrist and started to twist to wrench my sonic screwdriver out of my grasp. Vulcan strength was something that I couldn't laugh at, so I moved immediately to prevent her from grappling with me and trying the nerve pinch.

I'm not one for physical combat. Blast things with the sonic disruptor, that was fine. But I don't throw punches, usually. I prefer out-thinking my foes.

In this case, I made an exception.

The sonic disruptor made a slight thunking sound as it slapped into T'Lyr's face. A tooth flew loose, congealed with green blood, and she fell away from me. Her grip on my wrist didn't slacken and helped her stay up. It also provided me leverage, allowing me to grab her wrist as soon as I dropped the sonic from my hand. A savage blow with the disruptor to her left arm was enough to make her grip on my wrist weaken. I wrenched it free with my grip on her remaining and twisted around, using my grip on her wrist to take her into a judo hold and throw her over my shoulder. T'Lyr hit the ground hard, a faint groan escaping through her Vulcan control. If I'd ever learned the neck pinch trick I'd have done it right there. I had to settle for setting 21 knocking her unconscious with a moan of pain.

I surveyed all of the unconscious or near-unconscious security guards and went to the control panel for the shield generator. This time I hacked it into the transporter system. It was being actively used for the evacuation so I made sure to take over only after a transport sequence finished. I beamed up the security guards and T'Lyr in the first batch, the other remaining guards in the second. That left Lucsly...

Before I could transport him, the ground beneath me shook like the entire colony was in the grasp of an enraged god. I fell to my hands and knees and struggled to get back to my feet. "Oh no, not now!", I breathed in irritation.

It was a warning shock. Despite my efforts, the lava flow beneath the colony was approaching critical levels. When the pressure grew powerful enough it would explode.

I thought quickly. No shield I could possibly create with what was at hand could hold such a blast. I couldn't move the TARDIS out without shutting down the directional shield stopping the magma flow around the dome. I needed a new option.

As the ground rumbled beneath me, I knew I needed it now. There was no way they could transport enough people... out...


I looked down to the controls and hit the intercom. "Sturek, Legsh, I'm going to need the transporters for a few minutes. Tell me you have the mines evacuated!"

"The mines were emptied of workers first. May I state that giving you transporter control will delay our evacuation?," Sturek pointed out.

"Yes, but as things stand you won't finish it in time. Give me half of your transporter capacity and I can buy us enough time!"

There was silence for a moment. "Very well."

I took control of the relevant transporters and began transporting material around.

Namely, the mining charges and other explosive devices.

With the transporter I brought them to me first and set up their remote detonators with the sonic screwdriver before beaming them back out. My points for them were the mine shafts moving away from the colony. One to block the main entrance hatch with rubble, the rest to blast a hole through to the magma pocket and give the magma somewhere to go.

The ground shook several times beneath me as I went to work. "I see that bad sensor still thinks everything is fine," I muttered as I finished preparations. "Sturek! I'm ready! Everyone brace themselves!" I released the transporters back to him. My hand went to the detonation command and pressed it.

Again the ground shook. Sensor feeds showed how well the blast worked; a cylinder had been forced through the rock, giving the magma somewhere else to escape. It rushed through the new channel and into the underground mines like a freight train. Of flaming rock. Nasty, melt-your-body flaming rock.

The mine complex was large enough to accommodate quite a bit of magma. To help, I made sure one more explosive device had been put over the emergency surface hatch, blasting it open and allowing the magma to escape away from the colony.

There was still shaking beneath us. A massive upswell of lava was going to eventually blast through the floor of the colony. But now it wouldn't do so before the evacuation could complete.

I started to laugh. Every obstacle thrown at me had been thwarted. I had triumphed! I would not be denied. I...

...had to move to avoid getting punched by Lucsly.

The young time agent was on his feet swinging. "You're under arrest!", he shouted.

"I'm a Time Lord, Lucsly. You're not going to beat me with fisticuffs," I pointed out.

He reached for his communicator. Before he could bring it to his mouth I used the sonic screwdriver to cause it to explode in sparks. He gasped and cradled his twice-burnt hand. "Seriously, Lucsly," I said. "I just saved fifty thousand lives. And here you are, trying to arrest...!"

He swung at me.

He swung and connected.

The blow of his hand caught me by surprise. I underestimated him and I shouldn't have. Now I was on the ground. He jumped on me, trying to get control of my hands. I heard the metal clink of wrist-cuffs being prepared.

Something in me seemed to almost snap. I howled in rage and pulled my body around, thwarting his attempt to lock my wrist. I twisted free and did something quite out of the ordinary for me.

I threw a punch.

The punch caught Lucsly on the left side of his face. His head wheeled away and his eyes glazed over with momentary disorientation. I followed this up with a powerful punch to his gut, making him double over. I snarled and tore the wristcuffs from his grasp. "You have to keep pushing," I rasped at him as I pulled his wrists together. "Always bloody pushing!"

"You're... a danger to everything," Lucsly protested. My grip was too strong for him and he wasn't able to break away before his wrists were secured behind his back with a satisfying click. "You change history on a whim. Who knows how much damage you've done..."

"Damage? Damage?!" I gestured around us. "Do you call fifty thousand people alive damage, Lucsly?! I call it a good deed!"

"You won't always be saving lives when you do these things," Lucsly pointed out. "You can't change the timeline and expect there to be no consequences!"

"I know exactly what consequences can be. But I'm not letting it scare me into doing nothing!" I went back to the controls and focused on them. So far so good. The tremor was less pronounced now that the magma had somewhere to flow out of the pocket. Altogether I had bought many hours for the evacuation, more than enough.

Lucsly was not dissuaded. Behind me he raged. "Nobody has the wisdom to play with the timelines! Even if you're trying to do something good... the damage you could do is simply too great! You're making decisions for billions of sentient beings, Doctor! You don't have that right!"

And at that point, something snapped in my mind.

"I... don't have the right?" I turned slowly to face him. "I don't have the right? Do you know what I am, Lucsly? Do you know what I've done?! I've stopped genocides and wars that would have destroyed entire civilizations! I've saved galaxies! And you say I don't have the right?!" I stabbed a finger at him. "You of all people? A small mind serving the small-minded. People afraid of the responsibility of making the world a better place! Afraid of consequences. So you set up your neat little guide posts, your precious Prime Directives, and you confine yourself to them never imagining what it would mean to step beyond them, to see what you could accomplish!"

I started to laugh. In one terrifying moment everything suddenly seemed so clear. What I had to do. What I should do. What I should be.

"Do you know who has the 'right' to change history, Lucsly? I do. I've earned it, time and time again!", I shouted. "I wish I'd realized it sooner. But I had to be like you. I had to be afraid, afraid of consequences. And it's cost me." Thoughts of Katherine's fate came to me. "It's cost me so dearly. No more." I shook my head. My face twisted with anger. "No more! I will change what I deem fit! The timelines will bend to me. I will save the people who would be lost otherwise! And I will make things better!"

Lucsly looked at me with widened, horrified eyes. Here I was, the antithesis of everything he stood for. The man who would bend all of time to his will.

At that moment I didn't care. I laughed loudly, openly, as if a weight had come off my shoulders. Everything was so clear now. No more doubt. No more fear of what might go wrong. I would do what I thought was right, and the consequences? I'd deal with them as needed. I would make things go the way I intended, the way I desired. There would be no more Katherines. I would save everyone.

The feeling was... breath-taking. Intoxicating.

I held my arms up. "You wanted to know who I was to claim such power, Agent Lucsly?! I'll tell you! I am the Doctor. I am a Time Lord! That's not just a fancy title, it's what I am. I see the flows of History like you would see the flowing of a stream! Time moves through me like the blood of your veins! I will not be lectured by an arrogant little man who fears change! You're so afraid of what could happen that you don't think about what should happen. But I do! I know what should happen! And I won't stand by and ignore that like you would. I will not be ruled by fear any longer! The Laws of Time are mine. To. Command! They will obey ME. And with that power, I can do whatever is necessary to make everything better! I will save people! I will not lose anyone else! And no matter what stands in my way, I will be triumphant!"

I laughed. I laughed like I'd just said something amusing. Something uproariously funny. I remember my thoughts being chaotic. I felt liberated. I wouldn't be afraid anymore. I'd do what was right, I'd do what was necessary!

There would be no more Katherines. No more Jans and Camis. No more sacrifices.

No more!

My good intentions melded with my arrogance, my growing ego, and sent my thoughts spinning. This led me to something of a terrible epiphany. A moment of clarity of what I had become.

"I'm not just a Time Lord anymore." I shook my head. "I've become something more. So much more."

And words that had been said to me before came to my mind then, stark in all of their terrifying glory.

The perfect phrase to sum up what I now saw myself as. The... thing I had become.

I laughed again. And I smiled with the laughter.

"I am the Time Lord Triumphant."

Lucsly tried to struggle to his feet. "I'll stop you," he vowed. "I won't let you tear history apart!"

"You'll try, little man," I answered, my smile not fading. "And you'll fail."

And with that, I held up the sonic disruptor and knocked him unconscious with Setting 21.

My head was spinning from my newfound sense of purpose, of liberation. I checked the magma flow around the dome. The energy shield I'd rigged had already taken enough eat from the magma in direct contact with it to harden it back into solid rock. A breakwater of said volcanic rock was now several feet tall, more than enough to absorb the flowing magma and channel it around the dome.

I gave a look to other systems. The evacuation was proceeding swiftly. Another starship was already in orbit; altogether dozens of people were being transported out every second. In a couple of hours the evacuation would be complete.

I looked over to Lucsly's unconscious form. As soon as I left, he would be beamed up. I considered how much irritation he caused me when he was older and I was younger, but even at the dizzying heights of the power I now believed in wielding I knew better than to undermine my own timestream. I'd leave him here to wallow in his impotence against me and the power at my command. My younger self would learn to be irritated at him; I didn't even feel that now. I felt... not pity, but a sort of overbearing smug satisfaction in how small and insignificant a being Lucsly was compared to me and my ambitions. To think that he believed himself the guardian of the timeline. What petty arrogance.

The timeline was overrated. What mattered was making things better. And that was what I would do. I would fix things. For Katherine. For everyone. And the timeline?

The timeline could be damned.

I detached the cables that had allowed the TARDIS to power the shield generator. It died in a moment and the shield outside dropped. No lava could get over the dried rock that had formed around the shield wall, as I had anticipated. The dome was safe for now. It was safe for long enough.

I had done it.

I had won.

I had triumphed.

I stayed to make sure of course, observing in the TARDIS under stealth as the evacuation completed. Lucsly and DTI would sting at this defeat. I smirked at that. I'd make them sting a lot more of they gave me reason to.

But only if that. I had more important things to do. Plans were already stirring in my head on what I would do next.

I was the Doctor.

I was the Time Lord Triumphant.

And all of the timelines of all of the cosmoses were mine to change. For the better

I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought my prior deeds had made clear my right to change things that I felt needed changing. There were galaxies to save, civilizations to liberate or bring low. Imperial Inquisitors, Sith, Borg, oh so many forces that I was no longer going to turn a blind eye toward.

I was going to ruin them.

I was going to make the Multiverse a better place.

No matter the cost.

”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-03-23 10:36am

Short 28 - Triumphant

Deralak was a populated planet in what is called the Delta Quadrant. The sentient species that evolved there were fairly unremarkable even by the standards of their galaxy. Humanoid from the ancient Seeders' DNA models, of course. Bone ridges along the temples. Skin colors in the red to orange range. But fairly unremarkable.

But their world was not. It was rather rich in resources, courtesy of repeated asteroid impacts in primordial times.

And so it was that the Borg came to their world. Two Cubes, sent to process the planet.

The Derak tried to fight. But they had just mastered warp travel. All they could do was sent suicide warp ramming ships up that the Borg effortlessly deflected with their sensor technology. The two Cubes smashed through their defenses and approached the planet.

That was where I came in.

I emerged from the TARDIS as soon as I materialized it in the Derak planetary defense command. They stared at me in wonderment and fear as I stormed up to a station with my sonic screwdriver whirring. "Just a moment," I announced. "I'll deal with this." I ran the sonic over the communication station to take it over and open a channel. "Attention Borg Collective. This is the Doctor speaking," I announced proudly, smirking. "I'm only going to say this once. Bugger off."

The Derak looked at me in bewilderment. But one remained looking at his station and gawked. "High Commander! The Enemy is stopping! They are.... they are fleeing!"

The "High Commander" looked at me with stunned crimson eyes. "How did you..?", she asked.

I interrupted her brusquely. "Nothing major, Commander. Just saving another world from the Collective. Toodles." I returned to the TARDIS and locked the door behind me, paying the Derak no more thought now that I'd scared off the Borg. After Traxil Prime I suppose I shouldn't be surprised they run like misbehaving children whenever I pop up.

Another world saved. Another piece of the Multiverse made better.

And so many more places to go.

I stood amidst the rain and lightning of the blighted world of Dromund Kass with a grim look on my face. I was standing in the streets, a rain cloak on my head, as I surveyed the mighty structures of power for the Sith Empire. The Sith Citadel, Imperial Intelligence Headquarters, and the Mandalorian Enclave.

"Excuse me, sir?"

I turned and looked down. A small Twi'lek child was looking up at me. His cyan complexion was marred by a scar on his cheek. The shock collar on the back of his neck told me all that I needed to know. "Yes, lad?", I asked calmly.

"You shouldn't stand there, sir," the boy said. "They'll arrest you for loitering."

I smiled thinly. "Yes, I'm familiar with Imperial ideas of law and order. But they won't be arresting me, young man. I'd make them regret it."

Fear showed on the child's face. "Are.. are you a Sith Lord? I-I'm sorry if..."

"Oh, no. I'm not a Sith Lord," I answered. "I'm a Time Lord. The only one you'll ever see." I directed my gaze toward the mighty buildings. "They call me the Doctor."

And at that point I held up my sonic screwdriver and triggered it. The purple tip lit up. The device whirred.

Explosions rippled across the three great structures, growing in intensity and power until all three utterly collapsed, falling into the chasm below.

Screams erupted from the people in the rest of the city. People began rushing about, seeking to alert the military and emergency services. The boy stared in wonderment at the sight. I thought I saw a glimpse of satisfaction insert itself into the horror. Understandable. The poor young lad has probably fantasized so much at seeing his oppressors suffer.

"Have parents, lad?"

The boy shook his head. "I don't know my father. My mother was executed by the House lord when I was small."

"Ah." I held the sonic up again and sent out a simple disruption pulse with it. The shock collar on his neck let out a small crackle and fell off of him. "Come along then. I know just where to take you."

I ended up leaving the boy three hundred years in the future at the doorstep of the Jedi Temple. It was the best place for him.

I still had work to do.

There was great commotion in the hidden capital of the Word of Blake. The real headquarters, that is, where the Master of the Word of Blake himself was quietly directing his forces to fulfill "prophecy".

Prophecy. Ha.

My attack took place over quiet months. Spies in ComStar compromised to Focht and Mori. Word of Blake targets revealed for ComGuard forces to strike. I sabotaged their forces on Gibson with quiet efficiency.

Now I stood on one of their Hidden Worlds. Their security was in tatters. I had their defenses forces running around dealing with explosive devices and other traps I'd left to divert them. All so that I could focus my attention on the main target of my excursion.

Their first Manei Domini lay spasming on the floor with their cybernetics going haywire. I stood over their leader, a rather nasty fellow called Apollyon, and smirked. "Megalomaniacal cyborgs. I so enjoy ruining you lot. You're always so full of yourselves before the sonics come into play."

Apollyon glared hatred at me before he fell unconscious. His body still spasmed from the short-circuited cybernetics.

I smirked and looked up at the robed figure they had been consulting with. "The Master, I presume?" I rolled my eyes. "Presumptuous. Technically, I should regard a being calling himself 'the Master' as my worst rival, but the truth is you're rather pathetic. And I much prefer your double, Thomas Marik."

"I have heard of you," the real Thomas Marik - Master of the Word of Blake - rumbled. "The Doctor. The lapdog of the Great Houses."

"I hold no loyalty to them," I remarked. "I've been striking at you because I know what you truly are." I smiled. "The crazed adherents to a jumped up and silly communications minister and his megalomaniacal successor. I know what your long term plans are, Marik. And I'm here to nip them in the bud."

Two eyes, one organic and one cybernetic, glared at me with hate. "You arrogant man. You blaspheme the Blessed Blake."

"Ah, you exaggerate," i retorted. "Blake wasn't that bad a chap, really. I tried to warn him about Toyama but he wouldn't listen." I let out a sigh. "Too bad."

The "Master" stood from his throne after hitting a key. "You didn't get all of my Domini," he declared. "The Word will not be...."

"Yap yap yap." I held up the sonic screwdriver and triggered it. Thomas shrieked in agony and fell over. "'The Master'. So pretentious. You're a joke, Marik. And your Word will not be allowed to succeed."

"Who are you to direct our destinies?!", Marik demanded. "We bring enlightenment to..."

I hit the sonic screwdriver again and caused him to fall over, unable to scream as his cybernetics went haywire. "You mean the enlightenment of nuclear weaponry as you shatter world after world? I know what your efforts would have wrought, which is why I'm here to destroy you." I shook my head. "The problem with you lot is that you're laughably vulnerable to the technology of the Time Lords. It's almost pathetic how unsporting wrecking your Word is, Thomas Marik. Of course, I'm not in it for sport." I walked up to him and kicked him over onto his back. "I'm here to make your universe a better place. That starts by removing the Word of Blake as a threat. You can remain as you appear to others, a bunch of technology-worshiping misfits clinging to the other Thomas' coattails. Utterly harmless."

"Blake's sacred Word will not be denied," Thomas rasped.

"It already has been," I informed him, pointing to a window.

He looked out of it as I triggered the screwdriver.

Buildings in the distance began to explode, courtesy of the detonation signal I sent.

"No," he whimpered. "No, you... you don't know what you're..."

"The work of centuries," I said. "ComStar's little secrets. Now yours. And now... they're rubble. All of that lost technology gone forever."

"Blasphemy!", Thomas wept. "Desecration! You monster! You damned monster!"

I didn't say anything. This was the man who would have caused the deaths of billions, after all. The shattering of entire planets under nuclear hellfire and chemical weapons and engineered plagues. Now I would just leave him with shattered dreams.

I smiled at that as I quietly summoned the TARDIS and left Thomas and his precious Manei Domini behind, their bodies wracked by the fried cybernetics that I had destroyed their means to replace. I thought it was rather appropriate for people who ranted about the weakness of flesh against the purity of technology.

Another day. Another triumph for me.

And so the march of the Time Lord Triumphant continued.

I actually liked Tanith.

It was a forest world, you see. The trees could move, so the forests always shifted. The people dwelling there had a Gaelic feel to them. Very nice world... for an Imperium of Man world anyway.

Unfortunately, Tanith was due to be destroyed by a bunch of people working with extradimensional beings that fed on pure suffering. Followers of Chaos, in other words. Chaos with a capital "C", even.

And as much as I disliked the Imperium and its excesses.... I disliked Chaos even more.

I stood at the door of the TARDIS in orbit over the planet, a microphone rigged to the TARDIS communication circuit in my hand. Ahead of me the horrific visage of a Chaos-crewed fleet rippled in transition from the Warp and moved into firing position to bombard the planet. "Well hello there!", I shouted into the microphone. "Attention Chaos buggers. This is the Doctor speaking. I'm afraid that I've taken rather a liking to this planet, even if it's owned by the narrow-minded idiots of the Imperium. So I'm only going to say this once! Bugger off!"

There was silence. And then a deep, growly voice struck in my head. You are powerful, the voice said. What is one world to you? We could offer you so much more.

Sorry, I answered in my head. I've seen what you lot do to the people who sign up with you. Not interested. And I'm going to take this as a 'no'.

"We will feast on your bones!", a voice screamed over the communications line.

I rolled my eyes. "Ah, Khorne types. Feast on this." I went to the TARDIS control and triggered the signal.

Ripples appeared in space as devices shifted power away from their cloaking devices. Their power instead surged into their projectors. Massive tears in the fabric of space ripped open momentarily. Hyperspace jump points, to be exact, salvaged from the cosmos of Babylon-5. And they were in such close proximity that they destabilized each other swiftly.

Ships from this cosmos were tough. There was no getting around that. But their own mass and toughness now turned against them. They were big, hard to accelerate, and their mass only made the gravitational attraction of the hyperspace jump points even more powerful. I watched and smiled as the Chaos ships struggled to get away, to flee, but could not. Jump points collapsed, generating such massive gravitational forces that they ripped the Chaos ships to shreds. Some of the ships were actually pulled into the relevant hyperspace bands before the points collapsed, stranding them forever in hyperspace.

After ten seconds of crackling brown energy coupled with explosions, there was nothing left.

"Well, that's all there is to that," I said.

Another planet saved. More lives saved.

More good work done in the Multiverse.

But there was still so much more I could improve. So much more I could fix.

I'd heard that there was a unit of the Imperium Guard that would have found purpose in the loss of their world, the world I had just saved. I had altered this universe's timeline. Just as I had altered the Republic-Sith War by destroying Imperial HQ, the expansion of the Borg Collective, and the future of the Inner Sphere. There would be consequences.

And I would deal with them, if it was needed.

I... would... deal with them.

I felt my eyelids droop and stifled a yawn. I'd been pushing myself lately. I felt like I needed some rest. I didn't have to worry about rest, really. I mean, about horrible things happening while I rested. I entered coordinates into the TARDIS that would shift me into an early universe that would give me plenty of time to get some shuteye and sustenance. And then I'd get back to work.

There was always more work to do.

The Time Lord Triumphant would march onward. And I would make everything better.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-03-25 09:43am

Episode 19 - The Price of the Name

They're called BattleMechs. Walking tanks, essentially. Typically between twenty and a hundred tons in mass and the offspring of peaceful 'Mech machines used for civilian work. It seems to be a habit of Humanity to take their plowshares and turn them into weapons.

In this case, it was a war machine powered by an internal fusion engine, using the pilot's sense of balance tied into an internal gyro to keep the machine stable. More fussy than a tank, but it had more surface area for mounting weaponry and it had greater versatility. This one had the emblem of a Wolf's head. It's pilot was a man named Dalk Carns. He was a vicious man. A "Loremaster" who believed his people had the right to conquer and to rule. Naturally he and his fellow warriors, all genetically engineered, would be at the top.

Funny thing about fusion engines. You tweak here, run the sonic screwdriver there, and....

Carns probably had some warning. He may have even tried to eject. But he would not be able to.

The machine exploded in a blinding white fireball, claiming Dalk Carns with it.

Dalk Carns. The man who would have, with a moment's inspiration, dethroned Ulric Kerensky of his place as ilKhan of the Clans, all in an effort to repudiate a truce bargained in good faith. By his removal, I prevented the Refusal War. I saved the lives of Ulric and Natasha Kerensky. I prevented the rise of Vlad Ward.

Ah, Vlad. I had to admit some grudging respect for the man. But he was a threat to the peace of the Inner Sphere. And I would crush him as swiftly as I crushed Thomas Marik, if I were made to do so.

"One threat down, so many to go," I murmured as I stepped into the TARDIS. I felt giddy and excited. Liberation from my fears had proven a wonder to my spirit. I would fix this nasty little cosmos, just as I was fixing so many others. "I suppose Kali Liao should be next," I murmured to myself. The vicious woman thought she was the incarnation of the Hindu god she was named for. I would show her what real power was.

I twisted some dials on the TARDIS, set new coordinates, and hit the activation lever.

When I stepped out of the TARDIS, I wasn't at my intended destination. I recognized the prefab housing as Federation standard. People ran about, screaming. Federation colonists. Some of their colony was on fire.

I had a sneaking suspicion of where I was. Or at least a when.

It was confirmed when I turned my head and saw Jem'Hadar chasing a couple through the street. A Human man and a half-Vulcan man, it looked like. A couple, given their body language and their clasped hands. The Jem'Hadar raised their weapons.

I was faster. With a burst from the sonic disruptor they went flying.

I took more steps. I came upon a dead Bolian man at my feet. His vacant eyes stared up, presumably last seeing the being responsible for the black scorch over his heart. A few yards down the way an adolescent Tellarite was half-conscious from a shot to the side of the torso and hip. I scanned the child. Too much damage. She was going to die.

Cold fury filled me. I brought out my sonics and stalked through the streets. It appeared this area was already worked over. I had come too late.

I heard a scream, a cry for help. I looked to a burning building and saw the child in a window. I could make out Bajoran ridges on her nose. She cried out for help again.

I ran into the entrance. With Setting 4-HD I put out the flames, the result of an electrical fire caused by energy weapons, and made my way to the bedroom where the child had huddled. She coughed violently and stayed beside two scorched bodies. The man was a Human, the woman a Bajoran. Her parents. She wept over their bodies.

I had just reached her when noise came from the opening. Voices, Cardassian ones, murmured and spoke. Their purpose was clear.


I snarled and I emerged from the bedroom and into the living area. I found the Cardassian soldiers, led by a gray-haired veteran, looking through the meager surviving property of the butchered family. I brought the sonic screwdriver up and disabled their guns with a single press of the button. They were forced to drop or throw away their sparking phasers as my sonic whirred in anger toward them. "What in the...?!"

The veteran of the group looked at me. His eyes grew wide. "You," he rasped.

I looked into the face. With the memory recall of a Time Lord I managed to place it, after accounting for thirty or so years of course. "Singha," I said simply. I remembered the face, you see. He had been among the Cardassians I sent fleeing when I'd rescued little Kira Nerys from the cave in the camp.

"It's the Doctor!", the man shouted to his subordinates. "Run! Run you fools! Run!"

My pride, my ego, swelled in my chest as the Cardassians did just that. They fled. I had acquired quite the reputation with them, after all.

After they fled I looked back to the little girl. She looked at me with sad and angry eyes. "You're the Doctor?", she asked.

"I am," I answered.

She started crying. "Why? Why didn't you make them stay away! They killed my Mommy and Daddy! They're killing my friends! Why?!"

"Shh..." I took the little girl into my arms and carried her away from the broken remains of her parents. I took her to the TARDIS to be safe. And then I went to work.

By that time there wasn't much left. Just helping the dying. This was the Lopash Colony on Malakar II. A colony of ten thousand farmers and service workers, reduced to half of that by a raid of Jem'Hadar and Cardassian forces. After the lull following the retaking of Deep Space Nine, the Dominion War was raging again.

I should have stopped it. I shouldn't have let it get this far.

I left the little girl with a surviving adult cousin and went to the TARDIS to think. How could I stop the war? The possibilities were vast. Sabotage their ships? Destroy the Jem'Hadar birthing facilities? So many ways I could cripple them.

But none seemed fast enough. It would take time. It could be undone. If I were to jolt them out of the war, to utterly remove the ability of the Dominion and their Cardassian servants to wage their war, I needed to hit them with a knockout blow. Something big. Something...

Ah ha. Of course. I smiled thinly and went into my databanks. Long ago I'd stolen a lot of material from Cardassian Central Command. I'd done it in order to undermine their occupation of Bajor. But there had been more material than just Bajor. I began investigating it to double check. One of their options on a final "solution" to the Bajoran Resistance. A weapon they had sought to use later against the Maquis.

I found the relevant materials. I shifted the TARDIS elsewhere into Cardassian space, just to check. They might have moved it,, after all. For whatever reason. I finished double-checking the stealth measures and rushed to the TARDIS door to look out into space and near-orbit of a Cardassian-owned moon. They called it Parakar. It provided needed raw materials and fuel for a special project.

And I could see that project was still active.

I did some scans and saw it would be tricky to get in and do what I needed. Not if I wanted to accomplish my goal. I would need help. I'd need someone I knew could watch my back.

And I knew just who to get.

I materialized the TARDIS just outside the door and hit the door chime. I waited quietly, patiently, until the door was answered.

"Yes..." The occupant looked up at me. She was in a white sleeveless garment and red pants. Obviously ending her work day. She looked at me and a small smile came to her face. "Doctor?"

"Hello, Nerys," I said, smiling at her. "Do you have some time?"

"Well..." She nodded. "It was a short duty day today anyway. Sure. What do you need?"

"Your help," I replied.

"With what?', Nerys asked.

"Something you'll appreciate," I answered. My eyes twinkled. "We're going to beat the Dominion."

Nerys stepped into the TARDIS in her full uniform and carrying a phaser rifle and bag of equipment. I was standing at the TARDIS controls monitoring switches. "Why not talk to Sisko? I mean, an entire security team would..."

"....would be too much. Wasteful," I replied. "And unwieldly. We're going into a secure Cardassian facility and surprise will be a bigger ally than numbers." I twisted a dial to the right position.

"Okay." Nerys set the bag down and looked around. "Where's Katherine?"

I stopped. For a moment it felt like knives pushed into my hearts. I tried to keep my face neutral but Nerys knew me well enough. She lowered her head. "I'm sorry, Doctor. I didn't realize..."

"I don't advertise it," I said. "It was a bomb, if you must know. Set by assassins sent by her mother's political rivals. We never saw it coming."

Nerys swallowed. "I know she meant a lot to you."

"Yes." My voice was hoarse with grief. "Well, have to move on. Work to do. Lots of work."

I noticed her looking at me with confusion. "Are you okay?", she asked. "You look a little..."

I cut her off, insisting, "I'm fine, Nerys. I've just been busy. Keeping busy, it's what I do now."

"Really?" There was sadness in her voice. "I remember when you used to talk about going places and exploring. Not like a Starfleet officer angling for a promotion."

"I suppose things change. I realized I should be doing more." I shook my head. "Hard to enjoy exploring when you realize so many people are suffering."

"Or when you're alone," Nerys added.

I nodded quietly. She was right about that. I loved exploring with others, seeing new things or even revisiting places with people to introduce them. My mind flittered to when I first showed Katherine Jeli, and the Lapari Rings, and...

"Well, maybe as a celebration afterward," I said. "I suppose we could visit somewhere after we're done. A sight you'd like to see."

"Maybe." Nerys breathed in. "Well, where are we headed?"

"Parakar," I answered, taking the TARDIS activation lever. "Tally ho!"

The TARDIS materialized in a cargo bay, surrounded by crates. Nerys had her bag slung over her back and her phaser rifle on her shoulder. I had the sonics in my hands and ready. I waved the sonic screwdriver around a cylindrical device. "Ketracel White container," I remarked. "There are Jem'Hadar here. And a Vorta." I looked around the interior and spied a control panel. I went over to it and started using the sonic on it. The control panel faded out and re-appeared, reprogrammed to let me check the station's systems. "It's going to take me a little bit to get into their systems from here," I said.

Nerys readied the phaser. "Right." She took cover at a crate facing the main entrances. "Are you sure you don't want reinforcements?"

"Better this way. We'll get them with finesse." I kept the sonic on the controls. The computers were still Cardassian, but the software was increasingly Dominion. It was rather trickier to deal with, befitting their paranoia.

As I was working I heard the door slide open. I looked back in time to see a lone Cardassian enter. He managed two steps due to staring at his PADD before he brought his head up and saw us. Panic showed in his eyes and he grappled for his communicator.

A single light brown energy beam struck his chest, knocking him out. Nerys' shot was perfect. "They had to see that on internal sensors," she noted.

"I killed the sensor readouts in here," I answered. "When we arrived. He was probably sent to check them. We should have a few more minutes."

"What are you doing?", Nerys asked me as she went up, her rifle still ready, and used her free hand to grab the unconscious Cardassian and drag him over to us.

"Taking over internal security functions," I answered. "Anti-intrusion measures."

"Even without them, we're going to be outnumbered." Nerys restrained the Cardassian tech and swung her phaser rifle back up. Even years of time on DS9 hadn't changed the intristic fact that she was a fighter. It was why I picked her up.

"Who said anything about removing them?", I asked. "I'm simply reprogramming them."

Nerys gave me a startled look. "Doctor, the Cardassian anti-intrusion methods involve phaser turrets. They vaporize people."

"I know," I answered. "But I don't intend to have them shot, I just need them to evacuate Ops and a few choice areas. If I buy us half an hour we can do our business and get clear."

"Still..." A look came across her face. I didn't pay much attention to it. I wanted to get this work done and get out. "Oh. Setting it to stun?"

The truth was, I hadn't even considered that. But hearing her bring it up made me consider it. It did seem the right thing to do. Yes, probably for the best. "Of course," I answered a split second later. "And for my next trick..."

I activated the anti-intrusion measures remotely and looked at one of the screens I set up to show the station's Ops center. Cardassian personnel went running for cover as phasers materialized in the replicator and started firing on them. One went down, stunned to unconsciousness, before she could get to cover. The others retreated steadily back toward the doors leading out. But it blocked them with a forcefield and wouldn't let them out, allowing the anti-intrusion weapons to target them one by one. I took remote control of it to materialize new ones to cover multiple angles, preventing them from taking effective cover. In a few minutes the entire bridge crew was stunned.

So far so good.

I turned on the measures in reactor control and a couple other strategic spots as well. Cardassians fled. Jem'Hadar proved more likely to try and take out the phasers, but the anti-intrusion systems simply replaced them. Still... "I'm taking remote transporter control next," I announced. "I want to get rid of our horned friends."

Nerys didn't say anything to that, but I could see she had a worried look on her face. She could sense something was different about me and it was unsettling her. Well, it wouldn't for long. I would explain to her once we were in Ops.

I took control of the transporters and whisked the Jem'Hadar and their Vorta officers planetside as quickly as I could. "And there," I said. "Let's get back into the TARDIS."

The anti-intrusion systems had been shut down by my command when the TARDIS materialized into Ops. Here it was a single level, not at all like DS9's. There was no lift but doors, which led out to this deck and various offices and other facilities. I stepped over a stunned Cardassian and went to a station. I unlocked it with a single movement of the sonic screwdriver. "Alright then," I murmured.

Nerys moved to another station. "It looks like they're trying to get into the station armory."

"It'll take them some time, I scrambled all of the passcodes," I answered. "And I disabled the biometrics scanner just to make sure." I hit several keys as I began to put my plans into motion. I put in new commands, loaded information, and checked systems as needed.

"How are you going to end the war with this facility?" Nerys was keeping an eye on the internal sensors.

"By turning their own weapons against them," I answered.

"What weapons?", Nerys asked.

I didn't answer right away, since I was busy adding information. Nerys looked away from her station and went to the main monitor, which she turned on to show the external view. I heard a gasp come from her throat. "Those are...."

THe viewscreen showed one of the many construction arms of the station. Inside each module was a completed system, ready to be fueled and if need be launched. The Cardassians had given the system in question the rather bland name of ATR-4107.

An acquaintane of mine, B'Elanna Torres, had decided on a different name. "Dreadnought".

"You've heard of them, I see," I answered. "The Cardassians considered using them back in the Occupation, but believed it would reveal their existence to the Federation. And they wanted them for a pre-emptive strike. One that never came." I hit several keys. "Each one has fuel capacity for a thousand kilograms of anti-matter and a matching amount of reactant mass of normal matter. They're well-armored and shielded, they have their own defensive weapons including... ah yes, Cardassian reverse-engineered quantum torpedoes. Not a lot of cruising range, mind you, so they can't replace starships. But they're not meant to."

"And you think that destroying these will knock the Dominion out of the war?" Nerys looked skeptical.

I looked at her. "Ha. Of course not. That wouldn't do anything." I hit one last key. Icons started flashing on screens in Ops. Including a timer using Cardassian characters. "Which is why I'm not going to destroy them. Well, not directly. They'll be gone when we're through."

Nerys paled. "Doctor... what are you doing?"

"Isn't it obvious, Nerys?" I double-checked my screens. Good, everything was right. "Parakar is in the heart of Cardassian territory. Nearly every major shipyard, every Jem'Hadar breeding facility, almost their entire ketracell white processing capacity, weapons factories and assembly planets, they're all in range of these weapons. With one move the Dominion's ability to make war in the Alpha Quadrant will be gutted." I smiled triumphantly.

For several seconds Nerys was silent. Totally and utterly silent. She looked at me with disbelief and I felt what seemed to be growing apprehension, bewilderment, even... fear. "Doctor." Her voice was low and silent. "Those weapons will kill millions."

I looked to her, keeping my expression neutral. "They're going to die anyway," I informed her. "But this way, they won't take millions of innocent people with them."

It all made perfect sense to me at that time. Sacrifice some - and the aggressors at that - to save the greater number. Punish the Cardassian aggression, the arrogance, that had led them to embrace the Dominion.

And it wasn't even a case of immediate necessity. It was brutal, simple expediency. It was I, the Time Lord Triumphant, exercising my will to destroy on a massive scale, to punish as I saw fit, to change the course of this timeline.

How could I have fallen so low? How could I have become so arrogant? So callous?

I had taken the name of the Doctor to do good. But, as I had been warned, that wasn't the end of it. In becoming the Doctor, I had taken up his dark side too. And I had given it free reign.

And now here I teetered, ready to do an act that would forever condemn me, because of that.

Do not think I am defending my conduct. I am not. I was wrong. So terribly wrong. But I didn't see it at the time. I was blinded by arrogance, ego, hubris... you name it, I probably had it.

This is when I paid the price for my presumption in taking the Doctor's name.

This is when I reached my lowest point.

I said nothing more to Nerys, who remained staring in shock as I hit the final key. Anti-matter fuel and reactant began pumping into the dreadnought missiles. In minutes, they would be on their way. And I would become the very thing I had fought so hard against in my travels.

A monster.

I looked at the timer and double-checked the security systems. The anti-intrusion operations were keeping the crew out of our area and bottled up in non-essential areas of the station. They wouldn't be able to interfere with the launch.

So far, so good.

"How could you even think about something like that?"

I turned to face Nerys. She'd paled and was looking at me with disbelief and horror. "How could you... why are you doing this?", she asked.

"Because that's what they planned to do," I replied.

"You mean Dukat and Damar and the Changelings are," she pointed out testily.

"And they're going along with it." I pointed a finger away from Ops. "They're not innocent, Nerys. How many of them have committed their own crimes in 'service to the State'? How many enriched themselves and their families on the blood and bones of Bajorans and Humans and other species their government marked for conquest? They made their choice, Nerys! They made it, and because of that they're going to die regardless. But why should I let them take millions upon millions of innocent Federation citizens with them?"

"You know that not all Cardassians are bad," she countered. "There are innocent people out there! And you're talking about killing them."

"As I said. They're going to die anyway. The Dominion turns on them in the end," I said, my voice harsh. "What makes this any worse?"

Nerys stared at me, her mouth hung open mutely for a moment. "You really don't know?"

"Enlighten me," I demanded coldly while working on the station.

She shook her head. "Because... it's you doing it," she finally answered.

I stopped and looked at her. Tears were forming in her eyes. "Nerys?"

"You're better than this," Nerys said, her face telling me how much I was breaking her heart. "What happened to you? What happened to the kind man who saved me when I was a child? What happened to the man who talked to me about finding a better way?!"

I opened my mouth to speak and stopped. I forced in a breath and grit my teeth together. "Maybe I realized that I was wrong," I rasped, my hearts in pain. Seeing her reaction made me... confused. I was angry. Bewildered. "Maybe you were right about them from the beginning. How many lives would I have saved if I had crushed the Cardassians when you asked me?"

"No." Her voice lowered to a whisper. "You weren't wrong."

"If I had stopped Ryan Steiner years ago, Katherine would still be alive," I said. "I'm doing this to make this timeline better, Nerys. I'm becoming more involved. Just as you asked me to when you were younger."

Nerys shook her head stiffly at that. "No. No, I didn't mean for you to... to become this. You're talking about killing millions, Doctor. That's... that's not who you are. I never wanted..."

"Your part is done. You can wait in the TARDIS until I'm done," I said brusquely. I looked away from her and kept my eye on the security systems and the launch controls.

She didn't understand. She didn't. She couldn't. This was... this was for her. For her and for that poor orphan I'd seen in the Lopash Colony and for every person, every family, that would still suffer in this war. I would end it here and now. It was better this way.

I'd... not done something of this magnitude yet. I was going to kill millions. Many were fated to die already. Some, maybe not. But then again, some who would have died wouldn't in this changed timeline. It would be for the better.

Yes. That's right. It would come out for the better, in the end. She would understand. And then I would move on. I would throw Unalaq into the Source Wall, I'd destroy the Red Court, I'd finish off the Sith. I would make things better.

I was so wrapped up in my work that I didn't notice Nerys was gone before the warning lights came on. I checked the readings. "What...?" My hearts skipped at seeing the results. Someone had manually reversed the fueling process, prompting the launch timer to stall. The fuel for the dreadnought missiles was being drawn back into the station at high speed. My hands scrambled to the security system control and brought up the image from within the fuel bunker control. I watched for a moment. "No. Dammit!"

Nerys was in the control room. I went back to the controls and tried to lock her out... just to find she had cut the network lines to prevent remote access to the fueling systems. "Nerys!", I shouted in anger, rushing to the TARDIS to shift it into the bunker control to stop her. I set the space-time coordinates in a second and pulled the TARDIS lever.

Nothing happened.

My expression twisted with disbelief. I reset the coordinates and tried again.

Still nothing.

"Not now, not now," I murmured angrily. "Work! WORK!"

I kept pulling the lever. I tried every trick in the book. But the TARDIS refused to move.

Exasperated, I ran out of it and into the halls. Fuel bunker control was close enough, just one level down and two sections over. I closed the distance swiftly and pulled my sonic screwdriver out as I made it to the bunker door. It was a windowed door that let me see inside. I looked through the port and saw Nerys firing into the control stations, disabling them. "Nerys!", I shouted. "Stop it!" I hit the door control just to have it bleep a negative response back at me.

"No," she answered, shooting out another station. When she turned to look at me I could see the tears streaking down her cheeks. "I'm not letting you do this."

"It's the only way to stop the war quickly!", I insisted. I ran the sonic screwdriver over the access port to remotely trigger the door to slide open. But it still wouldn't. A quick scan showed me she'd physically sealed it from the other end. The seal had to be undone from the inside.

She stopped shooting things and turned back to face me. Nerys shook her head. "This isn't you," she insisted. "I don't know what happened but... this isn't who you are. You're better than this."

"Nerys, sometimes bad things have to be done!" My voice felt hoarse as I said that, like I almost didn't. The words didn't feel right to me. "Sometimes the hard decision has to be made!"

"I know what that's like." Nerys shook her head. "It was what I had to do. And I've spent years regretting so many of them. You'd do the same. Doctor, how could you live with yourself knowing that you killed millions of people? It's not going to matter how justified you feel now or what you accomplished in the end. Because you'll still have to live with that decision. And what would that do to you?"

I stopped, just for a moment. What, indeed, would that do? How much might I come to regret something like that? Looking back, I know that the regret, the guilt, would have crushed me. It was already going to be terrible enough, living with the burden of what I had become. What I had almost done.

Nerys stepped up to the door and looked through the transparent aluminium at me. I could see the tears flowing from her eyes, not just tears of pain at what she saw me as. Her own regret was there. I'd seen it before. The Occupation had left its scar on Nerys' soul, a terrible mark that had left her with a legacy of pain.

My thoughts flashed back to an early decision I made, a decision I hated. In my thoughts I heard a little girl say "I want to stay". And I heard myself refuse her.

I heard myself condemn an eight year old girl to a life of pain, terror, and regret. All because I believed I knew better on what she would become.

"I should have said yes," I murmured lowly. Not so lowly that she couldn't hear me through the door. "I shouldn't have said no to you as a child, Nerys. I'm sorry." As I said this, I felt the tears build in my eyes.

Nerys answered me with a sad smile. "I forgave you a long time ago," she answered softly.

"Nerys, so many people are going to suffer in this war," I said. "I can end it today."

She shook her head. "I can't let you. Not this way, Doctor."

"Nerys, I'm willing to make the sacrifice," I said. "I'll live with the guilt."


"Dammit!" With frustrated I slammed my fists on the door. "Dammit Nerys!"

"Why aren't you coming in with your TARDIS?", Nerys asked. The question was like a dagger into one of my hearts. "It's because it, she, won't let you, isn't it?"

I stopped in mid shout. I... I hadn't thought of it that way.

"See? It's not just me."

"I'm making things better!," I screamed. "I won't repeat the mistakes that cost me..."

Nerys interrupted me at that point. "Katherine would be horrified to see you now," Nerys pointed out. "You were her hero. And now look at you."

"I could have saved her if I'd been bolder," I cried. "I could have..."

There was a loud bang from within the bunker. The wall further down exploded outward and a fine mist began to enter the room. I held the sonic out, but I didn't need it to confirm what it was the visible sign of. "Oh no... no no no!", I shouted. "Nerys! Nerys, you have to open the door, now!"

She looked from the mist and back to me. "I can't," she said. "I'm sorry, but I won't risk it."

"You don't understand!", i shouted back. "Nerys, you overtaxed the fueling systems! They're rupturing! The containment systems are failing! That entire room is getting irradiated!"

A look came over her face. She looked down at her tricorder and waved it at the mist. I saw her smile sadly. "Yeah. The radiation's building up. It's going to start killing me in a minute or two."

"Open the door!"


Tears were starting to flow down my face freely. "Nerys, please! Open the bloody door!"

Her voice quavered a little. But she shook her head. "I have to make sure you don't launch those missiles."

"But you'll die!", I protested, unable to stop myself from weeping in horror.

Nerys swallowed and nodded. Her breathing was picking up a little. The mist was already reaching her, which meant the radiation was already effecting her. It was already starting to destroy her body. Horror gripped my hearts at that sight. Horror... and guilt.

This was my fault.

"Nerys, I'm begging you. Please, please open the door! You can't die here!"

She sucked in a breath, steeling herself. "When I was a little girl, you saved my life," she said simply. "And when I was a young woman, you showed me that there was a better way. You... had such light to you, Doctor. You were kind, you were compassionate, and you hated suffering. All you wanted to do was to save people, even the bad ones." Nerys slumped a little against the door. "And I know that's what you still are. I have faith in you. I can't let that.... get..." She coughed. Blood started trickling from her right nostril and her mouth. "....it would destroy you if you launched those missiles. I won't let that happen. I'll die to stop it."

"Nerys, the radiation is killing you, please open the door!"

"...can't let you fall," she rasped, her breathing growing more labored. "I have faith... you'll find the better... way." Her coughing grew in violence. Blood splattered against the window. "You always... do..."

Panic consumed me. I watched Nerys lapse into seeming unconsciousness as the radiation savagely attacked her, destroying her body moment by moment. "Nerys! Open the door! You've got to open the door! Nerys, PLEASE! I'll cancel the launch, I promise, just open the door!"

She wasn't as unconscious as she appeared. A small smile curled over her face. "Rule Number One," she exhaled weakly. "The Doctor.... Lies...."


New thoughts consumed me, blasting away the irritation I had felt as the Time Lord Triumphant having my grand plans stymied. Nerys was dying in front of me, because of what I had chosen to do.

No. No, that would demean what she was doing. This was her choice. Brought on by me. Brought on by my arrogance, my ego. But still her choice.

The truth was, Kira Nerys was choosing to die for me. To save me. To save not my life but my very soul.
"What have I done?", I whimpered through the tears that clouded my vision. "What have I become?"

Another spurt of blood came as Nerys coughed again. The sight jolted me into action. I... I had to save her. The dosage may not be lethal yet...!

I jumped to my feet and ran as fast as I could. Faster than ever before. Tears still streamed from my eyes as I raced up the utility ladder to the higher deck and my lungs hurt and my legs burned as I pushed them even faster. I was almost out of breath when I got back to the Ops command. I rushed toward the TARDIS and brought my sonic up in the same motion. With a press of a button I shut down the launch sequence for the missiles. I hit the button again a moment later. The timer reset to a new time and started counting down. A count down to the automatic destruct order for all of the missiles.

By the time it started I was already through the TARDIS doors. "We've got to save Nerys! Please!," I begged, going to the controls and checking the coordinates in the quickest moment I could manage. I yanked back on the TARDIS control.

This time she heeded my call. VWORP VWORP VWORP.

I threw open the door and stepped out into the roiling yellow mists. The radiation was... nasty, yes. But not quite as dangerous to me as it was to other species.. Time Lord resilience. I couldn't set up to read a book safely, but rushing over to lift Nerys into my arms and carry her into the TARDIS and her protective fields was easily-done. I set Nerys down on the control center floor and went to the TARDIS to shift us into the Vortex and away from the imminent destruction of Parakar. As soon as that was accomplished I grabbed my medical kit and got on my knees beside Nerys. She was unconscious,, mercifully so. From the scans the radiation had inflicted severe damage to several organs.

I used the medigel. I used the regeneratives. I used a micro-singularity radiation absorber to reduce the radiation in her body and her clothing to minimal levels. I did everything I could.

But it wasn't working. I couldn't get her condition to stabilize.

Nerys was dying.

She was dying and it was all my fault.

I sat there for a moment, my mind racing. Options went through my head. Places I could take her that might heal her. But none seemed guaranteed. And I couldn't lose her. I couldn't survive that.

This was what the Time Lord Triumphant had brought me. Someone I cared for was dying. Someone who cared for me, so greatly she was ready to lay down her life to save me from myself, all from my bad decisions.

All because I thought I knew better.

I thought of all the warnings I'd been given. Every voice telling me that I shouldn't have assumed the name of the Doctor. That it would change my nature, that it would cause me to do things I wouldn't want to do. I had ignored it. I had become the Doctor, convinced it was the right thing, that I would be a force for good. I'd forgotten that the Doctor was a flawed being, quite capable of terrible things.

I had forgotten to my regret.

And now, now I was paying the price.

Not just me.

I looked down at Nerys and drew in a breath. I knew of one way to save her. One guaranteed method to heal her body enough to make sure she lived.

Perhaps I would have found other alternatives if I had thought on it more. But at this point, I didn't want to.

I took her phaser from her hand and double-checked the settings. Assured of them, I twisted the weapon until the emitter was against my right heart.

And I pulled the trigger.

Heat and agony flared in my chest. My right heart stopped completely, critically damaged, and my right lung took enough damage from the spreading energy to make breathing terrible. Every breath felt like I was getting stabbed. I cried out in pain and toppled over beside the TARDIS control.

The deed was done. Now all I had to do was regenerate and pour some of the energy into Nerys. She would be saved. And I....

....I would regenerate this time. There was no avoiding it. This wasn't like the Crucible; there I had poured the entire regeneration into a waiting receptacle. There was no such receptacle here. Nerys would be healed with just a fraction of the energy.

I wondered what it would be like. Was it really like dying, like having a new being take up my life? I would still have my memories of this life, but I'd be someone new.

Hopefully someone wiser.

I began reconciling myself to the idea of the change. My last regeneration had been in the midst of confusion and terror and pain. Maybe this one... maybe it would be better. Maybe I wouldn't make the same mistakes in my new form. Maybe he'd be wiser. More worthy of the mantle I'd taken on. More worthy of the Name of the Doctor.

I smiled. Yes. That made sense. I'd make sure of it, too. The Time Lord Triumphant died here. Someone new would take his place and do better.

Who knew, maybe I'd even be ginger.

The pain increased. The damage had spread to the left side of my torso when I shot myself; with my right heart and lungs crippled the strain was too much for them. It was killing me. All I had to do was accept the pain and wait for the pins and needles. Then it would be over and I'd have a new beginning.

It was several minutes before I realized something was wrong.

My vision blurred. My head was swimming from pain. But my body... I didn't feel the pins and needles. Why wasn't I regenerating? I couldn't last much longer.

A terrible thought crossed my mind. If something happened to me, if I fell unconscious, Nerys would die. She didn't have a lot of time left, just the half hour or so I'd bought her.

I twisted and went to the TARDIS controls. If I could get to them, to the telepathic circuit, maybe I could get us to help. Just in case. Just in case...

That was when I heard the footfall.

I shouldn't have. It was deathly silent against the surface of the TARDIS. I got the feeling I had been allowed to hear it. I twisted around again and looked to the TARDIS door. It was closed. But a figure had come through it anyway. I looked up, stunned and frightened, as the interloper stepped over Nerys and up to me.

I looked up into two pinpricks of blue light. "How?", I asked in a weak voice.


Death towered over me. Even at my full height we saw eye to eye, and I had to raise my head to accomplish that. But I was prone and it made him all the more imposing. He held his scythe crooked in one arm. With the other he pulled two objects out of his black robes.


One was... well, it looked almost standard. But the aesthetic of the design and the characters were not Human. I could still read them of course: KIRA NERYS.

The other was... substantially larger. Taller, actually. Instead of just two halves in a standard hourglass shape, it had thirteen segments. I thought I could see extremely faded lettering at the bottom, including the remnants of what was once an "E". But it had been overlaid with fine script.

Gallifreyan script.

My jaw dropped open. It was my lifetimer.

I looked at it more intently and bit down a curse. I couldn't do the same to my horror.

Only the bottom two segments had sand in them.

And, like Nerys', the upper segment was almost out of sand.

I realized immediately what that meant. Fool I was, stupid self-hating fool.... I'd killed myself. I'd killed myself and killed Nerys too.

I was out of regenerations.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-03-26 12:15pm

I writhed on the floor of the TARDIS. I felt shock, terror, and pain in equal measure. My mind kept flashing back to the Citadel. Had I really channeled all of my regenerations? I couldn't recall how long I was pushing the energy into the beam for the Crucible.

"I'm really dying," I murmured.


"And Nerys..." I looked over to where she lay unconscious. Blood was still smeared on her face from what the radiation did to her. "...just let me save her. She shouldn't..."

Death's head moved slightly. YOU KNOW THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS.

"No... no!" I tried to get up. One of my hearts was stilled. The other was severely damaged. It took every bit of energy I could muster to pull myself up on the TARDIS control. "It's my fault," I said. "It's all my fault. She... she shouldn't die for my mistakes!" I sucked in a breath of pure fire and felt my face contort from the pain. "I only wanted to make things better."


Tears were rolling down my face. Warnings from beings I had met before echoed in my mind. Warnings about the name I was taking. Warnings I had ignored.

I took the name of the Doctor because I wanted to do good. Without my old mind and memories sealed away, that name became all I had. I became the Doctor in almost every respect. But I had ignored the warnings I'd been given about where it could lead. And now it had led me here.

Death was right. Nobody was the villain in their own mind, and many horrible things had been done by someone saying "I only wanted to make things better". And I had walked down that path without pausing to think.

And it had nearly cost me my soul.

It would have, if I had not been saved by a friend. Nerys had offered her life to save me from myself and my bad decisions. She had faith I was better than what I had become. She had been willing to die for that faith.

And now I'd failed her in that too.

"I can challenge you," I said. "I know the rules for that."

YES. FOR YOURSELF. OR FOR HER. Death looked over to Nerys' unconscious form. YOU MAY CHOOSE WHICHEVER....

Death paused. His head turned to face the lifetimers hanging in the air. My eyes tracked his until I was looking at them too.

There was a flickering in the lifetimers. One moment the sands were almost out, the next the sands were rather more plentiful. And then almost out again. And then back to that medium level. Back and forth, back and forth.

HOW INTERESTING. Death looked at them with curiosity. AH. I BELIEVE I UNDERSTAND.


The young voice sounded far harsher and firm than I was accustomed to hearing it. Another figure materialized beside me. She was short, with a tan complexion and hazel eyes now intently focused on Death. Her light pink skirt went to her knees. Her shirt, of the same color, had purple writing on it: "Princess of Nerds".

Cat. The holographic image my TARDIS assumed whenever she talked to me directly, based off a concept she had found in my head.

AH. YOU. Death looked toward her and down at her. He towered over her by the better part of a meter, but my TARDIS didn't look in the lead perturbed. THIS IS YOUR DOING?

"I won't let you take them," the TARDIS said. "I won't let you take my Doctor and his friend."

Death blinked, an effect achieved by the pinpricks of blue light in his empty eye sockets winking out of existence momentarily. YOU ARE INTRODUCING UNCERTAINTY. YOU KNOW THIS SHOULD NOT BE DONE.

"I'll decide that."


"My poor Doctor has made many mistakes, yes." She eyed me. "He even tried to do something terrible. But he knows better now. And he is my Doctor. I will fight for him."


I listened to them argue quietly, neither budging. The pain in my chest was growing and I slumped back against the controls. I couldn't muster the energy to move, there was too much pain. I started having trouble concentrating and realizing I was losing consciousness.

All the while, a sound kept coming to my ear, growing louder and louder. I rasped in pain and twisted to see if I was just imagining the little noise that kept coming to me.


The small figure stood beside me. He was just a few inches tall, a skeletal form in black robes with his own small scythe clasped in one skeletal paw. A skeletal nose looked up at me. SQUEAK, the Death of Rats insisted.

He held, in the other paw, a small bundle of wires that came from underneath the TARDIS.

I blinked. "Really?"


"Alright," I gasped. I reached over and took up the wires in my hand. As soon as I did I felt a weak smile come to my face. "The telepathic circuit. Clever little guy, aren't you?"

The Death of Rats nodded eagerly. SQUEAK.

I held onto the wire and accessed the TARDIS controls. I was losing consciousness as I did so, making it hard to focus on a destination. I knew I had to get us somewhere that we could be healed quickly and cleanly, without surgery that might overtax our damaged bodies.

The TARDIS powered up. I sighed, smiled, and slid all the way to the floor. I looked up at Death. "You... wanted it this way," I said weakly.

Death returned our lifetimers to the folds of his robe. YOU ARE STILL NEEDED, DOCTOR.

I almost asked what he meant, but all I could manage was a breath out of my tormented lungs. Blackness began to claim me. VWORP VWORP VWORP. My TARDIS made her beautiful noise, as if trying to sing me to sleep.

For several moments blackness nearly took me. I could hear the door open, hushed and excited footsteps. Someone loomed over me. I forced my eyes open briefly and looked up into a familiar face of dark bronze with brilliant blue eyes. "Doctor?!", she said, urgent and fearful.


That was all I managed to say before the blackness took me.

I awoke in a start. I had been dreaming. Dreaming of being in a boring life. Of not being what I was.

Dreaming of being Human.

I looked down and saw that I was wearing the yellow and orange of an Air Acolyte. My chest still hurt. I peered down the vest and saw that the phaser burn was still there. I sucked in a breath of air to test for pain. But it didn’t get any worse.

I was still tender enough to grimace as I swung my legs and got out of bed.

I hadn’t made it to the door when a small figure stepped up into my room. "You’re up already?" Ikki looked at me with curiosity. "You should go back to bed. Mom's pretty upset with you."

I blinked. "Um, why?"

"Because your big box broke the table," Ikki answered. "And ruined our dinner."

"Oh." I sighed. "Well, I shall apologize." I blinked. "Ikki, where is Nerys?"


"Remember, my friend? Red brown hair?"

"Oh, the woman with the wrinkles on her nose?" Ikki took my hand. "She's with Korra."

I let Ikki lead me through the passageways of Air Temple Island. We came into a room with a large basin filled with water. Nerys was submerged in it. I got the sense she was still unconscious.

Korra was moving her arms around, causing the water to slosh gently and shine brightly - waterbending healing. She looked up at me and I could see bags under her eyes. Her weary face turned to a smile. "You're okay," she said.

"Quite," I answered, finding a seat nearby. I turned to the other figure who was still working on Nerys. The old woman looked up at me with blue eyes of her own and a similar complexion to Korra's. I noticed the stands of hair kept as loops into the hair buns at the back of her head and nodded. "Master Katara, I presume."

Katara nodded back and smiled. "Doctor. I've heard a lot about you."

"I imagine so." A look crossed my face. "Weren't you staying in the South Pole?"

"Yes. But Tenzin brought me here to tend to your friend." Katara looked down at Nerys. "Korra kept her alive until I arrived."

I nodded. Looking at Korra, she seemed utterly exhausted and sleep-deprived. "Thank you," I managed. "How is she...?"

"She will live. It may take her time to fully recover." Katara looked intently at me. "Although I imagine there are ways you can hasten that."


"I've only seen this pattern of damage once before. Many years ago, among miners in the southern Earth Kingdom. Few healers and doctors know how to treat it."

"it's radiation poisoning," I explained. "It's... a form of energy, if you will, that attacks the body at a cellular level. Certain elements, metals, can give off radiation."

"But that's not what happened to your friend?"

I lowered my eyes. Guilt stabbed at my hearts. "No. That is... a longer story."

"Ah." Katara looked back at Nerys. "You may tell it in your own time, if you prefer. But first, you should get Korra to take a nap."

"I'm fine," Korra protested. She promptly yawned.

"Even Avatars need sleep," I pointed out. I walked up to her and offered my hand. "Come along. Let's see about getting you some food and some shut eye, eh?"

Korra eyed me for a moment over the bags that lay under her eyes. She let out a grunt of acceptance and let me help her up. Pain shot through my chest as I did so, causing me to wince. "Are you all right?", she asked.

"Just a little tender," I admitted. "But I'm getting better. Come along now..."

That night, with Korra sound asleep and the island settling into a night's rest, I stood out under the stars. The golden light of Republic City filled the horizon before me. I was back in my normal clothing. My TARDIS stood behind me, moved from where the White Lotus and Air Acolytes had placed it in storage after my rather unplanned materialization in Tenzin's dining room.


I turned and saw Tenzin standing behind me. "It's getting late. You should get some sleep," he insisted.

"I'm afraid that's not going to happen any time soon," I answered. "I've got a lot to think about."

"Mother said there was more to what happened than appeared."

"Your mother is a very astute woman," I agreed. "I've been making... choices lately, Tenzin. Bad ones. I became arrogant and short-sighted. It nearly led me to doing something.... utterly horrible. Nerys stopped me. Almost at the cost of her own life."

There was silence for a moment. "I see. Is this why Katherine is no longer with you?"

My chest felt hollow. "She's dead," I answered. "An assassin's bomb."

"I'm sorry." Tenzin stepped up beside me and looked over at me. "What will you do now?"

That was a good question. I... had no answer for it. I couldn't even imagine what I'd do. I wasn't sure I could trust myself. Not after coming so close. "I'm not sure," I admitted. "I'll probably leave tonight with Nerys. Korra and your mother have healed her to the point that Doctor Bashir should be able to get her back on her feet in a few days."

"You're leaving again? So soon?"

"Well, after I replace that dining table," I said.

"Ah." Tenzin nodded. "You need the time alone. I understand."

"No." I shook my head as tears formed in my eyes. "You really don't."

Indeed, how could he? How could he know the struggle in my soul? The realization that I had been a fool to take the name of the Doctor so recklessly. I had gotten so carried away with becoming that legend... and look where it had led me?

But what else did I have? The Doctor was the only name I had anymore. Everything I once was had been locked up in my head. No one could get it out. No one....

For a brief moment, I remembered there was one offer to do so. To break the box open. Mab, Queen of Winter, had made it twice now. A bargain to be struck; freeing my old mind in exchange for three favors of my choice.

For a minute, I was tempted to go to her and say yes. No matter how stupid that was, no matter the danger... the temptation was there. If I could get those memories back, I could be someone again.

Because all I had now was a name that I had misused. A name that had extracted a terrible price for that misuse.

"Thank you, Tenzin." I turned to the TARDIS. "I'll leave a note to Korra before I leave. I hope she'll understand."

"You could stay a while longer," Tenzin offered. "I can show you meditation techniques to..."

"That won't fix it," I said as I opened the TARDIS. I stopped and did a half turn. "You're going to the Glaciar Spirits Festival soon?"

"We leave in three weeks, yes," Tenzin answered.

"I see." I inhaled. There was a temptation there. To warn him, to warn Korra, about Unalaq. I had been planning to deal with Unalaq even before I became the Time Lord Triumphant. "Tenzin, please, give Korra some space," I said. It was the most I could dare to do.

"What do you mean?"

"What I mean is that if you're too stringent with her, Korra will only resent you. Be understanding of her need for space. For breathing room. Please."

"Is something going to... happen?", Tenzin asked.

I breathed in. "Perhaps. And I may not be there to help. Please, consider what I've said."

Tenzin stood in the TARDIS doorway for a while, uncertain. Finally he seemed to relent. "Very well. I will."

"Good. Now, I would like to get this letter written. I'll be by shortly to pick up Nerys and be on my way. Oh, yes, and I'll have a new dinner table for you as well." I turned away from him and walked toward the halls that led out of the TARDIS control room. He said nothing and closed the TARDIS door behind me.

When Nerys finally woke up, we were in the infirmary on Deep Space Nine. "Where am I?", she asked, squinting her eyes.

"Back home," I replied, sitting nearby. "It's late. You should get more sleep.

Nerys looked at me. "What happened?"

"I set the missiles' self-destruct," I replied. "The TARDIS let me materialize in fuel control so I could get you out."

"I thought I remembered someone. An old woman, and laying in water."

"Master Katara. You remember Korra, yes? That was her world. I took you there to be healed."

Nerys nodded. "So. What next?"

"I'm... not sure," I admitted. "I need time to think about things. To consider what I am and what I almost became." I took her hand. "Thank you. You saved me from myself."

"I just returned the favor." She smiled gently. "I showed you the better way. Just as you showed me." The smile turned sardonic. "It took me longer to understand it, though."

I allowed myself a small laugh. And then I took her into a hug. A gentle one, to be safe. "I'll keep in touch."

There was the sound of a clearing throat. We looked over to see Bashir returning with a hypospray and several dosages in hand. "Far be it for me to interrupt a tender moment," he said, "but the Major needs rest. And plenty of it."

"Of course." I nodded to him and to Nerys. "Take care of yourself, Nerys. You'll win this war in the end, I promise."

"Of course we will," she answered. And she kept smiling even as I walked out of the infirmary.

I couldn't keep my own smile. Not with the weight pressing down on me.

I had another stop to make.

The hints of early summer were in the air as I left the TARDIS and followed a flight of stairs down to a reinforced security door that acted as the front door of a below-ground apartment. I knocked on the door and took in a breath.

The door opened. Harry Dresden stood on the other end, looking at me intently but keeping us from making eye contact. "Hey," he finally said.

"I'm sorry," was the only answer I could give.

"Came to your senses?', he asked.

"Jolted back to them, yes. The cost was almost too high." I lowered my eyes. "Is Molly here?"

"She's on her way." Harry nodded, understanding what I wanted to do. "Come in."

I stepped into his apartment. It was immaculate as always. Not what you'd expect from a bachelor pad. But Harry had little friends who kept his home maintained.

I remained silent as Harry opened the hatch to his basement lab. I stepped down and entered it. My eyes went straight for the shelf covered in romance novels and one future-tech data disc. All were positioned strategically around a human skull. "Hey Bob," Harry called out.

The eye sockets of the skull came to life with golden globes. "Yes, Harry? Ah. Hey Doc."

"Hello Bob," I said quietly. I couldn't quite keep the pain out of my voice.

And he noticed it. "Oh." A sigh came from the skull. There was no satisfaction in the spirit's voice as he said, "I told you so. I warned you."

"Yes," I answered, my voice hollow. "Bob... I... I need the block taken out. Please..."

"Doc, it's not happening. Not without ripping your mind apart and turning you into a drooling idiot."

"There has to be a way," I insisted.

"The only way I can think of is if you found who did it and got them to open it. I'm sure they could."

"But I don't know who... I don't even know where to begin looking," I protested. "I... I can't live like this, Bob. I don't have anything left. I'm not..." I choked back what I was about to say. "I don't even remember if I was Human or Time Lord before... before everything started!"

"I'm pretty sure you were Human," Bob answered. "Pretty sure. And you certainly knew you were back when we met."

"But... what if that is just from my mind being altered? What if I really was just a Time Lord from the start? I need to know. It's all I have left!"

"I'm sorry, Doc. If I knew a way that would work, I'd tell you."

I went to protest again but heard the door above open. I stopped. Harry was already upstairs again and I could hear him talking to the new arrival. Molly had come to begin the day's lessons.

In keeping with Harry's orders to not reveal himself to Molly, Bob's golden eyes winked out of sight.

I drew in a breath and tried to regain my composure. When I ascended from the lab, Molly was laying out some magical gadgetry Harry had assigned her as homeworld. Her natural blonde hair was colored purple and blue and she was dressed in a plain sleeveless t-shirt and knee-length jean shorts that had a few rips, just for the sake of her preferred image. "Hey!", she called out, smiling. "How are you?"

Harry looked up at me as well. He mouthed the words "Didn't mention Katherine" where Molly couldn't see him. I took the cue and sighed. "I've seen better days, Miss Carpenter."

"So, where's Katherine?"

My mouth went dry. My hearts ached and my gut lurched. "I'm afraid she's... she was killed, Molly."

Molly gasped and jumped to her feet, giving me a sympathetic hug. "Oh Doctor." I winced as she used the name. "I'm so sorry! What happened?!"

"Assassination," I answered simply. "Her mother was the target. It was the bomb. I'd... rather not talk about it." I avoided looking at Harry. I didn't want to face him on that issue. Instead I went to the door. "Harry, it might be a while," I said. "I.. I need time to think."

"You're a time traveler, Doc," he pointed out. "No reason you can't come back here when you want."

"Yes. But.... I'm not sure what point of time I'll come back to you at," I said. "I don't know how far I can ever trust myself."

Harry sighed. He didn't like that. "Yeah. I guess I understand. Just take care of yourself, alright?"

I didn't answer him. I stepped up to the TARDIS and began to open the door. Molly called out behind me. "Doctor! You can always...."

"Please don't say that again," I rasped.

I didn't turn to look, but I can imagine their confusion. "Don't say what, Doctor?"


"Doctor, what's..."

"Stop calling me that!", I shouted. I whirled about and saw that the vehemence of my voice had startled both of them. "That's not who I am! That's not my name!"

Molly blinked, her mouth wide open in confusion. "Doctor...?"

"That's not my name!," I thundered. Tears filled my eyes. "That was never my name! It was... it was a joke! An act of melodrama! And then I kept using the name and it went out of control and... and it became all I had. But that's not who I was! It's what I was turned into! And I don't know who or why or how, but it all went wrong! I went wrong! I... I let it take over me and I didn't know how to keep it in check, and everything went wrong and I... I was becoming a monster, Molly, a monster. Nerys almost killed herself trying to stop me, if not for her I'd be... I'd be..." I stopped shouting at this point, my voice becoming weak and hoarse. "Time Lord Triumphant. No remorse. No mercy. A vengeful god playing with the fabric of reality, changing timelines on a whim to 'make things better'. That's what taking the Name of the Doctor almost turned me into."

Molly was both horrified and saddened at my outburst. "I'm sorry. I..." She swallowed. "What do you want me to call you? What's your name?"

I almost shouted. But I didn't. I felt so very tired. "I don't know," I answered, my voice low and full of pain. "I don't have a name. I'm... I'm a nobody now. I..." I turned back to the TARDIS. "...I have to figure it out."

"Good luck," Harry said. "We're here if you need us."

"Yes. Thank you, Harry, Molly. Take care of yourselves."

I didn't turn back as I entered the TARDIS. I stepped up to the controls and hit a few keys. I pulled the lever.

By the time the TARDIS engine died down, I was on my knees, crying as utter despair and confusion filled me.

I wasn't the Doctor. I never should have taken that name.

But if I wasn't the Doctor... who was I? I had no name. No identity. Nothing. Being the Doctor was the only thing I had. The only thing of substance.

And now I didn't have that. I couldn't trust myself with it. I'd taken that route and I'd become something terrible. I couldn't make that mistake again.

"Who am I?", I murmured through the sobs. "Who. Am. I?" My voice rose to a crescendo of anguish. "WHO AM I?!", I screamed.

I received no answer.

And that was how my exile began.

”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-03-27 05:19am

Episode 20 - Legacy

The Palais de la Concorde stood majestically in the Paris skyline, a constant symbol of status for the City of Lights; its service as the capitol of the United Federation of Planets. Within the Palace the Federation President and Council operated the mechanisms of government for over a hundred and fifty individual civilizations and thousands of colonies and semi-independent worlds amongst them.

The newest President of the Federation entered the Wescott Room and gave a perfunctory glance to the portrait of the youngest President to ever serve the Federation. Nanietta Bacco was not quite so young, as the former Cestus III governor's silver hair testified to. "Ladies and gentlemen, I will remind you the Romulan Empire is dissolving as we speak," Nan Bacco said impatiently. "So I would like to get to the point of this meeting you shoved into my itinerary."

"Of course, Madame President." Admiral Ross of Starfleet sat at her left. He was joined by Admiral Kathryn Janeway and, to Janeway's left, a blonde-haired and curvy woman with a Borg-like implant around her left eye. Opposite them, on Bacco's right past where Esperanza Piñiero was seated, were three people in business wear. A female Rhaandarite and two Human men, both light-skinned. Bacco took a moment and remembered the Rhaandarite; Laarin Andos, Director of Temporal Investigations. "Starfleet and DTI have given this briefing to every incoming Federation President for the past thirty years," Ross explained. He looked at Andos who looked back passively "Although as of late, we don't quite see eye to eye on the subject anymore."

Bacco noticed the man beside Andos glower at the Starfleet officers opposite him. She sighed and readied herself for whatever crisis that Starfleet and DTI felt they had to drop in her lap. "Well, Admiral, if that's what I'm here for, start the briefing."

Ross nodded and pressed a key, showing a monitor display. Bacco noticed the subject of the image was a Human-looking male in a blue suit that looked fairly out of place. Brown hair, brown eyes... she took in all of his features. "Madame President, this is a being we know as the Doctor," Ross explained. "He is a Humanoid alien who calls himself a Time Lord."

"Well, that explains why you're both here," Bacco noted. "Go on."

"He travels in a time ship he calls a 'TARDIS'. So far Starfleet and other Federation authorities have had sixty recorded encounters with him since the founding of the Federation..." Ross went on to explain more facts about 'the Doctor'. Bacco noted that the DTI agent was growing increasingly aggravated.

When Ross finished his basic explanation, Andos took her turn. "Madame President, the Doctor is the most notorious and terrifying time criminal DTI has ever encountered. We have tried to arrest him several times and he has evaded us on each occasion. He is known for altering the timeline if it suits him."

"In what way?"

"The cure to the Valakian plague, for one," Andos explained. "And the evacuation of the Glicken Colony..."

"You mean that he prevented a species from dying out and rescued fifty thousand Federation colonists?", Bacco asked. "He hardly seems like a monster."

"You weren't there, Madame President," the agent in the middle said, his teeth clenched. "You didn't hear what he had to say. The Doctor believes he has the right to alter history on his whim He is the most dangerous being DTI has ever dealt with."

"And you are...?"

"Agent Gariff Lucsly, Madame President. This is my partner Marion Dulmur."

"I would call your objectivity into question," the blonde beside Janeway said. Bacco remembered that she went by the name "Seven". "The Doctor is a reasonable being."

"You weren't on Glicken, ma'am," Lucsly said through clenched teeth. "You didn't see what I saw."

"Yes." Andos remained more emotionally restrained than Lucsly, but she was clearly irritated as well. "Thirty years ago Starfleet agreed with our appraisal of the Doctor and implemented Standing Order 30, calling for his neutralization by any Starfleet officer to come into contact with him. This was undone during the Dominion War on the advice of Admiral Ross. Admiral Janeway also filed to have the rule suspended."

"The Doctor assisted us in liberating Deep Space Nine during the war," Ross said. "He has, in all encounters, acted to assist Starfleet and the Federation. We're not going to become part of whatever vendetta DTI has against him."

"I can't say I'm surprised," Lucsly grumbled. "Starfleet has always turned a blind eye to its captains playing god in the timeline." He directed a gaze at Janeway.

Janeway returned it. "If you're talking about me, Agent, I'll remind you that your own superiors approved of my judgements."

"No, they simply declined to prosecute," Dulmer retorted. "That doesn't mean we have no problem with what you pulled..."

"Enough," Bacco hissed. "I'm not here to listen to Starfleet and DTI scream at each other. You wanted to brief me on the Doctor. So brief me."

"The Doctor is a powerful and hyper-intelligent being," Seven said. "He is an ally of the Federation."

"He's a menace," Lucsly countered. "A power mad lunatic who..."

"Agent, I'm going to have you removed if you speak out of line again," Bacco said coldly. Lucsly bit into his lip and nodded. "Continue?"

"He saved us from the Borg," Janeway said. "With just a few hours of work the Doctor was able to create an anti-Borg program that nearly dismembered the Collective. If he had more time and desire? He could wipe them out. We need him on our side."

"The question of whether he is friend or foe aside," Andos said calmly, "there remains the fact that we can in no way predict his movements through space and time. His TARDIS is well shielded. All of our prior encounters were a matter of chance."

"So if we need his help, there's no way to ask him," Bacco said. "Is that what you brought me in here to say? 'He can be a lot of help, but we'll never be able to find him to give it'?"

"Actually..." Ross looked to Janeway. "Not anymore."

The DTI personnel stared.

"When the Doctor visited [i}Voyager[/i], we had a chance to take detailed scans of his TARDIS," Janeway informed them. "We didn't have the means to do much with the information. But once I got it to Starfleet Science, they were able to figure a way to track the TARDIS' arrivals and departures."

"You what?" Lucsly's voice was hoarse.

"You did not see fit to share this with the Department?", Andos asked pointedly.

"Starfleet no longer agrees with DTI on the proper way to handle the Doctor," answered Ross.

Bacco put her hands together. "Admiral Janeway?"

"Seven." Janeway nodded to her side.

"The Doctor's vehicle causes minute ripples in subspace when it shifts between dimensions," Seven explained. "This effect is too slight for most sensors to detect. It is easily obscured by other subspace technologies like warp travel and structural integrity fields. I used the knowledge of the Collective to determine a way to put together a subspace sensor focused enough to detect this effect. Admiral Janeway passed this on to Starfleet before we returned from the Delta Quadrant."

"So you can detect the Doctor when he moves?", Bacco asked.

"Within a radius of ten to fifty thousand kilometers," Seven answered.

Lucsly frowned. "That's not good enough. He could be almost anywhere on a planet and you wouldn't know where to look."

"It still gives us a starting point." Ross put his hands together. "In fact, I can verify the Doctor is on Earth right now."

"What?" Lucsly's eyes widened and he sat up. "Where?!"

"Somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, according to the scan," Seven answered. "It was detected shortly after Voyager returned to Earth."

"That was over a year ago," Lucsly scoffed. "He's probably gone by now."

"He is not," Seven answered. "We have not detected any sign of his TARDIS shifting out."

"So he's here, on Earth? Now?" Dulmer gave Lucsly a look.

"Leave him alone," Bacco said.

The DTI personnel looked at her. "Madame President...?"

"You heard me." Bacco crossed her arms. "I'll remind you gentlemen that we're still facing a Borg threat. The Federation may need his help. I'm not going to have you chase him off."

"But he's a madman, Madame President!", Lucsly protested. "I was there on Glicken, hearing him rant about how he would change the timeline whenever he wanted! He's too dangerous to..."

"Then I'd rather have him on our side than against us," Bacco declared. "The security of the Federation may require it."

"I will protest to the Federation Science Council," Andos answered. "The Doctor is at the top of our wanted list. A chance to neutralize him..."

"...only if I okay it," Bacco finished for her. "Otherwise I will personally make sure your agency is disarmed and replaced by people who are less dogmatic and more willing to not provoke beings as powerful as this Time Lord. Is that clear?"

Andos nodded stiffly. "Yes, Madame President." She shot a look to a fuming Lucsly.

"Good." She turned to Ross. "You and Janeway had better be right about this man, Admiral."

"I know we are," Ross insisted.

"Good. Do what you can to find him. But don't approach him yet. See what he's doing first. I will make the call on making contact. Is that clear?"

"Crystal, Madame President."

"Good. Now, excuse me, but I'm running late for my meeting with the Tholian Ambassador." Bacco made a face. "You know how they are about punctuality."

Nothing more was said as the President left the room. The DTI personnel glowered visibly at the Starfleet personnel. "It wasn't enough that you lionize that bandit Kirk?", Lucsly said, his voice heated. "Or that you let Janeway get away with multiple violations of the Temporal Prime Directive? Now you have to protect him of all people?!"

"You don't know him as well as you think," Seven said quietly.

"I know him well enough," Lucsly hissed in reply before storming out, his partner behind him.

Andos made a barely-perceptible sigh and followed them out.

"I'll start looking into area monitoring," Janeway said to Ross. "We'll find him soon."

"Keep me informed."

Seven remained behind as Ross filed out, staring intently at the Doctor's image. Janeway looked back to her. "What is it?", she asked. "Seven?"

"I was contemplating what he is doing," she answered. "Why he came to Earth and stayed for so long."

"We'll find out soon enough. We should get going, I'll need you to arrange the search systems to find any trace of him."

Seven nodded and stood to walk out. She hit the key to turn off the image, but it was still in her head.

Where are you, Doctor?

Eight Months Ago...

The small town of Friday Harbor had survived the Eugenics Wars, the Third World War, the Post-Atomic Horror, and every other major and minor thing to come to the people of Earth over the centuries. It was still the main settlement of San Juan Island in the like-named chain between Haro and Rosario straits, situated on the eastern coast of the island facing Shaw Island and was home to four thousand people, mostly North American Humans with about a hundred non-Humans sprinkled around town.

Friday Harbor High School remained where it had been for so long; the corner of Blair and Guard. It was a small facility for just a few hundred children of ages 14 to 18 or equivalents of such when considering alien educational requirements could be different.

The school's newest teacher followed Principal Matterly through the campus. "You're our second new teacher this year," he informed Janet, looking up at her and her one hundred and eighty seven centimeter height (six foot two). Janet's skin was a dusky bronze from a diverse family background, but it was lighter than it might have been since she had lived in the Northwest her whole life. "I'm quite pleased to have you teaching the Language Honors students."

"Thank you, sir. I'm looking forward to it," Janet said. After all the time she'd spent in Seattle and Vancouver, teaching in a small town like Friday Harbor was something new and exciting. "But I'm the second new teacher?"

"Oh yes." Matterly walked her beside a classroom adjacent to the one she'd be using. "Our new physics and history instructor joined us at the beginning of the term. Here, his class should be getting out..."

Janet waited. The tone sounded over the school PA, signaling the end of the class period. Children ages 16 through 18 rushed from the doors, chattering excitedly. She wasn't sure what it was about, but she guessed it had to do with their lesson. Matterly gestured toward her and led her in.

The classroom's work stations were on low power status. An ancient chalkboard - a chalkboard! - was at the front of the class with a large equation on it. There were little things around the room. Books, models of rockets and starships, things that brought character and life to the room.

At the desk, a man stood up. His blue suit was crisp and well-made, joined by a dark purple tie. Janet was surprised to see he was rather tall as well, having at least twelve centimeters on her. Well-kept brown hair was combed to the side and his brown eyes shined with intelligence and humor. "Ah, this is our new Language Honors teacher," Matterly introduced. "She'll be in the room next to you."

"Oh, very nice. Very good to meet you." The man's voice was a fine English one. He sounded like he should be in Oxford, not Friday Harbor. He moved around the desk with swift grace and moved up to her, his hand extended. "Miss...?"

"Janet Peratrovich," Janet answered. Her blue eyes sparkled with amusement at the boyish grin on the teacher's face.

"Ah, local eh? Haida or Tlingit?"

Janet was surprised to hear him ask that. Typically her Caucasian-shaped face and bronze skin seemed to hide her Native ancestry. "Both," she answered. "Tlingit, mostly. But both."

"Oh, marvelous." The man pumped her hand gleefully. The way he looked at her made Janet blush a little. She felt like maybe she was getting an admirer. "I look forward to discussing linguistics with you some time, Miss Peratrovich."

"Janet," she insisted. "And I would call you...?"

"Oh, where are my manners?" He smiled. "You can call me John. John Smith-Stevens. I typically don't use the Smith, though."

"John Stevens. John." Janet let herself grin. "Well, John, I'm looking forward to getting to know you."

"And I you, Janet," John answered. "Welcome to Friday Harbor." He checked his watch. "Oh, look at the time. I'm supposed to catch the orca watching tour boat in ten minutes! I'd better get going!"

"You... watch orcas?", Janet asked.

"Oh, love 'em, one of the reasons I moved here," John answered. "You?"

"Of course. I grew up watching the Northern pods all the time."

"Well, I'm sure their cousins in the Southern population won't disappoint. Would you like to join me?"

She looked to Matterly, who smiled gently. "Um... I suppose?"

"The paperwork is ready for tomorrow, Miss Peratrovich," Matterly said. "Why don't you get to see our fair town a little more today?"

"Well, that settles it," Janet said. She nodded at John. "Shall we?"

"Oh yes we shall." John grabbed his bag of things to take home. "Our blackfish friends await! Allons-y!"

After several months in the small island town, Janet was finding her place in the school. Her Language Arts Honors classes were in the mornings; after lunch she taught elective courses on local history, using the tribal histories she'd learned from uncles and aunts and grand-aunts to fill in the actual material for the class. All the while she remained across the hall from the sophisticated Mr. Stevens.

Since so many other personnel of the school were locals living on the San Juan Islands, he was the only "outsider" like her, and that seemed to be bringing them together. He intrigued Janet; he didn't talk much about his past but displayed a remarkable amount of knowledge about history on a wide array of topics. And his students in physics were getting top marks on a planetary level. He seemed to enjoy teaching almost as much as he enjoyed showing her around the islands and talking about its history.

With the approval of the school, he was taking their students in common out for an examination of the two Camps on the western end of the island. They stood in the open field around the replica buildings of English Camp. An old British Union Jack fluttered in the wind above them and he eagerly fielded their students' questions about the purpose of the Camp, what life had been like for the British Marines stationed there, and the history that led to the Camp's establishment.

"They almost fought a war over a pig?", one child said, incredulous. "I know ancient people were militaristic and crazy, but that's just silly."

John looked at the boy with a bemused expression. "Ah, young man. You consider them mad?"

"Well, duh. Living out here, ready to fight over a small island when they already conquered much of the world." The boy turned his nose up. "It's why I don't like history. Humans were stupid, selfish, and brutal before we advanced."

Janet smirked and noted John did not. "So you're saying Humans aren't that way these days?"

"Of course not," the boy insisted.

"So Humans fought the Dominion and Cardassians without becoming brutal?"

The boy seemed to stutter, much to the enjoyment of his classmates. A few laughed. As he worked up his courage, John relieved him of the burden. "Young man, we study history to learn from it. History is the story of the legacies of those who came before. Legacies can be powerful. They can be good or they can be bad. And they can change the world we live in today." John smiled at his students. "And if you're wondering how men of the 19th Century thought about a war over a pig, Admiral Baynes of the Royal Navy refused to attack the Americans precisely because it was such a ridiculous idea. He called the men escalating the crisis 'fools'. Because of men like Admiral Baynes, there was no bloodshed and the dispute was resolved peacefully over a decade later. Isn't that what the Federation is built upon, Rickert? Peaceful resolutions and compromise to disputes. Just because their times were more brutish doesn't mean they weren't capable of living up to our standards of today. Humanity, at its core, does not change." John looked to Janet and nodded, noting her smile of appreciation. "Anyway, we should be going, yes? Or I'll be the one visiting the principal's office for a tongue-lashing."

The children laughed at that.

Later that day, Janet stepped into John's classroom as he finished some grading of the prior week's homework assignments. "That was very inspired," she said to him.

He looked up and smiled. "Ah, yes. Well, education does require inspiration to take root, doesn't it."

Janet nodded. She walked past the desks and took an empty chair to sit in. After she settled in she focused her blue eyes on him. "That talk about legacies. You seem to find it important. But you rarely talk about what has shaped your's."

"Oh, nothing more, life on the Pariana Cove Colony was generally quiet. A marine biologist's mecca. Well, save the occasional academic squabble."

"I see." Janet shook her head. "I just thought you'd have stronger emotions about what brought you here."

He blinked and shrugged. "Hrm. Strange that I don't, I suppose. Ah well..." After checking a paper off he looked up. "Give your vote already?"


"I voted for Nan Bacco. I like her."

"The same." Janet shook her head. "You're just... indulging in small talk now?'

"Actually, I'm working up the nerve to ask you to dinner," John confessed. "The Cask & Schooner. Just re-established ten years ago. Superb quality."

"Do they serve meat? Because I don't eat meat that isn't vat-grown or replicated."

"Oh, they can provide both," John assured her. "Don't worry about it."

"Well, I suppose... I can't say no to that offer."

He clapped his hands. "Fantastic! We can go as soon as I finish these papers. Actually, no..." He hit several keys on his PADD. "I'm famished. We can go now and I'll just grade these later!"

"I'd better get my own," Janet replied, holding back a giggle at the infectious enthusiasm of John Stevens.

She was beginning to realize that she really liked him.

Four months after the meeting with President Bacco, Seven was working on another project in her lab when her monitor began beeping. Curious, she reached over and tapped the key.

The screen changed to show a local news report from Earth. The Island Guardian, the publication read at the top. Below were some images of the local school and how the past term had seen the school's science testing scores skyrocket. She read the text describing how newcomer resident John Smith-Stevens had joined the faculty and ignited interest amongst the students with his approach to teaching physics.

Seven looked back up at the image of the class. Teenage children, virtually all Human, which was not something strange although entirely out of her experience.

Her computer confirmed automatic search patterns had flagged the news story, and the image before her. "Computer, enhance section three gamma." She let the computer zoom in on the picture, highlighting the class's teacher Smith-Stevens. Seven took in the image and ran the calculations in her mind. She double-checked a number of the logs. She did scans to compare the body dimensions with other images she had.

That investigation confirmed it.

Seven tapped the communicator on her suit. "Seven to Admiral Janeway."

"There was only a momentary delay before the replay came. "Janeway here, go ahead Seven."

"I believe I have found the Doctor, Admiral."

Janet was waiting when John Stevens came out of his class at the end of the day. "Ah, Janet. How goes the new school year?", he said cheerily.

"Oh, they're quite bright," Janet answered, smiling. "Your new students are doing just as well?"

"Oh, a few more trouble-makers this year, but I'll win them over." There was a twinkle in his eye. "Have one young lady who wants to get into Starfleet Academy, become a Science officer."

Janet didn't hide her emotions about that. "She'd do better going to a university."

"Oh, I don't know. Starfleet's not all that bad," John said.

Janet's smile turned wistful. "I just find it difficult to believe that freedom can be defended by taking a bunch of people and taking away their freedom and making them wear uniforms and stand at attention and all that."

"Unfortunately it's not always a gentle galaxy," John sighed, just as wistful. "So. Up for dinner again?"

"Yessss..." Janet screwed up her courage and forced down nervousness, allowing curiosity to come into play instead. "But instead of another restaurant, why not a dinner at home?"

"Oh?" He seemed amused by that idea. "Your place or mine?"

"Why not your's? Unless you'd prefer to come to my place first?", Janet asked.

John smiled after a moment. "Well, I have kept some things just in case I had occasion to host a guest. It'll be nice to bring out the family silverware," he answered. "I do warn you, however, that I've got very eclectic tastes as a chef."

"I'm looking forward to testing my palate against your cooking," Janet answered.

"Excellent. Nineteen hundred, then?"

"Nineteen hundred," Janet agreed.

"Fantastic!" John went running off, leaving Janet to stand there and gently smile at the man. After a year, she found the energetic Englishman growing on her.

Admiral Ross could scarcely believe what Seven told him. "So you're telling me that the Doctor has become a high school teacher?"

"A well-regarded one," Seven said. "Science test scores have gone up since he started teaching."

"And he's stayed in Friday Harbor the whole time," Janeway added.

"Do we know why?" Ross' expression turned grim. "Could there be a threat to Earth?"

"None have been detected at this time," Seven said. "The best method for ascertaining the Doctor's purpose is to ask him."

"It's probably better if we don't just yet," Ross said. "The President is still debating how to approach him."

"I could move to the islands," Seven suggested. "There are research labs on two of the islands, including San Juan Island. One has an existing arrangement with Starfleet Science for lab space."

Ross seemed to consider that. "Admiral?"

Janeway nodded. "Starfleet could take up its lab space for her. Seven will be able to continue all of her current projects while there."

"An excellent suggestion," Ross said. "I'll talk to Starfleet Science immediately."

The trip out to John's house was by the aircar he had leased. "You don't walk to work?", she asked.

"I prefer the aircar so I can travel around the islands easily," he noted. "You jog, right?"

"Every day," Janet answered. "I live out on Spring Street."

"Ah, not far then." The silence afterward was clearly not matched by a silence in his mind.

"I won't be offended if you notice the obvious," Janet said wryly.

"Ah. You mean that you have an admirable runner's physique that explains your choice of commute?" John smiled. "I didn't want to make you feel uncomfortable."

Janet nodded, accepting the explanation. She could see it was more than that. He was nervous, just as nervous as she was.

They made small talk about their upcoming school year until they arrived at their destination. The small single-story house, blues and purples in coloring, was near the shore and looked out on Friday Harbor from the northern end. Janet thought it a better view than the flat she'd taken up that was inland. "A pleasant, cozy little place," John explained as they got out. He opened the door and they walked in, greeting by a living room with a viewscreen set into the far wall and comfortable seats. Images of students winning awards were gathered on one counter, as were images from a variety of locales around the islands and the Puget Sound-Juan de Fuca Strait region. Assorted mementos were scattered on various shelves.

"I'll be in the kitchen preparing dinner," he said to her. "Make yourself comfortable."

"What's for dinner?", she called out.

"It's a surprise," he replied.

Janet smirked and went back to looking over his things. There was a small fireplace at one end of the living room that was unlit. Above the mantle of the fireplace were a few nicknacks. She recognized a Tlingit hand-carving and moved on to another woodcarving that looked different than others she'd seen.

Beside these items was a notebook and colored pencils. She took it up and opened it. Inside were colored sketchings. "You're an artist?", she asked, looking at the image of what appeared to be an Orion woman with black tattoos on her face, hand-in-hand with a Human woman with light bronze skin.

"Oh, I sometimes scribble what's on my mind," John replied from the kitchen. "Say, what do you think about teriyaki?"

"Love it," Janet answered promptly, looking at an illustration of some kind of robot with a single red eye. There was a tentacled alien covered in green beside it, an hourglass-like green insignia on the creature's center mass. The next page was a tall man in a long mantled coat holding a wooden staff in his left hand and some kind of wooden stick in his right, adjacent to a young girl of blonde hair highlighted purple and in tattered-looking clothing. A woman with Janet's coloring was beside them, clad in a sleeveless blue top and long blue pants, bright blue eyes shining with dark brown hair arranged with pony-tails at her temples as well as a larger one at the back of her head.

Janet kept looking through the notebook curiously, seeing the product of John's imagination. The final page with a drawing was of a beautiful young girl with striking blonde hair and crystal blue eyes. There were wrinkled bits of paper on the page, as if just those spots of the paper had gotten wet. Beside her were the profiles of the first two women sketched, more detailed this time. Bright green eyes for the Orion-looking woman with the black tattoos, gray for the tan-skinned Human woman. And this time, unique among the other profiles and drawings, there were names. In order from the blonde woman to the brunette, the names were: "Katherine", "Janias", and "Camilla".

Ex-girlfriends? Ex-wives? Janet wondered about it but decided not to ask.

Janet put the notebook back in its place and looked at the last object on the mantle. It was on a little stand for such objects. Janet picked it up and looked it over, seeing it was an amulet or medallion of some sort. "Too big," she murmured, realizing it couldn't be a simple award medallion. There was some kind of script on the obverse but she didn't recognize it. An unknown solar system was on the back side. She looked at it intently for a moment, trying to think of what it was.

She found the button on the top and whispered, "Oh."

It was a pocket watch. A centuries-old pocket watch from before chronometers took over time-keeping.

Janet thought about opening it. But she had a sense of... discomfort with the idea. It seemed like a bad idea. Instead, she asked, "John, where is the bathroom?" Absentmindedly she put the watch back in its place on the mantle.

John's voice rang out from the kitchen. "Down the north hall, first on your left."

At his direction Janet was able to locate John's guest bathroom, where she freshened up a little. Leaving it she faced a door that clearly didn't go to a bedroom or elsewhere. She opened the door to reveal steps down to a basement level. Janet went down the steps carefully. An automatic light came on at the bottom, filling the basement room with light. There were some tools here, some books there. Painting materials were around in the colors of the house's external look; clearly John had painted the house to his preference.

As her eyes scanned the far end they locked onto one specific item.

"Police Call Box?", she murmured to herself. She could barely read it; while it looked like it was intended to light up, it was turned off. She read the text on the door and curiously opened the compartment that had the phone within. The phone was an ancient model, 20th Century, and clearly inactive.

There were footsteps coming down the stairs. She turned and saw John come down them. "Oh. There you are." He smiled. "Sides are getting ready, main course is in the oven. Perfect time for me to show you the harbor view from the patio."

"Oh, yes, of course," Janet said. "I.. I'm sorry, I was just curious, I didn't think many houses on the island had basements, it being an island and all."

"Oh, that's fine. I just use it for storage."

"Ah." She motioned to the large blue box. "And this is?"

"Oh. Authentic late 20th Century police call box," John answered, walking up to it. "Family heirloom of sorts. Family used to run a museum, when it closed they kept the box. A pain to move around, but it's family stuff."

"I understand. It doesn't work?"

"Not at all. Honestly I only keep it around as an heirloom." He put a hand on it. "Can't help but keep the poor thing though."

"I was looking at your drawings. You have quite the imagination." Janet tilted her head. "Are you doing a novel of some sort?"

"Oh, not now," John answered. "I just let my creative side come out to play once and a while. Then it's back to serious work." He gestured toward the stairs. "Shall we? You'll love the view of Friday Harbor as the sun goes down."

Janet smiled gently and nodded. "Lead the way, John."

As they returned to the stairs, Janet's mind wandered briefly. For a moment she could swear she'd felt something when she'd touched that pocket watch.

Which, of course, was silly. So she pushed those sensations of regret out of her mind and the night continued.

After dinner and an hour or so of looking out at the night sky over the San Juan islands, John drove Janet back to the building she was renting her flat at. "That was delicious," she told him. "You are a gifted cook."

"Another little hobby of mine," John answered. "I find cuisine to be an effective bridge between the principles of science and those of art."

"That's what it seemed to me." Janet let him walk her to her door, passing by the doors for her neighbors on their way. "I won't be able to match that."

"Oh, don't worry about it," John insisted. "I'll enjoy it regardless. How about Saturday night?"

"The Saturday afterward." Janet sighed. "I've got other things to keep me busy."

"Of course." John stopped at her door and sighed. "So, I shall see you tomorrow."

"I'll look forward to it."

At that point, Janet smiled and stood on her toes, lifting herself just enough to kiss him on the lips. It was a brief contact kiss, but it was enough to make her intentions clear. "Call me whenever you want to just 'hang out', John."

"I will," John answered, seeming almost mesmerized by the taste of Janet on his lips. Without saying anything else Janet stepped into the apartment and closed the door.

Seven spent two weeks laying the groundwork for her chance encounter. It was well-known she was a member of the Voyager crew and the town's leadership made it a point to announce her brief "assignment" to the San Juan Island Technology Research Lab, located on a small complex between Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor on the northern shore of the island. The cover was that she was researching transwarp drive technology. Which, of course, she was assisting with, as well as other anti-Borg systems she was helping to develop.

Of course, her real reason was the Doctor.

It was sixteen days into her stay on the island that Seven decided enough time had passed. She would attempt a light contact, a chance meeting that she would use to approach him publicly without making him feel cornered.

It had the added benefit that the Cask & Schooner was quite good.

She sat alone in a stall by the front door. A lovingly-built recreation of a wooden schooner of the 19th Century sat in an open display, but it didn't obstruct her vision of the door. Her chronometer flashed 1748 when she looked up and saw the Doctor enter. There was a young woman on his arm. She removed the jacket she was wearing from the brisk fall weather and revealed a sleeveless turquoise blouse that looked well on her, her black trousers well-fitting. The Doctor was doting over her like....

....like he was falling in love.

That intrigued Seven. She reached up to the device he had made for her years before and used it to depress the Borg implants that restricted her emotional range. She wanted to feel this reunion. To be happy at seeing a being who had done something so special for her as to give her that ability to be more Human.

To keep up appearances she waited until they were seated and ordered. It gave her time to finish her own meal and arrange credit payment. She still got attention from others, but not so much she couldn't go up to the Doctor. "Excuse me, is that really you?", she asked. "Doctor?"

When he didn't answer, she went straight up to the table, coming from behind him. "Doctor?", she asked again, in a firmer voice.

The woman looked up at her. "Excuse me, ma'am, who are you talking to?"

Seven finished walking up and looked down at the Doctor. It was him, that she was sure of. But when he looked at her, it was without a single glimmer of familiarity in his eyes. "Doctor?", she asked him.

He blinked. "Pardon, ma'am? Are you looking for a doctor?"

Seven thought on it for a moment. If he was seeking to hide his identity due to the zealotry of the DTI, it was clear he might not react publicly to the name. "I'm sorry. You reminded me of a doctor I've known," she remarked quietly.

"Oh? I see. Not a doctor myself, I admit. I'm John Smith-Stevens and this is my dear friend Janet Peratrovich. You would be?"

"I am... Annika," Seven answered. "Annika Hansen."

"Annika Hansen." He snapped his fingers. "Oh, right! You're the lady from the Voyager crew, you're working out at the lab right? Say, would your superiors mind a field trip? I'd love to give my class a tour!"

Seven thought on that quickly. "I can... make inquiries."

"Fantastic! You can reach me at the high school with the answer," "John Smith-Stevens" answered. Seven blinked. It was becoming clear to her that this was more than him just not publicly acknowledging her. "I've got a young lady in my class who's interested in becoming a Starfleet science officer, I fully expect she'll enjoy the meeting immensely," he said enthusiastically. He offered his hand to her.

Seven accepted the handshake. "I'll get back to you when I have discussed the visit with my superiors," she answered. "Mister Smith-Stevens, Miss Peratrovich, have a pleasant evening."

With the contact made and more questions surfacing, Seven left the Cask & Schooner. Her mind was busy considering the meeting. What had happened to the Doctor? Why hadn't he seemed to recognize her in any way?

This was a mystery she would need to solve, soon.
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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-03-28 10:27am

The Department of Temporal Investigations was headquartered, appropriately enough, in Greenwich. It was in their main offices that Agents Lucsly and Dulmer were summoned by Director Andos. "Agents. Welcome back to Earth." She gestured to chairs and walked over to her main monitor. "Your recent cases have gone well."

"Swimmingly," Dulmer muttered.

"Ah. Well, now that you're back, I have some information to share with you." Andos hit a key and brought up a picture. "This is from a security check Starfleet is running for civilian access to one of their minor labs."

They looked. And stared. "It's him," Lucsly finally said.

"Mister John Smith-Stevens," Andos said. "He's been living for over a year on San Juan Island in the Pacific Northwest of North America. He's a... school teacher, according to the record."

"Well, now we know where he is, we can go and pick him up, right?", Dulmer asked. "Maybe get the drop on him."

"No, he's too smart for that," Lucsly muttered. "He's up to something."

"So it would seem. And Starfleet may be involved." Andos' lips thinned. "It wouldn't be the first time Starfleet pursued inappropriate temporal research."

"What, you think they're hiring him to work at that lab?"

"According to the application he's simply to have a one day pass to give his class a field trip," Andos said. "But it could be more."

"So we'll need to get close," Lucsly said.

"I've got Agent Shelan working on that, we don't want him to see you," Andos answered. "But we will put you in an apartment in Friday Harbor. The moment we get authorization from the Science Council, you can move in."

"Finally." Lucsly stood up. "After all this time, we're finally going to nab him."

It took six weeks and the personal assistance of Admiral Ross for Seven to get the necessary permissions. She stood with a young officer, Ensign Vickers, who had enthusiastically taken up the role of explaining to the eager-eyed young students various physics experiments that Starfleet was performing, steering clear of secret projects. Seven stood on her own, keeping an eye on "Mister Stevens" as he directed his students to ask questions and in general kept their rapt attention alongside Ensign Vickers.

Despite all of her observations, Seven was still not sure what this was. Could an alien force have taken his memories? She knew from experience such things were possible; the Quarren were one example. But that didn't explain the lifesign readings.

The main reason Ross had agreed was her point that this would allow them a life sign and gene scan to confirm if he was or was not the Doctor. And the answer was.... complicated. Genetically he was virtually a match in most of the key chromosomes. However, there was a slight issue.

John Stevens was Human.

It defied logic. If he was just a standard Human, his genetic profile shouldn't be so similar to the Doctor's. But if he was the Doctor, it meant the Doctor had changed species. Not mutated, not hyper-evolved, but literally transformed from Time Lord to Human through an unknown process. Just finding out that method was one of Seven's new directives.

"Thank you very much for this, Miss Hansen."

The voice prompted Seven to turn and face the other teacher, Janet Peratrovich. The younger woman's face beamed with happiness as she looked back at "John" and the children talking with Ensign Vickers. "Miss Peratrovich." Seven kept a level look. "It was a small favor, that is all."

"Not for him," Janet answered. "He loves giving his students new experiences. I think he'd arrange a field trip to half the Federation if it were permitted."

Seven nodded. "You and he are close, I presume?"

"Oh. Well..." Janet blushed faintly. "Yes. We arrived within a few months of each other so we got close. Talking about students, watching orcas, that sort of thing."


"Killer whales. We call them blackfish. My people have high regard for them."

"I see." Seven thought back to some of Chakotay's explanations of his own heritage. "And what is his interest?"

"Oh, they're intelligent, he likes that." Janet looked back to John, who was engaged in an enthusiastic explanation of a subspace principle that had even Ensign Vickers enthralled. "He's from Pariana Cove Colony and grew up among scientists."

"Really?" Seven filed that away for future research. "Pariana? Does he ever talk about it?"

Janet shook her head. "Not really. It's... it's a little strange. He talks about details, mostly. But never what he felt. Never anything about his family or friends or upbringing. It's like his entire life didn't start until he came to Friday Harbor."

Seven remained silent. This was the final proof. She'd found the Doctor. Now she just needed to find out why he was like this.

Janet moved away. "I'm going to go remind him we're due back at the school in an hour for exams," she said kindly. "Thank you again, Miss Hansen. Thank you very much." She turned and walked away.

And as she returned to John's side, as she smiled at him and he smiled at her, Seven found she had an overpowering urge to dampen her emotions to nothing. Seeing Janet and John together, so happy with each other, was painful to her.

Painful... because Seven knew that eventually they would have to bring the Doctor back.

And when that happened, John would cease to exist.

Dulmer and Lucsly had moved into a flat in the same structure as Janet's, although on the lower floor. Here they readied their stakeout space. Shelan was undercover in the school and beginning her part; the Suliban woman was moving with her customary energy, much to Lucsly's approval.

It had been well over a month since the Doctor had visited the Starfleet lab annex. Since then there had been no further contacts beyond running into Annika Hansen in Friday Harbor. Shelan had planted surveillance devices at their usual meeting points - the island ferry terminal pier, the Cask & Schooner, and the local grocers - but there was no sign of an exchange of anything but words. "Maybe he's transmitting things into her implant?", Dulmer suggested over their late lunch, looking over the images again.

"Possible," Lucsly mused. He was reading another report from Andos.

"I'd feel better if we had a chance to take him by surprise." Dulmur picked at his replicated rice. "He's always been slippery."


"You alright, partner?"

Lucsly shook his head, almost imperceptibly. "Something's off about this. He's been here for what, sixteen, seventeen months? Why is he still here in Friday Harbor? And why is he so relaxed?"

"He's arrogant, Cocky. He probably thinks we can't touch him with Starfleet supporting him."

"There's more to it than that," Lucsly said. "There's something more going on...."

The door opened and Shelan entered. She held up a data chip and smiled. "Talk about sloppy," she said. "He left his remote entry key for his house in his office all day."

"Tell me you copied that," Dulmer grumbled.

Shelan shot him a look. "Of course, Dulmer."

"Well, this is good. As soon as Antos okays it, we can get into his house and get an idea of what he's doing," Dulmer remarked. He looked to Lucsly again, who seemed even more perturbed. "What?"

"This isn't right," Lucsly sighed.

Dulmer took a moment to get over his surprise. "You almost started a war with the Bajorans trying to nab the Doctor. Why is sneaking into his house suddenly 'not right'?"

"Not that," was the growled reply. "There's no way he'd be that sloppy. That's going to be a fake. Or it's a trap."

"For a chance to take down the Doctor, I'll risk it," Shelan answered.

Dulmer nodded. "I've got to agree."

Lucsly eyed them both. He couldn't escape the nagging feeling that there was something wrong here, something he wasn't seeing. But in the end, he wouldn't let that keep him from going after the object of his entire career; the capture and neutralization of the Doctor. "I'll tell the Director. This may be enough to take to the Science Council."

John's second year was just over halfway over. It was a bright Friday morning, dawn just showing over the islands, when he awoke. He did his morning routines. He took a few minutes to scribble a new figure that popped into his dreams, a scowling dark-haired man in a dark suit, while his breakfast cooked. With a glance at the chronometer, he jumped to his feet. Normally he'd still have time, but not today. Today was... special. And he had something to pick up before he was due for class.

He rushed out the door with all of his things and jumped into the aircar. It turned about and sped off.

The Starship Enterprise was a day out from Earth when Miranda Kudohata looked up from her board. "Captain, we're detecting a subspace signature on long range sensors. I'm trying to determine the source."

Captain Jean-Luc Picard nodded. "Carry on, Commander. Number One?"

Commander Worf, First Officer of the Enterprise, nodded. "Helm, change course to the source of the signature. Warp 8."

For the better part of an hour the grand Sovereign-class ship made her way through space to the unknown phenomenon. When they arrived the helm brought the ship out of warp. "On screen," Picard ordered.

A single ripple in space was fading light blue. It rippled around from its epicenter, not doing much. "Sir, the power is growing exponentially," Kudohata said. "I think something might be coming through in the next few hours."

"Yellow Alert. Inform Starfleet that we will remain here and observe." Picard watched the display on his screen. There was a sick feeling in his gut at what this meant.

Janet entered John's classroom just as the lunch period began. She carried the lunch she'd made both of them and pulled up the guest chair to his desk, offering the bag as she sat down. "My grandmother's recipe. With replicated fish, though."

"Of course," John replied, grinning. There was something in his grin. Janet found it exciting and intriguing. "So, the latest scans show Pod L is moving up toward Haro Strait. If we get to the tour boat in time for the launch after school, we should get to see them."

Janet nodded and smiled. "That's nice. But I've got exams to finish grading..."

"...and all weekend to grade them," John finished for her, smiling. "And I was going to have something special for our dinner tonight."

"Teriyaki pork and rice again?" Janet giggled.

"Oh, come now, you liked that," John protested. "But no. No teriyaki this time. Oyster sauce, I was thinking. And one of those spicy Thai peanut sauces."

"No!" Janet fumed playfully at him. "Too spicy!"

"I have my tricks to make it tolerable," John assured her. He felt a surge of impatience. A part of him just wanted to get it over with, to... no. It had to be done right.

"I'll trust you on that," Janet said. "But if you cause me to burn my tongue off..."

"...I shall accept punishment duly," John offered. "My lady."

The moment of decision came. Shelan stepped up to the door to John Smith-Stevens' house and used the code to enter. She scanned carefully as she moved through the house, looking for traps and the evidence DTI desired. Ten minutes of careful scanning and searching found nothing direct, not on the main floor. Shelan went to the last door and opened it, revealing stairs leading to the basement. She walked down carefully with her tricorder up and scanning. "Still nothing," she reported.

"He's got to have something there...," she heard Lucsly insist.

Shelan looked around the basement. Painting supplies, other things, nothing out of the ordinary.... until she found the far corner. She smiled and held up her tricorder. "I found it, Lucsly," she said eagerly, looking at the blue box labeled "Police Call Box". She tried to scan it and found her scans actively blocked, confirming what her eyes were telling her. This was not what it appeared to be. "I found the Doctor's ship."

There was an intake of breath on the other end. "Compile the scans and get back here. I'll get the Director and have a team put together."

"We've got him this time," Shelan said. "We've got him."

The crisp blue waters of Haro Strait shined in the sun around the tour boat. People from other parts of Earth watched with enthusiasm as a pod of orcas swam near the boat, jumping into the air and crashing back down with large plumes of water shooting outward.

Janet and John sat in the back. "They're always so beautiful," she said wistfully. "It's hard for me to believe we almost wiped them out. Why? Why would anyone do that?"

"Short-sightedness," John answered. "A lot of people have an inability to understand the wider consequences of their actions. People can sometimes be that way, unfortunately. Time doesn't change that. We have to choose to be better."

"Being the philosopher again, John?", Janet asked, her eyes twinkling as she looked up at him.

"Ah, well, you know me. Can't help it." John smiled and offered her the binoculars. She accepted them and used them to watch the pod even more closely. "Our choices shape our world. They determine the kind of world we leave for our posterity."

"Our legacy," Janet clarified while still looking through the binoculars.

"Yes, exactly," he said. "Sometimes we forget that. We just... act, on what we think is right at the time. Right for us, right for others, it doesn't matter because the important bit, the bad one, is that we're being short-sighted regardless. And that has caused us trouble every time. No matter how much we want something, we're better off deliberating it. Planning, considering, making sure its the right thing."

"Yes." Janet's voice trailed off. His words were making her think. Think about them, mostly. Just where their relationship was going.

John swallowed his nervousness and kept his eyes on the horizon. "Sometimes it seems like it'd be nice to live like the blackfish. Just... running around. Taking care of our needs but not being held down by anything else."

"Just exploring." Janet lowered her eyes. "Who knows? Maybe one day we can afford a starship and go anywhere we want. Just like that. Just to see things."

"That would be something," he mused. It made him ponder. He always felt like there was something more to himself than an enthusiastic teacher in a small island town. What would that be like? To go where he chose, to move from place to place and never set down roots."

"I imagine eventually we'd quit, though," Janet sighed. "Eventually you get tired of the moving around and you just want to settle."

"Most people, yeah," John agreed. He reached his hand into his pocket and opened his mouth to begin speaking again. He thought about taking his chance, here and now....


No, that was for them, privately. He wouldn't make her feel pressured by spectators. It was going to be their moment, the moment when he made it clear to Janet Peratrovich how much she meant to him. He eyed the chronometer instead. "Looks like the ship will be going back soon. We'll head to my place right away."

"Sure. I'm looking so forward to you trying to burn my tongue off," Janet needled.

"Such little faith, Janet..."

Seven was looking over a transwarp simulation when Ensign Vickers' voice came over the PA. "Miss Hansen, a call from Starfleet Command for you. It's Admiral Janeway."

"Patch it through." Seven turned to Janeway. The pale expression on the Admiral's face was the first sign something was wrong. "Admiral?"

"We're out of time, Seven," Janeway said. "It's time to get the Doctor back."

Seven's eyes narrowed. "But what..." Her eyes widened with realization.

Realization and fear.

John's aircar stopped outside of his house. He stepped out and moved toward the door. He nervously reached into his pocket and, after checking to see she was still looking away and getting something out of her back, he slipped the object in his pocket out. He gripped the small gray box with one hand and opened it with the other.

The gleam of a diamond answered him.

Was it time? Would it be better to do it now, before dinner? Not after dinner, when they would be full and tired? Butterflies rampaged in John's stomach. He... he didn't know what to do! Terror was gripping him and uncertainty and oh here she came he needed to....

Janet stepped up to him at the door. "Eager to use me as your culinary guinea pig?", she asked, smiling. A smile that made his heart flutter. His knees began to melt beneath him out of nervousness and the desire to just get it over....

The sound of transporters filled the air. Three figures materialized behind them. More materialized at various points around and in the house. John and Janet looked around in confusion as phaser pistols were pointed at them from various directions. "Doctor, this is Agent Lucsly, Department of Temporal Investigations," the lead man announced. "You are under arrest for possession of a time travel device and multiple counts of violation of the Temporal Prime Directive."

John gawked in disbelief. His stomach churned still, not from nervousness but sheer confusion at what was going on. "What...?! Who... who are you talking about?!"

Lucsly shook his head. "I don't know what you're trying, but you can't deny it. We found your ship in the basement."

"My what?" John motioned to his house. "The only thing in my basement is supplies and an old police call box! I've got no clue what you're on about, you've got the wrong..."

"Put your hands up, now!", the Suliban agent demanded. "Both of you."

"This is crazy!", Janet protested. "We're high school teachers, not time travelers! You've got the wrong house!"

"Hands up, now!", the man beside Lucsly shouted.

John grabbed his hair with his hands, grateful he'd slipped the box back into his pocket before this all happened. His day had been nearly perfect, why was this happening now?!

"I've been waiting for thirty-four years to do this," Lucsly announced, holding up wristcuffs. "Cover me, Dulmer."

As the man drew closer John's heart skipped a beat. He... he knew that face, didn't he?

Before the wristcuffs could come on, the thrumming of a shuttlecraft engine echoed in the air. Heads looked up to see a Starfleet shuttlecraft come to a landing beside the aircar. Several Starfleet security officers stepped out. Miss Hansen joined them. She eyed the DTI agents with irritation. "What are you doing?"

"Our duty," Lucsly announced. "Yours too, if you remember right."

"The President's orders were..."

"...the Science Council felt differently," Dulmer declared.

"The Science Council will change its mind," another voice declared. The low, husky female voice came from within the shuttlecraft and was revealed, a moment later, as Admiral Kathryn Janeway. "And if I knew President Bacco as well as I think I do, you'll be looking for a new job."

Lucsly glowered. "Leave it to one time criminal to come protect another one."

"What are you people talking about?!", Janet demanded. "We haven't time traveled at all! This is harassment and I'll go to the courts!"

"I'm afraid we're a little beyond the courts now, Miss Peratrovich," Janeway said. "I'm Admiral Kathryn Janeway from Starfleet Command."

"We're familiar with you, Admiral. I'm something of an admirer," John said.

"You would be," Dulmer grumbled.

"I believe you gentlemen are operating under a false assumption," Seven said. "This man isn't who you think he is."

"Thank you!", John declared. "Thank you, Miss..."

"....but he's not who he thinks he is, either." Seven walked up to him. "I'm sorry. But we need the Doctor back."

"What in the hell are you people blabbering about?!", Janet screamed. "What Doctor?! Doctor who?!"

John shook his head. "I'm just a teacher from Par...."

"We don't have time for this, Mister Stevens," Seven insisted. "We're out of time. We need you to tell us how to bring back the Doctor."

"Why? What can this 'Doctor' do that the finest minds in Starfleet, in the entire Federation, can't?!", John demanded.

Janeway responded by stepping up to him. She lifted her head to meet him eye to eye. "Because the Borg are invading the Federation," Janeway declared succinctly. "They're coming with a fleet. If we're going to survive this, if the Federation is going to survive... we need the Doctor."

There was utter silence outside of John Smith-Stevens' home.

"You're serious," Agent Shelan said, looking at Janeway. "The Borg?!"

"We received the confirmation an hour ago," Janeway answered. "The Enterprise is tracking their arrival. Right now they're gathering at a transwarp conduit near Earth. There's already two hundred Cubes and more are arriving every minute."

"Oh, oh no...." Janet clasped onto John. "No no no...."

"The Borg." John swallowed. Hard. "But... but what do you think I can do about that?"

"The Doctor beat them before," Janeway said. "He nearly destroyed the entire Collective just to get his friends away from them. I'm willing to bet he can defeat them again."

"But I'm not this Doctor!", John wailed. "My name is John Smith-Stevens. I'm... I'm a high school teacher! I don't know the first thing about defeating the Borg, I... I teach physics and history! I'm just a chap from Pariana...."

"Pariana Cove Colony has no actual evidence you were born there or lived there," Seven said, interrupting him. "Nobody with the colony remembers a John Smith-Stevens. The only proof of your existence are computer records that could have been planted by a being of the Doctor's capability."

"I don't bloody know what you're talking about!," John screamed. He looked in horror to Janet, who had grown pale. "Janet, Janet, I don't know..."

"...you never talk about your life before you came here," Janet said slowly. Tears were forming in her eyes. "You... you act like you didn't have one. Just here in the islands. With me."

There were tears of disbelief in John's eyes. He opened his mouth to protest and couldn't. Try as he might... he couldn't drudge up those kinds of memories. He remembered things. Dry facts. But parents and family and friends? Nothing.

Could they be right?

Could he be this... this "Doctor" being?

"Your notebook," Janet said softly. "There were so many alien things in it..."

"Janet, please," John pleaded. He took her hands. "Even if it's true, even if I was this... this time traveler, that's not who I am now. I'm not the Doctor. I'm John." He took one hand up and used it to wipe tears from her cheeks even as some flowed down his. "Please, you have to believe me."

"I do," Janet assured him. "I do."

"Mister Stevens, we're running out of time," Janeway insisted.

"Would you show me this notebook?", Seven asked.

John swallowed. He nodded. "Fine, I'll.... fine." He opened his door fully. DTI agents inside were waiting, weapons held down, and at Lucsly's nod they did nothing to impede his progress into the house, followed by the others. John went over to a loveseat and collapsed into it. He put his hands over his face and felt Janet's weight against him as she sat beside him, putting her arms around him for support and sympathy. He moaned quietly. "This was supposed to be our day," he murmured to Janet. "Our's. And now it's... it's all gone mad."

Janet said nothing. She tightened the embrace.

"His ship is in the basement," Shelan said as the others gathered in the living room. "It looked inactive, but it did block my tricorder."

"What ship?", John asked wearily. "The only thing down there that's not supplies is the old call box."

"Yes. The call box is the ship," Seven stated as she went to the mantle of the fireplace.

"Oh, of course it is," John grumbled sarcastically.

Seven ignored him and picked up the notebook, which she read through. "I recognize the Doctor's former Companions," she said. "This would appear to be from the vestiges of the Doctor's memories that remain in your mind." Seven blinked. "It is possible that a telepathic contact could get the information we need."

Janeway nodded and pressed her comm badge. "Janeway to Voyager. Mister Tuvok, I need you to beam down to my coordinates."

While they waited, Seven flipped through the book to see if there were any hints in it. There were places and people, almost all not being recognizable. She stopped for a moment when she found an approximation of herself about thirty pages in. He had drawn her... smiling.

A transporter beam coalesced into the figure of Tuvok, now First Officer on the Voyager with Commander's pips on his collar. "Captain?"

"Could you mind-meld with this gentleman?", Janeway asked.

Tuvok turned to face him. "Ah. Mister Smith-Stevens. Are you willing?"

John looked at him blankly. Frustration showed in his brown eyes. "Just get it bloody over with," he murmured.

Tuvok pulled up a chair and sat in front of him. He set his fingers to points on John's head and closed his eyes. "My mind to your mind. My thoughts to your thoughts."

John kept himself still as the Vulcan moved through his mind carefully. He briefly pulled away mentally as Tuvok neared his thoughts about Janet. Tuvok seemed to understand and diverted himself down a different track. John felt him rummaging around, going through memories, through the things John had in his head that he liked to sketch.

And then Tuvok hit something.

And he screamed.

John screamed too.

The connection snapped shut as Tuvok pulled away. Both men were afflicted by a blinding headache. "John! John!" Janet took his head and ran her hands over his cheeks. "John, can you hear me?!"

"Tuvok." Janeway knelt down beside him, concern all over her features. "What happened?"

It was a minute before either could speak. "I found... something..." Tuvok muttered. "There was a powerful mental block in his mind. When I attempted to work around the block the reaction force was overpowering."

"Could that be where the Doctor's mind has gone?", Janeway asked.

"It is possible," Tuvok said. "But I felt fragments of hie memories that do not indicate it as likely."

John sucked in a breath and looked down at his hands. "What am I?", he asked softly. "I... I'm John, but he... those images in my head!"

"Maybe if we brought him to his TARDIS." Seven looked back up on the mantle. She reached over and picked up a locket. "This was his control."

"There was something else," Tuvok insisted. He forced himself to his feet. "I believe the solution is... something else. There was an image deep in his mind. A chair. A sense of pain. And... an object of some form."

"What kind of object?", Shelan asked, looking over some of the items on a shelf.

"A disc. A solar system was engraved on it," Tuvok said.

Janet gasped. She'd tried to bite it down, but it escaped from her throat regardless. And it drew everyone's attention. "What is it, Miss Peratrovich?", Janeway asked.

Janet swallowed and looked to John. "I... I don't know. No, I don't."

"The Borg will be to Earth within two hours," Tuvok noted. "This planet, and the entire Federation, may be lost if you do not assist us."

"But what about John?", Janet asked. "If... if you bring this Doctor back, what will happen to John?"

The Starfleet officers looked at each other grimly. The DTI agents did the same as the consequences became obvious to them.

"I'll die," John said. He drew in a breath. "That's... that's what'll happen. He'll take over again. I'll be... gone. Overwritten, like an obsolete holo-program."

Janet pursed her lips and hugged him again. "No. No, you won't. I won't let that happen, John. Do you understand me? I won't let that happen."

"I understand your reluctance," Tuvok said gently. "But it is unlikely any of us will survive the Borg attack. You will both be killed or assimilated."

Janet swallowed. "I can't..."

Lucsly bit into his lip, a move that drew Janeway's attention. "Agent?", she asked.

"You're talking about bringing the most terrifying time criminal in our history back," Lucsly remarked. "And even if he can help us against the Borg..."

"The Doctor has shown himself to be a benevolent force in the affairs of the Federation," Tuvok pointed out.

"Not always," Lucsly said, shaking his head. "I was there, Commander Tuvok, at Glicken Colony. He beat my partner T'Lyr with his weapon and overpowered me before I could take him down. He knocked out our entire team like it was nothing. And the things he said... he has no respect for history, for the timeline. He called himself the 'Time Lord Triumphant' and declared that he would change timelines however he wanted. That he would 'make things better' regardless of what it meant. He was, is, a maniac."

The Voyager crew exchanged looks. "Perhaps it was losing his Companions that drove him over the edge," Seven wondered aloud.

John shivered as he heard Lucsly's words. "I... I don't want to be that! I.... yanking history apart like that, it's wrong. It destroys the ability of ordinary people to shape their world, to leave their own legacies behind. Because... because you just come along and you pull strings and their actions don't matter anymore. Their choices are taken from them. And you want me to become someone... someone like that?!"

Lucsly looked like he'd been punched. He directed his eyes on John and sighed, unable to think of what to say. It was shocking to him to hear that voice say those words.

This really was a different man.

"Mister Stevens, without the Doctor, the Borg will assimilate the entire Alpha Quadrant," Janeway countered. "There won't be any legacies left for us, and what we do have will be consumed and twisted to the Collective's will."

"She is correct," Seven said quietly. "The Borg must be stopped."

John fought down a rising tide of despair and watched as Tuvok walked over to the mantle. He looked over the items on it. "Isn't there another way?", he pleaded.

Seven looked at Janeway. "It is possible the Doctor left something in the TARDIS for us to use. I cannot see him failing to appreciate this possibility."

"Seven..." Janeway sighed. "Very well. We'll look into that. But we're running out of time."

"It's in the basement," Shelan volunteered.

As she said that, Tuvok's eyes settled on the fob watch. Janet was looking at him and swallowed. Before he could reach for it, Janeway's words caused him to turn and join the others.

Janet nudged John, who got up wearily and followed them. She did so as well. But not before she grabbed the watch herself and slipped it into her pocket.

They stood before the Police Call Box. Seven held up the locket and focused. She imagined the Doctor used mental commands, so clearly the device should...

The TARDIS lit up. A beam of light came from the light on the top and formed a figure in front of the door. It looked like John, but with a navy blue suit jacket, a light blue shirt under an even lighter-blue vest, and blue pants matching the jacket. Green shoes filled out his appearance. Even as upset as John was, he didn't have the look of sadness in his image's eyes. "Hello Seven," the image said.

"Doctor," Seven answered.

"This is a recording I'm leaving before I... before I go away,," he said. "I'm sorry. I'm just... I can't be this anymore. I'm not the Doctor. Not... the real Doctor. And trying to be nearly turned me into something horrible. Well... you're not here to listen to me cry, obviously. If you're here, that means something horrible is happening, and you need me. And since it's you, I can guess." The image of the Doctor sighed and looked up. "I was such a fool. This is my fault. I provoked the Borg, Seven. Even the Q know better, but in the height of my arrogance and insanity I decided that didn't apply to me. I poked them everywhere. And now you will pay the price for my arrogance." He laughed. "How irresponsible of me to do this, I suppose. But I can't take it anymore." There was a sound as he cleared his throat. "The TARDIS will open for you with the locket. I set aside a data chip with some anti-Borg settings and a new version of my anti-Borg virus. I haven't used it on them yet or anything like it. You should be able to use this effectively. Just transmit it into their network and watch them fall apart." He swallowed. "Just... leave John alone. Please. Let him have a happy life. He deserves to be happy. Please, Seven. Let him live his life. As a favor to me." For the first time in the recording, the Doctor smiled. "Goodbye, Annika Hansen. May you find happiness."

The image disappeared. And the TARDIS door opened.

One by one everyone filed in. John and Janet gawked in amazement at how big the inside was. The control panels lit up. All save one, the one to the right of the panel facing the door, which remained dark and on closer inspection was clearly disassembled. There were clear paths leading out of the control room but they were all shuttered up. Seven walked up to the controls and found a box listed as being for her. There was a second box labeled "For Nerys". Above them both were the Doctor's sonic devices. She left them there for the moment and opened her's instead. Inside was a packet of isolinear data chips, compatible with Federation systems. And underneath....

....underneath was a picture of her parents, holding a child. Seven realized it was her, aged 2 or so, dressed up in a frilly pink dress. A letter was attached to it addressed to her. "A special gift" it read.

Seven resisted the impulse to open the letter. She closed the box and held up the chips. "Here. We should get to Voyager immediately."

"Yes." Janeway turned to Lucsly. "Agent, the Everett is in orbit. If this doesn't work, have your people bring the TARDIS up and get it out to Deep Space Nine. Captain Ro has instructions. We cannot let the TARDIS fall into Borg hands."

"And what about the civilians?" Lucsly looked to them.

Janeway drew in a breath and walked up to John, who was holding hands with Janet. She had to lift her chin to meet his weary eyes. "Mister Stevens, I'm going to ask you not to fight me on this. We might still need the Doctor. And if the Borg were to capture you they might find a way to access him once they assimilate you. I need you to come with me."

"So that you can kill me to bring the Doctor back," John said pointedly.

"I hope it won't come to that."

John swallowed and forced down a breath. He looked to the others assembled there. The sheer magnitude of the situation threatened to crush him. "I'm just a physics and history teacher," he said. His voice was low and hoarse. Full of strain, of fear. "I'm not sure what I can do for you."

"Hopefully we won't need you to do a thing. But the entire Federation is at risk," Janeway pointed out. "Your students and fellow teachers will be killed or assimilated if the Borg win." Janeway looked over to Janet. "So will Miss Peratrovich."

Janet squeezed his hand. She looked up at him, her crystal blue eyes filled with tears and worry. Not for herself. He knew that wasn't it. It was about him.

"Don't go," she whispered. "Please."

He almost agreed. Almost. But as he touched her chin and her cheek, John imagined the scene of her being taken by the Borg. Her screams as the assimilation process took her, claimed her... and destroyed the light that made Janet Peratrovich who she was. She would become just another drone.

And he imagined that for every single one of his students.

"They'll probably take the blackfish too," he murmured to her. "Assimilate them. Or exterminate them if they can't." John sighed. He was terrified. Completely and utterly terrified. But he realized he was more afraid of those images in his head than of his own demise. He turned to Janeway. "I'll come with you," he said, his voice seeming to nearly crack under the weight of his terror.

Janeway nodded. She hit her comm badge. "Voyager, prepare to energize, four to beam...."

"Five," Janet corrected.

Janeway shot her a look. "Ma'am, I won't put you in dang..."

"You just said that if this doesn't work, the Borg will kill or assimilate me," Janet shot back. "So what does it matter if I'm on your ship or here? If he's going, I'm going."

"Janet..." John's voice trailed off as he put an arm around her to hold her close. "You don't have..."

"I must," she insisted. "You need someone there you know."

Janeway looked to Tuvok, who only brought up an eyebrow. Seven nodded. She picked up the sonic screwdriver and disruptor and stepped away from the controls. Seeing their reactions, Janeway said, "Very well. Janeway to Voyager, five to beam up."

Once they were off the transporter pad, Janeway was in the lead heading toward the turbolift. Janet went to go with John and heard Tuvok call out to her from the rear. She turned. "We need to speak alone, Miss Peratrovich," he said.

Janet sighed and looked back to John, nodding. He nodded back and followed Janeway and Seven on to the lift.

Tuvok walked up to her. "You brought his old Earth pocket watch?"

Janet shrugged. "I'm... what?"

"Your attempt at prevarication is flimsy," Tuvok told her. "I was watching you take it up. You noticed my interest."

Janet's mouth dried. "Yes."

"The back of the watch bears a solar system design, does it not?" When Janet didn't speak for several seconds, Tuvok nodded. "Your silence is suitable affirmation."

"It's.. just a watch," Janet insisted.

"I believe it is more," Tuvok said. "May I see it?"

Janet frowned at him. "I don't see why." She crossed her arms. "If it is what has this... this 'Doctor' being, you would use it to bring him back. You would kill John."

"Only if the situation demands it," Tuvok said. "Otherwise, I see no reason to take that course of action."

"I'll be the judge of that," Janet hissed. "I'm not letting Starfleet sacrifice him."

"You are being illogical," Tuvok pointed out.

"Yes I am." Janet turned and walked away.

Tuvok let out a faint sigh and followed.

The Voyager moved into formation alongside the Enterprise and several other starships, waiting near Utopia Planitia to meet the Borg ships. More were warping in every few minutes as Starfleet called in every ship it could get to face down the approaching Borg forces. Seven stood at Operations with newly-minted Lieutenant Kim. A newly-arrived Tellarite woman was at tactical; Chakotay and Tuvok were in the main command chairs and extra ones were brought up for Janeway, John, and Janet. Seven looked up. "I have disseminated the code to the rest of the fleet. As soon as the Borg arrive we will begin transmitting it through subspace."

"Good," Janeway said. She opened her mouth to speak and stopped herself, looking instead to Chakotay.

Chakotay nodded. "Red alert! Lieutenant Glesch, activate the ablative generators."

With a press of a button, Voyager's surface was covered in an advanced nanotech armor, courtesy of a future alternate timeline's Admiral Janeway.

John sucked in a breath and took Janet's hand. They looked at each other and John tried to smile. He realized that the gray box was still in his pocket. He felt sustained by that weight; it represented the hope for his future if this all worked out and they went back home.

Janet felt a weight of her own with the watch. Deep down she knew it was what they were looking for. She could remember the time she lifted it and had thoughts come to her. Thoughts that insisted she not open it and put it away. Now they made... sense. Too much sense.

"Borg ships coming out of warp," Kim warned.

On the screen, the Borg Cubes appeared. They were large, menacing structures, green light showing underneath dark gray armor and hull plating. "I'm reading at least fifty tactical cubes along with a hundred standard cubes and forty spheres," Kim said.

There were intakes of breath. Nobody was certain the entirety of Starfleet stood a chance against that amount of force. And the Borg were clearly sending more.

"Transmit the virus," Janeway ordered.

At that command, every ship in the fleet started transmitting the Doctor's anti-Borg virus. Tense moments passed by without anything happening. "The Borg ships are entering firing range. They're hailing."

"Ignore them," Janeway ordered.

Nevertheless, the voice came over. "WE ARE THE BORG. YOU WILL LOWER YOUR SHIELDS AND SURRENDER YOUR..." It stopped, courtesy of Kim cutting the speakers directly.

"It's not going to work," John murmured fearfully. "Look, it's not work..."

The large Borg tactical cube on the screen suddenly shuddered. All the lights on the ship dimmed to nothing.

And then it exploded.

One by one the Borg ships started exploding.

Janet's hand squeezed John's. Hope filled them as the green explosions flowered on the screen.

"Twenty-five percent of the enemy fleet is gone," Kim reported. "Thirty percent. Forty. Fifty. Sixty..."

Voyager suddenly shuddered underneath them. Violently. John and Janet fell to the floor from their seats. "Armor down to eighty percent!", Glesch shrieked. "The armor... the armor isn't working!"

"Evasive maneuvers!", Chakotay shouted. "Lock transphasic torpedoes and fire!"

"How many are left?", Janeway asked.

"Fifteen tactical cubes, at least fifty cubes..." Kim shook his head. "And I've got warp signatures on long range sensors, there's more coming in!"

Janeway looked to John as he helped Janet up off the floor. "We need him," she said. "We can't win this without him."

John looked at her and felt his heart quail. "But I don't know..."

Janet swallowed and looked to see Tuvok staring at her. She felt like screaming while her stomach sunk as far as it could go. She looked up at John and saw his fear. It rekindled her defiance. She couldn't let them kill John. Not... not him. He was too important...

"I believe Miss Peratrovich has the...."

Before Tuvok could answer the ship was rocked by several more hits. "Two tactical cubes are pursuing us!", Kim shouted. "Several more cubes are locking on! They're focusing on us!"

"Enterprise is trying to maneuver to protect us," Glesch added. "But there's too..."

The ship rocked so violently that everyone trying to stand was thrown to the floor. "Armor is down to twenty percent!" Glesch's hands moved over her controls. The ship rocked again. "Fifteen percent! Ten per...!"

The next strike of the Borg on the ship caused the roof to explode. Tuvok jumped from his seat and threw himself on Janet as a girder fell on top of her. It smashed into his shoulder and the back of his head. An explosion of sparks sent Lieutenant Glesch flying back from her broken console.

"We're losing impulse control!", Tom Paris warned from the helm.

"We're losing the armor, I'm bringing the shields back up," Seven added.

John and Janeway got to the collapsed beam at the same time. The ship shook again and nearly threw them off-balance as they pulled away the girder enough to get Tuvok out from under it. Janet struggled to her knees, blood flowing from a cut on her temple. Her blue blouse was now marked with crimson and emerald stains. The latter's origin was clear from the green blood coming down the side of Tuvok's head. Janeway looked into his eyes, clouded with pain. "The watch," he said weakly. "The watch." He fell unconscious before Janeway could ask what he meant.

"Medical emergency on the bridge!", Chakotay called out.

The ship shook again. "Shields down to forty percent!", Kim shouted.

On the screen a green energy beam reached out from one of the cubes and seemed to latch onto the screen, causing the ship to shudder. "They've got us in a tractor beam," Seven said. "Fifty seconds to shield failure."

"I'm trying to feed power into the shields." Kim shook his head. "I might be able to buy us another minute."

For the moment the shaking stopped. John swallowed and looked at Janet. "I heard him," he whispered. "And I... remember when he melded with me." John took in a breath and tried to force down his fear of what was going through his head. "You have it, don't you?"

"John, no." Janet shook her head. Her face twisted into an expression of grief and she began to sob, putting her arms around him. "Please don't leave me."

"I... I don't want to go," he admitted to her. "I'm scared."

"You don't have to," Janet insisted. She knew she was wrong. She knew they were doomed if something didn't change. But she didn't care. For the last year her life had been happier than ever before. And John was the main reason why. The thought of losing him agonized her like nothing else. "Please don't."

Terror gripped John's throat. He croaked his next request. "Let me see it."

"I don't want to," Janet cried.

"Forty-five seconds to shield failure," Kim reported. "I can't do any more."

"All hands prepare to repel Borg boarders!" Janeway was already going for the phaser rifles installed in the new bridge armory station.

John closed his eyes and reached into Janet's pocket. She wept into his chest, but she didn't stop him as he pulled the watch out of her pocket. He bent his head down and pressed his lips to her mouth. She welcomed the act, opening her mouth and exchanging a strong, heart-felt kiss with him. Tears flowed down their eyes.

"Thirty seconds!"

The kiss ended. Janet almost pleaded again but didn't. She stepped back. Her face was full of pain.

John lifted the watch and felt something stir within. A single voice called out to him.

Don't open it! Don't open the watch! Please don't open the WATCH!

"He's got so much despair. So much pain." John swallowed. "I..." I don't want to be this!, he thought.

But he knew he had to.

"Twenty seconds!"

Kim's warning jolted John into action. With a final effort of will he took his terror and his sense of self-preservation and he pushed them away. He focused his tear-blurred eyes on Janet. Her face was contorted in a sob. "I love you, Janet," he said to her.

Janet sobbed again. "I love you, John," she cried.

All John could think about were the dreams he couldn't fulfill now. Getting on his knee and offering her the ring he had in his pocket. Marrying her. Living a happy life on San Juan island with her, growing old and dying together... leaving a modest mark, but a good one. An honest legacy for the people of Friday Harbor.

When the day had begun, it had all seemed within his grasp.

But it wouldn't happen now. Now, all he could do was save her life, even if meant losing his own.

That would have to be his legacy. Not a modest life of teaching the young and having a family with the woman he loved. His legacy would be this. This act of sacrifice.

All in the hope that the Doctor could save them all.

John lowered his eyes on the watch. It felt warm to the touch. He could feel the being inside. The Doctor. The man who could save Janet. He was pleading with John to put the watch up. I can't was his reply in his thoughts.

With a movement of his thumb, John opened the fob watch.

Bright light circled out of the watch's face. It pierced his eyes. He felt something, an energy, an essence, begin to fill into him. There was no pain, but he could feel something tingle inside of him. Like a transporter beam, almost, but... different. A power, a force, that was re-arranging him from the inside.

And he felt something enter his mind. Something not very old, but full of power and majesty. A mind far more advanced than his own. He felt despair and sadness and pain. A hunger for identity.

John reacted to the feelings with his own. Save Janet, please! Save her, save my students, save them all! You're the only one that can do it! He poured his will into his pleas even as he felt things slip away.

Don't let this be wasted. Please. Please save them all.

That was the last thought of John Smith-Stevens before he died.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-03-29 09:09am




That was all that I felt.

Most people don't think about their names, about their identities. That's how powerful they are. They're a part of us without it even being thought of.

I didn't have that anymore.

My name was locked away in my head, beyond the help of even the most powerful telepathics and psions to recover. I had taken another. A name that had power. And it was power I had failed to keep in check.

It almost cost me everything.

And so I threw away that name for my misuse of it. But this left me with nothing.

"Surely you can come up with a new name", one might say. "How hard can it be?" Very hard. Very hard when the new name isn't just an alias but an attempt to sum up who you were, what you were. I couldn't.

At the beginning of my exile, I thought that attempts to undo the damage from my rampage as the Time Lord Triumphant would help. But it didn't. I couldn't fix some of what I did. I couldn't alter my own timestream.

And all the while, I yearned for the sense of identity that I kept failing to find.

Until, finally, I just... gave up.

The pain became too much. I decided to become something else. Someone new. Someone who could have an identity without the baggage of what remained of my past. And so I used the Chameleon Arch.

There was fierce, steady pain, my screams of anguish as I was changed from within... and then the cool silence of the watch. My essence reduced to a gentle slumber.

I had found peace.

And then the peace ended.

"Don't let this be wasted. Please. Please save them all."

The thought jolted through me as I awoke. The dying wish of John Smith-Stevens echoed in my hearts and my mind. His tears of fear and loss still flowed down my cheeks. I could see Janet, the woman he loved, bloodied and bruised on the damaged bridge of the Starship Voyager.

Janeway - Admiral Janeway now - was looking at me intently. "Doctor?", she asked.

I felt a stabbing pain at that name.

I almost barked back my refusal of being called the Doctor. Before I could, columns of green light began appearing on the bridge. I recognized the Borg transporter effect. I felt fury build up inside of me at what the Borg had done.

"Doctor, here!"

I turned in time to see Seven toss me my sonic disruptor. I grabbed it in mid-air and swung it about at the nearest gaggle of Borg drones. I set it to Setting 24 - one the Borg had never experienced - and let loose with a full pulse. Sparks erupted from their implants and they collapsed. I whirled about and used Setting 4 on the drones coming at Janet and Janeway from the front of the bridge. Their shields were set to absorb phaser fire; the raw kinetic energy threw them into the bulkhead so fast that the Borg drones dropped uselessly to the deck.

Other Borg went for Operations, where Seven brought up my sonic screwdriver. Its purple tip lit up and the whir sounded across the bridge. The Borg drones before her dropped to the ground.

Another group materialized. Setting 24 washed over them and a visual distortion appeared over their chests. The Borg had adapted. I swapped to Setting 31 and fired it again. Waves of nano-disruptive force flew out and struck the Borg. Their implants dissolved inside of them and the bodies collapsed.

"Borg on all decks," the Tellarite woman at tactical said. "Security teams are moving to intercept!"

"No need." I stomped up to operations and wedged myself in between Seven and Kim. My hands flew over the controls as I reconfigured Voyager's internal systems in a matter of seconds. At my button press, a large-scale energy pulse erupted from the warp nacelles, passing through the ship and the nearby Borg. The cubes surrounding Voyager went lifeless. Across the ship Borg drones collapsed. "That should deal with them for the moment. Let's get your shields back up."

"Welcome back, Doctor," Seven said. I thought I saw a hint of a smile on her face.

"Please," I said, "don't call me that."

"Call you what?", Kim asked.

"I'm not the Doctor," I replied coldly while working the panel. "I'm transmitting waveform signatures to the rest of the fleet. It should buy us a little time..."

"Time for what?", Janeway asked.

"To deal with that."

On the screen a new Borg cube appeared. It was at least ten times more massive than standard cubes. "Flagship Cube," I murmured. I looked over the controls again. "Okay. I need to get my virus over there."

"But the virus didn't work," Kim protested.

"Oh, it worked fine. It's not even something they can easily adapt to, because it adapts to their adaptations," I explained. "They had to self-destruct their own cubes fast enough to beat its transmission vectors to stop it. I underestimated the speed of their communication protocol alterations." I was still running my fingers over the controls. "I'm fixing that, now. But they know better than to leave communication channels open to us, so I've got to deliver it manually to their systems."

"We'll ready an away team," Chakotay said.

"No need." I looked to Seven and nodded. "Nice to see you again, Seven."

Before she could respond, I hit a final key on the board. And the Voyager transporter whisked me away.

The inside of the Borg flagship cube was enormous. Fabricating facilities to launch more Borg spheres and probes were everywhere and there were regeneration nodes as far as the eye could see.

I materialized in the very heart of the cube. A super-sized Borg viniculum offered access to the entire Collective. I rushed up to it and went to furious work. Installing the virus was the last step I was going to take; the first steps involved making sure they couldn't catch it before it went out over their communications network, and that meant taking control of their system from here.

"We knew you could not resist."

I turned and watched a body descend from the upper planks, accompanied by wires holding the head section of the Borg Queen. "Hello again, Doctor."

"Hello Queen Bee," I murmured. I fought to keep my anger under control. "Let me guess. This was all for my benefit?"

"This quadrant is long due for assimilation into our perfection," the Queen announced. "The chance of drawing you out made it a higher priority."

"I told you what I'd do to you if you attacked the Federation," I said. My anger slipped out into my words.

"Yes." The Queen smirked. "Yet you still attacked us. So why should we allow that threat to restrain us when we were to face your enmity anyway?"

I frowned. As the Time Lord Triumphant I had repeatedly acted to keep the Borg from attacking worlds. That included making anti-viruses and sabotage programs that devastated entire Borg fleets. In my... madness, I had not considered the consequence that the Borg would no longer heed my warnings regarding the Federation.

Of course, I knew that wasn't the whole truth. But it was sobering. And very, very upsetting. And I was already rather upset. "Like you wouldn't have tried this eventually anyway," I grumbled.

"Perhaps, perhaps not," the Borg Queen purred. "But now we are. The Federation has rejected our perfection long enough. It has proven itself a threat to the Collective, just as you are."

"So now you're here to assimilate us?", I asked.

The Queen seemed to smirk at that. And I suddenly realized I had miscalculated her intentions.

Her answer was cold and sinister. "Only those who survive."

The drones seemed to come out of nowhere. I had to jump away from the control panel to evade a barrage of fire from the tactical drones. I used Setting 42 to deflect their shots as I fled toward a corner. At the last moment I turned and saw more coming at me from that direction, preparing to fire. I jumped out of the way just in time. Searing energy fire went by my face as the drones ahead of me opened fire. I swapped to Setting 32 and let loose with a burst that took out the drones ahead of me, clearing my path.

The drones behind me opened fire again and I barely got setting 42 back up. I rushed to another control panel and used my free hand and the sonic to input more commands to prepare the spreading of my virus while batting off shots from the others with my setting 42 shield.

"A few seconds more," I muttered. I almost had it. I almost had it!

Pain exploded through my left side. I cried out and crumpled. Through the pain I realized what had happened before I hit the ground. The Borg were adapting to my shielding system and had overloaded the disruptor's setting 42 shield.

I turned on my right side, ignoring the burning in the left, and saw the drones stop, keeping their weapons leveled at me. The Queen walked up amongst them. "We have wondered what to do with you, Doctor," she said. "You would be a marvelous addition to the Collective. But... a dangerous one. A mind as powerful as your's could undermine our unity. You may have set a trap within yourself again that would threaten the Collective with destruction." The Queen's expression hardened. "You are the gravest threat the Collective has ever faced. I believe it would be far safer if we terminated your existence."

The drones shifted their aim to face me.

The Queen's eyes focused on mine. Cold, black, malevolent. "Yes. That is what we will do. You are a threat to the Collective. You must be destroyed."

I barely got the sonic disruptor up in time to absorb the barrage. I lifted my sonic and triggered it. One drone fell. Another. But the weight of fire continued and the shield began to crackle, fighting to beat the speed of Borg adaptation.

I was running out of time.

I was also getting really bloody furious.

Before I could act on my fury and desperation, more transporter beams coalesced around the chamber. The drones turned away from me. But they were too slow.


On one end of the room, Admiral Janeway and a security team from Voyager opened up with phasers on the drones. On the other, a growl and the sound of metal slicing through air spoke of the arrival of Commander Worf from the Enterprise. An Indian Lieutenant - Jasminder Choudhury I presumed - led another tactical team in opening fire on the Borg while Worf went after the nearest drones with his mek'leth.

The Queen fell back, trying to get out of the crossfire. I forced the pain out of my thoughts and got to my feet. I held up my sonic and pointed it toward the Starfleet team. "I'm uploading new frequency shifts into your weapons!", I announced. "They won't be adapting to it any time soon!"

More drones were arriving and the fight was growing chaotic. "What is your progress, Doctor?", Janeway called out.

"Almost there," I answered while limping back to the control panel. I brought up the sonic again and prepared to load the virus into the Borg Collective.

The others were too wrapped up in the fight to stop what came next. I saw the shadow a moment before it was too late. Which is a way of saying that instead of getting impaled through the midsection, I turned and shifted myself enough that when the Borg Queen struck at me with a bladed arm, it ripped into my upper left hip. I let out a cry of pain and gasped. I could hear the console sparking beside me from where the blade punctured it directly, destroying it.

I looked down into the Borg Queen's dark eyes. "We will not be stopped," she rasped angrily. "We are the Borg. Resistance is futile!"

I gasped and tried to move, but the Queen was keeping me locked into place. Pain was radiating all across the left side of my body. Thick blood was flowing around the blade. I could feel my blood flowing down my left leg. The Queen brought up her left arm. Her hand seemed to melt together, forming another spike.

I had only seconds to act. The control panel behind me was out of commission; I couldn't use it anymore. Nothing else was close enough. Nobody else saw my danger at the moment. I began to raise my voice.

The spike drove into my right heart. I screamed again and watched blood flow outward. "You do not deserve our perfection," the Queen said to me.

I struggled against the pain and started bringing my right hand up. I had only one chance now. One possibility. And the Queen had made it possible.

"This is for John," I hissed.

The Queen looked at me in curiosity. Before she could ask who I was talking about, I pushed the sonic screwdriver right up to her head and activated it at full power.

At full power, at the setting I was using, the sonic screwdriver was like an arrow, going right through her armor and into her core being. She screamed as the sonic disrupted her functions. She had more reason to do so as the sonic uploaded the virus right into her central processes. She slumped down against me, making me groan as the spikes drove further into my body. "What...." She looked at me with....

....with terror.

"It's over," I growled. "The Borg Collective ends today."

The Queen screamed again. The drones around us began to spark and fall over. Lights around the cube began to flicker. Control surfaces exploded in sparks.

I heard a grunt of effort and noticed Worf had come up to us. He grabbed the Borg Queen and pulled her off of me. Blood flowed freely from my wounds as I fell into his arms. My blood poured out onto the deck and all over his uniform. "It's done," I wheezed. "They... they can't stop it...."

"Doctor!" Janeway ran up with her security people - those not dead or wounded - beside her. She looked as ragged as her subordinates. "What did you do?"

"Put the virus right into the Queen," I wheezed. "She... she didn't think I could penetrate her defenses. The virus went right through their subspace network to every control node in the Collective."

Janeway's mouth gaped open. "Do you mean..."

"The Borg Collective..." I smiled. "...the Collective is being torn apart. The virus is destroying its central control program. It's taking the Hive Mind apart."

"Admiral." Picard's voice crackled over Janeway's comm badge. "The Borg vessel's reactors are going critical."

I sucked in a breath. This could be the Collective trying to stop the spread.... no. No, it was too late for that.

"Oh no," I breathed. "I need to talk to them! Help me! Get me to a living drone!"

Janeway nodded to Worf and helped him pull me over to the nearest twitching drone. A look of horror and terror was on the figure's face. He... no, she looked up at me with horrified eyes. I reached down and put my hands on her head. Janeway undoubtedly recognized it as similar to the finger placement of a Vulcan mindmeld. I pushed the pain in my savaged body away and reached with my mind into the drone's mind. I felt her emotions, strong and violent. Her memories of being seized and assimilated. She wasn't pleased by her liberation; her mind was so used to being drowned out by the Collective that being able to think again was hurting her. Be calm, I said. You're free. I know it hurts, but it won't last. You're free. You're all free. I felt her settle enough that I reached through her mind and into what lay beyond.

The minds of what were once the Borg Collective were out there. They almost overwhelmed me with their grief, their terror, and their anger. I clenched my teeth and focused, fighting through it.

Listen. The Hive Mind is gone!, I said to them. You're all free! All of you! You can rebuild your homeworlds and your societies!

Their memories of lost families and loved ones rippled around me. I felt myself began to weep at the sheer sadness. Panic filled my hearts as I realized how many were ready to die just to end their suffering.

I know it hurts. I know you had terrible things done to you. I know some of you were then made to do terrible things in turn. But that's over. Don't give in to those thoughts. Think of what you could accomplish now! Please! Don't let the Collective continue to destroy your lives! I forced a breath through my agonized chest. Don't make it all for nothing, please. You can rebuild your shattered worlds. You can help each other find or grieve over what you've lost. You can find others who will help you with that, civilizations like the Federation that would do everything to help you build new lives. You could be something so beautiful... just don't give in to the despair!

As I made those thoughts, as the minds in the link spread them about and rippled them back to me, I realized... the same could be said for me. I didn't have to be a nameless being condemned to pain. I was still a Time Lord, I still had a TARDIS, and a wide Multiverse with wonders I had yet to see. And I had friends to show them to. Friends everywhere. I wasn't really alone. I didn't have to give in to my despair.

There were screams of anguish over the link. A good man died to give me this chance, I said to them. I began projecting the final thoughts of John Smith-Stevens into the link. The simple things he loved, his feelings for Janet and his memories of what they'd done together, everything he'd been. He sacrificed it to stop the Borg. And that's been done. You are something new, you are free. Don't throw that away, please! There's been enough death today!

I realized I'd been speaking these messages as well as I looked up and saw the Starfleet officers who had helped me standing around us. But I returned my focus to the link. I felt hope and fear. Hope that I'd gotten through to them, fear that it wouldn't matter.

And then... the grief and terror and anger subsided. Other powerful voices, former drones, began to echo what I was saying. We are free!, they said, over and over, until a wave of realization washed over the link. I felt joy and elation begin to settle into the linked minds of what had been the Borg. The cacophony of voices became more and more diverse. Individuals were re-asserting themselves. Names and memories were being thrown about as families and friends sought each other out across the breadth of the former Collective.

It wasn't total. I felt some voices silence. Those who were... too far gone. Who couldn't handle it. I didn't save them all.

But I saved most of them.

I... I'd done it.

I started to laugh. I heard laughter. Not just mine. I looked down and saw the drone I had been interfacing with looking up at me. Her remaining eye sparkled and she laughed, oh she laughed so loudly. Tears flowed from the surviving gray eye. "Thank you," she said to me. "Thank you, Doctor."

"You're welcome," I said. I didn't bother protesting her calling me that. I was too happy.

Oh, and... too weak. I toppled over to my side. I tried to lift my head and couldn't. My body had overtaxed itself given all of my wounds.

I didn't stop smiling, even as I realized I was dying. No regenerations for me, after all, and with the damage to my right heart and all of the blood loss and tissue damage... Well, I might be joining John.

But I wasn't panicked this time. I just... sighed in contentment. This felt good. So good.

I half expected to see Death again. But it was only Janeway and Worf, shouting orders for a transport to sickbay.

And everything went black.

I woke up to sunshine coming through a window. I blinked my eyes and instinctively felt toward my torso. It wasn't for any practical reason, it was simple reaction. It took much of my energy to sit upright. I could feel the machinery attached to my right heart on the inside. Cellular regeneration devices, slowly and carefully rebuilding the damaged tissues so as to not overtax my body, combined with artificial mechanisms that kept my cardiovascular system operating. My left side was stiff and burning with low, painkiller-reduced aching.

I turned my head and saw the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. Small shuttlecraft zipped about outside. Ah. Starfleet Headquarters, obviously, specifically Starfleet Medical.

Shortly after I woke up an Andorian nurse entered and checked on me. I found myself drifting back into sleep even as he completed the examination. This did not surprise. My wounds were terribly severe and surviving them had taxed my Time Lord healing to its limit. I might have regenerated if I still had any.

When I awoke again it was dawn. This time I had a visitor. Seven sat in a nearby chair and looked up as I sat up. "You are feeling better?", she asked.

"Rather," I said hoarsely, reaching for the pitcher of water left out for me. My left side flared with pain when I tried to twist. Seven noticed and came to my assistance, pouring the cup. "It worked," I said, smiling weakly and taking a drink.

"Yes." Seven answered with her own smile and nodded. "The new... Cooperative, they are calling it, has had some issues with the drones who were such from birth. But they will develop individuality in time."

"Good, good." I drank down the rest of the cup to wet my throat. "I felt that some destroyed themselves."

"Yes." Seven poured me another cup. "You sustained critical injuries and nearly died. The former Borg you interfaced with directly attempted injection of regeneration nanites. Without the Collective's guiding programming, they were insufficient to fully repair your body."

"I see," I murmured. "But they did help save me?"

"It appears so, yes." Seven nodded. "How do you feel?"

"Exhausted and famished," I answered truthfully. "A bite to eat and some more sleep feels about right."

"Yes," Seven agreed.

"Where's my TARDIS?", I asked.

"It has been returned to yo.... to John Stevens' home," Seven said. "For your return."

"I see." I laid my head back. I felt a final inquiry come to my mind. "And Janet Peratrovich?"

"Debriefed by Starfleet and returned home as well," Seven answered. "I extended her an invitation to visit you."

"But she won't," I said. "She can't. Not now. Not with the wound so fresh." I closed my eyes. "If you talk to her, tell her I understand, please."

"I will, Doctor..."

Within seconds I was fast asleep.

Time Lords heal fast under normal conditions. Normal conditions, I must stress. My condition hadn't been. My body had been turned back into a Time Lord's body just before the traumatic injuries. I had been infested with Borg nanites from the Queen's attack on me. My right heart had to be rebuilt at a cellular level. It should surprise no one that it took weeks for me to recover.

About twenty-one days after I woke up I was due to be discharged. The EMH Mark 1 from Voyager and Doctor Crusher from the Enterprise gave me separate examinations, feuding quietly in the way that doctors can sometimes do over disagreements, but both gave me the clean bill of health.

At the end of their examinations a figure appeared in the door. The traveling robes of the Bajoran clergy looked out of place in Starfleet Medical. "Excuse me," the EMH said. "I'm afraid this patient is not to be..."

"Nerys," I said, my mouth forming a smile. "Don't worry about it, Doctor, she's a friend."

Nerys smiled and nodded. "I'll wait, if that's necessary."

"No." Doctor Crusher shook her head. "We were leaving anyway."

Nerys walked up to me and sat down by the bed. When the two physicians had left she said, "I came here as quickly as I could."

"Thank you." I extended a hand and took her's. "So, Ranjen Kira, I see? A new career for you."

She nodded. "Yeah. I... I've had some experiences since the end of the war. I had time to think about the path I wanted to take. And I realized that the Temple was my future."

My hearts warmed to hear that. She had reached another stage in her life and become something more than the angry Resistance fighter I'd once seen her as.

I nodded. "I'm very happy for you. I'll make sure to be there the day you're elected Kai."

That made Nerys laugh. "Oh, I don't see that hap..." She stopped and narrowed her eyes suspiciously. "...this isn't some playful attempt to tell me my future, is it?"

"Oh, not at all. It may be a possible future. But the timeline's not set in stone. Our free will can change how it will go, at least for us. It can determine the legacy we'll leave." My smile turned sad. "I... still have that poor man in my mind. His memories, I mean."

"You really turned yourself into a Human?", she asked.

"Yes, I did. He was a nice chap, too. A teacher. He just wanted a simple life out in the San Juan Islands." I sighed wistfully. "And then the Borg came along. He.... sacrificed himself in bringing me back. Left behind grieving students and a woman who loved him very deeply."

"I'll... say a prayer for him," Nerys assured me. "Can I ask why you did this? Why you... sealed away yourself?"

"I..." I faltered for a moment. "I was too full of guilt and despair, Nerys. Guilt for the things I did in my madness and despair for... my realization that I had no identity. I had let the mantle of the Doctor take the place of the mind that is sealed away inside me. But it went wrong. You saw that."

She nodded quietly. "Yes."

"You... saved me, Nerys." I felt the tears well in my eyes. "You stopped me from going past the edge. Had I fired those missiles I..."

"It's okay." She took her other hand and put it on the one I'd already reached out to her with. "You saved my life. You showed me that there was a better way. All I was doing was returning the favor."

"You almost died."

"So did you."

I stopped speaking for the moment. Nerys let the quiet last for a time. "What will you do now?", she finally asked.

I remained quiet for about ten seconds, gathering my thoughts. "I suppose I'll... go back to traveling," I finally said. "Nothing fancy. Just... exploring what's out there."

Nerys smiled and nodded. "That's good. Have any ideas on who to travel with?"

"A couple," I admitted. I looked to her. "I could take you if that's what you want."

Nerys shook her head, although her smile was still radiant. "I'm not the adventurous youth anymore, Doctor, and I'm not the little girl who asked you to live in your magic box. I've found my place in the Temple."

"I'm happy for you," I replied. "There is... one thing." I reached into the drawer and pulled out the box I'd left in the TARDIS, marked for her. "I had anticipated Seven would need my anti-Borg measures. For you, I worried about a couple of potential threats that I laid out in the data chips. But that's not the important thing."

Nerys took the box and opened it. She removed the data chips I'd left her and went for what was in the bottom. Her mouth partially gaped open as she pulled out the image within. It showed her family shortly before her mother was taken to be a comfort woman. Tears formed in her eyes even before she got to the envelope below. She opened it and pulled out a note written in Bajoran script. Not the best script, but passable. I saw her chest heave slightly and the tears start flowing down her eyes. "You were with my mother before she...?"

"I made her comfortable," I answered. "It was the best I could do."

"And you told her about me?", Nerys said, her voice almost a low squeak.

"She was dying. I decided it didn't risk the timeline that greatly."

This time I remained silent for her as she read. Tears flowed freely down her face. "Thank you," she finally said. She said the words in a low, quiet tone.

"I've caused you pain," I remarked, my voice equally low.

Her mouth twitched. "Yes. But it's a good pain. After all these years I was starting to forget what my brothers looked like." She sniffled. "I've always had problems with this."

"I know." I put my hand on her shoulder. "Thank you again, Nerys."

At that point, there was nothing more to be said.

Nerys left after lunch to get to the ship that would return her to Bajor. With nothing else to do, I was in the middle of gathering my things when Seven appeared at the door. "I have arranged a shuttle to return you to the Stevens house," she said.

"Thank you." I looked out the window at the clear San Francisco day. "So, I hear the Cooperative are applying for Federation membership?"

"Assistance first, but yes." Seven's eyebrows went up. "It has caused quite a stir in the Federation's political circles."

"I imagine so." I put my sonic screwdriver in my pocket.

"I heard that you asked President Bacco to not act against the DTI. I'm curious as to why."

I nodded. "They were trying to do the right thing," I said. "How many times have Starfleet captains defied orders and proved it was proper?"

"They have sought to imprison you for a long time." Seven shook her head. "And despite the President's official pardon, I suspect they will continue to be opposed to you."

"Good," I said. I lowered my eyes. "I need someone willing to do that. I need a check. I can't let the Time Lord Triumphant ever come back."

"I see."

"Speaking of that..." I brought my eyes back up and looked into her's. "I could use a traveling companion, Annika. What do you think?"

For a moment she remained quiet. I could see her considering it. Finally, she shook her head. "Thank you for the offer," Seven answered. "But I have built a life here in the Federation."

"With Chakotay," I stated.

I was answered with a nod.

"Well." I nodded. "I'm happy for you both." I tucked the sonic disruptor into my belt and put the bedsheets back into place. "Well, I'd better be off to that shuttle. Would hate to make your pilot wait too long."

I admit I felt some disappointment, but not too much. I couldn't blame her for holding onto the life she'd built. I took up the new cane I'd picked up in my left hand and used it to hobble on to leave. I got to the door when she called out to me. "Yes?", I said, turning back.

"I read the letter you left in my bag," she said. "How much did they know?"

"Your parents?" I sighed. "Not enough, unfortunately. All I said was that in the future you would appreciate getting to read their thoughts."

"I see." She nodded. A tear was forming at the side of her eye. "Thank you."

"You're welcome, Annika." I smiled gently. "By the way, would you and Chakotay like a house?"

Seven tilted her head slightly. "You mean your house on San Juan Island."

"John's house, actually," I remarked. "I'm going to offer it to Janet but I suspect she'll say no. It's your's, if you want it."

"I will speak to Chakotay," she said.

"Yes, well, I'll leave it in your hands, whether you keep it or not. For me..." I turned back to the door. "...I think it's time to start traveling again."

Most of the things in John's house weren't mine. They were his. And I had no real need or use for them. So I put them in containers and set them to the side.

As I worked on some of the things in the living room I heard the door open. I knew who it was even before I turned to see Janet Peratrovich step into the room. "Hello Janet," I said.

John's memories of her were full of vibrant life, a depressing contrast to what she looked like now. Her clothing was muted and dark. Her expression showed she was trying to hold back pain. Her entire world had been torn apart.

And to make it worse, here I was; the body of the man she loved, but not the mind.

"I see you've recovered," she said.

"Mostly." I tapped the cane at my side. "Left hip still needs some healing. I'll be limping for a little bit."

Janet nodded. Everywhere she looked in the room, she could see the signs of John's life. Tears were forming in her eyes. "I... have questions for you, Doctor."

"That's not my..." I sighed. "Yes, Janet?"

"Is there... anything of John left?", she asked.

"His memories," I answered. "I remember him. His experiences, some of his thoughts and feelings."

Hope, ever so fleeting, flashed across her face. My gut twisted as I anticipated her next question.

"Could you bring him back? Could you repeat whatever that process was and bring him back?"

I let out a breath. "I'm afraid not," I said. "If I were to use the Arch to become Human again, the resulting man would be a new being. Tabula rasa. A total blank slate." I turned to face her. "I could give him the same name but it wouldn't be him. He wouldn't be the man you fell in love with."

"I see." With her hopes dashed, Janet found a nearby chair and buried her face in her hands. "Do you know how happy he made me, Doctor? Do you understand what I've lost?" I could hear she was starting to sob. "I'd... I'd never felt that w-way before and... and now he's gone."

I swallowed. I didn't dare think about the box that I was keeping in my pocket and the diamond ring inside of it. I had considered giving it to her; now I saw that it would be base cruelty to inflict that on her.

"It's not fair," Janet wept. "I-it's not f-fair...."

I walked over to sit beside her. I put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. She recoiled from me and jumped off the seat, heading for another. "You're not him!", she screamed. "You're not!"

"I know," I answered. "But he would want me to comfort you. John would want me to make sure you're okay."

Janet lowered her hands and looked at me with tear-filled eyes. "I know," she sobbed softly. "But I can't bear it. It's like you're some alien wearing his skin! You're not him but you look..." She stopped, breaking into sobs again.

"I could take you with me," I said. "I could give you the chance to explore the wonders of creation. To see things you've never imagined." Even as I made the offer, it felt hollow in my throat. It was a show, that was it. I was giving a show of being supportive when I could never actually be such to her.

"You're not him," Janet said. "I wouldn't want to go. In fact..." Her lip tremored a little. "I... I don't want you to be around. Please. Just leave me alone. I'll... I'll be fine. Eventually. But I never will if you're around."

I drew in a breath and nodded. "I understand," I said. And I said nothing more as she left. Janet Peratrovich would need to rebuild her own life. Make her own way. Forge her own legacy to the world.

I lowered myself into the seat she'd left. For a time I sat there, gathering my thoughts. The thought of jumping back into the Chameleon Arch had an appeal. Perhaps a different world this time. I could just become Human again and the resulting man could grow old and die.

....and as I thought that, I thought of John, and I realized I couldn't.

John was dead because of my actions. I provoked the Borg into an attack they would not have made. How many lives had been lost due to the actions of the Time Lord Triumphant? How much blood could be laid at my feet for my arrogance?

No. I couldn't hide with the Arch again. I had to move on. No matter how much I hurt. To do otherwise would be to spit on John's memory and ignore my responsibilities. I couldn't do that again.

And, perhaps, the answers I sought for myself were out There somewhere, yet to be discovered.

I drew in a breath and sat up. It was time to finish packing and get going.

I ended up choosing a new suit from John's wardrobe. His trousers were much the same color as my preferred ones. Deep blue shoes replaced the green ones I'd once worn. My old blue silk shirts and vests were in his closet and I donned one set. Without any jackets to be found in my original navy blue, I opted for a dark purple one. I smiled a little as I pulled it on. Finally, a purple jacket that didn't make me look like I was going to start trying to plot death traps for Batman.

I stopped for a moment as I came upon the ties. Specifically, one tie, of a brighter purple than the jacket. A set of them that were gifts from Janet to John.

I normally detest ties. If I wore a tie at all it was a bow-tie. But... I found myself putting it on anyway. Somehow it felt right. It was, perhaps, my own little memorial to John Smith-Stevens.

Once I was done I took my bags upon my shoulders and back. They weren't heavy. If there was any burden, it was needing the cane to walk with any speed given the stiffness and pain in my left hip.

I ventured downstairs to the basement. I stepped into the TARDIS and put my bags down, intent to set everything up later. I turned to the controls...

...and faced Agent Lucsly.

His expression was neutral. "You've been pardoned," he said flatly. "The President has declared you a recognized temporal power and DTI has no authority to arrest you."

"Yes," I said.

Lucsly nodded and drew in a sigh. "I liked John Stevens," he finally admitted.

I went through John's memories. "He agreed with you on time travel," I pointed out.

"Yeah." Lucsly nodded. "He didn't have pretensions like you. He was willing to accept the world as it was."

"You first met me at the lowest point in my life," I said. "The Time Lord Triumphant was a mistake. I know that. I'm moving on from that."

"I'll wait to see you prove it," Lucsly countered. "Because I know you. You won't be able to stop yourself. You will interfere in events."

I glowered at him. "You are bound and determined to be my Nemesis, aren't you Lucsly?"

"Someone has to," he answered. "Someone has to be willing to stop you when you go too far."

"Well, I suppose you could travel with me," I retorted sarcastically. "Keep me under control, eh?"

Lucsly laughed harshly. "Yeah, that'll be the day. I'll be watching you, Doctor. I'll be..."

As he spoke, my eyes moved to the TARDIS controls. Everything seemed in order. Everything seemed ready.

Which was why I felt my face pale. "What have you done?!", I demanded in a hoarse tone. I forced myself past Lucsly, cane and all, and went to the controls.

"What are you talking about?", Lucsly asked. Evident confusion was on his face. "We haven't done a thing to your TARDIS, if that's what you're..."

"Haven't done a thing?!" I pointed to the controls. "What do you call that?!"

Lucsly blinked. "Your... station. It was disassembled. We put it back together. We didn't want it said that we sabotaged you."

"You stupid..." I felt like I could tear my hair out. "I pulled it apart for a reason, Lucsly!" With a feeling of panic I went to the controls. Much to my horror, the light was blinking. Messages. I'd received calls while I was recuperating.

And because of the way the calling system worked, the TARDIS had been anchored to those points of the timestream relative to its own. Jumping back to help would be like jumping into my own timestream.

"What are you grumbling..."

"When people connect calls to the TARDIS, it anchors the TARDIS' timestream to theirs!", I shouted in reply. "Because of you, if any of my friends called for help, I'm going to arrive late, or not at all!"

Korra's voice came over the speaker. "Doctor, I could use your help. My uncle has gone insane and is going to destroy the world! I can explain when you get here, but we need your help to get to the South Pole and around his army. Please come as soon as you can."

"Another timeline you were interfering with?", Lucsly asked angrily.

"Shush!", I hissed. My mind raced. I didn't do anything to change Korra's world enough to divert how things would go, had I? She'd still beat Unalaq and Vaatu. She didn't need me.

I hoped.

The next message played. "Doctor, this is Wes Collins. I have an emergency. The other Time Rangers have returned to their time, but Ransik is going to destroy Silver Hills if he's not stopped. I need help!"

I blinked. I knew I'd done almost nothing in that cosmos. Certainly nothing to cause butterfly effects. That meant Wes' friends would return and they would win in the end. Ransik would be converted away from his bottomless rage. I was not needed.

Lucsly was staring at me. Before he could speak the next message played.

"Doctor, everything's okay," Korra explained. "I mean, Unalaq and Vaatu are gone. I stopped them. It turned out I didn't need you after all." There was a tinge of sadness to her voice. I closed my eyes. Had I been there... I might have helped her seal Vaatu before he and Unalaq destroyed her connection to the prior Avatars. "I hope you're okay."

The next message was Korra again, this time her voice exuberant. "Doctor, you won't believe this! There are new Airbenders! I mean, not the ones we rescued, but actual people becoming Airbenders across the world! Tenzin and I are heading off to search the Earth Kingdom for them. I don't know if you're busy with something, but it'd be great to have you come along and help find more Airbenders!"

I blinked. I knew nothing of what was to happen in Korra's timeline past Unalaq's defeat. Harmonic Convergence had created more Airbenders? I actually laughed at that. That was going to make the situation with the rescued Air Nomads quite interesting, but at the same time would hearten them all, or so I thought. Could get tricky, I imagine...

And there were yet more messages. I noticed Lucsly was still watching. Curious? Perhaps. But I didn't care. I triggered the next.

"DOCTOR OLD CHUM!" The voice came through in a bellow, but I couldn't help but recognize it. "Say, Stibbons, is this thing... it is...? YES, DOCTOR! PLANNING ON COMING TO THE LECTURE CIRCUIT THIS TERM?! LOTS OF EAGER YOUNG LADS TO TEACH!"

I had to smile. Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully of Unseen University believed any device to be spoken into needed to be shouted into to make sure he was heard. "Good old Mustrum," I murmured. Seeing Lucsly's look, I paused the playback and added, "I happen to be the Visiting Lecturer in Quantum Wibbly and the Chair of Temporal Irritation Studies at Unseen University."

Lucsly blinked in confusion. "Unseen University...?"

"In Ankh-Morpork," I explained. "The oldest and most prestigious wizard university on the Discworld. I was given honorary doctorates and the title of Wizard after I, well, saved their world from a six-dimensional crack in the fabric of space-time." When he gave me a blank look I sighed. "No appreciation for the classics..."

I noticed there were three more messages. A feeling of dread settled over me. So far everything had worked out, but had I missed a call from a friend that truly needed help...? I resumed the messages.

"Doctor! I don't know if you're getting this, but I really need your help!" My breath picked up as I heard Korra's voice yet again, now strained with fear and urgency. "I don't have time to explain. There are some lunatics called the Red Lotus after me, they're going to attack the Northern Air Temple where all of our Airbenders are training! They're taking them hostage to get at me! But if you can get the TARDIS to them and get them out before the Red Lotus arrives, we'll have time to come up with a plan! Please, Doctor, hurry!"

My first thought was on just who these 'Red Lotus' were. The connection to the White Lotus seemed fairly obvious. A splinter sect of some sort?

But I barely considered it more. A sick and terrible feeling twisted my gut. I checked the time stamp on the message and gasped. Nine days ago. The event had already passed me by due to the linking of the timestreams. I leveled a hot glare at Lucsly, who said nothing as the next message played.

Now Korra's voice went from urgent to desperate. "Doctor... please, please tell me you're there," she pleaded. "The Red Lotus have the Airbenders at the Northern Temple. Even Tenzin and his family. They're going to kill them unless I surrender to Zaheer. I.." I heard her voice strain with fear. "I'm scared, Doctor. They've got something horrible planned for me. But I can't let them kill Tenzin and the others. I... I'm going to surrender. I don't know what they'll do to me..." Her voice choked. I imagined tears forming in her blue eyes from fear at what this group would do to her when she was at their mercy. "I need your help, Doctor. Please. You told me you'd come if I called you. Please... please come help me."

The Borg Queen stabbing my heart was a mere pinprick compared to the pain that now pierced my chest, focused on my hearts. I double-checked the time. Just hours after the last. "No," I breathed. No, no no no...

There was one last message. I felt my breath stop as I waited for it to play. Maybe... she won without me. She would have, wouldn't she? With all of the other friends she had, the allies she could call, she would win. They'd be smart, they'd thwart whatever treachery was in store at the exchange...

The next message played. I tensed, waiting to hear Korra's voice.

But it wasn't her.

A baritone male voice came over the line. "I don't think we've met, Doctor. My name is Tonraq. I'm Korra's father."

Oh no. I couldn't breathe.

"The Red Lotus took Korra. They betrayed the exchange and still have the Airbenders. Listen... I don't know what has kept you, but you need to know that Korra believes in you. And she needs you now. Whatever you're doing..." I heard the rough voice weaken. "...please. We're doing all we can but... I'm a proud man, but she's my daughter. Please, I'm begging you Doctor, help us save her. Korra needs you..."

I looked to the light. It had stopped. There were no more messages.

No more messages.

And the time stamp for the last message taunted me. Within a day of the prior ones. As far as the TARDIS was concerned, these events were a part of its timestream.

I couldn't go back and help.

I had no knowledge of this Red Lotus group, or whom this 'Zaheer' fellow was. For all I knew... for all I knew, this was going to be her death. They might kill Korra, they might kill them all.

And Korra would die believing I had failed her.

After she saved my life. My life and Nerys'.

"No," I breathed. "No, I won't let it happen!" My breathing picked up as my hand reached over and grabbed the vortex regulator. I twisted it nearly all the way. A slow thrumming filled the TARDIS.

"What are you doing?", Lucsly asked.

"I'm super-charging the TARDIS," I answered, too full of horror to dissemble with Lucsly. "If I apply enough power to the shift, maybe I can push back the temporal anchor and arrive as that last message was sent."

Lucsly's face paled. "You're talking about undoing your own timestream!"

"Not exactly," I said as I twisted another knob.

"Who knows what damage you're going to cause?!", Lucsly shouted, not convinced by my reply. "If you cause a large enough temporal event, entire timelines might become hopelessly..."

"SHUT! UP!" I stabbed a finger at him. "I promised her I'd help! And because of you I can't, not unless I do this! So I'm bloody well doing it! If you don't like it, get out of my TARDIS!" I made a few more adjustments, frantic in my movements, and reached for the TARDIS control lever. "Or better yet, you come and help me undo the mess you caused by your blunder!"

Lucsly didn't move as I pulled the activation lever. Honestly I was an idiot. I should have made him get off before I acted. But I was in a blind panic. All I could imagine was Korra's face as she was killed, the pain of a broken promise and shattered faith accompanying her to her death.

The TARDIS engine picked up speed and pitch until it sounded like an overtaxed pump. She shook under my feet. "Hold together, girl, I know you can," I urged her. "Korra needs us!"

Consoles sparked. The TARDIS protested as I drove it against the anchor its timestream had fixed to that point in space-time. I grimaced at the pain in my left side and hobbled about, manning every station as was necessary to keep the effect up. "Come on," I gasped. "Come on girl! You can do it!"

The TARDIS engine wailed in protest. I ignored it. I couldn't fail my friend, not like that. I'd promised her...

And then the TARDIS rocked hard under me. The engine's pace started to decline. I looked up and saw Lucsly twisting the vortex regulator back to the original position. "Get your hands off that!," I screamed.

"I'm not letting you rip a hole through space-time!", Lucsly screamed back.

I shifted over and reached for the regulator. Before I could reach it, Lucsly's leg scythed under my right leg, toppling me over. He brought a fist up to strike me. I used my cane to smack him in the stomach to stun him, after which I slammed it across both of his knee caps with such force that I was surprised my cane hadn't broken at the blow. I heard one crack from the strength of the blow.

Lucsly cried out and fell to his knees. I started to scramble back to my feet. He grabbed my legs to hold me. "Lucsly! Stop it!"

"I won't let you wreck space-time!", Lucsly hissed.

The TARDIS rocked hard under us, throwing both of us to the ground. She was shuddering violently as I tried to regain my footing. "She's out of control!", I shouted in horror. "We're trapped in a Vortex pocket, if we don't get her out she's going to tear a hole through the fabric of reality!"

I lunged forward, tripping again, unable to put weight on my left leg. I was almost out of time.

If I didn't open up the regulator again and give the TARDIS enough power to finish a proper transition...

...well, then we were dead.

And we'd probably take a few cosmoses with us.

To Be Continued....

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-03-30 11:08am

Episode 21 - Crisis of Faith

Panic does not make for good decision making. Otherwise I would have gotten Lucsly out of my TARDIS first before I shifted out.

I hadn't, though. I'd let all of my panic and guilt lead me to an impulsive act, bringing Lucsly along. And now here I was, on the floor of the shaking TARDIS as it was being crushed by a pocket in the Time Vortex courtesy of my failed attempt to force my TARDIS against its own timestream and Lucsly's destructive reaction to what I was doing. If I didn't stop it, the TARDIS would be destroyed and generate a dimensional collapse event that would probably annihilate several innocent universes.

I had seconds.

Mere seconds.

With a terrible effort that made my side explode in agony, I pulled myself up to the TARDIS controls and twisted the Regulator back to an opened setting. The power of the Time Vortex invigorated the TARDIS' failing engine. She started to sound normal again although the shaking did not subside. I shifted over, barely holding on, and pulled another lever to push the TARDIS out of the pocket. The rumbling picked up speed briefly while I held on for dear life.

And then we were free. The TARDIS finished materializing.

Unfortunately, she was also damaged. And, more to the point, Lucsly had ruined my effort to push the TARDIS against its own temporal anchor, meaning we hadn't gone back far enough. And not even in a stable three dimensional place either. The TARDIS materialized in the middle of the air and fell. I tried to take control but the systems were still damaged from what Lucsly had done. I barely had time to grab something before the TARDIS slammed into the ground.

I ended up sprawled against the controls when the shaking subsided. I let out a groan of pain and forced myself to my feet. I pulled myself across the controls and across to a rail to get to where my cane had rolled after my altercation with Lucsly. He moaned started to sit up.

The TARDIS door opened. I looked up. A boy with a bronze complexion looked at me with curiosity. He was wearing Airbender robes. Given the hair, he had to be one of the new ones. He stepped into the TARDIS and his eyes went wide at seeing the inside. "How is it bigger on the inside...?"

"Kai!" I recognized her voice even before Jinora entered the TARDIS. She saw me as I steadied myself on my cane, undoubtedly looking scuffed up and a little ragged. "Doctor, what happened?"

I had other things on my mind. "I'll explain later. What happened, Jinora? What happened to Korra?!"

Her eyes fell a little into sadness. I thought my hearts would freeze. "Is she...?", I croaked.

"She's alive." Jinora walked up to me. "The Red Lotus poisoned her so they could kill her in the Avatar State, but we stopped them."

I let out a harsh breath. That would have permanently broken the Avatar cycle. Who were these people? "How is she?"

My stomach felt sick at the look in Jinora's eyes. "I'll take you to see her."

"What about him?" Kai pointed to Lucsly. He was starting to stand.

"Watch him," I said. "Make sure he doesn't do anything stupid. Like touching the TARDIS." I saw a look flash over the boy's eyes. A regular urchin, the lad was. "Press the wrong button and a black hole could consume the entire Republic."

The look shifted away. Good.

Jinora led me into the buildings of Air Temple Island. "We were afraid something happened to you," Jinora said.

"Something did," was the only reply I gave.

We were nearing Korra's room in the ladies' dormitory on the island when I heard a distinct thump. Someone had just fallen onto the floor inside the room. I forced myself to limp faster and pushed away the pain flaring through my left hip. I was already becoming breathless when I got to the opening.

I found Korra laid out on the ground, crying quietly.

I noticed the wheelchair a moment later. It had been by the bed, but had swiveled away from it. Korra had been trying to lift herself into it with her arms just for the wheels to slip out from under her, turning the chair away and sending her falling to the floor.

"No," I breathed, forcing breath into my lungs. "Korra..."

She looked up at me, tears streaking down her face. She looked different, nothing at all like the youthful and fiery young Avatar I had first met. Bags had formed under her bleary eyes. Her expression had lost its vibrancy, her eyes no longer glittered with passion and confidence. I couldn't see even the slightest twitch of movement from her legs which lay unmoving on the floor. She lay curled up like a helpless child; spent and worn out.

Not just spent. Broken. Broken and crippled by what the Red Lotus had done to her.

Had I been there... she wouldn't be like this. I would have tilted the balance. I would have figured out a way.

But I hadn't been.

"You're okay," she said softly. The pain in her face receded slightly, showing a hint of relief.

I hobbled in and threw my cane to the side, getting on my knees to embrace her. "Why didn't you come?", she asked, crying softly. "You said you'd come..."

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," I answered, tears filling my eyes. "It's all my fault."

If I hadn't become the Time Lord Triumphant... if I hadn't become so wrapped up in my own despair as to use the Chameleon Arch on myself...

Then I would have been there. I would have answered the call.

But I hadn't been. I had failed my friend. I'd broken my promise to her.

I might have asked for forgiveness... but I didn't.

How could I?

I didn't deserve it.

Korra was laying out on her bed again. The others had arrived by this time, summoned by news of the TARDIS' arrival. Tenzin was standing to one side, nearest to me on the right. He was still showing signs of injuries from battle. His siblings were with him, both similarly showing signs of recovering from fighting the Red Lotus. I'd met Bumi before, when I brought Katherine as a young teenager to Republic City, but I hadn't the pleasure of meeting Kya. Her hair was gray but her expression still very youthful and fiery. They were joined by a middle-aged woman introduced to me as Suyin Beifong. Toph's younger daughter, I saw. I had accepted her greetings.

To my left, Asami was sitting in a chair she'd pulled up to the bed and holding Korra's hand. Mako and Bolin were standing behind her. Neither had made eye contact with me since coming in. I didn't consider that a good sign.

But who could blame them if they were angry with me? I'd told Korra I would come help. But I hadn't. I'd been absent for their desperate fight to save the world from Unalaq and Vaatu. And then I'd failed to show up when Korra had nearly been killed. My wounds didn't seem a proper excuse, since I should have made sure my communications station was shut down and couldn't receive calls.

I hadn't realized what Lucsly and DTI had done.

Speaking of Lucsly, he was by the door. I had cracked one of his kneecaps during our scuffle and he had been made to hobble all the way here. Kai and Jinora flanked him. The former eyed him with the suspicion that one would expect a former orphan thief to show an officer of the law.

Lucsly's eyes were on me.

I looked away from him and focused on Korra. She remained quiet. She wasn't looking at me, or at anyone really. I held up the sonic screwdriver and ran a medical scan. I let out a breath. "It's a metal compound with mercury as a base," I said.

"I pulled it out," Suyin said, her tone disbelieving.

"A few trace amounts remain," I explained. "They will have to be removed for Korra to have a chance at fully recovering. Otherwise it will continue to impair her body's functions."

Suyin breathed out quietly and stepped up. She held her hands over Korra and concentrated. "Are you sure?", she asked. "Because I..." She went silent. "Oh. I'm sorry, Korra." Suyin nodded. "I feel it now. How did I miss it?"

"It appears to be the parts of the compound that were more pure than the rest," I answered. "Metalbending, as I recall, involves an Earthbender feeling earthen impurities in metal and bending those impurities. You were undoubtedly in a rush given the sizable dose forced into Korra." I looked back to my readings. I could see just how big the dose had been given the pure, horrific damage inflicted inside Korra's body, especially the nervous system. "You did save her life," I added, trying to assure her. "Don't blame yourself."

"I'm not," Suyin answered. "But I'm not sure I can feel it enough to bend it all. I can't see it."

I frowned, thinking. I contemplated the healing equipment I had on the TARDIS, but none off that included chelation agents to sweep the mercury out. I would have to take her to another cosmos for treatment.

Then the idea came upon me.

I held up the sonic with one hand and looked to Suyin. "Are you willing to trust me, Mrs. Beifong?"

The feeling of the room coarsened at my words. Given what had happened, my trust wasn't going to go for much these days.

But Suyin nodded. "If it will help Korra."

I nodded. "I am going to relay the information from my scanner into your mind so you can see the metal. Is this okay?"

Suyin swallowed and took a moment before nodding. I held up my right hand and pressed it to her face. My Time Lord mind reached out and gently pressed against her's. I didn't go into it. With the connection established I accessed my sonic again and found the results, which I relayed to Suyin through our telepathic contact.

She went expressionless, focusing her will entirely on her bending. Her arms and hands moved over Korra and began to grasp. She moved the hands slowly over Korra. Small beads appeared on the surface of Korra's arms and moved toward her pores.

Korra let out a scream and twisted her torso. It jolted us and I lost the connection to Suyin's mind. The beads that had already formed were pulled out of Korra's fingertips, forming silver globs of liquid-form metal hovering in mid-air. I looked to Asami. "A container, now! Nobody must touch it! The poison will absorb into your body through the skin."

Asami held out an empty water bowl. Suyin lowered the globs into it passed it back to Kya to be brought out of the way. Korra panted on the bed with sweat forming on her forehead. I used the sonic again. "We got some out," I said. "About half." I exhaled harshly. "But pulling it out by metalbending is causing trauma to Korra's tissues. We need to let her rest before we try again." I extended a hand toward Korra. "Just rest for now, Korra. We'll see to your needs."

Her face was an emotionless mask. She didn't look toward me or any of the others, choosing to instead stare at the ceiling.

"I think it's best if we gave Korra some space while she rests," Tenzin said softly. "We should all go."

We took to the crisp summer air of Air Temple Island at an outside courtyard. Pema had led the culinary staff in preparing a proper Air Nation dinner table, which meant no meats. Everyone was invited to take food. I wasn't hungry, so I took none.

Well, okay, I was a little hungry, but I didn't feel any appetite.

As eating gave way to quiet conversation I became aware that I was not a part of any conversation. I swept my eyes from person to person. None met my eyes.

None until Asami, at least.

She was with the brothers, Tenzin, and Kya, quietly discussing things. She stood and motioned to me. "Doctor?"

I ventured over, hobbling along briskly with the help of my cane. "Asami." I nodded. "I... don't go by that name anymore."

She blinked. "Oh? Why?"

"Because..." I swallowed. "It's a long story, Asami. And because of it, i came to realize the name was not something I should continue to use. I... I'm not sure what to call myself now."

"I see." Again, Asami was the only one talking, although Tenzin's expression made it clear he wasn't opposed to the idea either. "Who is that man who came with you? And where is Katherine?"

I couldn't hide the pain her name caused me. I blinked back a tear. "Katherine is... an assassin killed her and her mother some time ago."

Asami's face fell. Tenzin brought his hand up and put it on my shoulder. "You have our condolences," he said in a reassuring tone. "I can't imagine the pain you've gone through."

"Thank you," I said quietly. "I... haven't had the easiest time lately." I looked over to where Lucsly was standing alone, surveying the scene with clear aggravation. "As for my unexpected travel companion, his name is Gariff Lucsly. He's an agent of the Federation's Department of Temporal Investigations. In short, he's a government agent charged with stopping time travelers and protecting the flow of time. And I'm a time traveler who can alter events if I'm saving lives. We... don't get along, you might say." I swallowed. "As a young man he saw me at my lowest and most terrible point. And it's colored his perception of me since, so he hasn't stopped chasing me..."

"Oh, boo hoo."

There was real venom in Bolin's voice as he mocked me with those words. I turned my head to face him. His green eyes blazed with disappointment and anger. "You're not the only one who's lost people," he said. "Mako and I lost our family. But we keep living our lives and do what we can. We don't forget to look out for each other and we don't leave each other hanging."

"Bolin..." Asami gave him a worried look.

But it didn't stop him. He stepped up to me, glaring up as our eyes met. "Whenever you've shown up, we were there to help you. My brother got tossed off a building by an oversized goat-gorilla because of you, but we didn't let that stop us from being your friend. But when we were fighting for our lives and Korra was being hurt... you weren't there. The one time it was we who needed you, you didn't show up! You didn't help! And now Korra is hurt and can't use her legs! All because you didn't come to help. So take your self-pity and... and... go jump in the bay for all I care!"

Tenzin was left speechless by the outburst. "Bolin!", Asami said, shocked.

Given the look in his eyes, I suspected Mako felt much like his younger brother.

I pursed my lips. Every word had been like a stake being driven into my hearts, reminding me of my own horrific failure. I drew in a breath and looked away from him in shame. "You're right," I said. "I should have been there. And it's my fault I wasn't." I turned and walked away.

I found myself standing at the edge of the courtyard looking out over Yue Bay. It was the kind of sight that might make someone feel better. But how could I? The wounds I received from the Borg Queen were not an excuse. This was because I had become Time Lord Triumphant. It was causing pain and anguish to those I called friends.

"He's just upset."

I turned and saw Asami walk up. "After we realized how badly Korra was hurt, well, we've taken it hard, all of us."

"He's right to be angry at me," I said. "I should have been there."

"You've been hurt," Asami pointed out. "What happened? Why weren't you able to come when Korra called?"

I briefly explained how the calls to the TARDIS worked. Asami was a bright young woman and understood the basics easily. "So whenever a call gets through to the TARDIS, it fixes the TARDIS to our point in time?"

"Not just your point in time, but you specifically, and the events going on around you," I elaborated. "I can't go back into my own timestream or the TARDIS' timestream, and this effect sets the TARDIS timestream." I swallowed. "I tried anyway, but Lucsly stopped me and we crashed on this day instead."

"But, why did you leave the comm system on for so long when you weren't in the TARDIS?', she asked.

"I didn't," I replied. "Agent Lucsly and his organization saw fit to re-assemble it while I was convalescing."

A frown came to her face. "So this was really Lucsly's fault?"

"Only if it had worked," I said. "I was desperate to make it work, but I'm not sure it would have."

"Still, that means it wasn't your fault."

"Yes it was," I insisted. "It was my fault, Asami. I became the Time Lord Triumphant. I abused my power. And then I ran away from it to escape the pain."

Her eyes showed sympathy more than anything. "She will get better, don't worry," Asami insisted.

"I'll make sure of it," I grumbled.

At this point I noticed a ship putting in at the dock. "So, who is visiting today?"

"Oh, that's Korra's father, coming back from meeting with President Raiko," Asami answered. "And a couple of the Air Nomad leaders who are living in the Eastern Temple. That's actually interesting, the Nomads we rescued have never seent a group like this to us before."

"Possibly some victory celebrations to be commended, then."

"I don't think so." Asami shook her head. "There have been a few issues with the Air Nomads since we set them up. They've had fights with Tenzin over a lot of his plans for the Air Nation."

"Another unexpected consequence of a good deed," I murmured. I watched men file off the boat. Tonraq wasn't hard to spot, given his official entourage. President Raiko was with him, along with two older men in Air Nomad robes. They were both on the thin side. One looked to be in his sixties or vibrant seventies without a single strand of hair on his head or face. The other was clearly an octogenarian. A wispy white beard pointed down from his chin. From the distance I could see that his face was screwed up in a distinctly irritated look as his eyes looked about the island.

By this point Tenzin had been informed of their arrival and was walking down to greet them with Jinora at his side. For lack of anything better to do, I hobbled along to join him. The distance and the need to traverse stairs in my state meant they were well into conversation by the time I arrived.

"...is unacceptable," the elder Nomad spat. "It is not our way. And... and making this child a Master without seeking out our counsel..."

I narrowed my eyes as I came down the last steps. The clack of my cane on the stone walkway drew their attention easily. The two old Nomads looked to me and bowed gracefully. "Our greetings to you, kind Doctor," the younger of the two said.

"Gentlemen." I searched my memory for their faces. I distinctly recalled their recoveries; the eldest came from the Northern Temple and the other man from the Eastern. But I hadn't gotten their names. "I apologize, I don't think we were properly introduced. I am... a Time Lord, whom you know as the Doctor."

The two men blinked for a moment, undoubtedly understanding what I was saying regarding my name. "Master Time Lord, I am Phuntsok," the elder Nomad said.

"And I am Dorje," the other said.

"Sirs." I bowed my head respectfully. I looked beyond them to a middle-aged man in Water Tribe garb. It was not hard to guess it was Tonraq. "Chief Tonraq, I wish our meeting had been under more agreeable circumstances."

Tonraq looked at me with equal parts interest and disappointment before nodding. He said nothing, but the chill in his demeanor was enough to know he was not happy with me either. I could not find this surprising.

"I do apologize for interrupting you gentlemen," I stated.

"It is no trouble," Tenzin said. "It was just a mild disagreement."

Phuntsok turned back to him. "Mild? You are turning against everything our people are meant to be. The purpose of Air mastery is freedom of the spirit, not becoming soldiers to guard the world!"

I blinked. "Pardon?"

Dorje showed no emotion. "Master Tenzin has proposed to us that Airbenders act to safeguard the world during the Avatar's recovery."

"It is not our way!", Phuntsok insisted. "And granting Mastery to a child in these conditions? His own daughter? There is no justification."

Jinora looked hurt by that, but had the maturity to say nothing.

"Jinora helped Korra defeat Vaatu," Asami said, speaking up for her friend. "She led the Airbender students into creating a tornado!"

"You mean she turned our bending arts into a weapon," Phuntsok retorted.

"I had to in order to save Korra," Jinora insisted, joining the conversation.

The older Nomad fixed a glare at her and then at Tenzin. And then he threw his hands into the air. "You will not listen. When the Master Time Lord rescued us, I had hoped it would allow us to show your world what it meant to be an Air Nomad. But it's clear to me that the damage has been done. And I will not stand by and allow your ways to corrupt our's."

"Phuntsok..." Dorje put a hand on his shoulder. "Hold your temper, please. It is clear that this world has changed since Fire Lord Sozin's war. Master Tenzin is doing what he must to protect the world."

"And that is precisely my problem," Phuntsok said. "It is not the place of the Air Nomads to police the world. It is not our way.."

"I understand your concerns, sir," I said, my voice low. "But one thing I have learned in my travels is that Change is a part of living. In the long run, no force can stop it. I have surveyed millennia, eons, of history pass for Humanity in all of its guises, and the only thing that does not change is the nature of Humans."

Phuntsok turned to me. But he couldn't keep the anger in his voice now. It was clear that whatever he thought of this world, he was grateful to me personally. "I see your point, Master Time Lord," he conceded. "But it pains me to see my people's ways perverted."

"From what I hear, this Zaheer fellow was even worse."

Phuntsok's eyes flashed at the name. "Yes," he agreed. "To commit murder with our arts. It sickens me." His eyes lowered. "I grow weary from all of the hustle and bustle of this place. May I be taken to my room?"

"Of course." Tenzin nodded to an Air Acolyte who was carrying simple, Air-colored bags. "Take our guests to their dorm, Chodak."

"Yes sir," Chodak said. He hefted the bags. "Please sirs, follow me."

They went past. Tonraq did a moment later, not bothering to look at me as he did. I drew in a sigh and looked out on the Bay again. I did not move as everyone left the quay.

"Are you well?"

I turned my head. Jinora was standing beside me. "No," I admitted. "I am not."

"It has been hard." Jinora sighed. "My father loved that you brought Nomads to our time to save their culture. But he's had to fight with the oldest of them over our place in the world."

"What's this about Airbenders protecting the world?"

"It's until Korra recovers. We're going to announce it soon."

"Ah." I nodded. And I forced a smile to my lips. "Congratulations, by the way. Your grandfather would be proud to see you getting your tattoos at such a young age."

"Thank you," was her simple answer. "Do you want to talk?"

"Not at the moment," I said.

She nodded and respected my choice. I was alone at the quay.

Had even my best intentions caused trouble? I had saved the Air Nomads to preserve their people since, frankly, I hadn't a bloody clue Convergence would restore the Airbenders' numbers. And Korra had needed a victory after what happened in Harry's cosmos and the fate of poor Dustin.

But now the Air Nation was suffering internal disputes. Phuntsok was clearly opposed to Tenzin. And he had seniority, it seemed. Could the Air Nation become splintered over this?

Had my good deed backfired? Like so many others.

I took in a breath. Maybe Lucsly was right. Maybe... I shouldn't act at all.

That is preposterous, a voice in my head said. Life should be defended.

Finally I sighed and went back to the stairs. I needed time to think this out. And to find a way to heal Korra more easily. She had suffered enough.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-03-31 01:43pm

It was the afternoon when Suyin and I tried again. We managed to get another portion of the metallic poison out of Korra before her cries prompted us to stop. I had retrieved some painkillers from the TARDIS and gave them to Korra before we left. Dinner time was coming soon and I had become famished enough to eat.

So I joined the night's dinner. It was a VIP dinner. "Where is Avatar Korra?", Dorje asked as the meals were handed out. "I was hoping we could congratulate her for the victory over Zaheer."

"She needs rest due to her injuries," Kya said, taking the question as the waterbending healer present. She looked to me and Suyin. We shook our heads.

"Ah. A pity." Dorje sighed.

Phuntsok glowered. "She is incapable. Thick-headed, foolish, without any of the spiritual strength an Avatar requires. Whomever is responsible for her education has failed the world."

That earned the elder Air Nomad the angry looks of her closest friends. Tenzin remained diplomatic. "We had to keep her isolated to protect her from the Red Lotus. I'm afraid that didn't make it easy to properly teach her."

"Hmph." Phuntsok shook his head. "This era has much to be desired."

"I heard about the White Lotus in our time," Dorje said. "But they were secretive. Not at all public like in this era. To think that they could split like they have..."

"Changes usually cause those against them to act in defense of the status quo and whatever they consider to be proper tradition." I let my idle musing hover in the air for the moment. "Whomever they are, the Red Lotus will come to regret what they've done." I couldn't keep the subtle rumble of anger out of my voice. I had ways to deal with them. I was considering it, for Korra's sake. I may not be holding the name of the Doctor anymore, but I still felt obligations to those beings I called friends.

"I am concerned." President Raiko put his hands together on the table. "If this organization is as widespread as has been claimed, could there be more of them? They may try to attack the Avatar again, or other world leaders."

It would have been impolite to make any mention of the self-serving nature of Raiko's voiced concern. Tenzin gave a small nod. "The White Lotus are going to help track down any further Red Lotus infiltrators. We will have to be on our guard, though."

The dinner continued. Politics, and the need to discuss the issue with the chaos of the Earth Kingdom, dominated. Toward the end of it I finally gave vent to my curiosity and asked, "Does anyone know where Agent Lucsly has gone off to?"

"He's taking dinner in your ship," Pema answered. "He said something about 'not contaminating our culture with further contact'."

I facepalmed at that. "That sounds like him."

"What is his concern?", Raiko asked.

"The good Agent Lucsly is a police official of the United Federation of Planets," I answered. "They have a Prime Directive, a law that forbids contact with species and cultures they consider insufficiently advanced and which forbids intervention in the affairs of others."

"A good philosophy," Phuntsok remarked. "Meddling in the affairs of others can lead one astray."

I didn't react to that. Jinora, however, was quick to point out the obvious. "But that's what we did when we rescued you from the Fire Nation's attacks. If we hadn't come to help, you would have been killed."

Phuntsok opened his mouth to speak but held back. "That was a rare occasion when it was acceptable."

"Then clearly..."

I admit I allowed their argument to fade into the background. Phuntsok clearly wrestled with having to debate with a young girl as if she were an equal, but Jinora was quite well read and intelligent and he couldn't easily refute her. I finished my meal and stood. "I need to check on my TARDIS. Excuse me."

"Oh, Doctor." Pema held up a plate. "Would you mind taking this to Korra first? I know she's resting, but she needs to eat."

I nodded briskly and accepted the plate.

When I got to Korra's room she was asleep. I set the food down on a tray by her bed without making a further sound. Given the bags under her eyes and the fatigue she had shown, she needed her sleep.

But as I walked past, she started to writhe in place. I stopped and waited to see if she would stir. As the wait lengthened I could see a faint sheen of sweat forming on her forehead with little beads becoming evident.

She was having a nightmare.

I reached my right hand to her face and made contact. I closed my eyes and gently reached for her mind. I sought to give her solace or at least to see what tormented her so.

And so I experienced what she did. The agony of the metal poison forced into her arms and legs by Zaheer's metalbender. I heard the voices of Amon, of Unalaq, of Vaatu, and of Zaheer. Taunting her, saying she wasn't needed...

I felt her sorrow at losing her connection to Aang and the Avatars that came before her.

The imagery shifted. I saw Korra on a ledge of brown, earthy color. One of the canyons of the Northern Earth Kingdom, it looked like. Her eyes were lit with the power of the Avatar State. Her pant legs were rolled up to her knees and her hair was loose and wild. I looked over to see a bald man in brown hovering nearby. I noticed the scar that interrupted his left eyebrow, a distinctive feature. He wrapped his arms around repeatedly; he was airbending.

Zaheer, I presumed.

I could feel the currents of air forming around Korra, binding her in place. At her shoulders the air currents moved upward and surrounded her head. A vacuum formed within the sphere. And now I could feel it; Korra's lungs burned with hot agony and her body screamed for air as Zaheer finished ripping it from her lungs. The poison within her was agony enough.

The pain shot into me and for a moment I thought I was the one without air. I gasped and coughed, my lungs desperate to breathe....

Korra screamed.

The connection broke as she woke up, sitting upright with a start. I stumbled back, terminating the telepathic connection. For a moment she sat there panting. Her eyes narrowed from her mental exhaustion.

Anger burned inside of me. The Avatar was this world's guardian. A spirit meant to keep balance in the world for the good of all. That this movement sought to kill her - not just to kill her but to destroy the Avatar itself - was a sign of how dangerous they were.

Guilt burned as well. I should have been there.

Korra seemed to notice me. She looked over. "I felt you in there," she said wearily.

"I was hoping to help you endure the nightmare," I answered. "I... I didn't realize what had happened."

Korra eyed her meal sitting on the tray. I brought it over to her. As she started to eat I pulled up a spare chair and sat in it. I kept my expression subdued and said nothing. She ate the entire plate in record time; she was famished. Given the abuse her body had suffered lately and the continued strain of the metal still in her body... she needed those calories.

I kept my eyes low while she ate. When she was done I moved the tray away and offered her more water. As I picked up the water pitcher I saw an object on the nightstand by her bed. It was the temporal beacon device I had given her that allowed her to contact the TARDIS. Looking at it reminded me of my failure.

Korra finished the offered water and looked at me with her bloodshot, sleep-deprived eyes. "He almost killed me," she said. "They both did."

I nodded briskly. "Vaatu and Zaheer."

"I waited for you to come," she said quietly. "I thought that any minute, I'd hear your TARDIS."

My gut wrenched. "I know," I said, my voice a hoarse whisper. "I'm sorry."

She eyed my cane, still at my side. "What happened?"

"I went bad," I admitted. "I... became arrogant and conceited. I lost my balance. I was stopped from going too far by Nerys, who almost died to wake me up."

She nodded. "That was when you showed up the last time."

"Yes." I kept my eyes low. "I was too ashamed to talk about it much. It's why I left like I did. I couldn't face you or the others." My lip quivered as the pain came to bear inside me. "I've stopped using the name of the Doctor. It wouldn't be right to keep it. I had no identity and it drove me mad with pain. So I... I sealed myself away."

She was quiet as I explained who John Smith-Stevens was. I told about his sacrifice, bringing me back to stop the Borg. And how I was savagely wounded by the Borg Queen before I defeated them. "And then, to top it all off, DTI restored the TARDIS' communication panel while I was recovering," I sighed. "And I wasn't there to take your calls."

Her face remained neutral. "That doesn't matter, does it?", she said quietly.

"No," I answered. "I still walked away. John Smith-Stevens would never have been able to help you."

"You... abandoned us," Korra continued. "You abandoned everything."

"I'm sorry," was all I could say, although I was now repeating myself.

When I lifted my eyes to look into her's, I saw something other than anger. Anger from feeling betrayed I could have dealt with. It would have hurt, but it would have been something I could live with.

But that wasn't it.

The look in her eyes told me that my failure to come had helped to break her. For all that she suffered, the betrayal of my word to come help her had contributed to the breaking of her spirit. Her faith had been utterly shattered.

And it had hurt her beyond any expectation I'd had.

Realization came to me. Korra had grown up knowing she was the Avatar. She was the fulcrum on which the world would balance. She was the Most Important Person in the World. Millions looked up to her. They felt hope in her existence, belief in her ability to fix the problems of the world. It was a great responsibility.

Then I came along.

Suddenly the shoe was on the other foot. It was Korra looking up to another being. It was Korra feeling wonder for the power of a Time Lord and having the wanderlust building up inside her tantalized by the promise of the TARDIS and what it could do. The world had looked up to her and she... she had started to look up to me. The man with the magic box who could go anywhere in the reaches of Creation.

And so in her moments of need, she had called out to me. And she had felt faith that I would appear, as promised, to stand beside her against the dark forces threatening her world... threatening her.

But I had not come.

And now she had heard, from my own words, that I was not the being she had thought I was.

The truth hurts. And I had wounded her with it. I hadn't realized how deeply it might cut, for her to know I was not some demi-god but a being who could fall into arrogance, make terrible mistakes, and ultimately succumb to despair and abandon my promises and responsibilities.

I realized, utterly too late, that I had just wounded Korra again.

"I need to be alone," she said, on the verge of tears.

"I'm here for you now," I assured her. "I..."

"Please... just leave." She laid back on the bed, her baggy eyes staring at the ceiling, looking utterly lost.


"Just go!"

Angrily she swept one of her arms at me. A gust of wind rushed from it and slammed into my chest. It struck with enough force that I lost my footing and stumbled backward, finally falling and hitting the opposite wall. I gasped and let out a groan, trying to get to my feet. I had to crawl to get to my cane. I struggled to my feet and looked over to see Korra had turned her head away from me to face the wall. I said nothing, ignoring the tear forming in my eye and moving toward the door.

As I walked out, I heard soft sobbing coming from the bedroom.

I returned to the TARDIS again. The repairs were proceeding apace. I found Lucsly sitting quietly to one side. He was giving the controls a wide berth. "How much longer?", he asked sullenly.

"A day or two," I said. I hobbled my way to the stairs and sat on them, facing Lucsly to my right. "You are a smart man, Lucsly, but it seems that whenever I'm involved you lose your temper."

"You are the antithesis of everything I believe in," he reminded me. "You change timelines at your whim."

"I save lives," I countered. "And I intend to stay far away from major timeline shifting. I've learned that lesson bitterly enough."

Lucsly rolled his eyes. "That explains your intention to break into your device's timestream just now, right?"

I glowered in reply. "Korra is my friend. I thought she could be dead, so yes, you're damned right I did that. To save my friend."

"You can't just change things to save friends either," Lucsly retorted.

"I wouldn't have had to if you... you idiots hadn't meddled in my TARDIS." I pointed a finger at him.

He said nothing at first. "I've been listening to conversations around this island," he said, changing the subject. "These older men of the 'Nomads' sound like they're going to tear this culture apart. You brought them back from the past, right."

I nodded. "Yes. I gathered allies and saved a few survivors of the Air Nomads. Without altering the timeline."

"Ah." Lucsly fixed a look at me. "And now because of your meddling, an entire culture is about to be ripped in half."

"If they split, it will not be violent," I predicted. "Besides, are you saying I should have left hundreds of children to be burned to death, Lucsly?"

I didn't yell the question. Instead I enjoyed the look of revulsion on Lucsly's face. Whatever his beliefs on time travel, Lucsly was not a monster. The thought of such atrocities was as sickening to him as it was to me. "Sometimes horrible things happen in history," he said quietly. "It's not easy to imagine not helping the victims. But sometimes..."

"Oh please." I rolled my eyes. "You're prevaricating. Agent Lucsly, tell me this straightly. Given a chance, would you leave a child to be burned alive simply because it was a 'historic event'? Would you stand there and listen to the child's screams of terror and pain until the end? And if you did, could you still look at yourself in the mirror?"

Lucsly licked at his lips. "It's a complicated question..."

A new voice chimed in. "No, actually, it's quite simple."

We looked over to the door. Jinora entered and looked to Lucsly. "You are against changes to the flow of history because of how terrible they can become," Jinora said calmly. "I understand that. The question is if your position is more important than the lives of people who would die if you don’t act?"

Lucsly opened his mouth to speak and stopped. He stood up. "I've had this debate hundreds of times, young lady," he said respectfully. "It's not easy to say who lives or dies. And saving lives is a good thing. But saving one life and causing the deaths of ten down the road isn't a good thing, and that's why I feel the way I do. The evils of the present are bad enough without well-meaning fools changing the past and making things worse." He gave me a look before heading to the door, undoubtedly to head to the dorm Tenzin had assigned him to get some sleep.

Jinora and I were alone in the TARDIS after he left. "I've lost Korra's faith," I said, finally. "I told her everything and it broke her heart."

"Can you tell me?", Jinora asked.

I didn't want to. It was painful. But Jinora looked determined and I liked the young girl for her intelligence and spirit. So I told her. About the Time Lord Triumphant. And about John Smith-Stevens.

There was no sign of emotion in her face. "I see." She nodded at me. "You tried to come, though. You tried to make up for it."

I didn't answer.

"And what name do you want now?", she asked.

"None," i answered. "I... I can't imagine another name."

"Oh. Well..." She closed the distance and offered me a hug. "To me, you're always going to be the Doctor."

I closed my eyes and breathed out at that. But I didn't rebuke her for it. "It's a dangerous name," was all I said.

After the short hug ended she went to leave. Before she closed the TARDIS door, Jinora turned. "Doctor? I... would you be willing to attend my ceremony in three days?"

"You mean your Airbending Mastery ceremony?"

"Yes." She smiled gently. "I'd like it if you were there."

I sighed. Truth be told, I had planned on leaving as soon as the TARDIS let me. To drop off Lucsly and then go do... something. Staying here felt more like torment now.

But there was an earnestness in Jinora's expression that I couldn't deny. And... oh, why not? It would be a grand historic occasion. I enjoyed those.

So I smiled. "I'll be honored," I said.

She smiled back and nodded, closing the TARDIS door. I looked around and realized I should get to work on the repairs. It would give me something to do to occupy my mind, and forget that horrible look in Korra's eyes when she realized how far I'd fallen. I wondered if I would end up regretting staying that long.

I had no idea, at the time, that it was a good thing I did.

If I hadn't... if I had left... then I would have failed Korra again.

If I hadn't stayed... then Korra would have had just three days to live.

I spent the days leading up to the ceremony alternating between repairs on the TARDIS and helping Suyin with Korra, with a couple of sessions with Kya that finished the healing on my injured left side to the point I no longer needed the cane. We were finishing up an attempt the evening before the ceremony without success. The trace metals were too pure and too miniscule for Suyin's control to grip. And the dosage was still high enough to impede Korra's recovery.

We reported this at the evening meal with Tenzin. He took the news silently. "Perhaps Lin can help?"

Suyin's face twisted into a slight smile. The kind that comes from sibling rivalry. "We're about the same in power," she said, "but I'm not sure Lin's control is any better than mine. My mother might have managed it."

"And where is the good Eldest Beiphong?", I asked.

"Off on a spiritual journey, or so she said," was Suyin's reply. "I'm not sure where we could find her."

"And the odds of another metalbender we can trust?"

She shrugged. "There are a few at my level, I'm just not sure any would have the right amount of control." Suyin shook her head. "Korra could possibly do it herself. But she's..." The sentence was left unsaid.

"Sir." Tenzin looked to me, consciously avoiding my old name. "I know you have access to technology beyond our own. Do you have anything that could help?"

I drew in a breath. "There are medical options. Chelation therapy, the introduction of chemicals into Korra's body that bond with mercury and will sweep it out. But they can be toxic to the body over time. The safer alternative will require bringing Korra to another cosmos for treatment." I put my hands together in front of me. "It can be done, but only when the TARDIS is fully repaired. And if we're taking her, I can just as easily arrange further treatment to help undo the nerve damage that the mercury has inflicted on her body. It would speed up her recovery time."

"You told me that taking Korra out of our cosmos is potentially dangerous to the Avatar Spirit," Tenzin said.

"Yes. I'm not sure the Avatar Spirit could make its way back if something happened to Korra." I shrugged. "Although it is possible. The TARDIS could hold the spirit, perhaps, and let me bring it back." I rubbed at my forehead. "I wouldn't allow anything to happen to her regardless."

Tenzin nodded.

Before our conversation could continue, the door opened. The Air Acolyte Chodak came in, bowed, and stepped aside to admit Phuntsok and Dorje. The elder Air Nomads nodded respectfully, or at least formally in the former's case. "Master Tenzin." Phuntsok. "I have come to you again to plead for your reconsideration of this step. If you name your daughter a master, it will cause division within the Air Nomads. And your plans to use Airbenders to police the world in the place of the Avatar..."

That prompted a sigh from Tenzin. "I have considered your arguments, Phuntsok. And I rejected them, for reasons I laid out to you. You are allowing your own dislike with our era to impede your judgement."

Phuntsok frowned. "I shall depart tomorrow. I will not witness this debasement of our people. As far as I am concerned, your followers are not of the Air Nomads." He turned on his heel and stormed out.

Dorje did not move. I could see the twitch of disagreement in his expression but he kept it hidden as best he could. "I was hoping you might discuss it, Master Tenzin," he said.

"We have discussed it at length. As you well know." Tenzin lowered his eyes. "The world is not the one you left behind. I had hoped that you, of all people, could see that. But that doesn't mean the core of our people cannot remain the same."

"I do not think Phuntsok agrees. I... will have to meditate on this." With that final concession Dorje walked out.

Tenzin groaned with frustration. "I do not regret what you did for us," he said. "But I wish it had gone more smoothly."

"So do I," I said. I looked back to the door and frowned.

After dinner I was walking along the outside, looking at the golden skyline of the city. Spirit vines now encompassed much of the city, adding to the exotic feeling of the city. I looked out and watched the White Lotus guards changing shifts. It looked like there were more than there had been before.

Understandable, I supposed, if the Red Lotus were still active. If they were still a threat.

I heard footsteps to my side and turned. Asami was approaching me. "Are you still living out here?", I asked curiously.

"For now," she answered. "I want to be here for Korra."

I nodded. "She needs someone to be there for her. I certainly wasn't." I lowered my eyes. "Do you wish to talk?"

"I thought you might," she said. "I remember when you told us about Janias and Camilla. It hurt you more than you let on. And Katherine..."

"I am moving on from that pain," I said, not terribly convincing in my tone.

"How long have you been alone?"

I swallowed. I thought back and realized that it was quite a lot of time. Over a year, certainly, including my run as the Time Lord Triumphant and my attempts to fix that mess before I put myself in the fob watch. For obvious reasons I didn't count John's existence. "Long enough," I managed. "I've been alone with my loss and grief for so long I'm used to it."

"You don't have anyone willing to travel with you?", she asked.

"None that I've found." I sighed. "I admit that, as much as I fear losing Companions again... I would enjoy the company again. My friends are the only thing I have left."

Asami looked like she was about to speak. Her green eyes seemed to glisten for a moment. But she held back at the last moment. "You'll find someone, I'm sure," she said, her voice low and halting.

"I suppose, eventually."

We said nothing more until she continued on her way. I returned to my TARDIS to resume repairs and eventually get some rest.

The next day I was dressed in a fresh suit and standing with the others for Jinora's ceremony. I was invited to the front and left of the stage to stand alongside Lin, Suyin, Pema, the brothers, and Raiko. I attempted to turn them down but Pema was fiercely insistent and I acquiesced.

The ceremony was beautiful and endearing. As the chimes were gently struck by the air channeled from the other Airbenders on the stage, Jinora shed her hood to show her bald head and the arrow tattoo that had been placed upon it. I felt a genuine smile at her accomplishment and nodded toward her. At that age... she looked remarkably like her grandfather.

Tenzin continued speaking. This was where he committed his Airbenders to take up Korra's duties while she recovered. I forced myself to keep the smile on my face. He meant well. But as I looked to Korra and saw the tear go down her cheek, I went back to those nightmares I had felt within her. Her foes had attacked her as the Avatar. They had challenged the need for her. They had justified their brutality against her in that way, and Korra had suffered at their hands.

And now her mentor, by trying to reassure her that she could take her time in recovering, was saying the same thing.

Or, at least, that was how it would sound to a traumatized young woman who's very identity was being challenged.

And that was something I had some recent and powerful experience with.

As the ceremony ended I found myself alone with Lin. "I talked to your friend Agent Lucsly," she said.

"Well, he is one of yours, spiritually," I remarked.

"Yes. And he's got a good point on the issue of interfering in events." Her face was blank as she looked at me. But her eyes welled with emotion. "But whenever I see Korra in the wheelchair I start to disagree. If you could have prevented that, it would be worth it. And from what Asami says, he's the reason you didn't."

"I don't blame him, it was a foolhardy risk on my part," I said quietly. "The truth is, Chief Beifong, that I bear sole responsibility for my failure to aid you against the Red Lotus. I gave in to my pain and abrogated all of the responsibilities I had taken on." My breath quivered from the pain in my chest. "I failed everyone from the moment I became the Time Lord Triumphant. I didn't deserve to stand here today."

Lin's expression softened. "You don't realize how wrong you are," she said, her voice low and quiet. "When you took them back in time and rescued those Air Nomads, you gave such hope to Tenzin that I had never seen him so relaxed. You took the burden of rebuilding the Air Nation off his shoulders. His quarreling with them doesn't matter in the long run. What does is that the Air Nation is being restored. And that is because of you." She brought her hand up and touched it to my shoulder. "You'll make good on your mistakes, Doctor. That I'm confident in."

I didn't protest her use of the old name. With a nod and a small smile, she walked out as well, leaving me alone.

The sky was dark by the time the reception had ended. President Raiko, Chief Tonraq, and Tenzin were gathered around the central table, discussing the situation in the Earth Kingdom with Lord Zuko. The old abdicated Fire Lord had exchanged greetings with me earlier. I had resisted mightily the temptation to inquire about his tastes in tea, since even in my doldrums I did have occasional flashes of happier thoughts and times coming through.

There was movement beside me. I turned and watched Bolin walk up. "Uh, hey, Doc..." He fidgeted. "About the other day..."

I smiled gently. "You were right to be angry, Bolin. There are no hard feelings." I offered a hand. He took it. "So, what's this I have heard about you finding a lovely young Airbender...?"

A blush started appearing on his face. "Oh, Opal. Yeah."

"Did you really throw her mother out of the way to give her a hug?", I asked, my smile growing. I admit I was feeling a tad... impish.

He shuffled his feet. "Uh, yeah, I did."

"Indeed. Well, here's hoping it all goes well for you."

I patted him on the shoulder.

And the wall exploded.

The chamber we were in had been facing one side of Air Temple Island. The wall on that side exploded inward, striking attendees with chunks of broken stone. The thunder echoed in my ears and Bolin let out a cry of surprise. Out of habit I reached down for my sonic disruptor.

It wasn't there. I had left it in the TARDIS.

The figures that entered were clad in dark green combat robes with metal guards on their upper arms and forearms. Red turbans brimmed with dark brown sashes on the crown of the head were prominent upon them. They attacked with the swiftness of a trained unit, flinging stone and fireballs and water in all directions at our assembly.

"It's the Red Lotus!", Lin shouted. "Protect the President!" She stepped in front of him and assumed a fighting stance, deflecting thrown stones. Tenzin was at her side a moment later, re-directing flames with gusts of air.

Mako and Bolin jumped to the forefront alongside Suyin, launching an immediate counter-attack of sufficient ferocity that a lesser foe might have been staggered and thrown back out. But the Red Lotus were better trained than that. Their Earthbenders and Waterbenders switched to the defense immediately.

The attackers on the flank seemed to notice me for the first time. Perhaps it was my formal garb, or maybe they had spies in the ceremony and noted my place of honor, but I had a Firebender rushing me, throwing fireballs my way. I ducked the first strikes and got to cover, which resulted in the table being set on fire. I scrambled into my pocket and found my sonic screwdriver. With my other hand I gripped a plate with some of Pema's excellent macaroons and pulled it away, committing a high crime against culinary taste by letting her cooking go to such waste. When the Firebender shifted to change his attack posture I threw the plate with all of my strength.

I don't like to brag, but I am a Time Lord. And I have exquisite aim to go with my strength. The plate slammed into the Firebender's throat right below the Adam's apple. Had I thrown higher it would have crushed that apple and could have killed him. Such force was unnecessary. I caused him to fall over, gasping for air. I grabbed another fallen plate, this one thankfully empty, and threw it to another would-be attacker. This one was a Waterbender, however, and was already expertly using water pulled from some of the cups. An ice shield formed that absorbed the plate and caused it to shatter. The ice melted back into water and gushed toward me. I couldn't get to cover quickly enough and some got around my ankles before they hardened to ice, binding my feet together and making me trip. I rolled and faced the attacking Waterbender, who gathered more water and formed icicles to point at my head.

Flame consumed the icicles. Lord Zuko stepped between us and drew in a deep breath. Fire erupted from his mouth and singed the Red Lotus Waterbender before he could retreat. He stumbled back to get room but Zuko gave him no rest, firing a plume of flame from his outstretched hand that slammed into the Waterbender and sent him flying backward. "How are you?", he called back to me.

"Fine, Lord Zuko, bright as rain," I answered. I already had my sonic pointing toward the ice around my ankles. A solid sonic burst cracked the ice and made it crumble. I pulled myself to my feet. Zuko had moved onward to join the fight. It was a spectacle, I can assure you. Fine and artistic movements of limbs, shifting of bodies, and the elements responding to those movements. If it weren't so deadly it'd be amazing.

I scanned around and stumbled over toward one side of the room. Asami lay beside Pema. Pema was sitting up, holding her baby son Rohan, and looking down at Asami. She looked woozy and there was a bruise on her right temple. Blood trickled from her nose. I didn't need to scan to see she'd taken a hit. "Asami!", I shouted.

She stirred. "What's..?"

As she recovered I looked back at the battle. The attackers were fierce. Mako was favoring an arm but still fighting. Raiko's security men were down, the President being shielded instead by Jinora and Ikki acting in tandem. Jinora's young lad Kai was helping Bolin against their skilled opponents. Tonraq was shielding the wounded siblings of Tenzin and exchanging blows with an enemy Waterbender.

I narrowed my eyes. The attack had certainly been by surprise. It had been ferocious, in fact. And the timing was good; the changing of shifts. But there was something about it. The attackers weren't going after targets, not with the zeal I'd expect for people throwing themselves into a desperate attack.


"Asami, come with me, quickly!", I shouted urgently. I grabbed her hand and pulled her out the door and toward stairs leading across the island. In the distance the dormitories were pinpricks of light. And there was not a guard to be found.

"But everyone's fighting back there, we can't abandon them!", Asami protested.

"It's a diversion!", I replied. "They're luring all of the island security forces to this point. The rest of the island will be uncovered!"

"But why..." I couldn't see, but I imagined her eyes widening in horrified realization. "Korra!"

She started running briskly on her own energy. She kept up as we sprinted into the dorms. Confirmation of my theory came at the first White Lotus guard sprawled out. "But how did they sneak up... on the island?", Asami huffed. "Even with a change in the guard the approaches are still watched."

"The answer is depressingly obvious," I replied. "Many of the guards here are White Lotus. The Red Lotus came from their organization, yes?"

"Spies," Asami gasped.

"Yes," I answered.

Our pace quickened.

We got to Korra's room. The wall was... gone. We both called out to Korra and entered it. The sound of a boat engine powering up came from outside, down where this side of the island met the water. A fairly-sized speedboat was linked to the island by a bridge of stone, clearly made by an Earthbender. It was dark and the light of the Republic City skyline was dim this far out. But I could just make out the figure of Korra, unconscious and slung over the shoulder of one of the Red Lotus men. They were almost to the boat.

"We've got to stop them!" Asami jumped down into the rocks and I followed. The terrain was rough and difficult, but Asami had the grace of an acrobat and I had a Time Lord's dexterity and physical stamina. We closed the distance and were to the waterside before Korra's captor got her to the earth bridge. I held up the sonic screwdriver, cursed my laxity in not bringing my disruptor, and used a narrow beam sonic wave that made the man carrying Korra slump over. He cried out and faltered.

The Red Lotus members turned as one to face us. Asami and I split up to avoid being taken out together and closed as quickly as we could. I kept the screwdriver up whenever I could, preventing any singular Red Lotus from getting Korra to the boat. Asami took the advantage of a rock outcropping to get in a long jump that got her in range first. She used a judo throw to toss one figure into a rock. A cry of pain filled the air. She twisted and leaned to one side, avoiding a Firebender's bolt of flame.

I closed the distance at this time. Fury and worry broke through my compunctions on physical violence. My fist came up and I slugged the man trying to pick up Korra. He went flying into the water. My knuckles protested with agony. I ignored that, turning and standing over Korra's unconscious body. I raised the sonic and used the disruption to cause another Red Lotus member to fall over, crying out in agony from what the sonic was doing to his ear drums.

I was already running the mental calculations in my mind. They had at least two benders, but the darkness was impacting their accuracy as much as it impacted ours. Mine, granted, not so much. Nevertheless, I expected they had more, and since I didn't know the least bit about chi blocking, and I knew Asami didn't either... well, we were at a disadvantage. Winning would mean buying time.

So I turned to the speedboat and pointed the sonic screwdriver at it. The purple tip lit up and whirred. A small explosion of sparks erupted from the rear of the boat, joined by a low flame. I had wrecked the boat's motor and the flames threatened the entire boat. I could hear the sloshing of water and saw the silhouette of a man or even a woman standing in the boat due to the flames, moving their arms. Water seeped up over the engine and extinguished the flames.

I turned and brought up the sonic to stun the Firebender trying to roast Asami. He stumbled as the sonics nearly burst his eardrums. Asami caught him with a punch to the gut and gave him a judo toss that sent him into the giant that had been carrying Korra. This brought her into contact with me. "We can't... hold them," she warned, panting.

"Play for time," I wheezed in reply. "The others will realize it soon enough."

So we stood back to back, using the darkness as our ally to nullify the enemy's bending. My senses were just refined enough to make out silhouettes in the dim light conditions. Asami felt my movements and joined them, allowing us to avoid flame and thrown rocks, and I made sure to put their Firebender down whenever he started to send flames our way. I wondered why the Earthbender in their group wasn't collapsing the bridge we were on. Presumably he was unconscious.

There was increased frustration from their attacks, driven by the pain my sonic inflicted and the blows Asami delivered whenever they got close enough. We could stalemate them to the point their mission failed, and they knew that.

And then Asami and I were thrown off our feet.

The gust of wind took us by surprise. We went flying away from the boat and crashed toward the rocks, leaving Korra exposed. We both sat up, confused by what had happened. In the dim light, I could make out a figure reaching down and lifting her up. He was slim. But I couldn't make out his face.

But I did recognize his voice.

"Chodak," Dorje barked. "We've lost enough time and we'll need more to cross the bay."

"You..." I lifted myself up. Asami was also stirring. I brought up the sonic to trigger a disruption into his head. Before I could another gust of air, more focused and concentrated, ripping my sonic from my hand. I could make out Dorje's arm movements and felt air whip around me. I cried out as the miniature funnel took me and Asami up and threw is again, this time against the rocks of the island's waterline. Water sloshed in my hair. Another figure, also in Air-colored robes, loomed over me, barely visible in the light. He brought his fist down as Asami began to stir. She let out the merest of cries and fell limp.

I reached around desperately, trying to find something. A rock. Anything. But I couldn't manage it before his fist cracked against my jaw. I lost focus for the moment and stars dominated what vision I did have. I struggled to get up and another fist crashed into my face. He tried to punch me again, but this time my left arm interceded and caught his right arm, holding it up.

His left side shifted and his left hand grabbed my throat and squeezed. I gasped for air and tried to get my right hand up, but he had shifted his elbow to pin my right bicep to the ground. I couldn't get the leverage. I struggled to breathe through Chodak's iron grip.

There was a flash of light and I heard a familiar sound.

Namely, the whine of a Federation phaser.

The hand closed on my throat went limp. The euphoria of air flooding back into my lungs made me dizzy for a moment. It was long enough for my rescuer to come up. Lucsly extended an arm and I took it. He brought me up to a sitting position. "Lucsly," I said quietly.

"I came when I heard the explosion near the dorms," he said. "I couldn't find a way down the rocks in this gloom, I had to go by tricorder. Where is the local security...?"

"Diversion." I had already turned to face the Bay. The speedboat was becoming less and less visible. I cursed internally. I habitually reached for my TARDIS remote and remembered that the remote's control systems were another system I had yet to repair. I swore under my breath. "They've got Korra. They're going to kill her."

Asami was starting to stir a little. Before I could help her a beam of light illuminated the side of the boat. A Republic City Police Department Zeppelin moved overhead. I smirked. We had them!

....and then we didn't. One of the figures raised his or her arms. Geysers of mist - no, steam - erupted from the surface of the Bay. The boat disappeared under the cover of the roiling steam. The Zeppelin shifted. The captain was going to try and disperse the steam with his engines' downwash. It was clever.

A bolt of flame erupted from within the steam. It nearly missed the craft. But other bolts came, quick and hard, and the captain had to start shifting his craft to avoid the fire that might have downed his vessel. All the while the steam built up, thicker and thicker, obscuring more of Yue Bay.

I hoped, nevertheless. I scanned the skies for more of the craft. For any help at all. But the other zeppelin approaching was coming to the other side of the island, toward the diversion attack. And with the steam-produced mist covering the bay and the dark conditions...

They had done it. The Red Lotus had won.

They had again kidnapped Korra, this time right from her bed.

And I had not been able to stop them.
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American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-02 09:01am

Every face in the room was sickened when Lucsly and I returned to Korra's room, Asami trailing behind. We climbed back in and faced the others. "It was all a diversion," Mako said with disgust.

"Yes," I panted. I took in another breath, feeling my body begin to recover from the speed at which we had gotten back to the side of the building over the rock formations. Lucsly reached behind me to pull up Asami. "Dorje was leading the Red Lotus."

"What?!" The cry of surprise was from Tenzin.

"That Air Acolyte fellow you assigned to him, Chodak, is down by the water," I continued. "Lucsly stunned him."

"I've got my people scouring the island," Lin said. "And we have several missing White Lotus."

"Infiltrators," I suggested. "This attack was launched at the guard shift change and evaded the island's coast watchers."

"Where is Phuntsok?", Tenzin demanded, looking to one of the Acolytes. "Find him immediately!"

"So what are we going to do now?", Bolin asked. "They're probably going to do the metal thing on her again! And Korra's legs don't work, she won't be able to fight back even if she goes all glowy-eyes again!"

"Their waterbenders put up enough steam to cover the northern shore of the Bay." Lin shook her head. "Our people can't make out where they came to shore, or where they might have gone."

I turned and looked back out at the city. The mists called up by the Waterbenders were still visible even from this angle. Frustration and anger filled me, followed by horror at the consequences. Even with their measures, the Red Lotus had to know they couldn't hide forever. They would act swiftly. Odds were that they already had measures in place. Korra was unlikely to survive the next few hours, much less the evening.

"There's got to be some way to find her!", Tonraq insisted. Desperate fury filled his voice. This was his nightmare being repeated.

"They have an entire warehouse district to hide in on that side of the city." Lin's voice was hard and furious. "There's..."

I blocked out the rest of her explanation on the extremely hard logistics of finding Korra in that region. I fought my emotions down and tried my own thoughts. The TARDIS' damage limited my options. But perhaps there was...

My eyes settled on the table by Korra's bed. The pressure on my chest began to subside at what I found there.

Or rather, what I didn't see.

"Has anyone taken the beacon?", I asked loudly, interrupting Tonraq and Lin. "Anyone?!"

Everyone stared blankly. I pointed to the empty table. "The item Korra kept there. Where is it? Did anyone have it removed?"

"No one would have," Tenzin said.

"Thank you," I whispered, thinking of my friend. A tear came to my eye. None of the Red Lotus would have had reason to take the device. Nobody else would have. It had to have been Korra.

Korra had taken the temporal beacon with her.

Which meant I had a chance now.

"She's got the beacon!", I shouted. "Everyone to the TARDIS, now!"

I didn't give them time to react. I took off running. The pain in my left side only drove me faster. I did lament that my repairs hadn't restored the remote yet. But I spent most of the time praying I was right. That it hadn't been some random Air Acolyte carrying off the beacon. That Korra had actually brought it with her.

I found the TARDIS in the courtyard I'd left her. I threw the door open and raced to the controls. The others rushed in behind me. Mako, Bolin, Asami, Tenzin and Jinora, the Beifongs, and Tonraq all. "You can find her?" There was desperate hope in Tonraq's voice.

"If she has the beacon, yes!" I fired up the communications and scanners systems. I locked onto the temporal beacon I'd given Korra.

"What is the meaning of this?!"

The voice prompted everyone to turn. I looked up briefly while working. Phuntsok was being brought up, flanked by sour-faced Republic City metalbenders and White Lotus guards. "Armed men, here, accosting me?! Do you know no limits, Tenzin?!"

"I've had enough of this!", Tenzin shouted. "It was bad enough that you and Dorje have refused to budge, but now you might cost Korra her life!"

"What are you talking about?!," Phuntsok demanded. "Where is Dorje?! What have you done with..."

"Dorje is aiding the Red Lotus," I announced, finishing my own work at the controls. "He prevented us from rescuing Korra from the attackers." I turned my head and glared at the elderly man. "The question on my mind, sir, is if you are in collusion with him."

"That's... that's not possible," Phuntsok sputtered. "Dorje is a fine Air Nomad, he is educated and proper and committed..."

Something clicked in my head. "He was with the White Lotus, wasn't he?"

Phuntsok went quiet.

"That would explain his connection easily," I continued. "He was White Lotus in your original time and disagreed with their current policies. Somehow one of the Red Lotus, maybe even Zaheer himself, made contact with Dorje and converted him. It wouldn't have been hard. You two have made it clear you despise everything the modern world is about."

"You are slandering a good..."

"They're trying to destroy the Avatar!," I screamed, getting that in before Tenzin or another could speak. "And Dorje is part of it, Phuntsok! You can go with us and see for yourself, if that pleases you, because at the first sign of treachery I'm dropping you into a black hole!"

Phuntsok went silent. He nodded quietly.

"Good. Now that we have that settled... everyone get ready." I reached for the TARDIS controls and breathed. "We're coming for you, Korra."

I admit I would have preferred bringing more firepower. Everyone was already a little worn down from the attack, some of us more than others. Even I was. If I had been able to, there were friends of mine I could call in to help, and the amount of power I could bring to bear on the Red Lotus would have been terrifying. I needn't have even taken them all. I could imagine the scene easily enough; a shock-and-awe first strike by way of a thunderous cry of "FORZARE!!" as the opening to Mayhem à la Dresden, providing more than sufficient cover for Molly Carpenter to get Korra out under her impressive veil.

But the TARDIS' damage made moving sixth-dimensionally risky. Oh, I could manage it, but I couldn't guarantee we'd arrive back here at the right time. And if we did it at the wrong time, well, no need to dwell on that depressing outcome.

The TARDIS arrived stealthily. During my time as the Time Lord Triumphant I had been given cause to ensure the working of a full stealth mode. Complete invisibility and the engine silenced, all of that. It would come in handy.

I retrieved my sonic disruptor as I moved toward the door. Tonraq, Asami, and Mako were on my flanks, and the others further back. Lucsly moved up to the second rank. I gave him a curious look and he returned it with nonchalance. Undoubtedly he would justify this as "undoing the damage already done". If it made him happier, i didn't care much, I admit.

I opened the TARDIS door. According to the sensors we were in the underground, a former Equalist facility that the Red Lotus had taken over following the Equalists' defeat. A warehouse leased by a Red Lotus supporter was above us; we were not even a kilometer from the waterfront. The boat was probably still there, if it hadn't been sunk to hide it. More Red Lotus guards were assembled at places. Some carried swords in their belts. Some were obvious benders.

Three men stood in the middle of the room. One was a younger man, maybe in his early forties at most, who was moving his hands over a bowl held by an elderly man with a blade in his belt. Dorje stood amongst them. His face was stern. "I regret this course of action," he said gravely. "But this world has become hopelessly corrupted by the legacy of Sozin. Even you and your line have fallen to it. The world must be rebuilt into a proper harmony with or without the Avatar. The Red Lotus will be my instrument in this mission."

There was no direct answer. I was already moving my eyes over to see where Korra was. She was in her bed clothes, a sleeveless top and blue long pants, her hair undone and in wavy locks down to her back. Metal chains held her arms and legs spread-eagled tightly, restraining her movement so she could not bend elements. Her face was twisted in a pained grimace... which was not surprising. She couldn't use her legs. She couldn't stand. All of her weight was pulling her arms against the shackles and chains holding them up. Even as strong as she was, I knew it would be terribly painful.

The younger man with Dorje brought his hands up. Silver liquid levitated in mid-air. More mercury. He began moving it toward Korra, who watched with wide and terrified eyes. Tears were running down her face. She must have imagined that it was all happening again, that she was in a living nightmare. For the first time since I'd ever known her, Korra whimpered.

She had already suffered so much... and now the Red Lotus was adding yet more to that. All Korra wanted to do was to be a good Avatar for her world, to help people and heal them... and they were going to murder her for what she was.

And that made me angry.

It made me furious.

I am not unfamiliar with fury. Various things I'd seen had provoked my anger before. When the Borg took Jan and Cami, I had been furious with them, and Katherine's death had filled me with cold rage that numbed my hearts to unfeeling lumps. Queen Mab herself, the Queen of the Winter Fae, had found my cold-blooded wrath to be worthy of comment.

But this was not the same. This time, instead of my hearts freezing into numb cold, they blazed. Fiery rage filled me from head to toe. All of my guilt at failing to aid her earlier, every iota of shame I felt at having abandoned my responsibilities, fueled the anger and stoked it to greater heights.

I stepped out of the TARDIS with the sonic disruptor up. "LET HER GO!," I howled in rage, even as my hand grasped the disruptor harder and triggered it.

The resulting wave of energy was restrained only to keep it from hitting Korra. The mercury flying toward her was blown to the far wall, where it splattered. Dorje and his compatriots were tossed to the ground before they could react.

The other Red Lotus moved to face me, just as the people behind me jumped out and attacked. Lin's metal strips lashed out and wrapped around the torso of one Lotus, throwing him into a woman who was about to Firebend. Mako and Bolin threw fire and earth at a pair of Earthbenders who jumped for cover. Suyin's arms moved and chunks of metal from the support frame of the building tore off of their surfaces. They slammed into the enemy Metalbender and held his arms down before he could get up. Lucsly took cover at the TARDIS door, firing off phaser blasts into the general melee whenever he got a clear shot.

Dorje got to his feet and waved his arm at me. A gust of air straight from a hurricane slammed into me and knocked me over. "It would have been easier if you had not come, Doctor," Dorje said. "You have given our people hope for the future. I do not wish harm on you."

"Dorje?!" Phuntsok emerged beside me. "What are you doing?!"

"Phuntsok." Dorje shook his head. "I am sorry, friend. But this is necessary."

"This is not our way!", Phuntsok shouted. "Violence has never been our way."

"Yes. And what did that get us? It won us death, at the hands of Sozin," Dorje replied, his voice rising in volume. "And it is Sozin's legacy that rules this world. His precious machines, which sap the spirits and will of our people! Everyone and everything has been corrupted by this! You've said so yourself, Phuntsok. This world needs to be cleansed of Sozin's poison and brought back to proper harm..."

His eyes moved over as the whirring reached his ears. I glanced over as well, recognizing the sound of my sonic screwdriver. Asami held it against the shackle holding Korra's right wrist. Miniature magnetic fields shifted the latch inside the shackle and clicked it open. Korra fell limply to one side, all of her weight now on the left arm.

Dorje gathered his arms to throw a blast of air at Asami. Phuntsok, despite his age, was agile enough to intercept it. Tenzin and Jinora took up positions around him as well. "Give it up, Dorje," Tenzin said. "You can't fight us all."

Dorje shook his head. "I don't want to fight you at all. But you leave me no choice." He began whirling his arms about. Gusts of air lashed out at Phuntsok first. The old man began to disperse them. But he couldn't. The second blasted through his own gathering air and sent him flying backward. Dorje turned in time to deflect an air burst from Tenzin and sent a strong gust at his feet. Tenzin dodged with a spinning jump. Dorje's arm moved and dispelled a jab of air from Jinora.

With the Airbenders fighting I turned to face the battle. The Red Lotus were not numerous. They had lost people in the attack, after all, and in these spaces the Benders we had brought were stalemating them long enough for Lucsly to pick them off, one by one. But their numbers could be even larger outside. I ran toward the door. My left side exploded in pain, protesting the continued exercise in its wounded condition. The pain grew worse when I had to duck under a thrown chunk of stone from Bolin and a riposte from the Earthbender he was facing. This made me pick up such speed that I couldn't stop in time when I got to my destination.

I slammed into the door at my full speed. This knocked the air from my lungs and made me take a moment to recover. I heard shouts and looked down the corridor to see more Red Lotus agents running towards me, swords coming out. I promptly slammed the sliding door shut. With Asami holding my sonic screwdriver I had to use the sonic disruptor. It wasn't built for the subtle control needed to seal a mechanical lock like this. I ended up having to smash the lock physically into place, making it unable to be opened. At least, not by anyone who didn't have some metalbending.

Asami had Korra at this point and was bringing her toward the TARDIS. Red Lotus fighters noticed this and broke off from fighting Tonraq and Suyin. Asami had to pull Korra down to the floor to avoid plumes of flame and thrown metal. The Firebender turned and delivered a burst of fire at Tonraq that was strong enough that it went through his hastily thrown water shield and slammed into his chest. He flew backward. I came up to take his place and fired off a Setting 21 burst, causing the Firebender to collapse.

At that moment, Tenzin went flying past us. I went up to him and saw his eyes focus slowly, a strong bruise on his head from where he had slammed it against the wall. The sonic disruptor's scanning was enough to tell me he was concussed and out of the fight.

My eyes widened as I turned back to Dorje. That old Airbender had taken out Tenzin? From what I'd been told, the entirety of Zaheer's group had been necessary to bring down Tenzin. But Dorje had. He was impossibly skilled, it seemed. I had thought all of the people we rescued from the Temples were not of such power, being primarily caretakers. But his status as ex-White Lotus clearly meant more than just group affiliation.

Indeed, as I witnessed his movements, he made me think of Zuko or Mako more than any other Airbender. He was bending the air but his offensive power was that of a Firebender, with swift and fluid offensive strikes. It stood to reason that old Iroh had not been the only White Lotus member to consider blending Bending styles.

He twisted back to Asami and Korra, who were less than ten meters from the TARDIS. Jinora was maneuvering to aid them, throwing a gust of air to knock Dorje off balance. The old Airbender spun with the blow, dissipating its power against him, and let out a strong gust of air from his hands that blew Asami and Korra away from the door and to the ground. Dorje turned and forced Jinora back with a powerful wind gust generated by a flow of his arms. She was dispelling it, but the moment gave him the chance to turn and send a wind blast into the TARDIS. Lucsly flew back into it, his phaser flying from his hand.

He might have taken another hit, but Jinora caught Dojre with a gust of air that broke up his own. She swung her arms and hit him with enough air to throw Dojre to his side. He barely regained his footing in time to twist about in mid-air and counter-attack. It was a strong and powerful wall of air that slammed into Jinora, but she held her ground, bending a valley around it.

The same gust sent me flying. I fell back and struck Suyin, knocking us both over. The Earthbender she had been dueling brought his arms up and tore out chunks from the floor to throw at us. I caught the chunks with my disruptor's shield. Suyin worked offense to my defense, bending a strand of metal on the ground to slam into the Earthbender and knock him over. "Thank you," she said, getting up and going on the attack.

I had nodded at her and turned to Korra and Asami. I got to them and accepted my sonic from Asami. Korra looked at me with weak eyes. A smile broke her features. "You came."

"Well, of course," I answered. "A promise is a promise." I pointed to a small bulge along her right hip, at the hem of her pants. Korra weakly reached for it and revealed the temporal beacon. "Thank you for having faith in me."

She smiled gently at that and closed her eyes, as if to go to sleep.

I heard a cry and looked back to see Jinora hit the wall. She bounced off of it and barely got her arms up in time to bend a defense from the powerful bursts of air coming from Dorje's arms. Given he had knocked old Phuntsok out of the fight and then her father, the world's most experienced Airbending Master, Jinora holding her own was in of itself a testament to her prowess, and to why she deserved the arrow tattoos that showed on her arms and head.

But still, she needed help. And I jumped to provide it. I fired up setting 21 and made Dorje cry out in pain.

A lesser man might have succumbed to the sonic messing up his brain. Dorje focused and blocked out the pain. He sent one final strike at Jinora, an in-direct blow that got around her defenses and sent her flying to the side. Freed for the moment, Dorje turned to me. He sent another powerful wind gust at me that I caught with my defensive shield setting and which, coincidentally, forced me to stop screwing up his brain. "You're rather skilled, sir," I said. "You should have been a Master."

"I chose not to be," he answered. "My loyalty was to the White Lotus, not to the leading monks."

I dropped all politeness at that point. "You tried to kill my friend," I said to him, my voice hard and growling. "That is not a safe place to stand!"

"It is for the good of the world," Dorje answered. "My sacrifice today will ensure it."

His sacrifice? The choice of words worried me. He smiled at me and nodded. "Comprehension dawns, Time Lord." The smile fell. "I regret you came. I would have preferred you not die with the rest of us."

And then, without warning, he generated a massive gust of air. It was not aimed at any of us, though.

It was aimed at a series of wheels on the ceiling. They turned at the power of his wind.

Thick gray smoke began to circulated from the ventilation shafts. I scanned the smoke with my sonic. "Poison gas," I said. It had low concentrations, but we had maybe three minutes of safe exposure to it before the toxins would become lethal, and it would be debilitating in a minute or so.

"Yes." Dorje whirled about and took up a position at the TARDIS door. He rippled his arms around him, facing down Jinora and, now, Suyin as well. He deflected strikes from them without opening the way for us to escape and started drawing in breath. With a wave of his arm he caught Lucsly as he stirred and threw the DTI agent outside of the TARDIS. A funnel formed around him, drawing air in.

Which meant it drew in the poison gas as well.

"The Avatar may pass on instead of being removed," he said as the smoke settled upon us, just beyond him. "But the Red Lotus will find the next one first and we will secure a better future."

I went to reply and couldn't. I began to cough as the gas settled over us, sucked in by Dorje's airbending. A cacophony of coughs came from all around us. I held my breath and advanced on Dorje; my Time Lord physiology gave me some robustness the others did not enjoy. He saw me coming and threw an air disc at me that I dispersed on my sonic disruptor's field. I wanted to scream at him but didn't dare risk it. I needed all of my remaining air for exertion.

And for thinking. Because fighting an Airbender was not something I could do easily.

Outthinking one, on the other hand...

I didn't let myself smirk as I continued to approach. He got clever. He tried to bend air around me, and every time I maneuvered to absorb it with the disruptor. "You are quick," he conceded.

"Yes." My eyes bored into him. "This is your answer. Mayhem and slaughter?"

"I dislike it," he said. "I am not Zaheer. He was going too far."

"Oh, he was?", I asked pointedly. "It seems you're following right along."

"I am not," Dorje protested. "I refused to aid him when he asked."

"You met him in the Spirit World, I take it?" I absorbed another air gust. Dorje couldn't afford to move much air, not without taking a big lungful of poison too. And he needed to be the last man standing. "What changed your mind?"

"The corruption of this world. The brutality at Ba Sing Se when the Queen died. The destruction of the Northern Air Temple." Dorje fixed his gray eyes on me. "Sozin poisoned this world. It must be removed."

"Ah. And you're going to make the world a better place, are you? Make everything better?" I couldn't keep the bitterness out of my voice. I remembered talking like that myself once.

"Yes, Doctor."

"Interesting." I kept my face hard. "Murder and killing to build a better world. I remember that. Oh yes..." I smiled coldly. "That was the justification Fire Lord Sozin used as well."

Those words hit Dorje and cut him. Deeply. His calm exterior melted and he became visibly angry. "You. Compare me. To HIM?!"

"I do," I rasped.

This time there was no stopping Dorje's airbending. His arms whipped around like lightning and the air around me constricted like a boa, trapping my arms to my torso. I was forced to my knees. Poison gas mixed with the air entering my lungs.

"I was only going to use this if forced!", Dorje shouted. "And you have brought me to this, Doctor!" His arms kept whipping around. Air gathered around my head. I could feel the air currents against the longest strands of my hair.

My torso burned with pain as the air was pulled from my lungs. I gasped and inhaled in vain. I was locked into place, suffocating on vacuum as if I were in space. It was excruciating in its agony. Tears rolled down Dorje's cheek as he performed the maneuver. Undoubtedly taught by Zaheer.

I couldn't smile. But I wanted to.

I had won.

The poison gas suddenly blew upward and outward, drawn up by currents of rapid air. Dorje looked on in shock at what was happening. "No!", he shouted.

Jinora looked pale and sick. But there was determination knitted across her face as she twisted her arms above her head, over and over. The Air in the chamber answered her movements and moved upward, pulling the poison gas above our heads.

I was still being suffocated at that moment, admittedly. My vision was becoming dark and my Time Lord body called out for oxygen. Even Time Lords can be suffocated, after all.

I was released when a big chunk of stone from the floor slammed into Dorje's chest. He fell backward in a daze. I sucked in air greedily and fell to all fours. My head turned and I smiled.

Korra was sitting up with the support of Asami. There was a determined look on her face. With her arms she made bending motions. Metal shrieked from nearby and iron plates came ripping off of the support columns. They twisted into rods and found their new place, wrapping around Dorje's limbs. One caught his right arm, closed around the wrist, and moved in midair to twist the wrist to slam into the left wrist and another waiting bit of metal, which was clamped together with the other. A similar restraint bound his ankles. Dojre cried out in frustration as he toppled, helpless.

Korra looked at me. Her eyes... sparkled, for the first time since I'd come back. A weak smile came to her face. And she promptly slumped against Asami, falling into unconsciousness.

Across the room our allies and friends started to get up again, as did the Red Lotus. Both sides were unlikely to be able to fight well, but it was still undecided.

Lucsly changed that.

He reached into his boot and pulled out a small pocket phaser. A type 1, that is. The little weapon could be hidden within one's hand easily and no one could see where it was pointed until the amber light lashed out. He coughed and faltered a little. But he didn't let it up. One after another the recovering Red Lotus took phaser beams to the chest.

"We... can't leave... them..." Lin had to talk between harsh coughs. She used the metalbending cables she had to grab fallen Red Lotus and pull them along. The others recovered enough to start grabbing them. Asami brought Korra up and stumbled along toward the TARDIS. I went to join them.

All the while Jinora kept going. But she was weakening. She had already fought Dorje to a standstill. Now she was forced to expend immense effort creating the air flow that kept the poison gas from harming us. The sheer scope of her accomplishment was awe-inspiring.

We had gotten everyone inside the TARDIS when Jinora looked at us and smiled sadly. She gave up, weakened to the point of complete exhaustion, and collapsed to the floor from that exhaustion.

The poison gas settled down over the room again. The TARDIS' environmental field would keep it out, thankfully. But Jinora was now out in it again, breathing in a little more death every moment. And soon enough she would be too far gone.

Before I could react, Lucsly's tricorder was out and he was plunging into the gray smoke.

"Where's Jinora?", Asami asked, turning away from where she had settled Korra on the upper floor.

"Out there," I answered. "Lucsly's going to get her."

"We've got to help," Asami insisted.

"Stay at the door," I said before going to my controls. I put commands into the TARDIS environmental system and started expanding its environmental field, using the pressure of it to clear the gas away from the entrance. More and more of the air became clear, letting us see.

Lucsly emerged from the gray smoke in faltering steps, Jinora in his arms. He let out a gasp and collapsed just in front of the TARDIS.

I rushed to their side with Lin and a barely recovered Phuntsok beside me. The elder Air Nomad looked down at Jinora with shame-filled eyes. Despite his own injuries, he hefted the young girl into his arms and, clearly straining, carried her inside. Lin and I balanced Lucsly between us and brought him in behind Phuntsok. "Give them plenty of air!", I barked to the others. "They took more than we did!" The others parted for me to get to the TARDIS medical packets, where Lin assumed control over Lucsly so I could open the box. I pulled out hyposprays and tossed them to Asami. "Here. Two doses for Lucsly and Jinora. One for everyone else."

"I'm on it," Asami said. Her voice was strained but not weak.

I pulled out the medigel pack next and handed it to Lin. "For Tenzin. That's a nasty concussion, I want to make sure there's no brain damage."

Alas, Lin didn't accept my clear lob pass line. There's just no helping some people. Karrin Murphy would never have resisted the same regarding Harry.

With that done, I let out a ragged breath and took the TARDIS controls, setting them for Air Temple Island. A content look crossed my face.

We'd done it. Korra was safe.

I hadn't failed my friend again.

And, despite the pain in my chest and the sick feeling in my body from the poison I'd inhaled and, oh, the agony in my left hip from my injury there being aggravated by all of the strenuous activity... I let out a laugh of joy.

I hadn't laughed like that in a while.

It felt... good.

The cleanup on Air Temple Island was going to take days. It took a few for the others to recover from the poison in their system, requiring a lot of work to be done from the sickbed.

Thanks to my Time Lord physiology, I was able to avoid being stuck in bed and focused myself to further repairs on the TARDIS so that I could take Lucsly home.

I visited the ward on the morning of the third day to find the last two patients there. Lucsly was awake and nibbling on the breakfast meal provided. Jinora remained asleep. Phuntsok sat beside her in thought. "Considering things?", I asked him quietly.

"My arrogance," the old man answered. "I have allowed my longing for the past to ensnare my spirit. It has led me to error."

"There is a saying in another culture I know. 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.'" I pulled up a chair. "I've succumbed to arrogance before. I can't judge you harshly."

"I would never have imagined Dorje to fall so far." Phuntsok's voice sounded weak.

"He made his choices. And you still have your own."

"Yes." Phuntsok looked back to Jinora. She had regained some of the color to her face. But with her exertion and the near-fatal dose of poison from the gas, she was still too weak to do much but sleep and let her body recover. "I have informed Tenzin that I am removing my objection to Jinora becoming a Master. I desire to have her come and teach the children at the Eastern Temple when she is recovered."

"I'm sure she'll do so." Satisfied, I stood up to walk over to Lucsly.


I almost didn't turn. I didn't want that name anymore. But I knew it was directed at me and so I did. "I told you that wasn't my name," I said.

"Your spirit is troubled by your mistakes. I understand it has led you to rejecting that name." Phuntsok shook his head. "But it is a worthy name. Please, reconsider it."

"I can't," I replied. I didn't look at his reaction before turning away. I walked up to Lucsly, who was finishing his last bite. "Recovering well."

He nodded.

"I was surprised you got involved," I said to him.

"You had already altered this timeline," he answered. "Helping to right it sounded like the right thing to do."

"Was that all?", I asked. "It wasn't about a young woman who was going to be killed in a terrible way?"

Lucsly looked at me intently for a moment. "I suppose it was that, too," he finally admitted. "I'm not changing what I believe in. And I know it's not going to change you either. You're always going to interfere in timelines and I'll always oppose you."

"Perhaps. Feeling up for a TARDIS trip?" I looked to him. "She's fixed enough that I can risk a transit to get you home."

"Yeah," he said, swinging his legs out from the bed. He looked a little wobbly but didn't fall over. He followed me out of the room. We remained quiet for the walk back to the TARDIS. It was only when we were inside and alone that he asked, "Why did you ask President Bacco to keep us on with DTI?"

I flipped a small switch on the controls and didn't look back. "I thought it proper."

"You could have gutted DTI," he continued. "Our replacements would have been terrified of the President coming down on them."

"Yes. And that's not a good thing." I looked back at him. "I could tell you more, Lucsly, but that would mean telling you the future. And I will not risk everything for that. Suffice to say that DTI, specifically you and your DTI, have an important role to play in the coming decades. And that includes keeping you with a relatively low profile. The committed time agent who was known for hunting me is the only thing I want history to know you as, if it remembers you at all."

I couldn't tell him why. I couldn't say that he was due to become the creator of the temporal defense grid in the 25th Century, the devices that would limit the terrible scope of the Temporal Cold War and ultimately ensure it's end before it devastated space-time.

Lucsly looked at me. He seemed, well, unbelieving. "You're serious," he finally said.

"Quite," I answered.

Lucsly seemed to think about that. "And this has to do with my future?"

"Yes." I smirked at him. "Whether you believe it or not, Lucsly, I'm not the ogre you thought I was. Well..." I sighed. "...not anymore."

"The first time I met you..."

"....was the lowest time in my life," I finished for him. "I was full of grief and rage from the death of my Companion Katherine." I eyed Katherine's amethyst necklace and felt a pang of hurt. I forced it away. "It skewed my vision. I had to be jolted back to reasonable thinking."

"Or at least reasonable by your standards."

"Yes." I finished inputting the coordinates and looked at him. "We'll never be full allies or friends, Lucsly. I know that. But we can respect each other as rivals, at least. And understand that we are looking out for what's best for the timeline as a whole."

He seemed to think on that. Eventually he looked away, not giving me an answer. But it was the best I could get.

There was nothing more to say. I took him home.

When I returned to Korra's new bedroom, I pushed along a wheeled cart with a few medical devices on it. Tonraq looked up, his wife Senna at his side. I had never met Korra's mother before - not counting seeing her at Jinora's ceremony where I was fairly withdrawn - and I accepted her hand. It turned into a tight hug of wordless gratitude that I accepted. "Chief Tonraq, you're looking better."

"So are you." He accepted my hand and looked to what I wheeled in. "What is that?"

"Something I brought for Korra." I looked to her. She seemed a little brighter today. But I knew she wasn't healed. Fresh trauma had been added to what she already carried and I feared for her spirit. "The method of removing the leftover metal is intensely traumatic to Korra's tissues. Every time it's done, we damage her body on the inside. So we need a new method."


Tenzin's kids rushed in, pulling along an awake, weak-looking Jinora in what looked like a wheelchair configured with glider wings, being pushed along by Ikki. Jinora was favoring one leg; clearly the method of driving left much to be desired. "Jinora's awake and wanted to see you!", Ikki announced. "Did you see what she did? Because she says she pulled away all the icky gas and I think she couldn't..."

"She did," Korra said, laughing lightly. "She was amazing."

"Hey, what's that thing?", Meelo demanded, looking at the largest device on the cart. "Why does it have so many lights?"

In his excitement Meelo generated a small rush of air that wobbled the cart. I grabbed it and stabilized it. "These are very sophisticated pieces of medical equipment Meelo, and I should thank you not to break anything."


"Okay. First things first." I held out the sonic and triggered a secondary device. It opened a line to the TARDIS... which in turn opened up the communications system and connected to a temporal beacon transmitter I'd left back at Starfleet Medical in a certain database.

The air beside me shimmered. The EMH from Voyager came into view. He blinked and looked around. "Where am I?"

"This is the case I told you about," I said to him. "Severe mercury poisoning."

"Oh. I see." The EMH picked up a medical tricorder from the cart. "Well, let's get to work. Young lady, please list all of your current symptoms."

Korra looked at him blankly. "Uh... is he a spirit or something?"

"I am a photonic life form," the EMH answered with some slight irritability. "Currently I am being transmitted across... I don't know what to this location by means of advanced technology I'm not familiar with. And you, young lady, seem to have had someone kill you with mercury, yet you are alive."

"Her Avatar Spirit gave her some resilience until the majority of the metal was removed," I explained.

"Avatar Spirit." The EMH gave me a skeptical look. "Right. Okay, she's alive... however. But she's not going to recover until the rest of that mercury is taken out. It looks to me like you somehow vacuumed it out of her body. Who's bright idea was that?"

"She was dying, it had to be removed," Tonraq pointed out.

"Yes, but the way it was inflicted severe damage to her body's tissues," the EMH protested. "And..."

I cleared my throat. "Doctor... shall we get to removing the mercury and determining the treatment?"

"Well, yes, of course."

Korra fixed a look at him. "You're... not very nice, Doctor...?"

"Doctor. That's it. That's all I'm called. The Doctor."

Korra blinked. "But..." She pointed to me. "He's..."

"...he's an egomaniacal superbeing with a time machine who thinks saving a world somewhere makes him the equal to a being carrying the collected experience of thousands of medical doctors," the EMH finished.

I stifled a chuckle.

"You're weird," Ikki said to him.

"My, aren't you precocious," he sighed. "Now, if you will excuse me, I have a patient to treat. Two, by the looks of things." He looked at Jinora in her chair. "And we will start by getting a patient history..."

I remained present as the EMH tended to Korra. An injection of binding chemicals and the use of the medical transporter cleared the remaining mercury from Korra's body without a bit of pain. He focused on her injuries next, healing the scrapes and cuts she had received in the kidnapping.

"You're going to need physical therapy," he said to her. "For several months, at least. I would recommend a walking exoskeleton frame to allow you to walk. It will keep your muscles from atrophying from lack of use and keep blood clots from forming. Among other benefits." The EMH gave her a close look, especially her baggy eyes. "I would also recommend therapy with a professionial psychiatrist."

"What's that?", Korra asked.

The EMH stared at her for a moment. "I apologize, I forgot where I was for the moment." He double-checked a reading. "You need psychological therapy. Your mind has been traumatized."

"He means you need someone to talk to," I explained. "Someone who can help you deal with your fears and nightmares."

"That is a terrible understatement," the EMH protested. "She needs a trained therapist."

"She'll get all the support she needs," Tonraq said.

"That's..." The EMH drew in a sigh. "...well, I suppose that's the best you can do. Be patient. Post-traumatic stress disorder can linger for decades depending upon the scope and intensity of the event. Anxiety attacks and traumatic flashbacks are expected."

"I'll make sure she's cared for," I said. "In the way you speak of."

"Of course. Because being an honorary doctor in quantum physics is the same as psychiatry." The EMH held up a hand to forestall protest. "Anyway, my next patient..." He eyed the tricorder as he scanned Jinora. "...who apparently has been exposed to a diluted cyanide compound. Seriously, what is wrong with this world and why are children getting exposed to toxic substances like this?!"

I settled my face into my palm and said nothing as he treated Jinora. When he had satisfied himself that Jinora was already recovering well and that the medications he'd injected her with would see her to the end, he looked to me. "There. Patients tended. Unless you have another child who has fallen into acid, maybe?"

"None, Doctor," I said. "Thank you for your assistance, I will manage the follow-ups." I brought up the sonic and used it to turn the connection off. The EMH disappeared.

There was silence for a moment. "Can you bring him back?!", Ikki cried. "Because I think it's really neat how he just appears like that and he's so gruff and his head is so shiny!"

"Yeah! He's bald like me!", Meelo contributed.

"Are you sure he's a healer?", Senna asked with a worried voice. "He seemed unpleasant."

"Oh, he's just cantankerous," I remarked. "It's part of his charm."

A few hours later I was sitting alone in the TARDIS when the door knocked. I snapped my fingers to open it. Korra rolled her wheelchair in. I raised my eyebrows. "Already getting some strength back?"

"Some." She settled her hands on her lap. "You don't want to be called the Doctor anymore, right?"

I nodded.

"I see." Her eyes focused on me. She looked tired, but that was to be expected. "I have to call you something, though."

"Friend will work. Or any assorted pronoun." I smirked. "Karrin Murphy started calling me Matchstick, if you want to go with that."

A smile curled on her lips. "I'll call you friend for now. Until I think of something better." She lowered her eyes. "I tried to sleep. But I had another nightmare and it woke me up. It's always the same. And it makes me feel like my world doesn't need me anymore."

I looked directly at her but let her continue.

"I've known my whole life that I'm the Avatar. It's what I am. It's who I am." Korra looked at me with clear frustration. "But what if they're all right? What if the world has changed so much it doesn't need me anymore?"

"They're wrong," I said. "The world always needs its Avatar. The Avatar is there to restore balance to the world. To protect those who cannot save themselves and to throw down the powers that would ruin the world for whatever reasons they have." I stood up and went over to her, kneeling beside her so I could put my hands on her bare shoulders. "Your world needs you, Avatar Korra. Don't ever think otherwise."

She stayed silent for several moments and looked away briefly. I sighed. This.. was not a wound that would heal quickly.

When she spoke again, it was in a soft voice. "If my world needs the Avatar...", she said, "...then every world needs the Doctor."

I froze in place as she turned her eyes to look at me again.

"I know bad things happened to you. I know you did bad things," she said. "But you got better. And even if you don't want people to use the name, it's what you are. You're the Doctor. You heal people. You heal worlds. I don't think you should turn your back on that."

Her words struck a chord inside of me. "I won't give up on everything," I said to her, keeping an assuring tone. "But I can't use that name. It's not mine."

Her eyes turned sad. "Maybe we both need... 'psychological therapy'." Despite the sadness there was an amused glint in them. "My parents want me to come home with them and do therapy with Katara."

"Not surprising," I said. "Katara might be able to help you hasten your recovery with her healing power."

"I'll go," she confirmed. "But will you come and see me when I can walk?"

"Of course," I answered. I allowed myself a soft smile. "In fact, Korra... I can do you one better," I added.

"What?", she asked.

"I'll take you all home," I answered. "And then... I'll be there to help you too."

She gave me a look. "You... you'll stay? But it could be months..."

I shook my head. "That's fine. I wasn't there for you before, Korra. This doesn't make up for that. Being there for you when you're in therapy can, though." As I said those words I infused them with deep and strong intent. I didn't mind the idea of staying stationary for a while. Not with the debt I owed to her for my failures. Even if it meant living in this world's Antarctic for all that time, it was the right thing.

Korra looked at me and smiled. She leaned forward and put her arms around my shoulders to take me into a hug.

It was going to be a long and grueling recovery, I had no doubt. And I would do everything I could to make it easier for her.

But first... I had one final thing to do.

The next morning Korra and I informed her parents of my offer. They accepted and arrangements were made to send their ship back on its own when it was time to leave. With that done, I went on my other remaining chore.

I found Lord Zuko after he had a meeting with Tenzin and other White Lotus members. "Lord Zuko, my thanks again for saving me during the attack."

"No thanks are necessary," he answered, bowing his head politely. "You more than made up for that by saving Korra's life. I thank you, sir."

I nodded. "I owed it to her. But if you want to consider it a debt, I have a question to ask. And a favor."

Zuko looked at me intently. "And that is?"

I told him. He remained quiet for a moment. And then he nodded. "It is here, in fact. I'll take you to the lift."

Earthbenders in White Lotus robes brought our unpowered earthen lift platform down into the land deep beneath Air Temple Island and Yue Bay. "Impressive," i murmured. "You must have pushed your ventilation capabilities to the limit."

"It was the most secure location we could guarantee," Zuko said as the lift reached the bottom. "Please follow me."

I did so. We went down a tunnel carved out of the deep stone of the earth, clearly by Earthbender hands. Eventually the tunnel widened into a cube-shaped chamber. Electric lights powered by external sources - presumably a Lightning-bending Firebender keeping a battery charged - flickered on.

In the middle of the chamber was a metal square with a door. Zuko produced a key and opened it. Inside of the metal square was a single figure. He was kept standing. Rock was formed around his arms and legs, obscuring his limbs and holding him in place. I looked in the light and knew the man. We had never met, of course, but I knew him.

I'd seen him in Korra's nightmare.

"Zaheer, I presume," I remarked.

The Red Lotus leader remained quiet for several moments. Just as Zuko looked at me, prepared to act, Zaheer's voice spoke out. "Welcome to my prison," he said. He opened his eyes. I could see grief and anger and loss written on them. "Have you come to kill me finally?"

Zuko narrowed his eyes. "The White Lotus are not executioners." He looked to me. "We will watch if he tries anything. Please do not tarry." He turned and walked out.

That left me along with this figure, this man who had haunted Korra's nightmares for weeks now. "Zaheer," I said, my voice level. "Do you know who I am?"

He eyed me carefully. "I have heard of you," he said. "They call you the Doctor. A friend of the Avatar's."

"Right on one count," I answered. A thin smile came to my face. It was not meant to re-assure. "I am Korra's friend, yes. As for my name... well, no. I am not the Doctor." The smile vanished from my face. "Much to your regret."

Zaheer frowned and his eyes focused on me. "What do you mean by that?"

"What I mean is this." I drew closer. "The Doctor has rules. He has a lot of rules, and when I used the Name I kept them. But I'm not the Doctor. I don't follow the rules." My expression grew darker as I felt anger welling up within me. I thought of what he had done to people I thought of as friends "I have one. Protect my friends. And now you've tried to kill one of my friends twice."

"You've talked to Dorje."

"He admitted it, yes. Not that it was hard to figure out." I brought up my hands and grabbed Zaheer's face. "Now you listen to me, and listen well. Korra is my friend. If you and your followers ever hurt her again, if you even try to harm Korra again, I will deal with you, and I'll make you miss this cave."

"Your threats don't..."

Zaheer's eyes grew wide as I opened my mind against his and pushed into it. He fought. He actually attacked at feeling the connection, believing his spiritual training would prevail.

Prevail against me. A Time Lord. Ha!

I smirked slightly at that before I crushed his mental attack. He cried out in shock and surprise. "There is only one being on this planet who could hope to try that," I rasped. "And she's the one you nearly killed." With that boast I slammed through what passed for mental defenses and started forcing images into his mind. I showed him the things I could do to him, the ways I could get justice should Korra be harmed or threatened, and to ensure he never had a chance to hurt her again. I showed him the fates of those who harmed my friends, my Companions. The Source Wall. The deepest and darkest lands of Winter. All of the terrible places I could take him.

His eyes were stuck wide from psychic shock and horror at what I had shown him. "Remember those images," I hissed. "And make sure your followers leave Korra alone. Or I'll introduce you all to every one of them." Through the link I let him feel my thoughts. My sense of purpose, my solid intention and capability to follow through on that threat.

Zaheer stood there in his rock bindings, stunned into terrified silence. Through it I felt his regrets. His sadness. He had given everything for his cause. He had lost his friends to it. He'd lost the woman he loved.

The memories of John throbbed. In a way, Zaheer's sense of loss made me think of Janet.

"Poor fool," I said to him. "You paid a terrible cost for your excess as well. A shame that you didn't show superior wisdom years ago."

Zaheer's eyes smoldered in anger and fear. I ignored him and turned away. "This was the consequence of your choices," I said to him, gesturing at his confinement. "And I have shown you the consequences of further actions against Korra. Remember them, Zaheer."

I had nothing more to say. I left the cage.

The Southern Water Tribe ship rested at the quayside of Air Temple Island. I stood beside after making sure I had the TARDIS secured in her hold and watched as Korra's friends made their goodbyes. She looked... well, not better. Even with White Lotus and RCPD guards everywhere on the quay and her father's lifeguard watching on the boat, I knew there would be a small fearful part of her wandering if the Red Lotus would try again.

She didn't know about my visit to Zaheer or the promise I'd made on her behalf.

I didn't intend to tell her.

Her parents wheeled her up the gangplank. I remained behind long enough to speak to Tenzin. I gave him a beacon. "Call the TARDIS if you hear anything about the Red Lotus," I said.

"I will," he pledged. "Are you going to stay with her...?"

"Until she's well," I said. "Until she's well enough to tell me so."

"Thank you." Tenzin offered me his head. "My mother will do her best to heal you both."

I didn't openly react to that. I simply nodded.

Mako and Bolin stepped up next. "Hey, thanks for..."

"Ah ah ah," I interrupted, wagging my finger. "Don't thank me for saving Korra. You know I don't need that." I offered them each my hand for a shake. "Take care of yourselves, all right?"

"You can write too, if you want," Bolin said. "I mean, I'd love a chance to get to write more, and I'll be writing Korra the entire time she's gone."

"I'm certain she will look forward to your correspondence," I said. "I may indeed write you as well, if just to make sure you're not getting into trouble. The same for both of you. Take care, for Korra's sake eh?"

"We will." Mako nodded. "And... um..."

I almost said something about his awkward relationship with half of his team, but I decided not to humiliate the poor young man further. "Korra will be cared for, don't worry. Keep your mind clear, detective, you'll need it."

That got me a nod and a second handshake.

That left Asami. She looked at me with a certain look in her eyes, like there was something she wanted to ask but was holding it back. "Can you let me know how Korra's doing?", she asked. "I'm worried about her."

"I will. But do remember you have a company to run, eh? Responsibility and all that. Don't let worrying about Korra or other thoughts interfere."

"I won't." Asami pursed her lips in thought. "Although, I wanted to ask..."

I already had a feeling about what she was going to ask. I didn't frown at it. I didn't smile either. I was torn about the entire subject. "Focus on the now," I said, keeping her from asking the question. "I won't be leaving until Korra's ready for it, alright? We'll have plenty of time for your question later." Unable to stop myself, I added, "After you've made sure about what you're asking."

She nodded at that. I could see a flicker of hope in her green eyes before she turned away.

I exchanged goodbyes with Jinora and boarded the ship. I stood beside Korra and her family and waved goodbye with them.

And like that, I began... not an exile. I wasn't traveling at the moment, but I was no longer giving up on the idea. I needed time. Time to think about who I was. Time to consider myself.

Time to make sure I wouldn't be leaving a good friend alone in the worst time of her life.

It was the only thing I could do. And as I stood there and watched the city slowly move further and further away, I knew one thing.

I would be staying on this world until Korra was healed. Completely healed. Only then could I legitimately have made up for failing her before.

”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-03 11:09am

Special 1 - Crisis of Identity

I had never lived in one place so long. Not counting John, anyway.

Not that I didn't enjoy my time in the Southern Water Tribe. They were an energetic and friendly people. I enjoyed spending my spare time helping with infrastructure planning and the like, something to occupy my mind.

The important part was Korra.

The EMH's treatment had certainly moved up her recovery and some of the medical technology I had helped it along. But we didn't make it immediate. When you suffer the extensive damage Korra took, you don't get a magic button treatment that takes you from "crippled" to "walking" in one go. Well, outside of some very extreme and usually unsafe methods, and not recommended for someone carrying something like the Avatar Spirit. It would take Korra months, at a minimum, to regain the use of her legs with the aid of Katara.

It was clear early on, however, that her spirit would take even more time.

Korra's condition had been brighter during the voyage. Stopping Dorje from suffocating me had been a confidence boost. But the refreshed trauma of abduction and enforced helplessness had further opened the wound Zaheer left in her spirit. Once we arrived in the South, her condition began to slide again. Her appetite vanished and the bags under her eyes remained defiant against all attempts to get her to sleep naturally. Despite my warnings and that of the EMH, I got the feeling Korra had expected to be up and about in a week or two. It was finally dawning on her just how much damage she had suffered and how arduous her recovery would be.

About two weeks after my arrival, I was returning from advising Tonraq and his fellow chiefs on some engineering matters when I was intercepted past the front door by Senna. The middle-aged Water Tribe woman had given quite a bit of her face to her daughter; I could imagine Korra looking much the same way in about twenty years. The stress lines on her face had grown in recent months, though, after the trauma of her brother-in-law's invasion and the near-execution of her husband. Now she had to watch her vibrant daughter move around in a wheelchair and suffer all of the signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. She was starting to look exhausted as well. "Can you help me?", she asked.

"Certainly," I answered. "Do you want me to talk to Korra?"

She shook her head. "I don't want to seem to be pushing her. I just... isn't there a way to heal her more quickly?"

"No safe ways," I answered. "I mean, there are ways to radically and swiftly reconstruct damaged nerves and muscle tissue, but they carry high risks to Korra's health. This is truly the best way." I sighed. "Though I am certain her impatience is exacerbating her malaise."

Senna nodded quietly. "Thank you," she said.

A week passed. One morning I got up and did a little work in the TARDIS, checking her auto-repair functions and making sure the extensive damage from the vortex pocket was repairing more smoothly. When i was confirmed she was, I went about re-arranging the wardrobe a bit. I heard the knock on the TARDIS door and returned to the control room to open it.

It was still dark out. Korra was in her wheelchair, dressed in her blue fur coat with white fur cuffs and borders and looking ready to go out and about. I raised an eyebrow and sat on the TARDIS stairs to face her. "So. Katara?"

"Yeah," she said. The bags under her eyes were even darker. "Can you take me?"

I nodded. "Sure." I stood up and walked around to push her wheelchair into the TARDIS.

It became my custom to take Korra from the palace of the Southern Chief - her father's home - to the White Lotus compound near the capital and Katara's home therein. When the weather required it we went by TARDIS; other times we went by motor-driven tractor or a sled pulled dutifully by Naga. Indeed that became the dominant method; it made more sense to give Korra time away from both places, to look out upon her home and to think. The cold Antarctic air was bone-chilling and the days so short that the entire span of daylight would be spent entirely at Katara's home. Once there they would have healing sessions. Some days I stayed the whole time, providing assistance and encouragement where necessary. Some days I had taken up obligations from Tonraq and returned to the city to fulfill them, to go back after night had fallen and Korra was due to go home.

Korra was still in the wheelchair and was playing with Naga in the courtyard of the compound, throwing a rather sizable stick for the hulking polar bear dog to fetch, tail wagging all the way. I was standing alone in my purple parka looking up at the shimmering southern lights still visible in the daylight. Katara walked up beside me with a quiet grace, where we both watched her ride. "Physically she's starting to recover," I noted. "A few more months and she'll be walking again."

"Her spirit will need more time than that," Katara noted. "Her's and your's."

I smiled sadly. "Yes, I suppose that I do come off as a sourpuss at times."

"You should let go of your guilt," she said. "It is poisoning your spirit."

I shook my head. "I need that guilt. I need it to remind myself of what I became. What I almost did." I looked off into the distance. "What I did in grief and rage." I thought of those times. I thought about what I had been about to do when Nerys stopped me. That it had nearly cost a friend her life to keep me from committing mass murder filled me with guilt and shame.

That got me a concerned look. "I'm know how those feelings can make you do terrible things," she said quietly. "You have to learn from that, yes. But you are letting them torment you."

I said nothing in response. She was right. What more was there to say?

"You won't even let people use your name anymore," she continued. "Think of that. You're rejecting your name."

"It wasn't mine," I said. "It was the one I picked. One I should never have taken."

"Names have power," Katara agreed. "But they are not everything. We are what we choose to be."

"And I chose to go beyond my boundaries. I thought I was just as good as the Doctor without learning his restraint," I said silently. "I let that go to my head. I believed I could change anything and make it work. And I went wrong because of it."

"Doctors heal," Katara noted. "Doctors teach. They make the world better for their presence. Which you have."

"Not every time." I shook my head.

"Not every fight can be won. Sometimes winning amounts to making the best of a bad situation and surviving to the end of the day."

I nodded. "Where there is life, there is hope," I agreed. "But I will not take up that name again."

Katara looked at me quietly. "If that is your choice," she said. "But I'm worried about you. The wounds on your spirit are just as deep as those Korra has taken."

I didn't dispute that. I could feel the pain every day. The tension in my being over my doubts and fears and regrets.

"You are planning on leaving soon?", she asked.

"In a few weeks, I imagine," I answered. "When I know Korra's recovery is on the road to completion."

"Her recovery will take longer than you might think. I've seen the hurt inside of her."

There was a short shriek of surprise. Naga playfully nudged Korra's wheelchair over into a packed snowbank. She landed in a puff of soft white snow and looked up, laughing and cradling her companion's muzzle as Naga licked Korra's face with apologetic enthusiasm that was all dog.

"It's good to see her laughing and smiling," I said.

"It is."

"But she's still having trouble," I said. "Nightmares."

"She will." Katara looked up at me. "As do you."

I didn't deny that either. There were nights I fell off my hammock in the TARDIS screaming. Images of Katherine dying just as I reached for her or of worlds blowing apart at my will haunted me on those nights. What I had lost, what I could have become...

"You've been here when Korra needed you," Katara said. "But I think you should consider coming more often."

"She needs it?", I asked. I had been avoiding overdoing it for fear Korra would feel I was showing a lack of confidence in her.

Katara shook her head. "You both need it." With those final words, she walked back toward her home.

I turned back to see Korra pulling herself back up into the wheelchair with a supportive nudge from Naga. With effort she pushed her snow tire-equipped chair across the field toward the healing hut.

I followed Katara's advice. I stayed more often. We talked, or rather Katara talked with both of us in a tentative attempt to start some group therapy. And every day, it seemed Korra was getting a little bit stronger. I was there the day she first made it down the entire length of the bars and embraced Naga. Four days later she didn't stumble while working her way down the bars.

Day by day, progress trickled in. Korra started getting in and our of bed without assistance. She would climb on her own into the snow tractors that took us out to Katara's compound. She would walk around the house, gingerly, but with increasing confidence and for longer periods.

The weeks turned into months.

Physically, she was healing well.

Spiritually... like me, she was still badly scarred.

Don't get me wrong. The pain was definitely getting better. In my case, I was able to handle reminders of what I'd done with greater control over my emotional response. I stopped grimacing or sighing when someone made a slip and called me 'the Doctor'. But this was not a malady that would be cured quickly either, regardless of Katara's best efforts.

But enough about me. I wasn't the important one. Korra was. And her recovery was starting to have an effect. Korra's panic attacks grew less frequent. She got restful nights of sleep more often and her mood picked up.

Indeed, we made progress, but the road was long and hard, and we were not near the end of it.

Time can fly when you get into a routine. Before I knew it, I had spent the better part of a year in the South. And it was time for the Glacier Spirits Festival.

We met the boat in the main harbor. Korra insisted on standing and her parents relented, seeing it was necessary for her confidence. Tenzin stepped down from the boat, leading the others. Well, most of the others. I didn't see Jinora with him. Nor did I see the brothers. Asami was right behind Tenzin and, after him, would be the first to embrace Korra. "You're walking? Already?" She looked from Korra to me. "Is this from you?"

"No, I can't take credit. It comes from Korra being strong and Katara pushing her even further," I said. I allowed the young futurist engineer to hug me. "How goes business? Good work on that contract to rebuild the city."

"We're rebuilding Republic City to work around the spirit wilds," Asami answered. "People are trusting Future Industries again. I can even afford to take a little vacation now." Her smile curled upward.

I didn't react to that. "Well, glad to hear it."

"Sir." Tenzin looked at me. "It's good to see Korra getting better."

"It is. I don't see the others?" I asked the question for Korra.

"Mako is doing important work back in Republic City, under President Raiko's direct orders," he answered. "Jinora is at the Eastern Temple training the Airbender children we've rescued. And Bolin..."

"...is with Kuvira," Korra finished for him. "He's sent me some letters already."

"Oh." I blinked. "Kuvira? Wasn't she one of Suyin's people?"

"Yes. She's leading an army in restoring peace to the Earth Kingdom," Tenzin explained. "They've done quite well already with stabilizing Ba Sing Se and the area around it."

"An army restoring peace." It made sense to an extent, but armies alone wouldn't truly restore peace. With a glance toward Korra I ignored the issue. I nodded, offering Tenzin my hand. "Well, if Bolin is willing to work with her, I suppose she's not a bad sort. Here's hoping she employs that power wisely."

"Yes. With Kuvira on the job, the Earth Kingdom will...."

I frowned quietly. Tenzin winced in pain. Not from the frown, of course, but as I applied my strength to the handshake enough to crush his hand. I forced the frown into a thin smile and shifted my eyes slightly toward Korra. She was already lowering her eyes from her own thoughts. He seemed to understand and let it trail off. "It's good to know Korra will be healthy again soon," he said instead. "With her returning I have full confidence the world will be back in order."

I answered that with a nod and let the introductions continue.

The banquet of honor was held and was unremarkable. I met Eska and Desna, Korra's cousins and the co-chiefs of the Northern Tribe, and Fire Lord Izumi with her father Zuko appearing as well. I mostly stayed to the side. I was a visitor to this world despite my long stay. Best to let others keep the spot light.

Afterward we went to the carnival. The Southern Tribe had defiantly maintained their festive atmosphere despite Northern opposition, the lone concession being a formal tribal ceremony to start it. Spirits were present, flying about and looking around at the festivities, and they frankly didn't seem to mind. Korra was reluctantly back in the wheelchair, although I had seen the brief glimpse of relief when she had sat down after standing and walking so far. "I should be able to walk by now," she mumbled irritably as we entered the area with the carnival games.

"You walked for much of the day," I pointed out. "Don't push yourself too hard."

"But..." She bowed her head.

I realized what the problem was at that point. "All of that talk about Kuvira is getting to you, isn't it?"

There was a quiet nod in reply. "Who needs the Avatar when the world has Kuvira, the Great Uniter, and the Airbenders?"

I sighed. "Korra, I don't..."

"I don't want to talk about it," she said, cutting me off. She looked up at an active game and smiled. "I remember that one."

I looked over and saw a vendor who was holding a squirt gun game. Children were firing squirt guns made up like fish into the open mouths of small figures of Aang. The ports were small, making it hard to get enough water flowing into them to push the flying lemur cutout above the figures into the bell above. I looked back to her. "Last year?"

"Yeah." She pulled her eyes away. "Mako and I came to the carnival together."

Oh. Oh, I was not up to walking into this particular minefield. "I know you miss them all," I said carefully, avoiding the specifics of her failed romance.

"Can't you take me back in time and let me talk some sense into myself?", she asked bitterly.

I laughed, trying to make it more jolly than bitter. "No more than I could do the same to myself," I said quietly. "Paradox. Time doubles over, falls down, goes boom. Very bad. Well, more of a crunch, or a splat, or even a splort. But still bad."

"Yeah." She looked up. "Splort?"

"Splort," I said in my best "wise" tone. "Those are quite bad."

We continued along a little bit. There was no conversation and I could see from Korra's body language that she was lost in regrets. "You're absolutely determined to be miserable tonight, aren't you?"

"Gee, it's only the anniversary of when I started losing touch with my boyfriend and turned against my father and my mentor for my uncle. The one who tried to kill us all and destroy the world." Her frowned deepened. "I'm not sure I'll ever enjoy this festival again."

She went very quiet. I drew in a sigh. I spied out another of the carnival games, involving throwing Water Tribe boomerangs at ever smaller targets for higher reward points, the more targets hit the higher the multiplier. A giant polar bear dog plushie was the top prize and given the list of prize points would require virtually perfect accuracy with a rather large chain. I let myself have a grin. "I'll make you a deal." I turned her wheelchair enough to show her the gaming stand. "If I win you that plushie of Naga, you have to enjoy the rest of the evening. If I don't, then... well, I suppose you can continue to not enjoy the evening, not sure what else I can concede."

I thought I saw a twitch of a grin on her face. Korra lifted her eyes to look at the game. "Nobody has ever won the top prize to that one," she said.

We had drawn close enough that the proprietor heard her and bellowed, "And that's where you're wrong, Avatar! We had a grand prize winner once! In my father's time, but still a winner!" He gestured to a black and white photograph. A man was in it, with Water Tribe facial features, smiling a goofy smile and hoisting a boomerang in one hand and another polar bear dog plushie under his other arm. The wolf tail hair style made me recognize the face. "Yes, Chief Sokka himself won, and in only three tries!"

Ah. And that certainly inspired legions of young Southern men to try and repeat the feat to impress friends and lovers. I looked at the targets and tried to keep my smile from turning wolfish while I pulled out some currency. Tonraq had insisted I be given a stipend on his personal funds and pointing out I was getting sustenance from him wasn't enough. "Three tries eh? I bet you I beat Sokka's record."

"Ha," the man laughed. "Welcome to try, sir, but I doubt it. Here you go."

As it turned out, I was having a bad day. I only tied Sokka's record.

....granted, that was also while throwing the boomerang from twice the distance. I was trying to be fair. Time Lord brain and all.

It was worth it, though, given she kept a smile on her face for the rest of the night. I think it was the look on the proprietor's face when I did it.

After the festivities and the winding down ended, I was heading to the TARDIS to go to bed. I stepped onto the balcony where the TARDIS was kept and a figure was waiting for me. Asami was not yet tucked into bed for the evening, it seemed. "You actually got Korra smiling like that?," she said.

"Yes. Practical application of mathematics and a bit of a throwing arm," I replied, being vague intentionally. "So, how may I help?"

I had realized what she was going to ask before she did. "I want to come with you," she said intently. "For a while. I want to see other worlds."

I remained silent for the moment. "Your company?", I asked.

"I've got a good Board of Directors in place," she said. "I can take a vacation. And you're a time traveler, we could be gone for months and come back a week or a day after I left, right."

I gave her a nod. "True, very true. But you are aware that it may not be safe?"

That won me a look. "Is it less safe than anything I've done with Korra?"

"Actually, yes," I said. "There are things out there, Asami. Terrible things. Monsters and beings that are terrifying beyond anything you've yet to imagine. Just because the rest of Creation is pretty and has some good tourist stops doesn't mean it's not full of gribbly things that want to eat your body or your mind or your spirit, or some combination thereof. Some don't even wait until you're dead."

Asami swallowed. And then her face hardened into resolve. "I understand. I still want to go. I'd regret it forever if I couldn't go."

I remained silent for the moment. "Come back in six months," I said, finally.

"Why six months?"

"Because at Korra's current recovery rate, she'll be physically recovered. And she may have recovered emotionally enough that I can go. I'll talk to you then," I said. "I mean it. Come to me in six months and say you're still interested."

"And you'll let me go with you?"

I sighed and nodded. "Yes," I replied. "I will."

I stepped beside her and opened the TARDIS. I entered it and eyed the hammock. I never really bothered sleeping in the recliner in my library anymore. Easier to be in the hammock should someone come to the TARDIS door for me.

Asami stood at the door. "I know with everything that's happened you probably don't want to hear this. But... no matter what you think, you're still the same person you were before. You're the Doctor."

I didn't react immediately. Slowly I turned to her. "I'm just myself now," I said. "No need for a name like that."

"If that's what you want," she said. "Good night." She stepped out of the TARDIS.

As I climbed into the hammock I grumbled to myself. What was I doing? Asami had a life here. She was virtually a sister to Korra - yes, sister, you shipping maniacs! - and if something happened to her, it would certainly cost Korra her emotional recovery. How could I risk all of that?

Because... that was what Asami wanted. She was going to choose this. I had no authority to tell her what to do.

You could refuse to let her go, a voice in my head reminded me. He repeated when I thought about how that might impact our friendship. Indeed, my friendships with others too.

And there was a part of me that imagined the engineering marvels I could show the young woman. I could imagine her green eyes lighting up with glee at the sight of Coruscant or the Citadel or Layom Station. She could wonder at the ocean cities of the Akrakas. The crystal spires of Tuzanor and Yedor.

My hearts felt warm at those thoughts. It was what I wanted to get back to doing. Seeing the wonders of Creation and enjoying the astonished looks of a Companion as they beheld such wonders for the first time.

I settled into the hammock. And I fell asleep.

I was surrounded in a haze of gray. I felt cold and tired. Befuddled. Terrified.

Asami's voice echoed to me. "You're the Doctor." Her voice was joined by a legion of others. People I had met on my travels. Friends I had worked beside. Fought beside.

"Oh really?"

An old man stepped up to me through the gaze. My mouth opened mutely at recognizing the narrow face, the nose, the scornful look.

The First Doctor appraised me and waved dismissively. "You don't look like you could be me. You look like a child playacting a role he saw at the theater."

And like that, he was gone. Something bumped me and I turned.

The Second Doctor was appraising me with a close look. "Entirely too direct. You can't hide anything very well, can you? No, you can't be me. Maybe with a bit more experience."

You can guess how it went. I would turn again. The Third Doctor gave me a hard stare. "Irresponsible," he said, scowling. "Foolish. You have shown poor judgement."

"But a good heart, though." The Fourth Doctor gave me a sympathetic look and held up a bag. "You wouldn't happen to want a jellybaby?"

In my haze I extended a hand weakly. He offered a red one. I felt the grainy texture in my hand before dropping it in my mouth. It tasted sweet when it hit my tongue.

"Why would you want to be me?", he asked, his eyes sad. "You know what my life is like. Why would you take my name?"

And the scarf-wearing icon vanished.

"You don't have another name. Right." The Fifth Doctor put a sympathetic hand on my shoulder. "It's alright. I'm not upset. I just wish you had shown more wisdom."

A hand grabbed my shoulder and whirled me about. The Sixth - yes, he was in that horrid outfit - glared at me. "You idiot!", he said. "You gave up any hope of becoming your own man! And for what? To walk in my shoes?" He pointed to his gaudy-looking shoes. "Seriously, you dimwitted...?"

"Now now, no need for that." A cane interceded. The Seventh Doctor moved in as the Sixth vanished. He appraised me with a narrow look. "You really should have thought ahead, though. Always stay one step ahead! Now you're locked into the course."

I closed my eyes in the dream, wanting things to make sense. When I opened them, I faced the Eighth. He was as he appeared at the end of his life. Ragged and worn. "You took on a heavy burden," he said to me. "You used a name that you should never have touched. And it's a part of you now."

"And a responsibility. "I heard the gruff voice and saw the War Doctor to my side. "Whether you use the name or not, it's what you do that matters. Because it's going to stay with you, all of it."

"And you can't walk away from it!" The Ninth Doctor stepped up to me, looking at me intensely. "It's in you." He put his finger over my left heart, as if I were a Human. "In there. In here." He tapped my temple. "It's not going away."

"But..." I swallowed. "I'm not you. I'm not even close to you. It was an act of... of impulse, and it went out of control. It became all I had! And then..." I could barely mouth the words. "Time Lord Triumphant."

"I know. I've been there before too." I turned to the new voice. The Tenth Doctor walked up to me. "And I wish there was something I could do for you. But it's too late." His brown eyes were full of sadness. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

"Please..." I finally went to my knees and felt tears on my cheeks. "I didn't mean it! I didn't..." I closed my eyes. "I just want to know. I'm tired of not knowing..."

A hand touched my shoulder. I opened my eyes. The Eleventh Doctor looked at me, bowtie and all. His eyes were focused on me. "Come on now, buck up. It's not over yet. You've still got time. You can do it."

"Do what?", I asked through my tears. "What can I do?"

The Doctor gave me an encouraging grin. His face curled into a boyish smile. "Remember."

In my dream state I heard that word, spoken with such clarity, such conviction, that I couldn't resist it. I focused my thoughts. I wanted to remember who I was. I wanted to know... "Who am I?", I muttered.

"Keep going," the Doctor urged. "Come on, now, you're starting to get it."

I breathed in and focused harder.

I felt... something. I saw something. A...an office building lobby? Computer screen, a monitor... Christmas decorations.

And then things blurred. Pain filled me. My eyes opened and I saw.. shadows.

I could hear voices but not make them out. They were too garbled.

Then, one managed to come through.

"...serve our purpose. It must... done..."

I strained, trying to hear. No, not just that. Trying to remember. "Who am I?", I asked the shadows.

They didn't respond. And I couldn't understand what they were saying.

"Who am I?", I repeated, almost shouting.

And for a moment I thought I saw the shadow turn toward me. A flicker of recognition passed through my head. A face. I thought it was a face. A face I knew.

And then the pain slammed my head. I felt like my brain was being skewered. I screamed in agony even as I tried to hold onto the face. But it slipped away before I could realize who it was.

Suddenly I felt like I was falling. There was a hard impact that took the breath out of me. I woke up in the TARDIS, screaming, "Who am I?!" unconsciously as I did so.

"Are you okay?"

I looked to the source of the urgent voice. Korra was standing gingerly in the entrance. The first cracks of dawn were showing outside of the TARDIS door. "You kept screaming," she continued.

"I..." I wiped a brow. Sweat was there, undoubtedly from the pain. Shadows of it still flickered in my head. "Sorry. I was having a bad dream."

A sympathetic look came to her face. "Yeah. I know what that's like." She looked back to the door. "Are you..."

"I'm getting up, yes, and I'm up to taking you out to Katara," I said, getting to my feet.

"But you haven't had any breakfast..."

"Oh, I'll be fine," i insisted. "We ate well last night anyway."

I'd regret it later, of course, when we were an hour from lunch and my stomach started growling.

I told Asami to come back in six months. During those six month's Korra's physical state continued to improve. More frequently she was walking on her own power. Two months after the festival she began bending exercises using her legs again and began to return to form.

But her spirit stopped improving. Every time she pushed too far and found she still wasn't back in top form, it gnawed at her. The nightmares still came in the night. And as word came of successes by the Airbenders and by Kuvira in restoring peace to the world, her irritation with her condition grew.

As for myself... the dreams varied. Some were flashbacks to Nerys dying in the fuel control chamber at Parakar. Jan and Cami taken as Borg. Katherine being blown up as I reached to save her. Sometimes the dreams mixed with horrors that could have been, whether it was Jan and Cami being taken as Sith slaves again or Katherine falling into a black hole. My first visit to Layom Station and not saving Abby. Lots of stuff.

Sometimes I was a moment too late and found Korra's corpse amongst the Red Lotus.

And then there were the other dreams. Dreams of what I did as the Time Lord Triumphant.

But no dreams like that one the night of the festival. I didn't see the other Doctors again, or the shadowy figures. After a while I had trouble remembering the details of what I did see.

A few days to the six month mark after the Glaciar Spirits Festival, Korra asked for Tenzin to come visit her. He came in not by sky bison but by airship. Asami was coming back. I suspected her answer would be the same.

I was standing to the side of the sparring mat, under the wooden structure, and watching with Asami as Korra lined up with three Firebenders for a firebending exercise. I watched her start to fight them. Her movements were better than before. She moved with purpose and strength. "Attack! Come on, I can take it!"

The men looked at each other and moved forward, throwing fireballs right back. She deflected the first few. When a big one came at her she plunged through it eagerly.

And then she hesitated. Her posture shifted from confidence to fear. Further attacks slammed into her fire-retardant armor and the blast of the heated air sent her flying backward. She lashed out wildly, sending flames into the air but with no direction, no control. A blast finally sent her spinning to the ground.

Tenzin moved swiftly. He jumped in front of them, his right hand held up, and called an end to the match. I lowered my head. "Physically she's recovered. But that's not enough."

"I see." Asami looked at her friend as she pulled off her helmet in frustration and exchanged words with Tenzin. We couldn't hear them - well, Asami couldn't, while I kept myself from listening in - and continued to speak between each other. "I thought about it. And my decision hasn't changed."

I nodded. "Well. When Korra's better, I'll let you know."

"Yeah." Asami shook her head. "I thought she was looking better..."

"She sleeps better now, yes. Her body has regained strength and the damage is all but healed. But she's not ready to go back out."

"Well, at least she's not urgently needed..."

"That's part of the problem," I said quietly.

"And how are you doing?" She looked at me.

"Oh, getting along. Harbor expansion has come along nicely," I said absent-mindedly.

"That's not remotely what I meant," she said. "How are you?"

I looked at her. "Oh, still a madman with a box," I finally answered. "And with no name. Getting used to that. People are actually remembering not to call me by the old one."

That seemed to make her sad. "I'm not going to change my mind, even if it takes another year for Korra to get better." Asami stepped away from me as Korra finished talking to Tenzin. "I'm going to see if Korra needs me."

"See you at dinner."

I watched her walk off. Katara returned to her hut and Tenzin came to me. "I was hoping she was feeling better," he said.

"Physically she's near to form again," I said. "Mentally..."

"I noticed." He sighed. "But we could use her. I've heard reports about Kuvira that I don't like."

I crossed my arms. "Oh?"

"There are people who say she strong-armed some of the eastern states," he said.

"Confirmed?", I asked.

He shook his head. "No. Just rumors for now."

I didn't like that. I also didn't like the other consequence. "So you're worried about what Kuvira's doing."

"I would just feel better if Korra was back." Tenzin shook his head. "But I can't rush her. She's not ready."

"It doesn't help her, you know," I said. "She's impatient enough, and every time she hears about your people and Kuvira doing her job it's jabbing an open wound in her spirit."

"Exactly why I can't rush her."

"Except that just makes her feel more rushed." I crossed my arms.

"I can't help how Korra likes to be contrary, she's very stubborn." Realizing his tone was probably a bit to snappish, he relaxed his expression. "Do you have any ideas?"

"I'm afraid that I don't," I said. "And ultimately... neither of us can do anything about it. The decision has to be her's. She's an adult now and we have to respect that."

Tenzin nodded. "Alright, you make a good point." He walked back toward his mother's hut.

Night came, with it dinner, and I returned to the TARDIS as was my custom. I put a hand on her surface. "Sorry, girl," I mumbled. "I know you like to travel to. But... it's something I have to do. I..."

I heard the noise of feet hitting the floor. I turned and saw Korra looking at me. "Getting ready for bed soon?"

"I wanted to talk first," she said. "I've been thinking a lot lately."


She took in a breath. "I need more time, that's all. I just... I need more time. I froze and..."

"Korra, nobody is expecting you to come back immediately," I said softly. "This is something you need to work through."

She glowered. "Now you sound like Tenzin."

I thought on that. "Really?" My mouth hung open. "Why, I think you're right. Oh dear." I smiled wryly. "Granted, it doesn't mean I'm wrong."

Korra crossed her arms and kept up the glower. "That's not what I'm here to talk about. Asami and I have spent the day talking."

That caused me to sigh. "Ah. Yes, of course. She's... talked to you about her vacation plans?"

"She wants to go with you and see things," Korra said. "But you won't leave yet."

I shook my head vigorously. "Not until you're ready for me to."

"But I am," she said. "You've been here long enough. And..."

"I'm not leaving until I know you're going to be okay," I said. "I have to do this."

"I don't want..."

"I need to," I said, interrupting. "Because I should have been there before. Then you would still be connected to the old Avatars and Zaheer would never have..."

"Would you shut up and listen to me?!", Korra shouted.

I stopped, my mouth open. I blinked. "Okay," I said. "I'm sorry."

"I don't need you to be sorry," Korra said. "I need you to understand what I'm going through. I need you to realize that I'm tired of nightmares. I panicked out there today and I don't know why! I need to solve this and..."

I kept my lips pursed.

"And here you are, sticking around for what? You told me you can't change the past. Your's or mine. Fine, you can't. Stop moping about it! Staying here and driving me to Katara every day isn't going to bring back my connection to the old Avatars. It's not going to undo what Zaheer did to me. You could be doing so much more! And..." Her eyes focused on me. "I've talked to Asami about what she wants to do. It sounds great. In fact, it sounds like something I want to do."

I looked at her pointedly. "Excuse me?"

"I need time," she said. "You, Tenzin, and Katara are right about that. But... I can't do it here."


She didn't let up. "I've made up my mind. I want to join you."

I remained silent for a very long moment. "I told you before..."

"...that it's dangerous, yeah," she said. "But so is staying here. Everything's dangerous. And I need to get away from this. I need to see the other worlds out there, maybe see if I can find what's wrong with my world. And what's wrong with me."

"Korra." My teeth clenched. "Korra, changing where you are won't fix your problems."

"You don't know that. While I'm here, I feel like I'm being torn apart! I want to get better and go back but sometimes..." She stumbled in her words for a moment. "...sometimes I wonder why."

I looked at her intently.

"Everyone says they need me," she continued. Her face had lowered. "But it looks like they don't. Everyone talks about the Airbenders and Kuvira being the ones restoring peace. And if they do that, what am I supposed to do? I'm stuck down here, trying to get myself back, and I'm not even sure why I'm bothering." Tears appeared in her eyes. "I've known I was the Avatar since I was a little girl. Everyone said the world would need me. But it doesn't right now. I don't have an army like Kuvira or the knowledge to build things like Asami, I... if the world doesn't need the Avatar, then what am I? I don't know who I'm supposed to be anymore. I don't know who I am.."

Those words struck me hard. They echoed in my mind, joined by my own, and right then and there I knew... I knew I couldn't say no.

It might turn out foolish. It might backfire. But... this was what we both needed. My words to Tenzin from earlier in the day echoed in my mind. Korra was an adult now. She had all the right in the world to make decisions for herself.

She'd still make mistakes, of course. We all do. Experience doesn't stop accumulating because you reach the magic age of 18 or 21 or 30 or 55 or even 500 (just ask my dear friend Matriarch Aethyta). But they were her mistakes to make, just as it was her decision to make. And my choice was to give a word of advice and say yes or no, not browbeat her into agreeing with my answer.

I stepped forward and gave her a sympathetic hug. She sniffled a little and I did too. We were lost in our own unique ways, woven together in a common need for identity. Korra had a name. I didn't. I had a purpose. She felt she had none.

We could end up regretting her decision. There were plenty of arguments to say no, to point out the possible regrets.

But if I said no, we would both be certain to regret that answer.

"Sleep on it," I said to her, my voice soft. "Then give me your final decision in the morning."

Since I knew the day wouldn't start early, I ended up sleeping in. When I opened the TARDIS door to let in the morning sunlight, I was met by Korra and Asami. They were carrying bags. Naga sat beside them, her tail wagging. Korra's parents, Tenzin, and Kya and Katara were standing behind them, expressions varied. Tenzin looked concerned, and Korra's parents were trying to balance concern with supportive expressions. Katara and her daughter looked rather more pleased.

"I made my decision," Korra said. She was actually smiling. It was the look of someone who had found an answer to something plaguing them and would not be dissuaded. "And it'll work out. I mean, you're a time traveler. We could be gone for months and come back later today, right?"

I nodded. "Well, yes." I drew in a sigh. "I can't convince you to reconsider?"

There was a glimpse of the old Korra's energy in her eyes. "No," she said. "I'm ready to go."

"Well, I did tell you I'd be with you until you were ready for me to leave you," I said. "A gentleman and a Time Lord can't just give up on his promises, can he?" I nodded and looked to the others. "Tonraq, Senna, rest assured your daughter will be safe. You have my word."

"We know you will." Senna held up a bag. I could smell the aroma of home cooking in them. "For your journey."

"Korra's in good hands," Tonraq added, taking my hand in a handshake.

I looked on to the others. "Tenzin, don't worry, we'll be back soon enough. By your reckoning anyway."

"I admit I'm not very fond of this idea," Tenzin answered. "It's too dangerous. But Korra is an adult and makes her own decisions." Left unsaid was his clear disappointment that I didn't exercise my own adult decision to refuse her.

Katara approached. "You will do well for each other," she said. "I have healed Korra as best as I can. The rest is up to her and to you." She reached up and just managed to put her hand on my shoulder despite our height differential. "Just as she needs to heal, so do you. Don't be afraid to talk."

"I won't," I promised.

And then I looked to Naga, who eyed the TARDIS unhappily. "No, girl," Korra said, stroking Naga's nose. "I'll be back soon anyway."

I contemplated the logistics of bringing Naga. Disguising her in other worlds would be... well, something of a nightmare. Yet when I saw the look in Korra's eyes I sighed.

I can be too soft-hearted.

I raised my sonic. It whirred and the TARDIS door shifted destination. When I opened the door again and revealed an open space. It was the old park space I'd used for when I was doing Katherine's childhood birthday parties. Naga squeezed in happily. I eyed Korra, who was beaming. "You're responsible for walks," I said. I also contemplated that I would have to re-design the TARDIS interior, possibly. "And for food. And for all other animal care activities. And you have to realize we won't always be able to let her go with us."


"I mean it," I repeated. "There are worlds where we couldn't explain away Naga." When she nodded I used the control to put the TARDIS door back to the main control room. I stepped in and gestured to the others. "Alright everyone. Do take care. Be back soon. For you anyway."

There was waving from all as Korra and Asami boarded the TARDIS. I bounded to the control room. I felt an excitement that had been missing from my life for, well, too long. I twirled about and faced the door, closing it with a snap of my fingers. An eager smile crossed my face. "All right. I know you two young ladies aren't new to the TARDIS, but this is official business for traveling Time Lords and I feel compelled to repeat things for form. TARDIS stands for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. And she's mine. She is bigger on the inside. She can go anywhere in the six dimensions of reality. Every planet, every star, every time. And until I show you how, do not touch anything in the controls. You could shift us into the Big Bang. Well, one of the Big Bangs. And before we go anywhere, the last thing you must remember, the absolute most important thing you must know..." I leaned in close to them. "...is that I am definitely a madman in a box. And that could save all of our lives some day."

They smiled at each other and looked at me eagerly. "Where are we going first?", Asami asked.

"Good question. A very good question." I started turning dials and flipping switches. "But there's a better question." I grinned widely at them. "Where can't we go?" I let them stew in the anticipation for a moment and grabbed the TARDIS control lever. As I did, I realized just how much I missed this. It felt good to be doing this again. Name or no name, I was a Time Lord with a TARDIS and the whole of Creation at my fingertips. Exploring that eternity seemed like the most enjoyable thing someone could do.

For the first time in years, I let out a joyous laugh and said the two magic words.

"Tally ho!"

And I pulled the lever.

”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-04 11:51am

Short 29 - First Steps

I decided to give Korra and Asami a good show as their first trip.

I opened the TARDIS door and escorted them out onto grass of blue and violet hues. They looked around, gaping at the sight of blue and violet and cyan flora about them. "Another planet," Asami murmured. "I can't believe I'm on another world."

"Not quite a planet," I said, smiling slightly. I pointed up.

They looked up and gaped in astonishment.

Above us, a giant dome showed a starlit sky. In the distance four metal structures grew out of the dome, stretching out into the distance before tapering off. Small dots moved about amongst those stars. In the distance, the earthy colors of a nebula and the brilliant blues and greens and yellows of a set of planetary rings were visible. "Where are we...?", Korra asked in a small voice.

"Korra, Asami, welcome to Layom Station," I said happily. "Produced fifty years before this time by the brightest engineers available, it happens to be the most advanced medical station in this entire galaxy. If there's a disease, plague, or virus harming some race anywhere in the galactic arms, the treatment will be found here." I spread my arms. "This is the park for the entire station. It provides additional breathing gases for life support and gives the residents somewhere to feel at home, as it were."

"It's bigger than Republic City," Asami gasped.

"Just about," I said. "As space habitats go, its only competition is the Citadel."

They remained awestruck as I walked us along to a synthacrete path being frequented by some of the residents. Their eyes widened at seeing a purple-skinned, silver-horned Drekara walk by. A canine-like P'kera ran past with her litter jumping and skipping behind her. "Family exercise," I said, admiring the sleek build of the P'kera and the dark earthy colors of the family's fur. A pair of Human medtechs came by.

Korra and Asami had seen spirits so they weren't entirely unfamiliar with the idea of non-human life. But the only bona fide, non-spirit alien they'd met had been Nerys, and she was essentially Human on the outside. Now they were beholding the short and tall and lean and stout of all variations of sapientkind.

Even the non-bipedal ones.

We walked past a lake where there was a ripple in the surface. Slowly an oozing gelatinous mass moved out of it. It was cyan and blue in coloring and seeped across the surface and to the side of the lake. "It's a... what is it?" Korra looked at me. "Some kind of slime monster?"

I shot her a look. "Oi, that's rather rude. She's a Gl'mulli. Well, 'she' is not entirely applicable as a pronoun, their species has a very loose affiliation with gender as Humans know it."

The mass moved over discarded items on the shoreline of the lake. Slowly an item was pulled around the ooze to the top of its structure. It began to form a vaguely bipedal shape, although it looked more like a gumdrop on legs. Ripples appeared on its surface as a pair of devices moved over to face us. "Doctor," a mechanical, tinny voice said. "It is so good to see you."

"The same, Doctor," I answered cheerily. "How are the spawnlings?"

"Quite good, quite good! F'gul'tma has returned home to studies. The others are learning well." The mass walked up to me. "New friends?"

"Ah, yes. These are my new Companions, Avatar Korra and Asami Sato. Korra, Asami, this is Doctor L'gul'pala, the lead Gl'mulli physician here on Layom, the galaxy's foremost microbiologist to boot. Gl'mullli are astounding with microbiological sciences, I must add."

"Um...." Korra raised a hand sheepishly. "Hello, Doctor Lug'pul'pala."

"Hi," Asami added.

Korra got the pronunciation wrong, but L'gul'pala laughed it off. "You poor Humans with those flapping taste-flesh things, you always get the sounds wrong," she trilled. "I am greatly honored to meet you all." L'gul'pala's viewing sensor turned to me. "Need more supplies? The new regeneratives are approved for distribution now."

"You know how I hate abusing your generosity," I pleaded. "But I admit I am running low on some of my first aid treatments. I hate to intrude on your lunch, though."

"Oh, not to worry, I am done. They are doing a marvelous job keeping the organic materials in the lakes. I have never had such good feeding on a space habitat before." There was trilling laughter from the Gl'mulli through her device. "So you have brought your young friends to show them Layom?"


"It is good to see you have found new companions since poor Katherine. Now, I'm afraid I'm due for a symposium lecture later, but I do hope you show your young friends around the Station. Humans fresh from their homeworlds always have the finest reactions to our humble home. Please give my best to Doctor Lakeland."

We were almost to the aforementioned Doctor Lakeland's office when the girls finally regained their voices from all the awe of their new vista. "I never imagined something like that was alive," Asami said. "I mean, obviously spirits could become like that, but that wasn't a spirit."

"Life is variety," I said. "The Gl'mulli are a fascinating race."

"How do they see, though?", Korra asked. "Or talk?"

"Well, without their translator devices, they see electromagnetic currents," I explained. "That includes electrical fields such as the ones most sentient species generate. Although it's not really seeing as you or I would say it. It's more like a sensing, a way of knowing an exact location without visual stimuli in our fashion. Good P'gul'pala and those like her have devices that translate visual stimuli as we know it into impulses their sensory systems can understand."

"And hearing?"

"They're gelatinous beings, Korra, they feel sound," I pointed out.

"That's amazing," Asami said. "Couldn't we make devices like that? To help blind people and deaf people?"

"It's possible," I said. "Maybe not with the tools you have, but it's definitely possible for your world's future." I noticed her beaming look and smiled. "I know it's all a lot to take in, girls. But first steps are important. Layom Station has an astonishing array of sentient life that I find is a good way of pointing out what we're going to find out here."

Asami nodded. "Yeah. It's certainly... I can't believe something this big can be built. It makes everything I'm doing back in Republic City look... look like the work of a child."

I turned and gave her a gentle look. "No, Asami, it's not that." I put a hand on her arm. "What you're doing for your world lays the foundation for you to have something like this one day. After all, isn't that what your company is about? Future Industries, as in building the future?"

"It is," she agreed. "But we have a long way to go."

"Yes. And you're taking the first steps on that long path. It's a lot of responsibility. But I think you're up to it." I patted her on the shoulder. "Alright, let's get to Doctor Lakeland. As soon as the TARDIS first aid kits are stocked up, we have some touring to do."

Layom Station's sights occupied us for the rest of the day. The variety of life and the technology of the station brought continued astonishment.

When our tours ended and we returned to the park, the Station's "night" cycle was beginning. A Galactic Standard 26.4 hour day was observed by the authorities running Layom and lights were dimmed accordingly to assist the circadian rhythms of all species aboard. We took seats along a footbridge over the meandering creeks and ponds of the park. "This is amazing," Asami said, taking it all in. "I hope we can build things like this one day."

"Oh, you will," I said. "Humanity is like that."

"It seems everybody here likes you," Korra said to me. "I mean, they go out of their way to help you."

"Oh, that's old business," I said. "During my first visit they had something of a problem with an out of control experiment that turned people into techno-organic zombies. I was able to put together a countermeasure with some creative input from a perky Goth friend of mine."

Korra made a face. "Zombies again?"

"Without bits falling off. Or the smell. Nanites controlled by a central computer puppeting people, very nasty. It's why you make sure how you're coding AIs." I wagged a finger at Asami. "Do remember that. Quality control, very big step. Forget that and its techno-organic zombies, gray goo scenarios, and the occasional exploding reactor. Those are always messy to clean up."

"Haste makes waste," Asami agreed.


"You said there was another station like this. Will we be going to see it?", Korra asked.

"Oh, sure," I answered. I clapped my hands on their shoulders. "Plenty of sights still to see, everyone. We haven't even started yet."

And indeed we had not. There was something enjoyable, liberating, about just traveling the dimensions again. Not rushing around trying to "fix things", just... traveling. Seeing sights. Introducing Companions to wonders they had scarcely imagined.

I hadn't quite realized how much I missed that until that moment, seeing their eyes sparkle as they looked up into the starlit sight above Layom Station. That sense of wonder and enchantment, the realization that there is so much out in the expanse of Creation that you can't even imagine...

It was wonderful to be back to that.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-04 11:54am

Episode 22 - Old Wounds

Korra and Asami had wanted to see the place Jan and Cami came from. And I agreed.

And naturally it didn't turn out as planned.

Now we were running full speed for the TARDIS through the streets of Coruscant, pursued by some rather angry gentlemen who called themselves Justicars. We may have opened up their prison cells to let out the assorted innocent people they'd snatched up and conscripted. And I may have scrambled their computer records in the process. But still, they were being entirely overblown about it. Seriously.

Blaster fire went over our heads. "Stop now!", a voice demanded from behind.

"Tenzin's going to be very cross with me," I grumbled as I grabbed Korra's wrist and pulled her out of the line of fire and into the alleyway.

We were almost to the TARDIS when there was an engine roar above us. I looked back in time to see a speeder swoop in, barely small enough to fit in the alley. Armed Justicars were pointing weapons towards us.

Korra whipped her arms around and a strong gust of wind jolted the speeder, spinning it slightly and making them miss. The Justicars jumped from it. Two didn't land very well; I could hear the nasty crack of a snapping bone and the Justicar in question had to stifle a scream of agony. But the third landed just right to bring his weapon up. Korra used a lifting motion and another gust of air forced the man's blaster upward. "I've got this," she declared.

"Korra, wait!", I cried out, but she was already charging. Fire erupted from her fists and pummeled the man's armor, making him fall backward. The second Justicar got to his feet and brought up his blaster rifle. Korra side-stepped his aim, jumped off the wall of the alleyway, and did a roundhouse kicking motion that ripped more concrete from the ground and sent the man, a Zabrak by the look of him, flying into the wall to his left. He let out a gasp and fell.

This left the first combatant, who charged her to grapple. Korra turned to him, her posture full of confidence and poise.

Suddenly it wasn't that way. She stiffened and froze in place. I didn't need to see her face to realize she was having another flashback. This cost her the critical second, allowing the Justicar to land a vicious punch that made Korra cry out and spin around until she fell onto her back. He reached for his blaster pistol.

I had the sonic up and used it. The pistol exploded in sparks. Before the Justicar could react to this Asami bounded past me and intercepted him. Her gloved hand reached up and grabbed his arm. Electrical current surged into him but, due to his advanced armor, didn't have the intended stun effect. He tried a martial arts move to get out of the gab and Asami reacted by changing her balance. In a deft motion she twirled the Justicar around and threw him over her shoulder and into the Zabrak who'd hit the wall.

The third Justicar, who had broken his ankle - at least one - had forced himself through the pain enough to lift his gun and point it at Asami. I was quicker. A burst of solid energy from the sonic disruptor knocked him over.

Asami helped Korra to her feet. Just in the nick of time too. The Justicars who had been following us on foot got to the alleyway entrance and brought up their rifles. I used the sonic screwdriver to try and disable their rifles. Some exploded in sparks. A couple didn't. The Justicars weren't kind enough to be utterly uniform in their armament sources and the other guns were different enough that the sonic hadn't effected them. It would need to scan them to determine what to do.

And we didn't have time for that.

I brought up the Setting 42 shield on the disruptor and used it to absorb the shots coming toward us while Asami brought Korra into the TARDIS. The shield was flickering as the shots started to degrade it. Bursts of green light came when the bolts struck the shield and exploded. "We're in!", I heard Asami call out. I backed in behind her and pulled the TARDIS door closed. I hopped up to the controls and, after a momentary check to shift us somewhere quite reasonably safe, I pulled the lever.

As the TARDIS engine VWORPed, Asami helped Korra sit on the nearby stairs. There was a haunted look in the young Avatar's eyes. "Are you okay?", Asami asked.

"No," Korra answered. "I'm not. I don't know what's wrong with me."

"Mental trauma," I answered. "It doesn't go away very quickly or easily."

"But I'm tired of this," Korra complained. "Every time I even think of starting to fight, I have flashes of fighting Zaheer and freeze up."

"I know. What you need is..." My face brightened. "Ah yes. What you need, my dear Korra, is some therapy. Someone who can help you process those memories." I went back to the TARDIS controls and began setting new coordinates.

"Tell me they're not going to be like Tenzin," Korra pleaded.

I smirked at that. "Oh, not at all. This fellow is honestly not one for socializing, but he's great with helping people deal with problems in their heads. He's a wonder of Creation, an actual living planet." I put my hand on the TARDIS activation lever. "Next stop, Mogo!"

When I opened the TARDIS door, I said, "Alright every..."

The sight before me stopped me from finishing the sentence. Instead of a wide open nature scene on Mogo's surface, we were in an artificial structure of some sort, gray and dark. I blinked. "Okay, this doesn't look right." I retreated into the TARDIS and checked something. "Hrm, coordinates are right. This is the surface of Mogo. But he doesn't have structures on his surface. A crashed ship?" I stepped back out the door and held out my sonics for a quick scan. There was an energy source, several in fact, but I didn't see any signs that would say it was a ship with damage from crashing. "Curious..."

"Is it something we need to look into?", Asami asked, stepping up beside me.

"I'm not sure. I should probably see about getting a channel to Oa..." I used the sonic to connect to the TARDIS' communication console. There was immediate evidence of interference. "I don't like that. Someone's jamming transmissions. One moment." I returned to the console and boosted the power on the transmission. "That should make it. But it could take the Lanterns hours to respond..."

Korra looked confused. "Lanterns? What...?"

"Green Lanterns," I clarified. "Essentially a constabulary for this universe, think of them as combining the functions of the United Forces and the Republic City Police but on a universal scale. They wield power rings that let them turn their thoughts into constructs of energy shaped by their will. Mogo is one of them." I returned to the TARDIS door. "Honestly I would feel better if you two remained in the TARDIS. It's safer here."

"But that's..."

"Korra, please. You're still rattled from the Justicars. I don't want you getting hurt." I stepped outside the TARDIS door. "Asami, please keep her company. I'll be back shortly, I just want to investigate something."

Asami nodded. "And if you need us?"

I held up my TARDIS remote. "I'll summon you straight to me. I'll lock the door behind me." I gave them a reassuring smile. "Don't worry about it. I'll be fine." I closed the door and locked it. I held up the sonic screwdriver and turned it on for a moment. The TARDIS rippled from sight. "There we go," I breathed quietly.

I followed the grimy, nasty corridors, looking for indications of where I was. At first I saw nothing, but gradually I came to an opening that led to upper levels. I could feel the barest wisps of fresh air. I was closer to an exit.

As I passed down one of the halls. I noticed a burnt, scratched symbol etched into the wall. I briefly stopped and inspected it.

Seeing what it was, my heart started pounding.

It was the symbol of the Sinestro Corps.

I started scanning for power ring signatures again. There was only the faintest signature, old and degraded. Clearly there was nobody with an active power ring nearby, nor had there been for a while.

Still... whatever this was, it had at one time been associated with the Sinestro Corps. And now it was on Mogo according to my coordinates. I didn't like that.

I continued heading out toward the light. Noise started to filter into my perception, a continued vibrating tone of very advanced machinery. I narrowed my eyes and scanned. A powerful device, yes. But what was it...?

I got to the entrance and, I admit, made something of a gasp.

Outside looked like ruined cityscape, scarred and ugly. Detritus, debris, that kind of thing, welded together haphazardly. There were forms below, many of them in ragged clothing and milling about with activity. On the horizon I could see forested hills and mountains. I'd seen them before.

This was, indeed, Mogo.

At the center of the area was a tall structure built upon struts and attached to an exotic energy generator of some sort. Small figures milled about on its levels. And a powerful white beam was coming from the bottom, blasting downward into Mogo's surface.

Someone was drilling into Mogo. And that made my hairs stand on end in fear. Whomever they were, they had somehow gotten here despite his own defenses, they had indeed kept him from calling for help.... how?

I looked about, trying to get a feel for what was going on... and I promptly forgot to pay attention to my immediate surroundings.

On a barely-rebuilt structure about fifty meters away and ten meters up, a figure emerged. I met his eyes just as he met mine. Sharpened teeth showed in an angry smile. I realized, from the angle, that the person in question was the size of a child, but the expression was clearly not that of one. And...

...oh dear.


Bald, sharp teeth, the size of a child.

The Children of the White Lobe.

Oh bugger.

They're called children. They look like children.

And... the Children of the White Lobe had the ability to detonate themselves and wield other forms of psychokinetic power. So they were also very, very dangerous.

The one facing me let out a shriek. "An intruder!" He pointed at me and shrieked his warning again. And then he - or was it a she? The being's voice was quite high either way - jumped up onto the railing and out into the air.

Oh yes, they can fly too.

Tactically I had only one option; retreat into the corridors. Limit their flight advantage. This was not the most efficacious approach, however, if I were to stop them. I had a pretty good idea what they were doing.

This was clearly after the Sinestro Corps War, where the Children had been allies of the former dictator of Korugar and his band of fear-powered ring-bearers against the Green Lanterns. The first great, large-scale battle of that war had been for Mogo, with Sinestro's followers, the White Lobe, and the sentient cityship Ranx trying to destroy Mogo to cripple the Lanterns. They'd nearly succeeded.

And now it was clear the White Lobe were coming to finish the job.

There was no angry hissing or shouts behind me. I could sense the subtle thrum of psychokinetic energy, though, and knew the Children were pursuing me into the halls. I was also quite certain they weren't the only threat I was faced with. They would have allies.

I tried to remain quiet as I returned to the gloomier tunnels, seeking as many advantages as I could get. In my mind's eye I tried to imagine alternative paths. But the tunnels were not logically connected. This entire structure was not a whole one but several forced together. With the sonic I was able to avoid dead-ends, but it meant I could not easily find ways that led upward or downward.

All I knew is that I needed to get to the center of the facility.

My hand brushed the TARDIS remote, but I held off. There was too much about this place I didn't know. The TARDIS was stealthy, yes, but there were ways to track her I couldn't circumvent if you had sufficiently advanced technology. And this cosmos was notorious for such technology, and even if they hadn't seen me before, they might be actively looking now.

I continued on my way. I held my sonic up with my right hand and scanned with it, letting its purple tip play its light over the dark corridors of the interior. In my left I held the sonic disruptor, keyed for setting 42. I found an assembled intersection of corridors accompanied by the faint stench of a distant sewage system. I curled my nose in disgust and followed the stench. A sewage system would by necessity lead everywhere; it might get me to my goal quietly. I followed the path down.

And that was when I nearly died.

There was a crash from below. The ground erupted in front of me and I got my disruptor up just in time to absorb the backwash of a blast of psychokinetic energy. Two of the White Lobe levitated up through the wreckage. In the light created by their energy I could see they were in total purple robes, reminding me of Wizard robes from Discworld, and appraising me with cold eyes. "Interloper", one hissed, the voice just the right pitch to identify the speaker as male. He brought a hand up along with his companion.

The resulting blast slammed into my shield and nearly overpowered it. The energy transferred into my arm, forcing me to brace myself and bring the other hand over to hold it. To my astonishment the energy increased in force until I was thrown backward. I slammed into the ground hard enough to start to lose my breath for a moment. I was dazed with pain in my head for a moment. Had they fired again they would have crushed me.

But they drew nearer instead. Undoubtedly they wanted to get a look at me and find out who or what I was. My left hand tensed around the sonic disruptor and, with a mental command, I set it to Setting 4's highest level. I would only get one chance at this. I resisted drawing in an anticipatory breath before I brought my arm up with more than enough quickness to surprise them. Brute kinetic force lashed out from my disruptor and slammed into the two White Lobe followers. The angle sent them flying upward into the ceiling where they smashed their heads and went out like lights. I got to my feet and tried not to think about the world spinning. I felt my balance return and looked at their fallen forms. A quick scan of the sonic confirmed they had severe head injuries, but not too severe. The White Lobe's followers were not superhuman entirely. But they had above-average endurance and the angle of the impacts kept much of the energy from crushing their skulls.

I suppose I shouldn't have felt too worried. They did want to kill me and blow up Mogo. But.... I don't like killing. Not if there is an alternative. Maybe it was foolish. But it was how I felt.

Killing was something the Time Lord Triumphant would have done.

And I didn't want to go back to that.

And so I continued onward into the bowels of this structure.

The sewage lines weren't complete. They ended up a near dead end, forcing me to take another tunnel further up. I felt like I was getting closer to what should be the center of the structure. I kept a careful eye on my energy scans to avoid any further encounters with the Children of the White Lobe.

A tunnel with faint energy readings ahead led me to a chamber. Or rather what remained of what. It had been reassembled, much like the rest of this structure, dark colors abounding and several screens darkened that had once displayed data. The energy source within was pulsing with energy. I narrowed my eyes as I tried to imagine what the chamber had once been.

In the middle of the chamber was a large object of sorts, a container of bio-mechanical matter. I sensed delicate workings, that of exotic bio-circuitry. I narrowed my eyes as I approached it and put a hand on one port, running my sonic over it. What was...?


Oh dear, of course.

At that point, looking at the chamber again, I realized where I was standing. I realized what the White Lobe had assembled for this mission. Why the marking of the Sinestro Corps was present where I had found it.

This was indeed a re-assembled structure.

It was Ranx.

Ranx, the sentient city-ship that had been a roving base for the Sinestro Corps, at least until Sodam Yat had destroyed it in orbit over Mogo in Sinestro's failed effort to kill Mogo. The White Lobe had reassembled him for this purpose.

Facts fit together into a logic chain. Ranx wasn't reacting to me. Not because he didn't want to, but because he couldn't. To confirm this I shined the sonic screwdriver over some equipment attached to the core. The devices were active, emitting energy into Ranx's core. Information.

Control shackles on his programming, directing Ranx's consciousness, amplifying his mind, enslaving it to one purpose.

That was why Mogo was silent. That was how the White Lobe had set up here with impunity. They had used Ranx to force him into unconsciousness.

I held up my sonic. If I did what I was planning, it might awaken Ranx. And given his temperament, he probably wouldn't be very friendly, or even opposed to what they had done.

On the other hand, he was also very prideful. He might very well decide to help me out of spite for his captors.

Of course, that all presumed there was enough left of his mind to make any conscious decision.

I drew in a breath and made my decision. Whatever else happened, this could at least delay the White Lobe. The Green Lanterns might get more time to arrive.

With a sweep of the sonic screwdriver I fried the machinery holding Ranx's mind in chains.

The chamber rumbled. An inarticulate growl came from speakers around the chamber. "Who?," A voice asked. "Who is?"

"I am a Time Lord," I answered. "I'm freeing you to fight the people who've enslaved you."

"Fight. Fight for.... what?"

I grimaced. Ranx wasn't whole mentally, it was clear. The White Lobe hadn't fully reassembled his intelligence, just the power behind it. "You were taken. Held against your will."


Before I could continue light erupted from the tunnel. I went to some cover and watched several robed figures. More Children, including one with a crown of gray hair. Their leader?

"The interloper fumbles about," one said. "We need to find and destroy him!"

"We will. But look at how feeble his sabotage is," the leader said in reply. "Ranx's remnant mind has already fulfilled his task. The planet is in deep slumber and our holy task will be fulfilled." I saw a sneer come to his face. "As for the interloper... did you find his vessel?"

"Yes. We have it in a stasis field."

My hearts went cold. They found the TARDIS? That meant.... I could only hope Korra and Asami had stayed put inside.

"It is the Time Lord," the other figure said.

"I see."

And then the leader looked straight at my cover and said, "You hide like a child, Time Lord. But we know you are here. We feel your aura. The power of the White Lobe is not to be resisted."

I remained where I was, refusing to be baited. I couldn't be sure he...

And then he hit me with a blast of psychokinetic energy that made my brain scream with pain. The physical force of the blast broke away the machinery I was hiding behind and sent me flying into the nearest wall. I hit so hard I lost my grip on my sonic devices. They clattered to the floor and I joined a moment later, dazed to the point of stupefaction.

"The mighty Time Lord. The ally of the Lanterns and of the beings of Earth." The leader of the White Lobe group approached. "I am Farnillax. How did you know to find us?"

I tried to reply but couldn't. I was fighting the nausea and headache from the impact.

My silence earned me another jolt that sent me back into the wall. Force closed around my throat and lifted me into the air. "How did you know where to find us?" Farnillax repeated.

I tried to answer and a choke came out. This seemed to alert him to my condition and he relaxed his grip ever so slightly. I wheezed some air into my lungs. "Didn't," I rasped.

"You just happened to arrive as we approached the fulfillment of our holy work?", Farnillax demanded.

"Happens," I answered hoarsely. "Sort of my thing."

"And where are your allies? Where is the green girl with the sword of light? The blonde woman with eyes of ice?"

"Not with me anymore," I replied. I took heart in the questions. This bought yet more time. Just stay in the TARDIS, please, I thought, as if Korra and Asami could hear me. I tried to keep my feet from shifting uselessly in mid-air.

Farnillax narrowed his eyes. "You expect me to believe that? That you came here alone?"

"I travel alone now," I lied. "Better that way."

"Well." Farnillax's expression shifted slightly, showing less disbelief and more of a pleased countenance. "I have considered your value and what your knowledge might do for the White Lobe. But your reputation precedes you, Doctor. You are far too dangerous." I felt his grip on my throat tighten until I couldn't breathe. "And now you will die."

I struggled as best as I could. But Time Lords don't have the ability to move things with their minds, no matter how powerful they otherwise were. I could do nothing to fight back. My limbs flailed uselessly as the pressure on my throat tightened even further. I started to wonder if I would die from being strangled first or if Farnillax would break my neck.

The former looked more likely as I started to fall into darkness.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-05 10:25am

So I was being strangled. My sonics were out of reach. In short, I was in a Bad Situation.

Well, Soon-to-Die Situation, more accurately.

I didn't see what happened. I just remember getting a monetary gasp of air before I slammed into the ground and had that air knocked out of me as well. I sucked in more air and looked up to see what happened.

There were many advantages for the White Lobe in their appearances. Many species tended to underestimate them at first glance. Others had trouble contemplating violence against them due to the taboo of inflicting harm on a child. This allowed them to exploit these perceptions to often-fatal effect.

One of the disadvantages, though, is that when you're just a few feet tall and look like a grade school child, you also tend to have the mass of a being that size. That means bigger and more massive things can cause a world of hurt if they land a hit.

Things like a two hundred and fifty kilogram polar bear dog.

When I forced myself to look up, Farnillax was out of sight. Of his two companions one was already down, caught by the razor sharp claws of Naga, while the other was desperately shifting to avoid a blow from Naga's right forearm.

The maneuver sent him directly into arm's reach of Asami, who reached out with her Equalist-make shock glove and grabbed the Child of the White Lobe by the shoulder. Electricity surged into the diminutive figure. He - or a she? - let out a shrill cry and fell unconscious.

I felt powerful arms lift me to my feet. I turned to see Korra with worry showing in her blue eyes. "Are you okay?!"

I rubbed at my neck in reply. "Nice timing. I should be angry with you two for leaving the TARDIS...." I narrowed my eyes. "How did you get Naga through the control room anyway?"

"Very, very carefully," Asami answered, walking up. Naga followed with tail wagging happily.

I reached for the TARDIS control. I wanted to confirm whether or not the Children had sufficient technology to thwart my standard remote protocols. I grimaced when I didn't get the TARDIS coming in as desired. Their stasis field was something new. "Okay, we're cut off from the TARDIS now. We'll have to find it." I picked up my sonics.

Naga let out a howl of surprise as she went flying. The wall clanged with the force of the impact. We turned to face Farnillax rising from where he'd fallen, his face locked into a scowl of anger and rage. "Unbelievers," he rasped. "Infidels. You will pay for this affront to the White..."

There was an angry snarl on Korra's face. She whirled her arms and bent the air around Farnillax, spinning him about for a moment before he tried to right himself. I was in no mood for moderation and hit him with the most powerful Setting 4 blast I could. Disorientated from the sudden funnel of air spinning him around, the White Lobe's leader wasn't prepared to deflect my attack and he went flying. He made a very satisfying smack against the far wall.

Korra was already heading to Naga's side. The polar bear dog made a whimpering sound from where she was laying on her side. Korra got to her knees and cuddled Naga's head in her arms. "He won't hurt you again, girl. It's okay." She looked back at me as I ran my sonic over Naga. "Is she...?"

"She's bruised. A couple of cracked ribs," I answered. "But nothing too bad. We just can't push her very much." I looked back at Farnillax's fallen form warily. "We need to be going. I'm not sure how long he'll be out."

Korra nodded and climbed up into the saddle. Asami got behind her and I got in the rear. Naga chuffed with some slight displeasure at the extra weight. At Korra's direction she bounded into the nearest tunnel at an appreciable speed. Despite the constant motion of riding in a cramped saddle with two other people I kept my sonic up and scanning. "The Children of the White Lobe are religious lunatics," I explained. "They're trying to kill Mogo and we have to stop it."

"How?", Asami asked.

"By delaying their operation long enough for some of the Lanterns to get here," I replied. "Right!"

Korra prompted Naga to turn right at the next junction. "What are these things anyway? They look like kids."

"Anything but. They have enormous psychokinetic power. My throat and Naga's ribs are proof enough of that," I answered. "Do not take them lightly."


I frowned. "Korra, are you...?"

"I can do this," she assured me. Confidence rang in her voice. But I could detect a hollow tone to it. She wasn't as confident as she was trying to sound.

"If we do this right, there won't be any fighting," I said, trying to be assuring.

"What about the TARDIS?", Asami asked.

"We stop them, we take out the power source they're using for holding the TARDIS in place," I said. I narrowed my eyes. "You did lock it, yes?"

"We did," Asami assured me.

"Good," I said. "Because I don't need them playing around with it. It would make things very...."

I stopped myself and listened. I could hear the voices faintly ahead. More White Lobe. "Korra, slow down," I whispered, my voice an urgent hiss. After Korra obediently signaled Naga to slow to a near crawl I listened more intently. "Next corridor down," I murmured. "Stay low, approach quietly."

We dismounted to approach on foot. The dark corridors were more brown than gray now. The voices of the White Lobe searchers were low whispers and they were a lot closer than I had imagined. At any moment they would come into view and, well, three against three was not good odds given our skill set versus theirs. Not in an open fight anyway.

But when it comes to fighting, I am a pragmatist. I don't believe in having fights if I can avoid them, run from them, or prevent them with preemptive measures.

I scanned the corridor for something useful. My eyes focused on one particular item that showed promise. Piping.

As in water pipes.

"Look up," I whispered. "The pipes."

They did. Korra focused. "There's water in them."

"I'll open it, you do the rest," I murmured. I held my sonic screwdriver up and waited.

And then I realized that it wouldn't work.

That realization, and the why, occurred mere seconds before the White Lobe search party sprang their trap. Power exploded through the wall and slammed into us, knocking us over like bowling pins. Had the wall not absorbed much of their blast we would have all wound up striking the wall. The impact alone was enough that we had the breath knocked out of us. Naga let out a pained whine from where she'd been bowled over as well and in such a way as to aggravate her cracked ribs. For the moment, the fight was out of the polar bear dog.

The three purple-robed figures came through the hole, set in an angle from the corridor they had been coming from. Korra began to stand first and two of them brought their hands up, lashing out with enough psychokinetic force to throw her against the wall and hold her there, arms spread flat against it. At first her face was full of irritation and resolve. She kicked with her legs, starting with an upward motion that ripped a chunk of metal grating from the surface of the hall and sending it flying into one of the White Lobe members with the rest of the kick motion. The metal slammed into the small figure and she - I was sure it was a she - screamed in rage and pain as she was knocked back into the hole they'd created.

I brought up my sonic disruptor and tried to throw a blast at the third White Lobe member. But as I brought the disruptor up a force gripped my arm and forced it to point toward Asami. I didn't trigger the blast; Asami was already in a roll forward. For a moment I thought she would get in range to put her shock glove on the nearest Child. But said Child clearly identified her as a threat and brought a hand up. Asami fell to her knees as psychokinetic force pushed her down.

With my arm momentarily free I brought it back around. I had a chance to fire and almost did... until the Child that Korra had slammed with the grate emerged from the wall, bruised and angered, and struck em with such intense psychokinetic force that I slammed into the furthest wall. The Child motioned and my sonics were torn from my grasp.

The one holding Korra was visibly struggling, having to shift around to prevent Korra's kicks of air and fire from landing. The second saw its ally's distress and brought crushing psychokinetic force to bear on Korra's ankles. She screamed in pain and frustration as her legs joined her arms in being pressed against the wall. Wild panic showed on her face. I scrambled for my sonic disruptor to assist her and almost had it when more force slammed down on my hand and wrist. I howled in agony. The third Lobe member was holding my hand down and binding Asami at the same time. It was clearly a strain, but not an insurmountable one.

"We are blessed, sisters," one said, this one clearly male - it was the one holding Korra's arms. "Farnillax will be pleased."

Despite the situation, hope flared inside of me when I saw Naga get onto her feet again. She growled and moved to attack. If they had to shift to deal with her, if only for a moment, one of us could get free.

One of the Children restraining Korra brought a hand over. I could feel the power ripple in the air as it directed it at Naga. Naga growled and slowed. Strain showed in her body. She fought the current of power and kept coming.

So the Child swapped tactics. Instead of trying to restrain Naga... she focused her power on Naga's leg. A sickening cracking sound came to my ears, joined by a high-pitched whine of agony from the giant dog (well, polar bear dog). Naga's step faltered as her right foreleg came out from under her and pointed the wrong way. She let out another howl. I could see the panic and terror on Korra's face melt away as her companion's whimpers reached her.

Korra let out a scream of rage... and lost control.

I could feel the thrum of power as she moved into the Avatar State. The white light in her eyes lit up the corridor. Flames erupted from her mouth and enveloped the male Child, who screamed in terror and agony as the flames caught to his robe and burned his flesh. Korra's arms snapped free. With a movement of her fist a gust of wind struck the other Child with all the force of a tornado gust, slamming the little maniac into the far wall. The third turned to Korra, wide-eyed with astonishment. She lost her focus on Asami and I. I was able to move my wounded hand forward to grip my sonic disruptor.

Asami got to the third one first. Electricity crackled from it and the Child screamed before going down.

And then the ground underneath us tremored. Asami lost her balance and I failed to get to my feet. Were we too late? Was the tremor the detonation of a blink bomb inside of Mogo? The possibility made me shudder with horror.

But it subsided within two seconds and did not return. No, the White Lobe wasn't finished yet. We still had time.

Korra came out of the Avatar State and rushed to her wounded companion. Naga whimpered and presented the broken leg to Korra. Tears went down the young woman's face as she put a hand on the leg. "This is going to hurt, girl," she warned Naga. I watched her set the leg as I fished out my sonic screwdriver from the detritus of the corridor. Naga howled in pain but did not act out. She opened her water bottle and held a field of water over the wound, illuminating her face in blue light.

"That was just three of them,' Asami muttered. "How... how can we fight them?"

"We can't," I said. "I don't want to fight them. But it's clear they can track me. Perhaps Korra as well." I rubbed at my eyes. "They'll be able to sense us any time we get close."

"Then what do we do?"

I thought on it for a moment. My options were mostly bad. This entire situation, in fact, was making me feel regret at ever bringing Korra and Asami along. All I wanted to do was tour the vastness of Creation. Why did I have to keep winding up in situations like this?

I felt my own voice give me an undesired answer. Because, you idiot, you decided to become the Doctor.

Finding the least-bad option of them all, I took my sonic screwdriver and handed it to Asami. "Here. I've shown you how to use it, keep the tracking beacon open for its connection to my disruptor and scan for active energy sources. Take Naga, use it to lead you to their power generators and disable them."

Asami accepted it with a concerned look. "What about you?"

"They can sense me and I'm pretty sure they'll sense Korra now," I said. "We'll go another way and lead off their pursuit." I went over to Korra. She had taken a metal rod from the assorted detritus of Ranx's long-lost denizens and made a crude splint by tying her waist fur cloth around it. "How is she?"

"She can't run," Korra said. "My healing can't mend the bone."

"Walking should be enough," I answered. "Asami will look after her. You and I have to get going."

"They can sense us," she said, understanding. "So how do we fight them?"

"We don't," I answered. "We run. Keep them guessing. And buy Asami time to get to their power systems."

"Alright." Korra walked over to Asami and embraced her. "Be careful," she said.

"You too," Asami answered. She walked over to Naga. "Come on girl."

Naga looked at Korra and whined.

Korra patted her affectionately on the head. "Sorry girl, but I need you to keep Asami safe while you sneak around. We'll get the bad guys' attention."

Naga didn't fully accept that. But she made a sad chuffing sound of acceptance and went over to Asami, who put a hand on her white fur and guided her toward one direction.

"Alright." I took in a breath and gripped my sonic disruptor. "Time to do the traditional thing."

"You mean running?", Korra asked.

I allowed myself a small smile and nodded. "Exactly."

We ran.

There's no better way to put it. We certainly weren't stealthy, given our hard breathing as we zipped from corridor to corridor, but they could sense us anyway so it didn't matter much. We had to stay a step ahead, there was no choice to it. With the sonic disruptor's scanning ability I had a generally vague idea of where power was coming from. I could try to evade this way. But it wouldn't last forever.

Time Lord brains allow for some multi-tasking. I did quite a bit. This was definitely not what I had in mind when I agreed to let Korra and Asami board the TARDIS. I had been an idiot to think I could avoid this kind of trouble for long. Now they were both at risk against a powerful foe.

Whatever happened... I had to get them home.

I felt the tremor a moment before the energy came down from the ceiling. It put me in place to pull Korra away and prevent us from being buried. Without waiting I held up the sonic disruptor and fired a full Setting 21 blast. Screams came from the couple of Children who descended. They fell to the ground. Korra moved her arms around and buried them in earthen prisons, giving them only enough room to breathe. And thus we continued on.

"How will we know if Asami succeeds?", she asked.

"The loss of power," I answered. "Still, we need to get to the surface. Just because they can chase us doesn't mean we can't try to do our own thing. If I can get to their device I might be able to sabotage it."

"Right." Korra looked down and concentrated. "Hold on!"

I was about to ask what she was doing when she planted her feet and made a rising motion with her arms. The ground beneath us squealed and buckled before uprooting itself and lifting us up with it. Korra made pulling motions with her arms and we began sliding along, first very slowly but with growing speed. To avoid getting thrown off I had to put my arms around her stomach. I kept an eye on my sonic disruptor's scans and shouted directions, all leading us in a general upward direction.

We found light coming down one of the tunnels and Korra turned toward it without needing a word from me. A couple of Children were standing at the entrance, poised and ready to fight. They didn't seem to expect a large chunk of earth to come speeding by, though. One jumped out of the way in time. The other was run over. I didn't look behind me to see what had happened to it.

When we emerged we were out in alleyways and streets in short order. Straight ahead was an enclosure tipped with wiring. Korra didn't have time to slow us down. In a split second reaction I fired a full power blast of Setting 4 from my sonic disruptor. The energy lashed out and ripped through the wiring, granting us a bit of a hole to squeeze through as Korra brought the rock platform to a momentary halt.

She had to in order to avoid running into the people on the other side of the wiring. They were from a wide assortment of species and were dressed in a wider assortment of rags, some more intact articles of clothing than others. They stared at us with bewilderment and fear. "Who are they?", Korra asked me.

"Slave labor," I answered in a quiet tone. "And human shields, so to speak. The Children of the White Lobe could use them as living shields against the Lanterns to limit their attack options." I jumped down from the rock platform. "Run! All of you, it's your chance! Run! Get out of the city and don't look back!"

They all continued to stare at me. I bit into my lip. The Children had undoubtedly been very thorough in breaking their spirits. They were afraid.

And for good reason. I saw the first Children crest the wire a moment before they lashed out at us with psychokinetic force. I had my disruptor up to absorb it with the shield. I nearly had the disruptor torn from my hands.

Now they ran, although mostly away from us. Bursts of concrete and material erupted from the ground and threw them away from me; the Children weren't being very careful with their attacks, but they did seem to want to avoid killing their labor if they didn't have to.

Korra tried to absorb a blast with the platform we'd used. It shattered against the impact and the remaining energy threw her back and slammed her into several of the people. I got my disruptor up and sent off a setting 21 burst that disorientated and pained the little buggers, giving me time to get through the mob of terrified people and find Korra trying to get back to her feet. I could see in her eyes that she was on the verge of another panic freeze, spurred on by the sense memory of being thrown around and the chaos and fear around us. I looked about and spotted shelter, a building that looked like it was connected to the rest of the block. I pulled her up and ran into the entrance. More of the laborers were inside, trying to find cover. We had to fight through the press to keep moving. Despite the diversity present, our looks made us stand out. We couldn't hide in the mob. "Korra," I said urgently, pulling her into a side room. "I need your attention."

"I... I..." She swallowed and shook her head as if to clear it. "I'm sorry, I...."

"Nothing to be sorry about." I frowned. "This isn't what I brought you out here for." Outside I could hear commotion. The Children were gathering to come in after us. "Don't worry about fighting, just keep running." I took her wrist and pulled her along.

The press of people receded as we got further into the building. Alien language signs shifted into what I could understand the moment I looked at them, guiding me toward the center of the area where the large drill was burrowing away. Korra kept pace with me. She was in sufficient shape that I wasn't yet worried about her running to exhaustion, but we didn't have long before that would be the result. We were both rather winded and if we were too tired, we would be unable to fight back.

I could only hope Asami could get to their power systems and disable them. Then I could summon the TARDIS and get the tools and capability to finish this situation once and for all. Of course, to guarantee her success, she needed us to make a major distraction.

We finally emerged from the building in sight of the base of the drill. It was, for reference, at least four hundred meters high when counting its upper stabilizers. The support struts formed a grid of beams around it. The control room looked to be about halfway up the structure, accessible by.... well, by nothing. Of course. The White Lobe could levitate with psychokinetic energy. We couldn't. Not unless we found a way to rig Korra a glider.

"Scrap that plan," I muttered to myself.

And then I sensed it. Energy, lots of it. I grabbed Korra and threw us both away from where we were standing.

Sheer concentrated force slammed down where we had been, strong enough to force the ground down about five inches in a near circle and send cracks across the surface for dozens of feet around us, like a large spider-web.
"A good chase, Time Lord."

I looked up to see Farnillax and over a dozen of his fellows hovering above us. Even more were coming in from other angles. Far more than we could fight. "If you surrender, we will spare your friend," he said.

"You mean you would enslave her along with the others here," I retorted. "I'll make my counter-offer. Turn the drill off, release my TARDIS, and leave this world."

Farnillax stared at me. "You would have us abandon our holy work. Why would we give everything up?"

"Because," I answered, my voice matter-of-fact, "you'll get to live." I allowed a little bit of sinister menace to creep into my tone as I gestured at him. "Yes, you'll get to live, Farnillax. Because if you don't agree to my terms, I can't guarantee any of you walk away from this."

For a moment there was sheer stunned silence on the Child's face. Then he broke out into a laugh, echoed by the others. "You have no power to fight us. Even your friend would be overwhelmed by our numbers. What makes you think you can dictate terms?"

"Indeed." I smiled. "You know my reputation, right? Oh yes, you know a lot about me. And that's what worries you, isn't it?" I didn't say the rest of the thought. Farnillax was letting himself be held back by his fear, his worry about what I might have yet done. Until he could reassure himself I hadn't done a thing - which I honestly hadn't - he would be reluctant to act and prompt me to play any tricks.

Of course, I didn't have one. Not exactly. I only had hopes. Hope that Asami could get to the power generators and disable them. Hope that my signal would get picked up by the Green Lanterns. Hope that Mogo might yet awaken without Ranx's power being used to suppress him into slumber.

And that meant I needed time. Which Farnillax was giving me.

The leader of the Children scowled, showing his pointed, nasty teeth. It made me think of those little devils that the "crew" of the NSEA [i}Protector[/i] had to run from. Except unlike those creatures, the Children could fly. And smash things with their minds. I wasn't sure if they were cannibals though.

And just like that, the drill stopped. There was a whine in the air as it and every other piece of technology was deprived of power.

Ah, Asami. Such timing. I could kiss her. Platonically. Platonically!

I reached my hand into my pocket to get the TARDIS remote and activate it. I felt its metal against my skin and thought the order to come to us.

Raw brutal force slammed into me. I cried out in pain, feeling as I had been struck by a massive sledgehammer across the entire front surface of my body. It sent me flying backward several feet until I hit the ground hard enough that it would leave bruises.

Farnillax also had a sense of timing, or rather, how not to play into the usual role. He launched himself at me, fury and rage in his eyes, his teeth glistening and aimed at my throat.

Korra sprang between us. Her fist punched Farnillax in the face. More than that, she generated fire with the same movement and struck him with it directly. The Child leader screeched in agony when he flew into the nearby ruined building. Flames caught to his robes and set them alight.

The other children attacked. Korra tried to shield herself behind a wall of rock again. It shattered under the force of the attack and sent her flying as well. I tried to grip my sonic disruptor while my head was still ringing from the hard impact of my landing. But I knew there wasn't much I could do with it. There were too many. I needed time. I looked to Korra and knew my eyes showed my take on the situation. We weren't going to win this as it was now.

So Korra changed the rules. She closed her eyes and power erupted from within her. Air swirled around her and lifted her up. Her eyes glowed white when she re-opened them. She whirled her arms around and an air current started twisting around us. The Children were forced to divert their efforts into fighting it to stay aloft. One by one she struck out with flame and earth attacks, setting robes on fire and knocking White Lobe followers to the ground. I felt the ground tremor beneath me, more violently than before. Was Korra somehow effecting Ranx as a whole?

I pushed the thought from my head and reached for my sonic disruptor, focusing for the moment on getting my disruptor back in my hand.

As a result, my warning came a moment too late. I called out to Korra as I saw the danger, not realizing I hadn't said anything in time.

Farnillax came upward again. His burnt flesh was charred and blackened and his frail body was mostly revealed by the tatters of remaining cloth. He slammed into Korra from below, wielding his psychokinetic power around his small form to knock her off balance. Once he was above her he twisted in mid-air and sent his force downward against Korra, slamming her with it and causing her to fall. She landed and a fountain of crushed matter flowered up from the impact point. I raised the disruptor and hit Farnillax with a Setting 4 blast, but I hadn't had time to focus the setting and he didn't take the brute force impact to knock him from the ground. I scrambled over to Korra and brought up my sonic disruptor just in time to shield us. With the blasts coming from above it didn't blow me over, but it was like being struck from above by a sledgehammer the size of a large automobile. I gasped in pain as every blow seemed to tear at my arm muscles, threatening to push the disruptor from my grasp.

That was when a streak of green light sliced into Farnillax. As in literally sliced. The White Lobe leader let out a cry of pain and fell to the ground, mortally wounded.

A Green Lantern descended from above, coming to a landing near me. He - I was fairly sure the Lantern was a he - was of a humanoid species of cyan coloring wearing the usual green and black uniform of the Green Lantern Corps. The look of his body made me think of what it'd be to combine the forms of a Suliban with an Asari, with a Salarian-esque head and a tail coming from the rear. The Lantern looked at me with curiosity. "You are the Time Lord?", he asked.

"I am," I replied. "You got my message?"

"Yes. I was closer than the others. A squad from Oa will be here shortly."

"Excellent. Then that just leaves..."

We both sensed the danger at the same time. More of the Children were coming. Maybe all of them. Given the ones already down for the count, it made me wonder just how big a commitment this was for them.

I had the sonic disruptor back up. The Lantern generated his own force shield, and just in time. Psychokinetic force slammed into him and sent him flying into mid-air. He regained control and evaded another blast from a different Child. He twisted and turned and slipped around, firing bursts of green light from his power ring every time he had a shot. The Children were focused entirely on him. Probably best for us.

Korra stirred beside me. She rubbed at her head and opened her eyes. She wasn't in the State any longer. "What happened?"

"Farnillax wouldn't go down." I looked over to his broken remains. "Thankfully we bought the time we needed. There's a Lantern here now." I pointed up to where the alien Lantern was fighting an aerial battle against his more numerous foes.

Korra watched, her mouth agape with astonishment. "How is he...?"

"Power ring," I replied. "Literal sentient willpower converted into energy and directed by the willpower of the ringbearer."

"It's..." Her blue eyes shined with the wonder in them. "...pretty beautiful, I have to say. I mean... look at him."

"Very impressive," I agreed.... before I forced her down with a shout of "Duck!"

A plasma beam sizzled overhead. When I looked up, I saw figures approaching. More aliens, different species, but in ramshackle uniforms mixed with White Lobe robes. "Servitors, I presume," I muttered. "Here to keep the others in line." I brought the sonic disruptor up and absorbed the next shot. Korra threw several fireball punches at them, getting some to fall back with their clothes on fire. But they were going to keep coming...

And then, with great surprise, Naga came roaring around a corner and plowing into their rear flanks. I heard the whir of my sonic and plasma guns began to explode or short out.

Under attack from two sides, the servitors lacked the discipline to hold their places. They broke and fled deeper into Ranx's remains. This allowed Asami and Naga to approach us. Naga started to move gingerly. Korra frowned and looked at the splint she'd put on Naga's leg. It was still intact but had shifted out of place. "I tried to keep her from running," Asami explained. "But when we saw that thing knock you from the air..."

"It's okay."

Asami looked up at where the Lantern was fighting the Children. Her eyes widened and she was speechless.

"Very impressive, yes," I said. "He's using his willpower to direct the energy in the ring. Now...."

There was a horrible cry of pain from above us... and the green light went out.

It happened so fast. Several of the Children were down and the others were unable to hit the Lantern. But a few had gotten tactical in their approach, changing their angles of attack to catch the Lantern in a pincer. I saw three little bodies join the Lantern in plummeting downward - other Children caught in their own side's attack. Sacrificed to take out their one enemy.

But they had. The Lantern hit the ground beside us, hard, creating a cloud of dust and pulverized building material at impact. He was nearly dead from the massive damage his body had taken; he had been crushed by the energy striking him on multiple sides. Asami went to his side.

The Children were coming. I needed to buy us some time, just a few extra seconds, so I shouted, "Into the building!" I directed everyone toward the nearest ruined structure. Asami strained and lifted the dying Lantern into a fireman's carry, running right behind Korra and Naga into the door I was gesturing into. I turned to follow them.

A powerful force yanked my ankles out from under me. I planted my face into the ground in a rather undignified way. I had only a moment to consider this as the same force yanked me away from the door opening and back in the direction of the drill. A high, shrill, female voice screeched, "You have interfered in our holy work. Now you shall be punished." A female Child, almost as old as Farnillax, came to my vision as she dangled me upside down. "Behold the fate of your friends, Time Lord."

At her gesture, the other Children moved in sync. Psychokinetic force smashed into the ruined structure. And all I could do was watch in horror as it collapsed in on itself.

With Korra, Asami, and Naga all inside.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-06 10:11am

The building fell in an expanding cloud of dust and debris. I let out a pained breath and found myself hoping they'd managed something, anything, to avoid being crushed. "You have no idea what you've done," I hissed at the remaining Children of the White Lobe.

"We have hurt you," the elderly woman Child answered. "And we...."

I felt the ground beneath me tremor yet again, this time with even greater power than before. My mind recounted the day's events and drew a smile to my face. These tremors meant that Korra was in the Avatar State. She was still alive, indeed, they were all still alive, inside the rubble.

As I had those thoughts I wondered about how, precisely, it was being caused. This didn't feel like a simple result of Korra's Earthbending.

A scowl crossed the new leader's face. Yes, she had sensed Korra as well. She pointed to the rubble and the others started hitting it with psychokinetic force, blasting away debris to get at the bottom.

My hand gripped my sonic disruptor. More time... we just needed more time. Even if it meant making myself a target again in an environment where my chance of survival was... infinitesimal.

I lifted the disruptor and used its setting 21 to disrupt the leader's brain. She screeched in pain and rage and fell from the sky. I twisted around, hitting as many as I could. I moved to the side just before force nearly slammed me back into the ground. A second strike from another Child grazed me on the upper arm. Pain shot through my left arm as I made a spin in place from the force. I barely got my feet back and swept the disruptor skyward again.

The next blow I took full on the chest. I went flying with the air knocked out of my lungs. I hurt everywhere by this point and it made getting up an act of will.

I just needed time....

....and that was when green light erupted from within the rubble. A massive earth-mover blade came from within, pushing aside the debris and clearing a path from the building. It rotated upward and showed it was sheltering...

Korra and Naga came out from underneath it first. Korra made a spinning kick in mid-air and a wave of fire enveloped two Children. Naga plowed into a third that was low enough for her to reach. And Asami....

....well, that was something I never thought I'd see.

Green light surrounded her, courtesy of the ring now on her right hand. Her outfit of red and dark red was replaced by, you guessed it, the green and black of the Lanterns. She looked a little pale but I could see determination shining in her eyes.

And then the light around her expanded until she was in a construct of a Future Industries combat mecha. Energy erupted from inside of it and she was airborne the following moment while the arms of the construct machine revealed gatling-gun like weapon emplacements. As i watched her use them to great effect on the Children, I supposed it was irony that I had been the one to introduce her to the idea of firearms given the lack of them on her world. Green energy lashed out repeatedly, striking Children and knocking them away or down for the count. Asami swung the construct's fists and sent out lins of green light that simulated the capture cables of the actual suits, using them to snatch Children and toss them around like, dare I say it?.... dolls.

I forced myself to my feet just as Korra ran up. We looked skyward to where the Children were trying to fight Asami. She didn't have the veteran knowledge of the other Lantern, but she made up for it by her approach, using the suit construct as armor to prevent the kind of crushing blast that had killed the Lantern from before. "Well, I'll be."

"He gave her that ring," Korra said, looking back in the rubble. "Just before he died."

"He was giving you a fighting chance."

Korra nodded. And she clearly fought down her sadness about the dead Green Lantern in favor of something else on her mind. "When I was in the Avatar State again, I... felt something. I'm not sure how to explain it, but I think it was a spirit, a large and powerful spirit, and it was trying to connect with me."

I nodded. And I put two and two together. "Ah, that's it. That's it!" I snapped my fingers and took Korra by the shoulders. "Can you meditate in the State? I don't need you to fight, I just need you to reach out for that spirit."

"Well, I can try," she said.

"Good." I held up the sonic disruptor. "I'll watch your back."

Korra nodded and sat on the ground, cross-legged. She put her fists together in front of her and breathed in gently. I could feel subtle power thrumming around us. Above us Asami was still doing her best to fight the Children off. I could see she was struggling; her construct was failing around her and her movements were becoming weaker. She took more hits. "Asami!", I called out. "Come down here!"

She twisted away from the fight and came down. As she hit the ground, sending a wave of debris around her in the process, the construct faded and she stumbled to her feet. She was sweating hard and her face had turned pale from exertion. "Use the ring and generate a shield dome," I urged.

"I don't know... if I can hold it," she said weakly.

"I know you can," I answered, holding up my own disruptor. "I'll reinforce it as best as I can.

She gave a weak nod. After taking in a breath, visibly steeling herself, Asami raised her arm and projected a green force dome around us just before the first psychokinetic bolts fell upon our heads. She gasped with effort and came to her knees. Her face contorted into a grimace of effort. She was putting everything into maintaining the shield. I did what I could, projecting my own to supplement her's. The force of their blows was distributed between us. It was the only reason we could hold out so long.

"Unnnh." Asami's arm quivered with effort. "I can't hold it."

I couldn't respond. I felt like they were going to rip my arms off.

And that was when the ground shook once more. A familiar energy began to permeate the air. I turned to Korra and saw she was still focused in her meditation. She'd almost done it. Just a few moments more....

Green light came from the horizon and moved overhead, forming a Green Lantern symbol in the sky above. CHILDREN OF THE WHITE LOBE. LEAVE.

"No," the female leader hissed, her face showing rage and disbelief. "It can't happen this way!"

Beams of emerald energy erupted from the ground beneath us. In turn each Child was engulfed and fell to the ground, out of the fight. They started to scatter while the energy sought them out. More green light erupted from the hole created by the drill. The drill was blown apart in the space of a few seconds, sending metal flying everywhere.

Mogo was awake.

Asami let out a small noise and the green dome around us vanished. She fell over. I fell to my knees myself. My arms felt like numb rubber and I doubted I could lift a mouse with my remaining strength.

"The planet's awake," Korra said. She opened her eyes. "Asami!"

We arrived at her side together. "Feel like I haven't slept in days," Asami muttered weakly.

"I can imagine," I said. "If you want to rest, feel free. The worst is over."

"Yeah. The planet's going to take care of everything," Korra added. She looked to me. "I... you told us it was a living planet, but I had no idea how big it was. I felt like a drop in an ocean."

I nodded at her.

And then, as if to punish me for my earlier remark, I saw a small figure get off the ground and dart toward us. The female leader - I never caught her name - screamed at us. "In the name of the White Lobe!"

I was reaching for my sonic disruptor. Korra gathered in energy to bend air or fire or anything at her. But I had the bad feeling that when she turned herself into a blink bomb... it wouldn't matter.

And that was when a green sphere of light surrounded the survivor and lifted her skyward. She screamed in rage before destroying herself. I looked up and saw several figures descend to the ground. I recognized quite a few, including two of the Earth Lanterns: Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner. Given the rush in my system, I suppose I could be forgiven a smirk and saying, "Ah, you lot finally get here after we finish everything up."

The reply was a snort and a smirk from Guy Gardner.

The Lanterns saw to the cleanup. Several were tasked to taking the freed sentients back to their worlds. Others went to work on cutting up what was left of Ranx and returning it to space.

Our assorted injuries were tended to by the Green Lantern physician Soranik Natu. I used a regenerative to help hasten the healing of Naga's snapped foreleg. Korra was sitting beside Asami who was getting the attention from Soranik now. She was holding the dead Lantern's ring in her hand. "Taking on a bunch of those scary little bastards as a rookie?" Guy let out a whistle. "Nice slinging, kid. Up for it full time?"

Asami smiled at him. Some color was starting to return to her face. "It's... not my thing. I have a life back on my world."

"Your choice, kid." I glanced over at that and noticed Guy was giving them quite the look. I let out a little sigh before returning my attention to my patient. I gave Naga a pat on the muzzle. "There you go girl. Feel better?"

The polar bear dog replied with a happy chuffing sound and an increase in her tail wagging.

"Good." I looked to the others. Kyle was looking at me with... consternation.

Yes, I imagined he would. Nevertheless I walked over to him. "Is everything all right?"

"Thank you for saving Mogo," he said to me. "We'd have never realized what was going on in the nick of time."

"That's quite alright," I answered. A thought came to my mind but I didn't give it words. In truth, this was the second time I'd saved Mogo, although this time it was directly.

The last time... well, I had been the Time Lord Triumphant, and I had interfered in an event and as a ripple effect prevented Mogo from being destroyed. As you can imagine, I don't like to talk about that time.

"I want to ask something," Kyle said. He looked like he had come to an uncomfortable resolution, that something had been gnawing at him.

I had a feeling of what it was. "Yes?"

"Why did you do it?"

I blinked. "Narrow that down? Why did I do what?"

"The Reverse-Flash," Kyle answered.

"Ah." I nodded quietly. "Yes, I imagined that was what you'd bring up." I looked away. "He was trying to kill Nora Allen in the past. He intended to ruin Barry's future and provoke Barry into doing something... monumentally unwise. So I stopped him."

"I'm not against that," Kyle said. "I've met Mrs. Allen, she's a sweetheart. But Thawne..."

I nodded and looked skyward. "Yes. I was in a... terrible mood at that time, Kyle. A very nasty mood. I was... well, I was going too far." Thoughts of what happened with Nerys came to my mind. "I didn't kill him, though. If that's what you're thinking."

"We know," Kyle answered. "You left him at the accretion disc of a black hole's event horizon. If he ever stops running over the debris..."

"...he'll fall into the event horizon and be stretched into a spaghetti noodle, yes." I sighed. Such had been my thinking as the Time Lord Triumphant. "As I said, a very nasty mood. Haven't you lot tried to get him out?"

Kyle looked uncomfortable. "A couple of times. But you put him right on the line. The slightest shift in his velocity in the wrong direction and he goes in. And if we get too close, we join him."

"Ah. And I suppose that given his background, nobody wants to risk that much for the man." I nodded stiffly. "I understand." I let out another sigh, this one more resigned. "I take it I'm not welcome back on Earth now?"

Kyle answered me with a little shake of his head. "That depends."

"Depends? On whether or not I'm looking to make another example like Thawne, I presume."

"Just about," Kyle confirmed.

"Well... I shall avoid doing such, then." I brought my eyes back down from the sky and looked to Kyle. "I'm better now. Although I admit I don't go by the name of 'the Doctor' anymore. That name... has too much power."

"Sounds like quite a story," he said to me.

"It is," I confirmed.

"Well, we have a while." Kyle used his ring to project a table and chairs. "Why don't you tell me?"

I swallowed. "I... prefer not to talk about it," I said. "You've heard the saying that the road to Hell is paved by good intentions?"

"I have."

"I learned the wisdom of that saying first hand," I said, my voice low and hard. "And someone I cared for nearly killed herself stopping me from going too far. It woke me up to what I had become. And the price was almost too high."

At that Kyle gave a nod. "It's a story my circle can be familiar with."

"I imagine so." I extended a hand. "I've enjoyed this talk, Kyle. Thank you for being honest in what was on your mind."

He eyed my hand and, after a moment, took it. "You're welcome." After the handshake he asked, "So, why did you come here again?"

"To give Korra some time with Mogo," I answered. "I thought he might be able to help her with some problems she's suffering. Spiritually, mentally."

"He's good for that."


"You're always swell like that, Mogo. You said the same thing last time."


I blinked. And then realization dawned. "Oh, yes. Um... sorry, spoilers there. Suffice to say that I saw you much earlier in my timestream. You were quite the host." I nodded. "And I suppose that explains how you knew me back then."


"Perfunctorily, yes. Just tell him 'spoilers', he'll understand," I replied.


By the next day the Lanterns had left. I had the TARDIS in a clearing, the same lake that I had seen so long ago when my journey was beginning. I had encouraged everyone to get some time in with Mogo and ventured off myself, returning to the meadow I'd seen years ago. I remembered seeing things there. I didn't remember what, but I remembered the event and that it had to do with my past. The box in my head had taken in even the perfect memory of a Time Lord.

I sat in the clearing again and rubbed at my aching arms. The conversation about what I'd done as the Time Lord Triumphant had scraped at that old wound. It was not a pleasant remembrance. I felt guilt and horror at my behavior. I remembered Thawne's face, his pleas for mercy, as I stranded him on that accretion disc and doomed him to run forever. My moods had been so dark back then.


The voice made me look up even as recognition kicked in. I drew in a sharp breath. Mogo was using his own power in an attempt to soothe me, and like with others he called forth someone I had lost.

I knew it wasn't her. But my voice still croaked, in disbelief, "Katherine?"

The illusion of Katherine Steiner-Davion, the little girl I had nudged since childhood into becoming better than she would have been, got into the grass in front of me. He depicted her in a sleeveless blouse and ankle-length dress of light blue and yellow with red and orange patterns; a favored suit of hers that combined the colors of her family. "I'm sorry you're hurting so much," she said.

I almost broke out into tears just looking at her. It reminded me of how she had looked after the bomb. I closed my eyes, as if to will that image out of my head. "I failed you," I murmured. "I could have saved you."

"Maybe it was I who failed you," she said sadly. "I gave you my worship when you needed a partner."

"No," I said, hoarsely. "That's not it."

"I just... couldn't help it. From the time I was a child you were... utterly magnificent."

Her hands took mine and I opened my eyes. I felt warm tears on my face. She smiled at me with all of the radiance she had ever possessed. As much as I knew, rationally, that this was Mogo creating an image of Katherine from my thoughts... deep down a part of me didn't want that to be true. I wanted it to be her. "You did so much for me. You saved me from myself," she said. "If only I could have done the same for you."

"You can't blame yourself for that," I said, ignoring that fact that it really wasn't her. "It.... Katherine, oh Katherine, I could have saved you. So easily. If I'd just... if I'd just paid attention to what was going on....!"

At that she pressed my hands together inside of hers. Her smile remained sweet. "You gave me so much joy and wonder, Doctor. Please don't let this be how you remember me. I'd rather you remember the things we did together, the places we saw and the people we met. The good we did. Don't let the tragedy get in the way of the good."

As "Katherine" said those words I realized the truth in them. How much of my woe could be traced to my grief for Katherine, my guilt and self-hatred and my frustration and fury? I had allowed her death to poison me. It was still in me, in fact, affecting my decisions.

Again, I knew these were not Katherine's words. They were Mogo's, through my memories of her. But... they were what I needed to hear.

I put my hand on her cheek and opened my eyes. Again, just for a moment, I let myself think it was the sweet young woman who had traveled for so long with me, who had from the time she was a child dreamed of the many wonders I would eventually show her as an adult. I pushed the memory of what the bomb had left of her from my mind and focused on her as she was in life. Smart and endearing and so, so brilliant.

"Thank you," I murmured. To the specter of Katherine, to Mogo, maybe to myself... it didn't matter to whom, but that the words were said. "Thank you," I repeated.

I stood up, wiped the tears from my eyes, and returned to the TARDIS.

Night was falling for us. I found Asami and Korra leaning beside Naga, who was nuzzling Korra with her muzzle playfully. There were tears in their eyes. I presumed Asami had seen her mother. Korra.... hrm, a good question there, she hadn't lost anyone that I could think of. Maybe a grandparent?

No. I knew who. But I didn't bring it up. "So." I sat between them and rested against Naga's warm fur. I could feel her steady breath under my head. "Everyone enjoy Mogo after all this fuss?"

"An entire living planet." Asami's voice showed her wonder. "I never imagined it before. I mean, a planet as a single living thing."

"Well, technically Mogo has other living things as part of him. But, yes, I do see your point." I looked to Korra. "And you?"

"It's been great." She nodded. "But I wish we hadn't been so close to losing him. I'm still not as good as I was. I can't get over what happened."

"It won't happen overnight," I pointed out. "I brought you to Mogo to begin your healing process, Korra, not to heal it all in one go."

She let out a growl of frustration. "Yes, but I could have done so much more to fight them. That Lantern..."

"Lakanar," Asami said quietly. I blinked. I hadn't gotten his name, I had to admit.

"....if I had been in shape, he wouldn't have died," Korra lamented.

"No guarantee of that. We were up against some tough opposition this time." I looked over to her. "And you still saved the day in the end. We would never have bought enough time if you hadn't been able to awaken Mogo. That was something only you could do."


"You're welcome, Mogo," she answered. She closed her eyes and sighed. "I just wish I could focus on my fights like I used to."

"I understand that. Although consider that sometimes... maybe not fighting is the best way."

That made her blink. "Yeah, sure, there are times I shouldn't."

"Yes. And you need to remember that." I gave her a pat on the shoulder. "Being the Avatar isn't just about throwing fireballs at people, after all. Bringing balance and peace to the world requires peaceful work too. That's something I try to do whenever I can. Whenever I'm allowed, really."

"I'm not a very good diplomat," Korra pointed out.

"Well..." I smiled at her. "I suppose we can work on that too."

"We all will," Asami said. "Together."

"Right indeed." I lowered my head back against Naga again and looked up into the twinkling stars. They joined me.

"So, where are we going next?", Asami asked.

"Wherever the TARDIS takes us, I suppose," I answered. "But I'm sure we'll enjoy it. For given values of enjoy."

And that was how our conversation for the night ended, and with it this particular adventure.

An adventure that, it would turn out, had far greater weight in my overall story that I had imagined at the time.

”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-07 10:45am

Short 30 - Time Heals

I woke up when I heard the thump, followed by a loud growl of sheer frustration. I got out of the library recliner, where I had dozed off while reading a book on hyperdimensional physics, and ventured towards the source of the noise.

In one of my spare rooms, Korra had set up a sparring area. She'd put on one of her sparring suits and Asami was in the same. Discarded staves were in one corner; instead they were facing off with... at that point I blinked. Korra wasn't holding anything but had adopted a fighting stance. Asami was wielding a firearm-style device. I noticed the side of it had a thermal amplifier, a nifty little heat generator that utilized subspatial energy transference that I'd picked up after one too many trips to very cold places. I narrowed my eyes with suspicion.

Asami looked cautious, but her finger still stroked the trigger. Bursts of flame, increasing in size, lashed out. I felt the heat of the flames on my skin as they surged at Korra. Her arms whipped around and drew fire to herself; she was firebending a defensive firebreak to stop the attack. She deflected several of the bursts that way and surged forward toward Asami. Asami took a step backward and fired the largest bolt yet. Korra put her hands through it, bending the flame back...

...and she froze in her tracks.

Her posture became rigid and inflexible. The familiar look of surprised panic crossed her face and she stopped in place briefly before she fell backward. Asami held the device away and looked at her somberly. Frustration came to Korra's face and a tear formed in one eye. "I'm getting so tired of this!", she said angrily.

I didn't speak. It would only make her feel worse.

"You're getting better though." Asami offered her a hand to get back up. At about this point they seemed to notice I was present. "Oh. We didn't wake you up, did we?"

"Oh, I'm fine," I answered quickly. And then I yawned in defiance of that statement. Cursed yawning. "Interesting use of my thermal generator, Asami."

"Oh. Well, yes," she said. After helping Korra up she set the flamethrower aside. "I just needed something for the practice since I can't actually firebend."

"Ah." I gave a nod. "Well, since we're all up..." A thought crossed my mind on where to go next. "...perhaps a visit somewhere is in order."

"Where will we go this time?", Korra asked.

"To visit a friend," I answered plainly.

Korra recognized the building I materialized the TARDIS beside even with all of the snow on it. Asami did not. "Where is this?"

"Chicago, the Windy City," I answered. "And we're about to intrude upon the very cramped apartment of the city's only professional wizard." Seeing the unknowing look on her face, I added, "You remember Harry and Molly and Michael, right?"

Asami nodded in realization. "Oh, this is where they're from?"

"Yes. Harry's apartment is down here." I took a quick glance and confirmed the Blue Beetle was parked. Asami gave it a curious look as we walked past. I led them down the steps to the doorway and brought a warning hand up. "Don't touch anything. Harry's protective wards are rather lethal." I gave the door a good knock.

It took rather longer than I imagined, but soon the security door wrenched open with protest and Harry stood in the doorway. He had a new scar on his face and had his hand on his head. "Ah, hey." He gestured. "Come on in, Doc."

I looked at him squarely for a moment. "You know how I feel about that."

"No, I know how you feel about the full title," he answered. "But the shorthand is something different. And maybe I'm just being a lazy bastard right now. Or channeling my inner Bugs. You can decide it for me because I have a splitting migraine headache right now."

I nodded and we entered. I overheard Asami whispering, "'Doc', we should've thought of that" to Korra.

Harry's apartment was, well, not too cold despite the winter chill; his fireplace was lit and heating the small space. Books lined his shelves as usual and candles provided light.

"Uh, what happened to your face?", Korra asked.

"I had a disagreement with a fellow wizard," Harry said flippantly, crashing back into his couch. "He took me outing him to the Council as a traitor sort of personally."

"Peabody, I presume?", I asked.

Harry gave me a look. "Oh, don't even pretend you don't know already, Mister Time Lord," he scoffed.

"Well, if it makes you feel better..."

"What would make me feel better is finding the assholes who were working with him." Harry let out a sigh and focused his eyes on my new Companions. "So you're bringing Korra along with her cute friend, I see. How have you been doing?"

"Oh, that's a long story. Short version is that I got so wound up that I put my essence and mind into a fob watch and turned my body into a Human school teacher in the Federation." I frowned. "Then he fell in love and had a nice life just to have Starfleet come looking for me because the Borg were coming. I'd angered them rather badly during my Triumphant days. So to stop the Borg he opened the watch and I came back."

Harry nodded. "Yeah. I see. And her?" He looked to Korra. "You're a bit different."

Korra nodded quietly. "I... yeah."

Asami and I remained quiet while Korra spoke. She didn't use many few words to lay out what happened with her uncle and then with the Red Lotus. Harry's expression showed increasing sympathy. "Yeah," he finally said. "Metallic poisoning. Horrible thing to do."

"I still see Zaheer in my nightmares," she said. "Even outside of them. It seems whenever I'm in a fight, I'll remember that battle and freeze up."

"Psychic trauma," Harry answered. "Probably because having that spirit inside you in the driver's seat made you susceptible to it even without a direct attack on your mind and spirit. Although maybe it's just plain old PTSD."

"PT..." Korra blinked and looked to me. "You used that before, didn't you?"

"Post-traumatic stress disorder," I answered.

"Yeah." Korra lowered her eyes. "I'm just tired of feeling this way. It's silly because I'm worlds away from Zaheer and it's like a part of me is afraid he or one of his followers is going to pop up and do it again."

"Hey, they did try, it's not surprising to be afraid of it happening again," Harry said. "And I know what it's like, kid."

Korra looked at him. "What do you mean?"

Harry tapped the scar on his face. "This is just the new one." He pulled off his robe and lifted his shirt up to show a nasty scar along his belly. "This was from a nasty old wizard who thought I was hiding a magic coin from him." He indicated a bullet wound scar on his arm next. "Some law agents who went too far and were running around with hexenwulf belts."

"Hexenwulf?", Asami asked.

"Magic belts that turn you into a wolf," he explained.

Of course, that didn't entirely narrow it down for Asami. "What kind of wolf? Wolf-bat?"

Harry stared at her for a moment. "Wolf-bats? Seriously?" When they nodded he shook his head. "Stars and stones, that sounds... horrid."

"That's because you've never seen a spider-rat," I remarked, smirking.

Harry shook his head again. "And I thought the idea of weregoats was bad. Jesus, spider-rats."

"What's on your wrists?", Korra asked.

"Thorn manacles. A White Court Vampire tried to sell me to my enemies on eBay once." When he saw Korra's eyes going to his left hand - which had been gloved when they first met - he added, "Black Court vampire minion with a flamethrower. Back then my shield wasn't made to resist actual heat. He nearly cooked my hand off. It's had a few years to heal."


"And that's just the scars." He put a hand on her shoulder. "I know what it's like to be dragged into darkness by monsters, kid. I've been made helpless before. It's not fun. And every one of those things has stayed with me for years. Hell, your uncle sounds a lot like my foster father, so I've been there too."

"Will I ever get better?"

"Sure. But that's not the same as the dreams ending. You just... learn to live with it." Seeing the look on her face Harry sighed and got up, going over to where he had his duster hanging. "Let me make a couple of phone calls. I think I know just who you need to talk to."

I stood between Harry and Asami as we watched Korra twist around, throwing bursts of air with a series of punches and kicks. Those air bursts would have ordinarily been enough to knock someone over with the slightest imbalance.

Karrin Murphy ducked under one, sidestepped another, and then took a leap over a gust Korra generated with a low kick and closed the distance. Her hands took Korra by the arm and moments later Korra was flat on her back and pinned to the mat. "You're telegraphing your movements," Murphy said, barely looking winded despite the exercise. "Your form is still pretty good, but you're relying too much on muscle memory and you're not thinking it through."

"She's fast," Asami said, a little surprised.

Korra gave me a frustrated look. "Is this more of that 'therapy' you're always talking about? Being reminded I can't fight anymore?"

"You have to find out what's wrong before you can fix something." Murphy released her from the pin. "You're out of practice."

"But I train all the time," Korra protested.

"You were off your feet for a year, right?", Murphy asked. "It can take a lot of time to make up for that. I've seen it before." She gave a look at Harry. "It takes time to make up for lost training. As I've told certain wizards repeatedly for the last decade."

"I have a limited tolerance for getting smacked around by short angry chicks," Harry retorted with that deadpan grin he liked to show when he was teasing.

"Funny, because it sounds like you want it to happen, Harry," Murphy answered, smirking. She stood beside Korra. It emphasized the joke about Murphy's height; Korra was barely five and a half feet tall and still had about half a foot on Murphy.

Having made her retort to Harry, she turned to Korra and put a hand on her arm. "Hey. I've been through a lot of crap myself. I remember being just as impatient as you are now when it comes to getting over something that messes your head up like that. It's going to take time. I know that sucks, believe me, but there's no getting around it."

"It's not just that," Korra said quietly. "I don't even know if I'm needed anymore. I'm supposed to be responsible for my world and it seems like it's not even necessary any more."

"Ah, I know that feeling too. It's part of being a cop." Murphy folded her arms. "People don't need you or want you until they do, if you get what I mean?"

"I think I do," she answered. "But it's... I mean, there are people doing the things I should have been doing if I wasn't stuck recuperating."

"Always tough to see other people doing your work when you're not able," Murphy agreed. "You have to work through it. Same as everyone." Murphy wiped at her forehead with the sleeve of her white gi suit. "So, are you planning on staying around for a while? I could show you a few things so you're not relying on being able to throw fireballs with your punches."

"Well... " She looked to me. "Doc?"

I narrowed my eyes, my expression betraying humor and some manufactured irritation. When Harry saw my look and chuckled I shot a glare at him. "You're encouraging them," I accused.

"Who, me? Nah. From where I stand, Korra and Asami don't need the encouragement... Doc."

"I swear, Dresden..." I looked back to Korra. "If you want to spend some time practicing with Sergeant Murphy, I have no objections. My palate will have to suffer Harry's infatuation with Burger King, admittedly..."

Asami blinked. "Burger... King?"

A sharp laugh came from Murphy. "You... haven't introduced them to the idea of fast food, have you?"

"That was one horror I was trying to spare them from, I admit," I answered flippantly.

"Fast... food?", Korra asked, looking intrigued.

"Oh, this is going to be fun," Harry said, his face twisting into an amused smirk.

"Oi, Harry..."

And so, yes, despite my best efforts my Companions were introduced to the artery-clogging horror that is American Fast Food.

The ride back to Harry's apartment in the Blue Beetle was a trial. Okay, living in the Southern Water Tribe had further acclimated me to the cold, but being pushed into Harry's little Volkswagen for the trip in both directions was the worst part.

"This really doesn't look more advanced than a Satomobile," Asami said after we pulled out of the accursed Burger King. "I mean, the materials are the same."


"Her father is her world's version of Henry Ford," I explained from my cramped front seat position.

"Oh really? Ha."

I looked back and saw that she had ignored my mention of her father due to the thoughts spinning in her head. Suddenly I imagined "Sato-beetles" filling the roads of Republic City and elsewhere. "I wouldn't mind getting a look at the engine."

"I suppose," Harry said. "You'll have time for that." He gave me a questioning look. He clearly had the same thought; Asami learning about the technology of this time period might influence her world's technological evolution. I answered with a shrug.

When we returned to his apartment parking place it was a small challenge to unfold myself from the seat. "If you do try to build some of these, Asami, do give them more legroom," I pleaded.

Harry snickered in response to that. "If I can drive the Beetle for ten years, you can stand riding it for a day or two," he answered.

After exposing my innocent companions to the greasy excuse for food that is American fast food, we called it a night and returned to the TARDIS for rest. The next day Harry came to let us know he was up. I met him at the door while the girls got ready for the day. He looked at the interior of the TARDIS for a moment before looking to me. "So what are your plans? Going to keep Korra around until Murphy's gotten her fighting again?"

"Oh, I imagine in a few days we'll move on," I said in reply. "But it'd be nice to see if we can get her improving. She makes progress all the time but... I'm not sure she's recovering spiritually."

"She got knocked around pretty badly. They crippled her, left her helpless, even the most confident aren't going to bounce back from that. And she was just what, eighteen?" He shook his head. "She'd probably never even considered something like that possible. It's no wonder the kid's traumatized."


"Maybe she needs more than Murphy tossing her around the mat," Harry continued.

"Oh, she does," I agreed. "But there's only so much I can give."

"Especially with your whole identity problem, yeah."

I gave him a level look. He returned it. "I know Bob already went over the whole 'names have power' thing with you. What do you think that means if you're going around saying you don't have one?"

"So you're suggesting I just... make something up?"

"It's better than what you're doing right now." Harry motioned toward one of the interior doors. "I get you feel guilty over what happened to her..."

"I've spent the last year and a half dealing with that," I interjected in irritation.

"Yeah, and I still feel guilty over crap that happened ten years ago." Harry didn't feel it necessary to bring up exactly what but I could imagine it. Kim Delaney and Susan Rodriguez were the most prominent examples. "So I know it still bugs you."

"Of course it does," I hissed. "She trusted me to be there to help and I missed it because I gave in. You saw what I had turned into, Harry. I nearly got Nerys killed! And then when all of that was over... instead of toughing it out, I gave up on everything and created John to live a Human life. I ignored my responsibilities. Everything I had pledged to do. And Korra was hurt because of that."

"No, she was hurt because some maniacs tried to kill her," Harry retorted. "You don't know how things might have gone if you had shown up."

"I can be sure they would have gone better if I'd been there." I plopped down to sit on the stairs of the TARDIS. "Korra's lost so much, Harry. I could have spared her that."

"Maybe." he sat down next to me. "But sometimes... hell, I don't know what I'm saying. You know how I am with seeing women hurt."

"Oh, I know. It was why, if the TARDIS hadn't been repairing, I would have considered asking you and Molly to help get her back from Dorje." I smirked. "And I believe this is when Karrin would call you a chauvinistic pig," I opined.

"Or something like that, yeah. Point is, Doc, that you can't be looking out for us all the time. We've got our own battles to fight."

"Not that it will stop you from calling me in if it's big enough," I remarked.

"You've got me there," Harry admitted. "I, well, hell, I admit I regret giving you back the beacon sometimes. I think about what that skinwalker did to Thomas and how you might have been there to watch his back. Or given me more options to hide Morgan. Hell's bells, Morgan might still be alive..."

"Not exactly making me feel better there, Harry."

"Let me finish," he insisted. "I think about it, yeah, but when I really think about it... I'm not sure even you could have made things better in the end. I mean, that whole thing was pretty much a win-win for the bad guys. You couldn't have swayed the Council and against something like the skinwalker, well, you're not exactly the combat type Doc."

"True," I admitted. "I'm more of the idea man, with a healthy dose of teching things."

"And that's your strength and you should stick to it," Harry said. "My point is... you can't fix every situation, so stop worrying about what you weren't there to deal with."

He was right, of course. "I know you're right. But every time I saw her in that wheelchair..." I clenched a fist. "I honestly thought about dropping Zaheer into the middle of Winter, Harry. Several times."

"Yeah, I get that. But you didn't, and that's the important part."

"No, I did not." I almost told him I'd threatened to in order to put the fear of, well, me into Zaheer and whatever was left of the Red Lotus. But I held back. It wasn't something I wanted to bring up. "And your point is eloquently made in that infuriating way of your's."

"I'm a wizard. Sage advice comes in the territory." He waited a moment before finishing, "Still, I'll take that beacon back if you don't mind."

I knew, full well, the consequences of doing so. But I said nothing to that. I stood up and went to a container I'd set under the TARDIS controls. I took out the beacon and tossed it to Harry. He caught it one-handed. "There you go," I said.

He slipped it into his duster. I heard footsteps coming down the hall. Korra and Asami emerged ready for the day. "So, more practice today?", she said.

"Yes, but not with Murph. She called and said she'd have a full day from a case being punted over to SI. So, as soon as the Grasshopper shows up..."

There was a knock at the TARDIS door. I snapped my fingers to open the door. A winter-clad Molly Carpenter, with seasonable blue and white hair, stepped into the TARDIS. She was carrying a few accoutrements of her new trade, likely for training. Upon seeing me she smiled, and the smile grew when she saw Korra and Asami behind her. "Hey, you're back," she said softly. "And you've got Korra with you?"

I noticed her eyes tense. Concentration showed on Molly's features. I wondered just what she was doing and was answered in an unexpected way when her hand came up to her mouth to stifle a startled little sound. Her skin turned pale and she faltered backward. She almost fell but Harry caught her and held her up. "Molly?", he asked.

Hearing Harry seemed to jolt her back to attention. "Um... yes. It's good to see you all again." She looked at Harry. "So what about today's training?"

"It will be special today," he answered. "You won't be alone." He nodded to Korra.

"Oh." She seemed unsurprised by that.

"What's wrong with her?", Asami whispered to me.

"I have suspicions. Nothing terrible, though, so don't worry about it." I gave Molly a sympathetic look before stepping up to the TARDIS controls. "So, somewhere special? Or shall I generate a training room for you?"

"No, that won't do," Harry said. "There's a little spot outside of town that will work just fine."

I watched with interest while Harry put Molly through defensive combat training, employing Korra as an attacker. Which, coincidentally, gave Korra more time to practice her offensive forms. Molly's defensive shields were improving, at least, although she endured quite a few smacks from rocks sent flying toward her by Korra's Earthbending. I could see the look on Harry's face as the training progressed. We exchanged several glances; we both knew that Molly was disturbed at something and that it was impacting her performance.

There was a slip up in Molly's focus and Korra hit her in the cheek with a rock. "I'm sorry!", she shouted, rushing to where Molly had fallen. A bloody bruise formed on the wound. Korra pulled out her water bottle and began using the water in it to heal Molly. "I was aiming lower. I didn't mean to hurt you."

"It's... it's alright," Molly insisted. Her eyes lowered.

Harry stepped in at this point. "Alright grasshopper, take five. I'll step in here."

"No, I..." Molly let out a sigh and nodded in acqueisance. "Okay." She let Korra help her to her feet and walked over to join me at the stairway inside the TARDIS door. Outside Korra and Harry faced off, Korra attacking and Harry defending with his own defensive combat magics and techniques. She sat down.

I sat down beside her and looked over at her. "What's wrong, Molly?"

She looked at me with intense sympathy and concern. "It's... I'm not sure how to..."

"You looked at us with your Sight, didn't you?", I asked.

She nodded. "I was just curious, but... I didn't think it would..."

"Was it seeing Korra's Avatar Spirit? I know that powerful spiritual entities can have an effect upon wizards when observed like that."

There were tears forming in her eyes. "No, no it wasn't like that. It's... I can't explain it."

"Then don't." I took her hand. "I know how the Sight works. You can't forget what you just saw."

"Nope. It'll always be fresh for me."

I used the other hand to wipe away a tear. "I know what that's like, Molly. As a Time Lord, I have what you would call a photographic memory. Short of having my mind directly altered, I don't forget anything I see." Indeed, as I said that some of my... less pleasant memories popped into my head. "Here. Why don't you show me what you saw?"

Her eyes widened. "I... no. I... Harry told me no mind magic."

"Won't be on your end," I answered. I tapped my forehead with my right hand. "Telepathic touch power is something we Time Lords come equipped with. I'll connect to you slightly and you simply call up the image in your head. Show me what you Saw."

Molly wiped away a tear that threatened to smear her makeup. She looked deep in thought for the moment before nodding. "Okay. I... i guess. I don't think it'll make me feel any better..."

"Sometimes it helps just knowing that someone knows what's wrong," I said softly. "Now quiet your mind. As soon as you feel my contact, show me what you saw."

She nodded and closed her eyes. I brought my hand up to her face and gently pressed my fingers to her cheek and forehead. My eyes closed and I felt Molly's mind through the contact. I could feel the power that permeated her, the ability to wield the creative force of magic with her will. Had I pushed further I would have seen everything that there was to Molly Carpenter.

But I didn't do that. I kept the contact light. I did nothing while her mind focused, bringing up that new memory forever etched into her very soul.

And.... it was no wonder she'd reacted like that.

For one thing, looking at the TARDIS with the Sight would have overwhelmed someone not prepared for it. The entire control chamber was saturated with golden light. Exposure to the Time Vortex, I imagine.

But that was clearly not what had effected Molly so severely.

Asami was... Asami. She didn't look any different, really, save for the subtle aura of green that was around her. It was residue from her brief time wielding a Green Lantern power ring.

But Korra and I....

Korra was covered in white and blue light. Slightly above her hovered a spirit, broad winged and shaped like a kite, white colored with blue patterns. It was Raava, the Light Spirit that was at the core of the Avatar Spirit's being.

But that wasn't what had hurt Molly either.

Korra herself.... have you ever imagined what a person would look like while recovering from a savage beating? Not just a beating, but being degraded and bound and physically battered? That was how Molly saw her. Korra was covered in bruises and welts and cuts that created terrible purple and red marks on her dark tanned skin. Dried blood was still clinging to open wounds on her visible skin and her clothes were marked with similar splotches of red. Chains still hung from her wrists and by her ankles, complete with the shackles the Red Lotus had put her in. Everything about her conveyed intense suffering that would make someone's blood cool. Although her expression hadn't changed... the aura of energy around her conveyed more meaning than the face did. She looked more frightened and vulnerable. Uncertainty clouded her blue eyes.

As for me... in the Sight I looked like a recovering concentration camp victim. My already lean form was emaciated and weak. My eyes were sunken and bloodshot and black ringed my eye sockets. I looked like a strong breeze might blow me over.

It also looked like I wasn't even fully there. Like I was part real and part shade. Like I might just... wink out of existence.

I gasped audibly. No wonder Molly had been so shaken.

Seeing what our battered spirits looked like was heart-wrenching. It drove home how much Korra had suffered and what I had become from my own misdeeds. In a momentary loss of control I felt other familiar pains come to the surface. I imagined Jan and Cami after they'd been assimilated and the haunted looks they'd had after their rescue, still Borged up in Voyager's sickbay, when my hearts had broken at their appearance. I vividly remembered Katherine's sad remains after the bomb had been through with her. Nerys bleeding from her nose and mouth as radiation killed her, as I begged her to open the door and heard her refuse out of determination to keep me from my dreadful plan to eviscerate the Cardassian state with their own planet-wrecking Dreadnought missiles. The anguish I'd felt before I turned myself into John Smith-Stevens. It all came.

And because of my lapse of control... it also went into Molly's mind.

She cried out and pulled away from me, cutting the telepathic connection in the process. Her cry brought us the attention of the other three. "What just happened?", Asami asked.

"It's... it's fine," Molly gasped. "I... I didn't..."

"Grasshopper." Harry's voice was as stern as his expression. "What did you do?"

I got to my feet. "Nothing. It was me, Harry. I tried to help her with what she'd Seen earlier and lost control of my own memories. She saw some things."

"Katherine," Molly whimpered. "I can't believe.... what they did to her. And Jan and Cami..."

Harry's expression softened with understanding. He eyed me and I lowered mine in response. "It was my fault," I insisted.

"Yeah," he said. He looked to Korra. "Up for calling it a day?"

"Uh, yeah," she answered, not quite sure what had happened.

And so we did.

The following week was mostly, well, routine. Training for Korra, training for Molly, and some down time for everyone when Harry had to attend to Warden business. I found an alley I could stash the TARDIS in during those days so that Korra could get in her dojo practice with Murphy. Or rather, a combination of form practice and private talks, but that was the entire point of the exercise.

I was not surprised to see that Murphy had taught Korra a few things about martial arts that weren't common in her own world. I suppose I should have pondered how this might alter things there... but I was more concerned about seeing Korra get her spirit recovered.

The only thing of significant note for us happened that weekend. Molly had informed her family of our arrival in Chicago and the Carpenters had decided to invite us all over for a dinner. For the first time Korra and Asami met the other Carpenter children and Michael's wife Charity. And, most importantly, they met Michael again.

It was the first time I'd seen Michael in a long while. He had recovered enough to limp around in a cane but the damage still showed. He'd lost muscle and clearly had trouble seeing out of one eye. Given what he'd been like when he first met my Companions, it was quite a shock. But also, I think, it gave him a perspective that served well in talking to Korra. We all sat in the living room as the final preparations were made for dinner. Korra explained in brief what had happened and Michael was suitably warm and somber in his reply. "I'm happy to see you're healing," he said.

"I wish we'd been told about you," Korra answered. "Maybe Katara could have healed you and...."

Michael raised a hand. "What's done is done, Korra. It was my time. I'm only grateful I could still be here for my family." He reached over and put a hand on his youngest son's head. Young Harry Carpenter was busy playing with some play-doh. I almost swore I saw a strand of brown hair in it. I looked at Harry with a small grin, remembering when that same chunk had been firmly planted in his hair.

That made me sigh. Had that been so long ago? Why, yes. Yes it had.

"I can see you're still carrying your wounds," Michael said softly.

Korra nodded. "Yeah. It's like whenever I'm getting better something happens and... I slip back. I get flashbacks."

"Yes." There was a gentleness in his eyes. "But He never gives us burdens that our shoulders cannot carry. No matter how long it takes, have faith. Faith can light the way when no other path seems possible."

"Faith." Korra pondered the word.

"And the same for you." Michael looked at me. I remained still in the chair I'd taken. "Have faith, Doctor."

"Faith in God?", I asked quietly.

He smiled gently. "Of course. But you should also have faith in yourself."

I nodded at that. And I pondered.

Shortly after that, dinner was served.

The coda for this evening was the obvious one given the proclivities of the Carpenter family with such luscious snowfall.

The snowball fight that night was amusingly epic. It started with the children - all save Daniel, who was off to join the Army - and escalated when an errant snowball found its way to Asami's face. "Hey!", Asami protested. "Who threw that?!"

Everyone pointed at each other.

Asami let out a mock growl and reached to the ground to gather snow of her own. She tossed one at Amanda, already quite tall despite her age, and splattered the Carpenter girl in the face. Hope retaliated on her older sister's behalf and hit Korra. With an amused smirk on her face, Korra brought her hands up. "You want a snowball fight? This is a snowball fight." Snow lifted from the ground and compacted into little spheres. With a movement of one arm Korra sent them flying into the gaggle of Carpenter children, who shrieked with surprise and delight at the display of snow-based firepower. They promptly grabbed fresh ammunition and returned fire. Korra used gusts of air and her own waterbending to deflect the attacks. "Ha!"

"If we're using powers...." Molly's voice seemed to come from nowhere... and then the girl, who stood at least five inches over Korra in height, appeared from behind a veil and unloaded two handfuls of snow down Korra's collar. Korra cried out in shock and twirled around, a giggling Molly running off as her siblings opened fire on the stunned Avatar. Asami took a snowball and tossed it at where she thought Molly was going due to her footprints. Molly apparently ducked.

Which meant the snowball plastered right into the side of Harry's head. He turned from where he had been talking to me and the Carpenters, who looked at him with knowing smiles as his eyes playfully narrowed. "Alright. If that's the way it's going.... ventas servitas!" With a gesture of his hand a powerful wind whooshed down and plowed up snow until it deluged Asami and Korra together.

I smiled at the Carpenters. "Excuse me." I looked to Harry and tapped his shoulder. "Sir, I shall remind you that they are my Companions." At which point I brought my sonic disruptor out from under my coat and directed a relatively weak force blast into the snow in front of Harry, throwing it up with enough force to cover him and bowl him over. With my hearing I directed another blast... which became a Molly-shaped form briefly before she became visible again and fell over.

At that point, four Carpenter children hit me with a series of snowballs. Korra came out from under the man-made snow flurry Harry had buried her with and started flinging snow madly. Within moments, the only two people in the backyard who were not in the fight were the Carpenter parents themselves, who watched and laughed.

Indeed, the festivities became active enough that Mouse jumped in, tail wagging. Which meant Naga jumped in. I think it was the first time Mouse faced down a fellow canine (or, well, part canine) who was larger than he was. And therefore chaos rained.

I also got ran over by Naga. But it didn't put a real damper on the evening's festivities.

All things said... the night was fun. The kind of fun that's good for the soul and makes for happy memories. The kind my Companions and I needed at that point.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-08 11:06am

Short 31 - The Little Things That Count

Bright lights covered the alien night sky of T'gurmai. Patterns of yellow and gold and blue and red twirled about and obscured the stars. "That's a... nebula, right?", Korra asked.

"Yes," I answered. "This planet's star system is at the edge of the nebula."

"And a nebula is... it's where stars and suns get created?"

"Those are the same thing," I reminded Korra gently. "And yes, in general. It takes a long, long time though."

"How long?"

"Oh, millions of years."

Korra seemed to consider that for a moment. "That's..."

"...hard to grasp, isn't it? A period of time so long that the entirety of your recorded history is barely a blink of an eye." I raised my eyebrows to make my expression thoughtful-looking. "Things are different at the cosmic scale. It's slow, quiet, and utterly inexorable. Galaxies colliding, stars going nova, gamma ray bursts scouring entire solar systems..."

"So in the long run, we don't really matter, do we?" Asami stepped up beside us. "The universe just keeps going, no matter what we do?"

I shook my head. "Oh, not at all. Life always matters. Species rise and make their mark on the universe all the time. Humans are no different, as you've both seen so far." I put a hand on Asami's shoulder very gently. "You're still make your mark, Asami, don't worry."

Getting to the core of her sudden concern - whether her own futurist mentality was worth anything and assuring her that it was - seemed to settle her. "Yes, I... you're right," Asami said. "It's just a little overwhelming..."

I smiled. "That's the fun of it. So much out here. You just have to remember that the scale of a universe doesn't make everyday life irrelevant. Not to you and others. That's what matters."

Korra's eyes were thoughtful when she glanced back to me. "Will we be traveling between stars one day?"

"Oh, I don't see why not," I answered. "Not sure what system your people will stumble upon. But sure, it'll come one day."

"Yeah." She nodded. The sad look on Korra's face told me why. She knew that she wouldn't be around for it. At least... not as she was now. It would be a different Avatar who got to see their world go into space. Well, to other systems, I imagined Korra could easily live long enough to see the first astronauts of her world.

"Look on the bright side," I said. "When that time comes, you'll be there in spirit. The Avatar of that age will be coming to you for guidance, I suspect."

"Are you saying you won't be traveling with the Avatars after me?", Korra asked.

Oooh, tricky question. "Oh, not at all," I said. "But I haven't met your successors yet. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't. But what is certain is that you'll have that experience that your future lives can look back upon when needed."

I couldn't keep the sad look off my face, not with the thought that crossed my head. I.... had a time limit. Korra would reincarnate one day. Ordinarily I would have quite a few lifetimes coming after this one myself. But... I didn't. I'd spent all my regenerations on the Crucible. For the first time I felt a tinge of regret at that. At the loss of what might have been, how one day a future regeneration of myself might have joined with one of Korra's future lives and be his or her friend like I was Korra's.

But... I was it. Once I was gone, it was over. In a thousand years or maybe fifteen hundred at the most, I would be old and I would die. And the journey would be over.

Okay, I admit it is a bit selfish to complain about that when I would still have a much longer life span. But the thought was there and I admit to it. Best I can do.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-08 11:07am

Short 32 - Heroes

As much as I wanted to keep my Companions as safe as possible, sometimes the TARDIS - or simple circumstance - would get other ideas. Therefore I accidentally brought Korra and Asami on a few... unexpected adventures during our time. And there was much running to be had.

But sometimes running was not an option.

I stepped out of the TARDIS without giving any kind of introduction. I had learned my lesson over the years; don't tempt fate or whatever by openly talking about some pleasant vista or awe-inspiring sight, otherwise you'll stop mid-sentence when you're staring at a horde of ravenous xenomorphs swamping a settlement or some other dire situation that promises imminent danger and loss of life and limb.

On this occasion, I was rewarded for my caution. Instead of the fine sapphire beaches of Jamala we were in a structure. It looked like a plant of some sort, with coolant lines running about, and I could see writing specifying various safety warnings. Yellow lights were circling around us for an alert of some sort. I could hear distant sounds consistant with someone inflicting property damage.

And given the particular trefoil insignia I spied on the wall, this was going on in a nuclear reactor. "Oi," I grumbled. I brought out my sonic screwdriver to scan the environment.

Asami and Korra stepped up behind me. "I've seen that symbol before," Asami said. "Isn't this related to that 'nuclear power' technology you talked about?"

"Yes. We're in a nuclear power plant having an accident of some sort," I answered. "Hrm... no major radiation yet... but I do think there may be a..."

I was rudely interrupted by the wall exploding inward. It wasn't close enough to cause us harm but we did get some drywall and the like rained down on us. I brought my arm up in time to shield my eyes from the fine grains of crushed material that would have blinded me otherwise.

As I brought my arm down I spied a large humanoid robot stomping into the room. With a sweep of his arm he ripped through the coolant lines and sent water spewing everywhere. The radiation in the room spiked. But it already had, the moment the metal monster came in.

Given that his main color outside of metal gray was bright green... well, let's just say the chunk of glowing green rock visible inside his chest was the final tipping point for an identification.

"Metallo," I muttered.

"Who?", Asami asked.

"Criminal or mercenary or whatever who was stuck in a robot body," I explained. "He's fueled by kryptonite, a radioactively charged rock that's the leftovers of a planet that exploded years ago. Prolonged exposure is bad for anyone, but short-term exposure is extremely bad for an acquaintance of mine."

By this point Metallo turned and seemed to notice us. "Ah yes, I've heard of you." The voice he used was vaguely English in accent. "The Doctor, is it?"

"Not much anymore," I answered.

"The Society knows what you did to Zoom," Metallo said. He brought up his arm and a cannon of some sort shifted into place. "I'll be well rewarded for bringing them your carcass."

I activated my sonic first to disrupt Metallo's internal hardware. It did... absolutely nothing.

Bloody deadlock seals.

An emerald beam of light smashed into my chest before I could get my sonic disruptor up. My clothing caught fire from the heat and I definitely endured at least a first degree burn over part of the impact point.

It took me a few moments to get my wits again. I looked up to see ice forming around Metallo. Korra's arms swung about in a waterbending form, turning the coolant water gushing from the broken pipes into ice to freeze him. Once the ice was formed around his figure she changed stances. I recognized the Earthbending form she adopted. She made several movements but nothing happened.

"Is that all, young lady?", Metallo asked, as if bored.

"He's made of purified alloys, Korra, you can't Metalbend him!", I shouted. I felt the grimace on my face as I got back to my feet, feeling like my chest had been set on fire. Which, granted, it had been.

Korra swapped tactics, turning to Firebending and Airbending, pummeling Metallo with both and trying to knock him off his feet. Unfortunately, Metallo was built for some severe punishment given his usual quarry and neither techniques did much.

Metallo finished breaking out of the ice as Korra started Earthbending again, summoning up a thick wall of stone from the ground beneath us to stop him. He was already in mid-leap when the wall finished emerging. It exploded with a loud and angry rumble and sent chunks of earth flying toward us. Korra grunted as one scraped across her bare left shoulder, drawing blood, and another smacked her in the ribs. She readied to counterattack as Metallo charged.

And she froze up. I could see the stiffness in her posture that came with the anxiety attacks she could suffer in combat. "Korra!", I screamed, hoping to snap her out of it before Metallo could land a punch.

Asami jumped in from the side, clambering onto Metallo's back and unbalancing him just enough that Korra could stumble backwards out of his intended blow. I rushed to her and put checked her wounds. Nothing serious. Her blue eyes were wide with paralyzing fear. I cursed our luck at getting drawn into this.

Asami's glove crackled and surged electricity into Metallo. He growled in irritation and swung around, trying to grab her while Asami shifted her weight and position on his back to try to avoid his arms. In what seemed to be an inspired moment, Metallo turned and brought himself into a rushing geyser of water from one of the burst coolant lines. The electricity coursed over him, but it also coursed through the water.

The water that was now covering Asami as well.

Asami cried out in pain and went limp. She hid the floor with a thud.

Freed of that distraction, Metallo turned back to us... just as I brought up my sonic disruptor. "We know how to block your devices, Doctor," Metallo informed me candidly. "I have the proper sealing systems to prevent you from doing anything to my hardware or software."

"Oh really?" I shrugged. "How about we try this?"

With a command through the neural interface, I maxed out the capacitor output on the sonic disruptor and set it to Setting 4, narrow effect. Metallo's gun arm came back up, but I was faster this time. An invisible wave of kinetic energy came from my sonic disruptor's tip as it lit up with purple light, giving off its customary loud whirring sound. It slammed into Metallo with all of the kinetic energy the disruptor could put out. So much that it overwhelmed my recoil compensators and nearly tore the disruptor out of my grasp.

The impact was enough. Metallo flew like he'd been struck by a cannonball. He slammed through the far wall and out into the open air of the nuclear power plant, crashing into a utility shed that promptly collapsed on him.

For my part, I gasped and rubbed at my bicep from the strain I'd just gone through. I looked to where Asami had fallen and to where Korra was getting back up. Since Asami wasn't moving yet I rushed to her side and scanned with my sonic. She was hurt. But not badly so. Thankfully not. Electrical burns on a few exposed parts of her hand and neck and bruising from where she hit the ground, mostly.

Korra got to our side and began collecting the coolant water to use for waterbending healing. "Help her," I said.

"What are you going to do?", Korra asked. I could see that she looked upset. No, not just that; it was shame, easily recognized.

"Keep Metallo busy," I replied. "Until help comes."

"Who can help fight that thing?", she asked.

"Oh, plenty of people." I held up the sonic. Its tip was lit up but its whirring sound was not audible now. At least not to Korra; I could hear it a bit. "And one in particular who should be showing up any second, if he's close enough. But I'll be making sure of that first. Just stay with Asami, alright? Make sure she's okay."

Korra nodded, but I could see she was still upset from freezing up. I gave her a wink before heading out of the hole in the wall into the open sunlight. The power plant's giant towers and reactor housing loomed to my right, the perimeter wall and more structures to my left. Ahead of me the utility shed began to shake. Metallo emerged from the rubble and started shooting his Kryptonite energy laser again. I deflected the blast with the sonic disruptor's setting 42 shield. He stood to his full height and poured the energy on, taking step after step toward me as I put my weight into holding the blast back. The strain on my arms grew by the second. But if I let go, another blast would do more than singe me.

And all the while Metallo grew closer and closer, keeping me stationary with his energy cannon's continuous beam while he got into range to strike at me physically. "What are you doing here anyway?", he asked in irritation. "You're not one of them. You're not a cape."

"Not much one for capes, yes," I replied, my voice strained. "But I'm not one to let maniacs irradiate cities either."

"You know you can't stop me. You're not a fighter."

"No." I smirked. "That's why I called one." I held up my sonic screwdriver with my free hand. The tip was still blinking purple to indicate it was in operation. "Ultra high frequency sonic pulse. I'm sure you know who can hear this one."

Metallo laughed. "Let him come. I'm...."

There was a blur of blue that crossed my vision. It slammed into Metallo and he flew backward yet again, through the utlity shed he'd destroyed before and then into the building behind it. With the beam terminated I was able to lower my arm. I rubbed at it.

There should have been a fanfare. Seriously. Kal-El - Superman, I mean - landed in front of me, arms crossed, cape fluttering in the wind. The quintessential Superman pose. "Kal-El, glad you could make it."

"Doctor." He answered me with a nod. "Passing through town?"

"More like an unexpected stop," I answered, walking up to stand beside him. I looked at him carefully. Everyone knew what I'd done during the rampage of the Time Lord Triumphant, specifically what I'd done to Professor Zoom, and I expected some sign of uncertainty from the Man of Steel.

He didn't flinch. He didn't show a single sign of ill feeling toward me. "Thanks for calling me in and stalling him."

"You're welcome."

Metallo got back to his feet and eyed us both. "Well isn't this a treat? Two prized heads instead of one."

"I have a radiation shield setting," I said in a low, sub-audible whisper that only Kal-El could hear. "I'll try to contain his Kryptonite core if he opens it up."

I received a nod of understanding as a reply.

Of course, plans rarely survive contact with the enemy. Metallo quickly proved that with his plans. He took shots at us that I absorbed with my sonic disruptor. He dodged Kal-El's heat beams and brought his weapon over and fired.

Green light speared the reactor building. Material crumbled away, bits of concrete and graphite and twisted lead. "There are still dozens of people in this plant," Metallo pointed out. "And how many hundreds, thousands, live downwind of this place?"

"Can you contain the radiation?" Kal-El asked me.

"Should be able to."

"Then I'll deal with Metallo." And like that, he was off, fists flying, dodging around Metallo's shots and striking the robot with solid punches. Metallo gave up on energy blasts and started punching back.

I turned away from that fight and ran to the reactor building. Radiation levels were not very high at the moment. Metallo's shot hadn't quite penetrated the reactor housing itself. I still had time.

I was joined at this point by Korra, who glided over to me on a rock slide made by Earthbending. She glanced to where Metallo and Superman were exchanging blows and her eyes widened. "He's flying?"

"Among many other talents," I said. "Listen, I need your help. Can your metalbending effect lead?"

"Uh... I think so." She looked to the metal scraps around us and made some motions. Pieces of lead came off the ground. "It looks like it. Why lead, though?"

"It inhibits radiation," I answered. "And graphite is a naturally-occuring semi-metal alloy, you should be able to bend that as well even if it's synthetic. I need you to repair that breach in the reactor structure while I contain the radiation. Use as much of the debris as you can."

"Radiation? Isn't it that energy that almost killed your friend Nerys?"

"Yes, yes it was. Thankfully this is not as bad. I can contain it with my disruptor. Ready?"

Korra nodded. I drew up the sonic disruptor and set it to shield the break in the reactor structure. Korra went to work with the broken and blasted remains of the structure.

All the while battle raged behind us. I couldn't see what was going on. I heard metal and Kryptonian-strong flesh clashing and the cries and grunts of effort from Kal-El. Crumbling sounds came as one or the other was knocked into a building.

Metallo must have realized his situation would become grave if the repairs were completed and the crew had time to secure the reactors. I had little warning before all of Korra's hard work was undone. Kal-El flew back into the repair work with enough force to destroy it. Even worse, though, was that he hit with enough force to further the damage and crack the reactor housing. Even with the reactor shut down, the radioactive elements within would still leak radiation into the air.

"What?!" Korra turned and made an Earthbending motion, summoning a wall of earth. A powerful green energy beam blasted it apart. The remnant energy slammed into her and sent her flying as well. She slammed into the structure and toppled over.

I turned at that point. "Maniac!", I shouted. "You're going to kill hundreds of people!"

"You have heard the saying about eggs and omelets, right?" Metallo leveled his weapon at me next. I caught the blast with my deflector shield setting. But that meant I wasn't using my shield to hold back the radiation. "You really come off as naive when you say things like that."

I suppose he had a point. But it didn't mean I was wrong. About him being a maniac, especially.

Getting shot by a kryptonite-fueled energy blast meant Kal-El took longer to get back up. Korra recovered first. I saw a fierce look cross her face. "That's enough!", she shouted.

And I felt the energy in the air shift as she entered the Avatar State.

With a movement of her arm a powerful gust of wind knocked Metallo's feet out from under him. Blasts of fire pummeled him with enough force to throw him back. Korra brought up an arm and a large chunk of earth ripped out from under Metallo's feet. He cried out in startlement and toppled over, falling into the hole left by the earth beneath. Korra's glowing eyes focused on him and she began to drop the earth on him.

And then she froze.

I could sense something was wrong when she did. For a moment she seemed to recoil. And then she contorted and the white lights vanished from her eyes. The earth came down again, but Metallo had the moment he needed to fire off the jets built into his feet. Under twin plumes of flame he rose into the air, narrowly avoiding the earth chunk that was crashing down, and slammed into Korra in mid-air. He forced her down and she cried out in pain. Given the impact point I was certain he'd broken at least two ribs.

I tried to intervene with a sonic disruptor blast. Metallo was forced off of her before he could shoot her. He stared at me for a moment. "Doctor, you seem to be forgetting something," he said calmly.

I narrowed my eyes... and then remembered what I had been doing. The radiation from the reactor would be.... oh yes. I saw the readings. It was spiking now that the containment housing had been damaged and torn open. If I didn't get my shield back over it lethal radiation would be the result, and with all of the dust and debris from the fight....

If that debris got irradiated before being blown away, fallout would spread for miles.

Of course, if I did go back to shielding the reactor, Metallo would kill Korra. And then me. Good odds of that.

"Contain the reactor!"

I turned my head and saw Kal-El rise from the rubble. "I've got this," he assured me. He took off, rushing toward Metallo before he could bring his foot down on Korra's head. I heard their collision as I turned back to the reactor and used the sonic disruptor to seal the reactor core with an energy shield. There were more sounds of battle.

And then Kal-El began groaning between punches. I turned my head enough to see the green light coming from Metallo. He had opened his chest cavity, directly exposing Superman to the energies of his kryptonite power cell. "This time you're not getting a reprieve," I heard the metal man insist. "This time you get to soak up the kryptonite's radiation until you simply stop."

I couldn't quite see. I knew Kal-El would be struggling to get up. But if that cell was fresh and laden with kryptonite radiation... he would be as weak as a kitten. I heard blows; undoubtedly a beating being administed by Metallo to his long-time foe. "It feels like Christmas. You, the Time Lord, and now I can drag that girl to the Society and see if she's worth anything. I'm sure they can find uses for her."

"No you won't..." I could hear the defiance in Kal-El's voice. I switched hands and turned as much as I could with my whole body to look. He was struggling to his feet and tried to throw a punch. Metallo caught it and began squeezing Kal-El's knuckles, eliciting a moan of pain. He drove the enfeebled Kryptonian back to his knees. "I'll stop you."

"Go ahead, keep saying that. I savor it." He looked to me with malice in his shining green eyes, quite an accomplishment for an emotionless robot face. "And you'll be next, Doctor."

I tried to think of what else I could do. I put my free hand into my pockets. If I had something I could use as a communicator, to contact one of Kal-El's comrades, then maybe I could get help in time to make a difference. I felt a phone and promptly put my sonic screwdriver into my mouth, using my teeth to grip it while I reached for the phone. I brought it out and....

....and Metallo promptly shot my hand, making me drop the phone. A second shot at my feet fried it.

"I don't think so," he said. He turned his attention back to Kal-El, now on all fours and looking ready to fall over. "Any moment now. Any moment..."

There was a sharp clang. The shining green light in Metallo's chest vanished behind a barrier of solid dark metal. "Wh-what?!", he stammered.

Korra was back to her feet. Her clothes were scorched. Her left arm was showing a burn and her face was twisted with effort and pain. She moved her hands around and more lead debris shot up from the ground, pummelling Metallo and adding to the barrier she'd put over his core. A chunk of lead wedged itself into his energy weapon attachment. He looked down and I could hear a snarl from his voice synthesizer. "Oh, very clever." He gripped at the lead to try and rip it out. Korra's hands made gripping motions and she made a pushing motion. The lead reacted, causing shrieks of protest from material as it was forcibly wedged into Metallo's chst cavity. "Stop it!", Metallo demanded. He brought up the weapon arm and fired. The lead obstacle plugging the front melted from the attack, but was just big enough that while it melted partially, it didn't get removed. Indeed, the flash-melting and resulting cooling affixed it to the barrel of the weapon. "Well, if you insist."

Korra sucked in a breath, focused, and adopted a defensive posture.

Metallo lunged at her. Before his fist could plant itself on her, Korra jumped over him with an Airbending somersault. She twisted around in mid-air and in a smooth motion created a spike of rock that slammed into, well... it was a good thing for Metallo that he was a robot. The blow disrupted his balanced and he toppled forward, barely recovering. Korra's arms lifted and rock erupted from the soil around him, encasing Metallo up to his head. He growled with effort and broke free. By the time he turned Korra was ready and another lunge was meant by another evasion with Airbending technique. "Hold still!", he demanded of her.

Korra didn't react with a wisecrack. She kept her focus on evasion, using Earthbending counterattacks and holds only when Metallo gave her an opening. Tenzin would have applauded her Airbending skill and her uncustomary focus on defense. I hadn't seen her hold her ground like that since her abduction.

Metallo adapted to her evasiveness with a bit of tactics. He made a swing at her that caused Korra to dodge to the right and, as before, she counterattacked with Earthbending. But this time he grabbed the resulting spike of rock as it emerged from the ground and ripped it away, twirling around and throwing it in the same move. Korra didn't have time to dodge it even as I called out to her. It knocked her out of the air and she went tumbling and rolling to a stop. She started to get up. Metallo jumped at her. To Korra the image of Zaheer plunging toward her was still strong and I had on doubt it took hold for a second. A second that enabled Metallo to get to her. He grabbed her by the throat and lifted her up. "You have been a pest," he declared. "And I think...."

Kal-El was back to his feet in a split second. He was a little slower, a little weaker, from the exposure to kryptonite, but with that sealed off from causing him any further harm he now had the advantage on Metallo and he pressed it. He grabbed the arm holding Korra and pulled it so hard that it ripped out of Metallo's shoulder. The robot cried out in surprise at having his limb torn away. Kal-El tore the hand off at the knuckles, freeing Korra and letting her gently onto the ground. He turned and faced Metallo as the metal man stumbled backward. Metallo knew it was over at that point. He still made a quixotic attempt to fire his damaged cannon with the other arm. Superman contemptuously batted the limb away and delivered a solid punch to Metallo's belly, below the lead covering, that dented in his armored skin and caused internal damage. A second punch increased the dent.

Before a third punch could break in to the vulnerable electronics inside of him, Metallo threw his remaining arm up and fell backward. "I surrender!", he shouted. "I surrender!"

I allowed myself a weak smile at hearing that. "About bloody time," I murmured irritably.

Getting the reactor repaired was a lot easier with Kal-El's aid. Korra formed the pieces and he installed them, welding them with lead fittings using his heat vision.

By the time we were done, the sun had started to lower into the afternoon sky. The TARDIS was out in the middle of the plant now while work crews diligently labored on fixing the broken coolant systems. "The reactor will take months to repair," I noted after a final scan. "But it could have been worse."

"It would have been if not for you," Kal-El assured me. "You were in the right place at the right time."

"Yes, something of a habit of mine," I remarked. I looked solidly at him. "About Zoom..."

He held a hand up. "Kyle told us about what happened on Mogo. I don't approve of what you did, but I understand that you weren't in your right mind at the time. The fact you recognize what you did was wrong is enough for me. As far as I'm concerned, you've earned the right to a second chance."

At that I sighed and smiled weakly. "Thank you, Kal-El. That means... quite a lot, actually."

He smiled gently. "It was good working with you again. And your new Companion. Or Companions, I see."

Asami was awake now. Her hair was soaked from where Korra was using Waterbending healing on the head injury she sustained from falling to the floor. Korra was kneeling beside her, focusing on the injury ahead of her own, just as she had mine. I could see it was also letting her get away, for the moment, from her frustration at her repeated issues with fighting.

"Ah yes, formal introductions," I said. "Kal-El, this is Avatar Korra, the guardian of her world, and her friend Asami Sato. Korra, Asami, this is Kal-El, otherwise known as Superman."

"'Superman'?", Asami asked.

"A press invention, as I recall," I said. "I never quite remember, to be honest."

"Thank you for your help today, young ladies," Kal-El said while offering handshakes. "You saved a lot of lives."

"It was mostly you and the Doctor," Korra answered quietly. "I... honestly I didn't do so well."

He looked at me. Korra's negative sentiments were easily felt by him. "Korra's been through some terrible times lately and it's caused her to have traumatic flashbacks when she's in a fight," I explained in a low voice.

"It's not always easy," he agreed. "But I think you're selling yourself short."

"I had him," Korra answered softly. "I could have beaten him if I didn't keep freezing up." A tear of frustration appeared on her face. "I'm not really much of a hero anymore."

"Korra." Kal-El gently laid a hand on her left shoulder. "Sometimes things happen to us and it haunts us for a long time. It can cut away at our confidence and our resolve. It's frustrating to go through something like that. But however it effects you, it doesn't always change who you are. Not unless you allow it to." He looked her in the eyes. "The important thing is that it doesn't matter how many times you froze up or got knocked down. You kept getting back up when you had to. You saved lives today, Korra. You saved my life. That proves to me you're a hero. You're as much a hero as I am." His smile was friendly and gentle. "I know you'll get over this."

For a moment Korra didn't answer while tears moved down her cheeks. Finally she found her voice. "Thank you. I'll keep trying."

"Of course you will. And if you ever need advice, ask the Doctor to bring you by the Watchtower. The League would be happy to give you a hand." Kal-El's head went up. "Sorry, I just got a call, there's an aircraft in distress." He nodded to us. "Take care everyone. It was a pleasure to meet you."

And, like that, he was, well.... up, up, and away.

We watched him disappear into the sky. "You know, I'm not even surprised he can fly," Asami said. "I mean, not as surprised, since it seems to be regular in this world."

"It is not uncommon, yes," I said.

Korra was silent for a moment. "Is he always like that? I mean, he's got all that power but..."

"He meant every word of what he said to you, Korra. That's his... thing. He inspires people. There's a reason people still call him Superman," I said with a smile. "And it has nothing to do with the powers."

Korra wiped one of the tears away. "He's right. I can beat this. I can. I just need time."

"And time you shall get." I clapped a hand on her. "Well, ladies, this was an interesting yet painful diversion, but there are sapphire sands calling for us, and I could use a good break, can't you?"

I was answered with nods of agreement. We all returned to the TARDIS and departed for other worlds.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-09 05:16am

Episode 23 - Making A Difference

I sat quietly in the eloquent-looking office. My eyes looked to the window looking out onto the mansion's expansive outside facilities where young children of varying ages played happily under the supervision of elder children. I wanted to keep my gaze there. But I couldn't help my curiosity.

I looked back to Korra. She was sitting in a comfortable chair with her eyes closed and a minor expression of focus on her face. Psychic therapy for her mental blocks was a new approach we were taking. It was certainly not something I could do, so that meant getting experts.

Professor Charles Xavier showed more focus on his expression although he was seated comfortably in his personal wheelchair. The gentlemanly telepath's mouth did not move but I did see it twitch. They were in the middle of a session.

The session had remained quiet for a time. This ended when Korra sat up straight and cried out, reaching for her head. Xavier's eyes opened slowly. He extended a hand. "I can't do this for you," he said softly. "You have to face this."

"I'm trying," she protested. "But I can't get past it!"

"You need to be patient with your block. It's...."

"Patient?! Patient?! That's all anyone ever says! 'Be patient'! I'm tired of being patient! I'm tired of dealing with this!" Korra stood to her feet. "And if that's all you're going to say, I'm not going to bother!"

"Korra, please...."

Despite Xavier's plea, she stormed out of the office. He sighed and looked toward me. "The trauma is a severe one," he explained. "And it won't get better until she learns to face it."

"That's what I've been trying to help her with," I explained, giving my own sigh in the process. "But it's not easy. Do you have any ideas for what's keeping the block in place?"

"This is more art than science, Doctor, as you well know," Xavier pointed out. He wheeled himself back to his desk. "There are any number of factors that could be causing it."

"I know. But it is..." I sighed. "I'm worried about her, Charles. Her spirit suffocates and everything I've tried has failed to break the block. I can make her feel better sometimes, take her places to get her mind off of it, but that's all."

"It is possible that you are doing too much to help her," Xavier remarked. "This is something she will need to deal with herself."

I had no reply to that since it seemed a waste of breath to agree.

"From where I sit, she's not the only one who needs to get over a block." Xavier steepled his hands. "I have noticed your sudden dislike of the name you used when you first came here."

"It's because it wasn't my name. It was a name I took. One I should have stayed away from," I answered. "I want to get away from it. But it seems that every time I try..."

"I wish I could have helped you." He shook his head. "If the risk was not so great I imagine getting your old life's memories back would go a long way to helping with your current crisis of confidence."

I nodded. Long ago, back when my journeys were still relatively new, I had consulted with Professor Xavier on the mental block in my head. His prognosis was the same as Bob the Skull and J'onn J'onnz and T'Pau and Alisa Beldon and so many other telepathy and psychic experts I'd consulted over the years. The block was too strong and too rooted and breaking it open would inflict grievous damage on my mind. I would tip over from my current mentally-damaged, slightly-mad Time Lord status to full blown reality-makes-no-sense insanity. And I was not going to do that, especially not now. I'd gone mad once already and that had been a fairly controlled madness.

With nothing more to say, I picked up my coat from the coat hanger. "Thank you for the assistance, Charles. My best to the others."

"If you need any further assistance, you know where to find us," Xavier said.

Korra was waiting at the TARDIS for me. She didn't say anything until we were inside. "I'm sorry."

"Hrm?" I flipped a couple switches. "Sorry about what?"

"That I yelled at the Professor like that. I know he wants to help, but whenever I hear that..."

"...it makes you think of Tenzin and his constant refrain about patience," I finished for her. I gave her an amused smile. "And you're not usually one for patience."

"Yeah." She crossed her arms. "But I need to learn it."

"Well, you will. Over time. It's how it works. So, first things first..." I pulled back the TARDIS lever and went to the door the moment the VWORP ceased. I opened it and entered an engineering lab of sorts.

Asami was looking over a fancy-looking metal gauntlet. "So electro-magnetism?"

"Uh... that would be a very crude start, yeah." Tony Stark took the gauntlet from her and tinkered with the repulsor emitter in the palm. "Very crude. Like a stone wheel on an old cart being compared to the a turbine." He looked over and noticed me. "Ah. Welcome back. Everything going well?"

"About as well as I could expect." I looked to Asami who seemed rather breathless. "I take it you've given quite the tour."

"Oh yes," he answered. "Bright girl. For someone from a technological paradigm about ninety years out of date, Miss Sato is quick to grasp our technology."

"I've exposed her to a bit of advanced tech over the past few months," I answered. I looked to where Asami was eyeing the boot of an Iron Man suit. "This is... Mark 50 for you?"

"Mark 52," Stark corrected. "52B, actually, had to put in a few refinements, didn't think it merited a Mark 53."

"Well, I'm thankful for your hospitality for Asami, I know it must have taken up some critical time."

"Oh, not at all," Stark said. He looked at Asami and winked. "She got to see Stark Tower, you got your stuff done, and I got to hang out with a beautiful young woman all day. Everyone wins if you ask me."

Asami blushed lightly and turned toward me. "Are you ready?"

"Session's over," I answered. "It's time we're off."

"Alright." She gave a longing look to Stark's lab and I yet again questioned just how much I was altering her world's future by exposing her to future technology. I smacked myself in the head mentally; such thoughts were grossly unfair to Asami. It was akin to not trusting her judgement on what to use that knowledge for.

Stark smiled at her and waved before I closed the TARDIS door behind her.

With everyone in the TARDIS I went to the controls. "So..." I clapped my hands together. "I'm thinking somewhere... quiet. A quick stop to a lovely little civilization I ran into some time ago. Nice people, very good toward guests, and they make these little corn snacks that are... well, you'll find out." I turned dials and knobs and tapped things in to direct the TARDIS to my chosen locale.

"A break wouldn't be bad," Korra said. I could sense the irritation in her voice at the failure of the session to fix her mental block. I would have to work with her on that. Well, presuming Xavier didn't have a point about her having to deal with it herself. Asami could too and nodded a gantle assent.

"Alright then." I pulled back the TARDIS lever.

The moment I opened the door, I frowned. I had been expecting rolling land with visible forests and the traces of habitation. Instead it was a city of some sort. Stone and wood construction. Pre-industrial, definitely. We were near one of the walls. Given the sun's position and the apparent season... definitely the western wall. I sighed and used the sonic to check my coordinates remotely. "Fifteen thousand years off," I mumbled. "I know I carried that blasted two..."

"Where are we?", Korra asked.

"Oh, a city of some sort. Not sure. Definitely not the architecture of the Nasgrati," I answered. "Unless they had a major cultural shift in those ten thousand years."

"What I'm worried about is where the people have gone off to," Asami said.

I looked at her and then around the city. The sun was low in the sky; it would be dark soon. But the streets were deserted. There was only a series of warbling calls in the air and from the distance. In the city, definitely.

And as my eyes settled on the walls, they noticed something else.

They were starting to glow green.

A substance that I didn't recognize visually was coating the stone. I walked over to it and ran the sonic over it. The girls followed. "What is that stuff?", Korra asked.

"An organic material of some sort. It's growing over the wall bit by bit. Looks like it acts as nutrients for some life form. I've... seen this thing before." I waited for the readings to confirm what I saw. "This is... it's not, but it's like...." I swallowed. "...Blight?"

"What?", Asami asked.

"Blight," I said. "It's like Zerg Blight. Similar organic structure, similar DNA profile. It's not, I mean, this isn't Zerg, but it's in the neighborhood." I scratched at my chin. "Curious."

Not just curious. A moment later the ramifications sunk in. "Okay, not just curious, but bad news," I continued. "If there are life forms like Zerg around, then..."

One warbling cry drew close. Too close. We looked up in time for a four-legged insect the size of a human - well, two humans perhaps - to descent to the ground beside us. It drew up razor sharp appendages and shrieked angrily at us.

Worst part was... it landed between us and the TARDIS.

Korra swallowed and made a gesture, sending flame at it. It recoiled slightly but did not free. She followed up with a motion to rip stone mortar from the ground beneath us and propelled it to the thing's head with a kicking motion. It shrieked in protest and charged. I grabbed their hands and ran along the wall. "This way! Time to run!"

We ran from the insectoid beastie and saw it pursue. Other shapes were appearing in the sky. "They're after us!", Asami shouted.

"Noticed!", I answered. I released her hand and pulled out the sonic. A quick scan, just to see if there was some cover nearby. "This way!"

I took us a street down and then right into an abandoned abode. The home looked decent. There was a clear lack of certain things in it, the kind of personal items one would take when fleeing, but it was nice enough. I followed the sonic's scans into a back storage room and to the floor. "Down here, quickly! It's a solid stone portal, if you bend it this way it should reveal an exit!"

Korra nodded. With a motion of her arms the stone skidded away and revealed a dark tunnel underneath. Asami went in, then Korra, and I took up the rear. I could hear more warbling around the structure and got the impression they were preparing to go inside. I nodded to Korra and she sealed it behind us, plunging us into darkness. I lit up the sonic screwdriver and gripped my disruptor with the other hand. Korra generated a flame with her hand to provide more light. "Underground tunnels of some sort," I remarked. "Here, let's get away from the surface just to be safe."

We walked deeper into the tunnel. Our first turn put us in the direction of the wall. Once we were under it I took a moment. "This is Human," I said. "The construction, I mean. Definitely European."

"It shouldn't be?", Asami asked.

"No, it shouldn't. This world didn't have Humans. Well, not full ones, there was this race of nomads to the east I took note of when Katherine and I were exploring the planet ten thousand years ago." I furrowed my brow and led them further down. "Let's get a bit more distance and then I'll...."

And then I stopped. I narrowed my eyes and took in a breath. I could feel... something. My Time Lord senses felt a subtle shift in the air of the tunnel.

There was something here with us.

I quietly brought up the sonic and nonchalantly moved it around. "There's something dreadfully wrong here," I said quietly. "I don't like this. Not at all." I gave the girls a look. Korra and Asami knew my "ready for trouble" face well enough that they tensed up.

Chaos erupted. In the manner of an instant two figures appeared amidst us. One, a man with hair of at least medium shade - I couldn't quite make it out in the dark - lunged for me. Another figure, barely determinable as a woman, went for Asami. Asami dodged an attack and tried a martial arts throw, but her opponent twisted out of it.

My opponent lunged at me in the near dark and made me side-step it. Time Lord reflexes gave me an unfair advantage which I used fully. I slipped an arm around his arm, made a twist, and soon enough had him in an arm lock that made him drop his blade.

Flames zipped in the air as Korra made several firebending punches and kicks at the woman. She dodged with precision. It wasn't perfect and I saw a strand of lighter-hued hair get singed. But she avoided a direct hit. Her foot came up and struck Asami in the chin, knocking her down on her back.

I couldn't keep looking. My attacker had twisted out of my grip and went for his blade. I grabbed him from behind, wrestling with him to keep him from the glint of metal on the ground. Despite my efforts he almost got to it. My foot struck out and sent it skidding along the ground out of reach. I shifted my posture and my grip to gain leverage so that,, combined with my Time Lord strength, I could hold him in place. I fought to bring my sonic up so I could stun him.

"Put it down!", the woman cried out.

I turned and saw she had gotten close enough to Korra to grapple. Ordinarily Korra would have been a terrible choice to grapple with given her strength and skill, but given her mindset of late.... unfortunately this woman was skilled enough to get the better of her. She had a knife pressed to Korra's throat. "Let him go now!", the woman shouted.

"How do I know you won't try to kill us?", I said. "You lot haven't been very hospitable."

"I could say the same to you," the woman answered. There was something about her voice and accent that made me think it was somewhat Mediterranean. "I won't ask again. Let. Him. Go."

There was something in her posture, something in her voice, that told me I was pinching a raw emotional nerve holding the man hostage. Whomever they were, they meant a lot to each other. "How about we both let go?", I asked. "And we talk like the civilized beings I know I am and that you should be."

"I don't trust you."

"I figured that given your sneaking about, but..."

And that was when Asami struck.

Asami was smart enough to go for the knife arm. She grabbed it and forced it to straight for a moment. Just a moment. The angle wasn't good to do more. But it didn't have to.

Korra twisted out of the woman's grip and moved her arms. Air whipped around the woman's legs and knocked her off her feet. She fell backward, recovered...

....and a gust of air struck Korra in the chest, catching her by surprise and sending her flying back.

Asami tried to get a punch in but the woman was quick. She moved and the air currents shifted. Another gust of air caught her and threw her backward.

I blinked. Was it telekinesis? Actual Airbending? I couldn't be sure.

Since neither Korra nor Asami were directly threatened, I decided to divest myself of my hostage. I threw him forward toward the woman and freed my arm to get my sonic disruptor from my belt. The throw was enough to knock him into her. They fell together in the tangle. By the time they got untangled I had the sonic disruptor up. "Now, I don't want to hurt anyone, I just want answers. A show of trust, first." I gestured to Korra and Asami. "Stay back. No more fighting. We've got bug things over our heads as it is."

Then I lowered the sonic disruptor.

It seemed to have the desired effect. The tension in the duo lessened visibly, going from active fight readiness to caution. "Who are you?", the man asked.

"I'm a Time Lord, a traveler, I travel through multiple worlds and times as my sonic screwdriver may explain adequately." I swallowed. "You may refer to me as 'Doc' if you must, my young friends love to." I gave them a look. Korra was on her back foot, ready to resume the defensive, a flame in her hand to provide light. "These are my Companions, Korra and Asami. My friends and I wound up in this city by mistake and were attacked by a giant insect, so we took shelter down here. Now, if I may have the pleasure of your names, nationality or clan or tribe or whatever, and perhaps a bit of knowledge on just where we are?"

They looked at each other. There was a long silence. In the light of Korra's flame I could see the full nature of his beard, which matched the brown hair on his head. He was well-built, likely in his early middle age at the most. The woman was younger, no more than thirty I imagined and as young as twenty-five, with golden blonde hair and a light-tanned complexion to match. Brown eyes looked warily at us.

After several exchanges of whispers they seemed to come to an agreement. They looked at me.

"I am Bernard, Count of Calderon, of the Realm of Alera," the man announced. "And this is my wife Amara."

Ah. Alera. I had heard of this world. I'd had no idea idea it was the world I'd been visiting, of course. But I knew of it.

Not much, mind you, but enough to know about their own capabilities with the elements.

"Charmed," I said to the count. "So, I'm presuming the reason you're slinking about is due to the insectoid race occupying this city?"

"They're called Vord," he answered, lifting himself off the ground. He extended a hand and helped Amara up. "They've already overrun much of western Alera."

"I see. And you two are... refugees I presume? Stranded behind the lines, that sort of thing."

I noticed a slight shift in Amara's posture. No, they weren't just refugees. They were here for something. I made an "ahhhh" sound. "Rescuing a friend or family member, then? Something of that...."

At the extent of my hearing I heard a terrified scream. There was a faint noise afterward, the sort of sucking sound I'd had the misfortune of hearing before. I turned in that direction and did what I normally do; find out what's going on.

"Wait," Amara hissed behind me, but it was too late for her to stop me. I went through the tunnels with sonics in hand to investigate what had happened.

What I found was a pair of dead men. Cut up by the looks of them. A woman stood amongst them with a blade in each of her hands. She wasn't pretty or tall or anything distinctive like that, but she was fit in build. Blood shone on her face and her silk blouse had a rip in it that revealed smooth skin beneath. She looked at me and froze. Not in fear but in calculation; I could see her considering the possibilities of attacking me. "Don't do something you'll regret," I said simply, ready to bring my sonic disruptor's defensive shield up the moment she moved.

For a moment our standoff remained. We both calculated quietly on what to do next. I saw her sniff at the air and her expression changed. I heard the soft sound of a foot striking the stone behind me. "Countess Amara?", the woman asked.


I turned my head. Amara had slipped up behind me. Completely unseen or unheard, too. That was interesting.

"Are you going to throw that knife?", Amara asked the woman.

Rook, whomever she was, shook her head. She put her weapon away and looked away. "Don't talk to me."

"What happened here?", Amara asked. "Who are these men?" When Rook didn't answer she took a step forward. "I'm not your enemy, Rook."

"Actually, you are." Rook brought her hand up and pulled away the collar of her blouse. There was a strip of metal encircling it, a simple-looking collar.

Given the lack of decoration it wasn't hard to imagine what the collar symbolized. I scowled at that thought. But my reaction was muted compared to the horror I saw when I glanced in Amara's direction. "What is it?", I asked.

"A discipline collar," she explained, as if she were describing a thing of pure evil and horror.

"So it's more than just decoration or symbol, I presume?"

Eook looked at me with strong curiosity. "I find it hard to believe you've never heard of these," she said plainly.

"I'm... well, I'm not familiar with your nation, I'm a a bit of a traveler," I replied. "But if it makes it easier, just pretend that I've been in a desert for my whole life and know nothing of your society."

"It's a discipline collar," Amara explained. "Before he died, High Lord Kalares manufactured them with metalcrafting as a form of absolute control over slaves. Obedience causes pleasure and resistance causes pain. And once it's put on and the owner's blood is applied, only the owner can remove the collar without killing the person wearing it."

"Ah. How Roman of you lot," I sighed. I had seen similar things before, although they had understandbly relied upon computerized technology, not metaphysical energy manipulation. I lifted my sonic screwdriver and scanned the collar with it. Both ladies looked with interest at the device. "How interesting," I said. "In a disgusting way, I mean. It's a form of energy lock, if an incompatible source of energy is applied against it there's a feedback loop and..." I saw the stares and sighed. "Sorry. Time Lord stuff. Now, since you ladies know each other and aren't actively trying to kill each other, I imagine that means you get along fairly well. So..."

"How we get along doesn't matter," Amara said. "Rook has to obey the people who put the collar on her."

"Ah. Then that is who we must see, yes?"

"What is this to you?", Rook asked me.

"I take a dim view on slavery," I answered. "And on bug things eating civilization. Bit of a bother of mine. So..." I steepled my fingers. "...all that remains to know is what you're doing here, Amara."

Rook took the prompting and retreated into the distance. I could sense effort from Amara and the subtle shifting of the air around us. "She won't be able to hear us inside of here," Amara explained. "I'm here on a mission from the First Lord to find survivors. What I want to know is what your interest is."

"As I said. I take a dim view on what's going on."

"And that's all?"

"Just about." I sighed. "Tell me, do they still talk about the Nasgrati?"

"The who?"

I blinked. "The Nasgrati. The People of the Soil. The species that used to live in this part of the world."

Amara shook her head. "The Avar people were the ones we defeated when the old Alerans claimed the region of Ceres."

I frowned. "The Avar? But they're.... I mean, they were a small nomadic culture, how could they..."

"They stopped being one," Amara answered. "Or so our academics have said. The Avar subsumed or destroyed every other people in the entire Amaranth Vale."

I couldn't help but scowl. A lovely culture like that, stamped out forever, forgotten by all but me. Such was the cruelty of life. A cruelty that could never be entirely stopped. I know. I tried.

"I'm sorry," the young woman said, sounding truly compassionate.

"These things happen," I sighed. I forced back down the thoughts of what could have been and focused on the current problem. "As for this problem... whatever your purpose is here, I presume it must involve meeting whomever put that collar on Rook."

"Possibly," she conceded.

"And I want to meet him or her and his masters." I wrinkled my brow with thought. "And we don't want anyone to know about your husband and my Companions, correct?"

"Yes, definitely."

"Well then." I smiled a little as an idea formed in my brain. "We have work to do."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-10 07:24am

I decided on the direct approach. I found Rook further in and said I wanted to be taken to her superior, as close to the Vord as I could get in fact. She gave me a concerned look but nodded. She didn't ask why Amara wasn't with me. And I didn't tell her.

We emerged into a building that had a warehouse feel for it. Given the layouts, well, I regret I had seen slave warehouses before and saw - and smelled - that it fit the pattern. I said nothing, though, and Rook led me out of that building and across an alleyway into a former residence. There were windows present that would give me a vantage point, one of which was smashed open with dried blood still present upon the stained glass.

There were dozens of the Vord flanking the square outside. They were low-bodied versions but still looked rather mean and quite capable of intense physical violence. Understandable that the controlled every way in or out of the market courtyard. As for the courtyard itself, it was filled with cages. Cages suspended in the air, cages made entirely of stone save for some small airholes barely visible, cages of solid timber beams far across from those made of metal beams. "I never realized how widespread your people's abilities were," I murmured to Rook.

"Every Aleran has at least one element they can call upon with their furies," Rook explained quietly. "We come into those bonds by the time we leave adolescence. In all my life I've only ever seen one boy reach adulthood without having a fury."

"I imagine that one had a particularly rough time of it," I remarked.

"He did, at least at one time." I could see a flash of amusement on her face. "Although he has enjoyed a change of fortune as of late."

I looked out again. I took in the postures of the caged people. Dull and slow... in other words, they were being drugged. Similar seemed to apply to the Alerans outside of the cages. They had different clothing, different looks, everything, but one thing was constant; the gleam of the metal collar around their necks. I felt a familiar boiling sensation in my blood at the atrocity each discipline collar represented.

A young man was pulled from the enclosed stone pen. Getting a better look I could see he was more of a boy than a man as I watched him dragged to the auction stage. Another young man came to the steps; well dressed, curly black hair, and a particularly haughty demeanor that didn't seem concerned by the silver band around his own throat - he had been enslaved as well. This one liked whatever power he was allowed to grasp. A petty tyrant. "He would be?"

Rook looked at me with surprise. "You really don't know anything about Alera, do you?"

"Nothing of the last ten thousand years," I said, unable to keep the bitterness out of my voice.

"He is Kalarus Brencis Minoris," Rook explained. "The son of the late High Lord Kalarus. His father created the discipline collars."

"I see." I looked at her with concern. Pain was showing on her features. "You're not allowed to speak of this?"

"No, I... I am simply seeing what I can say," she gasped. "The very thought..."

"Don't. Don't harm yourself until necessary, you'll need your strength," I insisted.

Outside the boy was, well, as disgusting as the little ritual was where Brentis Junior put the discipline collar on him, the drugged lad was undoubtedly feeling differently given the scantily-clad women pawing over him and the drugs coursing through his system. When all was said and done he had the collar on his neck and was led aside. I couldn't keep the scowl off my face. "He collars everyone?", I asked.

Rook nodded.

A female cry came from one of the cages. "Brentis, we were betrothed," the young woman wailed.

"It's funny, life's little twists and turns..." He looked at the cage containing his, well, former fiancee and continued on.

I focused instead on Rook. "How did you wind up here?", I asked. "I know you work for the same ruler as Amara. But why subject yourself to this?"

The woman showed no hesitation. "He took my daughter Masha to safety," Rook answered. "To the safest place in the Realm right now."

"Your daughter." I frowned. "He used your daughter's life as blackmail."

Rook said nothing. I thought she nodded slightly, though.

The frown on my face deepened. I had a feeling that if I were to ever meet this High Lord Gaius Sextus, he and I might have... words.

"I will do anything for her." She looked out at Brencis. "Anything."

I could see, then, just how Rook was dealing with Brencis. Whatever indignities he heaped upon her, whatever pain she took at each rebellious thought, she would endure them for her little girl.

"Where is she?", I asked. "Do you know where....?"

"Calderon Valley," Rook answered.

"Ah. Bernard's... holding, is it?"

"Yes. He's been warning people about the Vord for years and I believed his defenses would have been built up to fight them. His home is the safest place for her."

"I see."

Rook looked at me intently. "How did you get into the city? Where do you come from?"

"My species comes from a world called Gallifrey," I answered. Whatever my thoughts on my origins being Human or not, brevity was the better choice anyway. "As for how I get about..." I shook my head. "Rook, whatever I tell you, you may be compelled to tell...." At seeing the solid look on her face I realized the purpose of the question. I exhaled. "Yes. Yes, I can take your daughter away from here. I can take her to worlds where she will grow up happy and alive."

Rook nodded. She looked back up at the window. "I'm overdue."

"Just a moment." I raised my right hand toward her. "Let me touch your face for a moment, please."

She looked confused, but given what she had already endured she didn't oppose me. I settled my fingers in the right spots and closed my eyes. "Think of Masha," I said. "Let me see her face."

Understanding my intent now, she did so. I saw her thoughts of her little girl and her memories. That little girl meant the world to this woman, meant everything, and I knew now that there was nothing she would not endure to secure her child's well-being. "You daughter will be safe," I murmured. "Whatever happens, I promise you that."

"Thank you," was her reply. She stood to her feet and, with a final exchange of nods, she walked out.

As Rook went out to meet her overseer, I looked back into the house. "You can come out now."

Amara appeared into view. I admit I found it rather bizarre that manipulation of air - I still couldn't help but think of it as Airbending - allowed someone in this world to turn invisible like that. "This is why I left Gaius' service," she admitted to me. "He is not a bad ruler..."

"....but he is not a very nice one either," I finished for her. "Statesmanship is not easy, I suppose."

"This isn't your fight," Amara said. "You have no reason to stay here and risk your life for us."

I looked at Amara. "If I left here without doing something about... this." I swept my arm out toward the marketplace. "Well, that's not something I can do."

"What do you hope to accomplish?", Amara asked.

"Well... in short.... I want to get those bloody things off of everyone," I said succinctly. "And on top of that I'd like to find a way to give the bugs here a good kicking of some sort. Although I probably won't have time to do it well if we want to get everyone out."

"The only way to take a collar off is for the person who put it on to do so," Amara reminded me. "And if Brencis has one too, it's likely he has orders against doing it. He won't be able to remove them."

"I know. But I'm starting to get ideas here. First things first though." I held out my sonic screwdriver to her. "It's set to passive scan mode. Can you use your invisibility trick to get closer to the bugs? Just within, oh, fifteen feet maybe? Twenty might push it."

Amara looked uncertain for a moment before taking the screwdriver. "What is this...?"

"It's a handy-dandy tool that no Time Lord should ever do without," I answered with a light grin. "If you absolutely must, point it toward an attacking Vord and press the button right... here." I indicated the key to her. "It should give the thing enough of a headache to buy you time to get away and hidden again."

She looked at the device skeptically but accepted it. "And what will you do?"

"Find a secluded bit of the underground for my part of the plan," I said while retrieving my TARDIS remote. "Let's get back here in, oh, say, an hour or so? Then I'll have a better idea of how to proceed."

The dim lights of the city were the only illumination when I returned to the building from the tunnels below. I felt a small breeze of air and Amara stepped up next to me. "How did it go?"

"I wasn't seen. I'm not sure if your tool worked as you planned." She handed it to me. "How does it work?"

"Energy manipulation and examination," I answered. "It's the epitome of a Swiss army knife tool... and yes, I know you're unfamiliar with that, I just couldn't help myself." I held up the sonic. It had indeed worked. The sonic had detected the background signals that formed the Vord hive mind, or at least something approximating a hive mind. It was probably more of a pyramid mind; the Queen at the top as a distinct entity giving orders to the Vord creatues beneath her. Although maybe it wasn't really a pyramid, just the Queen commanding each Vord as its own, no tiers or command structure. "I have a mystique to maintain as a traveling Time Lord, you see." I flipped the sonic in my hand and pocketed it. My mind was already calculating a plan for us all. "How quickly could you get us to Rook's side?"

Amara peeked out the window to where Rook was flanking Brencis Junior, talking to him. "In seconds. But there are so many Vord out there that we would be overwhelmed."

"No we won't," I answered. I felt in my jacket pocket and comforted myself by the presence of my sonic disruptor underneath and of the device I'd cobbled together. "We get to them and we take Curly prisoner."

"Take him prisoner?" Amara gave me a look. "You still think he will cooperate?"

"I'm sure he will," I answered. I looked at her. "That means no killing. Not unless you want to condemn every one of those poor people with a collar on their neck."

Amara stared at me in utter bewilderment. "You think you can accomplish what no metalcrafter, indeed no Aleran, has ever managed? Without a bit of crafting of your own?"

"Oh, I can craft easily," I countered. "Just not with those lovely little spirits you lot bind yourselves too. There's more to creation than what you know, Amara. Far more than you might imagine."

I could see the skepticism on her face. She said nothing however.

And then the chittering began.

The Vord in the courtyard suddenly erupted into a chorus of excitement. The airborne ones took the air and flew off. "Have they found us?", Amara asked, an admirably low amount of fear in her voice.

I had the sonic out. "No, it's not that," I murmured. "There's a massive spike in their hive communications. Something this big can only mean..."

Human fliers descended with those damnable collars upon them. They bore with them two figures. One was a human woman, clad in the black chitin of the Vord that showed a pleasing figure beneath its skin-tight surface. A bug was on the left side of her chest, its legs burrowed into her and its mandibles thrust into her... yes, her heart. The gentle pulsing of the creature revealed its purpose; an external artificial heart.

I saw Amara's eyes widen slightly in realization. I might have asked if she knew the woman but I was transfixed by her companion. This one was shorter. Very Human. Very, and I knew this because she was also very naked save her black cloak. Indeed she could have easily passed for Human if not for her insectoid eyes. Black, gold, and green showed on the facets of her compound eyes.

Of course. The Vord Queen. And at her sight the Alerans in the square prostrated themselves, face down, like she was a living goddess.

I pulled out my sonic and set it to its longest range scan. From this distance I doubt I'd get much, but it might be the data I needed to ensure success tonight. "You know the Queen's friend?"

"Invidia, the Lady Aquitaine," Amara hissed. "The former Lady. She has plotted against First Lord Gaius for years alongside her husband, High Lord Aquitaine. She's supposed to be dead."

"Clearly the Vord Queen had other plans for her," I replied.

"She might recognize Rook," Amara said quietly. "We worked together when Kalarus rebelled. Rook was with our team."

"Just pay attention and be ready to fly us there as quickly as you can."

"I won't be able to sustain my windcrafting with both of us for long," she warned.

"I just need to get in range," I assured her.

Brencis was on his knees, blood seeping from his nostrils, tears in his eyes. He was defying them. I imagined it had to do with the secrets of the collar attachments that he alone knew. So long as he was the only one who could do it, he had value beyond being just another slave of the Vord. The moment the Vord could do it on their own...

...or, well, the moment the Vord no longer needed his services, presumably when they won the war... well, a little hedonist like that man was probably living it up knowing full well the good times were shortly to end.

The Vord Queen turned to Rook. Like the others she was laying prostrate. This had, if anything, kept Lady Aquitaine from noticing her. But if the Queen prompted her to look up.

"She's going to be compromised," I hissed. "Amara, we have to go now."

"What?! But with the Queen here..."

"We don't have a bloody choice, if Rook is recognized by your treacherous High Lady then she's compromised," I hissed. "Let's go, now!"

Amara nodded and put an arm around my waist. I gripped my sonic disruptor with one hand and the device I'd made in the other. By the time we were in position there was curious chittering nearby. I had spoken just loudly enough to be nearly heard. It was truly now or never.

Powerful winds grabbed us and forced us out of the window like a rocket. My sonic disruptor's shield blasted away the remaining glass to make sure we weren't cut up in the process. The sound of shattering glass and the fierce rush of compressed air brought immediate attention. But we were airborne already and accelerating to the auction stage at a speed that what felt like several Gs. I felt like I'd been fired out of a gun.

We were moving so quickly we would be on top of Rook and the Queen in seconds.

And yet.... we were still not fast enough.

The Queen's fingers grew talons of green-black chitin. As we erupted from the window her hand slashed downward.

Right into Rook's throat.

Just as the slash began the Queen seemed to register our loud arrival. Her arm's swing lost power. Nevertheless there was a spray of blood as the chitin talons ripped flesh away, exposing Rook's throat in the process. I screamed "No!" without thinking about it, even as we flew in and came to a rolling landing about ten feet away. A scowl of rage came to my face by the time the roll ended. Any thought of something glib and humorous - I was thinking of "Gallifrey Pest Extermination Service" myself - drained away like Rook's blood. With a wordless snarl I pressed the key on my device and threw the little sphere up. With my full Time Lord strength it went up in the air by about thirty feet before it activated. An anti-grav repulsor built into it would hold the device aloft so it could do its work.

I had acted with Time Lord swiftness. Only a second or two had passed.

Suddenly I was on my back. It felt like I had been struck by a car. The Vord Queen stood over me, her compound eyes glittering at me, and those razor sharp chitin talons still coated in Rook's blood raised up to come for my throat.

This thing was.... "fast" doesn't begin to cover it. That kind of speed I only usually see from the likes of Barry Allen or Wally West. Her speed was very much superhuman, if admittedly an exaggeration to compare it to the likes of metahumans of that caliber.

I wasn't going to have time to get the sonic disruptor up to protect myself.

Thankfully I didn't need to.

I could barely hear the high pitched tone that accompanied my device's energy output. The excited chittering of the Vord turned into a wailing sound. Pure agony, likely, and completely understandably. I'd rigged an emitter to disrupt the carrier waves that maintained their hive mind. Not nearly as powerful as the devices I'd seen to inhibit the Vord's Zerg cousins, I grant, but in the short radius of the effect the Vord would be experiencing the psionic equivalent of a subwoofer turned to 11 being blared into one's ear.

The Vord Queen's screech of agony almost hurt my ears. Her "I am Legion" echoing voice made the scream sound odd and even more terrible. She arched backward and fell away from me. The talons retracted as her hands went to her head. She went to her knees in agony.

At that point Aquitaine acted. She looked up at the device in the air. It was technology like her world had never seen. But she could see it was a machine, and she could see what it was doing to the Vord. So she reacted reasonably by throwing herself in the air toward it. I saw flame appear in her hand. She meant to destroy it.

Amara got to her first. The two women intersected in mid-air and Amara drove the bone dagger in her hand toward the bug on Aquitaine's chest. The other woman shifted to deflect the blow, causing the knife to scrape across the bug's flank and cut Aquitaine's chest along the sternum. She let out a cry and whirled away and downward. Amara shifted in mid-air to pursue.

By this point the other part of my plan had gone into operation. You may have been wondering where I'd put the TARDIS, after all.

I put it in the center of the action.

The bottom of the auction stage blew away from the center. Korra emerged with Bernard and Asami on a cyclone of air. Count Bernard already had an arrow nocked by the time his feet found solid ground. He twisted and fired it toward Lady Aquitaine as she maneuvered away from Amara in mid-air. It would have hit Aquitaine's head had she not done a mid-air somersault. Instead the arrow buried itself... well... hrm.... somewhere very...

Oh bloody hell, Count Bernard shot her in the arse, alright? He shot the woman square in the arsecheek.

"Korra!", I screamed. "Get water now! She's dying!"

Korra was already looking toward me and then to Rook where she lay, bleeding her lifeblood into the earth. She twisted open her flask of emergency-use water and in the same motion twisted in mid-air, Airbending herself to a rough landing beside Rook. The water flowed from her flask and formed a globe in mid-air before Korra focused it down on the ripped out section of Rook's throat. Blood started to get into the water before it started glowing.

By this point Asami was on top of Brencis Minoris, who cried out in frustration as handcuffs locked around his wrists to restrain him. He tried to scream for help but couldn't through the gag Asami produced to stuff into his mouth. With her goal so easily accomplished Asami moved on to take Korra's job of freeing the Alerans in the cages. The nearest cage was an ingenious contraption, pouring water into a complete enclosure save for tiny airholes. I threw her my sonic screwdriver to use before I turned back to the Vord Queen.

Lady Aquitaine swooped down and snatched the Queen away as I brought my sonic disruptor to bear. She flew them both into the air and quickly disappeared into the night sky. The Vord around us, unable to even contemplate violence through the sheer debilitating pain in their brains, were already retreating as well, seeking sanctuary out of the range of my device.

The couple from Calderon joined Asami in freeing their fellow Alerans while I rushed for the hole in the stage and to the TARDIS beneath. Once inside I fired her up and brought her onto the stage. I grabbed the emergency case medkit I kept by the console and rushed back out the door to see Amara and Bernard now standing over Korra. Her eyes were intent upon the water she was holding against Rook's gored throat. The spy was still alive, but only just. Her lips were blue. Her eyes were growing distant. She was, in short, fading fast.

"Not this time," Korra insisted. "I'm saving you. I'm not having you die."

I thought back to Undertown in Chicago. The comatose, brain-dead teenage boy Lonny, who's dabbling in necromancy meant his younger brother Dustin was inadvertently turning him into a zombie-sustaining magic machine by trying to preserve him. Korra had tried so very hard to save the boy, but it had been too late. And it had hurt her, doubly so when the loss of his only remaining family and the fear of the dark powers he had tapped had led Dustin to throw himself on a sword in despair and longing for the family he lost.

And given Korra's state now... I shuddered to think at the blow to her heart that would come if she couldn't save Rook either.

I pushed through the growing crowd of Alerans and got on my knees beside Korra. I pressed a medigel injector against Rook's arm and followed it up with an oxylin injection just above the rip in her throat to try and prevent brain damage. "She's strong," I consoled Korra. "You're making it work."

"I have to," Korra insisted. "I have to make it work. I'm not failing again!"

"Get her to a healing tub!", a voice cried out. A man and a woman emerged from the crowd. "We are healers, we can help."

"She's too weak to move," I snapped. "Bring the tub here!"

They didn't respond to me right away. They looked toward Bernard and Amara. Bernard nodded. "Do as he says. As Count of Calderon I vouch for him."

The two watercrafter healers nodded and, joined by others, went to retrieve the aforementioned tub.

"Your Lordship!" A young man, really just a boy, came down from the air. He was in Roman-style armor, the famed lorica. "The Vord have cleared this part of the city, but they have gathered around us in numbers."

"They've found the edge of the field," I said. "They know where they can stay without it hurting."

"But we're safe now?" Given his voice I was certain Bernard didn't believe it.

"For the next few hours, yes," I responded. "But then my device's battery will run out of power and the field will start to contract. Eventually it'll fail altogether."

"Can't you make another one?", Asami asked me.

"Not enough time," I said. "I built that thing months ago. It takes hours of delicate work to assemble them, and that's my only one. Once it's burnt out... we've got nothing."

"So... we're trapped in Ceres," Amara said.

"Not exactly," I said. I tilted my head at the TARDIS. "No, for us the problem is..." I looked over at the dazed collar-wearers still in the courtyard, under close watch from their uncollared fellows. "...if we can free them in time."

"You said you had ideas."

"I do indeed, my Ladyship. I do indeed."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-11 11:18am

The first half hour of our precious remaining time was spent readying the TARDIS for the evacuation by shifting the door to a room for the refugees to stay in and, well, making sure there were security measures in place to protect them from the TARDIS and protect the TARDIS from them. I hoped this would buy the time I needed for my next task.

Rook had been immersed in a tub of water where Korra and the two watercrafters from before were working on healing her, or at least keeping her alive. I returned to them with a medical kit that included a regenerator. "I'm going to begin healing the rip," I informed them. "Keep her stable and the wound area clean."

"We don't need...." The male watercrafter noticed my look and ceased his complaint, returning to work. I drew out the necessary tools. Disinfectant to make sure there was nothing horrible in the cut area came first. Then came the hard part; with every bit of precision I could muster, i used the regenerator on the torn tissues within, starting with the blood vessels. It was aching, time-consuming work, but it had to be done.

Kneeling for so long, keeping my posture straight as I focused on the minute work ahead of me, it took its toll. I felt stiff in several spots and kept myself from groaning when I finally had the chance to stand back up. The damaged tissue was painstakingly restored to its proper place. "She should be fine now," I said, stretching a leg out. "You can let her go."

Korra looked hesitant to do so. I put a hand on her forearm. "Korra, the others need you. If I'm right, you're the only one who can free the people out there."

"I don't want to lose someone again," she said quietly.

"She will be fine now," the female watercrafter assured Korra. "You have done well, young lady. You show great promise as a healer."

Korra looked from the woman to me to the unconscious Rook. She gently pulled her hands back and allowed the water to dim. The other watercrafters resumed their work in healing Rook, who remained fine. An audible sigh of relief came from Korra's throat. "What do you need me to do?", she asked me.

"Rook's too weak to try what I have in mind," I began, explaining the idea to her and my reasoning for it as we left the healing area.

The auction area was full of the collared, each looking forlorn and lost and understandably traumatized. Amara was overseeing the people tending to them and keeping an eagle eye on Brencis Minoris with the help of Asami, who continued to grip him with her electric glove. He looked sullen and frightened and angry.

"Do you have a plan?", Amara asked. "You said you needed Brencis alive."

"I still do," I answered. "But as much as it pains me, we have to test something first. I need one of the collared people who is still robust. There may be an element of risk with what comes next."

Amara nodded and motioned to one of the Aleran windcrafters that had been escorting the Vord Queen. He didn't resist when brought up to us. "Are you ready?", I asked Korra.

She took in a breath to focus. "Yes."

I nodded and placed a pail of water beside the man. Korra's hands went up and she began a slow circular motion, drawing the water up in a rotating pattern around the Aleran. Or, more specifically, around his collar. He moaned and Korra had a fierce look on her face, one of concentration. Sweat beaded on her temples as she continued the motions. The water glowed gold as it circulated around him. The collar began to glow gold as well. The Alerans in the square were transfixed on the sight.

After about a minute of this Korra sighed and returned the water to the pail. "It's not working," she sighed. "I can't calm the spirit inside."

"Then we have to do Plan B," I murmured. I fought back a gulp. Plan B was the dangerous one for Korra.

Korra took in another breath and walked up to the man. She put both of her hands on the collar. Her eyes closed. I felt energy build in the air and expected what came next.

The man stared in surprise when Korra opened her eyes again, revealing the intense white glow from accessing the Avatar Spirit. The collar glowed white as well. The man began whimpering as if he were experiencing a steady discomfort or pain. For several seconds Korra kept her place. Sweat continued to build on her face as her body reacted to what it thought to be an enormous exertion. Thanks to my senses I could feel the energy in the collar resisting, directing its struggle against both the collared man and Korra.

The white in her eyes faded and she stepped away. And then that step turned into a stumble. I got behind her and caught her, holding her up by the arms. She put a hand to one head.

"What did she do?", Amara asked. She seemed very bewildered by the display of what had just happened. "Can he remove the collar?"

"No," Korra murmured. She regained her feet and looked a little pale. In steps that were deliberate but unsteady, she went back to the man and gripped the collar's lock. It came loose and the collar came off. The man stared in surprise. So did Brencis, who grew rather pale. "I forced the energy within to respond to me instead of him." She looked to Brencis.

"Yes, I thought that was how it would work," I added. "Korra's energybending allows her to change the energy link inside the collar so that she is the source of authority instead."

"It clearly took a lot of effort." Amara looked at the crowd of collared Alerans, each now showing varying degrees of hope in their bleary eyes. "How many of them can you do?"

Korra looked at me with dejection. "I... I don't think I can do them all," she confessed to me.

"You don't have to," I answered.

"Well, we can still get them out, right?", Asami asked. "Get them into the TARDIS and to safety. And then Korra can free them at whatever speed she can manage."

"Some have orders linking them here," I pointed out. "The mere act of coming with us will cause them pain. They'll be obligated to fight back to avoid it. And even if we subdue them, being unable to obey orders could further damage their minds. Like it or not, it's safer to free them now."

"Can't this guy just order them to come with us?"

I looked to Amara. "Countess?"

"I'm not sure, if he has already ordered them to obey only the orders of the Vord then any new orders he gives may not work. Or they might." Amara frowned. "The discipline collar relies greatly on intent and nuance. if Brencis isn't convincing enough with new orders, they may still harm those in the collars."

"So, last resort then. Better to get them off." I smiled softly. "Besides, I know a short cut." I looked back to Korra and motioned to Brencis Minoris. "His collar is weaker than the one you just used. It shouldn't be as much of a problem."

"Yeah, but... he's the jerk who put them on these people!", Korra protested. "Why should he be...." Her eyes widened as realization evidently dawned. "You don't want me to free him, do you?"

"Oh, I do want you to free him," I answered. I kept my expression neutral. I didn't want to show any emotion for what I was about to suggest. "After he frees everyone else."

Korra stared at me. "But, that means I would be.... you want me to control him like... like them?" There was an edge to her voice, a terrible edge I'd known in my own at such ideas.

"Want? No." I shook my head. "But they need you to." I pointed to the assembled Alerans. "And so does Rook. She's not going to have a happy life with that collar on her neck."

Korra's eyes narrowed with irritation. "This is wrong."

"I won't lie and say it's not," I answered. "But it is necessary. Just remember that it's wrong and get this mess over with so you can stop being wrong. Otherwise I fear that Amara is going to stick that dagger in his throat and be done with it."

Amara stepped up beside us. She put a hand on Korra's arm. "I know what it's like to do bad things for good reasons," she said. "It's not supposed to be easy. You've got a good heart to resist it, Korra. But please, for these people, do this one thing."

"If it makes you feel better... I will share in this," I said. "Order Brencis to obey me. I will do the work of securing his cooperation."

Korra looked at me and nodded quietly. She turned and walked up to Brencis, who recoiled backward against the uncollared Alerans who had come up to join Asami in restraining him. As she approached him Korra looked around at the people he'd hurt, the people who she would be saving. it wasn't hard to see how upset she was.

She reached out and took the collar around his neck. This time the effort was faster and with clearly less effort. Brencis' breathing picked up while the collar glowed and slowed when it stopped. He looked up at her with hazy eyes. Korra stepped back from him. "I want you to free everyone from their collars," Korra ordered. "I want you do it now."

"N-no...." Brencis gasped in agony and slumped against the men holding him. "I won't... I-I can't..."

Korra stared at him. "Are you really that devoted to.. to owning people?"

"I-It's not about..." Brencis had to stop talking. Blood seeped from his nostril.

I stepped up to him. "You're worried about the Vord Queen." I shook my head. "Brencis, do you really think this arrangement would have lasted? Once she was done defeating the rest of Alera she wouldn't have needed you anymore. She wouldn't have needed any of you. Don't think resisting us will save you, odds are she's going to kill you regardless of what you decide. If you want to live, if you want even the slightest freedom again, stop fighting us and do what you're asked."

Brencis swallowed as the blood trickled down from his lips now. "You'll l-let me g-go?"

"We'll take you to safety and let you go, yes," I assured him. "I give you my word."

Brencis closed his eyes and gasped. His body ceased tremoring. "Okay," he mumbled. "I'll start right away."

"Stay with him," I said to Korra and Asami. "I'm going to check up on..."

There was a rumbling through the earth. A hound made of pure earthen material bounded up to us. Count Bernard was perched on his back. "Doctor, you need to see this," he said. I wasn't surprised at him using my name. I had expected Asami and Korra to share it with him. "The Vord are... they're doing something along the edge of our territory."

Oi. That didn't sound good. "Get everyone into the TARDIS as quickly as you can manage," I insisted. "And protect Brencis."

"Stay safe," Korra insisted.

"Oh, you know me. I'm always safe," I responded, smiling back and knowing it was, well, rather something of a lie.

We arrived at an open plaza, the eastern third of which being free of Vord. My field extended to the halfway point. I'm certain you can guess the reason for the discrepancy.

At the edge of that eastern third was a line of corpses. Vord corpses. And behind that line was more Vord, creeping even further inward. Their howls grew more and more terrifying until they collapsed, their senses overloaded to the point of overtaxing their bodies from the strain of my disruption signal. "That's the disadvantage of facing insectoid foes," I remarked somberly. "Utterly suicidal tactics are something they can get away with." A sickening possibility came to my mind. "Oh bugger," I hissed to myself while pulling out my sonic screwdriver.

Bernard stood beside me, an arrow already nocked into his bow (for as little as that would do for us given the numbers involved). "What is it?"

"They're adapting," i remarked. "Biologically, on the fly. Look at the carapaces on their heads, the different forms of their bodies. A new breed with a more robust system to try and survive the disruption field."

"Can they get through?"

"Sooner or later," I answered.

The Vord pushing in faltered. They parted like the Red Sea in front of me. Not to my surprise, a single figure came from within the swarm. The Vord Queen stepped up to the very edge of the disruption field. She tilted her head in curiosity. "Just what are you? You are... new. Different. Not Human."

"I'm a Time Lord of Gallifrey," I replied. "Something of a traveler."

She pondered this for a moment. Her multitudes-as-one voice spoke up once more. "And what purpose do you serve here? What allegiance do you owe these Alerans?"

"None, really," I answered. "I was meaning to go back about ten thousand, fifteen thousand years, to tell the truth. Sometimes my ship goes to the wrong place or time or both." I crossed my arms. "What are your intentions, Queen? Why do you do this?"

"Because it is my necessity. I require this land. Vord require it."

"Even at the costs of innocent people?"

"Innocent?" She tilted her head. "What is innocence? If you refer to the idea that they have done nothing wrong, I remind you that the collars are their invention, not mine."

"Not all of them are likely that," I countered. "And is that your justification for mass enslavement and slaughter? For launching war upon an entire nation?"

"Justification?" The Vord Queen seemed to ponder the word. "I do not understand."

"What justifies you?", I demanded. "What permits you to slaughter innocent people and destroy their homes, their very civilization?"

"Nothing," the Queen said. "I do these things because it is what I require. This world is for Vord."

"Haven't you ever heard of peaceful co-existence?", I asked. "Species don't have to fight to take another's territory all the time."

"We are not species. We are Vord. We take what we seek."

It was clear the argument would go nowhere. This was an alien mind with values I could never fully comprehend. It wasn't hard to understand, of course. The Vord would not tolerate competition for natural resources, food sources, the like. From any life form. They would devour everything as they saw fit. They had no conception of restraint, of peaceful interaction, just force with occasional deceit, perhaps.

"You have means to go to other worlds," the Vord Queen said. "Take the Alerans and go. Take as many as you please. It is of no consequence to me if they leave Alera before I take it."

"Really? I'm supposed to just move millions of people like that? I'm good, yes, but not that good," I answered. "Do you realize how hard it is to organize a population movement like that? People need food and medicine, shelter, rest. Go ahead and ask your friend Lady Aqui...."

I stopped. I looked closer and could not see any other humanoid figures present. Sudden realization struck me and I grabbed Bernard. "Take us back!", I shouted. "We've got to go back now!"

Bernard understood. He summoned his hound-shaped fury yet again and it carried us off.

"I will not be stopped," the Vord Queen declared behind me as we fled. "This land is now for my Vord. Leave or you will be destroyed!"

We rode back into the courtyard and I nearly stumbled off my bounding earthen mount. A mound of unlocked collars was building in the square, flanked by a smaller mount of raw metal as metalcrafters destroyed the collars with savage glee. Korra was holding Rook in her arms and bringing her toward Brencis, who had just freed a young lady from the collar. The moment it came off she shrieked hatred at him and slapped him. I recognized her voice; it was the girl he'd called Fiona, the one who had been betrothed to marry him.

"Aquitaine is here!", I shouted. "She's here!"

Almost everyone reacted with surprise. I yanked out my sonics, on in each hand, intent on finding the hiding Aleran traitoress before she could do any damage. Amara pulled her bone dagger and Bernard brought up an arrow that I noticed was made mostly of salt crystal. I looked at him quizzically.

Before I could inquire I felt the strong rustling of air. Invidia Aquitaine - or Aquitaine Invidia if you're being strict - flew from the same building I'd used earlier in the night. The windcrafter soldiers in the air moved position and created a mid-air phalanx to protect the disruptor device. Aquitaine was cut off from attacking it.

But that wasn't her target.

She moved above our heads at a speed exceeding that Amara had managed with me in tow. She was across the marketplace in the span of a couple of breaths. Black-green chitin blades gleamed on her Vordskin suit in the moment before she made impact. Asami, recognizing the danger in time, threw herself on Korra and thus Rook to get them out of the way.

Nobody saved Brencis Minoris. He screamed in terror as Aquitaine's blade impaled his throat, severing his uppermost vertebrae in the process. Blood gurgled from a choked scream and the little petty tyrant fell toward the ground, paralyzed. Aquitaine followed up this strike by grabbing him with one hand and using the other to deliver a quick jab to the head that sliced cleanly into skull and brain. Brencis was dead before he hit the ground.

Amara shouted in challenge and flew toward her, but Aquitaine was almost as fast as the Vord Queen, it seemed. She was aloft a moment later. I realized what she was doing a moment too late; her shift of position had left her a small hole in the phalanx of windcrafters above and she slammed into it. The one young windcrafter who maneuvered into her way had his throat ripped out by her chitin blade. His dying body fell to the ground.

Aquitaine had nothing between her and the disruptor. She slammed into it at full speed. Her mass and her speed together were more than enough for the countermeasures I'd built into the device. She held it against her and flew off into the sky, moving the disruption field away. I couldn't see what she did next, exactly, but given the shriek of punctured metal and the sharp sound of her chitin blades, it wasn't hard to guess what she'd done.

The disruption field was gone.

In the distance we could all hear high-pitched warbling and chittering.

The Vord were coming.

"Everyone into the TARDIS!", I shouted.

Bernard shouted orders as well, getting the fit Alerans into combat formation. And just in time. The flying Vord - Vordknights, I'd been told - came in first, descending from the air and rushing in with blades swinging. Screams of pain and terror came from the crowd they plunged into, joined with the sickening sight of blood and flesh flying. People pushed into the TARDIS doorway to get in from panic.

I brought up the sonic disruptor and held it high. Bursts of raw energy erupted from the lit-up tip of the device. I shot away one that was swooping in on Bernard. He put an arrow into another one. Metalcrafters moved with skill and power in bringing their blades down upon the enemy while the flying windcrafters tried to reduce their numbers in the sky.

I knew we wouldn't buy enough time, though. We couldn't. If we were to save at least some, we had to flee now.

"Take her!", I heard Korra shout. Asami accepted Rook into her arms. "Get her to safety, I've got this."

"Korra!" I looked to her. This was a vicious and bloody affair; I didn't want her getting mixed up in it. "Korra, get in the TARDIS! We'll..."

"No!", she insisted. She ran toward the center of the plaza. A diving vordknight struck at her but was felled by a firecrafter's flames in mid-air. She added to the mid-air conflagration with her own firebending, using the flames to ignite several other vord. When she made it to the center she set her feet and closed her eyes. I felt energy thrumming around her.

When she opened her eyes again, they glowed with the power of the Avatar State.

Her arms shot upward. Massive chunks of rock and earth erupted at the end of the square she was facing. She made several more movements and more and more came out on each end, creating strong rock and earthen walls that would stop any food advance by the Vord. But the Vordknights remained and went after her, identifying Korra as the greatest threat.

I got to her side first and brought up the sonic disruptor's shield setting. Their blows rained against the defensive field and made it spark blue repeatedly. I felt the force of their blows in my arm and had to brace it to keep my arm in place. As it was, I expected I would be overwhelmed soon enough. Amara struck at one with a blade and her husband was firing arrow after arrow into their numbers as they came around for repeated diving attacks. But there always seemed to be more of the blasted things.

And then Korra finished whatever she was doing with her Earthbending. She raised her arms again and used them to make circular motions, like when she was spirit-bending before. But this time it was the air that began to shift. Winds formed above us, circular and increasing in violence and strength. The airborne Vord started maneuvering more erratically. Their Aleran foes made it to the ground without trying to fly against them. Soon a literal tornado was over our heads, whipping the Vordknights around and smashing them against the strong earthen ramparts Korra had formed. They would hit the ground, dazed and wounded, and Alerans quickly finished them off. Even as the tornado continued, Korra changed her pose slightly. Flames erupted inside the violent winds at the top of her defenses, giving us a ceiling of blazing fire. An inferno no Vord could get through without being horribly burned.

It was buying us the time needed. Even more Alerans were loading into the TARDIS. Most of the ones outside were fighters. "Get your men into the TARDIS!", I shouted to Bernard. He nodded and relayed the orders, sending them in group by group. We all began to back up toward the TARDIS save for Korra and myself.

There was a shriek of pain. Two vordknights plunged through the flames, horrifically burnt. But I could see what they were doing even before they opened their arms wide. The Vord Queen and Lady Aquitaine jumped down from them, having used the vord as insulation from the flames. The Vord Queen plunged right for us. I generated a shield again and almost fell down from the raw impact when she slammed into it trying to attack Korra. She rebounded from the blow, raised her arm, and brought the blade down again.

From the corner of my eye I saw Lady Aquitaine engaging the Calderons. The husband and wife team were holding their own for the moment, buying time for more of the others to get into the TARDIS. Which was a goal that I was having to think up a new plan for given the Vord Queen's immense and imminent threat to our well-being. She was shifting around swiftly, trying to find a weakness, trying to get behind me, anything to overwhelm or outflank my shield. And given how wide I had to set it to prevent her from getting around it, the former was likely to come baout relatively soon.

Korra's arm suddenly struck out. A fierce blast of flame, tight enough that it resembled a beam, suddenly caught the Vord Queen in mid strike. She let out a horrible screech as the beam of raw heat sliced through her chitin armor along her left side. She recoiled backward. Korra's other arm moved forward and a gust of wind struck her next, slamming her into the nearby building and sending her through the doorway with the crash of splintered wood. Korra's arms came up and smashed downward. The stone, earthen structure collapsed. On top of the Vord Queen.

Somehow I knew it still wasn't enough.

I felt the movement of wind and shouted, "Korra, behind you!". Korra moved in a graceful AIrbending spin, barely avoiding a strike from Invidia Aquitaine. The Aleran woman's chitin blade sliced across Korra's side but caused only a surface cut. In the Avatar State Korra probably didn't even feel the pain very much. She turned in mid-air and her foot came up, turning the evasive maneuver into a roundhouse kick. Stone erupted from the paved ground and slammed into Aquitaine's back. She went flying and hit a nearby structure and plopped onto the ground. As she started to get back up I stepped between her and Korra with the disruptor raised. "Stay down and you won't be harmed," I ordered.

Rubble moved away from the front of the broken building. Bloodied and wounded, the Vord Queen shrieked and rocketed toward us again. I was out of position now and there was nothing between her and Korra. Korra reacted more quickly than I thought she would though. She generated air beneath her and rose up in it, narrowing avoiding the lunge. She made a kicking motion toward the Queen and more stone came up to smash into the Vord Queen's body. She shrieked and hit the ground, rolling into a crouch. An arrow struck her armored shoulder but didn't penetrate. Bernard nocked another arrow while Amara approached Invidia. He let it fly a moment later.

The Vord Queen's arm went up and broke the arrow just before it struck in in the head. She went airborne again and lunged at Korra once more. I saw Korra begin a mid-air maneuver.

And then I noticed her body tense. That damnable flashback.

I had no choice. With not a second to spare I brought the sonic disruptor up and sent out a full force kinetic blast. The wave struck both, knocking Korra and the Queen out of the air, but it had the side effect of preventing the Queen from delivering what could have easily become a fatal strike. Both rolled on the ground to a stop.

I would have attacked again, but I was struck from behind. Amara crashed into me. I can't imagine it wasn';t intentional on Invidia's part. The Aleran woman went after Korra as well, joining her new mistress as she tried to stand.

At that point, Korra got back up, at least to one knee and one foot. Whatever the attack was, it hadn't gripped her as it usually did. She found her footing and bent an earthen sphere for herself. The Queen and Aquitaine struck at it, looking to break the defense.

I looked up. The flames Korra had generated before were vanishing from sight. With her chance of state Korra was no longer keeping them active. That meant more flying Vord.

We weren't going to win this.

I began changing the settings on my sonic disruptor. As I did, Korra's earthen sphere collapsed around her, revealing her amidst the shattered masonry and brown earth. Before her attackers could strike, she received succor from our three remaining allies. Bernard's arrows threatened to hit both and forced them to retreat a little. As Aquitaine moved to attack him she was forced to move to the side to avoid a dagger strike from Amara.

That opened her up to Asami, now returned to the field and with electric gauntlet in hand. She pressed it to Aquitaine's neck. The Aleran woman screamed and toppled over.

That left the Vord Queen... and dozens, hundreds, of her flying creatures.

I did the only thing I could, made possible by the Vord Queen being distracted and relatively stationary for the moment. I brought the sonic disruptor to bear, murmured a quiet prayer to whomever would listen, and triggered setting 21's neural-disruption effect.

The Vord Queen stopped in mid-step toward Korra. She let out a shriek of pain and clasped at her temples. Chittering wails erupted above us.

And Korra took her opportunity. She moved her hand in an open palm strike and sent out another tight beam of heat and flame, spearing the Vord Queen through the chest. The Queen screeched even louder and collapsed to the ground.

I do love it when a plan works. Especially in these circumstances.

As the vordknights rained down around us, I motioned frantically to the TARDIS. "Go! Go!" With the sonic I sent a remote command, transferring the door's entry from the room with the evacuees to the control room.

Asami helped Korra up. They arrived at the TARDIS concurrent with Amara and Bernard and entered together. I followed, keeping the sonic disruptor trained on the Vord Queen until I got to the door. I lowered the disruptor, slammed the door closed, and ran to the control panel. "Here we go! Tally ho!" With a couple of dial twists I was ready and pulled back on the lever.


As my TARDIS made her usual sweet vworping, I signed and leaned against the control panel. "Well, that was exciting," I mumbled. "Now, off to your holdings, Count Bernard, where we shall sort through the mess at hand."

It took time for us to finish the evacuation, within the fortified walls of what Bernard called Garrison, his primary stronghold. I kept an eye on everyone coming out, not so much out of mistrust but because I hadn't seen how many people still had discipline collars on them.

As it turned out, only one did.

Rook was brought out on a litter made by a couple of the Aleran legionaires we had rescued. She was awake now, still very weak, but she didn't appear the least upset at her condition.

Korra walked up to us. She had used waterbending healing on herself to heal the cuts and wounds she'd taken. Her hair was still a bit mussed up though. "How are you?", I asked her.

"I'm really tired," she admitted. "That Queen was the worst thing I'd ever had to fight before. She was so powerful and fast."

"Yes. A good thing we all worked together against her."

Korra looked at where Rook was being tended to. "I want to try to get that off of her."

"Are you sure?", I asked. "It cost you a lot to take off one of the late and unlamented Kalarus Brencis' collars before."

"Yeah. But I'm not leaving her like that," Korra insisted. She stepped up to the litter. Rook sat up weakly to greet her. "Let me see if I can take that thing off."

"Don't hurt yourself trying," Rook said gently. "You've already done more than enough, Korra."

"I'm not going to be able to rest until I know you're fine." Korra got onto one knee and reached for the collar. I saw her begin to energybend it like she had the prior ones. Rook gasped and let out a small moan as her collar glowed brightly. Korra seemed to falter a little. But she didn't stop.

The glow faded. Korra slumped against the litter slightly before recovering. She raised her heads and gently moved them apart from one another. The lock on the collar tore open and it came off. With a last burst of energy, Korra smashed the collar with her Metalbending, turning it into a wafer of cheap metal.

"Furies bless you," Rook said.

Korra nodded and stood up. She walked over to me. And I could see her weakness just quickly enough to catch her as she fell against me, limp and exhausted. I nearly fell over in the effort. I hadn't realized how worn I was from the long day either. "You've pushed yourself too hard," I chided gently.

"Had to," was her reply.

Rook's litter was placed down near us. The healers would undoubtedly get to her to continue treatment as necessary but she was in no danger.


The cry came from the dwellings area of the fort. We turned to see a young girl rush up to the litter. Rook saw the child, smiled widely, and already had tears in her eyes when the girl got close enough for her to hug. "Masha." She ran her hands through the girl's hair and I heard the sound of lips pressing briefly against skin, a kiss on the forehead it seemed. "I'm home. I'm never leaving again."

It was quite heartwarming, I must say.

With the evacuees out of the TARDIS and accounted for, I shifted us out of that world and somewhere to rest. We all needed it; it had been a strenuous, terrifying experience. Not exactly what I wanted for Korra's recovery, I must admit.

After a couple days of recuperation - I took to my hot tub quite a bit, I admit - we were sitting in the library when Korra looked at me and asked, "Do you think I killed the Vord Queen?"

I pondered the question. Then I sighed and shook my head. "I wouldn't bet on it."

"So she's still invading that land," Korra said. "We should help them."

I eyed her. "Korra, we barely got out of that alive. Chasing down the Queen by ourselves, with her undoubtedly surrounded by more Vord and with that Aleran traitor at her side, is unlikely to help anything."

"Well, maybe we don't chase the Queen down," Asami said, chiming in. "Let's just go back and see if we can help them some more. I mean, they're an entire nation of powerful benders, with the right tools they should be able to beat the Vord."

"I can't just sit here knowing that entire world is in danger," Korra said. "I want to do something."

I nodded. I didn't want to voice some of my thoughts. Namely... there are always worlds in danger. And sometimes we couldn't do a thing about them. Fixed points in time, things like that. Or just something out of our capability. But still... I did feel terrible at the thought of all that being for nothing. At the very least, if they couldn't beat the Vord, I could still save some of those Alerans, couldn't I?

I stood up. "All right. Let's go."

When the TARDIS materialized, it was not where I planned.

I had intended for us to materialize at Garrison again. But the city, damaged as it was, was clearly not Garrison. But there were no signs of the "croach", as the Alerans called it, and I could hear distinctly non-Vord voices chattering amiably in the distance. With curiosity I led my Companions down an alley of buildings and toward an amphitheater of sorts. There were milling crowds. Alerans, yes, but also some silver-haired faintly elvish-looking peoples, large yeti-like beings, and... yes, indeed, those were nine foot tall wolfmen, weren't they? Oh dear.

I followed the press until we were challenged by a main in standard Legionaire-style armoring. "Identification?"

I reached for my psychic paper. It proved unnecessary. "Let them pass!", a male voice insisted.

Bernard and Amara stepped up beside us, two children in tow, and Amara looking very much like she was about to give a third. I bowed respectfully. "Your Lordship, a pleasure to see you doing so well." I sighed. "I take it this is a sign that the Vord are gone?"

"They are," Amara answered. "Where did you go?"

"To heal," I answered. "And then I was coming back to help more. It appears I overshot the mark. Or my TARDIS was being rascally. That happens."

"You did enough as it was," Bernard assured us. "Are you coming?"

"A victory event of sorts?"

"Not quite." Bernard was beaming. "My nephew's having his official marriage ceremony."

"Ah. Indeed, well, I'm always good for weddings," I answered cheerily. "Just as long as there are no crossbows."

The couple gave me a bewildered look. "Crossbows?", Amara asked.

"Spring-powered bows," I clarified.

"Ah, those Canim weapons then," Bernard said. He blinked. "At a wedding?"

"Yes. It was rather unsporting of the hosts to try and murder their guests," I said. "So I was rather cross with them. And they were cross with me as well, with crossbows nonetheless...." I winced. "I'm terribly sorry. That pun has grown stale. Although the look on Lord Frey's face was rather amusing by the end of that fiasco. Anyway, as I was saying, I'm always good for weddings."

"And now, if there is an attempted murder, I shall know who cursed us," Amara responded with amusement. "Please, follow us."

We had the interesting experience of being introduced to the new ruler of Alera. Gaius Octavian - or was it Gaius Tavarus? - was an intelligent and resouceful fellow and it was nice to be introduced to him and his bride Kitai and their little son Desiderius. His mother Isana and new stepfather Araris were quite welcoming as well. I also had the singular distinction to have a handshake with a nine foot tall wolfman named Varg and an equally-imposing Marat chieftain named Doroga, the father of the not-so-blushing bride. He seemed to make even Kal-El look a bit on the leaner side.

As it turned out, we had become something of a legend in the past months. The Aleran survivors of Ceres had embellished the tale of our battle with the Vord Queen to rather silly heights, for instance. The other attendees were quite astonished to discover that neither Asami nor I had furies, and that Korra didn't need them to bend the elements. I felt rather perturbed at the idea that our arrival was going to divert attention from the main festivities.

Thankfully they didn't. We took respectable seats on one end of the amphitheater to await the formal ceremony. As we sat down I saw Korra look a little distant. "Is something the matter?"

"No, I..." She sighed. "We could have done so much more. So many people died that we could've saved. In that city, in the rest of Alera..."

"Perhaps," I said. "But they won. The Vord are a mindless bunch of insects now, they can't do the same harm they might have before. It all turned out well in the end."

"I think we could have made more of a difference, though."

I sighed and smiled at her. "I know that temptation well, Korra. It's from having a good heart. But it's not always the wise thing to do." I patted her on the shoulder. "Do you really feel like we didn't make enough of a difference on this world?"

She seemed to consider that. And she couldn't answer either way.

I delicately pointed toward another pair of seats down the way. We all looked in that direction.

In the front seats, just a row back from where Bernard and Amara would be seated, we could see Rook. Her throat had some scarring shown by the open collar of her blue tunic. But her face was beaming with delight.

And though we were too far away to hear it, it was easy to see why, given her daughter Masha was in her lap and giggling happily in her mother's loving arms.

I saw my Companions were beginning to smile at the sight of Rook and Masha. "We saved a loving mother and brought her back to her little girl," I said quietly. "So yes, my friends, we made a difference."

They didn't answer. But in the warm tears I saw on their eyes as they observed Rook playing with her daughter, I knew they agreed with me.

I love it when I can say "Everybody lives!". But that's not always possible. You have to take your victories where you get them.

And, in this case... we did, indeed, make the difference.

”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-12 11:14am

Short 33 - The Importance of One's Reputation

I had made a decision. A decision to do something I should have done quite a while prior. That it might be of help to my spirit and to Korra's finally tipped the balance against the feelings and sentiments against my decision.

Of course, that was when the TARDIS decided to drop us somewhere else, as was her usual rascally behavior. "Go where you're needed" indeed.

I stepped out of the TARDIS into a dark and dry cavern. Or, upon closer inspection, an underground site that looked to be cavernous. There was almost no light to be had. Just enough from small sources along the walls - flames or something else, I could not determine - to realize that the structure was mostly man-made.

Korra and Asami followed me out. Naga squeezed through the door behind them. Normally she was quite happy to be outside of the TARDIS. But she raised her hackles this time. Her muzzle curled up and a low snarl built within her throat.

"Woh. Smell something bad, Naga?", Asami asked.

"It's not that," Korra murmured quietly. "There's something... here. Something that's just... wrong. Dark and wrong and cold."

I realized I felt it too. What I had presumed to be environmental cold I realized to be the energy in the air.

Familiar energy.

I held out the sonic screwdriver and did scans of the atmosphere and the area. The sonic's scanning modes found language writing along some of the walls. I edged in that direction and got a good look at it myself. I swallowed. "Oh, this is definitely not our destination."

"Where are we?", Asami asked, looking around with increasing concern.

"A terrible, red planet called Korriban," I replied succinctly. "It's the origin world of the Sith."


"The... counterparts to the Jedi." I looked back, frowning. "Their Empire was the one that enslaved Jan and Cami."

"Shouldn't we leave then?"


Before I could do so, Korra looked off in another direction. "There's someone here. They need help!" She started running into the darkness. Naga followed eagerly.

"Korra! Korra, wait... blast it!"

Asami and I ran after her. The passageways narrowed at points, forming halls. All the while the terrible dark energy continued to permeate our surroundings. This was frankly the last place I wanted Korra right now; she was sensitive enough without exposure to this kind of negative energy.

As we ran along I noticed the utter lack of k'lor'slugs or any of the other nasties that could be found on this blasted world. This made me feel intensely suspicious. There were long periods of galactic history where this wretched planet was uninhabited and the things ran wild. For them to not be infesting the place, well.... I wasn't happy at all about the likely reasons.

There was a shout ahead. A roar from Naga. And the sound of earth rumbling and hard thumps on the ground.

We found Korra standing just inside a large room. It had slightly greater lighting than the rest of the halls, but only just. I looked to the ground and saw two armored figures laying at Korra's feet, crumbled earth around them. Naga was seated beside them. "Korra, what are you...?"

Before I could finish the sentence I followed her eyes to the center of the room and the raised platform. A young woman about her age hung limply from shackles connected to electromagnetic devices by crackling bands of electrical energy. She was dressed in what looked like a modest sports bra and undershorts, revealing a dark tanned complexion just a shade or two lighter than Korra's. Her eyes were closed and her face was tightened into a rictus of effort. I tried to think of where I had seen her before.

Korra jumped up to the raised platform and made metalbending motions with her arms. The shackles did not retract. Frustration appeared on her face as she looked back at me. "I can't metalbend her free."

"Purified alloys," I remarked. "You'll find them on some worlds. Here." I jumped up beside her and took up my sonic screwdriver. There was the customary whir and the purple tip lit up appropriately. The shackles holding the young lady's arms snapped open. She looked weak and fell into our arms. "There we go. Young lady, look at me."

"She's weak," Korra said. "I mean, the light inside of her."

"Yes, not surprising. Korriban has that effect upon people with sensitivity. It's one of the darkest worlds you could ever find." I ran the sonic over the young lady. Her body showed signs of recent bacta healing and just as recent trauma consistent with a battle and a rough capture. "You're alright," I said. "You're safe."

The young woman opened her eyes. The room was just light enough to make out the color of hazel. "You... need to get away," she said. "They're here. They're all here."

I nodded to Korra, who brought her flask of water up and allowed the young woman a drink. "Who's here? Sith?"

"The entire family," she said after taking an urgent drink from Korra's offered bottle.

Something about that answer clicked in my mind. I searched my knowledge of this cosmos and compared it to what she said and to the young lady's physical description. "Ah. I think I..."

The young woman looked at me more intently. I got the impression she had just stumbled upon a memory, an old one that she was trying to assure herself of. She glanced to my sonic screwdriver next. Her eyes widened. "It's not.... you're real?"

I blinked. "Excuse me?"

"It is you," she continued. "You're the Doctor, the Time Lord, the Bane of the Sith."

....Bane of the Sith? That made me blink again. I didn't recall having that title.

"You're... I heard the legend in the Temple when I was being trained. I always thought it was some fairy tale from the era of the Great Galactic War, though. But... it's you. Just as you appear in the history holocrons."

Korra shot me a bemused look. "A legend? You never told me about this Bane of the Sith thing."

"Well, I never directly claimed it," I answered defensively. "I am the being you speak of, yes," I clarified. "And if I may... you wouldn't happen to be Kerra Holt, would you?"

The young woman's eyes narrowed. "How did you know my name?"

"Well, young lady, what do you think the Time in 'Time Lord' stands for, eh?", I replied with a bit of a smirk. I held a hand out. "This is one of my Companions, Avatar Korra. Korra, Kerra. Kerra, Korra." I moved my hand between them as I gave them that mutual introduction, letting my smirk turn into a stupid grin at playing with their phonetically-similar names. "And this is Korra's friend Asami," I continued, indicating Asami.

Kerra looked at Korra intently. "Your friend is a Jedi?"

"No, she's not like you in her use of power, if it's that Avatar power you're sensing," I explained. "So, I presume that when you say the family, you mean the Calimondra?"

"Yes." Kerra rubbed at the back of her neck. "They're holding another Bequest today to divide Odion's territory. I thought it would be an opening to defeat them all at once. But it was a trap."

"Ah. Yes, nasty of them to do that." I held up the sonic screwdriver. "That explains the anti-gravity repulsors under this platform. Let me guess, one of them intended to dramatically reveal you to the others as a prisoner?"

She answered with a nod. "I was too impatient," she lamented. "I'm not going to beat them that easily."

"Well, we live and learn. Although, hrm." I smiled thinly. "I think you may have an opening to annoy them terribly, if not actually defeat them."

"Oh yeah? How?"

I stood up and held out the TARDIS remote. When it finished materializing I motioned to it. "Asami, there are some surplus parts that Jan kept for making lightsabers, they're in the third storeroom where I keep my gadgets. A box labeled 'Jan's Things'. If you could show them to Kerra I am sure she could build another lightsaber. If she's fine with purple crystals, at least. And yes, purple, it's my favorite color so those wre the only crystals I ever got, alright?" Having addressed that to Asami and Kerra, I looked next to Korra. "And while they're busy with that, you and I are going to talk about the show we're about to put on."

It had been a while since I got to put on a show.

Most everything was ready when the anti-grav repulsors fired up and the platform began to lift. I had the TARDIS at the center of it and was standing in front of the door, sonics in hand and a smile on my face. Above me doors slid open and a voice flooded downward. "...my esteemed grandmother. A gift to us all," a voice cried out. "I present to you the common thorn in our side. The insect that has flurried about and interfered in the family's business. It is my pleasure to grant you the sight of my prisoner, that accursed Jedi Kerra Ho...."

I didn't quite recognize the Sith saying these things. Presumably another of Vilia Calimondra's grandchildren. But he stopped in mid sentence when the platform rose high enough to show that instead of a restrained and Dark Side-addled Jedi Knight... there was me and my TARDIS.

The expressions of bewilderment and surprise came across the room. I could see a multitude of Sith Lords and retinues, with a preponderance of blond hair. Two of the most prominent were a haughty-looking woman in Sith-style formal clothes and a man clad in white, surprisingly, with piercing heterochromatic eyes of blue and yellow.

In the middle of this group was a holoprojector of great size projecting the holoimage of an old woman. Her wizened features and look belied what I knew to be a capable and manipulative Sith Lord: Vilia Calimondra, Matriarch of this detestable little family.

I remained smiling until the platform came to a stop. "Well, hello there, everyone." I gave a mocking bow. "Lady VIlia, a distinct pleasure to meet you." My grin turned to a smirk when I straightened my back.

The confusion gave way to another emotion on the old woman's face. "You.... after all this time, you come now?!"

"Well, I tend to flit about a bit," I confessed.

"It's him," the blonde said, her eyes piercing. "The Bane." I realized I recognized her. Arkadia Calimondra, she of the faux enlightened despot pretensions who's idea of personnel management was to constantly shift a person's duties so they could never gain full competence in their field. It was surprising her Arkadianate was as functional as it was.

"Oh, that's a new one," I said in reply. "Usually people just call me 'the Doctor' or 'Time Lord'. I see my reputation has grown a bit over a couple of thousand years. How interesting." I held up a hand. "Alright, everyone, if it makes you feel better, point weapons at me. I'd hate to be a rude guest."

Lightsabers hissed into existence and non-Force-sensitive retinues raised blasters. You might say I had gained the room's attention.

"There. Does anyone feel any better?" I called out.

"How interesting." The heterochromatic man - Daiman - stared at me with interest. Unlike the others he had not drawn a weapon. "I do wonder. Are you like my so-called brother? Another rebellious creation of mine trying to destroy my universe?"

Ah, yes. The ultimate solipsist, this one. Daiman believed he was the only real person and everything else was a creation of his will. I flashed him a grin. "I like to think that if this were true, I am what amounts to your conscious, finally rebelling and trying to get you to stop treating other beings like toys," I said in reply. "Not that you'll listen. Your kind never listens."

"Enough of this," Vilia demanded. She pointed her finger toward me. "To slay the Bane would forever etch the name of our family in Sith annals. I will grant the entirety of Odion's remaining holdings to whichever of you kills this interloper."

Well, that prompted attention. The assembled Sith who weren't standing yet got to their feet and all began advancing toward me. I brought up the sonic disruptor and absorbed blaster shots into the shield. With my other hand I raised the sonic screwdriver.

Technology in this galaxy hasn't ceased in progression, mind you. It's easy to think that when you compare the era of Satele Shan or Revan to, say, Luke Skywalker, at least visually. But in truth there is always refinement, new ways of doing things, et cetera, that quietly advances the effectiveness of their technology. That is why the likes of the Geonosians could conceive of something like the Death Star when the Sith Empire of old had to manage planet-killing with pilfered Republic technology and the Devastator Field to burn planets. Or old-fashioned orbital bombardment (consider Taris for that one).

But while technology does advance, this past millennium had become the Galactic Dark Ages for a reason. Large-scale resurgence of the Sith and other disasters had wrecked galactic society to the point that outside of a few Republic worlds technology regressed. The Sith before me had technology that was only refined a bit beyond what I had faced from the Sith Empire. And, most importantly, it was all based on the same original principles.

The ones I had long ago discovered how to disrupt.

My sonic screwdriver lit up and every blaster and lightsaber in the room exploded in sparks, causing a cacophony of pained shouts and surprised shrieks. Vilia's image popped out of existence as the holographic viewer similarly exploded in a fountain of white sparks. For a moment the tide of angry and murderous Sith stopped. But only a moment; they had the Force, after all, and I could imagine they would be quick to break out the lightning and the choking.

They didn't have a moment, thankfully.

Guards at the doorway into the Sith auditorium flew threw the opened door. Korra and Kerra emerged, side by side. Kerra's new lightsaber ignited to reveal a green blade (blast it, Jan must have found a green crystal somewhere) and she charged into the Sith, lightsaber swinging. She was wearing one of Jan's old suits, the only fit for her that we could find in the things on the TARDIS.

Korra, not to be outdone, turned to a mix of firebending, earthbending, and airbending, mixing styles in dizzying speed and showing just how much versatility she had been picking up through her life. A gust of tornado-strength air would blow through and knock Sith off their feet after which more Sith would hit the ground screaming as they tried to extinguish the flames of her firebending attacks. Their footing would fail them as entire chunks of the stone ground flew into the air at Korra's command.

It was a rather impressive display of metaphysical might between the two young ladies.

For my part, the sonic disruptor's various offensive settings and my position gave me the opening to launch several attacks. A jolt of electricity sent pain surging through my body and I fell to one side. Daiman had jumped onto the platform. "You would lash out at your Creator?", he asked, indignant.

"Oi, you Sith and your egos." I tried to get up and felt a vise close around my throat. I was lifted into the air as I began to choke.

"You will suffer for this," Daiman pledged. "You will..."

He was interrupted by a loud roar. Naga emerged from the TARDIS with rather unexpected speed, and it was a good thing for me. Several hundred pounds of angry polar bear dog slammed into Daiman and knocked him down so harshly that I knew his ribs had to have cracked. In desperation Daiman called upon his power to electrocute Naga. The polar bear dog howled in angry pain and recoiled from her foe. Daiman lifted himself up. "You would...."

"Don't touch my dog!" Korra hit him from behind with a massive slab of stone. As he tried to recover she twisted her arms and bent the air under him, causing the air to move swiftly enough to knock him off his feet. Daiman cried out in frustration.

I had the sonic disruptor ready. A setting 21 discharge sent disruption waves into his brain. After a cry of pain he passed out.

I turned my attention back to the main fight. Or rather the completely chaotic melee. For cries of "Treachery!" had started to be heard and the Calimondra family had returned to their usual practice; trying to kill each other. Kerra used the chaos to her advantage to cleave her way to the central platform. "Arkadia already ran," she told us.

"It's time we did the same," I said. I pointed the sonic screwdriver down and used it to take control of the repulsors on our platform. It began to sink beneath the floor again. "Korra?"

Korra nodded. She raised her arms and brought down the auditorium's stone roof above us, wedging it into the space the platform left. I closed the doors remotely to add to our new defensive layer over our heads. "Well, I think that went well," I said to them. "We certainly made this family gathering one to remember, didn't we?"

Kerra nodded. I could see a smile come to her face. "You're just what the Jedi have said you were," she said to me. "A beacon of hope."

"Ah, well, that might be overstating things," I insisted.

"No, it isn't," Korra answered. "So, Kerra, what should we do about him?" She pointed to the unconscious Daiman.

Kerra didn't answer. I didn't have one either. It was indeed a dilemma.

When we got to the ground below, Asami was waiting for us. She had left the others when they came to the auditorium to finish the mission I'd proposed for them, the actual important part. Behind her were crowds of people of various races clad in various types of clothes, some more ragged than others. They were slaves and servants held on Korriban or brought here by the Calimondras.

"Alright everyone." With the sonic screwdriver I set the TARDIS to my usual Refugee Transit Room. "Into the TARDIS. Next stop will be the Republic."

At hearing that, many started to surge forth. "Woh everyone." Asami got by the door with hands held before her. "No need to rush. Go in at a nice pace so nobody is trampled, okay?"

I watched her manage the outflow and looked back to the fallen Daiman. Korra was kneeling over him and putting her right hand on his forehead, pressing her thumb to it. I recognized the gesture. "Korra, what are you doing?", I said, my voice low and cautious.

"I'm not going to kill him," Korra said. "But we can't just let him walk away either. He'll hurt more people. I have another solution."

And I knew what that solution was. "Korra, I don't think you're in a shape to do something like this..." I said. I couldn't keep the fear out of my voice.

"I'm just going to try," she insisted. "If I can't I'll just break it off."

"You don't know that you can do that!", I shouted. But before I could get to her, it was too late. Her eyes lit up as she began to energybend Daiman.

"What's she doing?", Kerra asked.

"She's trying to cut off his connection to the Force," I said. "I mean, to take away his ability to use it."

Kerra's eyes widened in shock at the concept. "She can do that?"

"At the peak of her power, certainly." I frowned. I watched bright light emanate from Korra and start to fill Daiman. "But she's had a rough couple of years lately and her spirit and mind are weakened from trauma. I'm not sure she can...."

Daiman howled and woke up. "What... what are you doing?!", he shouted. "I am the Creator, you can't...!"

Pulsing, angry energy - dark and red - surged from the core of his being. Korra gasped in shock as the surging wave slammed into her energy and forced it back, pressing it back into her. I saw her try to pull away. But Daiman now held on. The energy began to consume Korra's form, surging toward her neck.

Kerra acted before I could. She rushed to Korra's side and put her own hand over the one Korra had to Daiman's forehead. The golden light of the Light Side of the Force glowed within her, surging into the dark morass that was entering Korra. It cut through it in moments. Kerra's own gasp came as she poured her own strength into the bond. She had felt darkness before, she knew what the Dark Side was like, and with her help Korra was acclimating to its ferocious and passionate power. The dark red of the energy wavered, stopping just as it approached Korra's face from all sides. For several tense moments all Asami and I could do was watch and hope. Naga whimpered, undoubtedly realizing what her companion was risking.

And then Korra's light, tinged with the gold of Kerra's power, surged outward yet again. Daiman's power failed beneath the strength of Korra's spirit and the Light Side power of Kerra Holt. It expanded within him, consuming his darkness as it did, until he was bathed in blue and golden light. He gasped and fell backward again. Korra and Kerra had to grab onto each other for support. Kerra watched, wide-eyed, as Daiman tried to summon his power. A look of sheer terror came to his face. "No..." he rasped. "No, you couldn't have done this to me! Not to me! I... I am the Creator! I do not let you do this to me!"

"He's... he's not...", Kerra stammered. "I can't believe it. How did you do that? You took away his ability to use the Force!"

"I used energy bending to change the energy inside of him," Korra answered. She looked up at Kerra. "Thank you, Kerra. I shouldn't have tried to do this alone."

At that Kerra smiled gently. "Well, I know what it's like always doing that kind of thing. I've learned that lesson too now."

"Yes, it is a hard lesson sometimes," I said, speaking from my own bitter experience.

Asami went over and gave Korra a hug. "How are you feeling?"

"Exhausted," Korra admitted. She smiled weakly. "But I think I feel... better now." She looked to Kerra. "Thank you again."

"You're welcome, and thank you, Korra. And you too, Doctor." She looked at me. "I never thought I could ever deal such a blow to the Calimondra family like that."

"Well, there's still a lot of work to do," I said. "But first... I think we need to get these people to safety."

We left the rescued people from Korriban in the Senate Plaza on Coruscant and left before Coruscant Security took up my time with annoying things like detentions or questions. At Kerra's instigation we returned to one of the minor worlds in the Calimondra territories. We stepped out into open fields and a sunny sky. "You don't have to do this," I said. "I think you've earned a respite."

Kerra shook her head. "It's very tempting," she admitted. "But I'm not going to stop now. The people here need me. They need someone who can stand up to the Sith."

"After today I think it's safe to say the Calimondra won't be overlooking you anymore," I warned her. "You're going to have to be even more careful than before."

"I know." Kerra's expression remained stoic. "But I'm going anyway."

"Of course." I smiled and held out my hand to her. She took it, made a confused face, and found herself holding a couple of items. "A temporal beacon. It connects directly to the TARDIS. Under some circumstances I am quite capable of providing assistance and aid, save for the tricky issues of Fixed Points in Time."

"Whatever you do, don't make him explain those," Korra said, arms folded impressively and an amused look on her face. "It's the closest thing I've seen to brainbending."

Kerra looked over the beacon and then the other device. "And this?"

"Genetic scanner," I said simply. "Set to actively scan for genetic profiles in a close range to your own. Like, say, a brother or sister."

A very still look came to Kerra's face as she considered it. To my knowledge she had only recently found out her parents had survived the Massacre of Aquilaris and had another child while prisoners of the late, unlamented Odion before they died to prevent him from finding an artifact of immense power. Said child had been taken from her mother at birth because Odion was a monster even by Sith standards. She still had no idea of where her sibling was. And I knew it would gnaw at her despite her determination to soldier on.

"Thank you," she finally managed. She put her arms around me in a thankful hug. I could see hope filling her hazel eyes. "Thank you very much, Doctor."

"I... actually don't go by that anymore," I admitted. "The name wasn't appropriate, and it wasn't mine."

"It doesn't matter," Kerra declared. "To me, to the Jedi, and to all of the people you've ever saved from the Sith, you will always be the Doctor."

I couldn't say anything else at that point. Emotion choked me at the reaction. I considered the day's events and how right she was, even if I couldn't bring myself to admit it.

Korra stepped up and gave Kerra a hug. "It was great to meet you, Kerra," she said. "Good luck finding your family."

"Thank you, Korra." Kerra patted her shoulder. "I hope you start feeling better. May the Force be with you and heal your spirit."

Asami gave the young Jedi a goodbye hug as well. Naga, not to be outdone, chuffed and gave her a doggy kiss on the cheek with her tongue. Kerra laughed and wiped at the affectionate slobber.

"Good luck to you, Kerra Holt," I said, finally finding my voice. "Good luck and may the Force always be with you."

With her eyes glistening with thankful tears, the Jedi Knight Errant gave me a nod. With a final wave, she turned and began to walk away from us to return to her quest.
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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-13 08:56am

Short 34 - Reunion

One might ask where we were heading when we ended up on Korriban to aid Kerra Holt. Well, I shall gladly tell you.

After we left that engagement I double-checked things and we arrived at my intended destination. Purple and blue-leaved flora decorated the river valley with color. Nearby a two-story home looked over the valley.

Korra and Asami followed me out. Naga, again, was taking up the rear. I had proposed it. This was a safe place for her, after all.

"Where are we?", Asami asked.

"Somewhere special," I answered. "We're..."

We were interrupted by a child emerging from the bushes on the path leading up to the house. The young girl had a light bronze complexion and striking green eyes. She didn't look a day over six, although she could have been a small seven or eight year old. She was wearing a simple blouse and skirt with frilly patterns on it. She looked at us intently. I smiled, knowing who she likely was, and knelt down. "Well hello there, sweetie."

"I'm not a Sweetie," she insisted. "My name is Chrissy. And I'm a Jedi Princess."

I raised my eyebrow. "A Jedi Princess?"

"Uh huh," Chrissy said. "Because my mommy said I could be."

"I'm sure she did," I said. "I'm here to see her. Can we..."

Another little form, maybe a year younger, also emerged out of the brush. She was dressed similarly, but she had her dark hair cut shorter than the other girl's thicker brown hair and her skin was a bright green in complexion. Gray eyes looked up at me. "Hi. I'm Kari. Who are you?"

"I'm a... friend," I answered.

"I know 'cuz I see you in our mommies' pictures," the younger girl answered. "You're the Doctor. You're nice."

I'm sure you can guess easily who we had come to visit. "I do try," I said to Kari. I looked to the others. "We're on Salnorra, by the way. And this is..."

Before I could complete the sentence a figure came down around a bend in the path up ahead. "...dinner's almost ready, it's time for you to...." The woman looked at us and went silent.

I smiled at her. "Hello, Cami."

Camilla stared at me for a moment. She let out a laugh and suddenly rushed forward, throwing her arms around me in a tight hug. "Doctor! Oh Doctor, you're here. It's been so long!"

"Too long, even for me," I said, meaning every bit of that.

"It's so good to see you again!" Cami let go of the hug and looked to my side. "And you're traveling with Korra and Asami now?" She moved forward and hugged them in turn. "Hello, hello!"

"It's good to see you again, Cami," Korra said.

"Yes." Asami seemed to make their hug even tighter. "I was so worried about you and Jan."

Cami nodded. "I'm just glad to see you all. Kari, Chrissy, this is Korra and Asami, your mommies' friends."

"Hello Korra," Chrissy said.

"Hello, Princess," Korra answered, smiling.

"Can I have a ride on your animal?", she asked.

"I want a ride too!", Kari insisted.

Cami giggled. "I'm sure you both can, but only if you ask Korra politely!"

"Please!", the two girls pleaded.

Korra picked one up in each arm. "Sure! One right on Naga coming right up."

And so we went up to the house, Naga taking up the rear with her precious riders.

Janias had been putting the finishing touches on dinner when we arrived. She saw me and Asami come in after Camilla and her jaw dropped slightly. "Doctor! Asami!" She handed a tray to a server droid and rushed over to us, giving us each a warm embrace. I accepted it and couldn't keep the tears from my eyes. Seeing Jan and Cami again, seeing them so fit and well and happy and with this lovely family... it made me feel like I'd done something right. I had made so many mistakes...

The girls ran in behind us, full of excitement. "Mommy Jan! Mommy Jan!" They went to Jan in hops, which they kept up. Kari was exploding with excitement and beat her sister to an explanation. "We got to ride a big furry thing! And it was fun and..."

Korra joined us at this point. Janias noticed her and offered a hug as well. "It's good to see you all," she said. As they hugged I could see her expression change a little. "Korra, are you alright?"

"Not so much anymore," she admitted.

Jan finished the hug and looked to me. I could tell she was using her abilities to sense more closely than she had before. "I see you both could use some company," she said. "I'll have the server droids make more dinner and you can join us. And then we can talk."

Much to the delight of Korra's Southern Water Tribe appetites, there was meat involved in the dinner, and it was a rather good series of dishes. Much to the dislike of the children, it also had a variety of vegetables, and Cami took the lead in making sure that the children ate them.

"So, Christana and Karianas?", I asked. "Your sisters?"

"Yes," Cami said, handing out another helping of greens to Kari. "We decided it was better if we had one first and then the other."

"Reasonable," I said before taking another bite.

"Actually..." Korra looked curiously at them. "How did you... I mean, I thought you had to have..."

"The Doctor provided us with a kit from Layom Station," Janias answered, smiling as she cut off the clearly awkward end of the question.

"I believe there was quite a bit of material in it," I remarked. "Are you going to give them any sisters?"

"I want a baby sister!", Chrissy declared.

"I want one too!", Kari added enthusiastically.

Their mothers smiled at that. "We've thought about it. When they're a little older," Janias admitted.

"Have names picked out yet?"

"I want to name mine," Chrissy said, her words obscured by the mouthful of mashed vegetable she had in her mouth.

"Chrissy, you know to not talk with your mouth full," Cami chided her. She looked at me with a bit of exasperation. "They're normally better behaved, they're just excited at getting to see you."

"Oh, no complaints here," I said. "There's something endearing about how they're acting. Not that I imagine it's endearing for their mothers."

That brought giggles from the, well, now older women. Asami finished a bite of food and asked, "So, do you have names picked out?"

Jan and Cami looked at each other. "Well, yes." Jan smiled at them. "The top three names on our list are you two and Molly."

Korra's cheeks turned a slight pink. "Oh, uh... well, that's...." She smiled sheepishly. "That would be great. I mean...."

Her reaction brought more laughter to the table.

After dinner came the Show of the Year.

The little collapsible wooden theater sat in front of me in the chair I had taken for the show. A pile of hand puppets lay behind it and at my feet. In my hands I had two other puppets; one dressed as I once was without the tie, the other bearing a familiar long duster with a makeshift staff in one tiny puppet hand and a smaller stick in the other. I didn't copy the voice as well as I might have just for the ambiance of the show, but I still managed a fair approximation of an American baritone as I maneuvered that puppet's mouth to open and had it growl, "There's only one way to handle vampires, Doc! Set them all on fire!"

Giggles erupted from Jan and Cami. Asami provided her own. Their daughters started laughing, but even their laughter didn't compete with the sudden eruption of howling laughter from Korra. "That is so Harry!", she wheezed between bursts of laughter.

I tried not to laugh at Korra laughing, but it was hard as I tried to protray myself replying, "Must you always set things on fire, Dresden?!" Spurts of chuckles erupted between each line as my discipline failed.

I lowered the puppet of me down and replaced it with a bat-like Red Court vampire puppet. I brought it up and had it make a screech. "I am a Red Vampire! I will drink all of your blood!"

My Harry puppet countered with "Can't do that when you're on fire!". I had the puppet extend the blasting rod hand and used my pinky to pull a cord that lowered a paper strip drawn up to look like fire, connecting the Harry puppet to the vampire puppet. I gave the vampire the appropriate shrieks and had it twist and turn its way off the side of the theater.

"Mommy, does Harry really set everything on fire?", Kari asked Janias.

Janias' mouth curved with a smirk. "No, not everything. Just a lot of things."

I continued the show from there. Korra made a face at seeing her puppet - although she did chime in with some lines when my impersonation didn't quite catch up to snuff - and the girls delighted in seeing my presentation of their mothers. I made the best lightsaber sounds I could manage as I showed my take on Jan slicing up vampires.

"Did you really fight vampires with Harry and Korra, Momma?!", Chrissy asked as I was changing things on the theater for the next act.

"I think the Doctor is taking some liberties," Janias mused, arms crossed and a wide smile on her face.

"Yeah, we fought zombies the first time," Korra remarked.

"What's a 'zombie'?", Kari asked.

"You'll find out in the next act," I assured them.

And so they did.

It was becoming late. At the insistance of my prior Companions, we were getting the spare bedrooms in their spacious home. I went off to the TARDIS to bring it up to the property and to put things up. By the time I brought it back and returned to the house, I found that the girls were already in bed and that Korra and Asami had retired. Janias was waiting for me in the living room. "How are you doing, 'Doc'?", she asked.

I sighed. "I see you've talked to them."

Jan nodded. "I remember what it was like when you first took that name. Did you realize you'd forgotten your original name already?"

"Subconsciously, perhaps," I answered quietly. "Not that I confirmed it until I spoke to Bob." I walked over to the couch and settled into it. "But I know now that I was a fool to take it."

There was sympathy in her eyes. Jan pulled a chair up and sat in front of me. "I can sense the pain you're carrying now," she said. "Did things really go that badly for you after we left?"

"Not immediately. Not entirely. I admit I was not in the best sorts."

Jan nodded. "I had the feeling you were putting up a brave front when you dropped us off here."

"Yes," I admitted.

"Did you ever think of coming back to us into our future? To see if we had recovered and wanted to travel again?"

I nodded. "But I knew... I knew it would be selfish. You and Cami had gone through so much. You deserved getting to settle down and enjoy your lives." I looked up. "Did you want me to come back?"

Jan seemed to struggle for a moment with the answer. "I think I... started to miss it. Cami did too, a little. But when a year passed and you didn't return, well, we decided that this was your way of saying it was over for our traveling. And so we decided to have the girls."


Cami's voice came from the door. "So, what happened to you after we settled here?" She appeared there, clad in a similar nightrobe to Jan's, and went over to a seat.

I took in a breath. "Oh, i... suffered a while. I hated being alone. Tried to get Abby to join me but she wasn't up for the fulltime Companion thing. Then I remembered..."

"...Katherine," Jan finished for me.

"Yes." I felt a twinge of pain in my hearts. "I acclerated her birthdays. Going from one to the next. I was just so impatient. And then she turned eighteen and helped me assist Nerys and her comrades and... perhaps that did it. I saw what she had become there. I knew that my... nudging... had worked."

"She joined you," Cami said softly. A small smile came to her face. "So you weren't alone again."

"Yes," I said. "And we went off and... oh, she was brilliant. I showed her everything."

"What happened?"

I blinked in a futile attempt to keep back tears. "Her cousin. An assassin's bomb. It took her and her mother." I swallowed. "The same assassin she would have helped to pay for if I hadn't changed her life."

And that... broke the dam. I explained everything. I explained the cold fury and the punishments I inflicted on her killers. I spoke of my desperate attempt to make a quantum duplicate of her with the same machine I'd used for the girls from MItakihara... and how that had disasterously backfired.

And I told them about the Time Lord Triumphant.

Jan's face tightened perceptibly as I went into that story. Everything she had feared for what I might do... and I had confirmed it. But she said nothing. She let me bring the story to its conclusion at Parakar. To my rejection of the Name of the Doctor. And to the pain that drove me into the fob watch and which would inevitably lead me to not respond to Korra's pleas for help.

It was fairly late when I caught up to current times for them. "I wasn't there for her," I murmured. "I try to tell myself that I'm making up for it by letting her travel with me as she always wanted, that staying with her as she recovered was compensation... but it doesn't change the fact that I abandoned her. I abandoned everyone. I should have never put myself into the fob watch. I should have faced the pain. I would have been there for Korra...." I felt the tears stream down my face as I sobbed. The guilt was too much.

I felt their arms embrace me gently. Jan and Cami, who had seen me at my vulnerable beginning, who had been there for me for so long... they took me into their arms and offered solace and forgiveness in equal portion. "It's okay," I heard Cami say softly, as if she were comforting one of her own children. "I'm just happy you're alive. That you're mending."

"She's right," Janias added, her own voice softer than ever before. "It's over now. Things are better now. You're better. Just let it out."

I had thought confronting my feelings of loss over Katherine when I was on Mogo had healed me. But... my wounds had run deeper. And here, having explained everything to them, to my original Companions, it had made me face that I hadn't let those wounds heal. They still bled within me. I had to heal them if I was to recover.

I am ever so blessed that I have such good Companions capable of giving me that healing.

The next day we stayed around. Cami spent the day doing what amounted to their day work - managing the investments that provided them a steady income - while the little ones enjoyed ice-sledding courtesy of Korra. We bobbed and weaved throughout the river valley on the ice she formed for the sled, shrieks of delight ringing in my ears from the girls enjoying a novel and fun experience.

It was when we returned that Jan brought Korra and I into what passed as her meditation room. She put a hand on Korra's shoulder. "After everything that's happened to you... I want to help."

"Everyone does," Korra answered quietly, her eyes lowered. "But it doesn't seem to work."

"Some of it is going to be you, yes," Jan admitted. "But some of it is.... well, you may need someone who knows what it's like to have your freedom stripped from you and to have someone attack the very center of your self. The Sith did their very best to break me when I was a slave and the Borg just about crushed my mind in their Collective. Maybe those experiences can help you deal with your's."

"Actually, I was wondering something," Korra said. "Before we came to see you, we helped a Jedi like you were. She used some kind of power to help me against one of those Sith. I mean, a spiritual power, and with mine we overcame his. Can you show me how that works?"

Janias nodded. "It's the Light Side of the Force." She grinned slightly. "I admit I've never been the best at wielding it. It requires serenity and quiet in the spirit. Emotions and passion get in the way. And you know what I'm usually like."

"But you can still show me?", Korra asked.

Jan nodded. "I may not be a Jedi Master, but I can show you the basics."

I left as they sat on the mat to begin meditating. I walked down the hall toward the main living room. Once there I was intercepted. A pair of gray eyes looked up at me. "Hello Kari," I said.

"Can I ride in your magic box?", Kari asked. "'Cuz my mommies did and they said you went everywhere and I want to see everywhere and..."

I let out a breath and put a quiet smile on my face. "When you're older, young lady, we might see about it. It can be very dangerous out there, though."

"I know, and that's why I'm also gonna be a Jedi like Mommy Jan."

"Well, we shall see then, hrm? Just remember to be a good girl."

"I am," Kari said. "Because Mommy Cami says only good girls get to ride in your box."

"Yes," I said. "She is right about that."

Inwardly, I admit I was quite fervently hoping little Kari had other things in mind when she actually reached that age. I was not intending to risk hurting her mothers by putting her in danger as well. But it is something I would have to leave for the future anyway.

I hadn't intended the visit to last as long as it did. But a few days turned into a week very quickly. A second week came on top of that, before Korra and Jan put their work to the test. The little ones remained with Cami while the rest of us ventured into the valley. Janias pulled out her lightsaber and ignited it. I had to admit some pleasure at seeing she still used the purple crystal I'd put in it back in the day. Korra, clad in cortosis-weave practice armor with phrik gauntlets, took up a defensive stance. The bout was primarily power versus power even with that protection. Korra used Earthbending and Firebending primarily to try and hold Jan off as she weaved around, using the Force to chuck rocks and kinetic energy back in Korra's direction.

Korra had been getting better at holding her ground. It was several minutes in before Jan made a sudden and rapid lunge toward her that, ordinarily, would have triggered an anxiety attack. I saw the signs of it forming in her expression.

Just before Jan could tag her, Korra's expression relaxed. A subtle thrum of energy filled her and she deftly dodged to the side of the lunge, turning it into a counterattack with waterbending. A jet of water sprayed into Jan's back and sent her flying into the river. She got out of it, looking to shiver a little but smiling as she looked at Korra. "See?", she asked.

"I..." Korra pulled the helmet off. A smile crossed her face. "I did it!"

Asami applauded. "Congratulations, Korra!" I joined the applause. We ran up to Korra to give her supportive hugs.

It made me want to kick myself, honestly. I'd never thought about how Jedi teachings might help Korra deal with that trauma. To... if not overcome it, to at least endure it.

Our hug was broken up by a massive wall of water that knocked us all down. We looked up, soaking wet, to see where Jan had used the Force to send the water at us. She smiled, smirking, in that way she always did at letting her mischievous side out to play.

"Really?" Korra grinned wickedly and made a kicking motion. An even higher wall of water erupted and deluged Janias, sending her into the river.

I sighed. With this lot around, snowball fights and the like were almost impossible to avoid.

I have to admit, though, that the confused and bewildered look on Cami's face when we returned to the house dripping wet was priceless.

Our visit had come to a natural conclusion. The happy couple and their daughters were due for a vacation off world, a lovely Mid Rim planet called Kaliad and some tropical islands there. Their private starship was being fueled and readied while we gathered at the TARDIS to leave. "Thank you so much," Korra said to Jan. "You've been a wonderful teacher."

"And you're a great student," Jan answered. "Besides, it was good to just see you two again. Take care of yourselves when you go back to Republic City, okay?"

"We will," Asami assured her, giving her a hug as well.

"When do we get to see your home?", Chrissy asked Asami. "Because Mommy Cami says it's bigger than our's. And that's hard."

Asami gave me a bemused look. "We'll have to arrange it, I guess."

"We'll see," I said, making no further promises.

"Be careful out there, Korra," Cami urged.

"I'll try."

"And come back so we can go sledding again!", Kari urged.

"Or you can come to us," Korra said. "You should come during the Glacier Spirits Festival. They have rides and games and all kinds of fried food on sticks."

"Rides!", Kari squealed.

"Games!", Chrissy added.

While the girls clamored for more information, I joined Jan and Cami a short distance away at their urging. "It's been so good to see you again," Cami said.

"The same for me," I answered. I put a hand on each of them. "It eases my hearts to know you're doing so well and have such a wonderful family together."

"Before you go." with a nod from Jan, Cami took my hand. "Giving that name up when it was your only identity hurts you. And I know it scares you to think of taking it back for any reason." She put her other hand on my face. "But it's not your name that's important. It's who you are. And you're the same man who saved us from that Sith slave station and took us out into Creation. Whatever your name, deep down... you're a friendly man who hates to see people suffer and will do anything to end their suffering. That hasn't changed and I don't think it's ever going to. Whether you're the Doctor or not."

Warm tears poured down my cheeks as she said those words. "Thank you," I replied gently. "Thank you very much for that, Cami." I put my arms around her in another hug. "I'll try not to stay away this time. Birthdays, at least?"

"You'd better," she said back.

"All of them," Jan added, tears in her eyes as well. "The girls adore you."

"And I them," I answered, giving Jan a strong hug as well.

"Don't forget that you're a member of this family too," Jan urged. "Don't ever forget that. Come here if you ever need us."

"I will." With emotion threatening to choke me, I added more hugs just to feel them. Being with Jan and Cami again reminded me of those early days, those early trips in the various cosmoses. Before it all went wrong. I missed those days. Being with them had at least brought back some of that feeling. "I need to fix something." I reached into my jacket and brought out a temporal beacon, which I handed to Cami. "I should have left one before, but I was afraid you would see it as a way for me to guilt you into calling me to take you away again."

"We might have," Cami admitted.

"But I was wrong to not trust you. So here. If you ever need me. Or if you just want to remind me about those birthdays." I winked at them.

We returned to the TARDIS door where they stayed just outside of it. Korra and Asami flanked the controls where I joined them, inputting a new destination as they watched through the open door. When I was ready I put a hand on the control lever and looked up at them.

Jan and Cami looked at each other, smiling. "Tally ho!", they cried in unison.

I laughed. "Tally ho indeed!" I snapped my fingers and pulled the lever.

And off we went, with glad hearts and eased minds.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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