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

UF: Stories written by users, both fanfics and original.

Moderator: LadyTevar

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-07 07:09am

Short 39 - Here There Be Dragons!

Liara and I stepped out of the TARDIS onto an open field high upon a mountain overlooking a great forest. The grass on the flat top of the mountain was a healthy green, with purple flowers about everywhere and great shoots of leafy grass shooting out of the ground. "Where are we?"

"It's... a surprise," I said. I held up a sonic and let out a small sonic pulse. "Go ahead and pull some of the thicker grass." I indicated the leafy grass. "You'll need it in a moment. Just.... don't touch the flowers. They're a bit poisonous."

Liara nodded and pulled some of the grass loose. She held it up to me. "So, now..."

Before she could finish, there was a cry in the air, high-pitched and shrill, but not in a foreboding way. There was a rush of air and a creature flew up from the side of the mountain. Her body was long and graceful, with a brilliant azure sheen, great wings spread widely to catch the mountain air for lift. The creature was easily the size of a respectable jet aircraft and could probably carry half a dozen average-sized humanoids on her back.

"Goddess," Liara breathed as the creature came to the ground in front of her. She let out another shrill cry and lowered her head, attached to her main body by a bit of a neck, to eye Liara directly with her own solid teal eyes. Azure scales rippled over strong muscle on the creature's body. "What... what is it?"

"She's a wind drake," I answered. "Don't worry, they're quite friendly, especially when you feed them that dragon grass. It's got chemical properties that help their bodies heal wounds and recover lost strength."

Liara looked down at the leafy green stuff she'd pulled from the ground. She offered it up with both hands. The wind drake sniffed for a moment before gently pulling the grass out of Liara's grasp with her tongue. She chewed on the grass for a bit and let out a happy shriek.

"She's beautiful," Liara said.

"I know." I walked up and gave the wind drake a pat on the head. "So, ready for some fun, Liara?"

"Huh? What do you mean?"

I looked at her and felt my smile widen.




Liara let out a half-terrified scream as we plummeted from the mountain.

I laughed and screamed, "Tally ho!"

Beneath us the wind drake's muscles shifted and moved as she spread her wings and began beating them. Her breathing changed and soon we were aloft, racing through the air. "How do you like it?!", I shouted over the roaring winds rushing around us, shifting my head to partially look back at Liara, perched safely with me on the wind drake's back.

"Goddess!" was Liara's stunned reply.

I smiled. "Cami was pale for hours after we had our first flight on her!" Looking back, I thought Asami and Katherine had been the Companions to most appreciate our rides on the wind drakes. Korra had tried to enjoy it, but... well... she'd had quite a lunch earlier that day, perhaps too much of one. Some poor creatures far below us had undoubtedly been subjected to an unexpected gift from the skies.

But that was the past. Now the wind drake was soaring high over the forest that surrounded the North Mountain. In the distance I could just make out the bustling little port town of Carwen. A long canal beyond it lead to a river that flowed into one of the smaller seas of this world.

I thought I heard Liara swallow. The wind drake wasn't moving any faster than a shuttle from her home cosmos, much less a skycar, but those had the benefits of being inside, not being held in place on a great big bloody wyrm. Or something distinctly wyrm-like, anyway.

I kept a hand on the creature's neck, maintaining our mental connection, and allowing me to ask her to make a dizzying number of maneuvers that drew cries of surprise, fright, and exhilaration from my Asari Companion.

Looking out at that beautiful little planet, feeling the affection and joy of the creature carrying us upon her back.... it reminded me that this life wasn't just about fighting monsters and saving worlds. Sometimes you got to actually have fun.

it made me laugh.

Soon enough, Liara was laughing too.




After our flight and return to the TARDIS, Liara took to the library with me for a meal and a quiet evening after all of the excitement. "That was... just extraordinary," she said after we settled into our chairs.

"Oh yes. Wind drakes are lovely creatures, aren't they? And they love unconditionally." I smiled contentedly as I reached for an article from Seven (of Nine), posted as a scientific work on subspace-derived spatial distortions. I did like to keep up with old friends, after all, and see her doing well in her scientific career. "That was one place I could help," I sighed.

"How?"

"The wind drakes were all but extinct," I said. "There were so few left. But I couldn't let them die out." I let out a little sigh and grinned from memory. "I thought Queen Krile was going to break my ribs when I gave her that first clutch of wind drake eggs."

Liara let out a small giggle at that. "You took them from the past?"

"Here and there," I admitted. "Enough for genetic diversity. Then I improved that by arranging for some xenobiologists on Layom Station to grow a few extra eggs based on combining the eggs' genetic data. They're actually trying to find a world in their galaxy that could serve as a wind drake habitat without undue consequences to the local ecology. I should probably ask Dr. Tre'ki'mitar about that the next time we visit..."

"Yes, you should," Liara said. Her smile remained wide. "It's nice to be reminded these journeys aren't all about running from monsters and fighting monsters."

"Yes, yes it is," I agreed. I kept the smile on my face, even as I knew full well that it couldn't always be this way.

And my growing suspicion that the frequency of dealing with monsters was about to get worse.

[url='https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/the-power-of-a-name-dr-who-multi-crossover-si.280682/page-98#post-17443936']'https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/the-power-of-a-name-dr-who-multi-crossover-si.280682/page-98#post-17443936'[/url]
”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-07 07:10am

Episode 27 - A Case of Concern

Liara and I rushed back into the TARDIS while screams from angry lizard things echoed behind us. "That wasn't a pleasant stop!", Liara protested.

"Wrong time period!", I shouted. "Was aiming for a different geologic period a few million years down the way!" I ran my hands over the controls and hit the lever just before one of the brown-mottled reptiles could slam into the TARDIS. I let out a breath and leaned slightly against the controls. "Well, that was a nice work out."

"I have never had to run this much," Liara gasped.

I raised an eyebrow. "Not even when trying to keep up with Shepard?"

"Not even... then," she answered.

"Ah. Well. Keeps us in shape anyway."

That won me a bit of a glare from Liara. I wisely said nothing else, lest I get a warp blast to the face.

With the TARDIS resting in the Time Vortex we took the time to change clothes and attend to the sticky sensation of the sweat one gets in tropical conditions - especially when running from a velociraptor's bigger and uglier cousin. I was just pulling on my new ballistic vest when I heard the phone ring. "Well, I wonder who that is," I said aloud, rushing to the receiver I kept in the library by my hot tub. I picked it up. "Hello there."

A voice I hadn't heard in a while came through on the other end. "Hey Doctor."

Liara was coming into the library. She looked at me quizzically. I smiled back and turned my attention back to my caller. "Well well," I said. "Agent Gibbs, it has been a while. Business I presume?"

One of my more memorable early adventures was also one of the first times I ran into the Cracks in the Multiverse. In this case, it was a Crack that threatened to turn a normal 21st Century Earth into a snowball. My TARDIS had decided to put me in place to prevent that, and had done so by depositing me in the United States Navy Yard at Washington D.C. Specifically, the headquarters of the navy police, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, where I met my caller - Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs - and his team of quirky but rather effective police agents (well, police agents and Mossad agent, really). It had been something of a shock for them to have the TARDIS materializing all over NCIS headquarters in my initial attempts to depart an Earth that my TARDIS really didn't fit well, but in the end we got over our mutual surprise at the situation and sealed the Crack (with a little help from a couple of retired Navy JAG lawyers). I had left them a phone to contact me should the Crack give them any further trouble.

"Got a case right up your alley," Gibbs answered. "It's a weird one."

"I see. Well, I can't turn that down. Where would you like to meet? Your headquarters?"

"I've got somewhere better in mind."




He did indeed.

I easily found the stairs that led me down into the basement of Gibbs' house, a rather nice one in one of the suburban areas around the American capital. "Very nice work space," I said aloud, noting the many tools for woodcrafting he kept, among other things. To my surprise there was no half-finished boat on the table. "I feel a bit honored, getting invited to a private meeting with you here."

Gibbs was wearing an old gray T-shirt marked with the US Marine Corps eagle, globe, and anchor insignia and matching dark sweat pants, undoubtedly from the slight chill of the fall night. He looked up from what looked to be a toy rocking horse he was carving from a block of fine wood. Upon seeing me he set the carving tools down and reached for a small glass, empty, and a bottle that was not empty and which was marked as... bourbon, I believe. "That was quick," he said.

"Benefits of time travel," I said, walking up. "No Beltway traffic, for one thing."

"Nice suit," Gibbs said. "New look for you."

"Purple's my favorite color, I decided it looked better in my wardrobe."

He smirked at that. He reached over to an empty glass jar and poured some of the bourbon into it and then more into the glass. He offered the jar to me. Being a good guest was something I sought to maintain, given some of the beings I dealt with and their views on such, so I accepted the jar graciously and took a quick drink. I allowed the fiery sensation to burn its way into my stomach. I waited for him to finish his drink before asking, "So, something's wrong?"

"Something, yeah," he said. Gibbs pulled open one of his drawers and pulled out a manila folder. It had a case file number on it. I accepted it, noting the number, and opened it. "Missing persons, potential AWOL case. Took a turn for the weird."

"Hrm." I looked over the file. "Lieutenant Kyle Varner, assigned to USS Patrick Henry. Failed to report for duty, I see."

"Yeah. His mother reported him missing the day after."

I nodded. The picture was of a prim young man, brown eyes, dark reddish hair. Caucasian, but I could tell the hints of East Coast Native American - Choctaw? Cherokee? - ancestry, and a something in the jaw structure, hair, and facial layout made me think he had a Sub-Saharan African ancestor somewhere about five generations in the past. The expression was serious. He looked fairly normal, as young naval officers went. "Roughly middle of the road in his class at Annapolis," I noted. "Some commendations, but nothing too special. Anything special about his background? Politician in the family pushing for resolution, that sort of thing?"

"No, nothing like that," Gibbs answered, sipping again and watching me.

I kept looking through the file. A quick browse of his medical report showed he was a properly fit young man. "A hiker?", I mused. Hrm. "Nature hikes too, I see. And statements from his colleagues?"

Gibbs nodded.

I flipped a couple pages to find them, and there I skimmed. "He was off to hike in the Shenandoah River State Park two days before he was to report. Nobody saw him afterward." I blinked and sighed. "Well, I imagine you've looked for a body?"

Gibbs finished his next sip. "Keep reading."

I did so. More statements. A report on Lieutenant Varner's security clearances, or rather lack thereof, and his value to potential hostile forces, namely being minimal. His knowledge of military technology was not anything special, I could see.

And then I came upon the final papers.

I read them.

I blinked.

I read them again, my mind racing. "Ducky and Abby are... certain?"

"Yeah," Gibbs answered.

I swallowed and nodded.

The papers I held started with an autopsy report for a body found in the park where the missing lieutenant had gone off to hike, complete with an identification number.

The second paper was from Abby, showing a complete genetic match between Lieutenant Varner and the body from the park, the identification markers matching completely. Then a third paper, a form from Ducky, who had gone over the initial autopsy and the X-rays and confirmed the match via dental records. Lieutenant Varner had died in the Park.

But that wasn't the important part.

The important part was that the body had been found in 1960.

"Well well," I breathed. "Lieutenant Varner, or at least his body, was thrown back in time," I said.

At that moment, a new voice joined the conversation. "And that, Doctor, is why we called you."

Gibbs showed a flicker of irritation on his expression, but only a flicker. I turned and watched another figure, well-dressed, walking down the stairs. He had well-kept hair, a demeanor of authority, and his eyes glistened with curiosity and intelligence.

"Director Vance," I said. "A pleasure to finally meet you."

"If circumstances were better I might say the same," he said, his voice firm and controlled. He walked up, hands kept carefully to his sides, but he did offer his right hand for me to shake. I did so. "I've got undeniable proof that a Navy Lieutenant was found dead over a quarter of a century before he was born. We need to find out why, and from what I've seen and heard, you're the best man for the job."

"Yes," I said in reply. "I suppose I am. But I'm no government agent."

"We'll consider you a civilian consultant for the case," Vance answered me. "Will you accept the case?"

I looked to Gibbs, who was watching us quietly, and looked back to the file.

A man had somehow ended up not just dead, but a half century in the past. On a world with no time travel technology.

That made me worried. Could it be the Crack? Something else? I had to find out.

Which meant I had to go the Harry Dresden routine of being the special consultant to the authorities. Just federal ones.

Harry would be quite jealous.

I snapped the case file closed and handed it to Vance. "Well then." I looked to Gibbs. "We have a mystery to solve."






We were due at NCIS Headquarters the following morning, although obviously I could go there where I pleased. So I took the time to think over what I had seen in the case file while Liara fussed with the holobelt. "I'm still not certain why you need me to wear this," she protested, appearing as a young fair-skinned Human woman with short and very brilliantly-colored blue hair. "These people know you're not Human."

"Yes, but I look Human," I pointed out. "It's for appearances sake."

Liara huffed for a moment. "So, someone was thrown back in time by over fifty Earth years and died in the past?"

"Or he was killed in this time period and his body fell into the past," I remarked. "Or was taken there."

"I see." Liara settled back into the seat across from me. "You look worried."

"This world has a Crack," I said. "I sealed it, but it was open for a time. Anything might have come out of it. Beings, creatures, rogue time agents...." I breathed in a sigh. "I have a bad feeling about this one, Liara."

She nodded. "Well, it's a good thing we'll have so much help, isn't it?"

"Somewhat, but one thing to remember is that these people don't experience the things we do. Their world doesn't deal in exotic physics technology or alien invasions or supernatural occurrences. Well, not normally for the latter. The Crack's caused a few issues to pop up." After my hasty correction I continued. "The important thing is... if this is something bad, it might be something they're not used to handling. We're going to have to be careful."

"You might be underestimating them."

"No, I'm not," i said. "I'm fully aware of their capability to roll with what would have otherwise seemed insane to them. I just want to be ready in case things get really weird." I remained silent for a moment before slapping my hands on my knees. "Enough stalling. Let's get started."




I materialized the TARDIS in the NCIS evidence room. Gibbs and Vance were waiting for us. "Here." Vance handed me a pair of badges marked "Consultant". I handed one to Liara and clipped the other one to my jacket. "These don't give you access to secure areas," the director explained. "But it'll keep anyone from shooting you if we're not around."

"Very kind of you," I said, not remarking that I could probably go anywhere I wanted as it was. "First stop?"

"Ducky's waiting for us in the morgue," Gibbs answered, and he took the lead in heading toward the nearby lift.

I hadn't really seen the NCIS morgue before. I mean, not in terms of standing in it and examining things as opposed to running out of the TARDIS for a few seconds and running back in. The only cadaver present was not really a corpse so much as it was a pile of decomposed bones. It was a bit unsettling.

Liara showed little reaction to the sight. It was probably quite tame considering what she had gone through before, what with the Reapers and all of that.

As we entered Ducky looked up from a paper he was examining, already wearing his scrubs. "Ah, Director, Jethro..." He spied me and a faint smile came to his face. "Ah, and the Doctor as well. A pleasure to have you back."

"Pleasure is mine, Ducky," I answered. I gestured to Liara. "This is Doctor Liara T'Soni, my current Companion. Liara, Doctor Donald Mallard, and his assistance Jimmy Palmer."

"Doctor T'Soni?", Ducky asked, not so much a verification of identity but undoubtedly curiosity as to what she was a doctor of.

"I'm an archeologist," Liara answered. "Or rather, I believe you would consider me a xenoarcheologist."

"She's an expert on the Protheans, an ancient race of her galaxy," I said.

"Ah, quite interesting. I once considered archeology myself..."

There was a slight clearing of someone's throat. Ducky looked to Vance and nodded. "We'll have to discuss this later, yes," he admitted, leading us over to the remains. "This was the John Doe found in the Shenandoah River Park on April 19th, 1960. According to the autopsy, cause of death was due to an internal hemorrhage in his brain that emptied into the areas of the frontal and parietal lobes."

"And this is Lieutenant Varner?", I asked.

Ducky nodded. "The dental records are as good a match as you can get despite some of the decomposition. I already sent some of the genetic material to Abby for a final confirmation."

"Hrm." I brought out my sonic screwdriver and scanned the remains. "Fifty years means that a lot of the temporal energy he could have accumulated will have dissipated. But there might be some trace elements..." I shook my head a moment later. "Nothing."

"What if he was dead before he was... thrown back in time?" The look on Vance's face made it clear just how hard it was for him to take the idea seriously. Even if the science didn't lie, it was something literally out of his world.

"Wouldn't matter. Temporal energy doesn't care whether you're alive or dead, exposure of matter to it can leave behind traces. But if it's not frequent enough..." I sighed and pocketed the screwdriver. "Well, I can't confirm the body time-traveled or not."

Gibbs rounded to the other side of the table. "Anything else, Duck?"

"The decomposition makes it hard to find much," Ducky answered. "But I think I found something the ME from 1960 did not." He led us over to an X-Ray. "I used some of our imaging equipment to get a closer look at what's left of the skeleton. See here." He indicated one of the shots.

We took turns looking at a close-up of what looked to be the bones of the man's arms. I narrowed my eyes as I looked at what appeared to be the forearm. "Is that what I think it is, Ducky?"

"This man broke his arm shortly before he died," Ducky said. "Along the lower forearm and the wrist. The breakage shows no sign of healing."

"It must have been a very light fracture," Vance noted. "Otherwise, wouldn't they have noticed?"

"Not necessarily," Ducky said. "A John Doe found in the park, with a clear cranial injury and obvious internal bleeding in the brain? I suspect that once their ME saw that he declared it the cause of death and filed the entire case away."

"Varner wouldn't have gone hiking with a broken arm or wrist, would he?", Liara asked. "Your medical technology does not permit quick healing of bones, so he could never have functioned well with such injuries."

"I find the idea dubious, yes," Ducky answered. "A knowledgeable hiker would know it was too much of a risk."

"A breakage like this could have come from falling," I postulated. "Or having the bone subjected to stress in some way."

"I agree." Ducky turned away and went back to the body. "I'm still making some examinations, but I'm afraid that's about all I can tell you. Going by the dental records, these bones are likely to be Lieutenant Varner's remains."

"Thank you, Doctor Mallard," Vance said. "Doctors, if you will..." He turned away from Liara and myself when his phone began ringing. "Vance. Yes. I understand. I'll be right there."

"Trouble?", Gibbs asked.

"SecNav wants to talk to me," Vance said. "Lieutenant Varner's mother is starting to make a public fuss. A few media outlets have picked up on it." He looked back to the body on the table. "Now, how do you propose we tell her and the entire world that Lieutenant Varner somehow wound up as a dead body half a century ago?"

"You don't," I said. "Although I admit that's not my department."

"We...."

Before Vance could finish Gibbs' phone went off. He answered it in that usual laconic Gibbs style. "Abby's waiting for us in the lab," he said.

"Go on ahead," Vance answered. "And Gibbs..." He pointed a finger. "Make sure your team is heading out to the Shenandoah Park within the hour." He eyed me and added, "Take the long way. I don't want to have to explain how you got all the way out there without an agency vehicle."

As Vance walked out I let a faux disgusted expression come to my face. "Oh, that takes all of the fun out of it," I said.

Gibbs replied as you might have expected. He ignored me entirely and motioned for Liara and I to follow him to the lift.




Metal music was blaring down the hall as we approached Abby's lab in one of the immediate basement levels. Liara gave me a quizzical look. "Abby has particular interests and tastes," I explained.

"Oh."

The rest of Gibbs' team was waiting for us in the lab when we got there. The moment Gibbs cleared the door and I was distinctly visible I had their full attention.

"You're back!" Abby rushed up and soon I was the subject of a world famous Abby hug. "I've missed you!"

"And I you, Abby," I answered, keeping a chipper tone and imagining that if not for my Time Lordiness the hug would be cracking ribs.

"Nice threads, Doc. Going for purple now. I like it." Abby trned her head. "Woh. Someone's rocking the hair dye," Abby said upon seeing Liara.

"It's not real," Liara replied.

I gave a nod. "Yes, Liara's an Asari, she's just wearing the holobelt for the sake of everyone else around."

"Huh." Tony DiNozzo was looking over Liara as well, in that way he couldn't help. "So she's what, another green alien babe?"

Liara looked at me. "He's talking about Janias," I answered. "Agent DiNozzo has a weakness for ladies."

"I'm not green," Liara said to him, having clearly heard my warning.

Tony apparently didn't mind the tone in her voice, continuing on as he usually did. "What about blue hair? Got something like..."

"I don't actually have hair," Liara sighed, looking at me with some exasperation.

"So what...."

Before Tony could finish the line, Gibbs' hand slapped the back of his head. "Sorry boss" was the automatic response he gave.

"We're headed out to Shenandoah State Park," Gibbs said. He looked to the others. "Get your gear and the car, I'll catch up with you."

"Uh, boss...." Timothy McGee pointed to me. "He has a ship that can travel anywhere almost instantaneously. Why are we going out in a car?"

"Because, McGee, having an NCIS field team show up in the middle of nowhere with no visible transportation would be hard to explain," Gibbs explained with a tone that made it clear how disappointed he was that McGee hadn't figured it out.

"Exactly," Tony said. He motioned to McGee and to Ziva David, the fourth member of their merry little band. "Alright probies, follow me."

I raised my eyebrow at that. "Probies plural?"

"Yeah." Tony pointed to them. "Probie McGee and Probie David."

"Really? Well." I nodded to Ziva, realizing what he meant. She had apparently immigrated and joined the agency. "Congratulations are in order, I suppose. Already gotten your citizenship."

The reply I received was a slight smile from her. "Thank you, Doctor. Yes, I have."

I said nothing else while Gibbs' team filed out. Gibbs leveled a patient look at Abby, who nodded and walked us over to her computers and the screens beyond. Liara looked around, taking in not just the equipment but the ways Abby had personalized her working space. "Your lab is quite... exceptional," she said. "You have interesting tastes."

"There are many labs like it, but this one is mine," Abby said, showing a quirky grin. She was quoting a movie as well, or at least paraphrasing it. "So, I ran the DNA from those bones down in the morgue and compared it to what we have on record for Lieutenant Varner." She tapped a key and her screen displayed the results. It informed us, with nice blinking letters, that it was a complete match. "Those bones belong to Lieutenant Varner."

"There's no doubt, then?"

"I've told you a hundred times, Gibbs, DNA doesn't lie." Abby shook her head. "As crazy as it sounds, this guy's body time-traveled into the past."

"That's not the biggest question," I said.

"You mean, did he die in this time or back then?", Abby asked.

"No," Gibbs said. "Who or what killed him?" Gibbs turned and looked at me. "You're the expert here, Doctor. Any ideas?"

"Possibilities and conjectures without more data," I answered. "There are many species and civilizations, even beings, that can time travel. It could be anything from rogue time travelers quieting a witness to an alien species experimenting with temporal devices."

As I thought on it, another matter came to my head. "Tell me... was there any record of items found on his person? I imagine cellular phones or GPS devices might raise eyebrows so long before their introduction."

Abby looked back to the computer, tapped a few keys, and brought up some of the reports. She examined them closely. "Not according to anything from the 1960 reports. He was found with his clothes, a water canteen, and his compass."

"No cell phone? No hiker's pack or something like GPS equipment?" I furrowed my brow.

"Gives us something to look for," Gibbs said. "I'll see you out at the Park."

"Keep the phone on you, I can use it to lock on to your location and materialize straight there," I said. "In the meantime..." I held out the sonic screwdriver. "Abby, do bring up satellite imagery from that area. I'm going to tie your satellites into the TARDIS and run some scans."

As the results showed on the screen, I pondered possibilities. Some were much worse than others, but there were few that I liked. My concentration on the issue was visible on my face, which apparently prompted Abby to ask, "So, how bad is it?"

"Could be very, very bad," I admitted. "Very bad indeed."

"Yeah." She remained quiet for another moment before asking, "How is Layom Station?"

"Oh, they're fine. Doctor L'gul'pala extends her greetings."

"How are those spawnlings of her's?"

"Wait." Liara blinked. "You know the doctors on Layom Station?"

"Well, yeah." Abby smiled. "The Doctor and I had a really crazy time there, with the techno-organic zombies and everything."

Liara looked at me quizzically. "To that's why they always do favors for you?"

"Well... yes and no. I do try to give them return services," I explained. "But yes, my first visit there was during a time when Jan and Cami were vacationing and I took Abby on a little vacation of her own."

"Running from a horde of techno-organic zombies was not really a vacation," Abby noted. "But I've still had worse."

"Yes. About that... I see Gibbs still doesn't know?"

"What makes you say that?"

"The fact he didn't inflict some kind of bodily harm on me over the incident," I remarked drolly.

"Good point." Abby looked over the map I'd put on her screen. "So, those little bits of red are time portals or something?"

"Pockets of temporal distortion," I answered. "Signs of someone or something traveling through time, or otherwise some sort of time shifting going on." I narrowed my eyes. "Although not as big as I would have thought for an event that could put a person back in time. Hrm." I looked to Abby. "You can access other government databases, yes?"

"A lot, yeah," she answered. "What are you looking for?"

"Disappearances," I said. "All disappearances linked to this area since the Crack opened."

"That might take a while. I'm going to have to sort through..." She stopped and looked at me, narrowing her eyes. "You're about to hook the TARDIS up to do the search, aren't you?"

"Guilty as charged," I said, smiling. "I could really use the answer, Abby."

"Fine, just don't make the network go hinky, okay?"

"Right," I pledged.




Some time later I materialized the TARDIS by a trail leading through the Shenandoah State River Park. I stepped out in time to see Tony along the path, looking over things. "Nice drive?", I asked.

"Like any drive out here," Tony said. "Long and boring."

"I suppose you could let Agent David drive," I remarked.

Tony looked at me like I'd gone mad. "Boring is better than dead," he informed me bluntly.

I smirked. Tony looked beyond me to where Liara stepped out, her forearm up and her omni-tool on. "Woh," he said. "What's that? Some kind of space-age arm cast?"

"It's an omni-tool," Liara replied. "I'm using it to scan for electronic emissions like your cell phones use."

"Oh. Nice. Looks like something from a high budget sci-fi movie."

"Where are the others?", I asked.

"They went off the path," Tony answered. "Ziva said she found a track that looked pretty new. If you go up past that tree line you might be able to see them."

"Right." I took a couple of steps off the path before turning back. "Did you ever find the transportation the Lieutenant used?"

"Yeah, his car. Didn't have much in it, nothing to prove if he was out here for something other than hiking."

"I see." I nodded to Liara. "Let's move along."

We walked off the path and ascended the soft earth and hard roots of larger trees to get to the top of what looked like a small ridge line. I could just make out Gibbs' silver hair about two hundred yards away and downward and moved as quickly as I safely could to catch up to him. I ran into Timothy first. "Any luck?", I asked.

"Not yet," he said. "No sign of any of Varner's missing things."

"I see. Carry on, i suppose."

We found Gibbs looking over a map of the park. "No luck so far?" I asked.

"Haven't found anything definite yet," he answered. "Someone's been through here recently, though." He looked at me. "Anything on your end?"

"Varner's not the only victim," I said, offering him a folder full of printed photos and papers. "In the last few years, there have been several missing persons cases that authorities linked to this park in some way. Hikers, mostly. One park ranger. If anything is found, it's usually a discarded cell phone or the like."

"Any of them found as dead bodies in the past?"

"Abby's cross-checking the data now," I answered. "This is too much coincidence. The stats don't line up right compared to the examples of other parks."

"I was afraid you'd say that," Gibbs muttered before pulling up his binoculars to look through them. "Well, might as well earn that shiny civilian consultant badge and help out."

"I'm scanning for electronic signals," Liara said, "but I'm not getting anything."

"You wouldn't," Gibbs answered her. "Modern doodads like cell phones don't stay on for this long. The battery would be dead."

"Really?" Liara looked at me. "They go out that quickly?"

"Without charging, yes," I said. "And they don't have the technology for long-term portable energy generators and the like."

"Oh." Liara tapped several keys on her omni-tool. "I'll swap to another scanning system then."

Gibbs eyed her omni-tool with some disdain. "Something like that really works?", he asked.

"Hard-light machinery and displays," I answered. "Very nifty technology, actually. Can do anything from act as a phone to generating an omni-blade. The right models can even send out fireballs, electric shocks, or cryo-effect fields."

"Huh." Gibbs turned away and started running his eyes over the area. Ahead of us Ziva was in the brush so deeply I could barely make out her head. "I don't like this."

"What?", I asked, stepping up beside him. Even as I did, i thought I could feel something... off. The hairs on my neck stood up on their ends. "What is it?"

"Not sure. I just don't like this." Gibbs pulled out a radio. "DiNozzo?"

"Yeah boss?"

"Find anything?"

"Not yet."

"Then get over here and join us," he said. "Now."

I could sense the dissatisfaction in Tony's voice as he confirmed the order.

Liara was now moving her forearm slowly, as if to point the omni-tool in all directions. "Give me a moment, " she said. "I think I'm picking up something. Right over.... h-"

"Here!" Ziva shot up from the underbrush, from the direction Liara was starting to point, and held a device up. We walked toward her as she came toward us. "It's Varner's," she said, indicating an attached sticker that read "Property of Lt. Kyle Varner USN".

"One of those GPS devices, right?", Gibbs asked her.

Ziva looked it over. "It looks like it. If we can charge it again it might show us the Lieutenant's path."

I nodded and took out the sonic screwdriver. It whirred happily and shined purple over the hiking device, which flashed to life. A map of the area popped up on it. Ziva ran her fingertips over the controls and a solid line showed, zigging and zagging through the park all the way back to the parking area. Another press showed the relative speed. "Looks like he started to run right about here." She indicated a section of the main trail, where the device showed Varner's pace turning into a run."

"Something must have scared him," Liara noted. "For him to flee like that."

I did not like the sound of that. "Let's fellow the trail then."

We met Tony along the way back and followed the trail that the device said Varner had taken. It led us along the undergrowth and between trees. Insects started to buzz around us, prompting frustration from Tony and irritation from Liara. "We don't take well to insect bites," Liara noted.

"You'll be fine," I answered, swatting at what I thought was a mosquito trying to settle on my neck.

We had made it almost back to the main trail when Liara held a hand up. "There's another device of some sort over here." She slipped ahead of us and slightly deviated from the track. She knelt down beside a bush, Ziva standing beside her. She let her omni-tool disappeared so she could look with both hands.

"Don't touch it," Gibbs called out. "Unless you've got gloves."

Liara looked back at him and sighed, pulling a pair of her gloves out of her trouser pockets and fitting them on her hands. Shortly she stood up, holding a device in her hand. It was... well, had been a cell phone, one of those smartphones Humans had all the rage for in the early 21st Century.

Had been, because the screen was smashed and the phone looked like it had been crushed.

"That was intentional, boss," Timothy said. "No way that damage is from falling."

"I figured that would be true, McGee," Gibbs sighed. "Bag it and tag it."

Ziva handled that, having already pulled out an evidence pouch. Liara dropped the crushed phone into the bag. "There's no actual sign this belongs to Lieutenant Varner," Liara pointed out.

"Maybe not, but it was still deliberately destroyed," Gibbs answered. "My gut tells me it's linked."

"Good enough for me," I said quietly. Seeing Liara's bemused expression I said, "Very good thing to rely on, Gibbs' gut. I swear the man has a sixth sense."

"I'm following your lead," Liara said, her bemusement forming a grin on her face.

We continued on to the main trail and soon Ziva was moving ahead and looking into the nearby underbrush formed under a tree. When she came back out, she held up a hiker's pack. Clear lettering on one panel of it showed the name "Kyle Varner". She opened it and looked inside. "His wallet is in here," she said. "And a cell phone. Some food."

"Makes sense, Tony said. "No point in carrying your phone with how bad signals are out here."

"Yeah." Gibbs took out his own pack of evidence bags and quickly aided Ziva in packing them all away.

They were just finished when Ziva whipped around. For a moment we were all quiet. "What is it, Ziva?", I heard Gibbs say in a low voice.

"We're being watched," Ziva answered.

"You're sure of that?"

"I am."

I watched Gibbs ponder that. "Yeah," he finally said. "So am I." He looked back to the rest of us. "Alright, we're going back to Washington. We've gotten enough done here for now."

"I'll meet you there," I said.

They started to walk back toward the parking lot while Liara and I headed back toward the forest, following the path to where I kept the TARDIS.

I unlocked it and Liara stepped in first. But before I did, I stopped. There was something... wrong. Gibbs had felt it, Ziva had felt it, and I was feeling it. Something, someone, was out here. Watching us.

The hairs on my neck were standing on end. I saw Liara look back at me and give me a wondering look. "What...?"

I shushed her with a finger over my mouth. I slipped my hand under my jacket and unhooked the sonic disruptor in a slow, steady movement. I felt my hearts begin to pick up in their beating as a hundred horrible possibilities crossed my mind.

Then, in one movement, I whirled about and held the sonic disruptor up. "Alright, I know you're there!", I shouted.

Silence answered me.

Absolute silence.

"Doctor, is something there?" I could sense Liara's biotic energy starting to build up a she prepared it for use.

After several moments of silence I answered "No" and shut the TARDIS door. I walked up to the controls and pulled back the activation lever.




Due to the time travel component, we arrived back at the Navy Yard shortly after Gibbs and his team did, and so we all met in their squadroom. The sky outside was starting to turn twilight and we had the room to ourselves. "So," Tony sighed, "another day out in the middle of nowhere and what do we have to show for it?"

"More than we did before we went out there," Gibbs remarked from his desk.

I was busy looking at the path Varner had taken. The point at where he'd openly started to flee remained on my mind. "He fled from here and made it... here." i pointed to the end of the line on the map. "Do we know where his body was found in 1960?"

"They didn't have GPS positioning back then," Timothy answered, looking over the relevant report from 1960. "Going by the description left by the people who found him, it was closer to the trail, north of where the GPS tracker was dropped."

"That explains the lack of temporal energy on it," I mused.

"Still no idea what sent him back?", Gibbs asked me.

"None," I answered. "There are a lot of things it could be. All of them frightening. Some... rather more frightening than the others."

"Frightening in what way?", Ziva asked me.

"Well, for one thing, time travel technology is dangerous," I said. "Not just in what you could cause with the time travel itself, but the consequences of a time travel device malfunctioning. You can tear up space-time, leave permanent rifts in the spatial fabric of an area, all sorts of horrid things. Mix changes to history in with it and you can turn any specific point in space-time into a ticking time bomb." I noticed Tony about to open his mouth and added, "If you quote Doctor Brown at all, Tony, I will slap you on the head."

"Huh. I was thinking about some other movie. Can't remember it, but I remember one of the characters talking about the universe exploding if they time-traveled."

"Ah." I nodded. "Well, it's a safe attitude, if not entirely accurate."

There was some more quiet. When it wouldn't pass, i looked back to Ziva. "What did you feel out there?", I asked. "When you said we were being watched?"

"it was instinct," Ziva answered. "There was someone there."

"Maybe it was invisible space aliens," Tony joked. "Klingons or something."

I made a "harumph" sound. "Klingons and time travel don't go together very well," I mused. "Besides, they're not big fans of it."

Tony directed a look at me. "Wait? You're saying Klingons are..."

"Sixth dimensional spacey-wacey quantum physics, DiNozzo," I sighed. "Just about everything exists in the Multiverse. Your cosmos just happens to be one of those in a more stable fifth dimensional structure. It's harder for certain things to exist here. That's why you don't have ghosts and wizards and metahumans and all the other kinds of exotic stuff I run into regularly."

"You run into any other 'cosmos' like our's?", Timothy asked. "I mean, it can't all be the weird stuff, can it?"

I nodded. "Not many, I admit." I smiled slightly. "Did work a case with Sherlock Holmes. Funny thing is, it involved a Crack as well."

"Wait, repeat that?" Tony sat up in the chair. "You worked with Sherlock Holmes?"

"Yes. A murder case. Had an alien called a Silent that complicated matters." I looked at him. "Now those are some scary ones. I still don't directly remember much about talking to it. They have an auto-hypnotic effect tied to their appearance, if you see them and then take your eyes off them... you forget them."

"Really?", Ziva asked. "You just... forget them?"

"Yes," I said. "It's why I had half my arm marked with black ink, to remind myself I'd seen one."

"Okay, now that is creepy," Tony admitted. "So..."

There was a sound of a clearing throat from the fourth desk. "These field reports aren't going to write themselves," Gibbs remarked. I looked back in time to see him level a look at me that just about said "Stop distracting my team".

Tony lowered his head back to his desk and picked up his pen. "Right boss."

Liara stepped up beside me. "You should probably let them work."

"I suppose," I sighed.

"You seem jumpy," she said, keeping her voice low. "Something about this has you worried."

"A lot of it does," I said. "This isn't a world well-equipped to deal with the kind of threats that can cause temporal dislocations like that."

"You'll figure it out," Liara promised. "You always do."

"Somehow, I don't think figuring it out is going to..."

There was a ringing from Gibbs' phone. He reached down and picked it up. "Gibbs," he said. He began to stand. "That's it?"

"Boss?" Timothy looked up.

"Send them to McGee's phone," Gibbs ordered. "Anything else?"

I could hear Abby informing Gibbs about what other data she was trying to glean from the destroyed cell phone. Timothy noticed his phone light up and picked it up. His thumbs ran over the screen a few times. "Only a few pictures survived," he said. "Kind of weird, though..." He held it up toward me. "What do you th-..."

I had looked over to the image as he started that sentence. By the time he reached what would have been "think", I was lunging forward. I tore Timothy's cell phone from his hand and ran my thumb over the screen, deleting the photo before he could finish protesting "Hey!"

Everyone was starting to look toward me. I tossed Timothy the cellphone back and rushed over to Gibbs where I promptly yanked the phone from his hand.

Yes. That was how agitated, how fearful, I was. I ripped something from the hand of freaking Leroy Jethro Gibbs himself. That would be something akin to brandishing iron around Queen Mab or throwing away good food around Kyoko Sakura or calling Granny Weatherwax "Esme" or "Esmeralda" when your name isn't Gytha Ogg. It's... it's something you don't do.

The moment I had it to my head I shouted, "Abby, do you have those pictures on your monitor?!"

There was a moment of confusion from the other end. "...wha? Doctor, what is...?"

"Abby, this is important! Delete those photos now!"

"Well... okay, I'll go...." I could hear a sudden intake of breath on the other end.

At the table, Gibbs gave me a glare that was terminal annoyance mixed with clear bewilderment at my sudden actions.

I realized my breath had nearly stopped as well. "Abby?!"

"It's... it's coming out of the screen! Out of the screen! How..."

"Abby." I swallowed and forced myself to breathe. "Abby, listen to me. I need you to listen to every word I say and do exactly what I tell you to. Keep your eyes on that thing, okay? Keep your eyes on it. Don't look into its eyes, just... just look at its chest or arm or something. Just not into its the eyes. But keep your eyes on it at all times." I inhaled again. "And whatever you do, Abby..." My voice turned hoarse from the terror I felt, my fear for Abby's life. "Don't blink."

"...what do you... ohmygodohmygod!"

"Abby?!", I repeated.

"It moved! It moved toward me, I just blinked and..."

"Abby, don't blink!", I repeated. "I'm on my way. Just don't blink!"

"What the hell is going on?", Gibbs demanded in a very low and dangerous tone. By the time he finished the sentence I was already running past Ziva's desk, on my way to the lift.

"Abby's in terrible danger!", I shouted back. Liara was coming up behind me and the rest of Team Gibbs were standing from their chairs.

"Doctor, what's wrong?", Timothy shouted, starting to run after us. "What was that thing?!"

I pulled the sonic screwdriver out and used it to summon the lift. As it arrived Timothy jumped in front of me and grabbed my arms. "What is it?", he asked. "What's happening to Abby?"

I swallowed. Out of all of the terrible possibilities that the Varner case had presented to me, this one... this one was about the worst one I imagined possible.

I took a breath. "It's a Weeping Angel," I answered Timothy, unable to keep some of the fear from my voice. "Abby's trapped in her lab with a Weeping Angel."
”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
LadyTevar
White Mage
White Mage
Posts: 18802
Joined: 2003-02-12 10:59pm
Location: Tahalshia Manor

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

Postby LadyTevar » 2017-05-07 10:28pm

"Don't Blink" was one of the more frightening episodes. I really didn't like the "image of Angel is an Angel" bit in the next story, but it works fine for trapping Abby with one of them
Image

Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.
"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" -- Leonard Nimoy, last Tweet

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-08 04:14am

The lift doors opened and I stomped in, Liara and Timothy McGee behind me. McGee was frantically operating his phone, trying to get a call out. Just before the doors closed Gibbs appeared in the entryway and joined us. The doors closed behind him. He fixed an intent look upon me. "Let's try this again. What is going on?"

"Abby is trapped with a Weeping Angel," I explained. "They're a... they're a predator species, and at their core they are more energy and information than they are physical." I jammed the button again.

"How did one get into the lab past all of our security?"

"It didn't need to." I swallowed and urged the lift to move faster. "They're partly information. If you have the image of an Angel, that image becomes an Angel..."

The door opened and I shot past Gibbs and into the hall. I ran down it to the door to the lab... now closed and locked. "Abby!", I shouted. "Abby, can you open the door?!"

I could faintly hear her on the other side. "I can't get to it!"

"Bloody hell," I muttered, getting my sonic screwdriver out. I ran it over the controls for the lock. My eyes widened. "That's impossible," I rasped. "It's deadlocked! The door's got a deadlock seal!"

McGee, frantic as well, was already trying to input a code. "The code isn't working, it's not opening!"

I kept running the sonic around, but there was no way for it to work. The Angel had erected a deadlock seal around the entire lab. "Abby!", I shouted. "Abby, get whatever space you can and don't blink!"

"Get clear!", Liara shouted at us. I grabbed Timothy by the lapel of his jacket and hauled him clear, expecting what came next. Blue energy formed around Liara's body. The holobelt disengaged to avoid being shorted out by the biotic energy coursing around her, revealing Liara's actual form as an Asari. With nary a sound of effort she channeled an intense biotic surge into the door. The dark matter energy overwhelmed the door's structure and blew it off the hinges.

I rushed in. Abby had retreated toward her lab office and the ballistics lab beyond and the Angel was facing her, arms raised and claws extended.

It was not alone. It was obviously coming from the left monitor on Abby's desk. The right monitor and the large plasma had come alive as well now, and both showed the same image; the Angel from the cell phone's picture. And two more Angels were now evident. Looking right at us.

"Goddess," Liara whispered tensely.

"Don't blink." I focused my eyes on their necks. "Don't look in their eyes and don't blink."

I had practiced this before, as soon as I realized the pattern of the Cracks leading to creatures from the home cosmos of Gallifrey coming through. But practice... isn't always the same as application. I managed to keep my concentration long enough that I didn't blink for about half a minute, during which time I slipped further into the lab.

The moment I blinked, the Angel closest to my side moved, but only incrementally. I had to fight from blinking in confusion before I realized that, of course, with McGee and Gibbs and Liara all looking in, the Angels weren't getting the time they needed to really move. Someone had open eyes virtually every moment.

"Doctor?" Abby's voice quavered with quite a bit of terror. "What are they?"

"Weeping Angels," I answered. "Hold on, Abby." I held out the sonic and tried to remotely short out the monitors. Unsurprisingly, they were deadlocked sealed as well. I pulled out my sonic disruptor and went for a kinetic blast.

I ended up being thrown back into the wall.

"Doctor!", I heard Liara cry out. I forced my eyes open in time to catch the nearest Angel having nearly closed the entire distance. I stared into its digitally-enhanced stone face, its fangs out and fingers now claws. I kept my eyes focused on the fangs lest I peek into the eyes. "I'm watching the third."

"I'm looking at the one facing Abby," McGee reported. His voice had a hint of nervous tension to it, but suffused with deadly seriousness.

"Try not to blink," I urged, even as I struggled to follow that advice. My eyes were starting to hurt and I was desperate in refusing a look in the eye to the thing. "And don't look it in the eye."

"Not easy," he answered.

"So, what do we do now?", Liara asked.

"We have to remove the images," I said. "Where is Gibbs..."

Sudden thundercracks filled the air, followed by showers of sparks as the computer monitors and large plasma screen exploded one by one. The Angel facing me distorted for a moment and vanished abruptly. I let myself blink finally with my eyes feeling strained and weary.

"Clear," Gibbs said, stepping between McGee and Abby. He swept his sidearm, its barrel still smoking, around the lab as he said so. He moved toward Abby, who started scrambling toward him.

Another Angel suddenly appeared, this one in Abby's office, coming from the computer monitor there. Abby fell back into Gibbs' legs to get away from the creature.

This time Liara acted first with a powerful burst of biotics that tore the monitor apart, sending more sparks flying.

"Are there any other monitors or screens in here?", I asked Abby. "Anything the Angel might have used to copy itself?"

"I... I don't think so," she stammered. "There's nothing else directly connected to the network."

I rushed throughout the lab anyway, checking every piece of equipment and making damn sure the Angel hadn't managed to take anything else over.

And, since I wanted to be sure, I called out "Sorry, Abigail" before using the sonic to overload every screen in the lab anyway.

"What... what was that?" Abby looked at me with eyes still wet with tears. Her complexion, always so light, had become truly white as a ghost. "How...how did it?"

"Weeping Angels can't be shown as images," I said. "The image of an Angel becomes an Angel." I swallowed and looked to GIbbs, who was reaching for his phone. "That was quick thinking. I don't think the Angel realized its defenses couldn't stop bullets from shattering the screens."

"Figured that." After that laconic reply Gibbs brought the phone up to his ear.

McGee helped Abby to her feet. "It didn't hurt you, did it?"

"No," she said. "Not... not physically. I'm going to have nightmares though."

I nodded sympathetically. The Angels were the thing of nightmares.

And then a horrible thought occurred to me. I took Abby and drew her close, looking into her eyes as panic swelled inside of me. "Did you look into its eyes' Abby? Please, tell me you didn't."

"I... I don't think so, I just sort of... sort of focused on his neck or cheek," Abby stammered. "Why? What's... what's wrong?"

I kept looking and, when done with that, I put my hand on her face and gently opened a telepathic connection. Her panic and fear filled me and threatened to bring back mine, but I forced it aside as I sensed for foreign presences.

"Hey!" McGee pulled me away from her. "What the hell are you doing?!"

"Making sure the Angel didn't get into her head," I answered. I drew in a breath that became a sigh of relief. "I don't think it did. You... if you look into the Angel's eyes, it can get into your head. An image of the Angel appears in your visual center and behaves just like the ones in your monitor did. It can make you hallucinate, it can speak with you, and eventually..." I swallowed. "It kills you."

"Ohmygod ohmygod..." Abby brushed at her disheveled hair. "I don't think I did. I just moved my eyes over it, I mean."

I nodded. "As long as you didn't maintain eye-to-eye contact. They try for that if they're not sure they can get to you."

Before I could say more, Gibbs was dashing out of the door. And seeing that gave me a sick, very sick feeling to my stomach.

"Abby." I swallowed. "Your computers. They're hooked into the whole NCIS network, right?"

"Well... yeah," Abby said. Her eyes widened. "You don't think..."

"I think it did." I pointed to Liara. "Liara, can you stay and help Abby interface with her computer systems? We need to get the NCIS network isolated from the rest of their global communications before that Angel can spread further!"

"Right." Liara promptly activated her omni-tool and stepped up to Abby's main workstations. "I'm tying into their systems now." A flat image appeared above the omni-tool. She had turned it into a new monitor for the computers. "I'm keeping this isolated form my systems just in case."

"Abby, delete everything in the system that has that thing," I said. "Pictures. Any surveillance camera feeds. Anything."

"I can do the pictures from the cell phones," she said. "But I'd need Director Vance's clearance to delete the camera recordings."

"You can't do it yourself?"

"He has special codes," she explained.

"Oh." I bit into my lip. "Liara, look into them. Crack them."

Liara shot me a glance. "Are you sure that's wise?"

"Eminently so," I said. "Vance can fire me if he disapproves." I grabbed McGee by the arm. "Come with me."

"Where are we going?"

"The squadroom," I answered. "Because if I'm right, Tony and Ziva are surrounded by Angels right now."




There are times I hate being right.

We arrived as a gunshot rang out and sparks flew. I walked out of the lift with my sonic disruptor raised. McGee had his sidearm out.

The image was visible on every intact screen. Every intact monitor. And they were all gathering around the middle of the squadroom, where Tony and Ziva stood back to back with their guns up. A wisp of smoke was still visible at the end of Ziva's barrel. "Whoever is there, cut the power!", she shouted.

"It won't do any good," I said, "the Angel can harden the connections." I pointed my sonic disruptor to the nearest monitor but thought better of it. The Angel clearly knew how to deflect its energies as well as nullify my sonics. I moved toward the center of the squadroom. I swallowed at seeing the hole created in the ring of Angels around Tony and Ziva. "Don't blink!"

"I'm trying!", Tony complained. And he promptly blinked. Had I not been watching the Angels around him, they would have advanced further. "It's like living in a horror movie!"

"Welcome to my world," I muttered, considering my options. Sonics were out. That left....

McGee's gun barked out down the way. Another Angel disappeared. "Looks like it's the brute force approach," I said, lifting the disruptor again. But instead of using it to emit energy, I used it as a club and smashed the monitor on Tony's desk. Another Angel vanished.

It's not hard to smash or shoot monitors. Doing that while keeping your eyes focused and unblinking on the monsters that are within lunging distance of you? That is a whole new level of difficulty. It involves a lot of slipping around, moving your head, that sort of thing. And not blinking. That's always an important part.

When we were done, not a single monitor in the squadroom was working. But there was no rest to be had yet. Without a word the three agents went for the stairs leading to the second level. "God, I hope Vance doesn't take this out of our pay," Tony lamented from the mid-way platform on the stairs, as he looked out briefly at the squadroom full of shattered monitors and plasma screens.

And a thought occurred to me. "Doesn't Vance have a screen in his office?", I asked.

They stopped and turned toward me. "Probie 2, go with him to check on the Director," Tony ordered Ziva. "Probie 1, we're checking MTAC."

Ziva nodded. "Right."

We split off from them, heading down the corridors leading to the Director's office. In the receptionist room we found no one present and the monitor on. An Angel stood in the doorway of the office beyond, arms raised in a hostile posture, evidently frozen as its quantum lock engaged upon our arrival. Ziva wasted no time in putting a bullet into the monitor, which exploded into sparks.

Further inside there was another pair of Angels. They had Vance cornered away from the door. He was armed only with a blunt object, a paperweight from his desk, and watching each Angel carefully. "What the hell is going on?!", he shouted.

"Director, watch them!", Ziva shouted. "They don't move if they're being watched!"

"I figured that out, Agent David!"

"And whatever you do, don't stare in their eyes!", I added. We moved up to the open door. The Angels were within a foot of grabbing Vance, but couldn't move with us watching them. Vance couldn't get out without making contact with them, though, and that was not a reasonable risk. Ziva put a bullet into the flatscreen monitor on his table and promptly turned and put into into the flatscreen.

I grimaced at the repeated gunshots. They grow tiring after a while.

The Angels in the room disappeared. Vance, well, he looked like he was fighting to keep composure given he was just fighting creatures that were coming out of every screen in his room. His eyes were wide and intent on me while he regained his breath. "Okay. What in the hell was that?"

"Who else is in the headquarters?", I asked. "I'll explain everything, but we need to make sure everyone is safe."

"It's after hours and I had the other teams clear out so you could work," Vance answered. "Doctor Mallard is probably still..."

"...here."

We turned and saw him enter with Gibbs, looking rather rattled himself. "I sent Jimmy home. A good choice, it seems," Ducky said, breathing hard. "Might I ask what's going on?"

"Are there any other active monitors here?", I asked. "In the building, I mean."

"Nope." Gibbs seemed to be slightly amused. "We don't have a monitor or screen left in the entire building."

I drew in a breath and wiped at my forehead. "Alright," I said. "Well, that settles that problem."

Vance had regained enough composure to put some steel back into his voice. "What problem?", he demanded.

"The problem of the predatory species prowling around the Shenandoah Valley killing people and sending them into the past to feed on the resulting temporal energy," I remarked drolly. Seeing his irritated look I sighed. "This is going to take some explaining. We should get the others and meet in Abby's lab."

"Fine." Vance looked back to the destroyed screen, sighed in irritation, and followed us out of his office.




When we were all on the lab, I explained to them what Weeping Angels were. The whole quantum lock thing, never looking into their eyes, that kind of thing.

"How many of these things are out there?", Vance asked. A reasonable query.

"Could be one," I said. "Could be an entire colony of them," I replied. "And the trick will be finding them."

"A lot of area," Gibbs agreed, looking at the screen hovering above Liara's omni-tool. She was acting as presenter while Abby did her usual thing at the keyboard. Right now the map showed the River Valley and the last known locations of all local missing persons cases. "Would be nice to find some way to narrow it down."

"These... things come from your world, right?", McGee asked. "So that means the Crack in the Universe is how they got here?"

"Likely," I said.

"What if it was another of the side-cracks, like the one in the Rabb house?', he continued. "You could scan for it with the TARDIS, right?"

I shook my head. "Not with accuracy. Not since we closed it."

"So how do we catch them?", Vance asked. "How do we imprison them?"

"A few methods," I said. "Plant them in front of mirrors, for instance."

"Mirrors?" Tony looked at me. "To make these... Angel things see their reflection, right? And why are they called 'Weeping' Angels anyway?"

Before I could reply, Ziva did. "Because they have to cover their faces around each other," she said. "As if they were weeping. Otherwise they would look at each other and be permanently frozen."

"Exactly," I said.

"If they're in a cave, could we collapse it?"

"Well, yes," I answered Vance. "Of course, they might just dig their way back out. So it's probably not the best way. Can't shoot them either, not with anything I know of. No, the only way to stop them is to get them to look at each other or at their reflection, or to poison them with a time paradox."

There was some brief silence. "The... mirror thing sounds easier," McGee provided. "Than the time paradox one."

"Yes it does, McGee," I answered. "But you have to make sure that they're never allowed to lose sight of their reflection or each other, or the quantum lock will fade. That means you need storage area and persistant light through day and night." I shook my head. "But for now we need to figure out where they are in this area." I pointed to the map again. "We need more leads."

"I might have something," Abby offered.

We looked toward her. "What?"

"I was checking the data I had from the crushed cell phone. Besides the picture of the horrible monsters, I mean." Abby tapped a few keys and the display hovering over Liara's omni-tool changed to show a list of names being compared to another. "I was able to recover data from the SIM card, enough to find a phone number, and I've traced that through the company to this guy." A picture hovered on one half of the screen. Aaron Lindquist, a dark-haired middle-aged man of broadly Scandinavian features. "Software engineer, hiking enthusiast. His adult daughter reported him missing about eight days ago."

"So Mister Lindquist took that photograph of the Angel?", I asked.

"Probably," Abby said. "And it gets better. His fingerprints are on file because the company he works for has done some work for the DOD." Abby brought up the fingerprints in question. "I just got a hit on them."

"From?", asked Gibbs.

"Prince George County Mental Health Hospital," Abby answered. "Patient Aaron Lundquist, 87 years old. Committed for senile dementia. Poor guy smashed up a room and got some criminal charges."

"Do you have a photo?", Vance asked.

"Trying to get one now. The hospital records aren't very public, and..."

"One moment." Liara brought her hand up to her omni-tool and started pressing keys. After several moments of the screen flashing through data the file of the elderly "Mister Lundquist" popped up.

"Woh, how'd you do that?", Abby asked Liara.

"It's a trade secret, you might say." Liara brought up the picture on her viewer and put it beside the picture of the missing Aaron Lindquist. "It's him," she said.

"Certainly looks like it," Tony agreed.

"Then we should get going." I looked to Vance. "Director, as much as I appreciate your desire to minimize the weirdness going on, I think it best if I drive this time."

"Agreed." Vance nodded. "I'll try to arrange some assistance for you in..."

"No," i snapped, turning back to face him. We eyed each other intently. "Listen. You called me here for a reason. This is the reason, Director. Your world is not equipped to deal with these things. If you send other federal agents or local police after the Angels, all you're doing is giving them more food. I'm the one who can deal with them."

For a moment Vance seemed to be considering his options. "Alright," he said. "Are there any ways I can assist you?"

"Make sure there are no images of that Angel left in your systems," I said. "And examine all of the other information from Lindquist's phone. If you can find any indication of GPS tracking being recorded, it might be helpful." I looked around. "You wouldn't happen to have any spare monitors we didn't have to destroy, would you? Because I might need Liara."

"We checked the equipment room, the monitors there were fine."

Vance nodded at Ziva. "It's settled then. Let's go get that monitor, and then you can all be on your way."




The Mental Health Hospital was a two story facility along one of the secondary roads in the towns outside of Washington. I materialized the TARDIS and joined the others after Gibbs led them out. The wind was picking up a bit from the brisk weather, and where we were there was no shelter. "The roof?", Gibbs asked me.

"Not as public as the parking lot," I answered. "And less likely to be seen than if we found a janitor's closet."

He nodded. "Fine. Just hope we don't have anyone asking us why we're coming from the stairs."

I smiled. "Oh, I think we can handle that." I looked to Tony. "DiNozzo."

He looked back at me. "Yeah?"

I reached into my pocket and handed him my psychic paper. "Psychic paper. Should we be spotted coming out of the stairwell, I'll leave it in your fine hands to be our distraction."

Tony looked at the paper. "Sure... so I'm with...."

"Local government, building code inspector," I answered. "Just bluff your way through."

"McGee." Gibbs motioned at Tony with his head. "Assist."

"Right boss," was the immediate reply.

I checked to make sure the TARDIS was locked and looked at Liara. She made an annoyed expression, rolled her eyes, and reached for the holobelt. An image appeared over her, turning her blue skin to light and replacing her scalp crest with short, back-combed blue hair. "Happy?", she sighed.

"Quite," I answered. "Let's go see Mister Lindquist."




I could hear Tony continuing to play up the building inspector cover behind me when we entered the room assigned to "Aaron Lundquist". The poor man was on his last legs, breathing raspily as he lay in his bed. He looked like he should be in a medical hospital and not just a mental one. His eyes stared lazily at a screen showing a sitcom of some sort. He barely noticed our arrival. "Mister Aaron Lindquist?", I asked.

There was a stirring in his eyes. He looked to us. "Lundquist," he corrected, his voice hoarse and frail.

"We know who you are, Mister Lindquist," Gibbs said, moving to the other side of the bed. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a plastic evidence bag, which he held out in front of Lindquist. Inside the crushed cell phone reflected light from the lamp beside Lindquist's bed.

His tired old blue eyes sharpened slightly. He reached a withered hand up and took the phone. For a moment he said nothing. And then.... then he started to weep. "I never thought I would see this again," he said, drawing in a hard breath. "It was a gift to me from my daughter." His voice, already weak from age, sounded like it was going to crack. "I knew I wasn't mad. I knew all this time. I... I knew they were real and had done this to me."

"You mean the living statues that attacked you?", I asked.

He nodded. "I took pictures. I... I thought they were stolen. But... but they... moved... Wasn't looking. Moving when I wasn't looking." His breathing picked up. Recalled terror twisted his face in horror. "Ran. Ran all I could. Couldn't get away."

"They're fast," I said. "And they like to play with their food."

The old man blinked at me. "Food?"

"They ate your life, Mister Lindquist," I explained. "That's what the Weeping Angels do. Nicest psychopaths in the Multiverse, those things. They drop you into the past and feed on the energy of the time they took from you. And you..." I sighed. "...are left to build a new life as poor recompense for the life you've lost."

Gibbs took the cell phone out of the evidence bag and handed it to Lindquist. The old man seemed to barely have the energy to hold the phone, but he did, and he cried as he did. "We need to know where you found the statues," Gibbs said.

"You... what...?" The old man blinked his eyes at us in confusion. "What are you talking about?"

"The things that sent you to the past. We're after them, Mister Lindquist," I said, keeping my tone low. I briefly looked back. Ziva was watching the door. Liara was recording us with her omni-tool. "They're still hunting people. They have to be stopped."

"You can't," Lindquist said. Our eyes met. "They're too fast. Too fast. Couldn't run enough." He coughed and moaned. "Couldn't..."

"We can," I assured him. "Please. We have to stop them. Or there will be other little girls out there like your daughter. Little girls that will lose their father."

My words seemed to stir something inside of him. "What... what is it you want to know?", he wheezed.

"What year was it? After the Angels got you?"

He swallowed. "19... 1972."

I frowned. Varner's body had been found a dozen years earlier. "Two, at least," I said to Gibbs. "There are at least two Angels."

He nodded and asked, "Where were they?"

"Off... off the trail. Ca-cave." Lindquist's breathing picked up. I saw him try to focus his mind through the haze of old age. "Old cave. Not open to... to visitors anymore."

"Right," I said. "A cave." That didn't sound well to me. Angels hiding in a dark cave? That would be tricky.

"Got inside of it. There was... rain. Went in where it was dark. Heard things. Came out... and they were there. At the mouth." In more halting words he described taking pictures of what he thought to be two winged statues as he walked around them at the mouth. And then he realized that they were moving.

I hid the scowl I started to feel on my face. They had been toying with the poor old man.

"I ran," he said. "Ran. Ran ran ran. Lost my phone. I heard them... smash it." He swallowed. "Thought I'd gotten away. Turned to.. to the trail. And then... it was all wrong."

"They got to you," I said. "Sent you back in time with a touch."

"Thought I was insane," Lindquist said. "Thought I was mad. Hospitals. Doctors. Nurses. Drugs. Over and over again. Tried to... to move on.... can't."

I nodded. Not everyone was going to end up working things out when stuck in the past. The experience had shattered Aaron Lindquist's mind.

"Can you tell us more about the cave?", Gibbs asked. "How far from the trail was it? Was it near the main parking lot?"

Lindquist began shaking his head. "I want my girl. I want my life," he wept. "I want it back. It's not fair. Not fair. Not fair!"

Seeing his agitation I took his arm. "Please, sir... you must..."

"I'm not mad!", he shouted. "I'm not mad! I don't belong here! I... I don't..."

His voice failed him. Lindquist sunk back into the bed, staring at us, eyes wild with panic and anger and grief.

And then... nothing.

And I heard the familiar sound of a death rattle come from his lungs as they moved for the last time.

A loud tone filled the room from the machine beside his bed.

Gibbs shot me a look. "That can't be coincidence," he said.

"It's not," I answered. "He's... well, he's lucky he lasted so many days past the point he was sent back. Living past the day he was sent back... it causes a sort of resistance, as that is time the Angels fed from by displacing him. If the Angels were stronger, he wouldn't have lived this long, I think."

Gibbs pulled his phone out. "I'll have Ducky and Palmer pick up the body."

"Yes," i said. "That might be for the best."

"Nurses are coming now," Ziva reported.

"Well, we know where they are," I sighed. "A cave."

"Now we just have to find out which one," Gibbs added, looking at me wryly.

I didn't answer that we also had to find out how to explore the cave without getting turned into food ourselves.
”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-09 09:20am

Abby had a new monitor set up by the time we returned. "I heard about Mister Lindquist," she said. "Poor guy."

"Very sad, yes," Ziva agreed. She looked at me. "How do you intend to find the cave he spoke about?"

"I might be able to help with that." Abby turned back to her computer and started tapping and clicking away. "I was able to pull GPS data from the phone. I can reconstruct some of the route Mister Lindquist took."

"Put it up, Abby," Gibbs ordered.

"Yes sir, coming right up," she answered.

I stepped up beside Gibbs to look over her shoulders. Normally everyone would look at the plasma screen beyond her work station, against the wall of the lab's front area, but it was shattered like every other monitor in the building. We watched the display narrow down on the River Park. A sporadic path formed, leading toward the mountain side and veering northeast in its final two updates. Time stamp data gave us a reference for Lindquist's likely route. "A bit of a gap around here," I remarked, pointing to one area. "Any caves there?"

"Let me call up a map of caverns in the area and...." We watched Abby lay said map over the other. "Bingo," she said. "Looks like it was called Early's Cave, used to be open to visitors, but they closed it in 2002 because nobody really cared to visit it."

"I don't see any other caves that would fall along the possible routes of those recovered GPS locations," I said to Gibbs. "What do you think?"

"A couple, maybe," he answered. "If we weren't talking about a middle-aged software engineer."

"The terrain is too rough for most people to go further in that window of time," Ziva added.

"So." I nodded. "We have our suspect cave."

"Now we just need a plan," Liara said.

I nodded. And as one formed in my head, I turned to face her. "Correct, Liara." I smiled. "And that's where you will come in."




For obvious reasons, we waited until daybreak to head to the park and the cave. "So, let me get this straight," I heard Tony say as we approached the cavern mouth. "We're going into a dark cave full of monsters that can only move if we can't see them. And because it's dark, we can't see them."

"Yes," I said drolly.

"I feel like I'm in a horror movie," he lamented. "A bad horror movie."

"DiNozzo..."

"Shutting up, boss."

We stopped at the entrance, where daylight still shined in. There was no sign of any Angels at the entrance. Whether that meant they had gone deeper into the cavern or had left it completely to hunt, I wasn't exactly sure of, but I believed my plan would work regardless.

I held up the sonic and found what I was looking for. "They never removed the old lighting," I murmured.

"They did disconnect the power, though," Tim pointed out.

"Yes..." I reached into my pocket and pulled out a small gray item, "A good thing I have a battery that will work, isn't it?" I walked over to the side of the cave mouth and found the end of the wiring for the cave's lighting system. I put the battery against the end of it, did a little work, and... "There we go," I said in a low voice, watching the lights come on along the cave walls. The pathway down was illuminated. "Let's go spelunking."

"If I end up in the 19th Century, Doc, I''m blaming you," Tony said as we entered, Ziva and Gibbs taking point with Liara behind them in the position I'd requested she hold.

The cave was... a cave. Nothing really special about it, at least as caves go. Not every cave can have a legendary dwarven king and his troll counterpart playing Thud, after all. Not that some of the stalagmites and stalactites weren't spectacular.

"How deep is this cave supposed to be, McGee?", Gibbs asked.

"According to records, about five hundred yards in the main shaft," Tim answered, consulting his cell. "There are four side-tunnels branching off at points. Three were considered too small for visitor safety."

"Let's hope that's not where we need to go," II said. "Having to slip through single-file would be extraordinarily dangerous."

"Our luck isn't always that good," Liara noted.

Before any of us could respond, Ziva held up a hand. "Something's been here," she said. She moved ahead cautiously and we followed with equal care.

I held out my sonic screwdriver to scan for what she might have been talking about. "Energy readings are growing. Whatever is here, it's further in the back."

It was a tense walk down that mine. When we got toward the end of the main shaft, the line of lights changed, losing their brilliance. Another shaft, presumably the one large enough for visitors, branched off to our right side.

"I'm guessing we have to go further?", Liara asked.

"Obviously," Tony said. "This is a really bad horror movie."

"DiNozzo, do I need to give you another slap to the head?", Gibbs asked.

"Oh, uh... no boss, that won't be necessary. Shutting up."

We continued on into the side tunnel. My sonic registered the increasing indications of energy that was off. Residues of temporal energy were growing as we walked along the shaft.

It opened into a grotto of sorts, a chamber carved in the rock millennia ago that offered us all some decent room. The gray-scaled rock walls spread out from us to grant us admittance into the open space. The light was now faint, so far down the power lines from where my battery was granting its energy to illuminate our way.

But it was still strong enough to show us what was waiting for us.

Here and there in the cavern were the shapes of worn, eroded statues, like those that had been vandalized or left to decades of erosion. Some were even missing their wings.

Hey Doc..." Tim's voice betrayed his nervousness. "Are those...."

"They are," I answered, keeping my voice level. "All of them. And they're starving."

"There must be at least twenty of them," Liara said, her voice betraying only a hint of nervousness.

"Yes," I said.

"Eyes on them everyone," Gibbs said., The team moved out to cardinal points and kept their eyes moving.

"Probably won't be necessary,," I said. "They're starved. They're dying. They don't have the energy to move." That brought a frown to my face. "The two intact ones must be trying to feed them as well."

"If they're weak now, can't we destroy them?", Ziva asked.

I shook my head. "Quantum lock. There's no way it would work."

"Not what I wanted to hear, Doctor," Gibbs said. "So, what now?"

"I'm taking scans. I think it might be here. The secondary Crack, I mean."

"But you closed it." Tony briefly looked to me before looking outward again, his gun held in his hand.

"It still exists in the other dimensions of space-time, DiNozzo," I explained with complete calm and no irritation at all. Really. "Just as I was hoping really."

"So, what now?" Ziva's eyes swept one of the arcs around us. "They're too weak to come at us. We should do something..."

"I'm thinking," I said. "I have a couple of plans, but I'm not sure...."

As we finished our slow jaunt toward the middle of the grotto, I noticed one of the Angels that had been behind another before we got relatively closer. I narrowed my eyes.

This one... was intact. Completely intact, I mean. There was nothing wrong with it. It was well fed.

And it was.... [ii]smiling[/i]. At us.

The thought in my head could be summed up with two words.

Oh bugger.

And I should probably mention its finger was mockingly pointed toward the nearest light above us.

"Get ready everyone!", I shouted. "It's...."

The lights went out.

The entire grotto plunged into darkness.

It was a good thing I had been expecting the Angels to kill our lights.

A second after the lights went out, Team Gibbs opened fire. Muzzle flashes repeatedly lit up the area around us. And with every flash, the whole Angel and some of the more intact ones advanced closer. Their arms came up and claws were visible.

It's... very disconcerting to be witnessing that kind of thing. To see such creatures coming closer and closer with each flash of light that illuminates them. To know that once the light is gone for good, you are hopeless to stop them from reaching you. Sure, if you know what they are and what they do, it doesn't seem so frightening to expect them to touch you and *poof*, you're back in time. But there's a part of you that doesn't think like that. A part that sees those sharp teeth, those terrible claws, and imagines being ripped apart and devoured in the dark.

Yes. Very much an unpleasant experience. Now imagine what it was like for Gibbs and his team as they were the ones trying to control their fire and not panic as each pull of the trigger brought the Weeping Angels closer and closer to us. They knew how many bullets they had left, and how little time we had before they ran out, at which time we would be plunged into darkness and taken. All they could do was buy us a little time.

Which was, of course, the entire point of the plan.

I didn't have to ask Liara to act. She spread her arms out and a biotic field appeared around us, a bubble that the Angels struck against when they finally got close enough. Team Gibbs ceased firing at this point. "Okay," Gibbs asked, "what now?"

I reached into my pocket. "Now I do something incredibly dangerous."

"Unh." Liara had sweat gathering on her forehead. "Please don't take too long," she asked. "I can only keep this up for a few minutes.... uh!"

The glow of her biotics was insufficient to effectively illuminate much more than the space immediately around her, allowing some of the Angels to attack from any momentary blind side. Their blows struck the biotic field and increased Liara's work load. I had to act quickly.

So I held up the TARDIS remote and felt out for my TARDIS.

The TARDIS began to materialize behind me. "Everyone in!", I shouted, rushing for the door.

"Ziva, Tony, give her cover!", Gibbs added, joining me in rushing into the TARDIS.

Behind us, the two brought their guns back up and began to fire. Their bullets weren't going to do anything, but the flashes again provided for slowing the Angels down and stopping their attack on Liara's biotic bubble. She backed into the TARDIS, turning her biotic field into a shield that Ziva and Tony remained behind. They too backed up into the TARDIS and Ziva grabbed the door, shutting it closed. She let out a breath. "All right, what now?"

"Worst horror movie ever," Tony breathed.

"Now comes the dangerous part," I said, going for the stairs to the underside of the TARDIS controls where I kept various tools.

"You mean that wasn't the dangerous part?!", Ziva said, incredulous.

"It never is," Liara remarked, her voice having a bit of a croak from exhaustion. "There's always something more dangerous."

"Story of my life," i murmured, heading for the tools.

The TARDIS nearly came out from under me. We all rocked hard and everyone had to grab for something. I ended up grabbing for the box I had been aiming for.

"What was that?", Tim asked, his voice full of obvious concern.

"The Angels are hoping to get in," I replied, as the floor shifted again.. "They'll try to shake us out."

"Can they?", Gibbs asked, holding on to one of the handrails and keeping his gun in his hand.

"Not sure," I admitted. "I honestly don't want to find out." I reached into my pile of tools and starting moving things about. The shaking made that harder. "Now to find that quantum field disruptor... Liara you wouldn't happen to know...."

"By the Goddess," she muttered in irritation from above me. "Your quantum tools are in the other container, to the left!"

"Ah." I blinked. "Are you sure, because I could swear...." I was interrupted by another violent shaking.

"Yes I'm sure!", Liara shouted. "Because I put them there!"

"Doc, please tell me you have a plan!", Tony added. "I don't feel like getting turned into a martini!"

The next shake threw me off my feet, but thankfully I landed beside the box I needed. "Ziva! Tony! Get down here!" I started going through devices in the box and found two I was looking for. I put them to the side and defied the shaking to get to another container, this one having the third device I needed. "This is getting annoying!", I protested.

The two agents stumbled off the stairs. "Ziva, you take the blue and gray, Tony, you take..."

"This one?" He picked up the quantum field manipulator emitter. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that he remembered it.

"Right," I said, steeling myself as the TARDIS shook again. I took up the third device and went to Ziva. "Switch with me." We both nearly fell as we made the exchange. "Back up, everyone," i said, returning to the stairs. "Trickiest part is here. And the most dangerous."

Gibbs looked at me from where he was remaining by the door. "And that would be?"

"The only way I know to permanently get rid of the Angels without causing a great deal of destruction," I answered, holding up the field disruptor and pressing keys on it. "I'm going to re-open the Crack."

That got me an incredulous stare. "You're what?", Gibbs demanded, even as we shook again.

"This branch of it, I mean," I explained hastily. "I'm going to induce an energy flow acceleration. Beings that come through these Cracks, especially those made of energy, are touched by the energy of the Cracks, you see. It forms a kind of bond. If the Crack begins drawing in energy on the right wavelength, the flow will be of the right type to draw in the Angels. In one swoop the threat is gone. Or would you rather have to hope that nobody will undo any mirror traps you set for them?"

Gibbs frowned at me, although I could see he was considering it. "You're risking the entire world," he said.,

"Yes. But if we don't stop them, your world will eventually be destroyed. That many Weeping Angels?" As we shook again I pointed to the door. "Your cities will become rich feeding grounds for them. Given enough time they'll cause major damage to space-time, assuming they don't entire destroy your civilization first." I gritted my teeth. "I know what I'm doing, Gibbs. It's a risk, yes, but it's necessary, as much as I don't like it."

Gibbs continued to look at me, hard. He finally nodded in acquiescence. "What do you need from me?"

"What I need...." I was interrupted by another shake. "....is that icy steel glare you so love. I need you to give it to the Angels. Just so long as you don't look in their eyes."

I was answered by a nod. "Right."

"Then let's finish this," I said. "For that poor man Varner, and Mister Lindquist."

Gibbs nodded. And we walked to the doors of the TARDIS together. He brought his gun up and I brought up the disruptor. "McGee, the light stick," I said.

Tim nodded. "Right." He reached into his pocket for the stick in question, one of those lovely chemical light sticks the 21st Century enjoys so much. He twisted it and a small crack was heard within it.

I hefted my quantum field disruptor device against one shoulder, like a soldier raising a rifle to parade position, and freed up my left hand. I held it up and pushed my fingers against each other. I snapped my fingers and the noise echoed inside the TARDIS.

The TARDIS doors swung inward. An Angel stood in their doorway, arms spread from where it was gripping the sides. It was one of the two intact ones, but the face wasn't the same as the other I'd seen. I smirked. This one must have followed us in and destroyed my battery once we were deep enough to have found the grotto.

In other words, the Angel had, like it did so often, chosen to play with its food.

And now it was going to regret it.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKsOr9YdiXM

"Liara," I said, and Gibbs and I stepped away from each other to give Liara room. She made a cry of effort and a bolt of intense biotic energy flew past us and smashed into the Angel. Dark matter surged and crackled and the force it possessed exploded outward from the impact.

The Angel couldn't be harmed, not with its quantum lock in place. But that didn't mean it was immune to physical laws like force.

And so Liara's biotic attack sent it flying backward, stationary, into the darkness. Tim came up behind us and pitched the chem-light into the deep blackness beyond the TARDIS door. Green light revealed a half dozen of the reforming Angels, sick from being starved but still quite formidable.

Gibbs stepped forward, taking a position ahead of me outside of the TARDIS entrance, and raised his gun. It wasn't there to be used. He knew he couldn't shoot them. But it was clearly there for effect, letting him move his gaze to take in all sights around him. His eyes remained fixed on the Angels ahead, freezing them in place.

I had my chance. I held up the quantum disruptor and triggered it. Pale blue light erupted from the muzzle end and shot out, reaching into the cavern until it hit the wall. I frowned and moved the emitter around. It had to be here somewhere. In this direction. I'd placed us precisely to do this.

Or maybe there wasn't enough energy coming through. I checked the disruptor and increased the power. "I know you're here," I muttered. "I know. Show yourself already."

Tim jumped out and to my right, gun raised, and a good thing too. The claws of a Weeping Angel extended from the darkness and were just now visible. I forced myself to avoid holding my breath at the thought that I had been a second from being touched. I looked the other way. No Angels from that direction, yet, but Liara had arrived at the TARDIS entrance. Biotic energy crackled along her form. She was tiring, but she still had a few minutes of energy before she would be exhausted. For now she kept it ready, watching my other side to prevent another Angel from coming from that direction.

I started moving the disruptor again. I waved it left and right... up and down.

"Please tell me you're almost done," Tim muttered. I couldn't see, but I could imagine he was fighting to keep his eyes from blinking. Not an easy thing when you haven't trained for it.

"Come on," I muttered. "Come on...."

Nothing.

Noth...

White light suddenly split the air as I moved the beam from my quantum field disruptor about eight feet above the cavern floor. "There we are," I said. I moved the beam back over it. The white light grew in intensity as it moved to the left and right, forming into a familiar shape in mid-air.

The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. I released the trigger on the QFD and turned just in time to jump back from the outstretched hand of a snarling Angel. "Bloody hell!", I spat, unable to constrain my startlement and fear. It had jumped or climbed onto the top of the TARDIS to get at me from behind. And it had nearly succeeded.

And it also meant that I had to watch it instead of doing my job.

"Any time now," Gibbs said. There was no nervousness in the man's voice. At least, there wasn't any easily detected, I thought I could catch the barest hint of a bit of nervousness...

"I'm a little busy!", i replied.

"I'm on it," Ziva offered, stepping out and eying the Angel. Tony joined her and they both looked up at the Angel. Behind it, another of the mostly-intact Angels had climbed the TARDIS as well.

"You'd better hurry!", Liara shouted. "They're going to overwhelm us!"

I nodded and turned back to the re-formed Crack, upon which I directed the pale blue beam from the quantum field disruptor. "This shouldn't take long!", I assured them all.

"I would hope not!", Ziva cried out.

As I held it there, the energy flow increased. I could feel the warmth starting to flow out of me. The Crack was sucking in energy again. And much faster than it had before.

The Angels around us started to wobble, like a child was trying to lift a heavy load. The wobbling continued while Gibbs, Liara, and Tim continued to stare down the Crack.

And then the first Angel lifted into the air and flew into it. More began to shudder.and were joining the first. "It's working," I said, smiling. "It's working!"

Energy crackled around us, courtesy of the Crack drawing in all the energy it could. Including, of course, the Angels' particular energies.

I have a feeling that if they could have done so, they would have been screaming. I wouldn't have blamed them either, watching Angel after Angel get pulled up. The fully intact one atop the TARDIS was the last. It shook and tremored on its perch. "That serves you lot!", I said, my tone joyous and triumphant. "Remember to stay away next time!"

Without a sound, it took flew free, went over our heads, and was swallowed by the Crack.

I cut the quantum field disruptor and raced back into the TARDIS. "Tony, Ziva, on my mark!", I shouted. I pointed to Tim as he entered. "I need you below, let me know if there are any problems with the engine.

"Sure." He blinked - we were free to do that now - and asked, "How would I know there was a problem? It's just a bunch of blinking lights and..."

"Smoke's usually a good indicator," I said. "Sparks too. Flames. That sort of thing."

"Right." He went to the stairs and began running down them.

I went to the Vortex Regulator and turned it, after which I hit a few buttons. The TARDIS engine powered up. VWORP VWORP VWORP. "Always a beautiful sound, my dear," I murmured. I flipped one final switch, establishing the wireless connection to the devices being carried by Ziva and Tony. "Remember...."

"...do not cross the streams," Ziva answered. "Tony repeated that for months after your last visit!"

"Exactly!", I shouted. I felt, I admit, a tad giddy, a bit of a high from the adrenaline, or rather the Time Lord equivalent thereof. Which explains why we Time Lords can act so... unperturbed in the face of danger, come to think of it. "Alrighty.... now!"

They pulled the triggers. Twin beams lashed out and began surging into the Crack, which pulsed ever brighter with white light. I checked the instrumentation.

"It's getting pretty cold out here," Gibbs warned. "Are you sure this is working?"

"The flow's too strong," I said. "The seal isn't taking!" I flipped a few more switches and really opened up the Vortex. The beams surged ever brighter. "Stay steady!"

"We are!", Ziva retorted. "But it's not working!"

"it's going to!", I shouted back, watching my sensors. The energy from the Crack was still flowing inward, drawing from the world around us. I looked out and saw frost starting to form on one of the stalagmites visible in all of the light shining inside of the grotto. Mist started to come from everyone still standing outside of the TARDIS. I frowned and checked my instrumentation again.

"I feel like I'm in a freezer!", Tony shouted.

I bit my lip in frustration. The energy flow was still too high. I'd had to push it too far to get the Angels sucked in. Now it wasn't closing. Worse yet, I could make out the telltale signs of the Crack's signature spreading. Soon the main Crack would re-open, and this world would be in deep trouble. "There's too much energy flow," I said. "I need something to interfere, something to..." I snapped my fingers. "Of course! Liara!" I turned to face her. "Channel dark matter into the Crack!"

"What?" She stared at me. "In what way?"

"I don't know.... one of your stasis fields perhaps. The dark matter will meddle with the energy flow, it could break it up."

"Right." Liara looked to the Crack and brought her arms up. With great effort she generated dark matter with her biotics and sent it streaming toward the Crack. It surged around it, taking form, like a giant energy bandage trying to contain the Crack. The light within it sputtered and flashed. "I'm... not sure how long... I can do this!", Liara shouted.

"Just a little longer!", I replied.

At that moment I heard pops below. "Um, we've got sparks down here!", Tim warned.

"Fire extinguisher, blue box on the north wall!", I replied. "If it catches fire!" I pursed my lips. This was going to be close....

"I don't remember these things getting that hot!", Tony shouted.

"Never had to run them that long," I answered. I ran to the TARDIS door. The tips of the devices were glowing from heat. I could see effort on their faces; the devices were starting to burn their hands.

Liara fell to her knees, but she kept her arms up and the dark matter flowing. I went over to her and knelt beside her. "You're almost there," I promised. "Just a little longer..."

She barely nodded. Her entire concentration was on maintaining the dark matter field.

There was a louder pop in the TARDIS. A fire warning went off and I returned in time to see Tim running a fire extinguisher over it. Gibbs ran past me and started rushing down the stairs, going for another extinguisher.

Any time... any time....

I looked back to the Crack after checking my controls. It was wavering under our efforts. As I heard the hiss of extinguishers, the crackling of overloading circuits, as I watched Liara's strained efforts and the clear pain written on the faces of Ziva and Tony as the Crack-sealing devices overheated in their grasp....

Sometimes... I doubt myself. Sometimes I wonder when the day will come when I take the gamble that doesn't work. When I doom myself, my Companion, my TARDIS, or even an entire world, trying to do something insanely dangerous and not making it work out. I dread the idea of a day where not only do I fail, but I fail completely. Not just having someone die, but having nothing to show for what I've done. A day like the day I failed to bring back Katherine. But worse.

Thankfully, today wasn't that day. There was a loud rush of air as the light of the Crack died entirely, accompanied by a brief pop from all the air rushing to fill the void the Crack had left when it had been sealed from the three base dimensions.

I confirmed this outcome on my screens and quickly closed the regulator. I heard hisses and then clatters; Ziva and Tony had thrown their overheated devices to the ground. I turned back and saw them checking their scalded hands. Ouch. Would definitely need medi-gel there.

Below me the hissing of fire extinguishers halted. I looked down over the railing and saw the clouds of extinguisher still floating about. There was powder on Tim and Gibbs' clothes, but they weren't entirely frosted. "Did it work?", Gibbs asked.

I smiled and nodded. "It did."

I turned in time to see Liara collapse against the frame of the TARDIS door. I went up to her and caught her before she went to the ground completely. "Woh there. Easy does it. You've done it."

"Yeah." She let out a weak breath and cracked open her sapphire eyes to glare at me. A playful glare, I should clarify. "Why is it... that these things always end...." She had to bring in another breath. "... with me pushing my biotics to.... exhaustion?"

"I'll tell you what, no adventures for a while," I promised. "We're going on a vacation."

"We'd better," Liara groaned.

But she was smiling, and that made me smile as well.

Saving the world is always good for a smile.




Cleanup from an adventure can always be tedious.

I mean, the debris. Fixing broken things. Making sure Tony and Ziva were treated for the burns the overheating equipment caused them. That sort of thing.

We returned to NCIS HQ after a second search of the caves, just to assuage any possible concerns that we missed one of the Angels. We hadn't. As I had expected, the presence of the TARDIS had made us irresistible bait.

"So you're saying that they would have fed off the TARDIS if they'd gotten past us," Tim asked as we assembled into Abby's lab. "And they might have destroyed the sun?"

"Quite so," I said. "Which is why I knew we needed a good plan to deal with them."

"I don't recall authorizing you to risk destroying the entire Earth," Vance remarked sarcastically from where he was waiting beside Abby and Ducky.

"Judgement call," I answered. "Have to make those once and a while."

"So you got them all, I hope?", Ducky inquired.

"Yes we did," I assured him.

"We made sure of it before coming back," Gibbs said. He looked at Vance. "Are you going to want a report?"

"A report without visual evidence to back up something that sounds insane?" Vance shook his head. "Write one up for me to look over, but this isn't getting filed."

"Yeah, I thought not," Gibbs answered. He looked at me. "Any chance those things or something else comes back through?"

I shook my head. "The Crack was sealed away from the base three dimensions. Nothing should get through unless the Crack opens again, and that shouldn't happen without some very special circumstances."

"Right." Vance sighed. "Now we have to explain to Varner's mother why her son's remains are fifty years old."

"Well..." Abby looked up. "We could burn them and just say he was killed in a freakish fire or something."

"I suppose one could drive his car off a cliff or something of the sort," I said. "But the elaborate lies are the ones that end up with the most questions. I'd stick with mystery. 'The bones were found, indications are likely they're what's left after a bear got to him' or something." I shook my head. "Those bears, always a problem."

"You're talking about the time McAnally threw you out for setting a bear loose in his pub?", Liara asked, smiling thinly from how tired she was.

I glowered at her. "Harry told you that, did he?"

"Actually, Molly did," Liara answered, her smile growing. "Sounded like quite a story."

"For the record, that bear was entirely Dresden's fault, not mine," I insisted. "And Mac didn't throw me out. He simply asked me to leave while he cleaned up."

"Uh huh,." The words oozed disbelief from Liara.

"Yes, that's probably the best approach with Varner's body, Doctor," Vance said, the tone in his voice clear in its impatience. "And what am I to do with the body of Aaron Lundquist?"

"Tricky thing, that," I said. "He has a family."

"Clerical error," Liara suggested. "It won't be hard to put in records showing he was found and his body mistakingly cremated."

"The family will sue," Vance pointed out.

"Ah." Gibbs smirked. "The government can afford it. Gives the family something for their loss."

Vance frowned. "I'll take it under advisement." He nodded to me. "Thank you, Doctor, for your help in this case."

"Oh, it's quite alright," I answered. "Needed to be done. Weeping Angels are nasty buggers."

"I noticed that." Vance accepted my hand in another handshake. "Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go explain to SecNav why I've had to requisition new monitors for the entire building." He accepted a handshake from Liara. "Doctor T'Soni."

"Director."

He walked out. After he did so Tony looked at his hands again. "Are you sure that stuff worked?", he asked. "Because I still feel a bit of a tingle to my..."

"Medigel does that," Liara assured him. She pointed to his hands but did not touch them, smirking a little as she spoke. "Your epidermis has already healed from the burns, see? It's just the medigel."

"So, it was pretty scary, right?", Abby asked, almost too enthusiastically. "Being in a dark cave with monsters that move when you can't see them, I mean."

"It was very.... exciting," Ziva answered.

"It was like living in a horror movie," Tony added. "The scariest damn movie you've ever imagined."

"Scarier than Nightmare on Elm Street? Because that movie terrified me," Abby inquired.

"Way scarier than Freddy."

"Ah yes," i said. "The 'illustrious' Mister Kreuger. Quite the frightening sort." I smirked. "Well, until he tried to invade the wrong mind anyway."

Tony and Abby gave me sharp looks. "Who's mind?", Tony asked suspiciously.

My smirk grew. "Who's do you think, Agent DiNozzo?"



We said our goodbyes and headed out. Once the TARDIS was safely in the Vortex I took the time to double-check our repairs. Liara emerged from one of the corridors. "So, about that vacation?"

"What about it?", I asked.

""You are going to take one, right?", she asked. "Because I'm feeling really tired of getting knocked around and going to the point of exhaustion with my biotics."

I sighed. "Yes, a vacation. I promise."

"Good." She gave me a bemused look. "And no excuses about 'the TARDIS brought us here, not me'."

"Absolutely none," I lied.

She let out a playful little scoff and went back to the corridor. "I'm going to lay down for a while."

"Get some good rest," I said to her.

"We'd better be somewhere nice when I wake up," Liara called out from the corridor.

"Don't worry, we will be," I assured her, even as I put in new coordinates on the TARDIS. I had something else to do.




Liara was still sleeping when I materialized the TARDIS in a backyard, entered a back door that was never locked, and made my way to a flight of downward stairs, following the sounds of woodcarving work as I went.

It was late and Gibbs was still up, working on his wordcrafting projects. He was in a gray shirt marked with NCIS lettering. He looked up at me as I started going down the stairway. "Hey," he said. "Something on your mind?"

"Nothing business related," I answered. "I had something... I acquired something that would be of interest to you."

"Yeah?"

I reached into my pocket and pulled out a cassette tape. He accepted it and walked over to his desk, where a tape player and recorder was waiting. He went to pour a drink and I let him know I was uninterested this time. He only poured into one glass jar and put the other away. He plopped the tape in and hit play.

After a bit of scratchiness, my voice started to come through. "...little study we're doing. Think of this as a time capsule message to your husband."

"Okay. Ask what you need.", a female voice replied.

Gibbs grew very still. "Your name for the record, ma'am?", I asked on the recording.

"I'm Shannon Gibbs and this is my daughter Kelly."

Gibbs didn't look away from the recorder. I thought his fists clenched a little. I said nothing.

On the recording, at my prompting, his late wife and daughter spoke to the him of the present day. I had told them it was for posterity, a chance to give him a message to be delivered when they were all much older.

During the whole thing, even as his family praised him and expressed their love and affection, he looked.... different. Not the stoic, steely-eyed police agent I'd come to know and respect. He looked tired. No, not just tired.

Vulnerable. Vulnerable and full of pain.

I think I began to see him in a new light at this point. A man his age should be considering retirement. But why would he? He had no companionship to live in retirement with. He had no adult child to be proud of, no grandchildren to spoil. All he had were old broken dreams and the job.

Not just the job. The team. His team. Tony, Ziva, Tim, and Abby. They were his... children, in a way. They were all he had.

My interview with Shannon and Kelly Gibbs came to its end. "I love you Daddy!", Kelly had declared into the microphone as a final word. There was a clicking noise and the recording stopped.

"I'm sorry," I managed to say. "It was the best I could do."

Gibbs said nothing at first. He took the tape out and considered it for a moment. "Could you have saved them?", he asked me.

My mouth went dry. An old shame built up within me. "I..." I swallowed. "I tried. Once. When I was in a... dark place."

When I wasn't me. When I was Triumphant.

"What happened?", he asked.

"I succeeded," I answered. "And then the gunman got them anyway."

That steely gaze focused on me. "How?"

"If I had to hazard a guess? Something my friend Donar Vadderung calls 'temporal inertia'. Events that happened can build up a sort of inertia, like an object given motion, that alters probabilities to ensure they happen regardless of a time traveler interfering."

He remained quiet for a moment. "Thank you," he finally said. "You can see yourself out."

"Right." He wanted to be alone now. I nodded and respected his wishes by leaving the basement and departing in the TARDIS. I knew he needed to be alone.

I'd gotten them all out of the danger posed by the Weeping Angels. I was content in that. Their world was again safe from a threat they had no means to understand, let alone deal with.

But I still had cause to worry. About the Cracks. How they seemed to be attracting the foes of the Doctor. Or how the Sontarans had figured out so much about the Crack they had used to invade Thessia, or indeed....how or who had guaranteed them the Doctor's non-interference in their scheme. This was a case of great concern for me and I yearned to find more puzzle pieces to solve it.,

Which meant I had to keep traveling, no matter where the road - or my TARDIS - took me.

....first things first, of course. I had promised Liara a vacation.

”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-10 10:44am

Short 40 - Arguments

It had been a while since I had a Companion like Liara.

I mean, Katherine had been brilliant, but her hero worship of me meant she only gently questioned instead of arguing. Korra hadn't been in a mental framework to challenge me on anything - and there was little for her to even want to challenge during her time on the TARDIS - and Asami had proven more concerned with Korra's well-being than any problems with the itinerary I determined for us. Or which the TARDIS imposed on us, I should hasten to add.

Liara, however, was more like Jan and Cami had been. She deferred to me when the situation demanded it. But she never let me get away with doing something she considered unwise.

And eventually... well, we had our first real argument.

Since we were supposed to be taking a short vacation, I suppose I can't blame her.

"I'm just saying," Liara was, well, saying, looking a might irritated and thoroughly drenched, "that maybe you need to be more careful where you drop us."

"You're saying that like I always land us in an ocean planet," I protested, twisting a couple of knobs on the TARDIS controls before reaching for the lever. I wiped at my face to get the water out, but my sleeve was just as drenched. "It was a slight miscalculation, that's all."

"You seem to do that far too often," Liara protested. "You can be worse than Joker."

"Oi, now that's not fair at all..."

The VWORPing stopped and I went to the door. "Now, let's just dry up and...."

....well, bugger. We weren't at the station I'd planned to travel to. Instead I could see the slight haze of smoggy air, as bad as the worst examples you'd find in the 20th Century, and absolutely no sunlight above. I looked up and saw a surface above me, supported by a pillar that I was standing upon, and an even larger one in the distance, at the center of the upper surface. The plate...

Ahh.... so that's where we were.

"This doesn't look like Layom Station to me," Liara said, stepping out of the TARDIS. "Forget to carry the two again?", she asked sardonically.

"Oi." I rubbed at my forehead. "Don't start. Sometimes the TARDIS does this, alright?"

"I know." She smirked slightly. "At least it isn't that planet of talking quadripeds we went to last month."

Before I could reply a voice called out, "Hey, who the hell are you?!" I turned and faced a red-haired man of light complexion with shades held up from his eyes and an electric prod of sorts. He was standing by a control. I let out a sigh, fully expecting the sight in the other direction.

Ah yes. The big fellow with the gun attached to what used to be his right hand. The attractive, but also rather, uh, curvy young lady in the sports bra, suspenders, and really high shorts. And the fellow with the sword. You know the one. The big sword.

The red-haired fellow - I believe his name was Reno - activated something. A yellow pyramid of energy settled around me. I rolled my eyes and pulled out the sonic screwdriver. "And what's your problem with the ponies anyway?", I asked Liara, looking toward her as I turned on the screwdriver. Its pleasant whir filled the air and the pyramid of energy shattered. "They're playful and friendly. Everyone likes the talking ponies, especially the girls."

Reno frowned and charged at us, aiming at Liara. She waved a hand at him. A biotic bolt shot out and slammed into him, sending him flying. "What about the one who ran into me?"

"Oh...." I shrugged, looking around at our surroundings. When I saw Reno start to recover I held up the sonic screwdriver toward him, but before I did anything that attractive young lady jumped in and starting giving him a good kicking. "....I think it's Dash's way of showing affection, honestly."

I turned to the pillar and scanned it with the screwdriver. As I did so, Liara retorted, "I thought she was going to break my neck!"

"Oh, she wasn't going that fast." I noted the results and dashed over to the controls. They were not quite locked out, but a quick scan showed an immediate detonation switch that would trigger without the proper command codes put in. It was a good thing I had a sonic screwdriver and a good idea on code-cracking.

"I couldn't turn my head without pain for a week!" Liara walked up beside me and sent another biotic bolt that knocked Reno back against the railing. He snarled at us and, undoubtedly realizing he was badly outnumbered, he jumped over the railing. I had no idea how he planned to land safely, but it wasn't my problem. I had explosives to turn off.

And, of course, an argument to resume.

"A bit of whiplash never hurt anyone," I said coyly, which was admittedly not the smartest thing I could say. "Oh, this is tricky. Without being able to directly access the explosives, I might not be able to turn this off." I turned and faced the others. "Oi, you there!" I pointed with my sonic screwdriver. "You with the compensatory sword! Yes, you spike-hair!"

"The name's Cl-..."

"Cloud Strife, yes, I know," I answered dismissively. "Go make yourself useful. Get the area under this pillar evacuated. I'm not sure I can stop this."

His compatriot shook his fist at us. Or, well, his gun arm actually. "Hey, who da hell are you an' what makes ya think you can boss..."

"I'm the Doctor, I'm a Time Lord, and I'm trying to stop this thing from crushing everyone under this section of the upper plate," I retorted. "Now, would you please leave me to work?" I kept working at the console. "Oi. Evil corporations, they always do this. No other reason to put bombs into your bloody structure, honestly."

"You know," Liara said, "you could probably be nicer."

"Oh, come now, I'm the model of diplomacy," I protested.

"You mean when you barge into a situation, proclaim 'I'm the Doctor', and start bossing people around?", Liara asked, her tone again sardonic. "Oh yes, the very model of diplomacy and subtlety. Sometimes you remind me of Wrex, honestly."

"Could be worse, I suppose," I muttered. "I could be more like Wreav."

"Sometimes you get that bad!"

"Really?" I sighed and hit another key. "Are we really going to argue about my method of taking charge of deadly situations?"

"I think it could use some work," Liara said. "You didn't see Shepard acting like that."

I raised my eyebrows at her. "Really? What was that business with the Quarians then? I heard she flattened Hans'Gerrel with a single punch."

Liara's eyes narrowed. I had the sudden feeling I was about to experience the business end of a biotic warp attack. Before she could do so or make a protest of my words, the noise of a helicopter came from overhead. "I wouldn't do that if I were you," another man called out. "Only a Shinra Executive can set up or disarm the Emergency Plate Release System. Anyone else tries it, the device goes off."

"Really?", I asked. "Why, pray tell, would you put in bombs to blow up your own bloody city? I'm serious, even for utterly amoral greedy corporations, wasting all of that time and money sounds like something that would make shareholders get out their pitchforks and torches. Besides." I held out my sonic. "I already broke the code twenty seconds ago. Explosives are now turned off."

The figure - Tseng, I believe - reacted with stunned surprise. "You're lying," he said.

"Maybe," I conceded. I'd actually broken the code ten seconds earlier than I'd stated "Want to come down and check?"

"I'm afraid I don't have time for that," Tseng answered. He gestured toward another figure on the platform beside him. I could make out brown hair in an elegant, feminine hairstyle, just before the helicopter began to rise.

"Aerith!," a voice called out. I turned and saw Mr. Compensatory Sword and his trio storm back up the steps.

"Aren't you supposed to be evacuating?", I asked.

"Obviously they were worried about their friend," Liara pointed out to me.

"Oh, taking their side, eh?", I countered. "There are thousands of people that could get squished if I can't...."

There was an ominous beep from the board. I turned and my face fell. "Oh bloody hell," I swore. "They've reactivated the detonation counter remotely and locked this station out." I ran the sonic over it, trying to override the lockout and hijack the physical connection.

"Here, let me," Liara said. Her omnitool appeared around her left forearm.

"I don't think that's going to help."

"No? You're not exactly getting the job done quickly." Liara began tapping controls on the omnitool. "I think I can alter the network protocols..."

"No, the issue's in the main connection. Better to try..."

"I'll remind you that I am familiar with hacking systems," Liara said bluntly, continuing her own efforts.

"But the network protocols aren't going to..." I sighed and looked back to the trio of... what were they called again? "What are you lot looking at? I might not be able to hold this off for long, there are people who will get squished."

"Maybe we want to know just what the hell you are," Mr. Compensatory Sword answered. "And why we should be listening to you."

"I said it before," I sighed. "I'm a...."

"....he's a Time Lord who travels six dimensions of space-time in his timeship," Liara finished for me, rolling her eyes. "He can be a bit full of himself, but he means well and he's being really serious about the fact that if you don't get people out from under the plate section above us, they're going to get crushed when the bombs finally go off."

The three survivors of... what was that group's name again? A... something? Whatever. They looked at each other. "Okay." The young lady looked back to us. "How long do we have?"

"Oh... ten minutes, Liara?"

"Maybe ten, sure," she agreed. "If you stop messing up those network protocols. The automatic detonator is going to get tripped."

I rolled my eyes in irritation. Behind us the heroes took off down the stairs to begin the evacuation. "Here, oh yes. Looks like a communication tie-in to their local emergency television network. You keep that up and I'll handle this..." I held up the sonic toward the pillar and used it to tap into the line I'd found. "Hello there! This is the Doctor speaking! I'm afraid that some corrupt fellow has triggered a detonation sequence in the Sector 7 plate. I seriously suggest everyone on or below that plate start evacuating, the bombs will probably go off in the next ten minutes. My compliments to President Shinra, by the way. You are truly the biggest case of stupid evil for the sake of evil I've seen in a while."

"Must you always taunt them?", LIara asked. "We haven't won yet."

"It's part of my charm," I protested. "And you didn't seem to mind before..."

"There's a time and a place....!" Liara frowned. "Network protocols are altered, but they're destroying the physical datalink."

"Really? Oh. Such a bother."

"What about your end?"

"Altering the detonation codes for the bombs, but it won't take long for them to override," I answered.

"We'll just have to do what we can, then," Liara said.

We worked quickly and we worked quietly, letting our argument stand to the wayside as we bought time for Cloud Strife and his merry band of eco-terrorist cohorts - Rockslide? No, I'm sure that wasn't it - to vacate the slums below the plate. I had no means of ensuring the people living above the plate were doing so, but I couldn't help that. Every code change, every network lockup, kept Shinra's own tech specialists from detonating the charges and thus bought us time.

"Some vacation this is," LIara muttered.

"I told you that you can't blame me over the TARDIS..."

"Oh, don't start," she retorted, but with her tone a bit on the playful side.

Well, it looks like we're about out of time," I said. "They just overrode all external secrity on the main device. It's going to explode within a minute."

"No other way to stop it?"

"Afraid not." I frowned and ran to the railing, overlooking the junkyard that stood at the border of Sector 7 with what I presumed to be Sector 6. I could make out the fellow with the compensatory sword and his friends gesturing at a gaggle of sluum-dwellers still running for safety. "YOU'VE GOT LESS THAN A MINUTE!", I shouted at the top of my lungs.

.....at which point the first explosion went off.

I looked up and saw flame pluming from the support pillar. "Oh, that's just not fair," I muttered. "Liara, I thought you had them locked out?!"

"I did!", she protested. "But they used a wireless radio link, I couldn't block it!"

"Oi!" Another explosion went off. The pillar began to sway beneath us. "I think it's time we departed."

"You and I need to talk about what a vacation means!", Liara shouted as we returned to the TARDIS. I ran up to the controls and pulled the lever just as the pillar support catwalk collapsed.

When I stood I let out a laugh. "Ha! Nothing like a little adventure to get the old hearts pumping, right?!"

Liara fixed a glare at me that was almost murderous. "Vacation. Now."

I sighed and gave her a faux-sour look as I went to the TARDIS controls, input new coordinates, and sent us off somewherre relaxing.

The TARDIS finished VWORPing and we went to the door. Outside was a nice, sunny vista, expansive nature as far as the eye could see....

....except for the big robot standing in front of us.

A number of figures were nearby. One turned. She was quite young-looking and rather... uh.... endowed, shall we say? And it was quite the strain for the dark bikini top that was the limit of clothing above her waist. She shifted the weight of the stupendously large sniper rifle slung on her arm and blinked at us. "Simon, Kamina... we have company."

I really hate it when the two doesn't get carried.

I looked away just as the fellow with the... enormously long sword and the crazy-looking sunshades glanced our way. Liara was glaring at me with her arms crossed. Just as her lips started to part I brought my right hand up. "Don't," I said in irritation. "Don't even start. I don't want to hear it."

She did.
”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-11 10:20am

Special - A Bump At The Crossroad

After unexpected adventures on ocean planets and polluted slums in a city called Midgar and a bizarre Earth where beastmen roamed and quantum probability itself seemed to come down on the side of whomever had the most bold behavior, I finally got Liara off to her vacation.

And it was boring.

I decided to leave her to the well-deserved rest and go check up on things elsewhere. Abby had indicated interest in another special vacation, for instance, and there were a few places I knew of that she had yet to see.

After begging off another day at the poolside and returning to my TARDIS, I ran a few checks and thought of a few destinations to take Abby to. As I considered her reactions to the Black Star Cluster of the Jey'miot Galaxy Core, I grabbed the TARDIS lever and pulled.

VWORP VWORP... VWEEEEEERKKK!!!!

As the engine changed from her normal wonderful sound to a horrible shriek, the TARDIS shook violently beneath me. Sparks erupted from beneath the engine and the lights flickered. A quick status check showed me half of my rooms had been removed from the interior, but I didn't worry much as I was too busy fighting with the TARDIS controls to figure out what had happened. "Oh, that's not good," I muttered. Something had snagged the TARDIS as she shifted along a sixth dimensional line, pulling her across the fifth dimensional barrier, always a tricky thing for the TARDIS to deal with.

I checked to see what was causing this, but couldn't. The TARDIS' systems were going haywire. All I could do was shut her down, materialize, and head out to figure out what was wrong. I pulled back the lever and checked the external sensors. They couldn't tell me much due to damage, but they did tell me I was in a breathable atmosphere, and there were people outside.

I made sure my sonic screwdriver and sonic disruptor were securely in my pocket and on my belt and went to the door.

At least one energy weapon sidearm was pointing at me when I walked out, but mostly I was faced with stares. I looked around, taking in my environment quickly. It was a command deck of some form. In the style of a Starfleet bridge, actually, and it even had Starfleet-style LCARS displays but with some variation to their appearance. A command chair and two flanking chairs in the middle, a station behind, two stations in front that were joined together like a pair of Ls bount together at the bottom. Side stations, two per side, and occupied. There was a bit of smoke in the air and I could see one station was flickering, having recently undergone an electrical overload.

Faces and uniforms... rang bells in my mind. Oh, I recognized the helmsman easily; he closely resembled the helmsman of the last Starfleet ship I had crashed onto. But the others.... The Captain, with his dark brown hair and green eyes, and the matching green eyes on the very attractive blonde First Officer to his right. The tactical officer's suspicious brown eyes and an athletically-muscled build that reminded me a bit of Korra, if she were more of a runner at least. She closely resembled one officer on the port side of the bridge, looking up from the clearly marked science/sensors station, evidently a close family member.

Not just that. A sister. They were sisters.

I knew this. I... didn't remember how, but I knew this.

The girl at sensors was named Cat. Caterina. Bright hazel eyes, cute dimples when she smiled, and an adorably geeky personality.

I knew this... because my TARDIS had adopted her appearance, her likeness, when she sought to speak to me.

She had taken Cat from my head.

The Captain of the ship leveled a look at me. He seemed to be contemplating what to do, but only for a moment before he asserted himself. "I'm Captain Robert Dale, Alliance Starship Aurora," he said. "You are...?"

I swallowed. "Confused, Captain," I answered. "Incredibly confused."








Oi.

This was... tricky.

But not unexpected, I suppose. Though at the time the whole issue of whether I had once been Human or not was clouded to me, and I certainly thought of myself solely as a Time Lord, the fact is I was once Human. And I was something of a creative fellow in some ways. That creativity was where my TARDIS had gotten her preferred appearance, the model for which just so happened to be standing at the science station, staring at me and the TARDIS with bright eyes full of curiosity.

See, this is why I never did something like bring Sir Terry to the Disc, or put Harry and Mr. Butcher in a room together while I watched with a tub of popcorn. It's bad enough to know, intellectually, that sixth-dimensional physics is so spacey-wacey zany that it allows anything to exist somewhere out there in the crazy old infinity of the Multiverse. To be reminded like this, to confront something that I eventually knew to have been my creation, or so I thought? I would rather have several rounds of Matriarch Aethyta's beloved Head Butts, thank you so very much. It doesn't make my head hurt as much.

A quick glance around the bridge confirmed everyone else I expected to see. Captain Dale, of course, with lifelong friend Commander Julia Andreys at his side. The reason I so easily recognized the fellow at the helm was because of who he was; a failed Starfleet cadet named Nicholas Locarno, who closely resembled Tom Paris from the Voyager. Beside him, at what I presumed was Operations, was a slightly older fellow, in his mid 30s or so I imagine, that I knew as Jarod. He was known as a Pretender, with a mind so advanced that he could pick up any occupation, any principle, very quickly. About as close as a Human mind can be to a Time Lord and still be Human, frankly.

Seriously, the man picked up warp mechanics in twenty seconds. It took me ten. That's how close he comes to having a Time Lord's mind.

And, of course, the sweet young science officer that my TARDIS thought fit her personality the most; Caterina Delgado, she of the adorable geek shirts who believed there was no new phenomena or even non-phenomenal space object that did not merit a squee of delight.

Plus there was her older, protective older sister Angela, who had truly found her niche as the one who targeted the ship's weapons. Presumably as an outlet to her need to hit things on occasion. Punching bags, sparring partners, and the occasional slaver or lecherous male friend, that sort of thing.

She was also the one pointing a gun at me, which didn't leave me very well-disposed toward her.

At the time, of course, my memories of them were a jumble due to the memetic box in my brain that had locked away my old identity. I wasn't sure how I knew of them, but I did know of them, I even had the strong feeling they were something I had imagined, and I knew a lot of what they were due to fulfill in their own fifth dimensional track. Because, you see, they too had the capability to traverse dimensions, though alien technology they had once discovered.

I would explain more, but that would bog down the story, wouldn't it?

I should add that these thoughts happened in a rather compressed scope of time. Seconds after I said what I said, Julia was already turning to face Caterina. "Cat, get back on station. Find out what's happening."

"Oh... right, right!" She jumped back into her seat.

"Jarod, can you get the jump drive working?", she asked next, looking forward.

He hit a couple of keys on his board, but the only response was a deep negative tone. "It's still not responding."

"Who are you?", Robert asked me. "What is that?"

"I'm..." I rubbed at my forehead. "Sorry. I'm..."

"Wait." Cat looked up from her station. She was consulting the light gray device on her right forearm. "Multidevices", they called them. A cheap man's omnitool; communicator and scanner in one package and some data access functions to go with it. She checked readings on her device's small holo-display. Her eyes widened. "That... blue box you came in. That's got... It's a dimensionally transcendental field, isn't it?! You've got a DT field ship!"

Robert looked at me, or rather past me, into the TARDIS door. A look of surprise came over his face. "That's Darglan technology," he said. his tone a little forced.

And I couldn't help myself at that point. I felt the need to correct him of a fact, or remind him anyway. "Actually, the Darglan had it given to them by my people. I'm a Time Lord." And then I narrowed my eyes. While my memories of what they were to end up doing were still a bit foggy here and there, I knew that meeting a Time Lord would be a bad thing for their personal histories if it happened before a certain time. "What is the date, by the way? For you?"

Robert and Julia exchanged glances. "Which universe calendar?", Julia asked.

I sighed. That was the trouble when dealing with multiversal societies following universes at different temporal points. There was always more than one calendar. "The one you're using for your Allied Systems," I clarified. "In your logs and such."

"April 11th, 2641," Robert answered. "Why?"

"Oh, nothing," I said, feeling a headache coming on. Yes, as I suspected. They were still fairly early in their journeys. They had so much to see, so much to do... and encountering me could muck it all up. "Just.... making sure of where things stand. Anyway, right, we need to figure out what is..."

The ship rocked under us. I gripped the side of the TARDIS door frame to remain standing. Robert and Julia returned to their chairs. "What was that?" Julia looked toward Cat, who was already turning back to her screens.

"Spatial disturbance," Jarod answered. "It came from somewhere within a hundred thousand kilometers. Judging by the patterns, I think another ship just arrived."

"You can't be more precise?", Julia asked.

"I'm afraid not," he answered. "Sensors are working fine, but the spatial disruption around us is interfering with our instruments."

I frowned. That didn't sound good. "Can you get a star reading?", I asked. "Figure out where we are?"

There was a momentary pause. "Good question," Robert agreed. "Jarod? Caterina?"

"I'm not getting any stars," Jarod answered.

There was a rushed breath from sensors. "Because there aren't any," Caterina added. "I.... long range sensors show no signs of any stars. At all."

"That's what I was afraid of..." I sighed. "This is bad."

"You still haven't answered the question," Angel Delgado reminded me, still holding up a pulse pistol.

I blanched. Again, this was all wrong. The crew of the Aurora weren't supposed to meet the Doctor. Not yet, anyway. Encountering me could throw their entire course off track, and given what I remembered of their ultimate cause, the slightest shift caused by meddling Time Lords could spell unmitigated disaster.

And when I say disaster, I mean things like, oh, the results of turning left when one was supposed to turn right. That kind of disaster. Yes, you know what I'm talking about, don't you?

On the other hand, our situation was dire enough that I didn't have much choice. So I sighed. "I have taken the name of the Doctor," I explained.

And they all looked at me. Intently. As if they recognized my name, which was what I realized they had done.

"You're the Doctor," Robert asked. "Because we've heard that name before, and it..."

I frowned. Now that was one enemy I had yet to face. "Well... yes and no," I said, interrupting him. "It's sort of a... title. You act a certain way, do a certain thing, and you're the Doctor. That kind of thing. Now, as much as i'd like to continue this chat, I would really like to find out what our little meeting has caused. And right now, it looks like we caused a rather nasty bubble to form in higher dimensional space-time."

"You mean a pocket of space-time formed inside the trans-dimensional barrier?", Cat asked.

I looked over to her and furrowed my bar. "Well... yes. I suppose that's a good way of explaining it."

She smiled with pride, forming cute dimples... but then her smile became a concerned frown. "Oh, that's bad," she said.

"What is?", Robert asked.

"Our jump point intersected the path of his multi-dimensional ship," Caterina explained. "And because of that, his ship got pulled along with us and disrupted our jump point, causing it to... to sort of collapse on both ends."

"We should be dead, then," Jarod pointed out. "The collapse of the jump point.... once it was done, the tunnel of space-time created would have failed and the ship would have been destroyed."

"Yeah, but that's where the Doctor's ship comes in," Caterina continued. "The DT field interacted with the tunnel of our jump point, creating a pocket of artificial space-time around us."

"So it... saved our lives," Robert said. "Isn't that good?"

"Well... yeah, but it means... it means..." Caterina was clearly searching for a way to explain it.

"....that in the long-term, so to speak, the bubble of space-time will destabilize entire segments of the Multiverse," I finished for her.

"Yeah," Cat agreed. "I mean, you'll get random spatial tears, dimensional displacements, everything. It'll be horrible. And if it destroys the trans-dimensional barrier, it could cause massive space-time collapse."

"I don't like the sound of that," Julia said, rather perturbed. "So how do we fix this? If we get the jump drive working, can we jump again?"

Caterina blanched. "Oh no, no, that would be bad. The jump drive would make the bubble worse."

"A warp field could disrupt the pocket of space-time," Jarod suggested. "Of course, that would kill us too."

Robert nodded. "Last resort, then. I'm not blowing up the Multiverse."

"A reasonable decision," I said. I thought about the TARDIS. If I had full power, I could try something truly insane, like creating a massive chamber to hold their whole ship. But I'd never tried to push it that much before and even if I deleted every other room I didn't think it'd work. Especially not now, since the interaction had damaged her pretty badly. "There may be ways to shift the bubble out of the trans-dimensional barrier. We'll have to shift it through the bands of subspace closest to normal real-space, though, and that will be tricky." I pointed to Jarod. "You, Royal Smart Person Number 1, your ship's navigational deflector systems... you've got them rigged up in Starfleet fashion, right?"

Jarod considered the question for a moment. "They operate similarly, yeah. Why?"

"Ha!" I clapped my hands. "Perfect! Absolutely perfect. I do so love Starfleet deflectors, almost as versatile as sonic devices, let me tell you! So, here's what we do!" I directed my attention to Robert and Julia. "We fill it chock full of neutrinos and tachyons and all of those other fun particles, create a spacey-wacey field, and..."

"....and form a subspace pocket to shift the time-space around us out of the barrier!", Caterina shouted, jubilantly. "And even if we can't follow, the subspace field gives us a buffer to try our jump drive!"

"Exactly!", I crowed. I do so love coming up with solutions to these things. And given the look on her face, so did Caterina, which I fould to be enormously appropriate. "So all we need to do is get to your deflector control and let me make a couple of modifications, then we should be set!"

"It sounds like you have a plan, Doctor," Robert said. "Why don't..."

I was interrupted by a tone. "That contact from the spatial disturbance is approaching visual range," Jarod said. He was fairly attentive to his instruments. "It's definitely a ship."

"Any idea how they wound up in here?", asked Julia.

"Early sign of instability, maybe," he answered. "A spatial rip drew them in."

"Or they have dimensional travel of some sort as well," Nick Locarno added. "Maybe they got sucked in with us when they used it."

"I'm not picking up any signs of a jump drive," Caterina said.

"More than one way to pierce dimensional barriers, young lady," I said. I looked over to the screen. I had a sick feeling in my stomach; these kinds of situations usually meant nastiness was coming. "Can we get a look at that ship somehow?"

"On screen Jarod," Robert asked.

A distant shape appeared on the bridge viewscreen. "Magnifying," Jarod said even before anyone asked.

The vessel that appeared was stark and utilitarian. Gunmetal gray, bright blue engines on the end, and altogether she looked very nasty. A big, gun-carrying space manta. Something about the design struck my memories. Not the ship itself, but the design aesthetic and coloring.

"Cat?", Julia asked. "What is she?"

"Non-human life signs, but I'm pretty sure the crew's humanoid, and breathing Earth-standard atmosphere." Caterina continued to check her readings, ever the dutiful little science officer. "Ion propulsion drives, and a pretty advanced model. I'm not sure what FTL drive she's got. Definite neutrino signature though. She's... she's IU-capable."

"Power signature?", Robert asked.

"Naqia power source," Caterina confirmed. "At least."

"I'd say she has our scale of power generation," added the redhead at the engineering station beside Cat's. Who was he... oh yes. Thomas Barnes, the foul-mouthed engineer. Hard to believe I overlooked him. Or that he overlooked us. I looked at his station.

Ah, that explained it. He had been working on repairs. Good priorities, at least.

"Definitely not in our database," Jarod confirmed.

"Is it just me," Locarno began, "or is that ship coming in at attack velocity?"

I cringed. And then, as I got a good look at it, I thought I realized who we were dealing with. "Oh, this is going to be bloody annoying," I moaned.

"I think you might be right, Nick," Julia said. "Angel, raise the shields." Ever the practical-minded leader, Julia. I think that's what I liked about her.

I'd been so busy with other things that I hadn't noticed I was no longer held under gunpoint. Angel had finally lowered her pistol away from me. She tapped a couple of keys on her tactical station. "Raising shields."

A tone came from Jarod's station. "They're hailing us. Audio channel."

"Let's hear what they have to say," Robert said. When a confirmation tone came from the Ops station he spoke. "This is Captain Robert Dale of the Starship Aurora, representing the United Alliance of Systems. We appear to be stuck in some sort of..."

There was a crackle on the other end before a rough voice started. "This is the Grelom, warship of the Kromagg Empire. Human vessel, you are in violation of Kromagg law with your possession of dimansional slider technology. Surrender or you will be destroyed."

The Aurora crew looked at one another and then toward me. I sighed. Bloody Kromaggs. I hadn't run into them much. Actually, only once, and it wasn't that big a deal. "Kromaggs," I sighed. "They're... interdimensional conquerors. They usually limit themselves to conquering less-advanced Earths instead of trying for interstellar empires. Fielding a starship of that size and strength is new for them, from what I've seen."

"So it'll be a fight?", Robert asked.

"Given how much they hate Humans?" I nodded. "Oh yes."

"Kromagg ship is locking weapons," Angela said at Tactical.

"Code Red," Robert barked, reaching for his seat harness. "All hands to battle stations."

I looked to the empty seat on his left. Julia nodded to me and made a small hand gesture, so I took the seat and reached for the harness.

As an alert klaxon sounded around us, some of the panel lights turned red. Jarod spoke up next. "I'm picking up new contacts. They're launching fighters."

"Launch our's," Julia said.

"Laurent's people are loading up," Jarod confirmed.

"Um." Caterina looked back. "If we blow them up, or we get blown up... or really if there are too many explosions from main drives... it could make the bubble worse too."

"So I suppose we just sit here and let them shoot us?", Angel asked.

"No," Robert said. "We just avoid blowing them up. Aim for weapons systems."

"Right," Angel growled. "Weapon systems. Of course. So much easier to hit."

"That's why we get paid the big bucks these days," Julia noted with a sly grin. "Doing all the hard things."

"Oh how I love complications," I sighed. Not only was the Multiverse threatened, but the Kromaggs showing up had made things worse.

I'd forgotten at that moment that things could always get worse.

Which, of course, they did, with a howl and a fantastic scream of air as a spatial disturbance formed on the bridge, across from the TARDIS in the front-right corner beyond Locarno. It solidified into a multidimensional tear and out came two forms.

Two very familiar forms. Black, leathery skin, fearsome claws, and wicked teeth. Coal-black eyes stared out at us and their mouths literally began to drip with saliva, like crazed beasts famished and finding a fresh meal to sate their hunger.

I yanked my harness off and reached for my sonics. "Oh bugger!", I shouted in irritation.

Red Court Vampires.

It never gets bloody easier, does it?




A lot of things happened at once.

The vampires were, going by their immediate reactions, the "blood slaves" of the Red Court. Those of that Court who have lost all control of their blood thirst and with it any capacity for rational thought. They only had the impulse to feed.

Unfortunately, this meant they didn't stop to consider how they wound up on a starship at least eight hundred more years advanced than the Earth they'd been taken from. They saw Humans, their source of food, and they went after that food.

I didn't have time to bring my sonic disruptor to bear, so I had to rely on the sonic screwdriver. But I'd already fought these things with just the screwdriver and I knew how the sonics could be used to mess with their senses. The sonic effect I generated sounded to me and everyone else like a pleasing whir, but for the Red vamp I targeted it overwhelmed his bloodlust more than sufficiently to force him to drop.

Of course, this meant I couldn't get the other one, and it went straight for Nick Locarno at the helm.

Julia had her harness off and leapt from her chair to intercept the creature. It was a reasonable decision on her part; protect the man who was piloting their ship just as it was about to get into a fight with another vessel. I yelled a warning at her. "It's too strong!" But I was too late. She was committed to fighting a creature that was far stronger than it looked.

She struck the vampire as it was moving, which is the only reason it didn't simply knock her over. They both tumbled over onto the floor of the bridge. The crazed vampire lashed out and grabbed her shoulder. I heard a crack and a cry of surprise and pain come from Julia as it threw her off with such force she hit the roof of the bridge and fell on top of Robert, who had been getting out of his chair to help.

The ship shuddered underneath us. "Shields at ninety-six percent," Jarod said. He didn't need to point out the Kromagg had opened fire. "Our fighters are engaging."

"I'm returning fire!", Angel declared, her hand moving over the weapon controls of her tactical station.

By that point I was regaining my footing. And trying to put my sonic's disruption effect back upon the Red whom I had been restraining. His partner didn't allow me to, however, and my head spun violently when it delivered a solid blow with its clawed hand that tore my jacket and would have ripped into my chest if not for my armored and warded vest (thank you very much Charity and Molly!). As it was, I was thrown to the wall in front of the engineering and science stations with enough force to knock the wind out of me.

There was a flicker of recognition in the black eyes of the crazed vampire. "DOC...TOR," he growled, barely sounding like he was speaking a word. "DOCTOR!"

He lunged.... just as I brought up the sonic disruptor with setting 42 activated. Purple and blue light flared together against the deflector field being generated by my sonic device.

Of course, the kinetic impact of the blow went right into the disruptor. I thought the impact would rip my arm off.

The other vampire recovered from my stunning just as Robert got out from under Julia. He scrambled to get up. But I knew how fast the Reds were. Even dazed... he didn't have time. And I couldn't get to him.

But Angel could.

The same pulse pistol she'd held on me came up and pointed at the vampire. It fired with the kind of sound you expect from a directed energy weapon. A blue pulse of energy shot out of the emitter and struck the vampire. He staggered, confused, and nearly fell back as the ship shook again from weapons fire coming from the Kromagg ship. Angel tapped her thumb on the back of the pistol three times and fired again. The pulse that came out was bigger, stronger, and when it hit the Red Court Vampire the energy erupted from the impact and seemed to simply start devouring the vampire's body. In a flash of blue light the vampire was disintegrated, or vaporized if you prefer, with just a brief puff of smoke.

The other vampire slammed against my deflector shield again, this time with enough force that I nearly lost my handle on my sonic disruptor. He was oblivious to his comrade's death given his hatred and his bloodlust. "DOCTOR!," he screeched again, a painful experience in of itself, as he drove his fist against the deflector.

And then blue light devoured him as well.

I went to stand and get to my sonic screwdriver, but I ended up hitting the floor as we shook again. "Shields down to eighty percent!", Jarod reported.

Robert was leaning over Julia. "What's their status?", he asked, looking up briefly.

"Their shields look to be at about ninety percent in effectiveness," Jarod answered. "It looks like they're using a covariant deflector system."

"Covariants, pah," I muttered. "A simple...." I stopped. Given the... precarious nature of the space-time bubble we were trapped in, the solutions I was thinking off had a variety of very nasty potential side effects if employed. "Never mind, actually," I said. I scooped up the sonic screwdriver.

"Nick, evasive maneuvers." Robert looked back down to his fallen first officer. "Julia, are you okay?", he asked.

I got over to her. She remained on the ground. She didn't moan so much as make a little noise. Her eyes opened and were quite dilated given the lighting. I frowned and looked not just to her left shoulder, the linked collarbone broken by the blow of the Red Court vamp, but to the reflection of a substance that had wound up on the visible skin of her neck and lower jaw. I ran a quick check with the sonic screwdriver. "I was afraid of this," I muttered. "The vampire spat on her."

Robert looked at me. "And...?"

The ship rocked again. "Red Court vampires have a powerful narcotic in their saliva. It's both paralyzing and very addictive."

"Vampires?"

"They draw sustenance from Human blood. So, yes, vampires," I answered flippantly. "Like big vampire bats. With narcotic saliva and superhuman strength."

"Right." Robert pressed a key on his chair as he got back into it. "Bridge to medbay. Leo, I need a medical team."

"I'll send one right up," was the reply. I recognized the name. Leo Gillam was the ship's chief medical officer.

"Wait," I said. "I still need to get to deflector control. I'll take her with me and drop her off at the medbay."

"That's quite a distance," Robert pointed out.

I nodded. "I'm also stronger than I look." After saying that I put my arms under Julia's unmoving form. She was barely conscious and in quite the drug stupor.

As I went toward the nearest lift, to the rear port side, Caterina stood from sensors. "He's going to need help in deflector control, and I know what he's trying to do. I should go."

Robert looked back at her as I activated the door. I looked back to see he was ready to say no, but he started to consider it and finally nodded. "Alright." He nodded to one of the handful of junior officers managing the auxiliary stations, a young lady with distinct Middle Eastern coloration and features.

Caterina joined me in the lift. "Deck 12, Medbay," she said, and the lift started moving us through the ship.




Given the TARDIS was still on the bridge, I was quite capable of learning what happened after I left. With the momentary distraction done, Robert got back into his command chair and secured himself. The Aurora took more fire from the Kromaggs. "Shields now at seventy-five percent."

"Jarod, that Doctor looked like he had an idea on how to disrupt their shields," Robert said.

"There are a few ways," Jarod answered. "But the space-time bubble could destabilize if we create those kinds of fields."

"Any luck on knocking out their weapons?", Robert asked Angel.

"Still trying!", was the heated response. "They keep re-directing their shields toward us, I can't get a hit on their weak side.

I could imagine it. The Aurora, nimble for her size, trying to evade the fire of the Kromagg vessel and being restrained in her own return fire. The Kromaggs didn't seem to realize she was holding back and they kept up their attack, determined to subdue a ship they undoubtedly considered a threat to their empire.

They probably didn't realize that the Aurora crew had other options.

Robert pressed his intercom key. "Aurora to Koenig. Zack, are you ready to launch?"

The voice of Commander Zachary Carrey came over the speaker. "We're ready when you are."

"Jarod, begin combat launch sequence for the Koenig," Robert ordered.

"Opening launch bay doors now. Preparing to release docking clamps."

The Aurora was not entirely like a normal Starfleet design. She had no neck to differentiate between her primary and drive hulls. From the outside, the marking of where one ended and the other began was aided by two things. One was where the lowest decks of the drive hull flowed downward from the ship's main hull, the front of this shape forming the ship's navigational deflector dish. The other was where the primary hull's back flowed down by about fifty meters to the top of the drive hull, somewhere around the 380 meter mark from the bow of the ship. The beam of the primary hull tapered inward and formed the main shuttle bays for the ship (not to be confused with its fighter complement's recovery and hanger deck and the launch tubes they used).... and the big dock for the Aurora to carry a supporting starship.

That ship was the ASV Koenig.

"Docking clamps released, umbilicals released and secured," Jarod continued.

"We're clear. Launching now. All hands, Code Red!"

From the opened dock the Koenig emerged. She was a squat design, four decks, a crew of about fifty, and armored warp nacelles attached to the main hull looking like slightly forward-swept wings. If that design sounds familiar.... there's a reason for it, from the same engineer who had given the Aurora's other aesthetics their modified Starfleet feel. But that's a story for another time.

The important part was that the Koenig, once released from her mothership, came about and flew toward the Kromagg ship. Her forward weapons opened up, a quartet of pulse phaser cannon emitters that thundered amber fury onto the deflectors of the Kromagg vessel, adding to their workload.

"The Kromagg ship is firing some of their secondary firepower at the Koenig," Jarod said. And I can imagine that bemused grin of his as he answered, "Their shields are holding at ninety-seven percent."

"They won't underestimate the Koenig's defenses for long. Let's give Zack and his people a big opening," Robert said. "Bring us about. Angel, give them the forward pulse cannons, full barrage."

"About time," she said. "Torpedo lock?"

"Let's hold back on that for the moment," he answered. "Cat made it pretty clear that either of us going boom is going to make things worse."

"Right," Angel sighed. "No torpedoes." The ship rocked heavily again from the impact of the Kromagg ship's missile armament. "Maybe you should tell them that too."

"I don't think they would listen to us," Locarno pointed out. "I'm bringing you around.... now."

Aurora pointed her bow toward the Kromagg vessel. Six pulse cannon emitters built into her bow opened up. While the ship had smaller emitters to fire the same cannons as on the Koenig into their other arcs, these weapons were based directly on the technology of the Darglan, the extinct race that had designed the interuniversal drives the [i}Aurora[/i]'s crew used on their ships, and were based on the plasma-based weaponry the Darglan had once used. Instead of the amber coloring of phaser fire, the pulse cannons erupted with sapphire fury, thick pulses of blue energy that crossed the artificial space-time and slammed into the Kromagg ship's deflectors. "Direct hit," Angel said. I could imagine her allowing herself quite the grin. "We definitely put a dent in their shields."

"And they're adjusting their shields forward to match," Jarod said.

Robert hit his intercom button again. "Zack, make sure you hold off on those torpedoes. Cat says nasty things will happen if either of our ships gets blown up."

"Would be nice if they realized that," was Zack's reply. "Sherlily has heard and acknowledged. Phasers only."

Koenig darted close, evading a flight of Kromagg fighters and peppering the Kromagg ship repeatedly with their main battery. the Kromagg shields flashed red from the impacts, but not the same bright red that was resisting Aurora's firepower.

"Looks like they don't like these odds," Jarod said. "It looks like they're starting to pull back."

Robert nodded. "Keep an eye on them. If they fully disengage, we'll do the same. And keep trying to hail them."

"Right. I..." There was a tone from Jarod's console. His expression turned severe. "Internal sensors are going haywire."

Robert leaned forward in his seat. "What is it?"

"I'm picking up multiple spatial disturbances appearing in the ship."

Robert's hand went to his intercom. "All hands, intruder alert, multiple decks! Prepare to repel boarders!"

A moment later the ship was rocked violently. "Internal explosion, Deck 28," Barnes shouted. "Looks like one of the rifts took out one of our main plasma conduits! Main power is down by one quarter!"

"Kromagg ship is coming about again," Jarod added.

"Angel, do what you can with the weapons," Robert said. "Nick..."

"Beginning evasive maneuvers, sir," Locarno said, already twisting the ship to avoid another shot from the Kromagg ship's main particle cannons.




My trip to the medbay had been quick, with Caterina leading the way, with the occasional shake reminding us of the battle with the Kromaggs. We walked in and found some of the crew being treated for minor injuries. A young woman, Darfurian Sudanese I thought, directed me to bring Julia to one of the biobeds. "She was subjected to a dose of a major narcotic compound," I told the nurse. The name 'Nasri' came to mind. "And her left collarbone is broken."

Nasri looked up at a subordinate medtech. "Prepare Narban, 20ccs, and I need a skeletal regenerator."

There was movement from across the room. I turned and watched a young-looking man enter. From the way he looked I thought he would have fit right in with the Sisko family. The blue on his uniform was lighter than that on Caterina's uniform. "Ah," I said. "Doctor Leonard Gillam, I presume?" I offered my hand.

Leo eyed me with curiosity. "You are?", he asked.

"Oh, I'm the Doctor," I answered, smiling.

"Medical?"

"Oh... a bit of everything, really." I tapped my forehead. "Time Lord brain, it really helps with multidisciplinary practices."

"I see." Leo moved on to check Julia. Nasri was looking at the readings before looking back to the medical tool in her hand. "Narcotic exposure. The 20ccs of Narban haven't done anything about it."

Leo frowned and held up his medical scanner. It was attachable to the multidevice on his right forearm but was nevertheless an independent, handheld unit. "I've never seen a narcotic like that. We may have to use Purin, 10ccs."

"Before you pump Commander Andreys full of all sorts of biochemical cocktails in an attempt to clear her body of the narcotic, it might be best if you synthesized a compound I happen to know of..." I laid out a compound that I had generally used to treat Red Court victims on the few occasions we had tangled. Leo nodded to Nasri, who stepped up to the nearby medical replicator and put in the chemicals and dosages I listed. The device happily created a hypospray that Nasri applied to Julia.

"We should get going," Caterina said. "Deflector Control is down on Deck 32."

"Well, with your lifts it shouldn't take us too long to..."

The ship began to shudder under us. It wasn't the usual feedback of the shields getting hit; we'd been enduring that so long it wasn't very noteworthy. I grabbed the end of an empty bed to hold myself up while the lights flickered very briefly.

Cat fell back against the same bed and looked down at her scanner. "Oh, that's bad," she said.

"What?" I reached for my sonic screwdriver.

"I'm picking up more spatial instability forming. And we just lost one of our main power conduits."

I took a moment and confirmed her. In fact, with the sonic I could tell such rifts were forming all across the ship. "One must have gotten a power conduit or some other thing. And I think we have one forming..."

The door to the ship corridor slid open and a man entered. He had Asian features and one of the paler complexions, a bit on the short side. And his suit looked like dark robes with red trim, including the hood over his....

Oh bloody hell.

He was a member of the Red Lotus.

His amber eyes were already widened in panic and shock, but when he saw me I watched them switch to fear and anger. "You!", he shouted. "You did this! You're still after us!" He assumed a fighting stance.

The plume of flame that erupted from his hand with his next movement would have burnt not just me, but Cat and Leo as well. Thankfully I had the sonic disruptor up and tuned to setting 42, which I admit had long become my most used setting ever. The flames struck the field and parted around it, scorching the carpet, the ceiling, and the equipment around us.

"Why aren't your fire suppression systems activating?!", I shouted.

"Damage from the spatial instabilities and power loss," Cat suggested. "But how is he..?!"

"He's a Firebender from a world I have fairly frequent contact with," I answered. I almost asked if they had sidearms but realized the obvious answer of now. Cat and Leo weren't the pistol-carrying types.

"Once you're gone, the Red Lotus will triumph!", the Firebender shouted. "The Avatar will fall and..."

There was movement from his side and behind him. A pair of arms whipped around his throat in a brutal chokehold. Julia Andreys, standing half a foot over the Firebender at six feet and about half an inch, easily assumed the necessary leverage. Pain flickered across her determined face, courtesy of that broken collarbone, which the Firebender's head was pressed against. I could see her trying to shift him to the other direction, but the important part was holding on.

The Red Lotus man's flame died away, but I didn't dare lower my sonic. Flames shot out from his nostrils and fists as he tried to get to Julia, who hung on and kept him from pulling her off her feet. He nearly got her with one gout of flame from his flailing left hand. It singed her fine blonde hair near the temple and left pinkish skin from where it had burnt her.

But still she held on.

The Red Lotus Firebender's shouts became harsh breathing, and that died away as, over the course of seconds, Julia's choke hold successfully cut his lungs off from the oxygen they needed. He grew limp against her as she pulled him back toward the wall.

She held on just a moment longer before slowly releasing him. Leo ran up. "He's unconscious," he confirmed with his medical scanner.

"Keep him sedated," I said. "Trust me on that."

Julia smiled weakly. "Was I just high as a kite?", she inquired.

"As high as a starship in orbit, actually," I replied. "Red Court saliva is extraordinarily powerful as a narcotic."

"Ah. That explains why everything feels so... weird." Her eyes began to roll up into her head as she lost conscious. The compound I'd helped Nasri and Leo synthesize had managed to neutralize the narcotic itself, but it hadn't yet lost its grip on her system. That entire thing had been one spurt of effort with the willpowr she had left.

It had still been quite welcome.

"We'd better get going," I said to Leo. "This is only going to get worse."

"I'll call security to get us a team," Leo said. "Don't worry about us."

I nodded, as did Cat, and we went back into the corridors. "The lifts will be unreliable with main power damaged," she said to me. "We'll have to take the ladders and the tubes."

I sighed. "Always with the complications," I said.

And then the ship shook once more.




"Shields down to forty-two percent," Jarod reported. "We're starting to see bleedthrough."

"Can we bring the backup generators online?", Robert asked.

"Not with this power loss," Barnes answered. "The spatial tears forming inside of the ship are playing havoc with our systems."

There was another violent shaking. The lights flickered again. "Tom?!", Robert shouted.

"Something.... something's loose in the drive section," he answered. "It just knocked out a power conduit junction. Three sections on Decks 22 through 26 just lost power."

"Including some of our weapons," Angel pointed out. "I've lost several of our port side phaser strips and pulse emitters."

"Can we get a transporter lock?"

"Transporters aren't reliable," Jarod answered. "Not with all the spatial distortions."

"Terrific," Robert muttered. "There are times I wonder if they're worth the trouble..." The ship shook again. "Shields?"

"Thirty-seven percent. Minor damage to the bow, Decks 7 and 8," Jarod answered.

On the screen Robert watched the Kromagg ship prepare to fire again. Several of its mounts were trying to engage Koenig, which continued to dart around on the ship's other arcs and damage its armored hull. "Jarod, get Commander Kane's security teams to find that thing and deal with it," Robert said. "And where is Cat and that Doctor?"

"Deck 20, in the manual access shaft," Jarod answered. He noticed something on his screens. "More spatial disturbances."

Robert couldn't help but pale a little. "Which decks?"

"Not us," Jarod answered. "The Kromagg ship."

Another explosion flowered out of the sinister manta-shaped starship. Some of its running lights flickered. "Well, at least we're both having problems," Robert muttered. He reached for the intercom. "Bridge to Lieutenant Delgado. Caterina, please tell me you're making good time."




I heard Caterina breath hard as she lowered herself to another deck. She reached over and pressed the comm key on her multidevice. "We're getting there! But I'm not trusting the turbolift."

"We understand. But this is getting bad, Cat. We need that solution, now."

"Right. Delgado out." Cat sighed and continued climbing down. I followed dutifully, stopping which she caught her uniform skirt on one rung. She wobbled a moment, muttering something under her breath, and resumed climbing down. "We're almost to Deck 22," she said. "Then we'll cut across and take another access shaft down another ten decks."

"Oh rapturous joy," I muttered.

We exited into a corridor and began jogging down it. I was keeping good pace but I thought Caterina was having some problems with it. "Not used to this, eh?"

"Not... really," she admitted.

"Well, you probably should...."

Caterina's comm beeped again. It was Robert. "Yes?"

"Is the Doctor there? One of the spatial instabilities appeared on [I]Koenig and Zack's having problems with it.[/I]"

My stomach twisted. "Oi. What horrible monster is tearing his ship up?"

There was a pause. Evidently Robert was speaking with Zachary on another comm line. "Well... it's not attacking, it's just... distracting. A lot, Zack says. The thing just keeps prancing around talking about... really? Parties?"

A vague suspicion crossed my mind. I put a hand on my forehead. "This wouldn't happen to be a... quadruped, would she?"

"A talking pony, yes."

"....is she pink? Wait, stupid question, I already know the answer. Can you patch us through to Koenig? Open audio."

"Patching you through now."

I gritted my teeth and forced a friendly tone over my exasperation. "Let me guess. Pinkie Pie, is that you?"

Not a second passed before a very excited female voice came over the commlink. "Oh, Doctor! You're here too?! What is this place, there are so many of these two-legged people around and it's really dreary-looking and all of these red lights are...!"

I forced more joy into my voice. "Uh... Pinkie... I know you terribly enjoy being friendly, but could you... sort of... remain quiet for the time being. We're trying to stop a knot of space-time in the interuniversal barrier from destroying part of Reality."

"Really? Are you sure I can't help?! Because that sounds really bad and..."

"This is a.... Doctor-y thing, Pinkie. It's very spacey-wacey and timey-wimey, I'm afraid it's not something you can really help with. I suppose that you could go make tea for everyone to have a party after we save Reality from going splort."

"Oh! That's a really good idea!"

"Right. Go on ahead. And I'll make sure to see if I can get you some of that Qi'tri'naya tea you so enjoyed on my last visit."

"You promise?!"

I nodded, though she couldn't see me. "I do promise."

"Alright! I'm off to set up the party!"

There was silence on the line for a moment. And then I heard another voice, presumably Zack's, say, "Well, I knew we'd see strange stuff out here, but I never imagined..."

"Thankfully, Commander Carrey, there are plenty of strange things that are perfectly benign," I said. "It's not always monsters and grib-.."

There was a sudden crash down the hall. One of the doors was forced open from the inside, bent out against its frame and allowing a big, hulking, nasty thing to force its way out into the corridor. It - no, he - turned toward us with hazed, angry eyes. There were only a handful of teeth left in his mouth, but they sparkled. They were diamonds, after all.

"Doctor..." Caterina's voice became almost a squeak. "...what is that?"

"Troll," I answered. "A Discworld troll. I believe his name is Cobbly."

Cobbly. The enforcer for a gang of unlicensed thieves that had vexed me on my very first visit to Ankh-Morpork on the Discworld. He showed no signs of more than basic stupefaction at his change of location. That wasn't surprising, though; I got the feeling that Cobbly's brain had been reduced to the consistency of porridge by all of the Slab and Slice and Slam and those other Troll drugs that his human partners kept giving him.

He growled in inarticulate, drug-induced aggression and hefted his club, which smacked against the ceiling of the corridor.

So I did the only thing I could do.

I grabbed Caterina's wrist and pulled her along with me, screaming, "Run!"
”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-13 10:05am

Being chased through a starship by a rampaging, drugged-up Troll was not on my list of things I wanted to do today. For that matter, neither was racing to prevent a bubble of unnatural space-time stuck in the interuniversal barrier from undoing large sections of what we like to call Reality. And doing so in the company of the crew of the Starship Aurora, whom I was uncertain about would later realize were creations of my own mind, that just added to the weirdness scale.

I would have rather been bored out of my mind at the poolside under Liara's enforced vacation.

Probably.

Maybe?

.....alright, maybe not, that was pretty boring.

But either way, I was now being chased through the corridors of the Aurora by Cobbly, a drug-addled and drug-addicted Troll I had once run into back in my first visit to Ankh-Morpork. Nor was I alone, as I was pulling along a frightened and bewildered Caterina Delgado. Lieutenant Delgado, that is. Aurora's science officer and the most enthusiastic scientist girl I'd ever know. With the sole exception of Abby Sciuto, maybe.

She had also been the template in my head that my TARDIS had used in generating her holographic appearance whenever she interacted with me directly. And since the two shared at least that aspect of their personalities, I suppose I felt like I was indeed running along with my TARDIS herself.

Cobbly let out a yell and forced his way through the narrow - to him anyway - corridors of the Auora, smacking up against the bulkheads repeatedly as he did so. If he caught us, well... even if I had any regenerations left, I'm not sure I'd survive anyway. Trolls can be nasty with their clubs.

And they can be deceptively fast too. As it was, we were staying a step ahead because Cobbly had so much trouble with the corridors' width.

"Wait!", Caterina shouted as we reached an intersection. "The biological sciences lab, it's this way!" She pulled me toward the indicated direction. Or rather tried. One of the drawbacks to being a cute little geeky girl - well, twenty-one year old - was that you didn't have a lot of muscle mass.

"What?"

"Trust me!"

We ran down toward the indicated door. Caterina ran over to a control panel. "Lure him over to that square!", she said, indicating an area off to one side, not quite against the wall. After she said that she started working furiously. "I need to divert some power."

Before I could inquire or protest Cobbly pressed his way through the door, bending it out of place. He brought his club up and I had to jump back to avoid getting smashed. I rolled to my feet and brought the sonic disruptor up. I tried the neural disruption setting and got... precisely no effect. Again, I doubted he had much of a brain left given all of the drugs. I hastily switched to my deflector shield setting just in time to catch his club. I thought my shoulder was going to come off from the impact.

Which explains why the second impact ripped the disruptor from my hand and sent it skittering across the floor.

Cobbly roared again. After he did so, Cat shouted, "I'm ready!"

With no superior alternative, I fell back toward the aforementioned square. Cobbly kept swinging, repeatedly slamming his club to the deck and registering a loud crash with each blow. And I kept backpedaling until I hit the wall.

Cobbly roared and charged ahead, looking to crush me against the wall.

He crossed into the square on the way. Blue light appeared at the base of it after his feet had both crossed into it. Blue energy crackled into appearance and stopped Cobbly's charge cold. He fell onto his arse with a confused grunt. He started gazing around and reached out to another side of the square. More energy resisted him.

"I'm shoring up the forcefield to a full quarantine-level field," Caterina said. "That should hold him."

I smiled as I stepped around the square. "That was..." I walked up to her and took her shoulders. "Caterina, oh, that was quite brilliant. Quite brilliant indeed."

Her cheeks turned into an adorable pinkish red. "Th-thank you," she said shyly.

""Well, now that we have that settled..."

There was another violent shaking of the ship, above that normal minor shake from weapons not getting past the shields. "Spatial instability spiking again!", Caterina said. "Hold on!"

We tried, grabbing onto consoles to keep ourselves standing. We succeeded.

Toward the end of the shaking, the power in the lab nearly went out. The lights flickered repeatedly before staying on.

The forcefield also flickered. And it did not stay on.

Cobbly turned toward us as the field failed. He growled in anger and hefted his club again.

"Here we go ag-."

Before I could finish, another voice called out, shouting "Down!" Cat and I dropped to the floor and I looked up to see a man in combat armor standing in the wrenched-open doorway. He held a rather large particle weapon in his arms.

By the time we hit the ground he had gotten his aim on the troll and fired. A thick beam of blue energy erupted from the machine and speared the Troll head on. Cobbly screamed and fell onto his arse. There was a giant smoking mark on his chest, still red hot from the particle blast. He made a noise before falling backward, unconscious, the impact on the deck making the entire deck seem to vibrate.

"You almost killed him," I noted, feeling a bit irritated.

"I thought I would," the man said. "This is an anti-vehicle weapon." He nodded to me and extended a hand to help me up. I looked him over. The uniform was mostly olive brown with black trim and the same rank insignia as a senior lieutenant on his collar. The man's eyes were a light blue and his hair a lighter shade of the same color, almost wheat-like in its coloration. "Commander Carter Kane, Marine Corps," he introduced himself as.

"Commander Kane." I accepted the hand, allowing the name to circulate in my head a little. There was something... familiar about it. Looking at his rank insignia I saw he was most likely a Captain, but it was understandable to amend the rank used.

"We need to get to deflector control," Caterina told him.

Kane nodded and shifted the weight of his weapon. "Secondary shaft, then. The primary shaft has some kind of... goo creature."

"A Ti'ma'tani," I moaned. "Nasty things. Like to kill you slowly and eat you when you get all runny. Keep it contained with fire, once we're done with the space-time bubble I'll see what I can do."

Kane nodded. "This way."

We moved along the beam of the ship now, heading toward the aforementioned secondary hatch. As we approached it, coming up on the main corridor leading to the hatch, Kane began to speak. "I've got a security team waiting for us there," he said, "and one of my platoons is waiting for you on Deck 32."

"That's good," Caterina said. "Because who knows what nasty..."

"Oi, please, don't jinx it!", I protested.

"Jinx what?"

"Our journey," I answered. "You're just begging for something to happen."

"Don't worry, Doctor," Kane said. "Our people can handle anything that..."

There was a scream in the distance. And a single armed figure flew wildly across the corridor, moving along the top of the T our corridor was the stem for.

"See?", I lamented. "This things happen all the..."

I felt the energy ahead due to my Time Lord senses. It was... cold. Angry and nasty. I swallowed. I knew this.

A figure came around the corner, lightning crackling around his fingertips. Angry red eyes shined like coals at us. He wore armor, marked with a respirator system on the chest, hooked to the plate over his mouth and lower jaw.

"Doctor," he said, his voice not too deep but scratchy from the growl within it. "I have been looking forward to this."

Bloody hell.

It was Darth Malgus.




The battle between Aurora and the Kromagg had entered an uncertain phase. Both ships had disengaged and were focusing on repairs and dealing with the unexpected problems of the spatial instabilities dropping annoyances into their ships.

Robert had his finger on the intercom button. "Bridge to Engineering. Mister Scott, any estimation on that conduit repair."

"She's well and truly blown out, Captain," was the reply in the obvious Scottish accent of the ship's chief engineer and co-builder, Montgomery Scott. Yes, that Montgomery Scott. Nicholas Locarno had company when he joined with Robert and the others. "It'll take my crews hours tae put th' conduits back together."

"How many hours, Mister Scott?", Robert asked, exasperated. "Or is there a way to divert main power? We're going to need it before this is over.""

"I've got a few ideas, sir. I'll let ye know when they're in place."

"Excellent news. Bridge out." As the channel cut the ship shook again.

"Shields are down to twenty percent," Jarod warned. "We'll lose shield cohesion soon."

"Status on the Kromagg ship?" Robert watched on the viewscreen as another barrage of phaser fire from the ship's starboard-mounted weapons sapped at the red energy of the Kromaggs' deflector shields.

"Hard to say with how their covariant shield is set up," Jarod answered. "But I'd say they're still at about thirty-three percent effectiveness. Koenig is at sixty percent."

"Fighter status."

"They're down to twenty. Commander Laurent says he's lost about twenty so far."

"We're winning in that department at least," Robert sighed.

The ship rocked again. "Shields down to fifteen percent. Damage in several sections, Decks 6 through 24 and 27 through 34."

"You've got to let me go weapons free," Angel urged. "It's not going to do us any good if they blow us up."

Robert bit into his lip. "Jarod, that covariant shield. You and the Doctor seemed to think it has weaknesses."

"It does," Jarod answered. "But the sort of energy fields we would have to utilize to destabilize their shields will only make the space-time bubble more unstable."

"Think of something then. Because at this rate," Robert said, "we're going to be blown up even if we do go weapons free."




I pulled the sonic screwdriver out of my pocket, ready to deal with Malgus as I'd done at our first encounter.

But before i could activate it, his hand swept up. A powerful force ripped my tool from my hand. "You will not get to use that again," Malgus swore. He motioned with the other hand and pulled away my sonic disruptor. "This time, you will die. And the Sith Empire will know vengeance."

"Fire in the hole!", Kane shouted, triggering his particle cannon. Blue energy erupted from it once more.

Malgus dived under it swiftly and came back up, lightning crackling in his hand. It shot out and seized Commander Kane. He let out a pained cry and flew backward.

"Run!", I shouted to Cat. "Get to deflector control, I'll follow when I can!"

She turned to flee.... and stopped. A gurgle came from her throat and I watched in horror as she lifted into the air and twisted around. Her legs kicked wildly in mid-air and her hands went to her throat, trying to stop the invisible force crushing her throat. "You... care for this one, don't you?", Malgus said, his voice turned coldly mechanical by the respirator mask over his mouth. "Then I shall have you watch as I draw the life out of her. Only then will I permit you to die..."

I moved toward my nearest sonic device by way of answer. As I scrambled across the floor I felt it. The vise on my throat as Malgus' dark power reached for it. He held up both arms as his power gripped Caterina and I. I started to lift from the ground as well. While my own breath struggled to come through the grip of Malgus' power, I looked over to where Caterina was starting to turn blue, choking to death in Malgus' grip.

I couldn't let that happen. I had to save her. I had to save her.

I just wasn't sure how I'd do so in my current situation.

Thankfully, I didn't have to.

Malgus seemed to let up for a moment, showing some surprise. He let us go entirely a moment later when energy surged by us and slammed into him, sending him flying backward several feet. He rolled backward and got to his feet. We fell to the floor and landed on our knees. I sucked air into my lungs greedily and felt at my sore throat.

A woman stepped up to us. She wasn't tall or short, maybe around five foot ten. Her light brown hair was cut to just above the shoulder and her blue eyes looked down at us with concern and benevolence, showing a face that was slightly rounded but not wide. She wasn't in a uniform like the others, but rather dark purple body armor of some sort with a blue robe over it that matched the color of her eyes. The rank insignia of a Lieutenant Commander was affixed to the collar of her armor. Her eyes flicked back up to Malgus. "You have given yourself to darkness," she said simply. "And I will not let you harm them."

Caterina coughed. "Meri...dina?"

Of course. The ship's security chief, a Gersallian. Another race of aliens that look human. I could become snarky about that, but we Gallifreyans are the same, so I can't really throw stones, can I?

I sensed energy around Meridina, calm and serene. The same energy that Malgus had undoubtedly sensed. It was familiar to him, even if I thought it was slightly different. "Jedi", he spat.

Meridina shook her head once. "I do not know what you mean by that. I am Meridina, Swevyra'se of Gersal. I will not allow you to bring harm to anyone else with your darkness."

"Probably easier to understand if you just say 'Life Force Knight'", I pointed out. "Hard for a lot of beings to get the right sound out of that, I mean."

Meridina quietly ignored me, taking a step toward Malgus, the tension I felt in her steps nothing more than the natual tension of a body preparing itself for a harsh battle.

Malgus pulled his lightsaber loose from his belt. It came to life with a snap-hiss of sound and a blood-red beam. Cat stared at the humming weapon, so sinister in Malgus' hand.

Meridina's hand went to an object on her waist, a hilt. She held it out and I heard the soft click of her thumb hitting a switch. For a moment, gray matter seemed to flow in a straight, controlled line out of the hilt, as if through an invisible field of force to keep it contained. There was a metallic sound and the matter became solid, forming a two-sided blade that looked like it was good for stabbing and slashing alike. Ah. Memory metal. Quite useful, if you ask me.

I could see it was not just a sword, though. Not from the way it was giving off EM readings. Although mostly invisible to the naked eye, I could feel the subtle energy its EM field was giving off. With that field the sword could reflect many energy weapon types. Including, I realized, the containment field for the lightsaber in Malgus' hand.

"Do what you must," Meridina said to us. "Leave and do what you are needed to. I will hold this creature of darkness from pursuing you."

"He's extraordinarily powerful," I warned her. Even as I did so, I could see it in her eyes. She knew Malgus' power was stronger than anything she had ever faced. She knew she was in the fight of her life.

But there was no fear in her eyes. Only resolve. I could sense the emotion in her, the feelings of a duty to be met, of darkness to be confronted, that was so central to her being that she could not back down in the face of Malgus.

Before I could say anything else, Malgus leapt at us. Meridina shot forward, her sword - what was it called again? A likes, lukesh.... lakesh, yes! - up in a parry position that caught Malgus' lightsaber and deflected it away. He wordlessly brought the blade around and attacked again, just to be parried once more. The memory metal blade was light enough that she was able to intercept Malgus' aggressive attacks with his lightsaber. I wasn't sure how well it'd stand up to the lightsaber over time, but I didn't dare try to disrupt the technology with the sonic screwdriver. Not only did I run the risk of possibly disabling the electromagnetic field over the lakesh, I also had the strong suspicion that Meridina might not fare as well in a raw conflict of metaphysical strength.

That just left the other, more pressing point. Namely, the entire part of the space-time bubble that was threatening to tear holes across multiple universes from within the interuniversal barrier.

It was a similar calculation that forced me to leave behind Kane as well, unconscious as he was. I took Caterina by the arm and led her away from the constant humming and swishing of the duel between Meridina and Malgus. "We'll have to find an alternative path to that access hatch," I told Cat, since the battle of Force-users - if one wanted to consider Meridina to be a Jedi-by-another-name, anyway - was between us and the hatch.

She nodded. "We'll cross over to Section P and take another hall up, past the engineering labs."

"Sounds good to me," I breathed.

And so we ran on, even as the shaking of the ship around us grew more violent.

The shields were failing.




Around that time was when Jarod made the announcement on the bridge that they had all been dreading. "Shields down to ten percent. We're getting almost sixty-six percent bleedthrough hitting the hull."

"I'm trying everything I can to reinforce them," Barnes added, before Robert could ask. "But that's the best I can do!"

"Jarod, Tom, I need options," Robert growled.

It was probably a good thing they had Jarod along. Definitely the next best thing to a Soong android, or a Time Lord for that matter. Within seconds, I imagine, his brain was already running through the final calculations. "Tom, get ready to focus all shields to the dorsal side."

"Sure. Why?"

"Because I'm going to modify them to give off a countervariance to the Kromagg shields," Jarod announced.

"Meaning?", Robert asked.

"You're turning our shields into a cutter field," Locarno said from the helm, glancing over at his shipmate. "With the right countervariance frequency... you'll overload their entire shield grid. You realize I'm going to have to nearly scrape the hulls together for that to work, right?"

"That's why I thought it possible," Jarod answered, returning the glance. I could imagine the bemused smirk on the older man's face. "I'm not sure any other helmsman for this ship could pull it off."

"And if it doesn't fully overload their shield grid?", Locarno asked.

"At the very least it'll give Koenig and our fighters an open shot at their hull," Jarod said. "I've been compiling scans of the Kromagg ship, I think I can give us a clean shot to cripple them without making their entire ship go up."

"How much of a chance either way?", Robert asked.

"I... can't say," he answered after a moment of consideration. "I'd say no more than one out of ten that we'll blow them up completely anyway."

"Right." Robert drew in a breath. I can easily imagine the conflict in his expression, given the stakes at hand. The warring need to consider the needs of his crew and protecting untold numbers of beings from having their homes ripped apart in dimensional bedlam. "Feed the tactical data to Koenig and our fighters. Angel, you take other targets with whatever we have."

"Locking on now," Angel said.

"We're taking up formation with you," Zack said over the ship-to-ship comm.

"Alright, Nick." Robert nodded at him. "Time to show us more of that fancy Starfleet flying."

"Fancy Starfleet flying, coming right up," Locarno said, smiling slightly as he did so. His hands went to the engine controls.

Aurora twisted about and fired her impulsors, moving straight toward the Kromagg ship. Under Locarno's control she accelerated while the ship started shuddering about them. Sparks erupted from one of the auxiliary consoles in the back, but it was unmanned so no one was hurt. "I'm transferring shield power now," Barnes said. "Otherwise we won't have the power to make this work."

"Steady...." Robert said.

Behind them, the Koenig and the remaining flights of Mongoose fighters moved into formation, ready to pour their firepower into the Kromagg ship when it was vulnerable.

I don't think I can easily do justice to the sheer difficulty of Nicholas Locarno's job at this point. The Aurora, given her size, was not a ship so nimble as to stop or maneuver easily. He had to run her within a handful of meters, really feet, of the Kromagg hull, as the Kromagg ship was moving, and keep his maneuvers just right to avoid a collision or being too far away. The Kromagg ship veered away, trying to avoid what they presumed was a suicide run. Locarno used that against them, maneuvering to force them to twist and bank away, and allowing him to re-orientate the ship to draw its dorsal side within feet of the belly of the Kromagg vessel. "Range is two kilometers," he said, the Kromagg ship looming larger on the screen. "One point five. One. Seven fifty meters. Five hundred!"

"Diverting all power to the shields, shifting them to the countervariance frequency!", Jarod added.

"Two hundred!..."

Locarno didn't bother stating when they were moving right alongside the Kromagg ship. A last minute thruster firing kept the Aurora's port side from slamming into the Kromagg ship's belly. Red and blue energy met and sparked around the closest points between the ships. The red light gave way to the blue, like butter being sliced by a hot knife. At Angel's direction, phaser strips vented amber fury into the undefended belly of the Kromagg ship, cutting like scalpels against the points Jarod had lined out. Koenig followed in their way, her phasers blazing, and missiles from the Mongoose fighters struck out and went into the wound in the Kromaggs' shields, taking out weapon emplacements and other vital points in fiery explosions.

As they moved beyond the Kromagg ship, Jarod's voice lightened considerably. "I'm picking up major reduction in their power readings!"

"We've scored multiple direct hits on the positions Jarod laid out," Angel confirmed. "They've got a lot of hull breaches."

"Power fluctuations increasing," Jarod said. "Their weapons are going offline. I think we did it.... their shield grid has overloaded completely and is taking their electrical system with it."

"Put me on, then," Robert said.

"Opening a channel."

Robert waited for the confirmation tone before beginning. "This is Captain Dale to Kromagg ship. Listen, you're crippled. We don't want to hurt you. Just stand down and we can work together to get out of..."

"I'm picking up an energy spike in their systems." Jarod's voice turned tense. "And a neutrino spike. I... I think they're bringing their IU drive system online."

Robert looked back and nodded harshly at Angel, who nodded a reply and started firing again. "Listen, please!", Robert pleaded. "If you activate that drive, you could doom us all, and untold worlds beyond us! Your own homeworld might be destroyed! Just work with us and we can all go home..."

"I can't seem to knock their IU drive out," Angel said. "They keep transferring power and..."

"Neutrinos are at critical level. I'm picking up a wormhole formation!"

"Whatever you have to do, stop it!", Robert shouted. "Whatever you have to..."

All Jarod could say was "Too late" as the red wormhole formed along the bow of the stricken Kromagg ship It tried to accelerate toward it.

It never got to the wormhole. Energy spiked around it and lashed out in all directions, including that of the Kromagg ship. Within seconds it was blown apart.




Cat and I were about to enter the secondary hatch, having gone the long way around with the sounds of Meridina's desperate battle with Malgus ringing in our ears. I finished opening the hatch when the wave of pure nausea washed over me. Everything felt... wrong. Unnatural. Twisted and distorted.

My face showed my discomfort. Cat looked from where she was starting to climb in. "What is it?", she asked.

Even as she did, I realized I knew. I could feel the... wrongness of the space-time around us. "We're too late," I muttered.

"Doctor?" Caterina slid back out and looked at me with a worried expression. "What's wrong?"

"We're too late, Cat," I repeated. "The space-time bubble is expanding. Our plan won't work."

Her face paled. "Are you sure? I mean..."

"i can feel it," I said. "I can feel the space-time filling with energy. I... I think the Kromagg ship was destroyed, or tried to activate its interuniversal drive. But either way, it's causing the bubble to expand. We're going to start taking in planets and stars and even more ships...."

Cat looked terrified for a moment. But a look came to her hazel eyes. I could she was still terrified, having seen Red Court vampires and drugged up Trolls and a powerful Sith Lord who had tried to strangle her to death. But there was something else there. A spark.

No, not a spark. A flame.

Cat... she wasn't ready to give up.

I felt one of her hands gently take mine. "It's not too late," she said. "We'll still find a way to stop this."

"I'm not sure there is any way, not without..." I swallowed. Could I do it? Could I say it?

Could I explain how the only option left was to destroy the Aurora, and perhaps everyone aboard her, to save Reality?

I didn't want to have to sacrifice the Aurora crew, not here and now, not when they had so many grand accomplishments awaiting them in their futures. I couldn't bring myself to that thought.

It wasn't right.

It wasn't fair.

"We'll find a way," Caterina urged, impassioned tears in her eyes. "I know we will. Please, come and help us. Together we can do this! I can't let it end here, Doctor! Please! Not when there's so much more for me to see! So many things I have to discover out here! I... my time can't run out here!"

I took in a breath.

And... I smiled.

Because... I could imagine my TARDIS saying the same thing.

"Yes," I said. I pushed aside what I had been thinking. All of the rules of how these things are supposed to work, the rules that said that the Aurora and Koenig had to be destroyed, and soon, to ensure the bubble collapsed. The rules that told me that I was being foolish and selfish, that I was going to endanger creation to save not even a thousand people.

The rules said I couldn't do this any other way.

But I'm the Doctor. Nobody tells me what the rules are. No, not even the rules themselves.

I felt my mind race, options presenting themselves, the exotic nature of our predicament forcing me to expand my considerations as I tried to imagine remedies that the rules dismissed as unsafe or unlikely. "Take me to Main Engineering!"

"Sure." She noticed my lifting spirit and smiled. "What is there?"

"Among other things?" I felt my smile grow. "A miracle worker. Because right now, we need a miracle."

And I intended to have one.




On the bridge of the Aurora , Robert was watching the effects of the ill-planned Kromagg escape attempt. The Kromagg ship had been blasted to bits by the energy release of their slider drive. And where there was once just starless blackness in the artificial space-time, now riotous colors were criss-crossing it, all from the point where the Kromaggs had tried to generate a wormhole. "Jarod, that light show..."

"It's all the energy from the Kromagg ship's failed jump," Jarod answered. "The pocket's growing and so is the instability."

Robert swallowed. "Can we activate the warp engines? That will collapse the pocket."

"Not anymore," Jarod sighed. "The pocket's growing too big."

"What if we fired our warp field at the same time?" Zack asked over the comm line to his ship, the Koenig.

Jarod ran the numbers. "It's possible, if we do it within the next ten minutes. Koenig will need to be toward the other end of the bubble to ensure the effect is wide-scale enough."

"On our way."

Robert pressed the intercom key on his chair. "Bridge to Cat. How far are you from deflector control?"

"We're on our way to Main Engineering now," she answered. "The Doctor says the old plan won't work now."

"Is there a new plan, yet?"

There was a brief pause. "We'll know when we get there!", I shouted back.

"You've got...." Robert looked to Jarod, who mouthed a number at him. "About twenty minutes. Otherwise we'll have no choice but to power the warp drives to destroy this bubble."

"We heard you," Cat said.




Cat led me into Main Engineering. It was a rather impressive site; with its large ship status master display, numerous secondary ones, and of course the banks of naquadah reactors that powered the vessel's main systems. Numerous beings were present, about half of them Human or at least Human-looking, but with several Dorei of varying complexions and some members of an avian species. Alakins, I thought. Marvelous people, those Alakins.

And they were all listening to the same man. He was a bit on the stout side, given his advanced age, a head of gray hair and a gray mustache to go with it. Given his preference for the engineering uniform with a black vest, well, I would know that face anywhere regardless. "Ah, Mister Scott, an enormous pleasure!", I called out. "I always meant to tell you I enjoyed that bottle of Aldeberan whiskey we shared at Cayere Station!"

That got me a look. "Sir, I dinnae think we've met before," he answered in that always-enjoyable Scots accent.

"Oh, right. Different fifth dimensional track. So sorry," I quickly said. "Forgot about that. Anyway!" I clapped my hands together. "We need a miracle, Mister Scott, and as you are the resident miracle worker I thought it best to start with you. And don't even start with that whole 'I cannae change the laws of physics', because we both do that frequently enough."

Scott stared at me for a moment. "I'm a bit busy, sir, if ye might notice. I'm not sure what can be done for ye."

"Well, it's too late for my original plan to shunt this entire pocket into subspace. It's far too big. And if we let it stay, it'll start tearing space-time apart. Right now our only choice is to allow that to happen or to fire up the warp drives and collapse the space-time bubble with them, which would destroy everything in the bubble." I clapped my hands together. "But I prefer to believe that with the two of us and this fine young lady-" I appropriately indicated Cat "-we might determine a solution. First, do we have any readings from the bubble? That could be rather useful..."
”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-13 10:06am

"....see, it willnae work," Scott lamented, indicating the simulation. "We cannae cause a sufficient contraction tae th' space-time pocket with th' power we have left."

"What if we modified the warp drive to...."

"I'm tellin' ye, it cannae work like that!", Scotty insisted. "Ye'll blow my wee bairns tae pieces and there's nae a thing tae be done about it!"

"Warp drives can be rebuilt, Mister Scott, and more easily than people or universes," I replied, looking over the specific data on the Aurora's rather impressive warp assembly. She was certainly a sprinter, utilizing four warp nacelles in a flat X arrangement. The warp field she could generate in the short term was quite powerful. Perhaps too powerful, for the purpose I had in mind.

"What if we... I don't know, channeled tetryons into the warp field when it generates?", Cat asked.

"I ken what ye're thinkin', lass, but it willnae do a bit of good. Not in this kind of artificial space-time."

"We're approaching this the wrong way," I said, as I noticed a new arrival come in from the port side entrance. Another young lady, with slightly frizzy dark hair that she kept in a pony tail. She wore one of their uniforms with the same beige coloring that Jarod and Barnes had been wearing on the bridge; engineering/operations then.

I do so love the colors for branch idea. No need to look for little accoutrements to the uniform.

"Lucy!" Cat went up to her. I could see she had a small cut on her neck and her pulse pistol was in her hand. "Are you alright?"

"I'll live," replied Lucy Lucero. As I recalled, she was one of the original crew recruited by Robert and his merry cohort back at the beginning of their extraordinary journey. Well, extraordinary by some standards, says the multiverse-traveling Time Lord. Or Human-turned-Time Lord. Whichever. "There were some men heading this way that looked like they came out of a Renaissance festival. But I'm pretty sure the swords were real. The crossbow was." She touched the wound on her neck and winced. "I got out of the way just in time."

"Weird," Cat said. "Any sign of who they were?"

"One of them was wearing this nasty insignia of a flayed man," Lucy said. "I wasn't really looking to ask them about it."

"Yes," I muttered. "Given the way things are going, that was likely one Roose Bolton. Nasty fellow. I once showed up at a wedding where he and the host were planning on murdering some of the guests. Terrible etiquette, made me rather cross with him. Of course, he was cross right back, and with that crossbow he nicked you with, I imagine."

At that point, I was seriously starting to wonder what was going on. Everything coming through was from a cosmos I had visited. That couldn't be coincidence.

"Well, I suppose it's a good thing I was carrying my pulse pistol," Lucy said. "So, Jarod says this is urgent?"

"We've got maybe ten minutes before the space-time bubble becomes too large to collapse or reverse," Cat said. "And right now the only way to get rid of it is to fire up our warp field and the Koenig's."

Lucy frowned. "But we're inside of it."

"Aye lass." Scotty nodded grimly. "That's what we're tryin' tae get around."

"Well, I'm not sure what I can think of that you three and Jarod can't," Lucy admitted.

"It might not be technical answers we need, not so much as intuition." I looked at her. I had the feeling I knew more about her potential than she did at the moment.

"Well..." Lucy sighed and seemed to think. "How does this work? I mean, space-time as we know it shouldn't be able to exist here. It's entirely artificial."

"Yeah, that's the problem," Cat said. "It's why it's going to start ruining normal space-time if we don't stop it. But the only way we can do that right now will destroy us too."

Lucy shook her head. "Well, maybe there's something else we can do. I mean, with the space-time being this small, maybe we can do something with the time part?" She looked at Scotty. "I mean, you told me about how you once cold-started the Enterprise's warp engines and caused it to move backwards in time."

"Aye," Scotty said. "But that's not somethin' I can just conjure up, lass. The system's too different."

"Yeah, but...." Lucy frowned. "I don't know, I just think that's the best approach to take."

"If we had more time we could examine it," Cat said, "but we don't have enough time. We need something that can work now." Cat looked at me. My silence had undoubtedly become evident. "Doctor?"

I admit I was deep in thought. Lucy's remarks were the cause. Not just what she said, but that she said them. There was something about the idea....

And then I thought of everything else going on. And in a moment of insight... it all made sense. I knew. I knew why all of these things were coming into this space-time bubble.

And I knew what had to be done to solve it, and to save the Aurora and her crew in the process.

"The TARDIS," I said. "The TARDIS is the key." I pulled out the remote control from my pocket and used it to summon the TARDIS. It materialized into the open space on the engineering deck floor, between the main control console for Engineering and the Master Systems Display for the ship. "Okay,," I said, "think of it. Your ship forms an interuniversal jump point with that lovely Darglan technology you have. As you go through, you intersect the sixth-dimensional path of the TARDIS. The resulting collision collapses the jump point, but the interaction with the TARDIS' dimensionally-transcedental field creates this big wobbly pocket of fake space-time in the transdimensional barrier. Have I lost anyone?"

"Not really," Cat said. "I mean, we already established that."

"I know, best to start from the beginning though, see where the facts flow." I clapped my hands together. "Now, consider this! Everything we've faced on the ship has come from places I've been before, people I've interacted with."

Cat looked at me, realization coming into her cute hazel eyes. "It's linked," she said. "It's... your ship, it's the... the catalyst. Something in it is causing these old connections, is using our current location in the trans-dimensional barrier to... to... bridge to other locations!"

Lucy exchanged a look with Scotty. "I don't get it," she admitted.

Scotty shook his head... and then stopped. A look of realization came over his face. "Th' bubble is bonded tae your ship, Doctor. That's th' key!"

"I still don't..."

"We don't have to destroy the bubble," Cat said. "We could... I don't know... alter it, undo it somehow. We manipulate the time part. Right, Doctor?"

"Exactly!", I crowed, stepping into the TARDIS. I could see her lights were dimmer than usual, some completely out, just as some of the control console was still dark. She had not repaired fully yet. That wasn't surprising, since her access to the Time Vortex was severely curtailed, robbing her of necessary energy. "Alright, listen, I need to set up a power transfer system. We're going to use your ship to give my ship a jump start."

"And then..?"

I turned back to Cat, my grin wide with the manic glee I often got when thinking my way out of tough spots. "And then, my dear Cat.... we get to the fun part!"

"An' just what wid ye be plannin' with my bairns, Doctor?"

"Time, Mister Scott!", I proclaimed. "I'm going to repeat your feat at Psi 2000. I'm going to shift us back in time!"

Now you're going to ask what the big deal was. My TARDIS is a time machine, after all. It could always go back in time.

But not back in its own time. Not back against its own timestream. The TARDIS and Time Lords create Fixed Points by their very presence, particularly in reference to themselves. I cannot undo my own actions or events, you see.

At least... not until today.

With no better alternatives presenting themselves, Scotty ordered his engineering crew to begin the process of setting up a power transfer system to shift the energy coming from the Aurora's banks of naquadah reactors into the TARDIS. Cat followed me into the TARDIS, curiosity and bewilderment written all over her face. "Time travel?!", she asked me.

"Oh, that I do all the time," I answered.

"But... causality... paradoxes and..."

"Deal with them too, occasionally." I looked at her, grinning my maniac grin. "That's why they call me a Time Lord."

"So time travel... it's not just a theoretical thing. I mean, the Darglan had entries about some temporal issues, but..."

I shook my head. "Oh, this is a shame, Cat. If only I had time to explain everything your geeky brain craves to know. Unfortunately... I'm afraid that's not quite possible."

"So, how does it work for you? I mean, you can't interfere in your own past, right?"

"Not unless I want time to go splort," I answered. "But, that's the beauty of it. Think a moment, Cat. Where are we?"

"We're..." She stopped. And she really put everything into thinking about it. "We're in the trans-dimensional barrier."

"Yes?"

"A space-time pocket formed in the barrier." The look on Caterina's face changed to show bewilderment and then some realization. "Where space-time... doesn't normally exist. Where it shouldn't exist."

"Right!... mostly, anyway, close enough for what we're doing." I started twisting knobs on the TARDIS, preparing it for what was to come next.

"So.... if space-time shouldn't exist... then there's no anchoring effect. We're outside causality." Cat's face brightened. "We're outside causality!"

"Relative to normal space-time, yes," I replied.

"So there is no paradox if you throw yourself back in time and undo our collision. No collision, no space-time pocket!" Cat did a little, enthusiastic hop. "That's... I never imagined! We're able to do that?!"

"Oh yes!", I crowed. And, well.... okay, a little white lie. I still wasn't 100% it would work, after all. "You'll go on your merry way, get to keep traveling, seeing new things!"

Cat squeed. Literally. It was this shrill, happy noise that was almost literally "Squee!". But then she stopped and her face fell. "But... that means... I won't remember you, will I? Our meeting will be undone."

I turned back to her and felt the somber expression come to my face as I did. I forced myself to nod. She was too smart to accept a lie.

"Will... will you remember me?", she asked, sadness evident.

At that, I smiled sadly. "Cat." I nodded. "I don't think I could ever be able to forget you." I went up and gave her a big hug. "I'll always remember you. My TARDIS, she'll make sure of it."

"Yes, I will," Cat said. Or rather... her voice said. Cat pulled away from me, her eyes wide, and she followed my eyes to where she was standing. Or rather, an illusion of her, a holographic projection, smiling with dimples and everything, in a "I'm a Geek Princess!" t-shirt and skirt that showed off thin, cute legs. "Hello, Caterina," my TARDIS said, in Cat's voice. "It's so wonderful to finally meet you."

"W-who a-are...."

"I'm the Doctor's TARDIS," she answered. "And he is my Doctor."

Cat turned back to me. "H-how? W-why?"

I smiled and leaned in close. "Time Lord stuff. My little secret." I winked. "Now, you'd better get to the bridge and let the Captain in on our plan, eh? We'll need you monitoring things at your station."

"R-right..." She forced a smile, but I could see she was still bewildered and astounded. "But... will I-I ever see you again?"

"I'm not sure. We're from different fifth dimensional tracks, TARDIS doesn't like traveling those lines," I answered. "However, I can promise you something."

"What?"

I kept my smile, but let it turn gentle and reassuring. "One day, Cat, you will meet the Doctor. And it will change your life forever."

Cat nodded and swallowed. "Right. One day." She turned and left the TARDIS.

I looked back to where the TARDIS projection had been, but she was gone. So I turned to the control center. "Couldn't help yourself, eh?"

I was answered with a little giggle.

At that point, Lucy and Scotty appeared at the door with the relevant connectors. "Come along, I need them here and.... over here."

I helped them fit them on. Once they were in place Scotty went to the door and shouted "Turn 'em on, lads!"

There was brief commotion in engineering and then power began to flow into the TARDIS engine.

I watched the readings show the TARDIS' power levels pick up. Even a battery of naqia reactors wasn't much compared to the power levels of a TARDIS, but it was enough for me to kickstart another vital system.

With the power flowing into it, the self-repair systems kicked into high gear. I watched, grinning, while her lights returned to normal and as the consoles came back to life. "There we are, girl," I muttered. "Drink your fill. We have some magic to do."

"We've only got a few minutes before the time-space bubble reaches critical size," Lucy said from outside of the TARDIS. "What do we do next?"

"For one thing, make sure Koenig is on her way back in. Then rig your deflector dish to channel a chroniton beam at the TARDIS at my mark. Oh, and..." I looked up as I reached for the three-dimensional flight controls. "Clear a path to the nearest airlock. Can't do an instant shift from inside the airlock."

"Right. We'll clear the nearest lift tube for you, it'll take you straight to the fighter hanger."

"Very good." I nodded and disconnected the power transfer connectors from the TARDIS. Lucy and the engineering team pulled them out. Once they were clear of the TARDIS door I started flying her through the corridors. Along the way I passed a few familiar faces, the most frightening of which was a bear. Well, okay, not just a bear, but a radioactive power armor-clad, acid-spewing k-bolt slinging Bragulan.

Long story about those lot. Suffice to say they're very nasty and don't like "Hew-mons" very much. And they liked me even less.

I found the turbolift shaft, which Lucy and Scotty had opened remotely for me. As I shot through the shaft I saw signs that the ship's systems were starting to stabilize, at least; Caterina was likely to be able to get to the bridge directly along a turbolift without trouble.

I emerged onto the fighter deck, avoided running into a damaged space fighter, and shot out the aft port that they used for landings. From my viewer I was able to get a nice, long look at the Aurora. In the distance, by my instruments, Koenig was returning. She would be in range soon enough, at least, given how she was pushing her engines.

Well, time to get to work. I moved the TARDIS to a spot off Aurora's bow and triggered my comm system, allowing a visual link. I could see the entire Aurora bridge. Much to my surprise, Julia was back in her seat, looking a little haggard but no worse for wear. Caterina was at science, where she belonged. "Alright everyone, did Cat give you the game plan?"

"She did," Robert confirmed. "Whenever you're ready, Doctor."

"Right." I hit a few more buttons and fired up the TARDIS engine. "Lay those chronitons on me.... now!"

Jarod began operating his console. "Triggering chroniton pulse."

The Aurora's deflector dish lit up with blue energy and a solid pulse of the same color shot out, blanketing the TARDIS. I looked on the instruments as the chronitons filled the TARDIS engine, hopefully giving me enough oomph to manage the backward shift in time. I pulled the main lever and listened to her began to VWORP once again.

"Increase the rate," I said, "I'm still not getting the levels I need for the transference."

"Increasing rate."

For several seconds we tried that rate, and then raised it. Every time we got closer to what we needed, but it felt like the goal was still just a smidgen too far away. I furrowed my brow. "Of course," I muttered. "The space-time bubble, it's taking a bit from the energy release, every time we hike the rate the bubble grows a bit more, setting the target we need higher."

"So you're saying it can't be done?", Julia asked.

"It still can be, but it's not as efficient as I hoped. We're going to need more power."

"We're already past our safe limits over here," Jarod said. "The deflector can't sent out more chronitons.[/i]"

"A good thing we're here." Zachary Carrey's voice came over the line next. I looked over to see Koenig come up to the TARDIS from another angle. "Magda, begin chroniton pulse."

More energy flowed out, and the TARDIS engine drank it up. I watched us get closer and closer to the threshold.

....but we were still just a bit short. Just a bit.

"We're at our max now," Zack said. "we can't produce any more."

"We're going to blow out the dish if we hike it any more," Barnes protested from Aurora.

"Just a little more," I urged.

"We can't!"

"Actually, we can," I heard Cat suggest. She looked back from her station. "We can channel other emitters to send out chronitons."

Robert looked at her. "Such as?"

Jarod's head went up. "The phaser arrays."

And that, in turn, prompted Barnes to turn. "What? How? Aren't they set up straight to the phaser cores?"

"But the phaser cores are connected to the rest of our power systems," Caterina pointed out.

"And we can send chronitons down the plasma stream."

"Are ye daft, lad?!" Scotty's voice came over their intercom. "Ye'll blow out our plasma conduits!"

"We just need them for a few seconds,", Jarod replied. "The longer we wait, the more time we'll need to focus them."

At that I nodded. "He's right. If both ships do that it'll work."

"It's our best shot." Robert nodded. "Get it started."

"Aye. Triggering it... now."

"Koenig here. We're doing the same."

I found a smirk coming to my face. It looked like Angel was getting to shoot me after all.

I watched and waited. After a couple of seconds Angel's hands went to her board. "Locking on and firing!"

"Firing!"

Solid beams of chroniton energy erupted from several of the bow-facing phaser strips on the Aurora, joined by the pulses coming from Koenig's pulse phaser cannons. i watched my display as the particle flow went up.

Closer... closer....

"We're getting warnings from the plasma conduits," Barnes warned. "Starboard conduit is about to go out."

"Switching to backups," Jarod declared.

"This had better work...!," Angel added.

So close...

I briefly looked at the other display again. Cat saw me do so on the other end. nodded to me and smiled. "Goodbye Doctor," she said. "I'm looking forward to meeting you again. Even if I won't remember you."

"The same here," I said. "There's a Multiverse of wonders waiting for you, Caterina Delgado. Go enjoy them."

And I felt tears in my eyes as I said so. A part of me... was jealous. Jealous of the fact that I wouldn't get to show them to her.

And, at the same time, profoundly happy she would get to see those wonders. And that she would indeed get to grow into the marvelous scientist and explorer I knew she would become.

The same thought was for all of them. Even if I didn't remember my connection to them, I knew enough about them to know what was awaiting them. It wouldn't always be easy. They would have to endure through trials, defeats, and crises of faith and conscience. They would stumble and they would even fall.

But they would overcome.

And they would do it together.

After all, they were a family.

"Goodbye everyone," I said. "And good luck!"

"The same to you, Doctor." Robert nodded and grinned. "Good luck out there."

And there was a green light on my other screen.

The chroniton levels were at optimum level.

I pulled the lever.

And with the help of the crews of the Starship Aurora and Starship Koenig, thanks to the extraordinary situation that had led to our meeting, I did the impossible.

The TARDIS raced back against its own timestream.

It was an interesting experience. This wasn't like the time I pushed against the timestream anchor to try and aid Korra against the Red Lotus. Even as the TARDIS moved smoothly, for a moment I saw it all again. Just for a moment, mind you.

And then... the TARDIS jolted and landed. I sucked in a breath. I hadn't realized I'd been holding it, waiting in anticipation to see if it had worked.

But it had.

Now I only had one thing left to check. It would fade shortly, given it had been erased from existence, but for just a few more moments my connection to the Aurora might still persist. I went to the communications station and used it to patch back in to the camera feed from their bridge.

They were there. Like when I had landed on the bridge. A look crossed their faces. "Jarod, that ride felt a little bumpy", Julia said. "Was there something wrong with the jump drive?"

"Nothing I can see... wait. Looks like there was a slight chroniton spike of some sort in the jump point."

"Did we time shift or something?," Caterina asked.

"Well, spatial destination is on target. We arrived at Leytam, Universe M4P2, as planned. Chronometer check verifies we haven't drifted temporally."

"Still, maybe you and Scotty should inspect..."

The video dissolved into static a moment later. The connection was gone.

"Doctor?"

I turned and watched Liara enter. She had on a one piece bathing suit of green and purple coloring, rather flattering if you ask me. I should probably take a picture of it so she can show it to Shepard when she goes back. "Hrm?", I asked.

She gave me a confused look. "Why are you smiling like that?"

"Hrm? What? Smiling? Oh, nothing, nothing really," I said.

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. "I thought you were leaving me behind."

"Oh, not at all," I lied. "Just.. checking some things."

"Uh huh." Liara's tone showed how much she didn't believe me. "So that explains the cuts in your jacket?"

I blinked and looked down. My suit jacket was torn from where the Red vampire had slashed at me. "Oh. Just... seeing if this one is worth salvaging."

"It isn't," Liara said. "A good thing we had so many replicated. Anyway." She gave me a friendly smile. "Since time at the pool bores you so much, I just talked to an archeologist who's heading back to a dig site on the other side of the planet. They're excavating some interesting finds over there."

"Really? Oh. Sure, sounds lovely," I answered.

"Let me get my things," she said, "and I'll be right back."

After Liara left I took in a sigh and walked over to the stairs, where I let myself sit down. The entire experience had left me drained and, frankly, I could probably use a vacation. A stop at this dig site, and then maybe I would join Liara for a dip in the pool and some fresh sunshine. It would do me well...

It would also let me have time to digest some... thoughts I had on this meeting. For one thing... it didn't make sense, why so many of the spatial tears - all of them possibly - had deposited beings or things that I had encountered previously. The Multiverse is so infinitely massive - ha! - that the chance of even one was fairly high. Having so many of them? That was... too much for coincidence. Something had drawn them there. Something involving me or my TARDIS. Sort of like a reverse of how all the Cracks I had been finding had, with one exception, brought forth beings from the cosmos of Gallifrey.

I wasn't sure why, but I had the deepest feeling I was going to want to know.

Finally, there was that whole feeling I had when I met the bloke with the particle cannon. There was something so familiar about Commander Kana...

Kana? No, it was Kane. My brow furrowed at that. His name was definitely Kartr Kane.

I blinked. I felt something... strange in my brain. Carter Kane was the man's name, I knew that. My memories are photographic. His name was Carter Kane.

But in my mind, another name came out. Similar, but different. Different connotations.

Kartr Kana.

Kartr_Kana?

I had thoughts. Some form of long distance communication. A meeting place on it, for people. And that name. Kartr_Kana.

Where? Where had this come from? Why had my mind drawn that connection?

Even as I thought that, I felt my mind grow fuzzy about it. About who or what Kartr_Kana was or what that name meant.

Was it... the box?

The door to the TARDIS opened and Liara came back in, wearing a brown leather jacket and khaki pants over her swimsuit, carrying bags on her left shoulder. She even had a fedora on her head. All she needed now was a whip and she'd look like Henry Jones Junior. Well, no, she'd be dressed like him... oi, you know what I mean. She gave me a look of intrigue. "Are you alright, Doctor?"

"Oh, me?" I nodded. "Oh, yes, fine. Just thinking of some things." I jumped up to my feet. "So, give me the coordinates and I'll have us to the dig site in just a second!"

She did so. And as I entered them, I put my thoughts to the side for the moment. I had more important things to do, like spending time with my Companion, and seeing new and interesting things.

Just like Caterina would want to.

And like my TARDIS loved, come to think of it. I imagined her standing here with me as I reached for the lever, and it was that thought that prompted me to shout "Tally ho!" when I yanked the lever.

This had been, perhaps, my most bizarre adventure ever. Yes, even more bizarre than the times I'd visited Equestria, or the Discworld.

I would come to find out that it had consequences for me far beyond the bizarre nature of the meeting, though. I had learned things. Things that would, when the time came, make everything clear.

I had come one step closer to finding out what had been done to me so long ago, before I became the Doctor.

”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-14 06:45am

Short 41 - Like Clockwork

I stepped out of the TARDIS with Liara following. "You said you wanted something different, right?", I said, after which a crash of thunder echoed overhead. I turned and spread my arms. "Well, here we are!"

Liara looked around. Admittedly the rocky surroundings were dreary looking, and the dark skies above made it even drearier. "And where, exactly, is this?"

"The Thunder Plains!", I declared. "Do watch your step."

There was another crash of lighting not far from us. "That sounds quite... unsettling," Liara said, having searched for the right word to use.

"Yes, well, we're right at the point where the frigid air to the north in Macalania hits the warm air coming from the south," I said. "It's turned the entire region into a persistent lightning storm."

"It reminds me of Hagalaz," Liara said. "Although would a normal garden planet be capable of sustaining such a lightning storm?"

"It is rather out there, I admit, but this world has some metaphysical properties," I answered. I pulled out my sonic screwdriver and waved it in the air, letting it scan the area. "Well well well.... look at all of that energy." I felt my brow furrow. "Quite a bit more than I expected, actually. There is something off around here."

A sound came to the periphery of my hearing. A clatter of metal... and then the thunder from above was joined by thunder from ground level, the familiar bark of firearms. Liara looked at me. "It's coming from over the ridge," she said.

We went over to the ridge line, my free hand already reaching for my sonic disruptor. When we got to the crest I dropped to my belly and peeked over it. There were figures in the gully below, fighting furiously. It looks like a couple dozen or so against three fairly capable fighters. I set the sonic disruptor down and pulled out my spyglass. It looked like it belonged on a pirate ship, but looks could be deceiving, it had some fairly sophisticated sensors built into it. "Well, well, what do we have here?", I murmured as I ran the spyglass over the battle below.

The three figures in the middle were near a metallic object of sorts, or at least a bit sticking out from a larger one buried underground. They were keeping their backs to each other. I zoomed in a bit more.

Ah. The redoubtable Gullwings. How intriguing. And a bit disconcerting. I felt a tad voyeurish looking at them. Especially Rikku. I would imagine she gets rather cold wearing that... I would call it a suit, but the only suit it came close to being was a birthday suit.

But what really intrigued me was the foe they were facing. I smirked. "Oh, how interesting. I was wondering about that lot..." I stood up and turned away. "I've been preparing for them too!"

I ran back to the TARDIS. Liara caught up to the door by the time I was on the upper deck of the control chamber, running along the wall to one of my storage lockers. "What are you talking about? Who?"

"Another threat I expected to find," I said, looking through my trunk. "Hrm, quantum destabilizer, no... dampening field dongly-thing... not that...." I went through the objects until I found what I was looking for. "A ha!" I fixed the belt across my chest like it was a bandolier.

Liara stared at me. "Those are water balloons."

"They are balloons, yes, but not just water balloons," I answered, making a face at her. I offered a belt. "Want one?"

Liara crossed her arms and, briefly, flared up her biotics.

"Point taken," I answered. At which I ran back out of the TARDIS, Liara on my heels and still wondering what was going on.

But I do so love keeping the mystery, sometimes.

This time I ran over the crest of the ridge, ignored a flash of light from a lightning bolt striking near me, and charged down the incline toward the three figures who were rather surrounded. I pulled the first balloon off my crossed belts over my suit and held it ready until I was in throwing range. "Oi, you lot! Up here!"

They turned toward me as the balloon flew from my hand. It came down on one, who reacted by holding up an arm and allowing a blade to stab the balloon and pop it. Crimson liquid exploded outward and coated the figure.

It stopped, seized up, and fell over.

"Anti-oil!", I proclaimed. "Not very good for you droids, is it?"

The gaggle of clockwork droids that were surrounding the Gullwings all turned toward me. "We require spare parts," one stated. It held up a hand that glistened with the edge of a blade.

"Don't you always?", I retorted. "And you think organic body parts fit the bill just fine. But I am afraid to say that those body parts are usually being used by the people they're attached to. And I am terribly unamused by your desire to cut them to bits for them."

"We need replacement parts," the droid said again. "They must be acquired."

Seeing as how my negotiations were going nowhere, I pulled another balloon loose and threw it at the droid speaking to me. It popped the moment it hit the droid and the anti-oil spilled all over its parts. It too seized up.

"Wait!" The high-toned voice could only be Rikku. "Who are you anyway?!"

"It doesn't matter right now." That was Paine, the young lady in mostly dark clothing who looked like she was on the line between withdrawn and depressed. She brought up a longsword from where she was holding it parallel to her leg and sliced at the droid I had just stunned. "Attack!"

The first droid I had coated in anti-oil was starting to recover, but it didn't get a chance to. Yuna was quick to show off how well she had adapted from running around with a big stick to pulling the Lara Croft routine with semi-automatic pistols. She handled them well enough, I suppose. I'm just not a fan of guns.

I drew back my arm and let fly with another anti-oil balloon, and then another. "You're enjoying this!", Liara declared from her place at my side, summoning her biotic power. She threw out a singularity that drew in two of the clockwork droids before they could get Yuna from behind. The former Summoner twirled around, her half-skirt at the waist flowing with her in the movement, and emptied her remaining clips into the droids.

"Of course!", I shouted. "I've been bloody looking forward to this!" I tossed another balloon.

There were only a couple dozen droids left, and I had balloons for most of them. Indeed, I was always hitting my mark.

Well... almost always. In one case Rikku, enthusiastically pursuing one droid moving toward Yuna's side, got in my line of sight and was soon covered in anti-oil. "Ewww! Icky!" She looked back at me and shook a dagger-clutching fist. "Watch where you're throwing those things!"

"Watch where you're running!", I retorted.

She promptly blew me a raspberry. As for the droid she had accidentally shielded, Liara got it first with a biotic blast that tossed it into the opposite incline of the gully.

Once the droids were all twitching, wrecked debris strewn across the Thunder Plains, Liara and I finished our descent into the floor of the gully. "Well, that always gets the hearts racing, doesn't it?", I said, exuberant from the rush. "A little adventure, a spice of action to liven the day!"

"I have had all of the 'adventure' I care to stand," Liara said to me.

We stood about ten feet away from the Gullwings, who finished catching their breath. Rikku looked down at herself and all of the anti-oil still clinging to her body... which of course was helpfully displayed by the fact that she was wearing a bikini and very short tool belt shorts. "Yuck, what is this stuff?!"

"Anti-oil," I answered. "Really gums up the works in clockwork droids and similar machines."

Liara directed a look at me. "Doctor... "

"Right. Sorry, I'm being rude, introductions are in order." I bowed my head. "I'm the Doctor, young ladies, and this is my traveling Companion, Doctor Liara T'Soni."

They were staring at her. And for good reason; though their world had non-Human species, none resembled the Asari. I really needed to find a way to let that holobelt function with her biotics.

I might have prompted them, but before I could Yuna bowed politely. "Doctor. I'm Yuna, and these are my friends Rikku and Paine."

"We're the Gullwings, Spira's best sphere hunters!", Rikku proclaimed, the introduction causing her to momentarily forget her being coated with anti-oil.

"You'll have to excuse Rikku," Paine added. "She's easily excited."

"Yeah I... hey! What do you mean by that?!"

I smiled at the antics. "Lady Yuna, a distinct pleasure and honor." I bowed again. "Now... what have we here?"

"Our ship detected sphere waves coming from around here," Yuna explained. "But all we found were those things."

"Yes," I said, ,looking about. "This is off the beaten track for the Plains, isn't it? You're probably the first Humans to have come close enough to be registered on the droids' sensors. They decided you would make useful spare parts."

"Spare... parts?", Rikku asked, her realization making her queasy. "You mean like..."

"Oh, heart, eyes, other organs that could help them try to restore their spacecraft," I explained, leaning over and scanning one. "As for these sphere waves of your's. If I had to hazard a guess, it's actually because the ship''s automatic distress signal operates on the same wavelengths as recorded spheres in Spira. Nasty little false positive you had there." After confirming the clockwork droid was completely dead I looked over its parts until I found what I was looking for. "Let's see... a ha! Just as I suspected. How fitting too."

Liara knelt down next to me. "What's fitting, Doctor?"

I smiled at her. "These Clockwork Droids, they're from the Julie d'Aubigny. La Maupin herself. She was a 17th Century French opera singer and swordswoman. Put on an excellent show of Tancrède, marvelous work. Rather early in my travels I introduced her to Janias and Camilla so Jan could get some swordplay pointers. She spent half the time trying to bed them." I coughed. "And she was also rather affectionate toward Katherine I recall... and toward Korra and Asami..." My brow furrowed. "Bit of a pattern there, I admit."

"Wait, you're saying there's no sphere here?" Paine, of course, was straight to business. "That we came all that way out here for nothing?"

"Well, I wouldn't say that," I answered. "You've helpfully informed me of why the Thunder Plains seem unusually active today." As if on cue, a thunder strike slammed into the ground nearby. I held my sonic skyward. "We've got a Crack, probably about a mile or so up, maybe. High enough to excite the natural storm formation from the Macalania and Guadosalam air currents striking each other."

Rikku responded with a confused, "A... crack? Crack in what?"

I almost responded to Rikku with snark about the crack threatening to appear if her shorts fell any further. But Liara beat me to the thought and made it clear, with a solid look, that I should probably avoid such juvenile humor. "In the Universe. Multiverse. Well, actually... you know, we'll stick with Multiverse. Six dimensions of space-time, cracked right through, and its letting off energy. Let this ship and its droids through as well." I indicated the field of destroyed clockwork droids around us. "So..." I narrowed my eyes. "Yuna, your group has an airship, correct?"

She nodded. "Yes, we do."

"Ah, good. Because we should close that Crack before it supercharges the storms and sends them on their way to start devastating your planet," I explained. "And having your airship lift the TARDIS up to it will make this far easier."

The three young ladies shared looks. "He did come to our rescue," Yuna pointed out to him.

"And the Thunder Plains are being really nasty today," Paine added.

"He covered me in gunk!", Rikku protested.

"Ah, it's anti-oil, washes right out," I said flippantly.

Rikku growled at me in reply, but Yuna was already getting on the radio back to the Celsius.




With the TARDIS secured on the airship's open deck, Liara and I journeyed to their main bridge. I walked to the port side stairs at the entryway and down to the main deck. Most of the technology looked reasonable. All pre-Sin Spiran technology, built very robust, hyperthrust electromagnetic vector drives and all the fun bells and whistles. And that bizarre motorcycle theme to it, complete with the motorbike-style piloting seat.

The Gullwing support crew, minus the Hypello fellow who always remained downstairs, looked up at us as we trod our way on deck. The ship shuddered a bit. "Lightning strike," Shinra noted. The child prodigy's voice had a mechanical tinge to it as it came through the speaker in his environmental suit. He looked like he should be on Arrakis, frankly. But Al Bhed did have a bit of a Fremen styling to them. Just a bit, mind you.

"We're definitely getting turbulence, I'm not sure how much higher we can go." That was from Buddy at what amounted to an operations station, to the port of the "biker" helm.

And then, of course, there was Rikku's brother. Known as "Brother." And he was already leering at Yuna - his cousin I will remind you - in a creepy way. He stopped doing so to direct his attention toward me. "Who is this anyway?", he demanded, his accent thicker than the others. "I don't like strangers coming on my ship and giving orders."

"And if that storm gets enough energy to expand globally, you'll like that even less," I retorted. "Now... you have instruments for detecting those sphere waves, yes?" I walked up to Buddy's panel and brought out the sonic. "Just a moment."

"Hey, what are you doing?!", he demanded.

"I'm modifying your scanner to pick up wider energy bands, it'll help us pinpoint the Crack's location. Oh, and it'll widen your ability to detect spheres by something around, oh, say.... over twenty times your usual range. Just so you can't say I didn't leave a gift."

The look of irritation on Buddy's face gave way to astonishment and gratitude. "Wow, really? You can do that?"

"Oh, yes," I said. "Just did, in fact."

"Right, so...." Buddy looked over his panel. "We've got a pretty big energy source coming from nearby. I'd say another four hundred meters in the sky."

"That would be it, I think."

"It'll also put us in the middle of the strongest cell," Shinra pointed out. "I'm not sure the ship can take it."

"Oh, I know she can, if we do a little something..." I walked over to his station. "Your ship's electromagnetic drive. We modify it the power flow a bit, change the charges..."

"...and it nullifies all the electrical charges building around it, re-directing them from the ship," Shinra finished for me. "Brilliant. I would have thought about it myself, of course."

"Of course you would," I said, playing along.

"So what do we do?", Yuna asked.

"You? You come with me, because I need extra hands."

"And what about me?!" Brother stomped up and flailed his arms wildly, in a fashion that was almost comical. "You can't just ignore me."

I rolled my eyes. "Don't I know it." I looked directly at him. "You? You do your bloody job, you go pilot the bloody ship and keep it steady! Like any good captain should, right?"

Brother stared at me for a moment before accepting the way out I offered. "Yes, of course. I will keep my ship in place! I am the captain!"

"Yes you are!", I answered, trying to sound excited and supportive and not to roll my eyes again. Instead I turned toward the exit and the lift beyond. As I went through the door, I couldn't help but call out, "And please, she's your cousin, stop being so bloody creepy!"

Liara gave me a punch in the arm for that, to show her disapproval with my bluntness. I grunted in acknowledgement.




Dark clouds willowed about us and the violent winds on the deck were quite resistant to our forward movement, driving rain in great sheets across the Celsius deck. Already the white light spilled out of the long Crack hovering in the sky was visible. "We really shouldn't be out here!", Rikku shouted. "It's really dangerous!"

"Ah, this is nothing!", I shouted back. "Standing on the deck of a Gy'toran windsailer during one of their typhoons, now that was nasty wind!"

"I don't even know what a Gyteran is!"

"Gy'toran, Rikku, not Gyteran!", I shouted back over the raging wind and rain. "Gyterans are little crab people, would sooner pinch your toes off rather than give you the time of day! Totally different!"

"Excuse him," Liara said politely. "He thinks he's charming when he talks like that."

"I am charming... not to mention very good looking!"

By this point we had fought to where I put the TARDIS on the deck. I opened her up and went inside. Water dripped off from the rain that was picking up. The others came in behind me and... well, think of how Yuna and Rikku dressed at this stage. Now imagine them soaking wet. Bloody distracting, it was.

I turned away from them before Liara could say anything and went downstairs. I returned with Crack-sealing equipment, complete with the new insulated hand holds and trigger guards after the unfortunate experience Ziva and Tony had been put into when firing them beyond the usual timeframe. I handed one to Yuna and went to hand one to Rikku when I noticed she was looking over a cabinet full of beakers. I thrust the device into Paine's hand and rushed over just as Rikku was holding up a vial full of dark liquid. I snatched it from her hand. "That is bloody dangerous, put it down!" I tapped a sign I'd put up reading "DO NOT TOUCH" on the cabinet.

"Why, what is it?", she asked, frowning and giving me a pouty lip.

I finished looking over the beaker to make sure it was still fully sealed. "It's darkspawn blood, and if you got it into your system it could turn you into one of those nasty things. They make your world's fiends look like fluffy little animals."

Rikku recoiled away. "Yikes."

"Anyway, you and Yuna will be firing this specialized energy emitters...."

Sometimes Crack-sealing can be interesting, epic, that sort of thing. Barely escaping danger. But this time there was nothing particularly interesting. I manned the vortex regulator, Paine was on fire duty, and Liara gave biotic protection to Yuna and Rikku while they did the fun part and avoided crossing the streams.

Once everything was done the Celsius made her way out of the storm cell, heading south until the sun shined again through the clouds. Below was the lovely vista of the Moonflow River and the settlements along it. "Rather more scenic," Liara said, giving me a snarky look.

"You said you wanted something different," I replied, just as snarky. We were drying fairly well in the setting sun.

"Doctor?" I turned and faced Yuna, who remained on the deck while the others went back below. "Thank you for saving Spira."

"Oh, it was nothing," I answered. I gave her a nod. "It's a habit of mind. Besides, I couldn't let your hard work and sacrifice go to waste, couldn't it?"

Oh, smart move there for me. A flicker of pain went over her face. I had just touched a raw nerve. Liara gave me a good elbow in the ribs. I stepped up as a tear fell from her right eye, the green one. I sighed and stepped up, offering her my hand. "It was my honor, Lady Yuna."

She put her hand in mind and we shook briefly. "What are you?", she asked. "What you have is more than even the greatest machina in the world. And I've never seen a race like your friend Liara."

I smiled gently at that. "I'm a visitor to your world, Yuna. I'm actually not Human myself, but rather I'm a Time Lord. We're a very advanced, very ancient species. I travel in my blue box over there, my dear TARDIS. Any point in space, any time."

"Any time..?" Her eyes widened.

"Yes."

"Then..." She stopped, but I could see the question burning inside of her.

I set a hand, gently, upon her shoulder. "You want to know if you'll find whom you're looking for. If you'll unlock the mystery of that sphere Rikku showed you."

Her eyes widened further. "How did you...?!"

"Time Lord, my dear. And I must keep some of my secrets, you understand." I winked. "Couldn't be a mysterious traveler of time and space without them." I breathed in a moment, thinking of the best way to say what I wanted to say. "If you keep looking, Yuna, you will get the opportunity to find what you're looking for. And to get him back."

Her eyes filled with hope. "Really?"

"Yes," I pledged. "And when you do, you should do two things." I held up a finger. "One... tell him to stop whining so much, it's rather irritating, and that he should appreciate you even more than he already does. Which, I admit, is a lot, generally. And secondly..." I held up the other finger. "For the love of Spira, make sure he doesn't just kick any old blitzball-looking item he finds. That can hazardous to a young man's health. You never know what nasty surprises the past leaves in store that look innocent these days, hrm?"

She made a confused sound for a moment, but then she nodded. I nodded back and stepped back to the TARDIS, where Liara awaited. Yuna called out one last goodbye and I returned it, upon which she went into the sliding door that took her to the ship's lift.

"You love giving your cryptic predictions," Liara sighed, but she was smiling.

"Well, I can't exactly tell her that yes, she'll get Tidus back, and then he'll blow himself up by kicking a bomb that looks like a blitzball, now can I?", I replied. "It all gets rather convoluted, honestly. Best to just leave hints and hope for the best. Although who knows?" I walked up to the TARDIS controls. "Maybe my girl will drop us off here again to help sort that mess out."

"No telling there," Liara said, grinning. "The TARDIS has a mind of her own."

"That she does," I agreed. At that point I reached for the TARDIS control and shifted us out.
”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-15 03:42pm

Episode 28 - Lesser Evils

You may have noticed a theme in this narrative by now. Namely, the Cracks, and the frequency in which I faced them. They were, indeed, getting worse.

i sat one day contemplating this while Liara picked up a few things from the Citadel. The problem indicated something severe, I knew that. They were a symptom to a larger problem. And I couldn't shake the feeling that they were tightly connected to my own origins, hazy as they were at the time. I mean, virtually every case of a Crack I had encountered had involved something coming through, and with an understandable exception - the Elves - all invaders coming through Cracks had been from the home cosmos of the original Doctor and of Gallifrey. Gelth, Silence, Sontarans, Weeping Angels, Clockwork droids... They all indicated the same pattern.

Liara stepped in to my library and swimming pool room, wearing a purple and red Asari jumpsuit. "I have everything I need," she said. "And I checked in with Feron to make sure everything was fine."

"Sounds good," I replied in a tone that I admit was dismissive and bland. I was so deep in thought I had barely comprehended what she said.

Liara leveled a look at me. "You sound distracted."

"Cracks," I answered. "The Cracks."

She nodded. "There do seem to be quite a few around."

"We've run into five in our time together," I said. "That's more than the Cracks I encountered in my travels with any two of my previous sets of Companions, Liara."

Liara looked intently at me. "That is concerning," she agreed. "Do you think...?"

I interrupted her before she could finish, saying, "I don't think anything right now." Rude of me, I know, and I should have known better. I just found the whole issue profoundly exasperating.

"Maybe we could find one that isn't an immediate danger," Liara suggested. "Then we could study it."

I almost rejected the idea out of hand, but stopped. It did make some sense. I had tried scanning some of the Cracks before, getting very little, and I was usually preoccupied with sealing them in order to prevent them from causing trouble. Taking the time to study one intently, to perhaps bring more sophisticated sensor equipment in to do so and glean more information?

"That is a very good idea," I murmured. I sat up in the chair I was in, knocking over a book on transdimensional phenomena written in some very fine Jutari, and rushed out. Liara followed me closely as I went to the control chamber. I went up to my scanner console and started adjusting settings. "I found a way to detect Cracks some time ago," I said. "Given that the TARDIS can tear them open if I'm not cautious."

"Any reason you haven't sought out more Cracks?", Liara asked.

"I was," I said. "Back when Katherine was my Companion. But..." I sighed. "I didn't do it full time, Liara. I was too busy taking Katherine places. And then she died and I was... preoccupied."

Liara nodded. She knew what I meant. "Well, let's try it."

"Right," I said, firing up the protocols involved. "Alright, let's see what we've got..." I looked over the screens, waiting to see if I got a result. "Nothing... nothing.... whole lot of nothing...." I kept muttering that to myself for a little bit, perhaps a couple of minutes, before I got a result. "A-ha! There we are!" I checked the coordinates.

Liara saw the look on my face. I knew it wasn't a nice look. I'm pretty sure I looked rather perturbed and upset. "What?", she asked. "What's wrong?"

"The Crack." I drew in a breath, unable to keep the worry from my voice. "It's in Republic City."




The TARDIS materialized amongst trees in the city's main park. I stepped up with my sonic screwdriver already held up, ready to scan. Liara followed me closely with her holobelt activated. "Do you think we'll find the Crack nearby?"

"No telling," I answered. "The margin of error is large enough to span the entirety of the city, and several miles above or below. Or even a few months in the future. "

We stepped out onto a footpath heading toward the park's open space. "I thought the scanner was accurate?", Liara asked.

"Something is interfering with it," I answered. "I wouldn't be surprised if it's the Spirit Wilds."

"Spirit Wilds?"

"They're a bunch of spirit vines and plants that have taken over parts of the city, due to a big bloody nasty spirit called Vaatu," I explained.

"Oh." Liara patted at her head. I scowled at her and she returned. "I'm not used to tactile sensation back there," she said defensively. The holobelt system added some hard light mass where the blue hair would be entering her scalp if it were real. This helped to keep her treatment of it authentic.

"Try not to call attention to it," I said, sighing. "I'm still not sure we have the movement algorithms down right."

"Maybe I should just appear bald?", Liara asked.

"That's a bad look on some worlds, best to not call even more attention to ourselves..." I advanced onward, but the scan was all wobbly. "Oh come on, work you bloody thing!"

"Maybe my omni-tool can help you..." Liara stopped and looked bewildered, as she tried to hear something. "What's that?"

I stopped and focused. "Shouting," I answered. "And rather angry sounding."

And like a bloody fool, I decided to check it out. I ran on and crested a hill to look out at the main field of the park.

For one thing, there was a really nice statue of Korra. Well made and crafted, the kind of monument anyone might want to have. I blinked. Raiko actually approved of it? The little weasel-snake of a politician had made it rather clear he saw Korra as more of a tool than anything, and I knew they didn't get along.

Of course, that probably meant he didn't care for the gunk that was being splashed over it.

There were two crowds, both wearing various types of clothing, but all with that same general look that spoke of Earth Kingdom ethnic affiliation in this world. Bullhorns bobbed amongst the crowd, as did posters and placards marked in Earth language logograms that the Gift of the TARDIS would translate for me as we got close enough to really make them out. Though both crowds had that similarity, there was something rather obvious in their form of dress. One crowd tended toward old-fashioned Earth Kingdom garments, the other toward a uniform, almost militaristic look.

I admit I scowled a bit upon confirming some of the posters the last group had. Indeed, even some of their dark green shirts showed the same; a picture. A picture of a young woman of striking features, dark eyes, and with eyebrows a bit on the thick side. The little beauty mole below her right eye was the detail that clinched the memory in my head, from newspapers I'd seen during my prolonged stay in the Southern Water Tribe some time ago.

"Supporters of Kuvira, I presume," I muttered to myself.

"Who is Kuvira?", Liara asked.

"She's a leader on this world, put together her own army to restore order to the Earth Kingdom after terrorists killed the Earth Queen a couple of years ago," I answered. "She has sponsorship from President Raiko and other world leaders, although they're already grooming another heir."

As I spoke, I saw another one of them throw something at Korra's statue. But this time it was intercepted by a rock, sent up by the other group - given the velocity, clearly from an Earthbender - that was setting up a protective perimeter around the statue. Though they were wearing more traditional Earth Kingdom garb, I could see they had some placards with another face. This one was of a man with strong features, prominent ones particularly for people of the Southwestern Earth Kingdom, and a universally long hair. He looked... well, frankly, he looked like be longed in the Hundred Year War era, not this one.

"And who's that?", she asked.

"Not sure. Trying to remember if I've seen him before...."

We slowed down as we neared the crowd. One chanted Kuvira's name when they weren't screaming abuse at Korra, the others were shouting abuse right back and chanting two names: Korra's, and another name: Xuandi.

Xuandi? I tried to think of where I'd heard it. I lived on this planet for about nineteen months and spent a lot of time providing technical advice and proposals to Tonraq for improvements to his city. You'd think I'd remember dignitaries from the occasional banquet or special dinner. Granted, I was in a bad place at the time, mentally...

And then the name finally rang a bell. I remembered it being signed to a general trade agreement Tonraq had asked me to double-check, mostly to ensure the promised quantities of mineral resources were sufficient for improving the Southern Tribe's quays and docks. Xuandi of Omashu.

King Xuandi of Omashu.

"Doctor..." There was a warning tone in Liara's voice. And for good reason.

Rocks began to erupt from the ground and on both sides, Earthbenders started to fling abuse at one another... and anyone to either side of them. I stopped our advance. "Alright, I think we should step back a bit," I said. "We'll let Chief Beifong and her redoubtable Metalbenders handle the crowd control."

We did start moving back. But, as it turned out... not nearly far enough.

One of the Earthbenders screamed something. I couldn't make out which side they were on. But they struck the ground and started really pulling at it, sending vibrations outward. People lost footing, save for other Earthbenders, and when I say people I include us. The ground seemed to tip out from under my feet and I staggered, grabbing for support from a park bench. Liara hit the ground back first and seemed to hit her head a bit on the way down.

This was a minor annoyance.

As we recovered, two very large chunks of rock - the grass still clinging to them, in fact - were torn out of the ground, one on each side, and the opposing groups threw them at each other. The massive boulders impacted, crunched, and being held in place by Earthbending, failed to fall apart but instead were torn from the benders' hands and went flying off by the accord of normal physics acting upon the energy granted the boulders.

One of them came straight for us.

That... was not a minor annoyance.

I scrambled for the sonic disruptor and called out to Liara, but she was still disorientated. There was no way she would be able to stop the boulder.

Like I said. Not a minor annoyance at all.







The fracas of squabbling Earthbenders had lost its interest in my focus given one of the results; that is, the giant bloody boulder that was coming at me and Liara, who was still struggling to even respond. I was already reaching for the sonic disruptor, but I didn't think I'd get to it in time.

As it turned out, I didn't need to.

Korra jumped in front of us with palms outstretched in an Earthbender stance. The boulder stopped in mid-air. With a second movement of her right arm Korra split the rock in half and allowed it to fall harmlessly to the grass. She looked back at me briefly and I gave her a nod, letting her know I was okay, and that she could get back to work.

Her weight shifted and when her arms moved again, they generated powerful gusts of wind. The air shot between the two groups, throwing some of them off their feet and blowing away their earthen projectiles.

Before they could resume their hostilities Korra landed between them. "The violence must stop!," she declared, holding up her arms to either side. I noticed she was wearing a slightly different version of her preferred sleeveless top, with a darker blue coloring and a white trim line running from her neck to one side. "We're trying to restore the Earth Kingdom, not break it apart!"

"Lies!", cried one voice amongst the Kuvira Fan Club. "You and the Republic want to keep the Earth Kingdom weak and broken!"

"Better a divided Earth Kingdom than one where everything we've built has been destroyed!", countered a voice among the Xuandi enthusiasts.

"That's why the conference begins tonight," Korra said to them. "We can find a solution to make everyone happy."

It was clear that the assembled groups weren't going to be happy just because she encouraged them to, but further encouragement was arriving in the skies; RCPD zeppelins. The two groups soon started to grumble and protest, but they dispersed.

Korra sighed in relief and waved up. I could just make out one of the figures on the closest zeppelin, who nodded back. It looked like it was Lin. Korra gave a brief look to her slightly-damaged and gunk-covered statue, sighed again and with more exasperation, and started toward us. "Are you okay?", she asked.

By this time I was helping Liara up. "I am, but I don't know about Liara. I think she took a bump on the head."

Korra opened her water bottle and used her waterbending to pull the water out, which she settled over the bump on Liara's head. "It doesn't feel bad," she said, trying to assure me. "This should help."

Liara let out a small groan as she regained more of her senses . "What's going on?"

"You took a bit of a bump on the head," I answered. "Korra is healing you."

Liara went back to touch her head and stopped when her fingers touched the water being held over her scalp. "That's... quite good. And not as distracting as a full medi-gel dose."

"That stuff always made me feel like my head was going to float off my shoulders," Korra agreed. "I thought Asami was going to start floating above the floor that one time."

I laughed at that. "It has its drawbacks." I looked back to where some of the protesters were still straggling. "So, I see you're back to work."

Korra nodded. Her expression lost the humor she'd had a moment ago. "And it's even more complicated now. That wasn't even the worst of it. Half of Little Ba Sing Se was hit by a riot a week ago."

That made me blink. "When I left the last time, it looked like Kuvira had nearly universal support. Even people in secure parts of the Earth Kingdom were supportive."

"Yeah, well, they weren't as supportive as people thought," Korra said. "Now a lot of people are supporting King Xuandi."

"The leader of Omashu? He didn't strike me as the ambitious type."

"Yeah, well..." Korra sighed. "That's before I got involved."

I nodded gently. "Ahhh... That would explain why his supporters were protecting your marble likeness."

Korra didn't answer immediately. She focused on the glowing water she held to Liara's head until she pulled it back and returned it to her bottle. She led us to a nearby bench, where Liara remained quiet - likely still afflicted with a bloody headache - while Korra resumed. "I've been traveling a lot in the Earth Kingdom," Korra said. "Kuvira's been doing wonders in suppressing the bandits, but she's... I don't know."

"She's taking measures that concern you," I said. I had personally feared as much about her from what information I'd been given. That she might go too far.

"She has reasons, yeah. But I think she's starting to go a little too far," Korra admitted. "Kuvira's been stripping the provinces of any government that doesn't answer directly to her and arresting people as bandits even when there's no evidence. And Raiko won't do anything about it because he sees it as necessary to 'stability'. So I told Raiko about it and told people I thought Kuvira was starting to go too far. And then it got out into the papers and the next thing I know, everyone has me as joining Xuandi against Kuvira and Raiko."

"Ah, the wonders of the press," I said. "They do love their drama, sells newspapers and all." I let out a sigh. I knew Korra still had some lingering issues from what Zaheer had done to her, although she had healed very well during our journey in the TARDIS. I gave her a sympathetic pat on the shoulder.

"Why are you here, anyway?"

"What, are you implying I've come to cause trouble or something?", I asked, feigning wounded innocence. "Why would you think I'm not here to just check up on you?"

"I might have thought that before I spent time traveling with you," Korra said, this time with an amused smile coming to her face. It heartened me to see she was still in an improved mood over how she'd once been. "Is something wrong?"

"Well, my TARDIS does tend to drop me where I'm needed, as you well know," I commented. "But..." I looked past Korra to where Liara was giving me a concerned look. I could guess why. Korra already had so much going on... telling her about more trouble would just pile it on.

But I didn't feel right keeping things from her. Besides... she was smart, she could tell I was here for a reason.

So I sighed. "Liara and I have been running into Cracks," I explained. "You remember what I told you about them?"

"Something about points where the fabric of reality has cracked open across... what was it, six dimensions of space-time?"

"Yes." I grinned a little. Korra didn't take to technical terms for exotic space-time and the like well, but she had good memory. "We didn't run into any, of course, and I'd only seen a few before." I tried to restrain the worry I felt as I added, "But since I dropped you off, Korra, I've run into several more. As if they're appearing with more frequency compared to the timestream of my TARDIS. So I'm looking for..."

Worry crossed Korra's face. "There's one here, isn't there?"

I had to nod. "Yes. My scanners are sure of that. I can't quite pinpoint it, though. I think the Spirit Wilds interfere with the scanners."

"Well, we can talk to Lin. Maybe she can assign some of her police to help you look for it," Korra offered. "And the Airbenders can help too. And I can get Mako and..."

"Don't you have a diplomatic conference tonight?", Liara asked.

Korra looked over at her. "Well, yeah, but I've heard about these Cracks before. They're dangerous. That's got to take priority."

"From the way it looks to me, Korra, if this conference doesn't go well, you'll have a civil war on your hands." Liara shook her head. "It might be best if you let the Doctor and I focus on the Crack while you do your work."

For a moment Korra seemed... pensive. Irritated, even. "I know what my duty is," she said, her voice taking on a tough tone. "Raiko and Tenzin can handle the diplomatic stuff. If there's a Crack in Republic City, it's a danger to everyone, and as the Avatar it's my job to keep it from hurting people."

"It's also your job to keep your world's peace, right?", Liara replied. "The Doctor and I can call you in if we need the help, but you should focus on what's important at the moment. If something has come through the Crack, it won't do your world any good to have a civil war breaking out while we try to deal with the Crack."

Korra looked over to me. "Do you feel the same way?", she asked. There was something of a challenging look in her expression. Almost a glare.

"I think she has a point," I conceded. "But I think it's your decision."

Now Liara actually was glaring at me. Oi. I rubbed at my head. "Korra, I do think you should worry about the conference more. Now that you've been pulled into this matter, your presence is important to fixing it. When I find the Crack, you are the first one I will tell. I promise."

I could see thoughts stirring in Korra's expression. She finally answered me with a nod. "Right. The conference."

"Yes." I allowed myself a mischievous grin. "I imagine you were hoping to get to hit things instead."

Despite herself, Korra giggled. "I'm not sure hitting Kuvira or Raiko would fix anything. But it's a fun thought."

"My, how you've grown. When we first met your Plan A involved punching fireballs at people," I teased.

"Well, between Tenzin and you and Asami, I...."

I noticed the stop immediately. I looked at her again and saw Korra's eyes turn distant.

That... was not a good sign.

"Korra?"

She seemed to recognize I was watching her. "What? Oh, nothing. It's nothing."

Liara looked at her and then at me. Concern and some recognition were on her face.

"Korra." I cleared my throat. "What's going on?"

"Nothing. I mean, Asami's busy. She's got a company to run, she's rebuilding the city..."

"And she does this every waking hour?"

"I... guess?" I could see the issue was bewildering Korra. "I mean, I hear from her now and then, but Asami's been really reclusive lately," she explained. "Whenever I go to see her, she's usually locked up in her lab. It's driving her publicist crazy."

"I imagine it would," I said. I was trying to keep the guilt out of my voice. I had a strong suspicion Asami was busy at work with private projects relating to what I'd brought her for Christmas, among other things. Although why she was working on it daily I wasn't sure, it wasn't something she could do quickly.

"I only got back into Republic City recently, though," Korra continued. "Maybe she's just finishing up a project." Her tone of voice betrayed the kind of strained hope that comes when you know you're wrong, but can't help but hope you're not.

"I'll have to go check up on her, I suppose," I said. "I'm sure she's just busy, Korra."

That turned out to be the wrong thing to say. The false assurance simply made Korra look miserable. "I'd better go," she said. "Raiko is hosting a banquet before the actual talks start tonight. Tenzin expects me to be there."

"I'm sure he does," I answered. "Well, a banquet, that does sound entertaining. And I'm a little hungry. Liara?"

"Famished," Liara said in reply, grinning.

"I'm... not sure Raiko will let you in," Korra said, although she was starting to grin.

"And that, my dear Avatar, is why I carry psychic paper," I laughed. "But the most important question is...." I was certain my eyes sparkled. "Will there be any dancing?"




I changed suits and Liara donned one of her fine dress suits she'd gotten from the Citadel, a blue and purple suit with red trim. The holo-belt completed the disguise, making her look like a blue-haired Human woman. We arrived at one of the larger hotels in Republic City, not far from the Spirit Wilds. One single vine had gone through one of the lowest floors, but it wasn't so damaged as other structures. An RCPD detachment at the door waived us in thanks to the psychic paper.

We were directed to the ballroom, which was an interesting mixture of fashions. The Republic City elite in attendance were dressed for a black tie affair, certainly. They were quite snappily dressed at that. The only exception was the familiar uniforms of the RCPD, worn by Chief Beifong and... hrm, yes, that was Mako standing beside the little pencil-thin young fellow.

In one corner of the room, people were not in black tie. Their uniforms of dark green with metal shoulder epaulets gave away their allegiance rather quickly. I didn't see Kuvira in their number, but I couldn't see all of them at the moment.

I did, however, see Bolin, who was chattering away with a mustached fellow with the only non-military hairstyle I'd noticed. I blinked. Oh, yes, that was Varrick, wasn't it? He even had that assistant of his hovering beside him. Military life apparently suited him.

It was nice to see Bolin doing well, I suppose, although on the other hand, there was something incredibly disconcerting about the whole thing. I couldn't see Bolin as a rigid soldierly type.

On the opposite side of the room there were other people. As the protestors in the park had been, these were dressed in the more traditional robes of the Earth Kingdom, an emphasis on greens and browns for color, beards and hair kept in those old styles. Xuandi's people, obviously.

I moved toward the middle group first. I recognized Raiko and his wife, the affectionately-named Buttercup, turn away from one of the other business elite of the city. Raiko momentarily started at noticing my arrival. He briefly looked back into the groups to where Korra - now wearing a nice blue Water Tribe dress - was talking with Jinora and Tenzin. I saw his eyes harden for a moment before he forced them to soften as I stepped up to him. "President Raiko," I said. "Greetings. And to your wife, as resplendent as always." I nodded politely, and the praise prompted a smile from the middle-aged woman. "Allow me to introduce Liara t'Soni, my current traveling companion."

"Ah. The Doctor." Raiko offered his hand and I took it. "I hadn't expected you here."

And, given his body language, he hadn't wanted me here.

"I was just stopping by," I answered, smiling diplomatically. As if I hadn't noticed how displeased he was with me being present. "It looked like an interesting gathering, so I thought I would introduce Liara to you and to some of the others." I looked around. "Sadly, it doesn't look like there's any dancing."

"This is not the proper venue, I'm afraid," Raiko replied. Oh, he really wasn't happy to see me. "Is that all you're here to do?"

"Well, yes. Unless you'd like some help with the negotiations or what have you. I do try my hand at diplomacy from time to time." I haughtily ignored the smirk that crossed Liara's face. "Things seem to have become more complicated since I last visited. I never took King Xuandi as the type to look for wider power."

Raiko's expression didn't change. "He insists that he represents the interests of the provinces that Kuvira has not stabilized yet. I find that hard to believe given the chaos there."

"An understandable concern. On the other hand, he is voicing a concern from the Earth Kingdom's people about the direction their country is being taken in."

"He represents the old order. Queen Hou-Ting proved how incapable and corrupt that order can become. It'll be better for the Earth Kingdom as a whole under a new system."

"One overseen by General Kuvira?", I asked pointedly.

That got me an exasperated look. "The Regent is only securing the provinces so that the rightful heir can resume his rule," Raiko said. "As you well know. I'm well aware you spent over a year as one of Chief Tonraq's advisers."

"I was a technical consultant, not a full advisor, so I wasn't exactly covering the world political situation with deep interest," I answered dismissively. It was, in fact, mostly true; I hadn't been back then. Granted, I'd still known Kuvira was officially known as Regent, but it was clear that "General" fit her job more closely. At least to me. "And I'm just trying to find out how things have gotten to this point. When I left, Xuandi was ready to sign into Kuvira's forces, not oppose her."

Raiko's teeth looked like they were to start grinding as he said, "You'll have to ask your friend the Avatar about how that happened, Doctor. The only reason the Earth Kingdom has become as bad as it's gotten is because of her bungling." He put an arm around his wife's. "If you'll excuse me?"

He walked away. I noticed Liara smirk a little. "Well, he's certainly... charming."

"Yes..." I looked around the crowd and decided to go see how Bolin was doing. He was a soft heart; if Kuvira really was going too far, I would think he would show reservations.

Bolin saw us coming and smiled. "Hey, Doctor, it's good to see you!" He noticed Liara. "And you have a new friend?"

"Gentlemen, this is LIara T'Soni," I said. "Nice to see you, Bolin. Looking rather snappy in that uniform, I see."

"Oh, well... yeah. Kuvira says it makes us look better, wearing the same thing. Like we're police and stuff." Bolin looked over toward Varrick. "So this is..."

"Varrick's the name!" Varrick cut Bolin off and offered me his hand, which he shook vigorously. "Say, I've heard stories about you. Some kind of... time traveler, right? Advanced technology and machines, that sort of thing?"

"Yes," I answered. "A Time Lord, to be precise. I've heard quite a few things about you too, Mister Varrick."

"Good or bad?"

"...mixed."

"Ah, well." He slapped me on the back. "You know how it goes. You slip up here or there and everyone makes sure they never let you live it down!" He held his hand out toward his assistant. "This is Zhu Li. Zhu Li, mind getting us a round from the waiter?"

"Yes sir," she said in a fairly deadpan voice, after which she walked off.

"Say, Doctor, I've been hearing rumors about you." Varrick leaned in close to my face. "They say you've been slipping some kind of technology to Future Industries."

I kept a poker face on. "Oh, do they?", I asked. "Newspapers, that sort of thing?"

"Oh, the usual rumor mill. They say Miss Sato's been incommunicado for months, working on some new technological marvel using stuff she learned from you!"

"Maybe so," I said. "I wouldn't know. I've not been to this world for some time, Mister Varrick."

"Well, maybe we should fix that!", Varrick declared, ignoring the irritated look on Bolin's face. "Now, I'm planning on a new rail system that will revolutionize the world! And I've got one word to describe it: Electromagnets!"

"Ah, electromagnetic rails," I said. "Quite a good idea. You'll probably have some issues with the materials, though, until your manufacturing catches up."

"That's where you come in!", Varrick shouted. "You provide me with the same kind of stuff you gave Asami Sato and by year's end I'll have Varricktrains crossing all across the continent! It'll make securing the Earth Kingdom a snap!"

"I..."

"Given your continent is still divided and facing a civil war, Mister Varrick, I'm not sure your prediction would come true," Liara pointed out.

"Oh, that." Varrick waved a hand dismissively. "That's nothing. Listen, old Xuandi's a crafty guy sometimes, but he doesn't have the manpower. Not with the Republic backing us."

"Even if Korra sided with him?", Liara asked.

"That wouldn't happen," Bolin insisted. "Listen, this whole thing's just a... a misunderstanding. It's the press trying to make a story up and mixing up what Korra said for it. Once she and Kuvira sit down and talk about this I'm sure everything will be handled."

I exchanged a look with Liara. Somehow I had the feeling Bolin might be overstating his case. But he certainly wasn't different from what I saw before.

On the other hand... Bolin is a sweet boy, but not the sharpest screwdriver in the box, you know what I mean? And given his connection to Korra, his role in fighting the Equalists, Unalaq, and the Red Lotus, not to mention his former athletic and mover careers... Well, I could see Kuvira carefully vetting the information he was given on what she was doing. Keep him happy and he was a propaganda role model for her movement. A bona fide hero of the world, friend and ally of the Avatar, whom the populace could be confident in.

Up until the mechatanks rolled in, of course.

"I was wondering about meeting her," I said. "Kuvira."

"Oh, she won't be here until the talks," Varrick said. "We're doing the hard work of making contacts and friends while she relaxes for the really hard stuff."

"Ah. A pity. I may have to return later." I bowed. "It was excellent meeting you again, Bolin, and good to finally meet you, Mister Varrick. I may have to tour your facilities sometime," I said.

"We'd love to have you!", he answered, shaking my hand enthusiastically.

We extricated ourselves from that conversation. "He certainly is interesting," Liara said. "And a little naive."

"Bolin? He's got a good heart."

"This Kuvira woman. She worries you, doesn't she?"

I sighed. "Immensely. A young and charismatic leader with an army of followers? That doesn't always end well."

"Not always. But it does sometimes. I remember some Matriarchs described Shepard like that."

"Yes, I suppose so..."

I had intended to go meet members of Xuandi's entourage. But before we could make it the thin young man I'd seen near Mako and Chief Lin intercepted us. He focused his look on Liara. "Well, what have we here?", he said in a voice thick with leer. I mean, complete leer. "Don't you look spectacular, my lady?" I almost rolled my eyes at the faux-charm, undoubtedly meant to be real charm, that came from his rolling of "My lady". "Where did you get the hair coloring?"

Liara looked to me with patience. "And this is...?"

I was about to answer "I have no bloody clue", but before I could the little twerp announced, "Oh, I'm Prince Wu, heir to the Earth Kingdom throne."

I blinked. This was the best they could do? This... this...

....puppet.

And all of the sudden Raiko's behavior was perfectly clear. His irritation with Korra and Xuandi wasn't just some desire to avoid civil conflict in the Earth Kingdom. Putting this pampered child on the throne was undoubtedly going to be followed with giving him an advisory council full of pro-Republic appointees. The Earth Kingdom would become a client state of the United Republic.

But now Korra was emboldening Xuandi to oppose this plan, through his opposition to Kuvira. If Xuandi won independence, or bargained his position to a place in Wu's government, Raiko's plan was going to become unlikely to work.

Now, I'm not saying Raiko was some evil powermonger. It was reasonable that he would want to secure the Republic by ensuring a Republic-friendly regime in Ba Sing Se. Hou-Ting had been hostile to the Republic and the chaos after her fall had demonstrated fully how intertwined the Earth Kingdom and the Republic were. Wanting to ensure Earth Kingdom support for the Republic was an understandable goal.

That didn't mean we had to like it, though. Or like him.

"So, what's your name?", Wu asked, drawing the question out. The boy actually thought he was charming. Remarkable what a sheltered life can do to a mind.

"Doctor Liara t'Soni," she answered, a forced smile on her face.

"I've got just one question," Wu said. "What do you think of spas? Because tomorrow I've got a lovely morning all planned out and I'd love to show you the best..."

"I'm not interested."

"You sure? I know all of the best shops in the city, we can get you the finest..."

Seconds before I thought Liara would hit him with a biotic pulse, Mako interceded. "Prince Wu, President Raiko needs to talk to you."

A disappointed and rather put-upon look crossed Wu's face. The little twerp bowed extravagantly to Liara. "I'm sorry, but state business calls. You can ask Mako how to reach me when you decide where we're going to go shopping." He walked away, plainly ignorant of the quiet frustration showing on Mako's face.

"You're the bodyguard, I take it?", I asked Mako.

"Yeah. It's a reward for breaking a case against the Agni Kais." Mako sighed. "Weeks of stakeouts and I get this."

"No good deed goes unpunished, the reward for good work is more work, and all that," I opined. I glanced to where Korra was still talking to Tenzin. "So, with everyone else here, where's Asami? I would think a captain of industry would get an invitation."

"I'm not sure," Mako said. "She's been really quiet lately. She goes home and never sees anyone. Even my family rarely sees her, and they're staying in the mansion."

"Really? Huh." I shook my head. "That is peculiar."

"I hear you're the reason," Mako said. "Tu told me you gave her some stuff recently."

"Well, some things, yes," I said, "but nothing that would make her cut herself off."

"Well, maybe it's everything. She's under pressure from rebuilding the city around the Spirit Wilds and the vines too. And there was that robbery."

Liara looked interested in that. "Robbery?"

"Some stuff from one of her new manufacturing plants on the outskirts of the city," Mako said. "One of the Triads broke in and stole everything inside. We're still investigating, but it set her company back millions of yuans."

I frowned. "That is rather distressing. What was stolen?"

"It's not my case, so I can't tell you," Mako answered. He looked over to where Wu was talking to Raiko and sighed. "Listen, I need to stay where I can watch Wu. I can talk later, maybe."

"Understandable. Duty calls and all."

He nodded in thanks and walked away. Once he was out of earshot, Liara looked at me. "Wu's a puppet, isn't he?"

"Possibly," I said. "Given the prior Queen's ambitions, I imagine putting someone like him on the throne is an attractive option." I looked around the room again. Korra had moved on to standing by herself and looked rather lost. "Well, without Xuandi here or Kuvira, I've got nothing better to do," I said. "Let's see if we can cheer Korra up a bit, eh?"

"I'm not sure we can," Liara said. "She looks pretty hurt. And we can't just solve her problem here."

"No harm in trying, though."

"Agreed."

We walked up to where Korra had found a wall to stand by. She noticed us approaching and tried to change her expression. "So, what do you think? I saw you talking to Prince Wu."

"Wu is... a very interesting choice to lead the Earth Kingdom, I grant", I remarked.

"He's insufferable and annoying," Korra said, irritation showing. "He asks every girl he sees out on a date and spends every day sitting around in a spa or out shopping."

"Yes. He does seem more of the indolent type," I agreed.

"You seem upset." Liara drew Korra's attention with that remark. "What's wrong?"

"I'm just tense," Korra answered. "There's a lot that could go wrong tonight."

"Indeed," I agreed.

"But that's not all, is it?"

I gave Liara a harsh look, but she returned a defiant one. Korra sighed. "I'm just... worried about Asami."

"So you said."

"I sent her an invitation. So did Raiko. But she just..." Korra shook her head. "It's like she's avoiding me. Avoiding all of us. And I keep thinking back to see what I might have done but..."

I had to admit my own worry about Asami now as well. She could be a little insular, but I'd never heard or seen her going to this extent of seclusion. "Do you know where she's living?"

"The mansion again. She's got Mako and Bolin's family there for company, yeah, but...." Korra had a sad look in her eyes. "I've just... what if I said something wrong? I thought by the end of our trip with you, I mean, we get along so well..."

"She might be busy with a project," Liara said. "Maybe we should try to..."

There was commotion at the door. We turned our heads and saw two figures entering with entourages. I recognized Kuvira and Xuandi immediately. A young man wearing glasses was at Kuvira's side. Xuandi had a young man and a young woman flanking him, wearing robes that were more for high bureaucrats than actual Earth Kingdom nobility. Their features were close enough to suggest a family link, perhaps to Xuandi himself, with piercing green eyes and thin noses that matched.

Korra moved ahead of us when the two foes seemed to stop and stare at each other with their entourages. There was a sort of raw tension in the air. "Do you think they'd actually start a fight?", Liara whispered to me.

"I think that when tempers run high and you have a lot of followers, it's hard not to have one start on you," I muttered back, moving to get closer to Korra.

"King Xuandi, Kuvira, welcome to Republic City," Korra said. "Thank you for coming."

Kuvira's expression was, fittingly, that of a stone. "Avatar Korra," she began, "I understand you have concerns, but you realize that every day I'm kept from the field, it's another day that the people of the Earth Kingdom suffer?"

"I know that," Korra answered. "I've been trying to help to. But it won't do any good if the Earth Kingdom's problems aren't fixed in the long term too, or if we rush a solution and we just make it worse."

"The young Avatar speaks wisdom," Xuandi stated, his voice a high baritone. "I have applauded your efforts to restore order to the capital and the surrounding provinces, but you threaten to go too far, Kuvira."

"I am doing what I must for our people." Kuvira looked over at Xuandi. "And I'm not keeping them locked in the past."

The young people flanking Xuandi narrowed their eyes. "The past provides a model for the future. If you throw away our traditions, what is left?"

"How about a stronger, united Earth Kingdom?", the young man beside Kuvira stated. I thought I saw a bit of a family resemblance in his features, some definite Beifong elements. Could this be the young Bataar? Why, I thought it was. "How about a new Earth state that..."

He stopped when Kuvira stepped up. "Traditions don't feed starving children," Kuvira said succinctly. "They don't guard a town from bandits. Your traditions produce disunity and backwards thinking, the kind that allowed our country to nearly be conquered by the Fire Nation in the Hundred Year War, and which have left our people to starve while bandits eat their way through the provinces."

"Earth is synonymous with diversity, Regent. You cannot make the whole Earth stone. Or should I say steel?"

I could tell from Xuandi's tone of voice that he thought he had scored a great point in the verbal duel. He continued on. "I too am concerned for the people. I am concerned that they have suffered enough since the start of the Hundred Years War. That they should not have what spirit they have left pounded into the steel of the Kingdom you foresee. I stand for restoring them to what they once were on the strength of our traditions."

"This is what we're here to negotiate about," Korra said, trying to halt the growing argument. "You both want to make things better for the people of the Earth Kingdom. And you both have good ideas. If we just sit down with cool heads maybe..."

"Given your reputation, Avatar, you're one to talk," Bataar snapped.

I felt an impulse to jump into the conversation, but I bit it back. This was Korra's place, not mine.

"Bataar, it's alright," Kuvira said. She looked back to Korra. "Avatar, I came because I want to settle any differences between us and with Xuandi. I didn't start my campaign to attack other Earth Kingdom citizens. I want to save them."

"I was hoping you'd say that."

Before Xuandi or Korra could say anything, the sound of a clearing throat got everyone's attention. Raiko joined them. "Please, we can talk business at the conference later. For now, we should get to know each other and allow you both to enjoy the hospitality of Republic City."

Xuandi nodded politely and Kuvira did the same. Raiko ignored the look Korra gave him and walked back toward the center of the room.

I stepped up to her after everyone had walked on, leaving Korra alone. "Well. I think you did well."

"I think Raiko's getting ready to throw me out of the city again," Korra confessed darkly. I could see a familiar, haunting look to her blue eyes. She had come back ready to resume her duties... and now she was being pushed into this mess, and enduring the verbal abuse of nearly every side in it.

For a brief moment, I had a dark thought. A thought about the real Doctor, about what he did when his tenth (well eleventh) form was freshly regenerated. How, in a moment of disgust and anger, he had said just a handful of words, and had toppled a powerful leader.

And I pondered how much success I'd have if I were to do the same to Raiko, if I were to go to one of his advisers, one of the journalists hovering around him, and utter those six magical words: "Don't you think he looks tired?"

I also pondered on how much I wanted to do it.

But that would be irresponsible. That would be something Triumphant would have done. So I banished the thought.

"You handled them well, I thought," Liara stated.

"Thank you, Liara." Korra looked back toward them. "I have a feeling I'm going to need to do better if I'm going to stop them from fighting each other, though."

"You're up for it." I clapped her on the shoulder. "Now..."

I felt something. A... subtle stirring of energy that was in the air. Had been in the air, but I had just passed through where it had gathered while moving to comfort Korra a little.

Korra and Liara looked at me when I held the stop in my sentence. "Doctor?", Liara asked.

"Hrm? Oh sorry. Just in thought for a moment." I smiled to reassure them. "As I was saying, Korra, you should probably rejoin them. Go around, talk to them, that sort of social hobnobbing to get them feeling relaxed. Should make the night go better, eh?"

"I guess." Korra frowned. "Asami would be better at this, though."

Liara gave me a withering look. I sighed. "Don't worry about that. I'll go talk to her. You know me, I can get in anywhere. Got in here, didn't I?" I gave her a tap on the back. "Now, you get to it, and I'll let you know if anything comes up."

Korra nodded, drew in a breath, and walked toward the mixing gaggle of Republic City people and Kuvira's uniformed coterie.

I breathed in a sigh of relief. "What?", I asked upon seeing Liara's look.

"She really seems upset at Asami not being around."

"They're close. Adopted sisters kind of thing. Of course she... oh, now what's that look for?"

A bemused smile came to Liara's face. "I'm just thinking about how Jan and Cami are right. You are utterly oblivious."

I rolled my eyes in reply. "Yes, well, we have more important things to deal with..."

"Something involving the Crack?", Liara asked.

"Quite," I replied. I held up my sonic. "Energy signature. Temporal energy consistent with the Cracks."

"So... Someone here was exposed, you're saying?", Liara asked.

"Quite likely. Either from direct contact or indirect." I held the sonic out. "Going to be tricky. Can't trace which one is the origin, the others were too contaminated."

"Can you follow a trail?", Liara asked.

"I just might." I looked back, making sure Korra was locked into a conversation - with Bolin as it turned out - and went to the door. "Let's go."




Our trail took us the better part of the day to follow. Thankfully the decay of temporal energies, event faint ones, isn't that fast, and the trail would not grow cold for another day or so. Since it brought us by that lovely Water Tribe restaurant Korra had introduced me so long ago, I stopped long enough for a nourishing early dinner and to introduce Liara to the infamous green noodles. And then we were on the trail again. We didn't leave the central island, but we did end up in one of the dock districts, very close to the Spirit Wilds. So close, in fact, that when we found the building, half of it was consumed in vines, and with the sun already set beneath the horizon the shadows were cast quite long from them. "Goddess," Liara said, looking at it. "What could have done this?"

"Angry spirit of pure darkness," I remarked flippantly. "Now..." I waved the sonic screwdriver around. I was definitely picking up a temporal energy trace. "Maybe we should knock," I pondered, approaching the door.

"That would be polite, yes," Liara said. She smirked. "But that's not our usual way, is it?"

"Indeed not," I said while bringing the sonic screwdriver up to the lock. A little twitching with magnetic fields and the door unlocked for us. We stepped in quietly. The adjoining room was dark, but light was coming in from the warehouse. I motioned to her with my hand and we walked through the next dark room and into the warehouse proper. Figures were milling around, wearing reds and greens and blues. I narrowed my eyes. I thought I recognized those colors.

"Different worlds," Liara began, "but I still recognize an organized crime warehouse when I see one."

"I have a very, very bad feeling about this," I muttered back. Someone from the conference had been to this building. Someone there had a Triad connection, or had hired them for something. I held up the sonic screwdriver. "No sign of any spike in temporal energy, the Crack isn't here," I whispered.

"Wait, this symbol..." Liara pointed to one of the crates. Despite the darkness enough light was coming around the shelf I could make out the symbol she was talking about. "Isn't it...?"

It was.

The half-gear insignia of Future Industries.

One mystery solved right there. I nodded at Liara. "Let's go and call up Chief Beifong and..."

The shelving we were hiding behind was suddenly pulled down to the floor. Tools and objects clattered everywhere. And light poured in around us to make us fully visible.

"Well well well, what do we have here, everyone?" One fellow stepped around a crate. He generated an open fire over his palm. "Looks like some snoops."

"More like a couple of lost tourists," I said. "Say, you fellows wouldn't have happened to see a Crack through reality, would you? It'd be like a crack in mid-air shining with light. Hard to miss."

For a moment, the Triad men didn't react, but the Firebender speaking to me shouted "Get 'em!"

And that's when the ceiling exploded.

A single humanoid form fell through the debris with white light trailing from its feet, slamming into the ground with a loud thud. The lights of the warehouse reflected off the metal skin of the suit, painted red with black highlights and trim.

Which is why my jaw visibly dropped.

This universe had power suits, yes. Mechatanks, their cargo-carrying predecessors, and the even more compact combat suits that Kuvira's army had started to field before I left the Southern Water Tribe. But this was more than that. The suit wasn't any taller than I was, and not much bulkier than a human. It was the most human-shaped powered suit this cosmos had ever seen.

The lead Firebender who had been threatening us yelped and, in his panic, tossed a fireball. The fire struck the suit and barely shifted the occupant as the flames fell away from the red and black coating on the chest, just below the single circle of blue light set in the exact middle of the sternum just below the shoulder line. The suit's right hand came up and glowed a blue-ish white light briefly before energy lashed out, striking the Firebender directly in the chest and sending him flying.

If it could have, my jaw would have hit the floor.

"Doctor, that technology," Liara murmured. "That's not native..."

"No, it's not," I answered breathlessly.

I was quite familiar with the energy signature and appearance.

Repulsors.

Starktech.

I should know, because I was the one who brought that technology here.

And I already knew what I would see when I looked into the eyes of the clear visor on the helmet. Those intense, focused eyes of light green.

"ASAMI?!" I blurted out, rendered incredulous by what I'd seen.

There was only the tiniest of nods, because we were out of time. The rest of the Triple Threats overcame their fear and charged, Earthbenders ripping up chunks of stone from the floor of the warehouse, Firebenders gathering flame, and pair of Waterbenders pulling water out of two open tanks, presumably for that very purpose.

I yanked my sonic disruptor from its loop inside my jacket and Liara gathered biotic energy around herself, her holo-belt disengaging as it always did when faced with the disruptive energies of her biotics.

I came looking for a Crack. Instead, I found myself going Gangbusters on a Triad.

Oi, my life gets so complicated sometimes.
”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-16 09:47am

There are days I really don't feel like the Doctor.

I mean, yes, I use the name and all, and I have the blue box and the sonic screwdriver and the delightful charm. That's all true.

But how often does the Doctor wind up in the perilous battles I always seem to find myself in? 'm not talking confrontations with nasty gribblies, but a simply lesser gribblies, or even normal beings, who just want to harm you for whatever reason and happen to have nothing in their way?

Not too often, let me say. But I might as well mark Mondays for it to occur on.

I got the sonic disruptor's shield in position to prevent a fireball from crashing into me. Liara's biotic protective field broke apart a rock thrown by an Earthbender. We jumped to either side to avoid the second boulder thrown by a second Earthbender.

As I landed I noticed a launcher had emerged from the right shoulder of Asami's suit. It remained for another moment and dissatisfied sound came from within the helmet, after which it retracted. Her hands came up and the repulsors in the feet fired, lifting Asami into the air. She held out one hand and sent out a shot that took an Earthbending Triad member in the leg before he could kick a bigger rock at Liara. A lithe Firebender dodged her next shot and threw a fireball that did nothing.

The Waterbenders had evidently decided on focusing on her. Twin jets of water flew out from the open water tanks and started striking Asami's suit, which the Benders began converting to ice. I held up the sonic disruptor and used a kinetic bolt to disrupt the water jets, preventing the freezing for the moment. Asami pinpointed her attackers and held up her left hand. Another launcher emerged from the forearm. This time it fired, sending a pair of darts that struck the Waterbenders and knocked them out.

There was a shout of disbelief. I turned to see the two remaining Earthbenders hovering in mid-air, held in place by one of Liara's singularities. She dodged around a firebender and in a wave of her arm threw a biotic bolt at them. The energies of the two biotic power sources meshed and drew upon another, briefly intensifying the singularity before causing it to detonate with enough force to send its captives crashing into the walls.

I brought the sonic disruptor up and gave a kinetic blast from it that knocked over the firebender who had tried to stop Liara. She turned and hit him with another biotic blast knocked him unconscious.

With that work done I turned towards the sound of earth ground. One last pair of Earthbending Triad members were tearing up the warehouse floor for fresh ammunition to use on Asami. She hit the ground, ducked under one rock, and used the repulsor in the left palm of her suit to strike the Earthbender square in the belly. As the woman fell, her partner growled and focused upon the movement of his arms, tearing a large slab to toss at her. Asami went to dodge it with a flip. But she misjudged how fast she could move in her suit and the slab slammed into her anyway, sending her sprawling. I could hear the grunt of pain. The attacking Earthbender sneered and tore up more rock to throw at her now that she was prone. I jumped in, sonic disruptor raised, and caught the attack with my deflector.

The Triad man snarled and started to bring out another chunk of earth, but he didn't get the time. Liara closed in and used a short-range biotic blast to send the gangster flying. He slammed into the far wall and crackled open a case with the impact, falling unconscious beyond the shelf where he landed.

With all of the fighting finished I took in a breath and looked back at Asami. She was sitting up and pulling off the helmet, revealing her full face and the sweat pouring down her cheeks and forehead. Her hair fell out in a wavy mess. She looked... well, Asami was always one to take the time to acquire that certain look of prepared femininity with hairstyles and such and it took a lot to undo that appearance, so to see her like this.... I admit, it made me gawk a little. In fact, I suspected my expression was one that asked her if she were mad. "Asami?"

"I'm still working on the environmental cooling systems," she sighed.

"What... I don't even know where to begin..." I started.

"Then don't," Asami answered. "I didn't even realize you'd be here. Are you here because of Xuandi and Kuvira?"

"Well, no," I answered. "I came to deal with the Crack my instruments say has appeared inn Republic City."

Asami's eyes widened. "That... might explain the weird disruptions in the city's electrical grid. Future Industries has spent weeks looking for the cause."

"It's possible," I conceded, "but in my experience, worlds as metaphysically active as your's tend to have Cracks that emit energy, not disrupt it." I shook my head. "What I don't get is... is..."

"What?", Asami asked.

"This", I said, holding my arms out to encompass her suit. "You look... I mean, that technology..."

"The Mark II?" Asami looked down at herself. "It's still a prototype, the Mark III will be smaller."

"But why?!" I blurted out. "I..."

"Doctor, wait."

I looked back to where Liara was examining the broken open crate. She held out a bundle from within. "Doesn't this look a little strange?"

I stared. I brought my sonic screwdriver out and met Liara halfway. I scanned the gray block and frowned. "These are plastic explosives," I said. And I turned to look at Asami.

Well, it was more of a glare. "What the bloody hell are...?!"

"They're for my new mining operations," Asami said. "I have a city to rebuild."

I stopped. It was a reasonable reply. But I had questions. So many of them. "What has happened here?"

"They stole some of my mining equipment from my warehouse several nights ago," Asami answered. "And I've had a few thefts before that. So I planted a tracking beacon in one of the crates. I knew my Mark II needed a proper test run under stress conditions."

I had more questions, but before I could ask them the building shook. "Was that the building...?", I said.

"The structure must have taken damage during the fight," Asami answered. "Some of these buildings are cheaply made."

"Leave it to the Triads to be cheap with the contractors," I muttered. Granted, the prolonged timing didn't seem quite right to me. I grabbed Liara's wrist. "Come along!"

"But what about them?", Liara asked.


I looked back and I frowned. There were something like eight Triad members who were scattered about the place and would be crushed. I calculated if we had time to get any out. "How much would it stretch your biotics to hold them all at once?", I asked her.

"Too far," she said. But her eyes didn't waver. "But I'll try."

She used dark energy to pull the unconscious Triad members one by one toward us Once they were together she let out a gasp and formed a biotic bubble around them. I reinforced it with my sonic disruptor. "Let's hope this works." I looked up and saw some of the roof starting to fall away.

"I've got an idea," I heard Asami say.

Asami had already put her helmet back on and turned toward the nearest wall. She seemed to be examining it for a moment, after which she brought up both hands. Twin repulsor beams shot her palms and blasted away part of the wall, revealing a hole out to the street large enough to get the bubble through. She stepped out of it and turned back to us. This time she held up her right arm and revealed a launcher within the forearm. When it fired, it was revealed as a grappling hook with a cable tied to it.

A guided grappling hook, as that. It circled around the bubble and latched onto its own cable. Asami activated the flying repulsors in her boots, not to fly but to hover just over the ground. She began to pull us out of the collapsing warehouse, using both the motor to retract the grappling line and her backward movement . There were strain in her eyes through the visor during the entire process, and once we were safely out she fell to a knee.

Liara collapsed into my arms. "I've got you," I said. I looked at Asami. "We need to talk." She nodded and started to stand again. I reached in and pulled out the TARDIS control. "We'll fire off a call to Chief Beifong about this and head to your place."

"You want to see what I'm doing." It wasn't a question.

"To be frank?" I nodded. "Yes. Because this..." I shook my head. "We'll talk about it when we're safe in your place, alright?"

Asami sighed. "Right," she agreed.




Liara was napping in the library recliner by the time I materialized the TARDIS on Asami's property. I took the time to step out and look over the Sato family mansion before the streak in the night sky I saw coming from the city arrived. Neither of us said anything at first. Asami stomped her battlesuit into the shed at the back of the property. And it became rather clear what she had done.

From there we took a secret entrance built into the floor of the shed, leading us ultimately to a cavernous underground space, formerly a factory for her father and his Equalist partners to build mechatanks for Amon. Now it was mostly unused saved for some familiar pieces of equipment. I noticed the industrial fabricators, the holographic computer interface systems, everything I had made possible.

And some things I hadn't.

Along one wall, in a port built to support it, was a mechatank with an opening in it for a Stark reactor (or Arc reactor). The Mark I, I supposed.

In the fabricator was another suit. This one was Asami's size, made to fit her directly, colored in the same dark red and black. It had an incomplete look to it.

Asami went to a point between the two. Servos whirred, latches shifted, and piece by piece the suit was removed by robotic arms driven by pneumatic steam drives. I had to smile thinly at that; wherever the knowledge she'd gleaned during her time in the TARDIS was insufficient, she made up for it with the technology she was familiar with.

But I only smiled thinly. As I watched her emerge, even that vanished.

Asami's hair was unkempt like before, but only now in this light could I see the bags under her eyes, the strain in her features, the lost weight in her frame, and how wrinkled and worn her customary suit looked. "I see you're putting your father's secret factory to good use," I remarked flippantly.

Asami nodded and walked up to the computer interface. She ran her hands over one section of it and went through options until she found the Mark II's schematics. She tapped the shoulder and reached down to her keyboard. She tapped away at it and the shoulder turned red. "Trouble?", I asked.

"The targeting systems on my main sedative dart launcher didn't work," she explained. "I had to use the backup, which can only fire two."

"Ah." I found myself crossing my arms, and I know my expression was most, well, cross. Asami didn't seem to bother looking back at me until she'd checked off what I presumed to be all of the systems tests she had run. Finally, I decided to speak again, and I also decided to be forward. "Korra thinks she might have said something to upset you."

Asami froze.

"You don't talk to her anymore," I continued. "Or to Mako. He's not quite so worried, thinks it's just you having a lot of work. But Korra... entirely different story. It doesn't help that you're not around when she's dealing with how the press has taken her criticism of Raiko and Kuvira."

"She'll understand," Asami said, her voice sounding soft. Almost deceptively so. "I know she'll understand."

"Will she?" I stopped for a moment and looked around. I spread my arms to take in what she put in this place. "What is this, Asami? I brought you this technology because you wanted to make your world better. You wanted clean energy to avoid the problems of other worlds I showed you. You wanted to go to the stars. But this... what is this?" I pointed to each of her battlesuits. "This isn't what you said you wanted, Asami. So why are you wearing yourself out trying to build these things?"

When she turned to face me, her eyes were tearing up, and her look was determined and angry and.... afraid. "This is for her," Asami insisted. "This is so I can protect her."

I looked at her. "I don't think Korra would want you to give up what you wanted like this, Asami," I said softly. "And she certainly isn't happy that you've made yourself into a hermit. Korra would want you to follow your dreams and build that world you talked about so much, not waste time because you think she needs protection..."

Asami clenched her fists. "You don't understand," she said. Her voice was quivering with emotion. "You weren't there! You weren't in my place!"

I started to speak but remained silent, settling on looking at her intently.

"You don't know what it was like for me." Asami's voice took on a low tone, but it didn't lose that tinge to it, that feeling of vibrating with pent-up energy, threatening to give way. "Do you know what happened when we went after Unalaq?"

I tried to remember the details. "Some, yes."

"Do you know where I was when Korra was fighting for her life?", Asami asked, still with that fragile calm.

"If I remember correctly, you brought her injured father to safety, to get his wounds treated," I answered carefully.

"Yes." Now there was some bitterness in her tone as well. "Because that's all I could do. They went to fight Unalaq and Vaatu and I had to be left behind." Tears started flowing down her eyes. "And Korra lost her connection to her past lives because of that."

"Asami..."

"And then," she continued, her voice growing in volume, matching the pain evident in it while the control from before slipped. "...then Zaheer forced her into that trap. And all I could do was carry Tenzin. And when we all saw Korra was fighting for her life against Zaheer, all I could do was watch." The tears flowed freely from her eyes now. Her face twisted into an expression of anguish and her voice began to crack, giving way to the feeligns that had made it seem to crackle before. "Don't you understand? I couldn't do anything for her! I don't have bending, I just have an electric glove and defense training! That's nothing against some of the things she fights! And I... I can't go through that again. That's why I have to do this."

I nodded gently. "I'm sorry." A part of me knew she never would have endured such helplessness if I had come to help like I had promised to do. And another part of me sympathized with her feelings. My mind went to images that would always haunt me. Jan and Cami being taken by the Borg. Watching Schala get drawn into that Gate.

Seeing what was left of Katherine after the bomb.

"With this...." Asami gestured toward the holographic display of her Mark II suit. "...that won't happen again. Once I perfect the design, I can fight alongside Korra all the time, no matter what! I'll never have to watch her suffer again!"

I tried to think of a way to reply, but I couldn't. I could understand perfectly that emotion. Indeed, how could I have not realized what I was doing when I gave her this technology? Had I been so focused on Korra's needs that I forgot Asami's?

When I thought about that, I knew the answer. Yes. Yes I had. Because I had held myself responsible for what happened to Korra, for not being there for her. And I had never realized how much worse it was for Asami, who had been there... where she had been helpless.

Liara, Jan and Cami, sometimes they are right. I can be oblivious.

I'd been trying to help Asami realize her dreams. But I hadn't been giving her any help where she truly needed it.

"I should have known," I sighed. Asami used her forearm to wipe the tears from her cheeks. "I should have recognized the signs during our trip, but I was so..." I stopped and stepped up to Asami, who let me put my hand on her shoulder. "Asami, I understand. Really, I do. But this... this isn't going to fix the past."

"It means it won't be repeated," Asami insisted.

"Maybe, but what good will it do if you drive away the people you care for?", I answered. "Look at yourself, Asami. Look at what you're doing to yourself. You're trying to run your company, rebuild Republic City, and do all this? You're wearing yourself so thin you won't be able to help anyone, Asami, especially not Korra."

She lowered her eyes, the tears still flowing from them. "I can't let her fight alone again," Asami said. "I can't lose her."

"I'm not telling you to stop," I said. "I'm just telling you that you need to pace yourself about this, Asami. Go get some good home cooking, relax your body and mind, and have a good night's sleep." I stepped past her and up to her interface. Running my hand through it, I dismissed the schematics of the Mark II. Most of the data Asami had in the system was technical data, but I did find what I had been looking for. I pulled up the listing of stolen property. "And tomorrow, maybe I can help you get to the bottom of this business with the thefts."

"Aren't you looking for that Crack in the universe?", she asked.

"Yes, but no leads. Scans are negative now," I pointed out. "But someone at that warehouse was exposed. And someone who was at the banquet." My expression darkened. "I don't think it's mere coincidence."

Asami nodded and let out a small yawn. "Do you need a room?"

"No, not at all," I said. "Slept nice. And Liara will need the night to recover her strength, so she'll be fine where she is." I swept my hand to minimize all of the data. "I may make some use of the pool, though. And the library. And certainly the pantry, most certainly the pantry. Time Lord metabolism to sate and all that..."




It was in the early morning when Liara woke up and found me in the control room playing with a device I'd been putting together. She looked at it closely. "That's... Shepard had something like that in her Citadel apartment. She called it an egg beater?"

"Ha! Yes," I said. I held up the device in question which did indeed have an egg beater as part of its arrangement. "Excellent quality to the material, I must say. But she's not made for egg preparation."

"Does Asami know you're using her kitchen utensils to create... whatever that is?"

"Well, probably not," I conceded. "But she won't mind. This... this is how we're going to catch that triad. I've fine-tuned it for minute traces of temporal energy."

"You mean your sonic screwdriver won't work?"

"It would, but I'll be holding that in reserve," I said. "Never know what we'll run into, eh?"

"I imagine it'll be trouble. Like always." Liara leaned over the railing around the main controls. "So what are you going to do about Asami?"

I sighed at that. "Whatever seems best for her. I..." I let out a sigh and plopped myself down on the flight of stairs leading up to the wall of the control room. "I never saw it. She didn't really show it, mind you, but I should have thought of that."

"She cares a great deal about Korra?"

"More than I might have imagined," I said. "Now that I think about it, it was obvious that the wound from her helplessness was deep.,"

"I know something about those kinds of emotions," Liara commented. "I should talk to her."

"If you think it will help.." I checked one final setting. "Alright. I think we're ready. Ready for more walking?"

"Are you sure about that?" Liara frowned. "Given how large this city is, we might make better time with a vehicle."

"True," I conceded. "But it lacks that... flair that comes from walking down the streets."

"Yes, how could I have forgotten?", Liara said, annoyed humor in her voice. "We should do the least-reasonable thing because it gives us more 'flair'."

I faux-glared at her. "Oi, you take all the fun out of it."

"And walking until my feet are sore would take the fun out of it for me," Liara replied.

"Spoilsport," I replied.

After finishing my device I went toward the TARDIS controls. I started the process of shifting us back to the destroyed warehouse at the edge of the Spirit Wilds when there was a knock at the door. Liara opened it. "Miss Sato?"

Asami stepped in, wearing that field get-up she always preferred. She looked rather refreshed now and very... well, Asami-like. "I've let my office know I'm going to be unavailable today," she said. "So, where do we start?"

Liara and I looked at each other. "You're going to ask her, aren't you?", I said. "You're going to ask..."

Liara smirked and turned to Asami. "You have a vehicle, yes?"

Asami replied with a smirk. "Depends. Am I driving?"

I sighed. "You're going to take us in that lovely high performance sports car, aren't you? And then race us along the roads."

She gave me an amused look. And then her face turned quizzical. "Is that the egg-beater I bought for Mako's Grandmother Jun?"




I decided I wished she'd taken the sports car.

We moved along in a large vehicle the size of a cargo truck, but made to look like the 1920s equivalent of a van. The why was very obvious given what was in the back. "So you're bringing the Mark II?", I asked her. "Didn't it need some more work?"

"It's fine for now," Asami answered. "I fixed the problem this morning."

"I see." I said nothing more as we pulled up close to the warehouse. Some of Lin Beifong's police were busy going through the wreckage and compiling data. "Hold it..." I held out the device. "Alright... this way." I gestured for her to turn right and Asami did.

"Why didn't you bring the TARDIS?", Asami asked.

"For the same reason you don't bring a loud motor when you've got to listen for something slight and delicate," I answered. "The TARDIS would completely drown the trace elements I'm looking for."

For the next two hours we drove through thick traffic and along byways as I carefully followed the readings. We had to double back more than once given how faint the readings were at times. And having to get around some of the construction made it even harder at times.

"Why did your city give up on trying to remove the vines?", Liara asked.

"Because it can't be done," Asami said. "We tried everything and nothing's worked. Sometimes they would even get worse. So my company put together a reconstruction plan for the city that involved going around the vines."

"That sounds like quite a challenge."

"It's worth it." Asami stared ahead. "It's Korra's vision of the world. Humans and Spirits living together, getting along."

"I see." Liara looked at me and I nodded. "You have a very nice home. How is your family?"

Asami's expression turned a little ashen. She fixed a look at me and I gave my head a small shake. Liara nodded back and took a moment before she spoke again. "I lost my mother a few years ago. She was.. taken by a Reaper. Indoctrinated to serve it." I thought I saw some unshed tears in Liara's eyes. She was undoubtedly remembering Noveria. "I was there. My mother managed to free herself at the end. But we had to kill her to stop the Reapers."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Asami said. "My father didn't have that kind of excuse when he tried to kill me."

"Goddess. Asami, I didn't know..."

"I lost my mother when I was a little girl," Asami continued. "He was all I had for over ten years, and we were close. Or at least I thought we were. But he hid things from me." A tear appeared on her eye. Her voice sounded like it was getting distant. "He became an Equalist and helped Amon attack the city. And when I wouldn't join him, he..."

I almost expected Liara to repeat her favored "Goddess" line, but she didn't. She just shook her head. "That's horrible. Is he..."

"He's in prison," she said. "Where he's going to stay for all I care." There was a real heat in her voice when she said that.

I gave Liara a warning glance. Before either of us could say anything, Asami continued. "All I have left is Korra," she said. "Which is why we're out here. Whatever is going on, we need to stop it so that Korra doesn't have to get mixed up in it too. She has enough problems right now."

"Maybe you should talk to her, then?", Liara suggested. "It seemed to me that she was hurt by your lack of communication."

Asami's eyes tightened. I glanced back to my scanner and was very thankful to see that the power levels had spiked again. Relatively, at least. It gave me an excuse to intervene before an argument could break out. "Looks like we're on the right track," I said. "The temporal energy source is definitely increasing."

I directed Asami down the road until we reached the end of it. At least, the new end of it, given the curtain of vines hanging over it and the one thick vine cutting off half of the road. I held up the scanner and sighed. "It's in there."

"How safe is it in there?", asked Liara.

"They're starting to give tours," Asami answered. "Some of the new Air Nation members are usually the tour guides."

"Interesting idea there," I murmured. "Well, let's head on." I stepped out of the van and helped Liara out. Asami, however, climbed over the seat into the back. I looked back in to see her getting ready to open her prone suit. "You realize we will likely require some stealth, right?"

"I know," she said. "I'm just turning on the remote piloting system."

I blinked and furrowed my brow. "Asami, you're a brilliant and inventive young woman, I don't doubt that. But I know that even you couldn't pick up software coding that quickly."

"I didn't," she answered. "I just loaded that guidance program template from your rocket flight package into the Mark II."

"So... it thinks your suit is a rocket?", Liara asked.

"Yes. All it will operate are the flight controls." She sighed. "I'm going to have to replace the back of the vehicle if we do need it."

"Let's be careful about it then, eh? We find what's going on and we get out, no fuss?"

Liara and Asami looked at each other knowingly and then at me. They crossed their arms.

I shook my head. "Yes, I know, too much to ask, isn't it?"

"Always," Liara stated.

And so we set off into the Spirit Wilds.




The Spirit Wilds were an interesting experience. There was a sort of energy around them, an aura, that didn't exist elsewhere in the city. I had felt a tinge of it in the Southern Tribe when living there, though, and so I wasn't surprised to feel it here. Of course, since this place wasn't home to a spirit world portal, the energy was very faint once you got to its periphery and non-existent beyond that. Inside, though? Oh yes, quite noticeable.

And there were the spirits themselves. Some looked like animals, some looked like wisps of air or walking plants or just small indistinct shapes with eyes and an optional mouth. They paid us little heed.

"It must be odd for your people." Liara looked away from the small bulb-shaped blue sprite bouncing on a vine nearby. "Living with such creatures in the heart of your city."

"Over the last two years we've pretty used to it." Asami looked at one of the taller spirits, this one in the shape of a stork-like thing. "This is what Korra wanted anyway. Humans and spirits living in peace together."

"It's not always easy, of course," Liara said. "My people had enough problems adjusting to the existence of alien species. If we had to share Thessia with an alien race it might have been even harder."

I almost made a remark about how her species viewed other species now, but that would be tasteless, wouldn't it?

I had been worried, briefly, that the latent energies in the Spirit Wild would obscure the temporal energy signature much like the TARDIS would have. But I found it was still remaining strong. More strong than I'd imagined, actually.

It took us a while but we found a building well within the wilds, just north of the center. I noticed the temporal energy signature growing stronger as we walked past it and a quick sweep confirmed that it seemed to be coming... well, not within the building, not precisely. But.... a ha. "Underground," I murmured.

"What?", Liara asked.

Asami's eyes lit up. "Of course. The underground tunnels. They stretch for miles around the main city."

"And what better place to have a concealed entrance to your underground base than the middle of a spirit-filled forest Humans don't live in anymore?", I added. I continued walking along until I found a door. I held my hand back and fished out my sonic screwdriver. I handed the temporal scanner to Asami. "There." I held out the sonic and scanned the door. "Locked. Not sure if anyone is inside, definitely not on the first story. Now give me a moment..." I started running the sonic over the door. I didn't quite hear the cheerful little "click!" when the lock tripped. "Well, let's see what we have in here," I said, putting the sonic back in my pocket. Or rather a pocket. I had a feeling about this...

As expected, the first floor was vacant. It too had been a warehouse of some sort, although the entrance was a business area. It looked abandoned now, and eerily so. A snapshot to what things had been like before Vaatu came along.

We left the office area and came to the vacant warehouse. Vines had torn out one wall and left half the space choked with their presence. Old boxes could still be seen here and there. I looked over them all. Behind me, Asami was starting to turn toward a far wall. "The trace leads this way."

I was busy looking at the boxes. They all looked old and unused, but there was something off... ah. I could see it now. "The dust on that long box has been disturbed," I said, moving over to it at a brisk pace. I drew the attention of the others before I got to it and knelt over. I felt along the lid and could see where it had been moved recently, halfway off. So I pushed it to that point.

And looked into a pair of cold, dead eyes.

I let out a brief gasp. The others joined me and saw the contents of the box. Liara's jaw hardened and Asami... looked like she would turn sick. Liara activated her omnitool and scanned the body with it. "It looks like a fatal head injury. Something cracked his skull."

I nodded. And as I did, my eyes took in the details. This man... he wasn't right. His clothing was off. The way the dark-colored jacket was worn, the way it looked... this man wasn't from this world at all.

"He's from another world," Asami whispered.

"Most likely," I answered. "Or dressed for the part at least. Here..." I opened up the jacket and noticed the velcro patches that held his belts closed. "Velcro. See? Nice invention, why aren't you running with it yet?"

"I sent early drawings to R&D, actually," Asami countered, keeping her voice low.

"Ah. Good job," I murmured back while checking the pockets. I found something in one of them and pulled it out. "Hrm, what do we have here, a wallet?" I reached for a small pen flashlight I kept in my jacket pocket and used it to illuminate the item.

I read it.

As soon as what I'd read hit me, I dropped it into the box and grabbed at the dead man's left wrist. When I found it was bare save for his long jacket and long-sleeved shirt beneath, I quickly snatched at the right wrist. I admit that I was fairly terrified by the ramifications when it too was bare. "Bloody hell, not this, not this," I hissed.

"Doctor, what is it?", Liara asked. "What is this man?"

Asami held up the item I'd dropped and was squinting her eyes at it, using a small light of her own. "...a 'Time Agent'?"

I saw her eyes widen as the ramifications occurred to her. I nodded. "Right. And someone took his vortex manipulator."

"You mean his time machine," Asami said.

"Yes," I hissed. "This... this is bad, very bad. Those things, what someone could do with that amount of pow...."

I heard the noise briefly before the attack came, just quickly enough to knock Asami over before something would have struck her in the arm. It instead hit my side below the shoulder with a dull impact, made dull admittedly due to my special vest. Thank you again, Charity and Molly Carpenter.

I rolled off Asami and reached for my sonic disruptor. Asami went to pull out what I presumed was her controls for her Mark II, but before she could get it something struck her arm and sent her flying past me. Liara fell back toward me and generated a biotic field that shielded us from more attacks. I turned back and saw a dark shape rushing toward Asami, who was recovering. I held up the sonic disruptor and gave him a decent setting 4-inspired excuse to stay on the ground, and even as I spoke more objects were striking us, smashing against Liara's biotic field. And I knew we were outnumbered, given the frequency.

"Asami, run!," I shouted. "Get back to the van!"

"But..." She protested only for a moment before nodding in understand and running toward the side door to the warehouse. Two more dark shapes pursued her and I sent them both sprawling with Setting 4. She got out of the door a second later.

There were ordered shouts from around us. I drew up my sonic disruptor and turned on the deflector. "We just need to buy her time," I whispered to Liara.

"Agreed," Liara replied, while I brought my disruptor up to buoy her biotic sphere. Stones and rock flew at us, being crushed into pulverized powder against the forcefield. But every impact made my arms shudder. I felt Liara's back stiffen and then began sliding down. She was starting to go to a knee from all the energy she had to let out.

Suddenly concrete erupted from the ground inside the sphere. Metal pipes screamed as they rushed through the breaks in the ground like snakes and enveloped us, twisting around us and binding us together before we could get away. My sonic disruptor was knocked from my hand by one of the pipes. With the biotic field falling, it skid to a stop on the nearby ground. Two dark shapes stepped up to it. In the remnant light of the disruptor's tip, I could see them more clearly. Long billowing robes of a very dark color, dark green I thought given the lack of light, and just enough light to see a green with a square cut out of the center placed in the middle of the torso, trimmed with gold to differentiate from the darker green of the top. Black leggings beneath the robes.

The symbol was, of course, the important part.

It was the symbol of the Earth Kingdom.

Which meant that our attackers identities were clear.

Doubly so when I looked to the faces beneath their caps and, despite the dim light, noticed their striking features; particularly the emerald eyes and what most writers would call a piercing nose.

They were Xuandi's escorts.

And they were also, given the garb, members of the Dai Li - the secret police of the Earth Kingdom.

Which made a disturbing amount of sense, come to think of it.

"I think this counts as fuss," I sighed to Liara. "Definitely counts as fuss."
”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-17 09:27am

Being captured is such a pain.

The Dai Li kept us wrapped up in the metal pipes. An entrance in the warehouse, near where Asami had indicated, led us down into the underground levels. The vines had penetrated down here a swell, but not so prolifically as to block off the whole thing. After going through one thick grouping of vines, our captors brought us to an underground rail platform. It was undoubtedy a refurbished Equalist car, given its look, and it took us along the underground.

I didn't speak during the trip and focused instead on what our captors were going to say, Which proved depressingly little.

My senses began to tingle as we came around a bend and entered a big tunnel. I suddenly had a very bad feeling about just what was on the far side.

My fears were confirmed when we came out into a cavernous complex beneath Republic CIty. All of my attention was on the far wall, where the white light split the masonry. The Crack was fully visible and looked large enough for a person to go through it.

"Doctor, look."

I forced my eyes away from the Crack and looked to the wider side of the chamber.

I had expected an army. I got one. But it was not an army of people, but of metal. The mechatanks of the current era, that is, all shined down and bearing the symbol of the Earth Kingdom. Explicitly the Earth Kingdom and not the styilized markings Kuvira's army preferred.

Our captors put us on a cart and moved us toward the dais raised before the army of mechatanks and their pilots, who saluted the figure in green robes as he saluted them. He turned toward us and, yes, it was Xuandi. "The famous Doctor," he said, pulling gently at his beard. "And his associate? Doctor Liara t'Soni, I believe it was."

"Indeed." I nodded my head in faux courtesy. "King Xuandi."

"My negotiators to the Southern Water Tribe spoke of your expertise in technical issues," Xuandi continued amiably, walking toward us. He looked to our captors. "Guan, Zhang, were they alone?"

"We sent Zhayun and Wenyan after their friend," the woman of the two answered. "I believe she was Asami Sato."

"Ah. Rather interesting." Xuandi folded his arms. "Tell me, Doctor, did you track my agents' movements because of that?" He shifted his head toward the Crack.

Telling the truth did no harm. I nodded. "It's a Crack in the fabric of reality. Spills temporal; energy everywhere. And speaking of that... the dead man we found in that warehouse. He should have had something with him, Xuandi, something incredibly dangerous. The existence of your world, of everything you cherish, may depend upon you being honest with me about where it is."

Xuandi listened to my plea with some intrigue. "The poor man fell through this.. 'Crack' of yours, already dead. We found no devices on him, if that is what you're worried about."

"Are you sure, King Xuandi?", I asked insistantly. "Because the tools of a Time Agent in the wrong hands can spell disaster for this entire world, past and present and future."

"I give you my word, Doctor, that nothing was recovered from him that poses such a threat," Xuandi insisted. "We are curious about the weapon we found with him.." Xuandi took the device in question out.

"Sonic blaster," I sighed.

"Ah. Similar to your infamous devices, then?" Xuandi put it back in his robe's belt. "Well, now that you're here, I suppose I should make use of you. I desire that Crack sealed, Doctor. I won't have my Earth Kingdom being threatened with such a thing."

There was something in the way he said it that made me ponder. After all.. we weren't actually in the Earth Kingdom, were we?

I frowned, and quickly spun that frown into being over something different. "That's a very involved process." As I did so I looked around the room. Not every Dai Li agent was in pilot uniform, or even in uniform. Some seemed to be dressing up for other jobs. I was quite interested to see all of those made up to look like staff. "Being trapped in a metal pipe doesn't help."

Xuandi nodded to one of the two twin Dai Li. The man reached back and with a motion of his arm pulled the pipe off. Regaining the range in my arms was appreciated. "Please, do not abuse my hospitality," he said. "My Dai Li will be very efficient in disposing of you should you try."

I gave a look to Liara. We were at a severe disadvantage, yes, so it was best to play it safe. "Of course," I said to him. I looked over to the wall. I felt slight energy tingling in the air, but not much. The Crack was certainly emitting energy in some slight quantity, matching what I expected. "Don't let anyone near it, for starters. The temporal energy can do weird things. And nasty ones."

"We are not entirely without common sense, Doctor," Xuandi remarked drolly.

"Alright. I'm going to need a bit of time and some materials, then I think I can find a way to snap it closed."

"You'll be granted whatever aid you need," Xuandi said. He nodded to his subordinates. "And I give you my word that if you cooperate, you will be freed."

I nodded, not bothering to voice the reasonable explanation for that. Whatever he planned to do with those mechatanks, he planned to do soon. Tonight, possibly. At the conference?

But what was his plan? Even this force wasn't enough to take over Republic CIty, much less oppose Kuvira's large army. Xuandi was up to something else. And I needed to know.

"I need to see what materials you have in place," I said. "I'm having to wing it here."

Xuandi's expression showed bemused skepticism at that. "I find that hard to believe. A man like you keeps his tools for such work well at hand."

I nodded at him. "Yes, but to be blunt, I don't want to bring my TARDIS here."

"And why not?"

"Well, for starters, moving the TARDIS so close to the Crack can, if done incorrectly, tear the Crack open," I said. Which wasn't a lie. Just an exaggeration, honestly. A teeny one. "And secondly, to be truly honest, I don't want my TARDIS here with your Dai Li, and quite frankly, you don't want it here either. Not with what I could do with the TARDIS." I turned to face him.

Xuandi seemed to be in thought for a moment. "You have a means to bring it here without my involvement," he said plainly. His eyes narrowed. "Which makes me wonder why you would reveal that."

"Honesty. And it benefits me to not get a rock tossed at my head, because of your suspicions."

"Fair enough. Your device, then?"

I started fumbling into my pockets. "Let's see... airship ticket, Rabanastre to Bhujerba, no, bubble gum wrapper, lint, Ankh-Morpork stamps, not that.... ah, sorry!" I flourished my TARDIS locket as I pulled it out of one of my inner jacket pockets. "Sorry, I do carry so much." I smirked at Liara. "As some people complain about."

Liara rolled her eyes at me.

I tossed it to Xuandi, who caught it even as one of the twins, the woman I thought, tried and failed to snatch it in mid-air by metalbending. He gave me a courteous smile before handing the locket to the woman, who showed me a scowl before pocketing it. "Zhang will show you to our storeroom. Guan will remain to execute your friend should you show any signs of treachery."

I nodded and kept aknowing look on my face. Don't you love it when you get such polite warnings about such things?

The woman, evidently Zhang, led me off to another room in the large facility. There I found boxes of materials here and there, including machine tools, radio parts, that sort of thing. And, of course, the completely non-descript boxes in the corner with the Future Industries logo on them. Zhang stepped up toward them to make it clear they were off-limits. That, of course, was perfectly fine by me. I already knew what was in them.

I made a show of acquiring a few devices, a radio and such, and asking to be taken onward. I saw several more storage facilities, but what truly interested me was some of the things I wasn't allowed to see. I began to realize the full scope of this. No wonder Asami reported fluctuations in the power supply of the city. This place was taking a lot of power to run.

Not surprising, really, given its apparent functions.

The storerooms told me something about this place. It wasn't just a secret hidey-hole, it was a factory, and the mechatanks here were most likely the fruits of that factory's efforts.

Building mechatanks here made some of Xuandi's plans rather understandable. Didn't mean I liked them any.

I also realized we were soon going to run out of time.

In each storeroom I took more devices. Sometimes I put a bunch on the provided cart, sometimes I put nothing. And every time, I saw what I needed to see.

I returned to the main chamber to find Xuandi was already gone. Guan was standing near Liara, who kept whatever fear she flet subdued. I could sense she was ready to defend herself. But it wasn't time for that either. I would continue to play along. "I need a hand here," I called out, indicating Liara.

Guan held an arm up to her, refusing to let her pass. He nodded to his... sister, I guess? And Zhang stepped up to take his place while he stepped forward.

Ah. Just what I expected.

"Well, since you've appointed yourself my assistant, first we need to do this...."

For a time we went through the parts I'd gathered and set them up in a certain way. I kept an eye on Liara and Zhang, who was carefully watching me in turn, looking for the slightest sign of treachery I suppose, and with the kind of cold calm that you get from hardened killers.

Slowly the device took shape, a mass of wires and radio bits and other things that formed what looked to be a taser for a mecha suit. Which was intentional on my part, of course. The thing had to look its part.

Although I remained pretty focused on my task, I did keep an eye out for what was going on. Namely, all of those mechatanks being given checks that looked pretty final. Whatever Xuandi was planning, he would do it soon.

I stalled as long as I could. But the machine was clearly done. I fidgeted iwth one part when a harsh female voice barked, "Enough!" I turned and saw Zhang extend an arm toward LIara. The glint of metal was at the end of it, pointed at Liara's throat. "Your machine is complete. Use it as you said it would be used, or I will consider this treachery."

I looked up at her with irritation that was all too real. "Oh, so you're the expert on cracks through the fabric of space-time, are you? Because if you know what to do, I'd love to hear it. How many of these things have you dealt with anyway?"

Zhang's look was cold. "What I do have experience with is treachery and deceit," she answered. "And I am now convinced that is exactly what you have done here. You have abused our leader's manners and trust."

"Your leader is about to launch an attack on the city under flag of truce," I replied. "After he blows up Raiko and Kuvira and everyone at the conference."

For a moment, Zhang's eyes lost their hardness, showing shock and surprise. Then the harsh look returned. "What do you know of this?"

I clucked my tongue. "What, that? Oh, not hard, not hard at all. I figure the Triads are the initial scapegoats, yes? Turn the technology thefts from Future Industries into something bigger and badder, your little army here, and blame them. But the plastic explosives, now those gave you away. Blow up the conference, you kill Raiko and Kuvira, two birds with one stone. Not hard to figure out the game plan from there, is it? Have some Dai Li infiltrator in the Republic government provide you with forged documents, make it look like a plot gone awry, Xuandi barely survives it, and in one swoop he not only makes himself the aggrieved party, he gives Kuvira's army an enemy to avenge her death upon, and places himself as the obvious candidate for their loyalty in doing so. And his mechatank forces here, while not big enough to hold the city against the Republic forces, is strong enough to cripple the Republic's military infrastructure. Then all he has to do is get Kuvira's army to march in and, oh, I guess the rhetoric would be 'restore Yu Dao and other lands to their rightful place'? That about fit it? After all, an Earth Kingdom traditionalist like him probably looks at the map of the world and feels a little twist of hate whenever he sees the Republic's place on it." I saw the anger flash in Zhang's eyes. "Or like you, I imagine."

"You think you are clever," Zhang spat. "You think you are smart. But nothing you do will stop King Xuandi from restoring our Kingdom to its full glory."

I smirked a little at that. "Well, we'll have to see. Because, you know what I am?" I allowed the smile to vanish. "I'm a Time Lord. I've faced down mad gods and galaxy-conquering hordes and all sorts of things that make you and your master look like pebbles before a mountain." I frowned. "And I'll remind you that there are people at that conference I care about. And if your master so much as singes a hair on their heads, I will show him what it means to provoke the fury of a Time Lord."

Zhang snarled. "You seek to threaten him? To threaten the Dai Li?"

"Oh, this isn't a threat," I said. "It's a promise. If you do anything to hurt a friend of mine, someone that I care about, that I love, I will make you pay. Just as I did to the last fools who harmed one of my Companions." I noticed Liara looking at me with concern. I didn't return the look.

Ever since I had realized what Xuandi's plot was, I felt a growing anger inside of me. A fear, too. A fear of being too late. A fear that I would arrive only to find the blasted ruins of many people I considered friends.

A fear that I would once again look into a shining blue eye that had once held so much life, an eye that once belonged to a friend and Companion who had held so much brilliance and promise, reduced to the only recognizable part of a body utterly destroyed by blast and flame.

If Korra were to suffer the same fate as Katherine... well, I didn't want to think it. Not after we had come so far, done so much, and seen her grow so much in her role as the Avatar.

Zhang's expression only became harder. "You have just earned your friend's death, Doctor." And with a move of her fingers she sent a metal spike right at Liara's throat.

Biotic energy caught it in mid-flight. Liara's biotics had flared to life in an instant to intercept the fatal projectile. Her arm came up and a blast of biotic power gripped Zhang, who screamed in pain as she collapsed, enduring the effects of the warp field upon her body.

"Zhang!" Guan's control seemed to slip at seeing his relative go down. He adopted an Earthbending stance and started throwing rocks at Liara, trying to break through her biotic defenses.

Which left me to do the fun part.

One of the advantages to the vest Charity and Molly had given me, beyond the armored materials and the magic defensive enchantments anyway, was that it was just bulky enough to cover for hiding things within it. I pulled out the sonic screwdriver.

I turned as the first Dai Li mechatanks started to move, responding to the outbreak of fighting up where we were, and held the screwdriver toward the device I had cobbled together with the assistance of the Dai Li. I activated my screwdriver.

And the device promptly took the output from it, amplified said output, and started sending out waves of disruptive energy. The closest mechatanks didn't explode themselves, but the control systems within did. Anything that used electricity overloaded and mechatank after mechatank began to emit sparks and smoke from every crevice, not to mention the open cockpits.

This continued until my machine fell apart. Well, not actually falling apart, more like being ripped apart by one bloody irate metalbender. Zhang screamed rage at me. With a movement of her arm she pulled some of the metal debris up and threw it at me. It slammed into my chest and knocked me backward. Any further damage was, of course, negated by the vest.

It also kept me from getting the wind knocked out of me as roughly as it should have been. I held up my sonic screwdriver and activated my remote feature for my sonics. The sonic disruptor tore Zhang's cloth belt with the force it flew from her, flying across the air until its tip and my sonic's tip were touching. I used my other hand to grab it and generate a deflector shield just before the next bits of metal, all quite sharp, came at me.

Zhang's attack stopped when Guan flew into her, courtesy of a counter-attack from Liara's biotics. The two rolled around once and came to a stop, piled together and winded for the moment. I wasn't going to let them have that moment, obviously, so I brought my sonic disruptor up and set it to setting 21, aka the "Killer headache" setting. It's not one I employ often. It feels wrong to trigger pain intentionally. But it does no damage to the body and debilitates attackers quickly and with minimal fuss, so a little pain in exchange for something more permament like, oh, getting my skull crushed by a rock, well, that's something I admittedly find preferable.

Of course, Zhang had also destroyed my machine before it disabled all the mechatanks, so those were now a threat. Liara and I turned toward them as a half-dozen mechatanks started moving past the disabled ones. And even more were behind them. "What do we do now?", Liara asked.

"Well, I'm about to suggest we run as fast as we can," I said. "But..."

I could already hear the slight roar coming from the tunnel. So I wasn't surprised, certainly, when Asami burst out of it in her Mark II suit. She spotted the Dai Li mechatanks and flew into the nearest, knocking its legs out from under it. She turned and her right hand extended. The repulsor in the glove fired a bolt of light that blasted away the armored skin of another of the mechatanks and looked to have damaged the main control machinery, causing it to fall over.

Another tried to sneak up on Asami, but Liara caught it with a burst of biotic power that sent it flying. Asami spun around and blasted the mecha's left leg off with her repulsors. I used my sonic disruptor on a third, burning down the capacity with one solid bolt to send it flying.

Liara and I could help, but in that Starktech suit, Asami was virtually unstoppable. The electric bursts from the mechatanks' weapons crackled over the protected skin without effect. The flamethrowers did even less. One of the pilots, recognizing this, simply charged and started swinging. He - or she - caught Asami by surprise enough to grab her and send her flying into the nearest wall. The mecha suit picked up a long and jagged piece of debris from the fight and lunged at her with it while LIara and I were still occupied with the others. Asami moved at the last moment to avoid impalement, or at least personal impalement. The rod was driven with enough force from the mechatank to actually break through the armor slightly with a metallic scream of protest.

Asami hardly seemed to notice. She kicked the attacker back and blasted him with both hands, completely disabling the suit. She stopped for a moment, undoubtedly checking the damage, and with one movement shot the legs out from under a mechatank coming at Liara and myself.

"I was wondering where you were," I said.

"Doctor!"

I turned to where Liara was looking.

Guan and Zhang were gone.

That... was actually quite scary. I blinked, in fact. The neural disruptor should have put them out for hours.

Asami stepped up behind us and pulled off her helmet. "What's wrong?"

"Those agents that Xuandi left to guard us. They're gone." Liara frowned. "And they took the Doctor's TARDIS locket with them."

"Actually, no," I said, reaching into my vest and the compartment therein. When I pulled my hand out, I held my TARDIS remote in my hand.

Liara blinked. "What is that?"

"TARDIS remote," I said. I felt a grin split my face. "After a couple of close calls with losing it, I made a duplicate."

"But can't she steal the TARDIS now?", Liara asked.

"She doesn't ahve the psionic link ability or the necessary thought patterns for the TARDIS to answer her," I said. "Besides, I disabled the control feature and activated my backup. Will leave a minute energy trace on anyone who touched the control."

Liara smiled at that. "Including Xuandi."

"Exactly," I answered. "Not that we'll have much problems finding him right now. But it could be useful if we have to chase him through Republic City." I checked my time piece. "We need to be going, now," I said.

Asami recognized what I meant. "The conference?"

"Yes." I frowned. "Xuandi's going to use your plastic explosives to blow everyone to bits."



Thanks to the timely arrival of Asami, we were able to make our escape by TARDIS after taking the time to procure some useful things in our immediate vicinity - specifically, a schematic print. I felt fortunate that I'd taken the time to scan the boxes in the store room during our captivity, which allowed me to escape the necessity of going back and risking the Dai Li regrouping to stop me or shifting the TARDIS around that Crack.

I would have just closed the thing, but we didn't have time for that. Zhang and Guan had proven rather robust, and if they got to Xuandi before I was ready, he might trigger his plot early.

Once we were in the TARDIS I started twisting knobs and dials, zeroing in on the trace energies left by Xuandi after his exposure to my decoy remote. Other energy traces showed for Zhang and Guan, but they stopped quickly enough that I realized they had figured out what the tracer was for. I felt thankful, at least, that Xuandi hadn't figured it out, or had considered it a low risk for the moment.

Or he had set a trap for me, I suppose. Which was why it was a good thing I wasn't actually going head directly to where he was.

Once we were shifted out I pulled out my sonic and held it toward Asami. "What's this?", she asked. "What are you doing?"

"Software patch," I explained. "Whatever scanners you cobbled together for your Mark II suit, this will allow you to track those plastic explosives..." I narrowed my eyes. "Why did you start making plastic explosives anyway?"

Asami noticed my look and crossed her armored arms. "Because our railroads needed shock-hardened alloy steel."

I blinked. "Oh. Right. I sometimes forget plastique has other uses. Never mind that... you can track explosives now. Their unique chemical signature. The moment we arrive, I need you to go everywhere in the building and disable them all."

"And what are you going to be doing?", Asami asked.

"What I do best." I winked at her. "I'm going to put on a show."




I made an entrance.

Well, first I dropped Asami off in a side corridor at Republic City's main government building. Then I made the grand entrance.

When I stepped out of the TARDIS, I was faced with a series of tables facing each other in a circle. One was manned by Xuandi and a couple civilian minders, another by Kuvira, Bataar Jr., and Varrick. Surprisingly Bolin was seated with Korra and Tenzin, with Opal at his side and Jinora beyond her. Whether this meant a demonstration of loyalty in the dispute or Kuvira intentionally trying to showcase her acceptance of Bolin's old bonds, I wasn't sure. And at the head of the tables, with one of their own, Raiko and Prince Wu were flanked by aides. There were further personnel scattered about here and there as well, including some uniformed RCPD officers. No sign of Lin, though.

"Ah, gentlemen and ladies," I said, bowing respectfully. "So sorry."

Raiko looked like he was about to turn purple. "What is the meaning of this intrusion?!", he demanded.

"Oh, just a little matter I have to finish." I noticed Korra's curious look, though appreciative - she clearly wasn't enjoying herself - and smiled at her, and then at Xuandi.

Oh, he was good. Xuandi didn't twitch a muscle. He didn't ask about his Dai Li people. He realized what was happening and was letting me play this out. Good man, that. Bought time for his people to make things happen, and to give him time to escape.

It also gave Asami time to finish off his bombs.

"I'm afraid this entire conference is a charade," I said. I looked to Korra. An involuntary surge of relief came to me. I hadn't been too late after all. "There is treachery afoot."

Kuvira stood. "What do you mean, Doctor?"

"Yes." There was something... dangerous in Xuandi's voice. "What do you mean?"

He was still stalling for time, of course. And he would be no less dangerous when I explained what was going on. Cornered foes and all that, you know how it is.

"As we speak, there is a small force of mechatanks beneath the city that I was required to disable." Xuandi didn't even twitch at that. Oh, he was good. Seeing the expressions on the others, I continued by producing the schematic I had picked up and handing it to Korra. "Recognize these?"

"They look like smaller versions of Equalist mechatanks," Korra answered.

"Say, let me see that," Varrick requested. Korra used Airbending to pass the sheet over the gap between their tables. Bataar was looking over Varrick's shoulder as he caught the schematic. "Well I'll be a hog-monkey's uncle. These are our mechatanks, the first models! Straight from my joint designs with Future Industries!"

"So Kuvira has been hiding a mechatank army under the City this entire time?", Xuandi asked, playfully going along. Now he really was starting to worry me. Had I missed something about him? Some calculation I...

I swallowed and looked at him intently. Oh no. No, he can't be that foolish. It... it wouldn't work anyway...

I forced my concern down. One thing at a time. I had to make sure he wasn't going to blow us all up first.

Kuvira was reserved in her reply. "No. The Republic has been my strongest supporter. That is not my army down there."

"But they are your machines," Tenzin said. "Your..."

Before Tenzin could continue, the door burst open. Asami flew in, much to the surprise of the attending, but instead of stopping she went to a table at a far wall and pulled a plant out of a vase. She turned it over and dumped a plastic explosive device out. It wasn't a whole lot, but it certainly would have killed everyone on that side of the room. Including, I hasten to add, Korra and everyone at her table.

Asami pulled the detonator off of the block of explosives and crushed it in her armored hand. "There, that's all of them," she said.

Since her voice was only slightly filtered through the mechanical speakers of the suit, it was plainly evident to all who was inside.

"As-Asami?", Korra stammered in disbelief. "What... what is that?"

Varrick's reaction was more predictable. "Now see, that's the kind of thing I could do if we worked together, Doctor. Imagine a whole army of them, keeping the Earth Kingdom safe!"

"Miss Sato." Raiko's voice made it clear he was quite, well, peeved is a good way to put it. "Please explain what's going on."

"I was investigating thefts from my company when the Doctor and I found a warehouse still inside the Spirit Wilds," Asami answered. She pointed to Xuandi. "He's been hiring Triads to steal my machinery and technology for his own use. Even my company's plastic explosive materials."

"And you have.... proof of this extraordinary claim?", Xuandi said simply.

Asami, as it turned out, had indeed been thinking ahead. She opened a compartment near her damaged side and revealed papers covered in Earth Kingdom language. "This. I found it in the warehouse inside the Spirit Wilds. The head of the Triple Threat Triads, naming you personally as a client."

I blinked at that while drawing my sonic screwdriver. "So that's why you took so long to find us?"

Asami didn't answer. She presented the paper to Tenzin, who looked it over. "It looks genuine," he said.

Xuandi frowned and looked to Korra. "Avatar, you can't believe this kind of faulty evidence, can you? This is an attempt to discredit me."

Korra had been gawking at Asami at that moment, but she turned to face Xuandi and frowned. "I trust them completely," she said. "You've been lying to me."

Xuandi narrowed his eyes and stood. "Very well. This charade should end now."

The people flanking him stood and assumed Earthbending fighting stances. But the real surprise was at the other table. Specifically, Raiko and Wu, who were suddenly grabbed and hauled up by two of the functionaries that had technically been theirs. "Hey, I'm very sensitive, and you're ruining my coat!", Wu protested.

He quieted when the metal blade went toward his neck.

"I had hoped to do this cleanly," Xuandi said. He directed a look at me. "But you leave me no choice, Doctor. We will do this the hard way. The time has come for us to reverse the grave crime of Avatar Aang and his generation. It is time for the Harmony Restoration Movement to be fulfilled as originally promised to my people. The Earth Kingdom must be made whole."

"These people aren't yours anymore," I said. "They've forged a new identity. You'll be a conqueror and they'll fight."

"The Dai Li is used to dealing with those who defy the needs of our nation," Xuandi answered simply.

I... hadn't actually expected him to reveal his true affiliation. It had the effect, drawing stares of absolute disbelief and horror. "You are Dai Li," Kuvira said. "The Earth Queen had the Dai Li take over the government of Omashu?"

"Omashu was a potential source of disorder in the Earth Kingdom," Xuandi answered. "It was necessary to ensure its loyalty." Xuandi moved his hands together and gripped his wrists. "General Kuvira, despite my concerns about you, I do feel your loyalty is genuine. As a loyal subject of the Earth Kingdom, I ask you to join me. Together we will topple this Republic, this... insult to our Kingdom, and finally see justice for the Hundred Years War. Nothing can oppose us if we work together."

I held my hand up, my signal to Liara and Asami to not yet attempt to go after the Dai Li. And as I did so, my mental calculations went into overdrive. If Kuvira actually did go with Xuandi...

She studied him for a moment. "You're the old world, Xuandi," she said, keeping her tone level. "A fossil of a past that's not coming back. Our people need new ideas, and you don't have any. You and your Dai Li are just the last gasps of a corrupt and failed system that was due to die anyway."

And that... actually seemed to get through Xuandi's calm demeanor. Oh, he clamped down on the visible anger, but there was a twitch now. He didn't like how Kuvira had spoken to him, not at all. And he certainly didn't like what she said. "The Dai Li should have destroyed Zaofu years ago," he said harshly. "The poison of that anarchist Suyin Beifong has corrupted you as well."

Kuvira's eyes hardened a little. "I've had my own problems with Suyin Beifong," she said. "But she still has more vision, by herself, than your entire organization, Xuandi. And I am more determined than ever to free Omashu from your grip."

"What are you going to do, Xuandi?", I asked, cutting in. "The explosives are out of commission. You can't kill all of us, you can't go off and frame the Republic to bring Kuvira's army over to your side. The eyewitnesses will make sure her troops learn about what's happened, even if you were to subdue or kill her before escaping." I gestured to his men holding Raiko and Wu hostage. "This is meaningless posturing and you know it. Your plot has failed. Give up."

A door suddenly swung open on the far wall, behind Xuandi's table. Everyone tensed up and watched as another RCPD officer flew in, crying out before she fell unconscious. Guan and Zhang entered with another group of Dai Li agents in full uniform, the two looking rather disheveled. They glared hatred at me before they ran the distance to their rule and took up positions beside him.

I felt a bit of a chill go up my spine. Xuandi had a hint of a grin under his beard. "Good Dai Li agents do not simply plan. They arrange everything to ensure their task is completed," he said. "And if I cannot end this farce of a Republic now, I will do so elsewhere."

"No..." I shook my head. I knew what he meant.

Not elsewhere.

Elsewhen.

"Xuandi, don't!", I urged him, bringing my sonic screwdriver up and activating it. It should work, the distance was close enough, it should work... "The consequences for your world...."

"Kill them!", he thundered.

Chaos erupted. Looking back, I think Kuvira was the first to act, although Korra might have been. They certainly acted almost simultaneously. Korra bent her elbows backward in a quick pulling motion and the metal knives applied to the necks of Raiko and Wu flew away from the hands holding them. Kuvira's arms shot forward and the metal pieces on the back of her uniform flew outward. They intercepted the wrists of the Dai Li agents holding the hostages. Her hands and forearms jerked quickly and the surprised Dai Li went flying away from Raiko and Wu.

Tenzin and Jinora leapt up and threw out funnels of air that blasted away Dai Li agents that were attempting to flank the table. Bolin intercepted a deadly-looking granite flail end that went flying toward them, pulling it out of the way and opened up its user to an Airbending counter-attack by Opal that sent him flying. The last Dai Li at their table went after Korra's back. Korra was already turning to defend herself, but that proved unnecessary given Asami's quick reaction with her repulsors. Bataar Jr., Varrick, and Zhu Li all went for cover beneath the table.

I noticed something else. The RCPD police agents in the room... they moved quickly, but not to attack Xuandi. They took up formation around him. More infiltrators, undoubtedly, although I could hazard a guess on whether they were sleeper agents or infiltrators for just this day. Either way, I knew Lin would be livid.

But that wasn't what I was worried about.

"Stop him!," I shouted. I wanted to make sure, absolutely sure, even as I continued operating the sonic at him. Zhang's hand whipped out and a metal blade went for my wrist, slicing it on the side and knocking the sonic from my hand. Liara, heeding my call first, summoned her power to throw a singularity at them. It flew through the air between us.

Before it could get to them, or in range of Xuandi, one of his Dai Li agents intercepted it. The singularity prematurely expanded and the man cried out in confusion as he began to rotate helplessly in the air around it, the dark matter's gravity pulling painfully against his body as it kept him in orbit around the singularity.

Xuandi's left hand pulled back the right arm cuff on his dark green robe.

The missing vortex manipulator was underneath. And its lights were still active.

That... that wasn't... my sonic should have disabled it. It should have disabled it completely!

"Don't!", I screamed.

Heeding my cry, several benders - Korra, Kuvira, Bolin, Opal, and Jinora, it looked like - were all throwing attacks at Xuandi, and his Dai Li were in the way, Earthbending the materials in the floor to deflect the attacks.

Asami blasted one out of the way with repulsors, and I went for my sonic disruptor. if I couldn't disable the vortex manipulator, at least I could stop them. I swung it up and prepared a Setting 4 discharge and....

....Xuandi and his two lieutenants disappeared in a brief crackle of energy.

Everyone stopped. Everyone stared.

"No no no no no NO!" I threw my hands up in frustration.

For the moment the Dai Li agents fell back, their mission presumably complete, moving toward the door and regrouping. Opal went up to where they disappeared. "What happened to them?"

"Wow, talk about a quick exit!", Varrick declared, coming out from under the table. "How did that thing work?"

"Doctor? What's wrong?"

I looked back to Korra. "This is bad. So bad I don't even know how to describe how horribly bad it is." i said. "They... I don't know how, it doesn't make bloody sense..."

I felt a hand on my forearm. Liara. "Doctor, take a breath," she said. "Calm down and explain."

I took a few breaths to get control of the raging fear in my hearts. "The vortex manipulators are time machines," I said. "Xuandi and his lieutenants could be anywhere. Anywhen. And... and the damage they could do..."

"Time travel?" Varrick gripped at his chin. "Zhu Li, make a note. I need to invent a time travel device!"

"No you bloody don't!", I shouted at him. "You can't possibly know the damage you could..." I took a breath and realized I really needed to calm down. Going frantic with horror wasn't going to help anything. "Okay. I'm going to go into the TARDIS and see if I can pinpoint where and when they went." I ran back to the TARDIS.

I had just gotten to the threshold of the door when I heard the sound of the vortex manipulator again. For a brief, foolish moment, I breathed a sigh of relief and turned. Even if they changed something, with the manipulator back maybe I could....

There was someone now standing in the middle of the room, wearing the vortex manipulator on their right wrist. It was not Xuandi. It was not Guan or Zhang.

The young woman looked around at us. There was a wound on her face, a cut running down the left cheek, and burnt flesh on the right jaw up to the cheek. Her clothes were charred and torn and blackened. Her hair was a distinct mess. Her eyes widened in shock and disbelief and pain and... she collapsed to the floor, spent from all of her injuries.

I felt my hearts skip as I realized that, despite her haggard appearance, I recognized the young woman.

But I wasn't the one who spoke first.

"Gran-Gran?!"

Jinora ran up and held the young woman's head up. And I could see, despite the disheveled state of her brown hair, the familiar sight of hair loops running from the hairline at the temples to the hair at the back of her head.

"Katara," I said, my voice low with the realization of what I was seeing.

She didn't look a day over eighteen. Maybe even younger. And those were clearly Water Tribe robes she was wearing, before whatever had damaged them so much. It looked like she had been through a war zone.

"It's Katara," Korra agreed. Her blue eyes were wide with shock. "I can't believe it. She looks so young..."

Tenzin went up to join Jinora. "Mo.... Katara." He clearly had to catch himself. "Can you hear us?"

I thought she started to speak. But Katara's head fell back and her eyes closed. She had fallen unconscious.

A whole host of horrible possibilities went through my mind. Of the damage that had been done. Of how hard it might be to fix it.

And then my day got worse.

BOOOOONG.

It was a bell sound. Like someone was striking a gong underwater.

BOOOOONG.

And it was coming from the TARDIS.

Everyone started to look at me. "Doctor..." Liara stepped into my vision, allowing another BOOOONG to go off. "I've never heard it do that before. What..."

BOOOOONG.

Before I could answer, there was something in the periphery of my vision. I turned in its direction.

I was looking out the window, facing Yue Bay. The city looked beautiful as always, even with all the vines around. Golden light from the city's lights shined in the twilight hours.

But there was no sunset sky. There was no horizon. There was just a solid wall of white energy on the horizon.

BOOOOONG.

It was moving.

Towards us.

BOOOOONG.

And only then did I answer Liara's question.

"It's the end of the universe!"


To be Continued....

”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-18 11:13am

Episode 29 - Out of Time

Disasters. Everyone dreads them. And nobody dreads them quite like the experts who deal in their fields. A meteorologist watching a giant storm cause a tidal surge that annihilates a coastal zone. A seismologist seeing an earthquake level a city. A nuclear physicist watching the horizon and seeing cities vanish under mushroom clouds.

Imagine their horror. Their despair at seeing the things they have made their life's work destroy lives on a colossal scale. Think about that.

Thinking about it? Good.

Now imagine what a time traveler would consider to be such a disaster.

Because that is exactly what this was.

The Cloister Bell in the TARDIS was still going off, BOOOOONG-ing over and over again. Liara looked at me in stunned disbelief. "The end of the universe...?" she asked.

"What is going on?!", Raiko demanded, suddenly finding his voice. Oh, lucky me. "Why did they leave? What's..."

"It's a Time Crash," I said. "Xuandi has created a paradox in the past and is going to collapse your entire timeline into nothingness."

Raiko gave me a skeptical look, but it vanished some when he looked back out at the white wall of energy coming toward us. It was starting to consume the water front. "We need to get to shelter," he nearly stammered.

"There is no shelter," I answered. "Not from that." I pointed to the TARDIS. "Only in there." I pointed to it. "Everyone inside, now! We've got to get out of here!"

I turned back to the TARDIS and got to the door with Liara. A moment after we entered we were both thrown off our feet. The TARDIS jostled as the ground beneath it surged and the entrance was covered with rock. From the other side I could hear the sounds of battle breaking out. "Liara, the door!", I screamed. "We've got to clear it."

"Can't we just phase around it?", she asked.

"Not in a Time Crash event!", I shouted back. "It's warping space-time as it closes in, I could materialize us halfway across town on accident!" A glance at the monitor showed the wave of energy had already to the block. We only had seconds left...! I held out my sonic and used it to remotely command the TARDIS to throw up a defensive field made of its own pocket dimension. Warning buzzers went off and the lights went red. The TARDIS couldn't do this forever, not against this kind of event.

Liara gathered her strength and slammed at the rock with a great pulse of dark matter. It shattered and flew away. Beyond I could see the white light of the Time Crash event. It had come through the far side of the wall and stopped about a hundred meters from the TARDIS. Marble flooring and other bits of stone and metal were flying everywhere, along with flames and bursts of air. The Dai Li had returned in force and.... I watched in fascinated horror as one of their Earthbenders came to his ally's defense against Mako by tearing the floor out from under him and using it to sling him at that same far wall. Mako tried to stop himself in mid flight by firebending from his feet. The Dai Li agent caught him in the head with a chunk of stone from the wall. Blood rushed from a broken nose at the impact, but most importantly, Mako lost his concentration and hit the energy.

And all I could do was watch as the energy swallowed him up. And he was gone. Erased.

There was an agonized scream of "MAKO!" I recognized it as Bolin.

Within moments, the Earthbender Mako had been fighting off did the same move. And it was Raiko and Wu being erased from existence.

"Are you mad?!", I shouted in disbelief. "Everything is being erased! You need to stop fighting and come with us!"

Their reaction was two of them gesturing upward and then pulling down. I jumped back and realized what they were doing. They were pulling the roof to fall down upon me and the TARDIS.

Then they went flying backward, taking full repulsor blast hits that sent them into the white light. They, too, were gone. Asami moved in front of me. I almost asked why before seeing her reason. Korra and Jinora moved beside her with Katara held between them. "Take her," Korra insisted, so I did, gesturing toward my medical kits for Jinora's benefit. She turned and went back into the fight, throwing a mix of Firebending punches and kicks to get one of the Dai Li agents away from Kuvira's table.

"Doctor, maybe I should..."

"Stay at the controls, Liara," I insisted, setting Katara down on one of the flights of stairs leading to the upper deck. "I might need you to pull the activation lever at a second's notice."

Liara nodded at that and went to the control station while Jinora took out the medical kit and all those handy instructions I had placed on it. I returned to watch Korra continue her efforts to protect those at Kuvira's table.

Now that I looked at the aforementioned table, I could see their status. Varrick and Zhu-Li were nowhere to be seen. I had the horrifying suspicion they'd already been dealt with like Mako,Wu, and Raiko, and that only Korra had prevented this from happening again to Bataar Jr. He was kneeling beside Kuvira, who was on all fours and covered in dust. A cut across her forehead had led to blood covering half of her face. Whatever head injury that was, it had left her disorientated and out of the fight. Bataar Jr. looked up and shouted, "Bolin, help me!"

He did get Bolin's attention, but he was already in place helping Opal and Tenzin, the latter of whom was also favoring his leg. I cursed; everything was going on so fast. The Dai Li were pressing everyone and only Korra and Asami were keeping them from hitting the TARDIS directly.

"Corporal, that is a direct order!", Bataar Jr. shouted, trying to get Kuvira up by himself. I could see why he couldn't, with the way his leg was bent the wrong way. They'd crippled him with a direct hit.

Bolin looked to them. And back to Opal. He had already lost Mako and I could see the tension in his face. On the one hand, he believed in what Kuvira was doing for the Earth Kingdom. On the other hand... he was in love.

There was a crackling from the ceiling. Several of the remaining Dai Li, acting together, were tearing the stone from the floor above down on top of us. I used the sonic to activate the TARDIS' defense forcefield, protecting us at least, but with all power going to hold back the Time Crash I couldn't protect Korra and Asami.

The debris that resulted was going to crush Korra, and I called out to her. But she was in the middle of hefting her own piece of stone at the Dai Li and didn't have time to react to me.

Asami saw it coming too, and she jumped onto Korra to push her away. She almost got clear, too, but the weight of all that stone came down on her legs. The armor kept them from being hurt, undoubtedly, but she ended up pinned, and I could hear the sounds of her leg repulsors failing to activate fully. They'd been damaged.

"Bolin, help them!", Opal cried out, and Bolin moved to do so.

"Asami!" Korra started bending the stones off Asami's pinned legs. "Hold on, I'll get you out."

I grit my teeth. I almost stepped out to help but I had to be here, at the TARDIS door, if things were to go wrong. Whatever happened here, the real solution was in the past, where Xuandi and his lieutenants were clear to cause havoc. And if we didn't get out of here, nothing would be saved.

Bolin ran up, pulling some stones off Asami's legs, while Asami twisted enough to use one of her repulsors on the Dai Li, sending another one down before he could dodge. Asami looked back down. "I can't get the armor to unlock," she said. "But I can almost get to the manual release, just a bit more."

I heard a popping sound and looked back to see sparking coming from the TARDIS controls. Jinora, currently with the young Katara, looked up. "What's wrong with it?', she asked.

"The pressure of the timeline collapse is becoming too great," I said. "The TARDIS' field is failing." I looked back and shouted, "We have to go, now! Before..."

The white light beyond rushed into the room with a speed that was terrifying. Several unconscious Dai Li agents disappeared within it. I raced back top the controls and turned a few knobs, hit a couple levers and switches, trying to get the field to stabilize. "It's not working!", I called out. "We have to go!"

After doing what I could, which amounted to slowing the rate of contraction, I went back to the door, just in time for Tenzin to look to me. I could see the intent look on his face. The showing of trust, the plea to keep his daughter safe... more than that, to save their world from the oblivion coming in toward us.

Our eye contact broke and Tenzin shot forward, Airbending attack after attack, driving Dai Li agents back toward the light. They fought back, but they couldn't trip him or stoop him until the last moment.

Tenzin turned that into one last attack. Air gathered at his feet as he fell through mid-air and he shot forward, powerful gusts shooting ahead of him, taking up the two Dai Li... and pushing all three into the approaching Time Crash event.

This had the effect of reducing the opposition, to a few. "Opal! Bolin!" I looked back to Bataar Jr. Not able to stand, he nevertheless put all of his strength into pushing Kuvira toward them. Opal caught her, surprise on her face at doing so, and looked back up to her older brother with wide eyes. "Please, keep her safe." After making that plea, Bataar turned toward the nearest Dai Li agent and began stumbling toward him. Said agent saw him coming and tried to move, but he had been walking forward to stay ahead of the white light.

Bataar gathered his strength and in one burst from his unbroken leg, he crashed forward and clipped the legs out from under the Dai Li agent.

The white light got them both.

I looked around. There were only a few Dai Li agents left, and Korra and Bolin and Opal were holding them off. Light was already claiming the furthest one as my eyes swept over them. It was just so frustrating; these people actually thought they were creating a superior world to their own, but all Xuandi was accomplishing was the complete annihilation of everything he and they professed to love.

Bolin and Opal started falling back toward the TARDIS with Kuvira on Bolin's arm. But they weren't the ones I was worried about. I turned my head back to Korra and Asami. "Asami!" Korra was too busy fighting off the remaining Dai Li by re-directing their projectiles. One chunk of rock slammed into her arm, tearing skin and sending a streak of blood from the impact point. "You've got to abandon it!" Korra changed tactics, feigning with a rock and them using an airbending kick to strike the dodging Dai Li agent hard enough to knock him almost back to the light.

"I'm trying!", Asami shouted, trying to move one last piece of rubble that was covering her manual release. She'd pulled off her helmet and I could see the evident frustration in it. All of her work in designing the suit, and she'd still missed something, whatever flaw or defect had kept her automatic systems from working.

There was a metallic click. Asami's armor shifted under the rubble, disengaging from her completely and allowing her to pull free. She scrambled up and struck by a thrown chunk of what looked like marble. It looked like it had hit her somewhere around the neck and it sent Asami to all fours, dazed by the blow.

Korra intercepted the next thrown and, with one fierce cry, sent such a plume of flame at the Dai Li agent that he caught fire and stumbled backward into the light's path.

With her opponent erased from existence, Korra went to Asami and helped her up. She hugged Asami tightly and began to pull her toward the TARDIS.

Bolin and Opal made it and I urged them inside. I looked out again. Twenty meters. Just twenty, and the wall was advancing at the pace of about a meter every other second. We were out of time. "Korra, Asami, hurry!"

It was just as I finished saying that when movement came to my eyes from behind them. A Dai Li agent had gotten almost to his feet. The white light was almost upon him, but he was ignoring it, instead gesturing upward and...

I screamed a warning to Korra and Asami. They glanced upward at the stone that was falling toward them and tried to get out of the way.

They wouldn't make it, though.

And Korra seemed to realize that, as she sacrificed her own momentum to shove Asami out from under the falling rocks. And she had mostly gotten clear herself.

But not enough, as the stone from the ceiling came down on her legs and waist and pinned Korra to the ground, belly first.

There was a slight mumble of satisfaction and the Dai Li agent responsible vanished in the white light.

Asami recovered and turned back. "Korra!", she shouted, and she knelt down over her and started trying to remove the stone. I could see it was extremely heavy, to the point that Asami couldn't lift it, and the way it held Korra's body down she couldn't easily Earthbend it, or do anything within the extremely short time window they had left. I turned and saw where Bolin was helping Opal sit down. "Bolin!", I cried out. But even as I said so, a part of me recognized the truth.

We didn't have time anymore.

We had to go.

Korra looked at me and then turned her head enough to see the approaching light from another direction. "Asami, we don't have time!", she shouted. "Go on!"

"I'm not leaving you here!", Asami screamed back.

The light was almost on them. And I couldn't do anything. We were out of time.

Korra pleaded, "Asami, please."

"Not again." I could hear the sob in Asami's voice, could imagine the tears starting to well in her eyes. "I can't leave you again."

"Asami, come on!", I shouted. "There's nothing we can do!" Horror built in my hearts as the white light came another meter closer. They only had seconds left....!

I almost stopped caring at that point. I was ready to step out anyway. I couldn't stand here and watch them both vanish, could I? Even if I might prevent it because, of course, that's never guaranteed right? It was all abstract, but this was real. My former Companions, friends that I had shown the wonders of the Multiverse to, were about to get wiped out of existence. And I couldn't just stand here and do nothing about it.

I might have done something monumentally stupid at that point if not for Korra.

"Asami, I'm sorry," I heard her say.

Although she wasn't orientated to use her bending to save herself, Korra still had enough of her arm free to use it to bend something else. Or, rather, to generate a massive gust of air with a movement of her arm. The column of air slammed into Asami and threw her into the entrance of the TARDIS. I grabbed her as she started to move back toward Korra. "Let me go!," she shrieked.

"It's too late!"

And indeed it was. The Time Crash energy had reached Korra. She was pinned in a way that we didn't see it take her legs, but I knew they were under the rubble it claimed.

Even with all of my Time Lord strength, for a moment I thought Asami would tear herself from my grip. "KORRA!", she screamed.

Korra looked at us with her blue eyes teared up and a sad smile on her face. I nodded at her. I knew what she meant. She had faith that I'd stop this. That I'd undo whatever it was Xuandi did in the past. That this all wouldn't be for nothing.

The light moved over the rest of Korra. Her eyes focused on Asami. And I thought I could see her mouth moving again as the light came over her head. But I didn't hear anything.

And then it was over.

Korra... was gone.

Erased from existence by the nullification of her entire timeline.

Asami sagged in my grip. Her sobbing had become intense, hysterical, and it was heart-breaking. "NO!"

With pain and rage in my hearts, I snapped my fingers and the TARDIS doors closed. "Liara! Now!"

Liara did as I had instructed. She pulled back on the TARDIS' main activation lever.

VWORP VWORP VWORP replied the TARDIS' engine, and my girl knew exactly what she had to do. We shot off into the Time Vortex to escape the doomed world.

Bolin was looking back at us now, watching Asami cry in my arms, and his face turned pale. "Where's Korra?" It was clear he knew the answer even as he asked it. Tears welled in his eyes and he sagged back into the railing, where Opal caught him and held him close.

I was already looking toward Liara. Concern showed on her features, and it wasn't just about our situation. I think she could tell how my mood was going.

Seeing that... seeing a Companion, even a former one, wiped from existence, her loved one left sobbing in my arms.... it made me think things.

Dark things.

And I found myself certain that if I caught Xuandi and this proved irreversible...

...well then. Ryan Steiner would have some company in the Source Wall.

But I couldn't think that. I had to think about saving them. Mako, Tenzin, Pema and the other children, even Raiko and Wu and Varrick.

Korra.

I was going to save them. That's all there was to it.

I was going to stop this.






Sometimes, after terrible things happen, you just have to push it away and focus on the here and now.

We had escaped from the Time Crash event and were not in any immediate danger, so there was time to do things that needed to be done. Dealing with the wounded, for instance, which meant that Katara - the young Katara that had appeared, that is - and Kuvira were aided. Katara was still asleep in the library under the watchful eye of Jinora while Kuvira had joined us in the control room. She was still hurt but, as I had to point out, head injuries and sleep don't always go well together.

She opened up the conversation. "Where is Bataar?"

"Gone," I said. "Erased from existence."

Her expression looked hard. But... brittle. Like it would break if actually pressed in the wrong way. "Why? Why didn't you save him too?"

Bolin answered before I could. "He sacrificed himself to save you, Kuvira."

Her look softened slightly, but still kept that brittle edge. Whatever else she was, Kuvira was apparently a believer in hiding her feelings as well as she could.

Opal looked at me. "What happened back there? You said something about time machines and..."

"Time Crash," I answered. I wasn't actually looking at her. I had turned my head over the railing to look down to where Asami was sitting alone on the lower level of the control room, staring off into space. "Xuandi changed something in the past without realizing what it could do."

Bolin gave me a confused look. "But didn't we change history too? Saving all of those Air Nomads?"

I sighed. "That was different. For one thing, we didn't disrupt history. The people we took were those who were not fully accounted as deaths. Frankly, we didn't change history so much as tweak with it. And we did it with the TARDIS, which can act as a stabilizing agent upon the timeline." I shook my head. "Vortex manipulators don't have that level of safety built into them. Instead Xuandi changed a crucial point in history. It may have even been a Fixed Point, we'll have to see."

Kuvira nodded. "I think our mission is clear."

"Right. We go back and stop Xuandi and his lieutenants from whatever they changed."

"We know they attacked Avatar Aang," Opal said. "And when he was really young too. We should go to that point in time."

I shook my head. "We need the right point in time. And it's going to be hard. With the damage to your world's space-time, I'll need a very solid coordinate lock. If I miss in the wrong direction, well, it might make it even harder to stop him."

"Well, you could always use the time machine thing that was on that girl's wrist!"

The voice came from below without explanation or expectation. We all looked down the railing to see where one of my collections of gear was now strewn about, having served as a hiding place for Varrick and Zhu-Li. "Nice place you got down here, Doctor," Varrick said. "You're going to have to tell me how some of this stuff works!"

"Varrick?", I spluttered. "Where... how did you get in here?!"

"Slipped in while the others were keeping those black-robed stooges busy!", Varrick answered, smiling widely. "Almost said something, but you were tinkering with your knobs and it looked pretty important. Oh, and, Zhu Li, make a memo! No time travel devices. Not worth the trouble!"

"Yes sir," his assistant answered.

"Alright, good to see you, just... don't touch anything down there."

"Doctor." Liara's voice prompted me to look up at her. "I think Varrick might have a good idea. Can't you use the vortex manipulator to track where Xuandi went?"

"Possible," I said. "Although that still won't tell us what happened. We'll need Katara to wake up and tell us what happened. We can plan for dealing with Xuandi then."

"She was badly wounded," Liara said. "It may take her a few more hours to recuperate."

I nodded at that. "Make sure she's comfortable. I don't want her feeling cornered when we talk."

Liara nodded. We all dispersed to various corners. I kept a close eye on Varrick and Zhu Li as they met up with Kuvira and talked. Bolin was sitting with Opal at the upper level, the two comforting each other.

I went to the stairs and walked down. I passed Asami on the way, but she still did not stir. I took a few minutes to clean up where Varrick and Zhu Li had been hiding and took great care in making sure all of my technology was accounted for. When I was done I turned back to Asami. Without a word I pulled a wheeled chair out of the corner and rolled it closer to her before sitting in it. I simply looked at her for the moment. The tear streaks dried on her dear face. The red in her green eyes from all of the crying. She looked utterly devastated. She had lost everything. Everyone.

Truly everyone.

Memories zipped through my mind, the travels we had made together, the times spent in common. The way they had sometimes looked at each other, behaved around each other, laughed and teased and cried.

And the sight of Asami holding Korra's hand after she had spent herself in fixing the world-bound Mind of what would have become the technology-less world of the Change.

These thoughts went through me and I began to see, for the first time, what I had not seen before. What I had not bothered to see.

"Jan and Cami were right. I am oblivious," I sighed.

She didn't react to that.

"How long?", I asked quietly.

Asami looked at me. But she didn't make a sound.

"How long, Asami?", I asked, keeping my tone quiet and soft. "How long since you realized you were in love with Korra?"

She lowered her eyes. "I can't say... I'm... not very sure." She shivered. "I just remember when I stopped lying to myself about it. I remember watching Korra dying from Zaheer's poison and realizing how much she meant to me."

I nodded. That sounded, well, authentic I suppose. I could see that quite clearly, yes.

Asami continued. "After a while I started to wonder if I was just overreacting to what happened. Maybe it was just to fool myself with her being gone for so long. But then we went traveling with you and I realized how much she meant to me." She wiped at the fresh tears coming down her cheeks.

I nodded. "I see. I... didn't think it was like that. Thought you two were just really close, like adopted sisters or something."

Asami sniffled. "Maybe... that's how I thought we'd end up. But it's more. At least, it is for me."

When she said that, I thought back to the final moments before the Time Crash claimed Korra. I hadn't heard what she was saying. I'm not sure why. Maybe she was so choked with emotion she couldn't say it very loudly.

But with that scene in my head again, I was pretty sure she spoke three very important words to Asami.

"I think you might find she feels the same way," I said to her.

"I made those suits to protect her," Asami continued, sniffling louder. "So I wouldn't have to go through that again. But... it's my fault. If I hadn't been caught in the armor she'd..."

I reached over and took her shoulders with my hands. "If you hadn't been wearing that armor, we would never have gotten out of there. You were a big help." Plus the debris would have shattered her legs when it fell on her, I was sure, but I didn't add that.

"But I messed it up... I didn't test the emergency release enough," Asami sobbed. "We could have both gotten clear if I'd..."

"Asami, this isn't your fault," I insisted.

For a moment she did nothing but sob. I said nothing more. I did offer her an embrace, which she accepted. "We'll get her back," I promised, speaking directly into her right ear. "We'll get them all back."

I sat with her for the time being. My words alone would not stop her from blaming herself. Not just for what actually happened, but for everything before. Asami had given up time with Korra, time she might never have again now, to create something that had now backfired on the cause it was made for.

It's not that Asami was wrong for thinking of using the technology that way. The way she went about it, though. That had come at a cost. And now she was paying it.

"Promise me," I heard her say. "Promise me we'll get her back."

"Of course."

"Say it. Say the words."

"I promise you, Asami, that we'll get Korra back. We'll stop Xuandi."

After a few moments she seemed to calm down some. I let her pull away from me and start composing herself. "Okay," she said. "Okay, I'm... I'm ready. What do we do now?"

Before I could answer, I noticed movement above us and saw Zhu Li appear at the top of the stairs. "Mister Varrick wanted you to know that the 'young' Katara is starting to wake up."

"Well, that's good news," I said. "Let's go find out what we need to do."




When we got to the library Katara was already starting to stir. Her eyes opened and she sat up slowly, not seeming to notice Jinora nearby waiting. She made a soft groan and winced. Her eyes blinked.

And then her eyes widened. She scrambled off the couch and tried to runaway, heading to the nearest door out. I held up the sonic and remotely closed the door. She hit it and turned around, arms raised in a defensive position. Even with the pool sealed away, I realized that she might still try to draw moisture from the air. She wouldn't get a lot, but she wouldn't need a lot either. Katara could be very dangerous if left cornered like this.

Everyone seemed to have the same thought. We all stood back and let Jinora approach her first. "You're okay," she assured Katara. "You're safe. You're with friends."

Katara took several breaths before calming and lowering her arms. "You're an Air Acolyte," she said. "But I don't recognize you from the Yu Dao chapter."

"What do you remember?", Jinora asked. "About what happened to you."

"Where am I?", Katara asked, looking around at us. I quickly checked and made sure Liara had activated her holobelt. It kept things from becoming too tense for the moment. "What is this place?" Katara looked intently at Jinora again. Her eyes widened slightly.

Of course. Jinora... well, take away the hair and she might as well be Aang, at least until she finished maturing physically.

"You..." Katara shook her head. "You called me... you called me Gran-Gran." Her eyes focused on Jinora. "Who are you? What's going on?!"

"It's... going to take some explaining, Katara," Jinora said gently. "But we're here to help you."

Katara, meanwhile, was looking down at the vortex manipulator on her left wrist. I had disabled it for safety's sake. "What is this...? What did it do to me?"

"This is going to be hard for you to understand." Jinora stepped up and took her hand. "The machine you put on. It's some sort of time travel device. You came to the future."

Katara simply stared at her. "The future...? No. But.... who was that horrible man? What do you have to do with him?!" There was fury showing in her expression now.

"He's from our time. He's the leader of the Dai Li. Katara, please, come and sit down." Jinora motioned to the couch. "You need to rest and tell us what happened."

"Who are you?!", Katara demanded. "I'm not doing anything until someone explains where I am and what's going on...?!"

Jinora looked back at us. I nodded and stepped through the others. "I'm the Doctor," I introduced myself. "You're on board my TARDIS, Katara. It's a ship. Specifically, it's a time ship, and here you are safe." I motioned to Jinora. "And this is Jinora. She's... well..." I sighed. "Oh, this is always difficult to explain with people not familiar with the concept of time travel... she's your granddaughter, Katara. You traveled about seventy years into your future when you turned on that device, and Jinora is your granddaughter."

Liara looked at me with concern. I returned it with a look urging her to be patient.

Katara was just staring. She looked to the device. She looked to me. And then she looked at Jinora again. Jinora smiled and produced some spare beads from her pocket, which she caused to spin around in the air, just like Aang had once loved to do. Katara stared at that.

"Do we really have time for this?", Kuvira asked.

"We're in the Time Vortex, we have all the time we need," I shot back.

Katara stepped forward and put a hand on Jinora's face, prompting her to put the beads back. "You... look like him so much."

Jinora smiled. I thought I heard a little sniffle in her voice. "My father, Aunt Kya and Uncle Bumi, they've always said I looked like Aang. Lord Zuko said it too after I got my master tattoos and had to shave my hair."

Hearing Zuko's name seemed to bring pain to Katara. "But he's... They're..." We all watched as she started to break down weeping. "They're all gone. They're all dead." She cried into Jinora's shoulder. The pain and horror of what she had endured due to Xuandi in the past, it all finally came out.

I felt my jaw tighten. "I thought as much. It was a Dai Li man, yes?"

"It all happened so fast. The explosion, and the attack, and then the armies..."

I nodded and stepped forward. I got onto one knee to be more level with Katara's head. "Katara, I know this is a lot to take in. But I need to know what happened. It's the only way to stop them from succeeding."

"What do you mean?", she asked.

"We're going to stop them from doing... whatever they did," I explained. "We have to. The man who did this, he doesn't realize what he's caused. His attempt to change history is unraveling space-time and could destroy your entire world. Past, present, and future, all gone." I swallowed. "I understand it's a lot to take in. And I haven't even properly introduced you to Liara yet, but..."

A look was coming over Katara's face now. She looked at me intently. "You said you can stop them? You can make it to where they never... you can save my brother and my friends? You can save Aang?"

I nodded. "That's the plan."

There it was. Whatever her confusion, or all the pain and grief she felt, having that possibility held out to her was enough to cut through it all. Rapid introduction to time travel and Time Lords and TARDISes and her own future granddaughter, that all melted away against what I had just said. I just told her we were out to save the people she loved. That there was still hope for them.

Her voice turned a little sharp when she asked, "What do you need to know?"
”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-19 01:03pm

A glass of water provided some refreshment for Katara, who I gave the best chair to. I pulled up a smaller one and everyone else took to standing or couches. We let her drink her fill. I offered a container to her. She pulled out one of the small pieces inside - a blue one naturally - and looked at me.

"It's a chocolate candy," I said.

She blinked and put it into her mouth. Apparently it was not disagreeable.

"You're... just handing her candy?", Opal asked.

"Eh, handing out confectionery sweets is sort of a Doctor-y thing, whether it's a jellybaby or an M&M," I replied. I took out a handful and held them out. "Want one?"

Opal gave Bolin a confused look. He shrugged. "They're actually pretty good." That was apparently sufficient for her. They both claimed a few.

"Anyone else?", I asked.

I got a bemused and sad smile from Asami. Kuvira looked quietly frustrated. But neither accepted.

Varrick, on the other hand, was quick to grab the entire handful. He tried one immediately. Slowly his eyes widened. "Hrm, melting in my mouth, but not my hand... excellent! Zhu Li, make a memo! Varrimelts! They melt in your mouth, not in your hand!"

I rolled my eyes and decided not to think about the possibility of cross-dimensional copyright infringement. Instead it was time to hear what Katara had to say. "Are you ready?", I asked her.

Katara nodded. That haunted look had returned to her eyes. For a moment I thought she might be reconsidering, but she took in a breath and began.

And it filled in everything for me.

It was the founding of the Republic, or at least the stage for it. She and the others had come to Yu Dao so that Aang could oversee the treaty signing between Fire Lord Zuko and Earth King Kuei recognizing that the former Fire Nation colonies along the northwestern coast of the Earth Kingdom's continent were to become an independent state.

"Everyone had concerns," she said. "The New Ozaii Society, the Dai Li, the Freedom Fighters, there were a lot of people who wanted Aang's plan to fail. So Zuko and Kuei had some of their troops there just in case there was an attack. They were supposed to be there to work together and protect peace."

"But it didn't turn out that way," I sighed, figuring how that part of the story went.

She nodded and continued. At the appointed hour everyone had gathered...

And it had all gone wrong. An explosion. A series of them following. Zuko and Kuei died in the blast and Aang was seriously hurt. Dai Li agents moved in next; presumably those of their time, but led by two figures that by description I figured to be Guan and Zhang.

In slow, horrifying detail, Katara covered what happened next. The massacre of the surviving delegates and witnesses. The desperate fight to escape with the sacrifice of Mai and half of the Kiyoshi Warriors. It sounded like Zhang in particular had been particularly brutal in killing everyone who stood in her way.

Escape had led them into a war zone. Xuandi had taken command of the Earth Kingdom forces and attacked the Fire Nation's forces, and the fighting had led them all into Yu Dao. With Zhang in pursuit of them, Aang and his friends had been on the run through the fighting, doing what they could to stop it where possible. Kori Morishita's militia had come to their aid by the end of the chase, but it had still ended up the same; Xuandi, Zhang, and the Dai Li attacking them and overwhelming them.

There was real pain in Katara's voice as she described how their allies fell, one by one, under that onslaught. A bit of pride too; Sokka had noticed the vortex manipulator on Xuandi's wrist, and Suki and Ty Lee slipped through the attackers to wrest it from him, but at a cost. Even without a telepathic connection I could imagine what it had been like, seeing Suki cut down by Zhang. Toph taking out Guan and half of the Dai Li before being crushed by Xuandi. Ty Lee's chi-blocking nullifying Zhang, just for her to land a fatal cut with the blade hidden in her sleeve.

The tears were flowing down Katara's face as she described Aang saving them in the Avatar State, but at the cost of his own life due to the severity of his injuries. I got the sense from her that after he came out of the State they exchanged words, but I was not going to pry. And her brother's sacrifice was equally key. Sokka had, upon examination of the manipulator, recognized the Earth Kingdom writing for time, and...

"Wait." Bolin held a hand up. "If this thingie comes from an alternate world or cosmos or whatever it is, how could anyone from our world read it?"

I frowned. There were indeed some unanswered questions about the apparent skill in which Xuandi used that device. "I'm not sure how he started using it," I said, keeping the irritation and apprehension out of my voice, "but once he'd activated it and taken control of the manipulator, its controls have a neural interface to determine the necessary ways to display information for the user. It would have used Earth Kingdom language. And I would imagine Sokka is quite used to reading Earth Kingdom." I looked to Katara, who nodded. "Please, continue."

There wasn't much left to the story. Sokka figured out that one of the keys was for the manipulator's recall command. Although Katara said she wasn't sure what he had in mind, I imagine their circumstances were such that Sokka hadn't had time to explain. But I imagine he'd noticed the commands on the manipulator and their references to time coordinates. He's fairly imaginative, after all. And in a desperation move, he put the manipulator on Katara and instructed her to hit the key.

"That man, Xuandi... he survived Aang's attack," Katara explained. Tears ran freely down her cheeks. He wanted this... manipulator back. Sokka told me to run and..."

A shadow loomed over us. Asami, still looking haggard, knelt down beside us and offered a hug to Katara. "I'm sorry," she said.

"I lost them," Katara cried. "I have to stop this, I have to get them back."

"We will," Asami answered. "The Doctor won't stop until we undo what happened."

"Right," I said. I touched the manipulator. "Can I have this, Katara?"

She continued to hold Asami for a moment. I waited patiently until she was ready to let go long enough to pull the vortex manipulator off her wrist. I took it and left for the control room.




It wasn't going to take long to figure out when Xuandi and his lieutenants arrived in the past. I set up the TARDIS to read the vortex manipulator's coordinates data and it would be a fairly simple extrapolation from that. Granted, due to the time-space variance caused by, well, the collapse of space-time, we probably wouldn't show up at the exact same moment and exact same place. But we'd be close enough. Especially since, from the sound of things, Xuandi was in the past for a short time before he actually launched that attack. He would have needed the time to gather the Dai Li of the past.

Which was something of a puzzle, since that would imply he knew from the beginning he wouldn't be able to come back to his original time. And I'm not sure how he would know this.

I was deep in thought, but I still heard the clank on the planks. I didn't look back before asking, "How can I help you, Kuvira?"

There was silence for the moment. "Your senses are very sharp," she observed.

"Time Lord senses," I reminded her. "Again, how can I help you?"

"I just want to make sure we're on the same side."

I turned and faced her. "I would say so."

"Would you? I'm not just talking about right now, Doctor," said Kuvira. "When we succeed, I still have to deal with how the Avatar has undermined my mission."

"'When we succeed'?" I gave her a look. "My, aren't you the confident one?"

A hint of a smirk came to her face. "I think that's a quality we have in common, Doctor. I never permit myself to fail."

"So you say." I went back to tapping a few controls. "So, what precisely is on your mind? It's not our mission, obviously."

Kuvira considered me for a moment. "Even with Xuandi out of the way, I still have to deal with Avatar Korra's criticisms of my efforts to unify my people."

"Ah." I nodded. "Well, I suppose that is an issue for you, isn't it?"

"She's undermining my forces and giving legitimacy to the bandits and holdouts that are resisting me. The people who want the chaos to continue." Kuvira shook her head. "I don't want to have to fight the Avatar, Doctor, but I need her to take back what she said. I need her support."

"And you think I can deliver that to you?"

"She trusts you. If you tell her that you're confident in what I'm doing, Korra will listen to you."

"Ah. I see." I nodded. "So you wish me to lie to make your job easier."

Kuvira's expression didn't darken. Not entirely anyway. But I could see the frustration in it. "What are you saying?"

"Did you think I was foolish, Kuvira? I heard the earliest reports back when I was Tonraq's consultant. Work camps for dissidents and opponents of your regime, forced conscription for your army, the suppression of local government and taking of hostages amongst their families..."

"I only do what I have to in order to keep the peace," Kuvira insisted. "I'm not hurting anyone unless I'm forced to."

I laughed at that. "Oh, that's an easy one, isn't it? 'Unless I'm forced to'. Easy qualification to make. You''d be surprised how it can get even easier over time."

"Do you have a point to make?"

"I'm not sure what's driving you, Kuvira, but whatever it is... I've been down this road before." I stepped up toward her. "I know what it's like to devote everything you are to making things better. You even think you're helping. But then you lose sight of the line of right and wrong. You focus on the idea of helping without thinking through what you're actually doing. The people you could be hurting. Oh, I know what that's like, I've been there, and it's a dark, dark road, Kuvira. So you might want to think really really hard about it because I'd hate to see what happens otherwise."

I thought I sensed some anger by the end of that. "If you won't convince Korra, then I don't know what else to do. I don't want her to become my enemy, but if the Avatar stands in my way, I'll deal with her however I have to."

I narrowed my eyes. "She's my friend, so I suggest you consider that in any such eventuality, General Kuvira. I don't take kindly to people who hurt my friends."

Now Kuvira narrowed her eyes. "Are you threatening me?"

"I don't threaten," I answered, letting my expression harden. "I warn."

Kuvira smirked slightly. "Do you really think you can intimidate me?""

I kept my expression from smirking as well. It wasn't the image I wanted to convey. "You'd be surprised what I've been able to intimidate."

"I have an army, " Kuvira pointed out with contempt in her voice.

"I have a TARDIS," I countered.

She went silent and looked around my control room. "Do you expect me to stand beside and let my people continue to suffer from chaos and anarchy, Doctor?"

"No. I expect you to remember the difference between protecting your people and enslaving them," I said. "Now, I've given you your answer, and I suggest you think about what I said. You have a choice, Kuvira, and I don't want you to make the wrong one."

"Oh really? Why?"

I smiled grimly. "Because, Kuvira, I don't believe in second chances."

"Well." She nodded. "That's another thing we have in common." And at that, she promptly walked out.

I got back to work, trying not to think of what trouble Kuvira might cause me in the future.

"She's going to be trouble, isn't she?"

I turned again. Liara came from another of the halls. Presumably she'd gone to her room to change clothes, although in this case it meant putting on a white suit with blue trim that I knew was her preferred look for what others call "combat situations". "Kuvira seems particularly driven, doesn't she?"

"She does indeed," I replied.

"Do you think she'll be a problem?"

"Quite possibly." I nodded. "So, what's on your mind?"

"I didn't want to ask this in front of the others," Liara said, "but can we actually change this? Wouldn't it cause a paradox if we undo the event we came back to undo?"

"Not like it did for Xuandi," I said. "The TARDIS stabilizes timestreams to reduce that sort of thing."

"But will we remember any of this? I mean, if Xuandi doesn't succeed, we had no reason to come back... might we not just end up back where we started, without remembering?"

"Slight possibility, I grant, but unlikely. Again, the TARDIS."

Liara nodded. "I see. I'm sorry if the questions annoy, but we rarely actually do something like this."

"Oh, it's quite alright." I looked at her and figured those were just the warm-up questions. The big one was still coming.

"What's going to happen to Katara?"

For a moment I just checked my systems. "What do you think?"

"Goddess."

"Yes. Once we stop Xuandi, well, her timeline never existed. I mean, sometimes these things create quantum realities splintered off from another, but the TARDIS and the fact that it's not a natural shift but a time travel one, those things sort of prevent that. So her timeline will never have existed, which means..."

"...I'll stop existing, won't it?"

I whirled around to the other port. Katara was standing there with Asami, who looked at me with widened eyes. Katara, though... she just looked... I'm not sure. Resigned, maybe.

I nodded. "Possibly. Normally the TARDIS provides a sort of shield against that. But once we've averted your timeline, given how close you are to the point of origin, how there's a similar you already there... you might simply be merged with yourself, that is, the Katara who'll be there when we shift back. Or you could simply cease to exist."

"So I'll die."

I nodded stiffly. "I suppose... yes. It's like death."

"Right." She nodded. And then, she added, "That's fine. It's good."

We all stared at her for the moment. "Are you all right?", Liara asked her.

"No. I watched my brother and my friends and the love of my life die, " Katara said, her tone harsh. "I don't have much to live for anymore. If I have to die to save them, then I'll die."

I spoke up in opposition, keeping my tone quiet and non-confrontational. "There's always hope where there's life." As I said that, I knew it didn't mean it wouldn't be painful. If she wasn't absorbed into the other Katara or somehow nullified from existence... then what would she have? Would she fight with the other Katara over who got to actually have that life with Aang and the others? Would she have to go off and start over again, casting away everything or everyone she loved? Even if she came back with us, she'd still have another Katara in the future, an older woman who lived the life she didn't get to have, and face the same need to start her life over again.

It would hurt. Yes. But at the same time... I believe in life. I've seen many species, Humans included, who have proven to me again and again that life is always worth living. That life brings a future, with many possibilities of improvement. I've seen it myself, in the human rebuilding of Earth around the luxury ship Axiom (and a certain little robot friend of mine), in the shining skyscrapers of Kamina City, the asteroid communities of the New Terrans... Humans find ways to survive and to make their lives better. It's one of their admirable qualities.

Asami nodded slightly. She'd seen some of those places, she knew what I meant.

But I didn't think Katara was ready for such optimism. She shook her head, frowned, and turned away.

I breathed in a sigh. Before I could speak again, a tone behind me drew my attention. I faced it and looked at what came up. "Ah. Here we go. Coordinates." I looked back to them and to Liara. "Alright everyone. Time to plan. Back to the library!"




Everyone stood or sat in the library while I quickly scribbled out a map of Yu Dao. Katara described various sites as I put them in, and as a final bit, the walls were mentioned and laid out along with the camps for the protecting armies. Looking over the finished work, I sighed. "Well, at least they kept the river between Zuko's army and Kuei's."

"It didn't matter, The Earthbenders bridged it in seconds," Katara pointed out.

"True. But it buys us a few seconds if we need it." I looked over the map. "Okay. There will be a margin of error for when we arrive, so we might need to hurry. Given what Katara has said, there are three main threats to deal with."

"The bombs, the Dai Li, and the armies," Liara noted.

"Exactly," I answered. "Specifically, we have to presume that we won't be arriving early enough to prevent them from even starting their plan."

"Leave those bombs to me and Zhu Li!", Varrick shouted.

"And me," Asami added. She looked at Varrick. "They might be more of the bombs stolen from my company."

"Slipping them into the mayor's palace might be hard, though," Liara remarked.

"I can get them in," Katara said. "They know me. We'll dress them up as servants."

I noticed an involuntary blush turn Asami's cheeks pink. A few of the others did as well and I was treated to a memory of sneaking into the estate of a Hutt on Nar Shaddaa. That was a fairly routine adventure, come to think of it, but Korra and Asami had spent half of it blushing as fiercely as Asami was now given their choice of what kind of distractions to make.

Of course, given what I knew now, that blushing had a far more obvious reason, didn't it?

"Asami?", Opal asked.

"Nothing important," I said quickly. "She's just remembering the time we crashed Giradda the Hutt's palace party. That was something of a memorable evening."

"Uh, yeah," Asami said in embarrassed agreement.

Oh yes. Considering what I knew now, that must have been an unexpectedly trying time. I had tried to talk them into the menagerie idea. We had Naga and everything. But after I had gone in, they decided that Naga was too distracting, and they should just be servants. Which, of course, led to the issue of the usual Hutt-mandated attire for female servants.

Opal was staring at Asami. "Just... what did those servants wear?"

Liara folded her arms and glared at me. "Having seen Nar Shaddaa myself, I'm betting that what they wore was very little."

"Don't look at me like that, it wasn't my idea," I protested. "I told them to go for the menagerie!"

"We were very distracting," Asami managed. "Very."

Opal blinked. "Really? What did they look like?"

I raised my eyebrows. "Well, I think they're still in my storage room somewhere..."

Asami's blush deepened. "I thought Korra was supposed to destroy them?!"

"She was rather tired after smacking around Giradda's bodyguards..."

"I... no. No no no." Asami shook her head. "This conversation is over."

"Can we get back to the operation planning?", Kuvira asked with evident exasperation.

It was probably for the best. Behind the blush I could see Asami was starting to hurt. This entire conversation wasn't just reminding her of an embarrassing moment. Korra should be here with us too, but she wasn't. "Right. So Katara will get them in to go after the bombs. I'll give you handheld scanners that should detect the compound. Now, we'll need someone to deal with finding the Dai Li."

"Bolin and I can do that," Opal suggested.

"I'll go too," Jinora suggested. "Opal and I can dress Bolin up as an Air Acolyte to fit in."

"Wait, what if I have to Earthbend or something?", Bolin asked. "Wouldn't that look suspicious?"

"Maybe a bit," Opal said. "But I've read that there were a few Earthbenders who joined the Acolytes after Aang founded them. It won't be unheard of."

"Try not to unless you have no other choice." I took in a breath. "And that leaves Kuvira and Liara to join me in finding Xuandi in the Earth Army camp."

"We're going to have a lot of distance to cover," Kuvira said, stepping up to the map. "We'll need to get local transportation."

"Yes, that is best," I concurred. "The TARDIS can only move one group at once with flying. I can't risk shifting it either, not with that contracted space-time."

"So we're going to be riding some ostrich-horses, huh?" Varrick clapped his hands together. "A good thing I happen to be an expert at that."

"How are we going to rent or buy any?", Bolin asked. "We don't have any money. I mean, they won't accept yuans, will they?"

"Probably not," I agreed. "But that's why I always keep a nice supply of gold."

"Really? You own gold mines or something?", Varrick asked.

"I..." I refrained from explaining and went with, "...I have means, that's all."

"So you're just going to hand out chunks of gold to people?", Katara asked. Her voice made it fairly evident she didn't think it a good plan.

"I could just go to a bank and get coins I suppose," I said. "But that takes time. Faster this way. Give a few fellows enough gold to buy a fancy house with and we'll have some ostrich horses. Or even carriages. Maybe."

"It's the best plan any of us has at the moment," Liara said. "So we should try it."

There were nods of acceptance for that.




I found us a nice quiet alleyway in Yu Dao where I could keep the TARDIS cloaked, just in case Xuandi's followers should be present to report it. When we stepped out everybody was in an assemblage of robes I'd fashioned from a replicator system I kept aboard (although as far as Varrick was concerned I just had a really big wardrobe - I was not introducing that man to replicators). I'd chosen a nice mixed robe look for myself. Asami, if she had been in a better mood, would have looked very good indeed in the green and tan robes she'd put on, even if they were not ostentatious enough to be anything but mayoral servant robes. Similar robes were on Varrick and Zhu Li.

For our second group, Bolin kept playing with the mantle on his Air Acolyte suit until Opal grabbed his hand and made him stop.

Liara had picked a robe of white and blue coloring, with a raised hood that covered the holographic blue hair that her holobelt showed. Kuvira had more traditional Earth Kingdom garb and didn't look particularly interested either way in it.

"Well," I said. "Let's go see about those ostrich horses, huh?"

Katara led us to one dealer she knew of. The fellow had a carriage to be pulled by a two ostrich-horse team and another three of the mounts. For several pounds of gold, he was quite willing to part with them.

And so we split up.

And since it was my gold and I had the further trip to make, I called the carriage.

....which was why I was so irritated when Liara led an outvoting that gave said carriage to Katara and her group for their cover. Completely unfair.

I climbed up onto one of the feathery equines and heard, behind me, the sounds of Varrick calling out to his team with "Woh, woh, watch out for that..!", interrupted by the sounds of splintering wood.

A single wail filled the air, coming right around the corner of the next building. "MY CABBAGES!"

"Sorry pal!"

I rested my face in my palm for a moment while Liara climbed up onto her's right behind me. Kuvira took her own ostrich-horse and rode it like it was almost second nature. "Alright everyone, off we go!", I crowed, and we began riding for the exit gate of the city.




While I rode in the lead, Liara and Kuvira were further behind me. Enough that they, or at least Kuvira, could be excused for not realizing I could hear them.

"You remind me of someone," Liara said to her. "A couple of people, actually."

"Just what do you mean?" Kuvira asked her.

"The way you can lead people, and your dreams to unite your people and give them a new future. Those traits remind me of two of my comrades, Wrex and Shepard."

For a few moments Kuvira went silent. "And how did your friend the Doctor get along with them?"

"Rather well. He and Shepard saved our galaxy from the Reapers."

I can imagine the effort Kuvira took to hide the consternation she likely felt. "Really," she said. "He seems determined to be my enemy."

"He probably has concerns with the way you're accomplishing your goals," Liara answered.

"I do what I have to," Kuvira insisted. I kept quiet the desire to snort.

"Do you?" There was silence for a moment. "Wrex once told me that he often thought about being harsher toward the clans who opposed him and trying to impose a stronger unity on the Krogan. But he always decided not to because he felt that the measures he'd need to take would destroy what he was actually working to achieve."

I can imagine Kuvira turning to face Liara with confusion and irritation on her face. "What could that mean?"

"Being united in of itself isn't always going to work," Liara explained. "My people united only after years of careful diplomatic work between our communities. All earlier attempts to do so by force of arms failed and only caused us suffering from all the fighting."

"That's why I'm doing this," Kuvira answered her. "My people need peace. They need unity."

"But if you use nothing but force and coercion, you're not building a solid foundation to your people. You're creating an empire that can only last with force. Do you want to be remembered that way, Kuvira? As a conqueror?"

"I don't care how I'm remembered." Kuvira's voice was hard. "I just want my people to be safe and secure again. I'll do whatever it takes and I'll fight anything that stands in my way."

I'm not sure if Liara had any further argument to make, as their discussion stopped. We had arrived at the army camp.

It was like any normal camp for people in this era. Low tents for the ranked soldiers, larger ones for officers, and the largest for the general. According to Katara it was General Hou who was in charge. He was, if I recall, a fairly reasonable man.

We rode up to the largest tent and were challenged by two guards. In response, I pulled out the psychic paper and held it to them. Their faces whitened and they bowed in respect and acknowledgement. After we rode by Kuvira looked back at them and then to me. "What was that?"

Given our earlier discussion I wasn't in a hurry to tell her all of my tricks, but she'd seen it and I needed to keep our trust from completely rupturing. "Psychic paper," I answered. I turned it around. "Hrm. Looks like they think I'm the Royal Inspector."

"Just as long as we don't end up turning the entire army against us," Liara murmured. "Like the last time you tried to do this."

"Now that was a complete cultural misunderstanding..."

We stopped talking at this point to dismount. "You're my aides," I said. "Allow me to do the talking." We entered the tent, where General Hou and his staff were enjoying what looked to be a quiet lunch. "Excuse me," he said. "What are you doing here?"

I held up the psychic paper to him, allowing him to see the implied rank. "My pardon, General Hou, but I'm here on an urgent mission. I have reason to believe a Dai Li agent is in your camp as part of a scheme to attack the Earth King."

Hou frowned deeply. "I thought we had gotten every single one of those traitors." He looked to one of his officers. "Order an immediate inspection of the men."

The officer stood and gave a bow of acknowledgement.

"Do you mind waiting?", Hou asked me.

"Oh, not at all. My assistants and I will be outside." I nodded to Kuvira and Liara and the accompanied me out the door. "So far so good," I muttered under my breath. Of course, that was the easy part. The hard part was going to be finding Xuandi and his followers before they caused any damage.

"So we're just going to stand around?," Kuvira asked.

"No, we're going to do some reconnaissance. Surreptitiously of course." I brought out my sonic screwdriver and quickly scanned with it. "Hrm. Not in range yet."

Kuvira looked at me. "What?"

"The tracking energy on your backup remote," Liara said. "It's working?"

"Faint traces, but not enough to see him yet. Background temporal energy is making things all wibbly-wobbly."

Kuvira looked around. "I'm not seeing any problems. Certainly not anything like that 'time crash'."

"That's because it hasn't built up enough," I said. "Odds are that around the time the diversion happened, it'll peak and we'll see something of it. But for now it's invisible to your senses. Here, just cover me while I run these scans, maybe we can pick up a trail..."




It is not my normal practice to speak of events I didn't witness, but I thought it best to skip that practice in this instance so I can tell you what everyone was up to and how that played into where this all went.

Our Air Nation group moved about the small city in a search pattern of some sort. Along the way Opal, undoubtedly relying upon Jinora's discretion, opened up a question to Bolin. "Why are you still serving Kuvira, Bolin?"

"I'm not serving her," Bolin answered. "I'm serving the Earth Kingdom and the cause of peace. Kuvira's just the one in charge. If she decided to quit tomorrow, or.. uh, if we have a tomorrow I guess... anyway, if she quit and Bataar Jr, took over, I'd still be doing the same thing."

"So you don't buy into her as the 'Great Uniter'?", Opal asked. I can imagine the sarcasm in her voice.

"Oh, that's just people getting carried away," Bolin insisted. "Just like all the people saying she jails people who disagree with her. Kuvira's not like that, she just wants to help."

"And you don't think there's anything odd with nobody ever opposing her?" Opal stopped and took Bolin's arm. "Bolin, I've been inside the Earth Kingdom. I've talked to people who went into the bandit areas to get away from her! They've told me about everything she does! The..."

"Opal, I'm telling you, they're lying. They're probably bandits who just want to turn people against Kuvira!"

I can imagine Opal's tone getting more heated. "So you're just going to dismiss everything I say about her?"

"You're taking what these strangers tell you over what I'm telling you," Bolin shot back. "Are you sure this isn't just because your mother is still mad at her and Bataar for leaving?"

Before Opal could register a further complaint, Jinora coughed to draw their attention. She drew closer and, in a tense whisper, said, "We're in public and we're Air Acolytes. We shouldn't be fighting. And I'm pretty sure the Doctor will be upset about talking about the future in public."

Bolin and Opal looked at each other. Probably with red cheeks. I mean, they're the adults, and there's Jinora being more mature and thinking more about things than either of them.

They hushed and followed Jinora into one of the marketplace streets, where vendors provided goods and foods at varying prices. Bolin probably smelled the stall before he got to it, but seeing the shish-kebobs or whatever you want to call them, all glistening with grease and looking plump and juicy... oh yes, the boy has an appetite.

"You're an Air Acolyte," Jinora whispered to him. "You can't eat meat."

I imagine that crestfallen look coming over Bolin's face. It probably explained why he failed to pay attention and ran into a prospective customer. "Oh, sorry," he said hurriedly, looking at his victim. "I didn't mean... gaaah!"

Yes. I imagine Bolin was quite stunned to look into the youthful equivalent of a face he'd undoubtedly seen in pictures and art and statuary. And the wolf-tail hair style probably gave it away even quicker.

"Hey, watch it, you almost made me drop my food," complained Sokka, who turned and faced Bolin. From the way it was described, the expression on his face filled with wolfish glee. "Ah, hey there Acolyte." Sokka held up one of his purchased meat shish-kebobs in front of Bolin. "You know, I never got why you weren't allowed to eat meat."

"Sokka!" From his side, Suki elbowed him in the ribs or some such thing to straighten him out. While Sokka was in his usual sleeveless Water Tribe robe, Suki was in civilian Earth Kingdom clothing. "You know what Katara's going to do if she catches you taunting the Acolytes with meat again."

"That looks... delicious," Bolin sighed. Ah yes, I can imagine his mouth watering now. Poor boy.

Sokka dangled one of the sticks before Bolin. "You could always blame me for tempting you. Aang'll let you slide. He's like that."

"Meaaaat..."

At this point, Suki apparently decided to escalate her reprimands, stomping on Sokka's foot with enough power to make him cry out and, certainly worse to his point of view, drop the kebob he was dangling in front of Bolin onto the ground. "Yowch...! My meat!," he wailed.

Jinora and Opal used this opportunity to pull Bolin away from his tempter. They went into the privacy of an alleyway before Opal began speaking. "That was Sokka. That was really Sokka."

"Gran-Gran and Dad told me stories about him," Jinora murmured. "But actually seeing him..." Her eyes were glistening with tears. "Dad. I wish Dad was here."

"And Mako," Bolin added. "He'd have already tracked down these Dai Li guys if he was here."

"Bolin..." Opal matched his tears with her own. Undoubtedly thinking about Bataar Jr., and the rest of her family wiped out by the Time Crash.

The three remained for the moment, mourning those they might have lost. Bolin broke this by pointing ahead. "Hey, wait, isn't that...?"

A figure on the opposite end of the alleyway looked toward them. "It's that man who was with Xuandi," Opal said.

Guan had clearly recognized them as well. He took off down the opposite alleyway. Jinora, Opal, and Bolin took off after him.




As for our other group, the carriage reportedly survived the trip through the streets of Yu Dao. Mostly.

....I was assured that the doors were intact, at least.

"Well, now that was exciting!", Varrick announced, jumping down from the driving seat. "Wasn't it Zhu Li?"

I think of this, and I imagine Zhu Li calmly wiping the food sauce and cabbage leaves from her face. "Thrilling, sir."

"Well, everyone, we're here!" Varrick opened the door and, in his usual overblown way, bowed and stretched his arm out.

Katara and Asami dismounted, their looks all messed up from the ride. "You're fired, Varrick," Katara growled at him. I'm told Asami glared at him, but said nothing.

"Some people don't appreciate smart driving," Varrick reportedly grumbled.

Katara got them inside with little fuss. There were servants moving about, with Kiyoshi Warriors and the Earth King's elite guards scattered about to provide security. "Do you remember where the explosions went off?", Asami asked Katara.

"Yes," she answered.

"Maybe we should split up," Varrick suggested. "Zhu Li and I'll take the north side of the palace, you two take the south."

"No," Katara answered. "Without me you'll never get past the Kiyoshi Warriors or the Earth King's guards. We have to do this together."

"Well, if you say so," Varrick mumbled. "But I think you underestimate what Zhu Li and I can do to get around."

Asami looked at him. "Just use your scanners and start searching for the bombs."

"Right. Zhu Li?"

Zhu Li took out one of them and started using it. Asami had her own. "I'm getting something," she said. "This way."

Katara remained in the lead, following their directions. They were heading to the living quarters for guests and getting very close to their objective when Varrick moved into a doorway incautiously and ran into someone exiting.

"Hey, watch where you're going!", Toph complained.

"I could say the same to you," Varrick countered. "What are you, blind?"

....yes, I also face-palmed when hearing that.

"Want to look me in the face and say that, pal? I'll..." Toph stopped mid-sentence. "Katara?" Presumably her other senses and her Earthbending "radar" helped her recognize Katara's presence. "Aren't you and Twinkle Toes supposed to be off doing your lovey-dovey stuff?"

"I... came back," Katara said in reply. "Some of the extra help in the palace needed me to check something."

"Oh, well, just keep them from running into me and there won't be any need for me to smack them around." Toph slipped by. She made a small movement with one of her limbs, presumably her fingers, and a chunk of stone from the ground flew up and hit Varrick on the arse. "Just a little reminder that I can kick your butt any time," she told him while walking on.

"Right." Katara nodded and looked to the others. "Let's keep going."

They ventured further into the living area, unaware that they'd been spotted.




I shall return briefly to our Air Nation friends, who were chasing Guan through the streets. "If we could AIrbend we could catch up to him," Opal huffed.

"We can't risk being seen," Jinora answered. "Bolin?"

Bolin stopped running long enough to chuck several stones from the ground at Guan. He deftly dodged them all save the last, which he threw back at them. Bolin grabbed it in mid-air and tossed it to the side, allowing them to continue their pursuit.

They chased him through an intersection of streets, deftly dodging several carts in the process. and toward a storage building. Guan ran up one building to its roof and dived through an open window into the structure. "Maybe we shouldn't..." Before Jinora could finish her suggestion, Bolin and Opal ran in, so she followed.

On the inside they found boxes and sealed pots stacked everywhere and the signs of habitation. The interior was lowly lit and hard to see in.

Still, they could make out the plentiful number of Dai Li agents now surrounding them.

Guan stood above them on the second floor, arms crossed. "Surrender," he ordered. "Now."




Back in the mayoral palace, the survivor Katara and the others found the first bomb. "It looks really small," Katara said after Asami pulled it out of the hiding place behind a wardrobe. "How much damage would it have done?"

"Enough," Asami answered. She reached into the tool kit pouch hidden under her robes and pulled out the materials she needed to disarm it. "This much explosive would blow the wall out of this room and wreck the room beside it."

"It's really that powerful?"

"Yeah. Really good stuff," Varrick answered for Asami. "Which is probably why we should leave Miss Sato alone so we don't get blown to smithereens."

They stepped away from Asami and toward the door to the room they were in. "So, kid, how you holding up?", Varrick asked Katara.

Her reply was evidently an irritated glare. "I watched everything I love get destroyed. How do you think I'm feeling?"

"Ah, well, yeah." Varrick coughed. "But listen, this Doctor's got a great reputation for fixing stuff, and with all of us working together, there's nothing we can't do. We'll have those bombs handled in no time."

"Yeah." Katara looked back to Asami, who was still at work. "She doesn't seem very happy either."

"Who, Asami? Yeah, she's had a rough few years." Varrick coughed. "I had to save her company. Well, after I stole everything in her warehouse so she'd need it saved. Bah, details. They get in the way of ideas sometimes."

"You what?", Katara asked.

"I tried to steal her company," Varrick answered. "That's why she's not happy to see me. Although if you ask me, she's also pretty upset about Avatar Korra getting erased from existence."

Katara's eyes focused on Varrick. "Avatar Korra? You mean... Aang's dead in your time?"

"Well, yeah. He had an excellent run, though. Formed the Republic, took care of messes around the world, established the Air Acolytes in all the old Air Temples. He was a regular go-getter, my kind of guy!" Varrick had the decency to lower his tone, seeing Katara's upset expression. "But I guess being in an iceberg for a hundred years took a lot out of him or something. So instead we've got Korra, and let me tell you, she's one feisty girl! A real fighter! She stopped Amon from taking away everyone's bending and defeated the incarnate spirit of darkness and everything, with a little help from yours truly."

"She's friends with the Avatar after Aang?", Katara asked.

"Yeah, close friends. Really close. Maybe a bit closer than normal, I mean, if you've seen the way they look at each other..."

"I can hear you, Varrick," Asami sighed.

"How's it coming?"

"Almost done."

"Right." Varrick started to turn back . "Anyway, as I was saying..."

when he looked back, he stopped talking.

Katara stood there in silence.... looking at Katara, looking confused and stunned.

"Oh, this is going to be interesting," Varrick said.




The Earth Army Camp was more tense than I'd thought originally. It was clear some of the soldiers were not happy to be here and I overheard several grumbling about the planned treaty.

"It's not going to be hard for Xuandi to turn these men onto his side," Liara noted.

"That's because they're right," Kuvira said. "So is he. This land was stolen from our people."

I sighed. Liara was the one who replied, though. "From the way it appears, the real issue is that the people who live on this land wished for independence."

"The Fire Nation colonists and the collaborators supporting them did, you mean," Kuvira answered. "This is Earth Kingdom land, and the Avatar and Earth King Kuei just... gave it away."

"They were trying to find a solution to a tricky problem," I pointed out. "Some of those colonists were not colonists any more. They had to go back three generations to find relatives who had come from the Fire Nation."

"We were the victims of the war, the Fire Nation should have been forced to give up its land for the Republic," Kuvira charged.

"So your solution would be to what? Impose a government these people didn't want? Expel anyone who disagreed with you?" I turned to face her. "When will you realize that force doesn't fix problems like that? There are other ways, better ways, to solve these issues."

Kuvira returned my irritated look. "You don't know what my people have gone through. The Fire Nation spent a century trying to wipe us out, and in the end, they got away by paying us blood money that just made them stronger in the end. The Republic got all of the benefits and we were left with the scraps."

"So your solution is..."

Before I could continue, my sonic went off. I brought it out and scanned. "He's here." I held it out and scanned around. "Moving fast...." My sonic pointed toward the command tent. "Come on!"

We ran back, drawing attention as we did so. Nobody moved to stop us though as we got up to the tent, rushed past the guards, and entered.

General Hou was sprawled out upon the ground, blood from a wound covering his forehead. A figure in the uniform of the Earth Kingdom stood over him. Given the rapidly-blinking light of my screwdriver, it was Xuandi. He turned and faced us, showing he was wearing a general's uniform like Hou's. "You followed me back. As I suspected you would."

"Xuandi!" I reached for my sonic disruptor. "Xuandi, stop this madness."

"I told you I would not stop," he said. "The Earth Kingdom will be restored, Doctor."

"You're destroying your entire world!", Liara shouted. "You're not restoring anything!"

Xuandi laughed harshly. "Do you expect me to just accept that claim?"

"You're interfering in a key point in history, maybe even a Fixed Point in Time, Xuandi," I said. "If you disrupt it, you'll destroy this entire world and its timeline. Past, present, and future. There won't be an Earth Kingdom for you to restore!"

"Your desperation shows, Doctor." Xuandi stepped forward. "You reek of it."

"Xuandi, don't..."

I expected him to attack. But instead he gestured with his arms and, in that movement, tore the tent from the ground and pulled it away to expose us. "Help!", he shouted. "These Fire Nation agents have attacked the General!"

By that point a number of soldiers had already been coming toward the tent. Hearing his words, they adopted fighting stances and faced us.

"Just like last time," Liara sighed.

"Attack them!", Xuandi shouted. "Avenge General Hou!"

He moved away from us, and for good reason.

The army attacked.
”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-20 05:07pm

The Earthbenders took up formation smartly. They bent up defensive walls to about chest height while their fellows pulled loose rocks from the earth to, well, throw at us.

"Defensive formation!", Kuvira yelled, bringing up her own defensive rock wall in time to deflect the first strikes. Liara generated a biotic field to stop a barrage before throwing out a singularity that snatched four Earthbenders from the ground and caused them to flail in mid-air, screaming. More screamed as this revealed Liara's Asari form. I really, really needed to make that holobelt work with her biotics....

While Liara was on defense, Kuvira went on the offense. She drew back and started slinging more of her metal plates, using them to bind the wrists of some of our attackers to neutralize them.

I pulled out the sonic disruptor and used its kinetic pulse setting - good old 4 - to blast back one boulder flying toward me and Hou. I leaned over his prone form and did a quick check. Head injury, but not as bad as I'd feared initially. It had broken the skin and probably caused a concussion, but he'd make it. I pulled out a small application of medi-gel and applied it.

"They're trying to murder General Hou!", I heard one man scream.

"You bloody morons, we're trying to save him!", I shouted back. "Oi!" I looked up in time to see Kuvira send a metal plate flying toward the neck of the offending sergeant. I held up the disruptor and knocked the plate off course enough so that it only sliced a bit of his shoulder instead of the fatal gash to his throat it would have otherwise caused. I glared at Kuvira. "Don't," I insisted. "We're not here to kill."

"We might not have a choice," she retorted.

"if you want to see your world again, you'd better reconsider that!", I retorted. "Even the smallest ripples might still disrupt key elements of the timeline!"

"Here!" Liara fell back on us, focused, and with her strength a bubble of biotic energy formed around us. Rocks crashed into it repeatedly, but this was a biotic barrier meant to resist mass effect projectiles. Big rocks thrown by Earthbenders lacked the kinetic energy and penetrating power to get through.

Of course, it still created feedback that hurt Liara, and if she lost her concentration or passed out from the effort... our nice handy force bubble would be gone.

I knelt down by Hou again. If I absolutely had to, I'd summon the TARDIS. Our proximity should permit the remote to work. But that would leave the Earth Kingdom army in a state of tumult. "Come on, General," I urged. "Your men are out of control!"

The medi-gel was kicking in, slowly but surely. Liara grunted and her biotic field contracted a little, forcing Kuvira back. She was still throwing out Earthbending attacks with rapid movements of her arms and feet, knocking away soldiers. There was a lethal grace in her movement that could be stunning.

"General..."

Before I could protest further, Hou's eyes opened. They looked around, hazy and uncertain, before focusing on my face. "What...?" He blinked. "Who was that?"

"The Dai Li agent attacked you," I said. "And he turned your army against us by accusing us of the deed."

"What...? No...!" He started to sit up.

"Careful!", I urged him. "Careful, General, you took a nasty hit on the head."

"Soldiers of the Earth Kingdom, stand down!", Hou shouted, but he was still woozy and groggy and his voice didn't quite carry. Given the look on his face I wasn't certain he could manage the kind of bellow he'd need, so I pulled out the sonic screwdriver and held it in front of his mouth, set to amplify the sound of his voice like a bullhorn, but without that annoying feedback. "Soldiers of the Earth Kingdom, this is General Hou! I order you to stand down!"

The attacks petered off. The officers and men of the army looked with confusion as I helped Hou to his feet. "Get your medics!", I shouted. "The General has a nasty head injury."

"General Hou..." One of the subordinate generals came from amidst the army's multitude and nodded. "I'm... I'm sorry, but the men saw you go down, and they..."

"They fell for a Dai Li trick!", Hou growled, although he was clearly woozy. "General Luxu, ready the men for combat. The Dai Li will no longer dictate our Kingdom's fate!"

"Right away, general...."

"You need to rest, General Hou," i urged him. "Rest without sleeping. It'll take a while for your head to settle down."

"I have suffered worse during the war, sir, I can make do." He looked at me and to Liara and Kuvira. "A spirit?"

"Um... something close," I said.

"You are not the Royal Inspector," Hou observed.

"Indeed not," I said.

"Then, who..."

"Individuals here to thwart the Dai Li before they destroy everything we hold dear," I said. "They were going to cause your army to attack the Fire Nation after they launched their assassination of Fire Lord Zuko and the Earth King."

Hou's eyes showed some worry through the haze of the concussion. "What... no? That's madness. That would restart the war...."

"I know. Which is why they must be stopped. Keep your men under control, General Hou."

"I must warn the King..."

"No!" I gripped his arm. "They'll know, and they'll try to kill him before we're ready to stop them. Trust me, General Hou. We'll deal with the Dai Li. Just keep your army in line and be ready if they're needed."

Hou was rather unhappy with my forceful response to him, but after a moment he relented. "Save the King and the Fire Lord, prevent this foolish war from restarting," he asked me.

"I intend to," I answered. "Now, has anyone seen our ostrich-horses?"




When I last mentioned our Airbender allies and Bolin, they were being ambushed in a warehouse of some sort. "There's a lot of 'em," Bolin noted to the others.

Guan did not speak to them directly. He made a motion with his hand as an order to attack.

Bolin evidently decided that since they were inside a building, there was no harm in cutting loose. Not just with Earthbending, but with his Lavalbending. I've had few opportunities to see that skill before, but given what Opal said about it, he put on quite a display, throwing out lava to cut paths back toward the door. And while Guan probably knew about Bolin's talent, his new subordinates did not. The attack threw them off balance.

Then Jinora and Opal opened up with defensive Airbending and caught the downtime Dai Li further off guard. Powerful wind pulled them out of position or knocked them from the upper floor ledges.

Guan plunged into their number, striking Opal in the back with a powerful rock thrown by one of his kicks. She went flying to the dirt from the impact. Guan deftly dodged Jinora's counter-attack and threw a hit that sent her spinning. Jinora rolled with it and got back to her feet, whipping up an air current in the same movement that would have knocked Guan off his feet if he'd been a split second slower.

But he evaded it and counter-attacked, forcing Jinora to dodge as well. Opal took another hit from one of the other Dai Li before recovering, and with a bum shoulder at that, but she turned her momentum into a twisting move in mid-air that sent a gust of air to bowl the Dai Li man over.

Guan and Jinora had stalemated each other, leaving Bolin and Opal to fight off the Dai Li. Whom were readily adapting to the presence of Airbenders and the lavabending of Bolin. Altogether, they needed a change in momentum to get away.

Which, of course, they actually got.

For the three, it was probably a surprise to hear a slight whistling sound before a metal boomerang moved through the room, knocking the heads of a couple Dai Li who had been focusing on the injured Opal. Another figure dashed ahead, knocked one Dai Li off his feet, and grabbed a second before throwing him into a third and fourth agent.

The sudden attack from a new direction threw Guan's people into chaos. Guan undoubtedly saw this. He extricated himself by feinting Jinora with a presumed kick attack before throwing another stone in a low lunch that flipped her off balance, causing her to briefly hit the ground. "They can't stop us," he said to the others. "Withdraw for now."

There was a rush of robed figures from the warehouse. Within moments the Dai Lai were gone.

"Well, nice to see you again," Sokka helped Jinora get up.

"You followed us," Jinora said. "Why?"

He pointed a finger to his forehead. "You've got an Airbender tattoo on your forehead. I thought that was weird."

Jinora tapped her head and must have felt silly that she hadn't triple-checked to make sure her Master tattoos weren't showing. "Yeah, about that. I was one of the Fan Club members who got the tattoos before Avatar Aang asked us to stop."

"No, because I've seen everyone who got one, and I don't remember you." Sokka took a closer look at Jinora. "Say, you look an awful lot like Aang. And you're an Airbender, and you've got the tattoos...." I can imagine the goofy expression that came to his face. "....wait a minute, that doesn't make any sense. I mean, it's like your Aang's daughter from the future or something." From what I gather, he pondered for a moment before getting an eerie look on his face. "That would make an awful lot of sense. Are you Aang's daughter from the future? Huh?!"

"Absolutely not," Jinora answered, completely truthfully.

That seemed a reasonable point to leave the conversation off. But Bolin just had to twitch a little and drew Sokka's attention. "Alright you. You're not even an Air Acolyte, are you? Tell me, are you from the future?"

"Uh..." Bolin swallowed. For a moment I suppose it would have looked like he'd bend, but Bolin can surprise people with his mental flexibility. At times, at least. He opted for the obvious deflection. "Listen, that's not the important bit. There are these bad Dai Li guys running around who want to ruin the treaty signing. We've got to stop them!"

"Don't be coy with me, buddy!"

"I'm not sure we have time to explain," Jinora said to them. "But if you can get us into the palace, I think we can help prepare for the Dai Li attack."

Sokka and Suki exchanged glances. "I think it might be a good idea, Sokka," Suki said. "There's something weird going on, and if the Dai Li are here to stop the treaty we might need the help."

"Alright, fine," Sokka said, showing he'd drop the issue for now. "But I'm on to you, future people!"

They departed.




Of course, there was already a problem in the Mayoral palace. Katara faced Katara, and since this could get confusing I shall refer to "our" Katara as the Uptime Katara. "What.... who are you?" Katara stared at the Uptime Katara in abject surprise. "You look just like me."

"Oh. Yeah, everyone says that," Varrick said. "You wouldn't believe how many problems it gave us back before the war ended. I mean, the Fire Nation authorities arrested her about twenty...." It's rather inspiring, in its own way, how Varrick tried to spin things since both Kataras were wearing suits of similar color and make, albeit one being replicated in the TARDIS.

"Varrick, I'm not stupid," Uptime Katara sighed. "And so neither is she." The Uptime Katara looked at her counterpart intently. "I'm you, Katara. I'm a you that could be, and I'm here with them to prevent it."

"WHat do you mean by that?", Katara asked. "What are you here to prevent?"

"Done." Asami stood up and held the explosive. "I've disarmed it."

"Tell me who you are!", Katara demanded, and she reached for Uptime Katara's arm. Uptime Katara grabbed her hand to stop her. And both froze.

There are some places where touching your younger or older self are considered extremely dangerous. This is because quantum synergy, depending on energy states and all sorts of other things, can sometimes violently break down the matter in question. Just ask Senator McComb. Granted, that can sometimes be paradoxical, but... okay, I'm not going to go into whole issue of temporal variances and timeline flexibility, so let's just say that this doesn't happen often. More often you might just get slight information exchange from the synergistic effect, and if a timeline has been merged into another, the beings will likely merge too.

The information effect is what I know to have happened when the two Kataras made direct contact. For a brief moment Uptime Katara's memories were visible to the other Katara. From what I heard, her face paled and tears began to streak down her eyes. "No... Aang.... Sokka...."

Uptime Katara pulled away. "Yeah. And that's what we're going to stop."

The shock of the brief memory exchange was not something Katara would get over quickly. "And the others here?"

"Ah, well, that should be obvious. We're from the future!", Varrick announced. "The only survivors of an entire timeline wiped from existence by Xuandi and those Dai Li!"

"Not just our timeline," Asami pointed out. "The Doctor says that every point of time on our world could be destroyed."

"Who is...?"

Before the obvious question could be asked, Zhu Li spoke up. "Pardon me, sir, but I believe we have company."

Varrick looked outside the room and into the hall to where Zhu Li was indicating. "Well, I'll be. That's her, isn't it? Xuandi's..."

Zhu Li grabbed him and pulled him to the ground. It saved both of their lives from the metal projectile that sliced several strands of Zhu Li's hair. Everyone turned to face Zhang, who pulled her metal back to her with metalbending. "She's..." Katara's eyes widened. "Pakku, Gran-Gran, Suki and Ty Lee...."

"She killed them," Uptime Katara said in a harsh tone. She was already pulling water out of her bottle and bending it out to fight with.

Zhang, upon seeing them, evinced some surprise at finding two versions of the same person. But the killer didn't say anything to them about it, whatever her thoughts were. Metal spikes erupted from her sleeves, aimed at their throats. Uptime Katara whipped her arms out and deflected the attacks by striking the spikes by freezing them. The other Katara generated a water whip that Zhang jumped out of the way of. When Zhang landed she used a couple of arm movements to rip out the floor of the palace and sling it at them. They had to dodge in turn.

"Well, we're not exactly useful in this sort of thing," Varrick said, "so maybe we should, I dunno..."

"Get help, sir?", Zhu Li proposed.

Varrick snapped his fingers. "Yeah, that's it. Let's go get some help!" They went back out the door into the hall. Their movement stopped when one of Zhang's spikes planted itself into the wall within a millimeter of Varrick's nose. "On second thought, maybe we should leave this to the Benders."

Asami apparently had other plans. She jumped from the room with a curtain rod in one hand, using it like a quarterstaff as she closed the range on Zhang. She ducked under one thrown chunk, jumped over a metal blade meant to cut into her shins, and brought the staff down on Zhang's arm as she jumped away. This slowed Zhang down enough that both Kataras nailed her with powerful blasts of water, knocking her cover. Katara froze her in place a moment later, while Uptime Katara... well, unsurprisingly she bent some of the water into icicles, and she sent them crashing down to Zhang.

The only reason she didn't kill Zhang was because her counterpart, horrified, turned the icicles back into water. "What are you doing?!", she demanded of the Uptime Katara.

"Making sure she doesn't kill anyone ever again," Uptime Katara retorted.

"Watch out!" Asami leapt and caught them both, pulling them down just as metal spikes flew in the space where they'd been.

Zhang hadn't been frozen in place completely. One of her hands could still move, and she used it to bend the spikes back toward her, causing them to strike the ice around her arm and shatter it. With her freed arm she pulled down an ornamental pike that shattered the ice cocoon around her. She adopted an offensive stance yet again to resume the fight.

Asami went after her again while the Kataras gathered the water around them again. This time, Zhang was more ready for her. She let Asami get close while making normal attacks, but when the improvised staff came down toward her, Zhang shifted the way she was moving. A metal blade erupted from her sleeve.

Only a last second move kept it from slicing open Asami's throat. It cut along her shoulder, slicing a deep gash in it, and moved on from there. Blood flowed from the wound as Asami fell to her knees, her right arm dangling uselessly for the moment. Zhang summoned back the metal blade and caused it to fly by the Kataras, who had to duck to avoid it.

Another blade appeared as Zhang pinned Asami to the wall. "Surrender," she ordered. "Or she dies." She pressed the metal blade up against Asami's throat. "All I'll need is an instant."

The two Kataras remained still for a moment, holding large chunks of ice ready to be used on Zhang. But they saw the trickle of blood coming from Asami's throat where the blade was already piercing her skin. So they relented, dropping the ice to the ground.

"Sentiments." Zhang nodded. "None can avoid giving in to them."

And before they could act, Zhang drove the blade into Asami's neck.




General Hou ordered ostrich horses prepared for us to return to Yu Dao and scribbled a quick introductory letter for us as well. Well, okay, scribbled is perhaps the wrong term to use for logogram-based languages. But nevertheless he wrote one, and we were off to Yu Dao.

"What do you think Xuandi will do now?", Liara asked. "He can't use the army now."

"If he succeeds in his main goal, he won't need to," I answered. "He could just have the Dai Li attack the Fire Nation army to provoke them. So we need to hurry!" I held up my sonic. "This way!"

Liara activated her omni-tool. "I'm going to trace the links we gave to the others so we can assemble more quickly."

"Right." I looked over to Kuvira. She wasn't talking, but she didn't need to. She looked fairly determined to accomplish our goals, all things told.

I pondered Kuvira as we finished our ride into the city. In her way, she reminded me of Korra, in her willingness to punch through any obstacle to accomplish her goals. That drive, that fire in her eyes, oh that was very recognizable, wasn't it? But I thought she lacked something to make her truly comparable. A certain grounding that, as often as it had sometimes failed, still kept Korra from going too far. Korra was willing to get into a fight, certainly, and she battered down things that got in her way. I just didn't see her taking the same measures Kuvira clearly had.

Of course, maybe I'm biased in Korra's favor. I still needed to see more of Kuvira in action, so to speak, before making a final judgement. She certainly had great potential as a leader, it was just a matter of that potential being used in the right way. So far the signs hadn't been very encouraging. But people, well, sometimes they surprise you.

We'd made it into the city when I noticed, from the corner of my eye, Opal hopping along the rooftops, trying not to be seen. She gestured at us to follow and I did, leading us into an alleyway off the secondary lanes where we had some privacy. I found Bolin and Jinora there too, and.... of course, Sokka and Suki.

I buried my face in my palm. "So... may I ask what happened?"

"We ran into the Dai Li," Jinora answered. "And they came to help."

"Yeah. That one quiet guy who's always been around Xuandi is leading them," Bolin added. "He almost got us too."

"Well." I sighed. "That's two out of three. Going by our luck, Zhang's in the palace." I suppressed a shiver at that. Zhang was probably worse than Xuandi in some ways. She was a killer, cold and remorseless. Having her running around in the mayoral palace was not what I wanted to hear.

Especially when three out of four of our allies sent there were unarmed non-benders.

"So, pal, you're the leader here, huh?" Sokka raised a finger at me. "You can't fool me, future leader... guy.... whoever!"

I blinked and eyed the others. They all shook their heads. "Well, aren't you perceptive?", I answered. Sokka was smart enough and imaginative enough that his doomed counterpart from the survivor Katara's timeline had figured out what the vortex manipulator did. "Suppose we are from the future, and that so are the people who want to stop the treaty signing by killing Zuko, the Earth King, and probably Aang. What, precisely, would that change?"

"Well... hum...." He scratched at his head. "You could have all sorts of future machinery to help us with, for one thing! Or they could have it and use it against us!"

"Right on both accounts, I suppose. But consider this. If we were from the future, and I told you we were, and you learned things about the future..." I leaned in near to him. "...ever consider what would happen if that made you make different decisions? You could wipe your own allies out of existence like that." I snapped my fingers.

Sokka got his finger within a foot of my nose. "Listen, buster, that whole thing sounds... sounds..." He seemed to ponder it. "Actually, it sounds pretty right to me. Yeah, okay, I get your point."

"Exactly. So, time travelers, were we to be such, would not openly talk about it with anyone who played a key role in the world that created them. Now..." I gestured toward the mayoral palace. "We really need to get going. Our enemy is a man named Xuandi, and he's here to stop the peace process. We have to take him and his followers down. So..." I looked back at our three horses. "I don't think these equines can take more than two riders, unfortunately."

"Jinora and I will catch up," Opal said. "Take the others and go."

I nodded and extended a hand to Sokka. "Care for a ride?"

"Uh... sure?" He mounted behind me. Suki rode with Liara and Bolin got behind Kuvira. Jinora and Opal used Airbending and wall-running to get back to the rooftops, from which they would follow us.

And we rode on to the mayoral palace.




Zhang drove the metal blade into Asami's neck.

But it did not breach her carotid, or her windpipe. It stopped, its tip just in deep enough to draw a pinprick of blood, after which it flew backward out of Zhang's grip before clattering against the opposite wall. To Asami's vision, Zhang's eyes took on a sudden, hateful glare. "What...? How did that happen?!"

"Lady, I don't know what you think you're doing, but that is definitely not how metalbending is supposed to be used!"

All eyes turned to where Toph had stepped into the hall of that residential area. She shifted her head from side to side with a cracking sound and did the same with her knuckles. "Now, are you going to let go of the girl, or do I have to get rough?"

Zhang reportedly stared for a long second before making her calculation. She took off down the other end of the hall. In the process, she was quite capable of dodging the sharp icicles that Uptime Katara flung at her.

Toph whistled. "Wow, Katara. That's pretty vicious of you, going after that lady like... that?" Toph gave a confused look, or rather what amounted to a look from her given the obvious, and added, "Is this some kind of gag of Sokka's? Because if so, it isn't funny. Why are there two Kataras?!"

"A moment, Toph," Katara said while gathering up her own supply of water. She took it and applied it to the wounds on Asami. "That's real brave of you," she said. "You seem to know your way in a fight with Benders."

"I've trained for it since I was little." I'm sure Asami did her best to keep the bitterness out of her voice, but I'm also sure she wasn't entirely successful. What happened with her father was a sore point. "But she was just too fast."

"Say...." Varrick pointed at Toph. "If you're blind, how come you know there are two Kataras?"

"Sir, she's Toph Beifong," Zhu Li reminded him.

"Toph... oh yeah, the old p..."

"Yes, Toph," Asami interrupted, glaring at Varrick. "This is a very strange story."

"Dealing with one Katara is enough, but having to deal with two makes this beyond strange, lady," Toph answered, arms still crossed. "So, explanations?"

Uptime Katara looked at her and, I suspect, couldn't quite keep the sadness out of her. Toph sensed the change to her heartbeats and recognized them for what they were. "Say, why is one of you acting so upset all the sudden?"

"It's.. it's nothing," Uptime Katara stammered. "Listen, it's complicated. All i can say is that some Dai Li from the future want to stop the treaty, so they used some machine to come back in time and wreck the meeting. Sokka got his hands on their time machine and sent me into the future for help. I found these people from the future to help fight the Dai Li. And if we don't stop them tonight, they're going to destroy the world."

"Destroy the world? Are we talking something like Ozai going crazy and burning down the Earth Kingdom, or...?"

"Our world would cease to exist," Asami answered. "Space and time would collapse around the altered point. It's a Fixed Point in time, it shouldn't be changed like that."

"Alright, now you're starting to tick me off with the weird words and stuff," Toph said, hand held up in a stop gesture. "Let's just leave it at what Katara said.... the other Katara.... oooh, this is annoying! How about you..." she pointed to "her" Katara "...be Sugar Queen and you..." now she pointed at Uptime Katara "...are now Spice Queen. Because you're kind of aggressive now. Meaner, I mean. I sort of like it."

"I hate to interrupt this little party," Varrick started, "but we've only gotten one bomb so far, and we still have the entire palace to search."

"We'll cover more ground if we split up," Uptime Katara said. "Toph, Katara, you should go with Varrick to the upper floors." She looked at Asami. "You and I will go check on the bombs in the main hall."

"Aw, so you mean we can't go introduce Sokka and Aang to you both?" Toph chuckled. "I'd love to hear their heartbeats at the idea of there being two of you."

"No time," Asami said, urgency in her voice. "We should get going, now."




We arrived at the entrance to the Mayoral Palace to find the gate guarded by a phalanx of Earth Kingdom soldiers. King Kuei's elite guards, presumably. The lead guard held up aa hand. "By order of General Hou, the palace is off limits."

I lifted my eyebrow but said nothing, letting Sokka and Suki take the lead on that. "They're with us," Sokka said.

"The General's orders were strict," the guard answered. "Nobody is to be allowed in."

"I'm the leader of the Kiyoshi Warriors." Suki stepped up past Sokka. "I need to get in, the Dai Li are going to attack the King and Fire Lord!"

"Nobody means nobody," the guard insisted.

I narrowed my eyes. I sincerely doubted it was Hou who made the order. Xuandi, well, that was a different story. And that's assuming he had not co-opted one of the officers. I started looking down the walls in either way, seeing if there was another way in.

That's why I noticed the light post.

It was in place along the street lining the palace, like it had been placed there, even though the area around it was clearly meant to be open. I walked up to it with the sonic out.

This drew the attention of the others. "What is that?", Suki asked.

"Looks like a lamppost," Sokka answered. "But I've never seen one like it. How do you open it to light the flame?"

"You don't," I said quietly. "It's a light bulb. It runs off of electricity."

"You mean lightning, right?"

"Something like that, Sokka, sure." I looked at my sonic and drew in my breath. "It's spreading."

Bolin looked around with worry. "I don't see any white stuff yet."

"Yes, it hasn't gotten that bad yet," I answered, "but that won't be too far behind."

Suki and Sokka exchanged looks. "Uh.... what are you talking about?", she asked.

"We need to get in there," I said. "Hrm... Bolin?" I made a hand gesture indicating him digging a tunnel with his Earthbending.

"They're Earthbenders too, I think they'll see that coming," he answered. "Besides this place was built for the Fire Nation, and they'd know to protect against Earthbenders."

"Well." I sighed. "I guess I've got no choice." I went back to the ostrich horse and jumped on. "Come on, everyone, we don't have all day! Well, technically it's not even going to be a day soon, but a big... knot of timey-wimeyness.... but we've got to go!"

"And just where would this be?", Sokka asked, crossing his arms.

I smirked. At this point, why bother avoiding it? "Why, my time machine, of course."



Katara - the contemporary one that is - and Toph were left as spectators to Varrick and Zhu Li as they made an effort to disarm another bomb, this one located in a place to cut off the central portion of the palace from the western wing. "This Xuandi guy sounds like he needs a boulder upside the head," Toph declared after hearing an explanation of what he was from Varrick.

"Oh, you're telling me." Varrick held up a hand. "Zhu Li, the thing!" She dutifully handed him a tool. "And the other thing too!" She handed him a second, and he returned to work on disarming the explosive.

"So, where is Twinkle Toes anyway?", Toph asked. "I thought you two were off doing lovey-dovey stuff?"

"King Kuei called an early meeting to discuss some parts of the treaty. I told him I'd wait for him to finish."

"Oh, well... doesn't that mean the Spice Queen will see him?", Toph asked.

Given Katara had been given a brief inkling of what her counterpart had gone through, I'm not surprised she didn't respond with the sort off petty jealousy that I imagine Toph would have enjoyed feeling. "It'll make her feel better," was all that she said.

"Really?" After a moment I imagine Toph put two and two together. "This attack, it must have been pretty bad then."

"I didn't see all of it. Just the worse parts." I imagine even this Katara, who hadn't endured seeing everyone she loved in the world be slaughtered by Xuandi and his Dai Li, had a hard edge to her voice at the mere thought of these things coming to pass. "Enough to know we have to stop it from happening."

"Stop what from happening?"

I imagine the new voice in their conversation almost made them jump. Toph and Katara turned to face Ty Lee, still in Kyoshi Warriors uniform, who looked at them. "What are you doing up here?"

"Something, uh... Nothing much."

"We were just discussing if the Dai Li were going to attack," Katara said. Which had the amusing advantage of not being entirely a lie either.

"Oh, of course not. We've kicked their butts so many times now that they wouldn't bother!", Ty Lee said. "Anyway, I'll see you at the treaty signing!" She turned and walked away.

I suppose Toph and Katara exchanged looks. Well, more like Katara started to and caught herself due to the obvious issue with such a thing. "Is it just me, or is it really creepy she became a Kiyoshi Warrior?", Toph asked.

"I think she fits pretty well," Katara answered.

"A ha! There we go!" Varrick stuffed the disassembled bomb and parts into his robe. "Another bomb down! Zhu Li, do the thing!"

Zhu Li held up the scanner. "This way."

"Right!"




Uptime Katara was able to get Asami into the main hall fairly easily. It was a rather large chamber and that meant, unfortunately, that there was plenty of room for powerful plastic explosives to cause havoc in.

At the central table, a large circle, Aang was sitting beside Zuko, Mai, and Kuei, discussing one or another minor provision of the treaty the two were due to sign. The historic piece of paper that would give birth to the United Republic of Nations and set the stage for Korra's time. It was more than just an important point in history though, it was a Fixed Point in time. That treaty had to be signed and ratified and its signers brought forth to announce its existence. Xuandi preventing it was why there was an electrical light post now outside of the palace, decades before the technology of this world advanced to allow it to be put into use.

I imagine Uptime Katara was visible in her need to restrain herself from going up to Aang to kiss him. She remained near Asami as they rounded the exterior of the room to the first hiding place, behind a tree sculpture. Asami dug out her tools and started working on the device. Katara watched her back and kept a low profile herself, or at least as low as she could.

Two of the devices were quickly dismantled, but the third proved one of the trickier ones as it was terribly close to Aang and the others. I can imagine how much Asami was sweating as she worked on it. Which was undoubtedly made worse when a voice called out, "Hey, Katara!"

She turned and faced Aang, who had come over. "I'm glad you decided to come after all, Zuko and King Kuei...."

I can only imagine the feelings that went through her head. She had watched Aang die, after all. Seeing him alive? The kind of emotion that would reasonably cause was more than any rational thought could easily deal with for a lot of people. And apparently so for Katara, who wrapped her arms around Aang and began crying.

"Katara? Sweetie, what's wrong?"

"You're alive, you're..."

"Wait, who's that?" Zuko stood from his chair and advanced on Asami. "Who are you and what are you doing here?!" That was fairly unkind, I suppose, but given how many assassination attempts Zuko had survived since becoming Fire Lord, some paranoia is understandable. It wasn't like the treaty was too popular in the Fire Nation either. Mai seemed to be in agreement given she had reached for her throwing blades.

Asami didn't turn away until Zuko put his hand on her shoulder. He might have done more if Katara hadn't reacted. "No, Zuko," she said. "She's with me."

"Katara, what's going on?", Zuko asked. "What is..."

At that point, a couple of interesting complications happened in a row.

The first was that Ty Lee stepped in from the nearest door. She turned to face them and blinked. "Hey, that doesn't make sense. Because I just saw you with Toph right now and...." She rubbed at her head. "You couldn't have gotten here before me!"

The second came about five seconds later. Asami saw a light on the charge turn red. "Get back!", she shouted. "It's going to explode!"

Three seconds later, it did.



On the upper floors, Varrick and Zhu Li were approaching another charge. Varrick got close enough to see the light on it change color. "Everybody down!" He jumped on Zhu Li and Katara, throwing them both to the floor.

This would not have saved them, of course. The bob was too close. What did save them was Toph. She made a quick jab with her fists to Earthbend some of the fine stone floor, tearing an entire chunk out of the building in the process. It flew through the air before it detonated in mid-air. It was close enough that some of the blast wave still caught her, knocking her on her back. "Ow!", she complained, her hands going to her ears. "That was bad!"

The floor beneath them shuddered. "What's going on?", Katara asked.

"The bombs!", Varrick answered. "They just went off!"




We rode our fowlish equines into the appropriate alley and I used the remote to remove the TARDIS' stealth field. The moment he saw it Sokka made a confused noise. "Wait, that's... that's really small." We all dismounted. I admit that I was grinning like an idiot in anticipation. "There's no way we'll all fit inside."

"Ha." I snapped my fingers. The TARDIS doors opened wide and showed the inside.

Ah, yes. The dropped jaws,, widened eyes... especially Sokka's. I allowed the idiot's grin to grow larger. "But that's... I...." Sokka ran up to the door, putting his hand on his chin in thought. "It's an illusion of some sort, right? It's got to be..." He stepped through and looked around. With pure bewilderment on his face Sokka stepped back out of the TARDIS and ran around it. He judged its width by holding out his arms and did the same from the inside. Finally he looked to me. "It's bigger on the inside!"

I looked over to Liara, who was smiling slightly. "I always love it when they say that."

"It can be amusing," Liara agreed.

Suki had, meanwhile, assured herself of the same, while Opal and Jinora went inside so Jinora could treat Opal's injury. "What is it?"

"It's a TARDIS, my TARDIS," I explained. "Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. And while I'd love to..."

I heard the roar a moment before Suki looked up and asked, "And what's that thing?"

Looking up I saw the craft flying lowly over the north side of Yu Dao, wheels extended, as if coming in for a landing in the distance. After about two seconds, it seemed to fade from sight. But I'd gotten a good enough look at it to tell what it was. "A passenger jet plane," I murmured. "That's not good."

"It's a what?"

"A flying machine, Sokka," I answered him. "Although your world has about a century before it builds them." I sighed. "That's not a good..."

A loud shriek filled the air. Now I could hear distant screams and cries of surprise as well, and I realized why when I saw the creature fly overhead. It looked like a pterodactyl, but with the head of a triceratops. "Well, you don't see that every day." I watched the creature circle around for a bit, startled and upset, before vanishing. "The Time Crash event is escalating. It's starting to have an effect here and now." I rushed into the TARDIS. "We need to get going! We...."

The distant thunder of explosions drew my attention back outside. Kuvira pointed further out. "The palace. There are explosions at the palace."

"We haven't a moment to lose!", I shouted. "Everyone aboard! We're taking the direct route!"




In the main hall of the palace, the explosion blew apart one of the walls. Indeed, it blew out more than it should have.

Airbenders are pretty good at deflecting explosions.

When the rubble and smoke cleared, Asami stumbled back to her feet and looked around. I can imagine her panic and terror; had we just failed? Was her world doomed, was Korra doomed?

King Kuei groaned, revealing he was alive, and Zuko stumbled to his feet, helping Mai up. "That explosion..." He rubbed at his head. I'm certain his ears were still ringing. "There wasn't enough blasting jelly for something that big!"

Before he could continue or Asami could explain, Katara screamed in anguish. They turned and saw her cradling Aang. His Air Nomad robes were badly burnt and the burns had extended into his skin. He was mercifully unconscious at this point. Given the state he was in, the issue of where he was alive was an obvious one. "Aang, Aang, wake up! Please wake up! I can't see you die like this, not again!"

Asami was helping Ty Lee up when the latter heard that. "Again?", Ty Lee asked, blinking.

"Just what exactly is going on here?", Mai asked.

"Katara, what's going on here? Who are these people?!" Given the situation, Zuko's demands were understandable.

They were interrupted by a commotion from the main door. There were sounds of vicious fighting and the door flew open. Two of the Kiyoshi Warriors flew through it and fell unconscious to the ground. Xuandi entered, flanked by Guan and Zhang, and quite a few black-robed Dai Li came in to either side to form a half-circle in the hall. "I had hoped to make this quick," Xuandi said. "But interference forces my hand." He stabbed a finger at the incredulous Kuei. "King Kuei, in the name of the people of the Earth Kingdom, I charge you with treason. You plan to sign away our peoples' land in favor of the people who attacked them, all on the word of a Fire Lord desperate to keep his throne and a naive Avatar who doesn't care about the needs of our people."

"That is outrageous," Kuei retorted. "The Republic is to be a neutral territory of people from all Nations and jointly ruled by all four remaining nations. I have explained this time and again!"

"The Republic will be a sham. It will bring our people nothing but humiliation and shame. I will not allow it to be born."

"You have to stop!", Asami shouted. "Xuandi, you're going to wipe our entire world from existence!"

"The Doctor has already shared that lie with me. I am unmoved."

"The Doctor knows more than anyone how time travel works," countered Asami. "If you don't listen to him, we're all going to be destroyed!"

"Uh, what?" Ty Lee recovered enough to stand on her own. "What are you talking about?"

And Mai asked the usual question. "Doctor? Doctor who?"

I love straight lines like that.

Granted, I had little idea it'd been spoken, but it proved an excellent line for the moment nevertheless.

The TARDIS crashed into the hall from the opposite wall from the entrance, spinning until it slid to the ground and stopped, door pointed toward the others and Xuandi's army. The door opened and I stormed out, sonic screwdriver in one hand and sonic disruptor in the other. Liara and Kuvira came up to one side and Sokka and Suki to the other, and beyond them Opal and Jinora. "Hello everyone!", I said cheerily. "Sorry to crash the party, but I was afraid you'd start without us."

Asami looked at me and smiled. "Glad you could make it, Doctor."

"Grandpa Aang?!"

I turned my head slightly. I remember feeling a great deal of momentary fear at the way Uptime Katara was holding his body. Jinora went up to her and knelt beside her. "I... I think he's still alive."

"Go back to the library," I said to Katara. "The swimming pool is open."

Katara nodded and hefted Aang into her arms. She ran as quickly as she could into the TARDIS with Jinora covering for her. When Katara was safely inside, Jinora moved up beside Asami and Ty Lee. "Just what is going on?!", Ty Lee shouted.

"We're from the future," Asami answered. "And so is he."

Xuandi laughed. "All well and good, Doctor, but you forget. I have all the time I need." He pulled back his sleeve to use the vortex manipulator again.

But this time I was ready for him. "I don't think so!", I called out, bringing out the other one, the one Katara had worn. I hit a key on it. There was light on both and a flash of intense light on Xuandi's wrist. He flinched away from the light. When it was gone, his manipulator was gone as well. "Temporal integration!", I crowed. "Prevents annoying duplication issues involving timeline alterations. Time Agents are smart about that!"

A frown appeared on Xuandi's face. Very uncharacteristic of him. "Just the few of you, against all of the Dai Li? This battle is hopeless for you, Doctor. Zhang and Guan alone are more than powerful enough to...."

There was a crashing sound overhead. The ceiling caved in, a perfect square, and beneath us earth rushed up to meet the figures that were coming down from above. When the column of earth returned to the floor, a very disheveled Varrick was the first thing I noticed. "Well, that was the quickest route."

"And the most fun!", Toph declared. Beside here Katara - the downtime Katara - stood up and brushed herself off.

Sokka's jaw dropped when he saw his sister. "What?!", he shrieked. "But... I just... she's supposed to be..." He pointed back to the TARDIS.

"Oh, that's your Katara," I said to him. "The Katara treating Aang is from the initial timeline that this fellow's attack would have caused."

"Do you think two more benders will decide the battle for you, Doctor?", Xuandi crossed his arms. "Are you that arrogant?"

"Well, honestly, yes, yes I am," I announced. "But on the other hand, I'm the one with two generations of this world's greatest benders at my back. So I'd say you're the arrogant one, Xuandi. And your arrogance can't be allowed to destroy your entire world."

"You are persistent with your lies, at least," Xuandi said.

"It's clear you won't listen to reason," I retorted. "I don't like violence, but I don't like watching friends get erased form existence either, and I rather dislike it more." As I spoke the others took up a half-circle to my sides. Liara, Kuvira, Sokka and Suki, Katara, Zuko and Mai, Ty Lee, Asami, Bolin and Opal, Jinora. Varrick fell back to stand over Kuei for the moment, Zhu Li ever at his side. Ergo, I had nearly a dozen of this world's heroes and heroines from two generations at my side.

Rather fitting, I suppose.

"This has gone on long enough." Xuandi tensed up.

I was looking at Asami at that moment. There was a hard look in her green eyes as she met my own. "For Korra," she said.

I nodded.

"For the Earth Kingdom!" That shout came from two sources. Xuandi and, not surprisingly, Kuvira.

Xuandi lifted his arm and tore rock from the ground below the floor. And then he added another line. "Destroy them all!", he shouted.

And that was how the battle for the existence of their entire world 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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-21 08:55pm

The Dai Li were quick. There was no getting around that. They tended to quick and rapid uses of their Earthbending, particularly with those stone gloves of their's. The attack directed at me crumbled into dust once it struck the deflector shield coming from my sonic disruptor. Liara caught another pair of gloves with a biotic field that deflected them from several of our allies, while all the others dodged the first attacks. And from that point the battle was joined.

It was a collage of images and scenes. Suki and Ty Lee dodging attacks to get in close with the Dai Li. The first delivered several punishing kicks and punches to an opponent. Ty Lee twirled in mid-air with acrobatic grace, got in close, and her fingers rapidly smacked into several points of the Dai Li's body. The man collapsed and tried in vain to bend rock at her.

Toph was as one would expect her to be. Arm and leg movements resulted in raw earth shooting out of the ground and slamming opponents, none of whom quite managed to land a hit. When one Dai Li came at her from behind, he was greeted by an upswell of lava that he cringed away from, opening him up to Toph's counter attack, which sent him flying. "Lavabending?" Toph looked in Bolin's general direction. "That's a new one." Her face turned bewildered. "Is that a Metalbender?"

Undoubtedly she had sensed Kuvira, who was engaged in her own fight to break through to Xuandi. She shattered several earth fists sent toward her and bound one Dai Li agent up with some of her metal strips. Strip after strip of the deadly metal flew, cutting clothing and flesh where it struck.

Zhang intercepted her first. A metal spike nearly took Kuvira between the eyebrows if not for a last minute side step, which left a bleeding gash across her left temple. Kuvira took the metal spike with her own metalbending and sent it back to Zhang with enoughf power to keep Zhang from sending it back, forcing her to duck it and opening her up to an opportunistic strike with a boulder that sent her flying.

There was movement to my side. Guan was charging in. He brought up a rock shield to stop Mai's throwing blades and twisted around several fireballs sent at him by Zuko. A trio of the Dai Li followed him in. Ah. Flank attack. I couldn't turn, not without opening up Kuei and Varrick to attack, and that left it for Jinora to intercept him. She sent several strong gusts at him that Guan flipped around. in mid-air his leg lashed out and a chunk of marble flew from the wall and slammed into Mai. She cried out and fell over, prompting Zuko to move to defend her while she recovered and opening him up to Guan's allies to batter him with attacks. Asami shot into their midst, catching one with a high kick and the second with a strong punch that knocked him over. The third went for her back and cried out as a throwing knife of Mai's embedded itself in his calf. She started to pick herself up from the floor.

I grimaced as another stone slammed into my deflector. "Liara, we should..."

I didn't get an answer. Guan caught Jinora with a strike of material that sent her flying into Liara. Opal jumped in before he could follow up/ She caught Guan int he side with a small cyclone from her fist that sent him flying. He caught himself in mid-air and planted his feet against the wall. When he pulled away a large stone of the wall came out. Guan directed his feet at us and kicked off from the chunk. Even I had to duck as it crashed in our midst.

"That guy is giving us a bunch of trouble," Varrick said, getting up. "There's gotta be a way to take him out."

As Varrick asked this, Sokka let fly with his boomerang, which Guan deftly dodged. The weapon returned to Sokka's hand and he gripped it, frowning. "Oh come on, Boomerang 2! I know you're just as good as Boomerang Number 1!"

"Even if you hit him, I doubt it'll do much to a bruiser like him," Varrick said. "We need to give it some oomph."

Sokka seemed to think on this. "Wait, weren't you supposed to be running around disabling those blasting jelly explosives?"

"Plastic explosives, not jelly," Varrick countered. "But yeah." Varrick pulled a disabled bomb out of his pocket. "Small, but I think it'll work, if I can get it on him."

"So..." He held out his boomerang. Varrick looked it over and grinned. "Your exploding stuff, my boomerang."

"Right!" Varrick slapped him on the back. "Boy, you're a genius, never let anyone tell you otherwise! Zhu Li, I need the thing!"

"Right away sir."

While they went to work the rest of us were busy recovering and trying to contain Guan and, soon enough, Zhang. She leapt around on the other end, throwing metal spikes and blades out with deadly accuracy. Katara took up defensive duties against her, bending water repeatedly to freeze the metal attacks in ice. Bolin kept the Dai Li off of her with a disc of lava that he whipped around. Toph kept herself busy dealing with those same Dai Li and throwing attacks at Zhang.

Had Xuandi pressed us as well, I suspected we would have been overwhelmed, but he was fully occupied with Kuvira. The two were steadily disappearing in a debris cloud of crushed rock as they slammed their attacks against each other repeatedly, every attack deflected, every move countered.

"This might not work," Liara said. "They've got us pinned in."

"I know. But there's not much we can do about that," I answered. I looked around and felt a terrible sensation growing. The Time Crash. It was growing stronger. We needed to fix history, and every moment we continued this fight we made the problem worse.

"Didn't you say that as long as the Fixed Point occurs, time will adjust?", Liara asked me.

"I did." I blinked. "Yes, of course! We don't have to win this fight, not right away!"

"Wait, what?", That came from Sokka.

"Cover me," I said to Liara. I stepped back, still holding the sonic disruptor, and said, "Where's the treaty?" to Kuei. "We need the treaty!"

"It was on the table," he answered. "But that's gone. I'm not sure...."

"Bloody hell," I swore. "Listen, today is a special day in history, a Fixed Point in time. And that fixed point is you and Zuko sighing that treaty. That's what this is about. They want to stop you and don't realize what it means for entire world. In other words, I need that treaty signed." I looked to the broken remains of the table and ran for it. I got down into the wooden and marble debris and started pulling away pieces to see if I could find the paper.

I had only a brief moment to consider the shadow that loomed over me before Zhang slammed my back with several of her metal spikes. Once again the vest that had been so graciously gifted to me by the Carpenters saved me from grievous injury. I turned and got the sonic disruptor up in time to stop a direct attack. "You have no Bending, Time Lord," Zhang spat. "You think to challenge me?"

"It was a thought," I retorted, smiling. "Bet that makes you wonder, doesn't it?"

"i should have killed you back in our time," was the hissed reply. She started throwing metal at me again.

And was focused enough that she didn't see Asami until it was too late.

Asami took her from behind, getting in close with a grab, shifting her weight, and throwing Zhang off her feet. Bolin had been ready for the move and sent his lava disc into her, cutting fabric and flesh to a terrifying scream from Zhang. She flew off and landed with a thud.

"Nice job," I said to her. "No need for a metal suit to do that, right?" I pointed to the table. "Now I need to find the treaty!"

"Right."

While we worked on that, the fight raged around us. Liara caught a couple of Dai Li in a singularity to leave them vulnerable to attacks from the others. Guan was rampaging still, though. Suki went sprawling from a rock to her torso from her attempt to get close. That opened the way for Ty Lee to try. But as she got into range Guan's foot suddenly struck out and slammed into the ground. The ground beneath her erupted and Ty Lee went flying past him to slam into the wall. More jagged rock absorbed a whirlwind from Opal.

"Everyone down!", Varrick shouted.

Sokka followed by calling out, "Go get him, Boomerang!" Just to see what was going on, I turned my head back and saw Sokka throw his weapon again. But this time, I also saw the bits of plastique attached to it, cleverly done in a way to avoid undermining the weapon's air flow. Guan answered by reaching his hand out to swat the projectile away.

But I had a feeling of what was really going to happen and braced myself.

The blast wasn't large. It couldn't be without weighing the boomerang down too much to work. But it didn't need to be to catch Guan. I looked again in time to see him slam into the broken wall behind him and hit the floor. He wasn't moving after he landed.

"Here!" Asami picked up a wooden shard and found a scroll underneath. She ran her eyes over it. I could see some wonder come into her eyes when she did; the document that created the nation she called home, right there in her hands. "I found it!"

"Excellent, now get it to the oth..."

"Enough!"

Our attention, that of the Dai Li still standing, all turned toward the west side of the room. Zhang was on her feet again. Before her was an unconscious Toph and crooked in one of her arms was Katara. A metal spike was already against her neck. "Tear up the treaty, Doctor."

"No," I said.

"I'll kill her," Zhang said.

"And if we tear up the treaty, everyone will die. You included," I pointed out.

"Do you think me any more gullible than Lord Xuandi?", she asked. "That is the only reason to believe I would ever consider your preposterous claims that... hgk..."

The choking sound ended her sentence. Zhang's eyes widened and her body stiffened. Her arm pulled away from Katara's neck and dropped the spike. Everyone present gasped in shock. And I knew some of them, from both generations, knew perfectly well what this was.

Out of curiosity my eyes went skyward, where in the twilight sky I could make out the full moon.

Uptime Katara emerged from the TARDIS, hatred in her eyes and her hands raised as if gripping something. Gripping Zhang, I would say. She forced the Dai Li assassin to turn. "You and your master killed all of my friends and family," Uptime Katara said. "I'm not letting you hurt them. Not again. Never again."

There was something very frightening in her voice when she said that. "Never again", I mean.

"Katara, what are you doing?", I asked her.

I got my answer when her hands moved. Zhang's back arced painfully. And for all her coldness, I could see real fear appear in her deep emerald eyes.

Downtime Katara looked up from where she'd fallen on all fours. "No, what are you doing?!", she demanded.

"What has to be done. What I wished I could have done when they attacked us." Her hands moved and Zhang let out a choked scream as her body continued to contort. Tears flowed from Uptime Katara's eyes as she looked at everyone. "You didn't see what she did! You didn't see what they did. The people they murdered. They took everything from me! They took everyone I loved! They killed everyone! They killed Aang!"

A terrible feeling came to my gut. Not just to mine. Asami's face went ashen with fear. "Is Aang...?", she managed.

Uptime Katara nodded. "He'll be okay. I made sure of that. Just like I am now." She twisted her hands a bit and Zhang let out another garbled scream. "Just a little more pressure..."

'Katara, please." Asami stepped up to her. "Please, you can't do this. It's wrong, and you know it's wrong."

"I'm not sure I know anything anymore."

I swallowed. Katara had always had one of those personalities that, if she was ever driven too far, could easily become vindictive and cruel. And Xuandi and his people had done everything to send her over the edge.

Asami shook her head. "That's not true. You still know right from wrong. You're just... I know how angry you feel..." Now she was getting tears in her eyes.

Katara glared at her. "You don't know a thing about my anger!"

"Yes I do!," Asami retorted. "I watched...." For a moment her voice failed her.

Another strangled cry came from Zhang, suffering in her contorted state. Downtime Katara stood and looked ready to use her own bloodbending, as much as she hated it, to stop this. But I grabbed her on the shoulder first and, when she looked up at me, I shook her head. "Let them talk," I urged quietly.

"They destroyed Korra," Asami said. I watched her fists clench in frustration. In anger. "They wiped her from existence. And I hate them for it. I hate them so much... I do understand what you're saying. They took Aang from you..." She choked back a sob. "...and they took Korra from me."

Opal stepped up toward her. "...Asami? What are you saying...?"

Asami's eyes closed as the tears continued to flow. "I.... love Korra," she admitted. "I love her like you love Aang."

Those from Asami's time simply... stared. And the ones from this time didn't seem to know what to do or what to say.

Uptime Katara said nothing. She did stop trying to tear Zhang's arms out of her sockets, though.

"I want them to pay for what they've done," Asami continued. "I wanted to kill them too, in any way that I could. But it wouldn't end the pain they caused me. If I did something like this" - she held her hand to where Zhang's body was contorted painfully - "I'd be turning against everything Korra believed in. And I wouldn't be able to look her in the eye again. I wouldn't be worthy of her. I'd rather let them go than do something like that. To become someone like that."

"So wait..." Varrick pointed to Asami. "You mean you're act...." He was helpfully muffled by Sokka, who knew how close his sister - or rather this version of her - was to backing down, or to fulfilling the killing she was prepared to do.

"Please... for Aang, your Aang, don't do this," Asami pleaded. "Don't stop being the Katara he loved."

Their tear-filled eyes met again, and they remained so for several tense seconds. Actually, nearly half a minute, come to think of it. And then Katara cried out in aggravation and let her hands slacken. Zhang dropped to the floor, half-unconscious from pain. Bolin quickly bent the Earth to contain her. Asami was there to hug her when she fell to her knees weeping. She guided Uptime Katara back into the TARDIS.

I drew in a sigh of relief. "Now, Lord Zuko, King Kuei?" I held up the scroll. "Let's get this signed before its too late."

Zuko looked up from where he was comforting Mai for her injuries. "Before its too late for what?"

Luckily for me, I was able to point to the sky again, where three more aircraft of different kinds were visible, as well as the primordial pteryodactyl-triceratops from before. The faint image of the Republic City skyscrapers could just be made out as well.

"What... is that?", Kuei asked.

"The future. And the past. That's why they call it a Time Crash," I answered.

"There are still terms that we have to negotiate," Zuko reminded us. "Is the treaty ready to sign as it is?"

I was quickly looking over it, examining the terms and clauses hidden in all that fun formalized diplomatic language. "One of these days," I sighed, "I'm going to teach your world French. If you're going to have a fancy diplomatic prose you might as well use French for it. And I can go around saying 'Allons-y!' at you a lot. Although I suppose Latin would work..." I ran my finger on the paper. "To be honest, gentlemen, I'm not seeing anything on here of such dire import that it's worth risking the annihilation of your existence."

"Actually, I have a question," Bolin said.

"That is?", I asked, trying not to sound too aggravated.

"We stopped the bad guys," Bolin pointed out. "That means they can't stop the treaty. So why is the whole Time Crash thingie still happening?"

I politely held a hand out. "Because we haven't made it an impossibility yet, Bolin. You may notice we're short one Dai Li mastermind."

That made everyone nervous.

Me especially, since Kuvira was nowhere to be found either.

"Liara?" I looked at her. She had a cut on her left temple and purple Asari blood had oozed out of it, but other than that she looked fine. "Can you please help them go over this? I am going to make sure that Xuandi is being taken care of."

For Bolin's sake, I didn't add that I wanted to make sure Kuvira hadn't yet killed him, or worse.




I followed the devastation up stairs and the like to the rooftop of the palace. The only reason it still existed was because two Earthbenders had been restoring footing for their own use; otherwise I suspect some of the floors would have been rather unstable.

Kuvira and Xuandi were evenly matched, even with Kuvira's metalbending. They exchanged blow after blow, blocked attack after attack, in a deadly ballet of bending talent. I pulled out my sonic disruptor and steadied it on Xuandi. He was so absorbed in his fight he didn't notice me...

Or at least that's what he wanted me to think, given the rock that slammed me from behind. Thank you again, Charity Carpenter, for this lovely vest. It kept the worst of the impact from knocking me senseless. Instead I was merely disorientated.

Xuandi began retreating as I recovered. He recognized he was outnumbered now. More than that, he realized that his lieutenants had failed. "It's over," I told him.

"So I see," he growled.

I pointed out to the sky. "Look, you fool! Look at what you almost caused! That is the evidence! Time is collapsing around us, around this point, because of your doing!"

I could see stubborn anger in his eyes. "All i wanted was justice for my people, Doctor," he said. "Justice for what has been done to us."

"So you say. But now you've brought them to the precipice of non-existence. You need to surrender!"

"I cannot." He shook his head. "I am Dai Li. I am a patriot of my poor kingdom. I will not disgrace myself with surrender to an outsider looking to maintain our dishonor."

"You're being a bloody fool."

"General Kuvira." Xuandi looked to her. "You fight with spirit. Perhaps... perhaps my ways are doomed to fail. The virtues of our people have grown so weak over the last centuries of war and dishonorable peace. Perhaps our only hope is your vision of our future. I disapprove of your ways, but if mine are to fall then at least I can be assured our people will be properly avenged."

Kuvira looked ready to strike at him. "You should have joined me voluntarily, Xuandi," she said. "You shouldn't have stayed in my way."

"I acted as I must. Just as you do." He grinned slightly. "I think we are two of a kind, General Kuvira. May our ancestors bless your efforts with success." He took a step backward, and another step... and I realized what he was doing.

"Wait!", I cried, holding my hand up. "I still have questions! How?! How did you use the manipulator?! How did you know how it works?!"

Xuandi laughed at me. "You are clever Time Lord. Perhaps too clever. Why don't you think about it? It may prove an interesting diversion for you."

Before I could jump to grab him, Xuandi threw himself from the roof. I looked over the ledge and saw his broken body on the ground below.

And then things happened. I felt the change in the energy in the air. The Triceradactyl disappeared, as did the planes, as did the phantom skyscrapers and buildings that seemed so close to becoming tangible. I breathed out a sigh of relief. "There it is," I said. "The Time Crash is dissipating. Your world and timeline are intact again."

"That's good." She looked at me intently. "So when we get back...?"

"Oh, everyone will be there," I assured her. "To them, well, maybe they'll remember the Time Crash, or maybe they won't. But they'll be back to normal."

Her controlled expression softened slightly. Kuvira was relieved. "That's what I came to do," she said. "We should head back."

"Yes, yes we should," I agreed. I motioned to the stairs for her to head down. She eyed me for a moment and did so.

Yes, I wasn't exactly going to trust her in this circumstance. Not after our earlier conversation. And especially not now. With Xuandi gone, the last obstacle to her securing the Earth Kingdom was eliminated. Her road to unification was clear.

Alright, I was wrong. Aside from me, there was one obstacle left for her, if it was an obstacle. And we had already discussed that. If Korra stood against Kuvira... all bets would be off.




With Earthbenders, repairing the palace took almost no time at all. Security was trebled by matter of course, but nothing else interfered with the formal signing of the treaty creating the Republic.

Well, re-signing I should say, given that Zuko and Kuei had signed the original copy during my discussion with Xuandi.

We did indeed watch, but from within the cloaked TARDIS, keeping an eye out for any unexpected tricks from the Dai Li. We weren't about to fumble the entire situation now that we'd stopped the worst of it.

After all of that was said and done, Aang and his friends walked up to us. "Thank you very much," the young Avatar said, smiling in a way that painfully reminded me of Korra. "You saved our world."

"It's a habit of mine," I professed. "Granted, sometimes I aim small and only save cities."

"And then there are times he saves galaxies," Liara pointed out drolly. "Like mine."

They nodded. "So, what's the future like?", Toph asked. "Am I going to get a statue or something? I'd better."

I exchanged looks with Liara and then gave one to Bolin to make sure he knew not to say much. "Tricky thing, Miss Beifong. Talking about the future. I tell you the future, it might influence your decisions and change it. Then I end up running from a Time Crash again. Safer if you find it out on your own, eh?"

"Now where's the fun in that?", she asked.

"I'm just glad there is a future like yours," Zuko said. "With people of all nations living together in harmony."

"It won't be easy," I said. "Not for you to create."

"My Uncle would say the best things are never easy to make, and never should be," Zuko observed.

"Doctor." Katara looked at me sadly. "What happened to the... other me?"

I frowned. I raised my head and sighed. "She belonged to a timeline that no longer came to be, Katara. Like a river that's dammed up suddenly at the source."

"I see," Katara answered. "I... I hope she finds peace, then."

"As do all of us, i suspect," was my reply.

After that moment of seriousness, we were provided with a moment of levity. "I have to admit..." Sokka put his hand on his chin. "I wouldn't mind getting to see the future some time. I mean, to see what kind of new machines are built, that sort of thing."

"And to sample their food," Katara said, grinning.

"Oh yeah, and that. I gotta tell you, I think that with the right machines, it can change how meat is prepared forever!"

"Well, you'll see one day," I said. "Anyway, it was fun and all, but we really must get going. Oh, and..." I knelt in a little. "Remember, we were never hear. This was just some rogue Dai Li attack that you put down quickly. It'll be necessary to make sure the future of this world stays on track."

"Right." Aang nodded.

I narrowed my eyes. "You're not crossing your fingers behind your back, are you?"

"Who, me?" He smiled. "Not at all."

"Aang..." Katara crossed her arms and gave him a playful glare.

"Alright," he conceded.

"Good. Because I'll know if you did anything." I stepped back into the TARDIS and gave a little bow. "An honor and a privilege, Avatar Aang," I said before closing the door to the TARDIS.

"Time to go back," Bolin said. I could see the hope in his eyes. I smiled and nodded as I reached for the TARDIS lever. A quick calculation and... there we were.




When we stepped out of the TARDIS, the conference room looked like a mess. Unconscious Dai Li agents were everywhere. Well, almost. There was one left standing. He didn't remain standing for long, however, as Mako caught him with a wicked punch and sent him down. "Korra!", he shouted, looking over to where she was still trapped under the debris. He ran toward her.

We all did. Bolin brought his hands up and easily pulled the slab of stone off with his bending, freeing Korra's arms and legs. I started doing a quick scan to make sure she wasn't injured badly. "Alright, let's get her up," I said. "Just a little bruised."

By this point Kuvira had gone over to Bataar, still injured. Jinora embraced Tenzin with tears in her eyes.

And Asami... she stepped out of the TARDIS and fixed her eyes on Korra. "You're okay," she said gently. She gave up and ran up to her, embracing Korra tightly. "You're alright."

"Woh, Asami. It wasn't that heavy a slab. It just fell on me." Korra blinked. "Wait, what happened? Why did everyone suddenly come out of the TARDIS?"

"You mean you don't remember?", Asami asked.

"Remember what? I mean, I got pinned, then the TARDIS disappeared and re-appeared, and now you're..." Korra pulled a bit away. "Are you okay?"

"I'm just... glad you're okay," Asami said, choking on her emotions and suddenly looking very uncertain.

"We had to stop Xuandi," I explained. "He interfered with the past. Thankfully, we managed to keep him from altering history."

"I remember him disappearing and the Dai Li attacking," Korra said. "but I don't... what happened afterward?"

"Oh... nothing much," I lied. "A few of us went into the past while you fought the Dai Li. You just don't remember due to timey-wimey stuff."

"You're always going to use that excuse, aren't you?", Korra sighed.

"It's what the phrase was invented for!", I answered cheerfully. "Now, I would argue that this meeting's purpose is now rather moot. Xuandi and Guan are dead in the past. Only Zhang survived." I indicated to where Opal and Liara were bringing her out in restraints. I noticed Opal's eyes soften at seeing Bataar alive, just to grow cold again at seeing him hug Kuvira tightly. Oi, that situation was complicated. "Now..."

"I can't believe this!" Raiko's outburst made us all turn. "This proceeding has made a mockery of the Republic." He glared anger at Korra. "You've.... Avatar Korra, I've tried to be patient, but right now I want one good reason not to expel you from the Republic again!"

Asami's eyes flashed with anger. "I'll give you..."

I stepped between them and held up a hand. "Let's not get into that. As it turns out, I've got a very good reason for you to consider it, Raiko."

"And that is?"

"This isn't like the time after Harmonic Convergence. Korra was asking legitimate questions about Kuvira's government and purpose. People will realize that, even if they're supporters of Kuvira. They'll acknowledge the fact that Korra called the conference to reconcile what she thought were legitimate grievances and differences and know that was something well within her purview. If you act against her, you'll be gutting your own government." I stepped up even closer to him. "And finally, one last reason. If you were to do that to Korra, I would be most upset with you."

"Are you threatening me?", Raiko demanded.

"I don't threaten. Threats aren't my thing. Threats imply there's a chance I won't act."

"I don't take kindly to..."

"Six words," I said.

"Excuse me?"

"Six words," I repeated. "Six words and I can destroy your Presidency, Raiko. Now, with all of the press you're about to get over this conference, do you really want to risk it?"

He seemed to consider that for a moment. I got a terse reply of a nod form him. "Alright. I'll back down on this, for now, but I expect Korra to stay out of our political dealings or those of the other nations. It's not her place to decide who should be in charge of what."

"Fair enough," I said. I didn't agree, but with the tension in the room I knew it had to be handled quickly.

"Fine." Raiko nodded. "I hereby dissolve this conference. Thank you for your assistance, all of you." He turned and angrily stalked out of the room.

"We should get the prisoner to Chief Beifong," Mako said. "But after that..."

"After that...!" Wu moved in, smiling his silly smile and trying to play himself up as something he wasn't. "....there are some excellent restaurants in the city that I know of. And it will be my treat. All of you are invited!"

Several of us exchanged looks. I finally sighed. "I am famished," I admitted. "What's the harm in a meal?"

Mako made a horrified face at me and motioned at the others to turn him down, but none of them did. He groaned. And I suddenly had the feeling it was a bad decision.

Well, all right, the night didn't turn out quite as badly as it might have. Well, except for the mix-up with the waiters, and Wu's further nauseating attempts to hit on Liara, and.... alright, the evening was quite aggravating, all things told.

But at least the food was good.
”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-22 08:20am

After dinner I made a couple of trips. Most important was dealing with the Crack in Republic City's underground tunnels. Korra and Asami joined Liara and myself for the trip, which was good as it gave me the manpower - or womanpower, rather - to deal with it easily.

The Dai Li had abandoned the station rather completely, leaving only the wrecks of the mechasuits we had disabled and destroyed. After the Crack snapped close we took a moment to look around. "Lin's people should be coming down tonight," Asami said. "They'll clear everything out."

"Wise," I said. I walked around and considered the item I now held in my hand. The vortex manipulator was now inactive - I made sure of that - and still provided a puzzle. Xuandi's final words continued to flash through my mind. "There are still questions, though."

"You're worried about how Xuandi learned to use the manipulator." Liara stepped up beside me. "Maybe its security was disabled?"

"Perhaps. No security, it mistakes him for a proper user, that sort of thing." I sighed and looked at her. "But you've seen what things are like with me. When is it ever that simple?"

Liara frowned and nodded. "Right. Of course."

I scanned around again with the sonic screwdriver and sighed. "Well, nothing to find here. Maybe we should..." I turned back and saw Korra and Asami standing by themselves, talking. "...well, give them some privacy." I raised my voice. "Well, let's get going then. We can head back to the mansion and get a good night's sleep, yes?"




The following day Kuvira and her entourage were piling onto one of the trains leading out of the city. Bolin was with her, of course, and the others came to see him off. Even Opal, although I got the feeling it made her immensely uncomfortable.

"My little brother, the war hero." Mako gave him a pat on the back. "You've come a long way, Bolin. I'm proud of you. I'm sure you'll get the Earth Kingdom up and running again. Then you can come home and tell us all about it."

"He'd better not!", Varrick shouted, coming up and hooking an arm around Bolin's neck. "He'll need to leave that to the writers! I can just see the movers we can make about Bolin and his adventures, how a young orphan from Republic City became a star pro bender, a mover star, and a war hero! We'll have the audiences hooked!"

"Uh, yeah?" Bolin smiled slightly uncomfortably.

"Well, you wouldn't be the first veteran to become an actor," I remarked, clasping hands with him. "Do take care of yourself."

Opal was the last to say goodbye. She gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Bolin, I know you're trying to do the right thing, just... make sure to be true to yourself, okay? Don't let anyone take that from you."

"Uh, okay?" was Bolin's confused answer. "I'm not sure anyone is trying."

I kept my sentiment off my face. I could think of one person who would try to change him in order to make full use of him as a propaganda tool.

I didn't speak to Kuvira again. But we did get a good long look at each other. She nodded and I nodded back. We had been partners in this affair, working together to save the things we cherished. But we both knew this was temporary. The next time we met, it was entirely possible I would be trying to stop her. And the look in her eyes was a warning to me that she would run me right over if I got in her way. I returned it with a slight smile. A dare, really. I would, indeed, like to see her try.

I didn't hate her, though. She had good qualities. She reminded me of Korra, certainly, and also of Janias. But there was a kernel of something dark inside of her. A desire for control, I thought. A need to impose reliability and order upon a world that often lacked it. Something had moved her toward that impulse, and whatever it was, I couldn't help but consider it dangerous.

I had little idea how dangerous she would get, though.




With everyone off doing their work, I had a chance to sit down with Korra in the park, right by her new and freshly-cleaned statue, and talk about the past few days. "So... I was actually erased?", she asked.

"Well, were. It's all bit complicated, really. Once we averted the Time Crash and prevented the aborted timeline Xuandi would have made, that never happened. From your perspective anyway."

"Right." Korra frowned and looked away.

"You've got that frown again," I noted. "I spent months getting that frown to stop showing up, don't go bringing it back on me. You might undermine my confidence."

That caused an amused chuckle, at least, and the frown turned into a slight smile. "How much of this is my fault?", she asked. "I started the whole mess by talking about Kuvira."

"You were doing the right thing," I answered. "There are elements of Kuvira's policies that need questioning. Kuvira's the sort of personality who needs someone who can tell her the word ''No', or there's nothing she's not capable of."

"Maybe. But maybe I'm also not realizing how bad things are in the Earth Kingdom. Maybe Kuvira's just having to do something necessary to stop the suffering."

"Thinking of joining her, then?"

"No. No, I can't." Korra looked to her side and to the mountains, beyond which lay the Earth Kingdom's borders. "But maybe I need to go see what's going on for myself. I can travel the Earth Kingdom."

"An interesting decision. It might be best, though, to visit the Fire Nation first? And your cousins up north? Give it time so Kuvira will let down her guard. If she feels you're coming immediately, she could try to distort things."

"Yes. That's a good idea."

"Got anyone who will go with you?"

"I can't ask Asami or Mako because of the jobs they're doing," Korra answered. "Opal and Jinora are too busy with the Airbenders. Maybe it's better if I go alone anyway. I've got some things to think about."

"indeed?" I smiled back. "They wouldn't happen to involve Asami?"

Her cheeks reddened. "Um... maybe."

"Ah." I chuckled. "Well, good luck with that. If anything's been proven in the last couple of days, it's that I can be an oblivious fool sometimes."

"Can I ask you a question, Doctor?"

I nodded. "Sure."

"That armored suit Asami was using, was that something you gave her or...? I mean... was that the reason she's been so...?"

Hrm. Tight spot there, wasn't it? I nodded. "I gave her some technology that she could use to make the world better. She realized she could do something else with it. But I'd rather not go into her motives. That's for her to explain."

"I don't think she wants to talk," Korra sighed.

"Oh, she does, she's just really afraid of it," I replied. "Such is the way of people sometimes. If you want my advice, Korra... go talk to her. Before you leave, I mean. Discuss whatever it is you've got on your mind and let her respond. I think you'll both feel better then."

"You think so?"

"I know so." I smirked. "And you know that I know everything, right?"

She barked out an amused laugh. "Didn't you just say you could be an oblivious fool?"

"I did indeed." I nodded to indicate my concession. And then I faced her and added, smiling, "Mostly in the affairs of the heart. Or hearts in my case."

She laughed again.

"You could always start the conversation over Nar Shaddaa. You never did destroy those servant clothes."

Korra's cheeks flushed a deeper red and she glared at me. "Now you're just teasing."

"Teasing is always fun," I replied haughtily.

"Do you think she'll be angry at me for wanting to leave the city again?", Korra asked.

"Maybe, maybe not. You're the Avatar and she knows the responsibilities that carries. Just as long as you stay in contact with her, I think she'll understand, yes?" I stood up from the bench. "Why don't we head back to the house? You can settle in and be ready to see her."

"Okay." Korra gave me a look. "And what are you going to be doing?"

I smiled slightly. "Oh, I have plans of my own. A project I'll need the night to complete. Should be done in the morning, you can come with Asami if you want to see it. She'll know where I am."




For me, it was more than just one night. But I'm a time traveler and I get to do fun things like that.

I was waiting for Asami when she got to the shed. Korra stepped in behind her. I glanced long enough to see that yes, they were holding hands. They must have had quite the interesting conversation. "You're using your Dad's old underground factory?", Korra asked.

"I needed the private space," Asami answered.

Nothing more was said until we were underground. "I'm sorry," Asami said as we neared our destination. "To both of you."

"No need for apologies, Asami," I replied. "I understand your motives. But I trust you understand what this last adventure has proven?"

"I don't need the suits," Asami answered. And I thought I saw Korra's hand squeeze her's a bit. In a supportive way. "And I'm okay with it if you dismantled them."

"Well, that's very kind of you, Asami." I opened the door and let them in. "Let's talk about that."

Inside most of her things were laid out as before, save that they'd clearly been worked on. The Mark I and Mark II suits were laid up in their usual spot on the wall. The Mark III, however, was not.

It was instead in the center of the work area, the pieces held in place by computer-controlled arms. It had been painted in the red and black color scheme Asami had always been partial to. And where before it had clearly been half-completed, now it was clearly a finished work.

A figure turned beside the main work station. "Ah, there you are. I've got to admit, you've done so pretty good work with what you've got on hand, Miss Sato." Tony Stark waved a hand. There was a flicker that crossed through him, revealing he was a hologram.

"Stark?" Asami blinked and looked from him to the suit. , "What...? How?"

"Oh, our Time Lord friend set up his communications system to let me do a holographic inspection of your work area," Stark answered. "Like I said, I'm impressed. I really like the set up on the control circuitry. You've gotten an extra twenty percent effectiveness over mine."

"Well, I... I needed it," Asami managed. "I don't have access to your materials on my world. We don't have the ability to produce the alloys you use."

"Yeah. Which is why it's so impressive. I hope you don't mind if I adapt the design work into my next model? I'll make sure to call it Satotech circuitry."

"Does it check out?", I asked.

"Yeah. I think we did good with it. All systems are good."

"Ah, good. And the assistance?"

"JARVIS?"

"I am online, Mister Stark." The voice came from the suit and the main table.

Seeing the surprise on the faces of Korra and Asami, I turned and explained, "Asami is still learning her way through the idea of software coding. I thought it best if Tony and I provided the suit and this arrangement with an AI helper of sorts to provide information." After I said that I turned to Stark and said, sotto voce, "You named him for your butler?"

Stark shrugged. "I thought it fit."

I mused briefly on how JARVIS existed like this in different fifth dimensional tracks instead of being a butler, but decided against it.

"I..." Asami took a moment to regain her voice. She had walked up to the Mark III and was running her hand along the chest piece. "This is... it's your suit, right?"

"No, it's your's," Stark said. "I just showed the Doctor here what he could do to improve your Mark III to match my specs. It took us what...?"

"Oh, a couple of days," I said. "Working in Stark's labs. I brought it back when we were done." I leaned next to Stark again. "I thought we were going to use the female voice for it?", I asked quietly.

"JARVIS, alter profile to JANET."

The voice changed to a female voice that didn't sound very different from Korra's voice. "Acknowledged, Mister Stark."

"Why did you do this?", Asami asked, finding her voice again.

"Why not?", I asked back. "As I said, I wasn't against you using it for this purpose precisely, I didn't like how you went about it. But you can do a lot of good with this, Asami. A lot of good. I can even make sure you never have to worry about missing a fight where Korra needs you. Korra, your temporal beacon, do you have it?"

"Oh? Wait..." She reached into a pocket. "I always keep it with me."

I wasn't surprised, given grabbing it had ensured we rescued her from that second attempt by the Red Lotus to poison her with mercury. "Hit the emergency button on it, will you?", I asked.

She did so. I knew that at that moment my TARDIS control console was giving off a tone. A similar tone came from the sonic screwdriver in my pocket.

But it was drowned out by the solid tone coming from the suit and from the control holotable. A holographic representation of this planet popped up and zoomed in on one corner of the display to show the Sato mansion.

"Your systems will alert you to Korra calling for help. And given the speed of the armor, its atmospheric re-entry capability, and such, well, there's not a spot on this world you can't easily get to."

Asami stared at us for a few moments. "I... I don't know what to say.... I mean, other than to thank you both."

"You're welcome." Stark appeared momentarily distracted. "And that was the alarm. Looks like it's time for me to armor up. Let me know how it works!" The image flickered and disappeared.

"Hey Asami." Korra nudged Asami in the arm. "Why don't you go try it?"

"Huh?" She blinked. "Well, I... I don't see why not?"

"Go ahead," Korra urged her. "I want to see it." There was a wide smile on Korra's face. I saw her reach over and give Asami's hand a supportive squeeze.

Asami nodded and smiled back. "Okay. I will."

I stepped to the side and watched her walk up to the platform where the launch systems held the armor in place. She turned to face us and reached her arms out to fit into the waiting gauntlets. The systems came to life. "Armor activation sequence, start," said "JANET", as the arms started moving the interlocking pieces of the armored together. Whirring and clicking of the metallic variety sounded throughout the cavernous chamber as the armor pieces locked into each other and fitted into place. The helmet went on last. It was a clear plate model that showed Asami's face, although she did have an option to tint it. I didn't think she'd particularly go for Stark's kind of face design on his helmets.

Once the last bit was in place and secure Asami tromped off the launch platform. She moved her limbs around. "I never thought I'd ever get the suits to move this smoothly," she said, her voice coming through the external speakers with a bit of a buzzing sound.

Korra stepped up next to me. "I think you look great."

I held up the sonic screwdriver and opened the roof for her. "Well, go ahead and give the armor a test flight?"

"Okay, here we go!" Asami held her palms out and the repulsors fired in flight control mode. She flew upward and was into the open blue sky in seconds.

Korra and I took the other way back out. By the time we were outside of the house we could make out Asami trying various maneuvers, testing the suit's control surfaces and such. I looked over and saw tears in Korra's eyes. "You're happy for her?"

I was answered by a nod. "I never knew how much it hurt her. Always being left behind. Now we won't have to do that any more."

"That's the point of it all." I cleared my throat. "I do believe Asami keeps a couple of those new Airbender wing suits in the storage room."

"Huh? Oh! Thanks, Doctor!" That drew a smile from Korra, who dashed inside. A couple of minutes later she emerged, wearing the new wingsuit, and went airborne in seconds, laughing as she raced up in the sky toward where Asami was hovering around. They met in mid-air and started circling each other like it was some intricate dance in the sky.

Liara stepped up beside me. "They look happy."

"Yes." I nodded and grinned. "They deserve it." I drew in a sigh. "Well. I'll go leave them a goodbye note and we can head off. That won't be quite so easy, I think."

"Probably not," Liara agreed, frowning. but the frown didn't stay as, despite my words, we stayed and watched them continue to fly. As they flew low I stepped into the TARDIS and waved up. I heard a pair of shouts as they went over our heads. Content that this was a sufficient goodbye, I joined Liara inside.

We had one final stop to make.




Under the parka, only my face felt cold as I walked up to a single figure in the twilight sky of the South Pole. A wizened face turned toward me, complete with familiar hair loops. "You're back," Katara said.

"That I am," I answered. "How hard was it for you?", I asked. I quickly added, "To hide the fact that we met before?"

She smiled gently. "There were times I wondered if it would make you feel better. You were in such a terrible place when you last lived here. Knowing you would one day recover and reclaim your name might have hastened your recovery. But I decided it was too great a risk, and besides that, it would not be a proper way for you to recover."

"Yes. Thank you for that, Katara." I looked further on, toward a lone figure standing alone in the cold. "How is she?"

"What you would expect. She is full of anger and regrets and grief. A great many terrible feelings."

"I imagined such. Do you think she'll get better?"

"Not if she stays here. She's being kind to me, but I think she feels a little resentment. After all, I lived the life she wanted. A life she can't have." Katara looked at me with concern. "I think that you might be the only one who can give her any measure of peace."

I sighed and shook my head. "I'm not so sure of that. But I'll try."

I trudged up through the snow to where the lone figure was standing in the bitter wind, not betraying any discomfort. "Katara?", I asked gently.

"You said I'd vanish," the younger Katara, the survivor of the Dai Li massacre that never happened, said. "That my timeline was gone. But I'm still here."

"Yes." I sighed. "I... didn't think it'd happen his way. But apparently the TARDIS shielded you from the timeline change, and you changed as a person enough that merger with the other Katara wouldn't happen. You instead became a Time Orphan of sorts. A person from a timeline that no longer exists."

"So I'm... stuck here?", she asked. "A copy in this world? A spare Katara?"

I drew in a breath and watched mist come from my face as I breathed it out. "There is an alternative," I offered.

Her voice was hard. "And what's that?"

"Come with me," I said. "Join me in the TARDIS."

"Why?"

"Because, I might find you a new place. Somewhere that you'll be happy."

That provoked a bitter laugh. "I'll never be happy again," Katara swore. "I can't."

I almost pointed out she was wrong. But I knew from experience that was a feeling she would have to discover on her own. "Is that a 'no'?", I asked gently.

For a time there was nothing but silence. She turned to me after it. The scar was still visible on the right side of her face, along the cheek. I didn't see any of the usual compassion or understanding in her cold blue eyes. Just nothing but dull, frozen pain. Pain I had already endured in my own time. "I'll come with you. But only because there's nothing for me here."

All I could give as an answer was a quiet nod. I exchanged another one with the older Katara as we walked past. She then bowed her head at me as a gesture of respect as I led her younger counterpart to the TARDIS. Inside some clothes and things donated by the elder Katara and others were waiting for her. Katara took them up and silently stalked off. "Third hall on the right, second door on the right from there, can't miss it!", I called out to her. When I received no answer I hefted out another sigh, this one deeper, and leaned back against the TARDIS rail.

Liara came up from below. "She's going to be hard to work with," Liara said.

"I know." I nodded. "But I think it's worth it. Do you agree?"

Liara looked at me. Her blue eyes sparkled like sapphires. "Yes." She nodded. "I agree completely."

"Well. I suppose this trip was an eventful one." I flipped a few switches. "Well, except for not examining that Crack. I couldn't take risks with it. Not when we have unanswered questions."

"You mean, how did a man from this world learn to use one of those vortex manipulators?", Liara inquired Socratically.

"Exactly." I snapped my fingers. "We'll find another one yet, won't we?"

"I would think so," Liara agreed.

"Right. Well." I clapped my hands. "I think it's time we're off." I reached for the TARDIS activation lever. As I felt my fingers curl around it, I looked back to the hallway Katara had taken to leave the control room. Her presence could complicate things, especially given her current dark mood.

But somehow I felt a burst of optimism. I'd find a way to get her to smile. I was certain of that. She may never be the Katara she once was, but she would find something new in her life. A new future.

Because where there is life, there is always hope.

And if there was one aspect of her character that I knew would eventually come out, it was Katara's capacity for hope.

I chose to believe in it too. For her sake.

For all of our sakes.

”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

User avatar
Steve
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9158
Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Location: Florida USA
Contact:

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

Postby Steve » 2017-05-22 10:30pm

Short 42 - Wallowing In The Mud

I had a new situation in the TARDIS now. Not having multiple Companions, since I'd had two of them quite a few times, but they were always together in some fashion. But now I had two Companions completely different, and Katara - the survivor of a timeline that never was, who had seen Aang and Sokka and all her other friends and allies and family slaughtered by the Dai Li of Korra's time and her own - was full of frustration and anger and all sorts of other negative feelings.

So Liara and I decided to improve that by showing her uplifting, hopeful things. Our first visit, to the growing city around the Axiom and to a little robot named WALL-E who made it all possible, had gone well enough. She'd even smiled once from the playing of children and helped bring up an underwater aquifer for irrigation.

Our second visit... didn't turn out so well.

We arrived at Kamina City to find part of it in ruins, and the streets filled with enraged citizens. Instead of the triumphant statue of Kamina, a Human who I found to be simultaneously annoying and enjoyable, we found only its wreckage. And the word on the street was the same; Kamina's adopted brother, his successor Simon, was to be put on trial for his life for unspecified "war crimes", with the city's populace having been in a riot demanding his head over damages.

So much for a shining example of hope and human spirit.

Well, I suppose they were under pressure. The moon was falling on them. Or rather whatever had replaced it.

I already had bad feelings about the entire affair, but at the behest of Kittan and others who had rallied to the banner of Kamina and Simon, I decided to attend the trial. I was given a front row seat with my Companions. I sat and quietly waited for things to get settled and for Simon's subordinate Rossiu to be ready to commence proceedings. He had grown as well. But I didn't sense the same kind of maturity in him. There was something offputting about it.

When they were gathered I stood. "Chief Advisor, I would be willing to stand as Simon's advocate," I said in a loud and clear voice. Grunts of approval came from all of Simon's allies. But I saw only stares and cold silence from others.

"While we are grateful to you for the services rendered in the past, I'm afraid you have no qualifications that are recognized to stand in his defense," Rossiu replied smoothly. "I wouldn't want people to say I had the Supreme Commander defended by an untrained advocate. Balinbow will defend Simon."

I blinked as a susseration came from the others. Balinbow was one of two twin brothers who had both the constitution and mental capacity of a rock. Rossiu couldn't honestly think that I was less qualified to...

Oh.

At that point, I saw what was happening. And I felt the first surge of disgust. This wasn't a fair trial. It was a kangaroo court to appease the mobs by giving them a scapegoat, and obviously to hand power over to Rossiu and his technocrats.

I took my seat again and remained quiet. "It's a setup," I heard Liara sigh, but I didn't respond. I simply listened.

I listened at the foolishness. The stupidity. The self-righteous pomposity. I listened as a young man who had done everything he could for others, who had fought to bring Humanity up from the dark tunnels below the surface and throw down the tyrant who had kept them there, was torn down to appease a bloodthirsty mob. I listened to them misconstrue every action, twist every word, and do everything to ruin the man who'd made this world possible for them, and all in the name of fleeting survival.

Why?

Why do you Humans have to be this way? You can be so much more. You have such compassion, such empathy, such a strong moral sense that you can put even older species and timeless beings to shame when you try. Why do you have to descend into the muck like you so often do? You give up all of the blessings of your gifts and jump into the mud from fear and panic or smallmindedness or just plain foolishness. You turn on your own kind, you betray every moral principle you've held, you.... I can hardly find more words to describe the depths to which you lot will sink. I can only sum up my disgust and disappointment with Humans with one question.

Why do you have to act like such big, dumb, foolish APES? Why?!

By the time Kittan, the head of the government's legal office and another veteran of Team Dai-Gurren, began protesting I'd had enough. I felt sick to my stomach. I stood without being prompted and began to walk around the rows and up the stairs toward the exit from the viewing gallery.

"Wait, Doctor, where are you going?", Rossiu asked. "Doctor, we haven't adjourned."

I ignored him.

"Doctor, we are in need of your assistance." Rossiu's lieutenant Guinble, who had prosecuted, looked down from behind those bland spectacles of his. "The problem with the moon..."

He continued, but I ignored him. My sensations warred within me; whether to vomit from how sick the entire charade had made me, or to spew forth vitriol for how disgusted I was.

Liara and Katara came up behind me. Liara took my arm. "Doctor, maybe we should..."

I yanked away wordlessly. I didn't dare speak. I would have filled the courtroom with my denunciation. And I might have truly lost my temper and gone even further. Nevertheless, because Liara prompted me to turn, I did look back at the main table, where Rossiu had sat in judgement of what was supposed to be his best friend. I knew my eyes were seething from my sheer disgust. And I didn't care. Let them see it. Let them see how disappointed I was in them.

"Stupid apes. Stupid stupid apes."

I found, to my surprise, that I was verbalizing that thought. It had slipped out unbidden and I didn't care. I let them see the look smoldering in my eyes for another moment before resuming my departure.

As we exited and came up to the TARDIS, Katara looked at me. Her eyes were full of fury. I wasn't surprised. In seeing them railroad Simon, she undoubtedly relived every time Aang was shown the same kind of astonishing ingratitude. And the only way I could respond to that was by showing more of my own disappointment in them.

We returned to the TARDIS and I, without a bit of ceremony, hit the TARDIS lever to dematerialize. We shifted away.

Looking back, maybe I was being unfair. Maybe it was unkindness to expect people to react better to being told they were about to be exterminated, to having their homes and businesses wrecked by a new opponent who demonstrated such power and capability. Maybe they were acting naturally.

But that didn't make it right. It didn't change the fact that yet again Humans had dived back into the mud and given up everything that made them such a great species to witness.

And to such behavior, there was only thing I could show toward it.

My disgust.
”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.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik


Return to “User Fiction”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests