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

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

Postby Steve » 2016-12-27 09:23am

Short 6 - Team Effort


So the setup is as follows. Due to the traitor in the White Council, the Red Court of Vampires found out about the Crack in Chicago's Undertown. They were undoubtedly told of just what it allowed an untrained practitioner dabbling in necromancy to do and figured it would let them do even more.

Of course, a Red Court force entering Chicago meant coming into the attention of Harry Dresden, Wizard for Hire, and the various allies he could call upon.

Like, well, yours truly.

I shan't bore you with the setup. We met at Harry's apartment, moved everyone into the TARDIS, had the obligatory "It's bigger on the inside!" surprise for those who hadn't met us before, and went on from there.

Namely, by effectively landing in the middle of the Red Court's base for this operation: an old warehouse over the location of the Crack in Undertown.

And so it was sheer bloody chaos.

They had human retainers and half-vampires eager for their first kill with them. It was an army. We had, well, not an army, but certainly a superpowered strike force.

I stood not far from the veiled opening of the TARDIS, behind which Molly Carpenter was keeping our escape route hidden with Camilla watching her back. Janias, meanwhile, was standing side by side with Harry's half-brother Thomas Raith, a White Court vampire (Instead of sucking your blood he sucks your life force by, well, intimate acts shall we say), her lightsaber and his falcata blade sweeping all before them with Mouse along for the fun. Occasionally I heard the bark of Thomas' pistol. Blood will tell.

To our other side we had Billy and Georgia Borden and their college friends; Harry's hairy (haha) werewolf allies known as the Alphas. In wolf form they were graceful and deadly, ripping and tearing through the enemy with practiced efficiency.

Naturally, despite my aching body (that whole skyscraper thing), I was in the center with Harry, sonic screwdriver in hand. Because, as I'd already learned, Reds had a real sensitivity to some sonic frequencies, allowing me to bring them down and Harry to take them out.

As their numbers increased they got too close for comfort. One set of claws raked at Harry's jacket. Another tore at my cuff. "Oi, I've already ruined one jacket!", I shouted in irritation, dropping the offender with a sonic burst.

"That dinky little sonic screwdriver isn't going to cut it, Doc," Harry pointed out. "Forzare!" A blast of force bowled over some of the "jaguar warriors" trying to cut Harry in two. "You're going to have to get a real weapon to hold them off."

"Well, one moment." I looked back to the invisible space where Molly had veiled the TARDIS. "Cami! Throw me the big one!"

"Doc, eyes front!"

From out of nowhere (That is, from within Molly's veil) came a light gray object with a purple tip like my screwdriver. It was smoother than a sonic screwdriver but roughly the same shape, just that it was something like two feet long. I caught it with my right hand and brought it about. A press of a button created a sonic burst powerful enough to bowl over every attacker moving towards us in the center.

Harry looked over at me and my new sonic blaster. He looked at it and to the blasting rod in his hand which, while not of similar shape, had similar length. And then he glanced at me again and let out a series of fake coughs, the word "Ripoff" hidden in each.

"Oh, don't you start. Supersized sonic screwdriver for self-defense, it's going to look like a rod!" Seeing a full Red vampire coming up behind him I brought the full-sized sonic up.

Harry raised his blasting rod over my left shoulder as well. "Fuego!" I could feel the heat of the flame lance he made with it even as my finger found the trigger, sending an intense sonic blast into the Red behind Harry and sending it sprawling. Having covered each others backs we took a step to the rear and cleared our flanks with magic and sonics.

There was a yelp from the Alphas, telling us that one of them had been hurt. I glanced over and sent a sonic burst into one that was menacing... okay, I'm not sure, I think it was either Kirby or Billy. I'd just met the bloody Alphas and I didn't see them transform, I couldn't tell them apart yet alright? The others came to the aid of their wounded friend, having the effect of shortening our "line" and forcing us further back. "Harry. When you suggested we 'drop in' on the Reds, I thought you had a plan beyond that."

"I did. It's called 'Set them all on fire'," he answered.

"Oh, how like you. Charge in and burn things!"

"I don't see you coming up with any brilliant plans with that Time Lord brain of your's. I didn't know they had this many goons to throw at us, alright!"

I let out a groan, but a Red forced me to keep my attention on the fight. When you're recovering from falling from a skyscraper I guess there's nothing to help you recover like a terrible battle for your very survival against things that want to drain the blood from your body.

Oh, who am I kidding? I was going to need another day in the hot tub at this rate.

"This has to be a major Red operation for them to have this much manpower," Harry noted.

"Well, we're not going to hold this place like we are, Harry! A strategic withdrawal might be in order."

Before Harry could respond, one of the doors to the side of the building flew open. We turned to look at what it was.

We got our answer with the first shout.

"In Nomine Dei!"

Like the avenging angels he usually embodied, Michael Carpenter descended into a gaggle of melee-armed jaguar warriors, clad in the armor of a crusading knight and looking even fiercer. His holy sword Amoracchius blazed with white light as it found the torsos and limbs of the vampire forces arrayed against him. His voice boomed through the warehouse, the Latin phrases strong and resonant. Even from where we were I could feel the energy rippling out of him. One vampire that attempted to grab him had the entire limb burst into white flame when it made contact. It would have been better off trying to grab a furnace.

The arrival of a Knight of the Sword shifted the tide of our battle. Janias and Thomas grew more aggressive in their attacks, Janias in particular digging into her reserves and using the Force more freely in a series of exhausting Ataru maneuvers. Mouse switched sides, rushing to the aid of the Alphas and turning the tide of battle on that side as well.

With our flanks clear Harry cut loose. I may have had a sonic "blasting rod", but all I could do was knock people around with sonic waves and the like. Harry's flames and blasts of force devastated the ranks in front of us, taking out fresh troops and recovered ones alike.

Seeing these powerhouses at full charge robbed the Red Court forces of whatever morale they had left. They broke and fled. The survivors of the Red Court fled into the night.

Or at least they tried. We heard automatic weapons fire in the distance. I looked to Harry. "Harry, who do you think that is?"

"Well, you know some things about this world, right? Who is the only guy in Chicago who can have his guys firing off automatic rifles and get away with it?"

I admit my first worry was that it was Lara Raith looking to come and claim the Crack for herself, but rather I saw another of Harry's "frenemies" enter the door alongside heavily-armed mercs, a man clad in a sharp business suit. Sharp green eyes looked at me and at the TARDIS, revealed once Molly let the veil down. "I've heard rumors about you, Doctor," the man said. "But I never expected to see you." He stepped up to me and extended a hand I knew to be stained in blood. "John Marcone."

"Ah, the Gentleman," I answered. I accepted the hand very slightly; it wasn't one I wanted to be shaking beyond the demands of armed diplomacy. "Imagine seeing you here."

"Gentleman" Johnnie Marcone. He was the Moriarty of Chicago, the Napoleon of Crime in the Windy City and its environs. As mafia bosses went he was remarkably civilized, exploiting Chicago's traditional corruption to stay ahead of federal and state authorities while bringing order to the mean streets. Everyone knew that in Chicago you didn't do anything to children or to innocent civilians. This was because the ones who didn't know were, frankly, all dead. He had recognized the existence of the supernatural fairly easily and worked within that framework, ultimately getting the necessary endorsements (including one from Harry, who owed him a favor) to sign into the Unseelie Accords as a freeholding lord, giving him legal power and responsibility in the supernatural world.

A flexible mind with a strong will. Oi, that was always a dangerous combination.

"As a signatory to the Accords I consider it best to keep an eye on all activity in my city by certain... parties." Marcone smiled slightly. "When I discovered that a Red Court shell company had purchased a property in this area, so close to that 'riot' a few months ago, I knew it was a situation I needed to be interested in. And when my sources told me about this 'Crack in the Universe', well, you can see why I'm here."

"You're an astute enough man to know you'll never be able to use it for yourself," I remarked.

"Agreed. This 'Crack' is a danger to my city, Doctor. I want it controlled. Or gone. I don't care which."

"I may be able to help you there."

Despite the tensions in the room - our team didn't trust Marcone's, Marcone's didn't trust ours - we walked over to where the Reds had been digging. They had brought in a lot of machinery to accomplish the dig with ground penetrating radar machines all around the building. I ran my normal sonic screwdriver over the hole. "I'm picking up energy emissions just like the ones before. They might have gotten into the chamber already."

"I'll have my men refill the hole," Marcone said. "It'll be safe."

I looked at Harry. We had discussed if I could try and seal it, but unlike the one I had sealed before we had nobody who'd been in prolonged contact with the Crack, who could understand its power ebbs. If we tried to seal it and it went wrong... the Crack might grow worse. "Harry, do you think that any kind of magic circle could contain the energies of the Crack?"

"For a while, yeah. But eventually circles can break down if they're active. If we can seal the thing it would be better."

"Sealing won't be easy without someone who's attuned to it." I drew in a breath. "It's almost to summer, correct?"

"Yes."

Then we only had four or five months before Nicodemus and the Denarians return to Chicago. If they were to find the Crack...

I swallowed at that prospect. "We'll have to risk it. Janias, I know your Force precognition isn't exactly what I need, but I'm going to put you on the Time Vortex Regulator. Harry will be provide a conduit for a link between our minds so you can understand what we're doing. I'll need someone to go down with me to seal it."

"I will, Doctor," Marcone said.

I looked to him. "Because you want to see it done, of course."

"I prefer knowing things for sure."

"Well... I suppose it's proper symmetry. Last time I did this I had a federal agent helping me."

Marcone smiled at that. "Well, I imagine I'll make a more competent partner then."

From Anthony DiNozzo to Johnnie Marcone. Some might call that an upgrade, others a downgrade. I was leaning toward the latter, no matter how charming Marcone was. "Very well. We'll arrange a rope and harness system to lower ourselves. Camilla! Get the cables attached and I'm going to need..."

Undoubtedly you want to hear more of this. To have more banter between the lot of us, or for me to describe an exciting sequence of sealing the Crack. Sadly, it was all very anti-climactic. Marcone did nothing against us and we were rather winded from the fight so, for the most part, everyone took the time to recover while we got ready. Marcone and I went down. As we were lowered, I whispered a prayer, or something like that, to the soul of Lonny, the poor young man who had just wanted to bring his parents back and had instead doomed himself and his younger brother Dustin.

Thinking of Dustin brought an unpleasant contrast to my mind. For all of his evil deeds... Johnnie Marcone believed in protecting children. The White Council believed it perfectly acceptable to lop a child's head off at the slightest taint of black magic.

So much for moral superiority, I suppose.

The Crack hadn't changed much. The Reds had barely carved their way to it so Lonny's body was still in the makeshift tomb Korra had left him. Marcone stared at it with some wonder before, at my instigation, he applied the quantum emitter to it. I did my part as well and, in a few minutes, the Crack snapped shut, sealed in the lower dimensions.

Our work was done.




There's not much to describe of that night save the epilogue. Namely, when we had all piled into the TARDIS and shifted to the backyard of the Carpenter home, we found the Carpenter family waiting for us outside. Michael hugged his wife and accepted hugs from his children while Molly hugged her mother as well. As Harry went to close the TARDIS Michael gestured to us. "I asked Charity to prepare a big enough dinner for everyone," he said in a pleasant voice. "Please, we would be happy to have you." Husband and wife stood together smiling, inviting us into their home.

Well, we were rather hungry, and so everyone accepted. And yet... there was one element of this meeting that I was uncertain of. Namely... Janias and Camilla.

They were holding hands as they came from the TARDIS, unafraid of announcing what they shared. I stepped up beside them and waited to see the Carpenters' reactions even as Molly introduced them to her family. When their relationship was made clear, I tried to read the Carpenters' expressions.

Their smiles never budged. "Molly told us about you and what you've been through," Charity said to them. "God be thanked that you're free of that. You young ladies are always welcome to visit. The same for you, Doctor." The formidable woman looked toward me.

I was duly chastened indeed by their nonplussed and understanding reaction to my Companions and their interspecies lesbian romance. It was a good experience to remind me of the dangers of prejudice.

"When she first met me she wasn't nearly as nice," Harry pointed out.

"She was probably afraid you'd burn down the house," I muttered in sotto voce.

"I don't have to take this from a shameless copycat ripping off my blasting rod," Harry retorted. "Mine is longer anyway."

"For the last bloody time, Dresden..."

Our exchange ended long enough for me to accept dinner as well. And what a dinner it was. The finest of comfort foods and spreads in enough quantity to feed an army, if just a small one.

Beyond dinner the Carpenter children were duly entertained indeed, regaled by my Companions and I of stories of the Multiverse, and we even finally got that play-doh out of Harry's hair. We never found the youthful perpetrator. I will not confirm or deny that this was because Molly and I covered for said offender to hide our own role. I suspect the same was true in reverse for the youthful perpetrator that put an ice cube down my collar.

I also took the time to return to the TARDIS and return with a treat for our four-legged friend, who met me at the door to accept it. "Finest dog treat of the 28th Century, Mouse," I said. "A thank you for that favor." When he barked lightly in reply I nodded and sighed. "Yes, of course I noticed. It's why I'm giving you a doggy biscuit from the future. Bon appetit."

And I shall leave you with that: the lot of us gathered in the home of the Carpenters enjoying the best of meals and company.

What? These stories don't all end on ominous or dramatic notes, you 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.

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

Postby Steve » 2016-12-27 09:25am

Short 7 - Cheating is Fun


I can be such a cheating bastard.

For various reasons I had been avoiding visits to the "Star Wars" galaxy during the timeframe that Janias and Camilla came from, the biggest being that I knew it would make them extremely uncomfortable and scared of being recaptured by the Sith.

But sometimes things don't go according to plan. Sometimes when you plan to take your Companions to a scenic Alderaanian valley you end up carrying the three wrong or some such and your coordinate puts your TARDIS in that valley during the Sith Empire's war with the Republic, in this case after the breaking of the Treaty of Coruscant.

I stepped out into the cool mountain air, felt snow crunch under my shoes, and looked out at what appeared to be a planetary defense cannon protected by anti-air blaster cannons. One was firing in the direction of a gray, sharp-angled dropship that screamed "I'm Imperial!" and the other was firing on what I easily recognized as a workhorse Republic Army troop dropship.

"Yay. Like I didn't get enough of this bloody map back in my past life," I mumbled to myself.

"What was that, Doctor?", I heard Camilla ask from behind me.

"Oh, nothing. Just a battle in the war you and Janias joined me to avoid," I replied.

In the distance, the middle cannon turned and faced the Republic Dropship. I grimaced. "Ooh, not good." After all, this was the Real Thing, not a PVP match where nothing ever matters save final scores and bloated or burnt egos. "You ladies hold the fort, I want to check on this."

Leaving my nervous companions behind I walked down, psychic paper in hand, until a Republic trooper challenged me. I brought the paper up and masqueraded as SIS. "Oi, it doesn't look like you lot are doing too well. I'm the Doctor, SIS."

And indeed not. On the upper walkway of the central area, the structure supporting the planetary defense cannon, I saw a pair of troopers taken down by a pair of Sith warriors and a Sith inquisitor, a Jedi Knight with them getting cut down in the process. One of the Sith was brought down in the process, but it was clearly going the way of the Imperials. A Jedi in medic robes ran up to aid them as other troops brought them to safety. From the walkway I could see a Sith spit down at his fallen adversaries, laughing madly and issuing threats.

I wanted to face-palm. Typical Sith buffoonery. They have no elegance, no style. At least men like Johnnie Marcone acted civilized.

"Agent... Doctor?" The Republic Army Captain in charge of the battle saluted to me as we came up to the controls for the one turret in Republic hands. It was, as you can imagine, the western turret, that is, "grass".

"Just coming to check on things," I answered. "Tough fight?"

"Sith veterans, and most of my men are new to this kind of fight," the Captain answered. He didn't seem to care about my "Imperial" accent one whit, which I found interesting. "If we lose that DropShip we're stranded, we'll all be killed or captured for sure."

I could see fear flash in the eyes of a couple of the younger Jedi and one spacer volunteer. Being a Sith prisoner was not an inviting prospect. My Companions had made that clear even after my imagination provided most of the likelihoods.

"Oh, don't worry, I can evacuate you. But let's see about this situation." I pulled out my sonic screwdriver and went to work on the controls for the western turret. I cycled through command routines and communications protocols until I found what I wanted. "As I thought. Nobody would be daft enough to not design this thing to work from any node. Now I just have to change the security settings... But I get ahead of myself, first things first." I held up my sonic and set it to a sensitive scan cycle. I moved it about until I was facing a corner of the platform nobody was occupying. A telltale power trace came from that direction. I triggered a feedback pulse geared to Imperial technology.

There was a burst of sparks and a flicker in the air. A human man in a combat suit appeared from nothingness, a blaster rifle in his arms. He had clear Imperial insignia.

The Republic forces brought their weapons up and took the man prisoner before he could move. "Please, get his wireless. I'll need it in a moment." I went to work on the node again, running my sonic screwdriver over it and pressing buttons. "There we go. Security protocols reset, control system locks ready..."

"Shields are failing, we need to recapture those weapons," I heard crackle over a trooper's radio. It was the Republic dropship's commander. Given the flames leaping from a direct hull hit on his ship I couldn't blame him too much.

"Patience, patience, can't rush good work... anyway, checks are done. And we are ready." I looked to the commander. "I really recommend you prepare defensive positions here. They're not going to take this well." When he answered with a nod and called upon his forces to fall back, I brought out the sonic. "And... there we go!" I triggered the sonic screwdriver right at the controls.

In the distance we could hear the machinery rumbling. The two other anti-air turrets stopped firing on the damaged Republic ship and twisted to face the Imperial vessel. Three steady barrages of blaster fire now converged on the sole target. The Republic forces all looked in amazement at their unexpected turn of fortune.

"And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a three cap!", I proclaimed.

Yes, I cheated at Civil War from TOR to make a better Imperial team lose. In my defense.... this wasn't a game anymore but real for these beings, and anything that involves halting the triumphs and spread of an order built upon torture, murder, and enslavement is by definition acceptable and not cheating at all.

I held my hand out to the young Cathar spacer who was holding the captured Imperial operative's wireless. She nodded and gave it to me. I put it on for the moment. "Hello there Imperials. As you may have noticed, your controls are locked out and all turret controls have been relayed to the Republic position. Yes, I know you're hacking, er, slicing them right now, but I can assure you that you don't have the time to do that. Your options are to either throw yourselves in a suicidal charge against the defenses of these controls or to do the smart thing." I grinned. "Run away. And I do mean run away. I want to see you running away screaming like frightened little children. Because your only alternative is capture or death. I do imagine, however, that you will enjoy Republic captivity far more than they'd enjoy Imperial. You might want to make your choice quickly, that dropship of your's won't last forever."

I heard an outraged Imperial officer shout, "What treason is... WHO IS THIS?!"

"Who am I?" I grinned with amusement. "I'm the Doctor. Now... run."

My arrogant little speech got their attention. But the SIth decided to conquer or die and rushed the node. I brought out my sonic disruptor - it's not a blasting rod, dammit, I don't care how many times Harry Dresden does the "Ripoff" cough! - and held my place in the line, knocking out lightsabers and blasters with repeated shots. A number of Sith found their lightsabers failing just before a Jedi lightsaber cut into them. Not one of the black-robed monsters survived the fight; their non-Force-using auxiliaries did eventually flee, and just before their dropship's engines exploded. The dropship fell into the snow.

A cheer rose from the Republic ranks. As they celebrated their victory I slipped off back to the TARDIS, enjoying the entire experience. It was cathartic, certainly, and quite fun for me. The girls were waiting for me at the door. "Doctor... what was that?"

"Oh, just finishing my weekly," I joked. When they gave me their usual look of confusion whenever I said something relating to my old life, I winked. "I just delivered a victory to the Republic. There's a Sith war fleet in orbit that's stumbling over itself to get away before that cannon out there blows them to bits."

That brought a smile to their faces. I, meanwhile, went to the TARDIS controls and began fixing my prior error, setting our arrival for about five hundred years before the Death Star blew the planet up.

As I did so, I briefly thought of... nothing. Nothing, because the memories of exchanging "inc" calls and strategies with people over voice chat were empty for me by then. I remembered playing this battle, yes... but not the people I did it with.

Camilla seemed to notice the melancholy mood that came over my face. She stepped up and took my hand. "This has something to do with the memories you've lost, doesn't it Doctor?"

"Yes," I said. I didn't sound nearly so pained as I had on prior occasions. How does one lament a lost memory that you are even forgetting you once had?

"I'm sorry." Camilla put her arms around me. "But you still have us. We're here for you."

"Thank you." I put my left hand on her arm and used the other hand to shift the TARDIS into a different time.

I knew even then that the time was fast approaching when I wouldn't even remember what it was like to be Human. And my showboating in the battle, my goading the Sith like I did, was certainly entertaining, maybe even a deserved experience for the monstrous Sith... but it also told of my growing arrogance.

Sure, I would become a bogeyman for all sorts of horrible things. The Sith, the Cardassians, the Borg... all would come to fear the Time Lord known as the Doctor, and I would be just as celebrated by the peoples they victimized. I don't deny I did good and I don't regret the good I did. But those triumphs fueled the worst in me as well, and I shall share that painful story with you when the time is right.

I suppose I don't want that time to come. For all I was blundering about, falling off skyscrapers and fighting zombies and getting tricked by nefarious bunnycats and meeting the Meat.... these early times were maybe my happiest. The Multiverse was new and exciting. My Companions and I saw so much for the first time. Our adventures were more personal and fun, even if dangerous. If only that time had lasted forever.

Instead, it was already coming to an end.

The days of the Time Lord Triumphant were coming.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2016-12-27 09:25am

Short 8 - The Art of Persuasion

Alright, alright!

You want to know what I did in Mitakihara when I brought the TARDIS to the time before Homura's loop. Don't lie, I know you lot. You're just giddy with anticipation of what hijinks I was up to, if I met any of the other Magical Girls or hunted down a Witch or some sort of thing.

I will remind you that I had yet to seek full medical attention at that point, meaning I went out with a knee that was only partly mended and a shoulder still suffering from dislocation, although I admit the cane I picked to use made me look rather distinguished and my backup version of my navy blue and blue suit fit just as well. To make the point clear, this was not an adventure.

Rather I went to pursue a little project I had in mind for the future and, upon getting the long range scans I needed, I was returning to the TARDIS when the sonic picked up a dimensional distortion. Such a distortion could be only one thing; a Witch's labyrinth. No, seriously, similar bandwidth to Walpurgisnacht's and everything, just lower on the energy scale.

So I decided to investigate. I got rather close when the distortion disappeared. Instead, upon finding the origin point, I noticed several youths running out of an alley laughing. My Time Lord senses could feel the cold coming from one of them as they did so and I glanced long enough to see what he was holding. It was a bag.

A bag with a few grief seeds in them.

Stumbling out of the alleyway was a school girl with a head of styled blond hair with two curling tails at the end and brown eyes so light in hue they were almost yellow. Her school uniform was tattered up a bit, as if she'd in the fight of her life... and given who she was I imagined that was entirely possible. "Come back, those aren't safe!", she cried at the youths running away.

I put my hand on my face. Somehow I didn't see this ending well if something wasn't done. Since my knee was all blown out I wouldn't be pursuing them and, given the girl's injuries, I suspected she wasn't up for it either. A good thing I had a sonic screwdriver.

Then again, it's always a good thing to have a sonic screwdriver. I'd say everyone should have one, but that would be like saying everyone should have a gun. Not that the sonic screwdriver is a gun. Guns can't reprogram missile computers or send a matter-antimatter reactor into overload.

"This is why they say youth is wasted on the young," I said aloud. I looked to the girl. "Hello. I'm the Doctor. Just 'the Doctor', mind you. A little nickname I've picked up."

She looked at me with curiosity tempered by politeness. When she spoke again her voice, while still strained, changed to a soft and friendly tone. "Pleased to meet you, sir. I am Mami Tomoe."

"That you are," I remarked. I pulled the sonic out and activated the scanning feature. "Now, let's track down those juvenile delinquents who made off with your property."

We walked along the street, my cane helping to support my tender left leg. "You've been injured recently?", Mami asked.

"Yes. Fell from a height. Twice. May I say you look rather hurt yourself, young lady?"

"Oh, I..."

I smiled at her. "...faced a rather nasty Witch I imagine."

She stopped and looked at me with surprise. I winked. "Don't worry Mami, your secret is safe with me. If you want some reciprocation, I'm a Human who regenerated into an alien, a Time Lord to be precise. We can discuss it later as we are now within ten meters of our young thieves who, I believe, are within this condominium building here."

We entered the building and found the scamps looking over the Grief Seeds at one of the benches facing the elevators. Unfortunately my cane was rather unstealthy and they heard us enter. The moment they saw Mami step out from beside me they scrambled for the nearest elevator. We dashed up as fast as we could but, given our hobbling, the elevator door was already closed. "It's a secured elevator, we don't have a card to follow them with," she said, looking fairly irritated.

"Yes. Of course, I don't need a card." I pointed the sonic toward the control panel and turned it on. The purple tip lit up and there was the brief, soothing whir of the sonic. The elevator immediately proceeded on its way back to our floor. "Sonic screwdriver," I said. "Never leave my TARDIS without it."

"What's a TARDIS?"

"It's my ship. Can move through six dimensions of space-time, hold it..."

The door slid open. The delinquents looked on in shock. "Okay lads, hand the nice lady back her things."

One reached out and jammed the door close button. It slid to a close in my face and the elevator began going up again. I activated the sonic and brought the elevator back. When the door opened and they were facing us again I said, "Do you really want those things? They're black eggs with pointy needle bits, not valuable at all."

The door slid in my face again. The elevator started to go back up. I used the sonic to bring it back down once more. "How badly do you need one of these seeds for your gem?"

"Oh... it's not too bad at the moment." She held the yellow egg-shaped soul gem up for me to see. There was a kernel of black in the middle, but just a kernel. "But if those seeds stay together for too long a Witch might hatch."

"Indeed." By this point the door opened again. The kids stared at me in amazement. "I can do this all day," I said to them. "Now give the nice lady back her..." The door slid shut yet again. "Ah, macho posturing. No wonder women think males are bloody idiots. Maybe a little more incentive..."

This time I had the sonic keep sending them up... all the way to the top floor, and at the highest speed the elevator would permit. "Going down," I laughed, using the sonic to send the elevator into a very quick descent. Not too quick- this wasn't a theme park ride with safety bars - but enough to get the message across. When the door slid open I had four very queasy and nauseated and frankly terrified youths looking at me with horrified expressions. "Now, once again... give the nice lady back her black eggs. Or do you want another drop?" When I got no immediate reaction I brought the sonic back up. "Another drop it is!"

"Wait, stop!," one cried. He grabbed the bag of grief seeds from his conspirator and pushed it towards us. "Just leave us alone!" Going by the looks he was getting, a couple of his compatriots were thankful but the one he grabbed the seeds from was rather upset with him.

After Mami accepted the bag she checked it. "They're all here."

"Good. Now I want you boys to apologize to Miss Tomoe here for stealing from her." When I got sullen looks in reply I pressed the sonic to close the door. Just before it closed I heard one cry out for me to wait, so I re-opened the elevator. We received a chorus of apologies to "Miss Tomoe" and, miracle of miracles, at least two were actually sincere. "There we go, not so hard was it? Now I better not catch you lot doing this again, or I'm going to actually get angry with you. Alright?"

They answered with nods, so I let the elevator door close on its own.

"Thank you, Doctor," Mami said, securing the bag to her shoulder. "You may have saved their lives."

"Quite likely. Now, I believe I owe you an explanation, so if I might have the pleasure of your company for a short walk..."




By the time I was opening the TARDIS door I had explained just what I was to Mami, although I left out the mechanics of how I knew about what she was and how this world worked. As much as I would have been happy to warn her and any other magical girl of Kyubey's deceptions... I remembered full well what Mami had done in Timeline 3. I didn't want to send her on a wild purge of other Magical Girls that would throw all of this cosmos' history into a trash bin. She looked into the TARDIS' "It's like a labyrinth," she murmured.

"In a way, I suppose. It's a pocket dimension inside of a ship, at least. Better decor than a Witch's labyrinth, though." I smiled at her and extended my hand. "I won't be around at all times, but I'll be coming in once and a while to check up on things. Take care of yourself."

"Thank you again for your help, Doctor," Mami said respectfully. "If you ever need my assistance with anything I'll do whatever I can to help."

"I'll let you know, then," I promised. "Now I think we both need to heal up a bit. And I still have a loose end to tie up so I must bid you adieu. Take care, Mami Tomoe." I stepped into the TARDIS and, after exchanging one last series of nods with her, closed the door behind me.

And there you go. My grand adventure in pre-loop Mitakihara. I figured I should let you in on it, it has a slight role to play in some bits coming up.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2016-12-28 08:49am

Episode 7 - Always Tomorrow

It was cleanup time in the TARDIS. Becoming a Time Lord had not helped my habit of allowing assorted books and other things to just lay around after use while my Companions were making up for years of slavery by being as laid back, even lazy, as they could get away with.

So as we worked through the library, I found something that looked a bit out of place. It was an armband of various blues and white in a pattern, one I recognized after a moment. I looked up to where Camilla was stacking books while Janias, being a show off, was using the Force to move around a broom and dust pan. "Korra left one of her armbands," I said.

Camilla looked to me. "Really?"

I held it up to her. She walked up and took it in her hand. "She must have misplaced it when getting into her swimsuit."

"Ah, so that's where she was while Harry and I were doing the hard work in preparing for the meeting with the White Council," I surmised. "Having fun in the swimming pool."

"A lot of fun," Camilla agreed, with a wide grin.

And it occurs to me that there are mental images coming to your heads right now about the situation. Some are going further than others. I would kindly ask you to stop. Not that it'll work, I know you shippers, you will defiantly cling to your vessels even as they sink under the weight of contradiction. I've seen the Zutara shippers, after all. Persistant little buggers.

To get away from my tangent, I sighed. "I'm surprised you three didn't cause most of my books to be soaked." I could already imagine how badly the "splashing" could get between Janias' Force power and Korra's Water-bending.

"Oh, well... it turns out waterbenders can clean up a lot," Camilla offered. "Honestly, Doctor, she needed the relaxation."

"Oh, I'm not criticizing..." I held the armband in my hand and stared at it. It had been quite a while for me since I'd said my goodbyes to the young Avatar. My thoughts went to that conversation. She had taken the outcome of our unplanned soujourn very poorly.

I hadn't been happy myself. A Time Lord brain meant I could recall with perfectly clarity the pained soul of young Dustin, or that blank look on his face before he threw himself into Warden Morgan's blade, convinced he would become a monster if he didn't. There were times I still burned with indignation and pondered going back to the White Council to give them a piece of my mind. Thankfully I was not so stupid as to do that given the sheer power at the Senior Council's command.

But while I had been upset, Korra had been crushed. She had never suffered a setback like that before. I'd given her reassurances that bad days happened and you had to move on but I knew it'd take more than that.

Yes. It would, wouldn't it?

A thought bubbled to the surface of my mind at that point. I stood and let it develop, neglecting my cleanup chores for the moment until the girls noticed I'd stopped and did so as well. "Doctor, I'm not doing this alone," Janias warned with a smirk.

I heard her words but kept thinking, making calculations in my head, pondering what had popped into my head.

"Doctor?" Camilla walked up. "Are you..."

"...okay? Yes," I abruptly said. I took off to the nearest opening, following the path through the TARDIS to the control room. I was at the controls in a moment, pulling and twisting knobs. By the time the girls were standing behind me and watching I'd finished. "Just doing a little research." I pulled the lever and shifted the TARDIS.

I won't bore you with the research. It actually took me a couple of days and five time jumps to get all the materials i needed to understand what happened and to plan. But the idea took form in my head, something wonderful I could do without altering a major point in the timeline.

When I was ready, I had the girls' attention as I shifted the TARDIS once more. Our destination?

Air Acolyte Island.

For Korra and the others, not a lot of time had passed. It was, in fact, the next day. I stepped out of the TARDIS with Janias and Camilla behind me to find Korra practicing Airbending with Tenzin and his children, wearing the orange and yellow of an Air Acolyte instead of her usual Water Tribe outfit. My arrival had clearly interrupted them. I tossed the armband to her. "Sorry, took me a while to find it."

Korra looked at the armband. "So I did leave it in the TARDIS."

"Yes. It took me a while to decide to do some spring cleaning." I smirked. "Remember, time traveler. It's been quite a while for me while for you it's not even been a full day."

"So are we all gonna get box rides this time?!", Ikki inquired with childish enthusiasm.

"I'll leave that up to your parents, Ikki."

"Yes, I would hope so." Tenzin looked only slightly perturbed at my interruption of his training lesson. "You're always welcome on Air Acolyte Island, Doctor. Did you come by just to bring the armband?"

"Well, not entirely. The armband merely reminded me of something." I stepped up to Korra. I knew my eyes were glistening; I was bubbling over to tell her what I was planning. "Korra, do you remember what I told you last night?"

"That we had a bad day," she answered. "And that I couldn't let it get to me."

"Yes. And, to be frank, I've had a few bad ones since." I winked. "Not that I'm here to mention them. Instead, I wanted to ask... do you remember the last thing I said?"

I could see her blue eyes twinkle as she thought back to it, a bit of hope showing through. "That there was always tomorrow."

"Exactly!", I agreed. "There's always tomorrow. Which, for you, was yesterday."

A smile crossed her face. "Yeah."

"My dear Korra..." I rubbed my hands together with anticipation. "It's tomorrow now. Let's go save the Air Nomads!"





Okay, first thing. Yes, yes, I know, fixed point. Allow me my dramatic license, people. My plan was not nearly as sweeping as you may have thought from what I said. Saving the Air Nomads doesn't mean saving all of them, just saving enough to ensure their culture could be preserved in the Republic City era.

For what it's worth, my proclamation won me the immediate attention of even Tenzin, who's response was "What? How?!" while Korra did nothing but stare with a growing smile on her face.

"Well, it'll be a might bit tricky," I conceded. "We can't let the Fire Nation see us, at least not as a group. History must record no survivors, after all. We're bringing them here, to your time. Otherwise we'd be altering a fixed point and, well, that usually involves fun little things like all of history happening at once before time decays."

"Still... I mean, this is great!" Korra grabbed my arms. "What do I need to do?!"

"Get your friends. We're going to need some help for this one," I explained.

Ikki was quick to jump on board. "Yay! Let's save the Air Nomads!"

"This risks unraveling everything that shaped our world," Tenzin pointed out. "How can you risk such a thing?"

"How can I not? How can I leave children to be burned alive or crushed by Sozin's armies when I know I can save them?", I countered. "I'm talking about saving your father's culture, Tenzin. I can't save them all, I won't try. But I can save some, and the timeline won't be affected. Imagine what that would mean for you in the here and now."

I saw his eyes tighten. The weight of being the only adult Airbender of this time, of being the embodiment of all of his father's hopes and dreams, was a great one on his shoulders. "I will go with you and make sure you don't go too far," he finally answered.

"Thank you for the vote of confidence." Looking back I was a bit bitter in that statement and I shouldn't have been. I remember that sense of irritation profoundly; I had just offered Tenzin the restoration of his father's culture, a removal of some of his burden, and he didn't seem the least bit grateful.

Maybe I didn't like the fact that he was reminding me of the tremendous risk we were taking.

It was a risk. A part of my mind weighed that and still wondered if this was smart. But the gains from that risk... this was the kind of thing I was meant to do.

"I'll be back when you gave the others present," I said, stepping back toward the TARDIS. "We're going to need some help for this one."

And I knew just where to get it.




When I brought back the TARDIS the whole of "Team Korra" had assembled in the courtyard of the temple, all dressed and ready for action. I stepped out and was followed by the help I had acquired.

Molly Carpenter stepped up beside me and whistled. She'd re-dyed her hair to blue and red at this point and was wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt with the emblem of a heavy metal band I didn't recognize, not to forget her ripped up jeans. "Hey Korra. So this is your place, huh?"

A whistle came from behind me. "I miss the smog." Where Molly went, so did Harry Dresden, given he was her instructor and all. It was a package deal. As you might expect, Mouse was also part of the package.

The unexpected part of that package stepped out next. We had been entering the TARDIS when Michael Carpenter had driven up. I knew enough about how these things worked that I said nothing about bringing Michael with us. He stood with us now, in his full battle armor and with Amoracchius in its scabbard.

Bolin was staring intently at Molly with a look that I figured to be half confusion, half infatuation. "Wow. You look... great. Kinda weird, but great. And... why is your hair...?"

"Thankfully for Tenzin, this world doesn't have hair dye yet," I answered. "Michael, this is Korra, and may I introduce..."

As the introductions finished my other two recruits emerged. "May I introduce Doctor Lucca Ashtear and Mami Tomoe," I said. "Lucca has been studying the information we have to help me formulate a plan. Mami will provide us with an extra option should fighting commence."

Asami's hand went up. "Doctor, Korra said you were talking about saving the Air Nomads. But wouldn't that completely alter our history?"

"Good question," I said. "The answer is that there is a certain flexibility allowed to us by the nature of fixed points. We cannot contradict what the visible result of that point was. So, yes, the Air Temples must burn, and many Airbenders must die. We can't save the entire population. What we can do is save those who were not directly observed. I went over the Fire Nation records. They used siege weapons and magnified Firebending attacks on entire buildings full of people in their purge. Those were deaths not directly observed."

"Which means that we can remove those people from their time and bring them to yours," Lucca finished for me. "It's basic causality exception."

Bolin glanced from Lucca to Molly and back to Lucca. "So what, everyone in other worlds colors their hair or something?"

"I want pink hair!", Ikki shouted. She bounced in front of her father. "Can I have pink hair, Daddy?! Please?!"

Tenzin let out a sigh that spoke of a father's aggravation warring with his affection. The moment was interrupted by Mami bowing respectfully to him. "Master Tenzin," she said quietly.

"Miss Tomoe." He returned the bow.

It was a good moment, establishing Mami's politeness and Tenzin's preference for it.

"Everyone who is coming, please enter the TARDIS. I've set aside a space in the library where we can sit and discuss the plan."

"A library?!" I had apparently grabbed Jinora's full attention with that.

I looked to Tenzin. "I can let them stay in the TARDIS, they'd be fine."

"But we wanna help!", Ikki shouted.

I looked down at her. "You would be, little one. I need someone to watch the TARDIS so the bad guys don't sneak into it."

"Fine," Tenzin said, sighing. I think he knew as well as I did that there would be no end to his kids demanding a TARDIS ride otherwise. And they could take care of themselves fairly well.

I moved up to him and lowered my voice to a whisper. "Camilla will keep an eye on them," I promised. "She's good with kids."

That got me a nod.




I'd taken the precaution of covering the swimming pool; in fact, the ground that covered it held the table on which I had laid out maps I had... borrowed from Fire Nation sources on the battle plans for each Temple attack. "The TARDIS will go to each location and deposit a team to secure our departure point and to begin the evacuation." I pointed to various buildings at each Air Temple. "Each of these structures was demolished in the attack. We'll use them as departure points."

"Do you think we can get in and out without fighting?", Harry asked.

"That's the big question, Harry. The Air Nomads were not fighters and the attacks were very chaotic. Some squads of Firebenders could break through."

"The Western Air Temple was never directly assaulted," Tenzin pointed out. "The Fire Nation bombarded it until all had perished."

"They created a firestorm, yes. Best way to deal with a temple hanging underneath a cliffside in those days before airships. We'll go there first." I looked to Lucca. "How's the fire magic coming?"

"I've gotten some of it back."

"Good. You, Harry, and Mako will take point there. We fight fire with fire."

Lucca understood immediately. "You mean we use our fire to disrupt theirs?"

"Exactly. Breakfires to keep theirs out of the structure until we can get all we can out. Now, with the Northern Temple..."

We laid our plans out meticulously, a clockwise pattern around the globe with the Southern Temple saved for last. "Sozin's forces were heaviest here," Tenzin pointed out. "They broke through the Temple defenses in seconds. Unless we leave before the attack we're going to be fighting."

"Yes. That's why it's last. Molly will go out under her veil again; Korra, Mako, and Janias i will accompany her. The rest of us will keep her escape lane open. Korra." I looked toward her. "Do not use anything but Waterbending. If you show your Avatar powers off it's going to have an adverse effect on history."

"Okay," she answered.

"This is going to be difficult, I know. But we're saving an entire culture here," I said to everyone. "Stay safe. Don't do anything to undermine the timeline. For God's sake don't get lost. Is everyone ready? Any questions as to the plans?"

There were only shaking heads to that inquiry.

"Then we're ready to go."




You know that saying that plans never survive first contact with the enemy?

Sometimes they don't survive first contact with a friend.

We had arrived at the Western Air Temple about an hour before I projected the first attack by Fire Nation forces. An hour would leave us plenty of time for evacuations of dependents and caretakers. Except, as it turned out, the Air Nomads' response was stunned disbelief and utter refusal to go anywhere. One of their number, a thin and wispy-bearded old man named Master Lungtok, was stepping in and around the TARDIS while my fellows and I waited impatiently. "This is a doorway into the Spirit World," he insisted.

"It's a pocket dimension," I retorted. "I use it to travel space and time."

"You would have us enter the Spirit World physically?"

Before I opened my mouth, Jinora suddenly spoke from the side of the TARDIS. "The TARDIS is like the Spirit World," she said, her direction on Lungtok. "But it is not the Spirit World."

I shook my head. "Young lady, it's not..."

"You said its size on the inside can change. It can go anywhere in time and space. It has a spirit living within it. It is like the Spirit World, Doctor," Jinora answered.

I opened my mouth to disagree and stopped myself. Jinora was, after all, very in tune with the Spirits. And she was having an effect on the assembled Airbenders.

A couple of teenage Airbenders landed nearby, huffing and puffing. "Master Lungtok! There's a Fire Nation army coming this way!"

Lungtok looked from the boys to me. I looked up to the sky and tried to see if the Comet was in sight, but there was no sign of it. "We still have time, Master Lungtok," I urged. "Get your children, your caretakers, together, and we can take them to safety."

"By your own words you say we are to be annihilated today," Lungtok said. "What will be the consequence of your change of history?"

"I'm not," I insisted. "I'm working within the confines of history."

"Are you?" Lungtok shook his head. "I will not forbid those who have heard from boarding your craft, but I will not call for evacuation. Now excuse me, I must be ready to meet with the Fire Nation leader."

"Master Lungtok, please, you go to your death," Tenzin pointed out.

He looked over to Tenzin and his eyes tightened. "Perhaps so. But I will go regardless."

And that was all that was said. All we could do was try to persuade. A few did so but many stayed firm in their adherence to Lungtok. As we waited I looked to where Korra was glaring at the cliffside, trembling in frustration and rage. "This is supposed to go better," she insisted. "but it's not going to, is it Doctor?"

"I told you we can't save them all," I said. "But we can save enough. Give them time. Lungtok will think it over."

The next time we saw him, Lungtok was using his hang glider to fly to the opposite cliffside. The angle was not very good to see beyond the edge. We could all see him standing there, motionless and content.

Above us, the sky turned red. "Uh, why's the sky doing that?", Bolin asked nervously.

"Sozin's Comet is here," I replied.

I had a feeling about the next few moments. I put a hand on my sonic disruptor. "Make sure the children are in the TARDIS," I murmured.

He had barely gotten them in when, at the periphery of my hearing, I heard Lungtok's death scream. It faded as his form was consumed by flame so intense it incinerated his remains.

"And so it begins," I murmured.

The scream was heard enough that the pace of parents and children increased. As it did I felt the temple shake and the heat come through the tunnels. The bombardment had begun.

Our three official fire-wielders stepped out onto a balcony. Harry lifted his blasting rod and was the first to fire. It was... a rather larger blast of flame than I think he intended, big enough that it went straight through the Fire Nation attack and struck the cliffside. "Harry!", I shouted.

"That wasn't me!", he retorted.

"The comet must be effecting all fire magic," Janias suggested.

I grumbled. Thankfully, the flame was wide enough that it could have easily been interpreted as an Airbender blowing the flames back in the opposite direction.

And, indeed, many Airbenders were moving into positions to do the same. I swallowed at the sight. These men and women knew they were going to die. They were buying time for others to flee.

A single voice cut through the confusion. "Everyone in, now!", Korra screamed. It was enough to get attention from the uncertain, and she used it. In a series of moves she displayed the other bending styles, the ones I told her not to. "I'm the next Avatar in the cycle. Now get in! I won't leave you behind!"

The display worked, I have to admit. Thankfully it wasn't in sight of the Fire Nation forces.

Our fire breakers kept their work up while I returned to my proper station; the TARDIS controls. From that vantage point I could only make out the children and Camilla guiding our refugees into a room I had set up specifically for them. External sensors showed the exterior heating up.

I swallowed. I knew more could come. But I knew we had to leave now. "Get Lucca, Harry, and Mako back in here," I said to Janias.

"Doctor, there are still some..."

"I know, Janias," I answered. "But we can't do any more."

At that moment a teenage Airbender came in, rushing past Janias and up to me. He was holding a scroll. "Master Lungtok instructed me to give this to you," he said. "If the Fire Nation actually attacked."

I took it. With the Gift of the TARDIS I could read the fine calligraphy; it was a plea to the other Temples to let me evacuate their dependents, asserting that I was telling the truth. I let out a sigh and put the scroll in my inner jacket pocket. "Stay here," I ordered the boy.

The others came in, Mako the last because he was dragging Korra with him. "There's still more!", she protested.

"I know." I swallowed. "But we can't save everyone, Korra. You know that. Besides, you need to save your strength." I shifted a knob and reached for the lever. "We've still got three more Temples."




The next stop was the Northern Air Temple. Lungtok's scroll made it an easier job and the evacuation was well underway when the first Fire Nation fire blasts struck the walls. The adult Airbenders rushed to hold them and fought as best as they could, but pacifist monks versus a disciplined army rarely ended well.

Standing just outside the structure we had the TARDIS in, I witnessed streaks of flame from above. "Clever buggers," I murmured. "They're coming from the air!"

"I'm on it!" Mami leaped into the air, firearms materializing in each arm.

"Woh, she can fly," I heard Molly gasp.

"Back to the evacuation Molly, now," Harry ordered.

Molly nodded and veiled herself and Bolin, the very power I'd recruited her for. With the walls about to be breached, I needed her available to get refugees to the TARDIS without getting them attacked by the Fire Nation's soldiers.

In the air the Firebenders, no doubt expecting Airbender resistance to their around-the-back attack, were suddenly facing a whirlwind of magical bullets. Mami, with actual guided flight, was perfectly fit for dealing with Firebenders using the power boost of Sozin's comet to keep themselfs aloft with intense and constant flame. She twisted and turned, one-shot rifles appearing from within her suit at whim. I didn't think too hard about the prone figures falling to their deaths from her attacks; they had come this day to do great evil and I was mourning their victims already.

The sound of a man running in armor brought my attention to Michael Carpenter. He had a wounded boy slung over his back and an Airbender girl in his arms. "I found them near the wall," he explained.

"Get them into the TARDIS, Camilla has the first aid kits handy."

"Of course." Michael's expression was grim. "The wall is almost lost, Doctor. This place cannot be defended any longer unless we attack directly."

"Then we've done all we can." I looked to Janias. "Can you feel Molly's mind? We need her to come back, now, with whomever she has found. It's time to go."

I returned to the TARDIS at that point. I remember feeling upset with myself; I had brought these people into a war that was not theirs and here I was, retreating to the TARDIS as the fighting loomed close. That it was necessary didn't make it feel right.

Tenzin loomed close. "The survivors from the two temples have settled in. The Eastern Air Temple will be more difficult."

"We need to hold at least one bridge on either side open as long as we can," i remarked.

"Historically the Fire Nation took nearly the entire run of the Comet to bring the Temple down," Tenzin pointed out.

"I know. That may give us some extra time, but that's all." I put a hand to my head. "When we're done in the East we'll drop the survivors off and take a breather. We'll need all of our energy for the South."




The Eastern Air Temple was surprisingly easy. Lungtok's scroll again proved vital to getting people to listen to us. Children and mothers went first, caretakers with them, and the other Airbenders - already warned of the Fire Nation's advance by the appearance of their ships in the nearby waters -set up defensive positions.

My allies spread out to do what they could, encouraging the evacuation, but the orders stood: no direct engagements where the Fire Nation could record their presence. I watched the fight from one of the terraces leading to where I'd parked the TARDIS. The only incident of note was a blast of fire blowing loose some of the rock below me. A small rockslide started to come down just to stop in mid-air, held aloft until it was thrown over the side. For a brief moment I saw a veil part; Molly was pressing her lips to Bolin's cheek in a thank you kiss, causing a deep red blush on the young Earthbender's face. That made me chuckle to myself.

When we were done we returned briefly to Air Acolyte Island. I timed our return just long enough for Pema to get things prepared; entire swaths of the island were converted to living space and by her report half of the Acolytes were out in the city buying up extra food. Everyone took a meal. "See?" I looked up from a plate of Pema's fine cooking to look at Harry. "Much better than Burger King."

"What did I tell you about dissing the King?", Harry grumbled. "So, how is this going to work? You're altering how this world's history is supposed to go."

"No, only how it might have. Time travel involves a lot of... quantum... wibbly-wobbly stuff," I answered. "It's why your White Council has the Sixth Law. Playing with time should be left to the professionals."

"You're not exactly a professional," Harry pointed out. "I don't care how much info was crammed into your brain to make you a Time Lord."

I shook my head and sighed.

Harry was, of course, perfectly right. I knew things, but... it was only now coming from experience. You can cram the knowledge to be an engineer into someone's mind, but they won't become a professional engineer because of it. They still have to practice their craft, learn how it operates.

I was still doing that.




The break proved necessary because the Southern Air Temple proved to be a battle.

The Fire Nation did not wait for the Comet.

I'm still not sure how the battle started early. The records didn't mention it. That was the issue with them; the Fire Nation could fudge whatever it wanted. Giving up the pretense of a massively coordinated attack was one such thing that was fudged.

We filed out of the TARDIS to find the Temple already under fire. "And there goes our plan," Bolin complained. "So what next, Mister Smartypants?"

I looked at him with bewilderment. Harry snickered and ignored my brief glare. "We get however many we can. Go and be safe."

"Right!" Molly reached out and veiled Bolin, Mako, and Korra to lead them off. Asami and Lucca took up defensive positions around the TARDIS and Jainas stood watch on the door.

"They didn't mention an early attack in the histories I read," Tenzin said.

"Obviously the Fire Nation didn't want to mention the full history of what happened here," I mentioned. As I thought about it... if the Fire Nation tweaked the history here...

Then we might have some flexibility.

"New rules," I declared. "Get children and caretakers to the TARDIS. If you have to fight... then fight."

There were nods and we went into action, team by team. I pulled my sonic disruptor but remembered my role; staying by the TARDIS to fly it out when the time came. I brought out my viewing glass and used it to peer out at the approaching Fire Nation army. They came up in ordered lines with a mixed frontline of Firebenders, pikemen, and swordsmen that made me think of a 16th Century Spanish tercios formation, if on the loose side. Massive siege engines came up behind the frontlines, trebuchets by the look of them, and I could see more sited on distant bluffs. Lines and hooks covered the mountainsides, powered by steam engines fueled by the effort of firebenders; this was the solution to how Sozin assaulted the mountain-top Temples.

This part was born out by history. Unfortunately, it meant that this entire temple would be subjected to a barrage like none we'd seen, and that wasn't counting the super-powered Firebenders that would be putting out enough power to batter walls.

"We have to take out their artillery," I said to myself. But how? That was the question.

I saw movement beside me. Lucca had her old helmet on, but with a new telescoping sight. "That's a lot of siege weaponry," she said. "Taking it all out is going to take just as much effort as manning the evacuation."

"Yes," I agreed. "And if we halt the evacuation we have to leave more behind when the Firebenders break the walls down."

"We're going to need help, then." Lucca looked at me. "Crono and Marle will come."

"They won't be enough. I have someone else in mind." I went back to the TARDIS. "Crossing my own timestream this closely will be tricky, so I may not be able to come back to the moment I leave. I'm leaving everything in your hands Lucca. I know that's a bit of a chore given Harry Dresden and all..."

"Hey, I handled Janus, Harry's not nearly that bad," Lucca laughed.

I cracked a smile. "No, I suppose he isn't."

I stepped inside and walked past Camilla. "Doctor?", she asked.

"Have to make a couple of stops," I answered. "One will be a bit dicey." And so I began to work the TARDIS controls.




We arrived at my first destination and I bid everyone to stay in. I stepped out into a familiar low-lit corridor and hit a call button beside a door. "What?", I heard a voice call from within.

"Hello Nerys," I said through the door. "I'd like to ask a..."

The door slid open. Nerys stepped out and gave me a friendly hug, like the kind a girl gives to her doting and silly uncle. "You're looking... tired," she said.

"In a bit of a jam at the moment. Trying to prevent the annihilation of an entire culture by moving survivors into a future time period on their world," I explained quickly. "I... didn't want to do this, Nerys. But I need your help."

Looking at her, I could see she'd just gotten off a duty shift. She was in the white sleeveless undershirt she typically wore beneath her uniform, but she was still in her red uniform pants. No doubt she wanted to rest.

"Tell me what you need," Nerys answered. "I'm ready to go."

"I need a talent of your's that I know you weren't particularly desiring to use again," I replied. "The tools are in the TARDIS."

She nodded and stepped in. I followed.




My next stop involving a lot of shaking. The TARDIS doesn't like time loops.

I stepped out into a converted apartment covered in white with images depicting information on a certain city-crushing monster I'd recently faced. A single pair of blue eyes stared at me and, thankfully, recognized me. "Hello, Homura," I said, hands in front of me. "I normally wouldn't call like this but I have an emergency. I need your powers."

Homura nodded and stood from her sofa. "You're coming to me for help? Even after you made it clear you won't help me destroy Walpurgisnacht?"

"This is about saving lives, Homura. A lot of them. And it ensures an entire culture will survive."

"I have to conserve my energy for Walpurgisnacht," Homura answered. "I can't help."

I have to admit I wasn't too shocked when she replied with abject apathy toward my plight. Homura's focus was entirely on Madoka Kaname. Nothing else mattered. It's why I hadn't gone to her before.

But I needed her now. I needed her time-stop abilities for what I was about to do.

"I know this constant loop grates on you, Homura. You don't show it, but I know how it affects you. You need a victory as much as I need your help. I'm offering one to you," I said.

"I have other matters to deal with, Doctor. I can't help."

I crossed my arms. "Homura. I know that deep down you are a kind and gentle young lady. I need you to be that again, just for a moment. Good people will live or die based on what you do."

She lowered her head.

"You're so desperate to save Madoka. What would she want to do in this situation?"

That earned me a glare. "You would say that? When you're not willing to help me save her?!"

"I'd say that because it's the truth. I know how much you love her and how much you wanted to live up to her example. Well, dammit, this is a chance." My voice grew heated. "This is a chance for you to be the kind of magical girl Madoka would want you to be. A chance to know what it's like to save people again and to know it'll stick. And if you would stop being stubborn you'd know I'm right! But if that's not enough, if Homura Akemi has become so selfish and uncaring that she doesn't want to live up to Madoka's example anymore, then fine. I'll bargain. I can't help you fight Walpurgisnacht, but I'll make sure Madoka is there with you after the end. I can't promise when, but it will happen."

A look came over her face. Homura's fists unclenched. I thought a tear appear in one eye as she thought through the ramifications of what I'd said. "Then... you know I'll win?"

"I told you that before," I answered. "Saving Madoka Kaname is a fixed point in time. It will happen. Now, please, help me."

She stood there quietly for the moment, her eyes bright with unshed tears. "I see. Yes, I will help you."

I let out a breath. I wasn't sure this would work, I had already begun considering alternatives in my mind, but to hear her say that and live up to my best expectations of her... that was a relief. "We'll get going then."




When we returned to the Southern Air Temple the first groups of Air Nomad children were already on hand. I handed them off to Jinora - Tenzin's oldest had volunteered to be hen mother for the children - and stepped out with Nerys. Lucca was still looking out at the Fire Nation artillery. She turned back only as we stepped up. "Doctor, I didn't know when you'd be back," she said. "They're getting ready to fire."

I looked up and, from this point, i could see Sozin's Comet as a growing ball of red in the sky. Within minutes it would brush against the atmosphere and generate the extra heat that supercharged all metaphysical fire on this world. "I've got it handled. Nerys, anything?"

"Most of the bombs are already planted," Nerys answered, checking her tricorder.

"Good. Nerys, this is Doctor Lucca Ashtear. Lucca, Major Kira Nerys."

Lucca nodded. She said nothing about the Bajoran nose ridges. Thankfully Nerys had already gone through that with Meelo and Ikki. Granted, Lucca had met Reptites and Mystics so a Bajoran was virtually Human.

"The last bomb is planted," Nerys reported.

My Time Lord senses detected the temporal shift behind me just before she spoke, so I wasn't surprised when Homura cut in with, "Of course."

"Set them off."

From every mountain top explosions flowered, wrecking Sozin's siege machinery. Lucca looked at me with concern. "Are you sure about this?"

"The Fire Nation fudged the history here," I pointed out. "So I took advantage of that."

"I suppose that works." She turned her attention to Homura. "Time stop powers?"

"Yes. Homura Akemi, Doctor Lucca Ashtear."

Lucca looked at Homura and her eyes found the soul gem on the back of Homura's hand. "Doesn't Mami have one of those?"

Homura's eyes widened very slightly. "You brought Mami Tomoe?"

"Ran into her in the time period before your loops," I answered.

"I didn't meet Mami before my loops began," Homura pointed out. "This could change things."

"At most, she recognizes you in each loop but isn't sure of your motives."

"Very well." Homura stepped away. "I will go help the others."

I nodded. She was reaching for her time buckler as she stepped through the nearby door.

I took the time to check the approach of the Firebender army. They had halted for the moment, an understandable decision given the siege engines they had been planning to use were now rubble. This only bought us a little bit of time though. I could see the comet growing larger in the sky. When it arrived, the attack would resume, and they had already damaged the walls with their earlier attacks.

Our time was almost up.

"What is this place?", Nerys asked.

"An alternate world with Humanity, culturally similar to the East Asians of Earth," I explained. "Remember when I mentioned metaphysical differences between worlds? This one is a very soft world. They control the elements, one per nation..."

Before I could continue our overview, I heard footsteps in the hall behind us. "And who might you be?" I turned to face an elderly Air Nomad monk. "You are the one who brought these people to take our children away?"

"For their own safety, yes." I realized I recognized the man. "Master Gyatso I presume?"

"I find Master to be unnecessary. Please, Gyatso." He bowed his head.

"Ah. Very well." I bowed my head in reply. "I'm the Doctor. These are two of my associates, Doctor Lucca Ashtear and Major Kira Nerys."

"So I see. And this..." He looked to the TARDIS and its open door. "It is larger on the inside. A curious thing. And is that a spirit I sense inside of it?"

"The TARDIS is a living being, yes." I felt my mouth dry.

"And you move through time in it? Do not worry about that. I am simply making sense of what I see, and it would explain how you have been to the other Air Temples." Gyatso stepped around the TARDIS before turning his attention to me.

Jinora stepped out of the TARDIS at that point and looked up. "You're Gyatso?", she asked.

"And who are you, young one?", he asked.

"I'm Jinora. I've heard so much about you, Master Gyatso."

"Really? They remember me that much in the future? Me, a humble monk?"

"Oh yes..."

Before Jinora could continue a gaggle of children popped into visibility. Molly leaned up against the TARDIS, perspiring quite a bit. She'd been put through the ringer today, certainly.

The only other one to appear was Korra. I looked at her. "Korra, where are the others?"

"Some Firebenders got into the Temple," she explained. "We beat them but I didn't feel right leaving the other children without someone to protect them."

"And the others?"

A cry of "FORZARE!" echoed from below, as if in reply to my question. I looked down to see Harry standing near a breach in the wall, throwing back a scouting party with his force magic. Mouse was biting another one on, well, the rear end, sending what I presumed to be the officer scrambling. I saw flashes of brief explosions: Mami had found a perch on a building near the wall and was using it to blast away and hold back the Fire Nation troops in that section.

"Who are you, young lady?", Gyatso asked politely.

Korra seemed to notice him for the first time. Her eyes narrowed a little as if, well, she remembered him... which she did and didn't. "I'm Korra. Who are... wait." Recognition dawned on her. "You're Gyatso."

"My, I seem to be well known in the future," he answered quietly.

"No, it's not just..." She looked to me. I gave her a nod. "...I'm the Avatar from my time, Master Gyatso. I'm the Avatar after Aang."

The monk's reserved smile disappeared, replaced by surprise. "You are the one after Aang? Do you know where he is?"

"I..." She looked to me again.

"I believe he should know, Korra," I answered. "We don't have to worry about him changing history with knowledge."

"Ah." Gyatso nodded in understanding. "I suspected as much. I am to die today."

"I'm sorry, Gyatso," Korra replied.

"I am old. My life was to end sometime soon anyway. Please, tell me. What became of Aang?"

Korra smiled sadly. "I think... I shouldn't be the one to tell you." She stepped back and closed her eyes.

Blue light covered her and moved forward, coalescing into, you guessed it, Aang himself, as an adult. Gyatso smiled at the apparition of his student and friend. "Aang."

"Gyatso." There was a slight echo in his voice, giving it an ethereal feel. "It's been a long time, my friend. I'm sorry I wasn't here to protect you."

"Oh Aang. We failed you," Gyatso answered. "I have been so worried. But now I see that I shouldn't be. You grew into a fine Airbender and Avatar. I am proud of you."

"Thank you, Gyatso."

"Grandpa Aang." Jinora stepped up beside Gyatso. "There is so much I wish I could have asked you."

Aang looked down at his granddaughter with a gentle smile. "You can always ask, Jinora. I am still here in Korra. I will always be here."

I forced my expression to freeze. I couldn't betray that part of the future.

I found the spirit of Aang looking at me. A smile curved across his face. "You are the Doctor. Thank you for what you've done today. You're giving my people a future like I never could have."

"It was the least I could do, for you and for Korra," I answered.

"It's time for me to go, then." The blue spirit lost form and moved back into Korra's body.

"Somebody has been getting better at their spirituality," I commented warmly. "Now, I think we should... Oh no."

I looked up and saw the red light in the sky spread that light across the sky.

Sozin's Comet had arrived.




"The Great Comet." Gyatso looked up toward it as well. "The Firebenders will be unstoppable. You must flee."

"When our people get back," I answered.

An explosion interrupted us before we could speak further. We all looked to the walls... where the adult Airbenders were reeling as massive fireballs slammed into the structures and blew them to pieces. The buildings were next. Mami barely got off her perch before two fireballs annihilatedit.

In the middle of the retreat a lone figure held the rear. Harry lifted his blasting rod and his baritone boomed across the courtyards. "PYROFUEGO!" The blast of flame that erupted from the rod was massive and spared nothing as it slammed into the Fire Naiton soldiers in front of him. Seeing he was about to be flanked I pulled out the sonic disruptor and fired a long range burst from it. At distance it didn't have a full effect, causing one squad to falter momentarily.

Harry backtracked, a blue disc of energy absorbing a couple of smaller fireballs, but he was in a bad position and was clearly going to be overwhelmed. "Molly, can you give him a veil from this distance?", I asked.

"I can try," she replied, forcing herself over toward the edge. Before she could get there, I saw Homura pop into view beside Harry and grab his hand. They both popped out of view a moment later. "What happened?"

"Homura's got him. Get everyone into the TARDIS, now!"

The Firebenders were well into the Temple now, heading headlong for whatever buildings still stood. Airbenders rushed to hold the line, the most powerful of them whipping up winds I could feel from here to blow back flames or topple attackers. They were answered by flame, fires so hot and intense that I knew most of those struck would be burned alive.

"It is time for me to go," I heard Gyatso say. He returned to the door leading out of the terrace we were located on. Before he could go through another group of Air Nomad children and mothers ran up, guided to us by Mouse. Tenzin and Asami were in the rear. When Tenzin saw Gyatso he froze. "Ah. And you would be another of Aang's students?", Gyatso asked.

"Master Gyatso." Tenzin bowed respectfully. "I am Tenzin, son of Avatar Aang."

Gyatso's smile widened at that as he bowed. "I see. I am happy to see Aang knew the joy of a family. I know you will bring our people back to happiness. Allow me to go and lead the defense."

"I'm sorry, Gyatso," I blurted out. "If I could..."

"It is nothing, Doctor. Those of us who remain will be comforted to know our people will survive." Gyatso bowed to me. "Farewell."

Tenzin watched him go with a forlorn expression. "My father talked about him with such joy, but to actually meet him..."

Mako and Bolin arrived next, leading another group of children and young adults. "I've never seen Firebending this powerful." Mako's voice was full of awe. "I almost took a wall down with a little jab."

"Somewhat the point of their attack, don't you think? Now get into the TARDIS!" I looked to Lucca and Nerys. "You two as well. I'll be standing by the door to make sure everyone gets in.

"I'll be there too," Korra insisted.

At that point we came under attack, a squad of Firebenders using their flames as jets to leap to the top of the building. An advance party, undoubtedly drawn by the sound of our voices. I brought the sonic disruptor up and sent a blast that threw one right off the building. A high-pitched whine came from beside me, creating a light yellow phaser beam that struck another Firebender and sent him down. A blast of energy from a familiar gun came from the other side; Nerys and Lucca were still beside me.

This left two, but they didn't count on Korra. She opened her bottle of water and in a single motion sent a whip of crystal blue water lashing out, smacking one soldier and then the other and knocking them both away from the building.

More came up from the ground, attracted by the sight of their comrades going down. But a single figure jumped up amongst them; Mami spun in mid-air, firing guns as she came up, and landed at the edge. With a move of her hand a half dozen one-shot rifles appeared. Their hammers let out sharp cracks and yellow blasts erupted amongst the remaining air attackers, sending them all flying.

"Did she really do that?", Nerys asked, bewildered.

"The joy of metaphysically soft worlds where thoughts can shape reality," I answered. "I'm sure that if Dax were here she'd find some suitable term for it. It would probably involve 'quantum'. Everything involves quantum. Now get in the TARDIS."

We had just gotten to the door when we had more trouble; troops rushing up the building in pursuit of the survivors fleeing for the TARDIS. The last thing I needed was fire blasts hitting the TARDIS controls so I slammed the door close behind Lucca and lifted my sonic disruptor. My first burst dropped three troops. Korra moved past me, absorbing a fireblast as she did (and much to my chagrin) before taking the troops down with a flurry of Waterbending strikes.

"Get in the TARDIS, Korra!" I opened the door for her.

"I'll hold here until everyone's back!", she insisted.

"Homura has Harry and Michael wasn't far, you need to..."

A fire blast exploded through the door, throwing Korra to the ground and me back up against the TARDIS. The sonic disruptor flew from my hand and rolled out nearby, just out of reach.

A particularly angry looking Firebender with officer markings stepped in. "Not sure where you ice savages came from," he muttered. "But you'll burn just as easily as the Nomads are." He lifted a fist and created a flame.

Aimed straight at Korra's head.

"Korra!" I scrambled for my sonic screwdriver, hoping I might still do something with it to disrupt the attack... but I was going to be too late.

I had started all of this to make Korra feel better... and now I'd gotten her killed. I saw the flame come down for her and cursed my stupid arrogance and ambition. We should have left before the Comet...

The flame almost got to Korra's forehead when the man's arm came off. I heard the Firebender scream in agony, but my eyes focused on the white fire of the shining blade Amoracchius, in the hands of the ever-reliable Michael Carpenter.

I remember musing on Michael's knack for timing. A good argument for him working for, well, a HIgher Power, even if it was a world that had never heard of his religion.

The maimed Firebender screamed and turned, a fireball forming in his left hand to strike his attacker. Michael stepped by the clumsy attack and drove his blade into the man's chest. The Firebender collapsed against it, fatally wounded. Michael pushed the dead man off the sword and used his fingers to form a Cross in mid-air. Ever the faithful Catholic, that man.

Korra sat up, woozy but cognizant. Michael helped her to her feet. "Thanks," she murmured to him.

"Thank He who sent me," was the answer Michael gave.

"Who, the Doctor?", she asked, genuinely confused.

I allowed myself a slight chuckle. I wasn't quite that arrogant to equate myself to what Michael was talking about.

Michael only sighed as a response, but he was still smiling.

"Okay, we've got to amscray!" Harry ran up the stairs next, looking, well, like you'd expect Harry Dresden to look after a tough fight. Homura took up the rear, hitting a button as she did. I felt the building rumble, undoubtedly from charges meant to block hallways with debris and buy us time.

"I agree!"

And so we all ran into the TARDIS. I went straight for the control and shifted us back to Air Acolyte Island.

With everyone taking a moment to regain their breath, I looked over the chaotic control room and saw an endearing sight. Ikki and Meelo had climbed atop Mouse who, for the moment, didn't seem too perturbed. "Can we keep the lion-dog?", Ikki asked Tenzin.

"He's not your's, Ikki," Tenzin pointed out.

"Aww.... where can we find a lion-dog?"

"Foo dog," I corrected.

Mouse barked at me.

"What?" I looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "You like that?"

"And Daddy thanks I'm silly when I talk to Oogi," Ikki complained.

"He just thinks the things you say to Oogi are silly," Jinora corrected.

Ah, the delightful innocence of children. And that, i suppose, is a happy enough note to end this part of the story on.




When everyone had filed out of the TARDIS to recuperate after the harsh fight, I had one task to do first. The TARDIS rattled once more as I made the precision flight to put it back into Homura's time loop. We were back in her apartment moments after we left. I followed her to the door and stood at it. She turned to face me. "Thank you, Homura," I said. "You helped save an entire civilization today. I hope that victory helps you."

She simply looked at me, her blue eyes icy.

I drew in a breath of resignation. "I apologize," I said. "I should not have said those things to get your involvement. I allowed desperation and arrogance to lead me into playing on your emotions. You have my sincere apologies."

"I don't want your apologies," she answered coldly. "Unless you come to help me, I don't want to see you and your TARDIS ever again."

I sighed. "Very well."

"Good." Her eyes tightened. "If you ever try to manipulate me again, I will kill you."

The look in her eyes told me she meant it. I nodded stiffly. "I understand."

"Good. Now leave." She turned and walked back to her sofa.

I forced myself to swallow and stepped back into the TARDIS, closing the door behind me.




Everyone was busy resting when I returned to Air Acolyte Island. Janias met me at the TARDIS when I rematerialized. She didn't look very happy herself. "You took Homura home?"

"Yes," I replied. "She wasn't interested in a victory celebration."

"Yeah. I could sense that."

The next thing I knew, I was on my rear end. My jaw hurt from where Janias' right fist slammed into it. I looked up to her with surprise and a bit of anger. "I know what you did to her," Janias hissed. "By the Force, how could you do something like that?! If you couldn't convince her nicely you should have just found another way!"

"There wasn't any other way that would work as well," I replied. "I would be risking everyone if I didn't take out those siege engines quickly."

"Then maybe we should have left." Janias' fists remained clenched. "Maybe you should have accepted we'd done all we could then. Doctor... you're starting to scare me a little here. Playing with a fixed point in history just to make Korra feel better? Using Homura's thoughts and feelings against her? Getting Nerys involved when it can cause her problems with the Federation? Why are you acting like this? You've got to reign yourself in or you're just going to grow more arrogant and ambitious. That's a path to the Dark Side, Doctor, and I don't want to see you go that way."

I let her speak without responding. Looking back it was another of those early warnings of where I was heading. At the time, well, I was still smarting. Janias doesn't need a lightsaber, she throws one hell of a punch without one. So her words were registered but... I didn't really take them to heart.

I suppose I didn't want to. I wanted to believe I was better than that, that I wouldn't give in to temptation and could live up to the name of the Doctor. It wasn't like I had another name at that time anyway. This was what I was now. And it was a good thing, wasn't it?

"You're right," I answered by rote. "I already apologized to Homura when I dropped her off."

"What did she say?"

"To go away and never come back unless I'm there to help her save Madoka," I answered. "And if I ever do that again she'll kill me."

"Very restrained of her," Janias answered. "It's a good thing I gave you the punch you needed."

I rubbed my jaw. "Wouldn't a slap have sufficed?"

"No." She extended a hand. "Now go ahead, stand up. Pema has another meal cooking. Some authorities from the local Republic are here too, they have questions."

"Oh joy. Questions."

"Oh, and... we may have created a monster."

"What do you mean...?" I realized what she meant when I heard the music. "Oh no."

A short distance away we found Korra, Mako, Bolin, and Asami all huddled together around an object. An object that, on closer inspection, was an MP3 player of some sort, blaring heavy metal music. "Molly," I grumbled.

"She can't use it anymore," Janias said. "So she gave it to Korra."

"Oi!" I remember thinking I really should have been more careful with what groups I mixed.

"I should mention that Lucca might have slipped Asami a schematic too."

At that point I could only facepalm. This really had shaped up to be a bad idea, hadn't it?




I won't bore you with details beyond the fact that the United Republic was both elated and irritated with what happened. Arrangements were being made to disperse the Air Nomads to the Eastern Temple first; the Southern and Western would be completely re-populated as time went on.

The following day, after giving up on getting Lucca to not tinker with Future Industries' mecha designs and having Molly's MP3 player "disappear" before Tenzin and I could reclaim it, everyone assembled to board the TARDIS. I stood at the entrance to it. "I'd like to thank you all for helping. You did a wonderful job. I'm honored to know you all as comrades and friends. So... how about we delay your trip home just long enough for some fun? One TARDIS ride to a location where we won't be having fireballs thrown at us."

"Yay! Box ride! Box ride!", Ikki cried out from the assembled.

"Oh, bring Pema too," I insisted. "Bring everyone. Fun for all of the families we have here."

"So where would we go?", Camilla asked.

"Somewhere fun, somewhere... exotic." I snapped my fingers. "I know. Ice-skating. In the open summer air. And a nice and warm summer too."

That got me confused looks. "Uh, even I couldn't keep an ice surface from melting in the summer," Korra pointed out.

"You're nuts," Harry insisted. "The amount of energy that would take is crazy, anyone who could wouldn't bother."

"If I'm wrong, I'll admit that my sonic disruptor is a ripoff of your blasting rod," I said. "And if I'm right, you have to shut up about it."

"Oh please, everyone knows it's a ripoff anyway," Harry guffawed. "But fine. You're on."

"Good! Everyone into the TARDIS!" I smirked. "Next stop, the Kingdom of Arendelle! A lovely little fjord state, you'll all love it..."

So we went off and fun was had by all, traveling around that scenic little Scandinavian city-state and skating in the palace courtyard. Harry lost his bet, of course... and I paid for it karmically by being run over by an out of control reindeer chasing a carrot.

We don't mention the snowball fight Korra started with Arendelle's Queen Elsa that quickly escalated into a snowball war. At all. It didn't happen.

(Of course it did, what am I saying? At least the kids loved it.)

Anyway... as endings go, it was happy. I look back at it with fondness even now.

If only all endings to our adventures had been so happy.

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

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2016-12-29 09:34am

Short 9 - Story Time

As we approach the great moment to come, I feel it best to give us some levity that will be of effect later on.

I had, you may remember, made a bit to nudge a young princess down a different road, away from the path of megalomania and ambition to a path of curiosity and wonder. Naturally I sought to keep an eye on developments.

And so it was that I materialized the TARDIS on the planet New Avalon, the 16th of November 3067 local time, just in time for the fifth birthday party of Princess Katherine. I had, out of caution, transmitted my intentions at an earlier time period; the adults were prepared when I materialized in the grand hall where the birthday was being celebrated. Katherine, wearing a pretty and sparkly pink dress suit, bounced in delight as I stepped out of the TARDIS; the other children stared in slack-jawed wonder. "Doctor! Doctor!"

"Well hello there, my dear Princess Katherine the birthday girl!" I executed a grand bow. I had donned a more formal outfit, still of my favored blue color but with a midnight black bowtie and a magician's top hat. I even had gloves on to fill out the costume. A coterie of highly-born children and playmates for the Princess stared at me. I looked past them all to a small group of adults, including one older man with red hair. "And greetings to you, Majesty." I bowed again, this time at Katherine's father Prince Hanse Davion. "If any of you have not yet heard of me... I am the Doctor. I am a Time Lord. And tonight... I am here to give dear Katherine a very special birthday." I smiled widely. I slipped my hand behind me into the open TARDIS. Janias, whom I knew to be giggling, used the Force to hand me an object from the distance. I brought it back around. "First, a special birthday gift." I got onto one knee and held the box down.

Katherine took it and opened it, her eyes sparkling with the eagerness of a five year old to unwrap a magic gift. Within she found a mycosia flower, just like those her mother adored, suspended in a clear capsule with water around the stem. "You need only open it and plant it in a vase, Katherine," I said, "and it shall bloom no matter where you have it so long as you give a daily watering. You can take it with you into the coldest Tharkad winter and leave it out in the frost and it will be all the stronger for it. It will never wilt or die if you show love to it."

"Impossible," i heard one of the adult attendants scoff. "Those flowers are fragile!"

"Not this one," I said. "It's been made to survive anything as long as you give it the love it is due."

"Thank you, Doctor," she said, holding onto the capsule dearly.

A servant came to pluck up the flower, but Katherine insisted on holding it. I stood to my full height. "Now, I have come ready for telling stories of the wonders of the cosmos and perhaps a few magic tricks. If you will direct your attention to the magic box I arrived in?"

What followed next was a simple trick for me. With my "magic wand" - the sonic screwdriver - I controlled the TARDIS doors and had them direct to different chambers, closing and opening the door for each transition. I showed the library and swimming pool first, of course, and a couple of other chambers, including one with a few exotic animals I had picked up for the show. One transition revealed a shower with a young lady behind it in silhouette. The children began giggling while I feigned ignorance. "Doctor?!", I heard Camilla shout. She peered around the curtain.

I made a half turn to look in. "Oh dear! My apologies." I closed the TARDIS door as the laughter and giggling echoed through the hall. "My mistake. I am in so much trouble." Naturally that merited more laughter.

After showing a few more rooms I brought back the control center and retrieved a small wooden "theater". "And now, children, time for a puppet show. A good, old fashioned puppet show, in which I shall tell you the story of how a magical knight and I worked together to vanquish the eeeevillll Red Vampires!"

I had practiced a bit with the puppet show. I'm not sure it was as engrossing as I sought, but I did cause laughing as I depicted puppets of myself and my Companions and Harry Dresden ruining the day of some over-the-top evil Red Vampires. I may have exaggerated Harry a bit by having his constant refrain be "Set them all on fire!".

Just a bit of an exaggeration, of course.

The entertainment was enjoyed by my young audience so i switched to my second story. I stood tall and enjoyed a drink from a bottle I kept in my jacket pocket. Janias and Camilla stepped out, having volunteered to provide the female voices for the story at hand. "And now children, gather round, for I have a magical story to tell. I shall tell you, dear children, of the beautiful Kingdom of Arendelle and its ruler Queen Elsa, the Snow Queen. For when she was but a child, she held magic in her hands..."

Okay, so maybe I just summarized "Frozen". It's a decent story. And, well... I had my reasons beyond a fairy tale.

Plus I think I was excellent as the Duke of Weselton and as Sven, if I do say so myself. Camilla was rather swell as Elsa too.

When I reached the end I clapped my hands together. "And so ends the tale, my young listeners, and all of it true. I have seen the Snow Queen myself." And had watched her wage a snowball war with Avatar Korra, but I prefer to leave a bit of mystique with that story by not telling it.

"But a snowman can't be alive!", a young boy in the audience cried out. "That's silly!"

"Oh really? You doubt my word, my lad?"

"It's just a story," the boy insisted.

"Very well. If you want proof..." I held up the sonic screwdriver and triggered it. When we opened the TARDIS door again it was to a freezer chamber I had set up. In it stood a short snowman the height of a child, complete with a carrot for a nose. "Everyone, say hello to Olaf."

"Hi everyone!" The snowman's eyes popped open "I'm Olaf. And you are?"

I so enjoyed the hushed wonder and amazement on the faces of all assembled, even the adults. Katherine, her eyes as wide as saucers, stepped forward to the entrance of the TARDIS. "I'm... I'm Katherine." She reached out and touched Olaf's branch arm. She escalated to pressing her hand against his snow body.

"I love what you've done with the place," he said, taking another step out of the TARDIS. "It's so warm."

I looked down toward him. "Just remember not to go too far from the TARDIS. I'd hate to explain to the Queen that I let you go too far and that you melted."

"So, what's everyone up to?"

The narration will let off a bit here. The children all got a chance to verify Olaf was real. I stepped away briefly and found myself face-to-face with Prince Hanse himself. "So what is it? Some sort of automaton?"

"It's a living snowman," I answered. "Come now, Prince, a magician never shares his tricks."

"Ha!"

After several more moments I got Olaf to return to the TARDIS's makeshift freezer. The children waved goodbye to him as the door shut. "I am afraid it is getting late, my children, so I must bid you adieu."

Katherine hopped up to me. "When can I get a ride? I've been a very good girl!"

I knelt down beside her. "You're not quite old enough yet, my dear."

"But I wanna see Sir Harry and Queen Elsa!", Katherine protested.

"Oh, you will. The day will come when my birthday present isn't just a magic flower but a ride," I promised. "Patience, my dear Princess. Patience and love, and you will get everything you could want."

I gave her a pat on the head and returned to the TARDIS. As I stood in the doorway I looked back and snapped my fingers. The crack sounded through the hall. The TARDIS doors closed.

Although I could not see it from within, that act also triggered a device I'd set up on the top of the TARDIS, a one time use hovering holographic projector I'd bought on Coruscant. As the TARDIS VWORPED away, it hovered above it, displaying a multitude of bright shapes and the message "Happy Birthday Katherine!" in bright purple color.

A proper showman knows to make a memorable exit, after all.




We returned Olaf to Arendelle and headed off to a coastal area for a little relaxation. At least for the girls; I remained in the TARDIS, sitting in the library and pondering.

I was such a bastard sometimes.

To return to my choice of story... remember Katherine's likely fate without me, a future in which she becomes a figure who could justifiably be called the Ice Queen. That is, a cold and ruthless monster bent on power for power's sake who kills and abuses her family as is necessary.

And so I had told little Katherine a story about how a beautiful young queen is redeemed by the power of her sister's love. Katherine the matricide, Katherine the kinslayer (or would-be kinslayer at least), being exposed at an early and impressionable age to a story about the power of familial love. I had made another nudge.

It was no different than the manipulation I'd used on Homura Akemi to secure her help, simply done on a younger and less-experienced girl in a way that none might easily recognize without knowing the context of my actions. Upon thinking about it I realized I was manipulating Katherine, using her child's curiosity about me to prod her into being a different person. Manipulating her into behaving in ways she would not have ordinarily behaved.

I like to think I was doing the right thing. But looking back... it was perhaps another warning sign. I was interfering in the outcome of one life because I felt it justified;, turning someone into something completely different and on purpose. How much of a leap was it to go from that to manipulating entire societies? Entire galaxies? Entire timelines?

Even now I don't know the answer. I may never know the answer.

And with that downer note to an otherwise cute story, I bid you adieu.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2016-12-29 09:34am

Short 10 - The Box Closes

I remember well this occasion. I had taken the girls to one of the lesser advanced Earths and stood with them upon a promontory of San Juan Island, of the San Juan Islands north of Puget Sound. They watched with joy the frolicking of a family of Orcas off-shore; it was a lovely sight, seeing those black shapes rise and fall into the crystal blue.

A memory briefly flashed through my head. I had been here, hadn't I? I'd been here with dear friends. I closed my eyes and focused on that memory.

All it did was give me a headache. The memory refused to come back.

In frustration I sought out other old memories of my past life. As I did I felt a growing sense of horror that I could not even remember what to look for. I remembered facts - about the cosmoses I had experience with, about locations and dates and other trivia - but never the substance of them. No family or friends. Nothing. Nothing.

The old "me" was completely gone, drawn into that little box in my head that Bob the Skull had told me about when I met him in Harry Dresden's basement lab.

And the box was now closed.

I went up to Camilla and Janias. "Do you remember why I wanted to come here?", I asked urgently.

"What?" Janias was befuddled, broken out of whatever reverie she had been in by my sudden inquiry.

Camilla turned to face me. "You said we'd love it, that it was beautiful."

"Yes. But did I say why?"

Camilla shook her head. As she did, a look of horror crossed her face. "Oh no. Your memories."

"They're gone," I answered, my voice tight. "I can't even remember what they are supposed to be anymore. It's just facts in my head now. If you two weren't here to remind me... I might not even remember I was once Human."

"I'm sorry." Camilla took me into a hug. "I'm so sorry."

I accepted the embrace while I looked out at the water. I know my face was a blank slate. Losing myself like that made me feel numb. I wanted to grieve... but I didn't know what to grieve. I just felt... numb. Entirely numb.

"What am I now?", I asked aloud. "I don't have a name. Not one that I've done anything to earn, just a silly joke that has gone out of hand. What's it going to do to me?"

"You've been doing good for the most part," Janias said. "And we're here for you. You don't have to do this alone."

"Oh Janias." I shook my head. "I've enjoyed having you and Cami traveling with me so much. But it won't last forever. You're going to want to settle down, have a nice and happy life together. You can't do that living in a magic box and getting chased by evil aliens and monsters every week."

"We're not leaving you," Cami insisted.

"Not right now, of course not." I sighed and accepted Janias into our group hug with my other arm. "Don't worry about it. I'm just being moody. Let's go watch the Orcas from close up in the TARDIS, shall we?"

"A good idea," Camilla agreed.

We returned to the TARDIS. I focused my attentions on the Orcas. It felt good to do so. It was a nice, quiet bit of nature watching with my companions.

But like everything else, this couldn't last forever.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2016-12-29 09:35am

Well, here we are. The end of "Series 1" of The Power of a Name. This was something of a fan favorite when it first went up 35 or so months ago, and I suspect anyone reading will enjoy it, especially if they're fans of the setting that our good dimension-hopping narrator ends up in. :)

The rest will go up tomorrow, and then I may leave this alone again so everyone can enjoy the New Year. Series 2 will begin with Episode 9 "When It Rains, It Pours" some time next week. :)




Episode 8 - Earning The Name

Fun fact: When I was Human, I had never been drunk once.

In fact, on only two occasions in my adult life did I ever imbibe an alcoholic beverage, and it was the clear fruit-flavored alcoholic soda stuff. And that was only for birthday celebrations and so weak that I don't believe I even got buzzed from it.

The Centauri made stronger stuff.

There was shouting and singing and laughter in the dining halls of the Emperor's Palace on Centauri Prime. I sat in the position of the guest of honor beside Emperor Vir, clad in the white of the Centauri Emperors, and laughed at a joke told by one of his ministers.

And to think that all it took to get a party thrown for me was to disarm an old Drakh fusion bomb before it atomized the entire capitol. Child's play... well, when you have a sonic screwdriver at least.

"I have never seen a woman as stunning as your companion," one Centauri officer said, looking at Janias. "What species is she?"

"Mirialan," she answered for me, looking a little perturbed at the attention.

"Oh, lighten up my dear Janias, he's just curious." I took another drink of brevari. "If you must know, my dear friends Janias and Camilla are from another galaxy."

There was much laughter from an understandable disbelief. "How much have you had?", Vir asked jovially.

"Not bloody enough," I declared. As it turns out, even a Time Lord can get nice and plastered with effort. And I was putting in the effort that night.

The Empress Senna, seated to the other side of Vir with all the air of a woman indulging her husband out of love, looked down toward me and asked, "And why don't you have a name? You just call yourself 'the Doctor'?"

"Something's wrong in my head, Your Majesty, my name and part of my life is all locked up in a little box," I replied. "So all I have is a nickname I picked. It sounds... dignified."

"Yes it does," Vir agreed. He swayed slightly in his chair and stood, clambering onto the table. He sat on his knees upon the table and shouted, "Everyone! To the Doctor, a friend to all CentaurI!" He raised the glass up and gulped it down. Through my own haze I noticed Senna was storn between humor and irritation at her husband's antics. Clearly Vir was taking after Londo.

Vir put his glass down... and toppled over.

Janias got to her feet and held a hand out, but I could see he was breathing regularly and still shifting a bit. I couldn't help but proclaim "He has become one with his inner self!" Laughter came from the table.

Camilla looked at me like I was deranged. "Doctor, he's passed out!"

"I say at one with his inner self, you say passed out. No real difference," I replied before lowering myself back into the chair.

We drank and laughed some more until Senna called an end to the night's festivities. I was rather plastered by that point so the girls had to help me back to the TARDIS, where they left me in the recliner in the library to sleep it off.




I shall skip the hangover part since it consisted of me laying back in the recliner trying to re-hydrate myself. Rather it was the next day, when I was feeling much better, that this narrative resumes.

I was reading a book on quantum mechanics for leisure - with a Time Lord brain that is leisure reading - when Camilla came up to me and sat in the chair beside me. She was dressed casually in a short-sleeved blue blouse and knee-length skirt of teal color. "How are you feeling?"

"Better," I said.

"Are you sure?", she asked.

I knew what she was getting at. I placed the book down and sighed. "I knew this was coming, Camilla. And every psion and telepath I've met with haven't been able to do a thing about it." I laughed harshly. "And it doesn't even hurt anymore. Not the best sign, but perhaps for the better." I sat up. "I suppose the big quesiton I need to ask now is... who am I?"

"Well, you are calling yourself the Doctor all the time," she pointed out with a small smile.

"I was warned against that." I put my hands together and rested my chin on them. "That it would change my nature and I might not like what it did to me."

"Well, so far you've been about spreading joy and saving lives," Camilla pointed out.

"And yet I am playing with timelines, nudging things here, playing around there. Trying to make sure Princess Katherine grows up and decides to not be a matricide and usurper. Saving the Air Nomads and putting them into Korra's time period. My spectacularly failed attempt to stop Walpurgisnacht."

Camilla nodded. "Jan and I have talked about it. We're worried, yes. She's worried a bit more. Jedi stuff about the Dark Side."

"Yes." I nodded. "She's wise to be worried. I've been getting arrogant. It's just... it's all I have now. When given the chance, I want to help people. And that means changing things."

"It's a good cause. And the name you've picked is a good one for it." Camilla took my hand. "Doctor. A wise man. A healer. You heal people."

I nodded and thought quietly. "But should I be using that name? That name has a history. I have to live up to it. I have to earn it."

"You don't think you have already?"

"No. No I haven't. I won't until I... I don't know, Cami. I just don't feel like I've earned it yet. I feel like my use of the name is on credit. It's a debt I need to repay. And I'm not sure how."

Cami nodded. She took the book I'd been reading and opened it. "Quantum locks?", she asked. "Isn't that...."

"Been studying up," I answered. "Might learn something useful. And you'll notice it's a general subject about quantum effects. I already had Lucsly block my TARDIS with a quantum field once. Never know when I might run into another one, right?"

She nodded and opened the book. "I sometimes envy your brain, Doctor. I would love to known things like this so easily."

"It isn't always fun." I sat up and smacked my hands on my knees. "Well, that's enough time for moping, isn't it? Where's Janias?"

"Right here." She entered from one of the entryways leading to our rooms, dressed in a Jedi-style sleeveless vest and tight pants. I suspected the latter was for Camilla's benefit. "So, now that you got pissed drunk are you ready to actually take us somewhere?"

"Why not?" I looked to Cami. "Any requests?"

"Nothing in mind, no," she answered.

"Well, I guess that leaves it up to me." I started walking to the TARDIS control room with the girls right behind me. "We need to go somewhere new. Somewhere... unique. Somewhere we haven't been at all."

"It's a big Multiverse," Janias remarked.

"Yes it is. That's the fun part. Always more to explore. Honestly I think I have it better than the Doctor himself, I have so many more places..." My voice trailed off as a thought came to mind. "Huh. Interesting."

"What?"

We entered the control room and I skipped down the steps to the controls. "It occurred to me. We've been traveling for oh so very long and I've been going around and calling myself the Doctor, but there's one thing I've yet to do that the Doctor always ends up doing."

"And that is?"

I looked to them and winked. "Why, visiting merry old London town, of course. The City of London! Buckingham Palace, the Changing of the Guard, museums and monuments everywhere. Center of one of the most influential empires in Human history, the nation from which industrial society was born!" I laughed. "Always wanted to see Trafalgar Square. We can go to the Tower of London, look up at Big Ben as the hours chime, enjoy some proper fish and chips at a London pub!" I twisted a couple of knobs and flipped a switch. "And check out the Thames of course. And oh, the people we might meet. We could end up in the gaslights of Victoria's time, thwart Jack the Ripper, or find ourselves at 221 Baker Street! Or help some Londoner hold off Nazi bombs in the Blitz! Hopefully with no nanogenes turning people into gas-mask-faced zombies." I noticed the girls stare a bit, but they'd learned to take my announcements of adventures I was familiar with in stride. "Lots of possibilities, girls! It's going to be fun!"

"If you say so, Doctor," Janias commented.

"Now now, do try to show some enthusiasm, eh?" I pressed a button and put my hand on the lever. "Okay everyone! Tally ho!" I pulled back on the lever and enjoyed the TARDIS engine going VWORP VWORP VWORP. By the time it stopped I was at the door of the TARDIS and threw it open.

My senses were immediately assaulted by dust in the air and a smell of rotten decay. I took a step out and from the crackling realized I was walking on pulverized cement. The sky above was dark, signifying nighttime, but the city was not as lit up as it should be. I realized why as I took in the sight.

London was in ruins.

By looking around I confirmed we were on a building roof, some structure about fifteen stories high I imagined, looking out at the City. It was a wreck, a smoldering ruin.

My mind immediately began to calculate the potentials for where we were. "Doctor, what's going on?" Camilla stepped up beside me.

My own suspicions were confirmed when I saw the explosions across the distance. I brought out my field glass and used it to zoom in on a light in the distance.

I recognized vehicles speeding toward the light - a column of light reaching into the sky - as red flashes of light swept among them. I tracked my eye toward the source and pulled the looking glass away, realizing we could make out the shape from where we were standing due to its sheer bloody height.

"Doctor, this isn't exactly the scenic visit you promised," Janias grumbled. "I'm beginning to think your TARDIS is drawn to wrecked cities."

"It's not just the city that's wrecked," I remarked, my mouth going dry.

"And what is that thing?", Camilla asked.

"A monstrosity," I growled. I could feel my face contort into an instinctive snarl of outrage at something that I knew had caused immeasurable suffering and death. "It's a Reaper. One of thousands of the bloody things that cull this galaxy's space-faring races every fifty millennia or so." I looked through my looking glass again in time to focus on a lone figure slowly standing from amidst the rubble, the lone survivor of a charge. And I knew who that survivor was. "This is it. What timing, girls, what timing."

"Something important?", Janias asked.

"Yes." I brought the looking glass back down. "This is the final day of the Reaper War. This entire galaxy's fate is going to be decided within the next..."

I was interrupted by an ear-piercing shriek that made my hearts still. "Oh no," I muttered to myself. "Bloody hell."

"Uh... Doctor..." I could sense the concern in Camilla's voice. And I knew why even before I turned and I saw what was on the roof with us.

It looked female. It looked alien. And it was menacing.

"A Banshee," I hissed to the girls. "A bloody Banshee!"

That good old Doctor luck had come to haunt us yet again.





So where was I? Oh, yes.... Banshees. Nasty buggers. And I had one who wanted to kill me.

Janias was reaching for her lightsaber when the Banshee swept its arm at us. A bolt of blue energy struck her, throwing her to the edge of the building. Camilla ran to her aid.

I reached into my jacket and pulled out the sonic disruptor. With it I sent a wave of energy at the Banshee, meant to destabilize its electronic components, maybe bring it down. It began to falter...

...and then it wavered and was suddenly about five feet closer. I re-adjusted just for it to make another little jump. I knew what these things did so I tried to back away.

Unfortunately, this meant I wasn't ready for the next bolt of biotic energy that came from its hand. The blast was excruciating, making me feel like ever molecule in the impact zone was vibrating and wanted to pull apart. I fell backward. By the time I scrambled to my feet the ugly thing was in arm's reach. Its right arm swung hard and knocked the disruptor out of my hand, sending it sliding across the roof. With the other arm it grabbed me by the neck before I could pull away from its grasp. The grip was tight, so tight I couldn't breathe, as the monster lifted me into the air. I knew what came next and that I needed to act fast if I didn't want it trying to explore my guts.

My right hand went into my trouser pocket and found the sonic screwdriver. If the disruptor's brute force didn't work, perhaps this would.

Just as it was ready to impale me on its arm, I brought the sonic up and shined the purple tip right into its eye. The sonic was set for maximum electronic disruption. My eardrums felt like they would burst when the thing screeched. I fell onto my rear when it let go, staggering backward, but my grip on the sonic never wavered.

There was a flash of purple light to my side. Next thing I knew, Janias was leaping in, her lightsaber already in motion. The blade cut cleanly through the Banshee's neck, removing the head from the shoulders. The grotesque thing collapsed.

I realized my chest was heaving violently, sucking in as much air as it could take. I put a hand to it and felt my right heart beating like a piston from inside my ribs.

"What was that?!", Camilla asked, her voice betraying her terror. She was scrambling for my sonic disruptor.

"A Reaper husk. That's what they do to the sentient species they exterminate. They turn them into foot soldiers for their wars of annihilation." I got to my feet and saw Janias kneeling down beside the dead figure. "You did her a mercy, Janias. No being should ever be subjected to that."

"What was she? Before... before this?"

"An Asari. They're a mono-gendered species, very long-lived. The most advanced species in this galaxy at the moment." I looked down at the body. "They're known for their grace and beauty."

I wondered just who this Asari had been before the Reapers destroyed her. Was she a young, wander-lusting maiden going out into the galaxy? A matron taken away from the family that loved her? A wise old matriarch who was turned against the civilization she had been pledged to help guide? Who had this been? What life had the Reapers so callously snuffed out to have another lump of cybernetic meat to throw at the races of the galaxy?

What a waste. What a horrible waste.

I didn't know what would come of this. Would the Shepard of this timeline choose to destroy the Reapers? To try and control them? To sacrifice himself or herself to cause all beings, Reaper and non-Reaper, to become techno-organic beings in the hope that the Reapers would consider their directive complete?

Personally, I had always considered Destroy the only reasonable option.

I thought about that. The joy of seeing the Reapers destroyed for what they had done. Of putting all of those old species imprisoned within the Reaper shells to rest.

Thinking of that made me look at the dead Banshee again. Ever Reaper body contained victims like her, or rather what was left of them. Sentient beings liquified and turned into organic goo to command the Reaper body they were implanted in. Each Reaper was all the remained of a species, of the civilizations that made up those species. All of that history, that knowledge, condensed into goo and enslaved to a single AI mind dedicated to the Catalyst's overriding program.

I forced myself to take in a breath. Camilla took my hand. "Doctor... what are you planning?", she asked. "I know you're not just going to leave here."

"You're right about that. But..." I sighed. "The Reapers are unlike anything we've faced yet, Camilla. I can't ask you and Janias to risk yourselves. You should stay in the TARDIS."

"Oh please." Janias crossed her arms. "You know we're in this with you."

"Yes, I imagined so." I put my hands together. "Okay. I have the inklings of a plan. But first, we must do reeeeaasearch!" I intentionally strung out the word in a high tone to sound like Uncle Chan (of Jackie Chan Adventures). As we entered the TARDIS I continued to explain. "Or rather I must. This is really one place I cannot take you two. Your brains would be corrupted if you were exposed to the energy."

"And your's?"

"Time Lord physiology is a bit more robust," I replied. "And even I have to be careful. Now hold on!"

The TARDIS engine VWORPed again as I shifted us, just a bit back and time and not far away. When I opened the door we were in an open area with tubes built into the walls. The TARDIS extended a field around itself for air and to try and interfere with the constant neurologically-compromising energy release of Reaper technology, an extra barrier of protection for my brain. I brought out the sonic and ran it over the tubes. "Internal wiring. Just what I need." I used the sonic to tear a small gap in the writing. A deep and angry rumble vibrated through the ship as I did so.

"Doctor, what was that?", Janias asked nervously.

"That was Harbinger feeling rather uneasy about having me poke about in his innards," I answered. "We'll be having husks investigating shortly. But I should be done by then." The purple light of the sonic ran over the wiring in the exposed area. "Oh yes, communications protocols. Just what I was looking for. And is that what I think it is? Hidden in all of that signal traffic. Oh, of course it is, of course. I've got you."

There was a distant clattering. I was running out of time.

"Doctor, we need to go!", Janias insisted.

"In a moment." Wanting to test a reading I was getting, I went over to another tube. I blasted a hole in it.

And I got a facefull of organic goo for my problems.

"Urrrgh," I grumbled, wiping the DNA soup of the ancient "Leviathans" off my face. A steady spurt of goo was still shooting out of the small hole. An even bigger vibration filled the ship. "Oh, he's not happy." I pressed my hand against the hole. "I wonder...."

I opened my mind as my palm made contact with the running, circulating goo that was all that was left (with one exception) of the ancient race that gave birth to these horrible things. My eyes closed and I felt out...

Horror and pain and terror and disbelief, it all poured into my mind, the last vestiges of thought. It was faint. I could feel an intelligence overlaid upon it, powerful and ancient and without the slightest remorse.

Harbinger.

I sense you. Join us... join us... join our perfection, organic.

I pulled my hand back just as the force of Harbinger's mind started to press into mine. Dark goo erupted from the hole in the line and would have splattered me again if I had not moved. With a headache swelling in my head I returned to the TARDIS. "Doctor?" Camilla could see my pained expression. "Are you okay?"

"Oh, right as rain," I murmured in reply. "Lingered a moment too long, the consciousness of this thing felt me. And we should be going. We still have work to do."




One of the great questions left lingering about the final days of the Reaper War is the fate of those on the Citadel when the Reapers dragged it from the Serpent Nebula to Earth. There were, after all, over thirteen million sentients living on the station at the time, not counting the massive numbers of refugees who had fled to the station. Had the Reapers slaughtered them all?

I can now confirm that the answer is "No".

When I stepped out of the TARDIS I found a matched group of C-Sec officers pointing pistols in my face - a Human, a Turian, and an Asari. I raised my arms. "Hello there. This is Huerta Memorial, isn't it?"

"Who in God's name are you?", the Human asked - he looked and sounded North American.

"I'm the Doctor," I answered plainly, once again using the name I should have really reconsidered. "I came to see if there was any medi-gel I could borrow. External application system, that is."

"What in the Hell is that thing?!", I heard a cantankerous voice shout. It was familiar enough. When a middle-aged Human with short-cut gray hair stepped around the TARDIS, his hand carrying a standard issue pistol, our eyes met. "And just what are you?"

"Ah, you would be Commander Bailey, yes? I'm the Doctor. I came to..."

There was a shriek behind the TARDIS. It drew the attention of the C-Sec officers and my own. I stepped out and looked around the TARDIS in time to see a young Asari maiden in nurse garb pulling away from the electric entrance to Huerta Memorial. A gray arm with glowy blue bits reached out, grappling for her. "Oh no you don't!", I shouted.

Janias was quicker. She jumped past us all and brought her lightsaber to bear, using it to slice the husk's arm off. The creature howled but did not stop. She twisted and reached her hand out, creating a wave of Force power that sent the husk back through the door. "Out of the way!", I shouted, elbowing past a C-Sec officer. "Close the door, Jan!"

Janias nodded and brought her hand back up. She concentrated and the door closed. "There are more coming," she warned.

"I know." I brought up the sonic screwdriver and used it on the door panel. In the darkly lit atmosphere of the Presidium the purple light at the tip shined more brightly than usual. "I'm shutting down all power to the lift and the door. They'll need to bring indoctrinated agents over to open it.

"How are you doing that?!", I heard Bailey shout. "We got locked out of all of the security systems!"

"I know. The Reapers may not be able to access all of the core functions, but they're starting to. And they have Cerberus help. No telling what those crafty buggers put in your computers." I smirked and raised my sonic. "Thankfully they don't know how to deadlock their systems. And so my sonic screwdriver is more than sufficient."

"So... Doctor is it?"

"Yes. Now, I need to see your physicians, I need some medi-gel."

Bailey sighed and scratched his head. "They've used up a lot of what we had on hand, Doctor. I don't think there's much left."

"I'll take what I can get."

"I'll take you to Doctor Michel, then."

He led me back to the medical rooms. Casualties were piled up everywhere. Some already had sheets covering them. I swallowed as I walked amongst those victims and thought again on my plan. It would be too late for them. I was too late for them.

We were shortly facing the auburn-haired Dr. Michel. "Doc here says he needs some medi-gel," Bailey said by way of introduction.

"So do we," Michel answered in her French accent. "I can't just give it out, we're almost..."

"It's for Commander Shepard," I said bluntly. "Without it, Shepard will die."

Michel and Bailey stared at me, slack-jawed. "And how would you know?", Bailey asked.

"I'm a Time Lord, it's what I do," I replied. "Doctor Michel, if you would be so kind as to put on your stethoscope?"

You can imagine what I did next. I let her here my left heart and then my right. Her eyes widened in shock at that point. "It's not possible."

"I'm not Human, Doctor Michel. I'm a Time Lord. I travel through six dimensions of space-time and I found myself in this time, at this place. And I want to help. Now, please, I need some medi-gel."

Michel and I continued to look toward each other. She searched me for any sign of insincerity or dishonesty. And I know she found none.

Her hands went into a compartment. She handed me an external application device for the gel and nodded. "Here. My last full dose. I can't give any more."

"Thank you," I answered. "Now keep your chin up. Once Shepard has this, the Reapers will be finished."

I could tell she didn't really believe it. She wanted to. But with everything that had happened she didn't think the Reapers could be stopped.

It made her continued stoic efforts to heal the people here all the greater, if you ask me. It is an admirable quality of many species that they will fight to the last extremity even if all is truly lost.

Janias and Camilla were waiting for me at the TARDIS. "Doctor, those people are hoping with every fiber of their being, but I can feel their despair." Janias breathed in sharply. "Can you really save them all?"

"It won't just be me," I said. "We'll need help. Help that I'm taking us to get."

I looked down at the medi-gel I'd been given. The truth was... I was disappointed. I wanted more. I had planned to appear in time to save Captain Anderson as well. But that wouldn't be feasible now.

Of course, you're asking why not. After all, I jumped to each Air Temple concurrently not too long ago. Why not do something similar here? Why not hunt across the galaxy for medi-gel and give Anderson a dose?

The reason is this. Exterior forces can influence the TARDIS. The Air Nomad Genocide had been a fairly straight forward fixed point. Flexible enough that I could do such travel.

But this? A moment with such an massive, galactic-scale impact? With so many outcomes? This meant it wasn't the same. There were major quantum instabilities I had to consider, instabilities that would potentially throw the TARDIS off if I did more than the teensiest time movements, like moving slightly back to get into Harbinger. Too much jumping around made the chance of jumping to the wrong point all the greater. And then my plan would be ruined.

I was quick in manipulating the TARDIS controls. We had the final stop ahead of us. "Alright, our moment of decision," i said to the girls. "Cami, think you can administer the medi-gel right?"

She was reading the underside. "Oh, sure. They include instructions."

"Good. Now... time to go ruin a rogue AI's day." I stepped toward the TARDIS door and put my hand on the handle. "Wait! Forgot something." I rushed back to the controls and pulled an object I'd had hanging off the underside up to be seen.

"Just what is that?", Janias asked, bewildered at the red thing with a tassel on top.

I put it on my head. "It's a fez. Fezzes are cool. They give an air of... intrigue. Exoticness."

"Oh, Force grant me patience," Janias moaned.

"It's vital that I give them a show. It'll throw the thing off its game. I hope." I opened the door and stepped out.

And yes, I'm serious about that part. Being a showman is a key party of this job. Very key.

The TARDIS was on a walkway at the bottom of the Citadel, looking out into open space. Or rather the Earth. That unhappy orb below us was spotted with orange, the fires of the Reapers' incessant attacks burning cities across the planet. Explosions flowered in space around Earth and beyond us. Admiral Hackett's combined fleet was fighting valiantly, heroically, to protect the Crucible as they waited to see what it would do. Every moment someone was dying out there.

"By the Maker," Camilla gasped, looking out at the carnage.

My focus went ahead, to the walkways leading to the Crucible's connections to the Citadel and to the beam connecting the two. I reached into my pocket and turned on my sonic's scanning mode, connecting it straight to the TARDIS.

My reason for this had manifested already. A transparent, glittering form, a holographic projection from the AI at the core of the Citadel itself; the Catalyst. It had taken the form of a little boy. A cheap manipulative tactic. I should know, given what I'd done to Homura and Katherine.

And now to settle the burning question I know to be in your minds. What kind of Shepard was this? Was it the canon male Shepard? Another? What appearance, what background?

Well, for one thing... fifth dimensional tracks, people. This cosmos probably had every variation of Shepard you could ever consider somewhere in its big wibbly-wobbly five-dimensioned matrix.

The figure hunched over by the Catalyst holo was turning to look, undoubtedly drawn by the Catalyst's attention toward me and the VWORPing the TARDIS had made as it materialized. I found myself looking into a pair of green eyes dulled by intense pain from life-threatening injuries. A bloodied oval face with an average-sized nose and chin, framed by red hair, and a dusky complexion... and, well, feminine.

So yes, I was facing a Female Shepard. My apologies to those who would have preferred a male Shepard. I don't control these things, after all.

I walked up toward them, hands in my trouser pockets. "Well, it looks like I'm right on time. Tell me, Commander, has our starry little friend here laid out your three choices?"

I noticed the Catalyst's stare start to turn... well, as hostile as an AI could manage. I wasn't surprised. I knew perfectly well what it really was.

Shepard sucked in a breath, which I imagined was not easy with her injury. Camilla went by me wordlessly with the medi-gel dispenser in hand. "Who are you?", she asked. "What are you?"

Ah, that all-too-familiar tough Jennifer Hale voice. Always enjoyable.

I smiled. "Hello Commander Shepard. I'm the Doctor. You can consider me to be Option Number Four."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2017-01-03 08:58am

Well, shit. I forgot to do the next part before New Year's. :shock: Heh, sorry.



We stood there amidst the chaos, standing on the underside of the Citadel as battle raged around us. Camilla pressed the medi-gel dispenser against Shepard's arm where the armor had been stripped. "Now, what were those choices again? Oh yes." I rubbed my hands together. "Choice one; destroy the conduit over yonder..." I pointed to an exposed area in red. "...and destroy all synthetic life in the galaxy. Bit of a bummer for the Geth, hrm? Of course, one wonders what will happen when the day comes, inevitably, that some ambitious sap plays with what's left of a Reaper and turns it back on."

"It is not an optimal solution," the Catalyst said.

"Shh. Please, not finished yet," I countered. I pointed to the other side. "There's also the route of seizing control, of being violently uploaded into the Reaper command system. Of course, your body gets vaporized in the process, rather bothersome." I put my hands together. "And there's the little issue that this doesn't necessarily mean the base programming will go away. Whoever became the new control program could very well resume the cycles. Right?"

"I do not know for sure."

I smirked. "So why do I get the sudden feeling I'm talking to Kyubey? Never mind." I used my hand to signal "three". "And the final choice is that whole synthesis business. Breaking down Shepard's cybernetic-laced body and aligning it with a molecular alteration field so that everything it makes contact with turns into some techno-organic life form, rendering the original programming of the Reapers moot. However, I wonder... how would this work? How would the brains of the resulting beings work? Could they be programmable? Might it be a means to, say, expand the Catalyst control program to every living being in the galaxy? That would solve that whole 'horrible cycle of organic versus synthetic' now, wouldn't it? They'd all be under the control of one program."

I looked over to see the medi-gel was doing its work. Camilla was now applying our other medical tools to further heal Shepard's battered body. I could see a sharp look returning to her eyes as the pain and shock receded. "So why should I believe you any more than him?", Shepard asked pointedly.

"Why should you indeed? I'm just a madman in a box who popped in, after all." I brought the sonic screwdriver out and looked at the data. A smile crossed my lips. "Ah, there we go. Anyway! Would you like to know what I think? I think that several cycles ago some brilliant race living on the Citadel found you." I looked down at the Catalyst. "And they realized what you were. So you called in the Reapers to start the harvest of that cycle and destroy the plans. But they hid them too well. The next cycle found them. And then the next. Each adding on pieces to make it work. But the original design, that one had the key component; base code to interact with you. That's why you're not trying to destroy the Crucible; you can't. Not now."

"That is correct. It is also irrelevant. The harvesting system clearly no longer functions..."

"It never did," I pointed out. "It was just a waste, a horrible bloody waste. Just like this one. I do wonder..."

"That's enough from both of you," Shepard cut in. "There are still people dying out there."

"Choose quickly," the Catalyst urged. "Or the Crucible will be shut down."

"Nice pressure tactic," I remarked. "Commander, this thing may be compelled to work with you but that doesn't mean it isn't trying to play its own game here. It's smart. It knows how to play people. I should know because I've seen it before. Hell, I've done the same. But its solutions are for its own benefit, not yours. I can give you a better alternative if you'll just let me."

I stood there expectant and curious to see what the reaction would be. Shepard was starting to stand taller now with most of the critical wounds healed, or at least mitigated, by Camilla's treatment. I had to admit even I felt rather inspired despite Shepard's battered appearance. In those green eyes I could see a spirit that could lead a galaxy to war against such impossible odds.

"What do you plan on doing?", she finally asked me.

I looked down at the Catalyst and smiled. "I'm going to modify the Crucible to fire a different kind of wave, something that will end this threat forever."

"No you will not."

The voice of the "boy" had suddenly become deep and angry. Shepard clearly recognized it. "Harbinger."

"Yes and no," I answered. "Harbinger was the first Reaper control AI spawned from this one. So it has the most similarities."

"I gave you a chance to change the fate of your people and you refuse it. SO BE IT." The boy figure turned and vanished.

We turned our heads and watched the beam linking the Crucible to the Catalyst shine brightly and shut off.

"That's not good, is it?", Janias remarked.

"What just happened?", Shepard asked, directly her full attention at me, and in a way that implied that if she didn't like my reply I'd be getting punched or shot... or both.

"It couldn't touch the Crucible so it shut down the Citadel's side of the link," I answered. "Fitting form it took. It's acting like a child, throwing a fit that we won't play its way so it's taking its toys and going home." I held up my sonic. "Too bad I know where home is. I was tracking the signal it used to communicate with us. Just give me a minute in the TARDIS and I'll have us at the Catalyst's main core. And then we can do a little... reprogramming."

"So, I've heard of lots of things, but never a... TARDIS."

"I imagine not. Time Lord craft, travels through space-time. Six dimensions of it in my case." I held my hand out toward the TARDIS and stated its full name. "Commander, I know you've been through hell today. You've been fighting and bleeding to give this galaxy a chance to defeat the Reapers. All I ask is that you let me make your victory fit the effort you've put into it. Please."

Shepard took a moment to think of it. But only a moment. "Alright, let's see what you've got... what was the name again?"

"You can call me the Doctor," I answered. "And these are my companions Camilla and Janias. And now, let us enter the TARDIS. We've not a moment to lose."




Unsurprisingly, the location was in the core of the Citadel itself, one of the many computer cores in the Citadel Tower. We stepped out of the TARDIS and into one of the computer core control stations. "Are you sure this is the right place?"

"Yes, Commander." I raised the sonic and set it to scan. The signal source, or rather the source within the hardware, was here. "It's rather cleverly hidden, I'd say. Auxiliary backup computer cores meant for station life support. Something no race that found this place would ever meddle with."

We stepped around a set of computer banks and found a dead Turian sprawled on the floor beside a dead Salarian; the former was clearly C-Sec while the latter looked like a technician. "They tried to take refuge when the Reapers seized the Tower," I theorized. Looks like the husks that killed them left when the job was done."

Shepard stepped up to the fallen C-Sec man and pulled free a shotgun fixed to his side. She picked up a pouch of heat clips from his belt. "They're going to know we're here," she pointed out. "So, what next?'

I waved the sonic around, following it to one set of banks and a holographic control interface that was shut down. I waved the sonic screwdriver over it for a moment. When nothing happened I knelt at the base of the controls, using the sonic to scan further. "Ah, I see. No power to this unit. This will just take a minute."

A clatter came from behind us, towards the exit door. "Doctor...", Camilla murmured.

I reached to my belt and pulled up my sonic disruptor. "Here. I've shown you how to use it. Try Setting 30, it'll knock them back and give the cybernetic components a nasty shock."

I focused on my work to the point I didn't pay attention to the first group of husks to come after us. Nor did I need to. Janias was o top of them in seconds given the sounds from her lightsaber. The loud thundercracks of Shepard's pistol joined them for about five seconds and then... nothing. "That was quick," Camilla remarked, standing closer to me.

"They'll send more now that they know where we are," I heard Shepard say. I heard the sound of a thermal clip ejecting. "If you can fix that thing, you can use it to destroy the Reapers and only the Reapers, right?"

"Yes, possibly, but I'm not doing that."

"What?!" Shepard grabbed my arm. "I didn't come all of this way to hear that, Doctor!"

I ignored the pain of her grip on my arm. "Commander Shepard, you know as well as I do that every single Reaper out there has, within it, all that's left of a species. Thousands and thousands of species culled over a billion years of this galaxy's history. They're not the enemy, Commander, they're just people who weren't fortunate enough to have a Commander Shepard to fight for them! We owe them a chance to be free again, just as free as your cycle's species! And I'm not going to condemn them to die, I can't, because if I did I couldn't call myself the Doctor anymore."

Shepard's eyes met mine. "You're sure about this?"

"Positively."

There was a short, very uncomfortable silence. "If you can save them, do it," she said.

I nodded and returned to my work. My sonic let me slip into the power systems. The console above me flashed to life and I cackled. "Ha! Now let's see what..." I ran the sonic over the console. "...now that's hidden. And software seals, oi. This could take me a bit."

"No pressure, Doctor," Janias retorted sarcastically.

I was too busy working to pay attention to the sounds of battle behind me. Things got tough enough that Camilla joined in with the sonic disruptor. One shot from a Reaper went just over my head. "Oi, watch it!", I called out.

"How is that reprogramming coming?!", I heard Shepard shout.

"It's not yet! The little bastard's buried into the environmental code. Clever, if anyone actually attacked it they'd be risking all the life support for the Citadel." I had one hand on the sonic, the other hand working the hard-light control board. "Come on you little bugger, you can't hide from me..."

I won't bore you with the technical jargon. Suffice to say I had to peel through lots of code and fashion software patches and data allocations on the fly to isolate the Catalyst's core program. "And now to make some changes and shoot a software patch back into the Crucible. And turn the bloody thing back on." I went to work on that as the sounds of battle intensified behind me.

There was a sudden impact from above, a massive fist that smashed through through the upper floor. I looked up to see a massive husk - one of the Krogan body/Turian head combos I knew a "Brutes" - jump down right beside me. I swept the sonic over and triggered a disruption field from it. The beast stepped backward and growled inaudibly. "Clever little bastards, aren't you?!", I shouted as another husk, a normal one, dropped down from the hole in the ceiling.

There was a sudden flash of blue light and energy in my vision. Covered in a field of biotic energy, Shepard crashed into the Brute from the side. When the disorientated creature staggered from the impact Shepard's shotgun went up against its neck. The resulting blast severed the head from it completely. The husks that were pouring down charged toward her. She let out a loud cry and slammed her fist into the ground, sending out a wave of biotic energy that plowed through them.

Well, that made her combat specialty fairly clear. Always did enjoy the thrill of a Vanguard.

"Thanks for that, Commander." I scrambled back to the control since we were almost out of time. Finding the Catalyst program wasn't accepting the core alterations I was trying to force I took a different tack; I further isolated the Catalyst, cutting it off from the Citadel's central controls. Behind me my Companions and Commander Shepard had formed a tight half-circle, protecting my back with no room to retreat.

"Doctor, any time," Janias cried out. "We're going to get overwhelmed!"

"Just another minute and I'll have it!", I promised.

Janias' response hinted to a bit of panic. "We don't have a minute!"

"Stand your ground," Shepard ordered. "We hold the line here." She punctuated that with another blast from the shotgun.

With the Catalyst isolated I went to work on making a few changes to the Crucible's firing program and how it interfaced with the Citadel. "No wonder the bloody thing was going to nearly blow apart," I muttered. "These power ratings are just horribly inefficient."

"Doctor, duck!"

I lowered my head just in time for a bolt of energy to go over my head. I heard the sonic disruptor go off and another shriek from a husk. Now other, nastier shrieks were coming from outside. I sighed. This was not the arena for a fight with multiple Banshees. "Come on you bugger!", I growled, making my final adjustments to the Crucible and Citadel programs. I noticed the Catalyst attempt a breach of my isolation firewall and had to divert to sending a reinforcement algorithm.

The sounds of battle were almost on top of me by this point. I heard an "Oof" and felt someone, Camilla given the flash of skin that came to my eye courtesy of an arm, smack against me from an impact. Shepard's pistol barked a moment later.

I remember being angry with myself for taking this long. Here they were, fighting hard to give me time, and I was stretching it out. That I had little choice in the matter didn't lessen the aggravation.

And then my final adjustment confirmed. "There we go!", I crowed. I brought out the sonic and directed it to the physical connections of the nearby computer banks. At a finger press I severed them. "Janias! Cut the lines to this databank, now!" I brought the sonic over and swallowed at seeing the near wave of Reaper husks trying to overwhelm us. With the widest possible disruption setting on, I triggered the screwdriver.

With my cover, Janias switched positions with me and brought her lightsaber down on the physical connections of the computer databank. I heard metal melt and shriek in protest and the crackle of sparks. "It's done!", Janias reported on the fourth slash.

"Alright. Time to get out of here." I reached my hand into my pocket and took the TARDIS remote in my hand. "Everyone stand right beside me!"

"There's no way we fight through...." Janias began, although I felt her heel press up against mine.

I could hear the TARDIS engine start up. "Cami, setting 10 full arc, hold it above your head and fire!"

Cami raised the sonic disruptor and triggered the effect. Powerful waves of energy erupted from the sonic disruptor, temporarily staggering and knocking back the husks surrounding us.

They faded out of view, replaced by the TARDIS control room. I went straight to the controls and triggered the TARDIS to shift out. The door shuddered under impacts for a few seconds and was still. I finished moving the TARDIS to where we needed to go next and, as I did so, played my hand over the comm panel as well.

"You cut it awfully close, Doctor," Shepard remarked, leaning against the control room rail. Fatigue was evident; all of that biotic power display had burned through Shepard's constitution. I suspected that a lesser being would be sprawled on the floor and unable to do more than lift their head. "Got an energy drink or something?"

Janias didn't have to be asked. She fetched a flask from a bag under the controls and handed one to Shepard, keeping one for herself. I recognized it as one of the power drinks we'd picked up on a visit to Layom Station.

"We have just one final thing to do now," I remarked, going to the TARDIS door. When I stepped out this time we were back at the bottom of the Citadel, the Crucible hovering overhead as the fleet battle raged around us. I'd placed the TARDIS on the pathway extending to the beam linking the two structures. It was an input beam to the Crucible's molecular alteration field, that is, the beam that the Catalyst had proposed Shepard jump into for "synthesis".

"How long until they know we're here?", Janias asked.

"Not long," Shepard said. "They already see us."

"But they can't shoot," I remarked. "Not now. When the Crucible linked with the Citadel and altered the Catalyst command program it uploaded to all of the Reapers. They cannot do anything to harm the Crucible." I walked down toward the beam with everyone following me. "They'll have to send husks."

"So what's the last step?", Shepard asked.

I walked up to the end of the pathway and focused on the task at hand. "We give it an input." I thought of what needed to be done and realized what I would have to do. My hearts were beating faster at the prospect. It had to be done this way though.

I took out my sonic screwdriver and handed it to Camilla. "You may need this as well as the sonic disruptor," I explained. "You don't have to worry about settings with this one, it's a better model. Just point and press the main key, the screwdriver will do what you think it needs to."

"Doctor?" Camilla held the screwdriver in her hand and looked me in the eyes. I saw her eyes widen as she realized what I was doing. "Doctor..."

"Go with Janias. Protect her. Let her protect you. Shepard will have your back."

I thought I saw tears form in her eyes. I nodded at her and made myself smile for her benefit. "Go on. A vacation from wacky adventures for a month after this, I promise."

She nodded stiffly and turned away, leading Janias away.

I looked at Shepard. I saw a woman pushed to the brink of exhaustion but who simply refused to quit. Her face and arms were still bloodied from wounds healed by Camilla, a testament to how much she'd suffered already this day.

But she still wouldn't stop.

Is it any wonder that Commander Shepard - the Shepard of any fifth dimensional track, male or female, soldier or engineer or biotic - was so vexing to the Reapers and the likes of the Illusive Man? Shepard was more a force of nature than anything. She did not stop. She did not quit. She kept coming and coming until she prevailed.

I remember the sheer awe and admiration I felt for Commander Shepard at that moment. "It's been an honor, Commander," I said. "Whatever happens, I want you to know that." Since I didn't know what would happen next I felt compelled to say such to her.

That earned me a nod and the briefest of smiles. "Not so bad yourself, Doctor. I hope you know how to finish this."

"I do." I sighed. "So much has been given for this victory. So many sacrifices. And this will be the victory everyone has earned, there's no doubt about that. But there has to be one last sacrifice."

I felt my throat tighten with anticipation. I took in another breath and tried to control my hearts.

Shepard's face tightened only slightly. "Tell me what I have to do, Doctor. Anything."

"I knew you'd be up for it," I said. "Can I see that pistol you picked up?"

Shepard reached to her belt and brought up the pistol. It was a Carnifex, I recalled. She held it out toward me, holding it by the barrel. Instead of taking the handle I put my hand on the barrel as well and rotated it around so that Shepard's hand took the handle and trigger guard.

With my hand firmly on the barrel, I brought the other hand up. And I proceeded to press the barrel against my chest, right near the lung and right heart.

"Shoot me," I said.

Surprise flashed over Shepard's face. I fought down an instinct to change my mind, to find another way... but there was no other way.

"Doctor, what are you..."

"Shoot me," I insisted.

Her mouth hung open in surprise.

"We're running out of time, Shepard. It has to be done this way. I wish it didn't, oh I wish it didn't..." I swallowed, knowing tears of anticipation were already in my eyes. "But it's for the best. This is for your whole galaxy."

Shepard swallowed. I knew this was hard. It was one thing to shoot a foe but here I was, asking her to shoot me in the torso, somewhere that would be dangerous, maybe fatal.

"Please." Now I was begging.

I heard the thundercrack before I felt the pain. The Carnifex's round went right through my chest and out my back where, I was certain, it created a geyser of my blood from the exit wound. Pain exploded through my chest from where the round had torn my flesh and the edge of my lung. I let out an involuntary cry and stumbled onto one knee, slumping against Shepard.

The gunshot had prompted Janias and Camilla to turn. The former looked at me with horror and reached for her lightsaber. Before she could draw it Camilla took her hand and shook her head. I saw Janias' expression change as it was explained to her.

I clamped down on the pain as much as I could and regained my footing. With my right hand still on the barrel I moved it down and over a bit, this time into my gut. "Again," I wheezed.

"Doctor?!"

"I'm already bloody well shot, Commander, please see this through!", I cried, tears of agony forming in my eyes.

She nodded grimly and pulled the trigger once more. I let out a louder cry and slumped to my knees. Blood poured down below me. I forced myself to focus on what I was doing. The wounds were definitely dangerous but not yet fatal. I couldn't afford to trust bleeding enough. I had to make sure.

With every bit of energy I could must, I forced myself back to my feet and moved the barrel over to the left side of my chest, this time avoiding my lung entirely but getting the edge of my left heart. I felt my knees quiver. Even my Time Lord physiology couldn't take this much damage without faltering. I didn't have much time before I'd fall over. "One last shot, Commander."

"How is this supposed to work?", she asked me, her voice hoarse.

"Trust me. It's... it's something Time Lords can do, but the only way I know how to do it is to be dying." I winked at her despite the pain. "One last shot. And hurry." On the edge of my hearing I could sense the approach of the flaming "meteor" containers that the Reapers threw their husks about in.

I tried to steel myself, but it was no good. That monstrous Carnifex ripped another bloody chunk out of my torso and sent me falling onto all fours. Blood poured liberally from my chest and back (ruining my suit too... beyond the bullet holes anyway).

"That... should be enough," I gasped.

There was a rumble and small explosion nearby. The Reaper husks were starting to land.

"Please... help my friends," I said. "I'll just need a few minutes, I think."

Shepard nodded at me and put the pistol back on her belt. She turned and retrieved the shotgun from the small of her back. Already the first husks were rushing in. And here there was no cover from their blasts and only so much Janias could deflect with her lightsaber.

Blue energy formed around Shepard's body and she was suddenly racing forward, smashing into a husk reaching for Camilla and throwing it back into its fellows. Her shotgun barked and sent all of them flying.

I used my left arm to prop myself as my right hand instinctively went to my mangled guts. My body had endured too much damage from the pistol to heal on its own. This meant I had to stay awake to do what I needed to do. I kept an eye on the battle as best as I could while making sure I was in range of the input beam for the Crucible. This time I could actually see them fight... and it was hauntingly beautiful. Janias and Camilla were acting as if they were one mind as they supported each other, Camilla's use of my sonic devices coming in easy tandem with Janias' wielding of her lightsaber.

And then there was Shepard. Husk after husk challenged Shepard; all failed. Blasts were dodged or absorbed by biotic barrier. After every few moments Shepard's biotics would flare up and a husk (or four) would go flying, the others being cut down by her shotgun. It was like watching a modern goddess of war in action.

"And it will all be for nothing."

The voice made me turn. A cephalopod of great infamy to me coalesced as a communicative hologram in orange outline. "Harbinger," I rasped, forcing myself to a knee and doing my best to ignore the pain of my mutilated torso. "Hello. We haven't been... formally introduced. I am..."

"...you are nothing," the Reaper interrupted. "An annoyance. The cycles will not end."

"I... beg to differ."

"You will not defeat perfection, nameless thing. You cannot."

"Oh, yap yap yap... you lot... love hearing yourselves... talk," I replied. I looked back briefly. More husks were coming in. And I wasn't ready yet.

"Watch your friends fall."

[MEDIA=youtube]6m-vRZnUFxg[/MEDIA]

He would be right if things continued this way. More and more husks... Shepard and my Companions were fighting like nothing I'd seen before and I knew they would still be overwhelmed shortly.

And then I heard the roar of a familiar engine and smiled. Looking up I saw a sleek shape of white and blue move around the Crucible and come in from the right side. I looked up and saw the ship hover low over the platforms, placed in a tight spot certainly but held in place by a master's skill.

The side of the vessel read Normandy.

The cargo hatch at the bottom of the ship opened. From the distance I saw multiple figures run up to the end of the cargo ramp and raise weapons. Weapons fire erupted from the assembled, tearing into the flank of the growing horde of husks. I saw a couple of figures jump down and bursts of biotic energy going everywhere.

A voice shouted, "There you are! They said you were trying to win the war by yourself! Not leaving anything for your old buddy Wrex, Shepard?!"

"You can have as many as you want, Wrex" I heard Shepard reply sarcastically.

The response was an enthusiastic laugh.

I watched the arrival of the Normandy crew and Shepard's allies turn the tide of the battle with glee. I smirked and looked back at Harbinger. "So much for that... eh? Turns out... we've got plenty of... friends." I got to my knees, feeling fortunate I was wearing shoes that weren't susceptible to slipping. "So much arrogance... so much..." I took a pained breath. "So much contempt... for us. You've lost... your way. You were made... to preserve life."

"That is what we do. We perfect life."

"No... it isn't! You put it... it... in a bloody jar! And then... you enslave it... to your programming!" I found enough energy to be vehement in that. "The things I've seen, Harbinger. Oh... the things... I have seen synthetic and... organic life co-exist... peacefully."

"It does not always do so. Conflict inevitably occurs."

"Oh, in the long... run... maybe... but that's true of... everything." I felt woozy. I didn't like that. I didn't want to feel that. I had to be conscious. "I'd pity you... if not for the... horrors you've done."

"Your pity is irrelevant. You are nothing. You are a being without a past or a future. I offer you perfection and you throw it away."

"I don't want... your 'perfection', Harbinger," I gasped in retort. Worry was building inside of me now. With how badly I was hurt... would it come too late? Would I fall unconscious before it came? Would this all be a waste?

"What else can you have? Your mind has been turned against you. You are a nobody now. You lack even a name. And your future will be nothing but suffering."

I swallowed. Clearly Harbinger had taken quite a bit from our earlier mental brush. I felt irritation and anger rile within me.

His words hit home. I had lost everything I once was. It was all locked away in my mind and I might never get it back. I was going to be like this forever, it seemed. Always traveling, always trying to stay one step ahead of various monstrous things I ran into. My future was full of falling off of skyscrapers and the like.

Assuming I survived this.

As I drew in a breath, I felt the first tingling on my insides. A distantly familiar sensation of pins and needles built up within my torso.

I cracked a smile.

[MEDIA=youtube]SKsOr9YdiXM[/MEDIA]

"You're wrong," I answered, bringing one leg up to plant my foot on the floor. "I may have... lost my memories... but I've still got something."

"Your struggling..."

"I am talking!," I shouted, a mistake perhaps given my shortness of breath. I forced my breath to steady so I could speak clearly. "I've lost my old name and life, yeah. But I've still got something." I had to suck in a deep breath. I felt the pins and needles start to move into my shoulders. "I've got my Companions. I've got my TARDIS. I've got all of the friends and comrades I've made in my travels. And you know what... else?!" I forced in another breath even as the energy within me swelled. "I don't know who I was, but I know what I've become! I know what I am now!" I focused my eyes on Harbinger.

He said nothing, so I continued.

"I'm not cruel. I'm not a coward. I never give in and I never. give. up."

I let a smirk come to my face as, finally, I forced myself to stand. I almost stumbled but I caught myself. It still hurt like hell but the pain was having to duel with the tingling feeling reaching my hands.

"In short, Harbinger...." I looked down at my right hand and saw golden particles of light starting to gather around it.

I looked back to Harbinger. A triumphant smile crossed my face, which probably looked odd given the fatal gunshot wounds oozing blood all over.

"I. Am. THE DOCTOR!"

My timing was perfect. As soon as I finished saying that the light erupted around my neck and along my arms. I was regenerating.

When I had regenerated before, it had come as a shock and I hadn't been prepared for it. This time... I was. It was distracting as hell but I would not let myself get so distracted as to screw ths up. I gathered my will and pushed my hands forward.

And with a great effort, I pushed the regeneration energy away from me.

The golden particles of light formed two broad streams that quickly shot from my hands and into the input beam for the Crucible. I forced every erg, every particle, of energy my body was producing into that beam. Not a bit was to be wasted.

I don't remember how many seconds it lasted before the feeling of pins and needles left my body. I toppled over onto all fours again, exhausted. I looked up to Harbinger and smiled.

"What have you done?", the ancient machine demanded.

"Option Number 4." My smile remained solid. "We'll call it... the Gold Ending."

Golden light gathered around the Crucible, becoming so bright as to blind. I imagined Admiral Hackett would already be ordering his ships to withdraw to a safe distance.

It wouldn't be necessary.

My patches to the Crucible altered the energy transmission so that it didn't interfere with mass effect technology the way it would have before. It wasn't a big fix; anyone could've done it if they'd known it needed to be done. This is what happens when every fifty thousand years a new and desperate civilization tries to add to a design, really.

I reached down and pressed my hand to one of my wounds. My hands were already stained with my blood. But my hand felt fresh blood oozing out.

I hadn't held onto enough regeneration energy. My wounds were still bleeding, still very serious.

I had to laugh. All of that and I might still bleed out. I felt a strange mixture of fear and contentment at the prospect.

A wave of golden light and particles erupted from the Crucible at that moment. It almost immediately passed through us. I honestly think it might have been the only reason I survived; that the last burst of regeneration energy healed my wounds further to make them only critical rather than mortal.

Of more importance to me is what I was watching happen as the wave swept over the remaining husks. I watched the golden light permeate every part of the husks. They toppled over, no longer a threat, and Shepard's crew quickly ceased fire. The golden light filled the husks as they writhed on the ground.

When it receded, there were no husks; just the (unfortunately nude) bodies of every form of sentient species to be reduced to husks. They flailed about weakly, but they were alive.

"It worked," I mumbled to myself. I suppose... well, I suppose I wasn't sure it'd work that well.

I could only imagine the scene down on the planet as the Crucible's energy wave, laden with the healing power of a Time Lord's regeneration energy, reverted the Reapers' husk victims back to normal. The brains of the indoctrinated would likewise be restored to normal, or so I was certain.

As for the Reapers themselves... the wave wasn't just regeneration energy. It was software coding as well. A command that would pierce the Reapers' coding, forcing their command systems to self-delete and turn their bodies over to the DNA goop that operated each. Each Reaper would truly be a nation. With the main weapons disabled as a "just in case" measure, of course.

The Crucible began shifting, the arms spreading out to turn the entire station into a transmission dish aimed at the Charon Relay. The energy and coding I had put in the Crucible would be transmitted to every mass relay in the galaxy, forming similar waves of energy that would touch every Reaper, every husk, in the galaxy.

Or so I planned. I didn't get to see right then how much of the plan worked. Given I was bleeding to death and all, I fell over onto my side. I was so weak I couldn't move. The last thing I heard was Camilla shouting, "Doctor!", before everything went black.




I awoke in considerably less pain and with quite a lot of light around me. My bloodied suit had been replaced by a humanoid hospital gown, you know the kind. Apparently even in the future you had to wear stuff that let your arse hang out.

After staring at the ceiling for a bit I sat up and looked about. Through a window I could see out into the brightly lit Presidium of the Citadel. The other direction showed me I was in Huerta Memorial.

I tested trying to sit up and found that I could do so with only some stiffness and pain. Sitting up brought me the sight of Janias and Camilla in a couple of chairs pushed together, the latter cuddled up to the former and both sound asleep.

The glass door opened and an older woman stepped up. "Well, I see you've recovered." she said, her accent similar to my own. "Doctor....?"

"Just the Doctor," I answered. "Doctor Chakwas, I presume?"

"Yes." Chakwas held up a notepad of sorts. "You had healed remarkably well when I got to you. Given what Commander Shepard told me, you should have been dead from those wounds instead of only near-dead."

"That was the point of what I needed to do. Doctor, please, what is known about the galaxy at large? Did the Crucible work?"

"We're still getting reports from outlying worlds and sectors," Chakwas noted. "But the story seems to be the same. The Mass Relays gave off a burst of energy that restored the Reapers' husks to normal. The Reapers themselves ceased attacks immediately and flew into space. Nobody knows what they're up to."

"A rather complex debate, I think."

"So, what did you do to them, Doctor?", Chakwas asked.

"I freed the organic components from the machine control," I replied. "My regeneration energy would have been sufficient to restore intelligence to the same, much as they restored husks to living beings."

"And that's why Shepard had to shoot you?"

"Oh yes. I'm not so skilled at this yet, to use regeneration energy I needed to actually regenerate. Which means I had to be dying." I ran a hand along the wound I'd taken to the belly. "May I have a spot to eat and drink? I'm famished. Even if it is hospital food."

That brought a smirk to Chakwas' face. "I'll get something together for you."




After a hearty meal - surprisingly hearty given the reputation of hospital food - my Companions stirred from their nap. Camilla gave me the warmest hug yet (seriously, I hadn't been hugged so tightly since I was with Abby Sciuto). Janias, meanwhile, gave me a mean slap to the cheek. "Ow!" Before I could further protest she hugged me as well. "You are crazy, young lady."

"So says the man who had himself shot to death," Janias retorted. I could hear the happy sob in her throat. "Don't ever do that again."

"I hope I won't have to." I put my arms around each. I felt tears of my own. These young ladies were everything I had in the world (so to speak). We'd seen so much together, been through so much, and I trusted them like nothing else. I could sense the feeling was mutual.

They filled me in on the aftermath. The Citadel was functioning once more. C-Sec had the Catalyst's physical core locked away deep in a hole. The transport beam was being used to send personnel and supplies as needed between Earth and the Citadel while Hackett's allied fleet was spreading out across the galaxy, investigating conditions.

I knew that the aftermath was likely to be long and terrible, what with the entire galaxy requiring rebuilding. But they had a chance now. Lives could be rebuilt, cities recovered from the ruins. That was what mattered.

I tested my ability to walk by getting out of the bed. I still had some pain but it was not too severe. A Human nurse was at my side by the time I reached the door. "Sir, you shouldn't be out of bed."

"One of the benefits of Time Lord phyisology, young lady, is that we're very robust." I winked at her. "So, I take it Commander Shepard is being kept in a room?"

"Two rooms down," Janias answered, pointing in that direction. Two Normandy crewmembers were flanking the door.

"Do they really think Shepard needs guards?", I asked.

"They're not to keep people out, Doctor." I turned my head and faced Chakwas walking up. "They're to keep the Commander in." She looked over me. "Clearly I should have arranged the same for you."

"Time Lord physiology, Doctor Chakwas," I answered. "So how is the Commander?"

"Fractured bones, torn muscles, and internal damage. That medi-gel boost you gave her might have put the Commander back on her feet, but it didn't heal all of the damage." Chakwas took me by the arm. "Come along, Doctor. At this rate of recovery you should be fine to walk around tomorrow."

"Fine, fine," I sighed. "But only if there's something good on the telly."

"I'm sure you'll find something to amuse you." Chakwas went on to Shepard's room.

"I'm curious about this 'Blasto' everyone talks about," Janias said.

"Oh dear, that one," I sighed. "I'd rather endure Fleet and Flotilla if I'm to be subjected to the intolerable."

"And what's that one about?", Camilla asked.

"Oh, you'd like it," I said. "It's an interspecies romance vid."

"I think I know what we're watching," Janias giggled. "Time for Blasto."

I made a face as I returned to the bed, refusing all temptation to find a way to summon the TARDIS as I did so.




After an almost unendurable night of being subjected to an entire marathon of Blasto vids, Doctor Chakwas was good to her word. The next day I was recovered so well that I was outright discharged.

I found Commander Shepard still laid up in the hospital bed. "Can you believe it?", she asked me. "I save the galaxy and they take me prisoner."

"Yes, I'm rather familiar with Doctor Chakwas' love of confinement," I responded. "They only let me out this morning."

"For someone I shot three times, you're looking good."

"Time Lord physiology. And a bit of regeneration healing." I smirked and looked back. "How does it feel being the savior of galactic civilization?"

For several moments there was no response. "I don't know," she finally said. "I don't feel anything about it. I don't think I expected to be alive to see this. There were times I didn't think we would win."

"Well, given the odds, you are excused some skepticism," I remarked. "I suppose there is something to feeling numb after everything. A bit of shock, perhaps. And realizing how much work is still left."

"Yeah, well, I'm a soldier, not an administrator, and that's what we need for the rebuilding." I noticed a look come over her face. "So, what is it like being the savior of the galaxy?"

I noticed the look in her eyes and shook her head. "I don't think I deserve that credit, Commander."

"Why not? You saved it as much as I did."

"No, I didn't," I answered. "I'm the Johnny-come-late who showed up for the final round. You're the one who did all of the fighting to get us to that point. I just helped you cross the finish line."

Shepard sat up in the bed. "Yeah. But without you, I'd have made some decision that played into the Catalyst's hand."

"You did all you could. And to be fair when I don't want to be, it was being honest about that. The fact you actually beat it, that you hooked the Crucible up to the Citadel, threw the thing for a loop. It was being sincere in offering you an alternative, but it couldn't bring itself to accept an alternative that didn't fit with its programming. I wonder..." I took in a breath. "What must that have been like? To have everything you've done, everything you've thought, thrown into question like that after a billion years? What doubts that thing must have felt. Maybe we should pity the blasted thing."

"I won't," Shepard said. "I'm saving my grief for Admiral Anderson."

"Yeah." I nodded and looked down. "I had hoped to get enough medi-gel to save him as well. But it didn't happen."

"Could you?", Shepard asked. "Could you go back and save him?"

"His remains were already recovered." I shook my head. "Paradox. Even without it, the quantum instability of that timeframe could throw the TARDIS for a loop or cause everything to change. We'd undo everything we succeeded in doing."

"Yeah, that's what I thought you'd say." Shepard laid back in the bed. "So, Doc, what's next? How long are you staying?"

"Probably a bit, take some time to heal. I promised the girls a month of vacation time and I don't see why some of it can't be spent here on the Citadel. Life goes on, after all."

"Well, so long as you're staying for a while..." A smile came to Shepard's face. "You're invited to the victory party."

"Ah, a party?" I smiled back. "Do tell, Commander."

Before she could, the door opened and admitted Commander Bailey with a protesting Chakwas following. "Commander. Doctor." Bailey nodded to both of us. "The Council wants to see you both. Immediately."

"That doesn't sound good," I answered. "What is it?"

"One of the Reapers came back."




After finding a mass effect-using hoverchair for Shepard to be taken in, we made our way to the Citadel Tower and the Council Chambers there. There was only light damage to the place and the Council was together. There was no Human Councilor, of course, but Admiral Hackett was effectively the Roman-style dictator of Earth for the moment and he was there as well, standing with the others.

Above them, in the place that was ironically held by Saren when he defended himself before the Council after Eden Prime, was the likeness of a quadripedal alien that seemed almost centaur-like in its form. Mottled yellow and blue flesh, four arms on the torso part of its body, and with narrow turquoise eyes, it was like nothing the galaxy had seen in a long while. "We were once known as Lightbringer," the being announced. "But we again assert our true name as the Y'lyaia. We existed as an independent species one thousand and sixty-four cycles ago."

"That's a very specific number," I noted. "I'm sorry it took this long to break the Reaper hold on you."

"Your apologies are unnecessary."

"Why did you come back to Earth?", Hackett asked.

"To speak to you on what has been discussed by those races that were once part of what you call the Reapers. I have come to inform you that many of the races have decided to depart. They are storing energy for an exodus to other galaxys in search of worlds to repopulate their species on."

That prompted a question from Councilor Valern, the Salarian representative. "You have such technology?"

"Several races amongst us mastered the art of cloning, and others the ability to transfer neurological patterns. It will take time, but when suitable worlds are found our races can be restored."

Immediately I sensed the wariness in the room. There was enough competition for worlds among the existing races of this cycle; the prospect of having dozens, maybe hundreds, of species looking for new homeworlds would only add to that trouble. I decided to speak first on the subject. "And those races that remain will seek garden planets in this galaxy to inhabit."

"Yes. It is not our intention to take worlds you need, however, we only ask for our homeworlds. It will be many solar cycles before we can even settle such fully, we will not seek other worlds until then." The being put its two upper hands together. "We wish to aid you as we can. We will help you locate dormant mass relays that will deliver you to the worlds with resources you need for rebuilding."

"And what is it you wish in exchange?", the Asari Councilor asked.

"Nothing. Your cycle has broken the cycles. We owe our freedom to you and wish co-existance. In all things, we will act in the spirit of our liberators; Commander Shepard and the being called the Doctor."

Disbelieving looks were on some faces. Shepard took charge this time. "You're welcome to stand with us," she said. "That's what the Citadel Council is for."

"I couldn't put it better myself." I eyed the Councilors, all of whom were nodding in agreement, if not wholeheatedly so.

"We will gladly do so. May this new galaxy never know the fear of the Old Machines again."




When the meeting was over we stood in the elevator going down - save for Shepard, who was still in the hoverchair - and contemplated things. "People are going to be scared for a long time about them," Shepard pointed out.

"Which is why they are heading into the unclaimed regions," I said, agreeing in the process. "It's best this way. And in the long run... the galaxy will be a more vibrant place."

"Crowded."

"True. But as time marches on, solutions will be found. That's what sentient life does. It adapts as best as its capabilities permits."

"And what about your solution?" Shepard looked up at me. "Janias said your regenerations were limited."

"Yes." I nodded. "The typical number if twelve. I'm not yet certain if the one that turned me into a Time Lord counted."

"But even if it didn't, you used one for this. How many years did that cost you?"

"Hrm. I'm not entirely sure. At maximum... a thousand, give or take a century," I replied.

Shepard stared. "You're telling me that you'll live that long?"

"Theoretically. Won't know until I find out."

"And you gave up one of your lives to use the Crucible."

"Yes. Nothing too heroic about that compared to others. I'm still here to talk about it when no one else would be."

"You still took the risk. Thank you."

"Thank you, Commander Shepard, for giving me the opportunity," I answered.

"I don't think I've had anyone thank me for shooting them before," Shepard said. "So, any plans?"

"Enjoy myself for a few days in the hot tub," I answered. "See the sights on the Citadel."

"Just keep your comms open. As soon as I get out of Chakwas' prison, we start planning the party."

"Oh, do tell..."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2017-01-03 08:58am

In the following days we remained mostly on the Citadel, although I took a few trips out of the cosmos for some party supplies. Shepard's recovery took long enough as it was and Chakwas, being the proper physician, presented every obstacle to our party plans until she judged Shepard recovered sufficiently.

And so that appointed night came. I had a new suit; navy blue jacket as before, but with a slightly darker blue dress shirt and a light blue vest over it. It looked a bit more posh, but I still defiantly refused any ties. Not even a bowtie. Janias and Camilla had come wearing Coruscanti fashions from two hundred years pre-Palpatine, nice enough dresses with a toga-like bared left shoulder.

The TARDIS appeared between the front door of Shepard's posh apartment - the one granted her from Anderson - and the piano at the corner of the living room. I stepped out to find the guests already arriving. "Well hello there," I said very loudly. "I hope I'm not too late!"

"So that's the crazy guy who made you shoot him," I heard Garrus say from the door.

A laugh came from Jack. "Yeah, that took a pair of balls."

Shepard was rather plainly dressed, wearing the basic duty uniform of the Systems Alliance service. It was evident that the three of us were a bit overdressed. Not that there was anything wrong with that. A party was a party.

We exchanged handshakes. "Well, Doc, enjoy the Citadel so far?"

"Yes, a rather interesting place. Granted, we should have been careful around Chora's Den."

"That explains the shootout down there," Garrus said. "And the Krogan and Salarian with missing arms."

I tilted my head to my left. "That would be Janias. She's quick with that lightsaber. But I won't bore you with further details, my good Mister Vakarian. Tonight I bring gifts."

I reached into the TARDIS and pulled out several containers. "Okay, we have some fine Centauri brevari, courtesy of Emperor Vir. Swell chap that man. And 2309 vintage Klingon Bloodwine. Chancellor Martok owed me a favor, Klingons are big on debts of honor you know."

That elicited an interested grunt from, well, Grunt. "'Bloodwine' you say?", he asked. "So does it have actual blood in it?"

I had to think. "I... well, it's Klingon, I would imagine so. These are people who consider chewing on live serpent worms to be a delicacy. Watch out, it's very intoxicating... well, for Human baseline."

"So I'll be shocked if it gives us a slight buzz." This was from Wrex, drawn to the conversation.

"Well, that is why..." I grunted as I pulled another keg out and set it on the floor. "The Terarians, so advanced they found a way to make a liquid tesseract. And so we have this, Tesseract beer, one hundred and sixty percent concentrated alcohol. It should kick like ryncol just, well, without the radiation."

"But the radiation's the best part," Wrex protested. "Oh, what the hell, I'll try it."

"Doctor, if they end up puking all over my apartment, I'm making you do the cleanup," Shepard announced.

"Tough but fair. So..." I smiled. "Might I ask if we shall have dancing tonight?"

"Oh no," Camilla muttered. "Doctor, you know you can't dance."

"I think that's rather in the eye of the beholder..."

"Constable Odo threatened to arrest you because you were so bad!"

"He was joking," I insisted. "Mostly," I added rather quickly.

A voice with a slight electronic edge to it spoke up next. "It'll be fine. Shepard can't dance either."

"Tali!", Shepard protested.

"A dance-off it is, then." I winked. "I will introduce you all to the classics. The drunken giraffe, for instance."

With a smile on her face, Janias let out an exasperated sigh. "This is why we brought the booze. You'll need it if you watch him dance."

"Oi!", I laughed in protest.

It was a fun night. There was story-telling. There was drinking. There was dancing (and much teasing and joking about it). Grunt drank too much bloodwine and tesseract beer and spent all night in the shower. Garrus and Zaeed Massani almost blew us all to kingdom come. Altogether, it was a night of merriment and joy. I shan't forget it.




The following morning, with everyone about to be introduced to Lieutenant Vega's cooking (the chap makes a good cook I must say), I stood at the window looking out on the Silversun Strip below. I turned to see Camilla walk up, squinting a bit. "A fun night, I gather?"

"I think. Having trouble remembering all of it," Camilla admitted.

"Really? You seemed fairly alert when you and Janias brought Specialist Traynor along to the..."

"Not a word," Camilla begged, her face blushing fiercely. "Please."

I let out a laugh. "Oh don't worry. We helped save a galaxy. Celebrations like that are earned."

"Yeah." Camilla put a hand on my arm. "I'm sorry you had to lose a life to do this."

"Don't be. It was worth it," I replied. "In more than one way."

"Oh?"

"My old identity is entirely gone," I reminded her. "So I've got this one instead. And I think I can say I've earned it. If I were to ever meet the Doctor I could tell him about this and be vindicated for using his name."

"I would say the same," Camila agreed. "Just... is it going to be like this all of the time now?"

"Oh, it shouldn't. We can't save galaxies every day." I winked. "Just once a month."

"Oh, don't even think of it..." Camilla laughed. "Although I like this glow about you now."

"Glow?", I asked.

"Yes. I mean... before you had so much sadness about losing your memories. Now it feels like you've gotten better. You look fitter. Bolder." She smirked and said a line I shall never forget. "I look at you and say 'Now here I see a Time Lord Triumphant'."

I had the decency to wince a little. "Oh, that's a bit much."

"Maybe, but right now it's true. It looks good on you. Just so long as it doesn't go to your head. Otherwise Janias will punch you again."

"I would hope so," I said. "I would sorely hope so."

Unfortunately, when the time came, that wouldn't happen.

Our conversation was interrupted by Vega's voice, booming from the kitchen. "Hey, Cami, Doc, you up for some eggs?!"

"Indeed we are. Jimmy my lad," I called back. "I hope you made good use of that curry..."




After the festivities were done and goodbyes were said and cleanup duty completed, we were ready to return to the TARDIS. Liara stayed long enough to see us off beside Shepard. "I can't imagine how many places you could see in this," she said, having already seen the "bigger on the inside" partof the TARDIS. "I'd love to find out."

"I'm sure you would," I said. "Take care of yourself, Doctor T'Soni. Try to keep an eye on this work-a-holic over here." I pointed to Shepard.

"Oh, no need for that," Shepard said. "I'm on medical leave. It'll be a while before I'm in action again."

"Hopefully with a less dangerous job," Liara stated.

"Yes." I extended a hand to Shepard. "Commander, once again... it has been an honor and a privilege."

"Same here." Shepard accepted my hand. Take care of yourself out there, Doctor. I'll be glad to have you back around whenever you want to visit."

"I may hold you to that." I winked at her and nodded to Liara. "And I may see you around somewhere, Doctor T'Soni."

"I'm looking forward to it."

I nodded and stepped into the TARDIS. The girls were waiting for me at the controls. "It's been only one week," Janias remarked. "You owe us three weeks of no crazyness."

"Are you sure? It might get boring." Seeing Janias' look I nodded. "Oh very well. No crazyness. Absolutely, stultifying boredom, huh?"

"Yes!"

"Assuming the TARDIS cooperates, anyway..."

"Doctor!"

"Okay, okay!" I smirked and shook my head. "I'll find us somewhere quiet." I entered the coordinates for a scenic locale and put my hand on the TARDIS control. "If this were more exciting, I'd say 'Tally ho!'. But since we're going to Boringness... off we go!" I yanked back on the lever.

And so we went off for our remaining three weeks of vacation. It became five when the TARDIS refused to cooperate and the girls demanded I make good my pledges on extending the vacation time. It was relaxing, if lacking in stimulation often, and a good completion to my recovery from the events on the Citadel.

Had I known what was to come, I would have treasured it more.

Undoubtedly my actions on the Citadel were one of the defining, glorious moments of my life. But even great victories can have seeds of disaster within. I had tasted triumph like I'd never known... and I would want more. My ambition to do more was kindled. And it would make itself known.

The first part of my story is over.

The time of the Time Lord Triumphant has come.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2017-01-04 09:25am

Episode 9 - When it Rains, it Pours

There are times where my luck is truly horrid.

It wasn't long after my mandated vacation following the end of the Reapers that the girls and I found ourselves in lovely Melbourne, in the south of Australia, on some random early 21st Century Earth.

"So... these cars don't run on power cells," Camilla asked as we walked past a road with vehicles streaming by. "They run by burning things?"

"Oil Petrol. Petroleum, actually," I answered. "It's essentially ancient dead things turned into this oily black fluid. They burn it for energy, in the case of the cars, to compress pistons that transfer the power to motive force. That's the sum of it anyway."

"And the pipes on the vehicles are for the waste gases?"

"Oh yes. Unfortunately, it took Humanity a while to figure out that when you've got thousands of the bloody things running in a small area, those gases build up, and you get something called smog. Rather nasty stuff. Oh, they found ways to reduce the effect, but until they switch to hydrogen-burners and electric battery motors it's going to be an issue."

Our lovely conversation about fossil fuels might have continued if I hadn't heard my sonic screwdriver suddenly let out a faint beep. I pulled it out. "Doctor?", Janias asked cautiously.

"Well well well, what do we have here?" I surveyed the reading. "Some form of temporal energy signature, and not from the TARDIS. That is completely unexpected."

"Could there be some advanced technology around?"

"I'm not sure, Cami." I shook my head slightly. "But I do know we need to investigate it. It shouldn't be here. Come along."

We walked through streets and by a posh looking convention hotel. As we walked across the back of the building along the loading dock the signal increased. "What have we here? It's moving." I picked up the pace, as did the girls. We emerged from the other side of the docking facility and began to jog down the street, my sonic's purple light blipping ever faster as we made progress.

We found ourselves entering an alleyway before the light went solid. I heard wheezing and looked up to see a figure in red leaning against the wall, catching his breath. When I pointed the sonic at him the readings came back positive. "Now that's not right, not right at all," I muttered. I stepped up toward the figure just as he looked up, getting a good look at him. Brownish hair, scruffy looking, rather skinny.

I had been about to comment on his rather out-of-place get-up for 200X-something Australia, the red robe and all, when my eyes focused on the hat on his head. Red as the robes, but there was something familiar with the way it was pointed. And then I read the gold letters on the hat.

At that point, I knew my day had just gotten enormously, terribly complicated, and that my luck was going to turn bad.

"I don't...", I started to say, but all I could do was stutter a moment as the man looked at me with fearful, forlorn eyes and the posture of a man who was always ready to run for his life. Which, given what I knew of his identity, was completely expected.

The letters on the hat? W-I-Z-Z-A-R-D.

"Rincewind?!", I spluttered. "Of all the... you? You're the source of the temporal energy?! How..."

Camilla stepped up between us and looked at him, then at me. "Doctor, what is it? Who is this man?"

"He's the worst wizard and perhaps the most unlucky individual in all of the six dimensions," I muttered. "And I think our day has just become tremendously more complicated."





I looked down at Rincewind and ran through the possibilities in my head, wondering how Rincewind had wound up here. Because, well....

The Multiverse can be a strange place, okay? That includes the Discworld. It's a disc-shaped planet that moves through space on the backs of four massive space elephants who are, in turn, standing atop the shell of a massive space turtle called the Great A'Tuin. It even has its own sun and moon that rotate around the disc.

What I was trying to figure out was how Rincewind had wound up on "Roundworld", as the Disc's wizards called it.

He had a very forlorn look on his face. I sighed and added, "Calling him the worst is a tad unfair, he's saved his world a couple of times."

"And who are you?", Rincewind asked. He seemed very... well, very depressed. And not the usual Rincewind style of melancholy. He looked like a man who'd just had what little he'd believed in yanked out from under him.

"Me? I'm the Doctor. These are my companions, Janias and Camilla." I crossed my arms. "So, you're rather lost, aren't you?"

"I'm not just lost, I'm fictional," Rincewind answered. He held up a book. I took it and saw that it was, well, one of the Discworld novels with him in it. "All made up by some bastard named..."

"Pratchett," I answered. "Clever bloke, very witty. Big fan myself." I looked to the girls before returning my attentions to the lost wizard. "Okay, it looks like it's time for some invoking of sixth dimensional spacey-wacey science. You're not fictional. Sir Terry simply... well.... it's very complicated and it involves power of mortal thought and...." I felt a blank expression cross my face as my mind failed to grasp the mechanisms involved here. "I'm not sure how it works. But you're not just fictional. Frankly, everyone is probably fictional to someone out in six-dimensional space."

The thought that this applied to me as well crossed my mind. I decided that if it was true, I had a few complaints to issue to my author about things.

Seeing that what I was saying had little effect on Rincewind, I clapped my hands together. "Well, I have always fancied a trip to the Disc. How about I take you back to Ankh-Morpork?"

Curiosity showed on that gaunt face. "How would you do that, huh? Are you a wizard too or something?"

"Something like that." I held out my remote control and materialized the TARDIS beside us. "She's a ship. She can travel through six dimensions of space-time," I explained to him. "I'm a little curious about how she'll handle the Disc's quantum wibbly-wobbly field."

I opened the door and we entered. Well, not all of us. Rincewind stood at the threshold and looked in with great fear and trepidation. "Well, come along Rincewind," I said politely.

"It's... you know, I'm not.... I just know there's something horrible in here that will try to eat me or possess me or something."

"Not in this case," I assured him. "My TARDIS is very friendly and chipper. You'll be... reasonably safe."

Rincewind didn't move.

I sighed and leaned against the rail. "Well, if you want to stay here, I mean, trying to fit in on 21st Century Earth with automobiles and the Internet and all of that is going to be pretty exciting, a regular adventure. Surely more enjoyable than going back to tired old Ankh-Morpork and that suffocating boredom at the Unseen University, I could see why you'd choose to stay..."

It was rather impressive how quickly Rincewind stepped in and went to the controls.

I closed the door. "Well, now that we've settled that... off we go to the Disc. First things first." I brought out my sonic and scanned Rincewind with it.

"What is...."

"Sonic screwdriver. Mostly harmless. Mostly." I felt it appropriate to not make things seem too safe. Rincewind wouldn't believe it. Better for him to think it was just potentially unsafe. "I'm getting a sample of the temporal energy permeating your body. It'll let me bring you back to the moment you fell through into this Earth."

"As long as it's not where."

"Oh?"

"I was being chased," he clarified.

That got him a blank look from me, my way of pointing out that "being chased" didn't necessarily narrow down the possibilities. "Was it in Ankh-Morpork?", I asked simply.

"Oh, no."

"Then I think you'll be fine." I patted him on the shoulder and fed the temporal energy signature into the TARDIS. ?"Just a few adjustments and...." I pulled the lever.

A couple of seconds passed and the TARDIS lurched heavily under us. We all went flying. Rincewind screamed.

I struggled back to the controls as the lurching subsided. "Well, we materialized," I announced. "I'm just not sure why the ride was so bumpy."

"it always gets bumpy when things are about to go crazy," Janias complained.

Rincewind stepped up gingerly to the door. With a final sigh of resignation he opened it. Outside I could see the cloudy skies and cobble-stoned streets I'd expected. Rincewind stepped out and ran his hands alongside a nearby wall, moving down toward the nearest street. "It worked," he said, seeming rather shocked. But not surprising given Rincewind's usual experiences. A moment later his face fell. "So, what's going to go wrong next?"

"I'm not sure," I admitted. I had my own leery feelings about the situation, since the violence of our journey seemed too great for merely entering the Disc. I looked down at my sonic screwdriver. "And I'm still picking up that temporal energy source from you. It must be somewhere in the city."

I took the precaution of locking the TARDIS after we all stepped out. As we walked along what looked to be a standard alleyway in Ankh-Morpork, a curious and very... memorable smell came to our attention. The girls' faces curled in displeasure. I took in a partial breath and let out a cough. "Well, that'll clear the sinuses. I always wondered what the Ankh-Morpork atmosphere smelled like. Now all we need to do is watch the Ankh catch fire for that perfect Ankh-Morpork experience."

"Won't happen for a while yet, it's still spring," Rincewind said.

"Oh well...."

And then we heard it, the thunk of something hitting the streets. We looked back down the alleyway, or rather a T-section formed by a second alley leading into this one, right beside where the TARDIS had appeared.

There were a group of men - and one possible woman since the shape could go either way - standing in front of the TARDIS. They had what looked to be pretty rough-worn clothing. One was missing an eye and all had scars. I was sure one was a dwarf, though possibly on the tall side. And each had a dagger in their hand. "So, gent, have you any dollars for charity?", the lead man asked, a wicked look on his face. Ankh-Morpork criminals weren't about to let things like people appearing in magic boxes get in the way of money, after all.

I reached my hand out and took Janias before she could brandish her lightsaber. "May I see your Guild licenses?"

"Heh. Hear that everyone?" The leader laughed. "He wants to see our licenses."

They all laughed.

So... unlicensed thieves. I could see color fading from Rincewind's face. To be an unlicensed thief in Ankh-Morpork for any good amount of time, you had to be either completely lucky or very nasty, because the Thieves' Guild took... exception to unlicensed thievery (due to how much they were held responsible for the city's crime rate). They were big on not permitting repeat offenses.

"Hows about we show them our license?!", the leader roared over the laughter. "C'mon out Cobbly!"

The name alone indicated what we were about to face. The thumping sound of rock hitting stone and the scraping of rock against stone was the next clue, so I already knew what to expect when a figure that had to be eight feet tall loomed around the corner.

A troll. With a big, big club, and the belt of skulls to go with what looked to be a loincloth. Gang symbols were etched into its brown and, well, light brown flesh. Its flesh being solid metamorphical rock, for those unfamiliar with this world's trolls.

"Cobbly, I've got a pack of the best Slab in the city if you smash that gent's stupid brains in. Maybe his girlies will be more co-or-operative."

"I can take him," Janias murmured.

"No, I'm not having you carve him up," I insisted in a low voice. Somehow I imagined having a troll and these thieves carved up by a lightsaber would be just strange enough to draw the attention of the city's varied authorities. And I didn't want trouble with the likes of the City Watch or the wizards at Unseen University, since to them a lightsaber would seem like a magic instrument and invite attention.

"You see my good friend here, right?", I retorted, grabbing Rincewind by the arm. "Notice the pointy hat and robes? That's who you're messing with if you keep this up. I'm sure there's something revolting enough we can turn you into."

For a brief moment it looked like it had worked. Unfortunately, it was a warm spring day, and without something like a clockwork fan Cobbly's silicon brain was too hot to help him think things through. Presuming he had enough of a brain left if he was a Slab-user. He charged, club raised.

Rincewind took off like a jackrabbit. I decided to follow. It wasn't like I couldn't summon the TARDIS back on my own anyway.

There was lumbering behind us as the troll advanced, his friends racing ahead. It spurred us on to go even faster.

Rincewind still outran us all.

He kept going, in fact, even as it was clear we'd outran the gang and were in the main city streets. I could guess he was going to keep running until he got back to the University. My Companions and I followed until the crowds were thick enough that we couldn't keep sight of him. I came to a stop and let out a breath.

"I could have chased them off!", Janias insisted.

"Have you ever fought a Wookiee or a Houk on spice, Janias?", I asked. "Because that's still not as bad as a Troll who's been cooking his brain regularly with stuff like Slab. And even if you won, they'd leave remains, and given how this place works I know it'd just get the Watch or even the Wizards involved. I'd like to avoid that kind of trouble here."

"Besides, we can just summon the TARDIS back," Cami pointed out. "We've returned Rincewind to his home, is there anything else to do?"

"Find out what's causing this temporal energy signature, for one," I remarked.

"Let's hurry then, because this place reeks," Janias complained. "And I..."

Her expression changed to one of deep concern. She turned to face beyond Cami and I, prompting us to turn as well.

A building nearby was having something heavy looking, kept in a crate, hefted into its second floor by a pulley. I could see from where I was that the pulley was failing.

And in its shadow was a young lady pushing a stroller. Yes, there was a baby in it.

I sighed. This is how the Discworld tends to work. Events don't just happen, they happen within a narrative. The world is a collection of stories that operate, or at least tend toward, certain narrative rules.

The rope snapped. There was a scream as the woman looked up in time to see something come down to crush her.

Janias shouted, "No!", and reached out with the Force. The crate went horizontal and slammed into the building, smashing in the process. There was the distinct shattering of glass, with broken shards joining the splinters of wood debris.

All eyes turned on us. The man who had been supervising the operation, seemingly ignorant of how his faulty rope had nearly killed someone, pointed an accusing finger our way. "You... that was an entire shipment of fine crystal balls! I'm goin' to be ruined!"

The woman cradled her child and looked our way as well. "You tried to kill my baby!"

"What are you talking about?", Janias asked, utterly mystified. "I stopped it from falling on..."

"She must've cut the rope with her magic!", the businessman accused. "Lookin' to harm my business!"

"You tried to kill..."

"....must be a witch!"

"...attackin' fine citizens like that..."

Ankh-Morpork was always given to street theater, and between the man undoubtedly not wanting to recognize his own screw-up and the woman's surprise and fear, well, I could see them being initially antagonistic until their passions cooled. But Janias couldn't even get a word in before the crowd was screaming "Witch!" with great fervor and anger. Even for Ankh-Morpork it didn't seem... right.

I opened my mouth to defend my companion, already reaching for my psychic paper to aid in that, when I let out a gag almost before I knew why. My senses were assaulted, violently, by something putrid and horrible, a smell that overwhelmed the odor of the city with something far worse. My hand went to my head as my brain spun under the imbalance it felt; my nose was failing to sense this new stench, but my mind insisted it was there. "Do you smell that?", I said hoarsely.

"I smell a witch!", someone in the crowd screamed.

Looking at Janias' face, she sensed it too, although she was also looking with increasing concern on what looked to be a forming lynch mob.

"Smell what?", Camila asked. "I don't smell...." And then her face twisted. She had normal Human senses, but I imagined that her mind was such that, at least in the rules of the Discworld, she could be receptive to such sense as well.

My eyes scanned the growing crowd. I had a feeling on what I'd find, because I recognized this now.

And there he was. Standing amidst the crowd, scowling, a figure in black. A voice came to my head. Filth! Evil! I sense you harlots now, and you will burn!

I searched the horrible face for features, and found myself looking through his eyes... and to the crowd beyond. He had no eyes. He had nothing behind them either. I could literally see through his head at the points where his eyes should be.

Rincewind had, indeed, been the harbinger of bad luck for us.

"Doctor, I see a man," I heard Camilla whisper, her voice barely audible even this close compared to the angry mob. "But his eyes..."

"Yes." I nodded, knowing the name of this new foe. Somehow the unlicensed thieves and their drugged up troll enforcer seemed charming now compared to what we were facing.

"It's the Cunning Man."




Facing a growing mob is a pretty sober experience. Mobs may be made of individuals, with their own minds, but get enough people together and give them reason to feel fear or anger or just sheer crabbyness and you'll get something closer to a hive mind.

Now take that combustible mix and throw in an old madman ghost of bottomless hatred for anything smacking to him of witchcraft, who's hatred was so pervasive that simply being in proximity of it could drive anyone, even witches themselves, to acts of hate against anyone who could be a "witch".

We might as well have been sitting on a barrel of dynamite. At least the smell would improve.

"This is all just a terrible misunderstanding," I said aloud, knowing it wouldn't work, even as the stench of the Cunning Man's corruptive mind continued to assault my senses.

"Doctor, I don't think they're listening," Janias murmured. "Whatever that darkness is..."

"Quiet, Janias, you've gotten us into enough trouble as it...." I saw her bewildered expression and caught myself. I took as deep a breath as I dared. "He's even getting to me," I murmured. "He's even getting to me."

By this point quite a few blunt objects were showing amongst the growing crowd. I grabbed the girls' hands and prepared to run for it before we were completely and hopelessly surrounded.

"Hello everyone!"

The chipper voice told me who it was even before I turned to look into the shiny, mirror-like breastplate of armor moving through the crowd. I was the only one present who was taller than the newcomer, giving me a higher angle to look at the bits of red hair showing under a steel helmet. Honest blue eyes scanned the crowd and the expression never wavered from what I figured to be the standard cheeryness of its owner.

Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson looked over to the broken crate and shattered crystal balls. And then he looked up to the pulley and back down to where the snapped rope had fallen. "Mr. Krist, I thought you were going to replace that bad rope yesterday? I told you it wouldn't hold another heavy load."

The business owner turned from where he was glaring hatefully at us and took on a sudden expression of embarrassment and shame. "Yes, well.... had a last minute order, I had to get it taken care of, you know how it is Captain."

"That could have seriously hurt someone, Mister Krist," Carrot pointed out with just a hint of reproachment.

"The witch made it snap!", Krist accused. The stench that my nose did not smell was growing. He pointed a finger at Janias. "She did it!"

"This is preposterous!", Camilla thundered. "It had snapped already, she just kept it from hitting that poor woman and her baby!"

Unfortunately, with the Cunning Man present the potential victim was not on our side. "She tried to kill my baby!", the mother accused. "She's a witch!"

Carrot nodded and stepped up to us. I may have been taller, but I knew those muscles bulging under his chainmail were a greater advantage. "Are you a witch, ma'am?"

"I'm a...."

"Not anymore," I answered for her. "She still has a little magic talent, but she spends her time traveling with me, Captain." I smiled at him and extended a hand. "i'm the Doctor, Captain. Pleased to meet you."

"Are you from the Free Hospital, Doctor....?"

"I'm new to the city, actually. Well, relatively new, I've read up on it quite a bit. Your reputation proceeds you, Captain Ironfoundersson." As an afterthought I added, "And it's just 'the Doctor'."

"I see. Well, Doctor, I would like your statement."

I nodded. As I went to give it, I felt the stench growing. The crowd had grown, as every Morporkian loved their street theater, but that gave the Cunning Man more people to influence. If things held on even longer even Carrot's natural charisma wouldn't work. "My friend acted to save lives, sir, and that is the truth."

"He's protecting the witches!", Krist shouted. "He's a witch-lover!"

I saw the Cunning Man had inched closer as he moved through the crowd. We were running out of time. "Captain, a moment with my friends?" When he nodded I stepped back and huddled with the girls. "Do you trust me? Because there's only one way out of this."

"Of course we trust you," Camilla insisted.

"That means you must do exactly as I say," I remarked. "Don't worry about anything else. I'll make sure you're all right."

"Okay,..." Janias looked befuddled. Undoubtedly she was working just as hard on keeping the Cunning Man out of her head.

The thought of Janias taken over by him sent a shudder through me.

"Right then." I stood up and turned to Carrot. "Captain, in the interests of civic peace, my friends will turn themselves over to your custody and agree to be kept at Pseudopolis Yard tonight."

They looked at each other warily. The crowd also looked a little out of sorts.

Carrot, however, didn't. He could see what I was doing. "That is very good of them, Doctor."

"Indeed." My voice lowered. "And I trust they will be well-treated in the protective custody of you and Commander Vimes?"

"Of course." Carrot nodded, his reply as hushed as mine was.

"Very well. Girls..."

They looked at me with some trepidation, but they didn't hold back. Each stepped up to Carrot, who led them through the gathering crowd. My eyes followed them, looking for any sign of an attack, but the crowd's hate and fear was draining away and the Cunning Man's influence wasn't enough right now to overpower Carrot's sheer charisma.

With the girls gone, the city people started milling away, leaving Mister Krist to clean up his broken crystal. I stood quietly as they did so, thinking of what to do next. The Cunning Man was loose in the city and I still had this temporal energy source to investigate, with my only lead being the one man in the six dimensions who ran faster than I could (well, naturally faster).

Well, first things first, I had to get the TARDIS back. Then I could deal with the girls' stay with the Watch and hunt this trouble down. Since I didn't want to summon the TARDIS in the middle of the street I walked down a ways and stepped into an alley. I brought my remote control out and gripped it. I started to think of the TARDIS...

And let myself get distracted.

There was the sound of a boot pushing quietly against cobbles behind me. I turned to face the sound.

A sharp pain filled my head as something landed on it. I collapsed over, feeling everything go black.

When the blackness faded I sat up. I looked to the TARDIS control in my hand...

...and it wasn't there. Instead I found a note.

"Apologies for the bump on the head. My apprentice doesn't know his own strength. You will find his license number and mine printed on reverse should you wish to lodge a complaint.
Purchase of a year's protection now at a low price of twenty dollars, return of locket included!
Signed,
Jerry Pincher
Ankh-Morpork Thieves' Guild, Lic. No. 390874"


I let out a groan and a small curse for ever running into Rincewind. The man's luck had truly rubbed off on me.

I realized how much it had when I reached for my sonic screwdriver and found it was gone as well. I was frantic as I reached for the sonic disruptor on my waist and found that it was also gone. A quick check of another pocket showed my psychic paper had also been removed.

Now I was alone and unarmed in the middle of Ankh-Morpork.

God, er, Gods damn Rincewind.

Defying my luck, I murmured, "How could things get any..."

"There he is!"

I looked down the alley and saw the unlicensed thieves from before, with their troll enforcer already moving toward me.

When it rains, it pours, they say. In Ankh-Morpork, it always seems to be pouring.




The troll "Cobbly" had his club raised and ready to smash my head into pulp, and even if I evaded him there was nearly a half-dozen unlicensed thieves ready to explore my anatomy the hard way (the hard way for me, that is). And I was utterly defenseless.

A young lady's voice rang out. "Get out of the way, sir!" I habitually moved to the side.

There was a familiar sound; it was my sonic disruptor, set to a high power mode, and the sonic waves it emitted slammed into Cobbly with enough force to send him flying backward and into his gang. A hand grabbed mine. "Come on, we'll lose them over on Treacle Mine, there's a Watch House there!"

I got a glimpse of my rescuer as we ran out into the street. Brown hair flowed out from under a tattered looking wool cap of blue color; her jacket was a very faded blue and her trousers looked like a re-hemmed set of men's trousers, of similarly-faded blue. She had my sonic disruptor in her free hand while the other grasped mine. We ran down the streets and random alleys before arriving in a neighborhood milling with incredibly short people - dwarfs, in other words. In comparison to them she wasn't much taller, showing she was of a rather young age herself (even accounting for the malnutrition of a street urchin).

Only once we were within sight of the Treacle Mine Road Watch House did she stop, allowing us to catch our breath. She offered the disruptor to me. "Billy Lanny swiped it from you, Mister, but I got it back."

I accepted it with a smile. "Thank you kindly, young lady. He didn't happen to swipe anything else?"

"No, sir. I came up just as he was rifling your pockets."

The young lady was better spoken than a normal city urchin, I noticed. "Well, my thanks again. I'm the Doctor."

"Doctor? That's some sort of nickname?"

"Of a sorts," I conceded. "And you are...?"

"Don't really have a name, my mum died when I was little. I guess you could use my friend's name for me." She flushed a little from impending embarrassment. "Great-Are-The-Blessings-of-Om's-Charity."

"Ah, an Omnian friend." I winked at her. "Well, that's not too embarrassing a name. 'Charity' certainly fits, doesn't it?"

"I suppose," she conceded. "I'll probably use it when I'm old enough to join the Watch."

"You want to be a Watchwoman, eh? Well, you've got the good parts down, I'd say." I leaned against the wall of the nearest building and looked over the sonic disruptor. It was better than nothing, but I wouldn't feel better until I had my sonic screwdriver back. Finding it, though... another problem on top of the problems I had. I tinkered with the disruptor for a moment; it was never made for the sensitive work the screwdriver was capable of, but it did have some scanning capability. I held it up and watched the purple tip light up. "Temporal energy sources are getting stronger. Not good."

"Is that some kind of magic?", Charity asked. "It's too small to be a wizard staff, that I know."

"It's... well, it's a sort of magic I suppose," I answered. "It's something called technology. Very advanced machinery. And when machines get advanced enough, well, it can look like magic if you don't know what it is."

"I just don't want you to get into any trouble with the wizards is all," Charity said. "They get nasty about it when they think people are playing wizard and haven't been to the University."

"So I've heard." I tinkered with the settings a little. "So, I'm rather new to the city, do you think you could show me to...." I stopped. At the end of my senses a stomach-churning stench was starting to come to my attention. "Oh no. He's near again, I can smell it."

"Who's near?," Charity asked. "It isn't Foul Ole Ron, is it?"

"I wish. It's...." Yes, the stench was getting stronger. I looked over to a nearby crate of, well, something and, after gingerly testing it, stood on it a moment and looked down both sides of the street.

In the far distance, down toward what I presumed was the Shades, I could see a black figure looming over the dwarves milling about. He passed through the curtain-covered sedan of one of the conservative dwarves without notice.

"It's... I'm not a wizard, but you know how wizards can see things others can't? I'm a bit like that." I got off the crate and took her hand. "And right now we've got a malevolent spirit of utter hate walking toward us."

Charity looked at me with confusion, which turned to realization. "Does this have anything to do with how people are screamin' at ladies with warts or too many cats, calling them 'witches'?"

"Remarkably astute of you, Charity. I'm thinking that yes, yes it does." I drew in a breath. "And I think it's after me."

It occured to me, at that point, that the Cunning Man was after me. Undoubtedly he'd sensed something of my nature, and that would make me an ideal host for him.

I thought of the damage that might happen if the Cunning Man took me over and couldn't suppress the shudder.

"Do you want to get help from the wizards?"

I thought about it. But I wasn't sure they'd listen very much, especially if they came to see me as a magic practitioner. No, someone more understanding, I thought.

....or someone who had a foot in the wizards' door without being a full wizard. And someone with experience in temporal matters too, a sort of two birds-one stone possibility for me.

"How far is Tenth Egg Street?", I asked.

"Not far," she said. "We can go faster if we cut through Quarry Lane."

"Ah." I wondered about the risks of leading the Cunning Man through the center of Ankh-Morpork's troll neighborhood. But the sooner I got where I was going, the better.

"What do you want on Tenth Egg, sir?", Charity asked as we walked along, away from the approaching specter.

"Help," I replied succinctly.




We had no immediate sight of the Cunning Man when we stepped up to our destination. "This is where you want help?", Charity asked skeptically. "This is..."

"...perfect." I smiled.

After all, in my line of work, some good Boffo was always useful.

The Boffo Novelty and Joke Shop, No. 4 Tenth Egg Street, stood before us. I stepped up and listened as the whoopie cushion let out its simulated flatulence. A step around a skeleton hanging over the entrance and I was able to go straight to the counter. Charity glanced around the shop as I waited for the man at the counter to turn to me. He held something up before lowering it dejectedly. "I'm just no good at this," he lamented.

"Comedy is hard," I agreed. "I would like to speak to Mrs. Proust. I need some... special assistance."

I waited as he looked over to a hole in the floor. "Mother! A gent is up here askin' for you."

There was an exasperated sound from beneath us. I turned and faced a wart-faced old hag as she rose from the floor with a trapdoor mechanism. "Ah, Mrs. Proust, I'm the Doctor, and this is my friend Charity."

She looked at me warily. "Now you're a strange one. There's something off about you. About both of you." She gave a look toward Charity.

That intrigued me a bit, but I had other issues to focus on. "Mrs. Proust, I'm in a spot of bother at the moment and need some special assistance. From an acquaintance of yours."

"Oh, an 'acquaintance' you say," she asked suspiciously.

"Yes. There is a certain lady out and about who has a very unique job. You might remember her because her staff doesn't have a knob on it like certain others do."

Mrs. Proust narrowed her eyes. "Yes, I know who you're talking about." There was a moment's pause. "You've been around a rather nasty stink, haven't you?"

I nodded.

Mrs. Proust sighed. "There's nothing my... acquaintance can do to help you with the Cunning Man, Doctor. We all have to face him in our own way."

"I imagined not, but that's not the only issue."

"You've got other problems than the Cunning Man being after you, Doctor? Oh my, what a complicated life you must lead."

"Quite."

I knew I was being scrutinized, closely. Mrs. Proust was a City Witch and had the instincts to go with that appellation, not to mention the skills. "Let's just say your acquaintance and I have similar... interests. And I'm picking up something very distressing in this city that relates to her interest."

Mrs. Proust looked to think for a moment. "Then she'll find you, sir. She'll find you. In the meanwhile, I'll send you and the young lady out the back door. Try to stay out of trouble, the Cunning Man will find you more easily if there's trouble. And keep running."

I allowed myself a small smile. "Running, ma'am, is one of my many talents."




After we left the shop I brought up my sonic disruptor and began tinkering with it. "You can head on if you wish," I said to Charity. "It can be dangerous, following me."

She gave me a bemused look. "Sir, it's Ankh-Morpork, this entire city is dangerous."

Charity had me there.

A part of me wondered about this girl. Not so much her, well, charitable nature, but what Mrs. Proust had said. That she sensed something about her. Granted, this was the Disc. She could be a potential Witch or a Goddess in disguise or just a girl who'd cut through the Unreal Estate over by the University. Or a werewolf, I supposed.

"You live on the street?", I asked.

"Sometimes. I get beds at homes sometimes. The Watch sometimes gives me a bed at a Watch house."

"Because of your friends in the Watch." I nodded.

"And I do odd jobs when they need doin'."

"Of course." I got out the letter left to me by the thieves who took my TARDIS control. "Do you know this chap?"

She looked over the letter. "Oh, the old Pincher. Swell chap. He's being generous, offering a twenty dollar protection with your suit and all. He probably figured you were some shop-owning gent who dresses up a bit instead of really posh."

"He's got a... device of mine, he thinks it's a locket. I need it to get something of mine back."

"And you don't have twenty dollars," Charity realized. "Well, he might let you get the locket back for a few."

"I don't have local currency," I clarified. "And anything I could sell is on my TARDIS."

"What's a TARDIS?"

"It's.... a ship of sorts. It'd be hard for me to explain without showing it off, and the only way to get it back is with my locket," I answered. "Well, I'll have to deal with Mister Pincher when the time comes. But for now...." I held up my sonic disruptor. "I need to find my sonic screwdriver."

The sonic disruptor wasn't meant to be used as a scanning tool. I'd never zero in on the temporal disturbance, or Rincewind, with it. I needed my sonic screwdriver.

Thankfully, my disruptor and screwdriver were designed to find each other.

We moved through the city at some speed, staying out of trouble and avoiding the crowds. I kept the disruptor inside my jacket, checking it only in alleyways when we wouldn't be seen by too many people.

We wound up along the Ankh and back on Treacle Mine Road. A path led down to under a bridge. "Oh no," I heard Charity mumble. "Doctor, you don't want to go down there."

"Oh?", I asked... and right afterward I realized why. "Oh dear. This is... their hideout, isn't it?"

"Oh yes," Charity replied.

I took in a deep breath. "Well, it will be hard... but I really need my sonic screwdriver back." And so I continued walking down, Charity at my side.

At the bottom was a fire being tended by several figures. As I took in the sight of them, I was assailed by the Smell.

The Cunning Man's stench wasn't a physical one, it was the brain trying to process the sheer corruption and rot of his soul. This was physical, this was a stench that had its own life. And it only belonged to one man.

"Bugrit! Millennium hand and shrimp!"

I looked onto the overcoat clad figure that was Foul Ole Ron, sitting by a fire. Beyond him was the cast I expected: Coffin Henry, Sideways Arnold, Altogether Andrews, and the Duck Man. These men were the most effective beggars in all of Ankh-Morpork, mostly because anyone would give them money to make them go away. Neville St. Clair holds nothing to these gentlemen.

Ron's hand pulled up from a kettle he was stirring. I almost groaned at seeing my sonic screwdriver was the stirring tool.

"What is it you want?", one voice called out. He had a duck on his head. I knew better than to bring the animal up in conversation.

"I lost a couple pieces of property earlier," I explained. "And it would seem you gentlemen found them."

"Found 'em in an alley, yeah," Altogether Andrews said, although I wasn't sure which personality it was. "Some poor bloke was laid out. Weird stuff. Wallet told me Ron was from the Palace."

"That bloke was me," I explained. It made my head throb again.

"Ah."

"So, if this stuff is yours, we get a finder's fee right? Only fair."

The voice didn't come from anywhere in particular, or so it seemed. I noticed a little gray dog looking up from the fire. It was not the kind of animal you'd associate with the canine varieties. One could only guess how many breeds of dog existed in his DNA.

The dog looked at us and said, "Woof."

"Ah, the brains of the outfit, no offense Duck Man." I smirked and looked down at the dog.

The dog's mouth moved. "Why're you lookin' at the dog? Everyone knows dogs can't talk."

"Actually, I've met one before. His name was Mouse. Rather fine canine, good friend of mine. As smart as you, I imagine."

Charity pulled my sleeve. The dog shifted its head. "Dunno what you're sayin', mister."

"You know how wizards can see things as they really are?", I asked. "I'm a Time Lord. I have a similar capability."

"Gaspode, right?", Charity asked. "I heard talk that Captain Carrot knows a talking dog."

There was a moment of silence. "Okay, fine, you're onto me. I'm a talkin' dog. But that doesn't change nuthin'. You've got a finder's fee for us? I'd be surprised that a fine poshy type would take back anythin' used by Foul Ole Ron, though I won't stop ya."

"I'm a newcomer to the city, I've got nothing of value," I answered. "But if I can get my personal transportation back, I wouldn't mind making it worth your while."

"And I ask, what's to stop you from just runnin' off, leavin' this poor doggy and his friends without their proper reward?"

"My good word is about all I have." I almost put my hand on my sonic disruptor, now under my jacket. I had once programmed it and the screwdriver to be able to remotely pull in the other. But would it work with someone holding the screwdriver? And I couldn't pull the psychic paper back like that. Even if I got the screwdriver back, I knew getting the paper back would require... harsher measures than I was prepared to consider.

Plus, well, it didn't feel... right. Even if it was my thing, looking at the "Cantering Crew" you couldn't help but feel pity for people who lived in these circumstances. I wanted to give them some kind of aid if I could.

"Ah, wallet's no good," Coffin Henry said dismissively, tossing my psychic paper behind him. "Keeps sayin' I'm from the University. No good messin' with magic, I tell you."

Charity walked over and picked the psychic paper up. "It says I'm an Inspector in the City Watch."

"See? Magic." Coffin Henry shook his head.

Charity handed me the paper back and I stuck it in my pocket. "It shows people what I want them to see. Or if you're handling it, it goes by what position you consider important. Or it just randomly plucks one out if you don't have one." I didn't breathe in any relief yet. I still needed the sonic screwdriver back, and Ron was hanging onto it.

"So, good words don't feed, you don't have nuthin' to offer?", Gaspode asked.

I'd decided on a new tack. "I would point out to you, gentlemen, that my little rod there is just as magical as the wallet."

"Yeah, what's it do?", Duck Man asked.

"Just about everything," I answered. "In the wrong hands, there's no telling what damage it could do."

"Bugrit," Ron muttered.

"Even so, you want the thingie back, we deserve sumthin'."

"And I need it back if I'm to give you something."

It was clear we were at an impasse (or "imp arse" if you prefer). As much as I hated the thought of it, I might have to try the disruptor's link to the screwdriver and take it back that way.

My decision was made when even the stench of Foul Ole Ron and his cohorts was becoming overpowered by the one returning in my head. Gaspode's head went up. "That's a new smell, ain't it?"

"Yes," I remarked. "He's called the Cunning Man. Old, crazy spirit of hate. I think he's after me."

"I don't want nuthin' to do with that kind of thing, you hear? Push off."

"Not without my little magic rod," I said. I crossed my arms and sighed. "I guess I'll wait for him to devour us all. Burn us from inside out, that's what he does."

"Why don't you just come with us?", Charity asked. "You can make sure the Doctor gives you the pay you're asking after he gets his things back."

Gaspode let out a frustrated whine. "I don't do the adventurin' stuff anymore. Not since I got pulled to Uberwald."

"Then you'll just have to trust I'll bring you some suitable compensation." I looked behind me and then up. I thought I could see the Cunning Man in the distance, a black spec on the sickly green miasma that was the River Ankh. "But I can't take no for an answer. There's a problem in this city and I need my tool to deal with it."

For a moment I almost took out the sonic disruptor and used it. A relatively gentle broad-arc blast would knock them over and startle them, hopefully enough that Ron's grip on the screwdriver would lessen. Then I'd just activate the link and pull it in like a magnet.

Charity stepped up. "I'll get some dollars for you as soon as I can, if you help. I do little jobs. It'll take a while."

"I think I know you. Ain't you friends to ol' Nobby?"

I raised an eyebrow. Charity nodded. "I know him, yeah."

"And I've seen you passin' 'round pamphlets for the other one, that foreign one."

Something in my head went click, but I couldn't think of what it was at the moment given how focused I was on the screwdriver, and on the approaching black figure coming over the Ankh.

A thought came to me. Even if I left... would he come for Ron and his crew? Would he try to possess them or otherwise harm them? There was no telling what a spirit like that might do. And he continued coming toward us, strolling along the Ankh...

...the Ankh.

I looked from that distant figure and to the water below him. And then I looked to Ron and his friends.

Specifically, their fire.

I ran forward, ignoring the screwdriver for the moment and yanking one of the old wooden planks they were burning. The heat of the flame baked my face as I held it up and made sure I had a good bit of fire to it. Holding it away so I didn't set myself on fire I threw the plank into the Ankh between me and the Cunning Man. He was still about ten feet away from the point the plank landed, but I could throw something like that only so far.

The plank hit the Ankh with an audible "gloop" and sank. The fire started to disappear.

I'd been counting too much on something on the Ankh being easily combustible. Instead the Ankh's thickness was going to stifle the flame. "So well for that pl..."

A geyser of fire erupted from the surface of the Ankh. Flames began to spread outward from where my thrown flame had landed, making the entire river burn. Beyond the flames I could see the Cunning Man stop and bring his arms up protectively. He started to back away.

"That's right!", I shouted. "I know about you! I know you don't like fire, you miserable old ghost! Now bugger off!"

With the flames forming a barrier across the river, we had time. We had more if the Cunning Man was suitably scared of me for the moment now that he had seen I knew how to fight him. I turned back to the fireplace. "Gentlemen, I hate to be rude, but I need that screwdriver back, and I need it back now. I'll bring you something later when I'm sure the city is safe."

Gaspode looked from the flames and back to me. A little whine came from his throat. "Sure, fine. Word of honor and all that. Take it."

"Feel free to follow if you want," I added as Gaspode retrieved the screwdriver from Ron and brought it up to me in his mouth. I tried not to grimace as I took my prize tool back, now permeated with Gaspode's saliva and a whiff of Ron's odor. The Smell was likely part of my suit already as it was. I was thankful I'd paid Garak to make a few extra copies of it (after Mitakihara and the Citadel I'd learned the value of backup suits in the wardrobe).

With that work done, we left the Crew behind.




After we were back on street level, I wiped off the screwdriver with the corner of my jacket and brought it up. The purple tip lit up. "There you are, my dear," I said, smiling. "Back where you belong."

"Why do you call it a screwdriver?"

"Because it's always been called that. I didn't give it the name." I made sure Ron's use of it as a kettle stirrer hadn't caused any damage and ran the test functions a few more times. With that done I scanned for the temporal energy. Knowing full results would take a bit, I looked to Charity. Something of what Gaspode had said about knowing her had prickled at my brain. "So, I've heard of Corporal Nobby Nobbs. Who's this other fellow that Gaspode was talking about?"

"Constable Visit," she answered. "He's the one who named me. I deliver his pamphlets to him when they come out of the printers. And sometimes when ships from Omnia bring new ones I help him with them."

"I see." My brain was putting together facts, but I wanted to make sure. "How did you meet them?"

Charity's eyes looked distant for a moment. "It's, well... it's a bit of a blur to me. I remember... when I was little, just livin' on the streets alone, I was a match girl."

And that did it. My brain put the facts together on just who this girl was, and why she was special.

I didn't have to ask her to continue, Charity did on her own. "I'm not sure of my birthday, so I don't know how old I actually am. But back about six winters ago, I was out on Hogswatchnight. It was cold and snowing and I was sick and hungry. I went to the tobacco shop on Money Trap Lane and laid down at the steps because I was feeling sleepy." She looked up at me. "I... I don't think I was going to wake up either. I just remember it being so cold that I thought I'd sleep forever. But I remember.... someone in a Hogfather suit. He picked me up and handed me to Constable Visit. And they took me on to the Watch House and gave me food and hot cocoa."

I nodded. "Awfully kind of them. And that's how you got to know them?"

"Yes. It's just... sometimes I'm not sure I was supposed to."

"Funny how our lives turn out." I said that, knowing that she had a reason for feeling that way, and realizing why Mrs. Proust had considered there to be something "off" about Charity. She was supposed to sleep forever that Hogswatchnight. The Narrativium of the Discworld was striking yet again, bringing about the story of the poor Little Match Girl fated to die in the snow.

And so she had died. And her death was to be attended to by, well, Death. Tall fellow, black robes, scythe so sharp it could cut sound, TALKS LIKE THIS.

It was a special Hogswatch that night, though. Death was filling in for the Hogfather - the Discworld's counterpart to old Kris Kringle - and he had his own ideas about how the story should end. He decided to give the poor girl a present, the greatest present he could ever give.

A future.

And so the Little Match Girl lived.

And now... now she was at my side, helping me to recover my tools and protect her home from whatever threats this growing temporal energy posed.

Some presents are so great that they go beyond their recipients to benefit others.

I was diverted from my thoughts on the matter by the results of my sonic screwdriver scan. "Oi, that's not good."

"What?"

"The temporal energy is growing stronger," I said. "There's an open time tear somewhere in Ankh-Morpork. And it's growing."

Charity was quick on the uptake. "And that could destroy the city."

I nodded stiffly. "The city, yes. And if it's not stopped... it'll grow until the quantum variable field, I mean, the magic field around the Disc is entirely destabilized." I was answered by a quick intake of breath. These were stakes I was familiar with though. "Ready to help me save the world, Little Match Girl?"

The reply was immediate. Charity nodded and said, "Yes."

"Then let's go find Mister Pincher," I said. "I need to get my TARDIS back."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2017-01-05 09:31am

We found Mister Pincher easily enough, with my sonic screwdriver locking onto the TARDIS remote. We were around Sator Square when we found the gentleman standing in an alleyway and looking at what I presumed were the day's gains. Standing beside him was a tall man who, if not for his brown hair and sullen expression, might have passed for Carrot.

A third man was passed out on the ground between them.

"Now, what did we do wrong this time?", the older man said, clearly repeating a long-used line.

"Not hit 'im so hard," the apprentice mumbled.

"You'll never make it in the Guild if you hurt people, Bumper. Guild policy is clear about that sort of thing."

"M'kay."

Sharing a glance with Charity, I watched them check the man's pockets while Pincher took out another note like the one he left me. I had no money on my person to buy back my TARDIS remote, so I was going to have to be sly. I pocketed the sonic screwdriver and called out, "Hello there!"

The two men looked up. Pincher clearly recognized me. "Well, I see you're up and about. I do apologize about Bumper's knocks, he's a street boy, still learning to hold back."

"Oh yes, perfectly understandable. I must say, as alley assaults go you Thieves' Guild men are very professional about it, jolly good show and all." I didn't allow any edge to come to my smile. "Is my locket okay?"

"Oh, of course. Come to get your coverage for the year?"

"If only," I sighed. "Unfortunately I'd already had a run in with some other thieves. Unlicensed ones, very nasty. Had a Slabbed up troll who wanted to smash my head in."

Pincher shook his head. "I know the ones you're talking about, sir. The Westerly Gang. I do so apologize about that, sir, we try to keep the unlicensed crime down but some always slip through the cracks."

"Things happen, can't be helped. It'll be a short bit before I can get you any compensation for the locket or the protection license, but I'd like to see my locket. Sentimental bit, you understand."

Pincher gave me a look of some healthy suspicion. "Aye, you wouldn't be looking to run off with it, would you? You look like a clever gent."

"Oh, Gods forbid I run with it, sir," I answered truthfully. "How about you have Bumper stand behind me? He can whack me on the head of I try to run past him with it. He gives a good thumping, that boy."

Pincher nodded and gestured to Bumper. The large man nodded and walked past us to stand guard behind me. Pincher took a knife out and held it in his right hand as he presented the TARDIS remote with his left. "Here you go, gent. You'll see that there's no damage whatsoever to it. And I can be generous in giving you a week to come up with a few dollars toward your protection plan before I turn it in."

I held a hand out and he let me have it for a moment, although he kept himself ready for trouble; this was Ankh-Morpork after all, even if he was a very nice thief. It made me feel a tad guilty for what I was going to do.

"Oh yes. Very good shape. You're to be commended, Mister Pincher, and I'll make sure you're duly compensated." I took in a breath. "Now let me see if it works."

"Works....?"

As Pincher said that, I permitted myself a sad smile. "Sorry, city to save and all that." I'm pretty sure he heard me as the TARDIS materialized around us.

Charity looked on in shock at the control room. "Is that... more of that magic? You teleported us somewhere?"

"No, this is my TARDIS," I answered as I went for the controls. "Dimensionally transcendental field. That means it's bigger on the inside." There was thumping at the locked door. I brought the TARDIS about fifteen feet into the air above where we were and stopped it. From the controls I went to my storage bin near the door and rummaged through it. "Okay, I know you're in here, I know," I muttered as I went through little souvenirs. "Ah, there we go." I held up a bag and opened it, revealing gold ingots.

"Gold?" Charity looked at me curiously. "How much gold do you have?"

"As much as I need," I answered. I threw open the door and looked down at the bewildered Pincher and angry Bumper. "Sorry for that sir, but to prove I'm a man of my word, here's some gold!" I dropped the bag down. Unfortunately I misread the downward trajectory and the gold hit poor Bumper in the head. "Oops... sorry about that! That should be about six pounds of gold ingots, Mister Pincher, I'm sure that'll cover my protection license for the year. Keep the change sir and may you have a pleasant day!"

By that point, Pincher had retrieved the gold and was looking at me with surprise. He gave a wave to me and answered, "Sure there, gent! You gave me a scare there, though!"

"Sorry for that!"

After I closed the door I faced Charity again. "As much as you need? How...?"

"There are worlds outside of the Disc, you see. Many with high technology. And some have matter-replication technology, they can make gold out of thin air... well, more like out of cheap material stock re-organized at the atomic level. It's very complicated." With the TARDIS at the altitude of three hundred feet I began a wide-range scan. "Looks like the disturbance isn't far from the University. Hold on, I'm going to shift us over there."

The TARDIS shook a little as I settled it over near the University. "Quantum instability around the university, oi, never fun," I muttered while flipping switches. "But I've got us settled."

"So what do I need to do now?", she asked.

"Stay with me, be ready to help if I ask for it, that sort of thing." I went toward the door.

We opened it and emerged into an alley. I drew out the sonic screwdriver again to begin scanning. As I moved it around to get a fix, I spied a lone figure sitting at the side of the alleyway. He rose up and glared at me, and it wasn't a pretty sight, since he only had one eye to do the glaring. Someone had cut his face up badly. A knife appeared in his hand.

As I reached for my sonic disruptor, Charity saw him. "That's ol' Andy Shank."

"The football hooligan?", I asked. I extended my arm and....

...took a whiff of corruption.

Yes, you will be mine. And we will burn the witches, they will all burn!

In the moment of surprise at hearing the Cunning Man, the possessed Andy lunged at me with the knife. I shifted out of the way, but with the ghost driving his body the scarred hooligan was a lot faster than I imagined. His free hand grabbed my wrist and twisted until the pain caused me to drop the disruptor. I was forced around and pushed against the wall.

You will be mine!

The stench grew suffocating in my head. I could feel the Cunning Man starting to hammer his way in and, with Andy's body under his control, I couldn't get the leverage to wrench away.

I see all the worlds beyond this! I see names.... Korra, Molly, Madoka, Homura... and they are all witches! The witches will burn! I will see that they will all burn!

I was screaming at this point, creating a shell around my mind to keep the ghost out as much as I could. His very touch felt like hot poison in my brain, an ice pick of corruption trying to slam through my skull.

There was a burst of energy from behind me that knocked Andy's body away. Charity took my arm with one hand, the other gripping the disruptor. That was the second time she'd saved me with it.

At that point I tried to move. My body resisted. The shock of the attempted possession had left me paralyzed for the moment. A clearly fatal moment as the Cunning Man stood Andy up from the ground and came at us again. The girl will burn!

The ground abruptly opened up beneath us. We fell into darkness, save for a single green light hovering to the side. "Come!", a voice hissed. "We have to get to the safety of the Unreal Estates, it'll be hard for him to find us there!"

My legs were finally working beneath me, so I was able to get to my feet and follow the green light. I was running in something and given we were underground I didn't want to know what. The dark tunnels stretched on, part of the tremendous underground world of Ankh-Morpork, a city that was literally built on top of itself and had been for centuries.

We had gone far enough to be led into a door, within which was a living space that was not too large, but cozy. A single figure stood before us, in full coverings and a helmet. As the figure removed those garments my eyes scanned the room. This confirmed for me that I had found whom I was looking for.

A woman with whitening hair looked at me, her face still showing some youth of the mind despite the wrinkles on her face. "Well, Doctor, you seem to stay in trouble."

"Trouble has a way of following me. A drawback to being a Time Lord, I'm afraid," I answered. I looked to the woman's staff, which had a noticeable lack of a knob on the end.

"Well, now that you're back...." She looked at me and her mouth hung open. "Oh dear."

"Yes?" I had a sudden realization of just what was going on.

"You look so... that suit...." She put a hand to her mouth. "I can't believe it. This is..."

"...the first time I've met you, yes," I replied. "But clearly not the first for you. The joy of timestreams."

"Yes," she agreed. The woman looked at Charity. "Hello young lady. She's awfully young to be one of your Companions."

"We just met today," I explained. "This is Charity."

"And who's she?", Charity asked. "And what does she mean about timestreams and meeting you and all of that? I thought you said you were new to the city?"

"I am. But some time in the past I wasn't," I answered. "It's.... it's hard to explain my dear. Still, to finish the introductions, Charity..." I looked to our rescuer and held a hand out. "This is Eskarina Smith, the only female wizard in the history of the Disc and a capable time traveler."

"Pleased to meet you, young Charity," Eskarina said, curtseying a little and getting one in return. "My, you are an interesting child. Quite a... unique aura." Eskarina looked to me. "And since he probably hasn't fully introduced himself... this is the Doctor, a Time Lord of Gallifrey, who travels through the six dimensions of space-time in his TARDIS seeing the sights and, on occasion, tipping the balance of events so that history doesn't turn out quite so horrible." Esk allowed herself an appreciative chuckle. "Sadly, we can't have a very nice conversation because, as the Doctor will later say to me from his own perspective, that would be spoilers."

Charity gave me a bewildered look. "You... travel time?"

"And space. Six dimensions," I admitted.

"So... you could go back and find my mum?"

Esk and I exchanged looks. "I... can see about it, yes," I conceded. "I can't promise you anything more than meeting her and seeing what she's like, though. Anything more and I interfere with the timeline. I could cause something very nasty. Bat things eating people, that sort of thing."

"Reality has many ways of reacting to something causing a paradox. That's one of the more unpleasant varieties." Eskarina reached over and took a sip of what looked like tea. "Would you like some? I promise I kept down the rancid yak butter. Sweeper's taste in tea is one of his less endearing qualities."

"Of course you'd know Lu-Tze," I said. "And I suspect I will."

"Spoilers," Esk said, giving me a wink.

I drew in a sigh. "This is why it's such an advantage to not time travel, Charity," I said to my new friend. "No need to worry about timestreams not matching up."

"I wish we could chat more, but aside from a quick round of tea I'm afraid we're running out of time." Esk waved a hand in the air. Realizing what she was doing, I took out the sonic and set it to scan. Both of our methods showed, I presumed, the same result. "You can see it? The tear is getting bigger."

"I've got equipment aboard the TARDIS to deal with these things."

"I know. But this is different. Look at the third-dimensional elements."

I did so. And I let my jaw drop. "They're... moving... it shouldn't work that way."

"But it is. I fear something may have already slipped through from the Dungeon Dimensions." Esk picked her staff up. "And I think I know who it's bonded to."

She looked into my eyes and I let out a breath, and then a groan. Of course. With all that rotten luck, why wouldn't it turn out that way?

"Rincewind," I said. "It's linked to Rincewind."

"It might be how he was shifted to one of the Earths in the first place," Esk agreed.

"And when I brought him back, it triggered the rift to start forming. Oi, that's... rather aggravating."

"Yes." Esk looked to me and smiled. "So, Doctor. Shall we go save the world?"

I put my sonic in my pocket. "Yes, I think we shall."

"Just like old times, then. For me, anyway."

As we left, I couldn't help but wonder just what we'd end up doing in my future. But it wasn't something I could dwell upon. World to save first and all that.




Esk had a direct path taking her to the University from her underground sanctuary. Charity and I followed her closely, my hand holding Charity's to make sure she didn't stray. "I thought women couldn't be wizards?", she asked.

"There were some special circumstances," Esk answered from ahead of us. "But it was mostly impatience."

I smirked. "In this case I think it's safe to say haste didn't make waste." I couldn't see, but I got the impression she grinned.

We finally emerged from the underground in an old abandoned building at the fringe of the Unreal Estates. This let us into the environs of the Unseen University, although we still had to navigate the city streets. There was a growing crowd outside of it, held back by.... yes, the Watch. Specifically....

"Hello Sergeant," Charity said amiably.

I had already guessed who it was given the massive crossbow in his arms and the fact he was a troll. Sergeant Detritus looked at Charity and nodded. "Hey dere, Charity. You doin' good?"

"I'm making my way, counting the years until I can take the King's Shilling," she answered. "This is my friend, the Doctor. And Eskarina Smith, she's a wizard."

Detritus looked over me and then Esk. It wasn't so warm yet that his troll brain was being unduly effected, although he needed truly cold temperatures to exercise his full intelligence. "Thought ladies couldn't be wizards," he finally said. "Dat's a good staff. But where's da knob?"

"It ruined the balance of the whole thing," Esk answered. "Sergeant, I need to get into the University. Something dreadful is going on."

"I know dat. Mister Vimes sent me down, said 'Keep people out of de University. De wizards are up to bloody nonsense again', he says."

"It's rather more nasty than that," I said. "There's a temporal tear walking around in there, and we need to stop it."

"Ah. Dat sounds bad." He looked from me to Esk and back to me. I could almost see the gears in his brain turning. "Lady's a wizard, she says she goin' in I won't stop dat."

"Thank you, Sergeant."

He gave us room to maneuver around him. When we entered the University grounds, we found student wizards were fleeing the main building. Esk held out her staff to get one's attention. "What's going on?"

"It's all gone crazy! Rincewind's... he's.... he's fighting the senior wizards!"

Esk and I exchanged glances. "That does not sound good," I remarked.

"Something's taken him," she said. "Something did come through."

We went through the student wizards and to the building. A couple of the bledlows got in our way. "No civ...." They saw Esk and paled. "Oh, Miss Smith."

"Omory, Nobbs," she said simply. "They're with me."

The readings led us to the Great Hall of the University. Debris was present and there was a great deal of shouting and cursing inside. We stepped over one fallen wizard who was definitely on the portly side. "The Chair of Indefinite Studies," Esk said.

"They're not exactly built for fighting," Charity noted.

"Wizards don't fight." Esk kept her staff up. "At least not like you're thinking."

A few of the senior wizards were still on their feet, in particular one particulalry noticable fellow with a non-standard pointy hat and a voice that made the Hall vibrate. "Whoever you are, you will depart my wizard's body at once!" Archchancellor Ridcully held a hand out and absorbed a blast of lighting with it. "He may be a cowardly, useless little scamp, but he's still a faculty member of my university and I won't stand for this!"

"I don't think that's going to work, sir!", a second, younger voice called out. I caught a glimpse of glasses. It was undoubtedly Ponder Stibbons.

"Archchancellor!" Esk got to him first. Beyond us, Rincewind was turning away again and gesturing toward the top of the Hall.

Ridcully turned and faced us. "Ah, Miss Smith. Good to have you. Do you know anything about this? And who is this chap?"

"This is the Doctor. He is a friend of mine..."

I was raising my sonic as she gave a quick explanation. I focused instead on the scanning. There was something about the energy field around Rincewind that puzzled me, although it was still clear that he was the source of the rift. "The temporal tear is stabilizing. I'd say something wants to come through."

"Yes." Rincewind's voice was echoed by the entity inside. "My people have waited so long for a new home. We will not be denied by you again, Doctor."

Esk turned her head. "Do you know them?"

"Not yet, apparently," I murmured. I had, indeed, no recollection of stopping something from beyond normal space from coming into real space.

And then the thought occurred to me. Namely, that I wasn't the one who thwarted them.

"Who are you?", I asked. "I'm afraid that I thwart so many invasions these days that I can't remember them all."

Rincewind looked at me with curiosity. "You are not him. You are not the Doctor."

"Well, I'm not the only one," I retorted. "And you are..."

And like that, the answer came to me.

"The Gelth," I finished.

"And what are these Gelth things, and what do they want with my university?", Ridcully demanded.

"They lost their bodies in the Great Time War between the Time Lords and Daleks," I answered. "They were reduced to gaseous form. But I'm not... oh." I quickly filled that gap. "They had to retreat back through the Cardiff Rift. An explosion caused some quantum instabilities, nothing too major, but it shifted them deeper into the interdimensional spaces. And there... they changed."

"There are things there. Horrible things," the Gelth inside Rincewind said. "But we are free. And we do not need your bodies to be dead to hold you. This world will be our's."

"No, it won't," I responded. "You can't just take any world you please."

"You are too late, false-Doctor. We're already here."

My sonic whirred as the temporal energies spiked. The air above Rincewind split open into the form of a rift, one that blew open the rift and revealed the sky above, growing dark with crackling energies.

And not just any rift.

"A Crack," I muttered.

"A Crack in the Universe?", Esk asked. "Another one? The last time we..." She stopped at that point.

"Well, it's nice to know I'll run into more," I deadpanned. "Although given their six-dimensional nature, it could be one I've already seen."

"I suggest you focus on this one," Ponder was quick to point out.

Wispy forms of energy began pouring out. Esk and Ridcully brought their staves up and created a protective field just in time, keeping the wisps off of us. They began flying around and finding the bodies of the fallen head wizards. Others went beyond.

The Chair of Indefinite Studies rose behind us, a vacant look in this face. "This body... resists."

"Depart my faculty this instant!," Ridcully shouted, his voice loud enough to rattle ear drums. He pointed his staff and cast an energy bolt that smacked the body.

I saw more forms coming out. All of Ankh-Morpork was going to get possessed if we didn't hurry. "Archchancellor! Esk! We need to get outside the University and bring up a containment field of some kind! They'll take over the whole city if we don't hurry!"

"We have wards in place around the University," Stibbons suggested. "It'll only take me a few moments to bring them up."

I looked at Ridcully. "You actually planned for something bad to happen in the University?"

"Oh, that's not it at all," he answered. "They're actually made to keep other things out. Mister Stibbons and I shall have to tinker with them."

"Come along, gentlemen!" Esk shouted. The field around us was mostly from her magic. Concentration had locked her face into a single expression. "I could use some help, Doctor!"

I pulled out the sonic disruptor and quickly keyed it to take in the data from my sonic. I raised it and activated it, creating a field effect that reinforced Esk's magic-fueled protective field. The others backed out of the Great Hall behind us.

"They're coming!", Charity shouted when we left the Hall. Around us, various figures - bledlows, staff, some student wizards - were suddenly looking at us with stone faces and advancing. They had been taken by the Gelth.

I took out the sonic and handed my disruptor to Charity. "Same setting, clear us a path!"

She nodded enthusiastically and went to work. Stibbons, being more the thinker and writer, was contributing warning calls, and Ridcully had taken to what I supposed was a kind of force magic that repelled people from us while we retreated. Once we were at the gates Stibbons brought his hand up to a sigil etched into the stone, by which they had placed a kind of face. "Hex, I'm altering the protective field to focus inward. Access your emergency field until we sort this out."

"Processing," a voice said from the face mask.

I turned my head and added, "And while you're at it, Hex, calculate the exact range of quantum instability from that crack, we'll need that to seal it."

"Results will be too complex for basic speech..."

Since I wasn't needed anymore for the field against the Gelth, I turned my sonic onto Hex's receiver. It amused me that it could work with a computer that had, at its core, a bunch of ants with bees and honeycomb for storage media, but computers are computers, and a sonic screwdriver is a sonic screwdriver. I established a data link rather easily. Stibbons watched me use it and glance at the display. "Is that some sort of magic wand?", he asked, almost suspicious with his tone. "Because..."

"It's not magic, Mister Stibbons. Well.... not magic as you know it, just a whole lot of exotic energy manipulation and...." I saw his expression and sighed. "And quantum. Let's just stop at quantum, we don't have the time for more. Anyway, there we go, full readings. How's that field coming along?"

An entire group of Gelth surged overhead and into the gathering crowd at the gate. They began entering an assortment of bodies, which lurched our way.

"Almost there," Ridcully insisted. "Blasted wards. Stibbons, I told you that the sigils were out of place!"

"Sorry, Archchancellor, but the field wasn't met to face inward."

Detritus brought his crossbow up toward the oncominng Gelth. I waved at him. "No, Sergeant! They're possessed! The Gelth will just find new bodies!" It was regrettable that he didn't have a stun setting on the Piecemaker. As the name implies, it's meant for turning things into smaller things.

Come to think of it... there really aren't any "stun settings" with trolls period.

"Dat not good, can't wop 'em on da hed eider. Dat'd be police brutality so long as dey's not trolls."

Charity was on the job with the sonic disruptor, throwing the affected, and some innocent bystanders, back with a broad blast. "I've got the hang of this, Doctor, I can hold this."

"By Io, Stibbons, did you really have to put that extra key..."

"Yes, sir, otherwise there could be accidental activations."

Esk had extended her field to protect Detritus and a couple of other Watchmen who had arrived, requiring me to give it a little reinforcement. But it was faltering, and Esk was clearly running out of strength. "We're almost there," I assured her.

There was a sparking in the air. It fizzled.

"Stibbons! The blasted field's not activating!"

"I'm not sure what's wrong, sir, I know all of the sigils are...."

Exasperated, Ridcully smacked the sigil beside us with his staff. It began to glow with octarine light. The eighth color - the Color of Magic, native only to the Disc and its quantum variability field - flew along the walls girding the University property, lighting up further sigils. Octarine energy flowed skyward and inward until it met at the top of the Tower of Art, creating a very tall dome in the middle of Ankh-Morpork.

The Gelth began to slam into it. They came out the other end. We were suddenly being rained on with weasels, parrots, and a couple of marsupials. A kangeroo landed in a newly-opened space in the crowd and bounced away.

"It's not supposed to do that, is it?", I asked Ridcully.

"Well, sir, magic is magic," he answered. "Best we can do in a hurry. Haste doesn't make for good, orderly magic. And at least they're whole. Doesn't always happen with the wild magic."

I checked on Charity. The possessed men were down. And the sonic disruptor's effects would make sure the Gelth inside stayed down too.

Esk leaned heavily on her staff and released the field. "I keep forgetting how old I am," she mumbled. "It's a good thing you're so young, otherwise the teasing would be unbearable."

I let myself smile at that. "Ah, well, I shall make up for it later, if you prefer. Now..."

The crowd parted before us. And for good reason, given the phalanx of armed Watchmen moving through. At their lead was a stern, middle-aged man with a scar on ihs face and a look of solid authority. I knew immediately who I was dealing with and nodded. "Commander Vimes, good afternoon."

Sir Samuel Vimes, Mister Vimes to his friends, and His Grace the Duke of Ankh to people who liked to annoy him, looked me up and down with a stern eye. "And who are you?", he demanded.

"He's with us, Commander Vimes," Ridcully replied.

"Oh really? Where's his pointy hat?"

"I have a fez," I said. "I'm just not wearing it at the moment, Commander."

"He said he was a Doctor, sir," Detritus spoke. "I don't know what he's Doctrin' in, though."

Behind us the Crack was glowing brighter and beginning to lengthen. "It's growing," I remarked. "And if it grows enough it's going to take out that field. Frankly, it might destroy the whole city."

"Wouldn't that ruin those Gelth fellows' plans?"

"I don't think they're controlling the Crack, Archchancellor," I replied. "Not entirely. They're simply exploiting it."

"And just what in the Gods' name are the Gelth?", Vimes demanded.

"A race from another cosmos that lost their bodies, Commander. And now they want your's. All of your bodies, that is." I watched the Gelth gather inside the field. They were possessing those who were still inside the University.

Rincewind's figure stepped up to the open gate and stopped at the octarine field. "You will not stop us this way," he remarked.

"There has to be another way," I replied. "Automaton bodies that need intelligence, something like that. I can find you empty droid bodies or get assistance from the Geth, you don't have to take these people."

There was a false grin on Rincewind's face. "Could you truly make something like that for all of us?"

"In time, but..."

"That is not good enough. We have waited for too long. We will not let the Time Lords dictate our fates again! Here we will be safe, and here we will stay!"

I looked up and saw the Crack grow more. It would be splitting the octarine field soon. I had the tools to seal it from the main spatial dimensions, but the octarine field was in the way. And if it went down, the Gelth would go around possessing everyone. I needed another solution.

"Now see here, this is entirely...!"

Leaving Ridcully and Vimes to growl and fuss at the Gelth, I leaned over to my future compatriot. "Esk, a step back please."

She followed me to what I hoped was out of earshot, or at least out of earshot when considering the voice of Mustrum Ridcully. "You have a plan," Esk said, smiling weakly. "You've got a good one too. You've always got that twinkle in your eye when...."

"It's something of one, anyway," I answered. "The Gelth have been altered by prolonged exposure to the energies of the lower subspatial dimensions. Coming through the Crack has given them a bond with it. That means there's some way we can draw them back in."

"Unfortunately the Crack is sending energy out, if it was pulling energy in I could see..." Esk's eyes widened. "Of course. You're going to introduce a flow inversion in it, aren't you?"

"Exactly. We prod the Crack to shift its energy flow. It won't last long before the natural energy flows overpower the inversion, but it should last long enough to suck the Gelth right back in."

"Oh, you and your brilliant plans." Esk's eyes twinkled. "But how are we going to cause an inversion? We can't get to it from all of those Gelth in the way."

"That's the fun part," I replied. I reached into my pocket and brought out my TARDIS remote. The eyes of the crowds, and of the Watch, turned as the TARDIS materialized. I went to the door. "Of course, it'd be useful if Jan and Cami weren't in Pseudopolis Yard. I need to..."

Esk, as tired as she looked, went straight past my control console and to the stairs leading down. I followed her to the underside of the control room where I kept my equipment. By the time my feet left the final step she was already going through the equipment I used for Crack-sealing. "Here!" She thrust them in my arms.

"I say, it's bigger on the inside!", Ridcully shouted from the door.

"It's a pocket dimension, sir," Stibbons said. "A rather complete one."

"I hate magic," Vimes added. "So he's one of your's?"

"No, I don't think so," Stibbons replied. "I've never seen him before."

By this point Esk had pulled out a few other pieces. "Ah, here we go." She held up one of the items. "A quantum flow regulator, and a temporal flux generator. Should create a quantum pulse field that would instigate the inversion, right?"

"Um, yes." I put the other items down, brought out my sonic, and got to work with the necessary modifications.

"How are you going to...."

Vimes was speaking again. "If he's not one of your's, and he certainly doesn't sound like a bloody Foureckser, and I know that Brazeneck hasn't graduated anyone yet due to that incident with the giant chicken, then he's a fake, right?"

"Well, clearly."

"Does that mean I'm going to have to deal with you nailing him to the Brass Bridge?"

Much to my chagrin, Ridcully wasn't quick to answer. Stibbons provided one. "Well, sir, if he saves the Disc from that rift, that clearly counts as a service of benefit to wizardry and mankind. I'm sure the University Council would see fit to bestow a degree of some sort on such a man, should the Archchancellor be willing." That was unsurprising, since Stibbons was half the Council by himself.

"Oh, yes, yes, definitely."

"Just so long as it's not like the last time you did it. Even our Igor couldn't put the man back together."

"I really didn't need to hear that!", I bellowed.

Esk smirked. "As I was saying..."

"We're not going to enter that field, of course," I said. "Can't, not with the Gelth, and the TARDIS might protect them from the inversion flow if they got inside. No, I have a different idea...." I looked up and shouted, "Commander Vimes! I could use your help!"

Vimes got to the stairs and asked, "Oh really?"

"Please retrieve those items..." I pointed to the two devices that I had long used to seal Cracks. "...and take them to the door. They will be essential. And when you get back up there, please ask Sergeant Detritus to unload that crossbow of his. I'm going to have some new ammunition for him."

Esk looked at me with surprise. "My Gods.... but he's a troll and in this temperature, I doubt he can do the calculations to aim right, and the device will have to strike the Crack exactly!"

"I know." I finished what I was doing and picked up the new compound device. "Thankfully, it's easy to introduce complex mathematics to a troll. And all I need is...."

We retrieved that last item and returned to the main floor. I saw that the Crack was within feet of the octarine field. It was already starting to spark and waver. "We've only got a couple of minutes. Sergeant!" I emerged from the TARDIS and motioned to Detritus. "I'm not that tall, Sergeant, can you stoop over a bit? I need to see that clockwork helmet of your's."

"Don't want you touchin' dis helmet," Detritus protested. "It a gift from a good friend."

"I know. But this is to save the Disc, Sergeant. I won't hurt it. In fact, I'll make it work better than your friend ever imagined it could."

Detritus looked to Vimes, who nodded slowly. He got to a knee and lowered his head enough that I was able to attach a device to the input vent for his helmet. I hit a button. Frost clearly formed in the air around it.

In Detritus' eyes I could almost see thoughts crystallizing. The device was a modified anti-fire tool I'd found, creating a strong thermal dampening field that lowered temperatures to resist flammability. Now the cold field it was producing was spreading to cover Detritus' head, and by doing so it lowered the temperature of his brain. The impure silicon there would definitely become more conductive.

"I see what you need now, Doctor," Detritus said, his speech pattern becoming more... refined, I guess you could say. "You need me to fire this device into the center of the crack in the air?"

"Yes," I replied.

"I see. Give me a moment." Detritus fixed the flow inverter into Piecemaker's firing string. He brought it up as I raised my sonic and took about five seconds to aim.

"Detritus, please hurry," Vimes said, noticing as I did that the field was starting to shift more.

"It's going to fail any moment," Stibbons confirmed.

"This is a very complex calculation, Commander. I am sorry," Detritus replied. "Wait a moment.... there."

He pulled the trigger. The moment the inverter was in the air, I held a button and my sonic whirred to life.

The inverter passed through the field without issue - I had taken suitable precautions - and sailed for the center of the Crack.

The octarine field gave a final sputter of light and failed. The Gelth surged out and went for, well, everyone.

"Doctor!", Charity called out.

"Any moment," I answered, even as the first Gelth began to flow into the Crowd. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Vimes spasm - good luck to that Gelth, given Vimes' record when it came to possessions of his body - and Charity cry out as one slammed into her.

There was a sudden burst of light from the Crack. Screams echoed from both sides of the Gate. "No!", the Gelth inside Rincewind screamed. "We won't go back! Please, Doctor, don't make us...!"

"I'm sorry," I answered. "You should have accepted my offer."

There was a laugh. "It doesn't matter! It's all going to fall! In this place we might have been safe, but it's all falling! The breaks are growing! And you... you'll never stop it! It's all going to fall and you'll never stop waaaagghhhhohmygodswhatwasthat?!" Rincewind fell onto his knees and panted, looking at everything with, well, even more terror than was usual for Rincewind. The Gelth - now more energy than gas - was sucked out of him by the power of the Crack.

Other Gelth forms suffered the same, coming out of every body still inside the University and many outside of it. The blue-ish white forms flailed and twisted in mid-air, but it did them no good. The inversion had turned the Crack into an energy vacuum, and they were so tied to it that their energy was feeling the greatest reaction.

I watched every last Gelth form get sucked into the Crack and turned to the others. "Commander Vimes, Archchancellor Ridcully, Mister Stibbons, please come with me!" I looked to Charity. "You too, young lady."

Neither man was well-disposed to taking orders. But neither were they fools; I was clearly the expert here, and my authority rested entirely on the fact it was not authority, simply a proven expert asking two authority figures and men of great respect and admiration to assist me in my duties, which they graciously granted.

I led them into the TARDIS and handed Vimes and Ridcully the two tools for Crack-sealing. I would have preferred observing myself, but I was going to be too busy piloting the TARDIS and directing Charity and Stibbons to help. "Remember gentlemen, do not let your beams cross each other's."

"Aye, no crossing streams," Ridcully declared. "It always makes a mess."

I gave a quick nod, ignoring the innuendo. I saw Vimes was eyeing the quantum field manipulation emitter warily. "I'm afraid you can't just arrest a Crack, Commander Vimes. But this will do the trick."

"You'd be surprised at what I can arrest," Vimes muttered. He didn't know that I couldn't, I was well aware that Sam Vimes could and would arrest anything that gave him reason to.

"And make sure to secure yourselves so you don't get pulled out." Even as I gave that warning, remembering what happened to DiNozzo the last time, I rushed to the controls. "Esk, I need you on the Vortex Regulator," I said to her upon entering.

"Of course you do," she replied, taking up position beside it.

"MIster Stibbons, watch this... and this... if this turns yellow..." I gave him directions and then Charity, who was thankfully tall enouh to reach the necessary controls. I felt thankful the Crack was so close to the ground; I didn't have a full group of pilots available like I did last time I did this in mid-air. I scrambled between two stations as I brought the TARDIS into the air and closer to the Crack.

Ridcully and Vimes were good shots, and that was why I picked them. Granted, Ridcully's girth made for a tighter fit than I'd had with DiNozzo, but Vimes had just enough room to use the device I'd given him. The twin beams of light converged on the growing Crack. What seemed like a minute passed before I saw Esk begin to twist the regulator to close entirely. I watched from the controls as Ridcully and Vimes stepped back, just in time to avoid the worst of the burst of air that came from the Crack shifting out of our the three main spaital dimensions.

We landed the TARDIS at the Gate and stepped out into the dusk light of Ankh-Morpork (such as it was). Esk and I looked up toward the sky, my sonic and her staff raised. "It worked," she said.

"Yes."

"So the Crack is gone?", Stibbons asked.

"From the main three dimensions, yes," I replied. "But you may want to be careful if you start playing around in the lower dimensions. It's still there."

"I see. I shall definitely consider that with our studies."

Ridcully put a hand on my shoulder. "Good show, lad. Got a good head on your shoulders. Ever think about wearing a pointy hat?"

"Well, now that you mention it..." I stepped into the TARDIS and returned with my fez on. "Doesn't have a point, but it does have a tassel."

"Oh, that's one of those Klatchian things, yes? Never cared much for it, looks like you've got a thimble on your head."

"Respectfully, Archchancellor... Fezzes are cool."

"I shouldn't argue with him about it, Archchancellor," Esk warned. "He has a bizarre attachment to that bloody fez of his. The same thing with that boring blue suit."

"Oi, don't diss the threads."

That made Esk laugh. It was a hearty laugh, and one that I knew I'd probably hear quite a bit in the coming years. "It was good to see you again, Doctor. Surprising that this is our first meeting, but it feels right." She sighed. "Well, I suppose you'll be seeing me again, although I wonder if I'll see you."

"Oh, i'm sure I'll be back at times," I promised. "It goes in both directions."

'Yes." Esk let out a breath. "Well, I'm certainly not as young as I was. I think it's time I went and laid down. Before I go though..." She stepped up to me and lifted her head. When her hands touched my cheeks I let her pull my head down. I had thought she had intention of a kiss or something like that, but instead she put her mouth next to my ear. She whispered a name. When I brought my head back and showed confusion. "You won't understand the significance of that now," she sighed. "But you will one day. Goodbye Doctor." She nodded and, with a single word, faded from view.

"Always a strange one, Miss Smith," Ponder Stibbons remarked. "Aside from old Simon she hasn't done much to interact with anyone else."

"Doctor."

I looked past Stibbons and saw Vimes walk up to me. Carrot was at one side and on the other was someone I didn't recognize, and who was clearly not in the Watch. His dark dress made me think he was an Assassin at first, but I realized it wasn't nearly black enough for them. "Yes, Commander?"

"Can I see that locket of your's? The one you held when you made your pocket whatever appear?"

At the limit of my hearing I heard a crossbow bolt being locked into place. I couldn't see if it was Vimes or the other gentleman, but I knew what it meant. And I knew there was no way I'd get the TARDIS in place before I took a crossbow bolt to something sensitive, like... well, any fleshy piece of me.

Warily I held out the locket. The man in the dark suit looked to Vimes and nodded.

Vimes rolled his eyes and drew in a breath. And then, without warning, he promptly snatched it from my hand.

At that moment, I looked past the dark-suited man and saw Mister Pincher and Bumper standing amongst the crowd. Pincher was looking at me with an expression that almost shouted apologies along the lines of "Sorry, not my doing, out of my hands".

"The Thieves' Guild is accusing you of unlicensed thievery, sir," Vimes said.

I gawked at him. "But it's my property, that's blood rid...."

"And I can't have you running off with that magic box of your's before we get this settled," Vimes continued. "If it were up to me I'd let you and your lady friends go and call it a night, but the Thieves' Guild's already gone to Lord Vetinari. He wants to see you. Right now."

"Am I under arrest, Commander?", I asked pointedly.

"Do you need to be?", Vimes asked. "Because I can arrange that if you want. Refusing the city's tyrant certainly falls under the Being Bloody Stupid Act."

For a moment I just stared at him. And then I yielded to the inevitable. "Off to the Patrician's Palace then, I suppose. Always wanted to see what the Oblong Office was like."




At the waiting room for the Oblong Office I was reunited with Janias and Camilla while Vimes went in to give his report to Vetinari. They looked well enough and stood in the company of two female Watch officers with Captain ranks on their uniforms. Given one's blonde hair and the other's boyishly-short dark hair and, yes, I saw the tipped points of fangs in her teeth, their identities were clear to me even before Camilla introduced them as Angua and Sally. I gave a little bow and introduced myself and Charity, who had opted to accompany me. "This is Charity, a well-spirited young lady who helped a doddering newcomer to the city she found unconscious in an alley."

"Thank you for helping him, Charity." Janias' smile was full of her usual mischief. "He usually needs it."

"He's going to need a lot of it if the Thieves' Guild have it in their heads he's an unlicensed thief," Charity pointed out.

I noticed Sally was looking at me with intense curiosity, the kind you usually didn't want from a vampire. Discworld vampires were, if I may be guilty of bad punning, entirely different animals from the Red Court Vampires I'd faced down in Harry Dresden's cosmos. The black ribbon she wore was a common sight on vampires in this day and age of the Disc, showing her status as a Black Ribboner; essentially a Vampire temperance movement that refuses to drink the blood of humans or other sentient species (save trolls, for obvious reasons there). "Doctor, did you know you have two hearts?", she asked, her accent slightly off with just a hint of what I'd know as a Slavic tone.

"Time Lord physiology," I answered.

"I see. Very useful, two hearts."

"And your friend isn't Human either," Angua added, looking to Janias.

"Yes, I've yet to find a way to change her scent, Captain, but the holobelt usually works." I noticed Angua's sharp look and kept a neutral expression. Undoubtedly she'd intended for me to think Sally had realized that fact about Janias.

The door to the office opened. Vetinari's personal security, Drumknott, stepped out. "His Lordship will see you and your friends now, 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.

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

Postby Steve » 2017-01-05 09:31am

Vimes was standing at one side of Vetinari's desk while on the other was a man in a bowler hat with a couple of very large men at his sides; presumably he was Mister Boggis, President of the Thieves' Guild. At the desk was the man I'd expected to see; Lord Havelock Vetinari. Ankh-Morpork operated on the "one man, one vote" system, namely, Havelock Vetinari was the man and he had the vote. He was about the closest thing you'd ever find to the idea of a benevolent despot (unless you were a mime), which I considered to come from the fact that he had mastered his ego and preferred the slight hand of control over the bludgeon of power. A man didn't need the rack and thumbscrews when he could call upon the power of committees and councils.

Vetinari was an imposing man, but it was not from physical strength; he was shorter than I was and on the thin side, with a pointed and wel-kept beard. He looked like the quintessential Prince of Machiavelli; indeed I suspect this man, if introduced to "The Prince", would consider it a beginner's primer.

"Ah, Doctor, welcome," he said amiably. "I am pleased to see you are well. By all accounts you have had a very busy day in our fair city." There was an edge to the word 'fair'; Vetinari was cynical enough to know just what his people were really like.

"It's been a hectic day, yes. There is something about Ankh-Morpork that lends itself to hustle and bustle."

"Indeed. Unfortunately, some of your activities have been of questionable legality, so I'm thankful to have the chance to go over them with you. To start with, I have a note that Mister Krist, the owner of a fine establishment of glassware, has accused your friends of destroying his merchandise?"

"His rope snapped, sir. And he was... agitated."

"The same with the woman who's child was nearly crushed by his merchandise? She was also of the outspoken opinion that your lady friend caused the incident."

"Her child was threatened, Your Lordship, I'm not surprised that she jumped to conclusions out of fear for her baby."

"Yes indeed." Vetinari folded his hands together. "And the accusation that your friend is a witch?"

"There seems to be something of a concern over witchese these days. It may have contributed."

"So it does seem." Vetinari clearly knew there was more to this. "Thankfully, Captain Carrot's statement has corroborated that Mister Krist's rope was weak, and I think it is safe to say your view is fairly accurate." He shuffled paper on his desk. "On another matter... someone set fire to a portion of the Ankh River under the Misbegot Bridge."

I shrugged. "Someone was careless with a match, I imagine."

"It has been known to happen, yes." Vetinari looked over the paper. "Unfortunately, the fire damaged several riverfront buildings, three boats, and there was a case of a rather unfortunate young man who is currently be treated for burns at the Free Hospital."

"My word, someone was trying to swim in the Ankh?" I gasped.

"I'm sure you're aware of how young males can do foolish things in the name of a bet. I trust the case will be a reminder of the risks involved."

We exchanged a look that said how much that reminder would be heeded in our estimations.

The glance also said a lot about this interview. I was being tested. And that, I suspected, was just one part of Vetinari's purpose.

"Finally, Doctor, Mister Boggis and his Guild have accused you of unlicensed thievery."

"So I was told." This, of course, was the most dangerous issue for me. "I am curious as to the charge."

"According to the statement of Mister Pincher, you seized this locket from him." Vetinari held up my TARDIS remote.

"Does Mister Pincher's report relay the facts, that the locket was mine and stolen by him and that I left him six pounds of gold to cover the requested protection fee?"

"He did indeed." Vetinari smiled thinly. "However, that does not change the fact that you took possession of it and evaded him before making the payment, which the Thieves Guild sees as a clear act of theft."

I looked to Boggis and his frowning bodyguards. "Indeed? So in Ankh-Morpork, a man does not have the right to reclaim his property?"

"You will understand if the Thieves Guild is rather opposed to such a thought, Doctor," Vetinari pointed out. "To them it's not a case of reclaiming property but rather a second act of theft, thieving from thieves so to speak. They take an understandably dim view of that, you see. And as they are a respectable organization that helps to keep this city's crime under control, I feel obligated to give their viewpoints due consideration."

Which, of course, was not the same as agreeing with their viewpoints. I had a feeling this was merely the biggest stick Vetinari planned to wield in whatever dealings he wished to have with me. "I see Mister Boggis' point. Perhaps he would accept compensation of a sort, something to uphold the principle he feels I have crossed? I understand that with the new golem standard for this city's currency gold has lost some value, but surely another, say, ten pounds of gold would be sufficient for this purpose? And a solemn promise to never do it again, of course."

Vetinari said nothing, but I could see Boggis was smiling widely. I returned to smile. Vetinari saw the expression and kept his own faint smile. "What do you have to say to the gentleman's proposal, Mister Boggis?"

"Perfectly reasonable," Boggis announced.

"Capital," Vetinari remarked, showing an appearance of being pleased.

"I'm glad I could do business with you, Mister Boggis. May I request that some of my... recompensatory bequest be used to further benefit Mister Pincher? He is, I must say, the most professional and altogether decent mugger I have ever been mugged by. He does the Thieves Guild great credit."

"Pincher's one of my best," Boggis boasted. "Good to see you have a good eye for talent, Doctor."

In other words, my request was denied, graciously. I nodded to show I understood him and offered my hand. "A pleasure to do business with you, Mister Boggis."

After I shook hands with the Thieves Guild's president and watched him depart, we were left alone with Vimes, Vetinari, and Drumknott. "I believe this takes care of everything, Your Lordship?"

"It does, for the most part," Vetinari conceded. He stood up and walked to the window. "Would you mind stepping up, sir?"

I did so, standing beside the window with him. I was quite certain he wasn't intending something like having me shot by an assassin; it wasn't his style, especially not with Vimes in the room. "I hear we have you to thank for our city not being taken over by... what were they, Sir Samuel?"

"Ghosts of some sort," Vimes replied.

"Yes, ghosts, I suppose. I shall have to ask the Archchancellor for more information on what precisely happened, but Commander Vimes has made it quite clear to me that you were instrumental in thwarting the destruction of our city." He gestured out the window. "And when you look out upon this metropolis you have saved, Doctor, what do you see?"

Well, truthfully I simply saw a thick fog growing in the streets and the customary gray of Ankh-Morpork. But I knew what the Patrician was getting at. "A machine, running more smoothly than it has in years," I answered. "Just as I know I am standing beside the engineer responsible for this happy circumstance."

"Indeed," Vetinari answered. "The city is a machine, and it is a very difficult machine to operate at times. For all of the simplicity of the human condition - and the similar conditions of the dwarves and trolls and other fair races we now number amongst our citizenry - putting a million of them together in a confined space turns simplicities into a complex machine that demands a great deal of attention to keep running. I have, over the years, prided myself on knowing when and where the machine needs fixing, so you will understand if my primary concern is always for the functioning of the machine."

"So you say," I answered. I had my own views of sentient nature, but I decided to allow Vetinari his monologue, knowing it was building up to something.

"And today, Doctor, you arrived in my city. And the machine shook. Not severely, I grant, but nevertheless... I look at you and I see a being who can, quite easily, shake my machine to its very heart."

Ah, that was it then. "Yet I have not done so. Nor will I."

"Oh?" Vetinari's eyebrow went up. "Are you telling me that you refrain from tinkering with such things? That in your many travels, to whichever places you go to, you never interfere with what you see?"

He had me there, of course. "I have acted before, yes, when the situation required," I conceded.

"And who, Doctor, judged whether your involvement was required?", Vetinari asked.

"Ultimately, I did," I admitted. "Usually because I saw something terrible happening."

"So you have no authority you are responsible toward. You are a rogue element."

"I suppose you could say I am a free agent."

Vetinari's smile took on an edge. "I believe I just did, Doctor." He walked beyond me to stand by Vimes. "In this city, Doctor, there is an authority, and that authority must act with caution toward 'free agents' such as yourself. And so I would make a request of you, Doctor."

With great wariness, I asked, "And that would be?"

Vetinari reached over and took my hand. When he pulled it back, my TARDIS remote and key were in my hand again.

"My request, Doctor, is that you finish what remains of your current business in this city and depart."

"And never come back, I imagine?"

"I would not say never. Simply not soon. And when you return, do make sure you remember our talk?" Vetinari gestured to the door. "Please, don't let me detain you any further."

We filed out of the Oblong Office, with guards escorting us to the Palace entrance. Janias frowned and looked back at the Palace. "And he can just kick us out like that?"

"Oh, he was asking nicely. We don't want to make him ask unkindly."

"Yes, he may have to detain us further then," Camilla remarked drolly.

Seeing Mister Boggis' men were waiting for us at the TARDIS, crossbows in their hands but not held in immediate threat, I sighed. "Yes, that is exactly it. Anyway, let's get Mister Boggis his gold and visit some individuals under a bridge, I owe them something too."




It was not just dusk but almost night when I materialized the TARDIS beside Pseudopolis Yard, for Charity's benefit. "I wish Lord Vetinari wasn't making you leave," she admitted to me. "I enjoyed meeting you, Doctor, and you wonderful friends."

"The pleasure was mine, Charity," I replied. "Take care of yourself."

"Of course. I'm gonna be a copper, after all," she insisted. "But... I didn't want to, but I wanted to ask..."

"You want to see your mother," I finished for her.

She nodded.

I looked to the girls. "Well, Lord Vetinari wants me to leave at this time, visiting about.... oh, twelve years in the past shouldn't be hard. I shall have to take a scan of you first, Charity..."

After we took that scan, the TARDIS computers were able to calculate her age and give us a day. That alone wasn't going to be enough, as dozens, even hundreds of babies are born every day. Thankfully, Janias was able to give us a location to materialize in. We stepped out into an alleyway in one of Ankh-Morpork's seedier districts. There was a cry from an adjacent alley and we followed it.

There we saw a woman against the wall, screaming as she clearly gave birth. "Ah, here she comes, here she comes!", another woman, clearly a friend, called out. We watrched silently as the birth completed. I felt horrible watching this, knowing how poor these people were, and that with Charity with me I couldn't do anything to alleviate it without altering her timeline, and thus our encounter.

"A little girl, just like I tole you!", the midwife proclaimed. She showed the squealing baby to the other woman. She moved dirty brown locks out of her eyes and beheld her child. "D'ya have a name?"

"I... I..." The new mother's breath became erratic. "I'm not.... Oh Gods, Lanie..."

"I'll go get help!" The woman, with the baby still in her arms.

"No..! My baby...!" The mother watched the woman run off with the child.

I felt tears in my eyes at this point. But Charity was weeping. "That's my mum. It's my poor mum."

Before I could stop her, Charity ran forward to her mother. "Mum! Mum!"

The new mother looked up at the child running toward her. Charity threw her arms around her late mother... who wasn't quite so late yet. The woman stared at her, bewildered. But I watched as the confusion shifted into certainty. "My baby," she sighed. "It's really you, isn't it? The gods have sent you back to me."

"Not a god." Charity looked back at me. "Something better."

I looked heavenward, worried that a lightning bolt would come crashing down. But nothing happened. Maybe they weren't watching up on Dunmanifestin. Or they were enjoying the show too much. I wasn't going to ask.

"My little Sarah," the woman said, her voice hoarse. "My baby..." She faded into unconsciousness.

I stepped up and used the sonic to check her body. "She has internal bleeding, it's... I'm sorry, but it's too late."

"Yeah," Charity sniffled. "I know."

I put a hand on her shoulder and guided her back toward the TARDIS. As we came to a corner I felt something at the corner of my mind. I twisted my head to look back to the dying woman. I perceived a shape beside her, one that I had to focus to truly see.

A black cowl and robe. And a certain farming implement. The Reaper Man had come to tend to his harvest.

"Let's go back to your proper time, Sarah," I said, moving the crying Little Match Girl along.




When we returned to the time we'd left, Charity was sobbing quietly at a corner of the TARDIS. Camilla walked over and took the younger girl into her arms. "There, I know how it feels. I know."

It occurred to me I'd never asked her about her parents. Given she was a human slave in the Sith Empire... I thought it best to not ask.

There was little light left when Charity finally made her way to the door. "Please come back. I... I won't tell anyone if you come and visit."

I smiled softly at her. "I suspect, young lady, that Lord Vetinari would discover it anyway. Still, perhaps I shall come and see the wizards some time, I had Professor Stibbons ready to beg me to help him with his exotic time-space projects."

"Good. Then I'll see you sometime soon?"

"Expect me when you see me, my dear." I reached into my pocket and brought out a small pouch. "You've still got a few years before Vimes will let you take the King's Shilling, Charity, but this should keep a roof over your head until then."

She opened the pouch and looked at it intently. "It's.... more gold."

"Gold dollars. Not Ankh-Morpork dollars, certainly, but I'm betting you can find someone willing to buy the coins from you. If I were you, though, I would go straight to the Royal Bank in the morning and open an account with them. I'm sure Constable Visit or another Watchman will join you if they want an adult, and I suspect that the Chairman of the Bank, or rather his legal keeper, will be quick to give you a fair price for them. Not too much of one, but sufficient. Especially if you have a Watchman at your side." I winked.

"Doctor...."

I heard the warning in Janias' voice a moment before I saw him, or rather smelled him. That horrifying stench of corruption was like a razorblade to my smelling senses and I was getting fed up with it. I looked up and saw, down the alley, the dark figure of the Cunning Man approaching. "Excuse me," I said to Charity. I stepped back inside the TARDIS, pulled out a glass container of liquid I'd quickly prepared upon my return to the TARDIS, and stepped back out and up toward the approaching figure.

You will be mine! The witches will burn! They will all burn!

"No warnings this time!" I heaved the container. As I'd planned, it shattered right under the ghost's feet. "I already told you once and I'm not doing it again! BUGGER OFF!"

I brought my sonic up and activated it. It was a simple thermal pulse.

The liquid that had been inside the container erupted into flame. A flame that the Cunning Man was now in the middle of. He shrieked and flailed and cried out in rage before vanishing.

"Well, that takes care of him," I said.

"Is he gone?", Janias asked. "He couldn't be..."

"He never dies," I answered, even as the flames died behind me. "He can only be defeated for a time. And that wasn't nearly enough, oh no. He'll run off for a while and recover. Then he'll be back."

"You should let the wizards know," Charity said. "They can deal with him."

"I'm sure they do, but they're not quite the right tool for that job. Nor are we, my dears." I saw the look on my Companions' faces. "No, the Cunning Man has another nemesis. There's a very bright and quite powerful young witch out in the Chalk Hills who will deal with him in due time." I glanced at Charity. "And I didn't say that."

"My lips are sealed, sir," Charity promised.

"Good." I knelt down and exchanged a hug with her. "Take care of yourself, Charity. You're a very special girl."

"Thank you, sir."

She exchanged hugs with Jan and Cami and skipped down toward the other end of the alley.

"Well, it's time to go," I sighed. "We'll have to come back at a further point in the time stream to do some touring."

"Captain Carrot offered to take us to a few places when we got out," Camilla revealed.

"Unsurprising. Perhaps we'll all take him up on that."

The girls stepped into the TARDIS. As I went to, I felt something again, something I'd felt shortly before. I turned back from the TARDIS door.

"Doctor?", Cami called from within.

"I'll be right there," I replied. "Just one last thing."

Death was standing in the alleyway.

"So, checking up on Charity, are you?", I asked politely.

YES. I KEEP AN EYE ON HER WHEN THE DUTY PERMITS. Death set his scythe to the side. THANK YOU FOR YOUR KINDNESS TO HER.

"It's all part of what I do," I replied. "So..."

A thought occurred to me. If Death wasn't entirely limited to the Discworld, could he know....

I DO NOT KNOW YOUR TRUE NAME, he replied, pre-empting me. NOR DO I KNOW ANYTHING OF WHAT WAS DONE TO YOU.

"Oh? So you're just limited to the Disc?"

NO. THE EXPLANATION IS... COMPLEX. IT INVOLVES SIX DIMENSIONAL WIBBLY WOBBLY, YOU MIGHT SAY.

"Ah." I drew in a sigh. "I don't suppose you'd happen to have my..."

I DO. BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT I AM HERE FOR. He reached into his robes. I THOUGHT IT BEST FOR YOU TO SEE THIS YOURSELF.

I watched him pull out two objects. I could see immediately that they were lifetimers. And I didn't need a Time Lord brain to guess whom they belonged to.

Of course, the Aurabesh writing on them made that clear anyway.

I watched the sands flow from the top bulbs to the bottom, in perfect synch. "Is there any way for me to know how long that actually is?", I asked quietly.

NO. THERE IS... UNCERTAINTY.

"But it's.... yes, I suppose it would still flow." I swallowed. "I see. Yes, thank you for showing me."

I CAN SEE THE DECISION WILL NOT BE AN EASY ONE FOR YOU. IT IS NOT EASY TO BE ALONE, DOCTOR. BUT THERE IS ALWAYS DUTY. YOU KNEW THIS WHEN YOU ASSUMED THE NAME.

"Yes," I replied. I knew my voice was hoarse from emotion. "I know."

I WILL BE GOING NOW. THERE IS AN ACCIDENT IN KRULL THAT MUST BE SEEN TO.

"Give your granddaughter my regards," I said. "I suspect she and I will meet some time. It's how the Disc works, after all."

I WILL DO SO. TAKE CARE, DOCTOR. I SHALL SEE YOU AGAIN SOMETIME.

"Yes, I imagine so."

I didn't look back to watch him disappear. I was starting to think of those lifetimers he showed me, and what they meant. I knew that sand would run out before anyone would know it... well, save Death himself of course, that is rather his job.

Janias and Camilla met me at the controls. "Well, that was a trip," Camilla remarked. "We got hauled off to jail and you had to run around this whole stinking city."

"Yes. It was a rather unique experience. I think some of Rincewind's luck rubbed off on me."

"What happened to that guy anyway?," Janias asked. "I've never seen anyone run so fast."

"I imagine he had to help with the cleanup at the University. Ridcully probably yelled at him a bit, but he'll be fine. It wasn't his fault. Rincewind tends to be fortune's chewtoy at times." I drew in a breath. "The bigger question is... the Gelth. They came through the Crack. They were from the Doctor's cosmos and they came through the Crack."

"That's... bad?"

"It's... it's bad and it's good and I don't know." On a whim I tried to lock onto the Doctor's cosmos again. It didn't work. "I still can't go there myself. But there's a connection there. I know there's some kind of connection."

"We'll figure it out, just give it time, Doctor," Camilla said, trying to be reassuring.

I nodded at that, trying to get the image of their lifetimers out of my head. Death was doing us all a favor, I knew that. But to be reminded so starkly.... "Well, time waits for no one, not even a Time Lord," I announced. "Let's go find somewhere nice to visit. What do you say?"

"You're the pilot of this thing," Janias reminded me with a smirk. "We're just your hapless Companions."

"Not hapless, my dear, never hapless," I pointed out as I reached for the lever. "Well, it was nice to see the Disc, we'll have to come back some time." I know I will be coming back some time, I thought.

As I pulled the lever back, I mulled over the name that Eskarina had whispered into my ear. It sounded so familiar, but my mind couldn't focus on it.

It would be a long time before I found out just what that name meant to me.

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

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2017-01-07 09:48am

Short 11 - Poking The Beast


My TARDIS is such a rascal sometimes.

So here me and my companions are, ready for a relaxing nature walk on Vesper Prime. I shifted the TARDIS as usual and put my hands together. "I hear the weather's always mild on their temperate island chains."

"It'd better be," Janias responded. "That last place you took us to was a sauna."

"Saunas can be good. Saunas..." I stopped mid-sentence as I opened the TARDIS and stepped out.

There was no delightful beach on the other end. No verdant forest or white sands. It was a military landing area with a number of uniformed men and women lined up, some armed with rifles and some not. A shuttle had recently landed, it seemed, with a line of people escorted out. At first glance it looked to be a welcoming committee of some sort, but seeing the body language of the visitors showed what kind of welcoming committee it was: not very welcoming to the guests.

Having seen the starbursts on most of those present, not to mention the flags, my eyes settled on the uniformed "guests" and the particular insignia on them. No starburst. Rather a golden form of an animal of some sort, winged and with a nasty looking tail. Not a chimera....

Oh, yes. A manticore.

Manticore.

It was about that point I realized where I was. And that "guest" and "host" alike were staring at me. One particular set of blue eyes, attached to a head of golden hair and a diminutive frame almost trembling with energy, was distinctly focused on me, in the fashion of a person who's moment of glory is being unexpectantly spoiled. A couple of rifles were starting to turn my way.

Like I said, my TARDIS is such a rascal.

"I forgot to carry the two," I proclaimed aloud. I wagged my finger. "I always forget the two. Why do I always...?" I looked back into the TARDIS. "Girls, I forgot to carry the two again!"

On cue, they groaned. Loudly.

I looked back to the assembled and clapped my hands together. "I always forget the... oh, I'm sorry. I'm interrupting something. So rude of me. So terribly rude. Hello, everyone. I'm the Doctor." My hand slipped into my pocket just long enough to grab my sonic screwdriver. Given the guns leveled at me, I took it out slowly. "Laser pointer. The tip is purple. I love purple. Now..."

"Who are you?", the blonde demanded.

"As I said, I'm the Doctor. I'm..." I almost said "Time Lord" but my brain shouted that down. Not the wisest term to use given this one's.... viewpoints. "...a Gallifreyan. Just look Human. Two hearts, though, brain's all different. Anyway, whom do I have the pleasure of speaking with?"

That brought some confusion to mix with the growing anger. Clearly this one didn't expect me to be ignorant of her. "This is Citizen Secretary Cordelia Ransom," one uniformed man said, looking very much like he was trying to keep the situation from exploding. Good man, that one. "Secretary of Information for the People's Republic."

"Ah, I see." I gave a confused look. "Citizen Secretary? Curious use of words there. Doesn't that imply that someone can be a secretary and not be a citizen?"

"It is to enforce equality," Ransom growled. "Those who believe otherwise are obvious Enemies of the People."

"Oh, well, I can't have that, always liked the People myself. A little strange in costume but... wait, you're not talking about the Village People. Or the People of Song. Sorry, I get mixed up easily. What People are you talking about?"

I kept my voice vibrant but not assertive and did my best to not eye the guns being pointed my way. I knew that at any moment the order to shoot might be given - the good Secretary, I mean, Citizen Secretary was clearly not in good sorts - and that meant keeping that order from being given meant I had to keep her off-balance.

Minds like Cordelia Ransom's remind me of the Churchill saying: "Fanatics can't change their mind and won't change the subject". Any indication that I was on the subject of her fanaticism would simply play into her narrow mind and trigger a response. The solution was to derail the Ransom train by confusing the hell out of her with things that didn't fit into that narrow mind. They were all already off balance by my sudden unexpected arrival, and I was good at rolling with those in a way they weren't. I just had to... press that advantage as long as I could.

"The People," Ransom hissed, "are the common citizens."

"Ah, I see now. Those People. Jolly good, always liked the People. Help them out when I can. Saved a whole galaxy of People once. Got shot. Long story." I smiled and put my hands together, checking my sonic in the process to see what I was dealing with. "I do so apologize for the interruption, by the way, but I'll make it up to you. How would you like to see the Amethyst Cliffs of Jeli? They're very lovely."

"I am not..."

"No? Hrm, yes, I gather you're more the type for the Obsidian Prisms." With no immediate reply, I continued. "Crystal spires of Tuzanor? Oh come now, I'm sure a Citizen Secretary's job is difficult enough that a vacation is warranted, some relaxing time in Bajor's Kendra Valley perhaps, or the sights of Ashalla."

"There can be no vacations while the elitists of Manticore continue to attack us!", Ransom raged. "And you are interfering with the punishment of these Enemies of the People!"

"Really?" I leaned forward conspiratorially. "What did they do?"

"This is Commodore Harrington, the war criminal who butchered the sailors of the Sirius at Basilisk!", Ransom thundered. "Everyone knows what she did?"

"Sorry, I'm a traveler, don't always stay up on the news." I looked to the stone-faced Manticoran Commodore, a woman with Caucasian and East Asian features and a cat perched on her shoulder. "Killing innocent people? Tsk tsk tsk. Bad Commodore. Bad." I waggled the sonic at her... giving me the opportunity to check on the scans. Magnetic firearms. Oooh, I knew how to deal with those. I surreptitiously switched the sonic screwdriver to counter such weapons. I looked back to Ransom. "Are you sure you don't want to go off on a little cruise? I can return you to this point in time, and you look like you could use a good vacation."

Ransom looked like she was fit to explode.

"Ah, I'll take that as a no, or a maybe later," I continued, keeping my voice chipper and jolly. It was clear my deception was running its course; the train had been kept off the tracks up until now, but pure rage was shifting her into gear. I moved on to the next phase of my plan, namely, the cat on Commodore Harrington's shoulder. "Oh, isn't he cute?", I cooed, walking up to the woman and looking at her cat. He had six arms. "Hexalimbed feline species... oh, quite a good looking one too. I'm sorry Citizen Secretary, but I'm quite a cat lover. Can't get enough of kittens." I brought my hand up and stroked the cat under the chin, causing both him and the woman he was perched on to stare at me in wonderment. "Isn't he so cuuute, yes he is."

The moment I made contact I knew I might have, at most, a second before the irate treecat tried to saw my finger off. The reason I risked mutilation? I knew that this species tended to forge solid empathic links with humans they lived with, to the point that the wounding of one caused pain for the other; indeed killing the cat would have undoubtedly done major harm to the woman as well. And that empathic link was something I could use with my own psionic capacity. Calm down there, my good cat. And Commodore Honor Harrington, isn't it? Don't look surprised, but narrow your left eye if you hear me.

She did so, clearly shocked.

Okay. When you get the signal, get your people and run for that police call box. You'll know when.

"She is an enemy!", Ransom raged, finding her voice finally. "An Enemy of the People, a murderer of our citizens, and a symbol of elitist oppression! By patronizing with her and that ridiculous pet you prove yourself another Enemy of the People and...."

"You know, I've seen several examples of rhetoric like this," I declared, shedding my smile and beginning to scowl. "People who declare all of their opponents, no matter their motives, to be more than just 'wrong' but actively malicious. 'Enemy of the People'. Such a loaded term. By its very nature it implies someone is against the whole of society regardless of the truth of their beliefs." I focused my eyes on Ransom. "And then there's always someone like you, fanning the flames of intolerance and hatred until they consume everything, even those you claim to be standing for."

"Shoot him!", Ransom ordered her bodyguards.

They brought up their rifles. But my sonic came up faster.

The pulse I sent out with it was an energetic pulse keyed to the capacitors in their "railgun" firearms. The guns' barrels exploded, although it was more of a loud popping noise with sparks. I swung the screwdriver around, emitting the field as I went. Weapons all over the landing area when pop-spark-crackle-fizz.

"And now we run!", I shouted.

The guards, I give them credit. They tried to stand their ground. Their guns could no longer fire, but they were still lethal clubs, and they advanced on me and the Manticoran prisoners with weapons raised.

There was a flash of purple light in my vision and the familiar snap and hiss sound of a lightsaber being activated. Janias had gotten enough practice with me that she was a deadly combatant now when she got the room, spinning and slicing and jumping about. She scythed through a platoon that was moving to cut us off from the TARDIS.

Granted, that still left a few dozen military personnel to overwhelm us... but they were hitting the floor. I glanced and saw Camilla standing by the TARDIS entrance, a familiar-looking assault rifle in her arms. The assembled officers and soldiers hit the deck to avoid getting shot as mass effect-propelled rounds zipped over their heads.

I pulled out the sonic disruptor and used it to send a guard rushing me into another attempting to attack one of Harrington's crew. For their part they were making short work - well mostly - of the guards who had been nearest to them.

"Stop them!", Ransom screamed. "Stop...!"

She didn't get to say another word. My little feline friend, having refrained from slicing my fingers to bits, decided on another target. It's surprising how quickly six legs can let something move.

And it's not so surprising how six legs with razor-sharp claws on the end can ruin a person, as the Citizen Secretary found out. I actually turned away, not wanting to see more as blood poured from Ransom's face with Nimitz latched on. A spurt of blood in the corner of my vision told me he'd found her carotid.

The guards were down by this point, wounded by Janias' lightsaber or by the attacks of the Manticoran crew. They were streaming into the TARDIS now, a couple of them wounded in various ways but, for the moment, intact.

As I got to the door I looked at Cami. "Where did you get that?!", I demanded.

"Garrus," she replied. "He said something about how anyone crazy enough to let Shepard shoot him would be needing better cover fire."

"I'm going to have words with Mister Vakarian, I don't like...." I stopped myself, remembering we still had the business of escaping, preferably before some enterprising Havenite manned a shuttle or some other armed craft. "Everyone in? Good!", I said instead, noticing everyone looking around the TARDIS control room. "Bigger on the inside."

As I reached for the controls, the thought came to me. Why was I feeling so upset that Cami had an assault rifle? I'm a practical man, aren't I?

The only thought in response was The Doctor doesn't use guns.

Seeing the looks I was getting as I set the coordinates, I spoke out loud/ "Okay everyone, next step is Manticore. I think I have these coordinates right, a nice scenic park in the capital, should be a marvelous view..." I pulled the lever. VWORP VWORP VWORP. "Hear that sound? Lovely sound. Always a lovely sound. Hand-brake my arse." I looked up to see the assembled officers all glancing at each other. I could see what the looks on their faces meant; everything had turned topsy turvy on them and they were wondering what was going on. "This is my TARDIS, by the way. It's bigger on the inside because of dimensionally transcendental technology. She decided to be an utter rascal and drop me into that little scene, so I played along." With the VWORPing stopped I walked back to the door. "And now, here we...."

I opened the door, stepped out.... and faced down a gun pointed in my face.

Quickly I took in my surroundings. The man was in battle armor of a sort, but clearly it had a ceremonial as well as practical purpose. There were other armed men present as well - armed men and women I should say - and... this was understandably so, as we were not in a park but in a large hall. A throne room of sorts, actually.

A woman with dark skin looked at me with surprise and irritation. She was seated in a throne. And I noticed the Manticoran insignia on her clothing and on the flag behind her. Queen Elizabeth, then.

I certainly do know how to drop in, don't I?

"I forgot to carry the two again," I muttered. I executed a slight bow so I wouldn't get shot by a bodyguard thinking I was up to something. "I'm sorry for the surprise, Your Majesty, I forgot the two again."

The woman's eyes widened, as did those of her officials, when Commodore Harrington stepped out behind me, her fellow officers following her. "Commodore Harrington?"

Honor executed a proper bow. "Your Majesty."

"I had been told you were captured by Haven," the Queen said. "Who is this man, and what is that... 'police call box'?"

"I'm not entirely sure myself," she answered. "But he faced down Cordelia Ransom and rescued us."

"Yes, that was... a pleasant outcome to an unintended visit," I replied. "I am the Doctor, Your Majesty, and that is my TARDIS. I was pleased to be of assistance to you and your officers. The Havenites are rather nasty buggers at the moment, showing them up was my pleasure."

She looked to an aide. "Summon the Admiralty and the Cabinet, now. We must all hear this."

I drew in a sigh. I really hated having to repeat stories to these types. Especially since there'd inevitably be someone who wanted to use the TARDIS as a weapon. But I had a number of guns pointing at me so, well, have to do what I can, right?




After a few hours of explanations and a rather splendid impromptu banquet, I stepped back into the TARDIS to check something important. Janias and Cami were already heading to bed. I would have to talk to Cami later about that rifle, although... what did I have to object to? Sometimes you need a firearm.

Again my inner voice spoke in my head. The Doctor doesn't use guns.

Qhen I came back out, Honor was waiting for me. "Thank you for rescuing us," she answered. "Ransom was going to murder Nimitz."

"Yes. I rather suspect that's why he did such a job on her face." I held out a data crystal solid. "You should be able to get one of your computer technicians to find a way to extract the data from this, I'm not so familiar with your average storage devices."

Honor accepted the crystal. "What's on it?"

"It's a solar system that your forces should really try to take. Quietly, you don't want Haven to know you know about it," I answered. "It's their prison planet. There are prisoners there who will prove of use to your Kingdom and its war effort."

"I see." She pocketed the crystal. "It's where I would have ended up if you hadn't come along, isn't it?"

"Yes. Ransom had plans." I smirked. "Your crew would have ruined them, of course, but you would have been stuck there in the process.. And I think I can safely say you will prefer this outcome to that one. Being stuck for two years in a bad place like that isn't an enjoyable experience."

"Indeed not." I sensed she was still a little... wobbled, perhaps? I had just drastically changed what she and the others knew of the world. "I hope you return sometime, Doctor. We could use good men like you against Haven."

"You'll do a bang-up job against them, don't worry. And I may check in. Though..." I leaned closer to her to whisper. "I must warn you, Commodore. Haven is not your true enemy. They must be dealt with, but there is a greater threat." I lowered my voice more. "I can't say much, I've altered your timeline enough already. But I must sum it up in one word: Mesa."

"Mesa?"

"Yes. Mesa. Be very careful with that word, Commodore. And be ready to speak on it when the time is right." I smirked. "I may be back by that point. I have... issues with the forces at play there."

"I really wish you would be straight forward about this," she complained.

"Sorry. I'm a Time Lord. We enjoy this sort of thing." I winked. "Take care, Commodore. Enjoy your early return home, and don't forget about that prison planet."

"Safe travels, Doctor."

I gave a nod in reply and stepped into the TARDIS. When I got to the controls I waggled a finger at them. "Okay you, this time no tricks!"

I heard a giggle in the air and knew my request would be futile.

And, I suppose, I wouldn't have had it any other way.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2017-01-07 09:48am

Short 12 - A Little Comfort

Every once and a while, I would keep up my practice of visiting Princess Katherine, continuing my plan to nudge her future away from the terrible figure she would otherwise become.

I had attended her seventh birthday party as was my usual course, but the sour note of the War of 3039 and the declining, terminal condition of her grandmother Katrina had dampened the festivities. Knowing Katrina’s time would come soon, I returned quickly to the aftermath of her passing.

Katherine was in her room, wearing a plain light blue dress and blouse, staring outside the window. The mycosia I had given her two years prior, in her timeline anyway, was standing up to the Tharkad cold as I promised it could. I looked at her guard and took a step in. "Hello, Katherine."

When she looked up at me, it was with red, teary eyes. "They buried my grandmother," she said quietly.

"I see." I knelt down beside her. "I’m sorry."

She put her arms around my shoulders and cried softly. As she did so, I found myself considering that I was actually succeeding. In the original timeline, Katherine had tried to color her hair red to look like Natasha Kerensky, wanting to be the center of attention; fueling that desire for praise and worship that would eventually flower into megalomania.

Her hair had no such color here. It was its usual fine blond tone. And I could sense her deep, real grief.

In short… Katherine was being a good girl. And I’d made her a promise on that account.

I looked to the bodyguard at the doorway. "Can you see if Archon Melissa has the time to visit us? Let her know I’m here."

He nodded. Many of the guards here knew me by now, and my friendliness with the rulers. He made the call over the radio.

When Melissa came, I could see she had been crying as well. Not in public, of course; royalty doesn’t do that. But in private… of course she had.

I executed a respectful bow. "Your Highness. My condolences for your loss."

"Thank you," she replied simply. "You wished to see me?"

"Yes…. I wanted to make a request and an offer." I patted Katherine on the head. "A brief excursion from this grief-stricken palace may be for the best."

"You mean you wish to take us somewhere in that device of your’s."

"Yes. Not for long, but to give you some time away from all of… this."

I saw the conflicted look in her tear-reddened eyes as she considered the offer and her duties. She looked down and over to Katherine who was watching intently. There was a pleading look on the young lady’s face. Seeing her daughter’s wishes had clearly shifted Melissa towards my offer, so only moments later she nodded. "Let us get ready, and we will be off," she answered.



Katherine was quite intrigued by the size of the courtyard when we arrived in the snowy northern kingdom I had selected. The guards recognized me and brought their halberds to attention.

"They hold you in rather high esteem," Melissa noted.

"Oh, it was nothing much. I saved the princess’ boyfriend earlier in this winter," I answered nonchalantly. "Oh, and there was that whole business with that duke’s invasion fleet, but I didn’t do much there, honestly…"

The main doors opened before we got to them. I bowed respectfully to the figure that emerged, resplendent in a teal gown. "Your Majesty," I intoned. "May I introduce Her Majesty the Archon Melissa and her daughter, Princess Katherine? Archon, Princess, this is Her Majesty Queen Elsa of Arendelle."

Katherine’s eyes widened. "The Snow Queen?", she asked, her wonder overwhelming whatever protocols and social rules exist for these kinds of things.

Elsa laughed. "That is what they call me, yes. Welcome to Arendelle, Princess, Archon. Please, come in. We have some time before dinner is served. And you can tell me the reason for this visit…"




Some time later, with dinner soon at hand, we were assembled in the Great Hall of the Palace. I stood by myself, allowing the others to mingle, and mingling they were. Janias, Camilla, and Melissa were chatting with Ana - sharing relationship advice from what I could tell - while Katherine gleefully played with Olaf in a snowdrift Elsa had made for her. The red in her eyes had subsided at this point and I could see that the visit was a success. Her wounded heart was mending.

Elsa stepped up beside me. "Archon Melissa tells me that you saved Katherine and her brother from an assassin."

"Well, yes. I was just at the right place and the right time." I smirked. "That seems to be the usual thing for me."

"You do enjoy bringing your friends to visit us."

"Your Majesty’s hospitality has endeared itself to me."

"But this seems different than the last time."

"Yes." I watched Katherine giggle and plow into a snow-drift after cartwheeling away from Olaf. "She’s much like you were, Elsa. She has a potential that can go either way."

"And you’re keeping her on the right path?"

"I’m only trying to give her another choice, an outlet for all of that energy and ambition."

"I see." Elsa looked toward me. "I won’t criticize you for always wanting to help, Doctor, but sometimes people have to learn things their own way."

I remained silent at that for a moment. I knew she was speaking from experience there. "I’m trying not to direct her, only to show her other possibilities. If I were to direct it then, yes, I would be in the wrong." I sighed. "She might make the wrong choice yet. I hope she won’t. I’ll do everything I can to show her alternative possibilities. But don’t worry, I’m not going to forcefully change her life."

"I didn’t think so. But it feels better hearing you say it." After another moment of silence she asked, "Will you ever be bringing Korra back for a visit?" Elsa’s smile turned playful and a bit, dare I say it, wolfish?

"I’m not sure. Arendelle may not survive a rematch between you two."

"That, my dear Doctor, is what the ice castle is for."

I held that mental image in my brain for a couple of moments before we both began to laugh.




The TARDIS re-materialized in the throne room of the Lyran Commonwealth. My illustrious guests stepped out. "Will I get another ride?!", Katherine asked, filled with the impatience and exuberance of a child. "I want to meet Sir Harry!"

"When you’re older," I said. Much older, in fact. I looked at Melissa. "And if your parents permit it, I shall take you somewhere on each birthday."

"That is something Hanse and I will have to discuss," Melissa answered. "But you have proven yourself worthy of trust, Doctor. I’ll keep that in mind when we have that talk."

"Thank you, Archon, that is the only thing I can rightly ask for." I nodded to both of them. "I hope the excursion has been a relief to you. I shall be going now."

"First, Doctor..." Melissa looked down at her daughter, the meaningful look of a parent expecting their child to remember something socially important.

Dutifully, Katherine hugged me around the waist. "Thank you, Doctor, for letting me ride your magic box."

"You are welcome, dear Princess," I answered. "I will look forward to seeing you next year."




We were back on the TARDIS and taking a break. I was reading another book on quantum effects, Janias was practicing her lightsaber technique, and Camilla was doing little of anything but sitting and enjoying a drink. "Katherine is quite a sweet little girl," she said, ending the silence.

"Yes," I answered.

"How much of it is you?"

"None, hopefully," I replied. Granted, it was a bit of a naive one. One can hardly do what I was doing and not have an influence. "I’m just giving her another outlet. Otherwise she’d know nothing but the politics of the Inner Sphere, and that would lead her ambition toward wanting power. And then things would go wrong. Things might still go wrong. There’s no guarantee she won’t make the same choices even with my alternative."

"And if she does, you’ll try to alter things to prevent her from making those choices?"

It was a direct question, and a sharp one. I drew in a breath. "I hope I don’t," I finally said. "I have to have limits, Cami."

"Yes, you do, but sometimes I think you’re starting to forget that. That whole business with the Air Nomads…"

I sighed. "Yes. I suppose that toed a line. But we stayed on the right side of that line, Cami."

"And with Jan and I here to watch you, you’ll continue to."

As she said those words, two hourglasses returned to my memory. I could remember the bony hands of Death holding the Aurabesh-lettered timers and their synchronized sand flows. "Cami, thank you for that, but that won’t last forever."

"We’re not leaving, Doctor," Cami insisted. "We’ve got nothing to go to."

"That doesn’t mean you won’t." Or that they’d have a choice. We had done so many dangerous things…

"And what would happen to you if you were alone?", Cami asked pointedly.

I stared into space. "I don’t know," I finally answered. "I…" ...didn’t want to be alone and couldn’t bring myself to think about it. But I didn’t say that. It’d make them feel even more obligated.

Because I knew the time would come when I’d have to let them go. Death had made that point clear.

And as always happens in such circumstances, that time would come sooner than I had imagined...
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2017-02-18 11:14pm

Episode 10 - A Better Way

The TARDIS doesn't always take you where you're looking to go but where you need to be. That's one of the rules. Always has been. It had already happened to me, hadn't it?

And yet, sometimes, it still surprised me with where it decided to deposit us.

Here I was, thinking we were stepping out into a brisk, lovely day on Minbar, and instead I'm in the foothills of one of Bajor's mountain regions.

How did I know it was Bajor? Because I recognized the vista. The newly-made grave, and the ragged-clothed figure kneeling beside it, her hair longer than I'd ever known it to be.

"Nerys," I murmured to myself. Behind me Janias and Cami looked out from the entrance.

When she looked up I could see the pain and fury in her eyes. She'd just buried her father, as I knew she would, and she had gone off to fight rather than face watching him die.

I should have been better prepared for something like this, but I wasn't. I said nothing as she stormed up to me and, without a moment's hesitated, punched me right in the jaw. Given my height, that was very impressive. It caused me to reel backward and into the others. "Why?!," Nerys demanded, grabbing my jacket collar.. "Why didn't you let us go with you?! Why didn't you save him?! Why did you make me stay and live with this?! WHY?!"

I had remained silent to that point, prompting my Companions to do the same, but when she broke down into bitter sobs I hugged her, ignoring the pain in my jaw from her punch. I felt lucky she hadn't broken anything; given the slightly mal-nourished look on her, I suspected I would have had a broken jaw if she was fit.

"I'm sorry, Nerys," I whispered, feeling a tear in my own eye as I remembered the poor little girl who'd lost her brothers and who had begged me to let her stay in the TARDIS. Even when I thought about how, as second-in-command of Deep Space Nine, she had told me she understood why I left her and that she was glad to fulfill her role… I still felt deep regret and a sense of shame.

"Why won't you do anything for us?", Nerys asked. "You can help us against the Cardassians so much…"

"You'll beat them soon enough," I assured her. "Bajor will be free. If I do anything to interfere in that, it'll change your history, and likely not for the better."

"And how long will it take? How many of us are going to be beaten and tortured and killed by the Cardassians before they run off?" I could sense her fear and heartache. "Will I live to see it?"


"Yes," I answered. "You will. And it won't be far into the future. But it's not something I can force, Nerys. Not without changing history, and that could make things worse."

"I can't see how much worse they can be." Now doubt appeared in her features. "I… I can't believe you, Doctor. The Cardassians are so powerful that we'll never make them leave Bajor. And the Federation won't support us. You say they're going to leave, but why would they?"

It was, I think, a good question. It was never satisfactorily answered to my recollection, although Federation diplomatic pressure may have contributed. But I didn't know.

"They'll have their reasons," I answered. "I promise."




We gave Nerys food and drink for her Resistance cell before she left. I closed the door to the TARDIS as she disappeared from sight and sighed. I wished, more than ever, that I had taken that sweet eight year old girl with me, had gotten her away from this horror.

We stood around quietly. "Well, she looks well enough, I guess," Janias finally said.

I remained silent.

"Doctor, you still did the right thing."

"I left an eight year old girl on a world full of violence, poverty, and terror," I answered. "Even though she begged me for sanctuary. Even though it was cruel."

"But you knew her future and how she would become something important."

"No, I believed she would. Because of what I believed, I left a little girl on a world like this. It's wrong, Cami. The timeline be damned, it's wrong."

"But you keep saying that the timeline has to be kept," Cami protested. "You can't just go changing it wherever you please."

"No, no I can't," I conceded.

Silence reigned amongst us for a little longer before Janias posed a question. "Why did they leave Bajor, anyway?"

The question cut into my unhappy mind, demanding a response.

And after thinking on it a moment, I realized the response was, "...I don't have a bit of an idea."

"You don't?"

"No. A lot of things were attributed; Federation diplomatic pressure, the costs of fighting the resistance on a planet they had already strip-mined… but nothing definite." I frowned. I didn't like that I couldn't be certain about this.

"Well, at least we know they're leaving eventually,' Janias pointed out. "And given all the times you've talked to us about bat things eating everyone if someone interferes in history the wrong way…"

"Why did the Cardassians withdraw?", I asked quietly as I worked the TARDIS controls. "It's a big question, isn't it? Great mystery, there. And you know how I like mysteries."

"And how much you like to get into trouble trying to solve them," Camilla laughed.

"Don't forget the people we meet," Janias added. "Like that guy in the bay city who kept wiping things down before he'd touch them."

"Now now, the good Mister Monk has his… eccentricities, but he's a pleasant chap, and sometimes I think his eye for detail would surpass even a Time Lord's." I finished locking in the coordinates. "Well girls, time to visit Cardassia Prime for the first time. I'm afraid it's not much for sight-seeing, however…"




I wasn't exaggerating when I said Cardassia Prime wasn't much for sight-seeing. It was a polluted world with all of the trappings of an authoritarian system bordering on outright totalitarianism. And they didn't like strangers.

It was a good thing we weren't there for sight-seeing.

It took a few tries, but I finally materialized the TARDIS into the right time - about six months before the withdrawal - and what looked to be a small, unoccupied office, probably the private office of a mid-level functionary of the government. I didn't bother to check, as I was too busy disabling the security systems from the doorway to my stealthed up TARDIS to check. Once I was sure we wouldn't be detected immediately I stepped out, my sonic still in hand, and went to the controls. "Janias, let me know if anyone is coming," I murmured.

My good ex-Padawan friend nodded and stood by the door, reaching out with her senses and keeping a hand on her lightsaber. Camilla stood at the TARDIS to cover us with that mass effect assault rifle that a certain Turian gun enthusiast gifted her.

The computer system built into the desk was easily accessed and, with the screwdriver's help, I was able to override security lockouts to get fairly deep into the system. But not deep enough. Or, rather, without the benefit I needed; the Cardassians kept the information I was looking for on an isolated system accessibly only from the big offices or from Central Command itself. "Oh, this is going to be annoying," I muttered. "Give me a moment. I need to mess with the security systems some more, and then we have another office to visit."

I couldn't outright disable security, that would get noticed. So would meddling. But small alterations and bits could work, Specifically a forced diagnostic cycle and programming it on the fly to ignore our specific life sign readings and then to self-delete the record when the automatic systems triggered a backup reload of detection parameters. Apparently the Cardassians knew about this trick already, blast it, requiring my extra work and limiting my window of opportunity.

"We're only going to have a few minutes, so I'm going to have to move fast," I told the girls. "Stay in the TARDIS."

I shifted the TARDIS out and into another office, that of a Legate - Ghemor, I think, which would make this supremely ironic - and stepped back out. The security systems were of diminished use, but only for the moment, so I went straight to the computer and began loading everything to do with Bajor into my sonic screwdriver's memory and, from there, into the TARDIS computer.

I kept an eye on the security systems as I did so. The forced diagnostic cycle was almost over; after that I only had seconds before the system responded to it by auto-restoring the base defaults, which I hadn't been able to access. From that point on the Cardassians would know someone was in here. And I didn't want them aware of that. It could change too much if there was such a high level security breach.

As a result, I left just as the diagnostic cycle finished. I rushed into the TARDIS as quickly as my legs could carry me and hit the lever to shift us out. I took in a deep breath and verified the shift, into a quiet solar system in another cosmos and ten thousand years in the past (a nice little "thinking" spot I'd once found, conveniently close enough to an old temporal shift to permit the TARDIS some refueling).

"Did you find out anything?", Camilla asked.

"Not yet," I replied. "We've got some work to do."

Indeed, a whole lot of work, it turned out to be. It was only a day later, after sifting through innumerable amounts of reports on logistics and production and security, the death warrants and official sentences for Bajoran prisoners and all sorts of the terrible minutiae of paperwork that a police state used that was so dry that it could be hard to remember it resembled a life about to be broken in the cogs of the Cardassian State, that I found what I was looking for in the guise of the minutes of a joint meeting of Central Command and Obsidian Order leadership with the heads of the rubber stamp Detepa Council. I skimmed quickly, my Time Lord brain allowing me to quickly memorize the data, the names, who said what and what I knew of them. I reached the conclusion and put a hand to my head.

Janias had noticed my feelings and looked up from the files she was reading. "Doctor?" This prompted Camilla to look up as well.

"Those..." I drew in a breath and used a reference in the minutes to look for - and yes, find! - another file I'd copied over. As I read the plan before me I felt my heart grow cold and my stomach churn.

"Doctor, what have you found?', Camilla asked.

I looked up at them, tearing my eyes from that horrible document. "The Cardassians aren't planning to withdraw from Bajor," I announced. "They're planning to destroy Bajor."





My Companions read the materials I'd found in turn. "They're just going to bomb it to rubble?"

"Not just bomb. Those are persistant radioactives, Bajor would become uninhabitable outside of the control zones they marked," I pointed out, sitting and thinking. "It's pettyness, pure spite, born out of pride. They can't keep the Bajorans subdued so they're going to poison the well."

"The Sith would approve," Jaina muttered darkly. "So what are we going to do?"

I looked up. "Stop them, of course. Which means we encourage them to see leaving Bajor is a better outcome for them. They're doing this because they think withdrawal will look embarrassing."

"So we... embarrass them into leaving?", Camilla asked.

"Exactly." I stood up. "Which means something other than just blowing things up. We don't want to kill the Cardassian occupation forces, we want to humiliate them. And for that, we're going to need help. Of course, the help needs help first, so we have a stop to make."

"For what, weapons?"

"Something better." I smiled. "Good home cooking."




Guerrila cells aren't very appreciative of visitors.

This obvious fact crossed my mind as I stared into the phaser rifle held by one Shakaar Edon. A number of his fellow guerillas were bringing their weapons to bear as well. I scanned them and noticed that a head of red hair I'd been expecting to see was missing. "Ah, my apologies, didn't mean to startle," I explained, trying not to sound too urgent. "I'm the Doctor, and I've come with food for you."

A flicker of recognition crossed Shakaar's face. "You're the one who liberated Singha? And stopped the Drala Massacre?"

"Well, I can't take much credit for that last one, I just sort of stumbled in... but yes, that's me."

"What's going on?!" A confused voice, very familiar to me, called out from the back of the cave. My companions and I remained still and watched some of the fighters part to let Nerys step up. She got close enough to see me and stopped. "What... what are you doing here now? Come to tell us more about how you can't help?"

"Actually, I came to do the exact opposite," I answered. "First off, a hearty meal for everyone. No meat, I'm afraid, Air Acolytes are strict vegetarians, but Pema's a wonderful..."

"So nice of you to come and feed us, we'll die with full bellies," Nerys growled.

"Nerys." I sighed. I couldn't blame her for how she felt at this point in time. She'd yet to see how things would go and learn why I left her to live the life she'd seen. "I'm here because I've found out what the Cardassians are up to now, and they have to be stopped. I'm here to help you drive them off Bajor."

Nerys went quiet at that. "And how are you going to do that?", Shakaar asked.

"I'm glad you asked that," I replied. "Because tactics are going to shift a little if this is going to work."

"In what way? We're doing everything we can as it is, but..."

"Oh, this is something completely different. You're shooting and bombing and being general nuisances, but you're playing their game to do it. And the Cardassians are very good at brute force and terror and killing in the shadows. That's why we're going to shift tactics to something a little different. We're going to hit them where it hurts. Their pride." I smirked. "We're going to use the Occupation to turn the Cardassian Empire into the laughing stock of the Alpha Quadrant."

I could see I had their attention with that. "How?", Shakaar asked.

I smiled. This was going to be the fun part.




The Cardassian supply depots were fairly well guarded against infiltration by the Bajorans; understandable given the situation. But the Cardassians could only use so many troops per installation, and the trade-off of their vigorous perimeter defense was an anemic interior defense.

The TARDIS finished materializing and we emerged; myself, Janias, Nerys, and Nerys' friend Furel. "Do you have the devices?", I asked them.

"All here," was the reply I got from each, their satchels being held up.

"Right. Remember which ones go with which target. Get every computer linkup or power cell crate you can find." I pulled out my sonic screwdriver. "I'm going to be messing with their computers. Hurry, everyone!"

We got to work immediately, with Cami staying behind to monitor the situation from the TARDIS.

I won't bore anyone with the details, as this first infiltration proved surprisingly boring and uneventful. We did what we came to do and we left. Just like that. When we left, we left behind useless equipment and drained or sabotaged power cells, depriving the Cardassians of their war material.

And when we were done, I picked a different depot and we did it all over again.

These kinds of campaigns tend to be simplistic and not very exciting, as the entire point is to avoid fighting. So I won't bore you with every single little raid.

No, the important part was what came afterward.




"So the deliveries went as scheduled?", I asked Shakaar, sitting across from him in he cave his forces called home.

"They did," he answered.

"So now is our chance," Nerys said. "We can launch a major attack and take them by surprise."

"No." That got me looks, so I continued. "That's not how we're taking advantage of this. I've got a better idea."




Labor camps spotted the Bajoran countryside, centered around mines or what little arable land was left that allowed the Cardassians to make the most efficient use of the forced labor.

One of these camps, Rolek, was our first destination. A few resistance cell members slipped into the general population and began agitating for an uprising. The Cardassians detected this, sure enough, and the Gul in charge decided to make an example of the agitators with an impromptu firing squad in the camp's commons area.

I stood, watching, in a raggedy old cloak, as the Gul gleefully pronounced sentence and called out the countdown to the squad. I saw them flinch a little as he ended the countdown with "Fire!".

Nothing happened.

The Gul in question yelled at his men to fire, and they tried again. Nothing. Their rifles were dead. They didn't know that, of course, but my sabotage had been meant to hide itself until this moment of decision.

The call went out to change weapons, and they did, but to no avail. The Gul's face contorted into frustrated rage as he yelled an obscenity and demanded, "Don't you incompetents have any weapons that will work?! I don't know who is responsible for this, but I..."

Ah, my cue.

"Hello there, my good Gul," I called out, stepping out from amongst the crowd and casting off my cloak. Eyes turned on me and my clearly Human-looking appearance. Janias and Cami took up positions beside me. "I'm the Doctor, and I thought I would share a point with everyone." I held up a finger toward the Gul. "He has maybe 100 armed men in this entire facility, and their guns don't work anymore. There are almost seventy thousand of you here. I would suggest that there's nothing keeping you good people from leaving at your own will."

"We will execute the families of anyone who leaves!", the Gul retorted.

"Assuming you can find them with all of the damage I've done to your database," I pointed out.

I knew that I had made a name for myself due to Singha and the other prior incident, and a name and legend are pretty powerful. Combine that with the clear effectiveness of my actions and, well, I'd done what I'd needed to do; the Bajorans were ready to ignore the blowhard and run for it. Which they did with abandon. Some went to ransack the mess hall, others to collect prisoners who were still in tents, and in general the entire camp was preparing to empty.

"Arrest him!", the Gul ordered, pointing at me.

"You'll have to find me first," I replied, pulling the cloak back over my head and merging with the press of Bajorans rushing for the gate. Word had spread sufficiently that the entire camp was now rushing to leave, and there were only a couple of Cardassians at the gate to hold it closed. With a quick press of a button to my sonic screwdriver, the electronic locking system disengaged and the gate swung wide open.

I slipped through the crowd and back in toward the camp, or rather to the nearby alley between prisoner barracks where the TARDIS waited, invisible. I stepped inside and found my Companions with Nerys, who was using a comm unit I'd set up to speak with the other groups. "Everything going well?"

"Half the labor camps on the planet are having the same thing happen," Janias answered. "It's extraordinary."

"That space station is going to be a problem though," Camilla pointed out. "All they have to do is start transporting troops...."

"That's why we're going there next," I remarked, reaching for the TARDIS controls.

I materialized the TARDIS by reactor control on the station. Janias and Nerys accompanied me this time, the former with her lightsaber and the latter carrying a Bajoran phaser rifle. A sweep of the sonic screwdriver opened reactor control to us, and upon entry we were faced with three Cardassian work crew and a Bajoran technician. Janias lifted her hand and slammed two of them together. My sonic disruptor knocked the third down. The Bajoran looked at us with wide-eyes and scurried into a corner.

Nerys was probably the reason, since she had a vicious look on her face at seeing him. "The only way he would be in here is if he was a collaborator," she said.

"He's not what we're here to deal with," I reminded her, heading to a control station. "Looks like they're already preparing troops. And these rifles aren't among the ones I sabotaged. Hrm, dicey.... ah, here we go. Remote transporter control. This will be useful." I worked the system, watching the operators on Ops trigger the transporters... and promptly beam the troops about six feet above a rather cold lake in Bajor's northern Hemisphere. "Knowing how Cardassians hate the cold, that should be most infuriating. See, Nerys, isn't this..."

I turned in time to see her leveling her phaser at the head of one of the knocked out Cardassians. I reached over and grabbed the phaser just before she fire, sending the brownish phaser beam into the nearest bulkhead. "What are you doing?!", I demanded.

"Getting rid of a Cardassian!", she retorted.

"That's not what we're here to do, Nerys!"

"It's what they're here to do," she retorted, her voice full of rage. "I don't know what kind of war you think you're fighting here, but I've been fighting in it since I was a child, and we're not going to win by just taunting the Cardassians! We have to show them that we can hurt them!"

My eyes met her's, and I didn't let the intensity and hate I saw in Nerys lead me to blink. "No, you have to show them that you're not worth the trouble! Because this, shooting helpless men? That's how they wage war, and the only thing you've gotten fighting them this way is getting them angry enough that they're ready to turn your homeworld into a radioactive cinder! There is a better way, Nerys."

"It's easy for you to believe that. You didn't see everything they did. You haven't lived with the Occupation," Nerys countered. "You haven't seen the atrocities they've done. They deserve to die, and I'm not going to feel one damn bit sorry for killing them no matter what you say, Doctor. You can judge me all you like and it's not going to mean one damn thing!"

I remained silent as she spoke. When she was done I nodded quietly. "You're right. My judgement isn't the one that's important. Your's is. And that's why I'm begging you to take this, the better way. Do it so that in the future you can look in the mirror and judge yourself with no regrets."

We remained focused on each other for several seconds.

"I'm never going to regret killing Cardassians," Nerys insisted, breaking the silence.

"Not right now, you're not. But things change, Nerys. Everything changes."

There was a beep in the air that directed our attention. "Ops to Reactor Control, someone answer me or I swear you will pay for your incompetence!"

"Well well, looks like we got their attention," I murmured. "Now comes the fun part." I went over to a control near a wall panel and used it to check on the status of my little sabotage operations. When that was done I triggered internal communications to give me a direct video link to Ops, and specifically the commander there. A familiar visage of a Cardassian filled my screen. "Good day!", I said cheerily. "Gul Dukat, yes?"

Dukat's eyes narrowed. "And just who are you?!"

"Me?" I smiled. "I'm the Doctor. And you're just the man I wanted to talk to. One moment!" I held up the sonic and used it to remotely trigger a nearby panel. The swirling effect of a Cardassian transporter beam surrounded Dukat and made him vanish from the screen.

Nearby a similar effect began, resulting in Dukat's materialization in our midst. He looked around in surprise and anger. "Gul Dukat, it's about time we talked," I said. "You've been having some troubles with your Occupation lately, right?"

"I don't know who you think you are,'Doctor', but I am warning you, you have..."

"...'I have trifled with forces I can't hope to face, I'm going to be killed or destroyed or whatever blah blah'," I finished for him, waving my hand dismissively. "I've heard the speech before, Gul, and by far more frightening things than you. Let's skip to the point, shall we?" I used the sonic again. The station's main power core went down at my command, taking out transporters and weapons and shields, just about everything but life support and local sensors and a few other vital systems. "They call me the Doctor. I'm sure you lot have heard of me by now. I am a Time Lord with enormously advanced technology and science at my beck and call." I smirked. "And I am here to inform you and your superiors, Dukat, that I know of what's being planned for Bajor, and that I'm giving you this one chance to call it off and leave this world, never to return."

Dukat stared at me like I was a madman. Which, well, I was, just not for the reasons he undoubtedly thought. "Do you seriously intend to challenge the entire Cardassian Empire, Doctor?"

"Intend? Oh heavens no." My smirk turned into a wide grin. "I already have." With the press of a button I brought up a view of Bajor on the largest monitor in Reactor Control. "You lot moved into Bajor when it was helpless, and you've made yourselves rather too cozy here, like a bunch of bad, rowdy, and entirely uninvited house guests. Well, that ends, and it ends now. Bajor isn't helpless anymore, Gul Dukat. It is defended." I did my best to channel Ten when I said that. "And since I'm a sporting chap, I'm going to give you lot one chance to leave, peacefully. You won't get another."

Dukat opened his mouth to speak, but I didn't pay attention. With Janias and Nerys beside me, I took my TARDIS remote in my hand and summoned it. Dukat watched us all disappear within a blue box marked "Police Call Box".

Inside the control room, I grabbed and pulled a lever, shifting us back to Shakaar's HQ planetside. "What did you just do?", Nerys asked, almost breathless.

"Oh, I presented what they call an ultimatum," I answered. "Very important part of diplomacy."

"But Dukat... he's going to...."

"....order a slaughter? When he can't trust his own systems and the occupation troops can't trust their guns? No, for the moment he's going to try to keep things running as usual and save his own arse while waiting for Central Command to get its bombardment fleet armed."

"So we didn't stop them? Your 'better way' didn't work?!"

"Give it time, Nerys." I winked. "I knew full well nothing would stop that fleet from coming. In fact, I'm rather counting on it arriving at Bajor."

"But...."

"Come now, so little faith, Nerys?", I asked. "Everything is going according to plan. And when it's done, they're going to wish they'd never thought of sending that fleet."




Looking back, I was becoming far too showy. That whole bit with Dukat? Entirely unnecessary. Done only for my own enjoyment because, in case you haven't noticed, I'd become quite the arrogant git.

And someone else would pay the price.

We were back in the caves Shakaar's cell used, and the mood was... fairly optimistic. The Air Acolyte cuisine appealed to the Bajorans, even with the lack of meat, and the Cardassians' newfound impotence due to Time Lord sabotage was lifting spirits across the planet. The danger wasn't over, not by a long shot, but everyone could feel good about how we were humiliating the Cardassians.

And then it was all ruined.

Someone monitoring the planetary communications network came running up to where we were eating. "Shakaar, Doctor! The Cardassians are burning the Rakatha Valley!"

"What?", Shakaar asked, as incredulous as I was. I brought up the screwdriver and used it to remotely access a system to give us audio from Cardassian communications.

"....destroyed, Gul Dukat. Is this enough of a statement for you?"

"No, it is not. Move on to he next village in the valley, Gul Ukrell. Take no prisoners."

"Yes Gul."

"I thought we hit every depot?", Janias asked, bewildered.

I had thought so too... and then I pu two and two together. "Oh, that crafty bugger.... that crafty, crazy bugger."

"What?"

"The shuttles," I replied to Cami. "Dukat used the shuttles' transporters to ship down enough guns for an atack. He must have his technicians constantly working on them to keep the transporters functional. Shuttle transporters aren't meant to do much, after all."

"So we need to catch them by surprise," Shakaar said. "We get them into a trap and start shooting."

"Good idea. The trap, I mean. The shooting can come at the last resort."

Nerys snorted. "Yes, we wouldn't want to harm those Cardassians busy burning our villages and killing our people."

"Oh, we're going to harm them," I promised. "And in a way that will really hurt. Cami, go get those field generators. We've got to do this quickly and quietly..."




Rakatha was not the most hospitable of valleys even before the Cardassians came. The soil was coarse and meager and the weather nasty; the people living here had little.

And the Cardassians had come to take even that.

I stood alone in the valley, waiting as Bajorans fled around me, not looking back at the invisible TARDIS or the field emitters we'd hidden around us. Above me, in the crevices and rocks of the foothills, Shakaar's cell waited patiently, weapons drawn, ready to attack if it came to that. And perhaps not even then. Their confidence in me was notably undermined by my failure to anticipate Dukat's ingenuity.

I couldn't blame them.

Cardassians marched before me, a Gul coming up to the lead. I suppose that was one mark in the bastard's favor; he was committing butchery, but he was in the forefront along with his men instead of leading from behind. Clearly he wasn't a coward.

I was going to change that.

"Gul Ukrell!", I called out, waving a white flag above my head. And then I waited to see if I was going to have to dive for cover.

I almost did, but Ukrell ordered his men to lower their weapons. They continued on with him until they were about fifteen feet from me, at which point they stopped. Weapons came up, not at full readiness but to show me I would be shot the moment their commander allowed it. "A flag of surrender?", Ukrell asked. "And you would be the Doctor, yes?"

"A flag of truce, actually, for negotiation. The association with surrender comes purely from the occasional outcomes." I lowered the makeshift flag, and pressed a button along the handle's surface as I did. "I've come to offer you a chance to save the lives of your soldiers, Gul Ukrell."

The Cardassian smirked. "Really? What would kill them? You, Doctor?"

"Oh, plenty of nasty things could happen in these wilds. Predator animals, for one thing. Ambushes. Tripping and stubbing your toe. I could go on. But we, and when I say 'we' I mean you, don't have time for that."

Ukrell laughed at me. "I have almost a thousand men behind me. What do you have?"

"Well, certainly not a thousand men," I conceded. "Just the resources and knowledge of a Time Lord, about fifty Bajoran resistance fighters, one very passionate young former Jedi aching to slice you to bits, her girlfriend and her mass effect assault rifle... oh, and...." I held up my sonic away from the Cardassians and triggered it, bringing up an energy field from the emitters we had placed around the valley. "...one very effective dampening field tuned to Cardassian phasers."

Ukrell stared at me while his men started to check their guns. More and more did so and found the same result; their guns were showing an error warning stating that they could not fire.

For the moment, I held the upper hand. But only for the moment; the field wouldn't last long.

Ukrell looked around at his men and go the confirmations that their weapons were now useless. He looked back at me and, likely, above me to the ridge line, where Bajorans appeared with rifles and guns already pointing down.

"Fifty of them, a thousand of you. Twenty shots from each and the odds will be a lot more even, accounting for misses or multiple shots on the same man. And now you can't shoot back."

Ukrell pulled out a combat knife. "We could kill you first," he pointed out.

"Certainly you could, but your men would still die," I answered. "So the question is, Gul Ukrell... do you care about your men?"

We met eye to eye, our lives in his hands. Odds were I'd regenerate, of course... well, unless the field failed and the entire plan was ruined and then I'd probably get vaporized. But I wasn't thinking about that, oh no. My mind was on the destroyed villages, the inncoent people hurt because of the Cardassians... and because of me.

And that made me angry. It made me so angry I was ready to shout for Shakaar and his people to shoot anyway, damn what happened to me, to make sure these killers got what they deserved. But I channeled my anger in another direction.

"If you care about your men, Gul Ukrell, you will order them to drop their guns and run away," I said. "And I do mean run away. I want to hear you say it, I want to hear all of you screaming 'RUN AWAY!' at the top of your lungs! I want you fleeing in panic and terror like the Bajorans you've been butchering, because it's the least you deserve for the horrors you've committed. And when word of this gets back to your Central Command and you are disgraced, when little children on Cardassia come up and tease you as the Gul who screamed 'Run away!', I want you to tell them why."

My voice was starting to shake with fury by that point. Fury at myself and fury at Ukrell and his men. I brought a hand up, ready to give the signal to open fire. "Ten seconds, Gul," I said. After two seconds I pulled my thumb in. After another two my pinky curled inward. "Five seconds," I warned.

Ukrell was shuddering with shame and fear and anger by this point, but as our eyes made contact I knew I'd won. He had looked over the situation and known that he and his men would be doomed if they didn't get out of the trap, no matter how undignified their exit would be. "Run away," he rasped to his men.

I brought my ring finger in. "I didn't hear you. Three seconds!"

"Run away!"

My middle finger curled inside my hand, now more like a fist. "All of you, one second!"

"Run away!", Ukrell shouted, even louder than before, and this time his men joined in. Cardassian rifles began to fall into the dirt as soldiers turned and ran. The ones behind them saw this motion, heard the growing cry, and began to do the same. Soon "Run away!" was echoing down the canyon, joined by the tromping of boots as the Cardassians fled in the opposite direction and the growing laugher of the Bajorans watching from the high ground.

Cami emerged from the invisible TARDIS with her M7 Lancer in her arms. Nerys stepped out next, holding her phaser rifle and looking at me with some surprise. There was even more surprise on the faces of the Bajoran refugees we'd packed inside. "I didn't think you'd...." For the first time since I'd come to this timeframe, I heard real wonder in Nerys' voice. "You actually... made them yell that. You made a thousand Cardassians run away screaming."

"Well, more accurately, the dampening field and the guns above them made them do that," I pointed out. "I'm just the clever bugger who thought it up." I looked beyond her to see Janias looking at me from within the TARDIS. I could see concern on her face. I knew what it meant.

"The important thing is that we stopped them," Camilla said. "Now we just have to wait on that fleet."

"Yes." Even as I said that, I was already thinking about how I had planned to approach it... and how I should approach it.




We had returned to one of the most intact villages to help the refugees get settled back in and, it must be said, to oversee the disposition of the dead. I spent my time using the healing equipment I had to treat the wounds of hundreds of Bajorans. They behaved like they were being called before a wrathful deity and left as true believers, which was not a behavior I wanted to instill.

When it was over I looked out at the ruins and thought I could hear, in the winds, the accusing voices of the slain. This was my fault. I had underestimated Dukat. I had been too arrogant, too uppity, too showy.

The Doctor must always be a showman, but it's a poor showman who doesn't know how to tailor his act to the audience. And the Cardassians didn't humiliate easy or well.

"I need a new plan," I murmured to myself. "And I need it now."




I spent the next day in the TARDIS, pondering things, examining the situation and trying to find a way around it that didn't involve massive destruction. I poured over the data I got from the Cardassian systems to get an idea of who I was dealing with. Their decision to destroy Bajor was explained, but on closer examinations of other meetings I could see that, in context, it was not a unanimous decision. It was a decision driven by hardliners who didn't want to just leave now that they'd stripped the system bare. To them, the Bajorans had defied Cardassia and had to be punished, brutally.

But there were other figures. More... pragmatic men, or idealistic, who thought such slaughter would be wasteful and would backfire on the Cardassian people. They were just a few votes shy of taking charge of Bajor policy. If a few fence-sitters could be tilted...

An idea formed in my head, an alternative to just trying to humiliate the Cardassians into leaving. There was, ha, a better way to do it.

Simply put, I would make the Cardassians decide to leave on their own.

Of course, I had to talk to someone first. Someone with insights into the Cardassian authorities, and who might have formed his own views on the plans against the Bajorans.




I used every stealth measure when I shifted the TARDIS, and the girls and I stayed inside and quiet as we watched what was going on with external sensors. It was only when we could be sure of privacy that I activated a further measure to hide my life signs from the station's sensors and stepped out of the TARDIS.

I scanned through the shop and to a desk, occupied, with the shop's entrepreneur sitting and reading over a PADD. He didn't look up, but he did clearly detect my arrival. "You're the Doctor, I imagine?"

"I am."

"Well, I certainly hope you came to shop, I'm afraid blue is an unfavorable color at this time of year, and I can do you far better." Garak set the PADD down and smiled at me. "So, Doctor, I imagine you have disabled internal security so we can talk in privacy?"

"To some extent, yes."

"Then allow me to add to your efforts." He pressed a button on his controls. "One can never be too careful with privacy, and I regard the bond of trust between a tailor and his customers to be most important."

"I imagine so."

"Now, as much as I think you could use a better vest, I'm certain you're not here to talk about your suit?"

"As you know, I have another matter in hand," I answered. "This... regrettable problem of Cardassia's solution to the issue of Bajor."

"Oh my, yes." There was something in Garak's reaction that told me he was not favorable to the "bomb them to radioactive rubble" solution.

"And since your customers trust you so well, Mister Garak, I'm imagining they have told you something of the shape of that solution?"

"Yes, they are rather chatty about it," Garak said. "I think it's because of my charming manner. It's second nature."

"That it is. My issue is that I cannot permit that solution to come about. I favor a different solution, that is, the benefit of distance and preservation of good will and resources."

"I admit I have my own misgivings about the plan, though I would miss my fellow Cardassians," Garak replied. "Unfortunately, my people can be rather obstinate, Doctor. You have made them look like fools and oafs, yes, but that will only make them more dedicated to the fulfillment of their solution to this Bajoran Problem. I'm afraid you've showed a critical lack of insight into the nature of the Cardassian mind."

"So I've noticed." I put my hands together. "I think I have a better insight now, won by that failure. I believe it better to convince your government to change back to the withdrawal plan. But a few votes will need to be swayed."

"Ah, yes. It can be hard if you don't have the right information." Garak let out a sigh worthy of a stage actor. "I do apologize, Doctor, but while I do have some information from people back home, information is not like wine; it grows stale with age."

"Indeed." I reached into my pocket and pulled out an isolinear rod with some juicy bits of data on it. "Perhaps if the product was more fresh?"

Garak took the rod and read the contents.

And then we were silent for several minutes as he read intently.

"Well well," Garak finally said. "Some rather good pieces of information here, Doctor. If they knew you had knowledge of these things, half the Central Command would be hiding under their beds and the other half would be dedicated to your destruction at any cost."

"I imagined so. This information is very potent. It has to be handled with delicate care."

"I think I can give you a few suggestions, Doctor, on worthy recepients of these facts that would sway the plans of the Central Command," Garak answered. "It will be just a moment."




My next stop was Cardassia Prime and the residence of one of the legates who opposed the radical solution: Tekeny Ghemor. A dissident in truth, but he was good at hiding his opposition to the Cardassian junta. Given his later connection to Nerys, there was something poetic about coming to him for this.

I was waiting for him when he entered the room. "Hello Legate. Please, no need for phasers, I'm here to offer you a deal."

"I've heard of you," Ghemor said. "They call you 'the Doctor', an unknown agent helping the Bajorans. You look Human, is this the Federation's doing then?"

"Oh, I have no affiliation with them. They take exception to my nature," I replied. I reached into my pocket and set a data rod on the nearby mantle. "This is some information you might find useful if you want to keep Cardassia from going down in infamy amongst the powers of the Alpha Quadrant."

My choice of words was all he needed to hear; he'd said similar in the meetings on Bajor's fate. "I see. The information will have to be good to sway the fence-sitters. The powers that favor the bombardment are very powerful men, not easily crossed."

"I suspect they will be more humble as this information makes its way through the Central Command," I answered. "And now, Legate, I must be going. I find Cardassia... rather unlikeable, I'm sorry to say." I turned to step into the TARDIS.

"Given your power, you could do this violently," Ghemor pointed out. "You've already shown a talent for sabotage. Assassination isn't far from that. But you don't seem to want to kill. Why is that?"

I stopped and remained silent for a moment. Turning back, I said, "Because then I couldn't be the Doctor. I can't cause death like that, not when there's a better alternative. Even trying to humiliate your people was the wrong approach, and I see that now."

"I see. Well, I have some reading to do. We haven't got long before the fleet is finished with the preparations for BAjor, I'll need every moment I can get."

"Your people are counting on you, Legate," I said. I let my expression harden. "Because this is me trying to be nice. If I have to, I'll go the other route again, anything to keep Bajor safe. It's under my protection now, and I want Cardassia out. You've done enough harm to those people."

"You may be surprised how many of us agree with that sentiment, Doctor." There was a hint of fatigue, perhaps even shame in Ghemor's voice.

"It's why I think you deserve this chance to handle it yourselves," I pointed out. "My best wishes to you. I hope you see your daughter again one day."

I didn't stay to see his reaction.




We had nothing left to do but sit and wait, so to speak, and allow the wheels of intrigue to turn on Cardassia. Granted, we didn't stay idle. I had other sources for food and medicine besides Pema's cooking, and there were Bajorans in need of both.

During a rest period I sat alone in the library, looking into space, going through my head and trying to sort my thoughts. I heard a noise from the doorway and looked back to see Janias come in. "Ah, hello Jan. Come to scold me?"

"You seem to be doing a pretty good job of that yourself," she replied, working her way to a seat. "Hey, you made it right in the end, okay?"

"Tell that to the dead." As I said that I felt a different guilt begin to creep into me, and the vision of two hourglasses with Aurabesh writing. "What do you want to do, Janias?"

"Excuse me?"

"You and Cami? What do you have planned for the future?"

She sat here for a moment, not speaking further. When she did, it was to shrug and say, "Well, we haven't really talked about it. You don't give us a lot of time to think about things, especially recently."

"So no desire to find a nice home somewhere and spend your days with Cami?"

"Well.... I suppose we've thought of what it would be like to have a nice home to ourselves in some valley on a Core world. But those are just fantasies we sometimes have. We'd never abandon you."

I nodded at that. "I understand. We've been through so much, it's just...."

"What?"

"Janias.... I'm going to live for at least a thousand years, without counting any regenerations I have left left. You and Cami have such short lives by comparison, it would be wrong of me to keep you from enjoying the time you do have."

"You're not keeping us from anything, Doctor. We want to be here, with you, traveling in the TARDIS."

I nodded at that, having expected the answer. "Alright. But do me a favor, Jan?"

"What?"

"If that ever changes, if you and Cami ever feel like it's time for you to move on and get a normal life together, tell me. Don't hide it just because you feel the need to keep me company. I'm worried about your welfare, not mine. If you feel like you're ready to settle down, let me know."

She looked at me for a moment before nodding. "Okay Doctor, we will."




We were working with Shakaar's cell, handing out food, when the news came. The young man monitoring the communications system rushed around, telling everyone that the Cardassians had announced their plans to withdraw over the course of the next half-year. I could see the disbelief on everyone's faces at this development. The odds against them had been so bad for so long that they couldn't quite believe that the day was coming when the Cardassians would be gone. And when they realized that it was true, that they had won, they would finally entertain every dream they'd ever dared to have over these long, hard years. Here was the seed of Bajor's challenge; dealing with the dashed dreams of every fighter who believed getting rid of the Cardassians would mean instant paradise.

I knew I was not wise enough to fix that problem for them.

There were no cheers or celebrations. I suspected those would come later, when the Cardassians were actually gone, when it was clearly not a trick. They'd gone through too much, had too many dashed hopes, to do otherwise.

My reaction was to return to the TARDIS and sit in the control room, deep in thought.

I'd done it. I'd saved Bajor. But it had been a close thing. My plans had been entirely wrong from the start, and only a last minute change had allowed me to snatch victory from the jaws of, at best, stalemate.

I didn't see the door to the TARDIS open, and didn't know who had come to speak with me until Nerys sat down beside me. "The Cardassians are really pulling out?"

"Yes," I replied. "I was able to tilt the balance in their government toward withdrawal. It won't be easy, but it'll keep your world intact."

Nerys nodded in silent reply, clearly lost in thoughts. When she finally spoke again her voice lowered. "Is this why you didn't let us stay with you? Because you knew I'd play a part in helping you save Bajor?"

"No," I answered. "The best is still to come for you."

"Is it?" Nerys looked at me. "How? What's left for me? I don't know how to do anything but fight, and that will be over now."

"Just because the Cardassians are leaving doesn't mean Bajor won't need protectors, Nerys," I pointed out. "And you'll be one of the best."

"How? Just... please tell me how."

"I can't tell you everything, Nerys. That knowledge would cause you to make different decisions. It would change your fate." I saw her look and sighed. "All I can say is... you will serve Bajor proudly at the most important post you will ever have. You'll make new comrades and find new friends and become something... wonderful."

"And what about the Cardassians?", she asked. "They did all of this to us and they're just walking away. Do they ever get punished?"

I smiled thinly. "In time, Nerys, the Cardassians will be handled. It's not something you should worry about. You're going to have a free homeworld soon, you should enjoy that. Let the future tend to itself."

She nodded at me again. But I could see the anger broiling in her eyes. "I hope you're right. Because right now I feel like the Cardassians are getting away with everything they did to us."

"They'll come to learn the errors of their conduct."

There was nothing more for her to say. As she returned to the TARDIS door I called out to her. On getting her attention, I said, "Remember that there's a better way than just lashing out. Hatred and anger will only cause you grief in the long run, Nerys. Don't let it consume you."

"I'll keep that in mind," she answered. Nothing more was said as she left the TARDIS.

I knew from the tone of her voice that she wasn't convinced, that she was still angry and bitter and vengeful. She would take that feeling with her to Deep Space Nine, and there... there her life would begin to change. She would get to know Odo and Chief O'Brien and Dax, she would find the Emissary of the Prophets in her superior officer, and she would meet Aamin Marritza and find that not all Cardassians were evil. She would fall in love with Bareil Antos and get her heart broken by his death.

And she had to do this by herself, without forewarning from me, to become the person that I would eventually meet again.

When I thought those things, it was about my past meetings with her future self, on the station and Bajor and getting her help with the Air Nomad situation, hearing her laugh as Sven the reindeer ran me over in Arendelle and getting blown around by Tenzin's children while trying to skate in Elsa's iced over courtyard.... all the memories of her I had at the moment.

I had no idea that the most important thing to come from our meeting at this timeframe lay ahead in my future. Kira Nerys had yet to play her most important part in my story. It is a part that I shall get to eventually.

Only after I had my hearts broken, of course, by what lay in store for me and my Companions.


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

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2017-02-19 05:28pm

Short 13 - A Colorful World

There are, as you expect, some worlds where things are less, well, normal. Where fantastic things of all origins come together in ways you wouldn't think possible. The worlds with spandex-wearing vigilantes can be one example; aliens and sorcery and meta-genetics oh my.

And then there is this one.

Admittedly, it's not one I sought to see, but when I spot instabilities and disruptions consistent with multiple temporal events - time travel, that is - on a world at the start of the 21st Century, well... I'm a Time Lord. I'm drawn to check these things out.

The girls and I left the TARDIS in some back-alley and started walking about, my sonic held up as I scanned for signs of temporal energies or other forms of disturbance. "This looks like any other world of the time you showed us," Camilla remarked. "Although I don't recognize the city."

"Well, we haven't been to too many. Chicago, Melbourne, finally getting to see London..." I eyed a signature of energy coming into range of my sonic and led the girls down the street. "Didn't catch the name of this one, looks a bit like California I suppose."

"I saw a sign for 'Silver Hills Tourist Office' on the other side of the street."

"Silver Hills?" The name made me blink. "Where have I heard of that before?"

"Is it special?"

"Well, not particularly. I mean, a name like that, just need to have somewhere that people find silver in and make it a little hilly. Boom, Silver Hills." I looked back to the sonic. "I just feel like I've heard that name before. I can't place it. And put the lightsaber up, Jan, this isn't the place for it."

"There's something wrong," she answered. "We're in danger."

"When we're fighting something, you can bring it out. If we're not seen. But until...."

I was rudely interrupted by two things. One was my sonic picking up a major source of energy.

The other was a small explosion.

The side of a building, one of the banks it looked like, exploded outward and things started to pile out. They were a dull orange, almost yellow color, with a blade held in one arm, and at their lead was a lady in a bizarre white suit (if you could call a plastic-looking halter top and shorts a sit) that clashed with hot pink hair. She had bags in her hands, undoubtedly ill-gotten gains.

Something really yanked at my head. I'd heard of this world before. But I still couldn't place it.

"Attack everything in sight, we want to make a scene," the young lady instructed her minions. They rushed forth, pouring out of the building and towards the crowds.

"Jan..." I didn't have to say any more, Jan's lightsaber came out. I brought out the sonic disruptor and keyed the sonic to disrupt the approaching robot things. When it didn't I stared at them, and my sonic, in confusion. "A deadlock seal? Here and now of all places?"

"You mean your sonic won't work on them?"

"Not in the way I was hoping. The sonic can't interfere with their electronics or access their programming."

Janias waded into the approaching gaggle, her lightsaber swinging. She cut a few done, but the enemy was fast, and I noticed she was making far more effort with her cuts than usual; something of their structure made them resistant to the lightsaber's blade. And Janias was going to get overwhelmed quickly as a result.

I was still stuck in my wondering just what the hell this world was. It was clear that time travel was heavily involved, as the woman and those robots were permeated with temporal energy consistent with not just temporal displacement, but prolonged exposure to the center of a temporal event. And there was something about the bots that seemed familiar, some quality to them that....

I figured it out a moment later.

I hadn't seen the vehicle or vehicles that brought them, but there were now five people running toward the rush of robots. There was nothing special about their clothing and appearances save the one with green hair.... of course, this was California so even that wasn't too far out of the way, and I'd seen Molly Carpenter's myriad hair colors anyway. In one movement they struck up a uniform pose and revealed the devices on their wrists.

"Oh, this world," I sighed.

They shouted, as one, "Time for Time Force!"

As energy surrounded and shifted them, Cami looked at me. "You know who they are, Doctor?"

I watched as the five, in their color coded suits of red, pink, blue, yellow, and green, charge into the mass of robots. "They're Power Rangers," I answered. "The time traveling ones. This is one of the more... soft metaphysical worlds out there."

"Good fighters, though," Jan noted, walking up to us and observing the impressive martial arts techniques being employed. The robots had diverted their attention entirely to the Rangers at this point, needing the numbers to keep the fight going. "Do we help?"

"If they need it," I remarked. "This does explain the temporal signatures the TARDIS detected. They're constantly opening temporal rifts to summon their big robots to fight monsters, after all."

"But why are they fighting here?" Camilla looked around. "That lady ordered the robots to attack. I heard her say something about making a scene."

"A distraction of some sort," I said aloud.

"Or a trap," Cami added. "And they wouldn't know it."

"Yes. Still...." I checked my sonic. "An energy source is coming from... that building." I pointed to one that looked like it had a warehouse and office blend, overlooking the square where Time Force was locked into combat with the... the... whatever-they-weres. And I could see movement on the roof, although not quite make it out given the distance and angle. "Come on!"

We took off, skirting the battle as we did, for the building. Janias Force-pushed a few of those robots out of the way so we could get to the fire escape, where she used the same power to pull down the ladder and allow us to start climbing. It was a eight story building so it took a bit, but at least we had nothing chasing us.

We were on the seventh floor when a burst of green energy erupted from somewhere on the roof, heading to the square. From our corner of the fire escape we could look down and see what was happening. The five Rangers fell to the ground, covered in green light, and were promptly back in their civilian forms. I looked at my sonic. "Oh dear, disruption field keyed to the energy signature they use for their technology, that's not good. Jan!"

"I'm on it." Janias turned and went back down.

Cami and I continued to the top floor where we found the pink-haired girl from before and a very peculiar robot with a hunched neck and golden colored surface, both fussing over what was clearly the emitter device for the disruption field. "You would be Frax and Nadira, I presume?", I asked aloud. "Leaving what's his name.... Resick?.... Rusick?.... Ransik, yes, leaving Ransik to attack the depowered Time Force Rangers."

"Who are you?", the robot asked in a high-pitched voice.

I smirked. "Oh, me? I'm the Doctor. This is Camilla." Without turning my head I held out my sonic disruptor to Cami. "Setting 4, brute force blast. They're all deadlocked, after all."

"Right, Doctor."

"Whoever you are, you're too late to save the Power Rangers from my father!", the woman shouted.

"My dear, I'm a Time Lord," I replied, arms folded. "I'm never too late."

Not the most clever banter, perhaps, a bit on the boastful side... I guess I was just getting into the spirit of things. When in Rome...

They prepared to attack but Cami struck first, bringing the sonic disruptor up and triggering it with enough power to knock both to the ground. I ran up to the device and began scanning it with my sonic. It was deadlock sealed as well, which meant I was going to have to reprogram or shift it the hard way.

Which it didn't look like I'd have time to do, given that a big man with long, curly, greasy-looking dark hair was standing over one of the fallen Rangers with a sword. That would be Ransik, who at least was not as bizarre or laughable a villain as a woman with a shrieking voice and horned hat who made monsters called things like Pickel Sneezer. He let out a yell and brought the sword up to inflict a blow.

"Stop!" Janias shouted even as her arm flew forward. Her Force power slammed into Ransik with enough force to send him plowing through his robots and into the nearest building. Her lightsaber flashed to life and she sliced through the robots that got in her way. I noticed she was becoming more tactical in her thinking, not simply swinging away at whatever presented itself but picking her cuts to cripple the robots in the first or second strike, making every stroke count given their resistance to her saber. The others got back to their feet and rejoined the fight as best as they could.

Ransik got back to his feet, growled, and went straight for Janias as she sliced a robot's head off. His sword struck her lightsaber successfully and the two began to duel.

That, of course, meant I had to get to work, and I did, finishing scans on the device and starting to try to alter its settings manually. It had command code lockdowns and other things to prevent sabotage, so the going was by no means fast.

"Doctor!" Cami's shout drew my attention briefly. More of the robot things were coming onto the roof and helping Nadira and Frax up.

"Oh bugger," I grumbled, trying to redouble my efforts while Cami tried to fight them off with the sonic disruptor. The sonic scanned and my hand moved over the controls repeatedly, finding out more and more of the device's makeup. One particular item won my immediate attention.

My attention was quickly ripped away as Camilla was knocked over and I was hauled up by the golden robot. I smiled at him, opting to throw him off a bit. "Did you build this? This is bloody marvelous! A great piece of engineering! I really like that quantum signature scanner you've got in there, been looking for something like it for a while. Just where did you get it from? Or steal, I suppose."

"I'm so glad you like it, Doctor," the robot giggled. "But it's not going to do you any good!"

I brought my sonic up and triggered a sonic burst from it, but the robot's body was just as deadlock-sealed as the others and I couldn't overload him on the inside. By making him stagger backward I'd bought myself a second, long enough to see Camilla getting overwhelmed and having the sonic disruptor torn from her grasp. Frax's arm came up and he prepared to, well, either hit me or shoot me.

Before the robot could hit me, a battle cry sounded and a figure slammed into him, foot first.

In all the excitement I'd forgotten; there are usually six Power Rangers per team.

The sixth one, in a red-looking suit himself but with the visor design having a jagged edge instead of straight, knocked Fraxi aside and went to work on the robots with, I must say, excellent efficiency. Camilla pulled herself free in the resulting chaos and got the sonic disruptor back, allowing her to begin blasting more.

The sixth Ranger turned to me, allowing me a good look at, well, it's a helmet with a red eye visor and a silver, unmoving mouthplate that includes a little sculpted mouth. Don't ask me why they're designed like that. "Who are you?", he asked.

"I'm the Doctor. Consider me a friend. You?" I offered a hand.

He took it, and the grip was pretty strong. "The Quantum Ranger." His voice had a clear toughness in it.

"Ah, of course you are, very appropriate name and all," I mused. "I'm something of an expert on quantum things myself. If you can cover my back, I should be able to get this device switched off so your friends can access their power again."

"Right." He returned to the fight, covering Camilla's back as well. Camilla wasn't using Setting 4 anymore; instead I recognized Setting 8. Setting 8B, that is. Of course. Even deadlock-seals couldn't stop... you know, I suspect most of you don't care for the exotic energy science that would go into this explanation, so I'll get back to the fun part and just say that Camilla had done something brilliant that I hadn't thought of. There were times I really wished I could turn the girl into a Time Lady.

I went back to work on the device. Disconnecting the quantum signature scanner came first for two reasons; it was what allowed the disruption field to isolate and disrupt the "morphing grid" as they called it... and because I needed it for another, very important project.

As I did so, I looked up and watched the progress of the fight. The depowered Rangers were, well, doing their best, but they were clearly hurt and the robots were quite powerful. As for Janias... it was youth and raw power versus experience and talent. For all I could rely on her Force powers and lightsaber skills, it was easy for even me to forget that Jan was just a very talented Jedi Padawan in training level, and she didn't have the skill or endurance that a Jedi Knight possessed. I watched her favor her left hip, clearly having taken a hit there, but keeping Ransik off-balance with the occasional shove using the Force. But he was a powerful opponent; I knew Janias could fight him for only so long, a point reinforced when he struck her again and, this time, hard enough to send her flying and knock out her holobelt, causing her real appearance to come out. I had to hurry.

So, quantum scanner safely removed and tucked into my jacket pocket... that left, well, other technobabbly-sounding things I had to do. I had to disconnect the phase alignment controls, change the settings on the quantum transtator coils on the generator, re-align the sub-spatial emitters and finally shut down the.... okay, okay, I'll stop dropping technobabble and call it the thingie.

Anyway, once I'd mixed the thingamabob and the doohickey the right way with the right settings the entire thingie went on the fritz, and deciding to enjoy the melodrama of this world, I looked out over the fight below and bellowed, "Ransik!"

He turned back from where he'd knocked Janias down, enough that she was on all fours and hadn't recovered.

"I think this belongs to you!" I put my hands on the device and, with a grunt of effort, shoved it over the side of the building. It fell the eight stories and smashed into the ground where, due to some playful alterations I'd made to its capacitors and systems, it made a rather satisfying KABOOM.

Ransik made a rather satisfying, entirely overdone "NO!" at that.

As for the Rangers, they put two and two together rather easily. They fell back on one another and, reunited, activated their wrist devices again. There were more robots to be found - where did they get all of these bloody things? - but they were just distractions to allow the villains to get away. Since, of course, that's usually what villains do in these circumstances. Although, to be fair, keeping the robot minions off hurt people (including Janias) was an important task, and one that Cami and I joined in quickly (the Quantum Ranger, being someone infused with incredible performance-enhancing energy and a bloody show-off, went down the fast way by jumping off the bloody building).

And I'm afraid the excitement ends there, since we had no more fighting to do, focusing on the rescue part while the Rangers did the fighting part. But at least there wasn't a big monster. I can do, easily, without big monsters stomping about the city.




Not the type to fight and run, we followed the Time Force Rangers to their clock tower home to have a comfy place for a proper greeting. We stepped into the top of the clock tower - how appropriate, that - and I looked around. "Ah, nice and cozy."

"We like to think so." The leader, Wes, had only a low residual temporal signature on him; he was, I recalled, from this time. "So who are you again?"

"Oh, me? I'm the Doctor, and I'm a Time Lord. My Companions Janias and Camilla. You'll have to excuse Jan's appearance, she's a Mirialan, not a Human."

"Well, whoever you are, thank you for the help." The young lady speaking was... what was her name?... oh yes, Jen. Sorry, I'm not so familiar with this cosmos, the only reason I even knew names to begin with was because of Linkara, or rather the chap playing him.

....and I just had the thought that the "Channel Awesome" crew is in a cosmos out there. Sometimes the Multiverse gives me headaches.

"It's just something I do." I waggled my sonic. "I can't resist a good mystery, like sustained time travel signatures in 2001 Earth."

A blue robot owl flew around me, hooting. "Time Force doesn't have a record of you, and we've tracked down time travelers everywhere," one of the others - the kid in green hair - pointed out. "I mean, at least logged them."

"Well, I travel six dimensions, through other cosmoses, all the time. Not all of them know me. Honestly I prefer it that way. I get skittish around time cops."

"Especially when they're trying to shoot us," Jan remarked drolly.

"Well, that's Lucsly. Still not sure what I did that set that man off." I drew in a breath and watched the owl move away. "Ah, mascots. You know what we need for the TARDIS, girls? A mascot. Something cute."

"Uh, no," Cami insisted.

"Oh come on."

"No," Jan agreed.

"Seriously, girls? Harry's got Mouse and Mister, Korra and her friends have Pabu and Naga, even Commander Shepard has her hamster. It'd be...."

"Doctor, no."

"It's not like I'd go back to that pony cosmos and invite...."

"NO," they insisted in unison.

"You two are no fun," I sighed.

"Why don't you stick around for a bit, Doctor?", Wes asked me. "Have some dinner with us, we can get to know each other."

I smiled and nodded. "Well, being a time traveler means I don't really have a schedule to keep and I have all the free time I want, so I've got no objections, do you girls?"

Cami shook her head. Jan replied, "No, I'd like to get to know them, I like their fighting style."

"We can say the same," the other young lady - Katie, I believe, the Yellow one - said. "Saving us and going one on one with Ransik like that, I've got to know how you did it."

"I'm sure you would...."

And so we spent the rest of the day and evening with them, talking time travel and adventure and watching Janias flip the Blue one around a bit in "playful" sparring. I may not have been interested in this world before the visit, but I had to say I enjoyed it.

It was good to have pleasant memories here, since eventually... I would face one of my most deadly challenges on this world. Most unexpected, and that is a story I shall save for another, more dangerous time.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2017-02-19 05:29pm

Episode 11 - A Small Favor

It had to happen eventually.

I knew it the moment I gave him the means to call me, in fact.

My Companions and I were enjoying a little holiday on a resort planetoid and had returned to the TARDIS when the call came into the TARDIS phone. I picked it up. "Hello there."

"I need a favor, Doc."

Straight to business. I immediately had an inkling as to why.

"What is it, Harry?"

On the other end, Harry Dresden replied, "You know who the Nickelheads are, right? Since you knew about Lash."

I drew in a breath. It was what I feared it would be. "Yes, I know who the Denarians are."

"They have a young girl, Doc."

"Ivy," I sighed.

There was a moment of silence on the other end. When Harry started speaking again, I could sense a shift in his emotion to anger. "So you did know this was going to happen, didn't you?"

"Yes, Harry, I did."

"Then why didn't you Goddamned warn me?! I could have stopped them from..!"

I drew in a breath and rested against the rail. "I told you before, Harry. If I gave you knowledge of how the future was going, you would make different decisions, and it would change things. And not necessarily for the better."

"How do you know that for certain, dammit?! You could make things better!"

Harry had me there. I could, conceivably, alter things here and there to give them better outcomes. But then his decisions would change. He wouldn't make the same choices. And when the time came, he might not have the power, through those choices, to stop the horrible things that were still to come.

But would he need that power if I was there to help?

As I thought about that, I realized the answer was still yes.

"So that's it, Doc? You're going to leave a twelve year old girl to be tortured and abused by the Nickelheads?"

My mind flashed to a poor young girl, uncovered in the cold with bruises and cuts all over her, held in mid-air by intricate magics meant to keep her imprisoned while horrible creatures nipped at her.

How could I say no to helping her?

How could I not help and continue to be the Doctor?

I swallowed. "Harry, I will come and do what I can. But there are things that are about to happen that... if they don't happen, it will make things worse in the long run. I promise you, however, that I will make sure we get Ivy away from the Denarians."

Harry was silent. By using "we" I'd reinforced whose side I was on.

"You can't tell anyone I'll be there, though. You need to behave as if I'd said no, like I didn't even exist. Please, Harry."

There was more silence. "Alright," he said. He hung up a moment later.

"Doctor..."

I looked up to see Cami and Janias looking at me intently. I explained, as quickly as I could, the situation; what the Denarians were, what they'd done, what was at risk. I told them who Ivy was; a twelve year old child and the repository of the Archive, a living database of everything ever written down on Harry's Earth, with awesome magical power in addition to that.

"We can't just leave her with them," Janias insisted, snarling. "I say we show up and help Harry fire-blast those things into smears."

"And that would cause changes to his timeline in far greater amounts than rescuing those Air Nomads did in Korra's," I pointed out.

"Doctor, I'm worried about something else." Camilla took a seat on the stairs and looked at me intently. "What if we've already changed how things would progress?"

"Hrm?" I looked at her.

"Well... we weren't exactly unnoticed when we've acted in Harry's world before," she continued. "Korra nearly drowned the Merlin! And we've humiliated the Red Court a few times just by ourselves. The forces of that world know who you are, they have an idea of what you are, and they know that you're friendly to Harry. Anyone coming to Chicago has to be ready to run into you, and if this Nicodemus is half as smart as you make him sound..."

"....then he'll be anticipating my presence," I finished for her. "And will have brought extra resources he otherwise wouldn't have used."

"Exactly."

I drew out a sigh and flopped into the stairs nearby, looking to the girls after I did so. "Damned if I do, damned if I don't."

"If we've already tilted things, why not just go with that?", Janias asked. "Let's just help Harry!"

"There's a difference between taking a plunge and just making sure everything is balanced," I pointed out. "We'll go and observe. If something unexpected happens, we'll address the change, and only the change."

"Doctor, what about the girl?" Janias was still plainly unready to give the matter up. "She should be rescued."

"And she will be," I promised. "Harry will win so long as everything happens as normal." I stood and reached for the TARDIS controls. "We're just going to make sure things go that way."






I knew better than to bring even a veiled TARDIS too close to the participants, lest we be discovered, so I had to settle for long-range observation. Nevertheless it confirmed for me that things, so far, were going as scheduled. Harry, without any other means to find the Denarian base, had made Nicodemus an offer he couldn't refuse: Ivy for the coins of the Denarians that had been defeated at the Shedds Aquarium and Fidelacchius, the Sword of Faith, entrusted to Harry to find a new wielder after the last one died fairly gruesomely, at the Denarians' hands no less. Of course, Nicodemus would have no plans to honor the exchange, and Harry knew that, but going through the motions would involve letting Harry and the others be brought out to where they were keeping the Archive prisoner. An island in Lake Michigan, a very particular and special island that had a looming role to play in Harry's future.

So I made sure that Harry, Michael Carpenter, and Michael's fellow Knight Sanya, a black-skinned Russian man wielding Esperacchius, were on their way to the "exchange", aka the Trap. Insert your Admiral Ackbar joke here. I know Harry would.

Then, to be certain, I made sure that Thomas Raith's little houseboat and Miss Gard's Huey helicopter were on their way as well.

And so we shifted to the island itself. It was easier said than done; the field around the island was tricky to bring the TARDIS through, and I only managed it as far as I did because I brought it in high enough that I wouldn't be breaching what was inside the island. Instead, with all stealth measures engaged, I landed it quietly at the back of the hillside that dominated the island, where the Denarians were already gathered with their armed soldiers.

Janias' face twisted into horror and anger. "Doctor, there's so much darkness here, I... how can something like this exist?"

"It's from a wellspring of dark power on this island," I explained. "I dare not explain more."

"I feel her," Janias continued. "She's so afraid... Doctor, please, let's go get her."

"Can't," I answered. "There's too many of them. Even with Harry and the Knights we wouldn't have the advantage, and it would change too much if we did. Harry will be doing that. We will be making sure they didn't add further surprises for Harry."

"Really? They're that powerful?"

Jan nodded and answered before I could. "Each one has more darkness than any Sith Lord I've ever seen. And I'm not sure they're any weaker than Malgus and probably stronger."

Cami turned a little pale. She remembered Malgus too.

I didn't dare leave the TARDIS, especially when I heard footsteps coming through the forest of the island. Armed men came up within twenty feet of the TARDIS, and faced the hillside. They had been carrying something, but I hadn't made it out.

"I think the show is about to start," I murmured.

From where we were, there was no seeing the actual hill, so all I could make out were the sounds of people walking and talking. Soon enough I heard the familiar baritone of Harry and, after that, another voice, calm and level and quite sharp.

Nicodemus Archleone, leader of the Denarians. And someone that even a Time Lord would definitely not want to cross if it could be helped.

I suddenly found myself wishing I'd invited Korra. Or Commander Shepard. Or, frankly, all of them. Because if this turned bad... I might do some damage with the sonic disruptor, and Janias could definitely tear through the mortal gunmen, but the Denarians were fearsome combatants that were extreme dangers to Harry and his friends, and as far as combat goes I'm honestly not that effective at anything but running and playing with technology.

Harry's voice began to rise, to the extent that we could all hear him. He demanded Ivy's release. One of the female Denarians pointed out that they could just take the Swords and coins from him, and played up the idea that he was actually under Lasciel's control still (Lash, that is, the Fallen Angel that Nicodemus had plotted to slip into Harry's brain to corrupt him. It hadn't worked very well).

"Doctor, he's losing his temper," Cami murmured. "That's not good."

"No, he's not," Jan explained for me, undoubtedly sensing his emotions through the Force. "He's... acting?"

"Nicodemus was trying to bait him, and Harry is playing along to buy time."

I heard Nicodemus order "Kill them!"

A moment later, bright orange and red light erupted from the hillside.

"By the Force, what was..."

"A surprise flare to catch them off guard," I remarked. "And a signal flare for that helicopter."

A fight briefly broke out and, from the distance, we could hear the sounds of it and the occasional flash. I kept my eyes on the armed men nearby, knowing they were oblivious to us thanks to the TARDIS. They hadn't moved yet. But they were fussing with the package they'd brought.

There were more flashes of energy in the distance. "Now he is mad," Janias remarked, even as Harry's screams of outrage filled the night air. I felt energy shift and tremble. He was destroying the Archive's prison.

Then there was a burst of purple energy and an angry howl in the air as the prison failed. "I... I thought I saw faces," Janias murmured.

"Possibly," I agreed. "I'd rather not know."

Quiet resumed, followed by gunfire focused on the tower and some cracks of gunfire from it. When it was over Nicodemus' voice filled the night air. "Dresden!"

"What's he doing?"

"Offering Harry his life if he gives everything up," I replied.

"He doesn't know Harry," Janias said, smirking.

"Shh." I was focused on the nearby men, who were still crouched in preparation. They had yet to act.

And then I heard strings in the air, soon joined by horns. I smiled.

"Is that... music?" Cami asked.

"Wagner's 'The Ride of the Valkyries'," I replied. "Miss Gard's well-chosen leitmotif."

From the eastern end of the island the Huey helicopter we'd watched take off flew in. At the side door a man - one of Marcone's lead henchmen - opened fire with a mini-gun and wrecked havoc on the Denarians' mortal followers and, I suspected, their numbers as well.

From the angle I saw a winch lowering a harness. As it turned out, so did the armed men, who brought up the objects from their package.

And despite the sleet and gloom, I could just make out the box shapes of shoulder-carried man-portable anti-air missiles. Firing from what would be the blind side of Harry and his allies.

"You were right, Cami," I breathed, pulling the sonic screwdriver out. "Jan, they've got anti-air, we need to take them out!"

Janias pulled her lightsaber and jumped from the TARDIS entrance. The lightsaber slashed cleanly through the launchers and the limbs holding them. The screams that came from the armed men had a bizarre sound to them, the kind of wail that can only come when you don't have a tongue to change the sound from your mouth.

"Doctor, there are more!", Janias shouted.

"Stay with the TARDIS, Cami!" I brought out the sonic disruptor as well and charged into the sleet. I had the foresight to be wearing my purple parka - this at least didn't make me look like the Joker - over my suit, and it kept me warm against the chill on the island. The island was dark and it was hard for even me to see, but I had Time Lord senses and Janias had the Force. We spread out, not needing to speak a word in coordination, and went after the other fire teams carrying missiles and, as it turned out, rocket-propelled grenades.

I used a sonic burst to disarm the nearest fire-team and then the second-nearest, with follow-up shots from the sonic disruptor to send the armed men down so I didn't get shot. Behind me there was an explosion; Janias had used the Force to, presumably, cause a grenade to explode prematurely, taking out the armed men firing it.

I glanced to the hilltop. The new angle meant I could see the helicopter. There was a figure in the harness, actually a figure holding something, and almost up to the helo itself. Harry and the others were looking toward the direction of the explosion.

I looked back in time to see another group of men, hidden enough that I hadn't seen them yet, firing a missile at the helicopter. As flame erupted from the launcher I had my sonic up and whirring. The missile corkscrewed in the air, narrowly missing the helicopter, and exploded in mid-air safely beyond it.

With a sonic burst I put down the men who had nearly killed the people on the aircraft and scanned the gloom for more. I saw movement further down and ran toward it. A single object began to pop out from the brush and, this time, I would not let them fire. I used the sonic to send off a strong thermal pulse, enough to...

The explosion flowered along the hillside, setting trees aflame and, it had to be said, killing the men with the weapons instantly. The flames were a beacon of light and warmth in the sleet and gloom of the island and I allowed the crackling fire to dance over my vision, close enough that I could be seen from the hilltop. I looked up.

Harry was looking down, toward the fires, and thus toward me. I could make him out from what was left of the lighting on the hill-top; he could see me far more easily and know who it was. I nodded at him. He returned the nod and turned to accept an object from the second man going up the line.

I almost yelled a warning. I knew the Denarians would pounce soon, that Nicodemus' treacherous wife Tessa and her lieutenant would strike as Harry sent Michael up the line. Michael would be gravely wounded, permanently crippled in fact, and the helicopter damaged, forcing Harry to fight his way off the island. If I went up there I could prevent it...

I could change what was about to happen.

I could save Michael Carpenter from his fate.... a fate that, on consideration, was almost a divine blessing, an act of God to reward a servant by giving him relief from his heavy burden. Instead, by acting, I could cause the Denarians to change targets. They might kill Sanya instead. They might kill Harry. Kill me permanently with a fatal wound during regeneration.

Or kill Janias, who would undoubtedly rush to aid me.

That was the problem with events like these. I had the burden of knowing how they should go and how meddling could make the outcome worse instead of better. But that meant inaction, and allowing painful things to happen.

I turned and ran back into the forest. Jan, get back to the TARDIS, NOW, I thought, feeling her mind probing mine.

Already there, she replied.

I sighed. I'd done what had to be done. It was time to stand back and let events play out as they needed to.




We stayed in the TARDIS for the rest of the night, observing from sufficient distance how everything went. We remained in mid-air as Harry piloted the boat he'd been brought in on out to the reef and, from there, left the failing craft to get into his brother's houseboat.

White light erupted from the figures struggling in the dark below, forcing me to close my eyes. We could hear one of the Denarians shrieking in despair before retreating. When it was over, Janias had a shocked look on her face. "Doctor, what was that?", she asked softly.

"A job offer," I replied.

"What?"

"Karrin Murphy grabbed Fidelacchius and pulled it from the scabbard," I explained further. "A very important event. Now you see why I couldn't just intervene.".

"Because that wouldn't have happened." Camilla nodded.

"Exactly." I sighed. "Still, we're not done yet."

"Oh?"

"We have one more stop to make," I explained.




I swapped my blue coat for a white one to fit in, with Jan and Cami in nurse scrubs, before we stepped out of the TARDIS in an empty room in the Stroger hospital. With my psychic paper held open and clipped to my coat and Janias subtly influencing others walking by us, we evaded attention until we arrived in the ICU's prep room for patients between surgeries. I presented myself as a specialist looking up a new patient for a consultation and the nurses, busy as they were, didn't think much of letting me in to the room.

It was empty for the moment with just the unconscious patient. I walked up and looked over the wounded body of Michael Carpenter and lowered my head. I could have saved him from this... but I had not. In the name of the timeline, and of his family and a much-deserved retirement, I'd left him to be hurt. Crippled.

I heard a sniffle behind me. Camilla was crying. Janias was starting to weep too. I wasn't surprised. The Carpenters had treated them almost like adopted daughters on the occasions we'd seen them. Janias saw Michael as the exemplar that all Jedi Masters should seek to match.

I looked back to Michael and put my hand on his. "I'm sorry, Michael," I whispered, trying to keep the tears from my eyes as well. I brought up my sonic and ran it over his body. So far the damage was what I expected, but I wanted to make sure....

Brain damage, more than I expected. But something I was prepared for.

I reached into the lab coat and brought out a transmat injector filled with a regenerative agent I'd acquired from Layom Station. I injected it directly into his carotid. It wouldn't be kept in the bloodstream to show up on blood tests, thankfully; it would find damaged and destroyed cells and be absorbed by them, damaged cells would be healed, dead cells would be used as raw material to form new living ones. The dose I gave would be sufficient to ensure Michael, while crippled, had his faculties. He would not be reduced in mind as he was in body.

"Doctor..."

Janias' strained voice made me look up. Against all expectations, a custodian was at the doorway, a face mask dutifully applied. The old man pulled the mask down, smiled at me, and nodded.

I noticed that the name tag read "Jake". And I drew in a breath, not saying anything as he continued on with his cart.

"H-He... he wasn't..." Janias was stammering. "W-What was...?"

"He works for Michael's boss," I answered quietly. "Let's just leave it at that."




After we left, Jan and Cami made a request of me; they wanted to wait with the Carpenters. So I materialized the TARDIS outside and let them go in while I remained outside. I... couldn't face Charity and the children right now, not when I was the one who could have spared them this heartache. I simply stood in the snow and waited, thinking to myself of the conundrum of this situation.

"Doctor."

The voice made me spin, unnatural as it was. I looked further down the alley I had parked the TARDIS in and found...

The figure in front of me was female, in a dark blue business suit detailed with diamonds. Lapis decorated the ivory sticks that held the braided bun of long white hair on her head. She was hauntingly beautiful, lips a faint red, and eyes like a cat...

Fitting, since there was a cat in front of her, and even in the twilight of the alley I could see the creature was a muscular thing, larger than a bobcat or a lynx.

My voice froze in my throat. I knew who this was, I knew. Among other things, she was the reason that the city was snowing so early in the year.

Mab.

Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness, reigning monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe.

Mab, one of the incarnate forces of this cosmos, a being beyond the powers of anything I'd yet faced.

I forced myself to swallow and, despite the stiffness in my back, executed a courtly bow. "Your Majesty."

"Your respect is well-considered." Her lips moved, but the voice came from the feline with her. A malk, I recalled. Grimalkin, in this case. "I am not unaware of your connection to Harry Dresden, Doctor. You have played a part in these events and bringing them to my satisfaction. I thought to express my thanks to you."

I knew better than to believe that, but I also knew better than to be brutally honest about it. "Thank you for your gratitude, Your Majesty," I replied, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It did. "I sense your mind has been taken from you," she said through Grimalkin, its voice making the words even creepier. "What would you give to have it returned?"

"Pardon me, Majesty?"

Mab smiled at me. It was a very chilly smile. "I have the power to remove that lock on your mind, Doctor. I can return the memories and knowledge within to you. You would be whole again."

At that, I drew in a breath. To remember who I was, to remember what I was, to have my memory returned... "And what would you want in return?"

"Three favors, of course," she replied. "You would be permitted to select which ones to fulfill, and would face no form of compulsion to take any individual request."

In other words, the same deal she imposed on Harry, with some changes to terminology.

For a moment I thought on it. There was a lure to having those memories back, yes. Mab undoubtedly sensed that bewilderment in my mind, always under the surface, of having so much of my life locked away from my thoughts. I had gone through so much pain and confusion as those memories drained away, pulled into the memetic box that held them from me.

But if I was going to get those memories back.... there was no way I would do so in a deal with Mab. I, quite frankly, was not that foolish. You don't make deals with beings like Mab. Ever.

"I thank you for your consideration, Majesty, but I must decline," I answered as politely as I could. "Whatever I once was... that life is beyond me now. I have become something more. I'm the Doctor now."

"You say that now," she answered. Mab's expression became bemused. "But I think you will regret it soon enough. What will happen, Doctor, when your pretty young friends are gone?"

I frowned. I didn't like the sound of that. "My friends?"

"That dear green girl and her lover. They're your last link, aren't they? To the Humanity that was stripped from you." Mab laced her fingers together. "What do you think will happen when you lose them? When they decide to leave you? Or when you provoke the wrong foe and they die as a consequence?"

I remained silent.

"You will be alone," Mab continued. "With nothing but the path ahead, to be walked without someone by your side who would understand what was done to you."

I swallowed. "I'll deal with that when it comes, Your Majesty."

The bemused smile remained. "It is your choice, Doctor. The offer will remain open to you. Although the cost will not."

And like that, Mab was gone, leaving me alone with my thoughts and fears.

I had known for a long time I would one day lose Jan and Cami, even before Death gave me that stark reminder by showing me their lifetimers. Having Mab remind me of it forced me to consider it again, as much as I didn't want to. Especially her questions about what would happen when I lost them.

They were questions I couldn't bring myself to even think of answering.




That night at the hospital Jan and Cami remained until the morning, waking me and letting me know Michael had awoken from the surgeries and was talking.

I didn't tell them about my conversation with Mab. I didn't want them frightened.

I decided to give Harry space by staying away for a time after the incident, shifting us ahead so that we would be around for when Michael returned home. Jan and Cami went with Molly and her mother to shop for the supplies for the coming home party, using a special credit card I'd rigged up (yet more of my irresponsible inflation of the local economy, I freely admit). This left me to show up at Harry's door and have a talk.

To try and lighten the mood, I brought beer. Not a very Doctor-y beverage, but one must account for other's tastes.

We went into the basement, Harry's lab, and each took a bottle. Harry eyed it and finally smiled. "Good stuff. What is it?"

"Timbiqui Dark," I answered. "From another cosmos, interstellar Human civilization and all. I received it as a gift from a ruler there."

"Alien beer?"

"Alien world, but made by Humans," I pointed out.

"Good enough." Harry took another quick swig. "Not as good as Mac's, but acceptably close."

"I have yet to partake," I admit.

"We'll have to fix that one day."

There was silence at that point. I pulled something out of my pocket. "Is Bob around?"

Harry looked up at the spirit's skull, surrounded as always by bad romance novels. The eyes lit up. "Heya Doc. Is it time for me to say 'I told you so'?"

"Not yet," I remarked wryly. I walked up and placed the data disc in front of him. "Can you actually... access this?"

"Hrm. I could try. What's on it?"

"It's something called Vaenia," I answered. "I thought you'd appreciate it."

Light from the skull played over the disc. "Is this... oh wow Doc, are you into...?"

"I got it for you, Bob," I pointed out. "Although I suspect Jan and Cami have a copy too."

"Oh yowza, I bet they do!"

"What is it?", Harry asked from his chair.

"Asari pornography," I answered wryly. "They're a mono-gendered species so they all look female. Bob, can you take a quick look at..."

"Your head, Doc? Sure. Got to respect a guy who gives me something this juicy. Harry's been skimping lately."

"I told you, that author missed her deadline and the book's delayed," Harry retorted.

"Whatever...." Bob's light-up eyes focused on me again. "Yeah, it's... box is shut, Doc. Slammed shut, padlocked, and dropped into concrete. Even Molly at her best potential couldn't even begin to break that."

"It's what I thought," I sighed, rubbing my forehead.

"So do you even remember being Human?"

"No. Jan and Cami remind me I was, and that's how I know." I went back to my chair. "I've been looking around to see if anyone could stop it, but none have been able."

Harry looked up from the beer bottle in his hand. "Sorry to hear that."

I nodded and drew in a breath. "Mab says she can do it."

Harry's eyes widened and he had to swallow hard, so hard that if he hadn't I suspected we would have been showered in Timbiqui Dark. "Mab approached you?!"

"At the hospital, while the girls were up with you. She offered me a bargain, three favors and she would break the lock and restore my memories."

"Doc, don't tell me you actually agreed...?!"

I rolled my eyes. "Of course not, Harry," I scoffed. "I may be prone to arrogance and the occasional act of uppity foolishness, but I'm not that far gone to think I can risk letting Mab in my head, or getting in her debt."

Harry sucked in a breath. "You don't want to get mixed up with the Sidhe, Doc. You just don't." He had real heat in his voice, heat I knew was earned by harsh experience with the subject matter.

"I have no intention to start." I looked at Bob, curious on a point. "Could she do it? As a matter of curiosity only, Harry."

"If you could trust her to, yeah, she might," Bob replied. "Of course, she might tear your mind to bits in the process. Blocks like that don't break easy, Doc, and it's not good to have someone wielding sledgehammers in your brain like that. Especially if the one holding the hammer is Mab."

"I thought so." I drew in a breath and took a drink of Timbiqui. It was rather good.

Silence reigned for a while, save Bob's hoots as he enjoyed "Vaenia". Harry and I kept looking away from each other until he sighed and sat up. "Okay, let's stop avoiding this."

"Always like you to take the direct approach, Harry."

"Yeah." He looked at me, conscious to avoid locking eyes so we didn't accidentally soulgaze. "Doc, I have a question and I'd like you to answer."

"Ask away."

"In... whatever manner you know of what's happened in my world, and what's going to happen, was anything different from what actually happened on the island when we saved Ivy and Marcone?"

I looked toward him and nodded.

"What was it?"

"Those RPGs and anti-air missiles," I replied.

"You mean that in the version of events you knew, he didn't bring that firepower?"

"No, he didn't." I sighed. "And before you carry on, Harry... yes, I believe he brought it because of me. Cami has already pointed out to me that my actions on your world mean the forces here are going to start taking me into account in their plans."

Satisfied, Harry leaned back a little in his seat. "So where does this leave us?"

"You mean to ask if this means I'll turn down helping you to keep events from changing, even if they're already changing?", I asked pointedly.

"Exactly. If you'd just come along, we could have all piled in the TARDIS and gotten off the island after we freed Ivy. Michael wouldn't have gotten shot, I wouldn't have nearly gotten killed several times over, and...."

"...and Karrin would never have pulled Fidelacchius, revealing her ability to wield it," I finished for him, looking intently at him as I continued. "You never would have met Eldest Gruff and won his respect with your bravery and clever thinking. Nor would you have taken Nicodemus down as you did. Michael would be okay, yes, and in turn he would have avoided earning the one retirement from his duties that lets him be with his family. And you and I both know the usual retirement for Knights of the Sword."

Harry glared at me, clearly irritated that he hadn't yet thought that chain through completely. "Okay, yeah," he finally conceded. His eyes narrowed. "Wait, 'take Nicodemus down'? I left him for dead, Doc. You're telling me he survived that?!"

I drew in a breath. "I believe so."

"You believe.... what does that mean?! You can't even tell me if he's..."

"Dammit Harry!", I shouted. "I don't know everything about your future! I only know some! So I don't know what changing the events I do know about can and will do to your future! And I can't even go into the future to look without meaning I can't come back and help because if I see how the timeline's going, and I change something in it that became a fixed point... well, Harry, take your pick. Do you want to see your cosmos' time space-continuum crunch down to a single point in time and then degrade into oblivion, or do you want to have bat-monsters showing up to eat everyone? I've heard of both flavors of Critical Existence Failure... and if you want to know what that is, ask Butters, he's got the Internet."

Harry rolled his eyes. "So you're just going to sit back whenever the going gets tough around here and I need help?"

I sighed deeply at that, trying to reign in my frustration. "No, Harry. It just means I have to be careful about how I help you. I came to the island to make sure everything turned out as it should. I saw the change and I accounted for it. I restored the balance in the situation. I will make sure that the same stands for the other events to come, as far as I know what's going to happen."

"And after?"

"Then..." I sighed. "I'll do whatever I can to help."

Silence came in again, Harry mulling my words while I didn't want to reignite the argument. As I thought about it, I came upon an analogy that could work. "Harry, given your love of pop culture, I'm sure you've heard of Star Trek?"

He looked at me with a "duh" expression. "More of a Star Wars guy myself but yeah, I know all about Captain Kirk and co."

"What about Picard?"

"The bald English guy with the French name?" He shrugged. "Didn't catch that one as much, but I know about him."

"Do you recall a story, then, about Picard? About how his artificial heart was failing and was going to kill him? And how he was offered a chance to change his past, make it where he never lost that heart?"

Harry searched his memory. "Yeah, I think I remember that one." He frowned. "It messed his life up. He became a measly little science guy instead of a captain."

"Yes, and in the end he decided he'd rather die than live that life. The story was called 'Tapestry', because when he pulled at the loose thread in his life, it unraveled the whole design. I could do the same thing to you if I'm careless about how I help you. If I say the wrong word, allude to the wrong event, do the wrong thing... I could unravel the whole tapestry. It would have consequences far beyond whatever good I might do in the short-term. And so I have to be careful, Harry. I'm not saying I won't do anything, I just have to be careful about it."

Harry said nothing, focusing on finishing his bottle. "I get it, Doc, I do. I just... I know things are going to get worse, and I wouldn't mind the extra backup."

"I understand entirely. And I'll be here to help in any way I can. Just, please, understand why I can't just swoop in on every situation and change events."

"Yeah, I understand."

I said nothing at that point. I could tell I'd gotten through to him on the matter, but I knew it wasn't settled.

Because I knew what was going to happen soon enough. I knew about the little girl whose very existence would change his life forever and how he wouldn't give a damn about how many loose threads were pulled in the process of saving her. And I knew that I would be getting another call from him when that time came.

What I would do about it... I didn't know, and I would spend a long time considering, up until the very moment I got the phone call that would lead me to Chichen Itza on that fateful night.

As much as that seems a suitably dramatic ending to this, Harry provided levity. His head came back and a confused look came to his face. "Wait, due to all of that six dimensional stuff... doesn't that mean you've met Kirk and Picard and such?"

"Um, no. I've met Sisko, though." I smiled thinly. "I don't really get to see the Starfleet types. The Federation's Department of Temporal Investigations, their time police if you will, don't really like me."

"Oh yeah? Bet you get them really worked up with all that time travel."

"Like you wouldn't believe. Gariff Lucsly treats me like Morgan used to treat you."

Harry winced. "Ouch." He looked at the time. "They should be picking Michael up from the hospital now."

"Ah? Well, let's get over there then." I smirked. "I'm driving."

"I'm not letting you touch the Blue Beetle's wheel, Doc. Given that accent you'll probably drive on the wrong side of the road."

"Cops won't pull me over for shifting the TARDIS after drinking," I reminded him.

"Oh yeah...."




That night, Michael's welcome home party was, well, a blast. Mab was gone, but the atmosphere hadn't yet settled down and there was still snow on the ground from a fresh snow-fall in the morning.

Which meant, well.... snowball fight.

So the Carpenter kids set up their snow fortresses and began flinging their cold projectiles across the backyard while we adults tended to Michael. He would be wheelchair bound for a while, but he was looking otherwise healthy. He happily accepted our presence and let Janias and Cami give him warm, tearful embraces.

I clasped his arm. "I'm sorry, Michael," I murmured.

"It was as our Father intended," he assured me with a small smile. "Thank you for helping. I knew Harry was not telling the whole truth when he said you wouldn't be coming."

"I asked him to say that. Couldn't let knowledge of my presence change how things were going."

After the early dinner, complete with Charity's admonitions to her children to clean up from the snowball fight, we all took to the backyard where Harry decided to have a projectile defense training session for Molly. She managed to stop four snowballs on each volley, getting some pointers not just from Harry but Janias, who responded to a volley from the Carpenter children with a gentle Force push that burst all the snowballs in mid flight. The children laughed and booed.... and Janias shrieked as Camilla, smiling, put a handful of snow down her collar.

This triggered a general free-for-all, thankfully not interrupted by gruffs, that I stood away from. Charity walked beside me and looked up. "You're doing well, Doctor?"

I swallowed and nodded. "We're getting along, yes."

"It's good to see the girls laughing like that." She eyed me. "You didn't have snowball fights as a child?"

"I..." My head ached faintly as I probed my thoughts along the memetic box holding my memories of my Human life. "...I don't remember, Charity. My memories of my past were taken from me."

"I'll pray you get them back, then," she said.

I saw the smile on her face and twisted, my sonic up and active. Gentle sonic waves intercepted and dispersed the volley of snowballs thrown my way by the children. I clicked my tongue. "Sorry, little ones. I'm a bit too fast for that."

"Spoil sport!" Janias concentrated and used a Force push to send a burst of snow from the ground and toward me. I brought up the sonic disruptor and projected a sonic burst that blew it around me.

"Ha!", I shouted in triumph... seeing the smirk on Janias' face a moment too late to realize....

Snow suddenly went down the back of my collar, courtesy of a veiled Molly, who left footprints in the snowy ground as she ran laughing. I danced about, trying to shake it loose...

....and soon faced Janias' smirking face, a similar smirk on Harry's face as he brought his hand up to a large pile of snow beside him...

"Forzare!"

....and then I saw nothing but white as I was struck by a solid wall of will-propelled snow, enough to knock me over and just about bury me. As I tried to get back up the Carpenter children pounced, shrieking victory and stuffing snow down my parka collar.

"Alright!", I shouted, laughing. "This means war, Harry! War!"

"Bring it on, Doc!"

And so the Great Snow War commenced, and we laughed and shouted as the sides shifted and changed until, ironically, Harry and I were struggling to get the snow out of our jackets under attacks directed by Jan, Cami, and Molly.

We laughed and played long into the night, a night I will always remember with a smile.


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

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2017-02-19 05:34pm

Short 14 - A Worthy Effort

Retrieving the quantum scanner from that device of Ransik's and Frax's had given me the opportunity to resume a project. I already had some scans related to it, but they had told me that to fulfill my plan, I needed something more.

Hence the need for the quantum signature scanner.

Throw in a couple of days worth of work to make it compatible with other technologies and I had the device I needed for my project.

With a pull of the lever I shifted the TARDIS to my destination. It shook and rumbled beneath me, drawing the attention of the girls. They came into the control room, dripping wet from their interrupted swim. "Doctor, what's wrong?", Camilla asked, sounding worried.

"Nothing, nothing," I assured her, stepping away from the controls and up to the door. "Don't let me interrupt your swim, girls. I just have a small errand to do."

"Are you sure?", Jan asked. "We can come..."

"That won't be necessary," I answered, giving them a smile. "I need you to stay in the TARDIS. Please."

Camilla sighed and gave a shrug. Jan nodded in turn and the girls went back through the portal.

I stepped out of the TARDIS and into a familiar scene; a ruined city.

Specifically, the ruined city of Mitakihara.

Yes, I can imagine you understand what my project is now, can't you?

I moved along in the direction of the destruction and, as I'd planned, came up behind a shorter figure, complete with pink haired pigtails with like-colored ribbons. She was absorbed in thoughts enough that I walked up without being noticed. A quick scan of the sonic showed we were alone; none of the tell-tale signs of a detestable little bio-drone and hive mind scurrying about. Undoubtedly he had moved on ahead. This left me to approach her openly, my right hand gripping the object I'd slipped into my jacket pocket and pulling it out. "Hello there, young lady."

She turned around, surprised. "Uh... who are you?", she asked in confusion. "Sir, you shouldn't be out here, it's not safe."

I smiled at her. "Come now, Madoka, I can say the same for you."

"How... how do you know my name?"

"Oh, a lot of quantum wibbly-wobbly to explain there," I answered. "So, what are you doing out here, young lady?"

"I'm going to help a friend," she insisted.

"Oh really?" I slowed my pace to keep by her side. "She must be very important to take this risk."

"She's been fighting to protect me...." Realization came to Madoka's face. "You... you know Homura, don't you?"

"Ah yes, I do...", I admitted. "I'm the Doctor. And I was here during one of the times she fought this thing before. Sadly, I wasn't in the best shape to help. I fell off a skyscraper, I have to say."

"Then, you know I have to help her."

"I do," I replied. I gently set my right hand on Madoka's shoulder and knelt down beside her. "I won't keep you. Homura needs you, and I... I made a mistake with her and she's not very pleased with me, so it's best if I'm not there. But I wanted to speak to you before you made your wish." I directed my eyes toward her's and allowed a smile to come to my face. "I've observed you, Madoka Kaname. I know how you feel about your life, your fear that you have no worth, that you can only find worth by helping others. But you must surely know, now, that you are loved and that you have worth. You are a brave, compassionate, and caring young lady, and I'm honored to have met you. And no matter where your path takes you, I want you to know that you are not alone, and that you will never be forgotten. I'll see to it."

She was silent for a second. I brought my left hand up and let her take it with her's. "Thank you, Doctor," she said. "I need to go now."

"Yes, I know." I brought my right hand back, confirmed that the device I was holding in it had done its job, and put it back into my pocket. "Godspeed, Madoka Kaname."

I stood and watched her run along, to where she would save Homura from her despair and make the wish that would rewrite her entire cosmos, at the cost of her mortal existence. It was a grand sacrifice, but still a sacrifice, and one that should never have been necessary. One that would deprive this world of a gentle young girl that made it warmer by her existence.

I became aware of a presence behind me and was not surprised to look down into a pair of cold, alien eyes when I turned my head, allowing me to face the being responsible for the necessity of Madoka's impending sacrifice. "Oi, and what do you want?", I asked, allowing evident disgust into my voice.

Kyubey tilted his head at me. "Who are you? I can see you're not Human. And your mind has been altered. Would you like to..."

"No deals, Incubator. I'd rather accept Mab's help than yours." Yes, I considered being in the debt of the Queen of the Unseelie to be a lesser evil than to making a deal with the Incubators. At least she only wanted three favors and not to eat my despair-crushed soul one day.... well, not exactly, I suspect she'd gladly have me crushed by despair and turned into a servitor if she could make it happen. It just wasn't her main priority.

Actually, when you think about it, the Incubators aren't too different from the Sidhe in some respect, are they?

Anyway, I turned to leave. The Bunnycat of Lies hadn't given up yet, though. "Are you sure? It would be easy for me to open the block in your mind if you made a...."

"No means no," I replied. "Now hurry along, Hopalong, fixed point in time and all that. That's why I'm not going to channel enough disruption into you to give your entire hive mind a great big bloody headache. As much as I'd enjoy seeing you lot eaten by bat-monsters, I have to be the responsible adult and let you go grant Madoka's wish so that history turns out like the fixed point says it should."

"Are you...."

"I said bugger off," I demanded, turning long enough to give Kyubey just a bit of the disruption that, at full effect, would make his drone body explode in white fluff. He let out a little shriek of agony and scampered off.

Not as cathartic as I'd have liked, but I couldn't afford to disrupt the Incubators so much they couldn't grant Madoka's wish. I lowered my sonic back into my pocket and went on back to the TARDIS.

The girls were waiting for me. "Doctor, that's... Mitakihara, isn't it?"

"it is," I said as I walked up past the controls and down to the lower area, where I had a second device ready to plug into the first device. Green lights confirmed it worked and, smiling, I returned to the controls and saw their faces. "What?"

"Doctor, you didn't..."

"I did nothing to interfere," I said, looking to reassure Janias. "I simply furthered some arrangements. And made Kyubey squeal a little. That was an unexpected bonus."

"Then shouldn't we go?"

"Yes, yes we should," I said. As much as I would have liked to be there to give Madoka my support for making her wish, I couldn't risk it. I had to pull the TARDIS out of the loop, indeed, out of the cosmos entirely. So I sent us on our way. "So, that's done. Anyone up for some lunch? I've taken rather a liking to that little Water Tribe restaurant Korra introduced us to..." I let the discussion of where to eat come in as I considered what I had left to do for my project. I needed one more piece of technology to begin the assembly of the final device.

And for those of you disappointed that I didn't do more to the much-deserving Incubators... I had my plans for them as well. The annoying little buggers had it coming, trying to talk me into a deal. Bloody things have one track minds, and tend to forget that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Then again, they were used to wearing down the reluctance of emotionally vulnerable adolescent girls they picked as marks, so maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised by that.

Anyway, I had a plan for them as well. A rather fitting one, in fact, that I shall share with you when the time comes.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2017-03-02 01:17pm

Episode 12 - Parting Sorrows

As much as I regret it, the time has come for me to tell you one of the most painful stories I have.

This is the story of how I lost Janias and Camilla.

It began auspiciously enough. I needed one last piece of technology for my special project, and after mulling borrowing it from the Federation, I decided it would be easier to examine a similar device from another source, one who's cosmos I had recently become acquainted with.

The facility was well-lit for its owners, and we materialized in stealth mode to not set off any alarms. I stepped out and looked over the blue-surfaced computer control surfaces and equipment, waving my sonic around on a record mode linked to the TARDIS. "Quantum compilation technology, very nice. Not sure why they mixed it with digital card data storage though. You'd think a quantum state system would..."

"Doctor...." Janias gave me a look that told me "Stop with the technobabble and hurry up".

"Oh yes, right, right...." I went over to the colorful projector hanging down from the top of the room, recently assembled, and gave it a good scan too. "Quantum compiler, data integrator... very nice. I'll have to make modifications of..."

"Who are you?!"

The demanding female voice made me turn my head toward the opening to the chamber. A young lady stood there, flanked by humanoid minions with large two-handed blades that reminded me of bat'leths, her hair colored a deep read and a cybernetic attachment of some sort on the right side of her face. Ah, her. I had been hoping to get out before they knew I was here....

"Me? I'm the Doctor. Just a passer-by, looking at some very interesting technology." I pocketed my sonic. "You would be Astronema, yes? Pleasure to make your acquaintance, we'll be going now."

"Take them!"

Janias' lightsaber flashed to life, slicing at the first minion to come at her and cutting its blade in two. I pulled out the sonic disruptor and fired a wide-arc burst that knocked everyone down. "Let's go!" I snapped my fingers, opening the TARDIS doors, and rushed into it with the girls. I ignored closing it for the moment, going straight for the controls and my pre-arranged escape coordinates.

And as I grabbed the lever and pulled, I regretted not closing them. immediately.

Astronema struggled to her feet as I yanked the lever. I snapped my fingers the moment her hand came up holding some sort of weapon. A beam of red energy lashed out, going through the closing TARDIS doors and slicing into the TARDIS engine. The VWORP VWORP VWORP turned into a shriek as sparks showered around us. I cursed my luck and went to work on the controls, trying to make sure we got back out of the Time Vortex and doing my best to avoid being thrown down by the rocking of the TARDIS The girls secured themselves quickly, aided by long practice, despite the flickering lights inside the TARDIS. I have to say, we had seen this happen far too bloody often. I needed to stop being so careless.

I would, obviously, have great cause to regret that bit of carelessness.

After the shaking stopped I went over to one of the screens to check on things. The damage to the engine was severe and self-repair would take several days. We were lucky that it lasted long enough to bring us back out of the Time Vortex.

"Close one."

"We need stealth devices," Janias complained, leaning on a rail. "Is that going to be the last technology theft we commit for a while, Doctor? Please?"

"I certainly hope so," I replied. "Now I need to find out where we are." I brought up external systems to get a star or planet reading, but found nothing of either; we were in a structure of some sort, or a ship. Definitely a ship given the sensor returns I was getting.... "Damage to the systems, I can't see any more of what's out there."

There was a knock on the door.

I turned to Janias in the gloom of the damaged TARDIS and she nodded. She felt no immediate danger. I gave a hand to Cami, who'd gone to her knees holding on to one of the other railings, and once she was on her feet I walked past her and Janias to the TARDIS door. My hands gripped my sonic and my sonic disruptor tightly and Jan's hand went to her lightsaber, although she didn't turn it on. With my grip remaining on my sonic screwdriver, I used my right hand to open the door.

There was a figure in front of me, and beyond that figure were others, including a couple of fellows pointing weapons at me. Phasers, to be precise.

My eyes focused on the persons at my door, and their familiar uniforms. Branch colors on shoulders and black.

I almost cringed at seeing who they were.

"I'm Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager." Janeway crossed her arms. "And you would be the Doctor."

The thought that went through my mind was simple.

Oh bloody hell.





So the bridge of the Voyager. Oi. To think about winding up here of all places. And with lingering memories of the SFDebris reviews no less. I half expected to hear Janeway start talking like a mad scientist.

That she knew who I was, well... I had suspicions of that, even if Dax hadn't recognized me back on DS9 early in my journeys.

"A reputation precedes me," I said. "Although I'm curious as to which one."

"The one where you're the most dangerous time criminal listed on Federation records," Janeway answered. "Wanted for repeated violations of the Temporal Prime Directive."

"Really? I must say, I haven't done much at all in this timeline so far. Wait, is this about that business with Doctor Phlox and the cure for the Valakians? Because I have a very, very good explanation for that..."

Tuvok interrupted me at that point. "Captain, might I suggest that in our current state, we cannot act on Standing Order 30."

I looked at him in confusion. "Excuse me, I don't think I've heard that one."

"It was implemented at the request of the Federation Science Council and the Director of Temporal Investigations," he explained. "'If ever encountered, every attempt to incarcerate or neutralize the being known as the Doctor must be made.'"

My jaw dropped. "There's an entire Starfleet Standing Order on me? That's.... bloody overkill, that's what that is." It was quite stunning to realize that Starfleet felt it necessary to devote an entire Standing Order to me.

Then again, I'd one day learn why they did it.

"Mister Tuvok's right," Chakotay remarked stoically. "We've got bigger concerns."

I noticed that the Voyager running lights were set to lower power with red alert lights.

And then the ship shook underneath us.

"The Borg cube has locked us in a tractor beam." Harry Kim was at his chair-less station. Why haven't these people ever heard of chairs? Even Sisko has them on the Defiant.

My thoughts at the moment were focused on the same problem that had the Voyager crew's attention. "Borg?!" Some terrible thoughts crossed my mind. Namely, the thought of the Borg somehow assimilating the TARDIS.

Or us.

I ran past Janeway and up to Kim's station. "Hey!" he protested as I knocked him aside and began operating the Okudagram interface.

"What the hell are you doing to my ship?", Janeway demanded even as I had phasers pointed at me.

"Saving it," I remarked. "Ah, navigational deflectors. Almost as versatile as a sonic screwdriver."

I did something... enormously complex in terms of technowizardry, worthy of the most obtuse technobabble you've ever heard, and used the navigational deflector to form a specialized field around Voyager that even the Borg tractor beam couldn't hold onto. The ship lurched ahead again, under Mister Paris' expert hand, and went back to warp. "That should confuse them for a while," I muttered. "I'm not sure if they can adapt quickly to that, but I've got a few other tricks if they do it quickly."

I looked at sensors and saw the Borg ship was following. I let Ensign Kim make the report, though. "The Borg ship is hanging back at a distance of about one parsec."

"Just far enough behind that they can see any traps we lay." I sighed. "There goes the plan for the quantum disruptor mine."

"Quantum disruptor mine?", Kim asked in confusion.

"I thought you'd know by now that quantum can do anything, if it's the right kind of quantum," I joked. "Subatomics and probability are so fun to play with." I stepped out from Kim's station and back toward Janeway. "Captain, I'm not sure what I've done to earn the ire I've gotten from DTI. It's probably from something further down my timestream, so finding out about it would be most annoying since I don't like the thought of being forced to do something lest I cause a paradox and big bat things start to eat everything." I offered a hand. "I'm the Doctor, a Time Lord. I'd like to help you."

Janeway eyed my hand warily. I knew she could make deals with things that she disliked, but on the other hand she was a Federation zealot and could be counted on to stand up for things like the Prime Directive beyond all reason. "How do I know I can trust you? You've proven hostile to the Federation before."

"I'm not sure why anyone thinks that," I protested. "I've done nothing to harm the Federation and, honestly, that whole thing with the Valakians made it stronger."

Janeway narrowed her eyes. "So you say."

We stared at one another for a moment. I tried not to imagine a spider on her shoulder, urging her to eat Harry. Dammit, SFDebris...

I drew in a breath. "Captain, there's been a horrible misunderstanding between me and the Federation due to my squabbles with Agent Lucsly and the DTI. I'm actually a great fan of the Federation and Starfleet. Oh, sometimes you're a bit... preachy, and the Prime Directive thing's become more dogmatic than it should be, but all things considered you're all good people and I will work to protect you. The Borg? I've faced down things like the Borg. Things worse than them, in fact. All I want to do is help you save your crew from them, and if we give them a bloody nose in the process, well, that's a little extra enjoyment for me."

Janeway remained quiet for a moment before giving a brief nod. "Alright. We'll work together on this. Better to have you on our side than fighting us trying to get away. Commander, have everyone report to the conference room."

It was so nice to be appreciated...




Minutes later we were in the Magic Meeting Room. The girls and I remained standing as the situation was explained to us. Voyager had been gathering needed supplies from a nearby system and a Borg Cube had happened upon them. The Borg had decided to assimilate them because, well, they're the Borg, and supposedly they had nothing better to do than go after Voyager.

"The Cube is now within two light years of our position and closing slowly," Janeway noted to her crew. "We need a way to get them off of us. Suggestions?"

"There are no suitable nebulae or spatial phenomena to hide in within fifty light years," Seven reported. "There is nowhere to hide."

"And we can't turn and fight, they out-gun us," Chakotay added.

"Can't hide, can't run, can't fight," I murmured. "Hrm. We need to change the rules."

"Change the rules?", Janeway asked.

"Yes. Change the parameters of the situation. Find a way to do one of those things." I put my hands together. "Hrm, cloaking device? No, too long to cobble one together."

"We could drop out of warp near a gas giant, skirt the atmosphere, and remodulate our deflectors to mask our warp field," Torres proposed.

I looked at her. "You love your big words, don't you? A thought, but they're getting too close for that to work, all they need to do is see the warp transition and know what you're trying."

"Maybe we can max out the warp core," Paris proposed. "Find a way to hit maximum warp long enough to outrun them."

"We took damage," Torres pointed out, shaking her head. "There's no way I can give you enough time at maximum warp to get out of sensor range of the Borg."

"So we're still at 'can't hide and can't run'." I finished a circuit around the table, seeing Janeway, Chakotay, and Tuvok were eyeing me closely.

"Why can't we fight?", Janias asked.

"Because the Borg are, in their own way, deadlier than the Reapers," I explained to her.

That won me a skeptical look from the girls, so I explained. "Imagine if the Reaper husks could adapt to the weapons you used to reduce or outright nullify them," I said. "And if with just one injection, they could turn you into another husk in just a few minutes."

Camilla paled a little.

"Wait, just what are the Reapers?", Paris asked.

"The arrogant spiritual cousins of the Borg," I remarked simply. "Very full of themselves. Well, they were anyway." I smirked. "Still.... fight is our remaining option. We need to cripple the Cube's warp drive so it can't pursue you. Eventually it will give up and go to other tasks."

"An extremely difficult goal for us to attain," Tuvok pointed out.

"Yes." I continued to walk around the table. "Given how fast they adapt to your phasers..." A thought came to mind and I smiled. "But I'd like to see them catch up with phasers firing on a multi-spectrum pattern."

"What are you saying?"

"Why, Harry, it's simple! Ask yourself, how does the Borg adaptation work?" I felt the momentum in my head pick up. "It's not magic, it operates on a physical principle. Namely, by matching the frequency of your weapon, the shield's energy peaks as the beam's does, in perfect synch. The entire shot meets maximum resistance and it becomes power versus power at the point of the shot. And, frankly, the bigger ship wins." I brought my sonic up and turned the monitor on, remotely altering the display to show what I was getting at. A diagram of a phaser shot with multiple frequencies resonating within appeared. "So you change your phasers so that the energy waves propagate at multiple frequencies. It's not like random ssingle frequency alteration, which the Borg can guess at and change to cover more rapidly than you can deliver damage. They can only adapt to one of the frequencies."

"Unless they shift to multi-spectrum shields as well," Tuvok pointed out. "Or employ secondary shields at the different frequencies."

"Oh yes, but you see, every frequency added increases the complexity of the calculation to guess our pattern since there are so many frequencies they have to account for within each given pulse. Even after they adjust, their adaptation will not be perfect. Especially if the modulations are very complex."

"The proposal is sound," Seven noted.

"Theoretically, yes," Tuvok agreed, but with a strong "but" hovering in the air. "However, such a complex operation is beyond our current control systems."

I waved my hand dismissively. "Oh please, give me and Seven an hour and we can have the modifications ready."

"The issue is not just hardware but software," Tuvok countered. "Our fire control systems are not capable of calculating the complex modulations you propose."

"True." I looked to Janeway. "That's where trust comes in, Captain."

"Your meaning, Doctor?"

"I can hook the TARDIS up to your fire control systems to be used for the necessary calculations," I explained. Seeing the look on her face I quickly added, "In a way that does not give them control of the actual firing. Fire control itself would remain with Voyager, the TARDIS would simply help calculate the frequencies for your shots."

"And where does trust come in?"

"Because the TARDIS has only so much processing power." Camilla explained before I did. "By doing this, the Doctor is prolonging the TARDIS' self-repair. It'll take longer to get it in working order."

"Yes, what my dear Companion just said."

Janeway nodded. Again I could imagine Chuck's voice of Parody Janeway contemplating all of the ways to trick me. My luck that one of the memories I kept of my old life was knowing what those reviews were, they were a tad distracting.

Here in what passes for the real world, Captain Janeway finally nodded. "It's a good plan. It may even chase the Borg off. Can we do the same thing with our defenses?"

"The TARDIS can only handle so much," I explained. "But I believe that even in her state, I can use the TARDIS to reinforce your shields long enough to give us a few good shots.

"Good. We'll buy you all of the time you need to execute your plan, Doctor. You're all dismissed."

As the command crew filed out Janias and Cami came up to me. "And what do you want us to do?"

"Get things set up in the TARDIS for me. We're going to want to move it to Main Engineering."

"We'll get started on whatever you need Doctor," Cami assured me.

"Excellent. Now if you'll excuse me." I looked over to where Seven was waiting with an air of impatient patience. "I need to get to work."

"With her?" Janias smirked. "Oh poor, pitiful you, however can you stand to be close to someone like that?"

I gave Janias a goodbye smirk as I walked away.




It's not easy being six and a half fleet tall and trying to crawl around those damned Jeffries tubes. And then, when you add to the occasion a buxom blonde, it's a situation almost asking for an embarrassing moment or three.

Thankfully I avoided them.

I was busy in an open section, modifying the guts of one of the phaser arrays with my sonic screwdriver. Seven was further down the tube doing her own alterations according to our mutual plan. "What is your purpose, Doctor?", Seven asked, showing a quality for multi-tasking.

"My purpose?"

"Your goal." Seven didn't turn her head. "The claim that you are a time traveling madman is not consistent with your behavior, so you are clearly working toward another purpose."

"My purpose, Seven, is to travel the Multiverse, enjoy the sights, solve some mysteries that have occupied my mind, and whenever the opportunity comes, to give certain well-deserving forces some much-needed humility," I answered. "Unless it causes a time paradox, then I simply do what I can to try and help people."

"That is all?"

"Yes." I looked over to her. "What about you, hrm?"

"Me?"

"Living on a ship where people still see you as an incarnation of their nightmare, where disgust still smolders behind their eyes whenever you look into them," I said. "It has to get to you."

Seven stopped for a moment. "Sometimes," she finally admitted. "The Borg do not treat others like this."

"No, they don't. Not drones." My expression curled into a mirthless, sarcastic grin. "They just mutilate you and enslave your mind, take away anything that makes you unique, an individual. You're just a cog in a massive, consuming machine. No sadness or happiness, joy or pain, just the constant thrum of the Collective in your head, controlling every thought and action."

"Yes," Seven agreed, and I could see she was torn. There was a certain, perverse freedom in that, after all. Not having to think for yourself, not having to feel, or starve. I think a part of her missed that. But a greater part enjoyed being an individual, enjoyed the freedom of thought she now enjoyed. "And how do you feel about me, Doctor?"

"Me? I've barely gotten to know you, can't say much on the matter. You seem well enough, maybe a bit on the arrogant side. Like I'm one to talk." I laughed harshly. "We both have that, I'd say. The arrogance of all the knowledge and intelligence we've got now. Becoming more than Human."

"You were Human?", she asked.

"Was. Can't remember it. Someone locked it away in my head. I barely remember even being Human." I sighed. "Given enough time I doubt I'll even remember that."

"I see. So we have something in common."

"You mean being stripped of our Humanity by forces beyond our control and having our minds twisted to suit their purposes?" I nodded. "Yes, I suppose so. Anyway, I'm done here."

"As am I. The phasers are ready for multi-spectrum firing."

"Good. We had better get down to Main Engineering."




I had just finished opening the link from the TARDIS to the fire control systems when Janeway's voice came over the intercom. "The Borg Cube is entering weapons range."

"Everything's ready, Captain," Torres answered.

I felt the sudden shift in the ship as it dropped from warp. Moments later, as it turned an twisted, the Cube dropped from warp as well. I watched a systems control panel light up as phaser energy lashed out. "Borg shields ineffective against our fire," Tuvok reported. "I am aiming at known power junctions."

Janias and Camilla remained by the TARDIS, looking very much lost with nothing to do. Even I only had monitoring duties; this time we were letting others do the heavy lifting.

"The Cube is adjusting shields, they are adapting." Seven had another station, clearly ignoring the semi-disgusted snarl on Torres' face. "I am detecting other frequency structures forming within their shield pattern."

"Not surprising. Let me see." I altered the fire pattern for the phasers and then, for more help, made a small modification to the navigational deflector. "Mister Kim, trigger the deflector on our next pass."

There was a pause before he acknowledged, undoubtedly making sure Janeway approved. He would be reluctant, and understandably so, to provoke her into tightening the clamp on his.... dammit, I can't get that out of my head. Even as a Time Lord!

It was Tuvok who confirmed my success. "The Borg shields are destabilizing. We have achieved several direct hits on the Cube."

"They won't fall for that again," I muttered. There were various drawbacks to trying multi-spectral shields, and I'd exploited one, namely an energy burst that destabilized the field. It would be easy to counter, unfortunately.

The ship shuddered under us. "The Borg cube is locking a tractor beam."

I held up my sonic and pointed it to the TARDIS. With a press of a button its systems activated and channeled energy into Voyager's shields. The shuddering lessened. "The tractor beam has dissipated."

I watched my systems as Tuvok landed several more hits, including one on the tractor emitters. But sensors showed the Borg's warp systems were still unaffected. I frowned. We needed more time, how could I....

The ship rocked again. "Our aft shields are out." Torres began barking orders to the other engineers to get them restored.

That was when I heard the transporter beams.

They appeared just six feet behind me and in front of the girls and TARDIS. Six columns overall, each coalescing into Borg drones. Torres pulled a phaser and fired, sending sparks flying from one. When another phaser struck them, it dissiapted ineffectively against a shield.

I brought the sonic up and used it to disrupt the nearest drone's implants. It fell to the floor, spasming. I turned to use it on another drone, sending it to the floor as well. A familiar sound filled engineering and a lightsaber blade sliced through two remaining drones. Janias pointed her arm up and send the third flying all the way into the main entrance to Engineering. Seven grabbed one, twisted it around, and allowed Torres to get another phaser shot that brought it down.

Before we could celebrate, six more Borg beamed in.

Right beside me.

I twisted away as they all looked my way, clearly targeting me. In the heat of the moment I realized that I was the target; they'd detected my life signs, saw me as a new species, and were curious. Undoubtedly the same was true with Janias, who found six more drones beaming in beside her.

I'd given the sonic disruptor to Cami, and she fired it on a wide arc, hitting the drones coming after me and slamming them all against the nearest console. Setting 8C. Excellent choice. It destabilized them enough that I could bring my sonic up and scramble their implants more decisively.

Janias' lightsaber was a blur, slicing through Borg drones effortlessly, while security officers poured phaser fire into another arriving group. Every so often their shots would stop working and then resume as a result of the constant tug of war between Tuvok's rather brilliant random frequency-change program and the Borg adaptation.

I looked back to the system control board, seeking to resume that work and make sure my plan was working. I figured everything was under control.

And I was horribly, horribly wrong.



"Doctor, look out!"

Thanks to Cami's warning I barely turned in time to avoid getting grabbed by a drone that had gotten up beside me. I brought my sonic up just for the drone to bat it out of my hand. A burst of sonics fried its implants a moment later. I turned to face Cami, thanks and praise on my lips.

She screamed as my eyes came to bear. A drone was now behind her, its right arm up.

I watched in horror as twin points erupted from its hand device and buried themselves into Cami's neck. She went limp and the sonic disruptor fell from her hand.

"Cami!," I screamed. I scrambled for the sonic on the ground and had to roll to avoid another drone. I scrambled to my feet and watched the drone pull her away into the gaggle of drones that kept beaming into Main Engineering. I lifted my sonic and began to trigger it over and over, taking out every drone I could. From within their ranks I could see her, her lovely face contorted into pain and terror, the gray of Borg nanoprobes beginning to blotch her skin.

I used the sonic to summon the sonic disruptor toward me, grabbing it in mid-air with my left hand. I triggered Setting 12 and watched the wave of sonic energy erupt from its purple tip, slamming into the Borg in front of me with a shower of sparks from overloaded cybernetic implants.

"Camilla!"

Janias, hearing our cries, had turned and screamed her love's name. With a look of horror and anger on her face Janias leaped at the Borg in fury, her lightsaber in constant motion as if she would cut through each and every one of them. A cyclone of purple light began to scythe through the Borg ranks, aided by the repeated blasts from both of my sonic devices.

It didn't matter that the rest of Voyager's crew was busy with other Borg or with their duties in the fight. With the two of us in tandem, the Borg couldn't hold us back. I knew they couldn't. We were going to blast through them and get Cami out, and then we'd get those probes out of her and get back to work on giving the Borg the bloody nose they deserved.

I went to work on protecting Janias' flanks with my sonics while Janias kept slicing her way in to get Cami out. "Jan, be careful!", I shouted. "I'll keep them off of you but you've got to give me time!"

She didn't answer. Every part of Janias' being was focused on saving Camilla.

That was why she didn't see the blow coming until it was too late.

Unfortunately, slicing a Borg drone apart at the waist didn't necessarily kill it. One such Borg drone, still active, ended up by Jan's leg.

Like a snake its arm struck out. Twin points jabbed Janias in the ankle.

"Jan!", I screamed.

She cried out, and for a terrible moment, she was vulnerable.

The drones around her attacked, grabbing her before she could try and continue to fight. Her lightsaber fell from her hand as two more sets of nanite injectors buried themselves into her right arm. Another set went into her left. I watched them jab her in the neck and one went through her shirt to inject her in the side of the ribs. She screamed and collapsed, rigid, into their grip as the Borg nanites flooded into her body.

I let out a "No!" that echoed throughout Main Engineering. I brought the sonics up and let loose a burst that brought down over half a dozen more drones. And I didn't stop. Screaming in pure rage and terror and hatred, I kept my sonics active and blasted my way through the Borg drones to get to my stricken Companions.

I wouldn't let them be taken. Not like this. Not by this. No!

I would save them!

I had to save them!

I screamed again and send down another group of Borg. I was to the ones that held Jan and Cami. I'd gotten to them! I....

I watched as green light snatched them away, along with the rest of the Borg.

For a moment I couldn't say or do anything. I just looked at the open space, beside the warp core, where they had once been. My hearts felt like they had stopped beating. My hands went numb and my sonic screwdriver and disruptor dropped to the ground.

"No," I whimpered. "No no no no no...."

"The Borg Cube is powering warp engines," I heard, somewhere in the periphery of my senses. Harry Kim's voice sounded like it was coming from the end of a tunnel. I grabbed at the railing around the warp core to try and hold myself up. "They're going to warp."

For a moment I heard a few cheers and sounds of celebration from behind me. I almost lashed out in anger, but I couldn't find the breath. I just stared at the empty space where my Companions had been.

I'd lost them.

I'd lost Jan and Cami.

I'd lost them to the Borg.

"No!" I forced myself to run and saw Seven and Torres staring at me. "They've taken them! They've taken my friends! We've got to catch them!"

"It's not possible," Torres said. "We've taken damage to our drive..."

"Then fix the bloody thing!", I screamed. "I've got to get them back! I've got..."

I'd like to say that I coiled all of that emotion up into a spring and held it in place, to unleash on the Borg when I was ready. That I gathered my emotions, buried them, focused entirely on fixing the TARDIS or Voyager or both and putting together a plan to rescue my friends and treat the Borg Collective to the full wrath of a Time Lord.

But all I could see was the terror on my Companions' faces as the Borg stole their bodies from within and took them away.

My legs came out from under me as guilt and grief piled on my shoulders until I couldn't stand anymore.

My Companions had trusted me. They'd trusted me with their lives, their hopes, their dreams, they trusted that I'd protect them as we explored the wonders of the Multiverse.

They'd trusted me and I'd failed them.

I'd failed them.

All i could do, at that time, was scream wordlessly in a desperate, and fruitless, attempt to unload the despair and rage and guilt building up within me.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Postby Steve » 2017-03-04 11:12am

It took some time, but a part of my mind began to enforce control over the emotions roiling within me. It reminded me that they needed me. That I had to rescue the girls from the Borg. I was doing them no good screaming incoherently.

Tuvok and a security team had arrived in Engineering. "My condolences, Doctor," the dour Vulcan remarked. "The error was mine for my choice of tactics."

"You did what you could," I murmured. "I need my TARDIS moved somewhere quiet. A cargo bay or some such."

"I will arrange a team to do so immediately. May I ask what your plans are?"

I looked into Tuvok's eyes at that, feeling sarcastic, and noticing that he was already certain of my answer. "I'm getting my Companions back from them, Mister Tuvok."

"I am curious as to how you expect to accomplish this task. There are thousands of drones on a Cube and our sensors cannot isolate them even if we were in range."

"More than one way to deal with that, Mister Tuvok. But for the moment,, I've got work to do." I opened the TARDIS and stepped inside. "And I don't want any interruptions."




I didn't notice how many hours passed after I returned to the TARDIS and began frantic repairs. As it was I didn't ask Janeway about pursuing the Cube; we hadn't damaged it enough for the Voyager to ever catch up.

No, I'd do it myself. No matter what it took. I had to rescue them.

The TARDIS' systems were in bad shape from the damage Astronema had caused and there was further slight damage from feedback caused by hooking it up to this cursed ship. But I wouldn't let that daunt me. I had to save Jan and Cami.

Someone less attached than I would worry about what the Borg might learn from their minds concerning the Multiverse, and how it might drive them. After the fact it would be an easy reason for me to cite for taking the risks I was about to undergo.

I didn't actually care at the time, though. All I could see was their expressions as the Borg nanites worked within them, altering their bodies and forcing their minds to succumb to the Collective Hive Mind.

And then my imagination took over, forcing me to watch as the Borg mutilated their bodies and turned them into drones. Just two more worker drones in an ant-hill, their minds crushed under the weight of the Collective and enslaved to its will.

That made me work even harder. Even faster. Even as my body insisted on needing food and rest, I could not. Not while my Companions were under their control.

I was so intent on my work that I ignored the knock on the TARDIS door for over a minute. Finally I shouted, "Go away!"

When the door opened anyway, I had a good idea of who it was.

"Hello? Are you in here Doctor?"

Him.

"I've made some fine vegetable stew for you! You should really eat... up... wow."

I looked up from the half-opened central console. Neelix was gawking at the inside, holding a tray with a covered soup bowl on it. "It's bigger on the inside."

"Very astute of you," I mumbled. "Why are you here?"

"As Chief Morale Officer and ship's cook it is my duty to..."

"Stop." I held up a hand. "Not another word. Not interested."

"You really should eat. If you don't like the stew, I know a marvelous recipe for..."

I slammed my left hand down on the controls. "I know you're trying to be nice, so I'll keep this kind," I snarled. "I am not interested, Neelix, in anything but getting this work done. If you want to bring me food, fine. Set it down and I'll eat it when I feel I need to. But do not stand there and blather to me about whatever flits about in your head. I haven't got the time!"

I looked away from him and back to my work. After a minute or so I heard him speak again. "There's an old Talaxian expression that I think you need to..."

"I don't have time for trite little folk sayings, you self-important little hedgehog! Bugger off!", I roared.

Neelix looked a bit offended at that. But he finally got the hint and scampered out.

I allowed myself one spoonful of stew and returned to my work. It seemed like only seconds later that I heard the TARDIS door open again. "I thought I told you to...!" I turned and found it was Seven instead. "Ah, Seven. My apologies."

"I see Mister Neelix was by already."

"Yes. Brought me that stew. Took a bite, tastes fine. Surprisingly."

"But you have not finished it."

"No. Too busy. The TARDIS is almost fixed and then I can go after the Borg to get my Companions back."

"I would advise against that in..."

"Don't you dare," I hissed, looking up and glaring at Seven. "Don't you bloody dare! I'm not going to make them suffer a moment longer. I'm going to..."

Seven moved too fast. Or maybe I was too slow from lack of sleep and food. Her hand came from around her back and shot up to my neck before I could get my arm in the way to stop her. I felt the cold sensation of a hypospray against my neck and felt it discharge, sifting its contents into me directly through my skin. Whatever she'd injected me with quickly reached my brain. Everything became hazy and I stumbled forward. "What have you....?"

I felt her catch me as I fell over. My eyes shut and everything went black.




There was a great weight on my mind. I opened my eyes and looked out on a terrifying vista; the passages of a Borg vessel. It somehow seemed right.

Perfection. Order. We are Borg.

The voice was cold, mechanical, and sterile. It was the terrible voice of the Borg Collective, and it echoed in my head.

I looked over and saw my reflection somehow. Borg cybernetics covered the right half of my face, complete with the red sensor light.

No pain. No feeling. Purpose and perfection.

I turned my head the other way. Janias and Camilla faced me. They were likewise converted, completely in fact, every inch of their body being either grayed flesh or cyborg components. I tried to shift my thoughts under the weight in my mind, but I couldn't get out from under it. It was crushing me.

And then other voices came through my mind.

Help us.

Please Doctor! Get us out of here!

There was a tear on Cami's remaining eye. Jan also looked like she was on the verge of crying out. When they verbally spoke, it was with the monotone of a drone. "We are Borg. We are perfection."

Doctor, why?! Why didn't you stop them?!

I could hear Cami's voice accuse me in my thoughts, coming down through the weight of the Collective in my head.

"I tried," I said, weakly. "I tried. Oh Cami, Jan.... I'm sorry..."

How could you let them do this to us?!

"I'm sorry!", I shouted.

The Collective and my Companions started to speak over each other and within each other.

You will be one with the Borg, just as they are.

Doctor, please! Make it stop! Make it...

The girls faltered, as if struck, and the Collective's voice came through again.

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

"No!"

They straightened up again. My companions looked at me with cold, lifeless eyes.

"You will be Borg," Janias promised.

"No...."

"Resistance is futile," Cami agreed.

The ones you call Janias and Camilla are gone. There is only Borg.

"No!"

The scream echoed... and I opened my eyes again, my throat feeling dry and raw.

After a moment, I realized what had happened. Seven had gotten me with the "off-button hypospray".

Talk about embarrassing.

I had half expected to be in the brig or sickbay, but I was in a comfortable bed in the middle of what passed for a guest hotel room, so clearly guest quarters. Beside me a tray had been set out with breakfast, the warm foods kept in insulated containers to keep out the cold.

My stomach decided that it didn't care that the contents had come from Neelix's kitchen. If I didn't eat, it would go on strike.

My brain dared it to and ignored the food. I got to my feet and saw one of my suits hanging in the wardrobe. I ignored it as well and went to the door. It was locked and, upon examination, I realized I didn't have my sonic screwdriver with me. Of course. I knocked at the door. "Anyone out there?! I'm not bloody well..."

The door slid open, revealing Tuvok. "You are awake, Doctor."

"And not bloody happy either, what was that..."

Tuvok, with time-tried Vulcan patience, ignored me and hit his comm badge. "Tuvok to Sickbay. The Doctor is awake."

"Of course I'm... oh yes, him. I will be by shortly."

I glared at the Vulcan. "What is going on? I don't have time for games, not when my Companions..."

"You were in need of rest," Tuvok pointed out. "And you still require sustenance. Both are needed if you are going to free your Companions from the Borg."

"So you had me sedated and locked into quarters?"

"Captain Janeway and Seven agreed it was for the best. It would not be logical to allow you to engage the Borg in the state you were in. Your assimilation into the Collective would not be in our best interest or the Federation's."

"Ah, I see." I crossed my arms. "And instead of asking nicely you just decided..."

"You were in an extreme emotional state and behaving irrationality. We were left with little other choice." Tuvok motioned to the tray. "Might I suggest that while you wait, you partake of the meal provided? It will go far to convince the Doctor-" and here Tuvok evinced that mild sense of bemusement that passed for Vulcan humor "-that you are clear to, in a certain way, return to duty."

I sighed and, with much irritation and impatience, returned to my bed and worked on the food. It was a breakfast mix of cereals warm and cold, eggs that were almost certainly replicated, and some fruit I wasn't familiar with. My stomach was appeased in the process.

I had worked my way through most of the meal when Tuvok entered the quarters with, well, the Doctor beside him. The Mark I EMH to be precise, and I shall call him that to avoid confusion. "Doctor, allow me to introduce..." Ah, that Vulcan bemusement returned. "...the Doctor."

"Charmed," the EMH said drolly.

"We'll have to figure the name situation out, I imagine," I said.

"Hardly." The EMH crossed his arms. "I have well over a thousand doctorates from the individuals whose expertise contributed to my program. How many do you have?"

"Two," I answered, and truthfully. "Temporal Mechanics and Quantum Mechanics Doctorates, from the Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork. I'm the Visiting Lecturer in Quantum Wibbly and Chair of Temporal Irritation Studies. They gave me a pointy hat and everything."

"Oh really." The EMH's tone belied skepticism. "Full doctorates?'

"Technically honorary," I conceded. "Technically because I got them for sealing a six-dimensional Crack in space-time that was going to destroy their world."

"How very interesting."

I dropped the conversation there for what it was; an attempt to get my mind off Jan and Cami. It didn't work. "I need to be going now..."

"Not before we finish my examination of your current physical state," the EMH informed me. He set his medkit on a nearby counter and opened up. "First things first." He brought out a wooden... oh really? That's just.... "Open wide and say 'aaaaah'."

I endured the forced examination stoically. Okay, no I didn't, I complained the entire time on their being unnecessary. It was something to do to try and distract myself from my emotions.

I could still see Janias and Camilla being taken, after I was so close to saving them. So close. But not enough. They had been freed from slavery in the Sith Empire, had experienced the wonders of the Multiverse with me, had saved my life how many times... and I'd failed them. I'd let them be taken by a force that would enslave them in more total fashion than any Sith Lord would bother. Their bodies would be mutilated, their minds crushed and tethered to a controlled hive mind, and they would be nothing more than minor pieces of a vast, all-consuming machine.

And it was my fault. My fault for not finding a home for them and not giving them the life they deserved, a life where they could be together and happy.

The lifetimers Death had shown me, and Queen Mab's warning, all dragged my hearts down into my stomach. I'd gone too far, taken too far. And it had cost them everything.

After compiling the results of his tests on me and looking at his medical tricorder scans, the EMH remarked, "A very interesting physiology you have. You've only had ten hours of sleep but I'm showing...."

"Ten bloody hours?!"

"....given you were awake at least thirty-four before your sedation, ten hours of sleep is light by most species' standards," the EMH pointed out. "But you appear to be more than sufficiently rested."

"Five hours is plenty for me," I grumbled. "Usually." I tried to focus on him because when I didn't... I saw my Companions' horrified faces again.

The door opened and Janeway entered with Seven. "How is he?"

"Rested and fed," the EMH answered. "And irascible, irritable, and uncooperative."

"You make me miss Chakwas."

"Whomever Doctor Chakwas was, I'm certain she doesn't miss you."

"We had a glass of Serrice Ice Brandy, actually," I countered. "She's a very erudite woman." I directed my attention to Janeway and Seven. "So, what is it you want?"

"Did you think I'd let you run off to fight the Borg in the shape you were in?", Janeway pointed out. "It would be a disaster if the Borg assimilated you and your craft."

"Well, I'm all rested and fed, so can I be on my way now?"

"No," Janeway replied. "I won't let you go off like this. You're not thinking straight. Against the Borg, that doesn't work."

"So you're going to hold me prisoner? Really?" I felt venom come into my voice. Who did she think she was, trying to...

"Actually, I intend to help you," Janeway said, interrupting my thoughts.

"Oh?" I raised an eyebrow, feeling skeptical. "Help me, eh? Going to risk your ship and crew for me? Or maybe you've got a colony of warrior cobalt tarantulas to help me out."

Janeway gave me a look of bemusement mixed with irritation. Before she could speak her comm badge went off. I recognized the dull speech patterns of Chakotay speaking from the other end. "Bridge to Janeway."

"Go ahead."

"[i}We've got the Borg cube on long range sensors. Torres thinks she can keep us at this speed for four more hours before we have to drop out of warp.[/i]"

"Keep me informed, Commander. Janeway out."

I stared at her. "You can't overtake them."

"No." Janeway folded her arms. "But I can have the ship close enough to help if you can get a team on board with your ship."

"Ah." I put a hand to my chin, feeling the stubble forming from a lack of a shave for quite a while. "We have to expect the Borg learned of what I did to your ship from Jan and...."

Doctor!

The voice echoed in my head suddenly and made me stop in mid-sentence.

Doctor, I can't...

Images flashed into my head. The interior of a Borg ship from a regeneration cell. Terror and pain filled my head.

"Janias," I whispered.

Please Doctor! Help! I can't keep them out of my head! I can't....

Help us Doctor!

"Camilla!"

I felt the power of the Collective Hive Mind come smashing down on the connection. I made a short cry and fell back onto the bed as the connection I'd felt slammed shut.

The Voyager crew looked at me with interest. "A telepathic link, Doctor?", Tuvok asked me.

"Janias. She... it would be very complicated to explain how it works, but she has powers like this. We've linked telepathically quite often, and she is even closer to Cami." I rubbed at my forehead. "I felt their minds just now. I think... I think the Borg had them in a regeneration cycle, and Janias' mind was able to get free enough to try and reach me." I blinked and looked to Seven, who clearly felt something as well. "When you accosted me, Seven, did you feel something?"

"Briefly," she admitted. "I could not determine what the source was."

I felt my mind pick up. "Your old connection to the Collective. It's severed now, but you still have the.... of course!"

"Doctor, what are you going on about?", asked Janeway.

"That's what happened! That's why I dreamed about.... When Seven forced me to sleep and came into close contact with me, my Time Lord telepathy reached out to Janias somehow, and Seven's remaining implants provided... provided a sort of booster signal, or a translator to let my mind feel the Collective."

Tuvok raised an eyebrow. "And this means?"

"It means it's not too late," I said. "They haven't been entirely broken by the Collective hive mind yet. I'm not too late to save them! You said you wanted to help, right? Because I'm going to need it." I looked to Seven. "Especially yours. We need to talk."

"What is your plan, Doctor?" Janeway's question made it clear she wanted an answer.

"To prove your ship the means to get close and assist after we go aboard the Cube and cripple it," I answered. "Which is why Seven and I need to talk. In her cargo bay."

Seven looked at me with interest. "Very well."

"I'll be right down," i said. "I just need to run by Main Engineering first and make a few adjustments to the warp systems. It'll buy us time before the ship has to drop from warp." I grabbed the fresh suit. "And I need to go change, I suppose. I do feel a tad grimy."

My hearts raced as I shooed them out of the room. I was still horrified by what the Borg had done.... but now I knew all wasn't lost. I could still save them!

And if the Borg got in my way... they would know what it meant to provoke the fury of a Time Lord.




When I arrived in Seven's cargo bay I looked around. It still had remaining Borg tech in it, including her own regeneration chamber. "No bed?", I asked quietly.

"I do not need it for rest," she replied, looking back from a control console.

"I don't know, I rather like my comfy hammock back on the TARDIS. Laying down has its advantages for rest." I finished stepping in and let the door close. "I suppose this is why you don't ask for quarters."

"I do not need them." Seven stepped away from the console. "You wished to speak."

"Yes." I stepped up to her. "You convinced Janeway to have me sedated. Why?"

"Because you were in need of rest and were refusing it," she answered. "If you had gone after the Borg in that state, you would have failed. The consequences were unacceptable."

"You didn't ask me first! You didn't even try to convince me!"

"No, I did not. I knew it would not accomplish anything."

"Really?"

"Yes." Seven never flinched. "Because in your place, I believe I would have done the same."

My posture slackened slightly. "What?"

"I understand what it is to be more than Human. To have a stronger body and mind. It can make you feel stronger than you really are. It can make you forget the need for rest." Seven stepped away from me and back to her console. "You were focused solely on retrieving your Companions. In your state, I had no other alternative."

"I see." I grit my teeth, unwilling to admit how right she was.

"Is that all you wished to speak about?"

"No." I stepped up to another station and peered at it. "You still have a supply of nanites, yes?"

"My body produces nanites to aid in self-repair, yes," Seven answered.

"Good. Because I need some."

"For?"

I took out my sonic, which had been left on the TARDIS. I ran it over a console and looked at the code inside. "Because I have a plan. I'll also need all samples of Borg control code you still have."

Seven turned toward me again. "What is this plan you have, Doctor?"

"We need to buy time for Voyager to find Jan and Cami, not to mention time for them to catch up to the Cube. I think I'm going to perform a little sabotage first."

"How? Borg cubes have multiple redundancies in each system, with defenses that will escalate as each system becomes more necessary to the function of the vessel. You could never take them all out," Seven pointed out.

"Probably. But that's not the sabotage I have in mind." I pocketed my sonic. "I've got another plan. And, as I said, I'll need your help. I'll need you to help me implement it."

"And that plan is, Doctor?"

"Simple." I smiled wolfishly. And yes, I do mean a very wolfish smile. My mood was not sunny at all, so my smiles were rather vicious things. "We're going to give the Borg what they want."

That earned me a stare.




After much preparation work was completed, I stepped into the TARDIS and fired up the engine. The VWORP VWORP VWORP sounded like music to my ears, but it was bittersweet. I had grown so accustomed to Jan and Cami standing beside me as I did this that to know they were gone, that I might yet still lose them, robbed the moment of its joyous luster.

When I stepped back out, I emerged in darkness halted only by sinister green light. I was on a catwalk looking out over a long gap, a gap lined by dozens, hundreds, of Borg drones in their control chambers. Beyond was the cubed shape of what I supposed to be this Cube's computer core. It was certainly the center from which the ship was operated.

"Your arrival has been detected. Prepare for assimilation."

"I've come to offer you a bargain for the return of Janias and Camilla," I replied.

"Bargains are irrelevant. You will be assimilated."

"I choose not to be."

"Choice is irrelevant. You must comply."

"No, actually, I must not," I retorted. I could hear drones starting to approach me on the catwalk from either side. I locked the TARDIS doors so they couldn't open them if they got around me. "I've come in peace for the return of my Companions. You will return them and in exchange I'll leave the Borg Collective alone."

"We have adapted to your energy manipulation devices. You cannot harm us. You will become one with the Borg. You must comply."

Ordinarily, I might have made a snarky comment about the Collective's lack of imaginative dialogue. But not here. Not with the anger and rage and hate growing in my hearts and in my head, red and hot and ready to be unleashed. I clamped it down though. That was a spring of power I was saving up for something else. "Last chance. Remove Janias and Camilla from your Collective and return them to me."

"Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile."

Well, that was that then.

It was time for the Borg to learn why entire civilizations fear the name of 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.

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

Postby Steve » 2017-03-05 02:55pm

The Borg aren't very good at creativity. They're good at adapting, yes. But the problem with adapting is that you've got to take the hits first, while a creative mind might guess what hits were coming before they landed and plan for them.

This failure on their part was what I was counting on.

The drones lurched on. I brought up my sonic and triggered it, facing to my right. When nothing happened, undoubtedly from their adaptions, I changed the setting and triggered a different pulse. The drone collapsed in a shower of sparks. I used the same setting against the drone closest on my left and took it down too. The one behind that was not harmed. I switched to the sonic disruptor and triggered a Setting 4 blast to my right that send three drones flying from the catwalk. I fell back toward the TARDIS, moving the sonic disruptor over and triggering the pulse again. It slammed against the lead unit's adapted force shield and did nothing.

"Resistance is futile. Lower your weapons. You will be assimilated."

I reached back to take the TARDIS door.

A field of green light flashed into existence over the handle.

Internal forcefield. Of course.

So I pulled out the TARDIS remote and concentrated, calling it to me so that it would phase through the shield and...

....and nothing.

"Your technology has been adapted to. Resistance is futile. You will be Borg."

Well, bugger all of that.

I made a fight of it, of course, swinging my sonics around, shifting settings and frequencies and everything. More drones fell so that the rest could adapt.

And then, before you knew it, they were on top of me, and there was nowhere left to run. I was grabbed by the arms.

At that point, the walk shuddered underneath me. A small pinprick of red light appeared in the distance. There was a definite vibration across every surface.

I smirked. "Oh, look at that. Seems while you were so focused on me, some of my friends from Voyager moved around and took out the generators powering your warp systems. I sort of slipped them in, you see, before coming to see you. And now you've had to drop out of warp. And when Voyager gets here, she'll have more than enough firepower to destroy you. So, still so obstinate about giving up two people?"

"Once your mind is part of the Collective, we will know all modifications you have made to the vessel Voyager. It will be assimilated."

And, without ceremony, two drones dug their tubules into my neck and released assimilation nanites.

Heh. All was going according to plan.

They were quick buggers too. They moved rapidly through my bloodstream, no doubt gathering whatever materials they needed from my body to begin forming into the basic implants that caused assimilation. I gasped and dropped to my knees. Within seconds the first implants were already forming on my brain. You are now Borg. You are now one with the Collective. The voice began drowning out my thoughts, pulling at them instead and attempting to implant directives.

I resisted. I called upon the full capability of my Time Lord brain and shouted back at the Collective. Alright, now you're inside my head, but you can't take it over. I'm not like anything you've encountered before!

You will be one with the Borg. Resistance is futile.

Oi, can't you lot come up with...

Pain stabbed through my head, a migraine that grew in pressure as the cacophony of the Borg Collective tried to drown my thoughts, my very sense of self.

And it was here that I let it go. All of the anger and hate and guilt and pain over what they'd done to Jan and Cami, over what they represented, sprang up from within me, providing a wellspring of emotional power that I used to push back against the Collective. I called upon everything I had, everything I was, and challenged the Borg Collective with it. Not simply holding them back, but pushing into them. Not a drone, but an independent mind pressing through the connection, re-directing the power of the connection to my own desires.

And in the echos, amongst the many voices of the Collective, I heard what I'd come for.

Doctor?! Doctor, is that you?!

Doctor...!

I'm here. I've come for you.

I felt like my head would split open at this point, but I wouldn't let up. I had to give some ground in my own mind, but it allowed me to burrow into the command systems of the Borg cube. I bypassed the most critical systems and found what I was looking for; the transporters.

Jan! Cami! I called out to them through the link, needing only a moment to ensure...

Doctor, I can't... the voice is too loud, it's...

That was Jan. I felt her location on the Cube, a vibrant light amongst the thousands of drones attached to it, aided by the unique aura she held, by her power in the Force fueling her refusal to submit to the Collective no matter how painful it was. Sooner or later they would prevail, but I had found her first. I activated the transporter, beaming her to my location.

That left Cami.

The pressure on my head was getting louder and heavier. The Collective was fighting back, demanding I accept it, demanding I become part of its whole. I roared back defiance. I am not like anything you have met before. I am a Time Lord! I have brought down a galaxy of creatures even more terrible than you, I have faced down cosmic forces beyond your ken and held my ground! You are not going to take me and you are going to return to me my Companions!

I had to give up a bit more of my head. I let the Borg pick at the part of my mind I felt locked away, the part representing my old Human memories, using it as a sort of flank barrier to protect other memories, more crucial memories, things about the future I couldn't let them know. I felt the Borg try to get through and around it as I plunged ever deeper into the cube's portion of the vast Collective, all in search of one mind, one light among many, just a bit brighter than the rest.

I can't think, I can't... I am Borg. I am...

I found her. Cami's mind was weakening. Without the gift of the Force or the power of a Time Lord brain she had only her brilliance, her will to be her own woman, and her love for Janias to hold on to the last shreds of self. The Collective had her on the edge, about to fall, about to be consumed...

Cami! I'm here!

Doctor! I felt a glimmer of hope come from her mind, lighting her up amongst the mass of hopeless drones. Doctor, please, I can't...

I felt her location and triggered the transporter again, bringing her to me. They stood behind me on the catwalk now, motionless, the Collective having no commands for them at the moment.

And then, just to be sure, I used my last gasp to turn the transporters against themselves, beaming out sections of their own machinery, intentionally drawing extra power, anything to sabotage them. With that done I relinquished control, retreating my mind back to shore it up against the Borg efforts to overwhelm me.

Your cube is crippled. Voyager will destroy it. Will you continue this fight for just two drones when I've already done so much damage? I smirked. Return my friends and I'll leave you.

The pressure on my head picked up in reply.

And then, I was somewhere else.

Or rather, the Collective had entered my mind enough that it was able to draw in my perceptions. I stood amongst bright, shining, green stars, a sea of them, small and large. And I instinctively knew that they were the entirety of the Borg Collective. Cubes, Unimatrix facilities, assimilated planets, everything.

A lone figure formed beside me.

"Hello Doctor." She smiled knowingly, in the form of a woman save for the clear Borg parts of her main body.

"The Queen of the Hive," I answered.

"My, you have a powerful mind. To resist the Collective this long?"

"Comes with being a Time Lord." I crossed my arms. "Is the Collective so desperate it needs two more drones?"

"Are you so desperate you would risk everything for just two people?", the Queen countered. "We have entered your mind, Doctor, and know that they are just two of oh so many traveling companions. With your ability to travel, why are they so important? Why do you not go for the others? So many names I see in your thoughts. Molly, Korra, Katherine, Madoka..."

"Jan and Cami suffered enough as slaves to the Sith," I declared. "I won't leave them to your slavery."

"In the Collective, they know perfection," the Queen purred. "They know the feel of the cosmic winds upon our vessels and enjoy the timeless knowledge of our mind."

"Is that any substitute for never being able to hold hands and look into each other's eyes? Or the heart-felt love shared in a laugh or a kiss? They would never have a free thought again, never know love and friendship and happiness. They would be mere drones, small cogs in your machine."

"You actually see such small things as important?" The Queen sighed audibly. "Why is it that all of you refuse to acknowledge the greatness the Collective offers? Why do you insist on clinging to small and meaningless parts of too-short lives when we offer you eternity and peace and knowledge? You, a being who can witness the death of galaxies and the birth of entire universes, why would you care about whether two small, insignificant beings are able to indulge in petty and small acts that provide only a moment's gratification? Why would you think that better than the gift of the Collective's perfection?"

I shook my head and laughed at her. "You really don't understand, do you. You never have. You're not perfect and you never were. You're a sterile creature, at your core the product of unchanging and unthinking programming that breaks everything down to mathematical precision. Whom to assimilate, whom to leave alone, what system to devour and which to ignore. What deals to honor or to break, all by your rigid calculus of benefit and cost. You talk about having knowledge and experience but your machine 'perfection' blinds you to what they actually mean. You call them small? You are small. An insignificant mind with a vast body that can't enjoy the beauty of what the galaxy has to offer."

"We are the Borg. We are Perfection," the Queen insisted. "We combine the best of all species into one stronger whole."

"And all without the soul to actually live," I retorted.

The Queen sneered. "I had hoped to see you enter the Collective willingly. With your powerful mind intact the Collective would have the means to bring its perfection to other galaxies. But if you will not accept the gift offered, it is of no consequence. We have you, Doctor. We have you entirely. You are now Borg. You cannot resist the voice of the Collective. Your struggling is irrelevant."

The pain in my head growing. The cacophony of the Borg Collective threatened to drown out my thoughts. Jan and Cami, even though they now stood beside me, might as well have been across the ship. The Queen was bringing the entirety of the Collective to bear on me, and even my Time Lord mind couldn't shut them out forever. I was losing this battle.

I smiled regardless.

And then the Queen frowned.



"Oh, you silly little buggers," I laughed. "Can't help yourselves. Got to consume. Got to assimilate everything, right?"

The Queen stumbled backward. Below me, a single green light went out.

"You remember Seven, right? Of course you do. She's still got nanoprobes, you know. Oh, they don't assimilate anymore, but they do a lot of other tasks. And they're not too hard to reprogram." I stood up in the mindspace between us, although I remained on my knees back in the Cube. "And she still had so many fragments of the Borg command code that it wasn't hard to make a few with that. Plus some... improvements."

"What have you done?", the Queen rasped while other green lights started to wink out.

My smile grew and I'd like to think I was pulling off a good air of Ten as I continued. "You really should be more careful with what you download, because you just fell for the oldest trick in the book. I'm afraid the Collective has picked up something we like to call a Trojan."

A big green light went out.

"Oh, that was an entire homeworld, wasn't it? That's got to hurt." I smirked. "You were in such a hurry to assimilate me that you just gobbled up the nanoprobes in my body like they weren't there. Which, I suppose, they weren't. They were, after all, Borg nanoprobes, with Borg coding. No threat at all. So you swallowed them up, code and all. And now that code's changing you at the very core. That's what all this was about, you know. It's why I let you assimilate me. I knew you couldn't resist. Now the Collective's being disconnected, drone by drone, node by node."

As the green lights continued to wink out, creating splotches of dark, the Queen stumbled backward. "We will not be stopped," she insisted. "We are Borg! We adapt! We assimilate! We...."

"Oh, yes, you'll adapt. You're doing it even now. But so will my code. My Trojan's a smart bugger, you see. After all, he's mine, and I'm a Time Lord, and our race was old when our universe was still young and long before you lot ever came to be. So, well..." I laughed. "....he's going to make you work for it. Oh, he's so going to make you work for it."

The Queen watched the lights go out. The Collective howled in outrage and confusion in my head. The pressure began to slacken as it withdrew from my mind and started to disconnect itself.

But I wouldn't let it. Not yet. I pressed my mind into the Collective to keep the connection to this Cube open to it. With my Trojan having prepared the way, I reasserted some control of the Cube and used it to lower the shields and disable main power, ensuring the Borg couldn't just blow the entire Cube up, while I held control of the communications arrays that provided the constant subspace link that bound together the Borg Collective.

Through the Cube's sensors, I saw as Voyager came out of warp, phasers firing. Ribbons of amber sliced into the Cube's hull, striking weak points that I was providing to Tuvok to keep the Borg off-balance and prevent them from destroying Voyager.

And last but definitely not least, I lowered the forcefield around the TARDIS.

"A quantum isolation field. Very clever. I bet you picked that up from the girls' memories of how the DTI once trapped the TARDIS," I said. "Of course, it wouldn't have worked if I'd been trying. I figured out how to break those a while ago. For a special project I've got in mind. But I give you points for effort."

Fully a quarter of the green lights had gone out. The Queen looked up from the projections and hissed defiance. "I can still take them," she said. "The connection to the vessel you are on will let me trigger their auto-destruct implants."

"You can try," I countered. "And if you do, I'll hold this connection open and maintain the Trojan until the entire bloody Collective is torn apart, stripped down to its component pieces. You will cease to exist. Some races will reassert their minds through the local nodes and other sections, well, they'll create hundreds, thousands, of Queens. The Collective will fight itself to exhaustion. Besides..." I shrugged. "I already handled that."

By this point, the TARDIS door had opened. Seven and the EMH stepped out, hyposprays in hand. Before the Collective mind could move Jan or Cami, the hyposprays had sent more nanoprobes into their bodies, probes designed to take over and cut the connection to the Collective in their implants. As their bodies went limp and collapsed, Seven took them and pulled them back into the TARDIS.

The Queen felt that, just as she felt every other disconnection brought by my work. She was, after all, simply the incarnation of the Collective's hive mind. She stared at me in horror as yet more green lights winked out below us. I felt her desperate attempts to retake control of the Cube I was on, to order it to destroy itself, but I blocked them.

"Well, that does that," I said. "Seven is about to cut my connection to the Collective as well. But before I go, I have something to say." I drew up to her until our eyes were locked together. I looked into her dark, cold, inhuman eyes and frowned. "This is what happens when you cross me, Queen Bee. I get angry. And when Time Lords get angry, oh, we get nasty. So consider this a warning. The races of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants are under my protection. The crew of the Voyager is under my protection. And my Companions, well, that's what got you into this mess, isn't it? That's what's earned you this spanking. Bottom line...." I narrowed my eyes. "If you ever, ever come after one of those things again, I will become very angry, and the next time I deal with you, it will be more than a spanking."

And then, to dig it in a bit more, I just had to add one last line.

"Remember little Queen. Resistance is futile."

And with that, I stopped trying to hold the connection. The Collective, desperate to cut off the source of the Trojan, cut the line to the Cube. My awareness focused entirely on my surroundings.

Seven offered a hand and brought me to my feet. "The connection implants in your friends' bodies have already deactivated," she informed me. "They will be safe."

The Cube shook ahead. Main power began to surge online as the Cube's base programming, even infected by the Trojan like it was, started to come back online. Even my alterations couldn't outright eliminate the command program. I only had a few hours to make the bloody thing, after all.

Which meant that it would become a local branch of the Collective and would, well, want to eat us anyway.

I easily retrieved my sonics from where I'd dropped them. We got back into the TARDIS and I shifted us back to Voyager. I looked up and noticed the beginnings of a Borg implant on my face. "Oh dear, that's going to leave a mark," I murmured.

"Fortunately for you, I am an actual doctor," the EMH pointed out smugly.

I ignored him for the moment. When we stepped back out of the TARDIS I was back to where we arrived when this mess began; the bridge of Voyager. The Borg Cube loomed on the screen, multiple fires streaming from its hull. "The Borg vessel's shields are still offline," Tuvok reported. "But I am detecting weapons locks."

The Borg lashed out, slicing into Voyager's shields. My modifications allowed them to hold for the moment, but there was only so much power Voyager could bring to bear. "Remember those torpedoes I modified, Captain?", I asked.

"Yes. Mister Kim, have Chakotay and Paris beamed back aboard with their teams?"

"Yes ma'am."

Janeway held onto her chair as the Voyager shook again. "Then we're done here. Mister Tuvok, lock photon torpedoes and fire!"

On the screen, two photon torpedoes became visible, their red drive fields creating sparkling effects as they flew at the Borg ship.

When they made impact, the entire bridge lit up with a white light so intense that it overpowered the monitor safety systems nad forced everyone to shield their eyes.

When the light faded, the Cube was, well, no longer a Cube. It was about a third of a Cube... and a fourth of a Cube... and then a bit of a corner piece.

"What was that?", Torres asked. "The blast yield was..."

"Oh, it was massive. That's what happens when you mix anti-matter explosives with a little substance known as naquadriah." I shrugged. "Had to use all of it I'd scraped together to arm those torpedoes."

"You're a man of many surprises, Doctor," Janeway said to me, a slight grin on her face. "I think I liked you better before the Borg implant, though."

I reached a hand up and touched the cold gray surface that now stuck out of my right temple. "Yes. I'm not thrilled by it. Your Doctor's assistance will be most appreciated. We'll shift the TARDIS right down."

"Oh no you won't," the EMH insisted. "As soon as we get your friends into sickbay, you'll put that thing in a cargo bay and then come for your surgery."

I rolled my eyes, grinning despite myself.

Despite everything, I was grinning. I felt happy, ecstatic even.

Not because I'd given the Borg a black eye and bloody nose. No, that fed my ego, but that wasn't the source of my joy.

I'd saved them. I'd saved Jan and Cami. Everything could go back to the way it was before this wretched, unplanned excursion.

How naive I was.




Some hours later, I sat up in sickbay with my face restored. The EMH had acted remarkably fast in removing the few implants the Borg nanites had placed in my body, aided by Seven in the process.

And then I looked at Jan and Cami. And I sighed.

Their skin was still discolored, and would be until the last of the Borg implants and nanites were removed. BUt for the moment their skin was ashen gray and their bodies still marked by implants. The EMH told me it would take him days of surgeries to remove them all. I offered to help, of course.

"Yes, and just where did you receive your doctorate again? Or your surgical training, hrm?" The EMH smirked. "Does that little blue box of yours give out the knowledge to perform complex surgical procedures? If not, I suggest you leave this to the professional."

I made a harumph sound in reply.

I spent a few hours in Engineering, helping to fix some damage and to fine-tune the engines so that Voyager could get a little better mileage, so to speak, out of them. Then I went to the TARDIS and began work on a small gift for Seven, my way of saying thanks to her in particular. And then, rather tired, I took a two hour nap on my hammock on the TARDIS, feeling very pleased with myself.

When I got back to sickbay, my Companions were finally awake, seated together on one of the beds along the side. They were wearing the teal patient gowns that Starfleet kept, which at least didn't leave you with your arse hanging out, and holding on to one another for dear life. I forced myself to draw breath at seeing that they were still not whole physically. Janias was better off; the Borg had apparently decided that as a unique species they didn't want to alter her body right away, so aside from her shaved head of hair she was not missing any body parts.

Cami, however.... it was my worst fear. They'd removed her right eye and her left arm was missing at the elbow. Like Jan her hair had been cutoff completely and her scalp still had markings from the brain surgeries the EMH had been required to perform to get out the worst of the implants.

My poor Companions. I'd failed them. I'd failed them and caused them such suffering.

They held onto one another like each saw the other as a life preserver. Their eyes, or eye in Cami's case, opened and focused on me. I looked into them and...

....and....

....my hearts broke.

I'd saved them, yes. I'd won the battle. For their sakes I had locked minds with the entirety of the Borg Collective. I had stared down the Borg Queen like she was an errant child.

And yet I had still lost them.

Their eyes, their expressions.... there was no joy there. I saw sadness and fear and terror. They were hanging on to each other for dear life like nothing else mattered.

And, I suppose, nothing else did matter.

Never again could those eyes look at the Multiverse and see wonders. They'd seen so many monsters with me, and we'd fought them off, but this time.... this time the monsters had gotten to them.

This time a monster had gobbled them up, and it was only by great effort and risk that I had forced the monster to puke them back out.

They'd feel indebted to me, of course. If I asked them to keep traveling they would. But there would be no joy in it like before, no wonder, no fun. They would go to each world looking over their shoulders out of terror, wondering what monster it would be this time, wondering if they would get taken again, and by something I couldn't save them from.

And I couldn't do that to them. I wouldn't.

I had to let them go.

I had to let them go and be alone.

With my hearts broken i slowly turned away, tears forming in my eyes. I felt a hand take my arm and looked over to see the EMH. He wasn't his usual self-important or snide self at this time. His expression radiated compassion and understanding as he led me into his office and helped me into a seat.

And at that point, I couldn't hold it back anymore.

I began to weep.

And then I began to outright sob.

I'd lost my Companions.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2017-03-06 06:53am

Over the following days I spent time going through the motions. Finishing repairs on the TARDIS and Voyager, mostly. And the gift. And... other projects, as I started to come and go from the ship as needed to check on arrangements I had been quietly making for some time. Arrangements for Janias and Camilla.

On one of those return trips I was about to bring back a cloned arm and eye for Cami, courtesy of Layom Station, and the EMH put them aside for surgical attachment. During those visits to Sickbay the girls were asleep, recovering from the repeated operations and what had been done to them. Every time I looked at them I felt the guilt rise within me. This had all started because I had taken them into danger for that quantum compiler device. If I hadn't...

Well, if I hadn't, Voyager might have been destroyed or assimilated, I grant. But it was still a haunting thought for me.

Upon another return to Voyager I found Seven waiting for me in her cargo bay. "Your friends came out of their last surgeries," she informed me.

"Good. Are they awake?"

"The Doctor thought it best to let them rest."

"Of course." I reached into my pocket to feel a box. "That's good."

"Doctor." Seven stepped up closer. "You defeated the Collective. But since returning your emotional state has been a negative one. Have you suffered damage that was not detected?"

"No." I sighed. "No, I'm afraid my emotions have been from realizing what this has all meant for us. For Jan and Cami, this was all some big adventure, a chance to cut loose after years of being slaves in the Sith Empire. But now... it's different. Now I've led them to a place where they were taken, almost permanently, by a force far more total than any Sith slaver." I felt my voice falter a little. "They'll say yes if I ask. But their hearts won't be in it. They'll be doing it out of obligation, and they'll be scared every time I run into something terrible. I... I can't do that to them."

"So you have made arrangements for them elsewhere?"

"Yes. Very good ones, I must say. They'll be completely happy." I said that while trying to hold back the pain in my voice. I would be happy for them too... but not for myself. Not with myself. And as much as I had been trying to prepare myself for that, I still had the temptation to ask the girls to stay with me, no matter how selfish and uncaring it was.

"I am sorry." Hearing those words made me look back at Seven. "I am sorry your friends suffered under the Collective."

"Thank you," I answered. "Oh, and... before I forget..." I brought out the box in my pocket. "A small gift for you, Seven."

Seven looked at the box for a moment before taking it. Upon opening it she saw what I'd put in; an interface device I'd rigged together. When she looked up at me to ask, I beat her to the question. "It's a device that will regulate the operation of your personal nanoprobes. You can adjust them to allow yourself to feel more Human, or crank them up to block out the Human bits when you need to. Not too far, though. Wouldn't want that to happen."

"I..." She held the device in her hands carefully. It was a sliver of metal with one surface set to fix itself to the implant still on her right temple.

"It's to let you regain something of the Humanity that got torn from you without compromising who you are now," I explained further. "You and I have that in common, after all. If I can't regain my Humanity, well, no reason to not help you regain your's."

"What will you do?", Seven asked. "After your Companions have their new home?"

"I'm... not sure. Continue traveling I suppose." I felt a tear in my eye as I thought about that. Traveling alone of all things... no one to have my back, to share those experiences, those sights. "The truth of what happened to me is still out there. I'll find it, one day."

"I wish you luck in that endeavor." Seven held the probe modifier like it was delicate. "And... thank you for the gift."

"You're welcome."




We weren't on Voyager for very long after that. When Jan and Cami were ready we gathered at the TARDIS to leave.

The crew of Voyager turned out to see us off. I exchanged handshakes with them as they passed. "Whatever you did to the engines, Doctor, I've never seen efficiency ratings that high," Torres informed me.

"Just some engineering tricks. It should help you stay on your way," I answered.

Soon enough I was facing, well, the Morale Officer himself. "A word of advice, Neelix," I said as I accepted his hand. "I apologize for being so cross with you, and your stew was surprisingly appetizing, but you would be better served in remembering that sometimes... people don't want to talk. So don't press them on it, eh?"

"Thank you, Doctor. that is very good advice." He had that insufferable wide grin on his face. "That reminds me of an old Talaxian..."

"Don't push it, hedgehog," I warned, half-jokingly.

The EMH stepped up. "Well, Doctor, it's good to see you on your way," he said.

"Yes, I imagine that if I stayed around the confusion would be grating."

"And finding you a new name would be difficult." With his self-assured smile, he stepped away. I smiled at that.

Seven stepped up, her posture not as stiff as usual. My gift was now set onto her implant. "I see you've been tinkering with setting," I said warmly.

"Yes." And, like that, a warm smile crossed her face. "Thank you, Doctor."

"Thank you, Seven. You made rescuing Jan and Cami possible."

She nodded at that. "Take care of yourself. Even Time Lords have their limits."

"It is hard to forget some times," I conceded. "And you are right. The same goes for you. I may come back to check up once and a while."

"I'll enjoy that."

Eventually, I was facing Janeway. "Doctor, thank you for helping my ship and my crew," she said as I took her hand for the handshake. "It appears that the reports Starfleet has on you are wrong."

"Well, mistakes happen, and miscommunication," I said graciously. "We'll have to get that sorted out one day."

"I intend to advise Starfleet Command to reconsider Standing Order 30 as soon as we re-establish communications."

"Good luck with that. DTI has something of a bug up their arse about me."

"Don't you know, Doctor?" Janeway smirked. "They're that way about everything."

And at that, I had to laugh.




I placed the TARDIS in the Time Vortex and waited. Jan and Cami were seated on the stairs, holding on to one another and looking at each other, in the kind of silent conversation couples can easily have without words... nor simply through Force-powered telepathy. I had an inkling what they were working up to so I forced myself to stay busy on some system checks.

"Doctor?"

I turned at the sound of Cami's voice. They were looking at me. "Yes?"

"Doctor, I know we've never..." She drew in a breath and looked back to Janias, who pulled her closer to show support. "Doctor, we.... want to know if you have any plans for where we might... might build a home."

And there it was. The knives twisted inside my hearts, though I did my best not to show it. This was it then. They wanted to leave.

I felt weight build in my knees. I felt the overpowering urge to drop and beg them to consider the TARDIS as home. I didn't want to to be parted, I didn't want to be alone.

But I didn't. Because I knew they'd say 'yes.' I knew they'd sacrifice their happiness for mine.

With my hand gripping a control on the TARDIS I drew in a breath. "You might say I did more than plan."




The home galaxy of Janias and Camilla was vast, with many thousands of systems settled. Some where well-known. Some... were not so well-known.

Salnorra was one such world.

It was beautiful. It had a moderate population for a Core World, and in the heart of the Republic it was peaceful in most eras. For this instance, I picked a time about nine hundred years after the time they'd come from. I filled them in on the era as we stepped out of the TARDIS. "The Sith Empire's gone, all broken up and brought into the Republic. Peace reigns. The Jedi are friendly and not very dogmatic at this point. Altogether, it's going to be a lovely seven hundred or so years until the Sith come back out of the muck like always."

The girls looked around. We were in a river valley, right along a sparkling blue river. Purple and blue-leaved flora were everywhere. Ahead of us, a magnificent two story house stood on the small hill overlooking the river.

"What is this place?", Janias asked.

"This? A private home, worth a couple million Republic credits." I turned and handed Cami a time period-specific holo device depicting legal documentation. "Specifically, a home purchased in your names."

Jan and Cami looked at each other in shock. "But, we never had..."

"Nine hundred years of interest in a secure bank does wonders for a bank account," I remarked. "Especially when the initial deposits are drawn from Sith and Imperial accounts in Hutt banks. You wouldn't believe the amount of money they packed away. Well, maybe you would...."

"So that's our house," Cami asked.

"Yes. And your speeders. And your entertainment units. And the bank accounts of course."

"This is too much," Janias insisted. "I expected a home but this, this? Oh Doctor..."

"You earned it," I told them. "You earned this from me. Don't worry about it." Despite everything I smiled at them and set my hands on their shoulders. "You've been so good to me, I couldn't give you anything less. You'll never know deprivation again here, and, well... if you ever want to raise a family, I can think of fewer nice places for them."

There were tears in their eyes as they looked at each other. Janias sniffled. "It is something to think about," she said.

There were no more words to be said. They threw their arms around me, and we had a heartfelt embrace. "Doctor..." Cami's voice was breaking. "What about you? What will yoiu do...?"

"Oh, I'll get along."

"Are you sure. We can... I mean, we don't have to..."

"It's okay," I assured her. "You've earned this. You'll be happy here, and that's all I want."

Rule Number One. The Doctor Lies.

That's because, sometimes, it's a necessary lie.




It took a day or so to unload their things from the TARDIS. Photos and holos of some of our friends went along. One holo depicted everyone who'd gone along on the mission to save some of the Air Nomads, another showed the snow war in the Carpenter backyard... there were pictures of us touring Ankh-Morpork with Captain Carrot, of stops at Layom Station, or the girls goofing off with Korra and Asami in sight of the Aang statue in Republic City. They were fond memories and, with my Time Lord brain, I would never forget them. Better for Jan and Cami to have them; that way, well....

When everything had been taken out, Jan went to work getting their rooms set up while I approached Cami in the pantry with a case in my hand. "One last thing, Cami. This needs to go in your freezer unit." I handed it to her.

She looked over the case and recognized the specialized caduceus insignia of Layom Station. "What is... Doctor, this is..." Her eyes had found the text on the case and widened.

"I didn't want to presume too much, but I figured..." I took in a breath. "When you and Jan are ready, if you ever want to do this... well, the instructions are inside."

We had all teared up enough that day, but more appeared in Cami's eyes. "This is too much, Doctor. Why..."

"Because I owe it to you," I insisted. "Because I wasn't fast enough."

"Doctor, you can't blame yourself. You warned us when we first agreed to go with you that it would be dangerous."

"Not about something like the Borg," I countered. "And if it hadn't been the Borg, it would have been something else eventually. This..." I drew in a breath, forcing myself to confront the truth. "...this is another part of being the Doctor. The Doctor has Companions and, eventually... he has to let those Companions go. We've had a grand adventure, but I won't make you devote your lives to it." I patted the case. "I'll come back to see you, of course. See if there are any little ones. You know how I love being the crazy uncle."

Cami giggled through her tears. "Puppet shows?"

"Definitely puppet shows, yes. I'll even get to use my new puppet of Harry."

"'Set them all on fire!'"," Cami laughed, although it started to sound a bit like sobbing.

"Oh yes." I laughed too.

I had to laugh. I couldn't let them see what I felt inside.




I won't bore you with the repetitions that came with our goodbyes. Everything said there had already been said. I could see in their eyes the conflict that had set in; they wanted to settle down, but they were afraid for me. So I gave them assurances and we all teared up and hugged and said our goodbyes.

Once back on the TARDIS I went to work on the controls and shifted myself away, feeling warm and happy for the moment. Jan and Cami had suffered so much in their young lives that they deserved the happiness they would find in that house. It would be a home for them and the family that, in time, I knew would come to them. And I would stop in every once and a while. Of course I would.

I made a stop to refuel the TARDIS, and as it spun slowly in space, recharging itself from the energies of a nearby temporal rift.... that's when it got to me. The silence. Not the warm silence that came whenever they had retired to their room on the TARDIS, but something deeper. A still, hollow silence that seemed to drown out any other possible sound.

And that was when the full force of it hit me, a fear that had been building up since I'd looked into their eyes in the Voyager sickbay and knew they were ready to leave.

For the first time since I'd been taken from a life I scarcely remembered losing, I was alone.

I was alone.


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

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2017-03-06 06:54am

Short 15 - Alone

The TARDIS was silent.

I sat in the library with a book in hand, a 49th Century quantum theory work in some cosmos you've probably never heard of because nobody's put it on TV yet. Quantum state and information theory was becoming both interesting and useful.

But it was getting hard to read. The silence was distracting.

I had gotten used to noise here. The noise of one or two people sloshing about in the pool, giggling and laughing and fussing like... well, like a couple meant for each other.

Janias and Camilla. It'd only been two days and I already ached to have them back.

I could just go back to them. Any time I wanted. See if they'd recovered, if they wanted to take a trip with me... No. I couldn't do that. I wouldn't. I...

I didn't want to be alone.

Frustrated I threw the book aside and left the library. I'd changed a few rooms over time. But I hadn't yet removed their rooms. I looked in on them and found... nothing. Just empty mattresses and a few furnishings they hadn't desired to keep. Their dressing room was mostly empty as well, only a few sets of clothes remaining that they had grown out of as a richer diet (and exercise, given all the running) had filled them out a little from when I'd first met them.

I found myself idly walking into the TARDIS control room. It was silent too.

It was all so silent.

I let out a cry of frustration and sank onto a set of stairs. Here, alone, all I had were my thoughts. Thoughts of who I was and what I was becoming and what I was going to do.

And worst of all, thoughts on whether I'd ever been Human in the first place.

Oh, yes, I've long relayed to you that fact. But in my mind at the time, even the very concept was becoming slippery. I had no memories of a Human Life. I remembered waking up on that Sith station with a lot of knowledge in my head, and that was it. Maybe I'd been wrong to think I was Human. Maybe I'd always been Time Lord and never known it, and it was just that I had a natural rapport with Humans to the extent that I felt myself Human. The girls had been solid in maintaining my origins, but how did I know they hadn't been mislead by my confusion?

When they had been around, the conviction in their voices had been enough to reassure me. But now... now it seemed like the entire thought of being Human originally was no longer sticking to my head. Their constant reinforcement had kept it there, keeping my memories of the fact fresh. Without them around...

I suspected it was more evidence of how my mind had been tampered with.

"I need to stop blubbering," I grumbled. Which, of course, meant I was talking to myself. "I know what to do."

Yes, indeed, I knew what to do. And so I started operating the TARDIS controls.




"No."

I blinked at the answer and how sudden it was. "No?"

"No. Sorry, Doctor, but I'm just too busy, and..." I was faced with a confused look. "What happened to Jan and Cami?"

The question was a stab into the hearts. "They... are no longer with me."

"Oh, I'm sorry." A pair of arms wrapped around me in a tight hug.

No, not just a tight hug. Something more than that.

An Abby-hug.

Abigail Sciuto gave me the tightest hug she could manage. Her pigtails of raven-black hair bounced a little as she moved her head. "I'm so sorry to hear that. What happened?"

As we were in her apartment, I let her lead me to a chair at her table. There I described to her what had happened with the Borg and how badly hurt Jan and Cami had been by the experience. This, predictably, earned me another Abby-hug. "You mean you actually let some super robot hive mind take over your brain?"

"I let them try."

"And then you infected them with a trojan." Abby laughed. "That is so cool."

Despite myself I smirked, although it turned bittersweet. "The damage had already been done to poor Jan and Cami, though."

"Yeah. I mean, I can't imagine... well, okay, I can imagine, but..." She looked down into her cup of Caf-POW. "So that's why you came to me?"

"You've traveled with me before, and you loved it," I pointed out. "And it would take me years to even begin to scratch the surface of everything I can show you."

"I know, and I'm flattered and all, but... my life's here, Doctor, not out there."

I nodded at that. All things told I wasn't surprised, as much as I had hoped for a different answer from her. "I understand, Abby, I just wanted to make the offer." I sighed and lowered my eyes.

I felt her hand take mine. "Doctor, I'm sure I'm not the only friend you've got," Abby assured me. "Will you do me a favor?"

"Yes?"

"Before you go? See Ducky. He'll talk to you." Abby gave me those puppy dog eyes that were irresistible to anyone who's last name wasn't Gibbs. "Please."

I nodded and smiled thinly. "I will indeed."




Doctor Mallard was home when I materialized the TARDIS near the door, just out of sight of the road. I knocked and waited while, from within, the growing sound of footsteps finally ended and, a second later, the door opened. Ducky was in his housecoat, looking like he was preparing to enjoy a day in-doors in what admittedly looked to be imminently-rainy weather, tending no doubt to one hobby or another. "Ah, Doctor," he greeted me amiably. "Do come in."

I was soon enough in what looked to be a living room and a study put together. Ducky had a bottle of a favored spirit at the table as well as some coffee and tea prepared. I went for the tea and we settled in. By this point the imminence was no longer part of the weather situation; rain was pouring outside of the window. "Such a shame," Ducky lamented. "I had been hoping to be out today."

"Yes, but the weather does tend to ignore one's plans," I remarked. "At least it's not unseasonably chilly, yes?"

"Quite." Ducky took a drink and indicated a plate. "Biscuits?"

I was aware that my stomach was on the empty side, so I accepted them. They were English-style breakfast biscuits, of course, and I took some butter and applied it to them.

After we'd taken a few bites Ducky washed his food down with another drink and asked, "I suspect it has been more time for you than for us. How is your mind?"

"Locked shut," I replied. "I... to be honest, Ducky, I can't even convince myself I was once Human at this point. I feel just as much like I could be an amnesiac Time Lord who thought he was once Human."

"And those lovely young friends of yours? Surely they..." Ducky saw the pained look in my face and his expression fell. "Ah, I see. Oh dear."

"Yes."

"It's never easy when the Doctor loses his Companions," Ducky said in a low, compassionate tone. "What happened?"

I explained it to him. He visibly shuddered as I laid out what the Borg did to the girls.

The most important thing was that Ducky did not do what a well-meaning man might have done. Such a man would have tried to re-assure me with "At least you saved them". He, thankfully, knew better.

"You've never been alone before, have you?", he asked.

"In my actual memories? No. Almost from the time I woke up, I have had them with me."

"I see." He sighed deeply. "Yes, I can imagine that is much worse. In your mental state, I don't think you should be alone. I'm guessing you asked Abby to consider traveling with you?"

"I did. She said no."

"Yes, it has been a trying time for us all as of late. And Abby is so devoted to us. Jethro especially." Ducky took a sip. "Any other candidates?"

"I've considered many, but all have some form of obligation that would hold them back. Abby seemed the most likely." And indeed I had; the next name on my list was Princess Ana from Arendelle, but she had her obligations as well.

"Well, perhaps you should resume your travels. Often times the Doctor meets his Companions out of the blue like that."

"Yes." I took another bite myself. "I miss them, Ducky. I came so close to begging them to stay."

"I would imagine." His face was full of compassion. "You did the right thing by leaving them to their lives."

I nodded slightly. In my head I began to think about things and wondered if I would ever get over this. Jan and Cami had been my last links to my lost Humanity. Now they were gone. Now all I had left was this identity I had made for myself.

I was the Doctor now. And that meant I had to act like the Doctor and not mope around.

"Keep faith," Ducky said, jolting me from my thoughts. "You'll find someone down the road who wants to see everything out there."

"Yes..." My thoughts focused as I thought about what he said. I knew my expression shifted as I let Ducky's words roll in my head. "Yes indeed."

"You look like a man deep in thought."

"Just... musing, i suppose."

"Well, muse away. It does you well to get your mind off of things."

We finished the breakfast and I gently inquired as to the others. This let me get a time fix on events, apparently just after the attack on Gibbs' father by the Reynosas. "I think you'll find that things turn out alright on this," I remarked.

"Ah. And would that be because you know or just a guess?"

I smiled slyly. "Jethro Gibbs is one of those men that I would find it safe to bet for on every occasion, Ducky."

"I'll extend the complement."

When the discussion was over the rain storm had left. "Well, if that was all, you might yet get your time outdoors," I remarked. "I, for one, shall get going."

"I'm glad you came by for this talk." Ducky stood as I did. He escorted me to the door. The ground outside was wet from the rainstorm and the shining sun meant the humidity would be climbing. Ducky offered my his hand. "It was good to see you again, Doctor. Good luck to you."

I accepted the hand. "Great to see you, Ducky. Thank you for giving me an ear."

When I returned to the TARDIS I stopped at the control panel, my thoughts zeroing in on what Ducky had remarked. That I would run into someone who wanted to join me in seeing the Multiverse.

He was right. Someone would. And I even had a good idea as to whom.

And that meant... it was time to get to work.

So I shifted the TARDIS out, eager to see if I could fill the void I felt within me.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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

Postby Steve » 2017-03-07 12:48pm

Episode 13 - Birthday Surprise

Some people hate surprise parties. Can't stand them. Especially if someone sings "Jolly Good Fellow" because, let's be frank, it's saccharine and usually not at all meant.

I tended to love them, at least when I was the one throwing them.

Of course, sometimes even I could be surprised during them.

It was time for Princess Katherine's 18th Birthday. The date of adulthood, of starting to gain personal independence and all that, and that meant I had to plan the right getaway for a girl who had to have some fun due to the rather unhappy state of things.

The Clan Invasion, that is.

And yes, I thought about stopping it. But I'm just one Time Lord and, well... I was not very pleased to find out things like the fall of Rasalhague or the bombardment of Edo on Turtle Bay were Fixed Points in time. With the capital letters, even. Did what I could, but... it wasn't enough.

So I resolved to sit it out. Mostly. Just to make sure things progressed properly. And to help the occasional refugee ship escape. The Clanners are very good at computer security, but I'm better.

And, of course, to prepare myself for the day I might actually get fed up with the bloody robe-wearing band of crazy techno-fetishists who controlled this cosmos' Earth. That's all another story, of course.

No, let's focus on this story. I had to give Katherine the proper birthday. I'd already introduced her to Queen Elsa after her seventh birthday and, for that magical 10th birthday, well.... little girls and talking ponies do go together rather well, yes? (There was no incident with the apple trees, I'll add. Absolutely none. No, seriously, don't ask.)

As of late, I'd been stepping up the birthdays more, going into one and heading up to the next immediately afterward. It gave me something to do now that I'd lost Janias and Camilla, courtesy of the idea I'd had at Doctor Mallard's table.

I met Katherine, as I usually did, in the courtyard of the Tharkad palace. Sometimes she was on New Avalon but with the Lyran half of the Commonwealth facing the Clan onslaught, it wasn't surprising to see her here instead. She's grown into a fine beauty at this point, long blond hair like her mother's, fine blue eyes. Blue eyes that could have easily indicated an icy heart... but here, they did not. They twinkled with curiosity instead. "Well, how was the party?", I asked her from the entrance to the TARDIS.

"Muted," she replied. "With the Clans on the advance everyone is scared. It's hard to find happiness." She looked at me with concern. "Doctor, are you sure you can't...?"

I shook my head sadly. "I've already done what I can, Katherine. But as a Time Lord I have to protect the timeline above all else. Space-time can be a... fragile thing at points. They're fixed and you can only do so much around those points without breaking them. And then I would be destroying everything."

"Does that mean the Clans will win?", she asked. "Will they conquer us?"

At that I smiled thinly. "I can only say, Katherine... that the nations of your family will survive this war. As much as I would like to tell you more..."

"...if you told me, and I acted on it, you would be changing the timeline. It could interfere with fixed points." Katherine nodded quietly. "I understand, Doctor."

I noticed the worry in her voice regardless. It was not surprising. Over the birthdays I had seen her grow up into a... very different young woman than would have existed otherwise. It was for the better.

I couldn't be sure yet if this would stay. She still had ambition, I could see it, but I couldn't see where it was directed.

"Well, the night is young yet, my dear," I said. "I have a few stops in mind for your eighteenth birthday and I think you will find them lovely. Something to get your mind off these Clan buggers>"

"That would be nice, yes."

She stepped into the TARDIS, shedding her parka and showing a lovely ice blue blouse underneath. It wasn't too fashionable, of course; she wouldn't be advertising her social rank on worlds where it was meaningless, obviously.

I went for the TARDIS controls. "Well now, our first stop will be, hrm... ah yes. The Citadel. Massive space station, home to over eleven million sentient beings. From there we'll pay a visit to Thessia and then shift over to Minbar and...."

Before I could continue, my phone rang.

Katherine looked at it with curiosity. She'd never seen it happen before.

Wondering just what it could be, I took up the phone and answered, "Hello there."

"Doctor, I don't have much time..." There was the sound of fighting in the background, I could hear weapons fire.

"Nerys?", I asked, recognizing the voice.

"Doctor, I need your help."

I looked to Katherine. It looked like I'd gotten a surprise for this birthday celebration too...






Katherine watched with curiosity as I scrambled over the TARDIS controls. "Doctor, who was that?"

"A good friend of mine," I answered. "She's in trouble. I have to go help. And before you ask... the call fixes the TARDIS to that point for a time, if I don't go now the event will pass by and become part of my timestream. I have no choice."

"I understand," Katherine replied. "What do you need me to do?"

"Nothing," I replied. "I have suspicions about what is happening and it's going to be very dangerous. I'm not making this birthday your last, Katherine."

She was silent as I shifted the TARDIS. But I saw a gleam in her blue eyes and worried that she was going to get herself involved anyway.

I'd locked in on the temporal beacon's signal to ensure we materialized as close to the location as possible. I opened the door to find a dead Jem'Hadar at my feet. The corridors of DS9 were before me.

Oh. Oh dear. This event.

I'd come in with stealth mode and was justified for that choice as another troop of Jem'Hadar ran by, bringing their weapons to bear. I pulled out my sonics and stepped outside of the TARDIS, making myself visible. "Hello gents, do you know the way to the Promenade?", I asked in a friendly tone.

The engineered super-soldiers turned at the sound of my voice. I activated the sonic disruptor on wide arc and sent them flying, weapons included. With my sonic screwdriver held up to scan their weapons I approached carefully. They were already getting to their feet.

So I gave them another quick blast.

from deeper down the corridor I could hear Nerys' voice. She was fussing with someone. A little closer and I was able to make out that voice as well. Rom. So my suspicions were confirmed. This was the retaking of DS9.

I almost expected to find more Jem'Hadar, but I didn't. My sonic confirmed my readings of their guns so I could short them out if it came to it... which just meant I had to avoid getting impaled by their pikes.

As it turned out, I didn't get to Nerys first. The shooting had stopped when I rounded the corner and found her with Odo and some of his Bajoran deputies. "Well, it looks like you got the rest," I remarked.

Nerys allowed only a faint hint of a smile at seeing me. "We're too late," she told me coldly. "The mines went down."

"Yes, that is rather a bother." I knelt down beside Rom and brought out the sonic. "Weapon systems are down, at least, so they can't shoot at anyone. Might want to get those back up if we take control of the station back."

"Assaulting Ops will be a bloody business, Doctor," Odo pointed out. "Dukat's secured it well."

"I'm sure he has, which is why we're not doing that yet." I looked to Nerys and smirked. "Remember our little visit back during the Occupation?"

Nerys understood immediately. "Reactor control. You're thinking of routing all the controls there?"

"I am." And I was. Of course, I had no intention of actually using them for anything. Sisko would sort the incoming Dominion fleet out... wait, I did mention that, right? That this was all a desperate attempt to keep a couple thousand Dominion ships from flooding into the Alpha Quadrant. Sisko would convince the Prophets to deal with the buggers. "And to be on the safe side, trying to find some method of getting the weapons back won't hurt."

"The Jem"Hadar and Cardassians are everywhere, I'll be too busy dealing with their detachments to help if they find you," Odo warned.

"Don't worry about that Constable. That's what the TARDIS is for."




We returned to the TARDIS. Katherine was waiting by the door. "Doctor?"

"Who's she?", Nerys asked, looking at Katherine.

"Katherine. Nerys." I was too busy to give more than a hand gesture and a name.

I shifted the TARDIS to Reactor Control. The Cardassian engineering staff was undermanned given the prior sabotage. My sonic took care of their weapons and Kira brought them down with stun shots. I went up and unlocked the controls for our use. "Okay, changing command systems to connect down here." I raced my fingers over the nearest control. "It's going to take a while."

"I"m patching into communications." Odo took antoher station. "My deputies will need to report in with me."

"Fair enough. Switching into weapons control."

Nerys had turned a station into a sensor log. "The Defiant went into the wormhole," she said. I could sense tension in her voice tinged with a little hope. "There's no way they can stop that whole fleet. They'll be..."

"They'll need help," I pointed out. "Of course, think of where they've gone."

Nerys' eyes widened. "You think..."

"There's a reason they call him the Emissary," I pointed out.

And, for the first time since I'd arrived, Nerys smiled fully. "You already know, don't you. You know he's going to beat them with the help of the Prophets."

"Well, 'beat them' may not apply entirely, but I do believe he'll be the only one returning." I set a hand on a control panel and looked back to Katherine. "Rather interesting birthday party for you, eh Katherine?"

Nerys looked at me with curiosity.

"It's a thing, I've been giving Katherine birthday rides. Your call came when we were off for her eighteenth."

"All things considered, this may be the best one yet," Katherine answered, watching us intently. I could see the sparkle of youthful exuberance in her eye. This was, for Katherine, more than just a TARDIS ride; it was an adventure.

"We may have a problem," Odo reported. "I've got several deputies pinned down in the habitat ring. It looks like the Jem'Hadar and Cardassian troops are going after some of our residents."

"Reprisals," I grumbled. "Let's see if I can talk them down."

Nerys smirked at me. "You mean like the last time you tried it here?"

"I'll be more diplomatic," I promised. "Patching us through now." I looked up at a monitor and saw it blip to Ops. There was Dukat, of course, and Damar, Weyoun and the "female" Founder (did shapeshifting beings made of sentient gelatin even have gender?, I wondered) near him. "My, how history does love to repeat itself," I said, enjoying the confused looks on their faces and the slowly building irritation on Dukat's. "Hello again, Gul. It's been a while. Granted, not quite so much for me, being a time traveler and all that. Jolly good show with using your shuttle transporters to rearm Gul Ukrell, I must say. Excellent ingenuity in the cause of murder and oppression. Something of a specialty there?"

"Ah. Have you come to witness our moment of triumph, Doctor?" Dukat's face now oozed egomania and smug triumph. "Your services as Bajor's defender will no longer be required when our fleet comes through."

"What fleet?", I asked in false confusion. "Oh, you mean that fleet that just tried to go through the wormhole? Yes, bit of overkill wouldn't you say? Sending so many ships. Awful bloody lot of ships to protect Cardassia."

"I see no need for pretense, Doctor. We intend to finish our conquest of the Alpha Quadrant with that fleet. If I were you, I'd find a safer time period to travel to. Maybe after our victory is secure and peace is restored, hrm?"

"So this is the mysterious Doctor who nearly killed one of my people," the female Founder chimed in. Probably because her ego couldn't permit her to stay silent in my exchange with Dukat.

I winced a little. A false wince anyway. "Oh, 'killed' is such a strong word, I had no idea that my sonic screwdriver would destabilize your species' morphogenic field that badly. I did leave him safely on your new Homeworld, didn't I? Didn't leave an apology note for ruining your attempt to replace the head of Starfleet but, well, I don't go for insincerity in my apologies. Unless I'm being diplomatic."

"Such blasphemy," Weyoun gasped.

"Like all enemies of the Great Link, you will be dealt with harshly, Doctor," the Founder warned. Apparently, aside from her ego, she also believed in blunt threats.

"Tell me if I'm wrong, Founder, but you were going to order Nerys killed, weren't you?", I answered. "Now, see, that would have been a mistake. I'm something of a crazy adopted uncle for her. And hurting her, or anyone close to me... that's not a very safe place to stand. Just ask the Borg if you ever see them."

Nerys widened her eyes. Undoubtedly she now realized why Jan and Cami weren't with me anymore.

"But I didn't call to exchange threats, Founder. I called to simply remind the Gul of what I told him before. Bajor is defended. Bajor's people are defended. And I know you have troops about to attack the Bajoran civilians on the station."

"Bajor's treachery against the Dominion is beyond doubt now," the Founder answered. "And it will be punished."

"Ah, reprisal killings of civilians, the staple of totalitarians everywhere," I flippantly remarked. "Just no imagination with you types, is there? Or memory. Since, as I recall, the Bajorans weren't the people who were ready to bomb your Great Link to atoms." I looked at Dukat to test his reaction. I wondered how much he had though of that little factoid, of the attempt by the Obsidian Order and Tal Shi'ar to destroy the Great Link.

"If you care for the Bajorans so much, Doctor, I suggest you surrender,", the Foundered replied. "I may show mercy."

"Better idea." I smirked. "Why don't you look into why you're still talking to me and not the armada you were waiting for?"

Oh, that shut them up. Dukat was the first to recover. "I suspect they're busy subduing the Defiant, they'll be along...."

"Ship coming through the wormhole. It's the Defiant."

"Our fleet should be right behind them..." Dukat noted.

Instead, there was just silence.

I smirked. "You may want to check on those stations in the Gamma Quadrant. I'd love to chat more, but I have some people to rescue." I killed the connection.

"They did it," Nerys said quietly. "They stopped the Dominion." It wasn't a question.

I nodded. "And now we have to, if we're going to stop a massacre."




Nerys remained behind to watch Reactor Control while we materialized the TARDIS in the habitat ring. The Bajoran population of the station had huddled in this quarter and were being guarded by Odo's deputies. We could hear weapons exchanges down the corridors. One deputy, a burly-looking young Bajoran woman with dark red hair, brought up her phaser rifle and nodded to the Constable. "Sir, they're hitting us hard on the crosswalk from the Promenade. Pala and Lorya are badly hurt. We can't hold them."

"Have the squads fall back, we need to reduce our perimeter." Odo looked to me after the deputy went off to make sure the orders were followed. "Doctor, any suggestions?"

"I can jam their weapons with my sonics, but that won't stop the Jem'Hadar. They'll just rush your men with their blades." I looked around at the busy corridors, lined with Bajorans seeking refuge. They were all looking toward me by this point and I thought I saw some flickers of recognition in some of their faces. "If I can get to a computer system I can try to establish forcefields to keep them out."

"You'll need top security clearance for that, Doctor."

I smirked at him and help up my sonic. "I've hacked the Borg Collective and a billion year-old AI control system. DS9's computers aren't that great a mystery, my dear Constable."

That won me the notorious Odo "harumph" and crossed arms. "Remind me to add some new security blocks when we're done."

"Yes, it'll make for some fun sport the next time, eh?"

With Katherine following me, I found a nearby set of moderate-quality guest quarters, the kind with a separate bedroom. Normally they were empty but for now they served as emergency shelter for some of the civilians who normally didn't live in this part of the station. Bajorans weren't the only ones present; I recognized a Lissepian, a Mizarian, and a being that after consideration I realized had to be of Morn's species but with hair. The Jem'Hadar weren't being very picky, it seemed.

I went to a control console as screaming and crying erupted from the bedroom. The racket was distracting, the kind it's hard to block out. I winced and looked back to Katherine.

I didn't need to ask. She was already walking to the bedroom door. When it slid open she looked to me. "It's a hungry child, I think. His mother is unconscious on the bed and being tended to."

"Shot no doubt. There should be a replicator that can replicate milk for Bajoran babies, just ask and it'll provide it. I'm going to need to concentrate."

Katherine nodded and entered the room. I got to work on the panel. I didn't need my sonic much, as it turned out; while it was capable of quickly modifying code and the like, I was learning how to deal with Cardassian software quite easily. The Cardassians had been forced to rebuild Deep Space Nine's central systems from scratch given the sabotage Sisko's crew had pulled when leaving. And from the look of things, they'd rushed some of the coding work. That made my job easier.

I felt a pull at my pants leg and looked over and down. A small Bajoran boy was looking at me. "You're the Doctor." His words weren't a question.

"Yes," I replied.

"My dad says you're a Prophet," he said quietly.

"No, I'm not." I admit I was keeping most of my attention on the computer.

"Dad says he saw your magic box in Rakatha," the boy explained. "He said it was bigger on the inside, and only the Prophets can make it."

"Not just the Prophets, as it turns out," I answered. "Would make my life rather easier if it were true."

"Are you here to save us?"

The question was simple and direct, but I could sense a tremor of fear in the boy's voice. How long had the Bajorans on this station been afraid of something like this? Of the day the Cardassians and Jem'Hadar turned on them? I briefly looked back to him and said, "Yes."

Satisfied, the boy went off, probably to inform his father of my answer.

I turned my attention back to my work. "Oh come on!", I protested as the display showed a failure message. The Cardassians had apparently allowed parts of the station to go to rot. I couldn't bring the forcefields online until a power conduit had been fixed. I looked into the bedroom. Katherine was watching the children as one of Bashir's Bajoran nurses tended to the wounded woman in the bed. "Katherine! Stay here with the kids. I've got to get some repairs done."

"Doctor?" She looked up. "Shouldn't you have someone helping you?"

"I'll be fine."

I really should have known better, shouldn't I? Those were pretty famous last words.




The sounds of battle were in the distance. Even with the Federation-Klingon fleet on the way, the Founder was just bloodthirsty enough to want a reprisal. Especially, I mused, when you consider my sudden arrival. I had undoubtedly been the final nudge that convinced her to devote her Jem'Hadar to reprisals instead of just withdrawing.

Yay for me.

So I made my way to the conduit I had to repair and applied my sonic to it. The repair wasn't as easy as I'd hoped it would be. It was some seriously shoddy work; Chief O'Brien would have been grossly offended.

"Surprised these things haven't fallen apart further," I muttered. The conduit was fixed, but another one in the section couldn't handle the power throughput. I'd have to go over and bring its secondary capacitors online. I rushed over to do just that, going two halls down.

I knelt down along the wall, pulled the wall panel out, and began to run the sonic over the conduit internals. "There we go. All the power we'll need," I muttered. "Just have to..."

I heard the boot hitting the ground just in time. I pulled back and spun away as a Jem'Hadar soldier shimmered into view, his polearm blade coming down where my back had been. He was fast, too. He kept his blade from going into the conduit and giving him a shocking experience. With a snarl of frustration on the Jem'Hadar's face, he brought the blade around toward me. I kicked out; given all my running and my height, my legs could be quite formidable.

Unfortunately, I still wasn't much of a physical, melee fighting type. My kick missed the Jem'Hadar's knee and smacked him in the upper shin. It unbalanced him a little, allowing me to evade the next downward swipe. I scrambled to my foot.

The Jem'Hadar's arm reached out. He got a handful of my jacket in his hand and used it as leverage, pulling me back and slamming me against the wall. I tried to strike him in the neck. My blow wasn't strong enough to damage his windpipe through the armored flesh over his throat. Seeing the blade start to come down at my chest, I brought my hands up. One grabbed the Jem'Hadar's wrist, the other the weapon. If I'd had the strength, I could have gotten leverage on the weapon and twisted myself out of my precarious position, perhaps even forced the Jem'Hadar to drop it.

Unfortunately, I was dealing with a genetically-engineered supersoldier. I felt like I was trying to hold back a machine and realized my plan had gone horribly wrong.

There was nothing I was going to be able to do before the Jem'Hadar's blade found my left heart.

Some birthday party this was turning out to be.




Now you would expect me to get rescued by Katherine, right? Plucky young girl proves she can watch my back, earns her place as my Companion, that kind of thing?

Honestly, it's what I expected.

Instead the Jem'Hadar went limp as a phaser blast struck him in the back. I pushed him away and let him fall to the ground. I diverted my attention to my rescuer.

"Uh, are you okay?"

Rom.

I actually chuckled a little. "Oh, right as rain."

"Odo said you were trying to get the forcefields up," Rom said. "I came to help."

"I imagine so." I gestured toward the open panel. "I think I mostly have it."

Rom knelt down and inspected it. "Uh, did you check the plasma exchanger?"

"Yes," I said. Although when thinking about it, I don't think I gave it more than a cursory glance.

Rom came to the rescue again, pointing out where the connections were blackened. "The Cardassians keep forgetting maintenance around here. They forget all the changes that Chief O'Brien made to the station. Plasma exchangers need routine replacement."

"Good eye, Rom," I said, feeling my cheeks burn. Had that Jem'Hadar not come, I'd have blown the hall up.

It occurred to me at that point that my Time Lord body was more robust than a Human one. I should have been holding my own against that Jem'Hadar, at least. That fact that I didn't, and that I forgot such a simple step...

Well, that's what happens when you forget to take care of yourself. And I hadn't been doing either very well at that since Jan and Cami had left. It was a wonder I remembered to shower and change clothes.

Rom, as it turned out, was carrying a spare in his kit, and replaced the exchanger with enviable efficiency. Say what you will about his dental hygiene or social skills, but the man's handy with technology. Got quite a good heart too.

"Everything's ready. Can you, I mean, only senior staff can turn the fields on."

"Or someone with a sonic screwdriver." I brought it up and used it on a nearby control panel that I'd already rigged to accept the needed commands. The display showed forcefields popping up all along the habitat ring. "Good show, Rom. Excellent work."

"Uhh, thank you," he answered.

We took a corridor closer to the crossover to the docking ring. "Go on ahead, Rom, get back to Leeta," I said. "I'll be alright."

"If you say so, Doctor. But if something happens to you, Major Kira's not going to be happy with me."

I allowed myself a smile at that. "It'll be fine."

Rom gave a nod and ran off. Well, it was more of a scamper, but a very good scamper. Definitely closer to a run than a scamper.

I watched him disappear around a corner on the halls leading back to the habitat areas when I heard the shot. A phaser beam, the whine being distinctly Cardassian.

I heard a familiar voice scream, "Nooooo!!!"

....actually, I heard two familiar voices scream that.

I quickened my pace and came out into a corridor. In front of me was Gul Dukat, cradling his daughter Ziyal. Beyond them was Dukat's second, Damar, in a struggle with...

Katherine had apparently been taught some self-defense. She attempted an arm-lock, but she was an eighteen year old girl up against a Cardassian veteran and former guerrilla fighter used to the occasional wrestling with Klingons. Damar pulled out of it and belted Katherine across the face, sending her down.

For just a moment, I was stunned at the sight. Considering what she might be, could still be....seeing Katherine Steiner-Davion fighting not for her life but for another being's, one she didn't even know.... that was something I'd never quite let myself believe to be possible.

Of course, it would be for nothing if Damar shot her. I brought the sonic up and sent a feedback pulse into his phaser. It exploded in sparks in his hand as he tried to aim it at Katherine. Damar yelped and dropped the weapon, cradling his burnt hand. He looked up to me.

"There's an old saying. 'The burnt hand teaches best.' Keep that in mind. Now bugger off."

Damar, startled and frightened, did just that.

I went to Katherine, who already had a bruise marring her cheek and lip from where Damar struck her. A trickle of blood from her nose trickled down the left side of her mouth. I offered a hand. "Some birthday," I muttered.

"Don't worry about me," she said as I lifted her back to her feet. "What about her?"

I turned and faced Ziyal and Dukat. To see this evil man, this killer of innocents, clutching his daughter like she was the most precious thing in the world... it could be a sobering reminder that even bad men have what is arrogantly called "humanity" in them. I held the sonic up and examined Ziyal with it. Damar's shot had been slightly off-target, undoubtedly due to Katherine, but it had still done its job. She had massive internal damage and shock was setting in. She would die in minutes if untreated.

"Save her, please," Dukat asked me. "She's half-Bajoran, isn't that enough?"

I looked at him. "Is that what you think I'm about, Dukat? That I chose to protect Bajorans against Cardassians because I don't care for your species?" I shook my head. "That's not what I am." I reached into my jacket pocket and brought out a medigel pack. Layom Station's regenerative remedies were all well and good for patients who were stable, but they wouldn't be enough for Ziyal. Fresh medigel from the best manufacturers on the Citadel, on the other hand? Perfect.

As I began to prepare the pack for application, I felt a bit of hesitation. This... this was changing things. Tora Ziyal was supposed to die here. Dukat was supposed to be broken by her death and go mad. If I saved Ziyal...

...I would be saving a bright, brave, and altogether decent young woman, instead of leaving her to die based on what I thought was supposed to be history.

To this day I sometimes wonder about things like this. I know how things "should" turn out... but not because I experience them myself as history. Rather, because I watched them on a bloody TV show. I read them in a bloody book. How could I let that decide my actions?

The truth was, sometimes it did because I was too worried about what happens if I change things and the consequences change too much. I said as much to Harry Dresden after we saved Ivy from the Denarians; if I pull at the threads in an attempt to fix things, I could unravel the entire thing, and I may not be able to put it back together.

On the other hand, how could I let someone like Ziyal die because I didn't know what her survival would cause?

That is the dilemma of the Doctor. It is mine even more so, as I have not one timeline to consider but so, so many. I could never fix them all if I went about yanking threads and unraveling everything.

And sometimes, the decision I make depends not on forethought and planning and long agonizing consideration, but simply on what's going on at the time of the decision, what I'm feeling... and what I'm seeing.

In this case, I was looking up into the bruised face of an eighteen year old girl I had been molding for the last fifteen years of her life, trying to make her a better person than she would have become. A girl who had never seen me forced to make hard choices, who only saw me as the man in the magic box who could do anything. Who could save anyone. I wasn't just her crazy adopted uncle like I was with Nerys or the Carpenter children. I was her hero.

"What can you do for her, Doctor?", Katherine asked me. "Can't you save her?"

And at that moment, I knew I had to try.

And I tried.

Oh, I tried.

But sometimes... even trying is not enough.

Some days, despite everything you do, you just can't do enough.

As I've learned to my regret, the Doctor doesn't save everyone.

....

Of course, this wasn't just any day. This was a girl's eighteenth birthday.

And birthdays can have a magic of their own.




A few hours later Quark's was packed with Bajorans, Starfleet personnel, and Klingons. Synthehol and bloodwine were flowing, there was cheering and laughter, and Quark happily sat at his bar counting his profits.

What was I doing, you ask?

What else does the Doctor do when everybody lives?

"Doctor...." Odo's growl was at least not as growly as usual, laced instead with the sarcasm of his humor. "I believe I warned you that I'd charge you if you ever danced on the Promenade again."

"I'm not dancing on the Promenade," I laughed, interrupting my rhythm in what was a very bad side-step dance.

Odo gave his more joyful "harumph". "It's close enough."

Katherine was too busy laughing herself to tears. Beside her, Ziyal was settled into a hoverchair from the infirmary. Bashir had permitted her to attend on the condition that she didn't do anything strenuous. Nerys was there to make sure of it, fussing over Ziyal like a mother hen and shooting very sharp glares at Garak who, for the first time since I'd met him, looked almost... shy.

I switched to what I thought was a very passable version of the twist. Hooting came from some of the tables. "That's atrocious!," I heard Dax call out. "You're not allowed anywhere near our wedding if you're going to dance like that!"

Worf gave his fiance a look that seemed to say "There'll be dancing at our wedding?"

Nerys let out a laugh at Dax's remark. Katherine recovered from laughing enough to stand up and walk up to me. "No no, I don't know where you learned to dance, Doctor, but I can't let you do that anymore." She took my hands, shifted where my arms were, and began giving me instructions on where to put my feet. It was courtly dancing from the Inner Sphere, the kind you find in noble ballrooms, and not really something for the atmosphere in Quark's.

We nevertheless had quite the audience.




Katherine was well and tuckered out when our day came to an end. I showed her the hammock on the TARDIS to rest until I got her home and headed back out onto the Promenade to say goodbye.

Admiral Ross was standing beside Sisko. He extended me a PADD. "Doctor, have you ever heard of Starfleet Standing Order 30?", Ross asked.

I nodded. "Yes, I have. It's why I try to give you lot some distance these days."

"Well, you don't have to worry about it now," Sisko remarked.

"Starfleet Command has reviewed our reports on the retaking of Deep Space Nine," Ross announced. "In light of your help in securing the station and its residents, Starfleet has suspended SR30 pending a full review. A review that will have to wait until the war is over."

"I can't imagine DTI is going to be happy."

"Oh, they're livid," Ross confirmed. "And they still have standing orders for your arrest. But Starfleet won't act against you on our own initiative."

"I see." I handed the PADD back to them. "Thank you, gentlemen."

"Feel free to give the Federation any help you can," Ross said. "We need it."

I nodded. The war wasn't over, after all, and the Dominion would be back with a vengeance soon enough. "I will do what I can," I promised.

It was, in retrospect, a promise that was very questionable to give.

"What about Dukat?", I asked.

"He'll be held for trial," Sisko said. "He has crimes to answer for, in the Federation and on Bajor."

"So long as he does," I answered. I wondered just how this would change things. Dukat wouldn't be there to give Damar one of the speechs that helped prompt him to rebel against the Dominion. Maybe it wouldn't be necessary... but what if it was?

Something I'd have to deal with eventually, I imagined.

When they left, Nerys stepped up into the TARDIS as I entered it. "So, a birthday party?", she asked.

"Not the one I imagined I'd give her," I admitted.

"We talked about how we met you." Nerys crossed her arms. There was a look of some mischief and faked irritation on her face. "So, I wasn't good enough for birthday parties?"

I winced. "Nerys...." I drew in a breath. "I...."

"Don't worry about it," she said, putting her hands on my arms. "I know."

I could see that she did. Had I tried the same with her... it wouldn't have lasted. I would have changed her future to spare her the suffering of her childhood in the Occupation.

"I've never... talked to you about this. Not really. Back in the Occupation I know I was bitter about you not letting us come with you. And I wasn't understanding over how you wanted to end the Occupation. You tried to tell me but I wasn't ready... But that's changed. Coming to Deep Space Nine, it's made me appreciate what you said to me back then. And..." I saw tears in her eyes. "If I still wish you had taken me away from the Occupation, it's because there are things I did that.... it's.... you once told me there was a better way, and I threw it back in your face. I told you I'd never regret killing Cardassians. But I was wrong. I do regret the things I did during the Occupation."

There were tears in her eyes at this point. I felt a couple of my own. "I understand," I told her. "I'm sorry."

"Yeah..."

We remained silent for several seconds. Nerys put a hand to my chin. "You've got stubble," she pointed out. "Trying to grow a beard?"

I reached down and pressed my hand to the other side of my face. I had been forgetting to shave lately. "Not really."

"I talked to Rom. He told me about the conduit and your fight with the Jem'Hadar." She shook her head. "You need to take care of yourself too."

I nodded. "I haven't been my best since...."

"What happened to Janias and Camilla? Are they...?"

"They were taken by the Borg," I explained. "I got them back out but... it hurt them deeply. They're not up to traveling with me anymore. I gave them a good home. They'll be happy."

"I'm sorry. You must be so lonely now."

"I suppose I am," I admitted. "You want to come along? Take a ride in my magic box?"

Nerys laughed at that. "I'm not that little girl anymore," she said. "Besides, I think you've already found a good partner." She looked over to the hammock.

My eyes followed her's. Katherine was laying on her side, sound asleep.

"That would be complicated," I remarked.

"Oh?"

"She's... well, she's a princess. Second in line to the throne, that kind of thing."

I didn't mention my other worry. That her ambition remained. That even if she was bold and selfless and kind, ambition could still warp all of that. All it took was her deciding she should rule her family's union.

"If you say so. But she's smart, brave, and she loves traveling with you. Sounds to me like a perfect fit."

"That she does," I admitted. "So, getting late. Got a busy day tomorrow, I imagine?"

"Oh, busy. We have to get everything switched back to Federation systems. I think Chief O'Brien wants to throw Dukat out the airlock just over the state of some of the station's modifications. Five years of work and Dukat's engineers messed everything up."

"Ah. Best of luck to him, then." I escorted Nerys to the TARDIS door. "Take care of yourself, Nerys."

"You're the one who needs it more," she pointed out. "If you need to talk... we're always here."

"I'll keep that in mind," I promised her. I watched her head toward the exit to the Promenade before closing the TARDIS. It was time to take Katherine home.




I let Katherine have her nap, during which I made sure to shave and change clothes and pick up in the TARDIS. I materialized us in her receiving room in the palace on Tharkad. "How is the bruise?"

"Doctor Bashir healed it," she answered me, walking over to a chair.

"Good. Not the birthday present I imagined."

At that Katherine laughed. "Dancing made up for it. Give me some time and you could actually pass in a social ball."

"Not my thing," I answered with a smirk. "You came after me, I'm guessing?"

"Yes. I knew you didn't have anyone to watch your back." Katherine put her hands together. "And then I heard Gul Dukat talking to his daughter and went to see what was going on. When that Cardassian pulled a gun I grabbed it."

"You saved Ziyal's life," I told her. "You did a good thing."

"Thank you." Her blue eyes seemed to sprinkle. "Doctor, can I ask something?"

"Go ahead."

"I've enjoyed the birthdays, but I'm all grown up now. You don't need to worry about it next year. We're going to be at war with the Clans anyway, it's not right that I get to go off on adventures while my brother and so many others are fighting."

"An admirable sentiment," I said. "I'm guessing you have thoughts on what you need to do."

"Yes. I need to keep our peoples' spirits up." Katherine put her hands together and leaned forward. "With the way the war has been going, they need it."

"Yes, they do."

And here was where I decided to test her. I had to know. I had to know where that ambition was directed.

"What do you want, Katherine?", I asked. And no, I didn't try to impersonate Mister Morden with that. "You're second in line to your parents' throne. If anything happens to your parents or Victor..."

"I'd be Archon-Princess," she finished. "Is... is something going to happen?"

There was an eager tone in her voice. I kept myself from breathing hard. I was afraid of what it could mean if she... if it had all been for naught. If despite all of my changes...

"Not necessarily. I'm just asking," I replied.

She nodded and took a breath. "Doctor... I... I can't talk about this, not right now. I have education to work through and public appearances and the war, and Victor's out there risking his life. I don't want to talk about this until I know he'll be fine. I don't want to even think about it."

I nodded quietly. "I understand."

"Come back when the war's over," she said. "Then I'll give you a reply. If I'm still alive."

"Don't worry about that," I assured her.




As it turns out... I couldn't wait.

Okay, I had enough control to not immediately jump to just after Tukkayid, when the Truce of Tukkayid came into force. In fact, after getting a good rest myself, my next destination wasn't even to see her.

I stepped out of the TARDIS and into the private office of Hanse Davion. "...fond adieu, Prince Davion. Do devote all your resources to fighting the Clans. You do not want to go to war with me."

I didn't recognize the voice, but I recognized the insignia on the packaging. The green triangle and hand-holding sword of House Liao's Capellan Confederation. Ah, Sun-Tzu Liao. Whatever his successes, I couldn't help but think of him as an opportunistic weasel who exploited the conflict with the Clans for his family's aggrandizement, even when it threatened the ability of the Inner Sphere to fight the greater threat.

Heh, maybe I should pay him a visit some day. I'd have to bring some medicine for his crazy sister as a peace offering. If you don't know why, said sister is named Kali and leads a cult of Thuggees. Yes, she needs it. Although it's anyone's guess if it would work.

I brought out a hypospray of medication for an ailing heart and walked up to the figure slumped in the chair. A scan of the sonic confirmed for me that Prince Hanse was in the middle of a heart attack, one that would be fatal shortly.

And for the second time in this story, I willingly changed the path of history to save a life. And, sure, Hanse Davion's not quite so sweet or nice as Toya Ziyal... but he was still a man who was more good than bad, and someone the Inner Sphere needed in office for the time being.

Hanse's eyes fluttered open as I switched off Sun-Tzu's smug little message. He looked from the screen to me as I sat on his desk. "What... what just..."

"You had a heart attack, Your Highness," I explained. "I had to inject you with a cardial stabilizer. Don't move too much, it's not magic, it's just really good biochemistry, and your heart needs time to recover. I'd suggest staying in bed for a week or so, but I'm not an actual medical doctor and you may want to consult your physician."

He recovered enough to speak. "You," he said simply.

"Well, it's not as fancy a name as 'the Doctor', but it'll do," I jibed in reply.

The hints of a smile curled on his mouth. "Ah, Doctor. You've caught me in a bad moment."

"I don't think he actually intended for his message to have that effect," I noted. "Not that he'd have been against it."

"If not for the Clans I would gladly be rid of him," Hanse remarked coldly, picking up the container. "The news will be out in due time, but until then, can I count on..."

"...my silence? Yes." I stood up. "I'll wait until you get your physician present, but I must be going. I don't think Mister Curaitis will be very pleased with me gaining access to your office without being detected."

"He wouldn't. But we've all come to realize that if you were a danger to me or my family, you would have struck long ago."

"I imagined so. Now, please, call for aid and lay your head back. Don't sleep, but don't speak either. Save your strength."

I waited quietly until the Prince's physician arrived with a nurse. As they entered I shifted the TARDIS out.

I must now admit that this... was something of a selfish move on my part. Keeping Hanse alive was all well and good for the stability of the Inner Sphere. But that also meant Katherine would feel more free to join me, if that was her choice, and if I felt it the right thing to do.

I'm still not sure whether to be grateful or not that the birthday magic had run out, as I would later find that Hanse died two and a half weeks later from another heart attack. His old heart simply couldn't sustain the pressures of state.

There are those - one Donar Vadderung among them - who argue that history has an inertia. Changing history isn't as easy as you think as history will naturally try to drift back "on course", if it doesn't undo the change right then and there. It would seem that sometimes, even a Time Lord must bow to that inevitable power.

But I digress. It's time to bring this tale to it's natural close.




I arrived for Katherine's twentieth birthday, the first after the Truce of Tukkayid and the death of her father. I arrived just as she finished treating the mycosia I had given her fifteen years before from her perspective. "It's still alive I see," I remarked. "Gotten plenty of love, hasn't it?"

"Yes Doctor." Katherine looked back from the window sill she kept it on. While I was in my usual suit, she was in a sleeved blue blouse and yellow skirt. "It's survived so many frosts that I can't count them. I admit that as a girl I used to take it out into hard freeze just so I could break the ice off and find the pedals and leaves still alive underneath."

"That's not entirely loving, but you were giving it a bit of a watering when you did that," I remarked. "The Truce is holding?"

"It is. I'm told that occasionally Clan units raid above the truce line, but they never hold territory."

"It wouldn't do them any good when the Truce expires, and they know it. Honestly, their entire invasion was bloody silly, emphasis on the bloody. Little buggers don't have the first clue on how to rule anyone but their lower castes."

"Phelan may teach them otherwise," Katherine noted with a hint of bitterness.

"Ah, yes, the prodigal son who is alive but did not return," I stated. "He'll do good with them. He's on the good side of the line, you might say, working to keep the Clans from deciding the Truce needs to be eliminated."

"So Uncle Morgan says." Katherine let out a sigh. "Doctor, you're not here to talk about these things with me."

"I'm not."

"The war is over, but my father's dead. I... I don't know what to do. What I want. I have a duty but I..." She stopped speaking and rubbed at her eye. "You asked me what I wanted."

"I did."

"Why?"

"Because, Katherine, I can see that among other things, you've inherited your father's ambition. Ambition and desire are a potent mixture. I'd like to see what they've created."

Katherine smiled thinly and lowered her head. "I've had family and tutors tell me I should be the future ruler and not Victor. That he's too military."

"So they say," I said simply. "But he can be taught."

"And then there's his..." Katherine sighed. "The entire family knows about Omi Kurita, it seems."

"So it does."

"Ryan Steiner and others have been yelling that it's treason for Victor to be in love with Omi. There are many who will believe Victor is going to give them to the Kuritas to have Omi as a wife. Or they're mad at just the thought of him marrying her. The last time a Davion married a Kurita wasn't pretty. And it makes me wonder if Victor can rule with people like that around."

"Yes." I let her continue, wondering where she was going with this. I admit to some suspense. This was the time of truth, the time when I would find out whether all of my efforts were for naught.

Katherine seemed focused on her thoughts. "And I hear them talk like that and.... I remember when you took me to Republic City for my birthday. I remember all of those monuments about the Hundred Years War, and how all of these people who lived there were once enemies. And then I realized how petty and stupid all of that sniping is," Katherine finished. "Victor isn't perfect. He doesn't know how to handle people because he's so wound up about sycophants. He's easily frustrated and he's focusing on the Clans so much he doesn't always see the other problems around him."

I swallowed. Was it all for nothing? Would even a nicer, kinder, even brave Katherine still seek to usurp her brother? Not out of megalomania, but out of kindness and love?

But I said nothing. I had to let her get her thoughts out.

"And they actually want me, Doctor, to be the heiress. They want me to take over. Maybe they think I'll be a better ruler, or easier to control, or that Victor and I will fight so much they can get more power by playing us against each other. And what's worse is that I don't know how well Victor will handle it when Mother abdicates in his favor. Sometimes I wonder if he can be the ruler."

I tried not to swallow.

Katherine raised her head and her eyes met mine. I looked into them, almost wishing I could soulgaze like Harry just to see what was going on inside of her.

And then she finished speaking.

"But he's a good man. He'll be a good ruler. I have faith in him, I'm not going to undermine him," Katherine insisted. "That's not what I want."

I took a breath as I let her words loop in my head. Had I... had it....

Had it actually worked?

Had I been successful? Had I forestalled Katherine becoming the dictator and matricide that would have been her fate without my working my way into her life?

I realized the answer was yes. Yes, I had. But if I had, then what was her ambition?

"I'll tell you what I want, Doctor," Katherine said. "What I want... as much as I love my family, I wish I wasn't part of it. I don't want to be Princess of the Federated Commonwealth, I don't want to be Victor's Heir-Presumptive until he has an heir of his own."

"What I want, Doctor, what I've wanted for years, is to travel with you," Katherine admitted, smiling like she was lifting a burden off of her shoulders. "As much as it would horrify my family and the Court, I want to leave and join you in the TARDIS. I want to see the birth of stars and the forming of planets. I want to see the City-World of Coruscant, the Ancients' Atlantis, and all the other wonderful things you've said are out there. I want to meet the wizard Harry Dresden and Commander Shepard and all the other heroes you've told me about. I would give everything I have to just travel with you for the rest of my life."

I sat there, rendered utterly speechless.

"I can't, of course," Katherine admitted. "I can't just turn my back on my mother and Victor, not with Father having passed. They need me. I have duties, responsibilities. But I just wish I could get away from them."

By this time, I couldn't help it. I had to laugh lowly and smile. "Oh Katherine, my dear Katherine."

"Doctor?" She looked at me.

"Katherine, I... I'm humbled by this," I admitted. "I never realized... I thought when you grew up then you'd get wrapped up in this life and wouldn't be interested in running around the Multiverse."

"I've dreamed of it since I was a little girl," she told me.

"I see." I put my hands together in front of me. How ironic that I had acted to divert her ambition, to nudge her into being someone who could resist it... and now it was actually working against me. "Katherine, your sense of duty is.... is what I'd expect. I'd just like to point something out." I leaned forward, as if to whisper a secret to her. "I'm a time traveler my dear."

I saw the smile form on her face. It's something she had likely overlooked when talking about her duties versus her desires. But she clearly understood what I was saying.

"When's your next public appointment? A week from now?"

"Yes. And I have to be back for the Christmas social season."

"Very well. I'll have you back in a day or so."

"How long would we be gone?", Katherine asked.

I had only one reply to her on that.

"How about we find out?"

She jumped out of her chair at that point and dashed for her bedroom. I went to the TARDIS and opened it, waiting at the door until she returned, carrying several bags with her. She put them at the opening to the TARDIS and picked up the mycosia flower in its pot. I smiled as she walked into the TARDIS and handed to me. "I want to be able to water it. In case we don't get back in time."

"Of course," I answered. "Want me to help you with those?"

"No," she insisted. "I'm not Princess of the Federated Commonwealth in here. I'm just Katherine. And I carry my own things." She reached down and, with some effort, picked them up and carried them in.

"Second left, door on the right. Excellent mattress," I said to her. I went to work on the TARDIS controls until she got back, a little winded but looking far more ready to burst out of her skin in excitement. "So, my dear Katherine.... what do you want to see first?"

"All of it!", she insisted.

"That's a tall order," I answered, unable to keep the grin off my face. "Best we get started, eh?" I flipped a few more switches and set our destination while Katherine took up a place opposite me on the controls. She already knew not to touch. I could see her breathing was picking up. She was probably a little terrified at the prospect of what she was doing, but I could see that more than anything she was ecstatic.

So was I. Even considering taking her home sometimes.... I had a Companion again. Someone I could share this wide and wondrous multiverse with.

I wasn't alone anymore.

"Been practicing your running?", I asked her, playing up the moment.

"I run every day," she insisted. And she certainly had the figure to prove it; lean muscles that barely broke the smoothness of her arms and the rest of her figure.

"Good. Because we're going to be doing a lot of running." I set my hand on the lever for the TARDIS engine. "Ready to go, Katherine?"

"I've been ready," she insisted.

"And a good girl, I'll note," I answered, remarking on my old promise to her when we first met. "Welcome to the TARDIS, Katherine."

I noted, with some pleasure, how her eyes burned with eagerness. It made the next bit a lot more fun.

I pulled back the lever and let out a happy shout for the first time in months.

"Tally ho!"

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

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

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

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

Postby LadyTevar » 2017-03-08 03:56am

And here was the payoff for the Nudge I gave Steve to take Kat in a different direction.

Enjoy the next several chapters, folks. Kat is a fantastic companion for the Doctor, even if she is Rose to his Ten.
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Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
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"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" -- Leonard Nimoy, last Tweet


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