"Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-07-29 07:51pm

The activity in Main Engineering remained high with engineering personnel and operations officers working on fixing the ship. The naqia reactors were being carefully worked over, as were the plasma exchangers and the electro-plasma converters that provided energy to the rest of the ship.

To the unpracticed eye, the scene could have seemed chaotic. But it was all under the control of an expert. Montgomery Scott had seen ships wrecked before, after all, even more totally than the crippling damage the Aurora had endured at the hands of the Shadows. And he knew precisely how to keep things going and how to keep his crews from losing heart. He glanced over one section of the master control display for the ship and bellowed, "I want Etps and Drovima on th' Deck 24 power relay. Th' sooner we get that runnin' again, th' sooner we get th' hull stabilized an' th' sooner we can call home for help."

After several moments Barnes walked in to Main Engineering. "We just got the forcefield generators back up on Deck 5," he said. "All hull breaches on Decks 1 through 14 are secured."

"Good lad. An' th' repair systems?"

Barnes shook his head. "Jarod and I looked them over, we'll need to completely rebuild four of the six replicators to bring that system back online."

"Aye, I dinnae see how that would be any better," Scotty said. "I want t' finish stabilizin' th' hull integrity in case we need impulse power. Get who ye can an' see t' th' power relay on Deck 30 in Section F."

"I'm on my way," Barnes pledged.

Scott watched the lad walk away with a spring in his step and smiled softly. He knew what that twinkle in Barnes' eyes meant. And he was glad to see it. This wasn't a task to be endured, it was an engineer's challenge to be overcome, and it was good to see that Tom Barnes saw it as such. "Th' lad's makin' a fine engineer," Scott mumbled to himself. He then reminded himself that it was time to get back to work, so he redirected his attention to the master display.

Being inside of the TARDIS couldn't stop Robert's feeling that something was wrong and that someone was watching them. He exchanged a glance with Meridina, who could feel that sense in him.

"I was right," the Doctor declared. "Someone is pulling them into this world, and now we know where they are."

The Doctor's mood was still jubilant. Animated. Robert found that curious. It was like he was a kid who'd received a toy he'd always wanted and was just giddy with the chance to play with it.

"So we just do this, and this…" He was flipping switches on his control console. "...and we'll be at the source of this whole ghost business. Allons-y!" He went around the console to where Cat was watching in amazement. "Oh, I like that. Allons-y! It just rolls off the tongue doesn't it? I'll have to use it more often, allons-y. And hopefully we'll meet someone named 'Alonso' and I can go, 'Allons-y, Alonso'... why are you staring at me?"

The Doctor had turned to face Rose, who didn't look quite so enthusiastic. When she had the Doctor's attention, Rose tilted her head to the side of the control chamber. "Mum's still on board."

Everyone turned to see where Jackie Tyler was seated at the wall on the upper platform. She crossed her arms. "If we end up on Mars, I'll kill you."

"Oh, I wouldn't worry about Mars," the Doctor said. He waved a hand toward Robert. "You've got a spaceship captain here, and I'm sure his ship can get to Mars like that." He snapped his fingers for emphasis.

"Assuming the repairs go well," Robert mused.

"Oh, I wouldn't doubt that…" The Doctor triggered the final control. The craft began to make its VWORP noise once again. This time there was some form of turbulence in the flight, however, and the entire TARDIS shook enough that everyone was thrown off their feet. Caterina had to grab one of the support pillars. Robert dropped to his knee and Meridina, with great effort, remained standing as she was.

When it was over Robert said, "Is everyone alright?"

"That ride was different from the first," Caterina observed. "Why?"

"Good question." The Doctor looked at his monitor and sighed. "I suppose we'll ask them."

Everyone walked over to that side of the central console. On the screen, tinted part-blue, was an armed force of soldiers waiting with assault rifles and submachine guns raised. "Well, so much for the element of surprise," the Doctor noted. "Still, it lets us cut to the chase. Everyone, please stay here. You too, Rose. Look after your mother."

"But, they've got guns," Rose protested as the Doctor approached the door.

"And I am unarmed, so I'm much better, don't you think?" He looked back with a playful grin. "They might shoot me dead, but I'll have the moral high ground." With nothing further said, he slid out the door and held his hands up.

Robert joined Cat and Meridina looking at the monitor while the Tylers remained at the TARDIS door. The armed soldiers outside did nothing at first. Nor did the Doctor.

Then another figure stepped into the image. The woman was fairly attractive, and dressed in a way that showed she knew it, and she was applauding. The soldiers began applauding as well. Gradually the Doctor's hands lowered.

"I don't suppose there's any way to get audio?" Robert asked.

"I don't know." Caterina looked closely at the image and frowned. "Wait a moment. I know her. That's… what was her name… Yvonne Hartman. She's the woman who tried to take me and Angel away after we defeated that absorbing monster. She said she was with a group called 'Torchwood'."

"I remember your report, and what Julia learned from UNIT," said Robert. "They take alien technology."

The Doctor suddenly opened the TARDIS door and pulled Jackie outside. "This is Rose Tyler," they heard him say as the door closed.

"I'm not sure I like what's going on," Robert said. "Meridina…"

"We are unarmed," Meridina reminded him. "It is possible that we could defeat the soldiers right at the door, but I suspect there are more in this place."

"My thought exactly." He frowned. "My other thought is that these people supposedly seize alien technology. And we're currently standing in a pretty advanced piece of the same…"

"...I'm looking to trade her in, actually. Have anyone you can spare?"

Jackie's hot glare at the Doctor went unremarked. So did his commentary.

"I know she's not the only one with you, Doctor," was the woman's answer to his remark. "We saw another man enter the TARDIS through the London CCTV system. I'd like to speak with him."

The Doctor let out an "Ahhh" at that. "Right then. One moment." He opened the TARDIS door just wide enough to stick his head in. His eyes locked on Robert and he used his left hand to make a "come here" gesture.

Robert looked to Meridina. Make sure Cat and Miss Tyler are safe, please. And when you can, get out and find out more about where we are. These people worry me.

As they do me
. Meridina nodded.

With that exchange done, Robert walked up to the TARDIS door and stepped out beside the Doctor. He looked Yvonne Hartman in the eye and said, "Ms. Yvonne Hartman, isn't it?"

Yvonne smiled at him. "Well, I was wondering if I'd get this opportunity. We saw your ship arrive in high orbit. It looks like you were in a bit of trouble."

"You could say that."

"And the two Lieutenant Delgados?"

"Off doing other work," he replied simply. "They told me what you did."

"I never intended to harm them… Captain, is it? I say that because I saw the images of Commander Andreys speaking with UNIT and she had three gold stripes on her rank tab. You have a fourth."

"Yes." Robert straightened his spine. "I'm Captain Robert Dale of the Starship Aurora."

"And you're with the Doctor. Why is that?"

"We were hoping to get his help with repairs." Robert glanced toward the Time Lord. "But this ghost thing happened and that became his priority. I came with him to observe for myself and make sure there's no threat to my ship."

"I don't see how there would be," she said. "The field of effect doesn't reach into high orbit. Still, I'm quite pleased to see you as well, Captain. After I show the Doctor something, I would like to speak with you as well. But first, this way gentlemen, ma'am."

The soldiers behind her parted ways to let the group pass. Once they left the storage area where the TARDIS had landed, Hartman began to speak. "We've always known you would find us eventually, Doctor. I'm happy that you came when you did."

"I came over the ghosts. What's up with that, by the way?"

"A side effect." Hartman went up to a double door. "We'll get to that in good time."

Once they were through the door they were in a large storage bay. Boxes and crates were stacked and piled on pallets throughout the chamber. A saucer-shaped vessel was suspended on a gantry. "Welcome to Torchwood," Yvonne said.

The Doctor's attention quickly focused on the saucer. "A Jaatha sun glider," he said. "Where did you get one?"

"It came down over the Shetlands ten years ago. We picked it up and stripped it bare."

"How did it crash?"

"It didn't." Hartman grinned with satisfaction. "We shot it down."

The Doctor gave her a very carefully-controlled look.

"It violated our airspace," Yvonne said. "Around Torchwood, we have a motto. 'If it's alien, it's ours'."

"I can't imagine the aliens are too happy with that thought," Robert said.

"They're usually not in a condition to protest."

"And what are you going to do if that changes? You could get your entire planet conquered."

"You might be surprised, Captain, in how dangerous we can be to possible conquerors," Yvonne said. "Honestly, it's possible we could provide you more than you could provide us, if your Alliance ever makes the effort. At that moment a soldier stepped up and handed her a weapon. She held it toward the Doctor and asked, "Do you recognize this?"

From the look on his face, he did. "It's a particle gun."

"Thank you, Doctor. And thank you… Sebastian, wasn't it?"

"Yes, ma'am," answered the soldier, who accepted the weapon.

"Yes. Thank you Sebastian."

"Yes ma'am."

After he stepped away, Yvonne smiled at them. "I work to remember my people's names. We're a modern institution here at Torchwood, and that means I'm a people person."

"This is the 21st Century, you're not supposed to have particle guns," the Doctor protested as the soldier walked off.

"We're obligated to protect Britain from the alien hordes," replied Yvonne. She eyed Robert. "It's not like we have someone else to provide that protection."

"Alliance involvement in this world is still being debated at the highest level," Robert replied. "But we have our own conflicts to worry about. That is, unless you want a fleet of Nazi German warships to show up in orbit."

"Let them. We'll do to them what we did to the Sycorax this past Christmas," Yvonne declared. "I'm not worried about what technologies we should or shouldn't have. Torchwood's charter permits us to find and use alien technology to protect our world and to ensure the greatness of the British Empire. And that is what we will do."

"What?" Jackie looked at Yvonne with bewilderment and perhaps a little disbelief. "But there's no more British Empire."

"Not yet," Yvonne answered.

"You sound like you would have preferred being born in Universe C502's late 20th Century," Robert remarked.

"Oh?" Yvonne looked at him with curiosity. "What makes you say that?"

"C5O2 has an earlier historical divergence point than other Earths," Robert answered. "Gavrilo Princip never existed and Mohandas Gandhi stuck with being a lawyer and became a proponent of Indian integration into Britain itself." Robert grinned wryly. "Of course, since India has a higher population, integration led to India becoming the center of the Empire. The capital was moved to New Delhi in 1996." Feeling a little mischievous, Robert activated his omnitool and found, to his gratitude, that his system had kept the relevant political information for offline viewing. He used the holographic interface to bring up an image of a middle-aged woman with dark bronze skin wearing a royal tiara and matching dress, flanked by an African man in a crisp business suit of blue and white. "These are the rulers of the British Stellar Union, as it's now known in that universe. This is Queen Geeta III and Prime Minister Adam Mwariama, an MP from Mombasa. Nice people, I found. I met them last year while we were negotiating their alliance against the Third Reich of S4W8."

"The what of the what?" Jackie asked, utterly startled.

Yvonne Hartman studied the image. "Well, it sounds like you're right," she said, smiling again. "I would have enjoyed living in that world instead. Hopefully my counterpart in that history served the Empire well." She gave Robert a bemused look.

The Doctor turned away from something that looked like a magnifying glass or viewing device. "So what about these ghosts?"

"A side effect. Don't worry, Doctor, there's an itinerary."

"Hey, where are you taking that?" Jackie demanded. This caused Robert and Yvonne to look toward the middle of the room briefly, where the TARDIS was being carried by a flatbed vehicle through the chamber.

"As I said, it's alien, so it's ours," Yvonne said happily.

"You'll never get in there," the Doctor warned her amiably. "...what was the name again?"

"Yvonne Hartman," was her reply. "And I could say the same for you, Doctor. Now, if you'll please follow me."

She turned to lead them away, allowing Robert to steal a glimpse in time to see Rose and Cat peeking out of the TARDIS door. Satisfied they were okay, Robert followed the others.

Rose shut the door and went for the Doctor's brown coat. Caterina watched her reach through the pockets and asked, "What are you doing?"

"I'm going to find out what I can about these people," Rose replied.

"And how do you intend to go unnoticed?" Meridina asked. "You will certainly be challenged for identification."

"That's why I need this." Rose retrieved an ID fold that reminded Caterina of a passport, or a police officer's badge fold. Rose looked it over and grinned before holding it to Caterina. "See?"

Cat blinked at the image. "It says you're a Captain assigned to Defense Command," she answered.

Meridina, curious, stepped up and looked as well. "Interesting. I see a blank sheet."

Rose frowned at that. "You mean it's not working on you?"

"I can sense a mental component at work," Meridina stated. "Presumably it requires subconscious access to a mind. But I am trained against such manipulations, and besides, I am telepathic myself."

"It's psychic paper," Rose said. "The TARDIS uses it to make someone see whatever they'd expect to think of as someone in charge. The Doctor uses it everywhere."

"Quite useful," Meridina agreed.

"We'll have to stay together," Rose said. "I can say you're with me."

"I have my own ways of going unnoticed," Meridina replied. "And I sense something amiss that I should investigate. However, it is best if Caterina goes with you."

"Right then," Rose said. "We just have to wait until they drop us off and leave us alone."

After leaving the storage area, the three guests were led by Yvonne down a hall. "I've never heard of you people before," the Doctor said. "Despite all of my years coming and going from Earth."

"That was the idea, Doctor," Yvonne answered. "After all, you're the enemy. It's stated in the Torchwood Charter of 1879, written and signed by Queen Victoria herself."

"Torchwood… that was the name of the house in Scotland…"

"...involving the Queen and a werewolf, yes."

Robert blinked at that. "A werewolf?" he asked.

"Well, the alien equivalent of one," the Doctor answered. "You can't tell me you haven't met bizarre-looking species before, Captain."

"Well, no," Robert admitted. "The Asgard and Apexai both look like stereotypical 'Grey' aliens. When I met them, the Dorei reminded me of a species of video game elves. And I haven't been able to stomach Jello since I met the Gl'mulli."

"If I may continue," Yvonne said, stopping to face them for the moment. "You're mentioned in our charter, Doctor. As an enemy."

"If I'm an enemy, does that mean I'm a prisoner?" the Doctor asked.

"Yes. But with very hospitable conditions."

"Provided he cooperates, right?" Robert frowned. "I remember you were making it clear to Angel and Cat that if they didn't cooperate with you, you'd get nasty."

"That was a bit of a bluff on my part," Yvonne answered. "As I've mentioned, I'm a people person, and I don't believe in torture or anything of the like. If anything, your officers would have wound up in a jail cell instead of comfortable surroundings."

"I suppose I'm facing the same treatment?"

"First things first, Captain. I have something I need to show the Doctor. Then we'll get to you." Yvonne turned and continued on, prompting them to follow. As they neared a secured door, she brought up her ID toward a scanner and said, "This is what we've been waiting to show you, Doctor. The source of the ghosts."

After the door slid open they gained entry to a large chamber. A number of scientific instruments were gathered, all pointing toward a single object. A sphere, blacker than night, hung suspended in mid-air.

The Doctor took an immediate interest. He whipped out the same set of flimsy-looking 3D glasses and approached the sphere. As he did, a man in a white lab coat approached. "Doctor, it's really you," he said breathlessly. "I'm Rajesh. I've been waiting…"

Singh offered his hand, but the Doctor was more interested in the Sphere. So was Robert. His senses revolted at the presence of the Sphere. The Flow of Life itself seemed to avoid it like the plague. He had a deep feeling that it shouldn't exist. "What is that thing?" he murmured.

"The Sphere is what started all of this," Yvonne explained. "It arrived and the ghosts followed."

"What's wrong with it?" Robert could hear Jackie's voice waver. She could sense it was off as well, just with basic human senses. He started to feel sick himself.

"It feels wrong, doesn't it?" Singh asked while the Doctor stepped ahead and stood underneath the sphere. "Nothing we have can detect it. It gives off no heat, no radiation, no emissions of any kind. It has no weight and no atomic mass. Every single instrument we have says it shouldn't exist."

"It shouldn't," Robert asserted. He felt certain of that. He watched the Doctor begin to examine the Voidship with the 3D glasses.

"But it's right there," Jackie said. "I can see it."

"I know. Fascinating." Singh smiled. Robert could sense that he truly enjoyed the challenge of figuring out the Sphere.

"It's a Void ship," the Doctor announced.

"A what?" asked Yvonne. "What's a Void ship?"

"Something that shouldn't exist." The Doctor pocketed his glasses again. "Closest thing I've ever seen to it were No Ships, but even they didn't go this far."

Yvonne and Singh approached the stairway leading to the elevated platform where the Sphere was hovering. The Doctor met them there and sat on the stairs. "It's meant for traveling through the Void," he said. "No Ships would just dip a little into the Void, form a shroud of it to hide in, but this thing?" He wagged a finger back at it. "Complete immersion into the Void. Shouldn't be possible, but someone did it."

"What's the Void?"

"It's the space between dimensions." The Doctor gestured with his hands as he began to explain. "You see, we've got dimensions all around us, billions of parallel worlds and such piled together, and the Void is between them. It's a place of complete nothingness. Can you imagine that?"

Robert thought back to dreams he'd had. Stars going out one by one until there was nothing but black. "I can," he murmured.

"No light, no dark, no up, no down, no time, no life." A haunted look now showed on the Time Lord's face as he considered the nature of his subject. "My people called it the Void. The Eternals called it the Howling. But many people… they call it Hell."

"So why would someone want to build a ship to travel in it?" Robert asked, trying not to let the Sphere's literal void in the energies around him make him more nauseated than he already was.

"To explore. To escape." The Doctor gestured to the Sphere. "You could ride out eternity in there. Nothing could touch you. You could ride it through the end of this universe and a new Big Bang and straight into the next universe."

"Then we were right." Hartman seemed quite pleased with herself. "There is something inside." Her look grew intent. "How do we open it?"

The Doctor jumped from where he was sitting. "You don't." An intensity appeared in his expression that belied the casual manner he'd been using to this point. "You send it back into Hell." After walking a distance from Yvonne and Singh, he turned and demanded, "Where did you get this? How did it get here?"

"That's how it all started," Yvonne said. "It showed up and the ghosts followed afterward."

"Show me."

Yvonne nodded to the door. The Doctor didn't wait for her to catch up. He went ahead himself, beating everyone else there. He turned left into the hall outside. After Yvonne called out, "No, Doctor!" he reappeared, walking to the right.

Just as they stepped out, Robert looked back to the Sphere. Every sense he had told him it was wrong. That there was something terribly wrong about it. He wished he knew how to remove it from existence.

He was so distracted by those thoughts that he barely noticed when Jackie grabbed him by the arm and pulled him along.

The Aurora medbay was filled with casualties from the Shadow attack, casualties Leo and his medical team were working their way through with care and some speed. Leo had indeed worked his way down to the non-critical cases, such as burned hands. He was busy applying medigel solution to Locarno's hands now. "Tom spent hours bragging about the new fuse systems," Leo remarked. "What happened?"

"The destabilization of a jump point," Locarno replied, shifting slightly on the biobed he was sitting up on. The blue-tinted gel on his hands was steadily absorbing into his skin. A soothing sensation blocked out the pain in his hands. "Cat said we lived by a few nanoseconds' margin of error. Talk about miracles."

"Right." Leo ran his scanner over Locarno's hands. "Well, the medigel solution will heal your hands completely within a couple hours. Until then you should stay off duty. Don't use your hands until the medigel is completely absorbed and wait two hours before you look into returning to duty. And I mean that two hours, Nick."

"Yeah yeah." Locarno set his hands down gently on his lap. "So, are you jumping ship too?"

"You mean am I following Julia to the Enterprise?" Leo seemed to consider the question before shaking his head. "No, I don't think so."

"You know, I've always wondered something," Locarno admitted. "You seven, well, eight, you were friends back before you found the Darglan Facility on your Earth, right?"

"We were," Leo admitted. "Although Lucy wasn't really a part of our circle."

"Right." Locarno shifted his arms to keep his hands steady. "Well, even then, you seem to have little groups. Robert and Julia have been best friends, maybe even soulmates, since they were what, three?"

Leo nodded.

"And Zachary became their friend a few years later. Then Tom Barnes became Zack's friend and in turn their friend. Then Robert started dating Angel in school and she and Cat entered the circle that way… right?"

"Just about," Leo said. "Cat was tutoring Robert's little sister Susanna in science and a few other subjects. Susanna looked up to her. As for Rob and Angel, I actually think Julia met her first. Angel was taking advanced martial arts classes beside her when they were thirteen. They became sparring partners. Then a couple summers later Rob and Angel started their on-again off-again relationship."

"So where do you enter into this?" asked Locarno.

Leo smiled softly. "Well, my parents moved into the county because Dad was taking over the county hospital administration," he said. "I met Zack first. His mother was dying and my mother, she was a psychiatrist and counselor for the bereaved. She thought Zack could use a friend, and she thought I could. Back then…" Leo looked over the scanner again to see how the medigel was working. "...I was sometimes the only black kid in the classroom."

"And that mattered?"

For a moment Leo looked at Locarno with raised eyebrows. "Right," he said. "You 24th Century Federation people are color-blind. Yes, Nick, it mattered to quite a number of people on my world." Leo took another bit of gel and applied it to a particularly-burnt part of one of Locarno's fingers. "Although not just in Kansas. Growing up in Georgia, I'd already learned to keep my eyes off the white girls if I didn't want trouble with some of the kids or the parents." Leo's eyes grew distant as old, bad memories moved through his mind. "I was six when I was called a 'nigger' the first time."

"Sorry," Locarno said. "In my time we tend to lump all of that into the 'Humanity before the Third World War was backward and cruel' curriculum."

To that Leo snorted. "It must be nice to turn centuries of slavery and prejudice into a historical footnote." After chuckling Leo added, "But I won't complain. It's nice seeing Earths where kids can be kids and people don't give a damn about your skin color. It gives me hope our old Earth can become the same. Now, let me take one final scan…" Leo raised the scanner up again. "...and I'll have to send you on your way. I've got more patients to worry about."

The TARDIS had stopped moving for a while before Rose dared step out. She peeked around for a moment and darted out of sight before returning with a lab coat. Meridina and Caterina stepped out with her. "You're going to stand out," Rose said to the two. "With those uniforms."

Caterina and Meridina shed their uniform jackets in response, revealing a dark blue sleeveless shirt on Cat and a long-sleeved cream-white vest on Meridina. "You still stand out a bit," Rose said to Meridina.

"That will not be an issue for me," said Meridina.

"Were there any other lab coats?" Cat asked.

"Afraid not," Rose answered. "Maybe we'll find one further in?"

"I hope. And if you get me an example of a Torchwood ID, I might be able to make a copy with my omnitool's fabricator."

"Don't worry, we'll just say you forgot yours if someone asks," Rose said. She made sure to close and secure the TARDIS door.

Cat tested the door and saw it was locked shut. "What if we need to get back in?" Caterina asked. "Can you open it?"

Rose grinned and held up a key. "Of course," she said. "Now, let's see what we can find out together, Cat."

"I will attempt to remain in telepathic communication with you," Meridina said to Caterina. "I suspect communication by omnitool would be intercepted."

"Yeah." Caterina nodded to Meridina. "Good luck."

"Mi rake sa swevyra iso," Meridina said with a smile before slipping away.

"'Me rocky saw swev…" Rose stopped herself. "Just what did she say?"

"It's some Gersallian way of saying 'goodbye and good luck'," Caterina said. "I'm not sure what it means either. The translator doesn't really work with it."

"Right. Neither does the TARDIS translator, it seems." Rose took Cat's arm. "Alright, the Doctor and your Captain are counting on us. Let's find out what's going on here."

A part of Lucy felt guilty. She felt like she should be with Tom Barnes and Jarod and the others fixing the ship. She shouldn't be in her quarters looking over her broken lightsaber and Meridina's broken weapon, wondering how she was going to fix them with the machine shops trashed and her own tools woefully insufficient to fixing burnt out circuitry.

Her spare parts were now spread out over her coffee table. Some were intact enough, but some of them were burnt out or otherwise broken by what had disrupted the rest of the ship. Her lightsaber and Meridina's lay disassembled with them. At this point, she couldn't even cobble together one functioning weapon from both. And the lakeshes were, as she suspected, just as ruined. Moreso, in fact. The disruption field had damaged the memory metal itself.

Lucy focused on the weapons with her senses, with her power, looking for a way to fix them. But even this approach now had problems. She kept being pulled toward that horrible feeling resonating through her. The feeling that something was dreadfully wrong. Something dangerous was lingering just beyond the metaphorical horizon, lingering and waiting to be sprung upon them. They were all in grave danger.

Another sense rippled through Lucy. Meridina was in grave danger. So were Robert and Caterina.

And she couldn't help but feel that their survival depended upon her fixing this problem, and fixing it soon.
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-07-30 03:30pm

After a trip up several flights of stairs, Yvonne led Robert, the Doctor, and Jackie Tyler into a large chamber covered in white walls. To their right was an office behind office walls, with a view of the London skyline through the windows. To the left was the chamber proper, with a blank wall on the far side while the area near the office had several work stations and two levers on either side of the wall.

Jackie went into the office to stare out the window while Yvonne led the Doctor toward the far end. Robert went to follow but stopped. He could feel something wrong rippling through him, not like with the Void Sphere but a more general threat. It was a sensation he was starting to tire off. His eyes passed briefly over a young African woman who wordlessly reassumed her station. Robert felt something off but couldn't localize it, not with everything else filling his new life energy-enabled senses with a feeling of warning.

"The Sphere came through here," Yvonne said to the Doctor, the two now taking their final steps to the far wall. "A hole in the world." The Doctor pressed a hand against the wall. "It's not active at the moment. But when we fire particle engines at that exact spot, the breach opens up."

"How did you even find it?"

"We've been getting warning signs for years. A radar black spot, problems with aerial craft moving through the air here…" Yvonne stepped back with the Doctor, who reached for his 3D glasses again. "It was six hundred feet above sea level, so we had to build this tower to reach it. Torchwood Tower."

The Doctor put the glasses on and examined the spot. "You built a skyscraper just to reach this spot? How much money do you lot have?"

"Enough," was her coy answer.

"Wait. I know where we are." Jackie looked back from the window. "This is Canary Wharf, isn't it? We're standing in Canary Wharf."

The two walked back, passing Robert on the way. He continued to pay attention, if just for a way to deal with the wrongness and foreboding he felt.

"That's how the public knows it," Yvonne stated. "But to all of those in the know, this is Torchwood Tower."

The Doctor stepped past Robert and leaned against the door. "So you find the breach, you probe it, the Sphere comes through and leaves a hole in the fabric of reality 600 feet above London. Then, after thinking through what that means, what it could mean, you don't go 'Oh, we need to be careful with this, shouldn't we leave it alone? Should we play it safe?' No, you go 'Nah! Let's make it bigger! Nothing can possibly go wrong with that!'"

"It's a massive source of energy," Yvonne answered. "If we can develop this and make it useable, it would end our dependence upon the Middle East's oil. Britain would be truly independent. There's nothing going wrong." Yvonne gestured toward the control come. "You can see for yourself. The next Ghost Shift is in two minutes."

As Yvonne walked past the Doctor, he demanded, "Cancel it."


"I'm warning you, cancel it!" The Doctor followed her, a frustrated, nearly angry look on his face, and both emotions were present through Robert's senses.

"Oh, just as the legends say…" Yvonne turned and glared at the Time Lord. "The Doctor, our alien overseer lording it over us. Assuming alien authority over the rights of man."

The Doctor held his finger up. "Let me show you." He turned and re-entered the office while Yvonne and Robert watched quietly. Robert watched as the Doctor pulled out a blue light-tipped item and held it to one of the glass frames of Yvonne's office, specifically one of the Os in "Torchwood". The device's blue light lit up and an electronic whir filled the air, followed almost immediately by the sound of breaking glass. "So the Sphere comes through." A small hole now showed through the glass at the point where the blue light had touched it. Cracks branched out from this point in all directions to create a spider-web of said cracks in the surface of the window. "But when it came through, it damaged the world around it. It splintered the entire fabric of reality. The ghosts enter this world through the fault lines." The cracks in the glass were spreading and growing. "With the Human race wishing and helping them right along. But too many ghosts…" The Doctor tapped his finger against the cracked glass.

The entire thing shattered and fell onto the floor in pieces.

Yvonne considered the mess for a moment. Robert could sense she was calculating what the Doctor had said. But even before she spoke, he knew she hadn't been persuaded against it. "Then we'll be more careful," asserted Yvonne. "One minute to ghost shift. Positions, everyone."

"After all that, you're still going to do it?!" Robert demanded. "What does it take to get you people to back off?"

"I'm asking you, please don't do this," the Doctor pleaded, approaching Yvonne again.

"We've done this a thousand times."

"Then stop at a thousand!"

There was no wavering on the part of the Torchwood leader. "We're in control of the ghosts. This is perfectly safe. The levers can close the breach as easily as they open it."

Robert looked around and considered if he could stop it directly. But there were three occupied work stations and the men and woman there were clearly not perturbed by what their boss had them doing. Perhaps he could handle the people doing the levers…?

The staredown between Yvonne and the Doctor continued for several more seconds. And then, much to everyone's surprise, the Doctor's expression shifted to one of amiable friendliness, even a little enthusiasm. "Okay," he said brightly. He turned and walked back to the office.

"Sorry?" was Yvonne's startled reaction.

"Never mind. As you were." The Doctor grabbed a chair and pulled it up to the work stations before plopping into it. Jackie and Robert gave him confused looks.

"What, is that it?"

"I said my bit. Don't mind me." The Doctor smiled and looked at the nearest worker. "Do you have a cup of tea?"

"Ghost shift in twenty seconds," said the young lady to Yvonne's right. Robert found her tone of voice to be oddly bored.

"You can't stop us," Yvonne insisted.

"I'm not trying," he answered, still grinning. "Can't wait to see it." He turned his head to where Jackie and Robert were still standing. "Pull up a chair Rose, Captain, let's enjoy the fireworks."

"Ten seconds. Nine… eight…"

The Doctor's expression remained confident and pleasant. His eyes met Yvonne's as the countdown continued. As it drew closer to the end, Robert felt the doubts begin to gnaw at Yvonne Hartman. For all of her rhetoric about the Doctor imposing himself upon Humanity, she knew that when it came down to it, he knew far more about these things than she did, or any of her scientists. She knew that they could be dreadfully, terribly wrong about the breach and about their experiments. That the Doctor might be right. And that if he was right and she acted anyway, she could destroy the very country she was trying to protect.

"...three, two…"

"Stop the shift," Yvonne ordered. "Stop it!"

The activity in the room ceased.

"Thank you," the Doctor said. His tone was earnest and low; he'd won, but he wasn't rubbing it in.

"It doesn't hurt to have more intelligence available," Yvonne conceded. "But we will resume after you've made everythiing clearer."

"I'm glad to be of service."

Yvonne nodded before turning her head to face one of the subordinates. "Get someone to clean this up." She eyed the Doctor with humor. "I was told you like to make a mess." She walked past him and went to the threshold of her office before turning back. "And Captain Dale, don't think I've forgotten about you," she said. "I think the time's come to discuss matters."

Robert answered her with a nod and approached the office with the others. As he did so, he tried to push away the feeling that things had not improved as he had thought they would have. There was still a danger here. But what?

Rose and Caterina quietly stepped into what looked like a break room. It was, to Rose, a particularly posh one, with full scale vending machines for meals, tea and coffee makers, and stocks of the same for the workers to brew. A row of hangers on one end held white coats. Cat checked through them until she found one that fit. In the pocket she found a Torchwood ID badge. "Jennie Silversmith'," she read.

"You can't use it, though, it has a photo of her," Rose pointed out.

Cat checked the photo an agreed, Jennie's skin was almost ivory in its coloring, far too light for her to pass her own brown skin tone as a mere tan, and the hair and face were all wrong. "One moment," she said to rose while holding the badge up to her active omnitool. Her system scanned the badge completely and, with a few more taps, the omnitool's fabricators activated. Moments later the omnitool produced another physical ID. It had the same name, but Caterina's picture was now present.

"Nice." Rose watched Caterina slip the coat on. "Do you have any ideas of where to start looking?"

After checking to see if anybody was present in the room, Caterina held up her omnitool. A screen appeared within the blue holographic interface displaying basic coordinate data. "There's some sort of blank spot," Cat said. "It's not giving any returns on the system."

"Sounds like a place to start," Rose agreed.

On the Aurora bridge Julia was sitting in the command chair, waiting for more reports. That was, to some degree, the worst part about this job. Having to wait for reports from subordinates before any action could be taken. Especially with the ship so roughly handled.

Angel sat in Julia's chair. "You know, you could probably go grab a nap," she said. "Even with everyone working their asses off, Scotty's got us hours away from enough repairs for you to start giving orders."

"I don't think it'd be appropriate," Julia answered. "The crew is working hard. The least I can do is be on hand if a command decision is needed."

"Jarod and Scotty can make those decisions," Angel pointed out. When there was no response from Julia, she asked, "Are you going to be like this on the Enterprise?"


"Alright. But if you were in my seat and Rob was in yours, what would you be saying to him?"

Julia appraised Angel with a slightly irritated look. Which, of course, told Angel Julia knew she'd been caught. "I'd be telling him to go rest until he was needed," Julia conceded.

"Exactly." Angel smirked at her. "As usual, the mother hen doesn't listen to her own advice."

"This is my place, though," Julia insisted. "I don't feel right anywhere else."

"Of course you don't. You always have to be in charge."

After another period of quiet, Julia asked, "Do you want to be my First Officer?"

Angel stared at her in surprise. "You're not serious."

"I am. Mostly," Julia replied. "You know how to argue with me and make me think."

"I hit people and I shoot things. You want me to be responsible for the crew?"

"I'm sure you're up for it."

"And the fact I'm just a Lieutenant? You'd have to ask Maran to double-promote me, over a lot of other people. I'm sure that won't go over well."

"Yeah, well…" Julia shrugged. "He told me to give him my choices, and you're already joining the Enterprise as it is."

"As a tactical officer." Angel shook her head. "I'm flattered, Julia, but I'm not interested in command. I don't know if I'll ever be."

"Alright, fair enough." Julia smiled at her. "But you're not escaping the Second Officer post."

"Thank you for the warning, Captain," Angel remarked. "Now, why don't you go get a meal from Robert's ready office replicator? They've got those going again. And you'll be a fifteen steps away from taking charge if we need you."

Julia might have resisted if her stomach wasn't already growling. She nodded in defeat and stood up. "Alright, Lieutenant, you have the bridge. I'll be restoring my blood sugar levels to something appropriately human."

Angel nodded and smiled, taking the command chair as Julia stepped into the ready office.

While quiet reigned in the control area of the breach room, Yvonne leveled a look at Robert before leaning forward in her chair and against her table. "Now that I've had my discussion with the Doctor, Captain, I think it's time you and I talked."

Robert settled into a seat and pushed away the anxiety he was still feeling about what was going on. "I've got nothing better to do at the moment," he admitted. "Given your track record, I imagine this is going to be a demand for technology."

"I think 'demand' is a strong word." Yvonne set her hands together on the table. "It requires negotiating from a position of strength. Which, you must admit, I currently have."

"We have laws about these things."

"And I have a country to protect." Yvonne spent a moment in contemplation.

"And that's how you'll justify anything you decide to do," Robert said, his tone making clear how low he thought of that. "I've seen your 'ends justify the means' type before, Hartman. You're not unique on that."

"I would think not. But that's why people like me are where we are. We make the hard decisions so others don't have to." Yvonne appraised him with a knowing look. "I'm sure your Alliance has leaders with similar thoughts. But given I have other matters to attend to, Captain, let's dispense with the moralizing and get down to business. Your ship is helpless. You can't communicate with your people or they would have arrived by now. Other species could be en route, as we speak, to seize your ship, and I will not allow that to happen."

"So what do you intend to do?" Robert demanded. "Take it yourself?"

"The thought crossed my mind, yes," Yvonne admitted. 'But one of the drawbacks of maintaining an organization like Torchwood is that we don't always have the manpower to do everything we'd like. Your ship has well over a thousand crew on it. Seizing control of it with force won't work. And really, we don't have the means to use a ship of that size. We lack facilities. No, I've already decided not to take your ship. What I want instead is data on your technologies."

"That's for the Alliance government to decide. I don't have that authority," Robert insisted.

"If it will make you feel better, Captain, I can always resort to threats," Yvonne offered. "Then you can say you were compelled."

"That's going the wrong way about it, isn't it?" asked Jackie Tyler. "Wouldn't it be better if these people were our friends?"

"I'm not leaving our defense in their hands exclusively," Yvonne vowed. "It's better if we have the means to use the technology ourselves."

"It's not that easy," Robert said. "We have open contacts with two pre-spaceflight Earths and it's not a smooth process. There's a lot of underlying science behind some of our technologies that simply can't be understood by your contemporary scientific knowledge. You need decades, centuries, of scientific knowledge to be introduced into your society before you can make proper use of that technology."

"You might be surprised how much we know, Captain," Yvonne said.

"Not as much as you think you do," the Doctor said, chiming in. "Given what you've been doing with that thing." He tilted his head toward the invisible breach at the far wall. With Yvonne's attention on him, the Doctor leaned forward in his chair. "You see, that's the problem I have with this place, Ms. Hartman. You're snatching all of these fun gadgets and toying with the forces of the universe without understanding what you're doing. You're like children who've come across a nuclear warhead with all sorts of blinking lights so you've decided you've found a nice new toy."

Yvonne gave the Doctor a frustrated look. "You would say that, wouldn't you? You like to think of our species as children. Children needing your benevolent guidance. Well, Doctor, I'm sorry to inform you that the Human race, and the British people in particular, don't need your eternal parenting. We're ready to stand on our own."

Robert thought the Doctor might take umbrage at that. That he'd get angry. But the look on his face was one of a man saddened by the choice of a close friend, a choice he knows will ruin those he cares for. "I've seen your species at your best and your worst," he said quietly. "I've seen you huddling in caves, afraid of fire. I've seen you expand across the universe and leave behind wonders that entire civilizations will adore." He looked to Robert. "I've even seen your kind create technologies worthy of the Time Lords, unlock the secrets of the universe and of planes of existence beyond our own, and move from one universe to another."

There was something in the way he said it that made Robert realize that he wasn't talking about the Alliance. That prompted Robert to look at him with curiosity, curiosity the Doctor noted with a nod and a mental message of "For another time."

"But you." The Doctor shook his head. "You're not them. You're not doing this to understand how the universe works. This is all about your petty little sense of tribalism. You don't appreciate the weight of what you're doing because it's all just a means to your end; placing your tribe of Humans above the others."

"The British Empire has been one of the great powers of the world," Yvonne countered. "We've expanded knowledge of science and culture. We raised entire nations to a better standard of living."

"I'm sure the Indians and the Zulus were quite thankful to you," Robert answered acidly.

"Like the Native Americans are to your nation, Captain," Yvonne shot back. "The Empire may have gotten a few things wrong, but we never drove peoples off their lands to the scale you Americans did. You don't get to judge me and what I stand for."

"Oh, you're absolutely right," Robert answered. His tone was solemn. "Many of my ancestors did drive innocent native nations off their lands. It's a crime Americans will always have to live with. But do you know what sets us apart, Ms. Hartman?"


"Like you, I found myself with advanced alien technology beyond anything my world could offer," Robert said. "We could have become an American equivalent of Torchwood. We didn't. My friends and I, we used that technology to help people. To save people from tyrannical governments and criminal organizations and terrorists. We even opposed our own government when it wanted to take over." He gestured to the exit behind him. "Down there you have the technology to change the world. You could do so much more with what you've got here than… hoard it all for some plan to bring back the British Empire."

For a moment Yvonne looked at him with a sort of bemused interest. "Tell me, Captain, do you practice this sort of speech-making? Stand in front of a mirror often?"

"Oh, I dunno." The Doctor shrugged and gave Robert a half-grin. "I thought it was nice. I mean, a little on the self-righteous side, but it worked well enough."

Yvonne didn't bother giving the Doctor even the slightest glance. "What I wonder is how your superiors tolerate that sort of attitude," she said to Robert. "I can't imagine it's popular with your Admiralty. You sound like you got it from a children's show, or some sappy idealistic program on television. This is the real world, and it's time for you to be the adult and recognize how things work in it. We want access to your technology. That term's not changing. If you cooperate, I will gladly provide Torchwood personnel to any project you require to get your ship home. If you don't, well…" She leaned back in her chair. "I'd rather it didn't come to that, Captain. But the choice is yours."

Robert answered by crossing his arms and glaring, saying nothing. His will met the stern will of Yvonne Hartman and, for the moment, neither blinked.

The corridors of Torchwood's headquarters were not the most occupied Caterina had ever seen, leading her to believe they were in an especially sensitive area. She checked her omnitool scanner for nearby life signs and the blank spot she'd picked up and guided Rose around a corner. "What's it like?" she asked.

Rose had heard the question often enough to guess the context. "You mean, what's it like traveling with the Doctor?"


"It's… amazing, really," said Rose. "All of those worlds, all of those alien things we've seen. I never imagined it possible before. It's like… I didn't know what I was missing until I actually started seeing it."

"I never imagined I'd be jumping universes in a spaceship," Cat said. She grinned at remembering what it had felt like the first time. Being in space, seeing stars and alien planets up close and being able to learn so much… "Now I can't imagine anything else. And the Doctor can take you through time too. I mean, the Darglan mentioned the Time Lords in their databanks, they knew about their time travel capability. Has he taken you to see the Big Bang yet?"

"Well, no," admitted Rose. "He sort of implied that would be a bit too dangerous. He did take me to see the Sun blow up once."

"That's kind of depressing, isn't it?" asked Cat, now showing a bewildered face.

"Not really. Humans had already gone to other planets. We've visited New Earth too." Rose stopped for a moment, prompting Cat to do the same. "You'd like to travel with him, wouldn't you?"

"Well… yes," Caterina admitted. "I mean, maybe for a bit. I don't know if I can though, I have duties and stuff." Before Rose could bring up the obvious, Cat's eyes had already widened in realization. "Oh, right, he's a time traveler. We could travel around forever and I could be back in seconds from everyone else's perspective."

"Right." Rose winced at a memory. "Just make sure he knows the time before you step out of the TARDIS. The first time he brought me back, he got the year wrong and it was a year after I left with him. Mum went bananas."

"But couldn't he just… oh, wait, you saw your mother before you realized the wrong date, right?"

Rose nodded.

"So he couldn't or there would have been a paradox. Right." The conundrum solved, Caterina checked her scanner again. "You don't mind if I join you two, then? Assuming the Doctor offered and assuming the others let me…"

Rose shrugged and gave a small grin in reply. "We've had others with us before. Even my ex-boyfriend Mickey traveled with us."

"I bet that was awkward," Cat giggled. "Where is he now?"

"Oh, he remained in a parallel Earth," Rose explained. "His counterpart died while we were there and he wanted to look after his Grans."

"That's sweet of him… wait, parallel Earth?" Caterina gave Rose an intent look. "You traveled fifth-dimensionally?"

"Um… I guess?"

Cat's eyes widened in shock. "No way."

"Why's that so special? You jump universes all the time."

"No, well yes, but…" For a moment Cat had to think on what she was going to say. "It's… Reality has a structure, and according to the O'palani-Fujisawa Theory of Multiversal Dimensional Structure, you've got parallel universes that are different on a fifth dimensional axis, and entirely different universes on the sixth dimensional axis."

Rose blinked. "Yeah, I think the Doctor will enjoy traveling with you if you're always like this… just what does that mean? O'palani-Fujisawa what?"

"You're talking about a parallel Earth, right? These kinds of alternate universes are known. The United Federation of Planets in Universe S5T3 have several recorded instances of fifth-dimensional travel as freak accidents," Cat said, her voice growing in excitement. "The thing about them is that they are linked in time. As in, if you're not actually time traveling, if you go from one parallel universe to the other the time will be the same. If it's your birthday and you go to seven different parallel universes from your own, it's your birthday in each… well, unless you don't exist in one of those parallel universes. And then you have to account for many worlds theory and the concept of new parallel universes being spawned all the time by decision points…" Caterina held up a hand when Rose went to speak. "I know, I'm getting off-topic, I'm sorry. Just… it's exciting, fifth dimensional encounters can be rare because Doctor O'palani's mathematical models indicate it has a far stronger… never mind, sorry. As I was saying, sixth dimensional universe jumping like we do, it doesn't have that same thing. The different universes have entirely different years. I mean, in Universe L2M1 it's October 2642, and it's also October 2263 in E5B1 and it's August 2372 in S5T3 and April 2865 in L4R1… And you've got different alien species in some cases…"

"But always Humans?" Rose asked.

"Well, yes and no. Universe R4M9 has no life on Earth. Scientists think a Gamma Ray Burst sterilized the planet around the time of the Neanderthals. And Universe F8Y3 has an Earth without Human life forms. We just never evolved or something." Cat shrugged. "Anyway, that's the difference. O'palani and Fujisawa have theorized that you may even have a sort of concentric circle, where parallel variants of each individual Universe match up with other variants, especially if Multiversal contact causes interaction and quantum decision points and your eyes are rolling again so I'm going to stop."

"Yes," Rose said, "please do." She shook her head, grinning. Yes, the Doctor would quite enjoy showing Caterina around, she suspected.

"It's for the best, because I think we're here," Cat revealed.

The scans had led Caterina and Rose to a blast door across from a directional sign marked with "Torchwood Institute". "Our blank spot is definitely in here," Cat said. "But I'm not reading the others."

"We should find out what's in here," Rose answered. "And see if they know where to find the Doctor and the others."

Caterina looked over the door and then a scanner. "It looks like it's electronically opened with ID scans."

"Ah. Well, that's good." Rose held the psychic paper up to the scanner. The door immediately began to slide open.

"Wait, how did you do that?" Cat asked in a quiet hiss, putting her omnitool into standby mode.

"Psychic paper works on a lot of things," Rose replied. "And let me do the talking. I doubt they'd have Yanks on staff."

They walked in together and immediately felt the presence of something odd. They looked up and faced the Sphere. Immediately it felt wrong. They couldn't be sure what they were seeing and Caterina desperately wanted to scan it if she could get away with it. But since it was clear there were others in the room, she didn't dare.

Her decision was justified when an English-accented voice asked, "Can I help you?"

They turned and faced an older man with a brown complexion. Under the coat was a dress shirt with black and purple stripes with a purple bow tie - purple that immediately reminded Cat of Violeta - and dark trousers.

"Oh…" Rose blinked and forced her eyes away from the sphere. "I was just…"

He glanced back at the Sphere. Cat noticed his ID tag after he turned: Rajesh Singh was the name listed. Singh said, "Try not to look. It does that to everyone." While Rose forced her eyes away and took a moment to recover, he added, "What do you want?"

"Oh, I… they sent me from personnel. They said some man had been taken prisoner, some sort of doctor? I'm just checking lines of communication. Did they tell you anything?"

Caterina wondered if this was the right move, given Singh's clear reaction to mentioning the Doctor. "May I see your authorization?" he asked after a moment of silence.

"Sure." Rose handed him the psychic paper.

He looked it over. The moment Cat noticed the slight grin on his face, she could guess they were in trouble. "That's lucky," he said. "You see, everyone at Torchwood has at least a basic level of psychic training. And this is a blank piece of paper. You're a fake." He tapped his earpiece. "Seal the room. Call security." After this order was given. "And you, Miss… Silversmith?" His grin didn't change. "Why didn't you notice this was a fake?"

Caterina swallowed. She tried to think of how Violeta's accent sounded and said, "Oh, I… I'm new here, she sounded like she knew what she was doing… what?"

The grin on Singh turned into a smile. The smile of barely-restrained laughter. Rose gave Cat a bewildered, embarrassed look. "Just what kind of accent is that?" she asked.

"Well, it's an English one," Caterina insisted.

"You should go back to your accent coach," Singh remarked. "Besides, Jennie Silversmith is assigned to support logistics, she doesn't have clearance for this wing. You're a fake too." Singh looked back to another lab coated figure. "Samuel, can you check the door locks? They just walked right in."

The other man turned. "Doing it now, sir." Caterina labeled him as African-American in her head before remembering that, duh, this wasn't America, and he'd be African...English? Anglo-African? How did that work in England? She couldn't remember.

There was a bemused look on his face, though, and he was smiling as he stepped up and put his finger on his lips, then made a thumb's up with both hands.

Caterina glanced toward Rose, who looked stunned.

"Well, if you young ladies would like to take a seat?" Singh gestured toward his desk.

Rose nodded in defeat. Caterina decided to go for broke since she figured Torchwood knew who she was anyway.. "Uh, well, is it okay if I scan the Sphere? You caught me so there's no point in hiding it, right?"

Singh blinked at her and shrugged. "I suppose it won't hurt." Rose looked at Cat as if she was nuts.

"Thank you," Cat said. She activated her omnitool and began to scan what her device insisted was… absolutely nothing.

This was, of course, very intriguing, so she started more scans.

Meridina moved quietly through the halls of Torchwood Tower. It was a natural sort of quiet, one that went unnoticed. Gentle footfalls that could be heard if close enough, but which would not seem out of place to those who could hear it.

So far there had been no challenges. The people here had some resistance against mental powers, but the mental imprinting - Lucy called them "mind tricks" - was based on wills, not telepathic power, and Meridina had evaded suspicion while employing them.

Where she was going, she didn't know. Meridina was trusting in her instincts, her connection to the universe, to lead her to where she needed to be. The pathways in question took her past offices, storage rooms, and down stairs toward one end of the building.

As she drew closer to it, she could feel danger grow. There was something here. Cold, terrible, and with only the faintest sense of life to it.

Meridina stepped around a corner and faced an area of the structure blocked off by plastic sheets. Signs indicated it was for authorized personnel only, and others referred to it as an "expansion project". Immediately Meridina thought something was off. Where were the workers? The equipment?

She put her hand to the plastic. After several moments of debating what she was going to do, she took her first step through it.

Neither Robert nor Yvonne broke off their quiet standoff. Yvonne did divert the subject ultimately by asking, "Doctor, do you think the Sphere was built by the ghosts, whoever they are?"

The Doctor was, unlike the other two, completely laid back at this point, leaning back in a chair with his white tennis shoes propped onto the desk. "Must have," he said. "Aimed it at this dimension like a cannonball."

A quick chirp came from Yvonne's earpiece. "Yvonne, I think you should see this," said Singh, which prompted Yvonne to look at her laptop screen. "We've got visitors. I don't know where they've come from, but funnily enough, they must have arrived in the Tower about the same time as our other guests."

Robert forced his expression to remain neutral. He could already imagine just who Singh was talking about. His concern was verified when she turned the laptop on her desk to face them, showing Rose and Cat with Singh. "Is she one of yours?" Yvonne asked the Doctor.

The Doctor, with complete seriousness, shook his head. "Never seen her before in my life."

""Good. Then we can have her shot."

The Doctor let out a sigh and sat up, removing his feet from the desk. "Alright, it was worth a try." He nodded to the screen. "That's Rose Tyler."

On the screen, Rose - looking rather dejected - said "Sorry."

Yvonne blinked. "Then who's she?" Yvonne asked, indicating Jackie.

"I'm her mother," Jackie replied.

The look on Yvonne's face became curious. "Oh, you travel with her mother?"

"He kidnapped me," Jackie insisted.

The Doctor grimaced. "Please, when Torchwood decides to write my complete history, don't tell people I traveled through time and space with her mother."

Jackie frowned at the Doctor as Yvonne let out a little, amused laugh. "Charming," Jackie said mockingly.

"Please, I've got a reputation to uphold," the Doctor said.

Meridina moved aside another piece of plastic. The feeling of life ahead remained, but it was very cold, very quiet. As if barely alive. It did not feel like someone wounded and in need of help. It felt… different. Wrong.

But now another feeling was coming. She felt danger. Her life was in jeopardy, and said jeopardy was growing every moment. She pulled away another plastic sheet, and another, wondering just what was going on back here…

And then she saw the machines. The blades. The terrible cutting saws and all of the other equipment.

There was a metal thumping sound and the whine of servos as a figure shifted and turned toward her. It raised its arm and a weapon muzzle popped out.

Meridina turned and ran for cover.

The machine fired.

In the office, Yvonne turned to Robert next. "I also recognize Lieutenant Delgado. As it stands now, Captain, I would be justified to have her shot as a spy."

Robert frowned in reply. "You don't want to do that."

"You're right. I don't. She seemed a bright enough young lady," Yvonne agreed. "But these rules exist for a reason, Captain. She's a foreign officer infiltrating a top secret facility of Great Britain."

"And she wouldn't be here if your people weren't out to steal the TARDIS," Robert retorted. "Nor, frankly, would she be here if you weren't meddling with that damn dimensional…"

A loud clunk sounded from the control chamber. Yvonne looked away from Robert and toward the control room. She stood up and walked toward the door. "Excuse me, everyone," she called out. "I thought I said stop the Ghost Shift. I haven't authorized another." When there was no reaction she asked, "Who started the program? I ordered you to stop." Yvonne pointed to where the levers were moving on their own. "Who's doing that? Step away from the monitors, everyone…"

As Yvonne continued to issue orders that were ignored, the Doctor led Robert and Jackie out into the control room. "I order you to step away from your desks? Adi? Gareth? Matt? Stop at once!" Yvonne gestured to the others in the room. "Stop the levers!"

As her personnel did so, the Doctor approached Adi. The Anglo-African woman was focused entirely on her console, as if oblivious to everything else. Robert focused on her and found that he couldn't feel anything, nothing indicating she was a thinking being. There was life, but that was it. And the sense of foreboding he'd felt before was escalating dramatically.

The Doctor clicked his fingers in front of Adi's eyes. As he did so, Yvonne leaned over the desk on the other side of Adi and insisted, "Step away from the desk. Adi, step away!"

"She can't hear you," the Doctor said, watching the activity on the computer screen. "They're overriding the system." He looked up to the far wall, now starting to glow white. "We're going into Ghost Shift."

In the Sphere Room, Singh began to speak into his earpiece. "Yvonne, I thought the next Ghost Shift was canceled. What's going on?" When there was no response he repeated "Yvonne?"

Caterina glanced from where she was reading the Sphere, or rather finding all the ways the Sphere didn't exist according to her scanners, even if it didn't exist in such a way that it was clear something was there. "What is…"

The entire room shuddered. Singh's head snapped up to face the Sphere. "It can't be," he said. He started to walk, at an increasing pace that bordered on jogging, toward the Sphere, prompting Rose and Samuel - whoever he was - to join him. Cat lingered behind, but her eyes were fixed on her scanners.

She and Singh spoke at the same time. "It's active."

In the control room, the Doctor was staring into Adi's earpiece, or at least the one in her left ear. It struck Robert as odd that she had one in each ear, and so did the other two. Why didn't I notice that before? he wondered.

"It's the earpiece controlling them," the Doctor said. His expression had lost the playfulness of earlier; he was all business, and quite tense. "I've seen this before." He reached into his pocket and removed what he'd referred to as his sonic screwdriver. "Sorry," he said to Adi. "I'm so sorry." He promptly pressed the tip of the screwdriver against the earpiece in Adi's right ear and activated it.

Adi and the others all shrieked in absolute agony before collapsing at their work stations.

"What happened? What did you just do?" asked Yvonne, now truly flustered.

"I'm sorry, but they're dead," the Doctor explained.

"You killed them?" Jackie asked, incredulous.

"No, someone else did that long before I got there," the Doctor answered, now intent on the screen's contents. The rest of the room was being bathed in a white glow.

"But you killed them!" Jackie repeated.

"He didn't," Robert said. "They didn't feel alive before at all."

"And how would you know if they did or not?" Jackie demanded of Robert.

"Jackie, I haven't got time for this!" the Doctor declared.

"What are those earpieces?" Yvonne asked.

"Don't," was the only answer she got.

"But they're standard comms devices, how do they control them?"

"Trust me, you don't want to know."

Despite the Doctor's pleas, Yvonne did want to know. She grabbed at the earpiece that had been in Adi's right ear. There was a sickening fluid sound and the earpiece came loose, a long tendril of wires coming from it. With disgust Yvonne dropped it on the desk. "Oh God, it goes inside their brain" she cried.

"What about the Ghost Shift?" the Doctor asked.

Yvonne checked the screen. "Ninety percent and still running." She went over to the Doctor and stood beside him, glancing at the intensifying white light at the far wall. "Can't you stop it?"

"They're still controlling it," the Doctor answered. "They've hijacked the system."

"Who's 'they'?"

The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver back out. "Might be a remote transmitter, but it's got to be close by. I can trace it." After fiddling with the screwdriver he activated it. "Jackie, stay here. Captain, the levers…"

"Hold the levers, stop them!" insisted Yvonne.

Robert nodded and walked up to between the desks. He breathed inward, focused, and brought his hands up as if gripping them. From within the power of his life surged and he reached out with it, gripping the levers with that power and holding them in place. He grunted. The mechanisms were powerful and were fighting him and the Torchwood personnel desperately trying to hold the levers in place.

The Doctor and Yvonne ran from the control room.

With everything else going on, nobody noticed the screen of Yvonne's laptop. A desperate Rajesh Singh's image showed on it, as well as a graphic of the Sphere and two words.


In the Sphere Room, yellow strobe lights were going off. "Yvonne, can you hear me?" Singh was frantic at the comms. "Yvonne, for God's sake, the Sphere is active. It's got mass, it's got weight, it's generating an electromagnetic field. It exists."

"I'm detecting spikes in the upper Groenitz-Hallen bands!" Cat added. "It's rippling through subspace as it manifests!"

"What's that mean?" asked Rose.

"The Sphere's fully immersing itself in our dimensional plane," Caterina answered. "I... I think it's opening."

Behind them there was a thunking sound. "The door's sealed," Singh said, still talking into the comms. "An automatic quarantine. We're locked in!"

He ran back toward the door. "Samuel", however, walked up to stand between Rose and Cat. "It's alright babe," he said. "We've beaten them before, we can beat them again. That's why I'm here. The fight goes on."

Caterina looked at him in confusion. "Who are you? What are you?"

"It's Mickey," Rose said, her eyes not moving from the Sphere.

"Your ex?" asked Cat. "Wasn't he in still in that parallel world?"

"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear the 'ex' part," Mickey answered.

"Wait, the fight against what?" Rose asked.

"What do you think?" was his answer, as the Sphere began to thud violently again, causing the room to shake.

Julia had just about dozed off on the couch in the ready office when the door swished open. Angel stepped in and, given her lack of sarcastic remark, Julia knew it was a serious reason even as she barked, "Julia! We've got a problem!"

Julia jumped from the couch and collected her thoughts as she followed Angel back onto the bridge. "Report!"

Al-Rashad looked up from Sensors. "Commander, I'm getting a massive energy spike from near the surface of the planet. The damage to the sensors is keeping me from triangulating an exact point, but it seems to be in a region of London."

"Do we have communications to the Captain and the others?" she asked.

"Not yet, ma'am," answered Tech Officer Matthews.

"Damn." Julia sat in the command chair and did only what she could do: she waited..

The Doctor led Yvonne through Torchwood, sonic screwdriver up and in his hands. As they passed two Torchwood soldiers Yvonne ordered them to follow.

They came up to an area sectioned off with plastic. Plastic that now bore tears in some spots. "What's going on here?" the Doctor asked.

"Building work. Just renovations," Yvonne said.

He nodded and said, "You should go back."

Yvonne flashed him a slight smirk and said, "Think again."

With the soldiers following, both started moving through the plastic. After stepping through and around several sheets they stopped. The Doctor held the sonic screwdriver vertically and seemed to examine the light as it beeped slightly. Yvonne asked, "What's down here?"

"Earpieces, earpods… this world is colliding with another. And I think I know which one."

As he moved the upraised screwdriver to his right, metallic thunking sounds came through the plastic. Figures were becoming visible, vague silhouettes through the plastic.

"What are they?" Yvonne asked, stunned and trying to hold back the feeling of terror building within her.

"They came through first," said the Doctor. Metal hands thrust through the plastic and began slicing down it like a knife. "The advance guard."

The cut plastic sheets were parted, and multiple robotic figures stomped into range, their servos continuing to give off the same metallic thunks as before.

"Cybermen," the Doctor declared with something of a snarl. He grabbed Yvonne and ran back between the soldiers, who opened fire on the two columns of Cybermen forming up. The bullets bounced harmlessly off of their metal skins with angry sparks. Another Cybermen stepped into place and intercepted the Doctor and Yvonne, blocking their escape.

As the Sphere Room continued to shake, Mickey continued his explanation. "We had them beaten but then they escaped," he said. "The Cybermen just vanished. They found their way to this world, but so did we."

"Cybermen?" asked Caterina.

"Nasty robots," Rose said. "Robots with human brains stuck full of wires and kept from feeling anything. They take people and rip them apart and put their brains into new Cybermen bodies."

Caterina swallowed. "That sounds as bad as the Borg."

"Borg?" Now it was Mickey's turn to sound confused.

"Wait." Rose looked at Mickey with confusion. "The Doctor said it was impossible to travel between worlds."

"Well, it wouldn't be the first time he was wrong," Mickey answered.

"So do you know what's in the Sphere?" asked Cat.

"The Cyber King, Cyber Leader, Emperor of the Cybermen." Mickey shrugged as he ended his speculation. "No one knows. Whoever it is, he's dead meat." Mickey grinned confidently.

"It's good to see you," Rose said to him.

Mickey nodded. "Yeah, it's good to see you, too."

The Sphere shook and they continued to wait.

Robert had gone down to his knees trying to hold the levers back. They weren't budging, and he couldn't tell if that was a good thing or not.

Then a sense of incredible danger filled his being and distracted him. Robert lost his grip on the levers and slumped forward. Before he could muster himself to start again, the Doctor's voice came from behind. "Get away from the machines! Do what they say! Don't fight them!" Metal thunking accompanied his words.

Robert turned in time to see the large metallic forms fill the control room. Silvery gray, with big Cs marked on their chests like a trademark, and handles above their heads and connected to the sides. Gun muzzles popped up on the forearms of two. He stayed low as red bursts of light struck out, striking screaming Torchwood personnel until they collapsed dead.

"What are they?" Jackie asked the Doctor.

One turned slightly to face her. Robert looked up in time to see the mouth light up with blue. "We are the Cybermen," it informed them. "The Ghost Shift will be increased to one hundred percent." It promptly put its hand to the big C on its chest.

The machines whined louder and the far wall lit up until it nearly blinded.

And then black ghostly figures emerged from the wall.

"The field of spatial disturbance is expanding, sir," al-Rashad reported. "It's.. it's bigger than ever before. It's going to overtake our position in five seconds."

"All hands, Code Red," Julia ordered, although she wondered what good it would do.

At the five second mark al-Rashad said, "Spatial disturbances forming on multiple decks." As she spoke, black ghostly figures began to appear on the bridge, walking into formation together.

Julia's finger stabbed down on the command chair's comm key even as Angel went for the emergency bridge armory behind secondary tactical. "Bridge to all decks, standby to repel boarders! I repeat, possible intruder alert, stand by to repel boarders!"

As the ghostly figures gathered, Jackie looked to the Doctor and asked, "But what do these Cybermen have to do with the ghosts?"

"Don't you ever listen?" the Doctor asked in exasperation. "A footprint doesn't look like a boot."

"Achieving full transfer," declared the lead Cyberman.

Sitting up and feeling his head spin as every fiber of his being screamed in worry, Robert beat the Doctor to the answer by half a second. "They're Cybermen."

The Doctor nodded. "All of the ghosts are Cybermen."

And they all watched as the ghosts took solid form as Cybermen. Robert felt the horrible image go through his mind. They'd be everywhere. All across the planet. People weren't even afraid of them and wouldn't know something was wrong until the Cybermen took shape. How many people were dying right now? Is that what the Cybermen were here to do?

The horrors of that thought were disrupted by another computer voice. "Sphere activated," the computer intoned, after which it began to repeat the line.

The Sphere… oh no, Cat!

In the Sphere room, Mickey had just finished pulling off his lab coat and tossing away his Torchwood-issued earpiece. The Sphere was opening, a corona of white light shining from the top of the opening, and all Caterina could do was watch in awe. What was inside of it? What could make something so powerful?

"I know what's in there and I'm ready for them," Mickey announced. "I've got just the thing." He dashed to the platform below the Sphere and reached under it. What he pulled out was a big rifle, larger than most assault weapons Caterina had seen. He returned to his place between her and Rose, and in front of Singh. "This is gonna blast them back to hell."

"Samuel, what are you doing?" asked Singh, confused by his assistant's sudden bravado.

"The name's Mickey. Mickey Smith," he corrected. "I'm defending the Earth." He gave the weapon a single cock, like it was a shotgun.

Caterina looked from him to the Sphere, now completely open on top, and waited to see what her omnitool sensors told her about the occupants.

The ghosts coalesced into metal figures on the Aurora bridge, standing in a row like a military formation. They raised their arms in unison and pointed the weapon muzzles that emerged from their forearms toward Julia and the remaining bridge crew, pulse pistols readied and everyone in cover behind a console. "Surrender and prepare for upgrade," one demanded. "Or you will be deleted."

Julia had been planning a serious refusal, but before she could make it Angel popped out of cover and fired a shot. The blue pulse smashed into one of the robots and caused the big C on its chest to blacken. It toppled over. "Delete this!" Angel cried defiantly.

The others opened fire.

Lucy had heard the alert to repel boarders just as she finished re-assembling Meridina's lightsaber. Neither weapon was yet repaired. She still needed to work on them. That meant she would need her pulse pistol to help fight off whatever this invasion was.

She turned to head to her bedroom and pick it up, just as metallic thunking came from that direction. A figure loomed in the doorway linking her living area to her bedroom, a large bipedal robot that seemed to have just a little biological life within it according to Lucy's senses. Cold, sterile life, but still technically life.

The figure raised its arm toward her and a weapon muzzle emerged from the forearm's inner compartment.

"You will submit for upgrade," the robot demanded. "Or you will be deleted."

In the control room, the Doctor stepped up to the lead Cyberman. "I don't understand," he barked. "The Cybermen don't have the technology to build a Void ship. That's way beyond you. How did you make that Sphere?"

"The Sphere is not ours."

"What?" the Doctor asked, bewildered.

"The Sphere broke down the barriers between worlds," the Cyber Leader replied, blue light appearing in its mouthpiece again as if to emphasize its synthetic nature. "We only followed. Its origin is unknown."

The Doctor posed the question Robert already had in his mind.

"Then what's inside it?"

The pounding of Caterina's heart had quickened and her stomach was twisting in anticipation as the Void Sphere finished opening. What was inside? What could be inside, and was it related to the builders, and was it friendly or was she about to die…?

Figures finally emerged from within the blinding corona, black as silhouettes in their first moments in sight.

Mickey perceptibly lowered his weapon a little. "That's not Cybermen," he said in surprise, while Rose looked on in abject surprise and fear.

"Oh my God," was all Rose could manage.

All of the blood drained from Caterina's face, which took on a mask of abject terror. Her heart stopped beating so fiercely. It nearly stopped entirely as a shape and a voice that belonged in her nightmares returned.

"Location: Earth. Life forms detected," the electronic voice declared as the metal frame approached the ground in front of them. Lights on the metal body lit up as it spoke.

"Oh no," Caterina squeaked. Her voice couldn't manage the scream she felt building up due to the terror gripping her, indeed, threatening to choke her. "Not them."

"Exterminate!" continued the lead Dalek.

"Exterminate!" echoed the other three Daleks.

"Exterminate!" proclaimed all four, in unison.
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-08-01 02:43pm

"Exterminate! Exterminate!"


Rose's shout quieted them. She stepped up toward the now-stationary Daleks. Behind her, Mickey held his weapon ready and Caterina was busy trying to regain some semblance of control from the terror of seeing her nightmares become real again.

"You're called Daleks," Rose said to them. She pulled off her lab coat and threw it to the side. "Now how would a human know that? How would a Human know about the Daleks and the Time War?"

The Daleks stared at her in silence.

"If you want to find out how I know, you let me and my friends live. That's all I ask."

Mickey nodded. "Yeah. I know this too. Time War."

Singh caught on. "Me too."

"And me. Time War. Time Lords. That stuff." Caterina's voice was strained.

The lead Dalek, in a black casing instead of gold, kept its single electronic eye on Rose. "You will be necessary," it declared. The head swiveled until the blue eye was focused on Caterina. "And you may be of further use." After these announcements the Dalek turned to the others. "What is the status of the Genesis Ark?"

"Status: Hibernation," replied another.

"Commence awakening. The Genesis Ark must be protected above all else."

One of the Daleks turned toward the object that had followed them from the Sphere. Its plunger fitted against a half-sphere protruding from the surface of the device.

With the Daleks no longer paying attention to them, Mickey asked Rose, "I thought you said all of the Daleks were dead."

"Never mind that," Rose answered in a low voice. "What the hell is a 'Genesis Ark'?"

There were times Robert regretted his abilities. It wasn't reasonable. It wasn't even fair, given how often they'd saved the things he cared for. But he couldn't help but tire of having his entire body seem to vibrate with anxiety at a nebulous danger, especially given the danger he was in now. All he could do was continue to lean against the wall and get his bearings while trying not to provoke the Cybermen into shooting them as they had the others.

As his senses recovered, Robert sensed the extreme maternal worry and fear in Jackie Tyler. "What's down there?" she asked the Doctor, urgently. "She was with that Sphere. What's happened to Rose?"

"I don't know," the Doctor answered from where he was leaning against the wall, apparently deep in thought.

Jackie looked at him intently for a moment before clapping a hand over her mouth and sniffling. The Doctor reacted by stepping up to her. "I'll find her," he vowed. "I brought you here, I'll get you both out, you and your daughter."

Jackie continued to sniffle and sob quietly with her eyes lowered.

"Jackie, look at me. Look at me," he insisted. "I promise you. You'll both be safe. I give you my word."

When this seemed to help her get control back, the Doctor turned back to Robert. "How are you holding up?"

"A headache and a constant sense of incoming bad stuff. Despite all of this.." Robert gestured to the Cybermen. "...I think there's something worse coming along."

"That doesn't sound good. Anything in specific?"

"I'm afraid not."

The Cyberleader stomped past them and into Yvonne's office. "You will order your Central Global Authority to surrender," it said to Yvonne.

"You should have done your research, then, because we don't have a central authority," Yvonne retorted.

"You have one now. I will speak on all global wavelengths." The Cyberman turned toward the laptop and its built-in camera. "This is for all humankind. The Cybermen now occupy every landmass on this planet. But you need not fear. Cybermen will remove fear. Cybermen will remove sex and class and color and creed. You will become identical. You will become like us."

Robert listened to what he said. The words were chilling, horrifying, in their ramifications, made perfectly clear by the emotionless electronic speech used to make them. It matched the cold flicker he felt inside of them, the last minor ember of life drawn from intact organic pieces. But the warmth of the Flow of Life would cease if the Cybermen prevailed. They promised nothing more than being cogs in a machine. A complete loss of everything that made beings truly alive.

And the damndest thing, Robert imagined, was that the Cybermen were utterly convinced this was a good thing. That they were doing Humanity a favor by forcing people to become robots.

The Cyberleader turned its attention to Robert. "You are the commander of the vessel in high orbit," it stated.

Robert glared at the machine. "I am," he said.

"You will instruct your crew to surrender and prepare for upgrade."

"Well, let me think about that," Robert began, his voice thick with sarcasm. "Okay, I thought about it. No."

The Cyberleader paused for a curious moment. "If you do not cooperate, you and your crew will be deleted."

Robert laughed in the Cyberleader's face with all of the humor of a man knowing he's got nothing to lose. "That's where you don't understand us, robot. We don't want to be upgraded."

"Your stance is illogical. The Cybermen do not feel pain. We do not fear. We do not hunger. Our existence is the superior one," boasted the machine. "Your judgement is clouded by emotion. Emotions are a weakness."

"Emotions are what make us Human."

"And that is why you must be upgraded."

"It looks like that's going to be a tall order for you," the Doctor remarked. He was standing with Yvonne and Jackie looking out the window. The Cyberleader and Robert walked over to join them.

Flames and smoke were rising from the streets and buildings of London. Explosions could be made out across the city.

"I ordered surrender," protested the Cyberleader.

The Doctor leveled an angry look at the Cyberleader. "They're not taking instructions," the Doctor spat. "Don't you understand? You're on every street! You're in their homes! You've got their children! Of course they're going to fight!"

There was no response to that. It gave Robert a moment to wonder how things were going for the others, and to wish he could make contact.

The Aurora bridge filled with spurts of pale red light and bursts of blue energy. The Cybermen remained lined up in complete disregard for the shots that Julia, Angel, and the others on the bridge were taking at them. Their return fire blackened consoles and sent sparks flying.

"What the hell are these things?!" Angel demanded.

Al-Rashad checked her omnitool. "They're robotic constructs, but I'm detecting organic brainwaves consistent with human brains within them!" She had to duck further to avoid a shot that would have hit her head otherwise.

"And they don't seem to care how many of them we shoot," Julia added. The far door opened and more of the robots stepped out from the ready office. They already had their arms raised and were blasting away. "We need a better position, we're too spread out! Al-Rashad, is the conference lounge open?"

The young science officer checked her omnitool again. "I'm not picking up their energy signature that way!"

"Angel, see if you can get to the conference lounge!" She popped out from cover enough to fire shots that blasted the shoulder of one of the robots.

Angel prepared to spring from cover and get to the doorway while uttering a quick prayer that she didn't get shot from behind. "Cover me!" she shouted as she jumped from her spot. She felt the heat of an enemy energy blast against the back of her neck from a razor-thin miss and reached for the door.

Savage pain shot up her left hip and side. Angel cried out as she toppled into the door. "I'm hit!" she shouted. "But… I'm at the door!"

Technical Officer Matthews popped from cover and shot the nearest of the enemy, thinning their numbers further. He got back into cover behind the secondary tactical station to avoid retaliation fire before squeezing off another shot that damaged the leg of another. "Commander, Lieutenant, I'll cover you!" he shouted.

Julia nodded and then looked to al-Rashad. "You first!"

The light brown skin on the young woman's face had turned pale with fear. But she nodded nevertheless. When she jumped from cover Julia and Matthews left their safety as well, laying down fire as fast as their pulse pistols let them. The one Cyberman who sought to shoot al-Rashad took a hit to the head from Matthews and went down.

Al-Rashad made it to the door. The angle of the alcove entranceway gave her cover. She opened the door and, with effort, pulled Angel inside.

Julia went next, firing off several wild shots that hit the bridge walls and controls more than it hit the foe. A shot scorched the wall beside her from a near-hit that sent a spark into her forehead, lightly burning her skin. She made it to the door alcove and knelt down, pistol. "Now Matthews!" she shouted before moving out of cover and opening fire.

Matthews jumped from his cover and opened fire. His shots were wild, as he was more concerned with escape, but one did hit the head of one of the enemy bots, which collapsed. Julia leaned out from the alcove and fired around Matthews, nailing another one.

There were three left. All were firing toward them. A shot went over Julia's head. Another nearly singed her arm.

The third struck Matthews in the back.

He cried out while pale red energy crackled over his torso. It seemed to make his body seize up, after which he fell over. He fell right at the opening of the alcove. Julia grabbed his arm and dragged him into cover with her. "Matthews?"

He didn't answer. Al-Rashad appeared at the door and scanned him. "Sorry, Commander," she said. "He's gone."

"Dammit." Julia activated her omnitool. "Main Computer, this is Commander Andreys. Commence complete bridge lockdown, Authorization Code Andreys Gamma Tango Sierra Three Six Six."

"Authorization code accepted," the computer's feminine voice stated. "Lockdown commencing."

Satisfied that the robot boarders couldn't take control of the Aurora on the bridge, Julia quickly turned her attention to their situation. Matthews was dead. That left her, al-Rashad, and Angel, who had been hit too. "How bad is it, Lieutenant?" she asked al-Rashad. "I mean, Lieutenant Delgado's injury?"

"It damn hurts," Angel groused, preempting al-Rashad's answer.

"Damage to her left hip muscles and nearby tissues."

"That thing shot me in the ass!" Angel complained. Loudly.

"You're doing better than poor Matthews," Julia pointed out. "Can you shoot?"

"Prop me against the wall, and yeah," Angel said.

"I've got a better idea. Watch the door." Julia motioned to al-Rashad, who joined her at the table. They both grunted with effort as they got the leverage and position necessary to put the conference lounge table on its side, exposing the holotank projector internals that were fixed underneath it. Julia went and lifted Angel to her feet, letting Angel's left arm settle over her neck. She brought her to the other side of the table where al-Rashad was already checking her pulse pistol. "Eighty percent power," she said.

After setting Angel down and kneeling beside her, Julia checked her own. "Sixty percent."

"Sixty-five," Angel verified. She grimaced from pain. "This is worse than that time I pulled my leg muscle."

"Don't you miss that being the worst thing to deal with?"

There was no time to answer Angel's remark. The door swished open and the enemy robots began to enter.

Lucy sensed the shot coming and struck first. Her hand came up and a wave of energy forced the shot upward, scorching the ceiling of her quarters. She raised the other hand and another, more powerful wave of energy sent the intruder flying back into her bedroom. She reached to the table and retrieved both lightsabers before going for the door.

At first the corridors seemed clear. But she rounded a corner and found two more of the machines stepping out of a set of quarters. They turned and noticed her. "Surrender or…"

Before they could finish the ultimatum, Lucy swept her arm and sent them flying back into the quarters they'd just vacated. Lucy went to the door and brought her omnitool up. She interfaced it with the locking system and activated an emergency lock to keep them in. "Just what the hell are these things?" she wondered aloud. She used the comm key on the omnitool and said, "Lucero to Jarod. What's going on?"

"The entire ship's been boarded by robots, and they really don't seem to like us," Jarod replied. "I'm in Science Lab 1 with a security team. We're secure for the moment. Can you join us?"

Lucy nearly answered yes. But she stopped at the feeling inside, the sense that she needed to be somewhere else. It was the same as before; she needed to go down to Earth, or Meridina and the others could die. "Sorry, but no," she said. "Jarod, I'm sorry, but I need to go planetside."


"Because… if I don't, I think Robert and Cat and Meridina are dead," she replied. "Don't ask me how to explain it. It's one of those life force things and it's always so damned vague."

There was a moment of silence. "I don't know how you'll get down. The transporters are offline, and even if one worked I have all operators with the repair crews. And given the direct hit the main shuttlebay and the hanger deck took, I'm not sure you'll find a shuttle."

"And I don't think I want to try and cross the entire ship to get to the secondary shuttlebay either," Lucy said. She thought about the problem. How to get down to the planet with no transporters and no shuttles or runabouts? What else was… oh.

She grinned when she continued, "I think I know what'll work," she said. "Remind me to thank Julia later."

"For what?"

"Her insistence on running evacuation drills all the damn time," Lucy replied before she continued on down the corridor, following a route that said drills had caused her to memorize.

In Main Engineering Scotty and Barnes could only watch, along with a handful of the other engineers, as other engineers and crewmembers engaged in a firefight with the robotic invaders. The protective forcefield for the main engineering controls had snapped into place when Scotty had given the order. Occasionally pale red energy slammed into the field, creating blue distortion from it holding the blast back.

"The damn forcefield's still at eighty percent," Barnes said from his station. "I can't divert any more Goddamned power to it."

"Aye, lad. Nae use worryin' about it." Scotty checked another of the consoles. "Better t' figure out how t' help deal with these metal scunners."

"The repairs to our power systems have brought back most of the internal sensors." Barnes checked something. An idea was forming in his head. "We can at least track the bastards."

"Relay it tae security an' th' Marines. They'll handle these bloody things."

"Yeah." Barnes looked at him and grinned. "But maybe we can give them some help."

Leo looked up from where he was treating a plasma burn on an injured Alakin crewman. The sound of thunking metal came through the medbay door, caused by what he guessed were the source of Julia's intruder alert.

Two security officers opened fire on the initial robot to enter, blasting it until its head and chest were one big blackened mass. Another came in behind the first, firing. One of the security officers went down with a cry before the other finished the second intruder off. A third intruder immediately shot the remaining guard and entered the medbay, a weapon muzzle prominently displayed on its arm.

Three more entered and took up positions with weapons ready. A fourth stepped in and looked around. "Who is in command here?"

Leo swallowed and nodded. "I am. Doctor Leo Gillam, Chief Medical Officer."

The figure turned slightly. "I am the designate Cyberleader present. You will assist in conversion of this medical facility into a cyber-conversion facility."

"And that is?" Leo had the idea he wouldn't like the answer.

"It will permit the upgrading of this vessel's crew into Cybermen units."

"You mean you're going to turn us into… you."

"That is correct."

Leo knew immediately he needed to buy time. "Why?"

"To remove the weakness of emotion from the species. All individuals will be upgraded into Cybermen."

"And what if we don't want to be 'upgraded'."

"Hostile elements will be deleted."

Leo got the meaning of that term rather easily. "So let you turn us into emotionless, soulless robots, or you kill us?"

"That is correct. We must save you from yourselves."

There would be no arguing with the robot. All Leo could do was play for time and hope help arrived to end this nightmare.

A nightmare. Caterina was living in a nightmare. That was the thought that dominated her, making her unable to think of or do anything else. Indeed, it seemed like doing anything but standing there would immediately cause her death.

Thinking of dying brought tears to her eyes. What would happen to Angel? And now she had a girlfriend to think about, someone who would be hurt if something happened to her. There were so many things they hadn't gotten to do together, so many plans…

There were so many things she hadn't been able to do yet.

The black-plated Dalek turned to them again. "Which of you is the least important?" it asked.

Rose responded with "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Which of you is the least important?"

"No. We don't work like that. None of us are least important," Rose answered.

"Designate the least important!" demanded the Dalek.

"This is my responsibility," said Singh.

Rose shook her head at him. "No, don't…!"

But she couldn't stop him. Singh stepped up to the Dalek and said, "I represent the Torchwood Institute. Anything you need, you come through me. Leave these three alone."

The Dalek shook. "You will kneel."

Singh showed confusion at that. "What for?"

The response was a prompt "Kneel!"

For a moment Singh seemed to hesitate, if only out of confusion and perhaps a little pride. But he turned and knelt before the black-cased Dalek, now at his back.

"The Daleks need information about current Earth history."

"Yes, well, I can give you a certain amount of intelligence," Singh said. "But I will not jeopardize homeland security..."

"Speech is not necessary!" declared the Dalek, which now drew closer to him. "We will extract brainwaves." Two of the other Daleks did the same.

As the plunger-like arms of all three approached him, Singh realized just what he'd set himself up for. "Don't," he pleaded. "I'll tell you everything you need. No, don't…!"

The black devices stretched and encompassed much of his head. Singh could do nothing but scream as the Daleks began to tear information from his brain. Mickey nearly made an instinctive lunge to stop them just for Rose to hold him back and embrace him tightly. Caterina let out a low, terrified cry of horror, and could only watch as Dr. Singh met his end at the "hands" of the Daleks.

When the Daleks finally pulled back, Singh had been reduced to a dried out husk. His remained collapsed to the floor with a dust cloud. "His mind spoke of a second species invading Earth. Infected by the superstition of ghosts."

"You didn't need to kill him!" Rose shouted.

The Dalek swiveled its head and looked at her. "Neither did we need him alive!" The Dalek swiveled its head back to face one of the golden ones. "Dalek Thay, investigate outside."

"I obey." The Dalek slid across the floor and left the chamber.

In the breach control room, the Cyberleader watched a live video feed from two of the Cybermen, sent to investigate the Sphere Chamber. Robert and the others were watching as well. He thought he recognized the corridor as one of those that Yvonne had led them through between the Sphere Chamber and the breach control room.

A form moved through a door at the far end of the video. As it came into view Robert's eyes widened. His heart pounded in surprise and raw fear. "Crap," he swore. "Them." When the others looked at him, he added, "It's a Dalek."

The Doctor nodded but said nothing. He was busy watching.

"Identify yourselves!" the Dalek demanded.

"You will identify first," one of the Cybermen countered.

"State your identity!"

"You will identify first."


"You will identify first."

"Your behavior is illogical, you will modify," ordered one of the Cybermen.

"Daleks do not take orders!"

"You have identified as Daleks."

Despite everything, Robert couldn't help but smirk at the Dalek walking right into that, ending the standoff between the two. With the looming sense of threat around them Robert had trouble focusing his power, but he made himself do so after taking a breath. He had to know if Cat was alive, or Meridina for that matter.

"Rose told me about the Daleks, she was terrified of them," Jackie murmured to the Doctor. There was a quiver in her voice when she asked, "What have they done to her, Doctor? Is she dead?"

The Doctor turned to her. "Phone," he whispered.


"Phone," he repeated, the whisper more strained this time.

Bewildered, Jackie handed the Doctor her cell phone. He used the speed dial to call Rose's phone. When there was an answer on the other side he raised his head slightly. "She answered. She's alive. But why haven't they killed her?"

Jackie glared at him. "Well, don't complain about it."

"They must need her for something." The Doctor continued to listen intently.

As he did so, Robert thought he could feel Caterina and Meridina. It was difficult to single them out given the way his abilities seemed to be set to "Something is terribly wrong!" mode, as if the threat that was being presented was so severe that the sense of it was tying up the rest of his special senses.

"'Genesis Ark?'" the Doctor said, curious.

Meanwhile the Cybermen-Dalek argument continued. "Our species are similar, though your design is inelegant."

"Daleks have no concept of elegance," the Dalek said mockingly, as if the very idea was beneath them.

"This is obvious. But consider. Our technologies are compatible. Cyberman plus Daleks. Together we could upgrade the Universe."

"You propose an alliance?"

Robert could feel the Doctor's worry at that. He knew he was; having these two groups together would make the nightmare even worse.

"This is correct."

The Dalek's response was immediate. "Request denied."

"Hostile elements will be deleted." The Cybermen began to fire on the Dalek.

The shots did… precisely nothing. Just as the Daleks that invaded the Facility three years ago, the Dalek was protected by an energy shield that absorbed the shots without difficulty. "Exterminate!" the Dalek retorted. The light blue blasts it fired took out the Cybermen in the hall and, in the process, ended the visual link. The laptop screen went blank.

"Thank heaven for small favors," Robert sighed. He had thought, for a moment, that this was why he felt that something even worse was coming. But now… it had to be something else.

But what?

Rose, Mickey, and Caterina had watched the brief negotiation between the Daleks and Cybermen and the inevitable result of said negotiation. Now the image of a Cyberman appeared on the screen that had been used before. "Be warned, Daleks, you have declared war upon the Cybermen," stated the robot.

"This is not war," the lead Dalek answered. "This is pest control."

"There are five million Cybermen. How many are you?"


"You would destroy the Cybermen with four Daleks?"

"We would destroy the Cybermen with one Dalek," boasted the lead Dalek. "You are superior in only one respect." Behind the Cyberleader, Rose and the others noticed the Doctor moving in the background.

"What is that?" asked the Cyberleader.

"You are better at dying. Raise communications barrier!"

The call ended. But just after the screen disengaged, one of the gold Daleks cried, "Wait! Rewind image by nine rels!". The screen responded, bringing back the Cyberleader and showing the form in the background. "Identify grid Seven Gamma Flame."

The image zoomed in on the Doctor.

"This male registers as an enemy."

The lead Dalek turned abruptly and faced the three prisoners. "The female's heartbeat has increased," it said, directing its attention to Rose.

Mickey snorted. "Tell me about it."

"Identify him!"

A bemused little grin appeared on Rose's face. "Alright then, if you really want to know." She leaned in a little toward the Dalek. "That's the Doctor."

The four Daleks literally backed away from Rose, as if she might personally destroy them in the next second. That surprised Caterina. She'd known that the Doctor was their enemy, but these Daleks didn't seem ready to chase him down like the ones who had invaded the Facility had. They seemed afraid of him.

Rose laid it on further. "Five million Cybermen, that's easy. One Doctor? Now you're scared."

For the first time since the Daleks had emerged from the Sphere, Cat entertained the thought they might actually survive this. That the Doctor and the others would actually save them.

The Cyberleader had taken a minute or so to process the realization that the conquest of Earth had just run into a major complication. "Quarantine the Sphere Chamber," it finally ordered. "Begin emergency upgrades. Start with these personnel."

One of the Cybermen grabbed Robert's arm. The others were seized as well. The grip was too much for him to throw off easily. Even if he mustered the focus to throw the one holding him, he would likely be pulled along too. Or would have his arm torn off. The machines dragged them out of the office. "You can't do this!" Yvonne shouted. "We've surrendered! We've surrendered!"

"Keep this male." The Cyberleader indicated the Doctor. "His adrenaline levels suggest that he has vital Dalek information."

"Doctor, you can't let them do this!" Jackie cried. "Stop them!"

"I'll only help you if you let them go!" the Doctor yelled. "Let them go!"

But the Cybermen didn't. "You promised!" Jackie insisted. "You gave your word!"

"Jackie, don't fight them! I'll get you out of this…!"

As they were being dragged down the hall, Yvonne kept saying, "We're prisoners! You can't do this!"

"They don't care," Robert pointed out. "This is what they're going to do to everyone they don't kill."

"He promised!" Jackie wailed. "He said he'd stop them!"

"I'm sure he's going to try, but he can't do anything." Robert's mind raced. If anything, the immediate problem was helping him concentrate despite the constant distraction of his abilities sensing danger. Instead he was starting to consider a potentially dangerous tactic, if only he could get his other arm free.

Their procession was coming to a turn in the halls when it came to a sudden stop. Said stop was explained by the sound of clanging metal, a Cyberman weapon firing… and then same Cyberman flying out of the hall and hitting the ground. Without its arms.

A smile came to Robert's face. He held out his free arm toward the Cyberman holding Jackie. He didn't know if he could summon the strength through his power to rip the offending arm off, but he did manage to hold the other arm in place and prevent it from firing.

This meant that when Meridina rounded the corner, she only had two Cybermen to worry about. Concentration formed on her features and her hands pulled apart. The arms gripping Yvonne were torn free from the Cyberman's body. It seemed to look at them helplessly.

Robert's captor raised its arm and readied its weapon. At that range, the Cyberman had every reason to expect its shots to hit. But Meridina was too fast for it and evaded the first volley. She made a pulling motion again and this time Robert was freed. He turned and concentrated everything on the free arm of Jackie's captor, still struggling against his power. This held the last armed Cyberman in check for the second it took for Meridina to focus on it and yank its arms free as well.

"Meridina, good to see you," Robert said.

"Likewise, Robert. Mrs. Tyler."

"Who is she?" Yvonne stared at them. "What… how did she do that?"

"Ms. Hartman, this is my chief of security, Meridina," Robert said. "She's a Gersallian and trained in special arts using the power of life energy. She's taught me some." Robert looked Meridina's way next. "This is Yvonne Hartman, the director of Torchwood. Or whatever is left of it now that the Cybermen are converting people."

"I have been evading these automatons," Meridina said. "Although I do sense a flicker of life within them."

"According to the Doctor, they're actually people who had their brains cut from their bodies and installed into robotic bodies with systems to suppress any emotions."

Meridina frowned at Robert's explanation. "An abomination. We must do something about them."

"We may need weapons first," Robert pointed out. "I didn't bring down my pulse pistol."

"The Cybermen will have overrun main storage," Yvonne said. "But there might be something in the testing labs."

"You lead the way, then." Robert gestured down the hall. "Because I don't want those tin-plated tyrants carving up people. Not if we can stop it."

"It would be helpful if we restored communications with the ship," Meridina said. "Perhaps Lucy has had a chance to repair our weapons."

Robert frowned at that. "I have a feeling Lucy and the others are busy with their own problems, Meridina."

Evading the robotic invaders on the Aurora hadn't been easy. Lucy had been forced to outrun a couple of them and activate an internal bulkhead to escape, which had the unpleasant side effect that she couldn't backtrack.

But now she was at her destination. A series of panels lined the wall. You didn't find these panels on most of the ship's corridor walls, and for good reason.

Each led to an escape pod.

Which was, apparently, why the robots had sent three of their number to guard it. They turned to face her and raised their weapons in unison.

"Crap!" Lucy went back around the corner. She heard the thunking noise of the machines walking. They were pursuing. And with the ones behind her and the sealed bulkhead, she had limited options on getting away.

Alright. I guess I'll have to fight.

First taking in a breath to steel herself and focus, Lucy rounded the corner again and grabbed one of the pursuers with her power. She pulled the robot into the other one. They collided with a metal clang and hit the wall. The third one, which had remained behind, brought its weapon up and fired. Lucy felt the shot coming and barely evaded it. She swung out with an arm and gripped attacker's gun arm with her power. With a single yank and a lot of energy, she ripped the offending limb off. She turned said limb and, with a thought, discharged the capacitor's last-remaining shot into the former owner's headpiece. Pale red energy sizzled over the head until it literally exploded in a messy burst of metal bits and white fluid.

Lucy was just far enough away to avoid getting hit by any of the resulting debris. She made a disgusted face at the remains before feeling a sense of danger, or rather, one beyond the constant background feeling she'd had since they jumped into this universe. The Cybermen behind her were getting back up. She went to the nearest panel and activated the touch display. A couple of button presses let her enter her ID code to activate the escape pod without a general evacuation alert. The panel to her left opened downward as if to form a ramp. She stepped up into it and gave a quick push of energy to knock the lead robot back into his buddy, buying her the last second she needed to secure herself in the escape pod. She went to the small piloting control at the front of it and triggered the release sequence, adding the safety harness as an afterthought. G-forces pulled against her as the hexagonal-shaped pod launched from the surface of the Aurora's primary hull.

Lucy drew in a breath and focused on Meridina and Robert. She could sense them even from orbit, their life energies burning bright compared to others. She could also sense another presence, not quite the same, but with its own feel. Presumably this 'Doctor' being. WIth that connection guiding her, Lucy entered coordinates into the escape pod's navigation system. Thrusters fired and dipped the pod into a de-orbiting course to land in London.

I'm coming, Meridina, she thought. Now all she had to do was finish fixing their weapons. She had a feeling they would be needed.

In Science Lab 1, Jarod had formed an ad hoc operations command for the ship with the help of Commander Kane, now with his Marines, and Lieutenant Phryne Richmond, an Australian woman who served as Meridina's second-in-command and lead investigator in ship security. She was lithe in build as opposed to built out, which made the rumor that she had body-tossed Angel out of the ring once very interesting. Her bob-cut short hair was black in color, matched with a vibrant green for her eye color and a complexion that Jarod figured "porcelain" did justice to.

The two were looking over a holographic image of the ship provided by the central holotank. Battle damage still showed on the likeness, including the remaining hull breaches, but of greater importance was the invasion of the robotic force that had initially appeared as "ghosts". "Security Team C just finished a sweep of Deck 6," said Richmond. Her accent was more on the refined side. "Security Team G is encountering heavy resistance on Deck 11."

"What about Deck 12?" Jarod tried not to make his worry clear. "Internal sensors confirm they're in the medbay."

"I haven't been able to get a team there yet. Given the numbers we're seeing, I'm going to send Team C to Deck 11 first to help G secure it." Richmond met Jarod's eyes. "Unless you object?"

Jarod almost did, but stopped himself. Throwing a single security team into an area full of hostiles was too great a risk. It was better to concentrate force as much as possible. "And Teams A and B?"

"They're still fighting their way to the bridge with one of Commander Kane's platoons."

Jarod tapped a key. "Jarod to Kane."

There wasn't a response right away. When it came, it was joined by the sounds of weapons fire. "Kane here. I'm a little busy, Commander."

"I understand. But we're showing intruders in medbay on the sensors. More than a single security team can handle. The Marines are better equipped to handle this."

"I'm still clearing up Deck 16 and the backup fusion reactor, and I've got to get to Engineering," he answered. "But I'll detach Barker's squad to hit the area. Can you back them up?"

"Team E," Richmond said. "They're nearly done with Deck 10. They're mostly made up of armed crew right now, but with the Marines leading the way, they should work."

"Team E will meet you on Deck 12, Section F," Jarod told Kane.

Jarod looked back to the screen. Although the arrival of the intruders had left everything chaotic initially, Commander Andreys' timely "repel boarders" order had gotten the crew in motion just in time to avoid being taken completely by surprise. Now they were at least making progress, slowly recovering the ship sector by sector, deck by deck.

But how many of us are going to die in this fight? If we can come up with some way to clear them out faster. The thought of getting the transporters back online came to him, but that would require work on key power relays that the repair crews couldn't get to yet. Not with those decks still unsecure.

A tone came from his omnitool. Jarod hit the flashing blue light above the back of his left hand to accept an audio/visual signal, which he relayed to the main display in the lab with a touch of a key.

One of the robotic invaders dominated the screen. In the background he could see more holding Leo, Doctor Singh, and a few other personnel. "Attention. I am the designated Cyberleader responsible for the upgrade of this vessel's crew. We are the Cybermen. We are not your enemy. We have come to upgrade all life forms into Cybermen. All distinctions that divide you - species, sex, color, creed, class - will be removed. You will no longer know fear or pain. You will be achieve perfection from the weakness of emotion..."

"Are you getting this?" asked Kane.

"We are," Jarod confirmed.

Meanwhile the Cyberleader continued. "...not come to harm you. Only hostile elements will be deleted."

Jarod hit a key to open his end of the audio length. But before he could speak, another visual channel kicked in. Julia's face appeared. She was clearly crouched behind a toppled table - the conference lounge's table, Jarod thought - and had the disheveled look of someone who had been in the middle of a fight. Or was in the middle of the fight, as the sounds of Cybermen energy fire was coming from nearby, answered by pulse pistol fire. "This is Commander Julia Andreys, currently in command of the Alliance Starship Aurora," she said. "I am addressing these 'Cybermen' and their leader. My crew and I have absolutely no intention of becoming Cybermen. We will not submit to your forces."

"You are allowing emotion to control you. It is not logical to refuse upgrade."

"Oh, I think it's very logical," she countered.

"Because what you're talking about is another word for 'slave'," Jarod added. "You're talking about taking away everything that makes us unique beings and turning us into drones."

"Aye, it's a load o' bollocks if ye ask me," added Scotty. "We'd rather fight, ye damn scunners."

"Your response proves your inability to judge without emotion. You will understand your error once you are upgraded."

"You mean once you mentally program us inside your damn machine bodies, " Kane growled. "Well, Cybermen, my Marines and shipmates and I say no. Come and get us if you can, you damn bucket of bolts. You won't be the first tin-plated monsters we've dealt with."

"We're going to take Option Number 3, Cyberleader," Julia stated.

"There is no third option. All will be upgraded. Hostile elements will be deleted."

"The third option is that we blow you all to hell," Julia countered. "And that's the one we're taking. Andreys out."

Julia cut the communication. Jarod did as well.

"Stirring," said Richmond. "Maybe I should look into transferring to Enterprise."

"Good luck with that," Jarod said. "Meanwhile, let's see what else we can do."

In the conference lounge, Angel fired off another series of shots. The Cybermen had to come through the door, and they had tried several occasions so far. It was costing them, but on the other hand, it wouldn't for long for the simple reason that the three ladies were running out of charge on their weapons. "I'm down to twenty percent," said Angel.

"Fifteen," added al-Rashad.

Julia checked hers. "Eighteen percent. So, let's make all of the shots count, right? No telling when we'll get more clips."

Indeed, all threw knew that the only way out they could be sure of was if someone hit the Cybermen from behind. And nobody could be sure of when that might happen.

In the Sphere Chamber the Daleks were all busy working on the Genesis Ark with their plunger arms. They seemed to be ignoring Cat, Rose, and Mickey, but there was no guarantee they would if the three tried to escape.

Caterina, for her part, was still trying to get control back. She barely noticed when Rose touched her arm. "Are you alright?" she asked.

"No." Caterina shook her head. "I'm not."

"You've faced the Daleks before, haven't you?"

Caterina nodded. "It… it was my fault," she said, tears flowing down her eyes. "It was about three years ago… we weren't the Alliance back then, we were just a bunch of people living in a Darglan Facility trying to do good things. We surveyed your universe for the first time and found an artifact, some sort of pod. I… I was curious. I brought it back home to the Facility. I shouldn't have… I should've been more careful. Somehow my science team opened it and… Oh God…" Cat sobbed as she thought about Simon and the others being shot dead by the Daleks. "...they came out. A whole bunch of them. They… they killed my friends. My colleagues. They killed Captain Farmer. They almost killed me. My sister barely survived the fight. And… they made us blow up our home."

Rose nodded gently. "I understand you're scared. They're terrifying. Just don't let them see it. They'll kill you if you're no use to them."

"If only there was some way out of here…" Caterina looked around. "If the Aurora was repaired enough to beam us out…"

Mickey stepped up, holding what looked like a large yellow button with a metal frame around it. "I could transport out," he said. "But I'm not leaving you here."

"Somehow I think that's meant more for me," Rose remarked. "You follow me anywhere. Just what did I do to you all those years ago?"

Mickey put the device away. "Guess I'm just stupid," he said.

Rose took his hands and gave him a meaningful look. "You're the bravest man I ever met.

"What about the Doctor?"

That prompted Rose to roll her eyes for a moment. "Oh, alright. Bravest Human."

Mickey grinned a little. "Well, I can't think what the Daleks need with me, I'm nothing to them."

"Maybe there is something," Rose said. "When I first met a Dalek, it was dying. But then I touched it and it became fully active again."

"How does that work?" Caterina asked. She found that confusing. Not to mention the weird thought of touching one of the monsters.

Given Mickey was also looking at her in curiosity, Rose continued explaining. "The Doctor said that when you travel in time, in the TARDIS, you soak up this sort of background radiation. It's completely harmless, it's just there. But during the Time War, the Daleks evolved to use this stuff as a power supply."

"I love it when you talk technical," Mickey teased.

"Shut up," Rose retorted playfully. "But if the Daleks have got something inside this thing that needs waking up…"

"They need you," Mickey said.

Rose shook her head slightly. "You've traveled through time, either one of us would do."

"What about me?" Caterina asked. "I was in the TARDIS too." She brought her omnitool online and scanned.

"I don't know," said Rose. "You traveled inside the TARDIS, but not through time. It might not be on you."

"And I can't tell either way," Caterina said. "I'm not reading anything on you, or on me."

"But why would they build something they can't use themselves?"

"Maybe they stole the technology?" Cat asked as Rose shook her head.


All three turned to face the Daleks. The black-armored Dalek spoke again. "The Ark is not of Dalek design."

"Then who built it?" asked Rose.

"The Time Lords," the Dalek revealed. "This is all that survives of their homeworld."

"But what's inside?" Caterina asked.

"The future," was the only answer the Dalek gave.

A thought came to Caterina. A thought that scared her in more ways than one, a thought she didn't even want to say aloud. But fear and curiosity combined to compel her to ask. "And what about me?" She looked at the black-plated Dalek. "If you didn't need me, you'd have killed me like you did that poor man. What do you want with me?"

"Our sensors detect traces of energy from exposure to interuniversal vortex," said the Dalek. "You will be necessary."

"For what?" Caterina asked, almost demanded, from the Dalek. "What will I be necessary for?"

"The future," was the only reply she got.
”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: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-08-02 12:46pm

The Cybermen in the medbay had moved into the OR theaters. Only the Cyberleader and a few guards remained in the receiving ward, where the injured had been brought with the medical staff. Leo busied himself by working on them as best as he could. A young crewwoman who had nearly died from exposure to vacuum rested on one of the biobeds. He triple-checked her vitals and the condition of her damaged organs. He wanted to get her back into the critical ward. "Some of my patients will die if we don't get them back into full treatment," he informed the Cyberleader. "They're not resisting you, they can't. So they're not 'hostile elements' to be 'deleted'."

"Scans indicate they will live long enough to undergo upgrade," the Cyberleader responded. "Further care is not necessary."

Leo frowned at the machine. "What made you?" he asked. "What gave you the right to decide these things for us? To decide we have to become like you?"

"We are perfection. Upgrade will provide immortality. Upgrade will remove weakness. Without emotions, you will recognize we are correct."

"And what about free will? What about making our decisions for ourselves?"

"You cannot do so rationally due to emotions. Cybermen will remove the emotions. And you will see we are correct."

Leo held a finger to its face. "But that's the catch, isn't it? Your entire argument is 'we're right because we're right'. You're like children who have been taught to think something is true and assume it has to be, so you go around and reprogram everyone's minds to agree with you because you have to be right. But that's not logic. It's ego."

The Cyberleader responded with all of the conviction of the fanatic. "You will recognize our perfection when you are upgraded."

Before Leo could pursue his argument further, another Cyberman emerged from the OR. "Cyber-conversion chamber is approaching completion. Matter-replication technology allows for rapid upgrade."

"Prepare these personnel for upgrade," said the Cyberleader.

"No, dammit! No, you don't have that right!" Leo pointed a quivering finger in the machine's face. "My shipmates will stop you. They'll put you down."

"Unlikely. Cyber-conversion process will permit rapid provision of reinforcements. Suppression of hostile elements will be achieved," the Cyberleader predicted confidently. He tromped away, signaling that the conversation was over as far as he was concerned.

Hurry up, guys, Leo thought.

And then a desperate idea crossed his mind, prompting him to check his omnitool.

Yvonne Hartman led the others to a room that looked like an armory and firing range all in one. Targets, some sporting burn marks or missing pieces (or completely in pieces already) adorned one wall and another secondary area. Another section of wall was lined with various firearm-looking weapons. "Most of these are still in testing," Yvonne explained. "I can't promise they'll be entirely reliable."

Robert reached for a large black rifle-like gun. It had, to his confusion, a shotgun-style sliding piece to cock the weapon. "What's this?"

Yvonne looked it over. "Electro-plasma rifle," she said. "It's got an overheating problem we were close to solving."

Robert nodded. "Alright. I'll be careful."

Yvonne took a similar weapon. "Particle gun," she said. She looked to Meridina, who was studying the weapons. "See something you like?"

"No," she replied. "These weapons are not my specialty. Given the circumstances, however…" Meridina picked up two of the pistols.

"I believe those fire plasma bolts," said Yvonne.

"Very well."

Eyes turned toward Jackie, who was clearly nervous about picking any of them. She finally, with great apparent reluctance, selected one weapon to look over. It was a dainty little pistol of a weapon. "What's this one do?" she asked Yvonne, holding it toward them with little gun safety regard.

The result was Yvonne snapping, "Put that back before you kill us all!"

Jackie nearly jumped at the shout. She gingerly returned the weapon. Yvonnne picked out one for her and handed it over. "This is an electromagnetic generator gun. It knocked out electronics. It might take out the Cybermen."

"That's just our first problem," Robert reminded them all. "We still need to fight the Daleks when we're done."

"One problem at a time, Captain. One problem…"

Before Yvonne could finish that line, Jackie's cell phone rang. She picked it up and answered it. "Hello?!"

"You're alive!" came from the other end.


"Yes. What happened?"

"The other lady who came from that ship saved us," Jackie explained.

"Good. Where are you all then?"

"Well, we're getting things to defend ourselves with. Weapons. They want to stop the Cybermen from hurting people."

"Put the phone on speaker mode, please."

Jackie pressed the appropriate button. "It's good to hear you're all intact."

"Doctor, did you get away from the Cybermen?" Robert asked.

"Yes. With a little help. I've got a plan to get Rose and Caterina away from the Daleks. If you're going after the cyber-conversion machines, wait until I give the signal."

"Why?" asked Yvonne. "What are you doing?"

"I don't have time to explain. But I need the Cybermen to cooperate and they'll not be in a listening mood if you've blown up their converter."

Robert's first instinct was to decline. The Doctor was asking them to ignore the people being fed into the machine. But that deep sense he felt told him this was how it had to go. The Daleks were enough of a threat that they had to be the focus.

"Alright, we'll wait," Robert agreed.

A short time later, three Cybermen in one of the tower halls witnessed a sheet of white material being hung into their view from around the corner of a corridor. "Sorry, no white flag," said the Doctor as he stepped into view. "Only had a sheet of A4. It had to do."

The three immediately raised their arms and presented weapons. "Do you surrender?" one asked.

"I surrender, unto you…" The Doctor stepped up to place his face within inches of the lead Cyberman's head. "...a very good idea."

The Cybermen in Main Engineering were, for the moment, mostly victorious. The security personnel and engineers outside of the protective forcefield had been forced to flee by the numbers they faced, leaving unconscious or dead crew across engineering. Only those who were with Scotty and Barnes inside of the forcefield were safe. For the moment, anyway.

Now, however, the Cybermen were pouring fire into the forcefield to get at them. An East Asian engineer, Ensign Yi, was currently responsible for checking the forcefield's strength. "Forcefield strength down to thirty percent," he said.

"They're gettin' better," Scotty mumbled while he and Barnes looked over the system diagram on the wall. "I cannae be sure this plan o' yers will work, Tom. Ye're talkin' about shifting power through systems in a way that's never been tried."

"I know," Barnes said. "But we don't have a lot of choices. We've got to get these things off the ship."

"But if ye're wrong, if we cannae draw power through safely, we'll burn through th' systems an' be right back where we started." Despite his protest, it was clear to all that Scott was impressed by his protege's plan.

"That's why I haven't already tried. Well, that, and because I'll need Jarod's help." Barnes activated his omnitool and began transmitting a message.

In Science Lab 1 Jarod heard the tone from his omnitool and checked it. It was in binary, and once he finished deciphering that it was in a partially-ciphered code. Translating that left a code message. After thinking on it for a couple seconds, Jarod looked to Richmond. "I need to get to the nearest Transporter Station," he said.

"We haven't secured any of those," she replied.

"I know." Jarod tapped several keys on his omnitool. Its interface now showed multiple bars beginning and growing to completion. "I just uploaded some self-defense applications into my omnitool. Between them and the gun, I should make it." Jarod held up the pulse pistol provided to him.

Richmond gave him an intent look. "Lieutenant Seldayiv!"

A Dorei woman stepped up from the various officers and personnel watching the doors. She had a pulse rifle in her arms, arms that were strongly-built with the rest of her short, thickly-built frame. She had the blue complexion of a Lushan Dorei with dark teal spots framing her face. Her dark purple hair, slightly disheveled from the situation, was pulled into a formal ponytail at the back of her head, and light teal eyes were bordered by the lines of someone growing tired and fatigued. Seldayiv's uniform was standard, with the brown of security/tactical, but Jarod noticed a necklace emblazoned with the moon emblem of the Church of the Eternal Goddess. "Lieutenant?" she asked Richmond.

"I'm sending you with Commander Jarod, he's on his way to the nearest Transporter Station."

"Yes sir," the Dorei replied. She nodded to Jarod. "I'm right behind you, Commander." Her accent reminded Jarod of a Latin accent, but with tones that sounded more Polynesian.

Jarod nodded back and went for the door. "Let's go."

After firing off another pulse pistol shot and nearly getting hit by return fire, Julia ducked back down behind the table. Beside her, Angel took a shot next. The grimace on her face spoke of the pain in her body from the near hit. Without her stubbornness, Julia figured Angel would already have passed out.

As soon as Angel dropped back into cover al-Rashad rose up and took a pair of shots. A third pull of the trigger resulted only in a deep tone. al-Rashad checked her gun and shook her head. "Zero percent. My clip is dead."

"I'm down to five percent myself," Julia said.

"Eight," said Angel. She looked at Julia with a grim expression. "Do you think you could get away down the secondary lift?" She pointed to the lift doors at the far end of the lounge.

"Jarod said it took one of the hits from the Shadow ships. The entire tube is exposed to vacuum."

"Dammit. I was going to tell you two to go and let me cover you." Angel looked frustrated and even a little vulnerable. "What are we going to do if they don't stop coming? When we run out of juice on our guns?"

"What about defensive apps for our omnitools?" al-Rashad suggested.

"That will only work for a little while," Julia said. "Especially given the recharge times required. We can't use those to hold off a determined attack."

"It's still something," al-Rashad insisted.

"It is, and we'll do it." Julia rose up and shot a Cyberman moving past one of his fallen allies. "But we might want to consider praying too. That's all we'll have left in the end."

The Daleks abruptly moved away from the Ark. "The Genesis Ark is ready for final awakening." The black-plated Dalek swiveled to face Rose. "It requires you to touch the Ark."

"Really?" Rose shrugged. "That's too bad, because I'm not doing it."

"Obey or the male will die!"

That seemed to have prompted Rose too change her mind. Mickey went to protest, but she waved him off. "I can't let them," she said. She stepped up toward the Ark

"Place your hand upon the casket."

Rose started to raise her hand toward it… and then stopped and turned. "Although, come to think of it, you're going to kill us anyway, aren't you? Once we're of no use to you."

The Daleks didn't react.

"Well, if I'm about to die, then to hell with it." Rose looked thoughtfully at the lead Dalek. "If you escaped the Time War, don't you want to know what happened? Don't you want to know what happened to the Emperor?"

"The Emperor survived…?!" The Daleks were clearly stunned.

Rose nodded. "Until he met me. If these are my last words, you're going to listen. I met the Emperor. And I took the Time Vortex and I poured it into his head and turned him into dust." She stared into the blue eye of the lead Dake. "Did you get that? The God of all Daleks…" She smiled widely. "...and I destroyed him."

And to really drive it home, Rose let out a giddy, triumphant laugh in the Dalek's face.

With sheer rage the Dalek shrieked, "You will be exterminated!"

"Oh, hold on now, just a minute…"

The Daleks and the Humans turned to face the door… and watched the Doctor enter the room.

In the testing lab, Jackie's patience was clearly coming to an end. "How much longer?" she asked. "How long until we can go?"

"I don't know," Robert said, betraying his own growing impatience. It didn't help that the sense of utter doom was growing inside of him. "The Doctor hasn't signaled yet."

"We can't wait for him forever," Yvonne pointed out. "My people are being turned into those things. I have to save them."

From a spot near the door, Meridina counseled, "We must show patience. Acting in haste will…"

She was cut off by the cry of pain that came from Robert. He doubled over, dropping the rifle he'd been holding in his rush to grasp his head. Images flooded him, images of worlds being obliterated, of a wave of darkness overwhelming the stars of the galaxy… of all galaxies. A deep, powerful void seemed to beckon before him and threaten to swallow him whole.

Meridina rushed to his side. She took hold of him and tried to enter his mind, to help him, but the sheer power of the vision drove her out. "Swenya's Light…" she gasped.

"What's wrong with him?!" Jackie shouted, necessary to get over another howl of pain from Robert.

"He is sensing a possible future," said Meridina. "A dark and terrible one."

"Bad Wolf," Robert growled. "What are you saying?" In his head he saw Rose yet again, eyes glowing gold. "What do you mean?!"

"The choice will be yours. Bad Wolf."

"Tell me, what are you talking about?!"

The image of Rose disintegrated. A massive vortex of darkness swirled around him. And through it he could feel… it. Them. Something powerful and malevolent, brimming with hate, stirring.

"No," he rasped. "Is it…?"

At that moment the wall on the other end of the firing range exploded inward. Everyone looked that way save Meridina, who turned to face the doorway… and the sound of metal stomping.

A Cyberman stepped into the doorway, weapon arm raised. "Surrender for upgrade," it demanded. "Or you will be deleted."

The gap in the far wall was soon filled with Cybermen. They too raised their weapons, putting the four in a crossfire. "They're going to kill us!" Jackie wailed.

While Robert was still disorientated, Meridina was not. And she merely answered with, "No, they're not."

The next noise in the air was an electronic snap and lingering hiss. A buzz filled the air and the head of the Cyberman in the door fell away with a flash of blue light. The body toppled inward.

Lucy walked into the door in a slightly dinged beige duty uniform. Her dark, curly hair was disheveled. But there was a grin on her face. She brought her lightsaber up to a ready position with one hand. Her words were quick and to the point.

"So, who's next?"

To Be Continued...
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-08-04 02:43pm


There was a moment of quiet in the Torchwood testing range.

The quiet ended when Lucy's left hand shot out. An object that Jackie Tyler and Yvonne Hartman mentally filed under "flashlight" flew through the air… and into the extended right hand of Meridina. An electronic snap-hiss filled the air and a shining blade of blue light surged from the object, matching the one in Lucy Lucero's right hand. She dashed forward as the Cybermen opened fire. Pale red energy zipped through the air at a speed no Human could conceivably evade or deflect.

But that is precisely what Lucy and Meridina did. Their blue blades moved in blurs of light that intercepted the energy blasts and sent them back toward the Cybermen. One hit the leg of one of the robots directly, causing red light to flicker over the limb and leave the metal blackened.

A blast of energy struck the Cyberman a moment later, courtesy of the weapon in Yvonne Hartman's hands. Another Cyberman moved up to the gap, revealing that there were more on the other side of the wall. When it tried to shoot her, Lucy's lightsaber sent the pale red light back into the Cyberman's head. It collapsed.

And then Lucy and Meridina were in range of the line of Cybermen. Their lightsabers cleaved through the metal skin on their foes easily. Severed limbs hit the floor. Sparks came to the air from the moments when the lightsabers were making contact with the electrical systems within the armored beings.

We will fight our way through here, Meridina informed the others telepathically. Get Captain Dale to safety!

Jackie's eyes widened. "How did they…"

"She has mental powers." Yvonne stood and motioned to Robert, still on the ground and looking completely disorientated. "Help him up."

Jackie took a moment to work the confusion out of her response before nodding and helping Robert to his feet. Pain filled his green eyes and his hand was over his forehead, as if that could banish his pain. "C'mon, now," Jackie urged him. "We've got to go."

Her voice helped Robert to push through the terrifying image in his head. A future was forming, a future where something of incalculable malevolence was free to destroy as it desired. Something worse than the Daleks themselves. He took control of his own walking by the time they got to the door.

Behind them, the buzz of lightsabers and the electric spurts of Cybermen weapons fire continued.

The Doctor stood in the door of the Sphere Chamber, hands in pockets and looking fairly nonchalant about things despite facing down four angry Daleks. He was wearing his pair of cheap-looking 3D glasses. With measured movements he casually strolled toward them.

"Alert!" shrieked one of the Daleks. "You are the Doctor!"

The Doctor kept moving toward them without a word.

"Sensors report he is unarmed," stated one Dalek.

"That's me, always," the Doctor said happily.

"Then he is powerless," insisted the lead, black-armored Dalek.

"Not me, never." The Doctor yanked his glasses and looked at Rose. "How are you?"

"Oh, same old. As always," Rose said cheerfully.

"Good. Cat?" he asked next, looking to Caterina.

She was still pale with fear, a fear that was starting to subside. "Oh, I'm… I'm fine."

"Hrm, you look like you need some more color to your cheeks. I'll have to fix that for you." The Doctor now seemed to notice Mickey. "And Mickety-Mick-Mickey! Nice to see you!"

"And you, boss," Mickey answered, smiling and accepting the Doctor's proferred fist bump.

One of the gold Daleks declared, "Social interactions will cease!"

The lead Dalek asked, "How did you survive the Time War?"

"By fighting," the Doctor answered. "On the front line. I was at the Fall of Arcadia. Some day I might even come to terms with that." He grinned at the Daleks and added, "But you lot ran away!"

"We had to survive," the lead Dalek answered defensively.

"And now here you are, the last four Daleks in existence." The Doctor spun around, looking at them. "What's so special about you?"

Rose quickly offered, "Doctor, they've got names. They're… not supposed to have names, right?"

"Normally not." The Doctor looked at them with interest.

"I am Dalek Thay," one gold one stated.

"Dalek Sec," said the leader.

"Dalek Jast."

"Dalek Caan."

"Oh." The Doctor's smile was strangely giddy. "We meet at last. The Cult of Skaro. I thought you were just a legend."

"Who are they?" asked Rose.

The Doctor stepped away to walk around the Genesis Ark, looking at each Dalek in turn. "A secret order. Above and beyond the Emperor himself. Their task was to imagine. To think like the enemy thinks. Even dare to have names." The Doctor stared down Thay and then Caan. "All to find new ways of killing," he added in disgust. "So, what's this here?" He indicated the Ark. "What are you doing? What's this for?"

"They say it's Time Lord," Caterina said. "Don't you know?"

"Never seen this before in my life," the Doctor said.

Mickey asked, "But it's Time Lord stuff. Shouldn't you know what it is?"

The Doctor's face betrayed grim thoughts. "Both sides had their secrets." He faced the nearest Dalek again. "So, what's it for?"

"Time Lord science will restore Dalek supremacy!"

"What does that mean? What Time Lord science? What do you mean?!" the Doctor demanded.

Rose stepped up behind him. "They say one touch from a time traveler will wake it up."

"Technology using the one thing a Dalek can't do." The Doctor nearly sneered. "Touch." He turned to face the nearest Dalek and brought his face right up to its electronic eye. "Sealed inside your casing, never feeling anything. Ever. From birth to death, locked inside a metal cage. Completely alone. That explains your voice. It's no wonder you scream."

Cat nearly shivered. Not at the Daleks, but at the sheer contempt dripping from the Doctor's voice. She hadn't imagined him capable of it.

"The Doctor will open the Ark!"

The Doctor laughed at that. "The Doctor will not," he said jovially, stepping away.

"You are powerless to resist."

At that he tilted his head, as if nearly surrendering the point. "Oh, you've got me there. Although…" He dug into his suit jacket and pulled out his blue-tipped device. "I always have this."

"A sonic probe?" Sec asked contemptuously.

"That's screwdriver," the Doctor corrected.

"It is harmless."

"You're right. That's what I like about it. It doesn't killl, doesn't wound, doesn't maim. But there's one thing it does very, very well." He tossed it from his left hand to his right and held it vertically. "It's very good at opening doors." He activated it, causing the blue-tipped head to light up.

Thunderous explosions filled the Sphere Chamber.

In the Aurora medbay Leo lowered his forearm. Doctor Lumenaram stepped up beside him. "What are you doing?" he asked in a low voice.

"What I have to," Leo responded.

Lumenaram's eyes met Leo's. He didn't have to ask what Leo meant by that. He could tell. Rather than continue the conversation, Lumenaram stepped away. This allowed Leo to continue his work. He knew the others would get here eventually, but he had no way of knowing how close they were, if they were tied up in fights in other critical areas or if they'd already taken numerous casualties… any possible reason that might see their relief delayed.

Leo's eyes scanned his patients. Some of them were going to die if they didn't get sufficient care soon. And all of them were faced with being fed into a machine and turned into another tromping robot. The eyes of those conscious sometimes came his way, as did those of his nurses and other doctors. They were trapped in the same circumstances he was, but as the head of the medbay, he felt responsible to them. He didn't think he could stand letting one of them be taken.

A final button press confirmed what he needed to do. It had taken every bit of Leo's ingenuity and passing familiarity with computer systems to make his solution possible. But it was all he could do in the situation, and he hoped and prayed it would accomplish the task.

The Cyberleader emerged from the OR. "The cyber conversion chamber is ready to begin emergency upgrading. Commence upgrades immediately."

The Cybermen in the medbay began to seize some of the wounded and nurses. The latter fought back where possible. Nasri looked ready to see her own arm pulled off rather than go, forcing the Cyberman holding her to drag her. A look of utter despair now appeared on her face, despair and, Leo realized with horror, recollection. She had been taken against her will in her homeland in Darfur as well. The Cybermen were not repeating that violation, but they would impose another, more total violation of her very being.

The others were out of time. He had to act. Leo stepped up to the OR entrance. The Cyberleader faced him. "We can't stop you, can we?"

"Upgrading will commence. Hostile elements will be deleted."

"Alright." Leo sighed in resignation. He took in an extra breath and made his choice. "I'm the Chief Medical Officer of this ship and thus the head of the medbay. If someone's going into that machine first, it's going to be me."

Undiscovered Frontier

"Doctor, no!" shouted Nasri.

Leo looked to her and shook his head. "I'll go first. It should be me." He swallowed and steeled himself. It was likely he would only have a second to do what he had to.

"No," said another voice.

Leo turned his head in time to see Doctor Lumenaram approach the entrance to the OR. "I will go," he said. "I am not Human. You should know if your upgrading process will work on me first. You may have to reconfigure the device."

"We have already accounted for your species," stated the Cyberleader.

"Maybe, but that's assuming you can account for all possibilities," Lumenaram stated. "If there is an unforeseen element you did not calculate, all of your work will be for nothing. You will have to rebuild your chamber."

The Cyberleader seemed to consider this. Ultimately it said, "It is irrelevant which order is taken."

Leo and Lumenaram both went for the door. Leo would have likely made it first had not Doctor Singh reached out and grabbed him. "Your turn will come later," she whispered to Leo.

"Dammit," Leo hissed back, but it was too late.

Lumenaram stepped into the OR. For several moments there was nothing. They didn't see him reaching for his omnitool, having done the same thing Leo did to its settings.

There was a bright burst of light from the OR joined by the roar of an explosion. It was not a major explosion. It didn't rattle the deck. It didn't knock anyone over.

But the effect was clear a moment later when a Cyberman emerged from the OR. "The cyber-convertor has been sabotaged," it said.

"Commence repairs immediately," answered the Cyberleader.

"You know, some of these patients won't make it that long," Leo said to him. "If you want them to survive long enough for upgrade, I need to treat them."

"You will be watched," the Cyberleader stated.

"I hope so," Leo replied with a grim expression on his face. "Maybe you'll learn what compassion is."

In Engineering the Cybermen fired another volley into the forcefield surrounding main control. "The shield is down to fifteen percent," Yi said.

"Tom, how're ye comin' on that plan o' yer's?" Scott asked Barnes.

Barnes looked up from his controls. "I've got everything I need done on this end, I'm just waiting for Jarod to get transporter control."

Scott nodded. And as he did, he got an idea. "Lads an' lasses, we're goin' t' reinforce that field an' buy time for th' others. Use yer omni-tools an' siphon power for th' field."

"Aye sir," a number of them replied.

Ensign Yi gave Scotty an uncomfortable look. "But sir, that's not possible, omnitools aren't designed to…"

"Ye just keep readin' those numbers off, lad, let me worry about what I can or cannae do," retorted Scotty.

Yi saw the intensity in the old engineer's face and swallowed, returning his attention to the display. "Field is now at thirteen percent…"

Between sealed off sections of the ship, Cybermen concentrations, and other battle damage, the closest Transporter Station that Jarod and his escort could find was Station 4. A pair of Cybermen were outside the door. Lieutenant Seldayiv raised her rifle and fired, hitting one directly and causing it to fall. Her initial volley also grazed the arm of the other.

It brought up its weapon to fire. Before it could Jarod's omnitool became active and he held it forward. Orange light surged from it and exploded into flames when it struck the chest of the Cyberman. The Cyberman lost its balance and stumbled partially. Seldayiv followed the movement with her rifle and put the robot down with her second volley.

They entered the room together. Again Seldayiv's gun barked out, joined by Jarod's pistol They caught the two Cybermen watching the inside and mowed them both down.

Jarod went for the transporter controls immediately. They were completely offline, unfortunately, and he saw why when he reached down and pulled the cover off the interior. "The console was damaged by the disruption event," he said to Seldayiv. "I'll need some time."

Seldayiv crouched beside him and kept her rifle ready. Jarod returned his attention to the damaged console. His omnitool came back on fully, both the main body around his left forearm and a modular element over his hand. Said modular element activated and he started applying it inside of the console to fix up the internal parts.

The thunder and power of the explosions that blasted open the Sphere Chamber was only the start. A second after the explosions cleared Humans in black combat suits entered alongside Cybermen, who called out, "Delete! Delete!" Some opened up with assault rifles, the Cybermen and others were firing energy weapons. The lightning-like beams started striking the Daleks.

Energy started surging over Dalek Caan. who shook. "Alert! Casing impaired! Casing impaired!"

"Firepower insufficient!"

The Doctor shouted, "Rose, Cat, run!" Rose scrambled away at that before stumbling close to the Genesis Ark, nearly touching it in the process. A dark-suited man with a balding head moved in and helped her up. She stared at him in shock. Caterina and the Doctor followed.

"Mickey!" Rose shouted as they got to the door.

Mickey was in the process of reclaiming his weapon. Dalek Sec's voice echoed in the Sphere Chamber. "Adapt to weaponry! Firepower restored!" An energy blast claimed one of the Cybermen.

Mickey got past the Daleks as and the Genesis Ark. As he tried to slip around the last Cyberman it turned suddenly. Its arm smacked into Mickey and sent him falling backward. His hands flailed and his right hand moved back in an attempt to find something to hold himself against.

Something like the Genesis Ark.

Mickey realized a moment later what he'd done. It was too late to do anything about it, however, and he scrambled back to his feet and continued running to join the others. He didn't have time to pay heed to the glowing red imprint of his hand left on the Ark, or the steam now coming from the openings in the bottom.

By the time he reached the door, the other fighters had as well. Only the Cybermen remained behind. As the Humans treated Dalek Sec's order of "Cybermen are primary target!" followed behind.

While Mickey stared at his right hand in frustration, Cat asked the man in the black suit, "Who are you?"

"Pete Tyler," he answered.

"He's a parallel version of my Dad," Rose explained. "So are the others."

The Doctor finished closing the blast door to the Sphere Chamber with the help of the sonic screwdriver. "Jake, secure the stairwell! Everyone else with me!" When he took off running, everyone followed save the armed men.

Mickey finally found the breath to say, "I just fell, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to…"

"Mickey, without us they'd have forced the Ark open anyway," the Doctor said. "And to do it they'd have blown up the sun. You've done us a favor." He gave Mickey a peck of a kiss on the forehead. "Now run!"

In the Sphere Chamber, the last Cyberman fell to the Cult of Skaro's energy blasts. "The Cybermen are exterminated! Daleks are supreme!"

"Genesis Ark is primed," stated Dalek Thay.

"The Genesis Ark requires an area of thirty square miles," said Sec. "Move."

As they began to do so, Dalek Jast added, "Genesis Ark mobile."

On one of the floors above them, the sounds of Cybermen energy blasts were matched by the buzz of energy blades. Lucy and Meridina moved side-by-side, guiding their blades to intercept the shots coming for them to deflect them back into those firing said shots. As they had done before, the two closed the distance and sliced through the Cybermen until the entire squad had become a number of disembodied pieces on the floor. Neither lost sight of the fact that these were human beings enslaved inside of robotic bodies. "We've got to stop this," Lucy insisted.

"The machine they use to hack up Human beings is nearby," said Meridina. "I know the way."

As they continued through the white corridors, Meridina asked, "Why did you come down instead of helping to secure the ship?"

"Because I sensed you would need me," she said. "That something horrible would happen if I didn't."

"I see." Meridina accepted that argument. "What you have sensed… it is dark, isn't it?"

"And bad. Dripping with evil bad." Lucy glanced at Meridina as they rounded a corner. "And I don't know if it's any of the Cybermen."

"There are also Daleks," Meridina said.

Lucy stopped for a moment. "What?!" she demanded. "Holy crap, those things?! How many?"

"Four according to the others. "

"Four too many."

Before the conversation could continue they arrived at the renovation site the Cybermen were using. Screams echoed from within the plastic.

The two began cutting right through. They got to the opening just as the Cybermen were about to feed a young woman into the machine. She screamed as she was brought to the threshold of the machine by a pair of Cybermen.

Meridina threw her lightsaber and guided it. The blade spun in the air and sliced through their necks before returning to Meridina's hand. They collapsed, freeing the woman. Lucy's weapon deflected shots from two more Cybermen with a line of prisoners back into them. She, and a line of other prisoners, ran to get away.

Other Cybermen emerged from around the machine. "Hostile elements will be deleted."

"I'll wreck that thing if you can hold them," Lucy said.


While Meridina's defensive techniques held the Cybermen off, Lucy ventured to the opening of the conversion machine. Multiple robotic arms approached, ready to weld metal to her body. Lucy's lightsaber was a blur, slicing the arms as they approached. Restraint devices came next and were thwarted in the same fashion. With the rest of the machinery out of reach of her blade Lucy switched to using her life force power, namely by gripping parts and ripping them from the chamber. Sparks flew and metal shrieked.

When she was done, all that was left was debris.

Yvonne led Jackie and Robert to the stairwell leading through Torchwood Tower's floors. Robert's attack had ended, or at least subsided enough he was functional. "The Doctor and the others must have attacked the Sphere Chamber," Yvonne was saying. "Are you alright?"

"Feeling better," Robert said, and it was mostly true. He was even starting to regain his abilities to a degree, even if they still seemed to thrum with anxiety. "I don't think…"

From below there was metallic thumping. Yvonne stopped, prompting everyone to do the same, and the squad of Cybermen moving up the staircase was noticed. Robert said, "This way" and went back up the steps to the door.

This led them into the halls of the Tower. They ran to escape any detection from the Cybermen.

That didn't quite work, given two Cybermen met them in the hall. They raised weapons and demanded, "You will be taken for upgrade."

In the fear of the moment Jackie forgot the device with her. "No! Please don't, you can't…"

Yvonne didn't. An energy blast from her particle gun blew apart one of the Cybermen… while a shot from behind claimed the other.

The smoke cleared to the sight of the Doctor, with Rose, Caterina, Mickey, and a balding man nearing middle-age with an energy rifle similar to the one Robert had intended to carry.

Jackie stared in surprise at the figure. "Pete?" she asked, incredulous.

Pete Tyler nodded. "Hey, Jacks."

"I said I wanted to believe in ghosts, but that's not fair…"

While the two conversed Robert rushed up to hug Caterina. He could sense her terror and fear was still strong… and he didn't mind admitting, "I was afraid we'd lost you" at the embrace. "I could never have faced Angel again if you'd been killed."

"It's them," she squeaked. "It's the Daleks again…"

"I know."

"They… they want something from me," Caterina continued. "It's something bad, I know it!"

In the background, Jackie was apparently indecisive about the matter of the alternate timeline version of her husband having wealth, with an exchange of "'Rich'. 'That doesn't matter… how rich?' 'Very'. 'It doesn't matter… how very?'"

Yvonne stepped up to the Doctor and Mickey. "You're Samuel, right?" she asked. "What happened to Rajesh?"

"The Daleks killed him," Mickey informed her somberly. "And the name's actually Mickey, ma'am. Mickey Smith."

"Oh?" Yvonne curled her forehead. "That name sounds familiar."

"I came from the parallel world to fight the Cybermen, but I'm originally from this world."

"He's Rose's ex-boyfriend," the Doctor clarified.

Mickey gave him a resigned look. "I really hate that 'ex' part there."

"Ha." Yvonne chuckled bitterly. "Well, you did quite well infiltrating my organization, Mister Smith. Between you and the Cybermen, I have to wonder how many other agents have infiltrated Torchwood."

"Well, we had the advantage of coming from the Torchwood in the other world," Mickey explained. "They have the breach there too."

"And your traveling around is going to ruin both worlds," the Doctor said. "Which is why we have to close it, and why I need everyone to come with me now."

The Doctor led them down toward a stairwell. As the group walked, Pete looked at Yvonne and blinked. "Yvonne Hartman?" he asked. "It's really you, isn't it?"

"It is," she replied. "I take it you know of my counterpart on your world?"

"She's hard to miss," Pete said. "My world's Yvonne Hartman is the Home Secretary. Everyone thought it strange that she got a Cabinet post."


"She's the first avowed monarchist to hold a Cabinet post in the Republic in decades," Pete explained.

"I can't imagine myself a poli-..." Yvonne stopped and looked at him again. "Wait, Republic?"

Leo finished securing one of the critical cases in the medbay and moved on to the next casualty. Doctor Singh arrived at the same time he did. "Why did you stop me?" he asked Singh.

"Because Lumenaram would have punched you senseless," Singh answered. "He was determined that you be protected."

"Why?" Leo asked, almost demanded given the tone of his voice. "He's just as good a physician."

"He is… was… also a believer, Doctor. He believed in what the Gersallians call the Prophecy of the Dawn. And that you had to be protected." Singh checked the patient's vitals.

Leo, in turn, checked the scan results on the specific problem. "Dammit," was all Leo could say to Singh's explanation. "I'm still going in next," Leo insisted. "I'll do the same thing. It was my plan."

"We all had it. But I suspect our captors have adapted to it."

"Probably," Leo agreed. "We have to leave this to the others. I just hope they hurry."

"Field down to five percent, cohesion failing!"

Ensign Yi's voice betrayed just a little bit of fear at that report. "The system is taking from the omnitools all it can, but the enemy fire is too much," he added. Indeed, to him it seemed like the number of Cybermen had increased.

"Tom, are we ready?" Scotty asked. "We cannae hold 'em much longer, lad!"

Barnes looked up from the console. "We're all ready on this end, this is down to Jarod." He tapped his omnitool comm button. "Barnes to Jarod. C"mon, buddy, tell me you've got that Pretender magic going!"

"Working on it!"

Jarod was indeed working on it. And being a savant, while it had many advantages, did little to deal with the physical limitations of burnt out circuits or how many of them could be switched out and fixed or bypassed with the help of an omnitool.

Worst of all, the Cybermen were onto them. The door swished open again and several more entered, firing as they came in. Seldayiv had to duck behind cover before returning fire, taking out one. Jarod was forced to stop working and shoot another before it got a shot off at him. The WHOM WHOM WHOM of pulse fire was further distracting. "Jarod to Richmond. Have you been able to get me any help?"

"Unfortunately, no, Commander. I sent Teams D and N toward your position, but they're busy keeping a concentration of Cybermen from reaching you. I've got nothing else. You and Seldayiv are on your own."

"Right," Jarod grumbled before getting back to work. "Why do people think that because I'm a genius I can do anything?"

"Because you seem to be capable of that, sir," Seldayiv said in an honest tone.

"Don't remind me," Jarod grumbled while working to repair another circuit he couldn't replace.

The pile of Cybermen in the room had become impressive. Another stepped over some of said pile and reached for the table. Angel popped up and shot it point blank. "Two percent," she noted. "This is probably my last shot. Maybe one or two more. These things get unpredictable on low battery charges."

Julia nodded before popping off what quickly proved to be her last shot. "Well, that's it for me."

"Delete! Delete!" came the Cybermen response.

"Maybe if we rush them, we can get through to another lift," Angel proposed. "There can't be that many left."

"And what about you?"

"I'll limp along. Draw their fire."

"They'll mow you down in an instant, sir," al-Rashad pointed out.

"Then I guess we're down to prayers."

"I doubt Allah listens to me much," al-Rashad stated. "I am agnostic."

"But doesn't that mean you don't believe in God?" asked Angel.

"It means I don't think the existence of the divine can be proven," al-Rashad corrected. "I'm a scientist after all. Proof is something we like to see on these matters."

Angel looked at her with curiosity. "I'd think that would make you an atheist."

"I'm not more an atheist than your sister," al-Rashad guffawed. "Besides, I can't ignore the possibilities of the supernatural when my Captain can throw giant gene-engineered soldiers around a circle with the power of his life force."

"Yeah, I suppose…"


Julia's shushing made them go quiet. Doing so immediately revealed why she wanted the quiet. "I don't hear them," said al-Rashad.

"Maybe we got them all?"

The door slid open again. Even though her pistol was dead, Julia still turned it toward the door… before lowered it. "What the… Hargert?!"

The old cook had a pulse gun in his hand. He smiled at them, as did others the three recognized: Albert, Olujwe, and Hasters. Each was also armed.

"You should be with the other civilians," Julia charged, although there was little heat in her voice and some barely-constrained joy.

"We heard what these 'Cybermen' want to do, Fraulein," Hargert answered. "Aboard Aurora right now, there are no civilians. We must all fight to save ourselves from these tin monsters."

"Did you fight your way to the bridge?" asked Angel.

"Partly. We had assistance from other crew on the other decks," Hargert said. He noticed Angel trying to stand and frowned. "Lieutenant, you need medical attention."

"I need to get back to my station," Angel growled. "Besides, these assholes hold the medbay."

Olujwe stepped up. "I have medic training."

"Do what you can," Julia ordered. SHe looked to Hargert again and said, "Thank you, everyone. If you wouldn't mind staying here until we get this situation resolved?"

"We are your disposal, Commander," Hargert pledged.

In Transporter Station 4, Seldayiv fired off another volley. "I'm on my last charge clip," she warned Jarod.

"Almost done…"

Barnes' voice came back over the radio. "Jarod, you've got maybe ten seconds!"

"Not helping!" Jarod shot back while using his omnitool's built-in hardlight machinery to repair the last circuit vital to their plan. He watched his work carefully to keep from any slip, since such a slip would require even more time to fix. He wanted nothing more than to move, to stretch his legs or shift his arm, but even the slightest movement could cause just such a disastrous slip. "Almost there…"

In Main Engineering, the forcefield around the main controls collapsed.

The Cybermen kept their weapon arms up. "You will be taken for upgrade," one announced.

"Jarod…" Barnes said through clenched teeth. The Cybermen started to move toward them to seize the engineers.

"...we're out of fracking time, man!"

As Barnes made that announcement, Jarod finished the circuit repair. He quickly stood up and made absolutely sure he was done by hitting a key. "Now Tom!" he shouted into the comm link.

Ensign Yi shouted and tried to pull away, to no avail, as a Cyberman grabbed him.

Barnes, meanwhile, input the final commands into his console as soon as he confirmed Jarod's success. He quickly hit a number of keys, culminating with a final activation press.

Half of the Cybermen in Engineering disappeared in bursts of white light.

"Yes!" Barnes crowed, already inputting new commands. "Suck vacuum, you fracking toasters!"

The remaining Cybermen all started to point their weapon arms at him, but they were too late. With another button press they too were swept off the ship.

"There ye go, lad! Brilliant!" Scott stepped up beside him. "Where are ye beamin' th' scunners too?"

"Low orbit," Barnes replied, still busy at the controls. "They can suck vacuum until they make re-entry."

Leo sighed with resignation after another Cyberman emerged from the OR. "Repairs complete," it said. "Ready to commence upgrades."

"Any further sabotage will result in immediate deletion of the personnel in this facility," the Cyberleader warned them all.

Leo swallowed at that. No matter what happened, his people would die. But at least we don't be slaves, he thought to himself as he stepped forward. "Then I'll go first," he said.

The Cyberleader considered him. He raised his arm. "Take this personnel first."

There was a cry as one of the Cybermen grabbed Nasri and pulled her away. "No! God no!" she cried.

A curse in Punjabi came from Doctor Singh. "If you must take one of us, take me first you tin-plated…" Leo didn't recognize the word that came afterward, but could guess it was a nasty one to come from the Sikh doctor.

Leo's muscles tensed. He was prepared to charge ahead and rush into the door just before Nasri got there, if only he could slip past the Cybermen…

He took his first step while, around his forearm, his omnitool appeared, ready for him to give the final command for the overload that would turn it into a bomb.

Unfortunately the Cybermen were ready. The Cyberleader stepped up and grabbed Leo by the arm, hard enough to nearly crush bone. Leo cried out in pain. "No!" he shouted. "Nasri!"

"Please, no! Don't do this to me!" Nasri struggled in vain against the robot.

And then white light whisked away her captor. Nasri stumbled to her knees and looked up, wide-eyed and surprised.

"Warning, warning, unknown effect is removing Cybermen. All units, prepare…" Before the Cyberleader could finish, it too was whisked away, causing Leo to nearly lose his balance. His left arm hurt from the grip that had now disappeared.

Within seconds, all of the Cybermen in the medbay were gone.

Jarod would have gotten shot by the Cybermen in the next moment if not for Seldayiv. She jumped at him and knocked him to the floor. In the process her rifle was knocked loose and clambered just out of reach.

"Delete," another incoming Cyberman stated. "Delete!" It swung its weapon arm to bear on them. Jarod tried to scramble to get his omnitool control active, but he already knew it would be too late.

Seldayiv uttered something in her native Lushan that Jarod didn't catch and threw her hand up in desperation, as if the shot might at least only ruin the limb.

Instead the Cyberman toppled backward, as if hit by a blunt force. It fell into another Cyberman coming up behind it and knocked it over in the process. Before either could untangle themselves, white light surged around them and they were whisked away.

Jarod got untangled from his protector and looked at her with interest. "I hadn't heard we had another metaphysical specialist aboard," he remarked.

Seldayiv was too busy staring at her hand. Her light teal eyes were wide open with shock. "I… I didn't know I could… the Eternal Goddess has Gifted me…" She swallowed and looked at Jarod. "It was not my imagination?"

Jarod shook his head. "I'm guess this is the first time?"

Seldayiv nodded quietly. "Yes. Yes, I never imagined I…" She remained quiet while Jarod helped her stand up before she pulled down a breath and straightened her spine. "I'm sorry, Commander. I am overwhelmed by this, but we have more important matters. I am ready for orders." Words aside, Jarod didn't need mind-reading or sensing to tell that Seldayiv was completely stunned by this development.

"Well, we don't have Cybermen shooting at us, and that's the important part," he said. "You can discuss this with Captain Dale and Commander Meridina when this is all over. Until then, we need to get back to Science Lab 1."

The door to the Torchwood storage bay flew open. Dalek Sec screamed, "Exterminate!" as pale red light washed over his protective shields.

"Delete!" was the retort of the line of Cybermen awaiting the four Daleks and their cargo. Behind them the camo-wearing troops of Torchwood had taken up defensive positions; for the moment the two sides were continuing to cooperate against the greater threat of the Daleks.

The Daleks moved toward them and the center of the storage bay. Bullets and Cybermen blasters and the energy guns of the alternate Earth's commandos struck their protective shields with virtually no effect. Even the Genesis Ark was protected, with much the same effect.

The Daleks returned fire with ruthless efficiency and even more ruthless effectiveness. Cybermen started dropping all over the chamber. Blasts that hit Torchwood soldiers resulted in bursts of X-ray light so intense that skeletons were briefly visible; such hits were generally as fatal for them as they were for Cybermen.

The Cyberleader observing the fight activated his communications channels. "Emergency. All units will converge on the Torchwood Tower. Repeat, all units to Torchwood." His orders spread, sending every Cyberman in London marching toward Canary Wharf.

As the fighting continued, none of the combatants seemed to notice one of the double doors opening. The Doctor appeared, with Rose, Pete, and Robert looking in with him. He dashed ahead without a word, hitting the ground and making his way underneath all of the energy fire and bullets toward a crate.

"I need to rally my people," said Yvonne. "I'm not sure what good it will do, but Torchwood will not go down to the Daleks without a fight."

"The Doctor will have a plan," Rose said, never turning. She was too busy anxiously watching the Doctor evade the firefight.. "Let's see what it is before you go off to get people killed in unnecessary last stands."

Yvonne shot a look at her over that, but said nothing.

From the crate, the Doctor lifted two large objects, composing of black bottoms with silver handles. Robert had seen Jackie and Yvonne fiddle with them during the prior tour. "Magna-clamps, right?" he asked Yvonne.

"Yes." Yvonne looked bewildered. "But why would he want, or need, those at a time like this?"

"I think we're going to find out," said Cat.

On his way back with the items, the Doctor tripped on a fallen Cyberman and dropped the devices. He scrambled to pick them up and continue while Rose urged him on with, "Come on, please."

The Doctor finally made it. "Here we go."

"Where to next?" Jackie asked.

"First things first. I need to see something." He whipped out his cheap-looking 3D glasses and peeked back through the door.

"At a time like this, you're going to keep watching that? With those silly looking glasses?" protested Jackie.

In the room the Daleks continued to shrug off the fire of their enemies. They made it to the center of the room as ha evidently been their goal. Dalek Sec looked up and said, "Override roof mechanism."

Above them, the roof started to slide open.

"Elevate," Dalek Sec said.

The Genesis Ark, Sec, and Thay began to rise in the air. As they flew up toward the opening roof, a confused Rose asked, "What are they doing? Why do they need to go outside?"

"Time Lord science," said the Doctor. From his tone of voice he was bewildered and frustrated. "What Time Lord science? What is it?"

Sec, Thay, and the Ark accelerated as the roof fully opened.

The Doctor pulled back from the door, grabbed the two magna-clamps, and started running. "We've got to see what they're doing! We've got to go back up!" he shouted at the rest of them. "Come on, all of you! Top floor!"

"That's 45 floors up!" Jackie protested. "I know because I did them all!"

As they ran past, the lift door opened. Jake, the leader of Pete's commando unit, leaned out of the door. "We could always take the lift," he offered.

No more needed to be said. Everyone squeezed into the lift.

The two Daleks and the Genesis Ark flew upward until they had nearly reached the height of Canary Wharf. "The Genesis Ark will open," said Dalek Sec.

One quarter of the Ark slid open slowly.

The lift had been a quick trip despite the weight in it. The Doctor ran ahead of everyone, getting to Yvonne's office first and placing the magna-clamps on her desk before going to the window. The others moved in behind her.

They watched, wordlessly, as the Ark door finished opening… revealing a gold-plated Dalek inside.

The Ark began to spin. As it completed its first spin the Dalek within it shot out. Just as the door left sight again, another Dalek shot out as well. And another… and another…

"Holy crap," Robert said. Beside him Caterina watched with wide, terrified eyes as more and more Daleks were thrown from the Ark.

"Time Lord science," the Doctor said in a low tone. "It's bigger on the inside."

"The Time Lords put those Daleks in there?" asked Mickey. "What for?"

"How many Daleks?" Rose asked nervously.

The Doctor took a moment to respond, but he eventually did.


The Ark continued to spew out Daleks, now one every second. The Daleks gathered into formations in the air and began to spread out over the skies of London.

Below, formations of Cybermen marching in the street stopped and turned. They raised their arms skyward and opened fire on the Daleks.

"Exterminate all life forms below!" ordered Dalek Sec. "Exterminate!"

The Daleks immediately swooped in and began firing at everything in the street.

"Dalek Thay." Sec swiveled its eye to face its comrade. "Assume command of assault force. Complete your mission."

"I obey," Thay answered. Wordlessly, he sent the commands to bid many of the emerging Daleks to follow him. They began to coalesce around him, numbering in the dozens within moments.

And as one, they rose skyward.

This did not go unnoticed to the group watching with horror from the top floor of Torchwood Tower. "Wait, where are they going?" Jackie asked.

The Doctor swallowed and turned away from the window. His eyes met Caterina's. "They spared you," he said. "Even though you couldn't open the Ark. Why?"

"They… th-they sa-said I'd b-be nec-necessary," Caterina said, stammering her way through the answer. Robert could feel realization dawn on her, but he would have realized it just by the way her face completely paled. "N-no…"

His face did the same thing as he put two and two together.

The Doctor nodded solemnly. "They kept you alive for the only reason they would keep any non-Dalek alive. They thought you might have been useful to them."

"In what way?" asked Yvonne.

"Yeah, if they just wanted to know what she knew, they would have sucked it from her brain like they did to Rajesh," Mickey pointed out.

"Because it's not about what's in her head, not exactly," the Doctor said. "Their priority was the Ark, and they didn't want to muck up anything by rushing things. But now that the Ark is open, they've got another goal in mind."

"Y-you don't th-think…"

The Doctor nodded at Caterina and at Robert. "The Daleks aren't after Earth," he said.

"They're after the Aurora," Robert finished for him.
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-08-06 09:32am

Outside of Canary Wharf, the Daleks were filling the London sky. Energy fire from Cybermen below crossed with the Daleks firing down into them and into any resident of the city that they came across.

Inside of the top floor, this sight and what it meant wasn't lost on Pete Tyler. "We can't save this world," he declared. He made a hand motion toward Jake and stepped away from the window to face Jackie. "But we'll be safe in mine. Jacks, let's go."

"What are you talking about? Are you just going to leave?" she asked. "They're destroying the city!"

"Not just London, they're going to destroy the whole world. I can't stop that. But our world will be safe. For you and for Rose." Pete looked to the Doctor. "If the Doctor seals the breach."

"We've got other concerns right now," Robert retorted. "Those things are after my ship! We've got to warn them!" Under ordinary circumstances Robert wouldn't be worried. The Aurora could simply warp out or keep the shields up and shoot Daleks until they were destroyed.

But the Aurora as she was now, with all of those hull breaches and no armor self-repair system and no shields? They were sitting ducks.

"I have to get them to safety!" Pete protested. "I have to protect my world! Doctor, you…"

The Doctor let out a loud whistle. "Alright, hold it!" he shouted. "One thing at a time." He pulled out his sonic screwdriver. "Captain, your omni-tool?"

Robert reached down and activated it. The Doctor held his screwdriver up to it for a moment. The tip lit up and a whirring sound started. "What are you doing?" Robert asked.

"Altering your communication system. You should be able to talk to someone on your ship. You might not be able to receive back from them, true, but for now the warning's the important part." The whirring stopped and the Doctor pulled his device away. "There. Now try."

Robert hit his comm key. "Dale to Aurora."

There was no immediate answer.

"Dale to Aurora, please respond."

There was no hiding his relief when a reply of "Aurora here," came. It was crackly and slightly distorted, but Robert was certain it was Julia on the other end. "We don't have anything beyond intraship, how are you doing this?"

"The Doctor," Robert answered. "Commander, call an alert to repel boarders, now. You've got trouble coming your way."

"We already defeated the Cybermen," Julia answered. "The ship is clear."

"I'm not talking about the Cybermen," Robert said over the line, his voice scratchy from distortion. "It's…" The line garbled into static.

Julia, again in the command chair, felt bewildered at that remark. The bridge was partly-manned again. Jarod was at Ops, checking on things, while Angel was having her leg tended to by a medic while at tactical. Al-Rashad was again at sensors and Violeta had assumed helm control, although for the moment there was little use for it. "Wait, what's going…"

"Commander, I've got power signatures exiting the upper atmosphere," al-Rashad said. "It looks like they're on an intercept course."

"Put them on screen."

The screen changed to show orbital space above London. Forms were rising up through the atmosphere and heading toward them. "Magnifying," Jarod said.

The image of their pursuers was now clear. And Julia would always recognize what they were. She'd had her own nightmares about them since the day the Facility was destroyed.

"Daleks," Jarod said grimly.

Julia's jaw dropped open. "That many?"

Angel's response was perhaps the most fitting. "Oh shit."

Julia's finger stabbed back down on the comm control. "All hands, prepare for boarding action! Prepare to repel enemy boarding parties! I say again, prepare to repel enemy boarding parties!" After this was done she called Engineering. "I need shields or impulsors back online, now."

"It cannae be done, lass," Scotty protested. "We were hours away before even before those metal scunners showed up."

Julia tried not to let the fear and frustration get to her. "Dammit, Scotty, we've got worse coming!"

"So?" This was from Barnes. "I'll just beam 'em to join the Cyberfrackers in low orbit, they'll burn up…"

"They're Daleks, Tom!"

In Main Engineering, Barnes' face paled. He and Scott exchanged bewildered looks. "How many?" he asked.

"Dozens, easy!"

For a moment Barnes thought his heart had stopped. When he finally found his voice again, he could say only one thing.

"Oh shit!"

Kane's reaction was less emphatic. "All squads and platoons, heavy weapons are now authorized. I repeat, heavy weapons are authorized."

Barker gave him a bewildered look. "We're going to wreck everything in this ship if we go free-fire with heavy weapons, sir," she pointed out.

"Did you ever listen to the testimonies from the Dalek Incursion into the H1E4 Facility, Barker?" Kane asked.

"No sir."

"I have." Kane frowned. "Trust me. We'll need 'em to stop those damn things."

Julia watched the approaching Daleks with a growing terror. "I wish we had fighters ready to launch," she said. "Jarod?"

"All fighters were destroyed or critically damaged when the Shadow ship shot through our launch and hanger decks," Jarod replied. "The same thing with the main and secondary shuttle bays. Given time we could have repaired a few, but I was too busy fixing the ship itself."

Julia nodded at that. "So we don't have that going for us. Weapons?"

Angel checked over her panel. As she expected, none of her weapons were back online. "Phasers and plasma cannons are still out. And I've got no power to the torpedo launchers." Angel smacked her hand to her useless console. Dammit, we've got a full torpedo load and no launchers," she said. "If I had a way to deliver them…"

Jarod turned and nodded. "We do." He tapped a key at Ops. "Tom, start transporting our torpedoes into their flight path, now!"

"Ha! That'll show the bastards!"

On the viewscreen, small bursts of light appeared in the Dalek flight path. "Remote arming sequence complete," Angel said.


Even without Julia's command, Angel's finger was already in motion. The screen filled with light as the torpedoes began to detonate. The Daleks closest to the detonations were outright vaporized. Further away they were damaged, some beyond repair, others trying to re-orientate themselves.

But some were far enough away from the blast radius to suffer minimal, if any, damage. They continued onward.

This did not go unnoticed. "Send more!" Jarod shouted into the comm link.

Julia issued her own order. "Ensign Arterria, fire maneuvering thrusters, get us as much distance as you can!"

"Aye ma'am," she said, while triggering the necessary thrusters to turn to present the port side to the Daleks. "Given the state of the other thrusters it's going to take at least a minute to execute the turn. Most of our intact thrusters are on the port side as it is."

The screen showed more of the Daleks approaching before another series of torpedo blasts lit the screen up.

"I've still got more incoming, they're evading," al-Rashad reported.

"Keep it up, Tom!" Jarod urged over the line.

"Mister Scott, I need more thrusters, anything, to get this ship moving!" Julia added.

"We're doin' what we can, sir!" was the response.

Lucy and Meridina were surprised when they led the escaped Torchwood survivors toward the front of the building. The Cybermen now seemed to pay them no heed, rushing outside to the ongoing battle. "What's happened out there?" Lucy wondered. She and Meridina stepped up toward the door.


Daleks came crashing through the door. The two sensed the shots coming their way and caught them with their lightsabers. Their first deflections hit nothing, but the second shots from the three Daleks deflected blasts back into one of them. Its protective shield was overwhelmed and the Dalek's top blew off like a firecracker had gone off inside, spewing fluid and debris everywhere.

"Back inside!" Meridina cried to the survivors. "Get back!" She deflected another blast that took out a second Dalek.

The last Dalek focused on her instead of Lucy, who dashed forward and brought her lightsaber down on its eyestalk. The Dalek's protective field made it feel like she was trying to shove a dull knife through an overcooked steak. She had to jump over it when it prepared to fire at her, point blank. The shot hit the far wall and spewed flames.

Lucy's next cut had the same problem. Given time and effort her lightsaber would penetrate the field, but that meant keeping the Dalek still. Meridina reached out with her swevyra and gripped the Dalek to accomplish just that. "Tactical alert!" it cried. "Tactical alert to all Dalek units. Metacapable targets located!"

As it finished its warning Lucy's blade finally finished cutting into its shields, and then into its armor. The Dalek made a death scream that filled the Torchwood Tower lobby before it went silent.

"Perhaps we should withdraw, I sense Robert near the top of the building," Meridina stated.

Lucy nodded and approached her. A sense of warning from behind prompted her to turn and swing her lightsaber, deflecting a shot from an arriving Dalek back into it. The deflection was a direct hit, causing the Dalek's upper body to explode.

But there were yet more Daleks behind it. "Exterminate!" they cried.

There was no time to escape. Meridina and Lucy could only slowly back up as they focused entirely on deflecting the Dalek's attacks.

In the Torchwood Tower, Pete grabbed one of the world-jumping devices from a pouch on one of his men and handed it to Jackie. "Okay Jacks, we need to go. Please."

"But we can't just run…!"

He put his hands on her face and drew close. "Oh, I forgot how much you could argue. Jacks, we can't save this world. But there's a safe world for you and Rose so long as the Doctor closes the breach." Pete looked to where the Doctor was again staring out the window at the exchange of energy fire between the Cybermen and Daleks. "Doctor, it's time."

When the Doctor turned, he was grinning. A pair of 3D glasses were on his face. "Oh, I'm ready." He dashed from the office and went for one of the computer keyboards. "I've got the equipment right here, thank you Torchwood." His fingers moved over the keyboard, clack-clack-clack. "Slam it down and close off both universes."

"But we can't just leave. What about the Daleks and Cybermen?" Rose looked at Caterina and Robert. "What about their ship? If the Daleks get ahold of it…"

"They're part of the problem and that makes them part of the solution, oh yes!" the Doctor answered, making a wild gesture with his hand and acting very much like they weren't on the cusp of disaster.

"In what way?" asked Robert.

"Isn't anyone going to ask?" The Doctor looked around at them. "Come on, you know you want to ask. 'What is it with the glasses?'"

"What is it with the glasses?" Rose and Cat asked, at virtually the same moment.

"I can see, that's what!" the Doctor proclaimed. "'Cause we've got two separate worlds, and in between those two separate worlds we've got the Void. That's where the Daleks were hiding and the Cybermen traveled through the Void to get here." He gestured to Pete, Mickey, and Jake next. "And you lot, one world to another, via the Void." He raised his chin in consideration. "Oh, I like that. 'Via the Void!' His hand made a little gesture in the air as he quoted the line again.

"You're taking this awfully lightly," Robert accused. He looked around at the others. Yvonne was busy at her desk, apparently trying to get in contact with the British government or military or maybe just her remaining Torchwood teams.

"Look." The Doctor handed his glasses to Robert. He accepted them and put them on. "I've been through it. What do you see?"

Robert looked at him with the glasses and blinked. The 3D panes caused the Doctor to look a tad blurry, but the confusing bit was some kind of dark matter or energy that had coalesced around him. The Doctor moved side to side, allowing Robert to see that the particles of black moved with him. He took the glasses off and handed them to Cat, who saw the same thing. "What is it?" she asked as she handed the glasses to Rose, who raised a hand toward the Doctor's head.

"Void stuff," the Doctor said.

"Like, um, background radiation," Rose suggested.

"Or something like…" Cat stopped herself. "Background radiation works, really."

"That's it." The Doctor turned Rose around. "Look at the others."

Rose did so. Mickey, Jake, and Pete also had the Void stuff shifting around them. "And the only one who hasn't been through the Void," the Doctor pointed to Jackie, "your mother. First time she's looked normal in her life."

"Oi," Jackie protested.

"What about them?" Rose was looking at Robert and Cat with the glasses now. "I don't see any Void stuff on them. Don't they travel universes?"

"Yes, but not through the Void," the Doctor explained. Around them the Computer intoned "Reboot in three minutes." "They move through sixth-dimensional space. The Void exists between fifth dimensional space."

"Cat said something about that earlier," Rose said, and Cat nodded in agreement. "That they're not linked by time or something?"


"How does that work?" Mickey asked, now confused.

The Doctor spun to him. "We haven't got time for the full explanation, Mickey. But to lay it out, imagine the BIg Bang. You know the Big Bang, you all do, right?"

"Yeah." Mickey said, with the others nodding.

"So the Big Bang happens and all of space and time form," the Doctor said. "But what many civilizations never even learn is that the Big Bang wasn't just one 'BANG!'" He mimicked an explosion. "It started with one, but at the point of the Bang it got sort of stuck in time, or rather in this knot of timey-wimeyness. Bang, bang, over and over again, each bang creating one new universe at a new sixth dimensional layer of reality."

"Which is why different universes, to our experience, have different points in time," Caterina added.

"Exactly! But once each new universe formed, time started flowing, and over billions and billions of years increasing number of random chances started building up. Quantum decision points were formed, creating fifth dimensional copies, and the Void formed between them."

"I thought you were giving the short explanation?" asked Pete.

"This is the short one," the Doctor answered defensively. "The long explanation would require a subatomic particle accelerator inside a refractive temporal field, twenty hours of talking, and probably a lot of tea for us to sit through it."

"So let's go with the short, short version," Robert suggested impatiently.

"There's not really one, and we're almost done," Cat insisted. "Interuniversal jump drives don't go through the Void, or the 5th Dimensional barrier. It's also why our drives are even possible without having to worry about things like entropic cascade or the effects of dimensional barrier collapse."

"Like what's happening on your world," the Doctor said to Pete. "But to continue… the Daleks lived inside the Void. They're bristling with it!" The Doctor turned and rushed toward the far wall. He turned to face Rose as she followed. "Cybermen, all of them, I just open the Void and trigger a reversal." He held out his hand and made a pulling gesture. "The Void stuff gets sucked back inside."

"Pulling them all in!" Rose added ecstatically.

"Pulling them all in!" the Doctor repeated in just as ecstatic a tone.

"Sorry, but what's the Void?" Mickey asked. "You said all this stuff about dimensions but what's the Void actually?"

"The dead space," the Doctor said. "Some people call it hell."

"So you're sending the Cybermen and Daleks to hell?" Mickey grinned and looked at Jake. "Man, I told you he was good."

Rose was no longer so enthusiastic, however. "But it's like you said. We've all got Void stuff. Me too because we went to that parallel world." She studied her own hand, seeing the void bits whirling around her hand and fingers, not quite touching her. "We're all contaminated. We'll all get pulled in."

"That's why you've got to go," the Doctor explained somberly. "Back to Pete's world." For a moment he showed a glimmer of cheer again. "Hey, we should call it that. Pete's World!" He pointed to Pete briefly before looking at Rose. He could see, they all could see, she was upset. "I'm opening the Void, but only on this side. You'll be safe on that side."

"And you close it?" The Doctor looked to Pete, who spoke now. "For good?" Pete asked.

"The breach itself is soaked in Void stuff," the Doctor replied. "It'll close itself in the end. And that'll be it."

"But you stay on this side?" Rose asked.

"But you'll get pulled in," Mickey pointed out.

"No, he won't," Caterina said. "That's why he picked up these things." She pointed to the magna-clamps.

The Doctor pointed to her and nodded, smiling a little. "Exactly." He ran into Yvonne's room, ignoring her conversation, and picked up a clamp. He looked at Mickey and said, "I'll just have to hold on tight. Been doing it all my life."

"Or we could catch you," Robert suggested.

"Not a good idea," the Doctor said. "The breach is going to be exerting a lot of force to draw me in. Besides, I'll need you to watch my back. If the Daleks or Cybermen realize what's going on, well, they're not going to like it very much."

"And that's it? I'm supposed to go?"

It was easy to sense Rose's displeasure with the idea. Robert felt resentment and frustration and sadness roiling through her.

"Yeah." The Doctor set the clamp down.

"To another world? And then it gets sealed off?"

"Yeah," the Doctor repeated.

"Forever?" Rose asked, her eyes pleading with the Doctor. Pleading for him to reverse this decision.

He didn't answer.

On the Aurora bridge another sequence of torpedoes went off, destroying more Daleks. The Aurora continued to pull away steadily.

But, as it turned out, not fast enough.

"Several Daleks have evaded the torpedo blasts," Jarod said. "They're approaching minimum safe distance for the torpedoes."

"Meaning that if we set one off, we damage ourselves too," Julia said.

"Oh yeah."

"Engineering t' Bridge. We cannae keep this transportin' up for tae long, Commander, th' systems we're usin' cannae take th' strain!"

"Maintain it as long as you can, Mister Scott," Julia insisted. "Every Dalek you blow up is one not shooting its way aboard this ship!" Julia tapped a key to open a second channel. "Commander Kane, we've got Daleks overtaking the ship. Are your Marines ready?"

"Ready and able, ma'am. I've got all platoons positioned to respond rapidly to any incursion. Let me know where they're coming in and I'll get my people on it."

"It looks like they're trying to approach the drive hull." Al-Rashad consulted her functioning sensors again. "They're still evading as they come in."

"Kane, did you hear that?"

"I'm sending my platoons down. Lieutenant Richmond's deploying security teams to back us up. Just to let you know, Commander, I've authorized heavy weapons."

Julia nodded. "You'll need them. It took overcharged rifles and naqia charges to kill these things the last time."

"Roger that then, Kane out."

Many Daleks had died and were still dying to get this far. But some had still gotten through.

Dalek Thay approached the scarred, blackened hull of the Aurora. "Scans confirm hull damage sufficient to enable entry," it said. "All Daleks converge on primary target."

Another Dalek moved into place beside Thay as they, together, came to a tear in the ship's hull. "Sensors detect forcefield in place," said the Dalek.

"An atmospheric containment forcefield. It is insufficient to prevent entry," Thay said. Thay pressed itself up against the flickering blue light, which flickered further and gave way to Thay's own force shield. Within seconds he was inside of the ship. The Daleks followed him in.

Thay moved up to a sealed door panel and pressed its manipulator arm against the control. "Access overridden. Door opening."

The dark blue door slid open. On the other side energy fire immediately converted on Thay and the other Daleks. "Life forms detected!" Thay declared. "Exterminate!"

"Exterminate!" The Daleks began to open fire on their attackers.

In the opening exchange, one thing became clear; the standard firearms of their opponents could not easily penetrate their shields, although they were a greater danger than the Cybermen blasters had been. On the other hand, the Daleks' weapons could break through the personal shields or protection of most of the opposing life forms. The Daleks pressed onward and maintained a high level of fire sufficient to force their opponents back. Those who were unlucky were hit by the second shot necessary to kill them, falling in a surge of X-Ray energy that lit up their skeletons in the process.

Kane ran down the corridor with all of the speed his heavy armor suit granted him. Behind him more Marines in armor, including Sergeant Hakimzade and a squad of heavy powered armor Marines, followed. "They're heading for Deck 30 Section I-Bravo," he said. "All teams, back off and let us hit them from the rear! Heavy weapons use has been authorized!" The latter wasn't just a reminder to his own team to use said weapons, but a warning to the other teams that they might get hit if they were too close.

"Where are these things going?" asked Hakimzade. "They're not heading for Main Engineering."

"I don't know, but I don't aim to let them get there."

They made contact with the Daleks in the hall outside one of the machinery spaces for the navigational deflector. The Daleks had already turned to face them. Kane activated his shoulder-mounted RPG launcher's high-explosive penetrator function and leveled the weapon. With a single button press his weapon and two others fired. In the seconds before impact they sought to acquire their targets for direct hits. The Daleks' active countermeasures to such weapons caused two of the shots to be indirect hits, which blew out chunks of the corridor ahead.

The one direct hit struck the shields of a Dalek and went off. The blast blew the infernal creature and its machine onto its back and left much of the chassis burned and blackened. The manipulator arm ended in a broken stump and the firing arm's connector joint sparked from the damage.

"Exterminate!" The Daleks opened fire, but not before Kane and two of the power armored Marines dropped to their knees and projected hardlight shields from their left arms to catch the return fire. The hits were not easily taken. Kane's systems confirmed that a single hit degraded his shields by nearly a third. He returned fire with the pulse cannons built into the armor suit's right arm, at the wrist, which were quickly proven unable to break through even partially-degraded Dalek shields.

But it provided cover for the next rank of Marines to open up with their RPGs. Again two out of three rounds were spoofed. This time the one direct hit blew the Dalek in half, sending a jet of fluid and flame and debris into the ceiling of the corridor.

With his RPG launcher reloaded, Kane opened up again. This time none of the volley hit home directly, but a glancing hit and the proximity of the resulting explosion knocked out enough of a Dalek's shield that the suppression fire being laid down ripped into it, causing the top half of the Dalek to pop open destructively.

"Exterminate!" the Daleks cried out, as another volley hit the Marines. Kane watched his hardlight shield virtually collapse, forcing him to step back and allow one of the other heavy armored Marines to take the front row. A cry of pain came from the Marine beside him, who had taken enough hits to completely collapse his hardlight shield and deliver a direct hit to his armor. The Marine collapsed. Kane grabbed him and pulled him to safety. The humming of servos indicated the only way this was physically possible for him given the mass of a heavy armored Marine. "Medic!" he shouted. "We have wounded!" Above him another Marine, in standard armor, fell into place. The Dorei woman quickly leveled her rocket launcher in both arms and fired. The rocket nearly hit one of the Daleks before going off behind it. The corridor in question was now truly a blasted wreck, and the explosion degraded the shields of the Dalek in question enough that it was damaged by the continuous pulse fire.

But the Daleks, as expected, were giving as good as they were getting, and two more of Kane's Marines went down to their next series of shots. "Commander, we're inflicting some losses, but they're holding us back," he warned Julia. "Barker, send a squad from the stern, I think their leader is still moving!"

"Roger," said Barker.

"Security breach in the computers, Deck 30," Jarod announced on the bridge. His hands flew over his console. "I'm trying to cut him off."

"What's the Dalek doing?" Julia asked. On the screen another group of torpedoes went off, even as the Aurora continued to rise to higher orbit with her port thrusters.

"It looks like he's trying to get into… oh no."


"He's trying to get physical access to the jump drive," Jarod said. "I'm trying to stop him but this Dalek is even faster than the one that hacked Control. He's isolating my command paths…" For several moments Jarod worked frantically before letting out a breath. "I couldn't stop him. He's in."

"Commander Kane, they're going for the jump drive. Stop them!"

"Trying, Commander. Definitely trying!" Kane replied over the sounds of battle and "Exterminate!"

Dalek Thay entered the jump drive access room on the Aurora in the company of one more Dalek. "Scans show device is damaged. Commence repair immediately," Thay ordered.

"I obey," stated the other Dalek.

They moved to different sections of the chamber and used their anti-gravs to lift themselves to the appropriate points. The second Dalek started on a power connection while Thay found the drive's projector. After examining the damage Thay commenced the repair.

He also gave another order. "Dalek units, secure vessel's navigational deflector system. Prepare to connect to interuniversal jump drive system."

Outside of the Aurora another force of Daleks approached the hull. The reply from the lead Dalek to Thay came: "Confirmed. Finding access point."

They split up. Half entered the same way Thay and his group had. The others went toward the gold-colored navigational deflector at the front of the drive hull. A hull breach near the bottom of the ship gave them entry. An emergency bulkhead barred their way, so the lead Dalek accessed its control.

"Emergency bulkhead on Deck 32 is being released," Jarod reported on the bridge. "It looks like another group of Daleks."

"Security teams and Marine platoon to Deck 32, section F, now," Julia ordered.

Rose kept looking at the Doctor intently. "It's not going to happen, okay?" she said. "I'm not leaving you."

Again, the Doctor didn't react. Even as a tear formed in Rose's eyes.

The building rumbled with enough force that everyone shook from the force of it. This was enough to send Pete into motion. "We don't have time to argue. The plan works. We're going." He looked at Rose and Jackie. "You too."

"I'm not leaving him," insisted Rose.

"And I'm not leaving her!" Jackie added.

"Oh my God," Pete said with exasperation. He glared directly at Jackie and declared, "We're going!"

"I've had twenty years without you, so button it!" retorted Jackie. "I'm not leaving her!"

Rose grabbed her mother's arm, causing her to turn and face Rose. 'But you've got to."

"Well, that's tough!"


For a moment they simply stared at each other. The computer voice broke the silence. "Reboot in one minute."

Rose's eyes were pleading as she addressed her mother. "Mum, i've had a life with you for nineteen years. But then I met the Doctor. And all the things I've seen him do for me, for you, for all of us, for the whole stupid planet and every planet out there. He does it alone, Mum."

As she spoke, neither seemed to recognize that both Pete and the Doctor were pulling the transporter devices to jump between worlds. Each looked intently at each other and at the two Tylers. Robert and Caterina exchanged glances. They could speak, they could call attention to this, just as Jake or Mickey might, but they couldn't bring themselves to. It didn't seem like their place.

"But not anymore," continued Rose. She stepped back from her mother. "'Cause now he's got me."

As she finished her line, the Doctor made his move, setting the transporter over Rose's neck.

Before she could react, Pete stepped up to Jackie and hit a master switch on his transporter. All three Tylers, Mickey, Jake, and the rest of his remaining team disappeared in a burst of distortion that seemed to draw itself inward.

Robert and Caterina looked at the Doctor. Robert could feel that the old being was not happy with what he had just done. He liked Rose. Perhaps… even more than that, he may have loved her. But he had made his decision to put her safety first.

"She wanted to stay with you," Caterina said to the Doctor.

"I know," he answered, his voice soft and tinged with regret.

"Why couldn't she?"

"It all has to end at some point." He looked to Caterina intently. "It's the harshest lesson I've learned over the centuries. It all ends. They find new lives, or I have to walk away, or something takes their lives before their time. But that fate, I can't let her go through with that."

"But shouldn't the choice…"

Another burst of sound filled the air. Rose reappeared in the room. "I think this is the on switch," she remarked.

The Doctor looked at her somberly. Caterina smiled and nodded. "I knew you'd come back," she said.

"He wasn't doing that to me again," Rose insisted. She gave the Doctor a defiant look.

He stepped up and gripped her arms. "Once the breach collapses, that's it. You'll never be able to see her again. Your own mother!" He said the last sentence like Robert might have, with the pain of someone who knew that loss.

"I made my choice a long time ago. I'm never going to leave you." Rose never let her eyes leave his. "So what can I do to help?"

"Systems rebooted," said the computer. "Open access."

The Doctor let go of her and drew in a breath. He pointed to one of the computers on the right side of the room facing the breach. "Those computers over there. Set all of the coordinates to six." After she started moving he barked, "And hurry up."

"And us?" Cat asked.

"Caterina, since you don't need to worry about being sucked in, I need you on the computers, make sure the systems remain stable. Captain." The Doctor looked at Robert. "You and Miss Hartman will watch our backs. I expect the Daleks or the Cybermen will figure out what we're doing, and they're not going to like it."

Robert nodded and turned to walk to Miss Hartman's office. She was getting off the phone with someone. "Military forces across the globe are dealing with the Cybermen," she said. "We won't have support for some time. I can only hope London survives."

"The Doctor is preparing to draw them back into the breach," Robert said. "You and I need to…"

Before he could finish speaking, Robert cried out and fell over. His mind filled with images of stars dying, galaxies going dark, worlds burning… Yvonne went over to see what was wrong.

"We've got Cybermen on the way up," Rose said.

"How close?" asked the Doctor.

"Just one floor down."

Yvonne heard that. She moved away from Robert and picked up her particle gun. "I'll hold them off," she said. "Get the breach open." She stepped out of the door and went toward the staircase.

The door to the Deflector Control on the Aurora blew open. Pulse fire filled the new gap as the Daleks swept in, firing all the way. "Exterminate!"

"Concentrate fire!" shouted Sergeant Barker. "Overwhelm their shields!"

The heavy armor opened up with their RPGs. Dalek countermeasures sent all but two flying into the wall, where they caused massive damage. A glancing hit damaged two Daleks slightly and one direct hit blew the top pieces off if its target.

The Dalek return fire was fierce. Two Daleks focused and delivered enough shots to blast through one heavy armor Marine's protection, killing her. A security team officer, a Dorei man, died from a direct hit. Then an Alakin.

Barker triggered her RPG again. This time her shot hit home, blasting into another Dalek with its naqia charge. The blasts smashed the nearby equipment and panels. "They're going for the controls!" she shouted. "Maintain fire!"

Over it all, the Daleks were still shouting, "Exterminate!"

While the holo-viewscreen on the bridge showed the latest blasts on the viewscreen, Julia was watching her tactical holotank display. It showed a representation of the Aurora and the current Dalek progress. "They're hitting deflector control and they've gotten to the jump drive itself," she noted. "What are they doing?"

"I'm not sure," Jarod said. "Theoretically you could tie the jump drive to the deflector, but it doesn't need it to operate."

"More Daleks incoming," warned al-Rashad.

Julia briefly looked back to the screen. She waited for the flash of more torpedoes detonating.

None did.

Red light filled the makeshift transporter control Tom Barnes had been using. "Dammit" He hit several keys. "I just lost the Goddamned power relay on Deck 30. The fracking transporters are offline!"

Scott was on it right away. "Try the F relay on Deck 29!"

Barnes did so. "It's still damaged from the Goddamned Shadow attack. Can you reroute…?"

Scotty tried. "It's nae good, th' power system's taken tae much strain."

"Bridge to Engineering. Where are those torpedoes?"

"We've lost transporters, lass!" Scotty answered. "Tryin' tae get them back online now, but I dinnae hold much hope o' that, th' ship's taken tae much damage!"

Julia swallowed and watched the cloud of Daleks grow closer. Could they defeat them all? "All decks standby for Dalek boarders. We'll wreck this entire ship if we have to, but I'm not giving up the Aurora to the Daleks," she vowed.

Dalek Thay's eyestalk shifted after sparks finishing coming from an open panel on the Aurora's jump drive. "Repairs sufficient for operation complete. Ready to initiate upon control of deflector systems."

The other Dalek turned away from the jump drive. "What are your orders?"

"Return to the battle. Exterminate all life forms. This vessel will belong to the Daleks."

"I obey." The Dalek returned to the door and left.

Dalek blasts converged on the heavy armor Marine beside Hakimzade, enough to overwhelm that Marine's protective field and damage the armor. He cried out and collapsed. The tactical linkup confirmed he was alive, barely, and Kane pulled him free while Hakimzade fired another RPG. She'd set the charges to proximity so that her blasts at least damaged the Daleks, even when wide. The blue corridors of the Aurora were, here, now almost entirely black, with twisted wreckage and blown out walls from the heavy weapons fire that had destroyed some fo the enemy.

Despite everything, Kane felt he would soon get to drive access. It was barely ten meters away, in fact, and the Dalek numbers were thin enough. Even down two heavy armor troops, Kane's numbers and fire volume gave him an advantage.

"Commander, they're in your rear!" Julia Andreys cried over the comm system.

For a moment Kane didn't react to that. Not until his ears confirmed what she had sent. He turned his head and saw the Dalek blasts upon his vanguard. It was a new group, freshly arrived, and they had him and his force in a pincer. "This is Commander Kane on Deck 32, we're surrounded by Daleks, we need urgent help!" he said into his radio. "I repeat, Deck 32 Section F. We need help now." He turned. "About face!" he ordered, as he wondered if he could get his forces out of this predicament.

The current Cyberleader and his squad approached the last stairs before they would be on the top floor. "We will retreat through the breach and reclaim the home world," it ordered over the Cybermen comm channels. "All units follow…"

A beam of blue energy smashed into the Cyberleader and blew it apart. Yvonne Hartman turned her weapon and fired again, killing a second, before she was forced to duck beneath the railing to avoid the pale red blasts of the Cybermen.

In the Torchwood control room, the words "Levers operational" brought a smile to the Doctor's face. "That's more like it," Rose said. "A bit of a smile. The old team."

The Doctor picked up a magna-clamp. "Hope and Glory. Mutt and Jeff. Shiver and Shake."

"Which one's Shiver?" Rose asked, smiling as well.

"Oh, I'm Shake," the Doctor insisted. He handed the magna-clamp to Rose. She brought hers to the wall near the right-side lever and pressed it to the wall. The Doctor did the same on his side. "Press the red button," he said.

She did so, as did he. Red lights appeared on both.

"When it starts, just hold on tight. Shouldn't be too bad for us, but the Daleks and Cybermen are steeped in the Void stuff." He pointed to Cat, who was kneeling by Robert. "How's he?"

"I don't know. His vitals are okay, but his heart's racing and…"

"He's fine for the moment then. I need you at your place, Cat!" The Doctor crouched by the lever and looked to Rose. "Are you ready?"

Rose turned toward the window and frowned. "So are they."

Four Daleks were approaching at the window.

In Deflector Control Barker fired a grenade that skittered just past a Dalek and blew up behind it, shattering a support console and blackening the hull plate and bulkhead in the process. The Dalek returned fire on her and clipped her shoulder with its blast. Pain surged through the limb and made Barker's left arm freeze up. She cried out and dropped down. Her face twisted with frustration and agony. The others could see the sweat droplets glistening on her dark skin through her faceplate. "Medic!" one of her subordinates called. A moment later the Human man's body lit up with energy, his skeleton made briefly visible, before he collapsed.

Meanwhile a lone Dalek had slipped through the firefight to reach the main controls. Its manipulator arm pressed down on the control, the plunger-like shape shifting until it was a square. "Assuming control of navigational deflector. Connecting to jump drive system."

Jarod noticed the system activity. "The Daleks are overriding control of the navigational deflector. They're… they're connecting it to the jump drive."

"How?" demanded Julia.

"It looks like they're using a wireless link. I've… I've never seen anything like it. The jump drive's emissions are going to be channeled into the deflector."

"Why would they even do that?" asked Angel.

"I've got no idea," Jarod replied.

"Let's do it!" shouted the Doctor.

Together the Doctor and Rose pushed the levers to fire the Torchwood particle engines into the breach. At the computer the Doctor had directed her to, Caterina called out, "The particle engines are operating under the desired parameters." She looked up and saw her report was wasted for the moment. The Doctor and Rose were wholly concentrated on the levers, their faces showing the strain of pushing them as quickly as they could until they activated. The breach began to glow bright with white light.

"Online," said the computer.

The Doctor and Rose immediately let go and rushed to the magna-clamps. They hooked their arms through the handles.

Air began to rush. There was a crashing of glass and electronic screams as the four Daleks sent after them went careening through the air and into the breach.

"The breach is open!" cried the Doctor. "Into the Void!"

"Sensors indicate Void breach has been opened," declared Dalek Thay. "Activating jump drive system." The Dalek's manipulator arm attached to a manual control panel on the jump drive.

"The Daleks are powering up the jump drive!" Jarod said. "Particles are feeding into the deflector…"

The gold and blue-lined deflector dish on the Aurora lit up with energy. Within a second the energy bursted ahead of the Aurora for about two kilometers until, in a brilliant white flash, it expanded into an open tear in space.

"I'm detecting an energy flow from the spatial tear," Jarod said. "I don't know what it's doing."

"Nothing good if the Daleks are behind it," Angel grumbled.

Cat noticed the readings and shouted, "Something's wrong!"

It was fairly clear as her sentence finished. While the breach remained as bright as ever, the Doctor and Rose found their feet again planted firmly on the ground, as if they hadn't just been holding on for dear life to avoid being pulled in. A panicked look came to the Doctor's face as he rushed to another computer. "Why isn't it working…?!"

"Torchwood's remaining systems are picking up a massive spatial distortion in orbit," Caterina said. "Looking at these readings… I think…"

"The Daleks blew open another hole into the Void," the Doctor said with clenched teeth. "It's counteracting the pull of this breach!" He looked to Caterina. "That's why they attacked your ship! The Cult of Skaro realized they were vulnerable to the breach so they made another!"

"So the Daleks and Cybermen aren't going to be pulled in?" Rose looked at the Doctor with worry. "Well, what do we do now?" she asked.

"There's nothing we can do from down here," the Doctor said. He looked to Caterina. "It's all up to your shipmates to stop the Daleks."

And then, from Yvonne's office, came a loud cry. All three turned to see where Robert was slumped against the doorway, eyes half open, sweat dripping from his brow. "No," he muttered. "No no no…"

"Rob?" Caterina was the first to his side. "Are you okay?"

"He's having visions," the Doctor said. "Bad ones." He knelt beside Robert and set his hands on Robert's shoulders. "Wake up, Captain! You've got to snap out of it!"

"It's all going out," Robert mumbled. "All of it."

"What's going on?" asked Rose.

"The stars. The light. All gone. It's going dark."

"Rob, wake up!"

Maybe it was Caterina's voice. She thought it might even be the Doctor's presence. But whatever it was, Robert's eyes opened fully. His face was clammy with sweat and terror. His eyes were wide, as if he had just witnessed the most terrible horrors.

"Robert, what's wrong?"

"They're waking up," he said. "It's waking them up!"

"Who's waking up?" asked Rose.

Robert opened his mouth, but whether he was going to answer or continue speaking wouldn't be known as another voice answered Rose's question.

The Doctor's face had grown pale. His look matched Robert's in horror and realization. He drew out a forced breath before he answered Rose.

"The Darkness."
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-08-07 08:37am

On the Aurora bridge the viewscreen showed the spatial tear grow slightly larger. An energy beam from the Aurora was still linked to it. "The Daleks have done something to the systems," Jarod was saying. "It's sustaining this… spatial rip."

"The sensor returns I'm getting are similar to the tear in London," al-Rashad added. "Not exactly the same, but close enough that they're clearly related." Al-Rashad checked her screens again. "In fact, the one down on the planet has become active again as well."

"Why are the Daleks activating both?" Julia asked.

"Maybe it's not them," suggested Jarod. "Let me see if I can boost the connection. Robert might be able to tell us."

"In the meantime, assign all forces to holding the Daleks in the drive hull. We can't let them spread through the ship."

"Given how many of them, we may not have a choice," Angel pointed out.

"Actually…" Jarod swallowed. "There is one thing we could do that would wipe them out in that area. It may even shut down the spatial tear."

Julia could tell Jarod wasn't entirely happy with the method he was proposing. 'What's the catch?" she asked.

"It'll gut most of the drive section of the hull," he answered. "And we'll still be sitting ducks for the Daleks still flying towards us." A tone came from Jarod's console. "I'm establishing a link to Robert's omnitool."

"Put him on as soon as you can."

"What are you talking about?" Rose gave the Doctor a bewildered look. "What's this 'Darkness'?"

"More bad than you can ever imagine," the Doctor said. "A force of malignant hate and destruction. The hate of the Daleks, as a race, is a pebble compared to their mountain of hate."

"Robert and the others said something about a 'darkness' once," Cat said. "Some sort of prophecy on Gersal."

"I can imagine the type easily," said the Doctor. "Everyone loves those kinds of prophecies until they actually start happening, then they're a nuisance. Or worse in this case."

"What do you mean?" Cat asked.

Before he could reply, Robert's omnitool flashed to life with the glowing button over the back of his blue hand signifying an incoming call. The Doctor tapped it for him. "The Doctor speaking," he said.

"Do you have any idea what the Daleks are doing with our ship?" asked Julia.

"They've undoubtedly modified your jump drive to tear open another breach to the Void," the Doctor answered, "which is canceling out what I've done to the breach down here."

"How do we close it then?" asked Julia.

"Given what your ship can do, the Daleks can't make the breach a permanent one, they have to maintain it," said the Doctor. "Shut it down on your end and the breach will close."

"So you just need to cut power to the deflector," Cat suggested.

After several moments Julia's voice came back. "We can't. The Daleks are hacking into our control systems and have locked us out of power distribution. But we already have a plan, so standby."

"What are you going to do?" Robert asked weakly.

"We're going to set off the forward torpedo locker on Deck 26," Julia replied. "The armoring should keep the blast from destroying the entire ship, but it'll definitely gut much of the drive section, and wreck the machinery the Daleks are using."

Robert swallowed at that. There were likely hundreds of engineers and security and Marines in that area of the ship. Main Engineering would likely be claimed too, so Scotty and Barnes would die in the blast. "Doctor, there has to be another way," he said, looking at the Time Lord.

"I wish there was, Captain, but if your visions are right, the Daleks are going to awaken the Darkness with this ploy of theirs." The Doctor's face was grim. "Then untold numbers of beings will die."

Robert swallowed, knowing how right he was, and wishing he wasn't. "It should be my decision," he said. "Julia shouldn't have to be the one making it, not for my ship. I owe my crew better than that."

"You're needed here," Caterina said. "With us. Don't worry."

However true, Robert knew it wasn't enough. Once again he'd left his ship behind in a desperate fight because he felt he had to be somewhere else. However right he was… he knew there was still something wrong with that. And that maybe he didn't deserve his ship at all, in this case.

The Doctor motioned to Rose and returned to his lever. Together they pulled them back into the off position. "No use straining the systems needlessly," he said. "We won't re-open the breach until we confirm the one overhead is closed."

"Why isn't that one sucking them in?" Robert asked.

"The Daleks didn't calibrate it for that," Cat said. "If anything, it might be pulling Void stuff into our plane instead."

"Which will likely distort the new breach before long and shift where it opens to," the Doctor added as he took the lever. He and Rose exerted themselves in moving them back to an off position. "And poof, an opening into another dimensional plane where a force of raw hatred is waiting to be be woken up."

"What can we do now?" Rose asked.

"The only thing we can do is wait," the Doctor said. "Wait and hold out here. Where's that rifle you brought?"

Robert indicated where he'd dropped the electro-plasma rifle he'd picked up in the Torchwood testing range. The Doctor went over and looked it over. "Give me a moment and I'll adapt this for use against the Daleks."

"Do you think they're going to attack us again?"

"Oh you might say I have an inkling," the Doctor said, glancing toward the broken window that the prior Daleks had broken while being sucked into the Void.

Outside of it, more Daleks were flying their way.

On the bridge Julia heard that and looked to Jarod. "Mister Jarod, can you cut power to that entire area?"

Jarod hit several keys. A harsh buzz answered him. "No. The Daleks have locked us out of power distribution. I'm going to try to hack my way back in, but even if it works, it could take me hours."

"I doubt we have hours," Angel pointed out.

"Shouldn't we evacuate the drive section then?" asked Violeta. "So we can detonate the torpedoes?"

"There's no time for that, the Daleks are already spreading through the area," said Jarod. "Another group has entered through the secondary shuttlebay on Deck 33."

"But all of our crew…"

Julia took in a breath and nodded. "I know. But there's no time. Lieutenant." She looked back to Angel. "Remotely arm all torpedoes in the Deck 26 forward torpedo locker. Detonate when ready."

Violeta stared at Julia in horror while Angel's hand, almost trembling, hit the necessary keys. A harsh buzz answered her final key press. "I can't send the command," Angel said. "I'm being blocked."


"I'm trying to keep the Daleks out of all of our systems, but I can't do everything," Jarod replied irritably. "They've locked us out of the torpedo controls. Someone has to manually set the torpedoes off."

Julia tapped the comm key on the chair to reopen the active tactical channel. "Commander Kane, I need someone to get to the Deck 26 forward torpedo locker, now."

Kane heard the command while pulling another injured Marine into Supply Room 30-C, just forward of the jump drive and off the thoroughly-wrecked corridor where the Daleks had pinned his Marines and their backup in. He made a count of his people. Only Hakimzade was left of the heavy armor Marines. Half of his force was dead, left behind in the hall, and three of his people were critically wounded. "Exterminate!" the Daleks cried out in the hall.

An Alakin security officer, Ensign Trrika, tapped her taloned hand against the controls for the door. They slid to a close. Trrika reached into the internals of the panel and pulled a manual lock. "They can't hack their way in, sir," she said to Kane.

"Good. Because we're due elsewhere." Kane triggered his comm connection to the bridge with an eye movement and thought. "I read you, Commander. I'll take as many people as I can and get there. We'll complete the mission." Kane scanned the room. Aside from himself and Trrika, the only officer present was another security officer, Ensign Saul Reuben. "Which of you has seniority?"

Trrika and Reuben glanced at each other. "Oy vey," muttered Reuben. "I suppose I do, Commander."

"Suppose nothing, Ensign, I'm going to trust Sergeant Hakimzade and some of my people to you," barked Kane. "You're either in command or I'm personally promoting someone over your head."

"Then I'm in command," Reuben said, a little firmer this time.

"Right. We can't outrun the Daleks with wounded, so you need to hold them off until reinforcements get here."

"Beg your pardon, sir, but you should all go." The pained voice was Lance Corporal Hajama. The teal skin of the Dorei man was pale with pain. "We'll slow you down, and you'll just lose people trying to hold them. Besides, I think we all know what the Commander's wanting you to do in that torpedo locker."

Kane had been so busy thinking of his Marines and how to keep him alive that he hadn't bothered with that, not yet. But the moment he even started to think about it, he knew Hajama was right.

There were sparks. The door was turning red in one spot. The Daleks were burning their way in.

"Go," Hajama urged. "The Deity is ready for us."

Theological elements about the Dorei monotheisms compared to his own Christianity aside, Kane found he shared that sentiment. "If you go first, let 'em know we're on our way," he said somberly. "There'll be some Marines at the Pearly Gates waiting for us."

"Preferably some at the Jade Portal too," Hajama said, grinning. Tears were already forming in his eyes. He saluted to Kane, and Kane saluted back.

"Alright everyone, move out through the starboard door!"

They did so in a unit. There were no Daleks on the other end. Kane took the lead since his armor was intact enough to survive a hit or two. He thanked himself, and Major Hitchfield from his days as a young Lieutenant, for all of the boarding party drills that had made sure to familiarize himself and his Marines with every internal inch of the Aurora. "Lifts will be down, so we're going by ladder. Deck 26, move, move."

They ran astern first and made a turn into an adjacent corridor. Ahead was the access line running up through this section of the deck, steep stairs that would move up into the next deck.

Kane got to it before hearing "Exterminate!" behind him. A Dalek was now moving toward them. He figured more were behind.

As one some of his Marines and the security personnel dropped, allowing six different shooters to engage the Dalek, and then nine. The Dalek shot one security officer dead before the combined firepower of their weapons overwhelmed its shields and blasted the thing apart.

"Go on, Commander!" demanded Trrika. "We'll hold them here!"

"Reuben, Hakimzade, Carson, with me!" Kane started storming up the steps. His heavy armor barely fit through the gaps between decks, a fact long confirmed by drills, and he had to be careful slipping it through to get to Deck 29.

Just a few decks to go…

On the bridge of the Aurora, Julia watched silently as the Daleks continued to crowd into the drive hull. Sooner or later they'd start advancing outward to seize the rest of the ship. If they repaired the weapons, they'd certainly open fire and kill Robert, the Doctor, and probably much of the population of London.

"Whatever happens, we can't let them take the ship," she said quietly. She pressed the chair comm key. "Bridge to Medbay."

"Medbay here."

"Leo, get together whoever you can. At my mark, I want you in the escape pods."


"Because if I have to, Leo, I'm going to destroy the ship," Julia answered. "I can't let the Daleks have it. Don't evacuate yet, you'll just give the Daleks outside of the ship extra target practice. I just want you ready."

There was a short pause before the reply came, "Yes, Commander. Gillam out."

"Ensign Arterria, Ensign al-Rashad, if I give the order, you're going into the escape pod," Julia said.

"What about you, Commander?" asked Violeta.

"I have to stay and make sure the self-destruct goes off," Julia replied.

"If you're staying, I'm staying," Angel said.

"Your sister needs you," Julia retorted. "She needs you both."

"And you'll need me too, because if you have to trigger the self-destruct, you'll need two senior officers with you on the bridge deck," Angel retorted.

"She's right," Jarod reminded Julia. "We'll have to trigger with no countdown to keep the Daleks from overriding it."

Julia sighed and nodded. She didn't want to see them die with her, but she knew they were right. And she'd already sent Kane on a suicide mission.

All she could do was hope he succeeded.

In the lower levels of the Torchwood Tower, Lucy and Meridina ran through another corridor. "The others are still safe," Meridina said.

"At least for now." Lucy brought her lightsaber up moments before a Dalek appeared at the other end of the hall. It shrieked "Exterminate!" as usual and fired. She intercepted the shot and sent it back to the Dalek. The hit set part of the Dalek's frame on fire. It started to wheel around, shrieking.

"This way!" Meridina led Lucy into another door. It looked like a break room and there were two more doors on the various ends. By the time they reached the far door, another Dalek was coming in the third. It fired and barely missed. They were already in the next corridor.

A sudden chill was washing over Lucy, a twisting of her stomach and a feeling of general wrongness. "You feel that, right?" she asked.

"I do. We are running out of time."

"Any plans?"

"We do only what we can do. We keep the Daleks' attention on us so they do not harm others."

On cue, the cry of "Exterminate!" brought their attention to the host of Daleks coming up behind them. They turned and started deflecting fire again. Neither dared to ask how long they could keep this up.

In the stairwell, Yvonne ducked for cover for a moment before rising up and using her particle gun on another Cyberman. The top half of its body burst like an egg, causing the Cyberman beside it to fall backward and into another. They both rolled down the stairs.

But yet more were coming, and their return fire drove her back into cover. "Whatever you're doing, Doctor, you need to do it soon," she murmured.

Caterina and Rose exchanged nervous glances as the incoming Daleks approached the windows. The Doctor was still working on the electro-plasma rifle. "I still need a minute," he insisted.

"We don't have one," Rose pointed out.

With nothing else left to do, Robert drew upon his energy and reached for the Daleks in question. They didn't see the attack coming. With a burst of power Robert slammed two of them together with enough force to damage both, sending them falling all forty-five stories to the ground. He reached for a third and slammed it into a fourth, although that simply sent them off course for a moment. A fifth and a sixth he had to grab and hold in place, flipping them up so that their weapons could fire at him.

The third and fourth Daleks regained their bearings. "I can't stop them all," he gasped. Most of his effort was going into holding the two he had gripped. The other two were bearing down on him…

"Rose!" The Doctor tossed her the electro-plasma rifle. Rose took it and turned it toward the Daleks. A powerful blue beam of solid energy erupted from the muzzle and speared an approaching Dalek. It burst into flames with a shriek. Rose turned the weapon slightly and shot the other approaching Dalek and then the two that were still being gripped by Robert.

He dropped to a knee afterward. "I'm not as powerful as the others," he admitted. "If Meridina and Lucy were here…"

"Where are they?" Caterina asked.

"The last time we saw them, they were fighting the Cybermen in the testing range," Robert said. "I can still sense them. They're fighting, and it's getting desperate."

"The Daleks will focus on them once they've seen their powers," the Doctor said. "Especially if they've used their weapons to deflect the Daleks' fire back at them. It shows they're a threat."

"Like we just did?" Rose asked.

"Even more than we are. You're draining the battery whenever you hit the trigger on that," the Doctor revealed. "Another five or six shots and that's that."

Robert tapped his omnitool. "Any progress?" he asked.

"Kane is still trying to get to the torpedo locker," said Julia. "We've got at least thirty or forty Daleks still aboard and they're sweeping the drive section. If he can't take out that locker, I'll have no choice."

"You've set the self-destruct?" Robert swallowed. He knew it was the right call, that the Aurora couldn't be allowed to fall into Dalek hands, but the thought of losing his ship was still painful.

"Jarod recommended that we set off the self-destruct instantly so the Daleks can't shut it down," Julia replied. "I'm preparing to issue an evac order to save as much as the crew as I can."

"But if you don't set a countdown…" Robert closed his eyes and felt like slumping to the ground.

"I know. I'm going to have our junior officers jump into the escape pod before we set it off. But Jarod, Angel and I will stay behind to trigger the destruct."

Caterina heard that and couldn't stop the sniffle that resulted. Rose put a hand on her arm in sympathy.

"I'll let you know as soon as it happens," Julia said. "Aurora out."

"Your sister's still up there, right?" Rose asked.

Caterina nodded. Tears were forming in her eyes. "And my girlfriend. And the others…"

"That's what the Daleks do," the Doctor said. His words and the quiet, tormented tone behind them prompted the attention of Robert and Caterina. "They take everything you love and they destroy it."

And Robert felt it then. Regret enough to crush any being, weighing down on the Doctor's very essence, his soul. This was a man who had lost almost everything. His world, his people, the family he'd once had… All to the same terrible threat that today seemed poised to spell the doom of the Multiverse with their actions. Those hateful creatures in their machines of war had cost him everything.

Robert wouldn't necessarily lose absolutely everything. Cat was down here, as were Meridina and Lucy. If they survived, maybe some of the others… and then there was Beth on New Liberty.

New Liberty. Where Jarod's family would be waiting in vain for him to come home. And how many of the New Liberty colonists were aboard ship ship? Maybe not as many as there once had been, but more than enough that the colony would feel the loss of the Aurora keenly.

And then there were the others. How could he face Zack, knowing that Tom and Julia were dead because of this? How could he even consider a world without them in it? Or Angel, who would leave Cat behind bereaved. Even moreso if Violeta also died. And would Leo make it out? Would he lose Leo too?

How can I stop this? Robert wondered. How?

Kane and his team had made it to Deck 26 without further contact with the Daleks. They started moving forward once they were on the deck. As with much of the drive section right behind the navigational deflector, the areas in this ship were full of machinery spaces for that expansive piece of equipment, with nearby machine shops to support it and the torpedo launchers a deck down.

"This is a suicide mission, isn't it?" asked Carson. She was another security officer, brown complexion, with Southeast Asian and Caucasian features. A little on the thin side, Kane thought, but she knew how to carry a rifle.

Kane didn't have the patience to say anything but "Yes it is, Petty Officer." He saw the fear flicker in her light brown eyes, the terror of morality. You sometimes got that in people when they realized they were about to die. He figured even he'd shown it once or twice. "We're going to blow ourselves up with the Daleks and hundreds of our comrades."

"Right." She swallowed and made a sign with her fingers. She mumbled a Hail Mary.

And that's why I'm not Catholic was Kane's thought. He didn't care much for that Church's rules regarding how you got to what came after. The mechanism, to Kane, seemed pretty simple.

Reuben muttered something in Yiddish.

"If there was ever something that counted for a holy war, it's fighting these creatures," Hakimzade insisted. "So we're all going to a better place."

"It's nice to know we're all lined up on the same side on that subject, for a change," Kane answered.

Hakimzade smiled wryly at that. "It is, sir."

Kane smiled back. The torpedo locker was coming up.

When he was still a few meters from it, the door opened. Kane ducked down at the sight of the Dalek and screamed, "Fire!" With no grenades loaded he was relegated to his pulse cannons. The cumulative effect of two cannons and two rifles was sufficient to blast through the Dalek's shields, even as it screamed "Exterminate!" and fired back.

At the same moment it exploded, its shot struck Reuben square in the chest. His body lit up, bones showing within it, before he collapsed to the ground. Carson immediately checked him. "He's dead!"

"Exterminate!" shrieked another Dalek. Which was also coming through the door.

"Hakimzade, grenades!"

"Only four left sir!"

He had three as well. "Fire! We've got to break through!"

Barnes looked up from his console with irritation. "I'm not getting anywhere with this!" he protested. "We're completely locked out!"

Scotty nodded. He was working on trying to restore the transporter systems. As he feared, the ship's systems were too badly damaged to allow for them to repeat their earlier success. "I've almost got it," he said. "I cannae bring back th' transporters entirely, but I can get us one or two uses o' th' system."

"Then we can beam a fracking torpedo into place to wreck the damned deflector and stop the Goddamned Daleks." Barnes grinned at that. "That'll show th' frackers."

"Lad, one o' these days, we're gaein' t' work on yer language," Scotty sighed. He resumed work.

Until, that is, commotion came from down the stern access corridor. A pair of security officers ran in. "Evacuate!" cried one of them, a Human male with an English accent. "They're right behind…"

His entire body lit up a moment later, and he collapsed. The other security officer opened fire as a shriek of "Exterminate!" came from the accessway.

"Frack!" Barnes shouted. "Yi, the forcefield!"

Yi hit a button and shook his head. "Still out."

"Everyone out!" Scotty shouted. "Get t' th' upper decks! Go!"

Engineers began to flee from Main Engineering. Another shot killed the remaining security guard as they ran. Barnes and Scotty looked back in time to see three Daleks enter Main Engineering. And then they continued on, knowing their only hope was to get to the upper decks before someone set off the torpedoes.

The situation in Medbay was controlled chaos. Nurses and assisting personnel were busy loading casualties onto stretchers for a trip to the nearest bank of escape pods. Leo tried to direct everything and felt like he was barely making headway on the issue. He checked over one crewmember wounded by the Cybermen. "Okay, a first aid kit isn't enough," he said to the Dorei petty officer directing the carriers. "Go to Nurse Nasri and have her issue you a hypospray and a day's dose of tricylaterin."

"Yes Doctor."

From the far side of the medbay Locarno stepped up to Leo. "I've got the first escape pods ready to launch as soon as we get the order," he said. His hands were marginally better, although the bandages still covered them for the moment.

"That's good," Leo said. "Where should we sent the next batch?"

"According to the computer, the Deck 10 escape pods on the starboard side aren't taken. I'll take the next group there."

"Good." Leo turned away to check another casualty being moved out. When he assured himself the team had what it needed he waved them on. "And what about the St. Johns?"

"The Shadow ship blasted it pretty good," Locarno said. "But I've got a couple of engineers working on it. They think they can make it space worthy, at least. Enough to make a landing on Earth. I'll let you know if I hear more from them."

"We can evacuate a couple of our worst cases on her if they get her going, so we really need that."

"I'll check with them after getting these people to Deck 10." Locarno turned to leave but stopped himself. He looked back and asked, "You're coming too, right?"

"You mean am I going to stay on the ship until it gets blown up?" Leo smiled softly. "I can't."


"A good man died because he didn't want me to," Leo explained. "I owe it to him to make sure I get a shot at getting out of here, just as I owe it to my staff and patients to make sure nobody is left behind."

"Just to make sure, I'll save you an escape pod," Locarno said.

Caterina looked from Robert, who was staring blankly at the wall, to Rose. "You beat them before, right?" she asked Rose. "You… you said you killed their Emperor."

Rose nodded at her. "I don't really remember it. I wasn't myself." Nearby the Doctor was looking over one of the consoles, as if it might provide an alternative even if he had made it clear there was none.

Caterina gave her a confused look. "Then what happened?"

"Well, we were in the far future," Rose said. "And the Dalek Emperor was leading an invasion of Earth. The Doctor, he had a plan, but he tried to send me away so I wouldn't get hurt. He tricked me into the TARDIS and had it send me back to this time." Rose directed a quick look at him. "But I kept seeing these messages everywhere that were connected to that future place, and we'd been seeing them for a while, and I figured out it was a sign I could go back for him. So I looked into the TARDIS and it… it changed me…"

"She looked into the Time Vortex," the Doctor said from where he was sitting. "And it nearly killed her. I had to take the energy from her, and it forced me to regenerate. This is why we never, ever look into the Vortex."

"But that's how you defeated the Daleks?" Cat asked.

"It is," Rose confirmed.

"Then…" Cat swallowed and walked up to the Doctor. "Why don't we do that?" she asked.

"Because it's too dangerous," the Doctor replied.

"Well, it'll kill one of us, but a whole bunch of people will die if we don't."

"It's not just about that." The Doctor turned in the chair and faced Caterina directly. "A being with the Time Vortex in their head gains power over life and death, over time and space. You can bring the dead back to life or utterly destroy the living. You can reach through time and change things with a thought. Who would you trust with that kind of power? That amount of temptation?"

"Well, if someone's good…"

"It's not about being good or evil!" shouted the Doctor. "It's about what anyone would do with that power, and the consequences it can have! Would you bring your mother back, Caterina?"

Caterina blinked at him and couldn't hide her surprise. The thought had slipped into her mind as he spoke, the idea that yes, she could, she would, bring her Mama back with that kind of power.

"And you would force her to watch as you died? As the power within you burnt every cell in your body until you were no more?" The Doctor's eyes remained fixed on her. "How do you think your mother would feel if you died restoring her to life?"

The answer to that was obvious. Caterina knew how deeply that would wound her mother. She would immediately collapse in grief at Cat's death.

"And that's just the start of what could go wrong," said the Doctor. "It's why we can't use it."

Cat nodded. Tears began to flow down her face at what that meant. How many of the people she loved were going to die?

The Doctor noticed this and his eyes fixed on her face. "I'm sorry," he said in a soft voice. "I'm so sorry."

The Cybermen coming up the staircase were diminishing in number. Yvonne counted only four or five left, and she still had enough of a charge on her weapon to destroy them all so long as she got clear shots. She waited as another volley of pale red bolts flew over her head and blackened the stairwell wall behind her before rising up and firing. Another Cyberman toppled over.

The process repeated. Yvonne counted the seconds, counted the shots, drew up and fired. Another Cybermen went down.

But one of the Cybermen had anticipated her pattern, or perhaps hadn't finished firing off its volley. A pale red shot closed the distance and smacked into Yvonne's left shoulder. She cried out and toppled while energy crackled over it, entering the rest of her body, seizing up muscle and damaging her cells. It hadn't been an immediately fatal hit, but it would make firing her weapon even harder. She stood a good chance of getting overrun now.

"For Queen and Country," Yvonne murmured to herself, forcing all fear down. "This is for Queen and Country."

Julia watched with quiet horror as the Daleks spread through the drive section. The crew was fleeing up into the primary hull. But some were too far away, or were cut off by the Daleks, and she could do nothing for them.

The marker for Commander Kane had remained just outside the Deck 26 torpedo locker. There were Daleks there already. No security teams or Marine platoons were close enough to get there and help, not before even more Daleks arrived.

"It's time," she said. She hit the comm key on the command chair. "Commander Andreys to all hands. Abandon ship. I repeat, abandon ship."
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-08-08 10:34am

"Abandon ship. I repeat, abandon ship."

A Dalek exploded right after Julia's voice came over the ship comm network. It had required one of his last grenades. "Now's our chance!" he shouted. He charged forward, Carson and Hakimzade following, and got to the door to the torpedo locker.

The torpedoes - wide shapes of silver and black - were lined up on horizontal racks. Anti-grav lifts could convey them to the lift that would lower them to Deck 27 - via the closed lift tube - and the forward torpedo launcher there. In a pinch the torpedoes could even be dropped by gravity.

And two Daleks were already in the room.

"Carson, trigger the torpedoes!" he shouted. Hakimzade targeted one Dalek and hit it with a grenade, dead center. The blast knocked him and Hakimzade back, shielding Carson so she could make a run for it.

The other Dalek was out of position to intercept her. It targeted Kane and Hakimzade instead. "Exterminate!" A shot from its weapon hit Hakimzade in the arm, sending her spinning. Kane opened up on it with his pulse cannons. The Dalek's shields absorbed the blasts. It orientated its weapon on him.

Hakimzade's weapons opened up on it. The Dalek's shields failed and it was blasted apart.

Kane went over to her. "Just arm damage," she said, scrambling to get up. He helped her stand.

"I'm arming the torpedoes," said Carson. "Give me a minute."

"We'll give you whatever time we can, Petty Officer," Kane answered.

Rose was busy watching the window for more Daleks when she heard the question.

"What message?"

She turned her head to look at Robert. His green eyes were focused on her face with an intensity that was almost frightening. As if he were recognizing her as something.

Which made her think that, yes, Robert had looked at her strangely from the beginning. Why was that?

"What do you mean?" Rose asked him.

"What message was it?" Robert asked again. "The one that told you that you could use the TARDIS and defeat the Daleks?"

"It was… just a couple of words we kept seeing," she said. "When I saw them everywhere, I… I realized it was a message to myself."

"But what was the message?" he asked. "Please."

For a moment Rose didn't know if she was going to tell him. He was scaring her with his look, the intense desperation in his eyes. She almost asked why he wanted to know. Why was it so important to him? Hadn't he heard the Doctor's warnings?

But there was something in the look that made Rose change her mind. "Bad Wolf," she said. "That was the message..." Seeing the expression on his face and the way Robert's eyes suddenly shifted with recognition, Rose added, "...what is it? Why do you need to know?"

"Bad Wolf," Robert muttered. "It's…"

"What is it? What aren't you telling me?" Rose's tone was insistent.

"Just… something in my head," Robert said. "Thank you. It clears things up."

Rose wasn't sure she liked the way he was speaking, but she didn't get the chance to ask. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed more Daleks flying their way. "Here they come," she said.

"I'll hold them, you fire," Robert said. He brought his arms up and held his hands out. The two lead Daleks stopped in mid-air. Rose picked them off and shot the other two after Robert had stopped them in the same fashion. "There we go," she said. "And I think I have a shot or two left." She lowered the weapon. "Right, Captain?" When there was no answer, she turned her head.

Robert was gone.

There were only two Cybermen left coming up the staircase, but as far as Yvonne was concerned, it might well two hundred. Her left arm was nearly useless and her shots were getting wilder. Her last shot had missed completely. The wasted shots had left her particle gun nearly exhausted.

Now the first Cybermen crested the last flight of stairs. She fired and hit it point blank in the head. The head exploded in a burst of metal and fluid, the headless body pitching backward onto the other Cyberman. It tossed the body to the side and stepped up.

Yvonne pressed the trigger again. There was nothing.

The Cyberman, now that it had firing clearance, raised its arm at her. The weapon muzzle moved into place. "Hostile elements will be deleted," it said.

"I did my duty," Yvonne retorted. "For Queen and Country." And she kept her eyes on it, waiting for the Cyberman to kill her.

A shadow moved over her at top speed. A wave of force slammed into the Cyberman, moving sideways so as to throw it over the railing. A series of metallic thuds sounded as it toppled down the center of the stair shaft.

Yvonne looked up and saw Robert look down at her. The pain she felt was starting to make her head spin, but she kept her focus and heard him ask, "Where is the Doctor's ship?"

She thought about it. "Tenth level," she said. "Storage Room C. North side of the building."

He nodded. Yvonne had the sense that just thinking about it had told him where precisely to go. Now she watched in surprise as he stepped up onto the railing and jumped down into the stairwell. He's gone mad was her thought before she slipped into unconsciousness.

The next Dalek to enter the torpedo locker was met by the combined firepower of both Hakimzade and Kane, who were shielding Carson. "Almost there," she said as their combined fire quickly degraded its shields. It managed shots that that brought Kane's shield to the brink of failure before the pulse cannon blasts blew it apart.

"What happens if you trigger it now?" Kane asked.

"I don't have enough torpedoes set to blow, it won't be enough to guarantee we take out the deflector," Carson said. "Just a few more. I've almost... "

Carson's death scream caused Kane to turn, in time to see her skeleton glowing through her body from the Dalek blast that killed her. A Dalek was hovering before them, having come up through the now-opened torpedo lift door to Deck 27.

"Dammit!" Kane used his last grenade on the Dalek. The blast went off just below it, overwhelming its shields enough to damage its anti-gravs and send it plummeting back down to Deck 27. He stepped over Carson's body and went to work on the torpedoes. Just a few more and the explosion would be sufficient. He activated the arming sequence for another.

"Exterminate!" came from behind him. Another Dalek entered and fired. The blast hit him in the back. His armor absorbed most of it, but pain went up and down Kane's spine and he felt like half of his chest was on fire. He stumbled to a knee.

There was a grenade blast behind him. Hakimzade had used her second-to-last grenade, but it had the desired effect. Kane drew in a breath. Pain is weakness leaving the body he reminded himself. And then he pulled himself back up and resumed working.

"More Daleks, sir!" Hakimzade warned.

"Do whatever you can to keep them off, three more should do it!"

"Yes sir," was Hakimzade's reply.

Kane didn't see what happened next. He didn't see Hakimzade's last grenade get partly spoofed by the Daleks, causing only partial damage to one. He didn't see her use the blast and their momentary distraction to dash ahead and close the distance. He didn't see her finger activate the override they'd both prepared in case the situation required it.

The only thing he felt was the blast wave when the naqia mini-reactor that powered Hakimzade's armor overloaded and exploded. It pushed him against the console. He was instinctively surprised it hadn't set off the torpedoes until he recalled that without being fully armed and triggered, the naqia warheads wouldn't go off. And it had certainly destroyed the two Daleks, as well as Hakimzade herself.

I'm all that's left was his thought as Kane armed the next torpedo and prepared it to detonate with the others. He started work on the next, knowing he only had a couple minutes to live.

Lucy and Meridina had made it to an open office area in the middle of the tenth floor. They moved around, back to back, deflecting Dalek shots into other Daleks and knocking Daleks over where they could. "We seem to have their undivided attention," Meridina remarked.

"Yeah, given they send more after us for every one they lose." Lucy deflected one Dalek's bolt into another, causing it to blow apart.


"Oh put a sock in it already," Lucy demanded before deflecting the Dalek's next shot at it. The handful of Daleks remaining in the room all tried to focus firepower on her. It took everything Lucy had left to reflect their shots back into them, one by one, while Meridina moved up to the last and slashed its casing open once a bolt from its own gun had taken out its shields.

With a moment of reprieve the two looked at each other. "We're not going to survive this, are we?" Lucy asked.

"Quite possibly not," replied Meridina.

Lucy nodded and drew in a breath.

"It is okay to feel fear," Meridina admitted to her. Her lilt was growing shaky as well. "You must simply not give in to it."

"I know. But… honestly, I'm not sure I'm as afraid of dying as I'm afraid of…"

Before Lucy could finish they heard the footsteps, rapid and steady. They looked toward the door in time to see Robert rushing in from the south side of the building. "Rob?" Lucy asked.

"No time!" he shouted. "I have to get there, and they're behind me!" He kept running past. Both could sense how agitated he was and how certain he felt. They also, for the first time in awhile, understood what was going on.

"They're in danger," Lucy remarked. "Our friends, our ship."


"Exterminate!" Daleks moved through the south door, evidently in pursuit of Robert. Lucy jumped into their path and deflected shots meant for Robert back toward them. Two blasted through the wall and one shot damaged a Dalek. Her lightsaber became a blur again, catching and reflecting Dalek fire. Meridina had to do the same as more Daleks came in from the east door. They backed together toward the middle of the room, just as Daleks were coming in from the west. Their lightsabers were in constant motion, throwing back blasts at their foes that destroyed some, damaged some, and certainly damaged the office room.

Then even more Daleks came through from the north door. Lucy felt out for Robert and was relieved to sense him. The Daleks hadn't seen him. They were focusing on her and Meridina.

"It seems we are surrounded," said Meridina, backing up to Lucy.

Lucy felt reassured by Meridina's presence on her back. "Noticed. But they'll find we're not going down easy."

To protect themselves they had to stand back to back and remain in constant motion. The Dalek fire was incessant and Meridina and Lucy spun around to meet it. One moment they faced east and west, the next south and north, blue light blurring around them. Their power guided their weapons and movements and kept them alive. For all the Daleks cried "Exterminate!", they could not achieve that goal against the two. Indeed, they were only destroying themselves, but their hate would not let them leave foes alive.

"You've been a great teacher, Meridina," Lucy said. "And a better friend."

"You have been a fine student, Lucy, and I have had none closer as a friend."

"No regrets, then."


Lucy was too busy fighting to nod. But she let the sentiment she felt pass through to Meridina.

If we're going down here, at least we're going together.

And so they continued to fight.

Kane tapped the keys to finalize the torpedo's arming sequence. It would detonate, like so many others, the moment he hit the right key on the console. He began working on the last of the torpedoes to ensure the resulting blast stopped the Daleks. The arming sequence began under his fingers. He input the code from the computer.

The screen soon verified that the torpedo was armed. Over twenty were now ready to detonate, more than enough to gut the deflector area of the drive hull. His mission had completed. All that was left was to hit the detonation key.

He might have taken a moment to consider his mortality. Or to think of what he'd say when he got to where he was going. But he did none of those things. He was a Marine and he had a mission to complete. That mission was going to kill him, kill fellow Marines and their comrades in the Aurora crew… and save over a thousand of their own, not to mention all of the people on Earth the Daleks were going to kill if they took control of the ship. Indeed, the entire Alliance was at risk from these vicious things if they kept control of the jump drive. Trillions of beings that he was sworn to defend and whom the Daleks would slaughter without a moment's care.

Thus there was no hesitation. He simply pressed the key and waited for it all to end.

The screen turned red and flashed the message Access Denied.

"He's gone," said Rose. The Doctor and Cat looked up from the computers they were at. "He just… ran off!"

"Rob wouldn't abandon us," Cat insisted. "He has to have a reason." She activated her omnitool comms. "Delgado to Dale. What's going on?" When there was no answer, she repeated, "Delgado to Dale, please respond. What are you doing?"

A suspicious look appeared on the Doctor's face. "Rose, what did you say to him?" he asked.

"Um…" Rose thought on it for a brief moment. "Just the message. He wanted to know about the messages we were getting, back before you regenerated."

"You mean when you last beat the Daleks?" Cat asked.

"Yeah." Rose nodded. "He just wanted to know what the message was."

The Doctor was frowning. Cat didn't know why and couldn't stop her curiosity. "Well, what was it?"

"Well, it was 'Bad Wolf'."

Caterina's jaw dropped open. "It was what?"

"'Bad Wolf'." Rose pointed to Cat. "You… you recognize it?"

"Well… Angel said that Rob was having dreams," Cat explained. "Of someone, a woman or something, saying things about bad wolves."

Now Rose's expression turned bewildered. "Is that why he always looked at me like that? Like he knew me?"

"He's been having visions of you," the Doctor said. "People like Captain Dale can have those, it's part of their connection to things." The Doctor turned his head to Cat with a grim expression on his face. "He heard those words, didn't he? 'Bad Wolf'?"

"Um… I think so."

"You don't think he's going to…" Rose's hands slipped into her trousers. Her eyes widened a moment later and she began to feel around in her pockets.

"What is it?" Cat asked her.

"He took it," Rose said, giving a meaningful look to the Doctor.

The Doctor said nothing. He knew exactly what Rose meant.

The key slipped into the lock perfectly. The defenses of the TARDIS yielded and the door opened, allowing Robert to step inside. He walked most of the way up to the console and stopped. "I can feel you," he said aloud. "I know you're alive."

There was no response.

Robert swallowed. The delay of just a second could possibly ruin his plan. "I need your help," he said. "My crew, my friends, they're being killed, they're going to die. I have to save them. And you can do that. I've heard about your power."

There was, again, no response.

Kane stared at the message on the control screen in utter bewilderment. He quickly re-confirmed his access code and triggered the detonation key again.

Access Denied.

"Dammit!" he shouted. He ran to another nearby console and brought up the torpedo arming controls. He hit the key for detonation.

Access Denied.

In desperation Kane turned to the omnitool controls on his own armor suit. He would use his own short-range communication to set off the weapons. A couple of finger taps brought that screen up. But, to his horror, all of the torpedoes were now showing as disarmed.

The door slid open again. A Dalek entered. "We have locked down all detonation controls and torpedo arming systems," it informed him, its electronic voice almost mocking in its tone. "Your efforts are irrelevant. Your species is inferior. You and your weak Alliance will be exterminated by the Daleks."

Kane turned and did the only thing he could do. After tapping the controls for them, he opened fire with his pulse cannons. They fired with thicker, longer pulses than usual, overpowered shots made possible only by overriding all safety measures and protocols. They battered down the Dalek's shields quickly.

The Dalek returned fire. The blast hit him in the chest. His armor stopped most of it, but the pain and damage caused by the shot sent him to his knees.

But Kane kept firing.

The Dalek did too.

The firing stopped when the explosions happened.

"You let Rose use the power within you to defeat the Daleks before," Robert said. "I need it. I need that now. Everything I care for is going to be lost if you don't help.

And yet, there was no reaction.

Robert smacked his fist on the TARDIS console. "Please, you've got to help!" he urged. "I feel your presence, I know you're a living thing. I believe there are things you care about, and if you know that, you have to know what it's like for us. People who trusted their lives to me are dying, a horrible threat is about to overtake the Multiverse, and I need you to stop it."

The tactical holotank confirmed Kane was no longer active. And there had been no explosion.

Julia swallowed and nodded. "Alright," she said, her heart sinking into her stomach. She nodded to Violeta. There were tears in the young officer's purple eyes, but she obeyed her orders without question. She and al-Rashad went to the side of the bridge, where a touch on the panel opened the escape pod.

As they clambered in, Julia's eye turned to the viewscreen. There was something definitely wrong with the tear now. The bright light had darkened considerably, taking on an almost purplish hue. Just looking at it made her spine chill.

"Mother of God," murmured Angel, who winced. "It's… it's like I can feel something in there. Something wrong, something evil."

"The tear's undergoing some sort of shift," Jarod explained. "I'm not sure what's going on…"

"It doesn't matter now," she said softly. "Computer, this is Commander Julia Andreys, First Officer. Set self-destruct sequence. Authorization code Andreys Bravo Charlie Charlie 3992."

Inside the jump drive chamber, Dalek Thay's eyestalk swiveled. "Anomalous shift to Void breach detected. Unknown power signature is present. Tactical alert to all Daleks. Unknown force present within Void breach." Within its casing, Dalek Thay felt something like a chill, which was a thing it had never felt before. A sense of hate and loathing filled Thay that seemed even more than the hate Thay felt within itself. As if Thay were seeing its own nature increased by orders of magnitude and reflected back at it.

And Dalek Thay felt fear at that.

"We're out of time," said the Doctor. On the screen a surviving satellite was picking up the footage. The white light from the Aurora's deflector was now pouring into a rift of roiling, deep purple and black. "They're going to wake up."

Robert could feel it. "It's happening," he said. "The Darkness are going to wake up, they're going to come through. Julia's going to blow the ship up to stop it." He swallowed. "Please help me."

And for the first time, he received an answer. It came as a whisper across his mind, across his very being.

If you do this, your life will end.

Jarod stared at the widening rift on the screen. What was left of the sensors couldn't make sense of it. It was shifting into something in what must be an entirely different dimensional plane. If not for the situation, or for the hideous feelings he had at seeing the swirling patterns of dark purple around the black maw of the tear, Jarod might have thought it an opportunity for science.

Instead, all he wanted was to close it. "Computer, this is Lieutenant Commander Jarod, Operations Officer. Set self-destruct sequence. Authorization Code Jarod Tango Sierra Gamma 5593."

Robert considered the words spoken by the TARDIS. He swallowed and nodded. "I know. But I have to do this. Please, let me do this."

The whisper on his being returned. Why?

Until the prior year or two, Angel had never really thought about the existence of things like demonic forces. She believed in God certainly. She even still believed in the teachings of the Church to various degrees, although she preferred embracing the specific teachings that didn't make her sister out to be wrong for who she loved.

But now… now she did. The feeling coming from seeing the spatial rift filled her with cold dread. She could imagine something dark, something hateful, within that dark opening through reality, something that would wake soon, and when it did, Hell itself would come for her and hers.

It would come for Caterina.

A deep "shunk" sounded through the bridge. The escape pod had launched. Caterina's girlfriend was safe. She would be there for Cat since Angel couldn't be.

It made the decision and her imminent death easier to accept.

"Computer, this is Lieutenant Angela Delgado, Chief Tactical Officer. Set self-destruct sequence. Authorization Code Delgado Gamma X-Ray Zulu 3840."

The TARDIS remained silent in the seconds after the Why? Robert clenched his fists in frustration. Why wouldn't this thing cooperate?!

He had no choice on the issue. He knew he had to cooperate with it if he was going to save everyone. He knelt on the floor of the console chamber and closed his eyes while letting his fears bubble up. He let himself think about the Aurora being destroyed in a series of explosions. He imagined Julia, Angel, Leo, Tom, Jarod… he imagined all of his friends and comrades on the ship dying in a flash of light.

He imagined life without them. Life without Angel's ready smirk and passion. Life without Leo's ready grin and compassion. Without Tom Barnes' enthusiasm and humor or Jarod's wit and friendliness…

Without Julia and her confidence. Her ready grin.

A life without them. A life when he had lost so much already.

The pain of that thought drove his memories backward. The deaths of his grandparents. The sheriff deputy at the door, the sterile white halls of the county morgue. The remains of his parents and his little sister.

The loss of his whole world. The agony of that loss. The months, the years, of suffering he'd endured.

He imagined what it would feel like now, with the loss of Julia and the others. And the pain worsened.

Tears flowed freely down Robert's eyes. His heart felt like it was going to stop. He lowered his head, as if bowing to the living machine herself. A living machine that would decide whether or not those he loved were going to die. "Please," he pleaded. "I have to save them. I have to save them!"

Even if the cost is your life?

The thought of death came to him. For in instant, he instinctively recoiled from it. No. He didn't want to die. He knew how much it would hurt the others. He knew how Beth would take it. And there was so much more to do. So many responsibilities he faced. The war he had started, the efforts he'd begun. The threat that Swenya's old prophecy had spoken of had to be stopped.

"Yes," he answered nevertheless. "I'll still do it."

With this choice, your life will end. You cannot take this back.

"I know." Robert lifted his head and faced the machine. "My choice is made."

A moment of quiet passed. Robert didn't know what that meant. Was the TARDIS considering him again? Was this rejection? Was it thinking it over?

The TARDIS console opened.

Captain Robert Dale made his choice. He looked into the swirling vortex at the heart of the living machine.

And his life ended.

"All codes confirmed. Auto-destruct sequence enabled."

Julia swallowed. She had to. Whatever was in the tear… it was stirring. It was waking. And she could feel the malevolent hate oozing from within that bizarre place on the other end of the breach.

"No timer, Computer."

"Warning. Auto-destruct will commence upon provision of final code."

"I know." Julia swallowed. She quietly prayed for a moment, a prayer for her crew, for her friends, and for herself, and entrusted it all to whatever lay beyond. As she felt Angel and Jarod's eyes upon her, she said the final words of her twenty-eight years of life.

"Computer, this is Commander Julia Andreys." She swallowed, savored her last moment of life, and opened her mouth to speak. "Initiate self-destruct on my command. Authorization Code Andreys Alpha 9..."

As the "N" sound of the next "9" started to form, a loud sound echoed through the Aurora bridge. It was a sound she had heard only twice before.


The TARDIS materialized on the Aurora bridge.

When its doors swung open, the light within was blinding. Wisps of white energy, verging on golden, emanated from around it, as if it was gas seeping into the atmosphere. Julia watched in surprise as Robert stepped out. He had a strange look in his green eyes. "Rob?" she asked weakly.

"I am… something different," he said. "I see so much. I feel so much." He swallowed.

Jarod was scanning him with his omnitool. "I've never seen readings like this," he said.

Robert raised a hand toward the rear computer display, now dominated by the auto-destruct system's final input. "I cannot allow you to sacrifice yourself like this," he said. His eyes blazed with golden light until the green within was extinguished.

"Self destruct sequence aborted," said the Computer.

"Rob, no!" Julia shouted. "Don't you feel that out there? This has to be done!"

"I have already paid the price," he replied. "I looked into the TARDIS and it looked into me. My life is over now. But first…"

As the weight of his words rang in their heads, the three watched Robert turn toward the front of the bridge. He wasn't looking at the holo-viewscreen, but they were. He raised his hands toward the bow and golden light surged around him again.

And on the screen, that same golden light now grew around the edges of the tear. The black and purple mists filling space quaked and recoiled. It was like they were alive and fighting back from this new force pressing against them.

A look of effort appeared on Robert's face. "No," he said. "You fight, but you cannot stop me. Not with this. Return to your sleep, Darkness. Return to it now."

"The spatial tear is closing in on itself," said Jarod. "It's collapsing…"

"Void breach is collapsing," Dalek Thay said, in the heart of the Aurora's jump drive access room. "Increase power! The breach must remain intact!"

In Torchwood Breach Control, the Doctor, Rose, and Caterina watched on a screen as bright light tinged with gold continued to swell over the orbiting breach, closing it steadily. "Rob's doing that?" Cat asked, incredulous at the sight.

The Doctor nodded quietly. "He is." A sad look came over his face. "And then he's going to die."

"Maybe Leo can…"

"I'm sorry, Cat," he said. "But even if he closes the connection, he's got too much inside of him. It's going to burn him cell by cell, from the inside out."

Cat closed her eyes and wiped her tears at that thought.

"Rose, get to the lever, now!" The Doctor ran to his. "Caterina, to your place! We've got to send them all back into the Void now that we have the chance!"

While her heart still felt like breaking over the thought that Robert was about to die, Caterina forced herself into pushing those thoughts away. She went to the computer station while the Doctor and Rose began pushing the levers back into the on position. The room brightened.

"Online," said the computer.

The two dashed to their clamps a second time and hooked their arms in. Within moments the breach opened fully, and a constant pull began to lift them off their feet.

"His vitals are fluctuating," Jarod said, still scanning Robert with his omnitool. "There's an energy buildup in his tissues. If this keeps up…"

"What?" Julia demanded.

Jarod shook his head. "He's going to die from this."

Julia looked at Robert and said, "Whatever it is, let it go! Don't kill yourself like this!"

On the screen, the golden light consuming the spatial rift seemed to be stopping.

"They're fighting me," said Robert. "I can feel them. The Daleks are trying to stop me. But they can't." He concentrated further. And the light kept going.

"I'm picking up increased emissions from the planet." Jarod nodded. "It's working. With this rift closing, the other's power is increasing. So is its area of effect."

"Which means…"

They got confirmation of that a moment later, as the last wave of Daleks approaching the hull were suddenly drawn back Earthward.

Robert's attention remained wholly focused on the rift, now nearly closed.

Meridina nearly dropped to a knee and had a half-second to spare when she got her lightsaber between herself and the Dalek in front of her. The blast flew away and blew apart on of the office desks not yet destroyed. Behind her Lucy deflected her foes' shots with energy that, as determined as she was, nevertheless showed clear signs of flagging.

And yet, at the periphery of her senses, Meridina felt like she had reassurance. Everything was going to be fine.

Suddenly the Daleks stopped where they were. After a second of confusion, an unseen force yanked them from the room. Their electronic screaming filled the air until they were at such a distance that they were gone.

The two turned off their lightsabers at the same time and collapsed out of exhaustion. Laying beside each other, almost unable to do as much as roll to look into one another's faces, Lucy managed to say, "We actually survived."

"Surprising," huffed Meridina. A small smile crossed her face to match the one on Meridina's. "But… much appreciated." She let her hand inch across the floor, much as Lucy's did, until they met and clasped together.

The rift in front of the Aurora finished closing. In the moments after it did, despite the white light still spearing that point in space from the Aurora navigational deflector, Daleks begin to stream out of the many hull breaches in the ship's hull. They created a stream of shrieking machines being pulled toward the Earth, specifically toward London.

A mere moment before this effect took place, a single Dalek voice in the jump drive access room could be heard to say, "Emergency temporal shift!", after which its compatriots were sucked away.

On the bridge Jarod was keeping a nervous eye on his omnitool scanner. "His body is starting to suffer cellular damage."

"Rob!" Julia stepped up to him. "Robby! You've got to stop!"

"It's done," he said. The golden hue around him had quieted. Energy seeped from him and back into the TARDIS. "The Daleks are gone."

Jarod immediately returned his attention to his console. "One moment, regaining deflector control… there." The white beam stopped. "Give me a few minutes, I should be able to make workarounds for the Daleks' hacking job on our systems."

Julia was too busy looking at Robert. Angel stood from her post and grimaced from the pain in her hip and leg. "What's wrong with him?"

"I'm burning up," Robert said. "Much of the power I absorbed went into sealing the breach. But what's left… I'm burning from the inside." Tears streamed from his eyes as he looked at Julia. "I had to. To save the ship. To save you."

"Don't speak," Julia urged him. "We'll get Leo back here. We'll get you help…"

"It's too late for me. I'm sorry."

"No!" Hot tears now flowed from Julia's eyes. She grabbed him by the shoulders. "You can't just die, not like this! Please."

"I knew the price," he said. "I made the choice. The TARDIS told me my life would end if I did."

"No…" Julia shook her head. "No. We've been together all our lives. You can't just leave us. You can't leave me like this."

"I'm sorry," he repeated. A look of pain came over his face. "It's almost over. I saved everyone. That's all I wanted. To save you." He reached up and pressed a hand to her cheek. His hand felt unnaturally warm on her skin. His thumb collected the tears streaming down from her right eye. "Tell Beth I'm sorry. Please."

Julia shook her head and sobbed. A sharp, steady pain filled her at the thought that this was it. That her closest friend, the person who had been in her life since she could remember, her Robby, was going to die. And there was nothing she could do about it.

It wasn't the first time she had faced the prospect that he was about to die. But it was the first time that it felt like an unavoidable certainty. A certainty she couldn't bear.

What happened next was a combination of all of those feelings. The pain of loss. The wish for more time. Deep affection for the one being who had been there for her in all of the tough times in her life, whom she had stood with in the tough times of his own.

With the tears on her cheeks glinting in the soft golden glow still coming from the TARDIS, Julia took the final step up to Robert. She put her hands on his neck and leaned into him until her lips pressed against his.

The kiss continued for seconds, as tears flowed down their faces.

A warm feeling started to spread into Julia from the contact. It didn't make her break off the kiss. Not for several more seconds. But as the feeling spread through her body she felt forced to. Muscles contracted, pain surged. For several moments, the golden light around Robert jumped to Julia, and both gleamed with it to the astonishment of Angel and Jarod.

And then it was over. The golden light was gone.

Wordlessly, both of them fell to the bridge deck, oblivious to the two frantic voices calling their names.

The shrieks of Daleks echoed in the Torchwood control room. They continued to flow on into the breach.

That is, until sparks erupted from the power connections. The power of the particle engines slackened and the breach's intense white light began to dim. "Offline", said the Torchwood computer. The pull on the Daleks slowed until they were suspended in mid-air, not yet able to move, but only moments, perhaps, from being freed.

Caterina dashed to the lever in question. "Stay there!" she shouted to Rose, who nodded. Cat grabbed the lever and began to push it.

She hadn't expected how hard it would be. For all of her straining, the lever barely seemed to budge. Caterina was shocked at how heavy it seemed. Try as she might, the lever was barely moving. So were the Daleks, but if they moved just a little more, they could shoot her.

Rose left her magna-clamp. "We've got to get it upright!" She grabbed the lever as well. Working together, the two women strained every muscle to move the lever back into position.

"Online and locked," said the computer. And the pull picked up again. More Daleks were pulled in.

Rose held on for dear life to the lever while Cat, unaffected by the pull of the breach, stood by her and tried to help her hold on. "Rose, hold on!" urged the Doctor, as the last Daleks flew by. All that was left now was for the breach to close.

The pull on Rose was so intense that she was hanging horizontally from the lever. The breach seemed to be intent on sucking her into the Void. Rose's grip on the lever was visibly slipping, even as the Doctor yelled, "Hold on!" again Cat kept glancing toward the shining wall, wondering when the breach would finally pull in on itself and close.

Rose let out an anguished cry that drew Caterina's attention. Her fingers were straining to hold on to the lever.

And then they slipped free. Rose began to fall toward the breach to the Void.

The Doctor screamed, "No!" as Rose's hands flailed…

...and caught the left hand of Caterina.

Caterina's right arm had hooked around the lever for a stronger hold. She cried out from the resulting strain on her limbs. The force of the breach was an insatiable maw, greedy to suck Rose in, and it would easily pull Caterina in too if she couldn't hold on.

"Hold on!" the Doctor urged.

"I've got you!" Caterina screamed. She fought to keep her arm crooked around the lever. It felt like her arms were going to be ripped off.

But even worse was that she could feel Rose's grip on her left hand start to slip. "Hold on, Rose!" Cat screamed. "It's almost over!"

"I'm trying!"

The seconds seemed to pass like entire minutes. Cat did what she could to shut out the pain in her arms and shoulders and keep her grip on Rose. Rose's left hand lost its grip on Caterina's. She fought to regain it while Cat kept up her struggle to hold on to the lever. She felt her arm feel like it wanted to straighten and put all of her will into not letting it do so. "Please hold on!" Cat pleaded, agony in her voice. She couldn't let Rose fall into that breach, into that terrible Void. Rose didn't deserve it. Rose deserved to continue traveling with the Doctor, to be the partner he needed to save lives, to save worlds.

"Hold on Rose!" the Doctor urged.

It felt like the flow might be weakening. Caterina redoubled her efforts at that feeling. She just needed to hold on for another moment, to ignore the terrible strain on her right arm and shoulder. Just a few more seconds. She tried to stretch herself out further in her hope for Rose to get her left hand back on Cat's to re-secure herself.

Rose's right hand slipped loose a moment later.

The Doctor and Caterina both screamed "No!" as Rose flew uncontrollably toward the breach.

A burst of black energy formed behind her. Suddenly Pete Tyler was present, grabbing Rose with his arms and blocking her progress toward the breach with his body. Rose barely had time to look back toward the Doctor before Pete hit his dimension-hopper and both disappeared in a burst of black energy.

Within seconds of this, the pull on the Doctor weakened. There was an odd sound, a sort of sucking sound as if from a straw. Energy and matter crinkled around the wall and fell in on itself, like paper being sucked into a vacuum, until the shining light of the breach had completely vanished from the room.

Caterina stared dully at the wall for a moment before checking her omnitool. The sensors built into it confirmed what she had just seen. The breach had been completely sealed.

The Doctor walked by her wordlessly. He kept walking until he was leaning against the wall, his hands and the right side of his head pressed against it. As if he might hear Rose on the other end. Caterina watched him quietly, sniffling as she did, so intent that she ignored the pain still in her arms and shoulders.

It was over a minute before the Doctor finally turned away from the wall. Caterina stood up and walked up to him just as he reached the levers. "I'm sorry," she said, sniffling again. Tears were flowing from her hazel eyes. "I'm so sorry."

For Cat's sake, the Doctor forced a quiet, sad little smile to his face. He just as quietly accepted her sympathetic embrace while tears marked their faces with the grief of loss.
”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: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-08-09 03:26pm

Ship's Log: ASV Aurora; 21 October 2642 AST. Lieutenant Commander Jarod recording. The ship is out of immediate danger. The Daleks and Cybermen have both been drawn back into the dimensional plane that our Time Lord ally calls 'the Void'. And whatever bizarre intelligence seems to have been hijacking the Dalek breach into the Void, it too has not shown up again.

But we have paid a high price. The casualties are still being counted. Severe internal damage has kept us from getting a solid count due to the damage to the ship's internal sensors, but I have to estimate we lost at least five hundred officers and crew to the Shadow attack and the invasions by the Cybermen and Daleks.

We have recovered our escape pods and the surviving crew are resuming repair work. Additionally, thanks to Lieutenant Locarno and the work of a couple of engineering crew, we were able to restore the runabout
St. Johns enough for it to fly down and pick up those of our crew still on Earth. The Doctor has also returned to the ship to recover his craft. He has agreed to see me on a pressing matter in the medbay.

Jarod and Caterina watched quietly from the distance while Leo conversed with the Doctor beside two of the occupied biobeds. On said beds were Robert and Julia, both still unconscious.

"The cellular damage is severe, especially in Captain Dale's case," said Leo. "But they're both still alive."

"And lucky to be." The Doctor was looking them both over. Jarod noted that his demeanor was more constrained than before. This was someone dealing with grief. "Your Captain looked into the Time Vortex. He let it into his head. Quite honestly, I'm a bit surprised he's still breathing." The Doctor looked over Julia next. "You're saying she made contact with him before they dropped unconscious. What sort of contact?"

Leo looked to Jarod. Jarod, in turn, supposed he should feel some embarrassment for their sakes when he answered, "Julia kissed him."

"What? Like a peck on the cheek or…"

"It was on the mouth," Jarod clarified. "It was a romantic kiss."

"Huh." The Doctor looked back to them. "Ah. I suppose that would explain it."

"A kiss explains it?" Leo asked, clearly unconvinced.

"Your Captain is not an ordinary Human. Not that Humans come in ordinary models mind you, but what I mean is that Captain Dale has something special about it."

"The Gersallian mystic life force stuff, you mean," said Cat.

"That's one way of putting it." The Doctor looked their way. "Of course, it's a lot more complicated than even Swenya realized."

"So Robert's… powers saved their lives?"

"Well, no, not directly anyway. They acted as a conduit for the energy to bleed out of him. And since he had to use so much of what the TARDIS gave him to seal that breach, he survived what he had left." The Doctor nodded to Julia. "Commander Andreys just made sure he survived it. And she's lucky to be alive too." The Doctor shook his head and sighed. "This is why I told them not to think about the Time Vortex. No being can look into it safely. They're all lucky to be alive."

"Do you know when they'll wake up?" asked Leo.

"I've no idea," the Doctor admitted. "And I'm not sure they'll even be sane. Well, she probably will be. Her exposure was limited. But for those two minutes, Captain Dale's mind was exposed to the full power of the Time Vortex. Time Lord minds can barely take the strain. Human minds?" The Doctor seemed to notice the horrified looks of the others and some part of him seemed compelled to offer hope. "A lot depends on his connection to the life-based energies of existence."

"Swevyra stuff," Caterina said.

"Oh, it's got lots of names. Swevyra, the Gift, the Presence, the Well of Life, the Force. Nobody can agree on what it actually is. They don't even agree on how it normally works. I only have a few ideas on it myself. It's never been my thing. I'm sorry, Doctor Gillam, but I've got nothing else to share."

"Thank you for your help, Doctor," said Leo.

The Doctor stepped away and joined Caterina and Jarod. "So, what are your plans now?" he asked Jarod. "You're in charge of things, right?"

"Engineering teams are still examining what the Daleks did to the jump drive," Jarod said. "Even if the Daleks repaired it, we don't dare to use it until we're sure we've removed whatever programming they put in."

"Let me help you with that, then," said the Doctor. "I'll look it over and see that they didn't leave you any nasty surprises."

"Are you sure, Doctor?" Cat asked. "You've been through a lot. Maybe you should take time to rest."

"I'd rather help, Cat, if it's all the same to you."

Jarod nodded slowly. "Alright. Lieutenant Barnes is overseeing repairs to the jump drive. It's on Deck 30. You'll have to approach from the stern. The corridors and area forward of the access room are heavily damaged from the fighting."

The Doctor nodded in appreciation and left the medbay. Caterina rushed after him. She caught up to him in the corridor just shy of the lift. "Doctor!" When he turned to face her, she said, "I'm sorry about Rose. I… I couldn't hold onto her. I'm sorry…"

"You tried," he answered. He turned to face her. "You did everything you could. We both did. At least Pete caught her and took her back to his world. She'll be safe there."

"Maybe there's a way to still get there. I've heard reports of other ways to go between parallel worlds…"

"And all are extremely dangerous." The Doctor's eyes reflected how much he was hurting. Cat felt a pang of guilt, a feeling that she might be responsible for it. Even if he was right, even if she had done all she could to hold on to Rose. "I understand you're worried about me, Caterina. But right now, you're probably better off checking on your sister and your girlfriend. I'll be fine."

WIthout saying more, the Doctor turned away again and left. Caterina had the thought of asking him when he would rest, that maybe he needed it, but she stopped herself. Helping her ship and friends, that was what he wanted to do, and no amount of rest would change the fact of what happened. Of what he had lost.

Caterina headed back toward the medbay.

Leo stepped up to Jarod. "So, when are we getting home?" he asked.

"Scotty assures me we'll have IU radio back in a few hours," Jarod answered. "I told him it was a priority now given the state of the crew."

"Yeah." Leo gestured to the critical care ward. "I thought you'd want to see this."

Jarod followed Leo into the ward. Most of those present had been wounded by the Shadow attack or by Cybermen. The Daleks had been more effective in killing their targets.

One of those who they hadn't actually managed to kill was in a biobed. Bandages covered burns and, particularly the stumps left of the patient's arms. "Commander Kane," Jarod noted in a quiet voice.

"The Marine medics who found him barely managed to keep him stable before getting him here," said Leo. "Apparently he overloaded the weapons on the suit of heavy armor he was wearing and they exploded."

"The fact that he's alive suggests the Dalek he was fighting didn't make it either. None of the others that tried to set off the torpedo locker made it?"

Leo shook his head. "As things look, the Commander's looking at months of surgery and rehab."

"And psychological counseling," Jarod added. He turned away and looked at more of the wounded.

"I think we'll all need some in the long run." Leo put a hand on Jarod's shoulder. "Go get some rest, Jarod. Nick can keep an eye on things while you do."

"Is that a medical order?"

"Do I need to make it one?"

Jarod glanced back at Leo and let out a sigh. "Alright. But I'll need to be up as soon as we have IU radio or drive capability."

"I'm sure Nick will see to it. Now go on."

Leo watched his friend go and looked back to the wounded under his care. They were still the lucky ones, as far as he was concerned.

"Doctor." Nasri appeared at the entrance of the ward. "Doctor, we've run out of room in the mortuary ward."

That made Leo swallow. That had never happened before. "Use our expansion ward."

"We already have that open for surviving patients."

"Then… then find out from Commander Locarno if we can borrow space elsewhere on the ship." Leo slumped against the wall wearily. He knew he should be taking the same advice he gave Jarod.

Nasri knew it too, given the look she gave him. Just as she knew that with Doctor Lumenaram dead, the medbay had one less physician to deal with the wounded. Leo wouldn't be taking a rest any time soon.

Locarno stepped into Main Engineering from the forward entrance. It was a welcome respite from the rest of the ship. Details were still removing the bodies of dead crew from where they had been left by the Cybermen and Daleks. He had seen far too many shrouded human figures while making his way back here. He glanced down to his bandaged hands and considered just how lucky he had been to come off with only these injuries.

Scotty had returned to Main Engineering to oversee the repair effort. He had Barnes visible on a holo-screen below the ship's master control display. The Doctor was in the background leaning over a control console, working on the board. "...for a while. In fact, he's suggested we should just wipe all of the control systems on the jump drive and restore from backups."

"Aye, a proper suggestion," Scotty said. "As soon as we repair th' computer trunk lines anyway." The old engineer looked over to where Locarno entered and said, "Keep me informed, lad. Scott out." A tap of a key ended the communication. "Commander, what can I dae for ye?"

"Jarod left me in command while he gets some rest. I'm just catching up on our status."

"Nae very good, Commander, nae very good at all," Scotty said. He let out a sigh. "I've lost several o' my best tae those blasted contraptions that invaded an' the fight damaged much o' th' forward drive section. We need a full drydock an' we need t' be in it soon."

"Any chance we can make an IU jump if we get the drive repaired?"

"That's a pretty big 'if', sir. We dinnae have time t' finish th' first repairs before th' invasions, an' now th' hull has suffered more damage. Half th' bloody drive hull is covered in breaches now from th' blasted things getting sucked back to Earth. Things are so bad some o' th' decks cannae be accessed from all th' breaks in th' hull. I dinnae feel safe sendin' her through a jump point under her own power, Commander, an' that's th' truth of it."

"Can't say I blame you." Locarno looked around Engineering. "Status on IU comms?"

"Ah, good news there. I just heard from Lieutenant Nesay. She an' some others managed tae get Machine Shop A goin' enough t' make th' parts we need. We'll have IU comms by mornin'."

"Then we can call for a yardship or a tow and get this ship back for repairs." Locarno nodded. "Well, I'd better go check on the rest of the ship. Let me know if anything comes up."

"I will, Commander," promised Scotty.

Lucy had done what she could helping with repair teams, but given the way things had gone all day she needed a rest. She headed to the Lookout to find that, much to her expectation, Hargert had made more sausage stew.

"I had to," he explained when handing her a bowl. "Our food storage took damage. We have no refrigeration."

"So this is better than letting it go bad." Lucy nodded. She moved her spoon through it.

"You look exhausted, Fraulein," said Hargert.

"Well, I did hours of repair work, got attacked by a Cyberman in my quarters, had to run across the ship fighting Cybermen, piloted an escape pod down to London, fought my way into the Torchwood Tower to help the others, and Meridina and I ended up fighting dozens of Daleks we could barely hurt." Lucy took in a breath after that list. "Yes, I think I'm exhausted."

Hargert touched her shoulder and noddded. "Then come, sit, eat and drink. Rest, Lucy."

"Not yet," said Lucy. "I need these to go. Because Meridina is exhausted too."

When Lucy stepped into the security office, she found Meridina leaning against her desk. Her face had grown pale. Her blue eyes were red with tears. She looked up and smiled at Lucy, but it was a wan smile. "You felt my hunger across the ship, didn't you?"

"I imagined it was like my own." Lucy handed her one of the containers of sausage stew and put the other on the desk. "Looks like your replicator is working."

"Yes. I am fortunate."

Lucy hit the key on it. "Computer, two large cups of hilan, warm." The replicator provided the desired cups full of warm beige-colored liquid, a Gersallian tea. She brought the cups over and set them down. "Are you okay?"

"Many of my officers and subordinates are dead, Lucy," Meridina said. "Lieutenant Richmond provided me a full count of the confirmed casualties before I ordered her to stand down for the rest of the day." Meridina's eyes returned to the screen. "Sixty dead, Lucy."

Lucy swallowed. That was over half of the security staff for the entire ship. "Yenaran?" Meridina shook her head, indicating Yenaran was among the slain. "Reynolds? Janiral? Usala? Kashi? Hata?" At each headshake Lucy felt her heart drop further into her stomach. "Kashi just got married."

"To Petty Officer Sung, yes. She was killed too."

"God," Lucy breathed. For all her hunger, she felt a sudden loss of appetite. It didn't help that the sheer exhaustion of the crew was evident to both of them. Over the last twelve hours, everyone had been put through literal hell. "Do you regret not being here?"

"Our ship would have been destroyed if we hadn't been on Earth, Lucy. Many of the survivors would also be dead." Meridina shook her head. "I do not regret anything. I am simply sad for all of the loss of life caused by these two evils."

"And if Torchwood hadn't been so foolish," Lucy added. "They've got Hartman in the medbay. I wonder if she'll answer for what happened."

"Perhaps. Or perhaps her actions have been some recompense." Meridina tapped a key to turn off her screen. She sipped at the hilan before opening her container of sausage stew and retrieving the utensils that were attached to the container. "For now, we should eat and recover our strength."

Lucy nodded and went for a bite. It tasted as good as always, of course. It was a small pleasure for them, something to get their minds off the death and loss inflicted upon their ship and crew.

The door to Caterina's quarters chimed. After a moment of no answer they chimed again. On the third chime, Cat finally seemed to realize it was going off and called out, "Come in."

The door slid open. Angel limped in and Violeta followed. Angel had swapped into civilian clothes, with a sleeveless green blouse and black pants, while Violeta was still in uniform. Violeta immediately went up to where Cat was sitting at her desk staring at her computer. She embraced Cat and kissed her on the cheek. "Lover, I'm so happy you're okay."

Cat turned her head and let Violeta kiss her. "I was afraid you'd die with the ship," Cat said. Her eyes were red from the tears. "I was afraid I'd lose both of you." She faced her sister next. Angel took a seat in Caterina's most comfortable chair with a clear sigh of relief.

"At least we all made it," said Angel. "We lost too many people."

"I heard about Commander Kane," said Cat.

"And Doctor Lumenaram. Tech Officer Matthews. Lieutenant Pacetti." Angel shook her head. "And what are you doing up? Leo wanted you in bed. Hell, he wanted everyone who was down on Earth to stay off-duty."

"Nobody can stay off-duty given how bad things are," Caterina pointed out. "But I'm working on something personal."

Violeta glanced at the viewscreen. "These are mission reports from Spock? The Spock?"

Caterina nodded. "Spock had a couple of encounters involving alternate timelines during his career. I was hoping I might find a way to safely transit between 5th dimensional locations."

"To get back Rose?" Angel asked.

Caterina nodded. "I… I couldn't hold onto her. She slipped from my hand. Maybe if I'd been stronger…"

"That's not how it works, Cat," Angel said, trying to reassure her sister.

Violeta pulled up a seat and snuggled up beside Cat. "I know you blame yourself, but I also know you did everything you could, Cat," Violeta assured her.

"The Doctor's alone now," Cat said. "Because I couldn't hold on. I… I have to make it up for him. I have to find a way. I have to help him."

"How?" asked Violeta.

Caterina had an idea. She told them.

"Are you sure?" Violeta asked. "If you're sure, and you know you can do it… then I'm fine with it."

For a moment Caterina had to think on that. Ultimately she nodded. "Yes," she said. "I'm sure."

Lucy was on her way back to her quarters and ready to collapse. She'd helped in some repairs after finishing her meal with Meridina, joining a repair team on Deck 24 to restore local power function and help stabilize the ship's hull breaches. Now she just wanted to collapse into bed and sleep.

Therefore she was quite agitated when the lift stopped on its way to her quarters on Deck 5. The doors slid open and Tom Barnes shuffled in, looking ready to join the dead. "Hey," he said with little energy. "Lift, Deck 4."

"Hey," she answered. She could feel his sheer exhaustion and, beneath that, grief and pain. "I'm sorry," she added.


"For everyone you lost."

"Ah. Yeah." Barnes looked at her. "So, where were you during the fuss? Jarod said something about you going down to Earth in an escape pod."

"Yeah, I did. I spent most of my time fighting Cybermen and Daleks."


Lucy felt the resentment flare up inside of him. "What's wrong?"

"Well, you've got that mumbo jumbo stuff," he pointed out. "If you'd stayed, maybe some more of our people would be alive."

"If I had stayed, Tom, then I wouldn't have rescued Rob and Meridina from the Cybermen," Lucy pointed out. "Nor would Meridina have had her lightsaber, and me, to hold off the Daleks. She'd be dead, and Robert never would have gotten to the TARDIS, and you and a lot of the crew would have died when Julia triggered the auto-destruct."

Barnes didn't say anything to that. Lucy sighed in realization. The problem wasn't the fact, it was the feeling, and nothing she said could change that. When Barnes finally spoke he asked, "Did you know that when you left? With that mumbo jumbo stuff?"

"I could feel it, yeah."

"Right." He shook his head. "How'd you manage to fix those damn things anyway?" He was looking at her lightsaber. "I heard they got fried by the Shadows' disruption weapon."

"Well… it's hard to describe actually."

"I'm a Goddamned engineer, Lucy, give me some frakking credit."

"Tom, that's exactly why it's hard to describe," Lucy said, trying to be patient despite her immense fatigue. "Because these things… they're not just engineering. I didn't fix them until I put down my tools and used my life energy to sense what was wrong and fix it."

"So you repaired stuff with your mumbo jumbo?" The skepticism was thick in his voice. "Really?"

"Really," Lucy said. "How else could I repair them while waiting for my escape pod to finish making re-entry?"

It was clear he was still skeptical. But he said nothing more but a simple sarcastic "Good night, oh sorceress" when Lucy stepped out of the lift on Deck 5. She barely had the energy to stick her tongue out at him in mild retort.

She walked on, aching everywhere, until she got to her quarters. The door opened and she was let into her room. The ceiling still bore the mark from the Cyberman blaster meant to kill her. In her bedroom, the Cyberman had smacked its metal arm into her dresser while landing after she had shoved it back, smashing the entire thing and leaving an assortment of her clothes spread here and there on the floor. "Tomorrow," she mumbled before collapsing into her bed. She managed to struggle out of her uniform trousers and jacket before she just gave up and rolled onto her pillow, determined to sleep until she woke up.

With awareness came pain. Pain in the head. Pain through the body. A feeling like having been dragged over hot coals and injected with napalm.

There was a gasp of surprise at the intensity of said pain, and with it Julia woke up. Her eyes fluttered open and she gave a miserable groan. The pneumonia that had hospitalized her at age 12 hadn't felt this horrible on her. Nor had that double overtime game during her high school basketball days, when she played all but four minutes of the whole thing. She felt like her entire body had been burned through and out. It was a surprise when she managed to sit up.

She glanced around and saw she was in medbay. Her mind tried to piece together what happened before she collapsed. She remembered preparing to give the order to blow the ship up, which clearly hadn't happened since she was still breathing. Then there was that sound, and a lot of light, and Robert came out of it and… Robert!

She turned her head and noticed him in the biobed beside her. He was alive according to the biobed's status display, but there was no movement. It looked like more than simple sleep to her. What have you done to yourself? she wondered.

Movement caught the corner of her eye. She was surprised to see one biobed was taken up by Leo, still in white lab coat and blue uniform, who yawned as he sat up. His bleary brown eyes met her bleary green ones and he stifled another yaw before getting up. A few steps brought him over the bed. He looked over the system readouts. "Your vitals look good," he said. "It's good to know you're okay."

Julia set her elbows onto her knees and leaned her hand into her hands. "Everything hurts," she said.

"Given what the Doctor said about what happened, I'm not surprised. We almost lost you."

Fear crept into her voice. "And Rob?"

Leo shrugged. "We're not sure. His body's alive and recovering. But he's showing no signs of waking up." His eyes moved over their unconscious friend. "The Doctor says he's lucky to still be alive. But there's a chance he might not be entirely sane when he wakes up."

Julia closed her eyes and drew in a breath. For a moment she thought she could feel something in her, a memory of a power beyond anything she could have imagined. And she'd only had it for a few seconds, relative to Robert. What had that bizarre energy from the TARDIS done to him?

For the first time Julia realized she was in a medbay gown. She frowned and went to slide off the biobed. Leo took her by the shoulders to stop her. "Right now you need rest," he insisted.

"The crew needs me," she insisted.

"Jarod and Nick and Scotty have everything well in hand," Leo assured her. "The repair teams have been working all night. The ship is fine."

"Do we have communications back yet? I need to be there for that."

"We should have IU comms back within a few hours or so. At least, that's what I was told. I can find out more for you if you want." Leo tilted his head toward the pillow. "But you have to promise to stay here for a little while. At least a few more hours so we can make sure you're okay."

That drew a deep frown from Julia. She felt her place was on the bridge right now, setting an example for the others. It was clear, however, that Leo would not be denied on this point, so she acquiesced to his term with a nod. He stepped away to make the enquiries in his office.

Feeling tired despite everything, Julia laid her head on the pillow and allowed her thoughts to wander. Now that the crisis was mostly over she had time to consider things. Had anyone received their mayday? Were they considered missing now? Indeed, a certain fear came to her that any ship answering the mayday they had sent out from Halmavar would also get attacked and destroyed by the Shadow ships.

Julia quietly closed her eyes and wished the pain she felt would go away. Without even planning on it, she was soon fast asleep, with just a single thought going through her mind as she settled into a gentle slumber.

Did Zack know?

There was a surge of radiation in the Halmavar System. It was a very subtle one, artificially distorted and shifted by the same field that kept others from seeing the ship responsible even with their personal sight.

A sleepless Zachary Carrey returned to the bridge a moment later. "Report," he said gruffly.

"We've just come out of warp at Halmavar," said Lt. Magda Navaez, ship's operations officer and science officer (although given Koenig's combat-orientated role, she didn't do much in the way of "science"). "I'm already running sensor sweeps."

"The Aurora's last communications said they were going to investigate the second planet. Ap?"

"I'm bringing us in," said the ship XO, Lt. Creighton Apley. His hands moved over the helm controls of the Koenig and directed the small gut-puncher of a starship toward the planet in question.

"Code Yellow," Zack said. "Prepare to raise shields the moment we decloak."

"Aye sir."

"I'm picking up what looks like an impulsor drive trail. It's consistent with the impulsors on the Aurora." Magda continued to examine her reading. "There's something up with the planet, it's… that can't be right."

"Show me. On screen."

The screen shifted. Everyone stared at the sight. Zack's mouth hung open for a moment before he could manage, "What in God's name happened here?"

Julia had been woken up only after a few more hours of sleep. Leo provided her a fresh uniform and told her Jarod and Locarno were waiting for her on the bridge. So were Angel and Cat, it turned out. She was still moving gingerly as she stepped up and slid into the command chair, secretly relieved to be off her feet. Her body still twitched and ached, all the way to the fingertip that tapped the comm key button. "Bridge to Engineering. Are the comms online?" she asked.

"Aye, sir, we have subspace an' IU comm back up."

"What about our jump drive?"

"Sorry, lass, but th' Doctor insisted on a full backup restoration. An' we're just now finishin' th' repair on th' computer lines t' dae that. A spot of good news for ye, though. We cannae use th' drive, but th' anchor is back online an' safe. If ye get us help, they can jump right tae our location."

"Thank you, Mister Scott." Julia nodded to Jarod. "Put me on."

"Patching in to Alliance IU comm network." A moment later he nodded. "We're on the main Stellar Navy bands now."

"This is Commander Julia Andreys of the Starship Aurora to any Alliance ship receiving. We have suffered extensive damage and are currently in orbit of Earth in Universe W8R4. Our jump drive is offline but we have restored the anchor mechanism. Again, we require immediate assistance, our crew has taken heavy casualties and we're still repairing battle damage."

For a few moments there was no response. Then a voice came back over the line. "We hear you, Aurora. Ships are jumping to your location now."

And indeed space opened up a moment later. A swirling green vortex, an interuniversal jump point, formed a few hundred kilometers off their port bow. Jarod immediately put the forming vortex on the holo-viewscreen. Right after it expanded to full size a starship flew through it. It had the same azure sheen as the Aurora and was clearly built to resemble her, although she lacked the Aurora's size and had only two warp nacelles instead of four. The name on her primary hull read ASV Shenzhou.

"Hail coming in," said Jarod.

Julia couldn't help herself. She smiled with relief and said, "Put her on, Jarod."

The holo-viewscreen shifted to show another bridge similar to the Aurora's. The figure central to the image was a woman Julia's age with East Asian complexion and features. Her dark eyes reflected quiet relief. The four gold rank strips of a Captain were on the rank tab on her collar. When she spoke, it was with decent English, but a prominent Chinese accent. "Starship Aurora, this is Captain Ming Li on the Shenzhou. It's good to see you."

"It's good to see you too, Captain," Julia answered. She couldn't keep relief out of her voice. "As you can see, we've had a rough time of it."

Ming nodded. "So my operations officer is telling me. It looks like someone tried to slice your ship to pieces and then started poking holes in your drive hull for sport. What is your status?"

"No jump drive, no warp drive, impulsors are still only partly online, and no armor self-repair," answered Julia. "No weapons either, and our transporters are blown out right now."

"Knowing Commander Scott, your ship used to be far worse off." The look on Ming's face turned somber. "My science officer is reporting that your life sign count is barely over 1,400. What happened?"

"A lot of really bad things that I'm compiling into a report for Admiral Maran."

"I see. You must have shortages in your engineering teams then. I'll have Commander Kreelt send some of his people over to assist you." For a moment Ming didn't speak, and when she did it was with a question. "And Captain Dale? Is he among the lost?"

"Just about," Julia said, a lump forming in her throat. "He's in a coma."

"I see. That is regrettable." Ming lowered her eyes. "I will join my engineers on your ship. With Commander Scott overseeing our repairs, we should have you ready for a safe jump by the end of the day, I hope."

"I hope," agreed Julia. "We'll be waiting for you."

Ming nodded. "Shenzhou out." She disappeared from the screen. The Shenzhou was now coming up beside and above the Aurora, as if to shield her from further threats.

"Any news on Robert?" Jarod asked.

Julia shook her head. "He's still in the coma. Leo hasn't seen any signs that he's coming out of it."

"Right. And one last thing…" Jarod tapped a key to transmit something to Julia's omnitool. She activated the tool and looked up what he sent. "Our final casualty count," Jarod explained. "Completely confirmed."

Julia looked over the list with a lump in her throat. The names… she knew a number of them. She'd given them performance reviews with their department officers. She'd seen them at lunch. She'd been to a wedding, checked in on a couple of parties, signed off on their promotions. Welcomed them to the Aurora. Her mind put faces to the names. Human, Alakin, Dorei, Gersallian, a Gy'toran.

And now they were gone.

Tears began flowing down her eyes at the weight of that loss. Despite everything, despite all efforts, they had lost so many crew that every survivor would have a friend or colleague or close shipmate among the lost. That they hadn't lost more was due to a miracle. A miracle that might have cost her the most important person in her life.

Julia forced the tears to stop. She could cry later, but not now, not when she had to be strong for the others. "Jarod, has Shenzhou signaled how they're sending replacement crew over?"

"They're coming by shuttle," he answered. "The main shuttlebay is intact enough to receive them."

"Then I'm going down to welcome them. What about the remains for our lost crew? Do you think we can manage a burial service?"

"Just about, I suppose," Jarod sighed. "I think our best bet will be to hold any service in the main shuttlebay while the bodies are released from what's left of the hanger deck. It won't be all of them. Some of the deceased have orders for returning the remains to family. We'll still be releasing over three hundred sets of remains at once though."

"Do we have enough coffins for that?" Locarno asked. "Food replicators are up but I thought the larger ones were still down?"

"I'll ask Scotty to detail a few engineers to repairing one. We should still have the materials we need. And the Shenzhou can help us get enough completed in time for a service tomorrow."

"Then do what you have to. I want to have the service at eleven hundred hours ship time tomorrow." Julia forced herself to stand. "Jarod, you have the bridge. I'm heading down to the main shuttlebay."

Julia was in her quarters finalizing her remarks for the service when the bridge called down with news that the Koenig had arrived by jump point. Her dock was ready to receive her, so Julia rushed to the dock entrance as fast as her hurting body could carry her.

Tom Barnes was already present when she arrived. They felt the thunk through the deck as the Koenig was secured in its docking place. A couple of minutes passed until the door opened. Zack was the first out. He rushed up to them and wrapped his arms around them in a tight hug. "Oh God," he said, not bothering to hide the tears of relief. "I thought you were gone. I thought you were dead."

"We almost were," Julia replied, patting him on the back. "If not for Rob, I would have blown the ship up and the two of us wouldn't have made it."

Zack nodded. He let go of them. Concern was now showing on his face. "Where is he? Is he okay?"

"We're not sure, man," Barnes said. "Leo can't tell what's wrong with him, and the Doctor said he might never wake up."

"Doctor? Which Doctor?"

"The one that the Darglan Facility talked about," Barnes replied. "The one it told us to find to fight the Daleks."

Zack blinked at that. "What, seriously? That guy exists?"

"He's down in Engineering helping with repairs now," Barnes said. "He's smarter than Jarod."

"I don't believe you. Seriously, I can't… I can't believe that."

"You'll find out," Julia said. Moving made her feel pain, and an involuntary wince crossed her face.

Zack noticed it too. "What's wrong?" he asked.

"Oh, just… it's a long story. I'm going to hurt for awhile."

By this point other members of the Koenig crew were emerging. Karen Derbely and Ana Poniatowski led a number of engineering-branch officers and crew up. "Where do you need us, Commander?" Derbely asked Julia.

Julia looked to Barnes, who chucked a thumb toward the hall. "Head to Main Engineering, Scotty will give you assignments," he said. "Our priority is making sure the ship can take the acceleration to make a jump."

The two women nodded and led their engineers away. Opani and her small medical staff emerged. "We'll head right to the Medbay," Opani said.

"We lost Doctor Lumenaram, so you'll be welcome," Julia said.

Zack looked at her with concern. "Who did we lose?"

"Robert's in a coma. Angel was hit but is okay." Julia shook her head. "Commander Kane lost both arms and is in critical condition. Leo says he's touch and go."

"Damn." Zack shook his head. "I should've been here. If we'd been here…"

"I don't know how it would have gone, Zack. There were a lot of Daleks. And the Cybermen would have attacked your crew too, so there's no guarantee the Koenig would have been in any shape to fight. Hell, the Shadows alone could have killed us back at Halmavar." Julia noticed Zack's sudden look at that name and asked, "What is it?"

"We were at Halmavar when we made our first jump to get here," Zack answered.

"Zack, you almost got killed," Julia said, horrified at the thought of how the Shadows might have handled Koenig. "There were several Shadow ships guarding the planet. They nearly destroyed us."

Zack's look grew distant. Julia got the feeling something had happened. That something was going on. "Zack, what is it?" she asked.

"I've already informed Admiral Maran of what we found," Zack said. "He's told me its classified. I'm sure he'll tell you later."

"Well, we were there for the Shadows…" Julia felt sudden uncertainty. Had something else happened after they made their death-defying escape? "Forget it. You're home for now, and I should take you to see Robert."

"I'd like that," Zack answered. "Jarod said something about a service tomorrow?"

"Yes," Julia said. "We lost… a lot of people, Zack. The rest of us need something like this."

"Yeah, I can see that. We'll be there, you can count on that."

They started walking together.

The main shuttlebay was full of uniformed figures, as well as some non-uniformed from the ship's civilian detachment. Work over the course of the night shift had cleared damaged and wrecked shuttles and runabouts away to allow for hundreds of attendees to gather, facing the rear of the shuttle bay. The shuttlebay doors were closed. Large holo-viewscreens displayed the rear of the ship and the hanger deck from which the dead would be buried in space. Sol shined in the far distance.

The Aurora command crew stood together on a raised platform put together by personnel. They were joined by Captain Ming, Captain Laurent, and their officers on one side, while on the other were a few guests. The Doctor was present, seated and quiet, and he was joined by two older-looking figures.

One was Admiral Maran himself. It had been quite a surprise that morning for Julia and the others, awakening to find the Kentan having joined the Shenzhou, the Koenig, and the Challenger beside their wounded ship. The Admiral had come aboard with his senior aides to attend the burial service.

The other guest had come from Earth, a British official who had asked for and received permission to participate in the burial of those who had fallen fighting the same foes that had threatened his own people. Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart cut an impressive, dignified figure. He had opted for full uniform with UNIT affiliation insignia and General rank displayed.

The emotionally-drained Yvonne Hartman was not among them but standing near the door to the shuttlebay, flanked by Lieutenant Richmond and another surviving security officer.

After the standard protocols Julia stood up and assumed the podium. The pain had declined somewhat since the previous day and it didn't take much for her to not wince from where it continued to have an effect on her. She considered a digital reader with the remarks she had in mind for a moment before she spoke.

"We are gathered today to mark the loss of cherished friends and comrades," Julia began. "It is a loss common to every member of this crew. We all feel it differently. We all deal with it differently."

"We can only rest assured that our comrades were not lost in vain. The ship they fought to save is still here. We are still here to remember their sacrifices. To remember who they were, what they were, and what they gave up so that we could live on." Julia thought of Robert at that point. There was no telling what he had given up to save them. She feared he'd given up everything.

"We've faced one of the gravest dangers to ever be encountered and, together, we proved that no matter the foe we face, no matter the odds against us, we will always stand and hold our ground. It has cost us dearly. We have all known the possibility of such a cost. We all knew it when we came out here and put on our uniforms."

She took a moment to consider her notes and gave a quiet nod to Scotty, who nodded back and reached for the package beside his chair. "This ship has asked much of us all over the last few days. We all gave it. And now she asks you to do another thing. She asks you to remember those that we now commit to the stars that shine upon us all." Julia pressed a key upon her omnitool and turned to face the viewscreens with everyone else. It fell to Gunnery Sergeant Harmon to give the call to "Attention!" - he was the senior-most NCO not in the medbay or among the slain. The assembled straightened in obedience to the call. Sir Alistair did the same, after which he saluted, palm-out in British style.

A line of specialized caskets began to emerge from the hanger deck. As they did the somber tune of the hita flowed over the room, played by Chief Tayal Lagamo, and was joined by the wail of the Scottish bagpipes in the arms of Commander Scott in the place of Junior Petty Officer Heather Cameron, the official bagpiper for the ship, who died fighting the Cybermen. Although the two played different tunes - "Amazing Grace" in the case of Scotty - the music flowed together in a melodic way.

Row by row, lines of caskets emerged from the hanger deck. It took a few minutes for all three hundred and sixty-plus caskets to be released into space, where they would be on a course toward the Sun that would take many years for them to reach.

When the process was completed and the two musicians had finished their playing, Julia decided to utter her final lines. "And we came from starstuff, one and all. And to starstuff we return, to one day become life anew."

Caterina nodded in recognition. She had chosen similar words, the words of a Darglan funeral oration, for Jornam's funeral poem when they had given the Darglan a similar space burial such a short time ago.

It was with clear gratitude that Scott set the bagpipes down. Julia looked to the assembled and said, "Burial company dismissed."

The crew began to filter out.

As they did so, Sir Alistair stepped up and shook Julia's hand. "I wish we could have met again under better circumstances, Commander."

"Agreed, sir."

After shaking her hand Sir Alistair turned to the Doctor and smiled. "It's been too long, Doctor."

"It's good to see you," the Doctor answered. He accepted Sir Alistair's hand.

"I regret our reunion came about due to this. Sarah Jane mentioned you had a new face."

"How is she…?"

Julia left the two friends to themselves and stepped up to Maran. "Admiral, sir. It's good to see you."

"And a relief to see you," Maran said. "We feared the worst after your mayday was received and we lost contact. I read your preliminary report and it is rather shocking, almost unbelievably so." Maran glanced toward the Doctor, who was still chatting with Sir Alistair. "That's him? This 'Doctor' that the Darglan records spoke of?"

"It is. And he's genuine. His ship is dimensionally transcendental. Although I don't know why it's shaped like a police call box."

"Amazing. Simply amazing. And what your records show Captain Dale did when he accessed this ship's intelligence. It seems more metaphysical than technology if you ask me."

"Maybe it's something of both?" Julia shook her head. "I just hope Robert wakes up soon. And that he's… okay."

"Yes, Doctor Gillam said something about anticipating psychiatric issues?"

"The Doctor thinks Robert could have lost his sanity. But we won't know until he wakes up."

"I hope not." Maran noticed Julia's dark mood, and how carefully she was moving. "What about you, Commander?"

"I'm… getting better. It hurt a lot, what I did. But it saved Robert's life, or so the Doctor tells me."

"I saw the bridge footage." Maran made no comment about just what Julia had done. "Our experts are going to spend months going over all of this material. And we'll certainly need to consider measures against any future conflict with the Daleks."

Julia shuddered at the thought. "They're nightmares, Admiral. Complete, total nightmares."

Maran nodded in understanding. "As for the Aurora, we're preparing a dock for her at L2M1 for extensive repairs."

"Scotty estimates up to three months."

"So I've heard." Maran frowned. "Minister Hawthorne has indicated he would prefer to have the ship decommissioned and dismantled for analysis. To see if we can improve our use of Darglan technology."

Julia frowned at that. "Of course he'd say that. We've become an enemy."

"Do not judge him too harshly, Commander," Maran said. "Sometimes these decisions must be made. Sentiment can cloud. Your ship's repairs will be extensive and expensive. At some point, a ship simply can't be repaired for a reasonable outlay of material and manpower. I happen to think that the Aurora is still within that reason, but there is justification for thinking she may be too damaged to return to service."

Julia shook her head. "But not the Aurora. She's still good for service. She's still worth it." She noticed Maran was looking at her intently and added a curious, "Sir?"

"You're awfully protective of this ship given you have another waiting for you," Maran noted.

"I suppose I am," Julia said. "But I named her, Admiral. I pushed for her construction to stay on schedule back in the day. I wasn't an engineer, but I helped Captain Farmer with the administrative side of building her. I care about this ship."

"So I see. And that brings us to another matter, actually."

Julia wasn't sure she liked that. She considered her superior and asked, "Oh?"

Maran's expression was apologetic, but his tone was still firm. "Captain Dale's condition. There's no guarantee he'll come out of it."

"No, but…"

"And to be frank, however things ended up, the fact that he again went into the field instead of overseeing his ship, critically damaged this time, that fact is going to hurt him."

"In what way?"

"There will be questions back in Portland. Admirals wondering why we're leaving one of the most advanced ships in the fleet under the command of a man who doesn't stay at his post." Maran sighed. "Some of the Human Admirals particularly. They are prickly about these things. And they make up a majority, whatever influence I may yield."

Julia let out an exasperated breath. "I warned him this might happen. That his running off because of his life energy stuff could cost him his command."

"I'm not a swevyra'se, so I can't judge," Maran said. "He was likely right to do what he did. But being right doesn't always work in an institution. Whatever happens to Robert, it's best I handle this situation now, before Davies and his people start pushing their own solutions." He gave Julia a somber look. "As of now, I am naming you Captain of the Aurora. I've already submitted the orders and my request to the board for your promotion to be instituted immediately. Given the circumstances I don't foresee any difficulty."

Julia let that sink in for a moment. "Will this affect my orders to assume command of the Enterprise?"

"We'll have to see," said Maran. "If Robert doesn't wake up, or if he's no longer suitable to command due to his condition upon waking up, the Aurora will need a new captain. And you helped form this crew. You're the obvious choice to succeed him."

A distraught look crossed Julia's face. She drew in a breath at that thought. Command of the Aurora… she'd always thought about it. But in these circumstances? "Those are your orders, sir?

"I know it's not going to be easy for you if it comes to that," Maran said. His tone was soft now. "I know how much you care for him. What Robert meant to you. And I know that the command staff especially will have a hard time dealing with him being replaced under these circumstances. But it's the best I can do for you or for him. Robert made his choice, and it saved your lives. Now we have to deal with the consequence of his choice."

Julia dwelled on it for several seconds. "I understand, sir," she finally said. "Permission to be dismissed?"

"Granted. But I'd like you to assemble a staff conference in one of your full-sized conference rooms for later today. Invite Captains Laurent and Ming to attend with their officers, have your senior officers and Commander Carrey's staff present, and if you would… I'd like the Doctor to be there."

To that Julia nodded. "I'll do it immediately sir. How does 1800 sound?"

"That works for me, Captain." Maran turned and left the shuttlebay.

Julia was about to follow when she came upon Sir Alistair speaking with Yvonne. She looked distraught and pained. He was somber. "...the consequences, Director. It was all under your orders, after all."

"I know," she said. "I was only trying to serve our country, Sir Alistair, certainly you see that."

"I do." Sir Alistair noticed Julia approach and glanced toward her. "And that is why there is one alternative."

Julia nodded to him. "I get the feeling that involves me?"

"It does, Commander." Sir Alistair gestured to Yvonne. "Director Hartman has been removed from her post at Torchwood. And if she returns, she will likely end up imprisoned for her actions while serving as the Director of Torchwood. Some of her actions have been blatantly unacceptable to our government."

"Because they were wrong ethically? Or because she serves as a useful scapegoat now that Torchwood's actions have caused deaths?"

"I would be dishonest to rule out the latter," admitted Sir Alistair. "Many of those in authority benefited from Torchwood's actions, there is no doubt. But Director Hartman chose to give orders that were wrong. And her actions led to this disaster. That must be accounted for."

"I will never be free again," she said. "I'm not sure if I should be upset or not. Most of my people are dead now."

"So what is the alternative?" asked Julia.

"As of now, we have not officially confirmed Director Hartman's survival," said Sir Alistair. "Should she not return to Earth, she will likely be ruled a fatality of the Battle of Canary Wharf. A presumption will be made that she was converted into a Cyberman."

"In other words, if she comes with us to the Alliance, she's free as long as she stays away from Earth?"

"Yes." Sir Alistair lowered his eyes. "I am of two minds on the subject myself, Commander Andreys. Director Hartman has done many bad things in her time. But I'm dreadfully familiar with the pressures and expectations she lived with. UNIT faces its demons from time to time as well. And she means well, and has talents that can benefit others."

"But is she willing to work with aliens?" Julia asked. She turned her head and faced down Yvonne. "The Alliance is built on cooperation between different nations and systems, and that includes different species. The Gersallians, the Dorei, and the Alakin are part of our Alliance, and other species may join us in the future. If you can't live with them, Director Hartman, then I can't justify letting you come along. I'd just be adding a future member of any number of alien-hating groups out there."

"I understand that, Commander Andreys." Yvonne looked to be deep in thought. "I am willing to learn."

Sir Alistair looked from Yvonne to Julia. Julia, in turn, considered the possibilities of the future. A part of her wanted to send this woman to her just reward, a prison cell.

But she'd heard from the others that Yvonne had helped defeat the Cybermen and Daleks. She had held the Cybermen back so the Doctor could re-open the breach. She could still do good in the world. A lot more than she could if she was locked up for life.

"I will have to consult Admiral Maran later," Julia said. "Depending on what he says, we'll bring you with us."

"Thank you for your consideration, Commander Andreys." Yvonne nodded. "I am at your disposal."

"And I am late for a UNIT debriefing," said Sir Alistair. "Thankfully your ships have matter transporters. Finding a secure place for your ships to land would be a bloody nuisance."

"The Doctor can't give you a ride?" asked Julia.

To that, Sir Alistair smiled. "Oh, I'm sure he could. But one thing I learned being around the good Doctor is this; that ship of his has a mind of its own, and you can never trust it to go where you want it to go. And the last thing a man of my years needs is another adventure with the Doctor. I'll leave fighting aliens and defending the Earth to the young, Commander."

"Of course, Brigadier," Julia replied. "As long as you don't mind giving us the benefit of those years?"

"You may always rely on that, Commander Andreys," Sir Alistair answered. He took her hand and shook it warmly. "Always."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-08-10 03:31pm

Lucy and Meridina were taking a late lunch in the Lookout. The mood was subdued for those present. Volunteers were already hard at work adding the large casualty list to the Memorial Wall. The new names would, in fact, more than double the current wall, and they would likely have to completely re-design it soon.

"Julia's words were well-chosen," Meridina observed. "It could not have been easy for her. And I sense she is still in pain."

"Whatever the TARDIS did to her, to them…" Lucy shook her head. "I can't imagine it, you know?"

Meridina nodded. "It is beyond anything I might have expected. I suspect Robert's survival is only from his swevyra. Time will tell if his mind is intact."

"I wonder what will happen to the ship now." Lucy dug a fork into the alfredo fettucine on her plate. "It's going to take months of repairs. And if Robert never wakes up and Julia goes on to the Enterprise, we'll need a new captain and first officer."

"Admiral Maran undoubtedly has plans." Meridina took another small bite of her liyume and nibbled on it for a moment before drinking from her cup of hilan. "We have another future to consider, Lucy."

"Oh?" Lucy took another bite and started chewing.

"Your's." Meridina set the cup down. "You have progressed far in the way of swevyra, Lucy. Further than I had imagined you would go by this stage in your training. Your ability to wield your swevyra and to connect with the universe and the Flow of Life has become truly impressive."

"Thank you," Lucy said. A small appreciating grin crossed her face.

"I have come to a conclusion. I have nothing more to teach you."

Lucy stopped herself from putting more pasta into her mouth. "What?"

Meridina nodded. "You have learned all my teachings on the arts of swevyra, Lucy. I can help you to refine your technique and your swevyra, but that is not training for a student."

"So what are you getting at? You're planning something."

"I am." Meridina nodded once. "I intend to request that Mastrash Ledosh and my father oversee the Field Trials for you."

"The Field Trials." Lucy put her fork down. "As in the tests you take to become a field knight?"


"But I'm not in the Order," Lucy pointed out. "You're not in the Order anymore either."

"True. But the Order has always been willing to allow those with swevyra to take the Tests. Many leaders of the Dorei Orders have done so as a means of strengthening their ties with the Order of Swenya. And you are the perceived founder of a Human Order by our eyes. Taking the Field Tests to demonstrate your skill would be seen as a gesture of respect by my people. It would reassure them as to your readiness to act as a swevyra'se." Meridina smiled softly. "And I suspect many in the Order would be pleased to speak with the woman who reforged Swenya's Blade and then learned how to make a swenkesh."

"I did say I'd teach any who follow the Light how to make them," Lucy agreed. "Alright. So we'll go to Gersal once we've got the ship docked and I get leave?"

"Yes," Meridina said. "It will not be easy, Lucy. I am confident you can meet the challenges, for you have surpassed many already. But you will be pressed to your limit, just as I was."

"I'd expect that," said Lucy. "But I'll pass it."

"Yes," Meridina agreed. "You will."

After the service was over, Caterina returned to her quarters to compile all of the research she'd done on the question of fifth-dimensional travel and to work more on her report over what happened in Torchwood Tower. She managed a bit more before deciding that was all she could stand to do for the moment. She had somewhere else she wanted to be. She left her quarters for a lift, which carried her down to Deck 18 and Cargo Bay 1. Said cargo bay had survived the Shadow attack and the two invasions mostly intact. Between that and the space available, she imagined this was why the Doctor had parked his TARDIS here after reclaiming it from the bridge.

Cat stepped up to the TARDIS and knocked gently. Without any response, she knocked again. Another minute passed and she was about to knock one more time when the door opened. The Doctor stood in the doorway. "Ah, Caterina."

"Are you okay? I didn't wake you up, did I? I mean, the meeting's soon anyway, but..."

"Naw. I was just napping on the ol' hammock a little," he said. Despite his mood seeming cheery, Cat was certain it was an act. He looked tired. "Come on in." He stepped back and let her enter the TARDIS. "Your sister and girlfriend are alright I hope?"

"They are."

"That's good." The Doctor leaned against one of the pillars in the control room. "So what can I do for you?"

"Actually, I came to do something for you. Or try to." Caterina showed him the digital pad she'd loaded in her quarters. "These are recorded instances of 5th dimensional travel and some theories on how it works. I've gotten most of them from S5T3 and R4A1. Maybe they can be of help for you?"

"Maybe." He accepted the pad. "Thank you, Cat. It's a place to start."

Caterina got the distinct feeling that her information was not as likely to help, but she kept going. "I'd like to help you find Rose," she said. "I mean, at least find a way to say goodbye to her."

"Are you asking what I think you're asking, Cat?"

"Well… maybe?" She backed away from him a little. "I don't mean to assume, if that's what I'm doing, but I really think you want someone to be with you right now."

The Doctor went quiet for a moment. "I've always enjoyed traveling with others," he said. "No other Time Lords to join me. Just Humans." The look on his face spoke of loneliness.

"Maybe there's a way to get back Rose," Cat offered. "I've… I've studied science logs from Mister Spock, a science officer on the Enterprise a hundred years ago. And other scientific journals. I might be able to help you."

"Caterina, are you asking to travel with me?" the Doctor asked.

"Just for a little while, I guess?" Cat shook her head. "I mean, I have things here I'll have to come back to. Violeta and Angel understand. I already told them. But I want to help you find a way to contact Rose. Maybe even get her back."

"It's dangerous out there," the Doctor warned.

"Yes. Just like it is on the ship."

"More than you can know," the Doctor corrected. "There are terrible things in this universe. In all universes. Things your people may not be prepared to see."

Caterina nodded. "Things we may need to know about already."

"I can't guarantee you'll come back when you should," he continued. "This could cause you trouble."

"I'm sure you'll get me back on time," Cat said. "As things are, my ship's going to spend months in repairs. You can get me back before then. I mean, you're a time traveler."

"That I am." The Doctor seemed to mull it over. "I have rules."

"Of course."

"No guns, for starters."

"I'm horrible with guns, absolutely horrible," Cat said. "I can shock things with my omnitool, though. If absolutely necessary."

"When I need you to do something, you do it."

"Just like I do now with Robert and Julia."

The Doctor seemed to consider what he was going to say next. "This is temporary."

"It is. But I want to help you."

"And if I end up showing you amazing sights and marvels you've never seen before in the process?"

Caterina smiled. "Uh… good karma for me helping you? I love seeing new things. I tend to shriek a bit, actually."

The Doctor nodded slowly. "Well, you drive a hard bargain, Miss Delgado. I'll tell you what. If your Commander Andreys and other superiors say you can go, I'll take you with me to find a breach between the worlds. But as soon as we know when and where it is, as soon as I confirm I can reach Rose with it…"

"...I go home?"

"Yes. You go home. No 'if's, 'and's, or 'but's."

"I wouldn't dream of it!" Cat insisted.

"Right then. We'll talk about this with the others after the meeting."

"I'll start packing as soon as Admiral Maran's meeting is over," Cat answered, trying to restrain her giddiness at his acceptance.

"Only if they say yes, though," he reminded her.

"Of course," she agreed, still smiling.

The Doctor's return smile actually seemed to have some joy in it. They stepped out together.

Conference Room 2 was selected for the meeting due to battle damage sustained in Conference Room 1 from fighting with the Cybermen. The command crews of four ships were joined by Admiral Maran, his chief of staff and his senior aide. All noticed that Julia was wearing a four-strip rank tab now, making her the equal of Captains Ming and Laurent.

As the timer ticked to 1759, Julia contemplated calling to see if the Doctor was on his way, or to find where Cat was off to. There were impatient looks around and she worried that Cat would be late or that the Doctor wasn't coming after all.

The door slid open. Caterina entered with the Doctor behind her. She took a seat beside Angel and Leo while the Doctor grabbed the central chair facing the main holotank. "Sorry if I'm late," he said.

"You are right on time," said Maran amiably. "I hope you don't mind if we get to business?"

"Not at all."

Maran nodded to Jarod, who tapped a key that brought the holotank online. The image displayed in the holotank was the tear that the Daleks had made as it had turned dark. "We have concerns about what the Daleks nearly did with our drive," Maran said. "Specifically, what happened to the spatial tear they formed."

"Yes, well, the Daleks never developed or used it before. They had no idea how wrong it could go if you modify it."

"Whatever that rift became, we could feel something on the other end," Jarod said. "Everyone on the ship felt it. We felt enough to know it was wrong."

"Oh, you don't know the half of it." The Doctor frowned at the image. "They have no name we know of. Nothing they call themselves. Everyone who encounters these things and survives tends to call them 'the Darkness'. It's a very descriptive name. 'Darkness'. The complete absence of light. And very appropriate in their case."

"What do you mean?" asked Captain Laurent.

"Because wherever they go, that's what they leave. The Darkness hate us, you see. Nobody's ever really learned why, not even my people. There are theories, that they hate life not like their own, or that they hate sources of heat and light. The last one's a bit silly since they have no issues using weapons that can generate heat."

"Our people have stories of them," Meridina said. "Writings from Swenya."

"She would have recorded them. And she saw their handiwork in person." The Doctor scowled. "The Darkness just don't destroy other forms of life. They destroy worlds. They destroy entire solar systems. They reach into a star and extinguish it, and do that wherever they go until they've extinguished every star they come across. There are universes you could jump to where you will find no starlight at all, because the Darkness spent billions of years obliterating every star in existence." He stood from his chair and walked up to the holotank, as if to inspect the image. A cold, distant look settled onto his face. "They tried to invade our universe a few times. The Time Lords, the Eternals, all of the ancient species joined together to stop them. It's why we stopped tinkering with interuniversal technology."

"So there's a link?" asked Maran.

"You didn't think the Darglan were the first, did you?" The Doctor crossed his arms. "Oh, there have been lots of species and civilizations that found the secret. We did, the Ancients, the K'krinnap, the Leviathans. The Vorlons toyed with it a bit and found something almost as nasty. You're not even the first Humans to have used this technology, although you're rather more companionable than the last group. And as you've seen, they all stopped, one way or the other." The Doctor pointed his hand to the image. "And that's why. Because eventually, Someone's going to toy with the drives, they open the wrong rift, and the Darkness feel it and come pouring through."

"But they don't do this to normal jump points," Caterina pointed out.

"No. Which is why you lot, if you know what's good for you, will just use them as you are and never, ever consider toying with them."

"Failure to do so is why the Darglan were punished," Meridina observed. "And it caused the prior invasion."

"Do you think that these ancient species will return to do the same to us?" Maran asked the Doctor.

"Oh, they will." He nodded. "I can think of a few of them that have already noticed you. They're watching and waiting for you to make the same mistake."

A look passed between Maran and Zack that the others noticed. "Sir?" Julia asked.

"This brings us to the other item of discussion." Maran nodded to Zack. "Commander Carrey, please share what your ship encountered yesterday."

Zack nodded. "After we picked up the Aurora's distress call the other day, we made our way to the Halmavar system at maximum warp. We arrived shortly before the Aurora broadcast its survival into the Alliance network. And when we got there, we found this." He tapped a key at his table.

The image changed from the spatial tear to a planet framed by a distant red nebula. The Aurora crew recognized it as Halmavar 2. But as the image enhanced, they realized what was wrong.

The planet had been dead before, but it had at least been intact. Now it was utterly wrecked. The surface of the world had been blasted clean of any identifying mark. It had the surface of a billiard ball. The oceans were boiled away.

In the orbital space near the planet, pieces of debris were scattered. Most were indistinguishable. But some bore the specific appearance of spindly spines from Shadow vessels.

"What the…" Angel pointed at the image. "Are you telling me that something went through and wrecked all of those ships after they blasted the crap out of us?"

"Was there any other debris?" Locarno asked. "Maybe whoever did this took losses too?"

"We've recovered some debris," Zack said. "I've had it turned over to Admiral Maran for analysis. But we already know it's all consistent with each other."

"So someone was powerful enough to destroy those Shadows like that?" Julia noticed the Doctor was examining the image quietly. "You wouldn't know, would you?"

"Oh, there are quite a few things that could," the Doctor observed. "Although if I had to guess, this is the work of the Endless or the Sword."

"The who?" asked Captain Laurent.

"You mentioned them before," Jarod said.

The Doctor nodded. "They're very old beings. Very powerful. Immortal. They and their followers are the survivors of an earlier interuniversal civilization that was destroyed by the Darkness. They're already watching you, I'm sure. Don't give them any reason to go beyond that."

"You sound like you're afraid of them," Angel said.

"More like they're tremendously aggravating," the Doctor answered. "Especially the Endless. The last time she came looking for me, I ended up going a million years into the future just to get rid of the headache."

"Are there any more of these old beings and species?" asked Lieutenant Phillippe Duwala, the science officer of the Challenger.

"Oh, there's plenty of them. But those two are the ones you should look out for." The Doctor returned to his seat and propped his feet up on the small desk for it. "So, anything else?"

"More information on the Daleks would be nice, in case we face any of them again."

"Ah, well, that's a lengthy topic. But I can give you some pointers, i suppose…"

By the time the meeting was over, Caterina had quietly asked the others to stay even as the visitors to the ship left. The officers of the Aurora and Koenig gathered around Cat near the table they'd just used. The Doctor remained in his seat as well, watching with some interest. "Alright, Cat, you wanted to talk?" Julia asked.

"Yes. I need to ask something." Caterina checked on Angel's reaction. Angel nodded in understanding. "I… I'd like to go with the Doctor for a while."

The others exchanged bewildered looks. "What do you mean by that, Cat?"

"I'd like to help him find a way to reach Rose," Caterina explained. "Maybe even get her back. I don't know if it will work, but I've got to try. I... "

"Cat, you've had a couple leave times this year already," Julia pointed out. "I'm not sure I can justify you being gone for months. Even with the ship in drydock getting repaired, there'll be work for you."

"Oh, I know. And I'll do it. Because… I mean, he's a time traveler," Caterina said. "He can bring me back right away."

"She's got a good point," said Barnes.

It was clear that Julia was still uncertain about it. She glanced in the Doctor's direction. "Can you?" she asked. "If you go with her, could you bring Cat back right away?"

"Oh, I could," he said. "Always a chance of our returning to the wrong timeframe, I mean, but outside of some very special circumstances, yes, I can bring her back to this point in time."

"It would be an opportunity," Locarno pointed out. "All Cat has to do is keep a log of what happens and file a report on what she discovers. It's a chance for an expanded avenue of exploration."

"That's how I'd tell it to Admiral Maran," Jarod offered.

Julia nodded to them and considered the request. "Doctor, when are you leaving?"

"Well, you're all prepared to go home tomorrow, right?" he asked.

"Aye," said Scott. "That's when we'll be ready tae return."

"Then I'll head out in the morning. It gives me the night to look around. I never did get to see your nice new Darglan Emergency Ship, after all."

Caterina directed her full attention to Julia. "Please," she said. Or rather pleaded. "He's done a lot for us. The least we can do is help him find Rose."

"Cat, I know you've got other motives for this," Julia pointed out. "This is the kind of thing you live for."

"It is," Caterina admitted. "And I'll love it, I'm not saying it won't. But it doesn't change the fact that the Doctor deserves our help too. And the things I can see, the things I can learn, who knows what new discoveries can help expand our knowledge of the universe?"

Julia crossed her arms in thought. "I'll give you my answer in the morning," she said. "I'll meet you at the TARDIS at 0730 sharp with the answer. Fair?"

"Completely," Caterina said.

A short time later, Julia was standing in the ready office of the Aurora. The bridge was under Lieutenant H'shep, a copper-feathered, gray-complexioned Alakin temporarily transferred over from the Challenger. Both of the arriving ships had transferred over enough officers and crew to provide spare shifts in vital areas and give the exhausted Aurora crew time to recover. Even then, the ordeal wouldn't be over, not fully over, until they returned to Earth L2M1.

This was her office now. But for the moment Julia couldn't bring herself to sit behind the desk. It was one thing to use it when Robert was off the ship, and even then she'd rarely done so. But now… now it felt like she would be accepting he was gone. All they had left was hope, after all. Hope that he would recover. Hope that he would be whole enough to resume his post.

She thought back to that moment. When she had been convinced she was about to die and Robert had come in, every bit like the "white knight" they often teased him as being, to save them all. But the cost he'd paid. How could he? How could he do that to them?

Because he didn't have a choice, she reminded herself. We were going to die.

The door chime sounded. Julia ignored it. Her mind moved on to the memory of the kiss. The sensation of it. It had been an impulsive moment. She put her fingers to her lips, as if to recall the sensation in doing so, the thoughts that went into the act and the act itself. She couldn't accept she was about to lose him. That was how she had felt.

It reminded her of their prior kisses. Just two. On the Kelley, as he had been about to confront the Daleks in the Facility. And then after they escaped the destroyed the Facility, after rolling down the collapsing mound on his old family property and realizing they were still alive. It had been sweet. It was always sweet. And it brought up feelings inside of her. Feelings of desire, yes, but also a feeling that it was meant to be. The two of them had known each other since they could think. They had grown up together. They'd known joy and pain and laughter and tears together. Didn't it make sense to be together?

But they never did. The fear of what would happen if it didn't work had always gotten in the way.

And now… they might never do so. And it surprised her that those thoughts seemed to hurt the worse.

The door chime sounded again. Julia sighed. "Come in."

When she turned, it was Zack stepped through the door. "Hey," he said. "I guess you're having trouble settling in?"

"I didn't want it to be this way," Julia said.

"Yeah." Zack walked up to her and gave her a hug. Julia accepted it. "I can't believe he might be gone. What he did…"

"...was the kind of thing I was always afraid he'd do," Julia said. "Ever since he found that damn Facility, he's been trying to be the hero. Dammit…" She found herself sobbing. "I was ready to die, you know? I didn't want to. But it was what had to be done, and I put in the codes, and I was ready…"

"Yeah." Zack gently put a hand on the back of her shoulder. "That's what you are, Julie. The responsible one."

"And… and he had to pull that. And I'm alive, we're all alive, but he's…" She sniffled. "Dammit. Dammit dammit…"

A sob escaped Zack's throat. All of their fun times together. All of the things Robert had done to make Zack's life more fun, to make things easier when his parents were fighting, when his father was drunk… when his mother was dying. He remembered high school baseball games played together, movies watched, parties… He sobbed again, not bothering to try and stop it, as the weight of threatened loss pressed down on him.

"I want him back," sobbed Julia. "He has to come back."

"Yeah, he does." An irrational anger at Robert for putting them in this position surged within him. It was joined a moment later by a deep, guilty feeling. This is what you wanted, wasn't it, Zack? that voice taunted. Haven't you wanted Rob out of the way? The computer on Adrana showed you that. He forced that feeling aside by thinking of Clara. It helped to get his crying under control.

"We have to tell Beth," Julia said. She was breathing hard, trying to regain control. "What are we going to say to her?"

"The truth," Zack suggested. "Robert saved your lives, but he might not come back from this."

"It's going to break her heart."

"Yeah," Zack agreed. "And she'll be in good company."

Julia nodded in agreement. She drew in another breath to firm up her control before wiping her face clear of tears and nasal fluid. A small smile came to her face. "Thank you, Zack," she said. "I needed that."

"So did I, Julie," he admitted. "You know, I also came to give you some news…"


"Maran's informed me that we're being temporarily re-assigned," said Zack. "Just until the Aurora's back in action. We're joining an attack ship squadron on the front. The 10th."

"Under Captain Elizabeth Tasker." Julia nodded. "She's a proper British type, so you'll need to be careful."

"I'll need to be more careful about Trace Jerricks on Wahoo, or Clara will have my head," Zack said, chuckling.

"She was that English redhead trying to drag you to her quarters during the war seminar in June, right?"

"Yeah." Zack shook his head. "I've never had the best luck with redheads, but lack of interest wasn't stopping her."

"I remember. Freddie McComb."

"Yeah. Anyway, I just thought you should know now. Maran's sending us to Eta Leckie III tomorrow when you jump home."

Julia reached over and gave him a pat on the shoulder. "Good luck out there, Zack. Be careful."

He nodded in acceptance of the charge. "Good luck getting your ship back in shape, Julie," he replied. "If anyone had to succeed him to the command, Rob would have wanted it to be you."

"Yeah." Tears glistened again in Julia's reddened aquamarine eyes. "I know."

The command officers of the Aurora and Koenig were waiting in Cargo Bay 1 when 0730 rolled around. The door swished open and Caterina entered with Violeta at her arm and a backpack slung on her back. Cat looked to Julia with anticipation.

Julia nodded slowly. "Good luck."

Everyone nodded. "Make sure you keep logs for all of us?"

"Of course, Jarod," Cat said, walking past to the TARDIS and exchanging goodbyes. Her sister was the last one before she got there. "I'll be right back you know. From your perspective."

"If everything goes right," Angel answered. She gave her sister a tight hug. "Be careful, okay?"

"I will," Cat promised. She stepped up to the TARDIS with Violeta. The two had talked about the trip the previous night and there was nothing left to say. "I'll miss you," she said to Violeta. "But if things go right, you won't miss me."

"I hope not," Violeta said. "I've gotten used to having a cute nerd girlfriend. It makes the pillow talk interesting, if anything."

Laughter came from the assembled. Cat giggled at that, with her cheeks turning red for a moment. When she got the blush under control she knocked on the TARDIS door. "It's time," she called out.

After several seconds the door opened. All were able to look inside and see that, yes, it was bigger on the inside than on the outside. The Doctor stood in the doorway. He extended a hand to Cat. "Welcome aboard, Caterina Delgado. Are you ready?"

"I am. I've got everything."

"Good." He looked out at the assembled. "Don't worry, I'll take good care of her."

"You'd better," Angel said. "Time Lord or not, if you get my sister hurt I'm going to hurt you right back."

Caterina winked at him. "Sorry, Doctor, it's just something she does. She always has to be my overprotective big sister."

"I see that, and she's certainly got the muscles to back it up," he responded. Chuckles came from some of the others while Angel crossed her arms. The Doctor stepped to the side to give Cat room to enter the TARDIS. After she did, he remained standing for the moment and looked out at them. "You know, I've spent most of my lives interacting with your species," he said. "I've seen you at your best and at your worst. I've fought beside you and against you, when I had to. There are times you impress me and times I wonder why I bother." The look on his face was somber, but it was a warm somberness. "Meeting you, though, well, that's been a highlight, I have to say. I mean, most of you were just living ordinary lives like most of your species. And then you found something extraordinary and you built… this. This Alliance of yours... amazing. This is what your species is capable of when you're at your best." He smiled at them. It was a warm, affectionate smile, covering the lingering pain of losing Rose with a great deal of effectiveness. "And I have to say that it was a pleasure to meet you all. And I hope to see you again sometime. So take care of yourselves out there. I'll be watching for you."

Applause sounded behind them as they closed the door. The Doctor walked up to the control console. "Well, now, where shall we start?"

"I have a list of cosmic phenomena associated with possible 5th dimension breach points," Cat volunteered.

"Ah, very good. Let me see that… well now, that's nice. Looks like one of our potential stopping points is on Tychansis."

"And Tychansis is…?"

"It's a planet at the edge of the Y'ki'ti Nebula in what you call the Magellanic Clouds. The Y'ki'ti Nebula has a recurring system of plasma currents that intersect and create these amazing interactions that you can see from the northern hemisphere of Tychansis."

There was no mistaking the ecstatic look in Cat's eyes at the thought of it.

"Well then, off to Tychansis we go." The Doctor yanked a lever on the controls. The TARDIS began to rumble while the engine made its customary VWORP VWORP VWORP. Over it all the Doctor proclaimed, "Allons-y!"


A few minutes passed in Cargo Bay 1. Minutes in which Angel and Violeta began to exchange worried looks. "You don't suppose…"

"He's a time traveler," Jarod pointed out. "If he rounds off the wrong number it could be an hour before he returns.

"It better not be," Julia said. "We're due to jump to Earth L2M1 in forty…"

Before she could complete the sentence the cargo bay filled with VWORP VWORP VWORP again. The TARDIS materialized in front of them. The door swung open and Cat stepped out.

She was in new clothes, a red jacket with green sleeves and a pink blouse beneath, and long pink trousers. Her shoes were the same, however, and her bag seemed only a little more used, if now joined by a duffel bag.

But physically, there was a clear difference. Caterina had gained an inch in height, minimum, and her black hair was now long enough to reach her shoulders. Her hazel eyes glistened with excitement and happiness. "I'm home!" she announced. She quickly looked back into the TARDIS and said, "Good luck with that supernova! If you can, let Rose know I said hello!" There was no audible reaction to that and Caterina stepped out of the TARDIS and shut the door. The TARDIS began to VWORP again and dematerialized.

Cat looked to Violeta, smiled, and took her girlfriend into a strong hug and an even stronger kiss. Violeta's eyes briefly widened in surprise until she closed them in contentment at the ferocity of the kiss. "I've missed you so much," she said to Violeta. "And I got you some presents too! I got everyone presents!"

"Well, that was… anticlimactic," Locarno said.

"Well, duh, that was the point," Caterina giggled. "But I've been gone for a year and it's just so good to see you all again."

"Did you find what you were looking for, then?" Jarod asked.

"Uh huh. And some more things. I have to recompile my log, though." Caterina sighed. "A technovore entity on Xickxanis took my omnitool and scrambled all of my data while trying to eat it."

"The important thing is that Cat is home, and we can all get to our stations for the jump home," Julia pointed out.

With that prompting, everyone left the Cargo Bay. Angel stayed behind long enough to speak to Cat. "Are you sure you're okay?" she asked Caterina.

"Oh, I'm fine," Cat insisted. "Perfectly fine. I'm more grown up, I mean, and the Doctor and I had some crazy adventures..."

"Nothing went wrong though? You didn't get hurt? Nothing bad happened to you?"

There was just a tiny bit of a confused delay before Cat emphatically shook her head. "Stop being a worry-wart, Angel, I'm perfectly fine."

"Alright then," Angel said. She smiled and put an arm on Cat's shoulder. 'My little sister, grown another inch."

"I'm not as much a little sister to you anymore, y'know…"

They laughed together.

Everyone was assembled on the bridge when the time came. "The Shenzhou and Challenger are in position," Jarod said. "Shenzhou will initiate jump in ten seconds."

"You know what to do, Nick," said Julia.

"Aye, Captain," Locarno answered.

Julia let out a little sad sigh. She'd been waiting to hear that for a long time, but now… now all of the wonder was out of it.

But at least they were all alive. That was a good thing. That was the important thing. They'd lost a lot of colleagues and crewmates in this battle, but they hadn't lost each other.

Even Robert might not be lost. Julia had to consider it that way. He was alive. He was breathing. He could still come back.

He would come back.

Or so she believed, with nothing but hope and faith to sustain it.

"Jump point forming," Jarod said.

Though wounded and hurt, the Starship Aurora triumphally entered the jump point taking her home to a well-deserved rest.

Observers watched as a green vortex of energy, an interuniversal jump point, appeared in Earth orbit. The Starship Aurora and her escorts, the Shenzhou and Challenger, entered the vortex, after which it closed.

The most obvious observers were the people of Earth itself, and various authorities with access to ground-based telescopes or orbiting satellites. The sight was observed in UNIT HQ by Deputy Director Stewart and a military officer of the group, Colonel Mace. It was also observed in the Torchwood Three facility in Cardiff by the operators there. Even Mister Smith, the personal computer of Sarah Jane Smith, recorded their departure.

But none of these noticed the other observer.

Several hundred million miles "above" Earth's orbital plane, near what one might call the "zenith" point of the star system, a lone spacecraft also observed with the aid of powerful long-range sensors. The vessel in question was a small ship, meant for piloting by one individual with scarcely room for more.

The individual in question quietly saved the recording for future reference. After days of silent watching, it was time to report in. The dark-clad figure turned in the piloting chair toward a comm unit. With the press of a key, a holographic figure appeared above the comm unit. The pilot of the vessel spoke. "Master," she said, her tone full of deliberation. "I am ready to give my report."

The holographic figure gave a nod of her head, gently shifting fiery red locks of hair in the process. "Proceed."

"The Aurora was not destroyed and the Enemy did not come through," said the observer. "Their attempt to widen the breach the Daleks created was defeated."

The other figure considered that news. "Interesting. That was an outside probability at best." A look of concern crossed her Master's face on the holo. "Did the Time Lord detect you?"

The observer gave a single shake of her pale head. "No, Master. I stayed well away and observed with comscan only." The observer's face neared the hologram. "Master, there was a disturbance in the Force when the portal closed."

A look of brief surprised came to her Master's face. "I… Interesting. One of the Forcefuls must have used the Time Vortex. The probability is great that they perished in the effort." A wistful, almost sad look came to that holographic visage. "A hero's deed."

"As you say, Master," replied the observer, in a tone implying she didn't quite see it the same way. "What is thy bidding?"

The look vanished from her Master's face as quickly as it had appeared. "I have dealt with the automated defenses the Shadows left behind when they passed beyond the Rim with the First One. Halmavar has been scoured and we have collected that which we needed. At this juncture we only need to be mindful of further leaks. You are to return home. I have decided to tarry with Yellow at the Tal-Kona'sha Homeworld conferring with such that passes for their leadership, now that the First Ones have gone."

"Very well."

"As usual, be prepared for… domestic problems." Her Master's face screwed into an expression of distaste. "That is all."

"Of course, my Master." The observer's eyes gleamed, as if she might look forward to such problems. "All will be right when you return."

The holographic image disappeared. The observer swiveled her chair back to her controls. Her gloved fingers keyed in several sequences on a control console.

And yet again, a vortex of swirling emerald energies was opened in the fabric of space. The small craft turned toward it and accelerated until it surged through the maw of the whorl.

In the medbay Leo stepped out of his office. Nasri approached him. "The Fleet Hospital is sending the transfer teams now, Doctor," she said. "Are the orders ready?"

Leo tapped a few keys on his omnitool. "They are now."

"Of course. I will see to it that the transfers are sent." Nasri walked on, using her omnitool to look through them.

Leo's path took him into the non-critical ward and the sole patient left in it. He walked up to the bed and took a cursory look at Robert's vitals. "You're still in there, Rob,' he murmured. "I know it."


Leo looked back to where Nasri was standing at the door. "You… missed one," she said, although the look on her face told her that, in truth, he hadn't.

"I'm not transferring him to the Fleet Hospital," Leo said. "Not yet. Not unless…"

He didn't have to complete the sentence. Nasri understood what he meant. She nodded and walked away.

Leo turned his attention back to his comatose friend. He leaned in and said, "Whatever's going on in there, man, you've got people here waiting for you. Just remember that. We're all waiting for you to come back." As he spoke, Leo wondered just what was going through Robert's unconscious mind. Was he dreaming? Had he seen things while in the grip of that power?

With no clear answers to be had, Leo walked away quietly to start his rounds.

We're all waiting for you to come back.

The voice cut through the darkness despite its quiet whisper. Awareness followed with it. The darkness began to subside.

Warm sunlight moved through lovely white curtains. A soft bed beckoned, ready to pull back into slumber those who laid upon it. Fluffy pillows promised comfort for a weary head.

No. Wakefulness. This was special. Special.

Robert Dale sat up in bed and stretched his arms. Next he stood and stretched again. He turned back and looked across the king-sized bed to the mirror on the other end. His body was lean, athletic muscle, as it should be, with a farmer's tan showing on it. His eyes looked about the room, full of personal items. Sports trophies, academic certifications, photographs, and a closet of nice clothes divided from work clothes.

He blinked at the sunlight pouring golden rays through his windows. That seemed… wrong somehow. But why?

He pulled on a pair of around-the-house sweatpants, gray in color, and walked toward the door to the rest of the house.


The roar came from a multitude of voices. Robert looked down from the railing to the first floor living room, which was fully occupied. A mountain of birthday-wrapped boxes awaited in a corner. A large birthday cake was visible on the dining room table of this spacious, beautiful home.

This isn't the Dale home I grew up in, he thought, but a second thought reminded him that, no, it wasn't. This was the house built on the land when that silly mound on the family property was finally demolished by his grandfather. It was his house.

His eyes looked over the assembled. Leo was there, and Zack, and Tom. Angel smiled from the corner. Lucy Lucero was fussing with the TV for some odd reason. Beth and her girlfriend Annabelle were at the table. And Caterina, who was holding hands with… Susannah. His sister.

A funny feeling of wrongness came and went. Tears seemed to form in his eyes at seeing his little sister's smiling face. His eyes moved over the gathered. His parents were seated on the couch, his mother Leigh happily reclined into his father Michael's arms, both grinning that silly grin whenever they were being sappy romantics. The Carreys and the Andreys had found chairs. Leo was with his parents. Tom's parents were with Lucy's mother in one corner. Anita Delgado walked in from the kitchen with some of her famous enchiladas, which she set on the table before smiling up at him. Miguel Delgado followed with a plate full of steaks.

And behind Miguel, Grandma Anna joined the procession with a casserole dish. She looked up at Robert and said "Happy Birthday", repeating it in German as she often had when he was growing up.

At the front door, Grandpa Allen was still in his farmer's overalls and blue checkered shirt, smiling up at Robert. "Happy birthday to you," he sang, prompting the family to do the same.

As they reached the final lines, Julia's voice came up beside him. She was standing beside him on the second floor railing, wearing a comfortable blue sleeveless blouse and white knee-length skirt. Her hair was loose and flowed down to just below her shoulders. Her green eyes, aquamarine in color, glistened in the light of their house.

As that thought of "their house" crossed his mind, Julia stepped up and planted a warm kiss on his lips, to the cheers of the assembled. Their hands clasped, causing their wedding rings to touch. When it was over, she smiled and said, "Happy birthday, Robby," to him in a low, private tone. "You're lucky you got to sleep in this long. Little Robby wanted to wake you up when Anne finished the cake."

His mouth hung open in mute surprise for a second before a four year old child bounded up to wrap his arms around Robert's thigh. Robert looked down into a face that had the jawline and cheekbones of a Dale. But the boy's eyes were brilliant aquamarine, and his hair was rich blond in color.

Robert bent down to pick up their son. The boy threw his arms around Robert's neck the moment he could. "Happy Birthday, Daddy," the boy said cheerfully. "Are you going to make a wish?" The boy made a face. "And why are you crying, Daddy?"

There were, indeed, tears running down Robert's face. Warm, happy tears. He looked back out into the living room and dining room, where his family and the families of his dearest friends were here and well and happy. They were all together.

Outside, there was the slight rumble of approaching thunder, signalling the approach of a storm.

Robert ignored it. He kissed Julia, his wife, again, and with his son in his arm he followed Julia down the stairs to join the others.

They were all happy. Why bother worrying about the coming storm?
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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

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