"Captain's Log, Stardate 44568.6:
The Enterprise is now truly on its way home, having left communications range with Khitomer yesterday. Everyone seems to be in good spirits, considering the situation. A situation considerably lightened by the surprise appearance of Lieutenant Saavik, who had been serving as an observer on board the Excelsior. Seeing that we were down a helm officer due to the untimely arrest of Lieutenant Valeris, Captain Sulu graciously allowed her to come with us as we make our way back to Earth. Good thing, too; now the crew seems whole again, prepared to take on anything. Anything, that is, except the realization that we may never see each other again."
McCoy looked over the chess board triumphantly as he announced his move. Savoring the moment, he allowed himself an ever-so-slight pause before he spoke again.
"I do believe that is check, Mister Spock."
Spock looked over the chess board as well, his fingers in the characteristic steeple, so like his normal self. But Kirk and McCoy, indeed the whole bridge crew assembled in the captain's quarters, knew that their friend was far from normal, despite what pretenses that damned Vulcan mind tried to put up to hide the fact.
*Why do you keep hiding it, Spock, even from us, your friends?* Kirk tried to communicate to his first officer. *Why do you hide your pain, your disbelief? She hurt you, Spock, hurt you more than any of us could possibly imagine. But that doesn't mean we can't be there for you. Why can't you let us in?*
The whole lamentation lasted but a fraction of a moment, as Spock replied, "So it is, Doctor. You have most definitely improved in recent years. My congratulations."
"Thank you, Spock. Do you know something?"
Spock, in his usual logical Vulcan fashion, chose not to answer a rhetorical comment; he merely raised his left eyebrow as a sign for the doctor to continue his discussion with himself.
As if responding to a cue, McCoy did just that. "I think that you had something to do with my improvement, too."
Scotty, also looking on, chose that time to come into the discussion. "What'd ye mean by that, lad?" His voice was a little different; not slurred by drink (he'd only had one Scotch tonight, and none of McCoy's prized bourbon, Kirk recalled), but sort of... distant. Then he remembered; Scotty had personally made the last of the repairs to the Enterprise today.
Kirk smiled to himself, thinking about what that bastard Chang and his cronies had thrown at the Enterprise, and she had taken it, the old girl, every bit of it. She had taken victory from the jaws of defeat and then came back to beat defeat over the head. Just as she had done so many times before and would continue...
Kirk stopped, suddenly realizing what the distance in Scotty's voice was. He was still in the past. In some way, they all were, now. Everything behind them, and not a thing in front of them.
Kirk had to will himself to stop thinking such moribund thoughts and instead tried to concentrate on McCoy, who was now speaking to Scotty.
"What I meant, Scotty, was that Spock, when he gave his katra to me for safekeeping, left something behind." McCoy looked around to see startled faces, including those of Uhura and Chekov, who had made their way to the board. Saavik, to her credit, was on the bridge; her "Someone has to be there" routine to Kirk sounded a little too pat, he thought, but her heart was in the right place. Let the legends spend some time together before the end.
McCoy hurriedly continued. "No, that's not what I meant. I meant he left a little of his personality behind. The logic, the reasoning, the scientific nature of him. Some of that remained. And it's definitely helped my game, not to mention my medical research papers. So, I guess I should be the one thanking you right now."
Spock had not moved during the entire episode, just sat there, looking at McCoy, and then at the board. His eyebrow raised again as he responded. "You're welcome, Doctor." Then, suddenly, he moved one of his pieces. Bishop to Queen's Five, King's Level, Kirk noticed. *Damn.*
"Check and mate, Doctor." McCoy, to say the least, looked astonished. He wasn't the only one; Chekov nearly choked on his vodka. As Uhura slapped him on the back to help him out, she replied, "Incredible, Spock. How did you do that?"
Before Spock could reply, Kirk spoke. "The Wilson Gambit, I believe, Mister Spock?"
Spock nodded. "That is correct, Captain. Named after one of your American presidents, I believe."
"That's right. Woodrow Wilson. Kept the United States out of World War One for almost four years." Kirk was happy to show off his knowledge in history, especially American history. But, like everything else, it just didn't seem to lighten the mood.
Everyone retired to the couches with their drinks, and sat there for a moment, each of them trying to think of something to say or do, anything to delay the time when they would all have to leave and be trapped with their own thoughts of life without the Enterprise. Finally, Spock, surprisingly, broke the silence.
"You were showing something to Miss Uhura earlier, Mister Chekov. May I enquire as to what it was?"
"Vhat?" Chekov was momentarily confused, between his own private thoughts and the fact that Spock was actually speaking to him. "Oh, of course. I vas just showing Uhura some pictures."
"Pictures?" Now, everyone was interested. McCoy spoke. "Pictures of what?"
At this, Chekov smiled proudly. "Hikaru sent over some pictures of his little girl with Saavik."
"Now what was her name..." Scotty was trying to remember. "Ah, yes. Demora. Such a lovely name. You're the godfather, right, Pavel?"
"Yes, I am." Chekov stuck out his chest a little, reminding Kirk of a proud father... But he stopped short his train of thought. *Always think of David at a time like this... I must talk to Carol when I get back. Maybe there's still hope for us, even though David is gone.*
He decided to join into the conversation, hoping it would keep his mind off of the past. "How old is she, Pavel?"
"She'll be sixteen in March."
"Is she going into the academy, like Dad and Uncle Pavel?" McCoy could not hide the bemusement in his eyes; Kirk was reminded of the day that McCoy's first grandchild was born. He also remembered...
"By the way, Bones, isn't Joanna expecting again?" Some of the old fire found its way back into Kirk's eyes, as he tormented his old friend.
"Now, Jim, you promised not to spill it for another week!" At the questioning glances, he replied, "Yeah, yeah, she is. She and Harry are looking at number three in May. Thanks for spoiling the surprise, Jim."
"No problem." Suddenly, like a flash, he realized how late it was. He stood. "I don't know about you younger folks", this directed at Uhura and Chekov, "or you, Spock, God knows you never sleep, but I do, and I'm very tired, so as my last order of the evening, I'd like to say: Get out."
Mild-mannered grumbling punctuated everyone's exit but Spock's; he merely said, "Good night, Jim." before he, too, departed, and James Kirk, captain of the Enterprise, was alone with his thoughts. He had a hard time getting to sleep.
He screamed in agony, as he knew he had on the Enterprise bridge, and then rushed the Klingon... and passed through him. Then he remembered; he wouldn't arrive until later, and then that bastard would get his, Kirk remembered, thinking of his firey demise. *Burn in hell*, he remembered thinking at the time...
Then, all of a sudden, the dream changed form. Jim Kirk was no longer on Genesis; he was somewhere else, a cave, it looked like. He saw a girl- no, a woman, barely past her teens, but with the look of an adult, a steely, hardened look of someone who has experienced the roughest that life has to offer, and had survived. But not without scars, Kirk noticed; as a man who bore great scars himself, he had learned to notice those scars in others.
*Where am I? Why am I here?*, he thought, not taking his eyes of the young woman. *God, she's about the same age as Carol when we met... I really must talk to her soon.* This was an idle thought; he really didn't know what to do. Then he realized, *This is my dream... I really should be able to get out of it.*
He thought of the Enterprise, of home, and prepared to wake up. But, to his surprise, nothing happened. Kirk now became angry. *What the hell is going on here? What do you want with me?*, he thought angrily.
Suddenly, a light appeared in the cave; Kirk was startled to realize that the woman was gone, down further into the darkness. The light fluttered around for a moment, its brightness illuminating but not searing. Then it moved toward Kirk, and went around his head. It seemed to recognize him, he noticed.
*What are you? Some kind of sentience?*, he thought. As to respond to his thought, the light moved on down the cave. It then moved back toward Kirk, blinked once or twice, and then moved back down the cave.
*You want me to follow you?*, he thought. The light blinked in assent. *Me?*, he thought, pointing at himself as emphasis. The light blinked again, and Kirk swore he thought he heard something speak in his mind. *Of course you, James Kirk. You are the only one here, aren't you?* Kirk stood there for a moment, and then decided, *What the hell...*, and followed the light down further into the cave.
After a few minutes of following the light through the cave, he suddenly saw the girl again. This time, her features weren't passive; she was afraid. *But of what?*, he thought. Then, the light brightened, illuminating the whole cavern, and Kirk saw what the girl was afraid of. It was a blue-skinned, translucent alien, with some kind of... hole on top of its head. As Kirk watched, the alien raised its hand, as if to greet the woman. The hand then suddenly began to glow, almost crackle with energy, and Kirk suddenly realized what was about to happen.
*That... thing's going to kill her!*, he thought wildly. *Just like David... No!*, he thought forcefully. *I'm not going to let her die like that!* He started to move toward the woman, to help her... but he suddenly realized he couldn't move. Kirk became outraged.
*What's going on? Why are you keeping me from helping her?* He directed his thoughts toward the light, which he knew was somewhere nearby, and he knew was somehow involved in all this.
The voice from before appeared in his head, only this time it was much more commanding. *Watch! You can only observe...* *I don't understand. Why can't I help her? She doesn't deserve this...* The voice continued. *You can do nothing. The event has already occurred. Your only duty, 'Captain', is to observe.*
*Already occurred... So why am I watching this?* Kirk thought dismally as he thought he knew.
*Is it some kind of torture for not being able to help David, or Spock, or Gorkon...* The tears began to well up. *All those I let down, because I couldn't get there in time...* The voice spoke again, much softer this time; it seemed to Kirk that the "light" was genuinely sad.
*No, James. This is not a punishment. All will be revealed... in time.* Kirk returned his gaze to the scene before him. The woman was trying to move away from the alien, but couldn't; she was frozen, just as Kirk was. The realization startled him, and he asked, *Are you one of them?*
The light seemed to shudder slightly as it responded. No, I am not. They are Darkness.* In Kirk's mind, the word "darkness" was capitalized; that suggested to Kirk some kind of absolute. Kirk continued to watch, as the glow in the alien's hand began to change as the hand clenched into a fist. The glow manifested itself into a beam of intense blue light, which lanced itself toward the woman.
Once again, Kirk thought about trying to move, but the voice again reverberated inside his head. *WATCH!* Kirk did, and saw in horror as the light brightened, and when the light subsided, both the alien and the woman were gone. He thought he heard her speak; what was it? Something like "Professor, help me..."
Kirk looked at the white light around him and spoke for the first time. "What are you?"
"Where it was Darkness, I am the Light." Just as before, the words "darkness" and "light" were capitalized, Kirk thought. *This must big, for such a force to be involved.* The voice continued.
"You couldn't save your son, James Kirk, but you can save this woman."
"Me? But how? I'm old, the captain of an old ship that's about to be put in mothballs..."
The voice changed suddenly; it was Kirk's own voice that responded. "Don't let them promote you, don't let them retire you, don't let them do anything that keeps you away from the bridge of that ship. Because while you're there, you can still make a difference."
Kirk was astounded. *Did I ever say that? God, I wished I had listened to it...* Then the voice spoke.
"No, you didn't... not yet. But you are there, now, and you, and your crew, can still make a difference."
"Go about your business, act as if nothing has happened. When he comes, help him. You will find your place in what is ahead."
"He? Who's 'he'?" Kirk wanted to know.
"You will know the Champion when you see him."
"That doesn't help much, you know."
"Just be ready, Captain. Be ready to make a difference once again..."
Then, as the voice faded out, Jim Kirk was enveloped by the light...
And woke up, hearing the sound of the intercom buzzing in his ears. He sat there for a moment, remembering what the light had said.
"Be ready to make a difference once again..." *And just what am I supposed to do to help whoever this 'he', this Champion, is, huh?* The intercom buzzed again, and he hit the channel open.
"What is it?", he answered a little sleepily, a little preoccupied, but definitely grumpily, a fact that didn't escape Saavik as she answered. As one trained in Vulcan techniques, she didn't place much stock on emotions, especially one so unusual and uniquely human as grumpiness.
"Sir, we have entered the Narigeron Asteroid Belt. Starfleet code number 113, section 5.4, states that the commanding officer of a vessel is to be informed, regardless of the time, when a destination is reached."
If Kirk wasn't still preoccupied by his dream, he might have smiled. Instead, he put a slight hint of bemusement in his voice. "Still the same old Saavik, eh?"
"Why, yes, sir. Would I be any other Saavik except the 'same old' one? If I was not, would you not be worried?"
Kirk was about to answer, when he realized that she was, in her own way, teasing him. *You learn well, Saavik. Perhaps you aren't as self-conscious as you used to be.* He smiled at the intercom.
"Thank you for the notification, Miss Saavik. I'm on my way to the Bridge."
Picard shut off the recorder in surprise. *Did I really just say that?* "Computer, repeat the current log entry." The computer complied:
"Captain's Personal Log, Supplemental:
Everything on the Enterprise is ship-shape... almost. I am now beginning to regret having told the bridge crew of the future I witnessed while time-shifting a few months ago. Several of my staff have changed their behavorial patterns-slightly, mind you, but they have still changed-as a response to the news.
Deanna is purposely putting off deciding between Worf and Will Riker; Geordi is beating himself trying to come up with book ideas; Data has inquired over subspace as to the current status of the Laucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge; and, on a much more personal note, Beverly is... more agressive than usual, an attitude that I must say I find a little sexy. We're supposed to go out to the theatre tonight; I can't help but wonder what will happen afterwards..."
After it had done so, Picard frowned, then smiled.
*It looks like it's affecting me too; have to watch what I say, even to the computer. Some things are just too personal for a starship captain to have on record, even a personal one.* He instructed the computer to delete the last section dealing with Beverly, and amended the log.
"I must remember to talk to each member of the bridge crew individually as to these changes, so as to stem their influence before the ship's performance becomes impaired. End log entry."
The cards flew through the air with pinpoint precision, like some mystical ballet, and as they landed on the table, Data spoke to each in turn. The first landed in front of Will Riker, who allowed a slight smile at the android's pronouncement.
The second landed in front of Geordi LaForge, who, of course, could have looked at his-and everyone else's cards with his VISOR. As it stood, he scowled slightly at the hand he had. But Data, expecting this possiblity as well as the fact that he himself could have done the same with his mechanical vision, had the replicator whip up a batch of foolproof cards. Specially coated with laximite, the cards could repel x-ray or infrared radiation, so as everyone could have an equal footing.
The third card landed in front of Doctor Beverly Crusher, who, despite the horrible hand was faced with, was smiling. Riker stopped the deal for a moment when he asked, with a hint of amusement, "Doctor, would you please stop grinning? It's distracting." And Geordi piped in, "Yeah, Doctor, some of us are trying to hate our hands here, but you won't let us."
Deanna Troi jumped to her friend's defense. "Will, be quiet and let the woman be happy for once. So...", she leaned toward Beverly conspiratorially, "where are you going this time?" Beverly stopped smiling as she responded. "We're going to the holodeck. He wants to see 'Much Ado About Nothing'."
Deanna began to smile herself. "Oh, that's wonderful. Dates on the holodeck can be so romantic." Will decided to jump in at this point. "This is the third night this week, right?"
"Yes. And I'm thinking of asking him to come see the new flowerings in the arboretum after dinner tomorrow night..."
Now it was Geordi's turn. "Now, hold on a sec, Beverly. Don't you think you're going just a bit... I don't know, fast, maybe? You two haven't really dated in years; you really should take it slow."
At this, Beverly laughed. "Fine advice, coming from you. When did you all of a sudden become an expert?" Geordi frowned, as the barb hit home. Beverly quickly made up for the slip.
"I'm sorry, Geordi. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings... Look here, all of you; I have known Jean-Luc Picard for almost 25 years. I know that if he thought that something was wrong with all this, he would tell me."
"But what if he doesn't know that you feel like that? I mean, he could just be keeping quiet because he sees that you're happy, and he doesn't want to ruin it for you."
Beverly frowned and shook her head emphatically. "No, no way. If Jean-Luc thought we were going too fast, he'd tell me... end of story. Deal, Data."
The game continued, as the next card landed in front of Counselor Deanna Troi, who, as always, had to keep all of her empathic powers in check, lest she accidentally sensed something from her friends. She kept a very good poker face on; she knew her hand was good, she just didn't know whether it was better than Will Riker's very possible royal flush.
Geordi made another grimace as he looked down as his cards. "Damn Laximite...", Deanna thougth she heard him say, then Will, playing on Data's right, began the betting. "I bet twenty to start."
Geordi tried to say something, but he suddenly realized that he wasn't getting anywhere, and he wasn't going to. At least, not with his poor hand and Will's flush looking him down. He threw his cards down in disgust. "I fold. Damn."
Geordi got up to leave; Data looked at his friend questioningly. The chief engineer threw up his hands. "Sorry, Data, I have to go. The Captain wants a progress report on the coolant relay mechanisms by 1100 tomorrow, and I have to check on my ensigns' progress before I go to bed. You know how it is..."
As Geordi left the table, Data next turned to Beverly Crusher, who was still smiling, but a little more subdued now, as if she was suddenly becoming subconscious of her attitude. "The bet is still twenty to you, Doctor."
"Thank you, Data, I know what the bet is." She looked at her cards for a long moment, and deciding to give her hand, whatever it was, a chance against Riker's hand, she put down two white chips, and then two more white ones. "I'll see your twenty, Commander, and raise you twenty more."
Deanna thought she saw Riker flinch a little, but she kept it to herself. *Is he bluffing?*, she thought. Then, without thinking, almost as a reflex, she sent out a thought ot Will Riker. *Come on, Imzadi; what are you hiding?*
Deanna saw Riker stiffen slightly; she realized what she had done. She put down her cards. "I fold."
Will began to protest. "Now, Deanna, you don't have to do that..."
"Yes, I do, Will. You know it as well as I do; I can't use my powers during poker. It's a rule that we agreed on when we started playing, and I'm not about to change it after almost five years."
As she said this, she began to get up from the table. Everyone got up with her, concerned. Deanna finished with an "I have to go now...", and left the table and walked out into the corridor. Will made to follow, calling after her, "Deanna, wait..." Data looked at Beverly expectantly, when she spoke.
"I guess the game's over, Data. I have to go and get ready for my date." She left the table as well, whistling, leaving Data all alone and confused as to his friends' behavior.
*Ah, well. Human emotions... How I wish I had them myself.* To the tune of "If I Only Had A Heart", he began to clear off the table.
"Hey, you can't get away that easily."
Deanna struggled slightly; Will let go of her arm, and she faced him in the middle of the corridor.
"I don't want to talk about this, Will..."
"There's nothing wrong about it, Deanna. You didn't get anything from me, so no harm, no foul, all right?"
"No, Will, it's not all right! It's not all right at all..." She trailed off.
"Deanna, what's wrong?" Will was genuinely concerned for her safety, she noted. But whether or not was because he still cared for her was the problem. Will realized it, too; he looked at her. "I see... You're not sure, are you?"
"About what?" She had intended the question to be innocent, but she knew it wouldn't work. Here, in front of her, was the one man who knew her best; ignorance wouldn't work.
"You know what. After Captain Picard came back from... his little mission, you've been avoiding all personal contact with me... and Worf." He didn't make a face or anything, she noticed. If he thought that she having a relationship wth Worf was deplorable, he didn't show it.
He continued. "Why is that, Deanna? Is it because... of what is supposed to happen to you?" He couldn't bring himself to say the words; that Deanna Troi was supposed to die sometime within the next twenty-five years, according to the future Captain Picard witness on his mission to save humanity.
Deanna stiffened. "Of course not..." When she saw the way that Will was looking at her, she hung her head. She hated lying to him; she was, after all, her Imzadi, her first love. She looked back at him.
"What do you want to say, Will? Of course that's what bothering me! I keep thinking about how my death tore you and Worf apart, and I keep thinking about us, and I think about me and Worf, and I think, 'Is it because I didn't choose Worf that the future comes about, or is it because I didn't choose Will?' It's driving me insane!"
"So you chose not to decide."
"Yes, I guess I'm thinking that if I don't choose no one gets hurt..."
Will took her hands in his, and smiled. "Now, you don't know that for sure.. We don't know what's going to happen, that's the whole reason behind it all."
"The future, Deanna. I remember something that my dad used to say to me: 'Your future hasn't been written yet. The future is whatever you make of it. So make it a good one."
Deanna smiled. "That makes a lot of sense. You father's a wise man, Will."
"I know. I wish I'd known it when I was younger. I found out from him later where he got that quote."
Will smiled. "From some kind of doctor, I think. Brown, he said his name was. Funny thing, though; I never heard anything more about him. A friend named Doc Brown?"
Deanna smiled, then she realized something else. "Oh, dear, I'm late. I have to talk to Captain Picard."
"Don't hide things from me, Deanna. Is it about Beverly?"
"No, not about Beverly. I'll think I'll let them handle things on their own." She headed for the lift, and Will called after her."
"So, have you decided yet?"
"No, Will Riker, I haven't. But when I do, believe me, you'll be the first to know. Right along with Worf." She smiled back at him as she entered the lift.
She entered the small ready room, to see Captain Jean-Luc Picard stretched out on his couch, reading. She was about to announce herself when Picard sat up, placed a marker in his book, and motioned for Deanna to sit down. She noticed that he seemed to be much more relaxed than usual, and she made note of this to him. He smiled.
Well, thank you for noticing, Counselor. Yes, I am much more relaxed now than I was... before it happened."
The counselor knew what "it" was, so she did not ask him to elaborate on that point; instead, she asked, "Why is that, sir?"
"I really don't know. You're the Counselor; you tell me." He leaned back slightly. Deanna thought a moment, then she spoke.
"I think it has something to do with the future you witnessed. Part of your newfound demeanor has something to do with your expanded relationship with Beverly Crusher. By the way, aren't you supposed to be having dinner with her right now?"
"It's all right, Deanna. Like a good gentleman, I let Beverly know that I may be delayed. Besides," he added with a slight smile, "she's making some kind of surprise dish for me, I think. I can wait. Go on, Counselor."
"I also think that your new demeanor has something to do with the information you recieved about your own physical condition."
"The Irumodic Syndrome, you mean?" She nodded. He spoke slowly, as if he was weighing her words with a particularly tough scale. Then he spoke, and the smile was back.
"You know, you may have something there. About the Irumodic Syndrome, I mean. I guess that knowing the way I'm going to die kind of gives me a reason to live a little."
"Are you happy with this new you?"
"Oh, yes, I am. I feel... I don't know, energized, somehow. Like a tremendous weight was been lifted off my shoulders, instead of sinking to my stomach. I know, that may not be great imagery..."
"It's all right. I get the idea. Now, not to change the subject or anything, but I have something that I would like to discuss with you. I'm not sure how to place it, exactly, but I think it's important."
"Go on, Deanna. What's bothering you?" He leaned forward expectantly, like he was enjoying playing Counselor for once.
"Well, for the last few nights, I've been having this dream..."
"What kind of dream?"
"I'm not quite sure. I just fell asleep, and then I found myself in this darkened cave. I walk along a little bit, and then I see this woman, and a light beside her."
"What did the woman look like?"
"She was no more than twenty, maybe twenty-five, with brownish hair and some kind of jumpsuit-type outfit on. That much I do remember. But what I really remember is the light. It began to circle me, finally coming to a rest near my head. Then, it began to speak to me telepathically."
"What did it say to you?"
"It said, 'Follow the woman, Deanna Troi. Follow the woman.' And so I did, and then we arrived at a larger cavern. She-the woman, that is-saw some kind of blue light, and became afraid of it, very afraid. I don't know anything, really, about the blue light; something's blocking me, obscuring my vision."
"Suddenly, the light arced toward the woman, and she began to scream, but I didn't hear that. What I did hear, though, was her thoughts. She was thinking something like, 'Please, Professor, help me.' And then she vanished."
"Did you wake up then?"
"No, I didn't. The light spoke to me then. It said, 'You couldn't help your sister, Deanna Troi, but you can help save this woman.' Now, I was surprised to hear it mention my sister; I told no one about it, at my mother's request, save you and Will. I asked how I could help, and it said, 'Tell your captain, Picard, to be ready to help the Champion when he arrives.'"
"I asked how I would know who the Champion was, and it replied, 'You will know, Deanna Troi. You will know. Tell Picard to be ready. Much depends on it.' And then the light brightened, and I woke up."
As she finished her story, Picard sat there in silence, then spoke. "Did you ask what the light was? Why it would give us this kind of warning?"
Deanna thought a moment, the spoke. "As a matter of fact, I did. It answered, 'I am the Light.' Just like that, sir, with the 'Light' capitalized. I also asked what the blue light was, and why I couldn't see what it was. It said, 'It is the Darkness. That is all you need to know for now.'"
"Hmmm. Why didn't you tell me the morning after the first occurrence of the dream? Why wait until now?"
"I didn't really get it all at once, sir. Every night, I would get more and more of the total picture. I got the feeling that the 'Light', whatever it was, was having touble pushing the message through to me. It had to do it more than once to make sure I got the message clearly."
"I see. Well, I'll certainly take this 'Light's' message under consideration."
"Where is our next stop, sir?"
Picard thought for a moment. "We're supposed to map a gaseous anomaly in the Gurien System. We arrive tomorrow, and stay for several days."
"Do you think that the 'Light' gave me the messge now, knowing that we would be going to the Gurien System?"
"Possibly, Counselor, although everything I've seen and heard about the Gurien System labels it as a very unhostile place. But I promise, I'll keep a look out for people who cal themselves 'Champions' while we look at the anomaly." He smiled. "Dismissed, Counselor. Thank you again."
"My pleasure, sir."
The figure then looked up, toward the highest heavens, and spoke. "The message has been recieved, sir. They are on their way."
From above, a face, framed in white feathers, smiled and spoke. "The time grows short, Angel. I sincerely hope they're in time."
"What are they supposed to do, sir?"
"Hopefully, avert disaster, Angel." The figure from above looked at each of the ships in turn.
"Doctor, Picard, Kirk. Two humans, and one not quite human, from three different times; you are the last hope for the future. If you do not succeed, I fear the Galaxy will not survive."
Cris Lawrence, alias Doc8 on Dalnet, is a 20-year-old sophomore Political Science student at Miami University of Ohio. In addition to this story, he is currently working on two other Eighth Doctor stories: "Picture of Guilt", featuring the first adventure of Melissa Chambers and the Doctor; and "The Play's the Thing", which, with some revision, will hopefully become my first published New Adventure sometime in 1998. Cris is also a fan of the DC Comics character The Flash, and you can see the culmination of his obsession on his Scarlet Speedster Web Page