Nothing from the Daleks.
He motioned for Melissa to put her hands down, and very bravely took one step forward.
Still nothing from the Daleks.
Boldened by this, the Doctor walked right up to the middle Dalek and waved his hand over its eyestalk.
Absolutely no movement whatsover from the Daleks.
The Doctor looked at Melissa and spoke. "Melissa, I do believe that these Daleks are dead."
"Well, thank you, Mister Obvious! How come it took you so long to realize it?"
"Because I thought that somehow they had been improved from their previous design."
"Which was what?"
The Doctor walked around each of the completely stationary Daleks in turn, and as he spoke, he opened the lid of one of them. As the pungent odor of decayed flesh filled the air, Melissa plugged her nose in disgust. The Doctor seemed to have no such compulsion.
"Well, they used to be quite annoying. They would talk like this..." His voice changed to a shrill computer-like squeal.
"The Doc-tor! The en-e-my of the Dal-eks! You must be EX-TER-MIN-ATED! EX-TER-MIN-ATE! EX-TER-MIN-ATE!" Melissa supressed a giggle with her free hand. "Yes, quite annoying, those Daleks were." The Doctor continued. "Not to mention that they couldn't move very well at all... at least, not until they climbed stairs. My, what a shock that gave me..."
Melissa coughed slightly; she hated to bother the Doctor when he was in one of his moods, but they had come here to find answers to Ace's fate, and besides, the odor was really beginning to bother her. "Doctor..."
The Doctor looked at her for a moment, and then snapped out of it. "Oh, yes. Come on; let's get out of here." He wrinkled his nose slightly; it appeared that the smell of death was finally getting to him. He took Melissa by the hand and led her through the next door, which opened into the installation's control room.
As the door closed behind them, Melissa unplugged her nose and took a deep breath, then smiled. "Fresh air. Thank you."
"You're welcome." The Doctor smiled back at her, and then moved to one of several consoles spread throughout the room. "Now, come on, let's see what we can find."
Melissa went over to another console, and read the screen. "Doctor, what is this supposed to be?"
The Doctor walked over to her and studied the screen intently. "Hmmm... appears to be the installation's sensor logs. Let's have a look, shall we?" He punched a few commands into the keyboard, and a string of characters appeared on the screen. Melissa smiled.
"I'm impressed, Doctor. You speak computer?"
Intent on his work, the Doctor replied absently, "Of course. Doesn't everyone?" Then, realizing what he said, he smiled. "Well, of course, I have had some 1000 years of experience."
He turned to the screen again, looking at it intently. After a moment of looking, he spoke. "'lo. What is this?"
"What is what, Doctor?"
"This." He pointed at the screen. "This screen now shows the dates of the sensor sweeps stored into the computer. It appears that the installation has been operational for some 3 years..."
"Yeah, yeah. What's the point?"
"My, you're impatient, aren't you?" The Time Lord smiled at his companion.
"Well, yeah! I was kind of freaked out by those dead Daleks; I don't want to stick around in case whoever did that has any other nasty surprises."
"Like what?" The Doctor had typed a command into the console as he spoke, and seconds later, a charge of electricity arced through it. The Doctor was thrown back, hitting the ground with a thud.
As Melissa rushed to help the Doctor, the console suddenly exploded, causing her to hit the deck and cover the Doctor's now-lifeless body with her own. As the explosion ended, Melissa looked up to see the entire console on fire.
Before she could do anything, a wave of foam covered the console from above: a Dalek fire-supression system, she surmised. In seconds, the fire was out, and she turned her attention to the Doctor, who still had not moved.
"Like that, Doctor.", she muttered as she proceeded to slap the Doctor in the face. *Come on, wake up, Doc.*, she thought desperately. *I'm sure you've survived worse than this... I hope.*
After a few long, agonizing minutes, the Doctor finally awoke, dazed. Melissa gathered this because the first thing he said was, "Susan, have you been playing with the TARDIS machinery again, hmmm?" His voice had taken on the quality of the crochety old man again.
Melissa spoke worriedly, "No, Doctor, it's not Susan. It's Melissa. You remember, don't you?" In response to her voice, the Doctor shook his head, and spoke again, a little clearer this time.
"Oh, yes. Melissa. I do remember."
"Who was that?"
"Who was what? Oh, yes. That was the voice of my first life." Noticing Melissa's surprised look, he became indignant. "Well, after a shock like that, you would expect me to be a little bit addled, wouldn't you?"
"Well, yeah, but..."
"Don't worry about it anymore. I'm fine." As he spoke, he struggled to stand. After a moment, he was able to do so, and as he brushed himself off, Melissa spoke again.
"Hmmm?" The Doctor had walked over to the now-destroyed console and was examining it.
The Doctor paused, and looked at her pointedly. "Susan?"
"Yes. You said her name while you were dazed, apparently thinking that I was her. So, who is she, one of your companions?"
The Doctor paused again, and heaved a small sigh. "Not just 'one' of my companions. Susan was my first companion. She was also my granddaughter. We fled Gallifrey together in the TARDIS, hoping to see the Universe and Time and get away from my people's stagnation."
"What happened to her?"
"She left me some time ago. She fell in love and married a man on 26th Century Earth, after the Daleks' unsuccessful invasion of your planet." Melissa detected something in the Doctor's voice.
*Sadness again, just like before, in the TARDIS.*, she thought to herself. *I can understand why, now; to save the Earth, he had to sacrifice his bond with Ace, and watch as his own granddaughter left him to live in this dangerous future.*
But, as soon as she had thought this, the Doctor stiffened up, turned away from the console, and walked out the door. As Melissa followed him, he walked back the way they had came, past the dead Daleks, and out onto the surface of Hinire Upsilon. Melissa, a few steps behind, called out to him.
"Doctor, wait up! Where are you going?"
The Doctor stopped for a moment, as if realizing for the first time that she was there. As she caught up, he spoke.
"Sorry. I was lost in thought. It happens sometimes. As for where we are going, we are going there." He pointed in the general direction of the TARDIS.
Melissa, thinking he meant the TARDIS, spoke. "We're not leaving, are we?"
"No, Melissa, we are not. Before the console... short-circuited, I was able to discern some interesting information from the most recent sensor logs."
"At the same time period that Ace disappeared, the installation's sensors picked up a large amount of radiation. This radiation surge came from a cave not far from here. Not long after the initial surge, another one was detected."
"That surge was of greater intensity than the first one, and was directed at the installation. It killed the Daleks inside, and must have left an imprint inside the console, causing it to explode."
"So we go to the cave, because it was the origin point of the radiation bursts?"
The Doctor smiled. "Precisely. I might just make a scientist of you yet." He touseled her hair as they continued walking. After several minutes of walking, they arrived at the cave. The Doctor looked at the cave, and "Hmmm" ed softly.
"What is it?"
"I don't know, but I think this is the cave from my dream."
"You mean, the one where Ace... disappeared?"
"Yes, that one. Come on." He pulled her away from the cave. Melissa protested. "Where are we going?"
"To the TARDIS. I, for one, am not about to go into that cave unprepared." Once they were back in the TARDIS, he looked around in several rooms before he found what he was looking for. "Aha!"
Melissa was unimpressed. "You mean to tell me that we're going into a dark, damp cave, where something evil presumably resides, armed with just a flashlight, your sonic screwdriver, and some scanning device?"
"Exactly. Good plan, huh?"
"Yeah, great plan, Doc. If you want to get killed. Why don't we get some laser guns or something?"
"Because, Miss Chambers, the Doctor abhors weapons. I, on the other hand, love weaponry, of all kinds. Why, I remember the time when..."
The Master's voice surprised both the Doctor and Melissa. The Doctor replied, "That's quite enough of that! By the way, I thought I had shut you up earlier."
"I repaired the damage. It took me some time, I can assure you..." At the Doctor's shocked look, the Master hastily replied, "Oh, don't give me that look. I can't do anything else except talk to you. Your TARDIS computer has seen to that."
"We'll just see about that, won't we?" The Doctor strode to the main console and punched some buttons. Melissa protested.
"But, Doctor, the cave-"
"Will still be there in a few minutes. I have to make sure he can't do anything to the TARDIS while we're gone." After a few more minutes of punching buttons and pulling various levers, the Doctor stepped back from the console and gave it a satisfied smirk.
"There you go, old girl. Now talking to us is the only thing that megalomaniac can do to you." He affectionately patted the console and turned to Melissa.
"Now, then, let us be off, shall we?"
As a new day dawned, Jean-Luc Picard arrived on the bridge. He walked right to the center section and waited for a moment as Data got up out of the center chair.
"This is a surprise, sir. You are up early."
"Yes, Data. Well, I thought I would be here when we arrived in the Gurien anomaly."
"May I enquire as to your special interest in this particular anomaly, sir? According to preliminary reports, the Gurien anomaly is no different than any other gaseous anamoly."
"That is very true. But, my motives are my own, and I do not wish to discuss them with anyone else at this time. Is that understood, Lieutenant Commander?"
"Of course, sir. Would you like to hear my report of the evening's activities?"
"No, that's all right, Data. You may give your report to Commander Riker when he arrives for his shift. In the meantime, I will be in my ready room."
"Understood, sir. Would you like Commander Riker to see you once he arrives?"
"Yes, I would. Until then, though, I am not to be disturbed."
"Yes, sir." Data settled back into the center chair as Picard turned and went into the ready room. Once he sat down in his chair, he collected his thoughts.
*All right, 'Champion', whoever you are, show yourself. I'm tired of waiting.* After a few minutes of waiting patiently, with no result, he sighed. *It was worth a try, at any rate.*
Suddenly, his comm badge beeped, and a feminine voice spoke. "Crusher to Picard."
Picard smiled. *I think I know what this is about.* He tabbed the comm badge and spoke.
"Now why aren't you at breakfast? I'm sitting here with a entire spread of food here and no one to eat it with. What's the big idea?"
"I'm sorry, Beverly. I'm busy right now. I'm... expecting someone."
"Oh, really, Jean-Luc Picard? And who might this mystery person be, hmmm?" Her voice took on a mock-jealous tone, and before he knew it, Picard was laughing.
"I don't really know, Doctor. But, rest assured, once I do, you'll be the first to know. I promise. Now, eat your breakfast and get to work. I still expect the results of those latest crew physicals by 1300 hours."
"I'm supposed to eat all this food alone? Why, if I bloat and gain weight, Jean-Luc, I swear I'll-"
"Thank you for the advance warning. I'll speak to you later. Picard out." As he tabbed the comm badge closed, the door to the ready room chimed.
"Come." The door opened, and Will Riker entered. He took his customary position, stradding the seat in front of Picard, and spoke.
"Thanks... for nothing."
"You told Data to wait until I had arrived before he gave his report, didn't you?"
"Yes, I did. Why?"
"It was probably one of the most boring reports I have ever heard. We really should see if we can't teach Data to be a little more... I don't know, expressive and creative in his speech patterns. Otherwise, he'll put them to sleep in Cambridge."
Picard smiled; that was an unusual thought, indeed. "Very well. Why don't you work with Deanna to help Data out with this... difficulty? I'm sure it would prove beneficial to all parties."
Riker breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you. Now, Data said you wanted to see me?"
"Yes, I did. I want you to be on the lookout for anything... unusual while we're mapping the anomaly."
"Certainly, sir. May I ask why?"
"I'm not really sure myself, Number One. I think something very important's going to happen here; trouble is, we won't know what that is until it happens."
"I can relate to that, Will; I'm a little... unclear about the whole thing myself. But for right now, nothing is to be mentioned to the crew. Is that clear?"
Suddenly, the comm badge beeped again. Picard tabbed it and spoke.
"This is Data. Guinan wishes to speak to you from Ten-Forward. She states that it is urgent."
Shocked, Picard looked at Riker, who voiced their thoughts. "Now why would Guinan be calling us now?"
"I don't know, but I'd better find out. Data, patch her through."
A moment of silence followed, and then Guinan's voice emanated from Picard's comm badge. And she was very worried.
"Captain, raise your shields, now!"
"But why? Is there something wrong?"
"You bet there is! They're coming!"
The words hit Picard like a bolt of lightning. *They're here? Now? But where is the Champion?*
Picard was already out of the chair and out of the ready room before he had finished his thoughts. He looked at Data, who was shocked, to put it mildly.
"Data, get over to Ops and put up the shields, immediately!"
The android was at his station and inputting the commands on the Ops console almost before Picard had finished speaking. Still, it must not have been in time, because a moment later, a blue shape appeared on the bridge.
Before anyone, even Data, could react, the alien fired a bolt at Data. A brief moment passed, then the alien and Data disappeared.
For a few moments, everyone was rooted to their spots. Then, Picard sprung into action. He turned to Riker. "Get Mister LaForge up here. I need him to scan where that alien stood. Have Doctor Crusher up here as well; we might need a second opinion. You have the bridge."
He started for the back turbolift, as Riker spoke, still astonished. "Where are you going?"
"To Ten-Forward. Guinan knew this was going to happen. I want to know what else she knows." As he reached the lift, Riker spoke again.
"You know what that... thing was, don't you?"
"Yes, I do. We all do. I need to make sure; that's why I need scans of the area where it was. You have the bridge.", he repeated, and he stepped into the lift.
As it closed, Riker thought, *Oh, not again. We were barely able to stop them last time; how are we going to pull it off now, without Data?*
Riker sighed, and tabbed his comm badge.
"Commander LaForge and Doctor Crusher, please report to the Bridge immediately."
"I sent everyone away, closed the place up. I had to; what we have to discuss isn't exactly breakfast conversation." Guinan motioned to a booth, where they both sat down. Picard spoke.
"Then you do know what is going on, then?" Guinan nodded her assent; Picard pressed on. "So, you have to tell me! What you know may be the only clues we have to help Data!"
"I know, I know. I can only tell you certain things, though."
"Because it is what I am permitted to tell you. Also, it is what I believe you will most be able to understand. You remember the dream that Deanna Troi had?"
"Yes. How do you know about the dream?"
"Deanna told me about it last night. Now, you were correct to assume that the dream was a warning. It was also an explanation."
"An explanation? What kind of explanation?"
"An explanation of the course of action to take."
"I don't understand..."
"Let me put it this way. The 'Light' Deanna mentioned? It is a being of great power and righteousness, known to some as the White Guardian. The 'Darkness' is a force of equally powerful evil, known as the Black Guardian."
"I understand that much. Go on."
"The White and Black Guardians cannot battle each other directly, so they send agents to do the fighting. The 'Champion' is one of those agents, a Lord of Time who can travel through time and space and do the work of the White Guardian."
"You are also one of the agents of the Light, Jean-Luc. You have been so from the moment of your birth. Now, you, the Champion, and one other have been chosen by the White Guardian to partake in pehaps the most important mission of all."
"What is this mission?"
"The woman that Deanna saw was kidnapped by the agents of the Black Guardian. So have many others who have been found to be crucial to the balance of Time."
"And now they have Data."
"Right. Without these very special people, the balance of Time will shift to favor evil. The Federation, Starfleet, this Galaxy, indeed, the entire Universe as we know it will crumble to dust, replaced by the Darkness."
"So, what do I do now, Guinan? I just can't stand here and do nothing while Data and those other hostages are at their mercy!"
"I know, Jean-Luc. But, trust me, you won't have to wait long. The Champion is on his way as we speak. The other... you will meet in time. Be patient; everything will come together soon enough."
An awkward moment of silence followed, and then the comm badge beeped. Picard tabbed it open, and spoke.
"Sir, we have the results of both Geordi's VISOR scan and Doctor Crusher's tricorder sweep."
Suddenly, Will Riker's voice sounded very tired.
"There's no mistake, sir. There were traces of triolic radiation at the spot where the alien stood... and at the spot where Data was standing when he disappeared."
A silence followed, as deep and black as space itself. Then, Jean-Luc Picard spoke. His words held no other emotions, save one: anger.
"The Devidians are back."
"Not a one." The Doctor looked at the entrance to the cave thoughtfully. "But if this is the cave where Ace disappeared..."
"It may be dangerous to go in there. You might want to stay out here, or even back in the TARDIS."
"No way, Doctor! I'm not letting you go in there alone. Besides," she smiled at the Time Lord, "I just faced down a pack of dead Daleks. What could be tougher than that, huh?"
The Doctor looked at her for a moment, smiling, then his expression turned serious. "I mean it, Melissa. That thing in there took Ace, maybe... killed her where she stood. I don't even know what we're going to go up against. I'm just giving you a way out of this madness."
"I'm telling you that I'm not going to leave you. Have any of your other companions left you in times of danger?" She looked at the Doctor pointedly. The battle was fought without words and over in seconds. The Doctor heaved a sigh and spoke.
"All right, then. Don't tell me I didn't warn you. Come on." He took her by the hand and went into the cave. As they entered the blackness, Melissa whispered, "Is that true, what you said about not knowing what we're going up against?"
"Yes. Does that surprise you?" The Doctor whispered back, either in response to the tone of Melissa's question or to the encroaching blackness, she wasn't sure.
"Yeah, it does. I thought you Time Lords knew everything."
"The Time Lords are many things, Melissa, but omniscient they definitely are not. Now, come on."
As they continued to explore the cave, Melissa thought about the Doctor and Ace. *There's something you aren't telling me, Doctor. I can understand Ace being upset with you for lying about her purpose, but given the circumstances, you really didn't have any choice...* And then the thought struck her.
*What if he wasn't lying? What if his whole purpose for keeping Ace on was to decoy Fenric? Could the Doctor be that manipulative, that callous? What plans does he have for me?* Then she stopped herself.
*Stop that! You've been with the Doctor's companion for six months now; has he given you any reason to distrust him? Sure, he's not exactly been the most forthcoming individual in the world, but he's led a rough life, from what he has told you; his secrets should be his own, at least until he decides to tell you more. So, quit your complaining and trust the Doctor.*
Melissa was suddenly shaken from her reverie by the sound of the Doctor calling for her.
"Melissa, come here! I think I've found something!"
She followed his voice to where he was kneeling on the ground. He pointed wordlessly, and she followed his finger to... a body on the ground, still and white. She gasped.
"Is it..." She couldn't get the words out; she was now very, very afraid.
"Yes, it's dead. And from the looks of things, for a while now." As if in response to her unasked questions, the Doctor spoke.
"This isn't Ace, obviously. The TARDIS computer banks recalled that Ace was sent on a search-and-rescue mission when she disappeared. This may have been one of the rescuees." Melissa smiled faintly at the Doctor's poor choice of grammar, but never took her eyes off the body.
After a long moment, the Doctor pulled his companion from the body. As they continued through the cave, Melissa finally mustered up the strength to speak again. "How did it die?"
The Doctor looked at her softly, and whispered, "Energy weapon, and a very powerful one at that. The Daleks have no small weapons powerful enough to do that." He paused for a moment, then continued. "He died very quickly, Melissa. No pain."
"Could Ace have been..."
"I don't think so. According to my dream, the alien waited before firing; that indicated some kind of premeditated purpose. Also, the alien disappeared when Ace did; that suggests a conjugal mode of transport. But why would the alien want Ace specifically, and where did it take her?"
The Doctor and Melissa walked on for a moment, each lost in their own thoughts, when suddenly, the Doctor found something interesting. "Look at this!"
Melissa looked at the wall where the Doctor was shining his light. It appeared to be covered by a mural or some kind of alien inscriptions. "Do you know what it is, Doctor?"
"No, I don't. But if I had to hazard a guess, I would think that it's some kind of relic from the earlier inhabitants of this planet."
"The ones that somehow died out before the Daleks arrived?"
"Do you know what it says?"
"Not a clue. It could be anything from 'Leave or be destroyed' to 'Welcome to Disneyland', for all I know." He looked around for a moment, then snapped his fingers.
"I knew I'd seen this place before!"
"In my dream. This is the place where Ace was attacked by the alien." He pulled out his scanning device, a little cylindrical tube, and waved it over the whole area, including the inscriptions. Then he pocketed it, and looked at Melissa.
"Come on, let's go. There's nothing more to do here."
As they exited the cave and headed for the TARDIS, Melissa spoke excitedly. "Now what do we do?"
"We go to the TARDIS and examine this evidence." He held up the scanning device. Once they entered the TARDIS, the Doctor slipped the cylinder into a round notch in the console and pushed some buttons. As the console began to hum, the Doctor spoke again.
"We should know something in a few minutes."
"Then what do we do? Find the place where Ace is being held and kick some alien butt, right?"
The Doctor smiled. "Have I ever told you that you sound just like someone, actually, several someones? To answer your question, we'll know," he paused asthe console beeped, "right about now." He turned back to the console and looked at the screen in front of him. Then he frowned.
"What?" Melissa was worried.
"The TARDIS computers can't identify any of the elements in the sample of air I brought back, except to say that there appears to be some kind of weird radiation spike."
"Yes, it seems that not too long ago, a unusual type of radiation was emitted in that cave, The signature of that type of radiation was identical to those I found in the Dalek computer."
"So, it just confirms what we already know, right? That the radiation that killed the Daleks originated from the cave."
"But there's more. On the way out, I also took a scan of the dead body we found. There were traces if the same type of radiation."
"So, there's a connection between Ace's disappearance, the dead body, and the dead Daleks."
"Precisely. It appears that the same alien, or a group of aliens, were responsible for all three events." He looked at the readout again, and whistled. "Hmmm... what's this? Interesting..."
"What's that, Doctor?" Melissa had gotten up off of the couch where she was sitting and moved to a spot across from the Doctor.
"It appears that the TARDIS has taken some initiative of her own. She's searched the historical databases for other evidence of this strange radiation signature. And lo and behold, she came up with a match. Way to go, old girl." He patted the console affectionately.
"So what did she find?" Melissa asked impatiently.
"There have been three known cases of this radiation signature on record. One was in 1890's San Francisco, during a cholera epidemic. The second was in the year 2293, and the third in the year 2372, both on Federation starships. Hmmm..."
He looked at the readout intently for a moment, and then began pressing buttons and pulling levers. As the familiar wheezing sound of the dematerialization sequence began, and the Time Rotor began to move up and down, Melissa spoke.
"So where are we going?"
"Someplace where the technology can possibly give us the identity of the mysterious radiation signature. Specifically, the year 2293, the Narigeron Asteroid Belt, and a little ship named Enterprise."
Artwork by Robert Sankner, Copyright 1997
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
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