Ace was startled by the sudden movement, and raised her blaster to fire. But before she could, the android had already taken it from her and was inspecting it.
Ace was, to say the least, astonished. Her mouth was slightly agape as she regarded Data, who was examining her blaster.
"Hmmm... This is a very effective weapon. It is much more advanced than any that I have ever seen before. Although, young lady, at the energy level currently registered, I highly doubt it could cause much damage to me."
She regarded him coldly now, as he tossed the weapon to Ace, who caught it cleanly and turned it back to him. Data was not surprised.
She spoke. "Come off it. This could hurt you. Maybe even kill you."
Data nodded his head slightly as he replied, "Yes, it would... if I were human."
The astonished look returned to Ace's face. "You mean, you're not human?" She looked him up and down, grinning. "You sure look human to me, Yellow-Eyes."
Data inclined his head. "I am an android. An artificial construct, an automaton."
Ace looked her head disgustedly. "I know what an android is. I'm not stupid."
"Of course you are not. I did not mean to offend you by implying such." Data paused for a moment. "'Yellow-Eyes'? Based on my own coloring, no doubt?"
"Yeah, Yellow-Eyes. I think I'll call you that from now on."
Data might have smiled... if he were human. Instead, he offered his hand. "I prefer to be called Data."
Ace looked at the offered hand warily. "Hold on a second. How do I know that you're not one of those blue things?"
This caught Data off guard for a moment. *'Blue things'? Could she be talking about the Devidians? That would explain her appearance here... But for what purpose could they possibly want a young woman?*
"I assure you, I am not one of the 'blue things', although I do know of them. They are called Devidians."
"Devidians." Ace tried the name on her tongue. She shuddered. "Sounds worse than a Dalek."
Data paused for a moment before answering. "I have never heard of a 'Dalek'."
The astonished look returned to Ace's face. She sputtered.
"Never heard of a Dalek? Where have you been for the last hundred years..." She looked at him a little more closely now.
"Whoa." She breathed. "Now I know you don't come from my era... Spacefleet has nothing as advanced as you, and you've never heard of a Dalek. This is right weird."
"And which era is that, may I ask?"
Ace paused for an uncomfortable moment before replying.
"Um, I really can't tell you, you see..."
"I do. You do not know from which time period I came, therefore you may be from my future. In which case, telling me any information may disrupt the timeline."
"Exactly. You know your temporal mechanics." She stuck out her hand. "By the way, I'm Ace."
Data shook her hand. Then he inclined his head slightly. "'Ace'?"
She smiled. "Yeah, like the playing card. You're surprised at 'Ace'? And your name is 'Data'? What kind of name is 'Data'?"
"It is my name. It is who I am. Are all names not this way?"
Ace sighed. "You sound like the Professor."
Data inclined his head again. "You know a Professor? Of what subject does he instruct?"
Ace laughed, something she realized she hadn't done in a while. "No, no, I just call him 'Professor'. His name is the Doctor."
Data paused. "I am very confused."
"Don't worry, you're not alone when it comes to the Doctor." She laughed, something she realized she hadn't done in a while. "In any event, 'Ace' is just my nickname. My real name's Dorothy. But don't call me that; I hate it with a passion." She shook Data's hand, finally.
Data nodded, and looked around, casting a grim eye over the landscape. "It would appear that we are some kind of planetoid."
"You mean, we're not on Earth?"
"It does not look like Earth, Ace. My senses are picking up an Earth-standard atmosphere, but nothing else to suggest that we are on Earth."
Ace sighed. "Just great. I've been plucked from my own time again, and set down in another unfamiliar environment. Only this time, I don't have to work as a waitress. Just perfect."
Data regarded her little rant with some interest. "You mean, you are a time-traveller?"
"Yeah, in a sense. It all started when..."
Data suddenly walked down off the outcropping. Ace called to his retreating back. "Hey, Yellow-Eyes! Where do you think you're going?"
Data looked back at her. "We have no knowledge of the weather patterns of this planet, or of the indigenous fauna. It is prudent that we find some kind of shelter to protect ourselves." He paused. "I know you still may be cautious as to my identity or motives. I cannot force you to come with me..."
Ace broke him off. "I'm coming, I'm coming. I don't want to be alone anyway, if those... Devidians, you called them? Anyway, if they come along, I don't want to be by myself. So, Data, like it or not, you're stuck with me."
She clambered down from the outcropping and joined the android. "Okay, where to, fearless leader?"
Data took a survey of the area with his telescopic vision, which didn't appear to be affected by the triloic radiation signature, he noticed. After a moment, he spoke.
"There appears to be some kind of small mountain range approximately 11.7 miles northeast of our position." He pointed in that direction, and Ace, squinting, could barely make out a group of rocks in the distance. She sighed.
"Almost 12 miles? But that's going to take hours!"
"I am aware of the time needed, Ace. Unfortunately, we have no choice. In addition to the mention of indigenous fauna and weather, there is also the possibility that the Devidians may be looking for us. Therefore, we must leave. Now."
He gave Ace a look that brooked no argument. She gave up and followed him. After some minutes of walking, Data spoke up. "You mentioned being a time-traveller, 'in a sense'. May I enquire as to your experiences with time-travel?"
"I really don't want to go into it now. Besides, I would really rather hear about you. You know these Devidians that kidnapped us, right? Well, how do you know them?"
Data looked at her and then off into the distance. "The incident in question occurred approximately 2.3 Earth years ago. The ship upon which I serve was recalled to Earth in response to a... most unusual find..."
But the course had never mentioned any kind of underground passages, which of course made news when Federation archaelogical teams discovered them. Further news was made when several artifacts were discovered. Chief among them, he noted as the archaeologist in charge led he and Captain Picard around the dig site, were a pair of antiquated eyeglasses and a pocket watch with fob chain dated sometime in the 1880's.
But then, suddenly, something else was found, something very unusual. So unusual, in fact, that news reports dried up, and no more information was released. The excavation site was closed down to all but essential personnel, and Starfleet urgently ordered the Enterprise back to Earth. Data, ever the detective, had privately entertained speculation as to what the "mystery" artifact might be, but had come up with anything concrete.
And now, he and Jean-Luc Picard were here, in this pit in the middle of 24th Century San Francisco, about to find out what 500 year-old object could possibly be so important as to call the Federation flagship back home. Data would never admit it to anyone, but he began to wonder about the object's benevolence or hostility.
The same thought processes had come to him when he had escorted Vulcan Ambassador T'Pel a few years ago, whom he later found to be a Romulan spy. The closest thing he could equate it to was a feeling: nervousness. *That is it*, thought Data as he continued the tour. *If I were human, I would be nervous. But of what? An object buried in the ground beneath San Francisco for five centuries?*
Data was shaken out of his reverie when the head archaeologist spoke. "As you can see, all these items were found remarkably well preserved, considering that they have not been used for 500 years." Data noticed that the archaelogist, a Mr. Bellows, had already displayed an unusual tendency to look rather strangely at Data. *I wonder why he is looking at me so?*, Data wondered. *Is it merely scientific interest, or something more?*
Picard spoke then, his clipped tones showing his impatience, an emotion that Data could understand, but never express himself. "That's all well and good, Dr. Bellows, but you've still haven't told us what is so important that the Enterprise had to be ordered home, and for myself and my second officer specifically to be sent to this site."
Bellows' discomfiture increased as Picard finished speaking; even Data could notice it now, and the thought processes of "nervousness" increased. *He is hiding something; of that there is no doubt. But what, and is it dangerous?* Picard looked sternly at Bellows, who struggled to relax. He finally walked over to a globular object, wrapped in a tarpaulin. He fidgeted for a moment, then finally gave it up, and spoke.
"This, Captain Picard, Lieutenant Commander Data, is what all the fuss is about." Bellows waved his hand over the covered object, and finally pulled the tarpaulin away. As the object was revealed, Picard looked at the object for a moment, and looked at Data, shock apparent on his features. Data, for his part, could not tear his gaze from the sight of the object, and its implications.
And, in front of them, the object that had captured everyone's attention glared back at them, its unblinking gaze making the head look almost surreal in nature. For it was indeed a head. But not just any head. It was the head of Lieutenant Commander Data.
"Wait just a second. They found your head beneath San Francisco?"
Data nodded. "Yes. Apparently, it had been there since sometime in the late 19th Century."
"But how did it get there? Obviously, you had to go back in time, but how did you do it?"
Data paused for a moment. "It was largely an accident. The Enterprise tracked a radiation signature located in the cavern where my head was found to a planet known as Devidia II. The same signature, incidentally, is enshrouding this place." He swept his gaze over the area around them as he spoke.
"Proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Devidians are behind our kidnappings."
"That is correct, Ace. We discovered that the Devidians were existing out of phase with normal space-time."
"Out of phase? I don't understand."
"I will clarify. Generally, we occupy a certain point and volume in space and time, correct?"
"The Devidians were discovered to occupy the same point and volume in space, but not in time. There was a .004 second variance between their space-time and ours."
"That small a difference? Wouldn't that be insignificant?"
"That measure of difference was enough for them to escape normal means of detection, including sensing equipment. They were only visible by highly sensitive equipment."
Ace paused a moment, then spoke. "Hold on. If they're invisible, then how was I able to see them when they took me?"
"To clarify your statement, the Devidians were more than just invisible. They were completely intangible. To answer your question, it is evident that they are able to adjust their natural phase to connect with our space-time. It is not a difficult operation; in fact, I have done the reverse. There lies the answer to your earlier question."
"I'm confused. No, make that you're confusing me. And I thought that the Professor held the monopoly on ambiguity." Ace mused for a second. "Well, don't just stand there, Data; give me a straight answer. How exactly did you wind up in 19th Century San Francisco?"
Data paused again, as if to find the easiest way to explain the situation to Ace without completely losing her...
Geordi LaForge's voice was professional as always, but there was also something else, Data noticed. He was very disturbed, and the uneasiness showed, just under the surface. Data figured that it had something to do with Geordi's feelings about Data's fate.
Picard spoke. There was no trace if uneasiness in his voice, Data noticed. But then, his captain was very good at keeping his feelings reined in. "How much of a phase variance is there, Mister LaForge."
"I'd say no more than .004 seconds, sir."
"That's not much, Lieutenant Commander. Is there any way to bridge the gap?"
"Oh, sure, sir. But it would take a very advanced phase discriminator, and I know we don't have anything that can accomplish that fine an operation on the ship."
A thought flashed through Data's mind; before he knew it, he had spoken. "Yes we do, Geordi. There is a type R phase discriminator as part of my cerebral cortex. It is capable of the type of operation described."
Picard looked at Data for a moment, then spoke into the air. "Give us a moment, Mister LaForge." He tabbed his communicator badge to terminate the connection, then turned his attention fully to Data.
"I express some reaservation about sending you down there, Data. For all we know, this could be the incident that sends you into the 19th Century."
"I am fully aware of the implications of my actions, Captain, and I understand your reservations. But, if I may say so, sir, you attempts to protect me are fruitless. The action has occurred. It will occur. I believe the saying is, 'You cannot cheat Fate.'"
Picard sat there, stroking his chin, thughtfully listening to Data's comments. Then he spoke. "The saying is correct, Data, as well as your assessment of my actions. It's true, you cannot cheat Fate. But," and at this point, Data noticed at this point, Picard paused and let out a small sigh, "I was willing to try."
He looked at Data closely for a moment, but not really seeing him. Data thought that he was trying to reconcile his wishes to keep his friend safe and his wishes to find out the cause of his fate. Then, Picard spoke.
"Very well, Mister Data. Join the away team on the surface." Data nodded, and then began to leave Picard's ready room. Picard's voice stopped him. "Data?"
Data turned, and looked at his commanding officer. "Yes, sir?"
"Come back to us, Data."
Data nodded. "Of course, sir. Of course."
As he left the ready room, Data could make out Picard's voice telling the Away Team. "Mister Data is on his way to join you on the surface."
They had paused again at the end of this section of Data's narrative, to allow Ace to rest. After all, they had been walking for some time already, and she was no android. Data paused for a moment, then spoke.
"I then adjusted my phase discriminator to match the space-time variance."
"Allowing you to see them, the Devidians. But, that would've made you invisible and intangible as well. How did you get information back to the... Away Team, you called it?"
Data nodded. "That is correct, that difficulty did occur. Very good observation, Ace. To answer your question, I modified my communications device", he pointed to the pin on his chest, "to function despite the phase variance."
Ace thought for a moment. "Because of the difference in spacetime between you and the Away Team, anything you would say would have been recieved with a .004 second delay, corresponding to the phase difference, right?"
Data nodded again. Ace smiled. "Well, the Professor used to say that I was one of his best students when it came to understanding space-time. That is, when I listened to him. Must be a product of my own time-travel experiences."
Data paused. "You will have to explain that to me soon. I find it very interesting."
"Of course. But first, continue the story. I have a feeling it's getting to the good part."
"Good part? Which part would that be? At that point, I had found little good in the experience..."
Ace grimaced. "Just get on with it, Data."
"As I entered the Devidians' space-time, I noticed several things."
"I noticed several globes scattered around the cavern. I did not know the function for these globes. I do now."
"I will tell you later. Be patient, Ace."
"Now, you really sound like the Professor."
"I should like to meet this 'Professor' of yours, Ace. He seems like a most interesting fellow."
"Oh, you have no idea. But, get on with the story, please. We're almost to the mountains."
"Yes, we are at that. In any event, as I was perusing the cavern, looking for more information to impart to the Away Team, a portal suddenly opened next to me. A blinding white light."
"Like the ones that took you and me, no doubt."
"Precisely. I tried to move away from the portal, but it suddenly began to pull me toward it. I later surmised that my appearance in their space may have caused a backlash in the portal mechanism. I was pulled in, losing contact with the Away Team, and found myself lying on a street in San Francisco, circa 1893."
Ace whistled. "Whoa. So, what happened after that? You obviously got back to your own time, but how?"
Data looked at Ace for a moment. Then he added mysteriously, "It was very unusual. I returned to my own time with the help of a fellow time traveler and two literary figures."
"Come on, Data! What kind of answer is that? I told you about giving me ambiguous answers..." She trailed off for a moment, her gaze focusing on an outcropping very near to them. "What's that?"
"What is what?"
"That, over there. Near that bunch of rocks." She pointed over in the direction of her interest. Data looked at the area curiously. "I see nothing, Ace."
"Well, I'm sure I saw something move over there. Maybe we should find out what it is, eh?"
"I do not know, Ace. It could be quite dangerous. An indigenous animal, perhaps, or more intelligent life. Perhaps even the Devidians themselves."
"Oh, come on. You're not as yellow as your eyes, are you?" She teased the android. Data tilted his head slightly, as he attempted to make sense of her comment. "Besides, I have a big, strong android to protect me. I'm not worried." And with that, she called out to the rocks. "Hullo, there! Come out, we won't hurt you."
Then, as an aside to Data, she whispered, "Unless, of course, you try to hurt us..." She pulled out her blaster and checked to see the power levels that registered. *Damn, still not much power left in the thing. Hope it's enough...*
Her thoughts were cut short by the sound of something on the rocks, approaching them. Quite fast, Ace reasoned, giving the frequency of the sounds, which sounded vaguely like footsteps.
Ace raised her blaster; Data looked at her and shook his head. She could definitely understand the look. Best not to tip your hand too early. Let them make the first move. Ace had learned that lesson painfully during her first year as a DK; half her platoon had been decimated when they seriously underestimated the Daleks' firepower. She never made that mistake again.
As she lowered her blaster, a figure came out of the rocks. It was definitely humanoid, Ace noted; as it came closer, she also noticed that it was a male, dressed in some kind of uniform. One that was very similar to Data's, in fact, except for the very thick red jacket on his thin upper body.
The man closed the distance between them quite quickly. He was running as fast as he could, running for his life. As he came up to them, he spoke to them, breathlessly.
"Get to cover, quick! If he doesn't see you, we could take him by surprise!"
Ace couldn't believe him. "What are you talking about? Take who by surprise? There's no one..."
Ace trailed off as she suddenly heard a noise. She couldn't place it, really. A yell, or more like a... growl? What kind of being were they dealing with?
Then, Ace had all her questions answered. Another figure appeared, from the same bunch of rocks where the earlier man had appeared. As it came closer, Ace could definitely see that whatever it was, it wasn't human.
Oh, it was a humaniod, sure, but it wasn't a human. At least, not in the original sense. The male (Ace hoped it was male; if it wasn't, then she was going to get very worried) was colored darker than she was, very stocky and muscular. But what worried Ace wasn't the creature's musculature, or the ridges on his forehead. It was the very lethal-looking semi-circular blade he held, snarling, over his head.
Ace looked at Data, the unasked question on her face. Data spoke, his amber eyes never leaving the figure approaching them. "That, Ace, is a Klingon. And not just any Klingon, at that."
"I'd say. He seems really pissed off about something. What did you to the guy, anyway?" This question was directed at the man behind them, who was quite obviously using them to cover his prescence from the Klingon who was coming ever-closer.
"I didn't do anything! I just saw him, and waved to him, hoping to get information from him, and he started waving his... thing there over his head, and began to run toward me. I panicked and ran."
Ace was about to light into the man when Data spoke. "No, Ace. Your... supposition is quite correct, but that is not what I meant." He paused, his eyes still on the Klingon, never moving, never blinking.
"That is Kahless. The once and future Emperor of the Klingon Empire. And he does appear to be quite murderous. This is a very grave development, indeed."
Ace could do nothing but gape as the Klingon called Kahless advanced toward them, blood-lust in his eyes, and his lethal blade looking more than ready to cut them in two.
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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