"What do we do now?"
"Wait for the Champion, Jean-Luc. He will be here shortly; he will be able to give you more information."
"I thought we defeated the Devidians two years ago. What happened?"
"They obviously escaped. Somehow, they were able to leave Devidia II before they could be irradicated. Now, they have relocated somewhere else to do the bidding of the Black Guardian."
"Were they doing the bidding of the Black Guardian when we met them in 1893?"
"No, I don't believe so. They were just trying to survive."
"By feeding on the neural energy of human beings."
Guinan looked at Picard sharply.
"You may not have liked what they were doing, but they were doing it because it was their only way to survive. In any event, they always fed on the infirm and the elderly, those who would have died in time."
"That's why they picked times of disease and suffering. Not to hide their actions, but to make sure that their actions didn't pose more than a minor threat to the timestream."
"That's correct. Now, it's my guess that when you defeated them, both in 1893 and in this time, they were forced to find other ways to survive. They are not really a dangerous race, I've found out over the centuries; they just have a different view of survival."
"And in their search to find continued survival, they entered into an... arrangement to serve this Black Guardian."
"Yes. Now, we're forced to stop them once again. And this time, if we fail, this Galaxy, and indeed the entire Universe, will suffer the consequences."
"Hmmm... Everything seems to check out all right so far. You've done well, old girl. Keep it up." He gave the console and affectionate pat, and one of its lights seemed to brighten a little bit in response. The Doctor nodded.
"Yes, I'll try to do something about the Master when this business is completed, I promise. Now, then, where are we?"
He pressed a couple of buttons on one side of the console, and a small viewscreen came to life. It showed the environment outside of the TARDIS; a dull gray Cargo Bay, empty and desolate. The Doctor smiled.
"Well, Melissa, you're in luck. We've landed in another dull cargo bay..." Then he trailed off, as he realized that Melissa wasn't there. He had left her on the Enterprise-A, he remembered, getting medical treatment for time-lag, and keeping an eye on the mysterious Lyta.
The Doctor thought about this for a moment. "I wish I could recall what I found disturbingly familiar about Lyta. Ah, well, it will come to me eventually. I hope." He flipped a lever, and the doors on the far side of the Console Room swept open. The Doctor smiled. "Now, then, let's see what surprises the starship Enterprise NCC-1701-D has in store, eh?"
On the bridge of the Enterprise-D, a voice boomed from behind Commander Will Riker.
"Commander, we have an intruder alert in Cargo Bay Five." Lieutenant Worf, the Klingon security officer, offered this information without surprise or other emotional inflection. To him, this was as normal an occurrence as the appearance of Q.
Commander Riker, however, took the information a little bit differently. "An intruder alert? Could it be the Devidians, back again?"
"No, sir. There is no evidence of triolic radiation. Sensor sweeps of the Cargo Bay register two readings." Worf checked his board to make sure. "One is a large rectangular structure, which sensors cannot penetrate. The second is a humanoid lifesign." Worf looked at the board again. "Hmmm, this is odd..."
"What's that, Lieutenant?"
"According to the sensors, the humanoid in the Cargo Bay is reading as having two heartbeats."
"Two hearts? Are you certain?"
"Of course, sir."
"Well, then he can't be from Earth then, unless our physiology has changed recently." Riker looked at Worf. "Lock down the Cargo Bay, and send a security detail there to assess the situation."
"I will attend to it personally, sir."
Riker smiled. "I would expect no less, Lieutenant, considering the present state of affairs. Go, now. I will contact Captain Picard and apprise him of this development."
"What development, Number One?" The voice of Captain Picard startled Riker slightly as the elder man came out of the turbolift, but the Enterprise's first officer recovered quickly.
"Sir, sensors have indicated an alien intruder in the Cargo Bay. It has been locked down and Lieutenant Worf was just about to lead a security detail down there to investigate."
Picard thought about this for a moment, then spoke. "That is acceptable, Number One. But I will accompany Lieutenant Worf, and there will be no security detail."
This surprised both Worf and Riker, who spoke. "I don't think that would be wise, sir. We don't know what we're up against. It could be an alien ally of the Devidians."
Worf spoke up next. "There also is some kind of structure in the Cargo Bay that sensors have been unable to penetrate, sir. It could be a trap to let our guard down, and then attack. The Devidians have been known to assume humanoid form..."
Picard broke in. "That is true, Lieutenant, but when the Devidians do assume humanoid form, there is still a residual trace of triolic radiation in evidence. Is there such a trace in evidence in this case?"
"No, sir, but-"
"Then I think that the alien is not a Devidian taken humanoid form, but in fact someone for whom I have been waiting to meet for a while. The decision stands, gentlemen. Lieutenant, let us go and meet our mysterious visitor."
Picard and Worf entered the turbolift, and as the doors closed, Picard called out, "You have the bridge, Number One."
Riker nodded as the lift doors closed, but he could not repress a thought. *I just hope this development isn't permanent, Captain.*
The Doctor walked up to the door of the Cargo Bay, and found that it didn't open upon his approach. The Doctor hmmed softly. "That's odd; I thought that this time period's technology included door-opening sensor devices." He looked on the wall to the side of the door, and found what looked to him to be a control panel of some sort.
After looking at it for a moment, he pressed a button experimentally. Suddenly, a feminine voice came out of the air.
"Door control inoperative. Level One Security lockout in place."
The Doctor harumphed, and then muttered indignantly, "Think they can lock a Time Lord in until it's convenient for them, eh? We'll just have to see about that."
He searched his pockets, and came up with a piece of wire, yet another bag of Jellybabies, a canister containing the air sample from the Hinire Upsilon planetoid (he had learned from his mistake on the Enterprise-A, and was resolved not to waste any more time in his search for Ace)... and his sonic screwdriver.
Smiling, he carefully pried open the outer facing of the control panel and was about to get to work on diabling the security lockout when, suddenly, the door opened. Two men stepped in; at least one of them was a man, in the human sense. He was of average height, with a balding head and Roman features. But what impressed the Doctor the most about the man was his stature. He practically radiated command. The Doctor realized that this must be the Captain of the ship.
The... being next to him, the Doctor noticed, was another matter altogether. It was a full head taller than the first man, and had the carriage of a soldier; ramrod-straight, eyes sweeping over everything, constantly alert. The Doctor surmised that it was a security officer of some kind.
This entire assessment took place in the space of a second, because that much time passed before the taller being noticed the Doctor, hands inside the control panel. The alien pulled out what appeared some kind of weapon and pointed it at the Doctor. It spoke, with a voice that sounded more like a growl than human speech, but definitely male in tone.
"Move away from the console and put your hands where I can see them."
The Doctor looked at the alien, with its weapon pointed at him, and decided relatively quickly that snappy repartee wasn't going to get him out of this situation, at least not right away. Besides, he doubted that the big guy would understand his sense of humor.
The Doctor put his hands up, and moved away from the console, one foot at a time. As he put his hands up, his sonic screwdriver naturally came into view. At the sight of it, the alien tensed.
"Drop the weapon, and slide it over here. Move slowly."
The Doctor chose this time to speak. "I assure you, my sonic screwdriver is hardly a weapon, sir. Well, it could be at times, given the right situation..." The Doctor saw the alien's eyes narrow, and the Time Lord sighed, and did as instructed.
The alien picked the sonic screwdriver up from where it had been placed near his feet, and looked it over. He completed his inspection, and handed it to the smaller man next to him, who also looked it over. The man spoke, his British tones a welcome familiar sound to the Doctor.
"It appears fairly harmless, don't you think, Lieutenant? I think we can let our guest relax for now."
"But sir, we don't know who this is, or what kind of technology this object is created from. It could still be a weapon..."
The Doctor smiled. So, the big guy was a subordinate. That was good; he didn't know how he was going to get any explaining done if he would have been the captain.
"I assure you that it is not usually used as a weapon, but it has performed that function on several occasions." The Doctor smiled. "You said I could relax; does that mean I can put my arms down? They're getting tired."
The smaller man smiled, and nodded. The Doctor smiled, and put his hands down. "I think that I should introduce myself, before your security officer there gets antsy and decides to shoot me."
The Doctor offered his hand. "I am the Doctor. And you are..."
"Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprise."
"Ah, a Frenchman. Quite a surprise, and a pleasure, to meet some European stock this far in Earth's future. Am I correct in stating that this is the year 2372?"
"By the Earth calendar, yes, that is the correct year." Picard paused, and indicated the bigger male next to him.
"This is my security chief, Lieutenant Worf." The Doctor offered his hand to Worf, who looked at it curiously.
The Doctor teased, "You're supposed to shake it, Mister Worf. Or are you looking for implements of destruction imbedded in my palm?" The Doctor smiled, as Worf, after a long moment, shook the outstretched hand.
"That's better. I must say, I've never met anyone of your species. And that is..." The Doctor prompted.
"Ah, yes, Klingon. A race of pure warriors, whose hearts beat the cadence of conflict and honor. It is a pleasure, Mister Worf, to make your acquaintance." The Doctor looked at Picard again.
"Yes, the year is right for me. For a moment, I thought I had ended up in the wrong era." Picard paused for a moment.
"I take it that you are a time-traveller?"
"Yes, Captain, I am. The box you see behind me", he pointed over his shoulder at the TARDIS, "is a space-time machine of great skill and power, although it is a little obsolete."
Worf spoke then. "Our sensors could not penetrate your machine. Does it imply a force-field?"
"In a way. Even though the TARDIS looks like a box on the outside, its interior is inside another dimensional plane. That is why your sensors could not detect anything; according to them, the interior of the TARDIS doesn't exist." The Doctor then turned grave as he looked at Picard.
"Captain, I would really love to continue this discussion, but I really do have information of great importance to relate, and I would like the attention of your entire command crew, if that's possible."
Picard nodded. "Of course, Doctor... I'm sorry, you didn't give a name."
"Of course I did, Captain. I am the Doctor. That is all I am called."
"I see, Doctor." Picard tabbed a pin on his chest, and spoke into it. "Picard to Bridge."
A moment later, a male voice issued from the pin. "Bridge here, sir. Is everything in the Cargo Bay under control?"
"Yes, it is, Number One. Please call the remainder of the bridge staff to the Conference Room immediately. Our guest has something very important to tell us."
"Understood, sir. We'll be ready when you arrive. Bridge out."
Picard tabbed the pin again, and it was silent. The Doctor looked at Picard, and smiled. "Mobile subspace communications device, right?"
"Correct, Doctor. You know about subspace technology?"
The Doctor smiled again and spoke, adding a edge of mystery to his voice. "You'll find, Captain Picard, that I know a great deal of things about a great deal of things."
The Time Lord motioned to the two Starfleet officers. "After you, gentlemen. We wouldn't want to be late for the conference, would we?"
Beverly Crusher said this as she sat down in her customary place at the rectangular conference table. As she did so, she looked at the seat on her left. This was the seat normally occupied by Lieutenant Commander Data. Bevery sighed.
*Don't worry, Data. We'll get you back. We did it once, followed you through space and time to find you and bring you home. We'll do it again if we have to. And I have a sinking feeling that we'll have to, too.*
She was broken out of her reverie by the stare of Counselor Deanna Troi, sitting directly across from her. The Betazoid looked at her close friend, and smiled.
"Thinking about Data, Beverly?"
"Yeah, I am. You picked it up?"
"Well, your feelings of hope at finding him, yes, I did. I am thinking of him, too. I can't stop thinking about Data coming to my rescue, to all of our rescues, in the cave. And then..."
Will spoke up. "Yeah. And then, a flash of light, and his body practically imploded, sending his head to its final destiny." He paused for a moment.
"You know, at that point, I thought about what a... human act that was, sacrificing himself for us. He is evolving, every day. No thanks to us; we've tried every way we can to corrupt him." He smiled, as Geordi spoke.
"Yeah, you're right. And when the day does come when he reaches his dream of humanity, we'll know it was because of all the things that he's done for us, like in the cave. I don't know if any of you know, but I fixed that emotion chip that was meant for Data."
Beverly looked at the Enterprise's chief engineer, her eyes widening. "I thought it was destroyed when Lore was... deactivated."
"No, Data salvaged it, and I fixed it, using Dr. Soong's notes that were left in his hideout after he died." Geordi looked at everyone, then was about to continue, when the door to the conference room opened.
Picard came through first, followed by Worf and... a strange man. He was dressed in some kind of frilly shirt and jacket, with dark slacks and shoes. His hair was a mop of curls, and as he looked around, he began to smile, an very infectious-looking grin.
Everyone took their eyes off of the stranger when Picard spoke. "If you could take a seat, Doctor, next to the Doctor..." If this wasn't a tense situation, Beverly thought, Jean-Luc would be smiling at his remark. As it was, his face was a mask of total concentration.
*I guess we're not going to the arboretum tonight, then*, she thought idly, as Picard pointed to the seat on Beverly's right. As the stranger sat down, and flashed a smile at her, Beverly noticed that out of respect for Data, his seat was empty. *And it will stay that way, until he comes back, or....* She stopped her train of thought. *Don't even think it, Beverly. Don't even think it.*
She turned her attention to Picard, who had begun to speak.
"Doctor, this is my command staff. From my left, my first officer, Commander William Riker." Will nodded at the stranger, adn spoke. "Doctor what?"
The stranger smiled. "Not Doctor what, Commander. Doctor who."
Riker looked blankly at the stranger, who continued, seeing the look on Riker's face.
"In an interrogative statement involving a person, the pronoun that should be used is 'who', not 'what'. Failed grammar in school, Commander? Sorry, no offense." The Doctor smiled, and Riker thought, *Just great. This guy's Data with an attitude.*
Picard continued. "Next to him, Counselor Deanna Troi."
The exotic Betazoid looked at the stranger, who smiled. Deanna spoke. "Doctor who?"
The stranger smiled. "Precisely. Very good, Counselor." Seeing Riker's blank look extend to all at the table, the stranger began to laugh. "Oh, dear, you are a tough audience. It's a joke... Never mind. Please continue, Captain."
Before Picard could speak, however, Deanna spoke. "Excuse me, sir, but I'm not getting anything from our guest here, and frankly, that worries me."
The stranger spoke. "You are a telepath, Counselor?"
"No, I am an empath."
"That would explain it, then. My mind is so developed that it resists empathic probes. Although, in the future, I would like it if you warned me first. I don't take lightly to my mind being invaded. Nasty past experiences, you understand." The stranger nodded to Picard. "Please continue, Captain."
Picard sighed before speaking. "To clarify before I continue, our guest is called 'The Doctor'. That is his name, in its entirety. Now, if I can complete these introductions without interruption..."
Everyone at the table nodded, and Picard continued.
"Next to the Counselor, the Enterprise's chief engineer, Lieutenant Commander Geordi LaForge. On your left, Doctor, the Enterprise's chief medical officer, Doctor Beverly Crusher. Lieutenant Worf, you already know."
The Doctor nodded his way through the rest of the introductions, saying nothing until Picard had finished. Then, he spoke.
"I noticed that there is an empty seat, between Mister Worf and Doctor Crusher. May I enquire as to whom it belongs to?"
The Doctor noticed Picard stiffen, and let out a short breath before speaking.
"That seat belongs to my second officer, Lieutenant Commander Data. He is unavailable to attend."
"May I ask why, Captain? Please indulge me in this; I have a theory."
"Lieutenant Commander Data was kidnapped by an alien enemy of ours earlier today. We are currently looking for him."
"Ah, I see. And who is this alien enemy you speak of?"
"They are called the Devidians, Doctor. They have the ability to travel through time, and steal the neural energy from human life. We have battled them before, both here and in the late 19th Century. We thought them defeated..."
The Doctor spoke then, rather hurriedly.
"Pardon me for interrupting, Captain, but these... Devidians that you speak of: what do they look like?"
"Well, they are a blue translucent color, with some kind of orifice at the top of thier bodies..."
Picard trailed off, as the Doctor appeared to be thinking. "Blue, translucent color... orifice at the top of thier bodies... I should have known immediately!"
"What is it, Doctor? What should you have known? If you have something to say, say it! Don't leave us in the dark!"
The Doctor paused for a moment, as if to collect his thoughts. Then, he spoke.
"Captain, these Devidians you speak of, the ones that have taken your second officer... I know of them."
Picard sat there for a moment, not sure how to proceed. Then, he found his voice, and spoke.
"You know of the Devidians, Doctor? What do you know about them?"
"Captain, I don't know how much I should tell you..."
The Doctor was then interrupted by the door to the conference room opening. Everybody looked to see who had entered, and all were surprised.
Guinan stood there, her eyes firmly fixed on the Doctor, who stood up, facing her. They locked eyes for a moment, and no one said anything.
Then, suddenly and without warning, Guinan walked around the conference table, ignoring everyone, her eyes firmly on the Doctor. Then, as she neared the Time Lord, her arms went up, and reached for the Doctor's throat.
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 his 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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