"Doctor, it *is* you!" Guinan broke the embrace and smiled. The Doctor smiled back, and nodded. The command crew of the Enterprise-D, for their part, were too shocked to do much of anything.
Finally, Picard found his voice. "You... know Guinan, Doctor?"
"Yes, I do, Captain. We have met before." He looked back at the woman, who had taken a seat at the conference table next to Geordi LaForge, across from the Doctor's place. Guinan smiled.
"You know that my race is long-lived, Captain."
Picard nodded. "I figured that you had to be quite old, even when I first met you, all those years ago."
"Well, the Doctor is one of the most celebrated of an even more advanced and ancient race than mine. The Gallifreyans, especially the Time Lords, have been around for millenia."
She turned to the Doctor, meeting his glance, as he continued her explanation. "My people are able to live such long lives by virtue of cellular regeneration. When our bodies become old or injured beyond repair, they simply reconstruct themselves into a new form."
The voice of Beverly Crusher broke the awkward silence that followed, as she looked at the Doctor, then looked down at her lap intently. Noticing the crew's stares, she smiled and held up a tricorder.
"Doctor, this tells me that you have two hearts, and several other organs that I've never even seen. Simply amazing."
The Doctor smiled. "In the habit of conducting clandestine medical scans of visitors during a conference, Doctor?"
Beverly recognized the jibe, and shot back playfully, "Only when the visitor claims to be able to regenerate his body and is probably older than all of us combined, Doctor."
Guinan spoke then. "As I was saying, I have met the Doctor before. He was with a young man and woman. I believe the woman was called Victoria..."
"Yes, I remember now. During the middle of my second life, my companions, Jamie and Victoria, and myself went to Earth for a little rest." The Doctor smiled at Guinan. "As I recall, we were barely able to get out before the Civil War started."
"Civil War?" Riker enquired.
"Yes, Commander. The English Civil War."
Riker looked at him, disbelieving. "You were on Earth during the English Civil War, in the 17th Century?"
"That's correct, Commander. And so was she." He looked at Guinan, who smiled. "You mean to tell me you haven't told them how old you really are?"
"A lady does not reveal her age, Doctor. As a gentleman of English training, you should know that."
The Doctor smiled wickedly. "I should tell them anyway."
"Do, and I'll shoot you."
The Doctor's smile spread to the entire group, as they digested this exchange. Picard spoke.
"All right, you two. I'd like to get some more answers from the Doctor, if you don't mind. We still have to find out where the Devidians have taken Data."
The Doctor nodded. "I would like to help you, Captain. You see, these Devidians have also taken an old friend of mine. I took this air sample from the area where she disappeared." The Doctor held up the canister. Picard looked at Geordi expectantly, and the engineer nodded.
"When we're finished here, we can go to Engineering, Doctor, and run a scan on the sample. Maybe it can give us some clue as to where the Devidians are holding your friend and Data."
"Does anyone have anything else to suggest?" Picard looked around the table as he spoke. No one said anything.
"All right, then. I can think of only one thing left to do." Picard tabbed his commbadge. "Picard to Bridge."
"Bridge here. Lieutenant Norris speaking."
"Lieutenant, set a course for Devidia II, warp five." Picard looked around.
"I've sent a message to the Federation Security Council, asking for permission to exceed the warp five limitation. I am expecting a response at any time. When it comes in, I would like to be informed." He stood, as did everyone else. "Mister LaForge, take the Doctor to Engineering. Guinan, I am assuming that you are going to go back to Ten-Forward. Everyone else, return to your stations. Dismissed."
As the command crew of the Enterprise-D left the room, Beverly turned to the Doctor. "I would like to run a more detailed medical scan of you, Doctor. Just to be on the safe side."
The Doctor nodded, smiling. "Of course, Doctor Crusher. I will go to Sickbay as soon as I finish in Engineering."
As Beverly left, only Geordi and Guinan remained in the conference room with the Doctor. The Doctor looked at the engineer, who was fidgeting nervously.
"Anxious, are we, Lieutenant Commander?"
"Yes, sir. You see, Data is my best friend. I want to find him as quickly as possible."
"I understand completely. In fact, I was thinking the same thing. But, I have to speak to Guinan privately for a moment before we begin. Why don't you take this," he handed the canister to Geordi, "and go on to Engineering and start your tests? I will be along shortly."
"All right, Doctor." Then Geordi left, and the Doctor and Guinan were alone. The Doctor sighed. "They're good, I hope?"
"The best. As good in this time as the other crew in theirs. Everything will turn out all right in the end."
The Doctor looked at Guinan. "Do your senses tell you this?"
"No, Doctor. My faith in this crew, and especially Picard, does."
"You have known him long, then?"
"Not as long as I've known you, but long enough. He, as well as Kirk, will do the job."
"How much have you told him?"
"About the same amount you've told Kirk, I gather. The Black Guardian, the Devidians, et cetera. No mention of Kirk or their destinies."
"There is an unexpected wrinkle. Two of them, in fact."
"Oh?" Guinan raised her eyebrow questioningly.
"Someone else reached Kirk first. Gary Seven, of the Argus Project. It was he who relayed most of the information."
"No harm done there, Doctor. Gary knows Kirk well; it should be fitting that he should give Kirk the news."
"But that's not all. Gary was killed by the Devidians before they abducted Spock."
Guinan's eyes went wide. "No!"
"Yes. And what's more, another Argus Project member, Lyta, is on the Enterprise-A now, plotting revenge on the Devidians."
Guinan stood there silent for a moment.
"This is definitely unexpected. What is being done about it?"
"One of the Enterprise crew members, as well as my current companion, are looking after Lyta. I fear that may not be enough. There's something... evil about her, a very familiar evil. And I can't seem to place it."
"Don't worry, Doctor. It'll come to you eventually. Now, you'd better get going. Geordi's waiting for you."
The Doctor nodded, and moved toward the door. Guinan's voice stopped him.
"The 'old friend' you mentioned... Who is it?"
The Doctor looked at Guinan, eyes locking.
"Her name is Ace. She was one of my companions during my last life. She is... very important to me."
"I understand. Don't worry, Doctor. We'll find her, and Data, and all the others, and bring them back."
"I hope so, Guinan, I hope so." The Doctor sighed, and left the conference room.
"Sorry about the delay, Lieutenant Commander. Guinan and I had some things to discuss."
"Of course, Doctor. I understand. And you can call me Geordi." The Doctor nodded as he looked over Geordi's shoulder. "Tell me, what is that strange device you have hooked up to my air sample?"
Geordi smiled. "It's a polaric field inducer, Doctor. Do you know how it works?"
The Doctor shook his head. "No, I'm afraid not. Care to explain?"
"Of course. The way the inducer works is that it uses polaric energy emissions to create a field encompassing your air sample. This is much like how our warp engines use the energy emissions from matter-antimatter reactions, channeled through the dilithium crystals in our warp core, to create a warp field around the ship."
"Hopefully, the polaric field will help us to detect any variances in the triolic radiation spikes you found in the sample. Then, maybe we can track the Devidians using those variances. Make sense?"
"Perfect sense, Geordi. So, what I found is called triolic radiation?"
"Yes. It seems to be some kind of byproduct of the Devidians' interphase activity. You might say it's their calling card."
"Ah. Then, by all means, proceed with the polaric field. I have a feeling we're on borrowed time."
Geordi nodded, and tapped several of the panels on the engineering console. The canister of air that the Doctor had brought with him through time began to glow an eerie yellow color. As the polaric field formed, Geordi looked at the display screen in front of him.
"Okay, the field looks stable. Now, to tweak the frequencies of the polaric emissions that create the field and see what turns up." Geordi tapped on several panels to his right, and the field's color changed, from yellow to orange.
The Doctor looked at it, and hmmed. "Is the color change normal when you modulate the polaric frequencies?"
"Yes, Doctor. The frequency modulation causes the lightwaves around the field to change frequency, making the color change. You are familiar with the red shift effect, Doctor?"
"Of course, Geordi. I just had no idea that it applied to polaric energy frequencies."
Geordi smiled, and looked at the display in front of him. "Hmmm... This is strange."
"What is it, Geordi?"
As the Doctor looked at him questioningly, Geordi walked over to one of the other engineering consoles, and spoke into the air.
"Computer, display the radiation variance pattern for current sample, magnified fifteen times."
After a few seconds, the screen in front of him flashed on, showing them the requested information. Geordi looked at it for a moment, as the Doctor repeated.
"What is it?"
"I'm not sure exactly, Doctor, but I think I've seen this particular pattern of triolic radiation before."
"I said, I'm not sure exactly. I'd like to make sure first before I engage in speculation. Okay?
The Doctor smiled. "Of course. Spoken like a true scientist. Continue."
"Computer, do you still have the triolic radiation sample taken from the cavern underneath San Francisco 2 years ago?"
"Can you create a radiation variance pattern of that sample from the given information in the computer?"
"Then do it. Display on a split-screen next to the current sample, and run a level three correlation computation."
A few seconds later, the screen split, and the information taken from the past sample was shown on the right side of the screen. A red block of light was seen to pass over both sample data, and after a few more seconds, the Enterprise spoke to Geordi and the Doctor.
"Level three correlation computation complete. Previous sample matches current sample with error probability of .65 percent."
"Geordi, what does that mean?"
"Where did you get this sample?"
"I can't tell you..."
"You're going to have to, Doctor. This is important."
The Doctor looked at Geordi, and sighed. Then he whispered, "All right. But not even the Captain must know the exact nature of the information, understand?"
Geordi looked at the Doctor, finally realizing what the Doctor was about to tell him. "It's... from the future, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is. Several centuries in the future, in fact. On an uninhabited planetoid called HU 3249."
"Okay, that designation means absolutely nothing to me."
"It shouldn't. It's a Spacefleet designation, used for military operations."
"Spacefleet..." The Doctor held up his hand before Geordi could continue.
"Don't ask. I can't say anything more. I can show you where it is, though."
"No, in my TARDIS. It has an extensive starchart system."
Geordi paused for a moment, then nodded. "Come on, let's go." He reached for a tricorder, and the two left Engineering.
As they entered the main corridor of the Engineering Deck, the Doctor spoke. "Am I correct in assuming that my TARDIS is still in the Cargo Bay where it materialized?"
"Right, Doctor. It hasn't been moved since you arrived. In fact," Geordi allowed himself a small smile, "Worf has had his best security officers keeping watch over it at all times."
"Oh, dear." The Doctor smiled. "He's quite a paranoid, for a Klingon, isn't he?"
"Are you kidding, Doctor? Compared to some of the Klingons I've met in the past seven years, Worf's a creampuff. But, he is the best Security Chief in Starfleet, you can bet on that."
"Why would I want to bet on it, Lieutenant Commander?" Geordi started to answer, then caught the gleam in the Doctor's eye.
"Sometimes, I think Data is teasing all of us like that, only we can't see it."
The Doctor paused for a moment, then smiled. "You might be right at that. I've found in my travels that even the most unassuming beings can hide special gifts."
Geordi looked at the Doctor for a moment, as they entered the Cargo Bay. The Doctor spoke. "Just something to think about, Geordi."
Then Geordi looked in front of him, and there was the TARDIS. He looked at the Doctor, who was already walking toward the box.
"Doctor, it's just a blue box!"
"Actually, it is a perfect replica of the exterior of a English Police Box, circa 1963. But if you think that's grand, wait until you see the inside!" The Doctor beamed with pride as he spoke of his machine.
Geordi protested, as the Doctor pulled out his TARDIS key, and opened the door. "But Doctor, there's no room..."
The Doctor looked at the engineer. "You mean that your VISOR, which can see things that even the ship's sensors can't, tells you that this is an ordinary box, the dimensions of which could not possibly contain what I claim it to?"
The Doctor then grabbed Geordi by the arm, and pulled him into the TARDIS's Console Room. As Geordi stood there, he began to gape. The Doctor smiled.
"Come on, Geordi. No time to gawk; we've got work to do. Although, I think that this experience should, once and for all, prove to you not to always believe what your eyes, as remarkable as they are, tell you."
"What is this place, exactly? And how can it possibly fit into that small box?"
"This, specifically, is the Console Room for my TARDIS, my time machine. As for the reason it, and the rest of my TARDIS, fits into the box, that is because it isn't in the box at all."
"What? You mean we're not inside the box? But, where are we, then?"
"The box is just a shell, Geordi, to hide the interior from the world. We, the Console Room, the entire TARDIS, in fact, is encapsulated inside its own personal dimension."
"And TARDIS stands for..."
"Time and Relative Dimensions in Space. This is one of those relative dimensions."
"That's amazing, Doctor! Tell me... will humanity be able to build something like this, in the future?"
"I can't tell you about the future, Geordi. You should know better than to ask." The Doctor frowned for a moment, then his face lit up again.
"We've got to locate HU 3249 on the starchart, and find its coordinates for this time period. I have a feeling that the key to this entire mess lies there."
"What starchart, Doctor?"
The Doctor didn't look at Geordi, as he twisted several knobs in front of him on the hexagonal console. Then, he flipped a lever, and suddenly, the air above the console was filled with stars. Geordi couldn't help himself; he gasped.
"Now, that's a starchart!"
"Not to worry, Geordi. You'll get one of your own soon enough."
"Never mind. Now, where are those coordinates..." The Doctor looked around the console. "Come on, old girl, help me; I knew you recorded those coordinates somewhere. Show me, please?"
"Doctor, who are you talking to?" The Doctor looked up at Geordi as he spoke.
"My TARDIS, of course. You speak to your ship, call it 'her', even. Why should I be any different? In fact, my ship is very special to me. You might say it's a part of me."
Suddenly, a strip of paper came out of a slot on one of the sides of the console. The Doctor grabbed it and read it.
"This is it, exactly! Well done, old girl!" The Doctor patted the console affectionately, then moved back to where he was, facing Geordi across the console. As the Time Lord began to input the coordinates into the console, Geordi spoke.
"Doctor, what is this in the middle of the console?"
"What? Oh, that's just the Time Rotor. It's what allows the TARDIS to travel through time."
"How does it do that?"
"It channels energy from the Eye of Harmony, which is in fact a piece of a black hole. The energy from the Eye goes into the Rotor, and into the time circuits, which create a temporal displacement field. The field allows the TARDIS to safely travel in the Vortex."
"The Time Vortex, of course." The Doctor didn't notice Geordi's look of utter disbelief as the Time Lord pressed a button, and looked up expectantly. Within a few seconds, a bright dot appeared in the center of the starchart. Geordi looked at it, and paused in thought.
"That's where you got the air sample?"
"Yes. Of course, this starchart is from several centuries in the future..."
"Okay, okay. It just looks familiar, that's all."
"Familiar in what way?"
"I'm still not quite sure... It's as if something keeps blocking me when I get close..."
If the Doctor thought that strange, he said nothing, but looked at Geordi. "Now what?"
Geordi held up his tricorder. "Put this information into your computer, and call up the location on the starchart."
"All right. I hope you know what you're doing." The Doctor looked at the information, and inputted it into the TARDIS console. After a few seconds, another ball of light appeared, a distance away from the first. Geordi frowned.
"I thought I was right... Wait a minute! Did you adjust the starchart to correspond with the fact that my information is from this time period, not the future?"
"No, I didn't! How silly of me; I should have done that automatically! It's this new body; I'm not quite used to it yet." The Doctor pushed a few mor buttons on his console, and then watched with Geordi as the balls of light moved closer together... and then combined into one.
"Damn. I should've realized this immediately."
The Doctor said, "What?" as Geordi left the TARDIS, and with the Time Lord behind him, walked over to the intercom on the wall of the Cargo Bay.
"LaForge to Bridge."
"Bridge, Picard here. Have you and the Doctor discovered anything?"
"Yes, sir, we have. We'll be there shortly, with a full report. LaForge out."
Geordi strode out the door toward the corridor. The Doctor finally spoke as they entered the turbolift at the end of the deck.
"What's going on?"
"Bridge." Geordi looked at the Doctor gravely. "Doctor, you know that planet where you picked up the air sample?"
"Yes, HU 3249. What about it?"
"Well, in this time period, it's known as Devidia II."
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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