I stepped onto the bridge and was quickly informed by Mr. Data that while we had made it to the Chantal system without incident, we were being hailed by an unknown and rather unseen vessel.
"We’ve picked up a small signal," Lt. Worf informed me, "Possibly a life form."
"A life form but no ship?" Commander Riker glanced behind himself at the Lieutenant.
Lt. Worf appeared put out by the concept himself. "The computer reads life signs but no vessel."
"They could be in distress," Counselor Troi offered to me, "Without ship, only in a suit for protection. They could be reaching out."
"Or luring us into a trap," Lt. Worf retorted, "Their ship could be cloaked."
"Whatever is out there is hailing us, it can only mean they wish to communicate," I said, moving myself to the center of the bridge, "Get them on the screen, Mr. Worf."
Lt. Worf complied, and the screen that once held the shimmering planet of Chantal 3 was now filled with a glowing, central chamber of a ship. Roundels covered the walls, very like a Resorcuian vessel, but the creature in the vessel was most definitely humanoid in shape.
As a matter of fact, my distinct impression upon looking at the man was that he was human. He dressed in late 20th century attire, a brown business suit with a blue tie, and his hair was a bit overlong, standing up in various directions. He also appeared very young. Not as young as Wesley Crusher, but most certainly younger than Commander Riker or most of the crew members on my ship.
The man on the screen took a step forward and gave the viewing device he was looking into an irritated tap.
"Is this thing working yet?" he grumbled, "Hello? Can you hear me?"
"We can hear you," I said, "I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation Starship Enterprise. Our mission in this region is one of negotiation. You hailed our ship and appear to have your own disguised in some fashion."
"Oh, brilliant. Federation lot, they always end up mucking things up." The man seemed less than pleased to whoever was off-screen that he was addressing. "I’m the Doctor. President elect of the high council of Time Lords. You are about to fly into a quadrant of this galaxy that you really, really don’t want to travel in."
Doctor? That was his only name?
"President Doctor," I addressed as politely as possible, "I assure you that we have Federation backing of this mission and we will be in no way harming the inhabitants of this region. We are a diplomatic ship---"
"Hangabout---" this Doctor fellow gave the view screen another tap and sighed, "Look, Rose, you broke it."
"I didn’t break it!" A decidedly female voice coming from off screen, which became a human woman with long blonde hair, who popped in front of the screen to fiddle with their viewing system.
"I told you not to use that for your MySpace, but you just don’t listen to me, do you? Now I’m talking to a Federation ship, and it’s broken!"
"It wasn’t me! I was careful! Why don’t you go yell at Mickey?"
Male voice, deeper: "I don’t even have MySpace!"
I could only shake my head at this display. If they were intergalactic scam artists or smugglers, they were doing a fairly poor job. I moved back to my chair and leaned over to Counselor Troi.
"I sense nothing but good intentions from them," she told me.
"I’ve never heard of this ‘high council of Time Lords’ before, Captain, have you?" Commander Riker gave an annoyed sigh.
Troi replied, "I have. It’s a long-standing myth on many cultures, that time and space were once ruled by a group of Time Lords. Mighty and all but omnipotent in many descriptions of the race. They traveled the universe and kept order until one day an Oncoming Storm came through and destroyed the entire race."
"They could not have been that mighty, then," Worf said with an unimpressed snort.
"Number One, thoughts?"
"They’re not military, they don’t even appear to be intelligent," Commander Riker said, "They could be trying to swindle something out of us. Ferengi, perhaps?"
The blonde woman was moved from the view screen, and the Doctor reappeared with a tight, frustrated smile on his face.
"Right, so this form of communication isn’t working. That’s all right, I’ll be over in a mo’." The screen went blank, and the bridge was suddenly filled with a strange, abnormal whirring noise of the likes I’ve never heard before. Before us, on the starboard side of the bridge, materialized a seven-foot-high blue box. It wasn’t transported---in fact, I am still unsure as to how it managed to arrive in that spot. All the same, there it was. Myself and Commander Riker moved to our feet.
The door on the side of the box opened, and the man from before stepped out, grinning rather madly at us. Behind him stepped the blonde woman, followed by a dark-skinned man, both in casual attire.
"Sorry about the communication problem, Captain," the Doctor said, "Won’t happen now that we’re face-to-face, I think. Stay by the TARDIS, Mickey." He snapped, rather harshly, to the man behind him.
"Sorry." The boy moved back to the blue box like a chastised puppy.
The Doctor gave a bit of a gesture, "Sorry, uh, these are my associates, Rose Tyler and Mickey Smith. Was going to keep them inside while the grown-ups did the talking, but I don’t think they’ve ever been on a Federation ship before. Have I taken you on a federation ship before?"
"Not as far as I know," the blonde woman (whom I assume was this ‘Rose Tyler’) said. "It’s…kinda retro, isn’t it?"
"Oi, now, this is classic Starfleet attire and ship makeup. And be nice, we’re on a diplomatic mission here." The Doctor then turned to me and grinned again. He had one of the sort that was a bit alarming and disarming, furthering Riker’s opinion that he must’ve been some sort of smuggler or scam artists, possibly in league with the Ferengi.
"I am Captain---"
"Jean-Luc Picard, yes, yes, we got that already," the Doctor waved his hands a bit, "Right, that’s not the point. You can’t go any further into this part of space. It’s not safe."
"And why is it not safe?" Commander Riker piped up, crossing his arms, "We’re a Federation Starship on a diplomatic mission, but we’re far from unable to handle ourselves in battle."
"Right, yes, yes, you can measure your own weapons later, this area is run by creatures who work for the Daleks." He waited, as if that name meant something to anyone. When no one reacted, he rolled his eyes, "Humans. Several thousand years pass and you forget all about the big battles that mean something. Right, anyone ever heard of the Time War? No. Okay, then I have no idea how to convince them it’s not safe."
"The Time War is just a legend," Troi spoke up, "Many species talk about it, but there’s no evidence---"
"No human evidence," the Doctor said, turning and speaking only to Counselor Troi, "The Time War happened. It was real. I was there. But the Daleks weren’t killed off like it’s said in the legends it was---"
He turned, sharply, to Lt. Worf, "You! You’re a Klingon, aren’t you? Your species was actually involved in the Time War! Why haven’t you said anything yet? Your species isn’t known for being quiet!"
"The Time War is a myth," Worf said, irritably and quietly, "And even if it did happen, it happened so long ago that it is impossible for you to have been there."
The Doctor waved this off, "Timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly. Look, the Dalek spies are in this area of space. I’m trying to ward them off, but I need time. Two days, maybe a little more."
"That’s time," I said, "We can’t afford to waste on legend and possibilities from a man in a blue box."
The Doctor sighed, and ran his hands over his face in frustration. I had the feeling it was very like when a parent couldn’t get through to an insolent child. The sensation I felt on the receiving end of that gesture was far from a pleasant one.
"Don’t you have that big empty room downstairs?" Mickey said, suddenly, "Can’t you just take them forward two days so they don’t have time to complain?"
The Doctor seemed to consider the idea, and then sighed, "But I just repainted that room, they’ll nick it all up."
"You will not be taking this ship anywhere," I said, firmly, "We are under full jurisdiction to be in this area of space."
"Yes, but being in this area of space will get you killed." The Doctor said, taking a short step towards me.
"Any threats you make upon us, if you are a Time Lord and leader of your race," Commander Riker said, "Could be taken as an act of War."
"I’ve done a good few acts of War myself," the Doctor said, "Each one was just as simple as the first." He hopped backwards, towards his blue box, "Right, Mickey. For the first time, you’ve got a brilliant idea and we’re going to run with it. Everyone inside, we’ve got a brief but very large passenger we’re going to need room for."
My crew and myself could only stand in awe again as the strange crew of the blue box retreated inside, and the ship vanished.
I turned to the crew of the bridge quickly, "What did he mean by taking us as passengers?"
"He could not fit this ship inside of that box," Lt. Worf said, "He must have been---" he looked to Riker, then attempted the word, "---bluffing."
"We can only hope---"
The strange materializing sound filled our ears, and the Enterprise seemed to be shifted and rocked and placed somewhere. Outside the ship was nothing but a sky of those roundels from within the Doctor’s ship.
There was a continued materializing sound, and the Doctor’s voice suddenly filled all of the communicators on our ships.
"This is the Doctor speaking. I apologize for the hijack, captain, but I haven’t got time for peaceful negotiations. Got to save all your lives and all that. So, I’m taking you on a very short trip, and you’ll find yourselves about three days in the future. Sorry about the jet lag, can’t be helped."
The materializing sound ended, and suddenly our view was nothing but stars. No roundels and, more importantly, no Chantal 3.
"Mr. Data, what happened?"
"We appear to have been moved, Sir," Lt. Commander Data said, "We are roughly in the same place we were before but…" he turned, looking at me curiously, "It is six days, five hours, and twenty-two minutes later."
"I thought he said he’d move us three days," Riker said.
"Where is Chantal 3?" I asked, "If we’re in the same place---"
"Chantal 3 is gone," Data said, "According to Federation notations, it was destroyed by a high-energy blast two days ago. Completely demolished."
"And all the inhabitants?" Troi inquired.
"Dead. According to these files, they were killed during the blast."
I moved, rather limply, to my chair, completely usure of my next move. Diplomatic relations suddenly turned into the destruction of an entire race of people in mere moments. Or days.
And we, too, should we have been on that planet, as was our plan. I was not sure whether to be relieved or terrified by this realization.
"Make a note that this Doctor and his companions are wanted by Federation Starfleet for questioning," I said, and I moved to my office, "I want a complete diagnostic layout of the damages caused by this Doctor, and we will all be briefed at 0900."
Captain’s log. It is nearly a week since we last saw Chantal, but for us it has only been a day. Counselor Troi has found over 9,000 separate accounts of this ‘Doctor’ in various histories around the galaxy. It is disconcerting, to think someone so famous could walk onto the Enterprise and take it into the future without our say.
The Doctor is listed as wanted by Starfleet, and I don’t doubt we will see him again. In a way, he saved the lives of all of the men and women on this crew. In others…it is still unknown how Chantal 3 was destroyed. If this planet was infested with these…’Daleks’ as the Doctor said, is it appropriate to surgically remove the planet from the galaxy, as one would an infected limb?
I am not a doctor. The decision is not mine.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 2,186