Chapter Two: Intruder Alert
NCC-74705 (USS Bellerophon)
Stationary position relative to the remains of Outpost Zeta-Thirteen
Cargo Bay Two
Ensign Coralie Picard hated her name. Not her first name nor her middle name, but her surname. All of the Picards serving in Starfleet often felt as though the most famous Picard in history ruined it for the rest of them. Throughout her childhood, she sought her inspiration for joining Starfleet from Jean-Luc Picard; a fellow countryman who not only held back the Borg with his guile and intellect, but managed to broker peace treaties with several races as a Federation Ambassador.
When Coralie obtained her appointment to Starfleet Academy, it seemed as though everyone assumed she was related to Jean-Luc Picard. It got to be something of a novelty at first. She even tried to find a relation through some obscure fifth cousin, thrice-removed, but it turned out to be a dead end. No, her family of Picards shared only the name, but no common ancestry. In fact, her family adopted the name to hide their true ethnicity in France during one of the world wars.
Every time she introduced herself, she saw that flash of recognition at the mention of her name. And every time, she would have to disappoint them. No, she was his daughter or niece or cousin or related by marriage. She was just Coralie Picard, a disappointment from the start. With every meeting, she felt the expectation of a storied and vaunted career slip further away from her, until she lost a majority of her drive and determination. She traded in the red uniform of command for a gold uniform of support services, and was reassigned from helm duty to cargo inspection.
On a ship in flight, her daily duties included the inventory of the cargo bays. They remained unchanged until consumption or transfer. Each day, she completed her inventory in boredom. She memorized every code and number of each container housed within that bay; in every bay aboard, actually.
She completed her inspection of the third row of containers, and moved to the fourth and final row. She heard a scraping noise behind her and a felt a breeze coming from the ship's environmental systems. Her light brown hair fluttered about her face, obscuring her vision as she closed her eyes to prevent damage from the whipping strands. When the breeze died down, she turned around. It was when she noticed a new container sitting in the corner of the cargo bay.
Coralie had passed that corner of the bay hundreds of times before since they departed from Starbase 36 months ago. It was always vacant. No one would store anything there without her notice. But now, standing before her plainly was a tall and narrow dark blue box with a small light on top.
The box appeared to be constructed of wood, and had lighted words at the top; "POLICE PUBLIC CALL BOX." She put away her PADD and retrieved her tricorder. It scanned as it appeared to be: A wooden police call box, circa 1963 on the old Earth calendar.
"What the hell is it doing here?" she asked herself. Coralie reached for her commbadge to contact her superior officer, but one of the sides opened inward and a head popped out from within.
It was a man with spiky dark brown hair and an inviting smile. He wore an old-style business suit of brown with grey pinstripes with a long tie and a vest, all covered in a light brown trenchcoat. "Hello, there," he greeted, using an Estuary English accent. "I seem to have taken a wrong turn and I'm in need of some assistance. Can you tell me what year this is?"
Coralie stood, unblinking at the man. "W-What?" she sputtered incredulously.
He moved out of the box completely. The man was tall and thin, with his hands shoved into the pockets of his trousers. "Can you tell me what year this is?" he asked again.
"W-What?" she repeated, still not comprehending what was going on. "Who are you and what are you doing here?"
"Hold on a tick," he said. His smile widened more, and he pointed at her. "Are you French?"
"I'm Parisian," she said with pride. "And who are you?"
"Oh, this is brilliant. I love the French." He stepped forward and introduced himself, "I'm The Doctor. And you are...?"
She took a step back, unsure of his intent. There was something about his smile, though, that set her at ease. "Ensign Coralie Picard, of the Federation starship Bellerophon."
"'Federation?' Never heard of it. At least, not one with humans in it. What is it?" he asked, scratching at his left ear.
Coralie was taken aback by his ignorance. "You've never heard of the United Federation of Planets?"
"Afraid not. What year is it?"
"It's twenty-three eighty-seven. And what sort of doctor are you? What's your name?"
"Just 'The Doctor.'" He paused at the new information. "And it's twenty-three eighty-seven? Are you sure about that?"
She nodded. "Positive. I'm in the middle of the cargo inventory right now, and my list is stamped with the present time. It's Stardate 65540, which is the last month on the old Earth calendar of twenty-three eighty-seven."
"'Stardate?' Now you're not making any sense," the Doctor told her with a soured expression. "Humans shouldn't be this far outside their solar system, yet."
Coralie replied, deadpan, "Should we apologize?"
The Doctor sighed as his eyes scanned the interior of the cargo bay. "I always seem to end up in closets and storage areas." He returned his gaze to Coralie. "I wager we're aboard a ship of some kind and you might tag me as an intruder."
An intruder! Coralie inwardly groaned. In the course of conversing with the strange man, she forgot that she had a duty to perform. "I apologize, but you will need to come with me, sir."
"That's fine. I'm not going anywhere for at least twenty-four hours," replied the Doctor. "I'm curious about why you're out here and what all this is about, anyway."
Coralie slapped her commbadge. "Picard to security. Intruder alert, Cargo Bay Two. The intruder doesn't appear to be armed, and has submitted to my authority. Please send a team to my location."
A feminine voice with a Welsh accent replied, "Understood, Ensign. A team will arrive presently."
"Thank you, sir."
"'Sir?'" said the Doctor in surprise. "But that was a woman's voice, yeah?"
"Starfleet protocol requires us to respond to all superiors as 'sir.'"
The Doctor's nose wrinkled. "'Starfleet?' Is that like UNIT?"
"To what unit are you referring to, sir?"
"UNIT, you know? The Unified Intelligence Taskforce in the twenty-first century?"
Coralie shook her head. "I'm sorry, I don't."
The Doctor muttered to himself, "I must be in a completely different timestream, then. Nothing seems right, here."
Before she could respond to him, a security team consisting of a small, but stocky man and a tall and muscular woman entered with their type-two phasers drawn. "Sir, if you could come with us, please?" the woman said.
"I'm unarmed, gentleman and lady. Please put your weapons away," the Doctor replied, raising both arms up in surrender. "And don't call me 'sir.'"
Within the ship's medical bay, Commander Jones held the Doctor's sonic screwdriver in her hands, eyeing it carefully. It had a blue light at one end and a black tip at the other. "And this was all he had on his person?"
The ship's chief tactical officer, Lieutenant Gwen Cooper, shook her head. "No, sir. He had a small piece of paper in a folded case," she said, handing it to the executive officer. "The strange thing is, when my man over there handed it to me, it held his vital statistics upon it until I touched it. I'd like for Commander Taurik to analyze it."
"Agreed," Jones said, now looking over the blank paper. "And this other device, too. Make sure it isn't a weapon."
The Doctor replied before Gwen could. "It's not. It's my sonic screwdriver. It's a tool, not a weapon."
Jones turned around and cast a stern glare at the Doctor. "Every tool is a weapon, if you hold it right." She stepped forward to introduce herself, "I'm Lieutenant Commander-"
"Martha Jones!" said the Doctor at the same moment. "As I live and breathe!"
Confused, Jones continued, "I'm the ship's executive officer."
As soon as she came into view, the Doctor's eyebrows rose and a wide smile appeared upon his face. "And Gwen Cooper! But, this is fantastic!"
Jones' expression changed to one of completely confusion. "Have we met before?"
His grin widened perceptibly. "In another time, another parallel universe. Though, I find it odd that you would appear further down the timestream than in my universe. Very strange," the Doctor began talking to himself. "I wonder who else is here instead of back in the twenty-first century?"
Lieutenant Cooper looked at Jones. "What the hell is going on about, now, sir?"
"I haven't the faintest idea," admitted Jones, perplexed. She raised her voice to address the Doctor, once more, "Sir, I'm afraid that I'll need to hold you here in sickbay until the captain has had a chance to go over our report."
The Doctor grinned uncontrollably, "And who's your captain? No, wait, let me guess. Is it Donna Noble?" He turned his head and muttered again, "No, military service isn't really her style." He snapped his fingers, "Ah! I'll bet it's Captain Jack Harkness!"
"Actually," said a new voice from the entrance into sickbay. "My name is Commander Erisa Magambo. I'm the commanding officer of Bellerophon."
His eyebrows flew up again. "Yes, of course. Captain Magambo. Well, I'm in good hands, then."
Jones turned to face her captain. "Obviously, he seems to know us fairly well, sir. He knew me, as well. And Lieutenant Cooper. Just said our names like he'd known us all our lives."
"And apparently, me," replied Magambo with her arms folded. "I'm told you refer to yourself as 'The Doctor.' Well, listen up, Doctor. I don't take kindly to people suddenly appearing aboard my ship while we're dealing with a crisis situation."
The Doctor tilted his head. "What crisis, specifically?"
Jones answered, "We're responding to a distress call from one of our outposts on the edge of Federation territory. An experiment gone wrong, and may have released a new threat from an unknown part of the galaxy."
Magambo shot an angry glance toward Jones. "Thank you, Number One."
"Apologies, sir," mumbled Jones.
"Doctor Thann?" asked Magambo. "Have you made a full evaluation of our... guest?"
Thann, a tall and thin Andorian male wearing the rank insignia of a full lieutenant, activated a viewscreen to demonstrate his findings. "Interesting physiology, sir. I could publish several papers on the findings and have an outside shot at this year's Carrington."
Captain Magambo rolled her eyes. "Delusions of averice aside, Doctor, is he human?"
"No, Captain," said the ship's chief medical officer. "Dual myogenic muscular organs, he also appears to have conscious manipulation at the cellular level, and his central nervous system is reinforced by a-"
Magambo raised her hand as Thann continued. "Thank you. 'No' was sufficient." She turned her attention to the Doctor. "To echo a question posed by Ensign Picard, who are you, and what are you doing here?"
"Who I am has already been answered, Captain. What I'm doing here remains to be seen, however," replied the Doctor. "But I give you my word. I'm here to help." His eyes wandered between all three of the officers standing before him. "If you'll allow me to."
The captain frowned and considered his words carefully. After a long pause, she admitted, "I'm not certain if it is part of your racial characteristics or not, Doctor, but I find myself believing what you're saying."
The Doctor rose from his seated position on the biobed and tucked his hands in his trousers. "All I can say with absolute certainty, ladies, is that with the three of you standing here before me... I've never been more confident in my life that I'm in the best care possible."
Magambo sputtered for the first time since she took command. "How could you possibly be so confident? You don't even know us!"
"I don't know you here and now, Captain Erisa Magambo, but in my timestream, you are a UNIT commander. One of the finest. You and a brilliant young scientist named Malcolm Taylor managed to save my life and the lives of several civilians, whilst also preventing an invasion that would have surely-"
"Doctor!" shouted Magambo. "I'm clearly not certain how you do things, but in Starfleet, we obey the Temporal Prime Directive. That means that we do not divulge any information that might affect the future!"
The Doctor was taken aback. "I... don't know what to say."
Magambo allowed herself a small smile in triumph. "It's quite all right, Doctor. I apologize for shouting."
The Doctor, on the other hand, was not listening to her. "That a human organization is fully cognizant of the ramifications of subverting their own timestream is... most refreshing. Usually, you jump at the opportunity to learn all you can. This level of restraint is surprising and dare I say... insightful?"
Jones smirked. "He's beside himself with admiration."
Magambo interrupted the conversation, "The Temporal Prime Directive is one of our general orders, Doctor. I do not take kindly to it being broken in my presence."
"That's fine by me, Captain. However, since this is a completely different timestream, and the events I'm describing took place over four hundred years ago, technically it's the past," the Doctor replied with a cheerful smile and rocked back and forth on his feet. "Isn't it?"
Clearly, the captain did not appreciate being contradicted. "I see your point."
"Good. Now, the TARDIS wouldn't just drop me into a different timestream without some kind of reason," the Doctor noted as he paced around the trio of officers. "Given recent events, I gave up on believing in coincidences. What's the trouble, and how can I help?"
Magambo pressed her lips together tight enough to turn them white. She regarded the Doctor with a measured gaze before turning to Jones. "Number One, secure this man in a holding cell until further notice. I shall consult with Starfleet Command."
Jones did not hesitate. "Aye, sir. Mister Cooper."
Cooper's phaser was in her hand. "Sir, if you will accompany me...?"
The Doctor's hands came out of his pockets and extended up with his palms outward. He sighed resignedly. "Blimey! Not this again."
"What's a 'TARDIS?'" wondered Jones, after she followed Captain Magambo into the corridor outside sickbay.
"I presume the blue box sitting in my cargo bay. Have it secured," ordered the captain. "No one goes near it. Especially not our guest."
"Aye, sir," said Jones. She quickly issued the orders to the security officer on the bridge. "What if he's telling the truth, sir?"
"And what if he's aligned with these... creatures?" snapped Magambo, as soon as they entered the confines of the turbolift. "No, I won't take that risk until I know more. Much more." She looked up and said, "Bridge."
The lift traveled the five decks up to the command center within moments. Captain and executive officer passed through the bridge and into the ready room. "Captain to Mister Blake. I want to talk to Starfleet Command, code forty-seven."
Blake's voice replied over the speakers. "Aye, sir. One moment, please." It took ten. "Piping it through, now, sir."
The small screen upon Magambo's desk blinked to show the insignia of Starfleet Command, and then the words, "AUDIO ONLY." A woman's voice asked, "Yes, Captain?"
"Sir, we have taken into custody a man who calls himself 'The Doctor,'" informed Magambo, without preamble. "He claims to be here to help."
"Understood. You will release the Doctor, immediately."
The captain could not help her confusion. "Admiral, I-"
"That was not a suggestion, Captain Magambo!" the woman's voice hardened. "Release the Doctor. He carries X-Ray clearance within Starfleet, on my authority. Is that clear?"
Jones' jaw fell at the news. X-Ray was above Alpha on the Starfleet Security food chain. She nearly said something, but Magambo raised her hand to stop her.
"I understand, sir," the captain said evenly. "If I may be permitted to ask a question, Admiral?"
"One question, Captain."
Magambo paused to consider her words. "If the Doctor holds such a high clearance, am I to presume then, that he carries a rank within Starfleet?"
The woman's voice softened noticeably. "He carries no rank, Captain. Do not even address him as 'sir.' He dislikes that a great deal. But you will treat him with the same level of respect as you would me."
Both Jones and Magambo's eyes widened. The captain nodded to the voice that could not see her. "Aye, sir. Thank you for indulging me."
"You will keep me apprised of your progress as frequently as possible. Starfleet, out." The screen blinked again, and the insignia returned before it cleared and powered down.
"That raised more questions than it answered," Jones said with a sigh. "Shall I-?"
"You shall," Magambo pointed to the exit. "Quickly, please. And brief him on what we know so far. Take him to Commander Taurik, immediately."