Chapter Three: Apologies and Ramifications
NCC-74705 (USS Bellerophon)
Stationary position relative to the remains of Outpost Zeta-Thirteen.
"I apologize, but I've never heard of that species before." Lieutenant Commander Taurik eyed the thin man standing before him.
The Doctor grinned. "Time Lord? Not surprising. I doubt any exist in this timestream."
"Forgive me for saying, but you share a striking resemblance to that of a Terran."
"They call themselves 'human.'"
"Ah. Well, a freak coincidence of aesthetics, I suppose. I can assure you, the two are very different." He had just been released from the holding cell where he enjoyed the company of Gwen Cooper for all of five minutes before the captain issued orders to release him. The Doctor eyed a console directly behind Taurik and pointed, "Is that your primary method of propulsion I see back there?"
Taurik did not turn. He merely nodded. "That is correct."
"Mind if I have a look?"
"The captain informs me that you hold a security clearance above mine, Doctor. Therefore, I see no reason to hide anything from you." He stepped aside and gestured with his right hand toward it. "Please proceed."
The Doctor pulled out a pair of eyeglasses and peered at it. "Forgive me for sounding a bit dense, but is this a matter-energy conversion-based power system?"
"It is, Doctor."
"You take the energy from matter and anti-matter, channel the explosion through a..." He read aloud, "'di-lithium crystal housing,' and then modulate the plasma flow to a series of subspace coils housed in the nacelles to generate a field that allows for smooth transition to faster-than-light speeds?"
"That is correct," repeated Taurik.
"Well! Not exactly smooth. I was being kind. You're literally running over the fabric of space and time with cleated boots. I'm surprised the whole of space hasn't fallen out from under you lot."
Taurik altered the display. "Perhaps this would be of interest to you, Doctor."
The Doctor read the screen aloud again. "'Variable geometric pylons?" He snapped his fingers and pointed. "Brilliant! You alter the geometric structure of the FTL field with each generation to reduce the impact of the transfer to FTL speeds!" He sighed happily. "May I just say you people are just about the most conscientious beings I've met in a very long time."
"We're here to serve, Doctor."
"And modest, too. Very modest." He peered at the first display again. "You don't run into the a problem with time dilation as you approach the constant?"
A hypothetical entry to warp speed was now animating on the display, under Taurik's manipulation. "We do not approach cee beyond point-two-five times cee," he explained. "A subspace field, once generated at the lowest power, is equal to one-cee. We generate more power in the reaction chamber by keeping a one-to-one ratio at higher volume-"
"Thus you move beyond one-cee," the Doctor finished the thought. "Then, I'm assuming that the subspace field also shields you from time dilation altogether. Inside the field, time moves at the same rate as outside the field."
"That is correct, Doctor. Subspace is considered to be an integral part of the space-time continuum that coexists with normal space in a confluence. It acts as an interfold layer," Taurik once again altered the screen to illustrate his narrative. "We also use this layer to maintain communications between ships, bases, and planets."
The Doctor could not contain his enthusiasm. "That's just brilliant. This Starfleet of yours is most impressive, Commander."
"Thank you, Doctor." Taurik sensed the conversation was drawing to a close, and pointed to another console. "Shall we review the outpost data we've accumulated so far?"
"We shall," the Doctor told him. "Lead on, my pointy-eared engineer.""For the record, I'm a Vulcan. It is also the name of our homeworld."
The Doctor removed his glasses, then tilted his head. "You named yourselves and your planet after a Roman god from Earth?"
"It is pure coincidence that both words exist in our languages. Obviously, they hold different meanings," explained Taurik as they approached another station. "I'm told that every race has various linguistic similarities."
"You know, that's actually quite astute. Earth has several hundred languages and at least one word from each has a meaning to another species' language or dialect. Take the word 'dårlig' for example."
Taurik listened, but began the playback of the alien message shortly before the scientists' and engineers were killed. The dissonant tones played at a lower volume, but they still carried the same chill as before to those within earshot.
The Doctor froze. "From the beginning, please."
Taurik complied and set the playback point from the start of the recovered record.
When it was finished, the Doctor's joviality vanished. In its place, a stony look at the waveform audio display resided. "As I was saying, Commander, take the word dårlig for example. In Norwegian, it means 'bad,' and I can't think of a better word to describe this scenario."
"Other than the obvious circumstances, Doctor, is there another reason why you would choose that word?"
"The pronunciation of that word is a homonym for the name of that species, Commander." He pushed past the Vulcan and began walking quickly for the exit. "Let's go see Captain Magambo. Once again, I have to be the bearer of bad news."
The Doctor stood before the entire senior staff in the bridge conference lounge. "They're called Daleks. They're from my timestream, which suggests that you people found a way to punch through the fabric of the space-time continuum and gained pan-dimensional access. Congratulations, you just made contact with the most xenophobic homicidal species you'll ever meet."
Jones snorted, "We should introduce you to the Borg."
"I'm deadly serious, Martha."
Magambo interjected, "Doctor, no one at this table is not taking your information seriously." She leveled her gaze at Jones and repeated, "No one."
She rose from the table and continued, "However, we've certain protocols we must observe when determining a threat to the Federation. That includes providing Starfleet Command with as complete threat analysis as we can."
The Doctor folded his arms and leaned against the bulkhead. "Sounds like a military procedure, but a practical one. What do you need to know?"
An audio alert interrupted the conversation. "Bridge to captain. We're receiving a distress call from a civilian freighter outside the designated zone. She's under attack by an unknown vessel."
Magambo tapped the commpanel. "Recall all shuttles and make your course for the source of that call. Engage at flank speed." Once the channel cleared, she answered the Doctor, "Everything, please. As quickly as you can."
Recorded under security lockout X-Ray-One-One-Zero
The Doctor has provided us with a complete technological profile of the Dalek technology. We are on fast approach to the distress call of the freighter Queen Elizabeth X, which has provided a sensor profile of the attacking party. The profile data was confirmed by the Doctor and as ordered, I have transmitted the data directly to Starfleet Security.
"This is absolutely remarkable," said the Doctor, as he stared at the face of Lieutenant Commander Ursula Blake. His cheeks were resting upon his palm, and his elbows supported them against the top of the operations console. "Absolutely remarkable," he repeated, showing off his teeth in an abashed smile.
Blake, for her part, could not help but blush under the Doctor's scrutiny. "May I help you, sir?"
"Oh, nothing. Just admiring the handiwork of space and time." He straightened up, then leaned against the console with his right elbow. "How close are you with Leftenant Pope over there?"
"I beg your pardon, sir."
"Don't call me 'sir,' please."
"I'm sorry, su- Doctor." Blake knew that. She had listened to the briefing from the captain. "To answer your question, the leftenant and I are not that close. We take meals together in the mess, sometimes."
The Doctor grinned. "Far be it for me to make any kind of a suggestion, but I think you make a lovely couple."
Blake moved her head to eye the back of Pope's as he worked at the helm. "Really?"
"Oh, yeah," the Doctor replied with a quick nod. "There might be something there worth exploring."
Blake opened her mouth, but the captain called out, "Doctor."
The Doctor turned away and joined the captain in the center of the bridge. "Yes, Captain?"
"We're approaching the freighter. I thought perhaps you would like to take a look?" Without waiting for his response, she ordered that the sensor data be placed on the main viewscreen.
Blake reported, "No lifesigns aboard, sir. Reading multiple hull breaches along the command section and the cargo holds are exposed to space."
The Doctor put on his spectacles and eyed the sensor information. "Can your sensors give me a proper metallurgical analysis of the hull?"
"Mister Blake?" asked the captain.
Blake replied, "We're a bit too far away from the freighter for a complete scan, but I have some preliminary data coming through right now. I'm putting in on the main screen."
"Indeed. Very efficient, thank you, Commander," the Doctor said, distractedly. His eyes scanned the information. "High-level disruption at the molecular level." He twisted around to face the captain. "Quick! What weapons from this timestream could disrupt the molecules of a freighter like that?"
Jones answered first, "The Breen, the Ferengi, the Gorn..."
Blake continued, "The Lysians, the Klingons..."
Magambo finished, "Rigelians, Romulans, the Borg, the Cardassians, the Dominion..." She sighed. "So we can't narrow it down?"
"The Daleks do employ disruptors that could do this kind of damage. It's possible this is them, but I'd need to take a closer look at the damaged section of the hull." The Doctor added, "With Commander Taurik's help, of course. He's a good, smart fellow."
Jones beamed. "One of the best in Starfleet."
Magambo ordered, "As the Doctor wishes. Number One, Mister Blake. I want a sample beamed to main engineering, immediately. Mister Cooper, talk to Doctor Thann and coordinate transport of the fallen to the morgue."
The Doctor found himself back in the engineering compartment, working alongside Lieutenant Commander Taurik. "You know, I really like you. You're swift and efficient, intelligent and thoughtful. Your staff follows your outstanding example. I may never leave this place."
Taurik did not turn his head. His hands continued to fly over the console's input pad. "I am honored by your assessment of my performance, Doctor. As is my staff."
"Just stating the obvious."
"Is it your wish to join Starfleet?"
"Then might I say that if you wished to join, I'm certain Starfleet would greatly benefit from your knowledge and experience," Taurik informed him candidly.
"I'm sure they might. I'll look into it." The Doctor hopped from one foot to the other. "Have they, uh... 'beamed' the sample over, yet?"
The chief engineering officer checked the console display. "The transport is commencing, now, Doctor."
A shimmering blue light appeared and a jagged section of the freighter's hull materialized upon the sensor panel.
On it in an instant, the Doctor reached into his inside suit pocket and pulled out his sonic screwdriver, then from the side pocket, he pulled out a set of white spectacles. One lens was red, and the other blue. He peered at the twisted metal and grinned uncontrollably. "Oh, yes! This has a pan-dimensional signature!"
His screwdriver was lifted over the hull; it's bright blue light and high-pitched trill sounding off quickly. "Dalek. And either they've upgraded their gunsticks... I mean, based on the level of damage, these Daleks are from before the Time War."
The Doctor straightened his posture. "Long story. Suffice to say, this is enough to convince me you've got a bigger problem on your hands."
Taurik tilted his head. "What do you mean, Doctor?"
After turning to face Taurik, the Doctor sighed. "Well, a group of Daleks tend to pepper their target with multiple strikes. And their armor is suited for spaceflight at sublight speeds. The attack damage that your Commander Blake provided with her analysis is spot on with a typical attack pattern. However..."
When the Doctor went silent in thought, Taurik prompted him, "However...?"
"I'm sorry," said the Doctor as he removed his red and blue specs. "I'm so sorry. No single, or even a large group of Dalek armor could do this kind of damage." He shook his head as he spoke the last words of his sentence. He folded his arms over his chest, with his sonic screwdriver in one hand and the specs in the other.
He continued, "I'm afraid they've brought a ship through that rift. The damage suggests it might be a heavy cruiser-class ship, which carries ship-mounted disruptors and ship-to-ship missiles."
Taurik narrowed his eyes at the new information. "How many Daleks man a heavy cruiser-class ship?"
The Doctor rubbed his forehead. "Over twenty-five hundred Daleks in full battle armor."