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Reckoning of the Daleks (1/3)

Title: Reckoning of the Daleks
Fandom: Doctor Who
Series: Doctor Who/TOC Files
Characters: Six, Peri, OC
Word Count: 8210
Rating: G (I believe)
Notes: This is the third installment in my planned series to have Alan Kelly meet all of the Doctor's incarnations. It was decided that I should keep with the ongoing trend of Dalek titles, hence "Reckoning". I have started taking notes for the upcoming stories so keep looking.
Disclaimer The Doctor, Peri, and the TARDIS belong to the BBC. Alan and Ryan Kelly, Eric Rader and Shannon Flynn are mine.




Reckoning of the Daleks


Colonel Alan Kelly sat back in the Observation Deck and looked out at the vastness of space. It never ceased to amaze him. He very rarely had such leisure to gaze at the stars as he either was risking his life in a fighter or cooped up on a battleship. This time out he wanted a little "me" time to relax and pretend at being a civilian. Therefore, he hitched a ride on a passenger cruiser and would meet up with the rest of his team in a few days. He knew he had garnered a few curious stares and had probably been the topic of a few conversations the first few days out. There had even been some autograph hounds. He took it all in stride knowing it was the price of celebrity. As long as they didn't swarm about him like hornets, he didn't care. He took a sip of his G&T and sighed. Too bad this had to end tomorrow.

As he sat there, the ship shuddered slightly and the lights flickered. A voice came over the loudspeaker to reassure the passengers that it had only been a small pocket of turbulence and the ship had automatically readjusted. Shortly after, one of the crew approached Alan. "The captain was wondering if you would like to see the bridge, sir."

That lasted long. "Certainly. I'd love to."

When he stepped into the bridge, Alan could tell something was wrong. There was an underlying anxiety, an urgency to the crew's movements. The captain, a man in his mid-fifties, saluted him. "Colonel, thank you for coming so quickly."

"What's wrong?"

"We've been fired upon."

"What? Can't they tell this is a passenger ship?"

"Oh, they know it's a passenger ship. We've already taken three direct hits." He saw the look of confusion on Alan's face. "You only felt one because we then activated the absorption shield. Used mainly for rough weather, but it was all we could do to keep the passengers oblivious."

"Did they even identify themselves?" Alan asked. "I mean, what's the point of starting a war if you don't take credit?"

"Naylons," answered one of the crew.

"Naylons? We're nowhere near their territory." He looked at the captain. "Are we?"

"Not unless it's changed in the past two hours."

"This is crazy." Alan stared at one of the monitors. "We have to get out of this. How many more hits can we take?"

"As it stands, perhaps two. If they hit Engineering, we could be in trouble," answered a technician.

"All right, then. I'd say we prepare the passengers but let them think it's a drill. That way they won't panic and will be moving. If worse comes to worse, they'll be at the pods."

The captain passed the order to the communications officer to notify the crew before sounding the alarm.

"Brace yourselves! They've fired again!"

Alan grabbed the console nearest him and set his feet apart to keep himself balanced. Why can't I just have a real vacation?

"Damage report!"

"That was too close to turbines to hazard a call, sir. If it does go, emergency power will still allow communications and the hulls to seal in case of a breach. The escape pods have their own power."

"Send out the distress call. I want all non-essential personnel to leave the bridge and prepare to evacuate." The captain looked at Alan. "Your presence could be seen as a calming influence should the news come out."

"If you're sure. Just remember to call if you need me." Alan, fighting against the crowds going in the opposite direction, made his way back to his cabin. He answered any questions with a shrug. Once inside, he tossed his belongings into a duffle and headed out the door just as the lights went down. The red emergency lights flickered to life and he strode along the companionway quickly. If the power had gone, that meant the shield was down and the ship would reel with the strikes from the Naylon ship.

He rushed to the deck where the escape pods were located and was amazed at how efficiently things were going. Of course, now with the lights down, the passengers knew that something was wrong. Alan began to assist the crew by directing people to their assigned pods and to keep panic at a minimum now that the ship shuddered with every strike and smoke began wafting through the vents and gangways.

A final count was done and they learned that a young girl was missing. Her father informed them that the last time he had seen her was by the swimming pool.

Knowing that he wouldn't be stranded should he miss the last pod, Alan volunteered to go. The girl's father told Alan her name so he could all for her. With a quick nod, Alan rushed up the stairs to the area where she had last been seen. The smoke thickened, clogged his throat, and made his eyes sting. You are ten kinds of idiot, you know that? How do you expect to rescue someone from a fire if you can't make it yourself? In the lounge, he spied a running cloth on a small table, which he removed, dunked it in the center fountain, and then tied it about his face, covering his nose and mouth. That eased things somewhat. He checked the halls radiating from the lounge and saw that debris and creeping flames blocked the one he needed to go down. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw movement. It could be smoke, but it could also be the girl. "Shandris!"

"Over here!" came the reply, followed by coughing.

Alan reached the girl and saw that she was pinned down by part of the wall. He could see she was terrified. "I'm here to help. Are you hurt? Any broken bones?"

"I don't think so. I forgot something and went back to my cabin. I thought I'd make it back before Daddy even knew I was gone." She broke down sobbing.

"It's all right. We'll just get this off you somehow..." He looked about and found a metal bar to use as a lever. "When I get this off of you, I want you to run down to the pods. Take the north stairs. It was clear when I came up."

"What about you?"

"I'll be fine. I can take care of myself," he grinned before applying pressure to the bar.

"How's that?" he said, his voice showing the strain. He hated when circumstances showed how out of shape he was. He would need to bathe in Ben-Gay when this was over. He saw sparks as the wirings broke free from the wall via the cracks and applied even more pressure to his already straining arms and back.

"A little more." Alan pushed harder and Shandris sidled out from underneath. Once she was free, Alan let the debris fall. "Thank you." She kissed him on the cheek than ran as she was told.

Alan watched her go. Cute kid. I'll have to check on her later. The flames were getting closer and louder. Alan began to program his machine to send him to Varuna where his team was awaiting him. He hoped to be gone by the time the ceiling collapsed, but sometimes hope isn't enough.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Peri entered the TARDIS control room and spotted the Doctor's striped yellow pants sticking out from underneath the console. "Something wrong?" she asked.

"We're off course."

"Aren't we always?"

"I'll ignore that!" came his muffled reply.

A flash of light caught her attention. "Doctor, there's a light blinking up here."

"I know. It's the fault indicator. Why do you think I'm under here?"

"This light is on the opposite side from where you're working. I think it's the distress signal. It's yellow."

He fiddled with the surrounding switches and buttons in an attempt to locate the source. "We're nearby, relatively speaking. We should be able to make it in time."

The Doctor's hands moved with a grace this incarnation seldom displayed. He flipped a switch and the scanner sheath opened. He materialized the TARDIS in space near a passenger ship that was on fire. "Let me get us closer."

The Doctor never had a chance because the liner exploded sending shockwaves that even rattled the TARDIS.

"Oh my God," whispered Peri. "All those people."

"Depending on how long the signal was running, I would think most escaped. If I can locate the proper frequency, we can pick up the communications from the rescue party."

All Peri could hear was garbled gibberish until the Doctor fine-tuned it. "...all crew and passengers accounted for. Most are suffering minor injuries though there are some with major burns and one with a possible concussion. Please have medical personnel waiting at Elysion." The voice went on to give more technical notation than she needed to hear.

Peri let out the breath she had been holding. They were all alive. Now she wouldn't be agonizing over their fate from now until...well, whenever. The Doctor was suddenly bustling about the console, setting coordinates. They were off somewhere and in a hurry. "What is it?"

"The Naylons. I distinctly heard the mention of Naylons."

"And that means?"

"Not possible, you see. The Naylons wouldn't strike unless provoked."

"So how could a passenger ship provoke them?"

"Exactly!" With a finger, he dotted her nose. "You're coming along quite well, Peri. Thanks to my influence of course."

"Oh, of course, Doctor!" she emoted.

They arrived just outside the hospital and the Doctor strode in, stating he was a specialist and Peri was his assistant. They strolled along the ward where the new arrivals had been placed. A nurse, who noted the visitor badge clipped below his cat pin, pointed out that the crewmembers were at the end. Peri looked at the others in bed and smiled at them as she passed. Not seeing where she was going, she bumped into the Doctor who had stopped in front of a bed on which lay a man who must have been one of the major burn cases. His arms and hands were anointed and sealed in a clear, form-fitting cocoon. Peri recognized the fragrance of natural skin growth catalysts.

The Doctor looked from the man to Peri. "I know him."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Alan sat back in his chair in the Officers' Club on the Base and reveled in the rare opportunity to relax. Then Shannon walked in wearing an outfit similar to the one she wore that last time in Jamaica. Then the club turned into a seaside tavern and they were cheered. A loud, commanding voice carried over the others, spouting scientific jargon that was very out-of-place. The voice was familiar but he couldn't put a face to it. He felt the need to find the voice and looked through the crowd.

He opened his eyes slowly and took time to focus against the harsh lights. A hospital. But why? He tried to move his head and the pain helped remind him. The attack. He must have been knocked out after saving the girl. Then he heard the voice that had invaded his dream coming from the foot of his bed. He peered down and saw a man in the most garish patchwork jacket. The jacket covered a hefty frame that was topped by unruly blond curls. He couldn't see the face--and he probably wouldn't recognize it even if he could--but he knew who it was. He tried to speak but nothing came out so he swallowed and tried again.

"So, what number are you?" he croaked.

The man turned away from the knockout in blue--no doubt one of the Doctor's traveling companions--and rushed to the side of the bed. "Colonel, how wonderful to see you again!" He reached out his hand and instinctively Alan reached out his only to find it heavily bandaged. "Yes, well, you haven't changed much since our last meeting."

"But you have, Doctor. That was only a few months ago. The others will be glad to see you again."

"Again? But I've only met you, Alan."

"What about Jamaica?" Alan was getting confused. "You didn't" He broke into coughs.

Peri poured a glass of water and helped Alan take a few sips. "Is that better?"

"Yes, thanks." He looked at her, waiting for a name.

"I'm Peri."

"So you're with him now, eh?"

Peri opened her mouth to explain but was cut off by the Doctor. "Not now, Peri." He looked at Alan. "What were you about to say?"

"You didn't answer my question. What number are you?"

"Sixth."

Alan closed his eyes. "Of course. That's why you haven't met them. The Doctor in Jamaica was from your future."

"Really? I've met past incarnations but never a future incarnation. What one was he?"

Alan smiled at his childlike curiosity. "Eighth, I think." He raised the bed to a sitting position.

"Eighth? Eighth!" He turned to Peri. "I must remember to find a way back to E-Space to collect that fiver Romana owes me. She bet I wouldn't make seventh."

"I don't blame her."

"Well, you were wrong, too."

"Doctor, what brings you here? I don't think it was just to talk over old times," said Alan.

"Peri and I heard the distress signal sent out by that liner you were on."

"Yet another ruined holiday," commented Alan dryly. "And I'll probably have lovely headaches this time around as well."

"I fixed those for you," said the Doctor defensively.

"Yes, you did, and I thank you for it."

Peri smiled. "I met the Doctor on vacation too, and believe me, I've had quite a few headaches since then."

The colonel motioned her to lean closer. "Remind me to tell you about Jamaica and the pirates," he said in a conspiratorial whisper.

"I will, Colonel."

"Call me Alan, please."

The Doctor raised an eyebrow at the secret exchange but decided not to pursue it. "Alan, the rescue party said that you were fired on by Naylons. Can you tell me what led to the attack?"

"Oh goody, we arrived in time for a story," chimed a new voice.

The Doctor looked up and saw two men and a woman in Military uniform. "Friends of yours?" he asked Alan.

"Shannon Flynn, Eric Rader, and my brother, Ryan. Guys, this is the Doctor and Peri. I'll explain later."

"Pleased, I'm sure."

"Doctor?" Shannon looked at the Doctor up from his curly blonde hair and down to his garish green shoes and red spats. "You're the Doctor?"

"Looks like Prince Charming turned into a frog, Shane."

"Shut up, Ryan."

Peri overheard the whispers and smiled. I know how you feel, Shannon.

"The attack?" the Doctor prompted.

Alan relayed his tale without interruption.

"You said that the Naylons knew you were aboard?"

"I didn't hear that myself, but that's what the comms officer told me. If they knew it was me or just Military personnel, I don't know."

"Even so, how did they find out is the important question," said Shannon.

"More important is what were the Naylons doing attacking an Alliance passenger ship without provocation?" questioned the Doctor.

"Did you see the ship?" asked Eric. "Was it the Naylons?"

"I did see the ship and it did look like one they use, but I can't be positive. I wasn't there when they announced themselves." Alan yawned.

"We should let you get some rest," said Shannon. "We'll get some rooms and check in with you later."

"I thought with a concussion, sleep was the last thing you were supposed to do," put in Peri.

"We'll soon find out," said Ryan and the others saw a nurse quickly approaching.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Shannon, Ryan, Eric, Peri and the Doctor left the hospital and stood on the pavement. "Well, that was some story," said Eric. "I haven't heard anything that would make the Naylons attack a passenger ship."

"They knew Alan was aboard," said Ryan. "Of course they wanted him out of the way."

"We all know Alan is a major Military presence, but even so, they wouldn't kill civilians just for one man. Naylons aren't terrorists," put in Shannon.

"If indeed it was the Naylons," remarked the Doctor.

"What do you mean? Of course it was the Naylons," defended Eric.

"But Alan never saw a Naylon," said Ryan slowly. "He never heard the communications."

"So you're saying the crew was behind it and used Alan's presence to add credence?" questioned Peri. "But why would they put that many lives at risk?"

"Money," said the Doctor. "It's only one possibility. We should look into this on our own before starting rumors."

"We'll take the crew," volunteered Eric. "They might be more ready to answer when being faced with a uniform."

"That leaves Peri and I with the passengers. We'll meet back here at Alan's bedside in, oh," he looked at his bare wrist, "three hours?"

The group split up and the members of the TOC returned to the hospital to question those of the crew still in for observation. However, none of them had been on the bridge and only knew there was trouble when the alarm sounded.

"Well, that was certainly helpful," said Shannon.

"It was, actually," said Eric. "If we accept the Doctor's theory, this confines it to bridge personnel."

"Makes sense," agreed Ryan. "It keeps the number of those in on it low, plus, who would question them?"

"And their actions in the face of danger would only commend them," commented Shannon.

"Alan was just convenient," said Eric. "Either that, or it was arranged after he was on the passenger manifest."

"Could be. Let's find out what they have to say."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Shannon, Ryan and Eric found most of the crew and began to question them regarding the attack. No one could shed any light on the subject since they weren't privy to most of the action. "By consensus, the flight was normal until the attack."

"Do you think they're holding back?" asked Shannon.

"I think they were too much in awe to be," chuckled Ryan.

"I was waiting for them to kow-tow," agreed Eric with a laugh. "The crew from the bridge won't be so awestruck."

"Boys, be careful of being so full of yourselves. You may just go poof."

"Like the Doctor"

"Man, did he go downhill fast."

"You suppose he'll sweep you off your feet again, Shane?"

Shannon could feel her cheeks grow hot. "Matter at hand, gentlemen."

"All right. All right. What about the crew?"

"Maybe with them we'll need to instill a little fear."

Shannon looked at the two of them and shook her head. "Why don't we just ask questions out of concern? If this really was a Naylon attack, everyone will be involved."

They spotted the captain walking amongst the beds; hands and head wrapped in burn bandages. He and some of the crew were laughing over a joke. They hushed as soon as they saw the TOC.

"Don't let us spoil your fun," said Eric.

"This ward is restricted," the captain told them. "No visitors allowed without doctor escort."

"Quarantined?" questioned Ryan. "Funny, I didn't see a notice posted. Besides, why would you be when no one else from the ship is?"

"In a situation like this, we can't speak to anyone until the Investigators arrive."

"You're looking at 'em," said Eric.

"The famed Temporal Observers?"

"Observation and Deduction."

"I don't think so. You had better leave now before I call Security."

"Just think on this," said Ryan. "My brother risked his life to help you when he could have left at anytime. That should count for something."

"Well, that was strange," said Shannon as they walked through the wards.

"He's up to something," Eric said. "That regulation he brought up only pertains to civilians, not fellow Military personnel."

"If they'll only talk to an Investigator, let's give him one," Ryan said.

"Do you think he will?" asked Shannon.

"He's got the attitude for it," commented Eric.

"We'd better go find him then."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The Doctor and Peri were trying to strike up conversations with the ship's passengers. Peri found a few young girls but they had nothing to say about the journey that would shed any light on the attack. It seems they spend most of the trip shopping or lounging. If she had ever gone on a luxury cruise in her time before the Doctor, she might have spent it in the same way. Then of course she would have been with Howard and her mother and it wouldn't have taken long for tempers to flare. "Thanks for your help."

Just outside the room, another young girl no more than ten approached her. "I heard you talking to those other girls and I want to tell you something." She looked around before leading Peri to an alcove. "I had forgotten all about it until I started hearing things here. Then the adults would stop talking so as not to scare us kids." She took a deep breath and started. "This cruise was my father's idea. It was okay the first few days, but then I got bored and started exploring. Anyway, one time I ended up down in the hold somewhere. I hid when I heard people coming. They stopped just far enough away so I could hear but not see them."

"What did they say?" Peri prompted patiently.

"I don't remember word-for-word, but I do remember them talking about Colonel Kelly being onboard and how they'd have to change their plans. I remember them saying 'Naylon attack'. That's what reminded me."

"Why didn't you tell any of the crew or your father at least?"

The girl looked at her as if the answer was obvious. "They would have yelled at me for being somewhere I shouldn't have and wouldn't do anything about what I heard."

"So why tell me?"

"You're an Investigator, aren't you? Besides, I don't like that guy with the loud jacket. He looks like a clown. I'm scared of clowns."

Peri smiled. The Doctor could appear overbearing and frightening. "Don't worry, I didn't like him when I first saw him either, but he's all right. Better than all right. I'll need to share with him what you told me," she said, standing.

"I guess that's okay."

"C'mon, I'll introduce you." Peri led the girl back into the main room where they saw the Doctor in the midst of a conversation with Alan Kelly's friends.

The girl saw them and stepped back. "What is it? What's wrong?"

"Those soldiers, they're the TOC aren't they?"

"I think so. I met them this morning."

"Wow, you know them?"

"The Doctor's met Col. Kelly a couple times before. We saw him in the hospital."

"Is he doing okay? I wanted to see him, but Dad said that he wouldn't want to see a little girl."

"You're Shandris, the girl he saved."

"I was exploring again when I got trapped. I wanted to thank him and apologize."

"I'm sure he wants to see you as well."

"Peri, there you are. I see you've found a friend," said the Doctor upon seeing her.

"This is Shandris. She's an explorer, Doctor, and she overheard an interesting conversation while on the ship."

"Really?" The Doctor peered at the girl and she looked away, nervous.

"Why don't you come sit down," Shannon said, leading her to a sofa. "I know having so many people staring at you can be unnerving," she smiled. "I'm Shannon."

"I know," Shandris answered. "And that's Ryan and that's Eric."

"You know who we are, then. That's good. You've already told Peri your story. Do you think you might tell us?" The Doctor beamed. "For a fellow explorer."

Shandris related her story once more as detailed as she could remember without elaborating. Peri's associate, the Doctor, listened to her story with unnerving intensity. The three members of the TOC listened patiently knowing that she could prevent a war.

"Can you describe the voices?" asked the Doctor. "The quality, pitch, accent? Male or female?"

"They were both male, I think. Not much of an accent, but one of them spoke like he had a cold-all stuffed up."

"Were they voices you had heard before?" asked Ryan Kelly.

"I don't think so."

"Can you tell us where your cabin was?" asked Eric Rader. Wondering why he needed to know, Shandris told them. "Well, that should eliminate some of the crew."

"Of course," said the Doctor. "Shandris would have seen the same attendants everyday."

"Thank you for your help, Shandris," Shannon said. "If you think of anything else, leave a message at the hospital, okay?"

"Oh, and Shandris?" The Doctor reached behind Shandris' ear. "Have a jelly baby."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The Doctor watched the young girl walk away.

"I thought we were going to meet at the hospital," said Peri.

"That was the original plan," answered Shannon, "but the captain refused to speak to us."

"He'll talk only to an Investigator," put in Ryan.

"I've been nominated for the role," said the Doctor. "A quick stop at the TARDIS and I should be able to find an ID or badge that would pass muster."

"Maybe you should pick up a change of clothes, too," said Eric. "Investigators mainly stick to solid colors-navy, brown, and black, preferably."

The Doctor was stunned. His sartorial tastes had always been a little off-center but never had he been told to make changes to fit society's needs. He had never felt the need to be one of the herd.

He must have been ready to burst for Shannon quickly intervened. "It's not that there's anything wrong with your outfit, it's just that they'll know you aren't the real thing, no matter how good your ID or bluff."

"Think the Master, Doctor."

"Yes. I see what you mean." The Doctor smiled as if he just ate a canary. "Officious, pompous. A complete boor at parties. Fine. Peri, you stay here. You seem to have a knack getting information." He turned away as she opened her mouth to protest. Why do they always do that? "We'll meet up as originally planned," he called from the doorway.

He went to the TARDIS and rummaged through the wardrobe and pulled out the most understated suit he could find: black jacket and trousers with a white shirt. As he could not bear to be completely devoid of color, he sported a cravat of deep red. He was surprised to find an Investigator's badge and license that was only a few years old. No need to bluff after all. Thus armed, he continued on to the hospital.

At reception, he showed his ID and asked to be shown to the bridge crew. "You got here quick," said the nurse.

"I was in the general area and set off once I heard what happened. If I had waited for the call, who knows what else could have happened?" He tapped his forehead. "Initiative."

"Yes, well, the ward you want is on the fifth floor. Once out of the lift, turn right."

"Thank you." Once on the fifth floor, the Doctor strode through the general ward where Alan was. He couldn't show he knew the man so he looked straight ahead. However, he couldn't ignore him and gave him a slight wave as he passed his bed.

A guard was posted by the door to keep any other unauthorized personnel from entering after the members of the TOC had tried to question the crew. The Doctor showed his ID and was allowed inside. The crew was taking advantage of the downtime, engaged in various relaxing pursuits. The captain was at a small desk by the window, presumably composing his account of the attack.

The Doctor cleared his throat and all immediately stopped to stare at the newcomer. "I am Investigator Smith," he announced. "I need to take a statement from each of you individually and then you may be released from your confinement." He looked around the ward and all the eyes that stared at him. It was time to assert authority. "Before we start, have any of you been approached by people wanting to speak of the incident?"

"The TOC forced their way in claiming that it was in everyone's best interest to come to a solution before it came to war."

"A solid argument. However, as they are not accredited Investigators, anything they did would hinder instead of help, bogging the case down in legalities. You were quite right in refusing to speak to them. Now, if we could start?"

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Alan woke from his little nap feeling rested and a little less pain. He was about to ring for a nurse to bring him some more entertainment prospects when he

saw an Investigator stride through the hall. As the man got closer, Alan could see it was the Doctor. He even gave a little wave as he walked by. What the hell is he trying to do? Seeing he might now have entertainment as the Doctor questioned the crew, he prepared for a little astral journey.

He soon found himself looking at the Doctor from the viewpoint of Berwick. He seemed a bit overconfident from what Alan could sense. What made him suspicious was the total lack of concern. There would usually be some agonizing of what a war could mean.

He "jumped" into each of the crew as the Doctor questioned them and they all told the same story--practically word for word. It was obvious they were in it together and had time enough to come up with a story. It all fit in with what he had been told and what he saw on his arrival on the bridge. It seemed like they would have to prey on the weak and get him--or her--to break.

He came to himself to find a doctor inspecting his bandages. "You've healed quite nicely, Colonel. You'll just need to keep your arm wrapped for another day. Other than that, I see no need for you to remain in hospital. I'll leave you to change now." She closed the drapes behind her.

While dressing, he contacted his brother. {What's going on? The Doctor came by dressed like an undertaker.}

{Capt. Berwick wasn't too thrilled with our attempt to question him and the crew, so the Doctor is pretending to be an Investigator.}

{So what are you doing?}

{Questioning the passengers at the hotel. Oh, we met that girl you saved. She provided us with a good lead. How are you doing?}

{Pretty good. The doc says I should be out of here soon.} He homed in on Ryan's machine.

{That's great. We can--}

Alan left while his brother was in mid-sentence only to appear at his side. "So tell me of this great lead we have."

Ryan filled him in and they were soon joined by Eric, Shannon, and Peri. "This just seems to confirm our suspicions," Shannon stated.

"There hasn't been any formal declaration from the Naylons either," said Eric.

"Of course not," put in Alan. "The crew's been sequestered, unable to send anything out. If only we could find the cause of the explosion. There's no way now."

"There might be," said Peri. "We were there when it exploded. The TARDIS might have it in its memory."

"We'll have to ask the Doctor when he gets here."

"Ask the Doctor what?" the Time Lord said as he arrived. He had obviously gone to the TARDIS to change into his "normal" attire.

"What took you so long?" teased Alan.

"Not all of us have Time at our beck and call."

"You're just jealous."

The Doctor only pouted.

"Doctor, Peri mentioned you arrived right before the explosion," said Shannon.

"Yes, we did."

"Would the TARDIS have recorded the blast in its memory? If we can figure out if it started inside or outside the ship, we would know if we're on the right track."

"Sounds good to me. I can download the sequence onto something compatible for this time so it can be entered as evidence." He looked at the crowd they were attracting. "Why don't we adjourn to the TARDIS where we can talk without worrying about being overheard."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As they walked through the city to where they Doctor had left his TARDIS, Shannon tried to convince herself that this was the same man she had known in Jamaica. This one was much stranger than his more dashing self. Peri had explained how, when near death, the Doctor's body could regenerate, causing him to change appearance and certain personality traits. Peri had actually witnessed the last one. Shannon then remembered the Doctor saying something about changing bodies before.

Without even being told, Shannon knew the TARDIS the moment she saw it. After all, a 20th century police box would be in a museum in this place-if one even still existed. She couldn't help but smile as it was so fitting. The Doctor had told her of his fondness for Earth during that time period, so maybe the TARDIS wanted him to have a piece of it with him always.

After a moment of lightheadedness while crossing the threshold, Shannon found herself in the control room of the TARDIS. It looked just like Alan had described it-after she goaded him enough times-right down to the roundels in the walls. Opposite the entrance was another door that obviously went deeper into the ship.

The Doctor pushed a button and a recessed monitor lowered from the ceiling. "I should be able to recall the desired image," he said as he fiddled with some other controls. "There, that should do it."

They all stared at the monitor as the pictured cleared to show the Nightjar. It wasn't long until they saw the main explosion and a series of smaller ones that spread throughout the ship. It was amazing that everyone survived.

"It looks like it started on the port side, one of the lower decks. What's down there?" asked Ryan.

"I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was near where Shandris overheard that conversation," replied Alan.

The Doctor removed a small disc from the console. "Let me try to pull up the schematics. Then we can narrow down who had access."

"An officer from the bridge could pretty much go anywhere, though, right?" asked Peri. "What good will that do when they're the ones we suspect anyway?"

"Good point," commented Shannon. "Besides, any evidence we found would be inadmissible." Or become its own federal case, she added to herself. The

Doctor looked at her and she could tell he didn't approve of what they wanted to do. But what else were they to do? If they waited too long, the real Investigator would show up or the crew would be reassigned before they got another chance to talk to them.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

They all seemed to know something she didn't and the Doctor was none too happy. Then it hit her. Shannon said something about bringing back evidence. That could only mean going back to the ship before it exploded.

"Shannon and I will go," said Eric. "With only two of us, there will be less chance of screwing something up."

Eric hadn't said much and seemed to drift to the side when the brothers were around, but she could tell he had his own story. Volunteering to go on a ship you knew was going to explode took guts. Maybe she could get the lowdown on all of them before long.

"Remember, you're just there to get information about what-or who started the explosion," the Doctor was saying. "Don't try to stop it."

"We are the Temporal Observer Corps," Shannon reminded him with a grin.

"We'll be careful," said Eric. "No one will know we're there."

In the blink of an eye, they were gone. For a split second, Peri swore she saw a look of envy cross the Doctor's features. He would definitely be more dangerous if he could pop back and forth through time like that. "So what now?"

"Doctor, what did you learn from the crew?" asked Ryan. "Anything to work with?"

"The captain was rather hostile towards you. I played to his vanity and told him he did the right thing. As for the story, it matches what Alan told us."

"What about the comms officer?"

"They all said the same thing," Alan told him. "The exact same thing."

Peri looked at Alan and wondered how he got in to witness the questioning when he wasn't one of those "Investigators". Besides, he was supposed to have been in bed recuperating. She turned to the Doctor. "I thought you said it was better if you went alone."

"I thought I was alone." He looked at Alan, waiting for an explanation.

The pilot hesitated as if trying to come up with a plausible explanation. "Astral projection," he announced.

"Really?" Peri was fascinated. If she had heard this before her time with the Doctor, she would have thought it a load of bunk. However, now she had seen too much to doubt it.

"A form of it anyway."

"I wish you'd call it something else."

"What would you call it?"

"The dispersal of semi-conscious quark doppelganger."

"Right. Astral projection."

"Next thing you'll tell me about all the ghosts you've met."

"Sorry. Immaterial. Do go on," the Doctor said, holding back any comments until he had heard the full story.

Peri held back her laugh. She knew the Doctor was watching her bulging cheeks. He looked more smug than usual. She burst.

"I have this ability to put myself inside a person's consciousness. I experience what they do, see through their eyes. I can't read thoughts or anything, but I can pick up on emotions. Anyway, Berwick had no guilt or remorse, nothing, not even for the loss of his ship."

"All those people that could have died, that were hurt, and he felt nothing!"

"You're right," said the Doctor. "There was no emotion at all. One would at least expect some anger." The Doctor put his arm around her and gently squeezed her shoulder. She patted his hand. "I was attributing it to shock, but it might be something more."

Peri didn't like the Doctor's tone or the look on his face. Together they always meant trouble. She braced herself and asked the question he was waiting for.

"What do you mean?"

"That perhaps they weren't responsible for their actions."

"You think they're being controlled by some outside force?" asked Alan.

"You mean they're possessed?" questioned Ryan in disbelief.

"No absolutely not! Not possessed, young man! Do you know what science is? Hmmn? Do you?" The Doctor glowered at him, and Ryan actually stepped back. "There are many insidious being who find humans the ideal tool for their purposes. Post-hypnotic suggestion. Mind control. Definitely not possession!"

"But who would want to see a war like this?" Peri asked. "Neither side would benefit."

"That's why I feel it may be a third party, one who could gain financially from the fighting. There was an infamous arms dealer from this era who did just that." The Doctor looked pointedly at Ryan.

"I see you've made a few changes since the last time I was here," Alan remarked.

"I forgot you've been in the TARDIS," commented the Doctor as he accepted the change of topic. He then went on to explain some of the finer aspects of the controls.

Peri yawned. Since she knew enough about the TARDIS' operations and temperament, now was a good time for a nap.

Shannon and Eric arrived in the area pinpointed by the Doctor's TARDIS as the likely spot where the bomb was. "Why am I not surprised," said Eric as he took in his surroundings. "This is where they always put the bomb. Somewhere dark and cramped with tons of pipes."

"Okay, so where would a bomb cause the most damage?" Shannon asked aloud.

"Not immediate damage, anyway," continued Eric as he looked. "It allowed everyone to get off."

"So maybe it wasn't just one bomb but a few spread throughout the ship timed to go off at certain intervals, the last causing the most damage."

"Makes sense. Alan said something about there being a number of hits."

"Well, making sense of what we're looking for doesn't make it any easier to find."

"And as for who did it, it's not like there are security cameras in this area."

"We may not need any," Shannon whispered. "Footsteps."

The two hid behind a tangle of pipes and watched as the door slid open and a figure stepped cautiously inside. The face was blocked from view but they could tell it was carrying a bomb.

"No wonder we couldn't find it," whispered Shannon.

As if hearing her, the figure raised its head, exposing his face to what little light there was. Eric couldn't believe it. "How can that be?"

"I guess the crew weren't the only ones hypnotized."

"But I thought you guys couldn't be, what with the telepathy and such."

"We were never shown a defense against it so we're just as susceptible as anyone else." She watched as Alan left. "C'mon, let's follow him."

"Wouldn't do us any good. He's probably been instructed to return to his cabin. When he comes out of it, he won't remember a thing. Our best bet is to return to the others. My guess is the Doctor can put Alan under and hopefully get him to remember."

They returned to the TARDIS where they were practically pounced upon by Ryan. "So, did you see who did it?"

"Yes, we did," Eric answered.

"Well, who?"

Eric didn't say anything but looked at Alan. Stunned, Alan stood there, unbelieving. "That's something I didn't expect," remarked the Doctor.

**********************************************

"Oh, this is just perfect," declared Ryan. "How is this supposed to help our case?"

"I swear, I don't remember a thing," protested his brother.

"I daresay you wouldn't," stated the Doctor.

"But why use Alan?" asked Shannon. "There was no need to worry about physical evidence since there wouldn't be anything left."

"Well, we've agreed that this was done to start a war. Now this person/creature /being just may be twisted enough to enjoy the fact that Alan was the one used to start it," stated Eric.

"That really narrows things down," said Alan sarcastically. "I think I ticked off quite a number of 'beings'."

"I don't think it's a grudge," said the Doctor. "Eric could be right. You have a reputation of being the ..."

"Darling of the Alliance," Ryan supplied, remembering the term from an earlier incarnation of his own.

"Now I really want to get this guy!" declared Alan. "I do not like being manipulated."

"We need to get hold of the passenger manifest then check the backgrounds of each," said the Doctor. "In order to exert this control, the culprit had to be onboard."

"Oh, good, research," said Alan.

"You need to kick some ass," declared Shannon.

"You know you can't make a successful plan of attack without knowing your enemy," Ryan said.

"Alan won't be joining you," the Doctor told them. "We are going to have a little session in hypnosis." He sneered at Ryan. "As opposed to voodoo."

"Look, it's just a word."

"With a very foolish history. Right now Alan is the only lead we have. I would think you would want this solved as soon as possible."

"You're so sure you can break this thing," said Ryan. "How do we know it wasn't one of your kind?" He regretted it the moment the words left his mouth.

The Doctor's face took on a haughty expression and he looked down at him as if he were some insignificant insect. "The Time Lords even if they could do what I can do would be adamant to do nothing more than sit on their hands. As for myself I know of my abilities," he stated coldly, "because I have done it before. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to compose a letter allowing you access to the information we need." The Doctor strode out of the control room.

"What brought that on?" Shannon asked. "The Doctor helped us before so why would he do anything to harm Alan?"

"I don't know what made me do it. Maybe because he's kicking us out and putting him into a trance without any witnesses. With that being one of the weapons of choice, excuse me for being paranoid. Maybe it's just because he's an asshole."

"He's not, Ryan. He's a scientist. This ship isn't a product of magic. It's a function of science. He knows many things, Ryan, and you keep doubting him. He's clocked in more hours than we ever will or can. I know you don't mean what you say, Ry, but you keep hurting the Doctor's feelings. So he attacked you in turn."

Ryan knew she was right and nodded. "All right, I'll apologize when the Doctor comes back and all will be well."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Peri then entered the room looking rather sleepy. "I thought I heard voices," she said with a yawn. "What's going on? What did you find on the ship?"

"We did see who placed the bomb," Shannon told her. "Thing is, we think he was in a hypnotic trance and the Doctor plans to try and break it."

"Great! So what will the rest of us do?" She was fully awake now.

The Doctor chose that moment to return. He handed Peri a plastic card with a series of numbers engraved on it. "There you go. That should open a few doors for you."

Peri looked at the card. "This could be for anyone. How will they know it's mine?"

The Doctor gave a long, suffering sigh then Shannon quickly jumped in with an explanation. "It's like a credit card. When they swipe it through the scanner, all your information comes up on the computer along with a photo. Some of the more high-security ones include a thumbprint."

"Cool. Wait, a photo? Which photo?"

"Vanity does not become you, Peri."

"Not that photo!"

"Yes that one!"

"No!"

"Yes! The one where we were visiting Cassiopeia."

She made a face and slapped him on the arm.

"It is so hard being your friend sometimes, Doctor!"

"Nothing worthwhile is easy." He beamed.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Once the others had gone, the Doctor took Alan back to the cloister. He then found a comfortable chair and motioned Alan to sit while he took a seat on a footstool.

"This isn't what I expected."

"You were thinking of a dark room and a swirling wheel or a twirling reflective surface?" The pilot nodded. "Old wives' tale. You just need to relax. Those are just tools to aid in concentration." He studied the man in front of him. "I don't think we'll need that."

"Next you'll be telling me to listen only to the sound of your voice," cracked Alan.

"Just settle in your chair and relax. Breathe deep, hold it, and release." Alan did as he was told. "Just a few more times." When he felt Alan was ready, he began to ask questions about the trip to try to pinpoint when he had been conditioned. After a few tries, he hit it. He discovered there was a large period of time that Alan could not account for.

"Alan, I want you to go deeper into your memory. Somewhere there lingers a thought, a memory, an incident that someone has told you to forget. I want you to think hard. Where are you now?"

"In the lounge. I'm reading Popular Science. A man in glasses comes over and introduces himself as Kasner, professor of history. Thinking he wants an autograph, I start to take out a pen. 'Oh, no' he says, 'I'd like to talk about some of your missions'."

"And did you?"

"As much as I could without compromising official secrets."

"And then?" The Doctor knew this was the important part.

"He hands me a box. It's not big; I can hold it in one hand. He then tells me to take it down to one of the port engine rooms and set the timer for six hours." His eyes flew open in discovery--and anger. "That bastard just handed me the bomb like it was a package to be delivered!" He faced the Doctor. "We have to get this guy."

The Doctor should not have been surprised at how easily Alan came out of the trance. He was proving a most remarkable human at every turn. "So, now we have a name and a face. The others must be told to redirect their search."

"Way ahead of you." He closed his eyes and the Doctor knew he was in telepathic contact with his brother and Shannon. "Okay, they'll look up his files and see what they can find. So, what do we do in the meantime?"

"Because you were told to forget the meeting, this man must be afraid of you recognizing him. Now that you remember, I was thinking we should see if you can spot him at the hotel."

"I do like the way you think."

"Who doesn't?"


>Part Two

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