"Copyright violation?!" Tucker blurted.
"This impulse configuration was designed by my father," said Archer, smiling in disbelief and/or diplomacy, "no matter who else came up with it independently."
"It matters under the law of this area of space," I insisted, "and I'm a deputy law/court officer in this jurisdiction." I grabbed an I.D. at random from my pocket and flashed it at Archer, knowing damn well he couldn't read the language, then turned it off and put it away when the Doctor tried to see it. Actually there was less chance of him queering my scam than that the Vulcan would. On the other hand, the Doctor could probably outlogic any Vulcan who was used to dealing with humans - and that was small potatoes compared to the real reason I needed him on my side. "Captain, it may be that I won't have to impound your ship -"
"Impound Enterprise?!" Tucker shouted.
"- if I can hold an emergency hearing right now. Now, I'll need some assistance - Doctor," I called before Buffy said something innuendo-laden, "you're a disinterested party. I deputize you as my, uh, deputy deputy. Captain, if we might confer in private a moment?" I bundled the Doctor into a corner without waiting for Archer to answer.
"'Disinterested'," the Doctor sniffed to me when we were alone. "I'm the most interested party you'll ever meet. Just now I'm interested in your assertion that a human drive design falls under the jurisdiction of Klingon intellectual property law as enforced by the vampire holder of an Orion holorental card."
"Buffy must go back where she came from," I told him.
Buffy had died in spring of 2001, sacrificing herself for her sister Dawn and saving the world from the fallen god Glory. In the autumn her friends had used a powerful and far from squeaky-clean magic spell to bring her back to life; bad things made to happen by good people. They had assumed, not unreasonably, that her spirit was trapped in the hell dimension the portal to which her body had passed through. They'd assumed wrong.
Here was that Buffy now, timelost, on a twenty-second century space exploration vessel, still after four months shocky and disoriented, not the least by my showing up. If denial is a river in Egypt, then Buffy has always been an Amazon.
But the Doctor's comment that he'd "got to the bottom" of Buffy's story, and that it was all right, meant the time-traveler was also from a point in his personal timeline after he'd encountered Buffy's sacrifice but before he'd encountered Buffy's resurrection. He didn't know Buffy was destined to return to 2001, by means of her friends' resurrection spell; and it would be dangerous to the timeline for me to tell something like that to a time-traveling major player like the Doctor before he found out for himself. If you think it's handy to have a Time Lord around when you're trying to unravel a paradox, Powers That Be (And why else has she been waiting four months for me to come along?), would it have been that much more trouble to pick one I could explain the anomaly to without tearing a new anomaly?
This Doctor wasn't as emotive as most of him are. When I told him Buffy had to go back, it was the only time I ever saw this him blink twice. "She came back from death," he said. "Picked a ship with the right name to do it on, too ..."
"She must," I said, voice low and lips hardly moving and teeth clenched.
I could have said, "I can't tell you that." I didn't know, after his past few days, saying that would've only pissed him off. I still didn't say it. I didn't want him mad, I wanted him scared.
"I could tell you," I said casually, "but then I'd have to kill you."
This was an incarnation of the Doctor that had gone as far as he ever would in forgiving Angel for what Angelus had done to him, but who also knew the line between Angel and Angelus could go fuzzy at need. And he knew I had experience with time paradoxes: the physics geek; the day I lived human, then lived over; meeting Willow before I met her ... "What do you want me to do?" he asked.
"Find a way to take her back."
"Oh, very good. I'll just nip off back to the TARDIS and look up the spacetime coordinates of the afterlife."
"Find out how she got here, somehow," I hissed desperately, "and reverse it. Between us, you're the better wizard; and I have to keep up a distraction because she's not going to want to go, and because her shipmates wouldn't believe any of this if we told them. Oh, and I need you to keep the Vulcan off my back."
"I think T'Pol will follow my lead," said the Doctor confidentially.
"Excuse me, Mr. Angel," Archer interrupted us. He had been conferring with T'Pol during our conference. "My first officer is unaware of any authority governing this area of space."
"It's a new interstellar federation," said the Doctor promptly.
"It must be quite new," said T'Pol. I suppose you could call that following the Doctor's lead.
"Very new," I said quickly. "And unstable," I added, conscious that they'd never hear of it again after today. "Might be gone next week."
"Which isn't to say interplanetary federations are necessarily a bad thing," said the Doctor pointedly to Archer.
"Meanwhile, you wouldn't want to obstruct a law officer in the execution of his duties, would you?" I asked. I always try to speak in generalities after the first big lie, in case Saint Peter only tallies actual untrue statements. Not that I'll ever meet him anyway.
"It would seem the diplomatic thing to do, captain," T'Pol said. Whaddya know.
"A hearing?" Archer asked me. I nodded.
"He's one of the good guys, captain," Buffy put in.
"An' it's not like we can't just kick'im back onto his dinky little ship an' outrun'im, if we want to, afterwards," Tucker whispered to Archer.
"You don't want to start out making the rest of the galaxy think you're as unruly as the Vulcans think, do you, captain?" said Padme.
"All right," Archer, beset on all sides, said to me. "As long as you understand I may not feel bound by your ruling."
I grinned my salesman grin. "We'll plunge into that wormhole if it opens. Doctor, would you go to the TARDIS and start on that research I asked for?"
"Right away, your honor," said the Doctor, with only enough irony to lay it an inch thick on the Enterprise's entire exterior surface. "Come along, Padme." They left.
"Uh, captain, somewhere we can talk?" I suggested.
"My ready room," Archer said, and led the way. Buffy was on my arm the whole trip, the sweeter now I knew it wouldn't last.
I beat Archer to the seat behind the desk without seeming to rush. Once everyone was seated I found they were all looking at me to start the proceedings. (Well, Buffy was just looking at me.) I didn't have the faintest idea how to convene a court in an imaginary federation that both Klingons and Rlasi would be members of. Then I remembered that I wasn't the one supposedly on trial here. "Well," I asked Archer, "what do you have to say for yourselves?"
"That's bringing court to order?" Buffy giggled.
"I said we're new."
Archer was already standing. If Earth keeps giving their starships to guys like him they'll probably do all right.
"As you know, on Earth ignorance of the law is considered no excuse," Archer started. "So I'm not going to go that way. 'I didn't mean to' may get you off for knocking over the lamp when you're nine - or it may not - but it certainly doesn't hold up in court.
"Neither am I going to say, 'We're sorry and we promise we won't do it again.' I'm not sorry and I probably will do it again, and I think I can speak for my crew on that.
"The basis of my defense is not to deny our infraction of this law, but to argue the injustice of the law itself."
Archer began to pace in front of me at his desk, gesturing with his hands, keeping eye contact with me and smiling in a friendly way. "What are we out here for? We're out here for ideas. We're out here for community. We're out here for growth, for our own growth and to offer a hand to others for their growth. It's what intelligent beings do. We build on what's gone before. That's where civilization comes from.
"At issue is our right to freely exchange ideas in our community. Ideas of our own. Ideas of others. Every individual or species' natural desire. Our right to our chosen means of this exchange is being called into question, on the basis that the means is someone else's property.
"The purpose of intellectual property law, when it was invented on Earth anyway, was to encourage creators by guaranteeing the creator ownership of his own creation as it propagated through society. But what then when the creation propagates so thoroughly through society as to become a cornerstone of society? What then when inhibition of its use is inhibition of society? On Earth, intellectual property law was created with inherent time limits - because its true purpose was to see ideas make the transition to the public domain.
"I don't know whether this Lezpyiq is a person or some sort of corporate entity. If Lezpyiq is a living person or more than one, I have no quarrel with them receiving due compensation for propagation and use of their idea.
"But if this Lezpyiq is some committee or commercial concern comprised of no remnant of the actual creator or creators of the design, then that cornerstone of that society is being inhibited, and the law that enforces that inhibition is doing precisely the opposite of what intellectual property law was conceived to do."
The guy was going great guns. He was sure convincing me. So I noticed right away when he suddenly froze where he was standing. "Uh, there's something wrong with your captain, guys," I said. When no one answered I noticed that they were all frozen too, even Buffy.
There was a white light growing in the center of the room. Luckily for Archer he had been frozen at a different point in his pacing route, or this thing would have materialized on top of him ... if it was material. It was dazzling, but it wasn't. It was as if I had been granted an angel's - a real angel's - breadth of perception but was still constrained to physically take it in with my own bodily senses. As that description occurred to me I remembered also where I'd originally heard it: Cordy describing her first ascension, the time Skip promoted her, while I was twenty thousand leagues under the sea.
I was starting to make out a humanoid form in the center of it when it spoke. "The lord summoned us on your behalf."
Lord? Oh, the Time Lord. Us? Come to think of it, I did seem to see two figures alternating, one bigger and probably male and one slighter, bustier and bald. And something else? Something boxy? "Yes. What do you know about this one's being in this time?" I pointed to Buffy.
He/she/it (the it was some kind of machine, I could see as they became more focussed) looked at Buffy. "She is a Champion," said the male aspect. "There is a disturbance in the continuum in this spacetime, a suitable challenge for a Champion." I didn't know it then but this disturbance was what had involved the Doctor with Archer's ship. But that wasn't the issue on the table.
"You brought her here," I grokked. "That means you can put her back."
"That is waste of a Champion," said the female aspect. "She has not advanced enough to ascend higher yet. She requires more challenges overcome." When it was male it appeared in a familiarish jumpsuit.
"Is that a Starfleet uniform?"
"It will be. We were in Starfleet. Or shall be, times from now." He shook his head over the lack of verb tenses to describe time travel concepts. "Language is such a clumsy tool."
"Yeah, yeah." The higher Champions always say that. "It's just that I know her advancement challenges to lie along another path, which she is to find without your assistance."
Somehow the machine aspect (you know, it looked like one of NASA's unmanned probes) contrived to look from Buffy to me. Then the male and female aspects appeared at once and spoke simultaneously. "She is safe, warm, complete with you. And you her. Why do you turn this away?"
"Because that time is still in the future for her," I said. Then I swallowed and added, "And in the past for me."
I guess that persuaded them, either to my argument or to look for themselves into whatever noncorporeal crystal ball they used to verify the things mere mortals told them. They almost looked sad. "So be it," said the machine.
"Uh - and it might smooth things over if you adjusted the memories of the people of this time as if she'd never been here," I added quickly. I didn't relish having to explain to Archer what happened to one of his crew, resigned or not, when she'd vanished in the middle of his oration. I purposefully made no request regarding Buffy's memory. No one from Sunnydale, including Buffy, had ever discussed with me whether Buffy came back from her 2001 death with any memories. I didn't want to risk meddling with them - as I already said, I was here to repair a time anomaly, not cause one.
But they saw my question, now that they were looking at my soul already. "She shall remember impressions only," the female assured me. "It is time," the male announced.
"Goodbye, Buffy," I said. The white light faded, and when it was gone Buffy was gone too.
When he came back to himself Archer seemed to have lost the thread of his argument. It didn't matter; the door buzzed, Archer and I both called, "Come!", and the Doctor and Padme entered.
They noted Buffy's absence - not being "people of this time" whose memories the higher Champion would have adjusted according to my request. Then the Doctor came over to me and - without having been told - made quiet buzzing noises in my ear to make it look like he was telling me what he'd found out about the imaginary local copyright law. Maybe he was trying to put me on the spot, to see how I'd deal; but in fact I'd already concocted the story I was going to use to resolve this.
"Thanks, Doctor," I said when he was done. I rose from Archer's chair and said to him with embarrassment, "I, uh, seem to have exceeded my authority. I'm deputized to enforce the laws, but I'm informed that there are lisences I don't possess without which I'm not legally qualified to say that your impulse configuration is a Lezpyiq."
"So we're off the hook?" Archer asked.
"Well, I'm duty-bound to report you to the authorities," I said. "... if, when I depart, I still believe you're running a Lezpyiq."
"I know several configurations which are, so to speak, public domain," the Doctor butted into the act. "More efficient battery usage than the Lezpyiq, too."
"So, after all this hooting and hollering," Tucker summarized, "all you're going to do is help us with our situation and leave - which is what we all wanted in the first place."
"Uh, yeah," I admitted. It really was a little embarrassing.
"Well, shoot," said Tucker.
"Perhaps," T'pol offered to him, "you can understand a little better now how Vulcans feel about dealing with humans."
"Maybe if y'all would just help us with our situation and leave, we wouldn't -"
"Commander," Archer cut him off, giving both officers a Not in front of company look. "Doctor, Mr. Angel, let's do it."
T'Pol saw us back to my ship's bay and moved off to leave me to a private goodbye with the Doctor and Padme before escorting them back to the TARDIS.
"Thanks for your help," I said to the Doctor when I'd related my conversation with the triple header.
"I appreciate your higher being's concern," said the Doctor, "but the anomaly in this time zone isn't something Buffy would likely have been able to handle, and is already in good hands anyway."
"I'm surprised you weren't more surprised to see her," Padme told him. "It was only a few days ago, our chronology, that we were at her funeral."
The Doctor shrugged it off. "As our mere presence on this Enterprise has attested, I do sometimes meet people or things out of sequence. As for Buffy being unexpectedly in the wrong time zone, the sort of thing does happen. Next time you see Captain Janeway, ask her about Amelia Earhart. Now if I were to see Buffy in Sunnydale, autumn 2001, that'd be another matter."
He turned to me. "I was more surprised to see you. According to Time Lord researches, no Earth vampires survived the post-atomic horror."
"Not your average vampire," I reminded him. Apparently it was some incarnation of the Doctor after this one with whom I helped ensure that anyone was left on Earth after the post-atomic horror.
"The soul survivor, eh?"
"I gotta go."
"Goodbye." Fortunately the Doctor isn't any bigger on goodbyes than I am; we each turned in our black coats and went our seperate ways. After the first couple of centuries you learn to concentrate on the hellos instead, I guess.
Once under weigh again I reflected on the difference between us. For all his concern for the life in the universe on the grand scale, the Doctor has never formed a special attachment for one other person the way I have for Buffy. Only to have her come into my life once every century or two just to go away again.
The thing is, she never really leaves.
The cause of the Doctor's emnity with Angelus, and Angel's "meeting Willow before I met her", are described in Angels and Aces; in which Angel seems already familiar by 1996 with the Doctor and the sort of time muddles he gets into, but in which the reason for Angel's familiarity is not adequately explored.
The Doctor's first recorded assertion that no vampires survived the
post-atomic horror is in my first WHO/BUFFY/TREK crossover
Everything in Threes.
Angel's tale of the post-atomic horror, or at least the conclusion of it, appears in The Circle of Time.
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