Paul Gadzikowski


Who Would Be King

Chapter 1

Captain's log, stardate 50900.0: The Enterprise has returned to the present after our stay in 2063. The replacement of the main deflector array and the removal of the Borg technology from the Enterprise systems are in hand, and I am fairly certain that the rest of my staff believes our adventure with the time-traveling Borg is over ...

"Installation of the new array should be complete by thirteen hundred," said Riker to Picard as they watched the spacedock engineers come and go - from this viewport there wasn't a direct view of the deflector dish - and as the rest of the staff filed into the observation lounge. "Command is being very cooperative. You'd think they had something to apologize for." He looked at Picard sideways.

"Hmm." Picard knew Riker must have heard from his shipmates that Command's reservations about involving Picard with the Borg had turned out not entirely unfounded. Picard himself had told Command in a personally delivered report. Command - or what was left of it after the Borg battle - had commended Picard anyway, and they'd put the Enterprise at the top of the repair list; but that probably had as much to do with the new mission he had requested of them. Now it was time to tell his officers.

He turned to the conference table where all but he and Riker were already seated. Well, almost all. Worf was back on Defiant; there were some upgrades he wanted included in the repairs. Picard could identify with that.

Picard nodded as he and Riker sat. "We have," he said without preamble, "a new mission."

"To find out how the Borg come to have time travel," Riker said.

No one but Picard seemed startled that Riker should say this. "Why, that's right."

"Until now there's been no indication that they had the capability," Crusher pointed out, as Picard had to Command.

"It's not something we can live with for long," LaForge continued the argument. "We have to do something about it."

"Exactly," said Picard, trying to regain control of the conversation. "Now, Starfleet and the Federation have time-travel experts, but mostly as anomaly investigators and analysts. I suggested to Command that we need more practical experience -"

"The Doctor," said Data helpfully.

"Yes," said Picard, taken aback again but hiding it this time - to all but, of course, Troi, he knew. "Data, is there anything in the Starfleet datafile on our friendly Time Lord that suggests a means of contacting him through time?"

"No, sir."

"I seem to recall he had some affiliation with the twentieth century Earth military, in a previous regeneration -"

"There are no records extant in our time of the Doctor's service with the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce," said Data. "However, I was able, while we were in the twenty-first century, to 'hack' into several computer systems of the time in hopes of recovering such records ..."

The realization that his staff had been so far ahead of him all this time struck Picard with an uncomfortable combination of pride and dismay. And he was beginning to take Troi's total lack of reaction to what she must know he was feeling as an affront.

"... At which I was successful, discovering among other things a schematic for a device called a 'space-time telegraph' or 'psionic beam'."

"Can you construct one?"

Data reached to the floor and placed on the conference table an equipment case that Picard hadn't seen him bring in, from which he extracted a box-shaped device. "Its construction posed little difficulty, though much of the original device must have been obscure to the author of the schematic, one E. Shaw, who was apparently working from an existing device rather than from personal familiarity of the principles involved. Many components are described only as 'a little black box that seems to' perform a certain function beyond the Earth technology of the time. All such functions we are able to accomplish or at least approximate today. 'Little black box' is of course a colloquialism of the time that meant -"

"Have you tested it?" Picard interrupted.

"I assumed you would wish to be present."

Picard nodded. "No time like the present. Do it." Data depressed a switch on the top of the device.

Immediately the Doctor's timeship the TARDIS - in its customary guise of a London "Police Box" - materialized in the observation lounge. The Doctor disembarked - still in his eighth body, Picard noted, a young-appearing fair-haired man with a predeliction to Victorian clothing. "Brigadier! How good to - oh bother," he said. "Really must stop forgetting to look at the scanner screen before I pop out."

"Doctor," said Picard, "we need your help."

"Well, it had better be important," said the Doctor, moving to the other end of the table and picking up the signal device from in front of Data to examine it. "I went to a great deal of trouble to remove all traces I could of this thing from history after my time at UNIT. You wouldn't believe the petty, inconsequential ..."

"The Borg," announced Picard, standing, "have acquired time travel capability."

The signal device dropped back onto the table, forgotten. The Doctor had turned quite pale. "You know what this means."

Picard nodded. He was gratified that his staff now seemed quite at sea, looking from Picard standing at one end of the table to the Doctor standing at the other. He'd been afraid that his unmanning by the Borg had cost him the capacity to lead that he and they needed. But it was he alone here who dared to match wits with this Time Lord - and keep up. "They could have picked it up any of several ways -"

"But," said the Doctor, "the most likely is ..."

"They must have assimilated a Time Lord," said Picard.


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Chapter 2


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