Paul Gadzikowski


Who Would Be King

Chapter 2

Captain's log, supplemental: We have successfully enlisted the help of the Time Lord known as the Doctor into the Enterprise's investigation of the sudden Borg time-travel capability ...

"Stand by to activate interface," Picard commanded.

"Aye captain," called Data from ops, and LaForge from the bridge main engineering station. Both consoles had cables running from the ports beneath, across the bridge floor through the door into the observation lounge. The Doctor had offered to move the TARDIS onto the bridge, but it always blocked the main viewscreen when he did that.

"One last check," said the Doctor. On the main viewscreen he moved away from the pickup, leaving an unoccupied vista of the TARDIS console room, and appeared in a moment in person in the observation lounge door. He went to Data's station, threw himself on the floor, and examined the cable link-ups.

"It still seems to me that the TARDIS needs to be hooked up to the warp engines," Data said - his emotion chip was activated now, Picard observed; there was petulance in his tone - "if it's going to generate a chronometric field big enough for the Enterprise."

"And so we would have done," agreed the Doctor cheerfully, his nose buried deep in Data's legroom, "if it were energy instead of information we needed to transfer."

"But the power requirements must be -" Data started to object.

The Doctor leapt to his feet and patted Data's cheek. "Knowledge is power, Data.

"The complexity of such subjects as quantum information theory," the Doctor added as he bound across the bridge to examine, prostrate again, the station where LaForge was standing, "is exactly why the Borg will want to back up the time travel knowledge of their assimiliated Time Lord by assimilating more Time Lords, rather than by spending all the drone-hours it would take to document it all properly. Learning to travel time safely takes lifetimes - which is why Time Lords regenerate to extend their lifespans."

"So you're sure," said Riker, leaning on the rail by LaForge's station, "that it was assimilating a Time Lord that's given the Borg their time travel capability?"

"Must have been," said the Doctor, popping upright again. "Their plan to stop Zephram Cochrane stinks of the devious underhanded tricks my people delight in." He paused, then looked at LaForge. "You told him about the statue?"

Riker grinned. LaForge rolled his eyes - that was a sight Picard was still getting used to. He wondered how the Doctor knew about this in-joke between Riker and Laforge when Picard didn't know what it meant.

"We need only remove the Time Lord from the collective before it acquires any more Time Lords, or writes very much down," said the Doctor, jogging back off the bridge and onto the viewscreen, "and it'll effectively lose all its knowledge of time travel."

Riker joined Picard and Troi, sitting in his chair next to theirs at the center of the bridge, as Picard asked the Doctor, "And you're certain you know what point in time to find the Borg Time Lord?"

"Must be my own native time," the Doctor said, as on the screen he operated the TARDIS controls, flipping switches and turning cranks and working levers, "since it was this me, from my now, that your signal drew into this now."

Picard had long held the hypothesis that, when the Doctor began babbling such almost-nonsense as this, it meant that whatever psychic and/or technological translation device he used was at a loss to render into Picard's language the concepts he meant to communicate. So now the captain decided to let the subject drop.

"Interesting," said Data. "What is your reasoning for that conclusion?"

"Are you ready, Doctor?" Picard interrupted.

The Doctor grinned at him. "For anything you are, captain."

Picard gave him a watch-yourself-on-my-ship glare and said, "Make it so."

"Three ... two ... one ... now!" the Doctor counted, and threw the last lever as Data and LaForge simultaneously pressed touchpads on their consoles. New status boards were generated on their consoles; a loud snap and a wisp of smoke came from the TARDIS console, but no one present was unaccustomed to its histrionics.

"Looking very good," said the Doctor, waving the smoke away.

"Input and output are at 103% of the minimum requirement you indicated for temporal transference," Data reported.

"Cables are fine - they can take a little more, Doctor," LaForge called.

"Let's give ourselves a greater safety margin then, shall we?" On the main screen the Doctor moved to a horizontal row of about a dozen knife switches, of which four on the right end were open. He opened the fifth, then the sixth. "Now?"

"One hundred twenty three percent," Data said.

"Cables are just below tolerance," LaForge said.

"Any time, Captain," said the Doctor cheerfully, taking hold of a pair of handles on his console.


The Doctor pushed the handles forward, up the surface of the TARDIS console. The console's central column began its rising-and-falling motion. Picard felt the start of a low vibration in the deck, in the chair, in himself. "Status, Doctor?"

"Now I told you it was going to be tricky," said the Doctor distractedly, still sliding the grips slowly forward. "This won't take long."

"How long will it be?"

"Hard to say with time travel. Well, it never seems to have been long when it's done. Only while it's going on ..."

Picard's back teeth were beginning to ache. "I can believe that."

Now the Doctor's console grips arrived at the end of their slots. The central column motion and the uncomfortable vibration stopped. "There!" said the Doctor, straightening. "Dead on, Captain. Exactly the destination we wanted, in space and time."

"Visual, Ensign Epstein," Picard ordered the man at con.

Barely before he dashed offscreen the Doctor was replaced by a view of what Picard knew to be a planet, even though it was entirely obscured by a force field - rainbow-colored, like an oil slick in a rain puddle, but brighter.

"Gallifrey," breathed the Doctor from the lounge doorway.

"No sign of Borg," Epstein reported.

The Doctor nodded, moving toward bridge center. "If the transduction barrier is still up, that means we got here first as I intended."

"Hail the Time Lords," Picard ordered Lt. Daniels at tactical.

"Oh, they won't answer," said the Doctor. Unconcernedly he came to a halt in the center of Picard's view of the main screen. "They like their privacy. None of them ever comes out or talks to anyone else."

"Then how did the Borg get ahold of one?" Troi asked.

"I should think that was obvious," said the Doctor. "There's only one Time Lord foolhardy enough, greedy enough, egotistical enough, impatient enough - which is how I know he'll want to take the short cut and assimilate more Time Lords - to allow himself to be assimilated and believe he'll get through it intact."

The Enterprise shook. "Borg tractor beam!" Epstein shouted. "A cube materialized just to port!"

"They're hailing," said Daniels. "Visual."

"Onscreen," Picard commanded. He stood so that he could move from behind the Doctor.

A Borg appeared on the screen. Picard could tell from experience that the relative lack of implants made him a recent assimilation. He was humanoid, even human-appearing. He had a black mustache and goatee.

"We are Borg," he said. "You will obey us."


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