Personal log, stardate 8158.7 ... No. Stardate minus 842.2 ... No. Subjective stardate eight one - Oh, forget it.
Kirk jammed his tricorder back into his jacket pocket. "It does take a Time Lord to deal with this stuff," he said, turning on the outcropping where he sat, to speak to the Doctor.
"If you could read the date headers in my diary," said the Doctor, "you still couldn't read them."
Kirk regarded Saavik, standing apart from them. "Do you think we'll find her answers here?"
"I don't see why not."
When their intrusive intelligence gathering at the time of the outpost's destruction had yielded nothing on Saavik or her parents, Kirk had suggested approaching the problem from the other end of time: backwards from the point when Spock on Pike's Enterprise had discovered her here. Sure enough, in the timestream a week beforehand, the Doctor had located a time-trace from a Gallifreyan capsule. They had landed upstream in the timeflow of the trace, about half an hour earlier, enough time to establish that Saavik was nowhere on this planet before the other time capsule's incursion. Saavik had been planted here for the Enterprise to find - with, apparently, false memories of the first decade of her life.
Now they were just waiting for the other TARDIS to arrive. Saavik had requested privacy to meditate. Kirk had something on his mind to ask the Doctor, but wasn't sure after the Time Lord's behavior in the TARDIS whether he'd receive the question well. But you don't win starship captaincy with timidity. "Who were your parents, Doctor?" he finally asked, but just too late.
A few yards farther off from them than Saavik, with the sonic effect characteristic of Galifreyan time capsules, a cube-shaped structure faded into being. Kirk stood, and he and the Doctor joined Saavik.
Where before there had been no join a door opened - not swinging in or out, nor sliding aside like an Enterprise door - but extending outward on beams its own width at its top and bottom. Out of the time capsule came a man in what Kirk presumed were Time Lord robes, of red and orange. He looked about the same age as the Doctor, but Kirk knew that didn't necessarily mean anything.
"No," said the Doctor, stunned.
"Who is it?" asked Kirk. As he spoke, the arriving Time Lord was followed out of the capsule by a young girl. She had pointed Vulcan ears, and was dressed in a tattered but, for now, clean loincloth. Most noticeably she had, twenty years younger, Saavik's first face; the one she'd started this duty shift with.
"No!" said the Doctor again, now angrily. He stalked off toward the other Time Lord before Kirk or Saavik could say anything more. "What are you doing here?" he demanded just as the other Time Lord took notice of the trio from the TARDIS. Kirk saw that the young Saavik was taking notice of nothing at all. Drugged or hypnotized. Worms in her ears, maybe.
"Do I know you?" the Time Lord asked the Doctor.
"Oh, not yet!" snapped the Doctor, walking up to him and shouting into his face. "But I know you!"
The other Time Lord regarded the Doctor with nonplussed docility, waiting for him to explain.
"You will be my father!" said the Doctor.
"Captain," called the signal officer suddenly.
"Yes?" said Koloth, swinging in his chair.
"There is a message from Valkris."
"And what is the message?" said Koloth.
Pride surged through Koloth as Karamag slapped him on the back. "She has the data," said Karamag. "She has escaped, and will make her way to the rendezvous with Kruge. You have defeated Kirk of the clever games on his own battleground."
"I am worthy of the Metamorphosis!" Koloth roared.
"Did you doubt?" Karamag grinned. It was a Klingon grin of warrior's triumph, not of measly human amusement.
"No one has been cursed with as long a wait as I!" Koloth knew this wasn't literally true, but hyperbole was never exclusive to sons of Earth just because they gave it a name. "No one else was cursed to have a D'Har life-nemesis who took a desk job" - he used the Anglic idiom since he was talking to Karamag - "just at the advent of the Metamorphosis!"
"I did not doubt you," said Karamag. "Here is my faith in you: the surgeon has been standing by to perform the ritual and the operation since Valkris left for the Enterprise in her stealth pod."
The bridge complement stood and saluted Koloth as Karamag escorted him to the lift. It was the proudest moment of his life.
"This is your father?" Kirk asked as he and Saavik joined the tableau outside the time capsule. Saavik only had eyes for her younger self.
The other Time Lord - having known of few Time Lords by names rather than titles, Kirk started thinking of him as the Father - was looking from one Saavik to the other. "Why are you here?" he asked Saavik.
"To learn my true past," said Saavik, now looking at him. "Are you her ... my Gallifreyan parent?"
"I should have known." The Doctor was clenching his teeth and his fists. "Child abandonment is your standard operating procedure, isn't it?"
"Child abandonment?" Kirk asked.
"Oh, yes," said the Doctor. Kirk had never seen the Doctor so angry in any of his incarnations, even allowing for this one's perpetual heart on his sleeve. "When I was very young he left me with foster parents. Oh, we had visits occasionally. He had a house Outside the citadel, at the foot of a mountainside. I thought it was beautiful, and I always asked to stay, but he would never allow it! And when I was old enough to educate, he surrendered me to the Time Lords to be indoctrinated into their static isolationism. He let them try to do that to me!" He leveled an accusatory finger at the Father. "And now I find you abandoning someone else on a deserted planet!!"
"Where, due to my post-hypnotic suggestion," said the Father, "she will discover the outpost's subspace radio and 'accidentally' activate the identification beacon. The first Vulcan in Starfleet will find her in a week's time. Few better role models exist in all eternity."
"And you think that excuses it?" The Doctor's present voice, Kirk noticed, got very high when he was under stress. "That she'll have a better father figure than you ever were?"
"What," Saavik interrupted, "is your purpose in this?"
"I share your opinion of Time Lord society," said the Father to the Doctor. He continued to speak mildly, even blandly. Taking the Doctor as a model Kirk wouldn't have thought the Father a Time Lord at all - yet to hear them discuss it the Father was the norm. "We're too insular. We breed for it. I've read of life out in the more primitive universe; I know what it could be like, should be like. We need to start breeding diversity back into ourselves or we're doomed as a race."
"And you're going to see to it firsthand, are you?" snapped the Doctor. "Sprinkling half-breed Gallifreyan bastards all through space and time? How many are there?"
The Father shrugged. "I can't tell you. I don't know yet. She," he waved at the entranced young Saavik, "is the first. I was able to persuade a Vulcan woman to donate a zygote on scientific grounds. Persuading a woman from each of the emotional races in my plan will, I anticipate, be more of a challenge."
"You know nothing of emotions!" said the Doctor. "You know nothing of the alienation, the shame, you're consigning these children to!"
"That's precisely what I'm saying," said the Father, befuddled at what he must regard as the Doctor's obtuseness. "That's precisely my point. My children will experience these things, though. They'll grow up and come into their Time Lord heritage, create their own time-travel devices and come home, and Gallifrey will be reformed. And now, if you don't mind, I'll be on my way."
The Father turned and got back into his time capsule, without another word or even another look at young Saavik. The Doctor, fuming, yet taken unaware by the Father's sudden departure, made no move to stop him. As the dematerialization started and the time capsule began to fade out of here and now, the Doctor stepped forward as if to follow and cried, "Who is my mother?" But even if the Father had been inclined to answer he couldn't have; at this point in his timeline that hadn't happened yet. In any case the Father was gone now.
Saavik was waving her hand in front of her younger self, to no reaction. "Entirely unresponsive," she said to Kirk. "The wording of the post-hypnotic command must have been to remain entranced until left alone on the planet."
"We could take her home," said Kirk, "try to break it."
Saavik looked up at him and shook her head. "This is all the home she knows. At least for the next week." Suddenly she was looking past Kirk, into somewhere only she - only Time Lords? - could see. "It needs to be. Such is the weave of Time."
"Your call," Kirk conceded. Saavik was seeing him again, and nodded. Then a motion attracted their attention; the Doctor had turned back and was approaching them.
"Saavik," said the Doctor, "I'm sorry. This must be a great disappointment to you."
"On the contrary, Doctor," said Saavik. "I am quite pleased."
"Pleased?" said the Doctor, dumfounded. "Why?"
"Until now," said Saavik, "I have believed that my existence derived from an act of cruelty. Today I have learned that I owe my existence to actions of good intent, however misguided those actions may seem to you."
"To me?" said the Doctor. "Not to you?"
"I must yet consider the matter logically," said Saavik. "I will presume on our newfound family tie to suggest that you seem also yet to have considered the matter in any but the most emotional way. So let me put this to you: If you consider your own existence one of worth, can you truly fault our father for bringing it about?"
The Doctor didn't have an answer for that, and she walked back toward the TARDIS. Kirk watched him for a moment, then began moving off himself. "Coming?" he asked. With one last look at young Saavik he led the Doctor inside.
When the trio disembarked again, they weren't in the same Enterprise corridor from which the TARDIS had departed. Kirk went to the wall intercom. "Computer, time."
"The time is 1711," said the speakers.
"'Five minutes ago'?" Saavik said to the Doctor.
"I didn't say that," said the Doctor.
"Children ..." Kirk was resetting his timepiece. "Almost time for rendezvous with the Forrester. I need to get to the bridge."
"And I am late for my dinner date," said Saavik.
As the two officers set off in different directions Kirk heard the Doctor say, "Date?"
Sitting in Mess 10, David Marcus had just decided that Vulcans do stand up dates; and was getting up to get some food anyway, when a Vulcan he'd never seen before in a lieutenant's uniform sat down at the table across from him.
"I apologize for my tardiness, David," she said. "I have had a busy day."
David regarded her nonplussed. He'd thought Saavik was the only female Vulcan in the crew. "Lieutenant?"
Kirk looked twice when Koloth appeared on the main screen. Undoubtedly so did everyone else in the Enterprise bridge complement. Since their last signal Koloth's hairline had retreated under assault from a battering ram of forehead ridges. The hair was coarser too - and longer. And he had changed from the fabric uniform of the past decades into the newfangled, largely plate-armour style that seemed to be all that most "new" Klingons wore.
"My dear Admiral Kirk," said Koloth, the simpering voice proving his identity when Kirk had found his features almost unrecognizable.
"My dear Captain Koloth," said Kirk. "You look a new man."
Koloth laughed a fake little laugh. "I enjoy your wit so, Admiral. But we've acknowledged the Forrester's hail and this pleasant little encounter is at its end. Au revoir."
Koloth faded from the screen.
"What the hell?" said Uhura.
"I'll have to pass on," said Kirk, "what little the Doctor said about this 'metamorphosis of Kahless' to Starfleet."
"Ready for transport to the Grissom on your word, Admiral," said Scott behind the console.
"I'm glad we had this time." Kirk shook David's hand while the Doctor (who at dinner had replaced the celery he'd discarded from his lapel on the bridge) said quiet goodbyes to Saavik.
"So am I," said David.
Kirk tried to think of something to communicate the depth of his feelings, without being more sentimental than a young man would be comfortable with. "Now," he finally said, "I can die happy."
Once it was out he hoped desperately it didn't sound flip. But David hadn't let go of his hand yet, and now gave it a hard squeeze. He smiled. "Me too." He let go and stepped onto the platform.
Kirk turned to Saavik as she stepped away from the Doctor. "You kids look after each other, all right?"
Saavik cocked an eyebrow - some things never change. "Of course, Admiral." She joined David on the platform. At Kirk's nod Scott sent them to Grissom, the beam catching David in a little wave goodbye.
"You son?" the Doctor asked.
Kirk nodded. "Your sister."
"Sister." The Doctor tried that word on like a new suit. He seemed to like the fit, but he put it away for special. "Well, I think it's time I was off. Thank you for your hospitality as always, Admiral. Goodbye."
The Doctor left the transporter room, abruptly as was his wont with goodbyes. He paused in the corridor within the activation range of the door though, so Kirk and Scott saw him through the open doors look down the corridor one way and then the other in indecision, set off the first direction - and then return, still before the doors had had the chance to shut. "Excuse me - do either of you know where Nyssa is?"
This story is the first in a three-story cycle about the Doctor's father. See a special Father story index.
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