"What you're going to do, Commander," said the Doctor, "is you're going to get your people aboard Defiant, contrive a plasma leak -"
"I beg your damned pardon," said Sisko.
Kira Nerys woke slowly and reluctantly to the sound of the comm panel. Someone was calling her title and name with no regard for her beauty rest. Someone was being very persistent about it. Someone, she decided as she finally activated the comm, would pay for it. "Who is this?" she said with a weary impatience that spoke of doom to all who heard.
"Farnor, tactical officer," came the reluctant answer. Kira recognized the voice now.
"This better be good, Farnor," Kira said, growling through a yawn.
"The Time Lord is here," said Farnor.
"- take Defiant into the wormhole -" the Doctor continued.
"Doctor!!" Sisko rose from his desk. Through his open office doors in which the Doctor was standing, he could see his Ops staff trying to decide whether to cart the Doctor off to security. Dax had shown up early for her shift as usual, and O'Brien was here probably still from last night, but Kira wasn't in yet. The Doctor's girl companion Ace was standing at the turbolift, leaning against one wall, looking as always as if she were half inclined to help Security cart the Doctor off. "Would you mind explaining -"
"I'm afraid there isn't time."
"Make time, Time Lord."
The Doctor was (at the moment, at least; Sisko hadn't known him in any of his previous incarnations) a small man with a receding hairline and a borderline clownish wardrobe, topped off with a narrow-brimmed hat and an umbrella whose handle was shaped like a question mark. Not inherently an imposing figure at all. Yet at times - and suddenly now was one of those times - he could put on an aura of power commensurate with a being who traveled Time as naturally as Sisko rode the turbolift.
"Do you trust me, Commander?" the Doctor said.
Sisko sighed. "I suspect you're aware that standing Starfleet orders where you're concerned are to accede to any reasonable request -"
"I promise I shall explain. But on the move!"
"Give me something."
"The Time Lord?" Kira said.
"Here at Ops," Farnor responded.
"I'm on my way," said Kira, bolting out of her bed. She slipped into her uniform and coronet and out of the door in record time.
"I've spent a great deal of time involving myself in Starfleet affairs," said the Doctor, as Sisko exited his office to join him, "including this station's."
"Which, standing orders notwithstanding, is a mixed blessing," said Sisko.
"I'm aware that Starfleet commanders often think so," said the Doctor, not without humor. "One of the incidents in which I was involved - as you must be aware, despite the abridgements made to the public record - was the Enterprise-prime's incident at Halka."
"You assisted Spock in the retrieval of Kirk's away team from the alternate universe," Dax noted from the science station.
"Assisted?" the Doctor snorted.
"Professor," Ace warned. The Doctor returned to the subject.
"It wasn't just an alternate universe - it was a parallel universe, a 'mirror' universe. Another Kirk, another Spock."
"Another Sisko. Another Kira. She was there a year ago and I was there a month ago," Sisko said. The Doctor was trying to shoo him toward the turbo-lift but he proceeded only at his own pace. "The same place - but different. How did Kirk describe it? A 'moral inversion'."
"A bit glib, that," said the Doctor. "Never mind. Another each of all humans, as far as we know - but no Gallifrey; no Organia. That goes a long way to explain how much bloodier its history is."
"No Gallifrey," Sisko said. "That means no Time Lord meddling in the course of human events ..."
The Doctor halted where he stood, a few meters shy of the lift, inducing Sisko to stop with him. "That's what I thought. I was wrong."
"Oh? If not you, then ...?"
Kira fidgeted impatiently as the lift platform rose her and her escort to Ops level. Farnor was there, looking apprehensive, undoubtedly at what he imagined may be the penalty for waking her. But Kira only had eyes for the visitor. His arrival at the station always meant trouble - and opportunity.
She walked directly up to him. "Well," she said, "what have we here?"
"My dear Intendent," said the Master. "How good to see you."
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