The Transmutation Of Time – Part 3 © 2003 - Time Line One – The New Argonauts © 1996-8 Margaret Price
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is quite long, 48 chapters in all, and took me two years to complete. It is set immediately after Part 2 - A Hole In Time and returns the 5th Doctor to his time stream following the TV story "Resurrection Of The Daleks." This is also a sequel of sorts to the second story in my 4th Doctor arc Whom The Gods Destroy, seeing the return of some characters and locations introduced therein.
A computer crash delayed the upload of this part. Fortunately, I was able to save my data before the hard drive went up in flames.
TIME LINE ONE
THE NEW ARGONAUTS
The Fifth Doctor and Turlough
A quirk of fate had sent the Doctor too far forward in his own time stream, bending it to the point where Turlough found himself face-to-face with one of the Doctor's future selves, as well as others from the Time Lord's past and future. The unnatural bend had thrown the Doctor's body so far out of phase that he became too ill to realize what was happening or do anything to correct it. Fortunately the efforts of his friends and future self safely returned him to his proper place in time—with only Turlough knowing the exact details of the bizarre event. Details he could reveal to no one with out disastrous ramifications.
During a portion of the incident, the robot Kamelion had been present and it soon became apparent to Turlough that he was even more unreliable than ever. He had let some of the event's details slip, much to the young man's annoyance. The Doctor was oblivious to this by-play, how ever, and thought the android was simply malfunctioning and just needed to have all of his systems thoroughly checked over.
"Doctor, I've already run a full diagnostic on Kamelion's systems," Turlough objected. "Everything is as it should be."
The Doctor looked up from the console. "Always best to be sure," he chirped brightly. "You did say he experienced a power surge while I was ill, didn't you?"
"Yes. But that was—" Turlough broke off when the Time Lord started resetting the coordinates. "What're you doing?"
"Change of plan," the Doctor grinned, only to be rewarded with a scowl of disapproval.
"Doctor, we're supposed to be going someplace where you can rest. Jason was very specific about that." Turlough was referring to Jason Krystovan, a former traveling companion of the Doctor's who had assisted in returning the Time Lord to his proper place in his timeline. Jason was the Crown Prince of Tel-Shye when Turlough had met him only two short moths ago, but the unnatural bend had brought him face to face with King Jason.
"Well, Jason isn't here now, is he?" came the sharp retort. "Anyway, I feel perfectly fine."
"I take it this means we're not going to his wedding?"
The Time Lord looked up and grinned. "Not to worry. We'll get there. That's the wonderful thing about time travel. You can always arrive on time."
Turlough sighed heavily. It was no use arguing when the Doctor had made his mind up, especially when he became so smug about it. Glancing at the navigational controls, he asked, "Okay. So where are we going, then?"
"Aegis. More specifically the Alexandria Foundation. Second era of the Earth Republic, I believe. Just at the height of its—"
A loud bang suddenly shook the TARDIS and the time travelers had to grab the console to keep from being thrown across the room. The lights in the console room flickered and then dimmed. Deep within the heart of the time machine the engines could be heard protesting loudly as they strained against an enormous external force.
"Doctor, what's happening!" Turlough demanded fearfully.
"The TARDIS is trapped in an energy field!" the Doctor exclaimed, not quite believing it him self. "We're being suspended in vortex!"
"What? That's impossible!"
Clinging to the console with one hand and manipulating the controls with the other, the Doctor struggled to reestablish control finally thumping the console in frustration. "The energy field's too strong," he called over the noise. "I can't break free!"
"Doctor, we're going to explode if you don't—!"
Turlough was suddenly shouting in total silence, the violent shaking having stopped as abruptly as it started. Exchanging an astonished look with the Doctor, he hesitantly released his grip on the console and looked down at the readings in front of him. "Doctor!" he gasped in a quiet, frightened voice. "We've been pulled out of time and space."
The Time Lord made no reply, going over to scrutinize the readings himself. Even though it did not show outwardly, he had to admit to feeling a bit frightened himself. To pull the TARDIS off course was no small feat, but to pluck it out of vortex completely! Who—or what—could possibly possess that much power?
The exterior doors suddenly swung open and the console room was flooded with a blazing white light that forced its occupants to shield their eyes. The glare faded quickly, revealing a man dressed in a three-piece business suit, a great blue jewel gleaming in the medallion around his neck. "Emperor Quinton," the Doctor whispered, relief washing visibly over his entire body. "I should've realized."
"My apologies if my overly dramatic appearance alarmed you, Doctor," the Alterran monarch said mildly as he entered. "The matter is an urgent one, and locating you has been rather difficult."
Turlough knew exactly why the TARDIS had been hard to find, the events returning vividly to his mind. He did not know the Emperor could read these thoughts and was unprepared for the steady gaze he suddenly received from Quinton.
Intrigued, the Doctor threw his companion a quizzical look before bowing slightly. "Not at all, your Majesty. How may I be of service?"
The Alterran smiled, holding out a hand. "Please, join me and I'll explain." With that, he turned and vanished through the doors.
"Doctor, who is that?" Turlough asked in a low voice.
"Lord Emperor Quinton of Alterrous," came the startling reply. "Wait here."
"No, Doctor, your companion, too," came the Emperor's voice through the open doors. "This affects him as much as it does you. Perhaps even more so."
The Time Lord exchanged a startled if somewhat puzzled look with his companion before saying, "Behave yourself and come on."
Despite having been invited, Turlough was still hesitant. He had heard all about the Emperor from Jason, the eminent personage being none other than his friend's Great uncle. When he had been told the monarch possessed virtually limitless power, he had laughed, well…scoffed, actually. He wasn't scoffing now. There could be no denying the enormity of the power that had so effortlessly plucked the TARDIS from vortex. Stepping through the exterior doors, Turlough found himself in a long, bright hallway that led downward and ended with an ordinary looking wooden door. To his astonishment, he found the door opened into a large wood paneled room that turned out to be the Emperor's private office.
Even though his companion was nervous in the presence of this powerful being, the Doctor was not, his having known the Emperor a great many years. His familiarity had taught him two things; Quinton disliked small talk and appreciated candor. He took a seat and looked across the desk at the monarch, studying him a moment before saying, "Now, Majesty, why have you summoned me?"
The Emperor leaned back in his chair, his chiseled features softening. "I need your help, Doctor. My—" Pausing a moment, he announced, "Jason has been kidnapped."
"What!" The Doctor exchanged a shocked and horrified look with his companion. "When did this happen?"
"More than eight weeks ago," the sovereign informed.
"Eight weeks!" The Doctor was appalled and sprang to his feet. "Why didn't you contact me sooner!" Suddenly remembering who he was rebuking, he cleared his throat nervously and sat down again. "Forgive me. You were saying…?"
Quinton cracked an amused smile. "I'm glad to see your regeneration hasn't changed your directness, Doctor," he observed mildly, bringing a self-conscious smile to the Time Lord's face.
"It happened on—" Stopping himself, the Emperor held up a hand. "No, let me start before that. Jason was acting as my representative on a goodwill tour of the outer planets. You know what I mean. Meet the local leaders, shake a few hundred hands, and so on." He gave way to a bittersweet smile as he recalled his nephew's protests when he was told of the tour.
"Yes, but…why Jason?" the Doctor asked pointedly. "He's not exactly the most diplomatic of individuals."
"Because, whether he'll admit it or not, Jason is very good at dealing with outsiders. Humans in particular. His emotional peaks and valleys allow him to blend in, and give him the ability to spot trouble without being too obvious." Quinton slid a paper across the desk as he went on, "This is the itinerary he was following. He was to report on the status of each stop and transmit it back to me."
The Doctor scanned the list, seeing nearly all had been checked off. Turning the paper over he read the notations made in the precise unphysician-like handwriting he had always kidded the Healer about. Is this all that's left of you, my friend? A few scribbled notes on a piece of paper? Looking up, he asked the inevitable, "What happened?"