"Intruder vessel on Moya," Pilot called out, his voice sounding. "Intruder in the cargo bay!"
Almost instantaneously, Crichton, Aeryn, D'argo and Chiana were on their way down there.
"Wait," Pilot called out. "There's a second intruder on the lower levels – another ship!"
"Was there a collision?" Aeryn called out.
"No," Pilot reported. "No collision. The intruder is on tier seven."
"I'll handle it," Aeryn said, moving off.
"Right – Pip, D, you're with me," Crichton told the others. "We're gonna sort this out. Zhaan, stay on the command deck, and monitor everything."
"But what if you –?" the blue Delvian started protesting.
"We need you, we'll call you," Crichton promised.
Then he, D'argo and Chiana ran for the cargo bay.
When he walked out of the door of the blue box, he wasn't really surprised to find three people aiming weapons at him. He wasn't wearing anything too valuable at any rate – just his usual jeans, black "Darth Vader Was Framed" t-shirt and black overcoat. This life had been good to him. Forty something in appearence, he was going slightly silver, but apart from that he was happy with the hair he had. The body he had. The life he had. No reason to change it now.
"Hello," he said. "Did I do something wrong?"
"Well, no" one of the three figures, a human seeming man in a black leather waistcoat said, in a suspiciously American sounding accent. "Apart from land in our ship without asking, you didn't do a goddamn thing wrong."
"Sorry, I can't really give much warning," he told the assorted figures. "I say, aren't you a Nebari?" he added, talking to the young grey-skinned girl.
"Yeah, what's it to ya?" she replied, looking defiant.
"Nothing much," the Doctor told her - he addressed them all, raising his voice. Authoritarian tactics usually worked this side of the universe. "Only you'd better not be trying any of your mental cleansing stuff here. Because rest assured, if you are…"
"She isn't," the human-esque man said. "And even if she was, you are in no position to threaten anyone. Who are you anyway?"
"I am the Doctor."
Chiana looked shocked for a moment, then quickly recovered.
The Doctor smiled at that.
"Everywhere I go, everyone sees the need to ask me that question."
"Maybe 'cos it's a good one," the American sounding human-esque man said. "And you'd better answer or we'll start getting' trigger happy."
The Doctor smiled again.
"Even if you did shoot, you couldn't hurt me," he said. "Well, you could – in fact you'd probably kill me - but I'd just come back better looking."
"What are you wearing?" the human (and he was a human - no alien he ever met had such a strong American accent anywhere in the universe, unless they were American. That and the smell) asked him. "'Darth Vader…'?"
"Was framed, yes," the Doctor replied. "Got it on a recent shopping spree. Well, I say recent – not really recent, but relatively recent."
"Well good for you," the third figure – a Luxan by the look of him - interrupted. "Now – what the frell are you doing here?!"
The Doctor fixed him with a stare – a stare that made it clear (he hoped) that he was on an important mission.
Aeryn approached the man carefully. He hadn't noticed her, and his back was turned to her. He was wearing what appeared to be a black jumpsuit. She was being as careful as possible, but she still had her gun aimed - better safe than sorry.
"If you think," the man suddenly said, startling her, "that you can just sneak up on me, you're sadly mistaken. Nobody sneaks up on me, and certainly not someone as primitive as you."
He still hadn't turned around.
"Who are you?" Aeryn demanded.
"A lonely wanderer," the man said. "I was being chased by the man who's landed upstairs. I did something I really ought not to have and he took offence. Mind you, he always does..."
"I said, who are you?!" Aeryn yelled.
The man turned. He was thin, with short, cropped black hair, and a small black goatee. His eyes were black and commanding.
"I am the Master," he told her, his eyes blazing, "and you will obey me."
She stared into his eyes a moment longer, then thumped him across the face with her rifle.
"Not likely," she told him. "Frelling idiot."
"The Master?" D'argo repeated.
"It's what he calls himself," the Doctor replied. "And I call myself the Doctor. Who, might I ask, are you?"
"I'm John Crichton," John said. "The grey girl's Chiana," at that, the Doctor looked at the Nebari again, with an expression of interest, "and the… tentacle –ey guy is D'argo."
"Right," the Doctor smiled. Then his face snapped back into being serious. "Where did you pick up the Masters' landing?"
"How do you know we did?" D'argo asked, suspiciously.
"Because I tracked him here," the Doctor replied. "I wanted to stop him, because I need to."
"Why?" Chiana asked.
"Well," the Doctor said sarcastically, "only because he's the single most dangerous creature in all of existence."
"Not likely," D'argo said. "We've met worse."
"Now that's unlikely," the Doctor countered. "He has seen the whole of creation endangered just so he can rule it, nearly caused the end of the universe, lived at the end of the universe, has tried to destroy Earth -"
"Whoa, back up there," Crichton said. "Tried to destroy Earth?"
"Many times," the Doctor nodded.
"Ok," Crichton said. "He's dead."
Crichton stood up, just as Aeryn walked in, carrying a man in her arms.
"This is the intruder," she informed them. "This guy tried to hypnotise me."
"Yes, this is him," the Doctor said. "This is definitely him."
He leant over the Master and tried to ascertain his status, when suddenly, the seemingly unconscious Master grabbed him, and pressed something into his back.
"Don't move!" he yelled to the others. "One move, he's dead."
"Don't let him escape," the Doctor hissed. "Shoot him, it doesn't matter about me."
"I have a laser screwdriver," the Master hissed ion the Doctors' ear. "You get hit by that, you're as good as dead."
"Let him go!" Chiana yelled. "Please!"
"What?" Crichton looked at Chiana like she was insane. "What's wrong?"
"Don't hurt the Doctor!" Chiana yelled.
"Why not, little girl?" the Master sneered. "Well don't worry, I'm sure he'll live – and now, I'm outta here!"
There was a high pitched bleep, and then the Doctor slumped to the floor and the Master ran off, heading for the access point for tier seven. Aeryn and D'argo ran after him. The Doctor turned himself around, until he was facing Crichton.
"Stand me up," he said.
"Why?" Crichton asked.
"Stand me up," the Doctor snapped. "It's important!"
"Why?!" Crichton yelled again.
"When..." the Doctor began, then took a breath and stood himself up, before continuing. "When members of my species are injured, mortally, they undergo a process, by which they repair all damage done to their body – and their body alters and becomes, effectively, a new body. Not just the body, but the mind as well, undergoes alteration. Personality, opinions, even abilities are altered with the mind. Only memories and core personality traits remain – the good man will remain good, the evil man evil."
"Sounds freaky to me," Crichton said. "You didn't mention anything like this before."
"I never do," the Doctor smiled, "unless I need to. And right now, I need to."
His smile faltered. His face glowed gold. He looked them in the eyes and then, impossibly, the glow spread across his body, covering his face and hands, building up, and before anyone could speak, the Doctor was burning. The light flowed, like a volcano, spraying out across the room. Then Crichton saw – the Doctors' face was changing, morphing into something else.
Then, as suddenly as it had started, the energy stopped. The Doctor was standing there, breathing hard.
He was younger, younger even than Crichton – maybe younger than Chiana. His hair was reddish brown, and so were his eyes. He looked at them, and smiled.
Then he collapsed.
The Master ran into the massive chamber, and hid as the Sebacean and the Luxan ran past. Then he was interrupted by a prim voice talking firmly at him.
"Just what," it said, "do you think you're doing?"
The Master turned to look at the ships Pilot, a crustacean life form linked into the ships systems.
"Ah, hello," he said. "I'm just hiding from your friends. They seem rather trigger happy, and while getting shot isn't quite as deadly to me as it might be to you, I have been shot quite enough in my lifetimes."
"What are you talking about?" the Pilot asked.
"Never mind, I wouldn't expect a lower creature to understand," the Master sighed. "But… can I let you in on a secret?"
"What secret?" Pilot asked.
"It's a really secret, secret," the Master whispered, coming closer to Pilot. "Really secret."
He leaned into Pilots cockpit and put his mouth next to the aliens ear.
"HERE COME THE DRUMS!!" he yelled, and Pilot recoiled back, just as the Master pressed a button. If he was right, that button would convince everyone that the ship was under attack (if he was right, but he invariably was), and he could make his escape.
But not in his TARDIS…
"What the frelling hell?" Crichton yelled. "How can a guy just… just… change, like that?"
"He's an interesting species John," Zhaan said, leaning over the Doctor. "He appears to have a Lindal gland, a bio regenerative Imprimatur, and dual Cardiovascular system…"
"Binary Vascular System," the Doctor piped up, his eyes popping open. "Actually."
He sat up, and looked around, taking in everything.
"New eyes work," he muttered. "Lucky really, 'cos I'd thrown all my glasses out."
He stood up, and looked around at all the faces. Chiana wasn't looking at him. Zhaan was studying him with what amounted to professional interest. Crichton just looked annoyed.
"Well, my new legs work as well as the old ones," he muttered at last. "Ok. Not helping. I know what works, so I need to know if anything doesn't."
And then, without warning, he raised his head and yelled. Everyone covered their ears, and looked at him as if he was crazy, but then he began singing.
"Oh, the grand old duke of York, he had ten thousand men," he sang, and skipped off down the corridor.
"He's nuts," Crichton commented.
"No argument there," Chiana agreed. "He's as Farhbot as anyone I've ever met."
"To put it lightly," Zhaan agreed. Crichton looked at her in mild surprise. "Well," she added defensively, "his species seems to be the strangest life form I've ever seen. This form of self healing especially - it can only be a form of insanity he experiences now. How else can one feel when one has suddenyl changed into a completely different person, and yet is the same person?"
"Good question," Crichton said. "Not one I'm gonna be able to answer, though. Pilot, any sign of the other guy?"
Pilot didn't answer for a moment, then finally. "He came here." Pilots voice was weak, and he sounded like he was in great pain.
"Pilot, what has happened?" Zhaan asked.
"The man - who called himself the Master..." Pilot said weakly. "He came here... myself, and... Moya, we've been... Psychically attacked. Somethin - fzzz -at the Master did to us..."
"What?" Chiana asked. The line was bad, and they could barely hear Pilot. There was something else too, infecting the transmission, a sound.
"Can't you hear it?" Pilot asked. "Can't you hear them?"
"Hear what, Pilot?" Crichton asked. Pilot looked at him from the clamshell - he looked more in pain than anyone had ever seen him.
The noise in the transmission got louder, and louder, thrumming... duh, duh, duh, dum. Duh, duh, duh, dum. Duh, duh, duh, dum. Duh, duh, duh, dum. Duh, duh, duh, dum. Duh, duh, duh, dum. Duh, duh, duh, dum. Duh, duh, duh, dum...
"The drums," Pilot said.
The Doctor was looking at the place where his TARDIS used to be.
"Bugger," he said, quietly. "Bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger..."
He had left the door open when the crew of this ship had cornered him. The Master had come here. He'd stolen the TARDIS. Again.
Chances were, he'd also have disabeld his own, or gotten rid of it. The Doctor could fix whatever damage the Master had done, but it would take him forever.
"Hold it," a voice said, female, coming from behind him, aiming a gun at him. Not Chiana, he could tell.
"Don't be ridiculous," he said softly. "I'm not armed, and I'm as trapped here as you and the others."
She grabbed him and spun him around. The Peacekeeper.
"Who are you?" she demanded.
"I am the Doctor," he muttered. "As if that matters at the moment."
"You aren't, you look nothing like him," Aeryn Sun said.
He grinned at her. "That," he said, "is a long, boring story..."
Then the facade broke. He sat down, and put his head in his hands, and sobbed. His TARDIS was gone - here he was, once again, trapped. How could he bear it...?
"Is he alright?" Chiana asked. "Is he ok?"
"Yes, he's fine," Aeryn reported. "He just keeps crying and muttering about having 'lost her'..."
"Well, keep him guarded," Crichton said. He turned to Chiana. "So. How do you know this guy?"
She glared at him.
"Who said I do?"
"You did," Crichton replied, "when you did the whole 'don't hurt him' routine, when the Master had him prisoner."
"Well," Chiana said, "maybe he is important. Maybe I do know him."
"So?" Crichton asked.
"Who is he?"
"I don't know!!" Chiana yelled. "Nobody does. Not a single person in the whole uncharted territories."
"Then how do you know him?" Crichton insisted.
Chiana leant back in her chair, and sighed.
"Me and Nerri got into a lot of trouble a while ago," she began. "We were being chased, and all of a sudden this guy in a coat steps out and says 'these are with me, I'll sort 'em out'. The bad guys go away and this guy - he says to me and Nerri, he says 'go'. When we ask who he is, he just says, 'I'm the Doctor,' and he runs off. We never saw him again, but we looked, because he might be handy in a tricky situation. So we ask around at a few spaceports."
"And?" Crichton asked.
"All we ever found out was, this guy is a legend - and dangerous," Chiana said, and nothing more.