"A Healin' Touch"
Genre: Humor, Crossover
Time Frame: Post ST-XI
Characters: Leonard "Bones" McCoy, The Doctor(Ten), other supporting characters (from each fandom, respectively)
Summary: "Dammit Jim, if that man's a Doctor, then I might as well start calling myself a Dentist!" Somewhere a few systems away from nowhere, the crew of the Enterprise encounters a blue box piloted by a madman with the ability to out-talk even Kirk and out-genius even Spock . . . who called himself the Doctor.
Notes: I actually started writing this about the same time as I wrote "A Healin' Thing" which is a House meets Bones sorta goofy crossover. This is similar to that one, so if crack and hot doctors isn't your thing, I recommend the back button! Eventually these things will degenerate into a nasty sort of 'Doctors Playing Poker' ridiculous viggie, and then I will properly lament the loss of my sanity.
But, for now . . . Enjoy!
Chim, dear, this one is also inspired by/your fault/for you. ;)
Disclaimer: Doctor Who is not mine. Star Trek is not mine. But! I have a whole slew of pictures from both fandoms in a pretty little slideshow that played the entire time I was writing this. So ha. Take that, the powers that be!
"A Healin' Touch"
They are a few systems away from nowhere when the impossible pays her weekly visit with the crew of the Enterprise once again.
In hindsight, it probably was a bad thing to lament the quiet state of the crew that had defined the days before the incident. Well, not that he had been lamenting, so much as commenting, really. And it all had been unspoken. Anything more would have been a sure way to invite disaster in on so many levels.
It had all started on a quiet Alpha shift at the beginning of a quiet day, at the end of a quiet week. The most exciting thing that the days before had offered them was a even drier than normal diplomatic dinner on the planet of Mimn (where the Prime Minster and his cabinet took great delight in sharing the intricacies of their Earth styled stamp collections.) Now McCoy, a Southern man in every sense of the word, normally wouldn't have minded the peace and quiet. Not one bit. What he did mind, however, was their Captain – an overgrown child with a shiny toy at the best of times – looking at the viewscreen every two seconds as if hoping that a Klingon armada would magically appear and take away the bored funk that he found himself in. And while McCoy would even allow the kid a bit of restless agitation, he was at his limit of how long he was willing to put into getting Jim to pay attention to his carefully drafted, and painstakingly detailed, budget report.
Really, while he knew that budgets may have been a new level of tedium that Kirk had still not resigned himself to in his whole year as the Enterprise's Captain, but after the hours (hours made worse by Chapel's nagging that he get the blasted-thing-done-already, and made tolerable by many a bottle of technically illegal Romulan ale) that he had spent on the report, Kirk could find it within himself to pay attention for twenty minutes to approve the blasted thing.
He had a flickering, fleeting strand of hope rise inside of him when Kirk's eyes focused on the PADD in his hands. The hope was just as quickly smashed when the kid – and that was just what he was – started to tap his fingers against the synthetic material in a bored manner. The eyes focused for one second . . . two . . . And then promptly refocused on an unfortunately pretty ensign who chose that moment to come onto the bridge.
McCoy made a frustrated sound through his nose. "You know, Jim, you don't have to read it. Just sign the damn thing," he finally snapped.
Kirk turned bemused blue eyes up at him. Plastered all over his face was the same expression that had gotten him out of trouble a time or two (or three) with the Admiralty. McCoy was immune to the face. (Truth be told, it had been known to make him violently angry on more than one occasion. Which, of course, Kirk knew.)
"Now, what kind of Captain would I be if I just signed everything pushed my way? For all I know I could be approving a shipment of Thessal worms for leeching, or signing off for the latest and greatest in hallucinatory medicine."
"Oh no," McCoy drawled, putting on the air of a repentant martyr, "you've found me out. Now, let me cross those items off, and then you can sign the blasted thing."
Kirk held up a hand – he actually held up a hand. "Now, McCoy, where is that legendary patience that you are always harping on me for?"
McCoy counted to ten.
Kirk looked down at the PADD, and started to read once more. Not even two seconds later, he started twirling his chair. Gently, at first, with subtle back and forth movements. A minute later the report was completely forgotten as the Captain (child!) started making full circles with the chair.
McCoy twitched, and for a scary, scary moment, he empathized with the Vulcan – who had to stand here and offer reports like this to Kirk every shift. Had he actually laughed when Kirk pulled this kinda stuff on Spock? He couldn't remember now. He was distracted by the twirling.
"Are you done yet?" he finally snapped a second later.
"Patience," Kirk mumbled, his mind clearly somewhere else. "I'm getting there."
McCoy took a deep breath in, and slowly let it out. Thankfully, he was saved from reaching over to strangle the Captain when Uhura calmly spoke up from her console. "Captain, I'm getting an odd sort of interference with the communications equipment." There was a smile in her voice that said that she had been listening to their exchange.
McCoy fought the urge to make a face at her – he would not stoop to Kirk's level.
Kirk swiveled in his chair towards her, looking downright relieved to have something to distract him. "What kind of interference?" he questioned.
She tilted her head to the side, the long lashes over her eyes fluttering as her gaze narrowed. From experience, he knew that she was listening to something. "I'm not sure, Captain," she mumbled. "At first I thought it was the same malfunction in the forward relay units – but Lieutenant Lethe said they were good to go at the start of the shift."
"Did you send him to check on it again?" Kirk questioned.
"Yes. He hasn't found anything amiss – in any of the relays."
Kirk stopped playing with his chair to actually look thoughtfully over at the Communication's Lieutenant. "Could it be from something external?" Kirk inquired.
Uhura frowned. "I'm not picking up any readings from anything around us, sir."
Kirk frowned, and handed McCoy his budget report back. It still wasn't signed. Fighting the urge to growl under his breath, McCoy briefly considered just forging the signature himself.
"Jim," he decided to try again, "Uhura is a smart girl – she can figure out the glitch herself. Now, can you please, for the love of everything good and holy, just sign this so I can get back to Sickbay." And the bottle of Romulan Ale that awaited him. Nurse Chapel could take over for him for the rest of the shift – it wasn't as if anything was happening, anyway.
"Just a second, Bones. We have a real mystery on our hands here."
The inactivity was obviously starting to mess with the Captain's brain. McCoy wondered if Kirk would sign the report if he threatened to declare him unfit for duty. He probably wouldn't out of spite.
"Yes, it's a real page turner," McCoy drawled.
Kirk turned to him, no doubt with something snide on his tongue that would further McCoy's annoyance, when Sulu spoke up. "Sir, we have a report from Security. There was an unauthorized entry to the Holodeck. The clearances were legitimate, but their source didn't check out properly."
Oh for the love of God - more petty concerns! Was he the only person on this ship who still thought that the senior crew was only to be bothered by things that actually warranted their attention? "Jim, seriously," he tried to give the report back.
Kirk's smile widened as he turned to Sulu. McCoy fumed.
"Bring up the deck on the viewscreen," he ordered, and a moment later, the hallway outside of the deck that led to the turbolift showed up.
And huh, there actually was an unauthorized entry.
The security feed showed two people strolling lazily through the hall, and they were clearly out of place in the bright uniforms and white walls around them. McCoy dropped his complaints as he looked at them curiously – they were obvious civilians. Human, just from glancing, he would wager. There was a woman – small, blonde, pretty; with a red sweater pulled low over a short black skirt and gray stockings. She was young – which wasn't really saying anything with the crew that he was stuck with. Next to her was a tall, gangly sort of man with mused hair, thick glasses, and a brown pin striped suit. His mouth was moving a mile a minute, even without the benefit of audio.
Kirk looked curiously at the pair. His eyes were narrowed as he said, "Tell Cupcake that we have visitors. If he could be so kind, have him bring them brought here. I would like to know just how they got on my ship." The playful edge that was always in Kirk's voice disappeared as a just as familiar protective one stole in. He was not the youngest Captain in Starfleet for nothing.
"Mr. Sulu, if we can have some audio while we are waiting?" he prompted.
A moment later the sound of a cheery voice filled the air around them. As the visual suggested, the man was talking animatedly, his voice catching and slurring on what sounded for all the world like a British accent.
"'Silly sci-fi show with bad reruns on Saturday mornings', you said," the man was saying quite merrily. "Well Miss Tyler, what have you to say for yourself now? We're in the Twenty-third century. All around us, humans are pushing towards the stars, basking in the peak of science and expansion. There's war blooming on the horizon and heroes stepping up all around. This ship's a beauty, isn't she? One of the first Constitution class ships, maiden voyage just a year ago. Went through fire too – at least, in this Time-line she did. I'll have to take you to the initial one one of these times. That crew's a bit older, mind you, but they're still good chaps. I kept up letters with their Science Officer until just a year ago, as a matter of fact – that's when he relocated to this corner of the Time-stream, I'll bet."
McCoy blinked, thoroughly confused. Kirk just looked intrigued.
. . . How did he know all of that?
The man stopped rather abruptly in his ranting. His eyes narrowed before he looked up – straight up at the camera. McCoy frowned, fighting the irrational thought that the intruder was looking right at him. Further bolstering his paranoia, the man tilted his head as if in greeting. He then waved a long fingered hand at them, his eyes smirking.
"So, Rose, how would you like to meet a real, honest-to-goodness Starfleet Captain?" he inquired.
The girl – Rose, apparently – turned wide eyes on him. "Really, Doctor, I don't know if they'd want us -"
"Nonsense," he interrupted. "They're sending a welcoming party right now."
Right on cue, Cupcake- Lieutenant Johnson, McCoy reminded himself, (Jim was not rubbing off on him. He wasn't!), appeared with his squad.
"Excuse me, sir," Johnson said, phaser out and at ready. Rose turned frowning eyes on the weapon, where the man beside her stepped confidently forward. When he motioned for her to join him, she shook away her doubts, and stepped up beside him. Her grin was as wide as his.
McCoy blinked at the confident image on the viewscreen. Just who were these nut cases?
. . . nut cases that he would meet in person, it soon seemed like. The few steps to the turbolift and then the resulting journey didn't take but a minute, and then the two were shown into the bridge, security escort in tow.
McCoy tossed his budget report onto the nearest console with a disgusted sort of scowl. He wasn't going to get that done today.
Far from looking like a chastised trespasser, the man was fairly jittery. He was rolling his weight on the balls of his feet, and his hands were behind his back, as if he had to clasp them together to keep himself from touching anything and everything. His eyes were bright as he took in the bridge and her workings.
"Oi, will you check that out," the man said, forgetting himself as he walked away from the security squad to come to stop by Spock's console. The Vulcan looked at him with his version of curious as Kirk waved the squad at ease. "Twenty-third century scanning equipment – state of the art for you, I'd reckon. It's downright adorable, almost!" The Doctor's gaze turned far away as he caressed the metal console. "Jefferies design, T & R instruments with everything from star dust shifters and the latest in photon weaponry. Oh, she is a beauty – the stories don't do her justice. Rose, look at this!"
He waved the small blonde girl over, who smiled appropriately at the technology that the man was enthralled over. Her eyes were on the crew that was watching them with curious gazes. "Doctor," she whispered softly when it became apparent that the man was not going to stop rambling anytime soon. "I think that you have some questions to answer, and then it's right back to admiring."
"Oh," the man's cheeks flushed a bit pink. "Got a wee bit carried away, I did. Sorry about that."
"It's understandable," Kirk said as he stood. "It happens to me all the time." The Captain seemed more at ease with the intruders upon seeing the man's obvious awe for the ship.
McCoy rolled his eyes over how easily the Captain was wooed by pretty words and smiles.
"However, you do realize that this is a military vessel. Without clearance, you aren't allowed to be here – which will be an issue we'll cross once you tell me how you actually came aboard this ship," there was a stern edge to Kirk's voice.
The man just smile at it. "Captain James T. Kirk, in action," he nodded over to Rose. "I think that this just may be better than Queen Victoria."
"Close," Rose agreed, her eyes sparkling.
"Should we rank it before or after Stalin signing the physic paper?"
"Higher than that, lower than Vlad Tepes asking you to clean his stakes for him."
"Brilliant!" the Doctor exclaimed.
Which made no sense . . .
"Great Jim," McCoy drawled, "we can't even pick up intruders properly. They have to be mentally unstable, or else it just wouldn't be a normal day on the Enterprise."
The man's smile grew. "The Enterprise," he repeated, popping the syllables on his tongue, his smile invading his voice. "Doesn't get old, does it?" he asked his companion. His eyes turned to the frowning ones of the Captain, and he said, "Yes, right. You'd be wanting explanations, wouldn't you?"
Kirk did not smile. Something in his frown reminded McCoy of Spock, and he winced at seeing at how much the Captain was picking up from the other man.
"Anyway," the man continued. "This is my companion, the one and only Rose Tyler," he pushed her forward, twirling her about as if to put her on display. She giggled a little. "And I am the Doctor."
They all waited a second.
"Doctor . . ." Kirk prompted when no further name came along with the title.
"You've got it right," the man said merrily.
Kirk frowned. "Yes, I've got that - but Doctor who?"
Rose looked over at Kirk sympathetically when it became apparent that the man – the Doctor, was not going to be more forthcoming. "It's just Doctor, I'm afraid. If you get any more out of him, I'd be happy if you'd pass it on." She turned from Kirk to smile gently at her companion, the fondness in her eyes transforming her from pretty, in an average sort of way, to downright lovely for a moment.
If McCoy noticed it, then that meant . . . Damn. Scowling, he turned alarmed eyes to Kirk, and counted down with a resigned sort of annoyance . . . Three . . . two . . . one.
"Just Doctor?" Kirk stepped forward suavely as he smoothed back his hair and grinned roguishly. "Well then, in that case, you can call me Captain. Just Captain."
Rose grinned back, properly amused. The Doctor was distracted from his study of Spock's console long enough to roll his eyes. "Captain James Tiberius Kirk – at least, this Time's version of him. Twenty-six standard years of age, youngest Captain in Starfleet history, well reputed war hero, and legend in the making."
Kirk puffed up proudly.
"But really, Rose – you can do better than a man named Tiberius. Seriously."
Kirk scowled, but it didn't have the force behind it that it could of have. "At least I'm giving her a name to work with," he muttered sullenly.
McCoy rolled his eyes. "Now, children," he grumbled under his breath.
Kirk shook his head as he tried again. "Well then, Doctor. Just how did you happen to come aboard this ship?"
"Aww, the normal way, I'd reckon." The Doctor had pulled on a pair of glasses to further examine the console. Something about the way he was staring at it made McCoy think that he would have pulled it apart to see how it worked if there were a tool kit handy.
"The usual way?" Kirk prompted.
"Oh, we flew in," the Doctor said, waving a hand dismissively.
"Flew in . . . how?"
The Doctor looked up. "The same way everyone else does," he said it in a matter of fact tone, as if the answer was obvious.
Kirk ran a hand though his hair. "Yes, so you've said. But, if you flew in, we'd know. As it is, you are being entirely unforthcoming -"
Once again, Rose stepped forward upon seeing that her companion was going to be less than helpful. "You've got video feeds, right?" she asked, pointing at the console in front of Sulu and Chekov.
"Yes," Kirk said slowly.
"We parked outside of a storage closet, right before what I assumed was the cafeteria – it smelled like chips, anyway. There's a little blue box hidden there."
Sure enough, there was.
"And you flew in on that . . ." Kirk's tone was dubious.
"It doesn't look like any ship I'm familiar with," McCoy could hear Kirk's head start to hurt.
Rose shrugged. "The TARDIS is stuck camouflaged like that. Poor girl."
Which made . . . no sense at all.
McCoy sighed. "Okay, Jim, so they're both off their rockers. Just order them off the ship, and get back to approving my report so that I can get back to my sickbay. Please," he added when Kirk raised a brow at him.
"You're a doctor as well?" the man spoke up from where he was still looking at the console. "It's always good to meed kindred kind."
"Yes, I'm a Doctor," he scowled. "And if you're a Doctor, then I might as well start calling myself a damn dentist!"
The Doctor tilted his head a bit, a goofy grin painted onto his mouth. "That line never gets old, does it?"
"What are you talking about?" Annoyance laced his voice.
The other man's smile turned – dare he even think it – condescending. As if he were the overreacting child here. "Nothing," the Doctor muttered. "Nothing at all."
McCoy blew out a breath through his nose.
Thankfully, they were saved from further interaction from Uhura, who cut into the conversation. "Captain," her tone was coldly official. At her side Spock was standing, an earpiece held to his ear as well. "The communications arrays are going completely dead. I can't get anything external through, and shipboard communications are acting odd. Something is scrambling with the system."
Kirk raised a brow, and then turned to the Doctor. "Is that from you?"
"No," the Doctor frowned. "The ol' girl doesn't affect other ships like that unless it's absolutely called for."
He walked over to Uhura's station, and raised a questioning eyebrow. After a moment, Spock moved out of the way so that the Doctor could pick up an earpiece and listen for himself. "There is something rattling about in there," the Doctor frowned. "That doesn't sound right at all." His eyes narrowed as he thought.
There was a pinging at Kirk's chair that denoted a message waiting. "That went through," Kirk commented, curious.
When he pressed the accept key, Scotty's voice filled the air. "I couldn't get through to you on the normal channels, sir," he started in explanation.
"Yeah, there's something odd going on. We're looking into it."
"It's more than just the communications systems, lad," Scotty said, his voice sounding perplexed. "We've been having power flickers on the lower decks – lights and environmental controls and the same – nothing terribly vital – yet. Thank-goodness."
Kirk frowned. "That doesn't make any sense," he said. "All of our readings are clear up here. It would show something that large."
"We're getting fluctuations from the dilithium cells," Scotty admitted. "Um . . . that was the more serious part that I wanted to tell you," his voice sounded sheepish.
Kirk paused, his brow curving in thought. "Alright, Mr. Montgomery, get your crew to look into it, Spock and I will be there in a second to assist."
There was an acknowledgment and then silence.
McCoy watched as Kirk paced a few steps. He came to a stop in front of the Doctor, "Look, we're having some problems right now, so I'm going to have to ask you to leave the same way you came." His voice was firm.
The Doctor raised a brow. "What if I told you that I could help?"
Kirk snorted. "No offense meant, but this ship is full of professionals – all of whom are the best that the Federation has to offer. Trust me, we've got it covered."
The Doctor frowned, before pointing to the ceiling. "It's going to get worse in a moment."
As soon as the last syllable rolled of his tongue, the lights flickered once. Then twice. Darkness completely engulfed the bridge, minus the starlight from beyond, before the lights came back on with a tired sort of rumble..
"The fluctuations within the dilithium cells would have to be substantial to cause that," Spock said into the silence that followed.
Kirk frowned, raking his hand though his hair as he thought. "This doesn't make any sense," he muttered. He looked up. "Well, Spock come with me, we can go see what Scotty's digging up. Uhura – the communications deck is on the way – you can see what's going on there. McCoy, since you have nothing better to do." Jim waved him along too.
McCoy picked up his budget report with an annoyed sort of movement, and set to follow his Captain.
"And them?" he questioned, jabbing a thumb back at the Doctor and Rose.
Kirk looked at them once, and hesitated. "They can come," he said slowly, as if he were regretting his decision, even as he said it. "But only because I'm ridiculously curious, and they didn't cause any harm when they had a chance to." Without waiting for an argument or a reply, Kirk spun on his heel and headed towards the turbolift. Everyone climbed in after him.
The walk through the hall outside of the Engineering deck was . . . interesting, to say the least.
Uhura and Rose were walking up ahead of the guys – talking about something ridiculous, he was sure. He had heard the words 'boots' and 'cute' and 'men' too many times for him to want to know more of their conversation. (Frankly, he had heard a line about emotionally closed off, relationship retarded men; and the images he had gleaned from that had been enough to put him off his lunch for a week.)
The Doctor – Timelord (and hadn't that been a far stretch of the imagination), loony-bin-escapee, space case and more – was walking next to Spock, and the two were neck deep in the more physics based merits of time travel and alternate time-lines. Just listening to them made his head hurt. A lot.
At his side, Jim was watching the ladies walk with something a little more than appreciation.
McCoy rubbed at his temples, positive that he was the only sane being on this ship.
The Doctor's theories were getting to a point where even Spock -who, at times, could outwit even the computer's unfeeling genius – was quiet as he listened, and learned. McCoy had long since not recognized any term under five syllables.
"Where did you say you got your doctorate from?" he finally asked when the theories started sounding ridiculous to his untrained ear. Time war. Daleks. Immortal, in a way (tenth body? Please.). Last one of an entire race of time-travelers – now that sounded like a corny old world Terran show.
"Intergalactic school of Dentistry, Rangoon IV," the Doctor chirped in response to his question. "Great place to learn – lovely campus, nice instructors; terrific Indian food right off campus. Well, the Rangoonian version of Indian fare, which is more like Carmandian cuisine with a kick. A big one."
McCoy blinked at him. The dentist sarcasm was normally his line.
Kirk leaned into him. "Where do you all come from?" he asked, awe coating his voice. "First the one from the past on Earth, and you, and now him." Kirk paused, his eyes narrowing. "Only, he's nicer."
"Just give him a few years," McCoy grumbled, thinking of the prickly doctor from Princeston-Plainsburo. "He'll grow into it."
For some reason, that made the Doctor smile even more. McCoy really didn't want to know.
They reached the Engineering bay a moment later, at which point Uhura left them. He had a feeling that she and Rose had traded numbers with promises of a girl's night some time later. And if that wasn't a scary thought, he wasn't sure what was.
Scotty greeted them with a frazzled sort of once over, and pushed the Captain towards the nearest computer terminal. "Alrighty, see here, lad," he started, his accent thick in his distress. No doubt being unable to solve the problem was paining him on a professional level as well as a logical one. He brought up a screen that showed the fluctuations inside of the dilithium chambers. "These are the normal levels," he pointed to a red line that cut through the mad swirl of color that the readings were. "The readings fluctuate from normal to almost twice that. And it's fluttering exponentially."
Kirk gazed at them, but could do no more than nod. While he knew the basics of the core structure of the ship, it was not his specialty. He moved over to let Spock take a look – who would be much more suited to assist Scotty in figuring the problem out.
The Doctor let out a low whistle upon seeing the readings just as Spock breathed out, "Fascinating."
McCoy looked over, and just saw a lot of graphs and colors. He scowled when he saw that look invade the Vulcan's eyes. That same look was mirrored in the Doctor's gaze. Which meant that they were going to be here for a longer time than was good for his mood. And the geniuses were going to enjoy every minute of it.
Sure enough, they were talking a mile a minute later. He got the gist of it – power levels fluctuated, overwhelming the system, making it stop on default to protect against the surge. Plans were made – run crucial systems on back-up power, cut low priority systems completely, focus power on the main communication's systems, and inform Starbase 25 that they'd be by for repairs soon. The Starbase was a good two days away at the low Warp that they'd have to adhere to with the power situation – they were in a black area of space to begin with; nothing being between the stars for parsecs upon parsecs.
When the lights flickered again he raised a brow. The air around him was already growing cold, the heat having been cut back to assist the power strains.
And good god, but space was cold. Frowning, he tried to think of Mississippi in the summer. It helped. A little.
A moment later, the conversation slowed to something that he could pick up on. "You've been traveling in black space for how long, now?" the Doctor questioned.
"About two days," Scotty answered – he liked the Doctor from the start. McCoy wasn't sure if that was points in the Doctor's favor, or not. "At Warp 4, that covers a lot of space, too – we stopped at Kimn, which is one of the Deadzone planets that the Federation has spotty contact with. Laroose and Starbase 25 was our next stop, and that's still a good two day's travel away."
Kirk made a face. "It's been slow," he admitted, annoyance with that simmering on his tongue.
"Laroose . . . I know that name. Laroose . . ." the Doctor mumbled, his brows knitting as his eyes darkened in thought. "Laroose – ah! The stolen planet! It makes perfect sense now," he exclaimed.
McCoy raised a brow. "Do you want to share with the class?" he quipped.
"Why," the Doctor started conversationally, tapping his chin thoughtfully as he spoke, "do you think that this is a Deadzone?"
McCoy scowled. "You're seriously asking why this area has less planets than other areas of the galaxy?"
The Doctor gave him a look. It was normally a look his ex-wife would give him.
He hated that look.
Not surprisingly, it was Spock who answered. Of course. "The systems further out, on the edges of the Deadzone, are systems with rings of super giants surrounding them. It is theorized that upon formation, the combined gravitational signatures were so strong that it made for a large area of empty space – larger so than the normal gaps between worlds."
"True," the Doctor agreed, to a point. "Now, I ask you, if Kimn survived where all of these smaller worlds failed to form, why is that?"
Spock was silent, a brow raised as he thought. "There have been theories posed, but none substantial enough to take as fact."
"How about," the Doctor mused thoughtfully, "the Kimnins themselves?"
That gave Spock pause.
"What about the Kimnins?" McCoy finally asked.
The Doctors scratched his head thoughtfully. "Just a second, lemme get my time-lines straight," he mumbled. "Here – the Kimnins: big bones, vaguely humanoid on their second cousin's side, bald, horned, terrific scholars, awful poets, and avid stamp collectors, correct?"
"That sums them up," Kirk answered.
"Now, when you were there, what was the planet like?"
McCoy tried to think back – dark, really, they lived in the catacombs of the planet, in giant, city sized tunnels that . . .
Every tunnel was exactly the same size, perfectly round, and perfectly ancient. Was he trying to say that . . .
"Are you saying that the Kimnins are not the only race inhabiting the planet?" McCoy asked.
The Doctor nodded in approval. "Kimnits – an ancient tunneling species. They normally kept to themselves, but early space goers tried to use the creatures for mining, with disastrous results. Eventually, the Kimnits adapted for space travel – collapsible lungs and a beautiful internal structure means that they can survive in the void without outside aide. All they need is a ride."
He did not like the sound of that.
"About when did the Federation make first contact with Kimn?"
"About seventy standard years ago," Spock answered. "Although there were older reports of traders touching down centuries before."
"Kimn itself was never space-faring, correct?"
"And your readings," the Doctor continue. "They suggested that there was life in the sector, about a few centuries before."
"So, it would stand to reason that the early traders served as carriers for these creatures?" Kirk asked, every light thing about his voice gone as his whole form hardened.
"Kimnits burrow and dine until they eat the planet away from around them, and then they wait to be transported to a new destination. They're centuries old – older than most of my kind, even, and incredibly patient."
"And right now they are burrowing in my ship?" Kirk's voice was calm, but there was an edge to his tone.
"It would appear so."
As soon as the Doctor said that, the lights around them flickered dangerously. The computer's monotone voice announced the use of back-up systems to sustain the environmental power.
"And they are getting cozy with the hardware," McCoy muttered, not at all thrilled at the prospect of having space slugs on board. At all.
Rose made a face. "You know, we just got away from spiders on Paios," she said aside to the Doctor. "Do you think that we can do without insects next time?"
The Doctor shrugged. "I make no promises."
"You called Laroose the stolen planet," Kirk said lowly. "What did you mean by that?"
The Doctor waved a hand. "Nothing that a bit of fiddling with the Time-lines won't fix. Now, Kimnits like the heat – like a planet's core – and your dilithium chambers are going to be as close as they're going to get."
"They'll go after that first?" Kirk questioned.
"Everything around it, at least."
That sounded like a bad sort of bad to McCoy.
Scotty offered up a few more Gaelic curses while Jim frowned in thought.
"How do we dispose of them?" Jim asked.
The Doctor's head snapped up at that, his eyes dark and deep behind the glasses he wore. "Dispose of?" his voice was carefully blank.
Kirk caught the warning there. "Yes – they're after the dilithium cores. I'm sorry, but I'm really not that remorseful about playing exterminator here."
The Doctor snorted. "Playing exterminator," he mumbled, something far off about his words, as if his mind wasn't in the moment. Rose touched his shoulder surreptitiously.
"Yes, if necessary."
"Typical human," he muttered, "something gets in your way, and you automatically go in with your guns blazing . . ."
Kirk frowned. "If its needed to protect this ship and those aboard her, yes."
"Yes, you need them off the ship, but you don't need to kill them," here, the Doctor's voice was steel. McCoy watched with fascination as the man stared down Kirk – who was used to the most withering looks from the Admiralty and Klingon generals alike (and Uhura during a bad time of the month, but even he caved there). "Do you realize what the Kimnits are? They are recyclers, They take the souls from dying worlds and transfer the materials for new life to other parts of space. They are healers; builders – they have maternal hearts, not a malicious bone in their body."
At the back of his mind, McCoy remembered the silicon carpet (he couldn't remember the name of the alien mother for the life of him) who shaped her world, and whom the humans thought to be a menace. And yet, that alien, wasn't burrowing through the dilithium chambers.
"Healers or no," Scotty spoke up, "they are burrowing in the circuits around the chambers at the moment. They'll be safe until they breath the core shielding – then we won't even have to worry about environmental failure and things of the like."
They wouldn't be around to, was the unspoken sentiment. McCoy frowned.
While he had their attention, Scotty brought up infrared charts of the Engineering deck. "Now that I know what I am looking for," he muttered in explanation. He pointed a finger at the high concentrations of heat right outside the second and third dilithium chambers. Both were dangerously close to the warp core. "They're moving slow but steady."
"Something tells me that phasers set at stun won't do the trick," McCoy muttered, sarcasm leeching into his voice.
The Doctor perked up. "Oh, you are fantastic, you know that?" he smiled as he bounded over to him.
McCoy took a defensive step back. "What do you mean?" he asked wearily.
"Doctor," the other Doctor explained, "you're a Doctor."
That was already established, wasn't it?
"No, I'm a rocket scientist," he scathed, just in case it wasn't already clear.
The Doctor beamed.
"As a Doctor, and as this is . . . the twenty-third century, correct? Yes! Anyway, seeing as this is the twenty-third century, near the turn of it too – I'd wager, you would have a well stocked supply of Microclorphus Dioxiciside?"
McCoy snorted. "With a Captain like him?" he jabbed a thumb back at Jim. "Those are a necessity, instead of a just-in-case."
Jim raised a brow. "How am I being talked about now?" he questioned.
"Sedatives," McCoy explained.
Kirk made a face.
"Brilliant," the Doctor said, looking back and forth between them.
"So, you want to . . . knock the slugs out?" McCoy asked. It sounded . . . simple. Too simple.
"Not quite," the Doctor chirped. "And they're Kimnits, by the way. They are highly offended when they're called slugs."
Of course. McCoy rolled his eyes.
"The root compound in the sedative is normally found as a gas in pockets of air in the structure of the planets that used to be in this area. Hitting those bubbles are normally a sign for the Kimnits metabolism to slow down and prepare for space travel."
"So, it shocks them into a hibernation, basically?" McCoy asked.
"More or less," the Doctor confirmed.
Kirk raised a brow. "So, after we send these things into a hibernation, then what do we do with them?"
The Doctor dipped his brows in thought before saying, "I'll take them with me. When we leave. I'll find them a nice oversized beast of a planet that's just waiting to be recycled."
At his side, Rose made a face. "Just how big are these things?" she asked.
The Doctor smiled a bit at that. "Oh, about as long as your arm; rather pudgy things, too. Docile until need be – they wouldn't hurt a fly."
She wrinkled her nose, the same face she had shown before an alien insect a time or two before. "And, how many of them will we be taking with us . . ."
Understanding popped in. "Oh! Don't you worry – the pool in the library, it's close enough to the core of the TARDIS to warm them; and the water should shock their system enough to keep them in a hibernation. You can stay on the other end of the ship, and I'll deal with them." A dazzling smile lit his face.
Rose looked pleased at the solution.
McCoy blinked as he looked back and forth between the two. Pool . . . library? Shaking his head, he cut in by asking, "So, how much of the sedatives will you need?"
The Doctor shrugged. "A hypo or two for each."
McCoy looked over at the screen Scotty had up – the mass of heat near the core was growing larger. They needed to move fast. "And how many are there?" he asked.
The Doctor stared at the mass on the screen. "About half a dozen, I'd say,"
McCoy raised a brow. A half dozen? Causing that much damage?
The lights around them flickered again. The machinery groaned in protest as the deck hummed under their feet.
"Not to sound pushy, or anything," Scotty spoke up, "but if we could hurry this up just a wee little bit . . ."
The engineer's point was made. Sighing once as he wondered just how he had ended up in one of these situations – again – McCoy took off towards the turbolift to get what was needed. He commed ahead to Nurse Chapel, who would hopefully be able to meet him halfway with the sedatives. Behind him, the rest of the group left towards the jefferies tubes that surrounded the dilithium cells by the core. Hopefully, there would be service vents that would let them get up close and personal with the slugs – Kimnits, he mentally corrected himself.
He pitied the poor bugger who was going to have to make that particular trip.
Christine met him right outside the turbolift, with a case of hypos waiting and ready to go. He nodded at her, and gave a tight smile in thanks before bounding back the way he came.
By the time he returned, they had puzzled out just where the Kimnits were, and how best it was to get to them. Apparently, the answer was a small service vent.
"I cut power to the vent in question," Scotty said, "and it should cool itself enough so that you won't fry when you go in. They are right above the second cell, and working merrily as can be on the shell."
Not a lot of time, then. McCoy made a face as he climbed the last ladder and ran over, case in hand.
The Doctor's eyes lit upon seeing him. "Ah, you're here." He stepped to the side. "Now Doctor, if you would be so kind." He made a sweeping gesture to the opening to the vent.
Understanding dawned, bright and horrible on him. "Oh no," he protested. "Oh no no no. I do not deal with slugs -"
" - Kimnits," the Doctor corrected.
"Whatever," McCoy hissed. He shoved the case of hypos towards the Doctor. "If you're so attached to them – and know so much about them - then I really think that you should be the one to do it."
The Doctor caught the case and raised a brow. "A Mississippi boy afraid of bugs?" he poked.
McCoy scowled. "Those I can handle – these can eat planets. No. I really don't want to go anywhere near them." And really, was he being that unreasonable?
The Doctor sighed, as if preparing to speak to a particularly daft child. McCoy bristled upon realizing the same gesture that he used with Kirk time and time again . . .
"Unfortunately," the Doctor said, "you are our best candidate."
McCoy raised a brow. "And just how do you figure that?"
"The Kimnits," the Doctor explained, "are empathetic souls – it is the reason that they are so good at their job. It takes a lot of work to recycle useless planets into new worlds – and it takes a special mind for that kind of task."
"Why don't you go in after them, then?"
"I have too much death on my hands," the Doctor said simply, his tone blank as he admitted that. The lack of the emotion struck deeper as any abundance of it would have. "They won't let me near them."
McCoy scowled. "Yes, but that doesn't explain why it has to be me."
"Why, you have the healing touch, Doctor McCoy," the Doctor exclaimed. McCoy wasn't sure if there was sarcasm there, or not. Probably. "And steady hands – it's what makes you a good surgeon, no doubt. Not only are you the obvious choice, but the logical one."
Oh good lord, but the man was starting to pick up on Spock's jargon . . .
"Yes, but . . ." his tongue tripped over his protests. Surely, he was not the best one qualified for this job. Jim could do it, he knew – or the Vulcan could! Spock had steady hands, and the whole Vulcan voodoo recommending him as well – that certainly qualified as an empathetic touch, right? He could do this. He then thought of Spock, and his world lost and forever gone. He thought of the Kimnits, and the worlds lost to them, and the worlds waiting to yet be born . . .
Damn, but working with the kid for this long was making him soft.
"Fine," he muttered. With jerky movements – he had to let them know somehow that he was not happy about this. Not. One. Bit. - he loaded one hypo before putting that one between his teeth to load another with the serum that the Doctor had recommended.
The Doctor vacated his spot at the head of the tunnel in order to make room for McCoy.
With one last scowl for good measure, McCoy tossed the case into the tube before hefting himself up afterward.
The vent was hot and clammy. Even though the steam in the grates was no longer dangerous, it clouded before his vision, and his hands sweated as his uniform stuck to his body. There was not much room in the tunnel, and so he moved forward with a crouched hunchbacked sort of shuffle.
The closer he got to the core, the warmer it got. Before long, he could hear a curious sort of hum at the back of his mind. It felt like a question.
Curiously, he tilted his head at the sensation. If felt akin to the Vulcan's mental voodoo . . . almost, but not quite. There was no conscious thought, just an animal sort of awareness and feeling. He tried his best to empty his mind, not wanting to appear as anything even resembling a threat.
The touch at his mind faded just as he came into view of the Kimnits.
They were very . . . sluggish. Kinda. As the Doctor has said, they were about as long as his arm, and three times as thick. Their bodies were ridged, small thorn looking patterns crossed their backs while underneath them, what looked like hundreds of tiny legs moved. There were three antennas per head, each one swiveling curiously the closer he came. In the red lights of the back-up generator, they appeared almost black. Iridescent patterns glowed on their bodies; they looked like constellations. No doubt it was developed over centuries of the blackness of a planet's depth and the richness of the nothing that space had to offer.
McCoy stopped a few feet away from them, his mouth curling in a sardonic smirk as he considered whistling to them as if they were dogs.
That probably wouldn't work . . .
He took the first hypo from between his teeth, and readied the dispenser on it. The safety clicked off with a soft hiss, and at the noise, the mass of Kimnits stirred.
A faint thought brushed across his mind; it was a question.
Unsure, he held up the hypo before him; his mind automatically went through the hows and whys of his task, and without realizing it, he fed all of the information to the Kimnits.
There was . . . surprise, he thinks. In a way, the alien consciousness was nesting for a hop to the next planet. Their intentions were not malevolent in the least.
And so he watched, perplexed, as the patterns of light flashed in an assurance – his mind interpreted the gesture as acceptance and permission both.
They were okay with this?
And well, he had seen weirder things in his day, and at that moment his back was cramping in a way that would not be pleasant in the morning, so he didn't spend any time contemplating the situation.
He was halfway through sedating the Kimnits when he heard Jim holler down the chute, wondering as to his progress.
Rolling his eyes, he stayed stubbornly mute as he worked.
Five minutes later, he carried the first few slugs – Kimnits – back to the mouth of the tunnel. After climbing out, he cracked his neck discreetly (no need to give Jim fuel for the old man jokes), and placed the aliens down on the hovercart that Lt. Johnson had provided.
He tilted his head back, "They're all out cold," he said. "Have fun." The rest of Johnson's squad climbed into the tunnel obediently.
He heard a slow clapping from next to him, and turned to see the Doctor offering him applause. "Oh, well done, Doctor," he drawled, a teasing light in his eyes.
"Thanks," McCoy muttered sarcastically.
Rose put a hand before her mouth to hide her mirth, and the Doctor smiled warmly at her. Jim noticed the exchange, and surreptitiously yawned as he looped an arm over Rose's shoulders. "Just another normal day on the Enterprise," he said with a Casanova grin.
The Doctor rolled his eyes as he walked over to examine the Kimnits, "Rassilon save me from Captains and their over active hormones," the Doctor muttered under his breath, the permanently bright glow in his eyes dimming slightly as he narrowed his eyes.
McCoy recognized that look, and felt an affinity with the man for the first time since the whole fiasco again.
Instantly, he tried to push the feeling away.
"Oh, these are beauties," the Doctor mumbled upon seeing the Kimnits that Johnson's squad was bringing out. "Late adolescents – putting them at about ten centuries, I think." He traced a hand in the air above the glittering patterns on their skin, indicating the way he deciphered the age.
McCoy raised a brow. "Adolescents?" he questioned.
"Oh, wee little tots," the Doctor confirmed.
There was some last minute discussions over the hows and whys of repairing the damage to the chamber coating – which Spock and Scotty would spend the next few shifts repairing. Jim and McCoy followed the Doctor and Rose to the turbolift, the Kimnits hovering in the air before them.
When they reached the same deck in the TARDIS, Jim turned to say his farewells – when Uhura had gotten the communications arrays up and running there had been a transmissuin from Command there and waiting. Jim was expected to report immediately.
Sometimes, McCoy did not begrudge his friend his possition at all.
Jim shook hands with the Doctor, with an invitation to pop back in the next time he was in their time-line. Rose held her hand out as well, but Jim bypassed it in favor of sweeping her into an embrace. The Doctor lifted a brow in amusement as Rose gently pried the Captain off of her. "It was a pleasure meeting you to," she said firmly after Jim whispered something into her ear.
"The Tyler slaps are not a force to be taken lightly," the Doctor warned the other man with a grin.
That looked to be the last thing on Kirk's mind as he gave a sweeping bow and then took his leave.
McCoy rolled his eyes at the display. "Kids these days," he muttered, to which the Doctor sighed an agreement.
Once they got to the blue box – the TARDIS, the Doctor had called it – he looked curiously at the design of the . . . time-machine. The term still sounded like something out of a Jules Verne novel, and it left a childish cotton candy and summer feel on his tongue.
"You sure that that thing will hold all of you?" he questioned dubiously.
From the looks of it, the Doctor and Rose would be fighting for room – let alone make way for the pool and library that the Doctor had mentioned earlier.
"Oh, I think that we'll make do," the Doctor commented as he stuck a golden key into the lock and then opened the door after some fiddling.
Curiously, McCoy leaned over to look. And . . .
That explained a lot.
He briefly considered mentioning how it was bigger on the inside aloud, but guessed that the Doctor had heard that many times before.
"Oh, it's good to be back," the Doctor sighed. As he walked though the threshold, the ship seemed to hum. For the life of him is sounded alive.
"No," the Doctor cooed to the air as he ran a hand lovingly over one of the corral supports. "The pretty shiny ship was not prettier than you." For all the world it sounded like he was soothing over hurt feelings.
Rose saw his look, and shrugged. "You get used to that," she mumbled.
And hey, he had seen Kirk when he was alone on the bridge, talking aloud to the ship around him. It was something that he understood . . . sorta. At least this ship seemed to respond to the affection.
Shaking his head and trying to clear this . . . odd day from his mind, he said, "Well, you're all good to go. Thanks for the help today." The words tumbled awkwardly out of his mouth.
The Doctor smiled over at him, "Oh, any time, Doctor – and truly, that was an impressive performance back there."
McCoy made a face at that. "Don't remind me of it."
The Doctor continued to grin.
McCoy rolled his eyes. "Well, that's my cue," he said as he turned to leave.
"Oh, I almost forgot!" the Doctor exclaimed. He bounded forward to hand McCoy a very familiar looking PADD. McCoy looked down at the document in his hands, and found his budget report signed and ready to go submit. Underneath, he recognized the sheen of the Doctor's psychic paper.
Around him, there was a wailing noise from the blue box, and then gently the ship vanished into thin air.
Shaking his head, he chuckled the whole way back to the bridge.