I have...no real explaination for this. Except for one word; Twitter. Yeah. You guys. It's your fault.
Warning; extreme nerdiness ahead. For true nerds, a game; count the episode references! (Don't make this a drinking game, or you'll die of alcohol poisoning.)
I don't own Doctor Who or G.I. Joe. I don't make any money from this. I also don't own the Fearless Master; Karama 9 claims that honor. I just borrow him on occasion for his extreme awesomeness.
"Really, what is it with you people and guns?"
He could, Snake Eyes thought, at least have the common sense to look frightened. Faced with Snake Eye's own six feet of masked black death, several extremely confused but highly armed and dangerous Joes who'd been lingering over the last remnants of their supper in the cafeteria, and last but not least the individual known to terrorist cells worldwide as the "red haired she-demon", the strange suited, trench coat wearing, sneaker-clad man with curiously old eyes and gravity-defying hair had scarcely blinked.
What he had done was talk. Snake Eyes had thought Tommy could chatter, but his sword brother had nothing on the odd stranger currently standing in the middle of a ring of increasingly confused Joes.
"Blimey." The stranger was looking Snake Eyes up and down. "The grenades are a bit much, don't you think? Not really a fan of the whole 'masked avatar of death' thing, but I do like the black. Very slimming, black. I say, could you possibly not point that gun at my face? It's terribly hard to get acquainted when people are pointing guns at you."
Shana, who had moments ago been lingering over the last crumbs of her French silk pie, currently had her sidearm leveled at the stranger's skull."Snake." Her voice was still calm, despite the situation. "Snake, why is there an antique police box parked where my plate was forty seconds ago?"
"Oh dear…Americans…no shooting! Guns down please! I would definitely not like to be shot!" A pause. "Antique?"
"Shut up." Shana's threat would have made half a squadron of vipers back up. The strange man just raised an eyebrow.
"You're waving around 1980's military hardware and you're calling my TARDIS an antique? Speaking of the military hardware, I would vastly appreciate you not pointing it at me."
"I said shut up. This is Destro's doing. This has to be Destro's doing. He finally got that teleport working, did he?" Shana scowled at the stranger. "That means he knows where the Pit is. Oh, this is bad…someone best get General Hawk."
"On it." Dusty took off like a shot, fumbling for his communicator.
"Teleport?" The stranger sputtered indignantly. "A teleport? The TARDIS? Good god, I was right about you last incarnation; stupid thick apes. Will you put the guns down? I'm unarmed." A pause. "Well, except for the sonic, but that's harmless. Mostly. Well. Unless you're a robot."
"What?" Shana's eyebrows had shot for her hairline. She grabbed for her communicator. "General Hawk?"
"Dusty told me. I'm on my way. What's the situation?" Hawk's voice sounded tinny over the communicator.
"I think Destro's been playing with that blasted machine again, sir. We've got one intruder, who claims to be unarmed. He…he parked a big blue box in the middle of the cafeteria, sir. And now he's asking when he is."
"Secure him and the box. I'm scrambling a team; we'll be at your location in two minutes."
"Wait, who's Destro?" The strange man sounded curious now. "What machine? Oi…you two…" He reached for his jacket pocket, and then paused as finger tightened on triggers. "It's glasses. Honestly, Americans. You think there's no problem that can't be solved by shooting it."
"When that solution stops working, I'll stop using it." Shana lowered her gun. "Keep him covered. I'll pat him down."
One quick search later turned up one odd-looking blue-tipped metal cylinder from his inner jacket pocket ("Be careful with that!") one pair of eyeglasses, a magnifying glass, several paperclips, a jeweler's eyepiece, a pair of pliers, a stethoscope, a length of string ("I forgot about that! Comes in handy, string.") and half a dozen butterscotch candies. Several attempts to open the door of the odd blue box had met with abject failure, including the application of Snake Eye's shoulder at high speed. He rubbed the bruise and eyed the blue box suspiciously.
The stranger was tied to one of the cafeteria chairs; makeshift bindings had been fashioned from Recondo's belt. Shana was currently trying to extract the stranger's name, with fairly dismal results.
"One more time." Shana was pinching the bridge of her nose with thumb and forefinger. "What's your name, where are you from, and what are you doing here?"
"I told you. I'm The Doctor." The man rolled his shoulders, attempting to wriggle into a more comfortable position. "I'm…not from here. And there was a temporal storm in the Time Vortex. I was aiming for England in 1067-always wanted to meet William- but the TARDIS dropped out of the vortex when it got rocky. Standard emergency procedure; set down in the closest safe spot. Though," he glared at the blue box. "She and I seem to have different ideas of the concept safe. Always with the guns. You always take me someplace where people point guns at me."
The blue box remained silent.
"A doctor of what?" Shana folded her arms.
"Oh, you know. This and that. Temporal physics. Engineering. Chemistry. Genetic engineering. Recreational math. Cheese making. And I suppose I've just about earned an honorary doctorate in Earth and Humanity Studies by this point. You can call me The Doctor. And if you don't mind, when exactly am I? I'm guessing nineteen eighties…that metallic tang to the air, you know…but when exactly am I?"
"The Doctor? That's not a name. That can't be your real name."
"Well, no. But it'll do. Used it for a long time now, and I've grown quite attached to it. And you haven't answered my question yet."
"When am I? Exactly what date is it?"
Shana blinked. "May seventeenth. 1988."
"Right. Now, could I please have my glasses?"
No one moved. The stranger sighed. "Rassilon save me …they're not a weapon. They're just glasses. For seeing. And I thought Sontarans were a suspicious lot."
A greenshirt eyed Shana. She nodded permission, and the greenie edged forward, picked up the glasses, and gingerly slid them into place on the end of the stranger's nose.
"Ah, that's much better." The stranger sounded…cheerful? "Thank you. Now, let's see here…oh, yes, I thought so. Oh, that's brilliant!"
The cafeteria door flew open. What looked like about half the Joe team boiled through, armed to the teeth.
"Who the hell is he?" General Hawk, tac-vest clad and M-16 toting, shouldered his way through the ring of people around the crazy man and the blue box. "How the hell did you get in here?"
"Hello!" The Doctor said cheerfully. "Are you in charge here? You look like you're in charge here. Brilliant. We can get this misunderstanding all sorted out. I'm the Doctor. I'd shake hands, but, you know, tied up. As I already told this lady…I'd say nice, but, well, gun…temporal storm, emergency landing in a safe zone, but of course the TARDIS's version of a safe zone always ends up involving people trying to kill me. And now, a question; when was it that you two last time traveled?" He swiveled to eye Snake and Shana.
There was a long, frozen moment where no one moved.
"No one knows about that." Hawk's voice was steel. "That is beyond classified. Officially, it never happened."
"And then, you keep going on about this Destro." The Doctor continued, utterly ignoring Hawk. "You heard me ask when I was, and your first thought was of this Destro. And then I go on about temporal streams and the time vortex and you ask me about my name. Skipped right over the whole disbelief, denial, and self-delusion step. And that tells me that you lot have some experience with time travel. And then you were kind enough to give me my glasses, and now I can see that you two," A nod at Snake and Shana, "have residual vortex energy clinging to you. I knew it already, of course, but it helps to see it. And if you've been exposed to the time vortex…well, that means that you're time travelers." A grin. "Only we're about two and a half thousand years too early for humans to develop time travel. Which tells me that there's either someone very clever about, or someone's here who shouldn't be. And if I was clever-and I am very, very clever-I'd think that this Destro is either a very clever man, or someone who definitely should not be here."
"Like you." Hawk's voice was flat.
"No! Not like me!" A pause. "Well, a bit like me. But I'm on the right side! This was an honest mistake!" He tugged at the belt, hopefully. "Now, about this whole tied up thing…"
"Not just yet. We've got questions. Who are you working for?"
"No one. I'm not good at following instructions, really." A shrug.
"You're not working for Cobra Commander, or Destro, or any enemy of the United States of America?"
"No! Good god, no! Cobra Commander? And you have trouble with my name? Now, how about letting me free?" The Doctor grinned winningly, a look that could convince anyone to believe him...
*Twenty-five minutes later*
"What's in god's name is he doing now?"
Hawk drummed his fingers against the table and didn't answer Breaker's question. On the other side of the one-way glass, the odd stranger who'd turned up in the middle of the cafeteria in a blue police box was…licking the glass?
"High impact plastic, laminated with transparent ceramic and glass. Stop just about anything short of a missile, that." The Doctor's voice crackled over the speaker system. An experimental tap. " . Don't want anyone breaking out of this cell, hmm? My, my. You lot are a bit paranoid, you know? Of course, things are trying to melt your planet to slag once a month or so, so maybe you've got reason."
"He's crazy." Breaker's voice was flat. "Completely crazy…did he figure out what was in the glass by licking it?"
"I'm not sure about his sanity." Hawk didn't look away from the strange man, who was now standing on a chair to examine the video camera in the corner of his cell. "But he walked right into one of the United States' most secret, most secure facilities, and he knows about time travel."
"Digital!" The Doctor sounded delighted. "In 1988? Brilliant! Oh, that's a work of art! Just gorgeous! Oh, a very clever person made you, my little beauty."
Breaker's eyebrows went up. "And he does have an excellent eye for talent."
The door behind them opened; Hawk turned. Psyche-Out, Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes, and Beach Head trooped in, trailed by a dozen greenshirts.
"What's he doing?" Psyche-Out craned his neck to look around Hawk.
"Inflating Breaker's ego by another few points. Kenneth, find out what the hell is going on. Tommy, you're the lie detector. Snake, Beach, you're standing behind them and looking intimidating…Storm?"
Tommy had his head tilted slightly, and was frowning. "That can't be." He murmured the words under his breath. "That can't be."
"What can't be…STORM!"
Tommy, for once, ignored Hawk. He slammed a hand down on the 'open comm' button. "You. Doctor. Whatever your name is. What are you?"
"Pardon?" The Doctor hopped down off the chair.
"What are you?"
"Storm Shadow!" Hawk bit out the words. "What in god's name are you doing? Stand down!"
"He's not human, General." Tommy didn't move, didn't take his eyes off the strange Doctor. "He's got two heartbeats. He's got two hearts."
Other men might have questioned this. Other men might have said something dismissive. But General Clayton Abernathy was not most men. General Clayton Abernathy knew his men and women, and there were a few things that he knew to be immutable truths; he knew that the Joe team was the best. He knew that the Joe team had his back and he had theirs. He knew that he was better off not knowing why Beach found it necessary to assist Covergirl with after-hours maintenance on the Humvees. He knew that he would really like to find himself in a cage fight against the Jugglers. He knew that Snake Eyes was fully capable of invading a country single-handedly. And he knew that Storm Shadow's ears were always right.
"Beach, get Doc." He said quietly. Beach saluted and vanished.
Tommy hadn't moved. "You aren't human. What are you? You have two hearts. Two hearts. I can hear them. And they're beating far too slowly for a human, unless that human has spent years training to control their heartbeat."
The man in the cell went very still, and turned to eye the glass. "You can hear them? Through three inches of bulletproof glass? I could just as well ask you the same question; who are you?"
"Don't answer any questions." Psyche-Out ordered. He edged in beside Tommy. "Now, I hear that you think you're an alien."
"No thinking about it, really." The Doctor rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet. "I'm pretty definitely an alien."
"And yet you look human."
"Yeah? Well to me, you look Time Lord. We were around before your species even figured out opposable thumbs."
"Time Lord…is that what species you are, then?" Psyche-Out was scribbling frantically.
"Last time I checked. Unless I got into the Chameleon Arch again, but if that had happened I wouldn't remember being a Time Lord."
"My god." Psyche-Out absently ran a hand through his hair. "American Psychological Journal, here I come…And so what are you doing on Earth?"
"Oh, you know. This and that. Knocking about, looking for fun. Occasionally saving the world. Quite fond of the place, hate to see it damaged."
"Saving the world from what?"
The Doctor heaved a long-suffering sigh. "It might be quicker to list what I haven't saved it from, really."
"So, you're referring to other aliens?"
"Yup." The Doctor popped the 'p'.
"And what do other aliens want with Earth?"
"In order? To turn your planet into their new hive. To enslave you. To exterminate you. To steal your water. To burn the planet to slag as part of a complicated retirement plan. To turn your obese people into their next generation of children…to be fair, that one did work as a diet plan…"
Psyche-Out's eyes were bugging slightly. He'd switched to using shorthand to keep up with the Doctor. "Obese people into alien children."
"Well, their fat. Wouldn't have been so bad if they stuck to using the fat. But I forget; that won't happen for you for, oh, a couple of decades yet. Advice: avoid miracle diet pills."
The door crashed open again. Doc entered at a run, a bag of hastily packed equipment under his arm. Beach reappeared at a slightly more sedate pace a few steps behind.
"General!" Doc snapped of a salute, but his attention was focused on the strange Doctor. "Beach is telling me very strange things, sir."
"It's been a very strange day." Hawk straightened his tac vest. "Doc, Kenneth…find out who and what he is."
Psyche-Out flipped the page in his notebook. "I'll tell you one thing he is; both schizophrenic and suffering from intense delusions, or really is an alien. Either way, he's got one hell of an imagination."
"He's not lying." Tommy was staring at The Doctor. "Whatever else he is, he's not lying."
"Right. Carl, get in there. You're the Doctor here. Tell me if he's human." Hawk turned to the rest of the group. "Greenshirts; stay out here. If he tries to overpower us and make a run for it, shoot him. Beach, Snake, Storm…your jobs haven't changed. Come on."
The Doctor looked up when the door to his cell opened. "Hello!" He held out a hand to Doc. "I'm the Doctor."
"Call me Doc." Doc pulled a stethoscope out of his bag. "Have a seat and hold still."
"No need to go poking about at me..." The Doctor spotted Tommy and Beach. "Blimey, you two too? How many of you have been mucking about with time travel, anyway?" He squinted at Tommy. "You look familiar…"
"Snake Eyes? Could you hold him still?"
"Hey! HEY!" The Doctor struggled as Snake Eyes obediently slid behind him and wrapped him into a standing lock. "Ow! Easy on the shoulders, mate! Oi! Cold!"
"Sorry." Doc's eyes went wide. "Sweet mother of god…Storm was right…he's got two pulses…" he looked down at his watch and appeared to be counting under his breath. "Thirteen beats per minute? How are you not dead?
"Time Lord. Binary vascular system. Much more efficient than a human's."
Doc dug an infrared thermometer out of his bag without looking. "Body temperature…fifty nine? That's not possible. Someone that cool should be dead."
"Yeah…we also maintain a lower core body temperature. Trade-off, you know? Too difficult to maintain a high core temperature and, to be quite frank, a downright enormous brain. We'd spend all our waking time eating. Comes in handy sometimes; Time Lords don't mind cold as much as you do. Or heat, for that matter. You convinced yet? Hey! Big scary man in black! Fancy letting me go yet? Binary vascular system and I'm still losing circulation in my arms."
"You can let him go, Snake." Doc rummaged through his bag again.
Snake Eyes maneuvered the smaller man into the chair, and did so. He kept hovering, though, arms crossed.
"Ah, that's better." The Doctor rolled his shoulders. "And again with the names! Snake Eyes! Destro! Cobra Commander! And you lot have a problem with The Doctor! I like yours, though." This was addressed to Doc. "Doc. I like that."
Hawk could feel the beginnings of a headache coming on. "Let me get this straight. You're an alien. An alien who looks human...sorry. An alien we look like…With a binary vascular system, which is why I've got a seriously unnerved ninja and medical doctor."
"Yep." The Doctor popped the 'p' again. Hawk gritted his teeth; that was going to get annoying. A pause, and the odd man's eyebrows rose. "Wait…ninja?"
"The police box I've got on lockdown is a spaceship."
"Also a time machine. You mentioned ninja."
"Of course. Also a time machine. That can travel anywhere in time and space. Somehow jammed into a box that's about six feet square."
"Yeah, about that…appearances deceiving and all that. You have a ninja. What did you call the ninja?"
"And, for some reason, despite the fact that you're an alien, you have a British accent."
"I'm quite fond of England. Is there something wrong with England? What was the ninja's name?"
Hawk blinked. "What?"
"The ninja. What's his name?" The Doctor asked patiently.
"Which one of them?" Hawk gestured to Snake and Storm. "You'll have to be a bit more specific."
The Doctor craned his neck to eye Snake. "Well, that'll explain the walking arsenal over there. You ought to meet an old friend of mine. Called him The Brigadier. You two would get along splendidly. You could compare grenades. What was I saying? Right! Ninja! You've got more than one of them about? Blimey, I'd hate to see the repair bills…the other one! The one I unnerve!"
"I'll tell you if you tell me where you're from."
"Fine, fine. Planet Gallifrey, in the constellation Kaster Borous. Two hundred and fifty million light years away from your little solar system and your lovely little planet, in what Earth astronomers call the Centaurus supercluster. The galaxy has a name, but there's no chance you could pronounce more than the first two syllables."
There were a few moments of slightly shell-shocked silence. Hawk gathered himself first. "Right. Well then. Storm. Storm Shadow."
The Doctor slapped a hand against his forehead. "Of COURSE! I'm getting slow in my old age. Storm Shadow! STORM SHADOW! Arashikage! The ear that sees! That's how he could hear! I do wonder how Tomisaburo is doing…he'd be in his sixties by now, last time I saw him he made a good try at drinking me under the table. Of course, I metabolize alcohol more efficiently than humans, but he did make a good go of it. I had to teach him how to make a proper banana daiquiri. I think I ended up snogging one of his cousins before the end of the night." A pause, and the Doctor scratched his head, managing to spike his hair up still further. "Y'know, I've never seen anyone cut a cyberman's head off with a sword before. Nine hundred years, and he's still the only one I've ever seen manage it. Imagine! Taking on six cybermen with nothing but a sword and a mad glint in your eyes! And winning! Brilliant! Of course, he was utterly mad, but then, he was a ninja. His wife was a right little fox too…I still hold that she fancied me…"
None of them were sure exactly when Storm Shadow moved. One moment he was standing by the door, and the next he had The Doctor by the lapel of his coat, and was dragging him upright.
Hawk sighed. That had actually taken several seconds longer than he'd expected.
"You know the Arashikage?" Tommy hissed.
"Oi! Easy on the coat! I love this coat." The Doctor eyed Tommy. "Janis Joplin gave me this coat." He looked Tommy over again. "Oh! God, I'm thick! Brilliant! Can't believe I didn't recognize you, you're his spitting image. You'd be his son, then? Blimey, last time I saw you you were a tiny bit of a thing. Spit up on me once. How are your mother and father doing, then? I think I still owe your father five quid."
"They're dead." Tommy's voice was flat.
A long pause. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be. They both died of natural causes. You knew them, then?"
"Ran into them once." The Doctor smiled and nodded as if at a fond memory. "He was hired to kill a drug kingpin who was actually an alien trying to distribute mind control substances to humans and deport them off planet as slaves. While escaping, he managed to accidentally teleport himself onto the Cyberman ship that was dropping by to pick up some human slaves to convert. Which was where he met me. Long story short, we blew up the Cyberman ship, I managed to fix the teleport enough to make it back to Earth just before the big boom, he asked me if I'd like to come over to the compound for dinner, we got drunk…and that's not easy for me, but we drank a lot… and I woke up on the roof. Never did find my tie."
The Joes digested that in silence for several seconds.
"The crazy man in the blue box." Tommy let go of the Doctor and took a step back. "He told me stories, when I was little…"
"They weren't stories."
"Is anyone else disturbed by the notion of a ninja thinking someone is crazy?" Breaker had sidled into the room and was examining his precious camera to make sure The Doctor hadn't damaged it with his fiddling. "And equal parts disturbed and amused by the mental picture of His Stabbiness over there spitting up all over the crazy alien man?"
"You gotta point there." Beach tilted his head. "Poor little ninja tummy couldn't handle his dinner, huh?" A positively evil grin spread under the balaclava.
"Well, he was all of three months old. It took the TARDIS two dry-cleaning cycles to get the stain out." The Doctor stroked his coat affectionately. "I love this coat."
"No injuring anyone, Storm."
A sigh. "Yessir."
Hawk's head twinged again as what had just been said caught up with synapses that were already buzzing. "And a dry cleaner. There is also a dry cleaner in the spaceship time machine police box."
"I told you; appearances can be deceiving." The Doctor smiled.
"Schizophrenia and delusions." Psyche-Out cut in at last, looking up from his notebook. "That's normally what I'd say. Except that Carl is still having a mild stroke, and there's still a police box under heavy guard down in storage. I'll tell you this though, General. He believes utterly what he's saying. He's not having us on. Carl? You still with us?"
Doc hadn't stopped muttering wildly into a tiny voice recorder since first touching a stethoscope to The Doctor's chest five minutes ago.
Hawk sighed and pulled up the other chair in the room. "Okay. Right. So, we've got an alien time traveler on our hands. Who flies a blue police box, which my best men have still been unable to get into, despite using any and all methods at their disposal. Up to and including plastic explosives, which didn't noticeably scratch the paint."
"It's not really a police box. Chameleon circuit got stuck like that about six hundred years back. I haven't fixed it because I've grown rather fond of it. And you won't get in. Nothing can get into that box. Greater armies than yours have tried and failed to breach the hull of a TARDIS."
"But you can."
"Of course I can. I've got the key."
"We searched you." Hawk was definitely getting a headache now. "You didn't have a key."
"Not that you found, no." The Doctor grinned. "And you won't. But, General, I'm not your enemy. Now, give me my sonic screwdriver back-along with those butterscotches, I like butterscotch-take me to the TARDIS, and I'll be on my way."
"There's a problem with that." Hawk steepled his fingers. "You're in a base that does not exist. Do you understand what that means?"
"This is hardly the first military base that doesn't exist that I've been in. Haven't you heard of them?"
Hawk blinked. "No."
"And yet, you're an unknown, an intruder and a potential security threat." Hawk moved to stand. "I can't let you go."
There was a moment of silence, and then the Doctor caught Hawk's eyes. Such old eyes. Hawk thought. A young face-younger than mine-but such old eyes…
"General." The Doctor's voice had lost its cheerful edge. "I'm going to give you one warning. Just one. There is no security system on this planet-or any other, for that matter-that can stop me if I choose to leave. No one who could. And I'm going to repeat myself; I am not your enemy. Indeed, I believe I could help you. But you're going to have to trust me."
"Help us?" Hawk raised an eyebrow. "With what?"
"You mentioned a man named Destro. You mentioned a machine, something that can travel in time. And seeing as you're American military and very concerned about this man, I'm guessing that Destro has done bad things, things that make him a big enough threat to attract your attention. And a bad man with a time machine…well, he could get up to all sorts of trouble, couldn't he?"
"We've stopped him before."
"But could you again? You see, time isn't fixed…well, some bits are…but mostly it's changeable. Time can be re-written. What if it was re-written to exclude you?"
"It can't be." Beach spoke up suddenly. "Destro said weird shit kept happening to any operatives he sent back to kill us."
"You see? I can help you. Will help you." The Doctor looked Beach over again. "What time did you go to? Because I rather feel sorry for it."
"Wait. Back up." Psyche-Out was still scribbling frantically on his notepad. "You said will help us. Are you saying that you're what happened to the operatives Destro sent back in time to kill us?"
"Yes and no. Not yet for me. That's still in my future. But when odd things happen with time…well." A grin. "It's usually me."
Hawk massaged his temples. "All of this raises one very big question; why, in the name of God, should we believe a single word of any of this? And why you? Why would you do any of this?"
"Because I'm the Doctor." The Doctor didn't blink or look away from Hawk's laser-sharp glare. "I've saved this planet a thousand times from forces you don't even know exist. This planet still spins around its sun and the people on it still live because of me. You worry about threats to your country, General. I worry about threats to your planet, your species, and reality itself. And because I will never, so long as my hearts beat, let this world come to harm."
Hawk nodded slowly. "Prove it."
The Doctor grinned.