Captain Kathryn Janeway could feel the familiar hum of her ship under her seat on the bridge. The USS Voyager was gliding through the unknown region of space called the Delta Quadrant at a steady Warp 6, a fairly high speed although it wouldn't be enough to get Janeway and her crew home anytime soon. They'd been trying to reach home for five years, but still had some ways to go - a mere sixty-five years - although Janeway was certain her crew would make it back to the Federation much sooner.
To Janeway's left sat her first officer, Commander Chakotay, tapping on a flat handheld device called a PADD containing reports of engineering's status. Chief Engineer B'Elanna Torres usually had nothing to report since her irritant alien Klingon half "coaxed" her staff into keeping the warp core and all other systems in check. Behind Janeway was the perfect-figured Seven of Nine, a newer member of her crew who constantly searched for her lost connection to humanity. To the captain's left was young Ensign Harry Kim in his little alcove at ops station, trying to impress the captain by keeping an update of the ship's status and constantly scanning the vacuum of space around them for anything that might interest the crew. To her right was the Vulcan, tactical and security officer, and her old friend, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok. Even on a slow day like this one, he was still checking weapons and security status; a very logical precaution. Tom Paris, the pilot, sat in front of the Captain and first officer, effortlessly guiding the ship throughout the journey.
Janeway was cradling her mug of black coffee, starting to believe that today was going to be a rare uneventful day, when the ship took a sharp jolt and threw her out of her chair. She landed in a heap with her first officer, coffee spilled all over her dark red uniform.
"Report!" barked the Captain as she untangled herself from Chakotay and back into her seat. The rest of the bridge staff scrambled to their stations to discover what caused the most advanced ship in Starfleet to move out of control.
"Something has disrupted the warp field," replied Harry. "We've dropped out of warp!"
Janeway began to give out orders to regain warp speed, but was interrupted by a pulsing grinding sound overwhelming the bridge. A bright light emerged, matching the pulsing sound. Janeway found the source of the light to her left as a transparent image became clearer with each pulse of light. After one final pulse the full object appeared in complete solidity. It was a large box that resembled a telephone box in Ancient London, but on the top was written "Police Box" on each side. The whole box was painted a royal blue, and a small lantern was perched at the top, still flashing slowly.
The side closest to the Captain had a door with windows, and as she approached the mysterious box the door opened to reveal a strange man. He had a long nose, brown eyes, and a short black haircut. He wore trousers, a bright purple shirt, a tan-colored jacket, and a red bow tie. As he stepped out of the box and a young couple followed him. One was a short blonde man and the other was a ginger-haired woman. All three of them seemed surprised to be there, but not surprised about how they got there.
"Oh, hello!" exclaimed the man with the bow tie. He had a heavy British accent. "Sorry. We were just looking for the moons of Taurus III. I must have made a slight error in plotting my flight-"
"As you usually do," interrupted the woman. Her accent was very Scottish.
Janeway had no time for excuses. As usual, she wanted answers as soon as possible. "I'm Captain Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager. Who are you, and how did you bring this... box on my ship?"
"I'm the Doctor, the woman is Amy Pond, and the blonde man is her husband, Rory Williams." said the man.
"Doctor? Doctor Who?"
"Well, if you prefer the latter that's fine with me."
There was a moment of utter confusion, and Amy spoke up with a tone that showed she had told this story many times.
"He's a nameless one thousand-year-old time traveler, and that blue box is his TARDIS."
"It stands for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. A time machine," answered Rory. After Janeway's disbelieving glance at the small, blue box and a stare at Rory, he added, "Oh, it's bigger on the inside."
She was about to ask several more questions, but instantly noticed her new passengers staring at her in fearful wonder. "What's wrong?"
"What did you just say a moment ago?" asked the Doctor.
"I just asked you about your... TARDIS."
The Doctor, Amy, and Rory all shared a nervous glance. "You just asked about the fourth member of our group." said Rory.
"I didn't say that. Clearly there isn't another person," said a slightly concerned Janeway.
The Doctor rolled up his sleeve and checked his right arm, and grew wide-eyed. "That's because you can't remember seeing our fourth member," he stared at his companions in horror. "The Silence are on board."
"The Silence? What are the Silence? Will you please explain what is going on here?" The Captain had to remain calm under the watchful eyes of her crew, but Janeway felt she was speaking just below a tone of panic.
"The Silence are probably one of the most dangerous creatures in the galaxy simply because you will never know they are there. As soon as you look away you forget everything you knew about them."
"If it is impossible to remember them, how do you know the Silence are here on Voyager?" asked the emotionless Tuvok.
"Oh! A Vulcan!" exclaimed the ever-curious Doctor. "I've always wanted to meet a member of your race. So amazing how you can operate without using any human emotion."
"Doctor," interrupted and annoyed Amy. "I know he's fascinating, but please don't get sidetracked now." She seemed to talk to him like he was a child.
"Right." He seemed somewhat disappointed that he couldn't examine his new find further, but pressed on to the bigger problem. "I know the Silence are here because your captain saw one."
This shocked Janeway, which was impressive after spending five years in what felt like hell. "Me!"
"Yes. You looked off to my left and asked about a fourth intruder. But you don't remember asking that question, nor can you see a fourth intruder. I'm afraid I've seen several more on your bridge alone."
Chakotay, Janeway's most loyal crewman and friend, instinctively moved toward his captain to protect her from whatever might come out of this. "And how do you know that? I'm sure you're not immune to this alien's ability."
The Doctor held out his left arm. The sleeve was still rolled up and on his bare skin were four black tallies. "Somewhere along my travels I became aware of the Silence and decided to have a black marker ready so I may mark my arm every time I look at one. I may not remember what happened - I may be having full conversations with you all that I don't know about right now -, but at least I know what I'm up against."
"So how many are here right now?"
"Four," the Doctor checked his arm and went pale. "Uh...Seven." Three new tallies appeared on his arm since he last looked.
"Captain," said Harry Kim. "Sensors picked up the signal of a ship several hundred kilometers away, but it was only for a split second. Hang on, the computer has no record of the ship we just found."
"Did the ship move away?" asked Janeway.
"I don't think so. I'm picking up several more ships with the same signal over five lightyears." Kim pounded his console in frustration. "I just lost all records of it. It's as if the computer's losing its memory as soon as it finds new data."
"That's because it is," realization finally hit the Doctor. "Those must be Silence ships. Powerful enough to wipe the memory of a ship's computer, at least I assume that's the case. I've never seen one, only the Silence themselves on Earth. Yes, they have influenced the progress of men for thousands of years, but I never knew where they came from. But I think I finally found their home."
Silence fell over the bridge. The Doctor didn't have to explain himself. No one wanted to say it out loud. They knew who was watching their realization dawn. There was only one clear reason for several "ghost ships" to be spanned over such a great distance.
They were in the realm of the Silence.
"Torres to Janeway!" B'Elanna's voice broke the silence through the comm system. "The warp core just disappeared!"
"What do you mean it just disappeared?" Janeway wasn't used to a less than thorough explanation from her chief engineer.
"I mean it just vanished! One moment it was there, and the next - it was gone!"
It was Janeway's turn to go pale. The warp core was Voyager's only engine capable of getting her crew out of dangerous situations like these.
And now it was missing.
"The Silence must have taken it," interrupted the Doctor. "They now know you are aware of them and they are trying to put a stop to it."
You mean us, thought Janeway. This new thought didn't really scare her, though. She faced death every day in the Delta Quadrant. It was the thought that beings she never could remember might be plaguing her ship right now that made her shudder. They may have been there for a long time.
"Harry, scan the surrounding space for the warp core," ordered Chakotay.
Harry tapped on his console like a composer hard at work while the bridge crew watched, patiently waiting for his answer. When he finished, he looked up. "The warp core seemed to be just sitting in space until sensors picked up a blip of a ship surrounding it. The core must be in there."
"Can we retrieve it from here?" asked Janeway, hopeful.
"No, ma'am. Our transporters are down and we can't access our shuttles. Tractor beam won't work either."
Janeway was not willing to accept defeat. The warp core was their only way to get back home, and she and her crew had worked too hard for too long to let a few thousand kilometers get in the way of her and her only chance of reaching Earth again. "There has to be another way to get it back," she said softly.
"Uh, actually, Captain," said a somewhat prideful Rory, "there is."
Understanding Rory, the Doctor perked up with new energy. "Oh, that's right! I have my TARDIS, the sexy thing. Captain, you stay put and Amy and Rory Pond -"
"No, it's Rory Williams. Amy married me," corrected Rory.
"Nah, it's Pond. You know Amy's really in control of your marriage," winked the Doctor. "Now, Amy and Rory will accompany me in the TARDIS, retrieve your warp core, and we'll all be on our merry way."
"Oh no you don't!" Janeway stopped the Doctor. There was no way someone was going to just arrive on her ship and give her orders. "If you're going on that ship, then I'm coming, too."
"I can't allow that, Captain," the Doctor responded, suddenly serious. "You have no idea what you're up against. You don't know how to work the TARDIS and you don't know how ruthless the Silence are."
"I don't care, Doctor!" An adventurous twitch itched inside the Captain. She stepped forward toward the Doctor, and almost had to crane her neck to lock her gaze with him. "The Silence have my warp core and nothing will stop me from getting it back. Not even you or the Silence." I also want to see that time machine of yours, she thought. What could be hidden inside that tiny blue box that can travel through time and space?
The Doctor grinned in amusement. "You know, I've always wanted to be a ginger. There are many people, women at least, that I've seen with ginger-colored hair who have a natural determination that cannot be swayed by any amount of force. You are one of those gingers."
"So I can come," It was not a question, and Janeway was still staring at the Doctor with her icy blue eyes.
"I don't see any way of talking you out of it."
With his answer confirmed, Janeway tapped her comm badge on the left side of her chest. "Janeway to the Doctor. Please report to the bridge."
"On my way, Captain," the badge responded.
A few minutes later the ship's doctor, a middle-aged, balding man, emerged on the bridge. He paused for a moment to take in the view, and strode toward the captain.
"Doctor, we need your help," said Janeway.
"Hang on," interrupted the time traveling Doctor. "Who are you?"
"I'm the Doctor."
Janeway stepped in. "He's our medical doctor; an Emergency Medical Hologram. He hasn't chosen a name yet, so we call him Doctor."
"Well, what creator chose your rubbish hairstyle?" asked the time traveler.
"Who picked out your wardrobe this morning?" countered the EMH. He was notorious for having a poor bedside manner. "I guess no one told you that bow tie is hideous."
"No it's not!" The Doctor tugged on his tie. "Bow ties are cool."
"Doctor!" called Janeway.
"Yes?" answered both.
"Uh, no. My Doctor." The EMH stepped toward the captain. "Do you notice anyone else in this room beside the crew and these three?"
The Doctor looked a little puzzled. "Captain, I told you several times that there are strange aliens all over the ship."
The hair rose on the back of her head. "You have?"
"Yes. They removed the warp core from the ship."
Well at least I remember that part, thought Janeway, her composure settling over the situation. "So you can see them?"
"Wonderful, you're coming with me, Chakotay, Tuvok, and Seven."
"Into the belly of the beast," replied the Doctor. He snapped his fingers and the door to his TARDIS swung in on itself. The inside of the time machine bathed the bridge in a warm glow. "If you will please step inside, we have a ship to save."
Aside from saving her crew, adventure was Janeway's greatest instinct. Only several years of command prevented her from dashing inside and taking everything in like a child. As soon as her away team gathered around her and Tuvok handed out phasers, handheld laser weapons, Janeway ventured forth inside the TARDIS.
He was right. It is bigger on the inside! But his description was grossly underestimated. What would have been the length of the tiny box was a platform that lead to the true size of the time machine. Past the platform and up a metal staircase was a glass landing circling around a tall round control center strewn with buzzing knick-knacks. On the opposite side of the controls was a taller metal staircase leading to another part of the ship. The rounded walls were spotted with metal plates and screens, and the whole TARDIS had a gold hue.
The rest of the away team entered after Janeway and gaped at the massive inside of the time machine. Tuvok and Seven, the most "logical" members of her crew, seemed to be having a mental overload. She knew they were having a difficult time finding an explanation as to how such a small box could be so much bigger on the inside. The two would probably be having a long conversation with the time traveler, but for now they simply looked around, Tuvok muttering "Fascinating" and Seven saying "Intriguing."
The Doctor, Amy, and Rory passed the group that were now the intruders and sprinted up the stairs to the controls. The Doctor was pushing and twisting gadgets while the Voyager crew remained at the platform immovable. "Well come on in. There's plenty of room."
Janeway grinned in excitement as she climbed the stairs, followed by the rest of her team. She circled around the landing, noting every "button" the Doctor pressed; a ketchup dispenser, an old typewriter, levers that had a zigzag motion or pulled out or pulled down. All seemed to be useless junk, yet apparently made the TARDIS work perfectly.
After a few more flourishes, the Doctor called, "Alright, the old girl is having trouble finding the ship we need to get to, but all I have to do is look out of one of the windows and we know where we're going." After several concerned faces popped up, he added, "Trust me. I'm a Doctor." And with that, he pulled down a final lever. The TARDIS began to jolt and shudder. More gadgets were spinning, and the transparent center of the controls glowed green as the clear tubes inside rose and fell to the pulsating sound of the time machine leaving the Voyager bridge and penetrating the Silence ship.
After the away team regained their bearings, the Doctor and his companions made their way toward the door. Janeway and her crew followed, and the Doctor pulled out a long metal tool with a green light at the end. "What is that?" asked Janeway.
"A sonic screwdriver," said the Doctor. "Fixes anything. Except for wood. Never figured out why."
"Okay, so what's the plan?" asked Rory.
"I'm not really sure," answered the time lord. "I'm making this up as I go along."
"Captain?" called Voyager's medical doctor, but Janeway did not respond.
"I'm guessing we just charge in with our weapons ready," said the Doctor. "When we find the warp core, I'll use my sonic to transport it into the TARDIS."
"Then when we get back to Voyager," added Janeway, "the transporters will probably be back on and we can beam the core out of the TARDIS and into it's proper place in engineering."
"Yes, I haven't forgotten about you, Doctor," she assured her EMH. "You will keep an eye out for any Silence in our path so we can reach the core without having to entirely forget what we are facing."
"But, Captain, I'm afraid you've forgotten much more than you realize."
"What do you mean? What else could I have forgotten?"
"The whole mission!" exclaimed the Doctor. Everyone stared at him. "We've already completed it."
"We made it through the Silence ship and, after a difficult struggle, we retrieved the warp core. It's right over there." He pointed toward the far side of the TARDIS. The entire group turned toward the direction of his finger, and stared in awe at the tall, cylindrical object. The glowing blue matter slowly swirled inside its case - the beating heart of the ship.
Despite the clear evidence of their success, Janeway wouldn't have believed him if it weren't for her right shoulder suddenly crying out in pain. As she held it she noticed Rory, Chakotay, and Seven holding similar parts of their arms and torso. Obviously, the Doctor wasn't lying. "Looks like I'm going to be seeing you three in Sickbay," he mused, which received a disapproving grunt from his soon-to-be captors.
After the away team stepped out of the TARDIS, which was back on the Voyager bridge, they learned that they had been gone for over two hours in the attempt to bring back the core. The Silence managed to leave Voyager in that time as well. The team took no time to dwell on the recent events and instead immediately beamed the core to its proper place at the center of engineering, which was a great relief to mostly B'Elanna, who might as well consider the core her child. She powered it up and fired off the ship at high warp until she and the crew were certain they were well out of Silence territory.
The EMH doctor managed to pull the entire away team as well as the time travelers into Sickbay to be treated for injuries. Janeway and the time traveling Doctor were his toughest patients since they insisted on scrambling in their seats and attempting to leave before they had finished treatment. Both doctors continued bantering over wrinkles, hair, wardrobe, technology superiority, and bow ties while Janeway attempted to stop their bickering, only to confuse them over which doctor she was referring to.
After the away team recovered and the ship was in perfect condition, the crew and the Doctor were ready to part ways. Janeway admitted that she might miss the madman with a blue box.
"Don't worry, Captain," said the Doctor. "I'll try to visit every now and then."
"Just give us a call the next time you want to visit," Janeway responded with a hint of concern for what may come from another visit from the Doctor.
Both Amy and Rory gave an enthusiastic salute to the Captain, and was ushered into the TARDIS by the Doctor. Halfway behind the door, he gave one more excited smile toward the bridge crew that Janeway couldn't help but return, and disappeared inside his tiny box.
Janeway faced the pilot's seat and ordered a new heading for Tom. He glided his fingers over the console and said, "Course laid in, ma'am."
As the TARDIS began to pulse out of view, Janeway sat in her command chair and said, "Engage."