Author's Notes: I've never written any Farscape fiction before but I received a plot bunny courteousy of Rehatha who suggested a crossover story based on the Farscape episode "Self Inflicted Wounds" in which a main character dies. But instead of having the Doctor arrive just in time to save the day, I decided to have him show up a little late.
Chapter 1 - The Goddess
He'd had himself a hot shower, a change of clothes, a bite to eat and a nice cup of tea. An hour and 26 minutes after leaving Donna behind to resume her ordinary life, the Doctor settled himself beneath the floor grating under the console to perform some engine maintenance. There was nothing that really needed repair, but checking the wiring and making simple modifications was a way to get his mind off recent events. Unfortunately, it wasn't working very well. Every time he tried to focus on the fine adjustments he was making to delicate machinery, his mind would drift off to that scene on the beach, watching Rose kiss his alternate self. Then, as soon as he shook that image out of his head, it was replaced with the one of Donna's tear-stained face as she begged him not to take away her memories. He blew out a deep sigh as he forced himself to think of something completely trivial and unrelated. Movies that were based on novels versus movies with original screenplays came to mind first. Popular songs that had been recorded by more than one artist was another topic, followed by every TV program that had ever been produced and aired at least once. As all that useless data flowed through his mind, he realized that all his thoughts were of Earth, and that very soon thoughts of Earth would lead him invariably back to what he didn't want to think about.
He seriously needed a major distraction. Thankfully, the TARDIS had just come up with one. The sudden loud beeping of a mauve alert both startled and excited him. He quickly scampered from beneath the grating and began checking the computer for the details of the incoming emergency transmission. He got his first shock when he saw the location from which the signal was being broadcasted. It came from inside a class two wormhole. "What?" As he zeroed in further to the signal, he determined that it emanated from two space ships molecularly bonded together. "What?!" And furthermore, one of the ships was alive! "WHAT?!!" He instantly checked and rechecked his findings. "But that's imp..." He was going to say "impossible," but he felt that he should simply chuck that word from his vocabulary. He had witnessed far too much in the past few years to blindly assume that anything was impossible. A planet held stationary in front of a black hole had been an impossibility; entire planets being stolen from their orbits, and Rose returning from a sealed off alternate universe.... All of those events and more had been impossible under the old rules of science. He needed to keep an open mind and presume from now on that all things were possible.
He plotted a course to intercept the troubled spaceships and began formulating a plan to separate and get them out of the wormhole safely. When he was near enough for visual confirmation, he stared open mouthed at the sight. The smaller of the two vessels he recognized as a Pathfinder exploration ship. Pathfinders wasn’t actually the specie’s name but rather a description of their mission in life. They were a highly intelligent race with a colorful, fishlike appearance. They seemed to believe that there was a better existence for them elsewhere in time and space and spent a good deal of their resources searching for it. They were basically peaceful but could easily show aggression if provoked and were able to kill by shooting poison darts from their gill flaps.
The other ship involved in the collision turned out to be a leviathan, a slightly whale-shaped creature considered to be a distant relative to the TARDIS. It was comparable to a chimpanzee's relationship to humans. Although leviathans were capable of space flight and housing passengers, they were never meant to handle the stress of wormhole travel. The fact that this one had entered a wormhole without being torn apart was amazing enough, but it had gone a step further and survived being skewered through the bow by the Pathfinder ship.
Before the Doctor could decide on the best way to render aid, he noted a new set of readings on the monitor. There was a sharp increase in power signifying that the Pathfinder's generator had reached full optimization and the leviathan was initiating starburst. "No, don't!" he warned. But of course, his warning was too late and too far away to be of any use. He knew what was about to happen. The two ships were about to separate, but without the proper precautions in place, either one or both were likely to be destroyed in the process.
Within a matter of seconds, the Pathfinder ship began to pulsate and move cleanly through the leviathan without leaving any noticeable wounds. Once in the clear, the Pathfinder ship suddenly exploded, creating a fluctuating energy surge within the wormhole that rocked the TARDIS, knocking the Doctor off his feet and causing him to bang his head on the grating floor. It wasn't enough to knock him unconscious, but it did give him a sore bump on the back of his skull. If Donna, Martha or Rose had been around, he would have milked the slight injury for all it was worth.
Once he got to his feet and viewed the screen again, there was no sign of the leviathan. He quickly did a scan and breathed a small sigh of relief when he finally located it. The living ship had reached the safety of open space and appeared to be completely out of danger. The doctor felt rather let down, having come so far and then being deprived of the opportunity to offer assistance. He only hoped that there had been no passengers aboard the ship that had exploded. He considered boarding the leviathan just to meet the crew and find out how and why they had ended up in such a predicament in the first place. Also, the leviathan had probably suffered some internal injuries, for which he could offer aid. He probably should go check to make sure the crew and ship were well enough to manage on their own.
His hand hovered over the landing control, a feeling of uncertainty making him hesitate. His mind wandered back to the events that had transpired within the last 24 hours. Lives had been lost, enemies destroyed, friends left behind and tears had been shed. He had been ready for a new adventure to cheer him up but now he was afraid that the most exciting part of this one had already come and gone. All that was probably left was for the crew to lick their wounds and continue on with their lives. He wasn't any good at that sort of thing. If there was nothing left for him to do but help clean up the mess, he really didn't want to bother getting involved. The ship wasn't sending out any distress calls, so he could assume that the crew was probably just fine on their own.
As the Doctor began to input coordinates for a random course, something unusual caught his attention. A golden mist began to waft its way through the closed entrance doors of the TARDIS. The word "impossible" leapt instantly to mind, replaced quickly by automatic curiosity. The mist became a bright glow as it grew in size and density until it formed the semi-transparent figure of a woman. She was statuesque and stunningly beautiful, with delicate, seemingly hand-painted white markings on her forehead, nose and cheeks. Her soulful eyes were white in color, her smile serene and engaging. She hovered several feet above the floor, dressed in a silky, hooded robe which flowed about as if gently blown by an invisible breeze. She was a goddess. No other description would suffice.
Utterly intrigued, the Doctor stepped forward and asked, "Who are you?"
The goddess gave a small bow in greeting, pressing her hands together as if in prayer. When she spoke, her voice was whisper soft, yet every word could be clearly heard.
"I am Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan. I come to you in peace."
"Hello, Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan. I am the Doctor. I also come in peace." The Doctor returned both the greeting and bow in kind, then inquired, "Exactly what ARE you?"
"I was once a Delvian priest. My body fell ill and this, my spirit has now been set free."
"I see. So you're..." Dead was the word he was thinking, but decided there was no point in saying it out loud. "Ooh, Delvian. I haven't come across any Delvians in... oh... long time. Lovely shade of blue, your people are, by the way, and with such beautiful markings." The spirit simply smiled and canted her head slightly in a gesture of acknowledgment. "So... what brings you aboard my ship?"
"I was curious as to what could be inside this strange, little box." She quickly took in her surroundings, then focused again on the Doctor. "I did not expect all this."
"Yeah, it's a wee bit bigger on the inside."
"How is it possible?"
"A little elfin magic," the Doctor replied flippantly.
"Elves live in a hollow tree and..." the Doctor waved the comment away and said, "Sorry, that was a joke there. Never mind. Truth is it's very scientific and extremely complicated to explain. Anyway... I picked up a distress beacon on my monitor and came to see if I could help. Unfortunately, I got here a bit too late. I don’t suppose you know what all happened."
"I do." Zhaan descended closer to the floor so that the Doctor would not have to strain his neck looking up at her. "A Pathfinder ship carrying a group of researchers studying wormholes collided with the ship I was on, a leviathan named Moya. I don’t understand the why or how such a thing occurred, but once joined, apparently only one ship could endure the separation."
"I have to admit I’m quite surprised that the leviathan survived."
"Moya," Zhaan reminded him of the leviathan’s name. “Yes, there was much concern that she would not survive. The Pathfinders wanted us to abandon her, but I for one could not. Moya is... was my home and her crew my family. We came together as escaped prisoners, outcasts and lost lambs. Over time, a special bond grew. Enemies became allies, brothers, sisters and lovers. I consider them my children."
"One big happy family, then?"
"Not always. There has been pain, tears and death. But we carried on as a family should. And despite the Pathfinders attempts at sabotage and manipulation, my family came together and did what was needed in order to save our home."
"And what became of the Pathfinders?”
"They were all killed before the ship was destroyed. They died either by accident or as a result of self-preservation."
The Doctor wasn’t very happy at hearing lives had been loss, and felt a sense of guilt that he had not arrived earlier. “Were you on the Pathfinder ship when it exploded?" the Doctor asked, already suspecting he knew the answer.
"Someone had to operate the controls in order to initiate the separation of the two ships."
"And you volunteered because of your illness," the Doctor surmised.
"Yes. I had little precious time remaining of my life. Still, saying good-bye to my dear ones was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Leaving them behind to suffer despair and guilt over my departure -- that is my truest regret."
"You could go to them now, couldn't you? Speak with them again just as you're speaking to me?"
"I have tried. Apparently, I am beyond their ability to sense me. But your mind is responsive. You are able to see and hear a great deal. May I ask, what are you exactly?"
"I am unfamiliar."
"Yeah, well, I'm a very long way from home."
"So is my dearest Crichton. I fear he will be the most affected by my death. So caring, always wanting to do the right thing but having so much go all wrong. He blames himself for what happened. His obsession with wormhole knowledge placed us in the path of danger. Perhaps you can help him to heal?"
The Doctor's immediate attention had been on the fact that someone besides the Pathfinders was obsessed with wormhole technology. This Crichton fellow obviously didn't know what he was doing and had just caused a terrifying disaster. The Doctor furrowed his eyebrows in confusion when Zhaan's question about healing seeped into his brain. "Beg pardon? What was that last part?"
"I said, perhaps you can help Crichton to heal. You are a doctor, are you not?"
"I am 'The' Doctor and a healer of sorts. But emotional pain...." The Doctor folded his arms across his chest as he shook his head and admitted, "Sorry, not my forte."
"You came all this way to help, and now you choose not to?"
"I came all this way to separate the two ships and to hopefully save lives. Sadly, I'm too late for either, so...."
"You would turn your back on those in need?"
"It's not that I don't want to help. I do! But... I'm just not very good at that sort of thing. Give me something mechanical, mathematical... I'm a wiz at physics. Separate two ships melded together inside a wormhole, THAT I can handle. But emotional stuff, I'm pure rubbish. I'd probably end up making things worse." He became increasingly flustered as he tried to make excuses why he couldn’t help with emotional trauma. "And besides, I... um... I...."
Zhaan moved closer to the Doctor and reached out her hand to caress his cheek. She realized as she sought to make contact that her touch no longer had substance. Still, the energy she emitted left behind a mild tingle that the Doctor responded to with a tiny shiver. The golden spirit smiled softly as she noted the surprise on the Doctor's face. "Don't be afraid," she whispered to him.
"I'm not," the Doctor responded too quickly and not at all convincingly.
"Of me, no. But I see fear in your eyes, and great sadness."
The Doctor took a few steps back, away from her featherlike touch and her searching eyes. She could see straight into his soul and he found it a tad unnerving. He moved over to the console and pretended to study the data on a monitor. "I've...had some losses recently. But no one died," he was quick to add.
"But you have been left all alone," Zhaan guessed correctly.
"Yeah, well...it's for the best all around. No big deal."
"And you fear growing close to others only to lose them."
He considered lying to her for just an instant, but figured she would be able to see the real truth anyway. Still unable to make eye contact, he shrugged with nonchalance and replied, "Yeah, something like that. But I'm sure I'm just going through a phase. I just need a little time to... um... to...."
He looked up at her then and found himself drawn in to a pair of understanding eyes and a compassionate smile. He gave a simple nod in response, then decided to change the subject.
"So, what about you? Where... what becomes of you now?"
"The light of my goddess beckons me. I will follow wherever it may lead. I paused only to see that my children had nothing to fear from the contents of this box."
The Doctor offered up a disarming grin, "No, they've nothing to fear from me."
"I thought as much. Your kindness is apparent."
"I shall leave you now," said Zhaan as she began to drift backwards towards the door. "And if you should happen to find your way aboard Moya, please tell my sweet, darling children that together they are strong. They should look after one another, and they should remain a family. And let them know that wherever I am, they will remain always in my heart. As will you, dear Doctor."
The Doctor didn't know how to respond verbally, so he merely nodded in silence. He followed the spirit as far as the top of the doorway incline, then stood and watched as Zhaan dissolved into a mist of gold and light and seeped back through the normally impenetrable entrance doors. Once his company had completely vanished, the Doctor stood and stared longingly at the darkened doorway. He wish he had met her when she had been flesh and blood. He could tell that she would have made a wonderful companion. Not that he would have invited her to travel with him, of course. He was through with that. Besides, he would surely have lost her as he had the others one way or another. Still, he wished that she could have stayed a bit longer. That had been far too brief of a distraction. He turned away from the door and walked back over to the console. Pressing a few buttons on the keyboard, he was able to easily zero in to the location of the injured leviathan, and with the turn of a knob, he was on his way to meet the sweet, darling children of Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan.
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