Chapter 3 - Little Blue Box
As he began to regain consciousness, the Doctor's ears still buzzed with faint echoes of the scream which had nearly taken his head off and left him wishing he didn't even have one at the moment. The fierce pain in his skull had receded to a dull ache, but that was far less worrying than his inability to move a muscle. He discovered that his limbs were numb and unresponsive. It was hard to believe that he had become totally incapacitated by what amounted to a loud screech. As he lay immobile on the cold, hard floor, he came to realize that he was not alone. He sensed two people kneeling on either side of him. Two pair of hands roamed over his body, one set seemed concerned with his physical condition, checking his vital signs; while the other set was apparently patting him down searching for weapons or identification.
"All I am saying is that you should have told someone about him," said a somewhat stern, female voice.
The voice that responded belonged to Crichton, who was trying to get a fix on a pulse as he spoke. "Aeryn, I told you, I didn't think he was real. He knew about Star Trek. No one in this universe knows about Star Trek unless they've been messing around with my brain or they currently reside inside my head. So when I meet a tall, skinny guy with a British accent in a pinstripe suit who guesses my parents were Trekkies and claims that the spirit of Zhaan sent him, yeah, I'm gonna naturally assume he comes from the same neighborhood as that pain-in-the-ass Harvey." Crichton finally finished his rant just as he came to a conclusion about the unconscious man next to him. "Well, he still has a pulse but it has kind of a funky beat to it."
Aeryn's search of the Doctor's jacket pocket led her to find the sonic screwdriver. She held it up and speculated, "Some sort of communication device? Looks too small for a weapon."
She passed it across to Crichton who gave it the once-over. "Looks like a penlight." He twisted it and pressed what looked like a button. The thing lit up with a bright blue light at one end and made a buzzing sound.
"What did you just do?" Aeryn asked in mild alarm.
"Nothing... I hope." The little gizmo seemed to have done nothing other than light up and make noise. Considering the target the light had hit, Crichton couldn't help but worry just a bit and mumbled to himself, "Why do I get the feeling I may have just sterilized myself?"
"Be more careful," Aeryn warned. "Just because something doesn't look very dangerous, doesn't mean it isn't."
"Yes, ma'am," Crichton replied obediently as he set the questionable penlight aside and began checking out some of the other items Aeryn had discovered. Among them were a pair of eyeglasses, a toothbrush, a key, and a bi-fold wallet. He opened the wallet and read the information printed on the business card inside. "Dr. John Smith, Psychiatrist. Specializing in Family and Grievance Counseling." Crichton closed the bi-fold and stared down at the Doctor with a more critical eye. "Can't be."
"Can't be what?"
All the clues were leading in one direction, but Crichton wasn't quite ready to accept it. He decided to do one more check first and pulled off one of the Doctor's shoes. Following a quick inspection of the inside label, Crichton shook his head in amazement and announced, "He's from Earth."
"How can you tell?"
"Besides being a shrink, knowing about Star Trek, needing to wear glasses and brush his teeth the old fashioned way...." Crichton held up one of the red, hi-top sneakers and said, "Made in China. I used to own several pairs when I was growing up. He must have come through the wormhole like I did."
"But how? Where's his spacecraft?"
"I don't know. Maybe the Pathfinders scooped him up somehow. That's called a stethoscope," Crichton told Aeryn when he saw her pull it from the Doctor's jacket pocket and stare at it curiously. "You can listen to his heartbeat with it. Stick those tips in your ears and place the other end on his chest." He indicated with hand gestures as to what to do.
"Primitive," Aeryn mumbled at using the instrument, but tried it out anyway. After a moment she asked, "All people from Earth have only one heart, right?"
"This man has two."
"What? Let me see that." Crichton took the stethoscope from her and listened for himself. "This doesn't make sense," he said afterwards.
"It would explain why Jool's scream caused him to pass out. He's an alien being with an auditory and nervous system that is either extremely sensitive to sound or simply inferior to everyone else aboard Moya."
"I'd have to go with the more sensitive to sound theory," the Doctor suddenly spoke up.
Both Aeryn and Crichton were startled into instant combat mode. They stood quickly, stepped back, drew their guns and aimed them at the man still lying down on the floor with his eyes closed.
"And you really don't need to point weapons at me," the Doctor grimaced wearily, instinctively knowing that they were. "You've already established that I'm unarmed. Although I do possess a quick tongue, devastating charm and razor-sharp wit. But even if I did have something more deadly, all you'd have to do is have the young lady with the flaming red hair scream at me again. But please don't do that, because I'm not so sure I'd survive another one of those encounters. Blimey, but I haven't had this bad of a reaction to anything since I was bitten by a Venetian river mole and was given its mucus extract as a cure. Truly the most foul tasting stuff you can ever imagine, but works quite effectively." The Doctor opened his eyes at last and flexed his hand in front of his face. "Oh good. I'm getting feeling back into my limbs. I was beginning to worry." His gaze shifted to Aeryn as if finally noticing her. "Oh, hello. I'm the Doctor. And you are?"
She hesitated before replying, then eventually decided there was no harm in doing so. "Aeryn Sun."
"Aeryn Sun. Ah, such a lovely name for a lovely person still holding a gun on me. I plan to sit up now. I'd appreciate it if no one shoots me."
Crichton was the first to holster his weapon and Aeryn followed suit, keeping her hand on the butt of the weapon just in case.
"Little trouble with trust issues I see." The Doctor slowly eased himself up into a sitting position. He wasn't completely back to normal but he was quickly getting there. "Mind if I..." he pointed to his shoe and other items that had been removed from his body. After receiving a simple nod from both his captors, he made quick work of slipping back on his shoe and gathering up his belongings. He stuffed everything back into their proper place, then got to his feet. Upon standing, he found his head swimming slightly. He teetered for a brief moment before finding his balance again.
"You okay?" Crichton asked, seemingly ready to catch the man in the pin-striped suit should he happen to topple over.
"Fine. Almost. Just a little shaky still. Thanks for asking. So, you were saying, I'm the only one so adversely affected by that particular vocalization?"
"Yeah. So far. All the rest of us just find it really annoying. You have a metal plate or something inside your head?"
"Her scream can melt metal."
"Really? What species is she?"
"Hmh, just when I thought I'd already met every race of alien there is, up pops a new one. Oh well." The Doctor patted his breast pocket for one item in particular. "I seem to be missing my... oh, there it is." He spotted the sonic screwdriver on the floor next to Crichton's foot and pointed at it. "Don't think I should bend over just yet. Do you mind?"
Crichton picked it up, but didn't hand it over. "What is this exactly?"
"A sonic screwdriver."
"A sonic what?"
"Screwdriver. You know, for loosening and tightening screws. Also doubles as a bottle opener, a light source, temperature gauge and a few other useful gadgets. Not a dangerous weapon in the least, but like all tools, some care should be taken while handling."
"I uh... well, I accidentally turned it on while aimed at my...." Crichton pointed to his crotch.
"Really?" The Doctor briefly dropped his eyes down to the area in question and asked, "Any screws down there?"
"Good, then there's no need to worry about anything falling off then. Can I have it back?"
Crichton started to hand it over but Aeryn quickly intercepted, snatching it away and stashing the screwdriver into one of the pockets of her leather pants. "You might get it back when you leave," she explained to their visitor in a voice that let him know the matter was not negotiable.
"Still with the not trusting," the Doctor mumbled.
"No, I don't trust you," Aeryn fired back. "We trusted the last group of aliens we met and things did not go well."
"I'm very sorry about that, and I agree, there is no reason at all for you to trust me. But if a reason should come along... I hope you will." Actually, he hoped that there would never come a time when she would have to place her trust in him. Many of the beings he met -- especially females -- trusted him instinctively. He had gained the full trust of most of his companions with little more than a smile or touch of his hand. Unfortunately, people who trusted him often got hurt or killed. So, it was probably a good thing that the woman in front of him did not give in so quickly to his charms.
"You're not Human but you've been to Earth, haven't you?" asked Crichton, drawing the Doctor's attention away from Aeryn.
"Yes. Go there all the time. In fact, just came from dropping some friends off."
"Where's your ship?" a female voice spoke up from behind him.
The Doctor turned around to address the person speaking, but was startled to see that it was the redhead with the lethal scream. "Oh, you! You're not going to scream again, are you?"
"I only scream when I'm upset or frightened. You startled me."
"I'll be sure not to do it again. What is your name?"
"Joolushko Tunai Fenta Hoovalis," she replied with a superior air.
"My, but that's a mouthful. Well, Joolushko Tunai Fenta Hoovalis, despite our initial encounter, it's a pleasure to meet you. And lovely as your full name is, mind if I just call you Jool?"
Pleased that the interesting new alien with the pleasant smile was able to pronounce her entire name properly, Jool gave a curt nod of her head, indicating permission to use the shortened version. "Yes, that will be acceptable."
"Thank you," The Doctor replied courteously. He noted the Hynerian in his hover chair, directly behind Jool. "And you are?"
"Dominar Rygel the 16th."
"Ooh, royalty. It's an honor, Dominar." The Doctor gave a slight bow, winning over Rygel immediately with his show of respect.
"And that's D'argo and Chiana," Crichton pointed to the other crew members standing a few feet away looking on with interest. "And now that we have the introductions out of the way, maybe you'd like to answer a few more questions."
"Of course, ask me anything."
"What is your species and how did you get on board Moya?" asked Aeryn.
"I am a Time Lord. I'm from a time and galaxy far, far away and as I explained to Crichton earlier -- who by now realizes that I am not a vivid construct of his overactive imagination -- I picked up your distress beacon and came to see if I could be of assistance. I arrived just in time to see the two ships pull apart from one another, and the ensuing explosion. Too late to be of service, I was about to leave when this golden mist came aboard my ship and turned into the person you all know as Zhaan. We had a brief chat and she suggested that I pay you all a little visit and make sure things are good. So, I'm here. I arrived on Moya via the TARDIS, my ship, that blue box sitting right over there."
"You're claiming that blue box is some sort of spacecraft?" Rygel laughed.
"I know from the outside it doesn't look like much but looks can be deceiving. There's actually a cloaking device in place to disguise its true appearance."
"Right," Crichton huffed. "He's got the Millennium Falcon stuffed inside that box."
"More like your Leviathan, actually. I'll show you." The Doctor brushed past them and walked over to where his TARDIS was parked. He had to stop when D'argo, the nearly seven-foot-tall Luxan stepped directly into his path. With arms crossed and a scowl on his face, the alien looked quite menacing. "Hello, big fellow. D'argo, was it? Would you care to see the inside of my ship? I'm positive you'll be quite impressed."
The Luxan did not budge, only continued to hover with his silent and threatening glare. As the Doctor tried to think of something to say that would get the giant to move, someone new caught his attention.
"Is it true about Zhaan?" came a soft-spoken male voice from behind him. "You saw her?"
The Doctor turned around to see a man, humanoid in appearance but wearing a metal mask that covered half of his face. His hands were clasped together in prayer like anticipation and his one visible eye showed an equal amount of hopefulness and sadness.
"Yes, it's true. What is your name?"
"Stark. I was Zhaan's spiritual partner." He stepped closer to the Doctor and timidly touched his arm. "Tell me, did she mention where she was going?"
"I don't think she knew exactly. She just said that the light of her goddess beckoned and that she would follow it. But before she went she wanted to make sure that I was no danger to any of you. That's why she came aboard my ship, to check me out." His eyes moved from Stark to the other crew members who surrounded him. "I'm sure she would have found some way to warn you if she had considered me a threat. She referred to all of you as her children. Told me that you had began as prisoners, outcasts and lost lambs, but that over time you had grown into a family. And she asked that I give you all a message. She doesn't want any of you to blame each other or blame yourself for her death." He looked knowingly at Crichton with those last few words, noting the guilty expression which had covered the Human's face at the mention of Zhaan's name. "It's not your fault," the Doctor reiterated, but he could tell that Crichton disagreed.
"What else did Zhaan say?" asked Stark.
"She said that together you are strong... a family. She wishes for you to stay together and to continue looking out for one another. And she wanted you to know that wherever she goes, that her dear, sweet children will remain in her heart always."
The silence that followed was contemplative and respectful. It was apparent that all believed him. The silence was eventually broken by Chiana as she nudged the big Luxan out of the way.
"That thing's really a spaceship?" she asked with a gesture towards the TARDIS.
"Yes. Would you like to see inside?"
She nodded, giving him the go ahead to approach the TARDIS unimpeded. He paused in front of the door, stuck the key into the lock and turned it. After pushing the door open, he stepped back out of the way, smiled knowingly and gestured for her to enter. A little hesitantly, Chiana stepped through the door, only to back out a second later, both her eyes and mouth open wide in disbelief.
"That's...it's...that's not... possible!" she sputtered.
Stark was the next to check it out. He stuck his head just inside the door and proclaimed in utter awe, "It's...a miracle!"
The remaining crew members were thoroughly intrigued and one by one ventured inside where they stood wide-eyed and virtually speechless at the sight of the cavernous interior of the little blue box. The Doctor stood on the ramp near the entrance amused by the reactions of his visitors. He always loved that moment when he first brought someone new on board the TARDIS and witnessed the amazement on their faces when they were introduced to his ship which was so much bigger on the inside. They gazed about in disbelief, then smiled and laughed at the absurdity of it all.
"Wow! Man, oh man, would you look at this!" Crichton exclaimed gleefully. "This is.... this is..." his voice trailed off because his mind couldn't come up with a suitable description.
"Impossible...." Aeryn finished the sentence with the only word that came instantly to mind.
"It's drad!" Chiana added with a big grin. "The dradest! How does it work? How do you get all this inside what's outside?"
"It's rather difficult to explain but let's just say that when you stepped through the doors of the TARDIS, you stepped into a different dimension."
"Okay, different dimension, I get that," said Crichton. "But how did you create a different dimension inside a telephone booth?"
"Well, one, it's not a telephone booth; it's a police call box, which is similar in that there is a telephone attached but it's on the outside. The inside was meant to temporarily hold prisoners until transport could arrive. And two, it's not actually a police call box. It's only disguised as a police call box so as not to draw unwanted attention, which unfortunately doesn't quite work well in all situations. The chameleon circuit is broken, and yes, I could repair it so the ship can transform into something more appropriate, but I've grown quite fond of --"
"Okay, okay, whatever," Crichton waved off the rambling explanation. "The question is, how did you get this dimension inside the little blue box?"
The Doctor ran his hand through his spiky, wild hair and let out a weary sigh. "I'm sorry, it's very complicated, and your Earth brain is very tiny -- no offense -- so you really wouldn't understand."
Crichton did take offense though he tried not to let it show despite the smirks of his fellow crewmates. "Hey, my Earth brain may not be gigantic, but I am a scientist. I even designed and built my own space module."
The Doctor scratched behind his ear as he took in this new information. "Oh, well, I suppose that's something. All right, I'll give it a try. The simplest way for you to understand it would be for you to take everything you know about space travel, time dilation, and the universe in general, then multiply that by forty-two."
"Yes. Forty-two gives you the answer to pretty much everything in life if you know when and how to apply it in your calculations. By the way, speaking of Earth, you're an awfully long way from home. What year are you from?"
"I launched from Earth in March of 1999."
"What did you do, fall down a wormhole?"
"What makes you say that?" asked Aeryn stepping forward, suspicion growing on her face.
"Because that's the only way he could have gotten this far out into the universe. Space travel on Earth was still pretty much in its infancy in 1999, just barely able to make it to the moon and back. Hold on, wait a minute, wait a minute. Crichton... I know that name. You're the famous American astronaut, Jack Crichton."
"Nope, that's my dad."
"Oh, son of Jack Crichton." The Doctor searched the vast cache of Earth knowledge inside his brain and came up with another name. "John Crichton... and the Farscape One project, of course. Oh, that was a bit of brilliant work you did on that slingshot theory. Inadvertently brewed yourself up a wormhole, didn't you?"
"What, are you saying my slingshot actually created that wormhole?"
"Your attempt to slingshot created it. Course there were other factors involved, position of the sun and moon, solar flares, relative time in space, and undoubtedly a forty-two was somewhere in the equation."
"How is it you know so much about Crichton?" Aeryn asked, her distrust of the Doctor growing by the second.
"He's from Earth," the Doctor replied casually, "my adopted planet. I know all there is to know about the history of Earth. And it's future for that matter."
"How could you possibly know about a planet's future?" D'argo questioned.
"I'm a Time Lord. I did mention that, didn't I? It's not just my title, but my profession as well."
"What, are you saying that you're the Lord of Time?" asked Crichton. "You can control it or something?"
"No one can control time, but one can travel through it and have an effect on future events. I patrol time. I travel forwards and back making sure events play out as they should."
"You can change things that have happened in the past?" asked Rygel.
"Technically speaking. But mainly I prevent things from almost happening in the past."
"That doesn't make any sense," said Crichton.
"Oh, how to explain?" The Doctor rubbed his hand along the base of his neck as he pondered a way to make himself understood. "All right, a bit of ancient history. Back in the year AD 79 in the city of Pompeii, an alien race called Pyroviles known for turning their victims into stone, invaded Earth and killed off all the Humans."
"That never happened."
"It nearly did. I prevented it."
"Yeah, right," Crichton rolled his eyes and grunted in disbelief.
"The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius was not a natural occurrence. I caused the Pyroviles' escape pod to explode within the base of the mountain. An estimated twenty thousand men, women and children died from the ensuing lava and ash that the volcano spewed forth. It was either twenty thousand lives lost that day or billions upon billions enslaved, turned to stone and murdered in the years to come. I love Earth. Even with all its flawed, tiny-brained Humans. I do what I have to do to protect it. The history that you know is due to my preventive maintenance."
As unbelievable as it sounded, Crichton couldn't help but take the Time Lord seriously. There was solemn honesty in the man's eyes when he confessed to causing the deaths of twenty thousand people in order to preserve the planet he loved. The other person who totally believe in the Doctor was Stark. He had been quietly standing near the doorway listening to every word, taking it all in. "He can save Zhaan, he can save Zhaan," he mumbled to himself, then stepped forward and spoke up clearly. "Doctor, you can do it, can't you? You can go back in time and save Zhaan."
All eyes turned towards the Doctor. Not everyone was convinced that he was indeed who and what he claimed to be, but the hope of bringing back their beloved Zhaan was something that couldn't be ignored. If there was the slightest possibility to go back and rescue her, they were all for it. Of course, the Doctor had the ability to travel back in time to prevent Zhaan's death, to prevent the collision of the two ships and even to prevent Crichton from ever ending up as a passenger aboard Moya. The big question was, should he?