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 Trip and Malcolm explore what's inside the Tardis and find more questions than answers.

Notes to DW/Torchwood newbies: Captain Jack Harkness is the leader of Torchwood Three and a friend of the Doctor's. He was one of the Ninth and Tenth's Doctor's companions for a little while (and a Time Agent from the 51stcentury). Trip and Malcolm assume he's the TARDIS's owner, since they don't know him. (And Jack's speaks with an American accent, not an English one). You'll actually see Jack later. Owen is Dr. Owen Harper, Torchwood Three's medic.

The Chameleon Circuit is the device that's supposed to hide the TARDIS by making it look like something more appropriate to the time it's landed in. Problem is, it got stuck, and so the TARDIS is stuck in the form of the 60's Police Box.

Can you identify the various Doctors whose clothes are in the wardrobe? And the other costumes from a certain actor appreciation thread? :-p And Malcolm finds the infamous wandering swimming pool mentioned in DW “The Eleventh Hour”.

Spoilers: ENT “Dead Stop”, “United”, “Twilight”, “In A Mirror Darkly, I” Doctor Who “The Eleventh Hour” “Victory of the Daleks.”

Thank you to EntAllat for the beta for this chapter!


 

Two
Present time: infinity (∞) within the Tardis


The walls stopped shuddering, but Trip still hung onto the railing with white-knuckled intensity. He felt the vibrations even out into a steady, comforting hum. After he saw the ceiling hadn't collapsed on him, he pried his fingers loose from the support. The adrenaline still coursed through his body and pushed the exhaustion at bay...for the moment.

“You all right, Malcolm?”

“I'm...fine. Are you?”

“Yeah. Nothing broken, just a few bumps and bruises from bein' thrown around a little. I've got a bad feelin' about this---”

Trip staggered back to the control console and glanced over the instruments. That was no help; without any sense of what any of the buttons and switches were for, he was at a loss. He moved around to the pilot's seat on the far side of the console. “Malcolm, I think we're movin'.”

“We can't be moving; we're in the middle of the Cargo Bay, remember?” Malcolm went to the door and peered out the double windows. “My God---”

Trip settled into the seat with a creak and hoped he could steer this thing. “Now what?”

A secondary screen came to life and Trip stared at the brilliant colors that swirled on it. It reminded him of Enterprise's warp field, and unfamiliar hieroglyphs appeared next to certain parts of the screen. “Status screen,” he muttered under his breath, “but I can't make heads or tails out of it. I wish Hoshi were here.”

Malcolm glanced over his shoulder with a aggravated expression. “Why don't we just wish this was some sort of alcohol-induced nightmare?”

“I checked that, remember? You're as awake as I am.” Trip tried several buttons, to no avail. “If we can find a communication transmitter, maybe we can send a distress signal to Enterprise. I'm sure the ship's sensors picked up when this...call box started to power up. I bet the Cap'n's scramblin' to find us right now.”

Malcolm nodded and came around to the other side of the console. He spotted the old-fashioned rotary phone and picked up the receiver. “I think I've found the comm line,” he said with a smirk. “Now we've got to figure out how to call Hoshi.”

“Dunno about you, but I left my comm chit at home,” Trip joked. “Maybe just...put in random numbers and see where it gets you?”

He rolled his eyes and muttered, “I can't believe I'm about to prank call the universe.” Nevertheless, he touched the numbers, and when that had no effect, tried to figure out how the thing worked. After a few moments, he managed to dial several numbers in succession.

“Anythin'?”

“Hold on, it's ringing.” Malcolm drummed his fingers on the console as the connection went through. “Ah...hello? Yes, we have a bit of a situation and we need assistance...what? No, I'm not a doctor...who? Unfortunately, no, sir, I don't know to whom you're referring...I'll tell him whenever I see him. Yes, sir. Good-bye, sir.”

Trip raised his eyebrows at Malcolm's stunned expression. “I take it that wasn't Hoshi.”

“No. If I hadn't known any better--”

“Who'd you call?”'

“That sounded like Winston Churchill. He was rather put out at having his supper interrupted.”

Trip shook his head. “Okay, we're both completely nuts. We're flyin' through space in a box and you got Churchill pissed off at you for prank callin' him in the middle of dinner. You're right...this is a nightmare.”

Malcolm shook his head and gave the rotary phone a distrustful look. “I'm afraid if I try again I might get Nelson. Or Margaret Thatcher. Or Sir Patrick Stewart.”

“I thought Nelson was one of your heroes, and you've always wanted to go back and see the Battle of Trafalgar. And they didn't even have rotaries back then.”

“Actually, the Spanish Armada, 1588, but Trafalgar would be a wonder to see too. And yes, I'm aware Nelson never had a telephone, but I'm not about to discount anything at this point.”

Trip couldn't help but chuckle. “I don't blame you for bein' paranoid about the phone.” He immediately sobered as he took stock of their strange situation. “Okay, we've been hijacked in an unidentified ship, can't call for help and headed for parts unknown. This sounds familiar.”

“The Romulan drone ship. Deja vu again. Perhaps if I can rig up some sort of explosive---” A current of green energy lashed out from the console and struck Malcolm on the hand. He yelled and stumbled several meters away from it.

“Malcolm! You all right?” Trip jumped out of the bucket seat and got to his side. “What happened?”

“Just a nasty shock.” He grimaced and tried to shake the feeling back into his fingers. “Obviously, this ship has a sophisticated defense system. I mentioned explosives and it reacted.”

“I'd be the same way if I overheard someone wanted to blow out one of my bulkheads,” Trip pointed out. “Okay, so now you've pissed off Churchill and the ship. Great.”

He sighed and glared at the console. “It appears we're going to have to wait forEnterprise to rescue us.”

“Yeah.” Trip glanced over at the spiral staircase at the far side of the room. “This ship's got a mind of its own, so I don't think we can alter our course. We might as well check out the rest of the ship and see if we can find out where it came from.”

“And where the pilot is.”

They climbed the staircase to the second level of the ship. It went on and on, with doors on both sides of the corridor. Around the corner were more doors leading into more rooms. Trip stared at the maze of halls and the sense of deja vu grew. “Bigger on the inside than the outside. Damn.”

Malcolm opened another door and looked inside. “Ah. Here's the galley...”

“The kitchen? Like Chef's?”

“It's pretty homey, actually.” Malcolm pushed the door wider so Trip could see. The kitchen cabinets stretched up the wall as far as the eye could see. He opened a few at random and smiled at the sight of plates, cups, pitchers, and glasses. He found silverware in the drawers and took them out. Malcolm searched the refrigerator and the pantry and made a surprised sound.

“What'd you find?” Trip asked him.

“I think the question is more of what didn't I find,” Malcolm corrected. “Look at this.”

Trip blinked at the full shelves of the pantry. Cans of soup, jam, marmalade of all flavors, cookies, vegetables, fruit... it rivaled Chef's stash on the Enterprise. He glanced at the open fridge and saw a plate of country ham, already sliced, and an honest-to-god pecan pie. Next to it was a shepherd's pie, with a fluffy crust, a plate of Welsh rarebit, potatoes and gravy, and two bottles of Guinness.

More beer sat on the shelves inside the door, but a note was taped directly above them: RESERVED FOR CAPT. JACK HARKNESS. YES, OWEN, THIS MEANS YOU!

“Captain Harkness? The commanding officer?” Malcolm mused. “This ship does have a crew, but where are they?”

“Yeah, and I bet this Owen's the pilot, if he's stealin' Harkness's beer,” Trip laughed. He shook his head and frowned. “You know...the ham, the pecan pie, the shepherd's pie, the Guinness...”

“Funny how we found food that we like in the refrigerator,” Malcolm finished.

“You aren't thinkin' about that automated space station, are you?”

“It materialized that plate of catfish for you. That's what Captain Archer told me.”

“That's different. I asked for that, and considerin' this is an English police box, I'm not surprised this Harkness guy had Guinness and a shepherd's pie in the fridge.”

“True. Don't tell me you're still hungry.”

He shook his head. “After Chef's spread at the New Year's bash? No, but I could sure as hell use a cup of decent coffee. I'm exhausted.” Trip blinked as he spotted familiar appliances at the back of one of the counters. “I'll be damned. An honest-to-God coffeepot, and it looks like some sorta teapot next to it?”

“I swear, they weren't on the counter the last time I checked, but...” Malcolm shrugged and followed Trip into the kitchen. They rummaged through the other cabinets and found a bag of ground Jamaican coffee. The next cabinet held three entire shelves filled with boxes of flavored tea, and two more with bags of loose-leafed tea. Malcolm smiled for the first time since they had been shanghaied by this strange box.

“Yeah, they're British,” muttered Trip, but he grinned as he did it.

“Of course they'd know how to brew a proper cuppa, Commander.”

Within moments, both men settled with their beverage of choice and a plan of action. Malcolm gently blew on his steaming cup of English Breakfast, then sipped it with a small smile. “We should see if we can find the crew's living quarters. We need to know more these people and how they control their ship.”

“Good idea.” Trip collected his mug and searched around for a dishwasher; again, it was conveniently tucked into a corner, and he could have sworn it wasn't there before. “Okay. You take one side of the corridor, I'll take the other. Meet back in the control room in an hour.”

After leaving the kitchen, Trip looked at the line of nearly identical-looking doors. He shrugged and opened the nearest one. To his surprise, he saw the remains of electronic devices scattered on the floor, piled high on the shelves, and spread out on the large wooden desk. Diagrams and blueprints had been taped to the walls with no rhyme or reason. A huge toolbox dominated one corner, its drawers gaping open, as if someone had been searching for a certain tool.

He carefully made his way around the piles on the floor. He counted five unfinished projects in the far corner, another twelve on the shelves and two on the desk. Trip ran his fingers on an old-fashioned sheet of drafting paper showing a complicated maze of circuitry. He narrowed his eyes at the symbols as he tried to decipher its meaning. A whole section of the diagram was missing, the pencil marks stopping abruptly at nothing.

“Chameleon circuit,” he murmured to himself. “What the hell's that?”

Whoever worked in this room knew more about technology than he did. It piqued Trip's interest in meeting the engineer of this ship. He grinned and thought, Maybe we can talk shop, find out about what kinda stuff he knows.

The next several rooms were empty, then Trip stumbled into a great walk-in closet. He gaped at the rows upon rows of clothes hanging neatly within it. Some of the garishly colored costumes put his own tropical t-shirts to shame. One in particular was a clash of stripes and plaids, and outlined in question marks. Trip winced and left that one alone.

Velvet smoking jackets in red and blue, frilly waistcoats, a cream-colored Panama hat, an impossibly long, multicolored knitted scarf, a leather jacket, an umbrella with the same question mark motif. A double-breasted jacket with a withered stalk of celery pinned on the collar. Neat pinstriped suits and matching ties, boots, and strangely enough, many pairs of red athletic shoes. Whoever owned this was definitely a clotheshorse.

And to his utter shock, way in the back, was a set of very familiar uniforms. Trip pulled out a blue jumpsuit, then a similar one in desert khaki. One had an operations red stripe and three pips of a commander, the other had a gold command stripe and the four pips of a captain. Trip recognized the formal uniform of an admiral still hanging on the closet, alongside a full MACO uniform with the gold leaf of a major.

He frowned at the captain's uniform and reached out, brushing his fingers against the pips. He was an engineer; he wasn't interested in commanding his own ship, but unfamiliar emotions surged through him. Bittersweet pride, regret, anger, bitterness...

Trip jerked his fingers away as if they'd been burned. He stared at the uniforms in shock. “What are these doing here? I gotta tell Malcolm...”

He turned and went back into the corridor. A second later, he heard a bellow of indignant curses followed by a massive amount of splashing. Trip took off in the direction of the sound. Two halls and several corners later, he saw a door at the end of the corridor, partially open. Trip sprinted the distance separating them, barreled through the entrance...

...then abruptly he was flailing through empty air before hitting water. He managed to swim to the surface, spitting out warm water and heaving big lungfuls of air. Trip glanced around him to see Malcolm nearby, treading water, and madder than a wet hen.

“Who the bloody hell puts a bloody swimming pool in a bloody library?!” Malcolm yelled. He thrashed about, eyes wide and skin paler than cream. If Trip hadn't known better, he would have said Malcolm was in a complete panic.

“Crap. Breathe, Malcolm!” He swam over to his friend's side. “We're okay! We aren't gonna drown!”

Malcolm seemed to regain his composure enough to swim to the edge of the pool and pulled himself up, dripping and shivering in the cool air. Trip followed him, breathing heavily in exertion. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted several fluffy towels and robes. He reached out, grabbed them and handed a towel and a robe to Malcolm.

“Thanks,” Malcolm grunted and began drying his hair.

Trip frowned in concern. “You okay?”

“I'm fine. Just soaked to the skin.” His accent was harsh and clipped. “I can't believe they'd put a pool in the library. That's just...bloody daft.”

“We're in a library?” Trip craned his neck to see the shelves of books that extended as far as the eye could see. Miraculously, nothing was wet. “Damn. I'd hate to see what would happen if the gravity cut off in here. Everything would get soaked.”

“It's a bad idea. I can't believe we were floundering in a swimming pool in the middle of a library.”

“Maybe the ship's still pissed at you.”

Malcolm glared up at the ceiling and muttered, “You've made your point. My apologies and I promise I won't blow out one of your bulkheads even if I might be tempted.”

Trip resisted a grin, despite their situation. “Don't push your luck, Malcolm.”

“We're going to have to find dry clothes.”

Trip jerked his head in the direction of the door. “I found the walk-in closet. You're not gonna believe what kind of stuff's in there. I even found some Enterprise uniforms way in the back, plus an admiral's get-up and a MACO uniform.”

Malcolm stared at him. “You're serious?”

“Yeah. The mystery gets even stranger. C'mon, before we both catch cold.”

It took some doing to find clothing that fit among the racks and shelves. Malcolm shook his head at the frilly, Musketeer-like clothing and a skin-tight leather outfit. He paused at the MACO uniform and gazed at it for a moment. When he took it off the rack, Trip noticed it immediately.

“It's different from what our MACOs wear. It's...darker, somehow.”

“Definitely not from our MACOs,” Malcolm agreed, pointing at the skull logo patch at the shoulder. Their regular MACOs had a shark for their logo. There were no other identifying marks as to the owner, but Trip's expert eye saw that it was for someone of Malcolm's height and build. Malcolm shook his head again and hung it back up on the rack.

Trip finally found a plaid shirt and a pair of jeans, socks and boots, while Malcolm selected a white T-shirt and a pair of slacks. By the time the two were dressed, Trip felt a tremor through the floor. He looked up and saw that Malcolm had felt it too. Without another word, they backtracked their way through the winding corridors to the staircase, and the control room on the first floor.

The engines built up from a low purr to a roar and the sound of squealing mechanical parts. Trip grabbed the edge of the console as the room began shaking again. His eyes passed over the hodgepodge of devices until he saw a pair of blue buttons. He reached over and pressed both of them, and immediately, the obnoxious grinding noise ceased. With a jolt, the ship jerked once, then was still.

“I think we've landed,” Malcolm said hoarsely.

Trip made his way down the walkway on shaky legs to the door. He squinted out the set of double windows. Where were they?

Malcolm appeared on his far side and stared out at the view. “Where in God's name are we?” he echoed.

“Sand dunes, wind...We're in a desert in the middle of the night,” Trip said. “Doesn't look familiar---”

He looked again, and suddenly a face popped in front of a window. A huge face resembling a teddy bear, with six-inch fangs. Trip swore and jumped back in surprise as one of the doors popped open. The animal had been clinging to the frame of one of the windows; it lost its hold as the doors opened and tumbled headlong into Trip's lap. It growled and clung to his shirt.

“Hey, watch the claws, buddy!” Trip stared at the cuddly thing attached to him. “Wait---”

“You know what that is?”

“It's a sehlat. T'Pol told me she had one of these as a pet when she was a kid.” Trip looked out into the wasteland outside the door. “We're on Vulcan.”

 

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trekwriter151

May 2012

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