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Trip and Malcolm find out that the results of their actions may have unforeseen consequences in a particular universe. Trip finally talks with the mysterious Rose and discovers what has happened to the Doctor. The final showdown with Future Guy is on the horizon.
Spoilers: ENT "Countdown", "Zero Hour"

The TARDIS materializing around its occupants happened (albeit in reverse) in DW "Blink".

"Do you two wanna be alone?" In DW "School Reunion", Rose Tyler meets Sarah Jane Smith, a previous companion of the Doctor (Third and Fourth, to be exact). The two women compare notes about their Doctors, and both find out he still talks to the TARDIS like it was his girlfriend. Rose makes this remark and Sarah Jane bursts out laughing.

In DW "Turn Left", Donna Noble makes a decision that alters her universe, where the Doctor died. The TARDIS is later stripped for parts to send Donna back to that point in time to correct it. The TARDIS had basically given up and "died" along with the Doctor.

DW "Rose": The first word the Ninth Doctor said to Rose Tyler was "Run." In "The Eleventh Hour", the Eleventh Doctor tells the Atraxi, "Hello, I'm the Doctor. Basically...run."

DW "The Waters of Mars" The Doctor saves a woman who was supposed to die, and in doing so, becomes drunk with arrogance and power. He declares "Time is not the boss of me." The woman later dies by her own hand to restore the time line. The Doctor realizes his hubris, but he knows his time is almost up...

"Time Lord Victorious" is what he calls himself during his delusional state.

Relative Time to Enterprise NX-01 (2156)

February 14, 2154

aboard the Xindi Superweapon

(-1 year, 11 months, 13 days)

“But which point in time?” Malcolm murmured. “Before or after Hoshi was rescued?”

“You think we gotta save her?” Trip pulled out the hand scanner from the TARDIS. It lit up with multiple life signs. “I'm reading five Human life signs, one deck above us.”

“Five?” Malcolm's brow furrowed in thought. “Hoshi and the MACOs. Hayes's insertion team must be here.”

Trip gritted his teeth. He had been forced to beam the MACOs two at a time after an anomaly had damaged the transporter. Corporal Kelly and Hoshi, Corporals Hamboyan and Money, and Major Hayes. Trip hadn't saved the Major in time, who had been fatally shot just moments before being beamed out. The major had later died in Sickbay, much to Malcolm's horror. Malcolm had lost so many people in the space of several days, including Corporal Frank Hawkins and Major Jeremiah Matthew Hayes...

Trip could hear Malcolm's thoughts as if he'd said them aloud: Not again. Over my dead body. If the insertion team was slaughtered, Trip didn't even want to think of the repercussions.

Hoshi. She'd die too...He glanced over at Malcolm, whose face was set in stone. If Hoshi died...no, not after Risa. I can't let her die. Trip made his decision. “We gotta save 'em, Malcolm.”

Malcolm nodded. His accent was harsh and clipped as he ordered, “Find an emergency ladder. I don't want to use a lift unless we absolutely have to. If we get trapped in the lift, we're dead.”

They found a ladder tucked into an alcove and quickly clambered up to the next deck. Malcolm helped Trip off the ladder and immediately scanned the hall. “Clear for now,” he whispered hoarsely. “Defense Alpha-Three, Commander.”

Trip nodded. All the defensive drills that Malcolm and Hayes had put the crew through were paying off in spades. They slowly made their way down the corridor, watching each other's backs and being alert to any threats. Trip's senses were hypersensitive to every squeal of metal and crackle of overworked circuit. He froze every time Malcolm signaled for them to stop, his heart pounding in his ears.

I'm an engineer, dammit, not a soldier. He reminded himself that they were up against Xindi, and they wouldn't hesitate to shoot him. All the black rage from those days welled back up in his throat, but Trip pushed it back. Distraction in battle is deadly, Major Hayes's voice said in his mind. The minute you let your concentration slip, that's when you die.

A shadow moved to his right, and he reacted out of instinct. His shot hit the Insectoid in the chest and slammed him against the opposite wall. Unfortunately, his fellow soldiers opened fire and Trip dove behind one of the bulkheads again.

“Return fire!” Malcolm shouted.

Trip gritted his teeth and fired his phase rifle into the fray. He managed to hit another Xindi, while Malcolm's shot nailed his partner right between the eyes. Trip shuddered as the body hit the floor with a sickening thump. There was one last soldier blocking the corridor, who was single-handedly keeping both him and Malcolm at bay.

Malcolm fired from behind the bulkhead and the laser struck the lone Xindi defender in the face. “Clear!” he shouted. “Come on!”

They continued down the hall and came to a T-junction. Malcolm peered around the corner and nodded at Trip. “We're right behind a squad that's pinning Hayes down.”

“We are?” Trip risked a look himself. Ten meters ahead were Xindi Reptilian soldiers firing their rifles at something down the hall. The return fire knocked one of them off his feet, but that still left several of his comrades. Trip narrowed his eyes and thought he saw Hayes and the MACOs pinned behind the bulkheads. And there, between Hayes and Kelly, was the slumped-over form of Hoshi Sato.

“We've got to buy them enough time.”

Malcolm nodded and aimed carefully at the nearest Xindi. Trip took a deep breath and focused on another one standing nearby. This was no time to hesitate; the MACOs and Hoshi were in trouble.

Killed or be killed.

Trip swallowed hard as he and Malcolm pulled their triggers at the same time. The two Xindi jerked under the impacts and fell on the floor, their bodies twitching. The squad immediately turned to face this new threat, but Trip didn't give them time to react.

“What the hell?!” someone shouted. Not Hayes, but another one of the MACOs. Corporal Hamboyan. “We've got reinforcements!”

“Can't be...the transporter's out!” That came from Corporal Money, her distinctive voice higher than the others.

Then Trip heard his own voice, distorted over Hayes's communicator. “Tucker to Hayes...I'm ready to beam you out, two at a time.”

Oh, crap, he thought. His earlier self was still on Enterprise, in the transporter room. How could he be here, on the Superweapon, and there at the same time? Trip let go of that thought as another Insectoid popped around the corner, like a gopher out of its hole.

And over the chaos of battle, the whine of a transporter beam echoed off the walls. Trip thought, Kelly and Hoshi. He shut out the memory of seeing Hoshi's limp body being carried off the transporter pad and concentrated on the here and now. Or then. I hate time travel.

Malcolm nodded at Trip, indicating he'd heard the first transporter beam. Hoshi was safe. Seconds later, they both heard a second whine of the transporter.

Hamboyan and Money. That meant Hayes was the last one on the ship. Trip scanned the corridor ahead...Where the hell was he, then?

Another Insectoid stepped out of the shadows, his rifle pointed at another junction in the corridor. Trip immediately realized how Hayes had been shot...and Malcolm's face hardened at he came to the same conclusion. But before Trip could say anything, Malcolm was already moving, much faster than Trip had ever seen him before.

Malcolm sprang into a horizontal flying tackle that caught the Xindi completely unaware. They both went flying into the opposite bulkhead, just as the tall, stocky form of Major Hayes appeared in the corridor. Hayes had been backing into the corridor, providing a clear target. Trip's jaw dropped; how could the major have done such a stupid tactical blunder? It was so unlike Hayes that Trip was stunned.

Hayes finally turned, and their eyes met. Too late, Trip realized that Hayes could actually see him. The sounds of scuffling distracted Hayes, whose eyes widened at the sight of Malcolm grappling with the Xindi. The major turned and swung a fist at the Xindi which connected with the back of the Insectoid's head. The Xindi dropped like a stone.

“Major?” Malcolm whispered hoarsely.

“About damn time the cavalry came,” Hayes said with a grin. He extended a hand to Malcolm. “Thanks. I owe you one.”

“You're...welcome.” Malcolm turned at the sound of more Xindi reinforcements. “Damn.”

Hayes flipped open his communicator. “Hayes to Enterprise--” That was all he managed to get out before the transporter beam whisked him away from sight.

“He saw us,” Trip shouted. “Hayes saw us!”

Malcolm nodded and fired his phase rifle at a Xindi who came up the corridor. Trip got another one who'd popped around the corner. Together, they inched back up the hall towards the TARDIS, covering each other's backs. It was slow going, and Trip suspected the Xindi were herding them into at trap.

That was probably how they were able to get Hayes. He'd been alone, with no one to watch out for him after his MACOs had been beamed back to Enterprise. Trip shivered at the thought. Even with Malcolm at his back, he had the horrible feeling that this might be it. They'd saved Hayes, but would it be at the cost of their own lives?

“More of them,” Malcolm shouted. He nodded at Trip. “They've got us surrounded, Commander.”

“Dammit!” Trip cursed. He and Malcolm stood back-to-back, as more Xindi came up from both ends of the hall and trapped them in the middle. Suddenly, all the fear melted away and left a sense of calm. His grandfather once told him that he'd only feel this calm on his deathbed. Looks like I'm gonna join him and Lizzie in a minute.

Malcolm's voice didn't tremble at all. “It's been an honor serving with you, Commander.”

“You too, Malcolm.” He glanced over his shoulder and gave the Armory Officer a crooked smile.

Malcolm returned the smile. “Let's do it.”

Trip fully expected the sensation of lasers tearing into his flesh and braced himself for the agony. What he didn't expect was the sound of grinding metal that intensified until the walls vibrated. The Xindi dropped their rifles and clapped their hands over their ears. He started as he saw his surroundings phase out of existence, slowly but surely, and the interior of the TARDIS melted into its place.

The police box shuddered from the repeated blasts. They lost their footing and crashed into the railing around the control platform. “Let's get the hell out of here!” Trip staggered into the bucket seat, and began pushing buttons and pulling down levers.

“Okay,” he muttered. “Here goes.” Trip seized the lever with both hands and yanked it down with much more force than he had intended. His world tipped ninety degrees, flinging him onto the console.

Mercifully, the trembling ceased and the TARDIS rumbled in flight once more. Exhausted, Trip flopped backward into the bucket seat, the shock of battle finally catching up to him. Malcolm sat on the edge of the platform, looking just as stunned as he felt.

“That was too close,” Malcolm muttered.

“Yeah. It's almost as if this ship knew we were in trouble and got us out of a jam.” Trip reached over and patted the console. “Thanks.” A surge of affectionate warmth tingled through his fingers in response. It was odd, but welcome at the same time.

“We saved Hayes from being killed,” Malcolm murmured as he leaned back against one of the railing supports. “That definitely changed history.”

“He saw us. I think he assumed I'd gotten the transporter fixed and we'd beamed over to help him out.”

“That would have been a neat trick, considering I was manning the Tactical station on the Bridge at the time.”

Trip frowned. “But I—well, the earlier me, anyway—was in the transporter room when Hayes came back. Wouldn't he have wondered what the hell was going on when he saw me there when he'd just saw me minutes earlier on the Xindi ship?”

Malcolm scowled as he waded through that paradox. “Maybe someone else ended up manning the transporter? Or maybe Hayes thought he was mistaken when he saw us?”

“Time paradoxes are a bitch,” Trip muttered and closed his eyes against the headache. “You know, this one was different from Risa. Both familiar settings, but on Risa, events had already been changed. I couldn't find your name on the room reservation, and the crew roster was different. This time--”

“You heard your own voice over the comm channel, and the transporter still malfunctioned,” Malcolm finished. “I just hope we didn't screw things up further by saving his life.”

“Let's find out. If things have changed again, it would show up in the database.”

Trip opened his eyes, leaned forward again and tapped the controls. “Found it. 'Hayes, Jeremiah Matthew, General, Military Assault Command, head of the detachment assigned on Enterprise NX-01 during the Xindi War. Later commanded troops during the Second Xindi War, strategic planner of the assault of the Xindi Homeworld--”

Malcolm's mouth dropped in shock. “What?”

“Highly decorated, Coalition Medal of Honor, Married--” Trip cleared his throat. “Oh, shit.”

“Go on. Let me hear it.”

“You sure you want to hear this? You're not gonna like it.”

Malcolm's smile was without humor. “A different universe, out of a myriad of universes, remember? Just because something happened here doesn't mean it will happen somewhere else.”

“Married Professor Hoshi Sato-Reed, widow of Starfleet Captain Malcolm Reed, one son, one daughter. Died 2211, aged 95.” Trip shook his head and added, “That still sounds messed up to me, but like you said, it's one universe out of many, and as long as it doesn't happen in a majority of the universes...”

“Probabilities.”

“Yeah.” Trip chewed his lip and admitted, “I dunno...it still doesn't feel right. I can't put my finger on why, though.”

Malcolm crossed his arms and leaned against the edge of the console. “The database said that he eventually planned the assault on the Xindi Homeworld. That implies that events in that universe quickly deteriorated after Hayes arrived back on Enterprise. It sounds like Earth had struck back.”

“You mean Enterprise failed in its mission and Earth was destroyed.”

He shook his head as he tapped the screen. “No. The Xindi weapon was stopped in Earthspace, but according to this, Earth's population demanded reparations for the attacks, and when the Xindi refused, Starfleet organized a counterattack, with the Earth Council's blessing. Terra Prime became wildly popular--”

Trip felt a shiver down his spine. “Figures. Non-Humans like the Xindi want to wipe Humans from the universe--”

Malcolm shook his head as he continued to read an alternate history. “According to this, Earth accelerated their shipbuilding and weapons development and sent several starships to the Xindi Homeworld: Enterprise, Columbia, Endeavor, Intrepid, Atlantis, Lexington, Atlas, Artemis, Hermes...”

The list went on and on. Trip's eyes bulged at the long line of ship names. “How the hell did we—did they—manage to scrounge up enough materials and personnel for somethin' like that?”

“We...They forced the Warp 7 specifications from the Vulcans after Earth signed a mutual defense pact with the Andorians, the Nausicaans and the Orions.” Malcolm shook his head again, stunned at what he had just said. “After the Xindi campaign, Earth decided to go on with their mission to the stars, albeit with a different agenda. Conquest.”

Trip sat down in the bucket seat before his knees gave way. “Oh my God,” he whispered. “We just doomed several races in that universe by saving one man. The Xindi, the Vulcans...and how many more? How many more people would have died or never have been born because of what we just did?”

A heavy silence came over the control room as both men tried to comprehend the sheer magnitude of their actions. The TARDIS hummed a mournful note; Trip automatically patted the railing behind the bucket seat. “I'm so sorry, Darlin'. We didn't know.”

“Probabilities,” Malcolm repeated. “Just because it happened here, doesn't mean it happened everywhere.”

“Still...I wonder how Harkness, Daniels and the Doctor can go to sleep at night, knowing that if they screwed up, the damage could be so bad that nothin' will correct it.”

He glanced back at Trip, but the usual half-smile was tinged with sadness. “You just keep trying, Commander, but this time, you're a lot wiser for the experience."


That night, Trip couldn't sleep. He went to the kitchen for some warm milk, but even that time-honored tradition didn't work. The library simply didn't appeal for his restless mind. His body was too tired to swim in the pool and oddly enough, working on the TARDIS's systems also failed to calm him. He knew Malcolm was having the same problem; the Englishman had picked up a copy of War and Peace, and was already deep within chapter thirteen.

When Trip finally dozed off, he found himself sitting on a dock on his grandfather's property in Florida, a fishing pole at one side and a tackle box on the other. He shaded his eyes against the bright glare to see a woman standing a few meters away. Her blonde hair was in a ponytail and she wore a straw hat covered with ribbons.

“Hello?” he called.

She looked over at him and gave him a brilliant smile. “Nice day, yeah? I've never been here before. Never been out of my home country, in fact, 'less you count all of space and time, y'know? I think you can understand that one pretty well now.”

He found himself returning the smile. “Yeah, I do. Wait--” He searched his memory for the name. “Rose?”

“Yeah, that's me. Rose Tyler, at your service. You're Trip? Not many people can talk with the TARDIS like you can. She's pretty picky about that.” Rose rolled her eyes. “He talks to her all the time. Sometimes I ask, 'Do you two wanna be alone?'”

The blunt remark made him laugh. “A guy and his Chevy, or his time-traveling spaceship.”

“They got a special relationship, those two.” Rose sat down next to him, swinging her legs to and fro from the edge of the dock. There was a bittersweet turn to her lips that made Trip wonder. “They're connected. If somethin' happens to him, the TARDIS would just give up and pine away. Happened in one universe, but Donna and I fixed that so it never happened. So some good can come outta the bad.”

Trip stared at her and saw a darkness behind the bright blue eyes. “You've been where I am now.”

“Your friend is wise for his years. Sometimes you just gotta keep goin' and hope for the best.”

“Malcolm? Yeah, he is, sometimes. Other times, I feel like I'm older than him in more than years.”

Rose chuckled and shook her head. “They've got similar traits, the two of 'em. But I'm not surprised the TARDIS chose you instead. I guess it's like a breath of fresh air for her.”

Trip made a quick check of his fishing line, then said, “Really? You're sayin' Malcolm's like the Doctor in a lot of ways? You sound like you know the Doc pretty well.”

“You could say that.” She looke at the deep blue waters of the Atlantic in the distance. “I actually met him by accident...sort of. You know what his first word to me was?”

He grinned. “'Hello, I'm the Doctor'?”

She laughed and Trip couldn't help but laugh along. “Nope. The first word was 'Run'.”

“So you two were already getting in trouble from the very beginning?”

“Yeah, from the very start.” Rose's pretty features became sober. “He's carried such a heavy load on his shoulders for so long, lost so many friends...all it takes is one bad decision, one moment where someone can take advantage of the situation.”

“One bad decision? Like saving someone who wasn't supposed to be saved?”

She nodded. “He did the same thing, but instead of realizing the mistake, he decided he could bend space and time to his own will. He thought he could...do everything. I couldn't help him, I couldn't reach him at all, being stuck in a parallel universe and all.” Rose stared at her hands. “The Doctor eventually came to his senses. At least...he did.”

Trip saw the unshed tears in her eyes; she looked lost, scared, and a lot younger than she sounded. Suddenly, he realized that Rose must be even younger than Lizzie had been. Twenty years old, at most. The surge of protectiveness that welled up within him startled him.

“Hey.” He reached over and put a hand on her shoulder. “He realized his mistake; you said so yourself.”

She looked up at him and the pain in her face made Trip's heart ache for her. “He did...was supposed to...but someone intervened before...and now he's...” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “He's all-powerful. The Time Lord Victorious.”

The implication took a few seconds to hit him. When it did, the horrible emptiness in the pit of his stomach threatened to overwhelmed him. “He didn't turn away from temptation, didn't he? That someone who intervened was--”

Rose nodded. “Another extra-temporal being, with even more to lose now if we save the Doctor.” Her tone dropped ominously. “Future Guy.”

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trekwriter151

May 2012

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