XTC
by Henry Wyckoff

Crossover: XF, DW (4th Doctor), HL, ST:Voy, and the world of David Eddings


Chapter 5

Windows? I Think Not!


Janeway frowned as the monitor displayed the last moments that occurred before the intruder and his hostage, the two guests, and Chakotay vanished from the ship. She had reviewed the security camera clip several times, and it still failed to provide the information that she truly needed to act. The final moments once more came to the screen. The scene that none of them had seen with their own eyes.

There was a chase leading to a dead end, a five-second scuffle, and something that baffled her to no end. Somehow, the intruder waved his hand and opened up a door that led to somewhere that wasn't on this ship. The wiry man chased the intruder, this Murgo, through the door. Powys was clearly screaming at him not to, but he didn't listen. Powys looked annoyed and jumped after him, as did Chakotay, who appeared to be in a mindless adrenaline rush. Then the door vanished as if it were never there. Security soon arrived on the scene. They immediately ran off, believing that they had reached the wrong location.

"This is all that the ship has to show us," said Janeway, trying desperately to hide her fatigue, and failing, facing a very concerned Doctor and the somewhat complacent/paranoid Zedar. "If you have any ideas, I'd be glad to hear them."

The Doctor's expression was if anything amazed and almost childish, as he exclaimed, "I've heard of dimension doors, but this is absolutely incredible!" Given the situation, Janeway would have expected this Doctor to be frantic, grave, or angry, but she wasn't expecting to see an expression of an almost academic interest on his face, as if he was a child given a new toy.

Janeway tilted her head, "Doctor, please explain yourself." She was proud of herself for hiding what she really wanted to say to him.

That was a mistake, for now that he was in his own element, the Doctor was unstoppable. "Your warp drive operates on a similar principle. Imagine the vast distances connecting two points, and connect them with a straight line. If you were to travel these distances in a linear fashion, you would take up a great deal of time. If you tried to lessen that time by going faster, you start to feel Einstein's time dilation effect." He grabbed his scarf, and then stretched it between both hands as far as his arms would go. "Warp drives fold space so that you can effectively cross vast distances without warping time," he brought the scarf together so that his fingers touched, "because you're not approaching the speed of light." The fingers of his right hand walked across the fold. "Dimensional doors operate on the same principle, except that you can walk from one point to the next, instead of using a ship. But to go forward or backward in time... that shouldn't be possible with dimension doors, much the same as in warp drive." His eyes widened, "The logistical requirements are inconceivable! Aiming the door would also be quite a feat. I don't even know how it would be possible!"

For all the man's manner, Janeway found herself nodding. For all of his mystery, he might as well have been an absent-minded professor from the Academy.

Zedar smiled at that point, "You talk like a Melcene. You're ignoring one very important point."

The Doctor was totally oblivious to the almost arrogant manner in which Zedar said that, and probably didn't even wonder what a Melcene was. He smiled innocently. "And what would that be?"

"There is a vast multitude of possibilities undreamed of in your science."

Janeway smiled, "If I were Jean-Luc Picard, I would say that it seems that Shakespeare spoke a universal truth. But as myself, I must admit that I have more faith in the things that are dreamt of in my philosophy."

"Then how do you account for what just happened, and how do you propose to address it? If you say that time travel is not possible with a dimension door, and the Murgo truly did go back in time, then you've just eliminated an option."

Janeway's own expression became almost arrogant, "In our own history, scientists have always made progress by taking the basic laws of the universe by faith. They were always vindicated."

A new voice entered the room. It was the Nightman, "Only because they threw in proportionality constants that incorporated the hidden variables which could not or would not be measured. Faith goes both ways, as do intuition and memory."

They turned to find two newcomers: the Nightman and Duncan MacLeod. Once the shock of their silent entrance had passed, Janeway and the Doctor were shocked to see that both were dressed in authentic 20th Century clothing. Duncan was wearing a black leather coat that reached to his knees. His clothes were of natural cotton (no matter how advanced organic chemistry was, synthetic fibers always looked like synthetic fibers), and his canvas and rubber athletic shoes looked like they came out of a museum. The Nightman, although his outward transformation seemed even more drastic, appeared to look more his normal self. On their belts, they openly wore swords.

Duncan spoke, "Let's save some time and break a secret. We can tell you exactly when and where they went."

Janeway paled in both shock and uncertain anger, "What do you mean? What role do you have in this? What's with the --" she gestured wildly, "-- clothes and the swords?"

The Nightman answered. "We know when and where they went because we remember it. You see... we know that they went to Tucson of November 20, 1996 because we were there."

"How? I don't recall hearing about any time travelling incidents!"

"You wouldn't have heard about it, because we travelled in one direction, one day at a time. You see, Captain..." He hesitated, as if he wanted to change his mind and pretend that this never happened. "Mr. MacLeod and myself are immortals. It took a while for these events to jog my memory, but I experienced the events that are about to happen, and will experience it once more as my current self. So will Mr. MacLeod, who was elsewhere as his past self," he looked meaningfully at those in the room, "and so will you, for my memory is clear on that event."

Janeway shook her head, not believing what she was hearing. "I can't believe I'm hearing this... from either of you!"

"Excuse me for shoving a sock in your mouth, Captain, but we'd better head off this line of conversation. I'm about to prove to you that we're who we say we are to save time. Once you're convinced, I don't think you'll have any reason to dig in your heels, would you?"

Janeway stared as the Nightman pulled out a knife and slammed it into his heart in one smooth motion. He grunted a little, holding back a scream, as he fell to his knees. He ripped the knife out of his chest, remaining still as his face drained, his hands gripping a chair so tightly that his knuckles turned white. Janeway was so shocked by it that all she could do was stammer. She couldn't even order an emergency beam to sick bay, she was so shocked.

A few moments later, and the Nightman was standing straighter, with some of the color returned. "In five minutes, you won't even know that this happened. The rip in the clothing could be interpreted in many different ways."

"How--?"

"No questions, please. Let's just get moving."

"But how are we going to get there?"

The Nightman looked meaningfully at the Doctor, who looked startled, "The TARDIS?"

* * * *



"All right," Scully was rubbing her head, "what should we do?"

Jan was deep in thought, "It wouldn't be good if we took this Murgo to the police. However, would we say? What charges would we file, when no witnesses will be pressing charges?"

They had wisely moved locations to a filthy alleyway, where the Murgo lay handcuffed in the rental. Everyone else leaned against either the rental or Methos' car. Silk wasn't in the discussion, but he was keeping his ears open, hoping that he could eventually make sense out of this mess. He had come to accept that he had truly walked to 'another world' that was ahead in some ways and behind in others. In this world, Silk believed, the worldly Tolnedrans and Melcenes would thrive, because there was no magic. That didn't stop the Murgo from using his own magic, but apparently there was nobody from this world with the skills or power. Or the belief. Yet, there were many wonders in this world that could well qualify as magic in his own world.

Silk had learned the names of these new people, and had managed to make some mental notes about them.

Powys, it appeared, was about the closest thing to a sorcerer in this world: a man enhanced with such uncommon luck that he could count on getting the rolls he wanted. However, Silk knew it would be much more accurate to say that Powys was not a sorcerer. Of them all, Silk knew that this was the one wild card. It took one to know one.

Methos in many ways resembled a Drasnian in both physical appearance and personality: he was of medium-build, had a runner's strength (as opposed to the Cherek muscle-bound strength), and a very nervous manner. Not as in frightened, but rather as in always expectant and ready to act. His curiosity was obviously alight, to the point of almost being annoying.

Jan, the tall and very muscular man, looked more like an Arend than an Alorn, with his blond hair and the physique of a knight. However, unlike the Arends, this man appeared to lack the mindlessness of an Arend: he possessed good sense, self-control, and the seriousness of a Sendar. Silk shuddered as the name of one very Arendish Arend ran through his mind: Mandorallen, the Mimbrate knight who had believed that he could single-handedly slaughter a whole army by himself. Now that he thought about it, he realized that Jan even looked like Mandorallen, minus the plate mail armor and the sword. But then again, Jan might not need the armor and sword.

Scully was a very serious woman who seemed to be actively controlling her irritation and fear. She was very afraid of something -- what it was he didn't know yet. She was also confused. But she was also the one clearly in charge. He smiled as he wondered if Scully was the reincarnation of someone that he knew, someone who not only took control of situations, but was also known for her sharp tongue. If that was the case, she had certainly learned how to control herself.

Chakotay, who came from the 'ship', was as confused as Silk was, but he also seemed to be aware of something that nobody else was. He looked around as if he were sight-seeing tourist... or picking out things that were very familiar. If Chakotay were foolish enough to display any emotions linked to certainty or even understanding, Silk knew whose footsteps to follow.

Sarah Jane Smith, the woman who had been kidnapped by the Murgo, was recovering from her scrapes and bruises quite well, and it appeared as if she was used to it. She remained silent while the two agents argued back and forth, and was even relaxed. Worried, yes, but not frightened or confused. In fact, she even looked like someone returning home after a long voyage. Perhaps this was her home. Silk found it incredible how without physically vanishing, she could seem to be invisible. Nobody seemed to notice her except himself. He made a mental note to observe her and see if he could learn her trick.

Scully stared up at the sky. "If we can't press any charges, we'll have to let him go. Unless of course, you want to kill him and leave him buried in a ditch."

Jan shook his head, "The man might truly be a criminal, but I agree with you."

Powys laughed, jumping back into the conversation, "How noble! Let a criminal go, a man you know is going to cause trouble, because you insist on obeying laws made by men who never anticipated situations like this!"

Scully looked irritated, "Oh? What would you do?"

"I'd shoot him full of drugs and send him to the police for psychiatric evaluation. They're bound to keep him for at least a few days to figure out what the hell is going on, let alone decide whether they should keep him or let him go. I figure the padded rooms would be a better place of confinement than the jail, and if he starts talking..." he smiled. "You know how crazy people talk. If we need him, we can interrogate him there, and dismiss his ravings as insanity, even if he's telling us what we need to know. After all, I doubt what he has to say would be even remotely sane by the current definition."

Scully stared at him, but Jan gaped in shock, "I LIKE it!" Chakotay moved in at this point. "How would you keep him there? It's most likely a low-security facility, and this man has demonstrated more than anything else that he can go where he wants."

Powys shook his head. "Not in a moment." He opened the door, where the Murgo lay on the back seat, glaring at him. Pulling back the man's sleeves, he pointed out some ridges under the skin, going along the length of the arm. "Surgical implants. I wondered how he could fire off lasers like he did, and I just thought of checking his hands."

"Let me see!" Scully looked at the arms, and saw that there were certainly instruments surgically placed under the skin. The cuts were well stitched, but the signs were still there. She also found the subtle holes in the skin of his fingers, where the lasers probably came out. She couldn't however, find a power source. "Where would the power source be?"
Powys smiled, "We'll need a knife to find that out."

Scully shook her head. "Not here."

Powys crossed his arms, digging in his heels. "You advocate moving him to a hospital, where he might take back control of the situation? How would you feel if he took a hostage? Then again, he's a killer, so he might even kill a few first to let you know he means business."

Silk found it interesting that when everyone else got angry or annoyed, their pitch lowered; Powys' pitch rose.

She looked uncertain. "All right. We don't take him to a hospital, but you're not going to open him up out here."

He smiled. "All right. We disable the laser, and to hell with the power supply. No cuts either."

Scully raised her eyebrows, "How do you propose to do that?" Powys smiled again, and Silk had a feeling that they were about to get a big surprise. He stretched out the man's arm. "Look at this." He raised up his right hand dramatically, and slammed it down on the Murgo's forearm. There was a sizzling sound and the smell of flesh burning, and the Murgo began to scream. Then the sizzling sounds and the screaming stopped. His eyes closed, and he teeth clenched, as he struggled to keep from screaming any more. His forearms looked as if they'd been pulled out of a fire a little bit after the nick of time.

Scully stared at the sight with her jaw dropped open. Powys smirked, "Problem solved. Now let's take him in."

* * * *



Though it was full day outside, it was so dark inside that nothing could be darker. Perhaps not even the darkness within the sleep of death.

"What do you have to say?" A soft breath. Scratchy. Whispery. Almost incoherent in a Bob Dylan sort of way.

"The fish is hooked." A crisp New Jersey accent, a vibrant life within the old and cynical voice.

"Good."

For a moment, the flash of a cigarette lighter broke the darkness. The eyes blinded with a light brighter than the sun. When the flame went out, not even the red of the cigar was visible. The smell of good Cuban tobacco filled the room. "What now?"

"Now, have yourself a drink."

The voice was humorous. In the light, the man would have been smiling without any resentment. "No thank you. If I want to die, it'll be a straight death without the XTC."

The chuckle had a bit more life. "I like you, Chuck. You're never afraid to speak the truth." The chuckle died, to be replaced by musing. "I have waited a long time for this moment, and I can wait a few more days. Don't rush this."

"No problem." Chuck walked outside, making sure to put on the wrap-around shades. Even so, he had to squint. In the light, his features were visible. A biker with stubble on his face and a surprisingly placid and humorous expression, which was shocking, considering that Chuck could beat any serial killer in a competition.

The one who remained inside watched Chuck leave, and then resumed his conversation with the one voice that only few even knew existed. "I may have lost the Murgo, but it was an acceptable loss. He was but a pawn. Now my bishop has moved."

"A pawn. A bishop. Neither one is important, for each may be taken as easily as the other."

"What now?"

"You know that's against the rules. All I can tell you is that the game is afoot."

"Is it not always the case?"

"Of course! Why else do you think I could tell you that?"
A brief pause. "Can you tell me if Powys is walking blind?"

A brief snort of laughter. "Since when does a gambler ever see? They always go through life with their eyes closed!" The voice became serious. "You have to wonder what sets the dice after he casts them into the air. Who is that actor, and does the actor see? That is what you should ask."

"Do you know the name of the actor?"

"No. Though the Prophecy of the Light has some indirect control over him, it has less control than it does over everyone else. The actor protects him from other actors to a great extent. Even I cannot control him directly."

* * * *



With a 'whoosh... whoosh...' sound, a blue call box materialized. The room was devoid of any observers. The door opened, and the Nightman was the first to emerge. "Welcome to my home, circa 1996."

The Doctor emerged. "Nice place. When do you move in the rest of your belongings?"

The Nightman smiled.

Zedar, Janeway, and Duncan emerged next. The door shut automatically behind them. Duncan smiled, "So this is where you lived? I like it!" That was said in a very sarcastic manner.

The place wasn't too bad. A small house by most standards, big enough to be a one bedroom apartment. It was sparsely-furnished, but had a very artistic look. Spanish rugs covered the floor, and the occasional clay pot and house plant decorated the place. The smell of cigars hung in the air. They were strong, but not overpowering or unpleasant.

Janeway found herself staring around in amazement. It was like walking into a museum, and watching the objects come to life. Almost frightening, because she expected the guide to lead her on to the next exhibit. ("...and over here are the artifacts from the Civil War...")

The Nightman sniffed. "Honduran. That means that I've probably gone out drinking." He smiled. "Our secret is safe."

Janeway fought back the tears that threatened to fall. Here she was, on Earth, but an Earth that would never recognize her for who she was. She shoved back her emotions by taking charge. "So, where do we find them?"

The Nightman nodded. "We'll find them downtown. If you'll follow me?" He picked something off the table. "I'm sure I won't mind if I borrow my truck."

The Doctor laughed, "Of course not! I never minded." The Nightman raised an eyebrow.

On walking outside, they were able to see more of their surroundings. Out of the whole group, other than the Nightman, perhaps only MacLeod and the Doctor could appreciate the fact that they were near downtown, and a stone's throw from the University of Arizona. The neighborhood was in the historic district, where most of the houses were built before the 1930s. Even so, the place had more of a modern look than an olden look. Even the Nightman couldn't help but look around like a tourist. Going by long-faded memories, it took him a moment to find his truck.

MacLeod smiled, "Elegant! I like it."

"It works," the Nightman shrugged. It was a rusty, beat-up old Ford that must have been twenty years old. It had obviously seen better days. The front was big enough to seat four, and the back was big enough to haul a few cubic yards of cargo. It may have been beat-up, but it could still haul its own weight around, plus a few more hundred pounds. "Hop in the back. I want Zedar and Janeway up front with me."

They all got in their respective places, and after a few moments, the engine started, and the sounds of the 90s were playing...

I shot my love today would you cry for me
I lost my head again would you lie for me
I LEFT HER IN THE SAND just a burden in my hand
I lost my head again would you cry for me


...and the Nightman found himself singing along.

Close your eyes and bow your head
I need a little sympathy
Cause fear is strong and love's for everyone
Who isn't me
So kill your health and kill yourself
And kill everything you love
And if you live you can fall to pieces
And suffer with my ghost


Janeway and Zedar looked at each other, disturbed for two totally different reasons.

* * * *



Credits

"Burden in My Hand" is performed and copyrighted (1996) by
Soundgarden.


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