Crown Infernal

The Lord of the Ring?

by guest author

Daisy Wheeyull-Printa

Part III - A Hitch in Time

Meanwhile, a tall dark handsome man was staring down at the unconscious, and rather singed, peregrine falcon that had suddenly materialized on the floor beside the control console. It was lying on its back and seemed to be lying on a heap of tiny gold rings.

The Doctor wonders what the Tardis rescued

He had experienced something similar several years later, when a young lady in a white wedding gown had materialized in much the same way. There were some differences. The bride was - would be - unsinged, indignantly conscious— and loud. Very loud.

"Looks like there's more ancient huon energy swilling around the universe than I thought," he murmured to himself, considering the inert bird lying at his feet. He wondered vaguely what he should do about it. Veterinary surgery wasn't high on his list of abilities, but he was short one assistant - well, companion really. Not that a falcon was likely to talk. This, of course, could be a plus.

While he was still contemplating the problem, the falcon sneezed and shook its head, then rolled off the golden pile and on to the floor. A surge of energy enveloped the bird. As the sparkling cloud of - presumably - huon particles cleared, the falcon had disappeared, replaced by a distinctly toothsome young man. While he would have preferred Captain Jack Harkness as a travelling companion, he would be quite happy, at this point, to make a substitution.

The delectable one struggled to his feet, still a little woozy, and looked around. Finding that he wasn't alone, he said cryptically, "I take it I'm not dead again then?"

"Make a habit of it, do you?"

"Not exactly, but it happens rather more often than I would like," the stranger said ruefully. "Thanks for the rescue, by the way. My name's Daniel Jackson. I'm a peaceful explorer."

A sudden mental vision of a parrot popped into the other's head. Mr. Jackson must say that quite a lot, he thought. He realized that his visitor was looking a question at him.

"Oh, sorry. I'm the Doctor."

"Oh really?" said Daniel, brightening. "So am I."

"No. I'm the Doctor."

Daniel looked puzzled. "The Doctor?"

The parrot image reappeared in the Doctor's mind.

"So, what are you a doctor of, exactly?" Daniel continued. "My specialties are archaeology, anthropology and linguistics..."

The Doctor shrugged. "Oh, I'm a doctor of everything," he said looking smug.

"Uh-huh," Daniel said, clearly unimpressed. He bent to pick up the crumpled heap of golden chain mail which seemed to have increased in size in proportion to its owner. "I don't know how you managed to transport me out of the volcano's mouth before I fried, but I'd appreciate it if you could land this... ship? ...somewhere near my friends. They're probably at the other end of the valley somewhere."

"I can try, but it wasn't actually me that rescued you. The Tardis did it herself."

"The Tardis?"

"You know, Daniel, I wish you'd stop parroting everything I say," said the Doctor with some asperity, revising his initial opinion of the acceptability of Daniel as a companion. "I'm beginning to wish you were still a falcon."

"Oh. Sorry." Daniel sounded a little put out. "So, who's this - Tardis?"

"My 'ship' of course."

"And you have no control over it? Her?"

"Of course I do. But the Tardis sometimes... does things by herself. Makes life interesting on occasion." The Doctor gave him a chirpy grin.

Daniel followed his saviour's owner round the central console, where the Doctor pressed a couple of buttons. A picture appeared on the screen in front of them. It just showed stars and galaxies.

"Um, where are we?" he asked, unable to keep a note of cynicism out of his voice.


"Oh great! You don't know, do you? I think you got picked up by this Tardis the same way I did."

Now it was the Doctor's turn to be affronted. "Of course I know where we are, and if you tell me where you want dropping off I'll enter the co-ordinates and you can be on your way. Now, your friends are whereabouts on which planet?"

"Well, the one that you— the Tardis - picked me up from."

"Oh great! You don't know, do you—?"

"Who's a pretty boy then...?" Daniel muttered under his breath.

"—Just go gallivanting around the universe with no idea which planet you're on..."

Daniel sighed. "We don't even know what universe we're in, let alone what planet."

"What? You're a trans-dimensional being?" the Doctor squawked.

"Eh? No! Well, not intentionally anyway. I certainly wasn't when I woke up this morning."

"And where was that?"

"Colorado Springs. U.S.A. Earth. My universe. As were my friends. Now, can you get us back? Or not?"

"The sooner the better," the Doctor muttered sotto voce.

But Daniel heard the comment. "Oh fine," he snapped. "If that's the way you want it." He put the golden chain-mail, which was now seen to be a human-sized hood, on his head and disappeared.

"Ah. Tarnhelm, huh?" the Doctor commented to the empty air. "Makes the wearer invisible or turns him into any animal form he chooses."

"That's right." Daniel sounded surprised.

"And you chose a falcon because...?"

"What? Oh. I wanted to travel a long way fast. I didn't want to involve my friends in a - a dangerous mission when it only needed one person— and the peregrine's the fastest bird. Well, fastest bird big enough to do the job. That's all," said the incorporeal voice.

"And what job was that?"

"Oh, just destroying something that was cursed and destined to bring a lot of evil into the world. Whatever this world is. Was..."

"You were unmaking a ring of power?"

"Ah, yes."

The Doctor was impressed, if a little reluctantly. He was beginning to see why this irritating man oscillated between living and dead. He was also re-revising the option of taking Daniel on as his next assistant. Daniel clearly had some useful qualities. He probably wouldn't utter ear-piercing shrieks every time they encountered something horrific either, which would be a big plus.

The motley collection of people from the S.G.C. and the Heart of Gold, plus Brünnhilde and the scarecrow stared glumly down the valley at the volcano. It continued to belch black smoke. The fiery red lava that spewed out of the crater and down the sides gave everything a hellish red tinge. Every now and again, part of the top would break off with the deep boom of rending rocks. Tongues of explosive flame erupted where the rocks fell back into the crater. On the bright side, there was no sign of a pyroclastic flow and it was a damn' good firework display!

"Well, no point in hanging around here," Zaphod, having a short attention span, announced with unnecessary cheerfulness. "Might as well go collect the gold and go back to the ship."

"Not without Daniel we don't," Jack growled. "It may be an alien concept to you, but where I come from, we never leave a man behind."

He noticed the glowering trio of Brünnhilde, Trillian and his 2IC. "Or woman."

Brünnhilde's face was instantly wreathed in smiles. "Jack the Giant-Killer! My hero! You must indeed rescue My Rrrhusband!"

Jack took a couple of steps back before she got close enough to hug him.

"With respect, sir, if Daniel's down there among all those... whatever they are, then I think we have to face the fact that he may very well be—"

"Aht! This is Daniel we're talking about. If we couldn't catch him..."

"Um, point taken, sir."

"If we leave now, and he comes back to the ship and it's not there.what the fuck is that?!"

What's that blue box...?

Jack ducked instinctively as a large blue box shot down the valley towards them, apparently on a collision course, then disappeared down something that looked like a wormhole but wasn't. Probably.

"I've no idea, sir, but I can't help thinking that maybe Daniel's involved somehow."

"So can we go get the gold and go back to the ship now?" Zaphod whined and got a baleful look from Jack.

"Actually, it's probably our best bet. Going back to the ship, that is. Trillion and I have been having a discussion," Sam said. "It's possible that the Heart of Gold may have had something to do with that - thing - and therefore possibly with Daniel too. If not, then we have another idea."

Jack agreed but refused to countenance a detour by way of Fafner's cave. "Daniel says it's cursed, so no way, Mr. Bumblebee."

There was no sign of Daniel, either on the way - during which Zaphod tried everyone's patience with his constant attempts to change Jack's mind - or back in the ship.

"So plan B it is then?" Jack asked without much enthusiasm.

Marvin was even less impressed when the girls had him hooked up to the Infinite Improbability Drive with what seemed like miles of cabling. After a while, there was a faint electronic hum.

Jack gave his 2IC a suspicious look. "We've taken off haven't we?"

Sam bit her lip guiltily. "Goddammit, Carter! How are we gonna get Daniel back?!"

"Well sir, this ship is powered by the infinite improbability drive, so I think it's probably our best shot - maybe only chance."


The central control column of the Tardis deactivated.

"We've arrived?" Daniel asked.

The Doctor nodded.

"You wouldn't happen to know where, by any chance?" There could have been a hint of irony in the question, but there wasn't. The two men had spent some time exchanging tales of their adventures on the flight and had developed an easy camaraderie and mutual respect.

"I usually find that out by going outside and exploring," the Doctor grinned, opening the door.

Unlike Jack, he stood aside with an amused smile as Daniel shot outside. They seemed to be in an empty warehouse, or something similar, so far as he could see. He turned back to his companion. And got a shock. The 'ship' had disappeared and the Doctor was casually leaning against a large blue box.

Where's the Tardis?!

"It's here," he said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder to indicate the blue box.


"It's bigger on the inside than on the outside," the Doctor explained. "Have a look if you don't believe me."

"Uh, if you say so," Daniel shrugged. "I've stopped being surprised by the things the universe throws at me. Mostly stopped..."

"Okay fellas, git your hands in the air," growled a voice from somewhere up above.

A man called Jayne

The two doctors, slowly obeying, turned to see a rough-looking man on the walkway at the top of the stairs.

"Ohh," said the Doctor admiringly, "is that a Callahan full-bore auto-lock with customized trigger, double-cartridge and through gauge?"

"She surely is." The man smiled proudly. "I call her Vera."

"Of course you do." Daniel muttered with soft sarcasm.

The man heard him and the smile turned into a glare.

He yelled over his shoulder, "Cap'n! Hey Cap'n! We got stowaways on board!"

"On board?" Daniel said with a surprised look towards the Doctor.

"We seem to be on another ship, Daniel."


"Given the absence of pitch and yaw, I'd say so."

"Well, it's definitely not the Heart of Gold," Daniel sighed.

"No it isn't," another voice drawled. "Does it look like a whorehouse to you?"

The two doctors turned to the speaker and saw a small group of people coming through the open hatchway. Several of them were carrying weapons.

"This here is Serenity. She's my ship. I am your captain, Malcolm Reynolds, and I'd like to know what you good people are a-doing in my ship - where you've come from - how you got on board... and how much you're fixin' to pay by way of the fare."

"Fare?" Daniel asked. "Well, I guess that depends on whether or not you're willing and able to take me where I want to go."

Captain Mal Reynolds

"And where might that be?" Captain Reynolds asked.

"Planet Earth, circa 2,000 C.E."

"Da-shiang bao-tza shr duh lah doo-tze! 1 " the man exclaimed. "Are you two totally kwong-juh duh?! 2 "

Daniel looked disappointed. "I take it we're still in the universe where the Earth was blown up by the Vogons to make way for a hyperspace bypass then?"

Captain Reynold's jaw dropped. "Say what?!"

"Oh. Maybe this is a different universe then." Daniel sighed sadly. "Doesn't look like I'm going to be getting home anytime soon, does it?" he said to his companion.

A voice rang out across the intercom. "Cap'n, we got company."

Mal ground his teeth. "Who or what, Wash?"

"Alliance vessel. They're looking to come on board."

"Did they say what for?"

"Something about an irregularity in the manifest."

"Ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng! 3 Ain't nothin' wrong in the manifest. I checked it myself. Twice."

"Yeah, but that was before these two come on board," came the voice of Vera's owner from the walkway above.

"Guy's a Browncoat though," a tall dark-haired woman observed, looking at the Doctor.

Mal nodded. "So he is, Zoe. Then we'll say nothing about it for now, but if you fellas had anything to do with tipping off the Alliance, you are dead meat. Dong ma?"4

"I thought you said the manifest was in order?" Daniel said.

The accusing note in his voice stung Reynolds into retorting, "Yes, it damn' well is."

"Just don't tally with the cargo, that's all," the man with Vera blurted out without first bothering to engage brain."

"Jayne!" Reynolds exclaimed as a couple of mean-looking guys, with four more meaner-looking guys as back-up, entered.

"Jane?" Daniel exclaimed, giving the guy a funny look.

The Doctor stepped forward, smiling affably at the two mean-looking guys. "What seems to be the problem?"

The senior of the pair ran a plump red finger down the manifest on his clipboard. "And who might you be, sir," he sneered. "You don't appear to be listed here. Browncoat terrorist maybe?"

"I think you've made a mistake." The Doctor continued to smile affably as he reached inside his coat. There was the sound of weapons being activated.

The Doctor froze, then chuckled. "Dear me, you seem to have a low opinion of your men's prowess if you think they're no match for one Doctor. I don't carry any weapons. I merely wish to show you my documentation so you can see that I am here legally and then you can be on your way, rounding up these - wha'd'you-call-ems? Brown-coated terriers?"

The man nodded and the Doctor pulled out his billfold which he opened and held under the nose of the Alliance leader's nose. Daniel blenched. From his position, the Doctor had merely displayed a blank sheet of paper. Time for him to take action then...

As he donned the tarnhelm, Daniel failed to hear the guy say, "I see, sir. That all seems satisfactory. Thank you for your co-operation."

He was enveloped in a swirling mist of sparkling rainbow-colored lights. This coalesced into a magnificent scarlet dragon that filled most of the area. As the dragon breathed, small flames flickered around his nostrils.

Panic ensued.

The dragon leaned forward, his four-clawed hand scooping up the back-up guys by their shirts.

Daniel shows his fiery side

With the fore-claw of his other talon, he gave Jayne a gentle prod in the gut.

"And don't you get cute with me either! Just put Vera down - ve-ery carefully - and she won't get hurt. More to the point, neither will you."

Then Daniel picked up the other two mean-looking guys, who stood looking up at him frozen in terror, and held all six up to his face.

"Hmmm," he breathed softly, as if considering what to do with the guys. The flames were hot enough to warn of what he could do if he chose, but not enough to harm them.

"Now listen up. This is the way it's going to be. You guys are going back to your ship where you will report that everything is as it should be on Serenity. From hereon in, anything concerning Serenity that is drawn to your attention will be marked 'No Action Required.' Just in case you got any ideas to the contrary, here's a couple of things to bear in mind. One. I don't need a ship to fly. Two. I have a very good sense of smell, so I will track you down. And I will be very angry. Do NOT piss off a dragon unless you wish to end up as crispy fried Dragon snacks. Oh. Three things. Don't bother telling anyone about this little encounter. No one's going to believe you anyway. Now scram! Before I fart over you!"

They scrammed. Followed by Captain Reynolds and his crew who wanted to make sure they left the ship, and if they wanted an excuse to get away from the dragon, no one said so. When they returned, the dragon had disappeared. Mal homed in on the Doctor.

"What the fuck did you think you were doing, setting that - that—"

"Careful..." came a familiar, but less sibilant voice from just behind him.

Mal spun round, shocked. There was no one there. "What—?"

"He's good, isn't he?" the Doctor said with his chirpy grin.

"Not quite the word I'd choose," Mal muttered and felt a sharp prod in the small of his back.

"If you hurt him, you'll find there are more dangerous things than dragons," said a petite slender young woman.

At first Daniel was disconcerted to find that she was looking straight at him, then realized she'd worked out where he was from his voice.

"Yes, I can see you."

"Oh." Daniel walked around the back of the Tardis. She didn't follow, so he removed the Tarnhelm and slipped it inside his jacket. Reappearing from behind the Tardis, he walked up to the Captain.

"You were saying?" Daniel asked, arms folded and head tipped to one side in a challenging posture.

"Well, thanks to your flashy display, you bun tyen-shung duh ee-dway-ro,"5 Mal growled, "we're gonna have half the Alliance fleet pilin' in on us. It wasn't necessary. Your Browncoat friend here just persuaded them to leave quiet like, then you pull that stupid-assed stunt!"

"Huh? The Doctor was just about to show a blank piece of paper!"

"This, you mean?" the Doctor said, pulling out his wallet again and displaying the paper.

"Yes. It's blank."

"At the moment, yes." In response to Daniel's suspicious look, the Doctor explained. "This is psychic paper."

"Psychic. Paper." Daniel said slowly and carefully, disbelief writ large across his face.

"That's right. It shows what you want the enquirer to see, in this case, one blue box and two passengers."

Before Daniel's eyes, a logo and words appeared on the paper, verifying their legality aboard Serenity.

"So I didn't need to..." Daniel gave a descriptive wave of his hand.



Before anyone could say anything more, Wash's voice came over the intercom. "Looks like we got half the Alliance fleet on our tail."

"Jen dao mei!"6 Mal said with a scowl at Daniel.

The latter appeared to be away with the fairies. Then his face lit up. He looked at the Doctor, who looked right back at him. They turned back to Mal as one.

"We have an idea!" they said together.

"Call all your crew down here," the Doctor went on.

"And?" Mal demanded.

"Just do it," Daniel snapped. "There's no time to discuss the whys and wherefores now. Oh and you might like to put out a Mayday call..."

In default of any better ideas, Mal sent Zoe to collect Wash. "Tell him to put Serenity on auto-pilot." He sighed. "And put out a Mayday call."

Daniel followed her as he needed to know how to open Serenity's hatches, and work the sound system. When all the crew had gathered, the Doctor entered the Tardis.

"Come on in," he smiled, beckoning to them.

"What?!" Mal exclaimed. "There ain't enough room in—"

Just do it," came Daniel's voice from... somewhere.


1 the explosive diarrhea of an elephant!
2 nuts!
3 frog-humping sonofabitch!

4 understand?
5 stupid inbred stack of meat!
6 just our luck!

Part I - Wormhole Interrupted

Part II - Daniel in the Dragon's Den (Cave Actually)

Part IV - Future Perfect?

Crown Infernal