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.
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
"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
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."
"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
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
"Oh great! You don't know, do you?"
"Who's a pretty boy then...?" Daniel muttered under
"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
"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
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
"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.
"You were unmaking a ring of power?"
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
Jack took a couple of steps back before she got close enough to
"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?!"
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
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
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
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
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.
"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
"Okay fellas, git your hands in the air," growled a
voice from somewhere up above.
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
"She surely is." The man smiled proudly. "I call her
"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
"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
"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
"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
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?"
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
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
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
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
The dragon leaned forward, his four-clawed hand scooping up the
back-up guys by their shirts.
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
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
"Careful..." came a familiar, but less sibilant
voice from just behind him.
Mal spun round, shocked. There was no one there.
"He's good, isn't he?" the Doctor said with his
"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
"Huh? The Doctor was just about to show a blank piece of
"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
"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
"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
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
Just do it," came Daniel's voice from... somewhere.