This is one of those ideas I've been working and reworking for ages. Almost decided it just wouldn't work and put it away completely, but I'm trying to clear some of these projects off my 'in work' file and thought eh, why not? Spoiler-ish for Into the Fire, though Marcus wasn't around for that particular mission. But there had to have been more than one, so, again, why not?

Not mine, taking them out for a spin. Promise to put them back when I'm finished.


"This is pointless," Susan Ivanova said, getting up from the command chair to pace.

"What's pointless?" Marcus Cole asked her. She glared at him in response, and he clarified. "Waiting, searching, life, the universe…" She glared again. "…Everything?"

Susan turned to the other non-Mimbari on the bridge. "Lorien, I thought you said you knew where the First Ones were. Are."

Lorien nodded once. "One of them is here, but they are also waiting."

Susan raised her eyebrows at him. "Waiting for what?"

"For the storm to pass."

Susan looked back to Marcus, who shrugged. "Great. Cryptic. Just what I need."

Lorien smiled gently, and went back to staring out the front viewport. Susan walked to Marcus and asked, "Are you getting any readings at all?"

"Actually, yes. I'm picking up a tachyon field."

"Tachyons? Our First Ones are time travelers?" Marcus didn't answer. He was staring out the front of the ship. Susan prompted him, "Marcus?"

He pointed one finger. She turned to look, then did a double take. Floating in front of the White Star was a small blue box with writing on it. "What the hell? Does that say Police?"

"Yes," Marcus choked out. "And it's moving towards us."

"Give me comms." She waited a moment, then spoke. "Unidentified… ship. This is Commander Susan Ivanova. What is your purpose for being here?"

"Right, well, we're just taking a quick survey of the local, um, starfield. For… scientific purposes." The voice from the other ship was male, with an accent that sounded like what Susan would have called British. She raised an eyebrow at Marcus, silently asking him if he had any ideas. He shrugged again.

"Funny, you don't look like any science ship I've ever seen," Susan answered. She looked at Lorien. "Is this a First One?"

He shook his head. "No."

She sighed and spoke to the other ship again. "We are in the middle of a critical diplomatic mission. Please withdraw."

"You're looking for allies." It was statement, rather than a question. "I might be able to help. Permission to come aboard?"

Lorien spoke. "Commander, it is up to you, but I believe this may be a beneficial meeting."

"Do you know who it is?" Lorien inclined his head, but said nothing. "Great, cryptic again. Can you at least tell me if he is a threat?"

"Not to you, not at this time."

Susan sat heavily in the command chair and spoke to the other ship. "Permission granted, but how do you plan to get over here?"

"Oh, don't worry about us. We'll just pop over."

"Pop over? What?"

There was a whooshing sound and a blue form shimmered briefly on the bridge, then turned into a solid, tall box. The door on the box opened and a red-headed woman staggered out, followed more gracefully by a taller man in a suit and long coat. She righted herself and then turned and slapped the man on the arm. "Oy, spaceman! Warn me next time you're going to do that."

"Donna," he said, drawing out the last syllable of the name, seeing the collection of people staring at them, "say hello to our hosts."

Susan stood and advanced on the pair. Marcus moved quickly around the control panel to stand slightly in front of her, his pike in one hand, though unextended. "Hello, Donna," he said, "I'm Marcus, this is Susan."

Susan glared at him. "I'm Commander Ivanova. And you are?"

"Ah, I'm the Doctor."

"The Doctor?" Susan asked. "Doctor of what?"

"Well, that's a new one." He looked around the command bridge, taking in the other life forms there. "Oh. Oh! It's the Mimbari! Look Donna, you can say you were the first human to meet a Mimbari. Well, not exactly, but kind of the first! In this case, it's much better than actually being the first." He kept turning, caught sight of Lorien and went still.

Susan took advantage of his silence. "You said you could help find allies."

He looked back at her. "I said you were looking. I said I could help you. I didn't say I could help you find them."

Susan studied him for a moment. She took a deep breath, then asked, "You don't know someone named Zathras, do you?"

The Doctor looked confused. "Zathras?" His face brightened. "Oh, you mean Zathras! 'Course I do. Brilliant fellow!"

"John so owes me for this," she muttered. "Why did you offer to help us then?"

Lorien stood and spoke. "Yes, Time Lord, what is your purpose here?"

Susan and Marcus shared a look. "Time Lord?" he asked.

"I was just in the neighborhood. Thought Donna might like to see Babylon 5 but we ended up here instead." He stuck his hands in his pocket and rocked back on his heels. "You lot are about to change the universe. That's an interesting thing to see."

"Change the universe? No. The galaxy, maybe. Some day. Right now, we're just trying to stay alive," Susan said.

"All change has to start somewhere."

"Well, we're not getting anywhere right now."

"Right, sorry about that. Your friends out there aren't going anywhere. They're curious, too. Though I wouldn't ask them about Iridani Prime." He turned to Lorien. "Little surprised to see you here, though. I didn't realize you'd stayed."

Susan raised a hand to stop him talking. "You know who he is?" she asked, pointing to Lorien.

The Doctor nodded. "One of the First Ones. The First One, really."

"The first what?" Donna asked.

"The first of all of us."

"And Time Lord? Who are you?" Marcus asked.

"Isn't it obvious?" The Doctor gave them all a big grin. "I'm a time traveler."

Susan threw her hands up. "Of course, you're a time traveler."

He raised eyebrows at her. "Nothing surprises you, does it, Susan Ivanova, daughter of Andre and Sophie Ivanov?" He walked in a slow arc around the bridge, trailing a finger over this console. "Beautiful ship you've got here. Excellent craftsmanship." Tapping that one. "The Mimbari always did know how to build beautiful things. Too bad they also know how to destroy them." Pausing in front of that Mimbari. "Now Valen, he was a surprise. But a good man. Well, leader, I suppose I should say." And ended up back in front of Marcus. "But then he was the One." He raised his eyebrows. "Who are you?"

"That's not your question to ask," Lorien said, gently chiding.

The Doctor studied him for a moment. "You're right, sorry. I get carried away sometimes."

Lorien inclined his head, accepting the apology. "Understandable. You are still young."

The Doctor laughed, delighted, and spun around. "We should go. Donna!"

She gave him a look. 'You said you could help them."

He rolled his eyes at her. "They've got all the help they need." He jerked his chin at Lorien.

"Wait," Marcus stepped forward. "You're a time traveler. Are you from the past or the future?"

The Doctor studied him. "Yes."

Susan rolled her eyes, but Marcus persisted. "I don't think it changes anything we're doing here, but… Does this work? Do we succeed?"

The Doctor hesitated. "I can't define success for you, Ranger. There is a fixed point in time that can't be changed. But I suspect you will see it as success."

"That's all?" Susan asked incredulously. "God save us from more cryptic prophesies."

The Doctor looked at Lorien, who looked back and gracefully, ever so slightly shrugged. "You came here, Doctor. If you wish to be encouraging, may I suggest being direct?"

Donna cocked her head and asked, "Why should he start now?"

The Doctor shot her a look, and then nodded at Lorien. "Fine." He turned back to Marcus. "You can't change what will happen, but your choice matters." Then to Susan, "You'll be there. At the end. And I'm sorry."

Susan and Marcus exchanged a look, and she said, "That was encouraging?"

The Doctor wrinkled his nose. "I don't really do encouraging. Brooding, enegmatic, pensive - I'm much better at those." He looked down for a moment and then stared intensely at the two humans. "What you have done, and will do - it's worth it." He held their gaze a moment longer, then clapped his hands loudly and spun towards the TARDIS. "Right then, we'll just leave you to your diplomatic mission." He grabbed Donna's hand on his way past her.

Before they reached the blue box, though, Lorien stepped forward. "Child of Earth," he said to Donna. She stopped and the Doctor let go of her hand as she turned. Lorien placed one hand on her shoulder and smiled as he leaned closer to her ear. "What you will do is also worth it. Darkness is coming, and you must be braver than you've ever been," he said. "Remember who you are." He leaned back.

She stared at him a long moment, tilting her head, and then nodded slowly.

"Donna?" The Doctor called from the TARDIS door.

She nodded again, still staring at Lorien, and took a few steps backward. "Yeah. Coming." She turned and walked into the TARDIS, looking back over her shoulder once at the First One.

Susan sat heavily in the command chair. "Well, that was pointless." She sighed. "Send out the hail again." And paused. "And don't mention anything about Iridani Prime."