Based on Doctor Who and The Tomorrow People (the original series). Copyrights owned by their respective creators and the telepaths of other universes.

Rated: K

The Doctor was examining the belt used for teleporting non-telepaths. He wouldn't have time to modify it right now, he realized.

T.I.M. spoke up. "An incoming message from the Galactic Trig cut off. It would appear that all telepathic powers are currently being blocked."

John looked up at The Doctor. "The only way out is through the tunnel."

"Which means they'll be waiting. I can sense this point in time is particularly fluid. We have to do what was done the first time, the time that led to the founding of these Guardians."

"What was that?"

"I honestly haven't the faintest. Care for a jelly baby?"

T.I.M. asked the obvious. "What would you have done had there been no soldiers?"

"Well, I would have walked to my TARDIS, chosen a key point in galactic history and gone there, I suppose."

"Do you have enough galactic history?"

"Ah. No. I get your point. Your circuits are, I think, compatible with my TARDIS. If you have no objection, I could copy over the relevant data."

"Your TARDIS is a spaceship and I cannot move."

"Ah, but it can!"

"This is a very small location and is underground."

"Pffft! It's dimensionally transcendental and I've landed underground before. There is, however, one problem."

"What is that?"

"It was unable to register any position and there were a few systems failures."

John looked up. "Is this TARDIS telepathic?"

"Yes, it is... Ah, of course! The machine they were using on Elizabeth must have interfered with it. If they've moved the jamming device here, it might well be free now. It can land in interference, although not particularly well. It will jumble up the old girl's systems slightly."

The Doctor pulled out a hand grip with a button on it. "Recall device. It should work."

Sure enough, the asthmatic elephant and its drum entered the room. One corner of the lab grew hazy, then filled with the sight of a blue police telephone box circa 1960.

Stephen laughed. "A police box?"

"Well, you don't want to be conspicuous, you know."

Stephen refrained from commenting, but it took some effort on his part.

Elizabeth was awake at this point, some of her memories returning. She had been given sedatives, as an extra precaution.

The Doctor thought for a moment. "This location is not secure. However, they can't break into my TARDIS. I dislike using it as a taxi, but a shelter is acceptable."

"It looks very... cosy..." Elizabeth chipped in, looking doubtful.

"Oh, I think you'll manage. The deckchair is mine, though."

John walked over, pushed open the door, glanced in, walked around, pushed open the door again and finally walked in.

The Doctor was examining T.I.M.'s connections and thinking about the next stage. "Are you alright with me doing this?"

"Under the circumstances, I think I can manage", T.I.M. sniffed in an exaggerated way.

The Doctor chuckled. Computers with a sense of humour were as rare as species that couldn't kill.

Stephen and Elizabeth were now inside the TARDIS, gazing in wonder at the walls. Stephen quickly discovered these were covered in storage bays that were themselves larger on the inside. They then turned their attention to the console, which was so far beyond them they had concentrated on what they could understand for their own sanity. After that, they glanced down the maze of corridors beyond. None of which should have fitted in that small exterior.

The Doctor came in, opened a couple of roundels and started running cables.

"How do we know what's going on outside?" asked John, understandably worried about weapons fire.

The Doctor turned a dial on one of the panels. The viewscreen panel slid aside, revealing an image. It was slightly blurred, due to the jamming, but was good enough to tell if there was a threat. Nothing moved on the scanner, so it was safe for now. The Doctor left the scanner on for John to monitor.

Cables in hand, The Doctor walked quickly outside and started fitting them to T.I.M. It was quite possible someone could storm in, or at least try to, but he'd extended the TARDIS forcefield to include TIM. He doubted the enemy had considered that possibility. Even so, he'd given the lock on the door a going over with the sonic screwdriver. It was now jammed and he didn't recall seeing explosives with the soldiers.

Fitting the connections was easy. The similarity to the Time Lord Matrix made him suspect this was his doing, later on, in the past. To those Time Lords familiar with cats and balls of yarn, metaphors for how time actually worked in practice abounded. Now all he had to do was get back and transfer the data.

The door exploded inwards. Ah, they had had explosives. Interesting but not a significant threat. The force field could hold off a brigade of daleks, after all.

Three soldiers rushed in and pointed their guns at The Doctor. He decided to leave. Their weapons were, as he suspected, no match for Time Lord shielding but they dreadfully noisy and he had a headache from the jamming device. Time Lords had annoyed enough species in the universe, such as daleks, to need exceptionally good shields.

But escaping being shot wasn't going to help if the TARDIS circuits were totally jammed. He had to hope that impairment was limited or something he could break through with enough power. He also had to hope the attackers hadn't noticed the obvious circuit breaker, at least until everything was across. After that, it wouldn't matter so much.

Going inside, he looked around. The data lights were on, showing that information was flowing rapidly. Just then, as luck would have it, the soldiers found the circuit breaker and pulled it. The Doctor sighed, pulled the door control of the TARDIS and the heavy blast doors swung shut. There was nothing the enemy could do, it was now a matter of what he could do.

Plugging a neural interface headset in, he vowed to give up Leonid chocolate, obtained exclusively from the planet Xarn. He always seemed to get into the worst messes after eating it. On the other hand, those were always fun. He modified that vow to obtaining another kilo.

"Don't worry about your computer, they can't damage him with the force field in place. Of course, if we go anywhere, then they can, but I've a suspicion they won't be able to."

The Tomorrow People looked doubtfully at each other. After all, a computer wasn't alive either.

The interface worked, although not well. It was sufficient to show a lot of data had been obtained and that T.I.M. had been kind enough to highlight prominent features.

The picture was incomplete, but it was sufficient. For if you plotted the space-time coordinates of the worlds mentioned by the ancient stories of the Galactic Trig and then looked at them from the space-time coordinates of Earth at that time, you would see in High Gallifreyan a single word. Assuming you could also read High Gallifreyan, you'd then have the correct planet. By viewing from the side, you saw a funnel converging on a point in time.

He now understood why he'd had to start from Earth. He also understood why the streams of time had ended up with the Tomorrow People in the TARDIS. The next part of the adventure was going to take true telepaths.

"Anyone for a ride?"

The Tomorrow People were too busy watching their lab being smashed up to answer. He shrugged, plugged the coordinates in, diverted all non-essential power to the engines and hit dematerialize.

The TARDIS lurched violently, as it struggled against the jamming device. Explosions rocked the console. Flames burst out of one panel, which The Doctor fought to extinguish. The Tomorrow People were in a pile against the far wall.

The Doctor ejected a small amount of mass into the time stream and diverted life support as well. The room cooled slowly as the lights flickered and dimmed. The groaning and shuddering made way for a grinding sound that slowly softened into the dematerialization. He'd broken free. For now.

"Is it like that every time?" asked Elizabeth.

"No, no, only when massive interference from jamming devices is involved", replied The Doctor cheerfully. Elizabeth privately suspected this was not such a rare event but said nothing. She knew enough mischievous schoolboys to know that sometimes asking wasn't the best way to get answers.

Ignoring bruises to body and ego, everyone seemed to be ok. It was now a matter of finding out what had happened.

"I found out where the Guardians of Time began. I wrote a message for myself in the stories. Since it wasn't safe for you to go out, the only option was to take you to that point of origin."

"And where is that, exactly?"

At that moment, the materialization sound echoed through the room and the time rotor stopped. "Right about... here." said The Doctor.

He activated the scanner. A darkened room, long abandoned, waited outside.

"There's nothing there," breathed Elizabeth.

The Doctor glanced at the still-working readouts. "Oxygen, radiation, gravity, all normal. That's not nothing, in my experience. Nothing is boring. This is a place where life can thrive and one thing life isn't is boring."

He activated the door control. The blast doors juddered slightly and then swung open.

The four of them stepped outside. The room seemed vaguely familiar, but with no light they couldn't tell. The Doctor activated a hand-held light unit. It was their Lab, but different somehow. Modernised. Stephen decided he didn't like it.

There was no T.I.M., so nobody to ask. They quickly found a door leading out. This door was much, much newer than everything else present and it was locked by some sort of electronic device of advanced technology.

"Thirty first century, at a rough guess", said The Doctor dismissively. The lock was disabled with the sonic screwdriver before he had time to finish.

He opened the door. Beyond it, a large hallway with an arched ceiling. It was brightly lit. John, Elizabeth and Stephen picked up a flood of information. The door had been shielding them, but now it was open they could tell these were telepaths in the distant future. They were unsure of the world, only that it was safe for their kind.

"But the stories were from the ancient past, according to T.I.M.!" objected Stephen.

"Don't be so insular. Time is not a simple progression of cause to effect, as you have already discovered. Try to imagine a plate containing one long strand of spaghetti after a long night disco dancing. That's much closer to how timelines are in practice."

Stephen shook his head slightly.

Slowly, people noticed them in their twentieth century clothes. A new flood, this time of questions, greeted them. Telepathic questions. These were Tomorrow People of the future. They made out that the room they had just left was a dedicated memorial. Not one that anyone needed to visit much, so well known was the legend. A legend that described the first free telepaths of that world but also some of the most important telepaths in the galaxy.

In short, not people you actually expect to see walking out of their own memorial, given they'd been dead for almost a thousand years.

"This is Earth, isn't is?" asked Stephen. "They haven't just recreated the Lab, that actually is the Lab?"

"I've always had a soft spot for you Earth people. Willing to out-sit eternity, if you need to. Indomitable."

"That means..."

"That I don't go haring off and train people from the distant past. I could never still that long."

"Then...?"

"I find that if you start with a person with good ethics and good intent, it's so much easier."

A young man approached. "You are the first of homo novis. How did you get here? Don't you know the laws of time?"

The Doctor coughed. "I am a Time Lord, my people invented the laws of time. And almost everything else, but we won't talk about that."

The man's eyes narrowed and The Doctor could sense his mind being probed. Normally, he would have thrown up defences. This time, he lowered them, offering everything. The man stumbled as the Time Lord's vast mind, many lives and horrific experience was completely open to his view without limit or restraint.

Never had anyone encountered a life so rich, so filled with sorrow, so filled with compassion. So filled with Time Lord injunctions on what can and cannot be done, so filled with understanding of the limits imposed by reality, so filled with knowledge of time travel even between universes and the mechanics of it.

It took effort to limit his observation, to see only what was necessary. There was too much. This one man had experienced eight times more than most humans could physically fit into a life and closer to eighty times more than most humans could experience without going insane.

Even so, he tapped into deep insights, forbidden knowledge, profound empathy and great wisdom without realizing. Not always by accident, either. The Doctor was very carefully feeding the man's subconscious certain information that would become important.

The young man could see that these Time Lords were truly ancient and powerful but were only limited telepaths. He would need to consider this, but he thought it was possible a telepath could achieve mentally what a Time Lord needed technology for. Same result, different means.

He could also see that the laws of time that he knew must have originated in this same man, in the past and the Time Lord's future. Not just in their structure, but also in the ethics of observing without interfering, a key element of Time Lord philosophy. And, yet, a willingness to intervene judiciously when necessary, a key element of The Doctor.

"With respect, Lord, bringing these people from their time stream could be damaging."

"If I hadn't, they'd be dead and none of you would exist. They also need something you have."

"And what is that?"

"Hope. Hope that if they hold to what they believe in, rather than be dragged into the swamp of bitterness and greed, it will be worth it. Hope that you have because they had it."

"Doesn't that create a paradox? Where does it come from originally?"

"Perhaps originally it came from me. Perhaps it doesn't matter any more. This is now a fixed point in time, existing because it existed. It can't be altered because to do so would then create a paradox. The universe must, by necessity, converge on this very point in time."

"How does that work? I mean, can't someone, say a non-telepath, simply kill these people? Any circle can be broken."

"Only if that wouldn't prevent this point in time happening. Which it almost certainly would. And, yes, an ordinary circle could. But nobody can change their own past. Not one line. That is how fixed points become that. When the past is also the future, the future becomes a part of the past. You are a product of any number of possible futures of theirs, this doesn't take away free will, but the only possible futures they can be in will be ones that can produce you because you are now in their past and they can't change that."

Now the young man understood.

"So the attack you mentioned..."

"Could have succeeded. The fixed point is here, not there. An attack here could not. An attack there would have changed which Tomorrow People reached here. Perhaps, originally, they died, although that seems unlikely since there has to be a time stream that could produce you. Any valid time there could be changed to any other. This event cannot change at all. All possible lines through time converge on here and now."

"The stories tell of you in the distant past."

"Maybe I'll get there, maybe you'll go. Once you and those you choose become guardians of time, you must predate all other telepaths and have time and numbers to evolve."

"Me? Why me?"

"Because you have secrets that have to go back to then and be known only to those who are there."

The man nodded, a whirl of thoughts dancing feverishly through his mind.

The Doctor look sternly at him. "Regeneration is a secret I've allowed you to have so that you, personally, can be responsible with time. But in this universe you may find better alternatives. Until time is less fragile, be very very careful with whom you share."

The man's eyes widened by what he was being told. This Lord of Time wasn't asking him to give his fellow telepaths the information so that they could figure out who to send into the past. He himself, a total stranger, was being put in charge of it all for absolutely no reason other than having been the person to go up and ask questions. To be handed responsible for the entire history of the universe was not something he'd expected.

"Are you sure I'm the person you want in charge?"

The Doctor bit the head off a jelly baby. "Someone has to be. I can't go around giving interviews, I have to rely on the fact that this has already happened in a way that cannot change. Since it is immutable, asking you means I have never done anything else at this point in time."

Sensing that certain things had to take place soon, he left to go back to the TARDIS with the Tomorrow People, who had been treated as legendary heroes by the other folk who were gathering. Elizabeth and John had been very uncomfortable with the whole experience, but didn't want to cause offence. They were just teenagers, doing the best they could as the first of their kind. They didn't want to be considered special and certainly not legends.

He arrived at the lab three hours after the attack. The place was a mess, but T.I.M. looked intact when he switched the scanner on. There was no interference now and no sign of the attackers. They seemed to have left. The Tomorrow People stood in horror at the wreckage of what had been home. A safe home.

Elizabeth couldn't stand the silence any longer and switched T.I.M. back on. "Are you alright, T.I.M.?"

"Yes, thank you, Elizabeth. The assailants cannot be detected anywhere near the laboratory. I have no means of determining when this happened. Have you achieved what you set out to do?"

"I think so. It's complicated, but it seems that although we are not safe as individuals, our future now is. That is something."

John turned round to say something to The Doctor, when a groaning sound indicated he'd have to wait. Maybe a very long time. He picked up a surviving broom from a storage locker. "Let's get started on cleaning this up."