Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Doctor Who and the Borg: Part Eight of Ten

Characters and concepts related to Doctor Who and Star Trek, and related marks, are trademarks of the BBC and CBS Studios Inc., respectively. This work of fan fiction is written purely for entertainment purposes, and is not to be used in trade of any kind.

To go back and read Part Seven, click here, or to go to the beginning, click here. Part Eight begins after the jump.

Doctor Who and the Borg
by Mark Baker-Wright
Part Eight

Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge looked over the proposal in Engineering with the Doctor and Captain Picard. "Yes, Captain. This might work. Understand, though, that this hasn't been done in decades. Warp technology has changed dramatically since the crew of the original Enterprise attempted time travel."

"Is the procedure dangerous?" Picard asked.

"Well," Geordi responded, "it was considered very dangerous 100 years ago, but with our engines and with Data at the helm, I don't expect any problems."

"How do we get the Borg to follow us?"

"Honestly, I don't think we'll even have to try all that hard. If move the Enterprise to a position just barely outside of the star's orbit, the Borg will have to arc over the star rather than come after us directly. When they position behind us, we kick on the warp engines at just the right speed, navigate around the star, and jump forward in time just a few seconds just as they begin to follow us. If everything goes right, the Borg ship will get caught in the sun's gravity while we travel safely past the sun's corona while in time warp."

"Perfect!" exclaimed the Doctor. "Make it so!"

Picard waited anxiously on the bridge while his crew completed their assigned tasks. As Data finished with the calculations, he confirmed with engineering that they were ready to begin. "All of the preparations have been made, Captain."

"Good. Enter coordinates and engage."

Everything happened according to plan. The Enterprise moved back from the star, and the Borg appeared. The Borg moved around the star to intercept the Enterprise, and the Enterprise engaged warp drive. A few seconds later, the Enterprise came to rest in orbit around the star, only to find that the Borg were still there.

Data was the first to speak up. "It appears that our attempt was not successful."

"What happened, Mr. Data?" Picard asked.

"It would seem," Data began, "that the Borg broke off pursuit as soon as we disappeared."

"Indeed," Picard muttered to himself. They pulled a wild card, and it didn't work. Now what would they do?

It happened again.

The Borg were pursuing the ship, when all of sudden, it simply disappeared. With nothing in front of them to follow, the Borg ceased pursuit. The ship then reappeared in the same location a few seconds later. A cloaking device perhaps? The Borg should have been able to penetrate any cloaking device: many of their absorbed civilizations used such devices. They had always proven useless. What, then, was so special about these two ships that the Borg had now encountered? It didn't really matter. When the ships were assimilated, the Borg would have their answers.

The Doctor returned to the library computer, frustrated. The time jump should have worked. The reaction speed necessary to break off pursuit in time to have avoided being torn apart by the star's gravity well was infinitesimal. Obviously, the Borg were no normal species. Apparently, this race had achieved a computer efficiency even beyond that of the Daleks and the Cybermen.

The Doctor arrived at the computer terminal where he had left K-9. "K-9, what have you discovered?"

"Inconclusive, Master. Historical references begin to diverge towards the late-twentieth century, but I have been unable to locate exact time and cause of divergence."

"Keep working at it, K-9," the Doctor said as he approached another terminal. "I'm going to find out some more about these 'Borg.'"

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Doctor Who and the Borg: Part Seven of Ten

Characters and concepts related to Doctor Who and Star Trek, and related marks, are trademarks of the BBC and CBS Studios Inc., respectively. This work of fan fiction is written purely for entertainment purposes, and is not to be used in trade of any kind.

To go back and read Part Six, click here, or to go to the beginning, click here. Part Seven begins after the jump.

Doctor Who and the Borg
by Mark Baker-Wright
Part Seven

While the Doctor worked diligently with the library computer, an Enterprise security officer stood by his side, under orders from Lt. Worf to provide the Doctor with whatever assistance he might require. Another crewmember stopped by to update them on the ship's current situation, hiding from the Borg on the opposite side of the Dinar sun.

"So, if I'm understanding you properly," the Doctor asked, "the Borg have greater speed than your ship, they have much more powerful weaponry, and they can wait you out indefinitely while you will eventually have to leave the system in order to replenish your supplies?"

"That's about the size of it, sir," the crewmember acknowledged.

"What are the chances of reinforcements arriving before you would have to take a chance at escaping on your own?" the Doctor asked.

"Not too good, I'm afraid. And even if other ships can get here fast enough, we wouldn't even be able to approach the size of the fleet that a single Borg ship destroyed at Wolf 359."

"Well, I wouldn't worry too much about that," the Doctor grinned and tried to sound reassuring. "I find that the most important battles aren't won by military strength, anyway." He tapped his head a couple of times. "If you know what I mean."

The crewmember nodded politely, and then returned to his own duties, leaving the Doctor to return to his investigations on temporal disturbances that might explain why no one around him seemed to have more than a distant memory of two of the most persistent threats to universal tranquility that he'd ever opposed. He hadn't been able to determine much. Apparently, this race of humans had discovered time travel, unlike most humans that the Doctor had encountered in any era. However, time travel was now prohibited by what these people called "The Prime Directive," which forbade the interference of a more advanced culture on a more primitive one, a rule which apparently included their own ancestors.

Perhaps more relevant was the discovery that, in this culture's history, some evidence had shown the existence of other universes, and of the malleability of time. Apparently, some members of this very ship that the Doctor was on had accidentally made a trip into the 19th century, apparently saving the Earth from a race of aliens who were trying to drain the Earth of its psychic energy.

All this was very interesting, the Doctor thought, but what he really needed to know was how he had fallen into this alternate timeline, and how he could get back home.

The fact that someone on this timeline even remembered the Daleks and the Cybermen at all indicated that, at one point in time, these two timelines were, in fact, only one timeline. Some major
fracture in the space-time continuum must have occurred to split the timelines apart. But when did this event happen?

The Doctor stood up from his workstation, convinced that he had learned all he could by working on his own. He needed to get to a computer that had an account of history from his own timeline, so that he could compare the two records and look for discrepancies. For that, he asked the security officer assigned to return with him to the TARDIS.

While the officer waited outside for a moment, the Doctor stepped in and returned a moment later, followed by his robotic companion, K-9. While the three of them returned to the library workstation, the Doctor gave instructions.

"Now, K-9, here's what I want you to do. You are to communicate with this ship's computer and follow its records of Earth's history and compare them with your own. I need to find out when the two histories cease to be identical, and why."

Upon arriving at the workstation, K-9 extended the probe located between its computer eyes. "Communication established, Master. Processing request."

"Good boy, K-9, let me know when you find something. I'll be talking to the captain." With K-9 left to work on his task, the Doctor managed to reach the nearby turbolift and close the lift doors before the surprised security officer could stop him.

The USS Enterprise maintained its position opposite the Borg ship's side of the Dinar sun. Picard pondered the current situation. The sun's mass kept the Borg from being able to reach the Enterprise, but it also kept the Enterprise from being able to see clearly what the Borg were doing on the other side. Even so, it was obvious that the Borg would likely be waiting for the Enterprise if they tried to leave the safety of the star. They needed to have a plan that would increase their chances of survival, but Picard lacked confidence when dealing with this particular enemy. He kept second guessing every option that came to his mind. No, he kept telling himself. The Borg know me too well. They'll be ready for that....

The sound of turbolift doors broke the captain's concentration. That strange man who called himself the Doctor just walked right onto the bridge. Not only was he supposed to be accompanied by an escort at all times, but Picard had never allowed civilians to just walk onto the bridge at random, and this was a particularly tense moment.

Before the captain could voice his protest, the Doctor spoke. "Hello, still having problems with that cube thing?"

Picard forced himself to restrain his anger. "Doctor, we are in the middle of a combat situation. You don't just stroll onto the bridge anytime you feel like it."

"My apologies, Captain, but I have some questions for you."

"Now is not the time." the captain protested. "If you like, you can take up your concerns with Lt. Commander Data when he is not on duty."

"Excuse me, Captain," the Doctor became very serious, "but if you don't listen to me now, we might not survive this situation long enough for me to talk to Mr. Data."

"Very well." Picard decided to humor the Doctor. After all, he thought, there really wasn't anything else to do right now. "What do you need to know?"

"I've been giving some thought to your situation, and I think I may have a rather novel solution. According to your ship's computer, a little over half a century ago, a group of your ancestors used a star's gravity to send themselves backward in time. Couldn't a similar tactic be used to escape these Borg?"

"Time travel is forbidden by the Prime Directive," Picard responded.

"I'm not talking about changing history," the Doctor explained. "I'm merely offering a technique to escape the Borg. You need only travel a few seconds in either direction."

"I'm afraid I don't follow you. If we traveled through time only a few seconds, wouldn't the Borg still be there?"

"Basically, what I have in mind is a trap," the Doctor grinned. "We get them to follow us. If I read the information correctly, if calculations are off only by a little bit, they should be destroyed by the sun's gravity!"

"Yes," the captain considered the possibilities, "but the procedure could just as easily destroy us, as well."

"Oh, I don't think so!" the Doctor grinned. "Your ship seems to have one or two intelligent people aboard, and I'm pretty good at temporal mechanics, if I do say so myself."

Picard had to admit that the idea was one that he would never have considered on his own. It just might work. "Commander Data, will you begin the appropriate calculations?"

To Be Continued...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Doctor Who and the Borg: Part Six of Ten

Characters and concepts related to Doctor Who and Star Trek, and related marks, are trademarks of the BBC and CBS Studios Inc., respectively. This work of fan fiction is written purely for entertainment purposes, and is not to be used in trade of any kind.

To go back and read Part Five, click here, or to go to the beginning, click here. Part Six begins after the jump.

Doctor Who and the Borg
by Mark Baker-Wright
Part Six

Captain Picard paced the floor of the bridge as the Enterprise approached Dinar VII. The Borg were well within sight now. Picard stared at the large cube on the screen. They appeared to have finished the consumption of the planet. It was only a matter of time now before the creatures decided to turn their attention on the Enterprise. Picard was at a loss for ideas. When he had been abducted by the Borg, his mind became a part of the Borg's collective consciousness. They knew everything that he did, including the tactics that had been planned against them. Only very quick and innovative thinking by Commander Riker had saved the Enterprise from being destroyed right then and there. Although Picard had been rescued from the Borg, and the Borg no longer had access to Picard's mind, any information he had at that point in time three years ago remained a part of Borg knowledge. As a result, any tactics that Picard thought of could very well prove useless. The Borg simply knew how Picard thought.

Picard's train of thought was broken when the turbolift doors opened to reveal Lt. Worf escorting a very unusual looking man. He was clothed in a very heavy tan overcoat with an enormous multicolored scarf wrapped several times around his neck. He wore a huge, toothy grin and had a head of incredibly curly black hair.

"Hello," the man greeted the captain and held out a small paper bag, "I'm the Doctor. Would you like a jelly baby?"

Picard seemed not to notice the bag. "I'm Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation starship Enterprise. I was hoping that you might have some information on that ship out there."

"Yes, that's what your Lt. Worf said. I can't say that I know all that much, I really just ran into them. I've never seen such unlively creatures. Actually, I was hoping that you might be here to do something about them. When I arrived, those creatures were carving up a planet like a pot roast."

"Actually," the captain began, "that is why we're here. We've had a couple of encounters with the Borg in the past. Unfortunately, the Borg are known for being able to learn from their mistakes. Although we've defeated them once in the past, we won't be able to do so the same way again."

"Well, then, maybe I can help," the Doctor offered. "I've dealt with a number of computerized menaces in the past. These people can't be much worse than the Daleks or the Cybermen."

Picard looked confused. "Daleks? Cybermen? I'm not sure that I am familiar with those names."

Data turned around from his position at the front of the bridge. "The Doctor may refer to two groups that attacked Earth during the mid-twentieth century. Neither group has been seen since the 1970s."

Now it was the Doctor's turn to look confused. "That can't be!" the Doctor exclaimed. "The Cybermen tried to destroy the earth in 1986, so that the tenth planet of Mondas would survive. And the Daleks invaded and ruled Earth in 2167."

Data's expression remained unchanged. "Even assuming that you are participating in the common human misconception of the dwarf planet Pluto as a true planet, there has never been a tenth planet known in the Sol system, and neither of these incidents are in historical records."

"My, my," the Doctor muttered to himself. "Something strange is certainly going on here!"

The Borg were confused. The vessel that had been on board had disappeared, as if transported away by another vessel. The collective was familiar with transporters, and would generally have detected such a transfer of energy, yet there was no such apparent energy transfer, and at the time of the vessel's disappearance, no other vessel was in the vicinity. This might mean that the vessel represented something entirely new; a vessel capable of displacing itself under its own power. Had their attention had been turned to the task of assimilating the planet they now orbited, the Borg might have been prepared for this ability, as they might have noticed the vessel's presence on board their ship beforehand, but as it was, they might never even have known of the vessel's presence if something from inside the vessel had not made contact with their collective consciousness. Now it was gone.

It did not matter. Should the vessel ever cross their paths again, it would eventually be assimilated, just as all things would eventually be assimilated. Time was irrelevant. Assimilation was inevitable. Borg domination was inevitable.

A new vessel was now visible to Borg sensors. This one was a ship already familiar to the collective consciousness. Although it was not known to possess transporter technology capable of explaining the smaller vessel's disappearance, it was one of few ships ever known to escape assimilation, or destruction, at Borg hands. One of few failures.

Again, it did not matter. Failure was irrelevant. It would now be assimilated. Assimilation was inevitable.

The Borg ship began to move slowly towards the USS Enterprise.

Captain Picard sat in the command chair staring silently at the viewscreen as considered the recent course of events. The Borg ship just sat there. The Doctor hadn't had any new information. It seems that the strange man had recently met up with an anomaly that sent him off course and, coincidentally, right into the Borg's lap. After hearing that history did not follow what he was apparently familiar with, the Doctor asked to consult the ship's computer to find any information on... what had he called them? "Temporal disturbances?" Worf escorted the Doctor to the ship's library. Picard couldn't figure out what the Doctor wanted, but realized that there was much more to the eccentric little man than met the eye. He stared at the screen again. Still nothing. And then....

"Captain!" Data announced from the ops console. "The Borg ship is on an intercept course."

"Evasive action!" Picard ordered. Data tapped some instructions into his console, and the Enterprise moved away from the Borg ship.

"The Borg ship has changed course. It is still following us."

Riker stepped in. "Plot a course that will put the Dinar sun between us and the Borg, that may buy us some time."

The Dinar sun was behind the Enterprise's current position, the Borg were unable to get between the Enterprise and its goal. For the moment, the Enterprise was safe.

But, for how long? Now the Enterprise was trapped. If they emerged from their position of temporary safety, the Borg ship would soon overtake them. Meanwhile, the relentless enemy could just wait indefinitely.

Picard needed a plan, and soon.

To Be Continued...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Doctor Who and the Borg: Part Five of Ten

Characters and concepts related to Doctor Who and Star Trek, and related marks, are trademarks of the BBC and CBS Studios Inc., respectively. This work of fan fiction is written purely for entertainment purposes, and is not to be used in trade of any kind.

To go back and read Part Four, click here, or to go to the beginning, click here. Part Five begins after the jump.

Doctor Who and the Borg
by Mark Baker-Wright
Part Five

"Captain," Worf announced, while the Enterprise was still en route to Dinar VII. "Sensors show a small, rectangular object entering sensor range. It cannot be of natural origin."

"On screen." Picard ordered, and the image on the screen changed to reveal a blue box floating in space.

Data was the first to speak up. "The object bears a resemblance to the police boxes used in England until the middle of the twentieth century."

Riker joined in. "But what would a twentieth century police box be doing out in this part of the galaxy?"

"Impossible to say without more information."

As Riker and Data considered the unlikelihood of a police box finding its way into the Dinar sector of the galaxy, the blue box vanished from the screen.

Worf rechecked his console. "Sensors have lost the object."

Riker found the information unacceptable. "But where did it go? Are there any signs of transporter activity?"

Data consulted the ship's computer. "Sensors show no indication of any transporter usage, nor any nearby objects from which a transporter signal might originate. It would appear that there is even more to the object than originally assumed."

Worf looked down at his console again. "I'm getting new readings, this time from inside the Enterprise. It appears that the object has reappeared on board. It is on deck 17."

"What can you tell me about the object? Is it dangerous?" Picard asked.

"Sensors seem to have trouble probing inside the object, but it does appear to contain one lifeform."

"Intruder alert!" Worf shouted, and red lights began to flash on the bridge.

"Belay that, Mr. Worf!" Picard countered, and with a touch of a console, the lighting on the Enterprise returned to normal. "Let's not jump to the conclusion that this lifeform, whatever it may be, is hostile. Send a security team down to investigate. Exercise caution, but don't harm whatever is inside that object unless absolutely necessary. The odds of finding any kind of spacecraft, as this object appears to be, so close to the Borg is unlikely to be a coincidence. It may have some information on them."

Worf tapped his communicator badge as he proceeded to the turbolift. "Worf to security. Have Markham and Delgado meet me on Deck 17. An unknown lifeform has boarded the ship." Picard and Worf exchanged an understanding nod as the turbolift doors closed.

The Doctor switched on the TARDIS monitor. "Well, K-9, it appears that we've arrived safely. Let's see what this ship looks like." He looked at the screen for a second. "Well-lit hallways, carpeting, definitely a more pleasant atmosphere. I wonder what this ship's crew is like." At that moment, a group of people wearing mustard-colored uniforms emerged from a nearby door. "Look, K-9, here come some people now. I think that it's time I introduced myself." With that, the Doctor exited through the TARDIS console room doors.

He emerged through the smaller opening of the TARDIS police box doors and greeted the newcomers. "Hello, I'm the Doctor, would you like a jelly baby?" The Doctor held a bag of the sweets in front of the group's dark skinned leader.

A large man with cranial ridges stared at the bag for a second. "What are you doing here?"

"Oh, well, I just saw your ship, and was hoping that you might know something about that large cube not far from here. Are you sure you don't want a jelly baby? They're very good." The Doctor reached into the bag, took out a jelly baby and ate it.

The apparent group leader remained motionless. "Then you have seen the Borg?"

"The Borg? Yes, I believe that's what they called themselves. Terribly boring people. Still, cutting up planets isn't something most creatures take too kindly too, wouldn't you say? Would any of the rest of you like a jelly baby?" The Doctor waved the bag from side to side.

No one touched the jelly babies. The leader simply said "You will come with me."

"What! Not even an introduction. I was really hoping that I would find more hospitable people on this ship."

The leader conferred briefly with the rest of his team, then turned to the Doctor. "I am Lt. Worf, head of security. Captain Picard would like to speak with you."

"Oh, well that's much better. Lead the way Lt. Worf."

To Be Continued...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Doctor Who and the Borg: Part Four of Ten

Characters and concepts related to Doctor Who and Star Trek, and related marks, are trademarks of the BBC and CBS Studios Inc., respectively. This work of fan fiction is written purely for entertainment purposes, and is not to be used in trade of any kind.

To go back and read Part Three, click here, or to go to the beginning, click here. Part Four begins after the jump.

Doctor Who and the Borg
by Mark Baker-Wright
Part Four

The Doctor paced the TARDIS control room trying to come up with a way to communicate with the strange, half-mechanical creatures. "They won't respond to any normal means of communication. What do you make of them, K-9?"

K-9 processed the question. "Alien creatures are connected to high-technology computers and machinery. Hypothesis: The creatures' minds are tied into a central computer."

"Computers?" the Doctor exclaimed. "Sounds too much like the Daleks and Cybermen to my liking. K-9, can you make contact with their computer system?"

K-9 responded by extending the antenna located between its visual receptors. "Contact established, Master."

At that moment, a light flashed on the TARDIS control board. "Look, K-9!" the Doctor proclaimed. "We're being hailed!" The Doctor flipped a switch, and soon the room resounded with the sound of a vast number of voices speaking in unison. "We are the Borg. Your vessel has been identified as a type unknown to our technology. It will be assimilated into the Borg design."

The Doctor protested. "Assimilated! Now wait here..."

"Resistance is useless. Your vessel will be assimilated." The communication was over. It appeared that the Borg were not willing to discuss the matter further. As far as they were concerned, the TARDIS was already theirs. Whatever the Doctor could tell them was pointless.

"Yes," the Doctor said at last, "definitely too much like the Daleks and the Cybermen for my liking. I must say, though, K-9, at least the Daleks and Cybermen could be counted on for a good argument."

After the Enterprise crew finished transferring supplies to the Dinarisis, a message was received from Starfleet Command. Its contents were brief and to the point:
To Captain Jean-Luc Picard, commander, USS Enterprise. You are hereby ordered to continue to Dinar VII to prevent the Borg from further invading Federation territory. You are to use any means at your disposal to complete this mission, up to and including the loss of your ship and crew.
So, the captain thought, the confrontation is no longer just a possibility. It's reality. "Commander Data, lay in a course for Dinar VII."

As the android navigator plotted the course that would take them into battle, Picard pondered the very real possibility that nothing, including the loss of his ship and crew, would stop the Borg invasion.

The Doctor flipped a few switches on the TARDIS console. "Well, K-9, it would appear that we have worn out our welcome. I think it's time we left." With that, the Doctor finished his adjustments with a decisive thump on the console. The TARDIS dematerialized from the Borg ship.

Through the TARDIS monitor, the Doctor and K-9 viewed the monstrous cube of a ship they had just left behind. The planet they were orbiting now appeared only as a crater-ridden rock.

"Of course," the Doctor continued, "we can't just let creatures that can do that to a planet just run around free. It's bad for vacationing! Can you imagine going to spend a nice weekend on the beach and then finding out that the entire planet has been reduced to a barren rock?"

"I do not comprehend, Master," K-9 replied. "Please restate question."

"Oh, never mind," the Doctor quipped. "The question is, how do we go about stopping them? Threats like this usually breed opposition. Now, how do we go about finding it?"

K-9 processed the question. "Sensors indicate smaller vessel traveling in this direction."

The Doctor hit a few buttons, and the smaller vessel appeared on the monitor. "Thank you, K-9. I think we've found our opposition. What say we go pay them a visit, shall we?"

To Be Continued...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Doctor Who and the Borg: Part Three of Ten

Characters and concepts related to Doctor Who and Star Trek, and related marks, are trademarks of the BBC and CBS Studios Inc., respectively. This work of fan fiction is written purely for entertainment purposes, and is not to be used in trade of any kind.

To go back and read Part Two, click here, or to go to the beginning, click here. Part Three begins after the jump.

Doctor Who and the Borg
by Mark Baker-Wright
Part Three

The TARDIS materialized on board the large cubical ship. The Doctor poked his head out, and glanced around.

"You stay here, K-9," the Doctor whispered. "I'm going to try to find out what these people are up to."

The Doctor then cautiously stepped outside of the TARDIS, and proceeded to walk through the mass of corridors that was the interior of the ship.

It wasn't long before the Doctor came upon one of the inhabitants of this strange vessel. The being was roughly humanoid, but much of his body was replaced by mechanical parts. Since the being was alone, the Doctor decided to approach him.

"Pardon me," the Doctor began, "I'm called the Doctor, and I was wondering if you could show me the way to whoever is in charge here."

The being paid no attention to the Doctor, and merely continued on its way down the corridor.

Unabashed by the lack of attention, the Doctor tried a different tactic. He walked to catch up with the being, and produced a small object from his pocket. "Would you like a jelly baby?"

Again, the being gave no response.

Finally giving up on the possibility of direct personal communication, the Doctor continued his search through the large ship. Eventually, he came upon a corridor filled with beings
like the first one he encountered, all apparently attached to the wall of the ship.

The Doctor approached one of the beings, and waved his hand in front of its face. "Hello! Anybody home!" Failing that, he tried another, and then another until, having determined that any further such attempt was clearly futile, the Doctor returned to the TARDIS.

When he arrived back at the TARDIS control room, he told K-9 about what he had seen. "They're not very interesting, K-9. No originality, no ambition, no sense of humor whatsoever, some just walk on as if they were in some sort of trance or something, but most just stand there against the wall. Arguably the most boring creatures I've ever encountered."

"Now approaching the Dinar system, Captain," Lt. Commander Data announced from his ops console. "Dinar vessel entering sensor range."

"Take us within communications range of the vessel and hail it, Commander."

"Aye, Captain." The android obeyed the captain's instructions. "Now receiving a response."

"On screen." The screen revealed a hastily constructed spacecraft control center, with what appeared to be a young man in command. The apparent leader looked anxious. Frightened. Not unreasonable, the captain supposed, considering that the man's planet could well be being torn to shreds by this time. "I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise representing the United Federation of Planets. We've come to offer assistance in your evacuation procedures."

"This is Commander Volon of the Dinarisis. I'm afraid you're too late, Captain," the young man began. "The Borg ship arrived just as we were leaving orbit." The commander paused a second. "We were the only ship to escape in time."

The captain considered the news with regret, if only they had been able to arrive sooner.... "How many people are aboard your vessel? Do they require medical aid?"

"We have about 2500 on board," the Dinar leader replied. "We were able to escape without conflict from the Borg... they seemed more interested in our planet. But our supplies are low... we were in a bit of a hurry."

The captain offered a slightly forced smile. "Then we offer our facilities to restock your supplies until you can reach Starbase 54."

"Thank you, Captain," Volon replied. "I will make the proper arrangements. Volon out." The viewscreen switched back to reveal the Dinar ship.

How terrible, the captain thought, that such a prosperous race could be reduced to so little in such a short time. And they were the lucky ones. Not every planet survived a Borg invasion as well as the Dinar did. The more the captain thought of the Borg's capacity for destruction, the more he feared their inevitable confrontation.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Doctor Who and the Borg: Part Two of Ten

Characters and concepts related to Doctor Who and Star Trek, and related marks, are trademarks of the BBC and CBS Studios Inc., respectively. This work of fan fiction is written purely for entertainment purposes, and is not to be used in trade of any kind.

To go back and read Part One, click here. Part Two begins after the jump.

Doctor Who and the Borg
by Mark Baker-Wright
Part Two
Captain's log: Stardate 46147.1

My crew is quite uneasy with the news of the Borg presence in Federation territory. We had known that a return from the Borg would be forthcoming after our recent encounter with their shipwrecked survivor, but were still not prepared for their eventual return to our space. While it is my hope that a confrontation will not be necessary, I fear that it will be inevitable.

Captain Picard paced the bridge of the USS Enterprise, a look of concern on his face.

He turned to his Klingon security officer. "Status report, Mr. Worf."

"All weapons systems are operational, Captain. However, they will not withstand a Borg attack."

"What about the weapons that Starfleet has been working on?"

"Most are only just now finishing the experimental stages. None will be ready for Starfleet use for some time." Privately, Worf considered Starfleet Command's reluctance to design these weapons at all. Our mission is exploratory, not military, they had reasoned. Perhaps if Starfleet lost another 40 ships to the Borg, they might see the need for a proper defense against them.

Picard continued, "But this is an emergency situation, Mr. Worf. Aren't there any prototype weapons in existence?"

Before Worf could comment on Starfleet Command's lack of willingness to defend themselves, Riker spoke up.

"Excuse me, Captain, could I speak with you for a moment?"

Picard's head snapped toward Riker, and no one could miss the captain's annoyance. Even so, Picard was the consummate professional. "Of course, Number One. Lt. Commander Data, you have the bridge." Picard then raised his hand toward the Ready Room in a gesture of invitation. "After you?"

As soon as the doors to the Ready Room closed behind them, Riker spoke, "Forgive my bluntness, Captain, but this doesn't sound like you. You've always looked for non-violent solutions. Reasoning before shooting."

Picard struggled to retain his composure. "Ordinarily, I would agree with you, Will, but you can't reason with the Borg!"

"Our experience with Hugh would seem to indicate otherwise."

"Hugh was alone. Isolated from the rest of his kind. When we fight the Borg this time, it won't be just one, but an entire ship full."

"K-9, take a look at those stars. Can you give me some idea of where we are?"

K-9 processed the Doctor's request for several seconds. "Spatial coordinates... Dinar sector... temporal coordinates...insufficient data."

"Well, at least that's something of use. The Dinar system has an inhabitable planet. Maybe we can get some idea of when we are from them."

The Doctor input directional coordinates into the TARDIS control console. As the TARDIS approached Dinar VII, the Doctor met up with a surprise. The planet was being orbited by a large spaceship in the shape of a cube.

"Now that's odd!" the Doctor exclaimed. "No sense of aesthetics whatsoever. What do you make of that K-9?"

"Large cubical spacecraft... unknown design... apparently hostile."

"Hostile?" the Doctor cried. "Now, K-9, you should know better than to make accusations like that. How do they appear hostile?"

"Tractor beam emanating from craft cutting away large portions of planet's surface. No life signs remaining on planet."

"Gadzooks, K-9!" the Doctor shouted. "That ship's hostile!"

Upon learning of the Borg presence near Dinar VII, the USS Enterprise was ordered to proceed to the Dinar system to aid in the evacuation procedures. Although the ship sped to comply with the order, no one really expected that they could possibly arrive in time to make a difference.

In the meantime, faced with the very real possibility of having to face the Borg again, Captain Picard grew visibly more agitated. Doctor Crusher suggested that it might help Picard's focus if he were to take some time off before the Enterprise's arrival, and Picard found that he couldn't disagree. So he decided to go down to the holodeck to partake of his own special brand of relaxation.

"You know, Dick, you really shouldn't have tried to put me and my boys out of business."

"I was hired to find out who was behind the Mancini operation," the captain replied.

"Well," said the man, dressed in a 1940s-era costume, "I would suggest choosing your cases more wisely next time, except that, for you, there won't be a next time." The man began to pull out a pistol, ancient by Enterprise standards, but no less deadly.

But before the pistol could escape the man's pocket, Picard, alias private investigator Dixon Hill, whipped out his own pistol, which he had the holodeck create for him earlier. "I think there will." He coolly replied.

At that moment, Captain Picard heard a sound behind him. Before the captain could turn around, another man from the criminal gang appeared behind him, firing his own weapon.

The holodeck simulation ended, its mortality fail-safe kicking in at the last moment, leaving only an empty room, with Captain Picard standing alone in his trenchcoat, which now had a bullet-sized hole in its back.

"Take some time off," Beverly had told him, "Relax." How could he relax when he was about to go up against the most deadly race known to the Federation? He looked again at the hole in his
trenchcoat. He couldn't even solve an imaginary mystery without getting himself killed. How was he supposed to handle the very real threat of the Borg?

To Be Continued...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Doctor Who and the Borg: Part One of Ten

Last week, when IDW comics announced their upcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who crossover, I was taken back in time.

You see, although the IDW press release proudly reports that this is "the first time ever" (their emphasis) that the two franchises have crossed over, that's only true in a strictly official sense. It is no doubt obvious that wherever there are fans, there is fan fiction, and fans have been trying their own efforts at a Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover for many years now.

I know. I was one of them.

More than 15 years ago, when I was still in college, I wrote my most ambitious piece of fan fiction to date, and although I have never shared it on this blog, the coming of the official IDW crossover tells me that now is the time to dust off that manuscript and make it public.

Like the announced IDW work, my work featured the Borg and the "Next Generation" Trek cast. However, that's probably where the similarities will end, since my work features no Cybermen, and a different Doctor.

That's all I'll give away right now, except to say that I've broken down my old manuscript into ten parts, which I will feature every day, Monday through Friday, for the next two weeks. I'll consider posting the entire thing on a separate, uninterrupted page, once I'm done, but for now, I like to think of this as a return to "Classic-style" Doctor Who, when stories had to unfold a little bit at a time, and when fans had to wait a little while between installments to ponder just how the hero would get out of the latest spot.

So, with that, let's begin:

Doctor Who and the Borg
by Mark Baker-Wright
Part One

Historian's note: This story takes place just after Dr. Who: The Invasion of Time (starring Tom Baker), and sometime after ST:TNG: I, Borg.

In space, the movement of a ship doesn't make any sound. You can't hear a spaceship coming.

If it weren't for Dinar VII's long-range sensors, then, there would have been no warning of the Borg's approach.

Not that it mattered.

Dinar VII was a planet on the very edge of Federation territory, but although they were not actually members of the Federation themselves, they had heard about the Borg: the race of inhuman, half-mechanical creatures who had nearly destroyed Earth just a couple of years ago.

The incident at Earth had proven that the Borg were not invincible, but the circumstances leading to that particular defeat were miraculous, and not repeatable.

Unlike the Federation, the Dinar had not had a citizen abducted by the Borg. They had not made a contact with its collective consciousness. They had no means of transmitting a similar shutdown signal, or even of telling the Borg to turn around.

Not that the Borg would have listened.

All that was left for the inhabitants of Dinar VII to do was to abandon their homeworld, while they were still able, and send a warning to the Federation:

The Borg had returned.

The Doctor labored in the TARDIS console room, completing the construction of the new K-9 Mark II. Having just left his homeworld of Gallifrey, where his previous robot-dog companion and chosen to stay behind with Leela, he was looking forward to a much needed vacation.

As the Doctor adjusted the last couple of wires and affixed the final silver plate back into place, he addressed the now-finished metal dog. "Well, K-9. How do you feel?"

Pausing for a moment to run an internal diagnostic, the computerized canine spoke in its artificially-produced monotone, "All systems functioning, Master."

"I don't know about you, K-9, but I feel like a vacation. How does 20th century Earth sound to you?" The Doctor began to input coordinates in the TARDIS console.

K-9 processed the question for a second. "Twentieth century Earth. Two world wars, 397 international conflicts. 73,426 domestic disputes..."

"The automobile, television, microwave ovens!" The Doctor interrupted. "Why, the twentieth century saw the first computers ever built! We could see your great-great-great grandfather, K-9!"

"I do not comprehend. Computers do not reproduce."

"Oh, never mind," The Doctor replied as he turned a few more dials on the console. "We're almost..." the TARDIS lurched forward with a terrific quake.

"Danger, Doctor! Unidentified phenomena!" K-9 spouted.

"We must be caught in some form of space-time vortex! We're being pulled off course! Hold on!" The Doctor held on to the TARDIS console desperately. In another minute, it was all over.

"Well, then." The Doctor straightened up. "Let's see if we can find out where we are." He turned on the TARDIS monitor. "This is strange." He wondered. "The monitor shows everything as it should be. There's the Andromeda cluster, Rigel, Betelgeuse, Sol. But the TARDIS says that our location is unknown." He continued to fiddle with the console controls. "Come on, now. Why won't the TARDIS give me some coordinates?"

K-9 spoke. "Insufficient data, Master."

"Quiet, K-9, I wasn't talking to you.

"Where are we?"

To Be Continued...

Characters and concepts related to Doctor Who and Star Trek, and related marks, are trademarks of the BBC and CBS Studios Inc., respectively. This work of fan fiction is written purely for entertainment purposes, and is not to be used in trade of any kind.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Transformers Feature: Bot Shots Optimus Prime

In the beginning, God created Rock-Paper-Scissors. Children would play this game, and it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

And God said, "let there be created Battle Beasts, expanding upon the rock, paper, scissors concept with cute little plastic animal toys that use wood, water, and fire instead. And let the Battle Beasts be connected to the Transformers line in the country called Japan, so that children who love transforming robots will also come to love the cute little plastic animal toys, despite the fact that the Battle Beasts shall not transform." Children would play with these toys, and it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

Finally, God said, "let there be created Bot Shots, utilizing the same play pattern, but this time using actual transforming robot figures. And let the weapons this time be called 'blaster,' 'fist,' and 'sword.' And then the children who were not fooled into loving the non-transforming cute little plastic animal toys would nonetheless come to love the Bot Shots." Thus the cycle of creation was completed.

Obviously, with the Bot Shots having only been on the market a very short time, it's too early to tell how popular they will really be, but I think there's good promise. Not only do the toys utilize the familiar three-weapon play pattern, but they are also constructed to encourage children to crash the toys in their vehicle modes into each other as they "battle," thus triggering an automatic transformation into robot mode. As the rules of the game go, if only one toy transforms into robot mode, that robot wins the battle by default, regardless of what the weapon symbols would have shown.

I really do think that someone messed up big time with the rules, though. Look at this chart. I suppose "blaster beats fist" works all right, but there's no way "fist beats sword" or "sword beats blaster" makes sense. I think that they got the rules exactly reversed! (I think one could make a strong argument for "fist beats blaster" in close-range combat, but I have a much more difficult time imagining "fist beats sword" and "sword beats blaster" scenarios, while the reverse of each makes much more sense to my mind.) I have no idea if anyone at Hasbro has considered this. Maybe future versions of the game will update and/or correct the rules. If so, I suppose these rules could become collectors items?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Video Game 30th Anniversary of the Month - BurgerTime

Although I was only 8 years old at the time, I nonetheless have always thought that 1982 was a pretty good year. Besides being the summer I lived in Walnut Creek, which I've always considered an important part of my childhood story, I later began to notice that a great many things I enjoyed had origins in that specific year. Sitcoms such as Cheers, Family Ties, and Silver Spoons all started that year. Michael Jackson's Thriller was released and Madonna made her debut. I've also discovered, in the years since, that several of the video games that I still remember fondly dated back to 1982. Admittedly, some of the most significant games—Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, for example—had already been introduced by that time (in 1980 and 1981, respectively), but by 1982, the golden age of video games was well underway (Professional video game referee Walter Day of Twin Galaxies actually says 1982 marks the start of the golden age, citing the date of a TIME magazine cover story. I don't go quite that far, but it's worth pointing out). To commemorate the 30th anniversary of some of these important video games, I'm going to feature a different one each month.

BurgerTime was an odd concept by almost any standard. You don't have to be a vegetarian to wonder about the hygienic rigor of a chef who walks over the individual parts of each hamburger so that they will fall into the appropriate trays to be served at the bottom of the screen. You don't have to be Sigmund Freud to wonder what's going on in the head of someone who is being chased by human-sized food items (which, perhaps ironically, aren't all traditional hamburger items, although there is a pickle monster that tends to show up only on later boards). Obviously, this is not a game that attempts to be realistic.

Still, it's hard to deny that the game is fun. The mazes are challenging enough to force a player to plan out his/her movements very carefully, lest the Peter Pepper character be maneuvered into a corner from which there is no escape while trying to trigger that last hamburger patty to fall below. Also, points are scored in such a way to incentivize waiting until the last moment to move, so that Peter can trap a food monster either on top of a falling hamburger part (which also forces the part to fall even further toward the trays below, potentially saving time, as well) or below (so it will be crushed under the part's weight—again, try not to think too hard about the foreign food items finding their way into the resulting hamburgers). And the addition of just a few shakes of pepper—which will not only stun food monsters, but also render them harmless to walk through, if only for a few seconds—adds yet another dimension to game play. But use those pepper shakes wisely, or you'll find your pepper shaker empty at a crucial moment!

BurgerTime was released by a company named Data East, which actually weathered the decline of the video arcade game industry of a few years later (as home video games began to gain dominance, recovering from a home console industry crash in 1983) better than most, but which sadly went out of business in 2003. Fortunately for BurgerTime fans, DataEast's intellectual properties were purchased by another company (albeit one I admit I'd never heard of prior to working on this article), and so BurgerTime-related games are still being released for various modern game systems to this day.

I'm admittedly starting this year-long feature a little late, and thus have already missed January. For "January's entry," I'll refer you to the bit I wrote a few years back on Pengo, which was indeed released in 1982.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Brief History of G.B. Blackrock - Part Three

When we last discussed G.B. Blackrock, I wondered about the possible negative PR that Blackrock Enterprises might suffer as a result of its namesake having been an unwitting pawn in a scheme by the Decepticons to steal gasoline from human beings. We don't see G.B. Blackrock again until issue #68, when his company has apparently changed its name to Blackrock Industries, and is now based out of Washington, DC, rather than Portland, Oregon (given the change in locale, it is, of course, possible that this is a separate organization, but it's far more likely that new writer Simon Furman simply misremembered some details of Bob Budiansky's work, and a name change accompanied by a geographic move makes sense to me).

Having spent so much time in his previous appearances trying to convince those in authority to distinguish between Autobot and Decepticon, the US Government has finally been convinced (actually, Blackrock only specifically mentions "the Security Council," which would imply the United Nations) and have scrapped their own attempts to fight the Transformers—which really did cause more harm than good—asking Blackrock to step in with his own team that understands that not all Transformers are the enemies of humanity.

Thus, Blackrock becomes the Transformers-universe equivalent of Charles Xavier (well, he doesn't have super powers of his own, and he can still walk, but I digress...), assembling a team of humans with special powers (they're never called "Mutants" here) ready to fight the Decepticons. Fast-forward to a few issues later, when a Decepticon Civil War threatens to spill across the river into New York City, and the President (although not named, it is clearly then-incumbent George H.W. Bush) calls for Blackrock. The now-named "Neo-Knights" respond.

Before the battle can be completed, events taking place elsewhere in the universe intervene, and Blackrock and the Neo-Knights are transported (along with nearly every Transformer on Earth) to Cybertron, where they must quickly turn their attention to fighting Unicron. Ironically enough, it is the non-superpowered (to say nothing of human!) Blackrock himself who becomes a pivotal player in this battle, as he realizes that he must take drastic action to shock Circuit Breaker (who was recruited to the Neo-Knights despite her lingering problems distinguishing Autobot from Decepticon) into attacking the planet-devouring behemoth. While this gives Optimus Prime enough time to destroy Unicron with the Creation Matrix, Circuit Breaker is left in a catatonic state for the rest of the series.

After the destruction of Unicron, Blackrock and the Neo-Knights are left stranded on Cybertron while the Transformers turn their attention to more pressing matters: the apparent self-destruction of Cybertron itself. Although the Transformers make preparations to evacuate the planet, the Nebulan Hi-Q (one-time Powermaster partner to the now-deceased Optimus Prime) convinces Blackrock and the others to stay behind to locate what Hi-Q calls "The Last Autobot." For a clue as to why Hi-Q was so convincing, check out the dialogue in the image to the right.

So the Last Autobot is found just in time for the end of the series. We don't actually see Blackrock in the last issue (unless you count a tiny uncolored image of him in a flashback), but a newly-resurrected Optimus Prime does pledge to return the humans to Earth, which I assume was done without further incident. When the new "ReGeneration One" series starts up in May, we'll finally have a chance to see what Blackrock has been up to in the years since returning home. I know I'm eagerly looking forward to it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Brief History of G.B. Blackrock - Part Two

In the previous entry, I detailed multi-millionaire industrialist G.B. Blackrock's first encounters with the Transformers in issues #5 and #6 of the original Marvel Comics Transformers series, as the Decepticons attacked and captured a new oil drilling platform built by his company. Another casualty of the attack was one of Blackrock's employees, Josie Beller, who was left paralyzed. Although Blackrock is only seen in cameo appearances in issues #7 and #8 as he visits Beller in the hospital, it is clear that both are planning to fight back.

In Beller's case, this means using Blackrock's resources (freely given to her disposal by her guilt-stricken employer) to create an exo-skeleton that not only duplicates the functions of her nervous system, restoring her mobility, but grants her electrical powers which she plans to use to destroy the robots that crippled her. Thus, Josie Beller becomes "Circuit Breaker."

Blackrock has his own ideas of fighting against the robots who have attacked him and his company and, unaware of Beller's intentions, develops a superweapon designed to destroy them. But before he can unveil this weapon to the public, two important things happen. First, Beller offers her services as Circuit Breaker to help Blackrock destroy the alien robots, an offer Blackrock declines out of concern that Beller not place herself in harm's way again. Second, Blackrock is approached by the Autobots (recently restored to function through the efforts of Ratchet and the newly-awakened Dinobots) with an offer of protection from the Decepticons in exchange for fuel. Blackrock agrees to the Autobots' terms, and Jazz and Wheeljack accompany Blackrock to the unveiling of his superweapon.

We never get the chance to see whether the superweapon would have been effective against the Transformers, as Beller sabotages it in an effort to pressure Blackrock into announcing her as his planned anti-robot weapon. Before he can decide whether or not to do so, the scene is interrupted by a Decepticon attack, whereby Circuit Breaker not only demonstrates her effectiveness against the Decepticons, but against all Transformers, severely complicating the Autobots' efforts to protect Blackrock and the other humans present.

This sets up a theme that follows Blackrock through the rest of the series. As arguably the Autobots' staunchest human ally (with apologies to the Witwicky clan), Blackrock attempts to help his fellow Earthlings to understand that not all Transformers are evil. Once in a while, such as with the G.I. Joe team in the original G.I. Joe and the Transformers mini-series, Blackrock finds a receptive audience. But in other instances, such as with the U.S. Government in issue #15, Blackrock's advice goes unheeded, making things difficult for the Autobots.

Although, with the Autobots' help, Blackrock was indeed able to recover the properties stolen from his company by the Decepticons, he finds himself the victim of a Decepticon scheme once more in issue #31. This time, he is attacked personally, as a Decepticon device hypnotizes him into building and promoting a series of "Wash and Roll" car washes, which themselves are designed to hypnotize humans into driving their recently-refueled cars to a Blackrock Enterprises facility (which, of course, is being run by the Decepticons). The fuel is then siphoned out of the cars, and the humans return home with half-empty gas tanks. Although the scheme is thwarted, and Blackrock is freed from the hypnotic influence, I can only assume that this incident was a bit of a setback for Blackrock's company, although he deserves credit for his promise to donate money gained from the stolen fuel to aid the poor of the local area.

After this, G.B. Blackrock isn't seen again for a few years, but when he resurfaces, he's still doing his part to fight the Decepticons. I'll deal with that more fully in a few more days.

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