Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. Dr. Who and associated characters are owned by the BBC. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
A Cynical Earth
Standing on the snow-covered sidewalk of a London street, Daria Morgendorffer checked the address on her smartphone and looked back up at the office building. "This is the place."
A little heavier at over thirty than when she graduated high school, or even college, Daria still kept her auburn hair in the same style, though her glasses now had durable, metallic black, oval frames. Years and situation had changed her taste in clothes far more than she may have expected. Today, she wore a tailored green blouse and skirt under a heavy winter coat that would have been, to her high school sensibilities, eerily close to something her mother would've worn.
Going inside, she removed her coat, folded it over her arm and thought, Public relations. I never pictured myself going into public relations. On the plus side I'm working for a charity and no longer for some sleazy corporation. Six years of that was enough. For another plus I get to live in London for a year before transferring to the US office. Jane's already said that she plans to visit. She'll probably channel Quinn and ask why I haven't picked up some cute English guy already.
At the reception desk, she told the young woman, "Good morning, I'm Daria Morgendorffer. The new Public Relations Manager. I'm here to see Ms. McShane."
The woman smiled and said, "Dorothy is waiting for you; go right in."
"Dorothy?" Daria said. "Are you normally that informal around here?"
"She insists on using first names."
"When in Rome," Daria said. "Thanks."
Daria followed the directions and entered a large office. The room was wood paneled and featured numerous interesting artifacts in nooks along the walls. Seated at the large desk was a woman of around forty. She had brown hair pulled into a ponytail and bright eyes. She stood and offered her hand. "Daria. So glad to finally meet you. Happy New Year."
Daria shook her hand. "I'm glad to be here, Dorothy, and yes, Happy New Year."
Dorothy took Daria's coat and hung it on a wooden peg near the door, next to a rather expensive leather coat. Next, she pointed to a chair for Daria and said, "Please, have a seat."
Going around her desk, Dorothy also sat down, while letting one hand rest on a wood and glass case set on the wall. Inside the case was a worn leather jacket covered with patches, including a prominent "A" centered on the back. Dorothy looked across the desk and said, "Welcome to A Charitable Earth."
"Relic of the past?" Daria asked.
Dorothy gently laughed. "You could call it that, as well as a reminder of where I came from. Do you have any relics?"
"It's important. Anyway, have you found a place to stay?"
"I was lucky and found a first-floor apartment, um, flat, about ten minutes away by bus."
"Bus, that's good. As an American, I was a little concerned that you would try to drive a car in London's awful traffic."
"Don't worry; I went to college in Boston and learned my lesson about driving in cities."
"Have you settled into your flat?"
"That I'm still working on. Plenty of boxes left to unpack. It's amazing how much stuff you accumulate over time."
"Yes, it is," Dorothy said, now leaning back in her chair. "Do you have any questions for me about your work?"
"I will admit to being curious about why you want me to spend a year here before I take over public relations in the US."
"You are going to be the public face for ACE. I want you to fully be part of the culture, so that face will be an honest representation. You have to learn that here in London."
Daria nodded. "Okay, I can see that."
"Your HR department was thorough on the paperwork end, so my only remaining question would be, where will I work?"
"Let me show you to your office."
Standing in the doorway of Daria's new office, Dorothy said, "It's been a pleasure, but now, there are things I must attend to. Best of luck to you."
"Thanks, and nice meeting you," Daria replied, seated at her desk and still looking around at the state of the art electronics installed.
Dorothy quietly closed the door and walked back to her office. When she sat down, she noticed the message light glowing on her desk phone.
After she pressed the replay, she heard, "Dorothy, this is Kate. Please give me a call at my office at your earliest opportunity. Thanks."
Dorothy tapped the familiar number on the phone keypad, and then touched a hidden button on the side. After two rings, a voice answered, "Kate Stewart."
"Kate, this is Dorothy. Good morning. Sorry I missed your call; I was showing our new PR person around."
"Oh. How do you think she's going to work out?"
"I think she shows a lot of promise."
Stepping out of her office after reviewing a report on ACE programs in Tibet, Daria noticed Dorothy a short distance down the hall with someone she didn't recognize. In a firm voice that told of restrained anger, Dorothy told the man, "No, no, no."
That doesn't sound good, Daria thought.
Dorothy continued, "Get back there and do it right."
"Mistakes happen; don't try to cover them up. Am I clear?"
"Yes, ma'am," the man sheepishly said.
"Go," Dorothy ordered.
After the man fled, Dorothy turned and saw Daria. Eyes still lit with anger at the other employee, she said, "I will not tolerate people hiding things from me."
Caught a little off-guard, Daria said, "I completely agree."
"Good. We'll get along," Dorothy said as she walked past.
Watching, Daria thought, Why do I get the feeling that you're hiding something?
Seated in front of a laptop placed on her small dining table, Daria said, "Hi, Mom."
Her hair now turning gray, Helen Morgendorffer was similarly seated in front of a laptop in her new retirement home at the other end of the video chat. "Hi, Sweetie. How are you doing?"
"Busy. I finished unpacking this week and my place no longer looks like it should be on an episode of Packrats."
"Show me, please."
"Oh, all right," Daria said, picking up the laptop and slowly panning it around the flat. "That's the living room, kitchen and dining area. The bedroom and bathroom will have to wait until later."
"It looks nice, dear," Helen said.
"I still have to put the padding on the walls, but I like it."
Helen chuckled. "I can't believe we left that up in your old room as long as we did."
"It was a great metaphor for high school."
"You would see it that way."
"What about the neighborhood?"
"Nice and quiet. After living in the dorm at Raft, something I still insist on having anyplace I live."
"I can't say that I blame you, dear."
Daria asked, "So, how's Dad?"
"He's out playing golf with some of his new friends. I'm still not convinced that moving to Florida in a community with its own golf course was the best idea for a retirement location, but he seems to be happy – most of the time."
"Is he still having problems with the water hazards?"
"Jake's convinced that the young man who SCUBA dives the hazards to retrieve and then sell lost golf balls puts a homing beacon in them so that they fly back into the water."
"Is he still watching Conspiracies Coast to Coast?"
"Yes," Helen said with a sigh.
"I'm sorry that I introduced him to it."
"I'll manage. Have you heard from Quinn?"
"She called two days ago, and Jane called yesterday. With you today, I think I've caught up on all the news."
"Do you still like London?"
"It's a big city, but it has its charms and I love the history all around. You never know what you're going to find next, even in the Underground."
"Do you like your job?"
"So far it's good, though my boss is turning out to be interesting."
Daria and her mother continued the conversation for over an hour. She had to admit that the contact with home felt reassuring and that in other ways, she felt like she understood her mother much more as the years passed. After finally saying their goodbyes, Daria closed the laptop and looked at the clock on her wall, which showed that it was after 1 in the morning. Quickly, she prepared for bed while hoping she wouldn't feel it too much later.
Later, Daria awoke to a strange noise outside her apartment: a rhythmic pulse with a bit of a rasp within the sound. "What are the street crews doing at this hour of the morning?" she wondered. She sat and listened, but when the sound didn't repeat, she figured that whatever they were doing, the crews had moved on. Regrettably, the sound bugged her and she got little more sleep before giving up and getting ready early for work.
As she stepped out of her door, Daria noticed a blue police box partway down the block, just out of sight of her window. "I guess that's what they were doing, but, oh, forget it," she said, heading for the bus stop.
Seeing Daria looking out of sorts, Dorothy asked, "Are you feeling well?"
"A bit tired. First off, my mom called, but forgot about the time difference, so I got to bed late. Then, a weird noise woke me up, kind of an odd, 'wraaw, wraaw, wraaw,' sound. Couldn't get back to sleep after that, so I gave up and came in."
Dorothy straightened up. "Anything else?"
"Yeah, and when I went out to the bus stop, I figured out what the noise must have been. They had set up an old style police box outside of my flat. I thought they were phasing those things out."
"Damn, I'd hope that was all behind me," Dorothy whispered before rising quickly and saying, "Take me to it."
"The police box?"
"Um, okay," Daria said, now even more confused.
Dumbfounded, Daria stared at the empty sidewalk and said, "It was right there, an old-fashioned, blue police box."
Noticing some small scrapes on the sidewalk, Dorothy said, "Hmm," and walked to the spot while looking at her smartphone. She waved it over the area several times and then looked back at Daria. "Yes, it was."
"You believe me?"
Dorothy walked back to Daria. "Yes, I do."
"You were able to tell with your phone?"
"Yes." Dorothy looked around and quietly said, "Why were you here and where have you gone?"
"Who was here?" Daria asked.
That caught Dorothy's attention. "Somebody I used to know in my younger days – much younger."
"Okay, is there something you haven't told me?"
"More than you can imagine," an attractive woman in a sharp suit said as she approached.
Dorothy said, "Kate, you must be here for the same reason we are."
Daria became concerned when she saw the heavily-armored van parked behind the newcomer. "Do I need to be worried?"
"Kate, this is my new public relations manager, Daria Morgendorffer. Daria, this is Dr. Kate Stewart, Head of Scientific Research, Unified Intelligence Taskforce."
"Good morning, and nice to meet you, Ms. Morgendorffer," Kate said. "Dorothy, I see that he has already moved. Did you see anything?"
"No, I haven't, but Daria saw the TARDIS this morning at this spot. I'm trying to figure out why."
"I think I know," Kate said. "Can we go someplace a little more private to talk?"
Curiosity getting to her, Daria said, "My place is right here. We can use it."
Once inside, Daria quickly turned and said, "Okay, I've heard about UNIT and I'm really curious about why the head of an international charity is on such friendly terms with an international spy organization."
Dorothy said, "Daria, it's complicated and by the time we finish talking, it's going to be even more complicated. Basically ACE provides clandestine cover for UNIT as needed. Do you remember those cubes last year?"
"Yeah, those were strange."
"That was just one of the visible threats that the Earth faces. UNIT helps to protect the Earth and, through ACE, I help UNIT."
"What does that have to do with a police box?"
Kate said, "It is a spaceship, of sorts, with a, let us say, slightly faulty camouflage system. The pilot is one of our most powerful allies. We know him as the Doctor. If he is here, there is a reason and it is usually not good, especially with where we are now."
"What's so special about my flat?"
"It's not your flat; it's a section of the Underground below us that was sealed off over forty-five years ago." Kate looked at Dorothy. "It was where the Doctor met my father."
Holding a cup of coffee, Daria sat back in a dining room chair and looked at the other two women. "I know that some very strange things have happened around London in the last few years, but that, well, stretches credulity to the limit."
Kate nodded and said, "I would have the same reaction. Daria, would you say that sound you heard last night was very distinctive?"
"Would you recognize it again?"
Kate set a smartphone on the table and tapped the screen to play a digital file over the speaker function.
Daria heard the familiar sound and said, "That's it."
"That is the Doctor's TARDIS. UNIT has had several opportunities to record it."
Daria said, "I agree that it is the sound I heard, but I'm still having a hard time accepting that story you told me."
"Then don't accept it," Dorothy said, with an impish smile. "Come with us and see. Who knows, it might actually be fun."
Kate rubbed her nose and said, "I always get nervous when you start talking about fun."
"Either we're a couple of crazy old birds or we're on to something. We know that we're going, so we might as well bring Daria."
Not feeling certain, Daria still said, "I don't think that you're crazy, so I'll go along. I just don't know what to expect."
"Probably something dangerous," Dorothy said.
"That's supposed to make me feel better?" Daria asked.
"It might even threaten the entire planet."
Kate said, "Unfortunately, if the Doctor is involved, Dorothy could very well be correct. He has a knack for finding such things."
"So, where do we start looking for this Doctor?"
Kate picked up her phone and, after a few quick finger swipes and taps, turned it back around to show a map. "I had my people send a map of today's Underground overlaid with the known locations of the 1968 incident. I suggest that we start with the next closest one."
At their third stop, Daria said, "That's it," as she pointed to a blue police box in an alleyway near an Underground entrance.
Checking her smartphone, Dorothy said, "It certainly is. I wonder if anyone's home." She stepped to the door and knocked. "Professor. Are you in there?"
"I thought he was called the Doctor," Daria said.
Kate simply said, "Dorothy is Dorothy and has her own ways."
The door abruptly opened and a young man looked out. He looked at Dorothy intently for a second and then said, "Ace?"
The Doctor cheerfully said, "Ace!" and hugged Dorothy, who looked a bit confused.
Dorothy then cocked her head and said, "Professor?"
"That's me!" the Doctor replied. "Although, I've changed a bit since the last time you saw me."
"Well, a couple of times, if you want to get technical. Anyway, it's good to see you again."
"It's actually good to see you again, too."
Kate said, "Hello, Doctor. I must say that I didn't expect to see you again so soon."
"Soon? Oh, yes, for you. For me, it's – been a while. How are you?"
"I'm doing well, thank you."
"And this young lady is?"
Dorothy said, "This is Daria."
The Doctor shook Daria's hand and said, "Pleased to meet you. I'm the Doctor." He stepped back and waved them inside with a flourish. "If you're here, you must be looking for the same thing I'm looking for, so come on in."
Dorothy entered first, followed by Kate, who said, "Actually, we were looking for you. Since you were looking for something, I figured it would eventually be something that I needed to worry about. And, since we've figured out that you have been looking at old portions of the Underground closed off after the 1968 incident, I think that my feeling was correct."
Daria entered last and stopped, looking around the spacious control room. "Dorothy, Kate. I believe you now."
The Doctor said, "Kate, you are most correct. I am looking for something, some clues, that may have been left behind. Daria, of course you should believe Kate and Dorothy. Except when you shouldn't believe them, but then, you shouldn't always believe me. I guess that means that I shouldn't always believe you, either."
"As long as we all understand each other." Looking around more, Daria said, "You know, my sister would've killed to have a closet like this."
Cheerfully, the Doctor circled around the center console, operating controls seemingly at random. "Next stop, Piccadilly Station."
Teasing, Dorothy said, "Are you sure we'll get there, Professor?"
"Have I ever arrived at the wrong location?"
The Doctor stepped back, looked Ace over and grinned. "I may not arrive where I intend, but it's always the right place."
"The right place to find trouble."
"Of course." A wave of sadness passed over his face, but he cleared it quickly and said, "I'm glad that you turned down attending the Academy. You're having a much better life this way."
Dorothy nodded. "I've heard. I'm sorry."
Daria whispered to Kate, "Were they involved with each other?"
Kate suppressed a laugh. "Involved, but not like you think. They traveled together for a while. Dorothy kind of looked up to him as something like a father, but they later had some differences. Something I can understand."
The Doctor stopped adjusting controls and turned to face Kate and Daria, his hands clasped in front of his chest. "Kate, the Great Intelligence has awakened from its slumber. It was most recently in 1892 London, where I had been on a bit of a sabbatical."
"I was afraid that it was something like that," Kate said.
"Oh, and do you have any information on a young woman named any combination of Clara, Oswin or Oswald?"
"I'm afraid not, Doctor. Why?"
"Don't give me that, Professor," Dorothy said. "You don't show an interest in 'nothing.'"
"Oh, look!" the Doctor said, pointing to the monitor. "We've arrived at Piccadilly Station."
"Okay, Professor. We can talk about it later," Dorothy said. "Because your trouble is probably here."
Stepping out of the TARDIS, Daria looked around and said, "Okay, we're in Piccadilly Station, not on the street above, though you seem to have found the most obscure, out of sight corner possible."
"I see your aim has improved, Professor," Dorothy said.
Kate said, "This is one of the locations we couldn't wall off. Only the old booking office was sealed."
The Doctor pivoted back and forth several times, examining the area, before pointing and saying, "This way."
He led them to a nondescript, unmarked door. "Right where I left it," he said. The Doctor took a short, baton-like device from his pocket and, after a slight adjustment, waved it over the lock, opening it.
With a smile, Kate said, "That wasn't necessary; I have a key."
He smiled back. "I like to keep in practice. Now, let's see what's inside."
Staring into the darkness, Daria said, "Gee, who would've guessed that the lights would be out?"
Kate said, "I have a torch, don't worry," taking a miniature flashlight from her purse.
"Just as prepared as your father." Pointing to the side, the Doctor said, "Now, if I remember correctly, it should be over there."
The light fell upon a metallic, pyramidal structure with what looked to be a seat or throne inside. Next to it, like a stack of cannon balls, were a group of silver spheres.
"Most curious," the Doctor said.
Dorothy said, "Yeah, a perfect pyramid in a forgotten section of Piccadilly Station is a bit curious, but you should be used to that."
"No, what's curious is that it is intact. When Kate's father and UNIT closed off this room, that pyramid had been destroyed. So had all the control spheres."
Kate said, "I don't understand. The door has been sealed for over forty years."
"The Great Intelligence has many ways to pass unnoticed," the Doctor said. He walked over to the pyramid and started to examine it.
Daria turned to Dorothy. "Why do I have the feeling that what he is doing isn't safe?"
"You have good instincts?" she replied, just as the door behind them closed.
"That can't be good," Daria said.
"It's not," the Doctor replied. "Neither is this."
"What?" Dorothy asked.
"This is fully functional, as are the spheres."
"Oh, my," Kate said. "That means that any one of us could have our minds controlled."
"Or all," Daria said.
The Doctor said, "Ace, please tell me that you're still carrying around Nitro-9."
"Of course not," Dorothy defensively said as she took a small, metal vial from her pocket. "This is Nitro-19. I've had a few years to refine the formulation to be more compact and stable, plus easier to handle."
"I think this would be a wonderful opportunity to show how much it's been refined."
Dorothy removed a small vial from a concealed pocket. She adjusted a knob on top and then stopped, as if frozen.
The Doctor said, "She's being controlled. We need a way to jam the signal. Some form of atonal, non-rhythmic sound generator."
"I might have the thing," Daria said. On her smartphone, she switched on the music player and selected the latest grand opus that her old friend Trent had sent.
iPad, iPhone, techno high,
I have a jack coming out of my eye!
After an eye blink, Dorothy swiftly threw the vial and said, "Duck!"
The pyramid crumpled under the explosion and the spheres were scattered. Dorothy rolled and threw a second charge at the door. "Stay down!"
The door splintered and the Doctor rose. "Run!" he commanded.
Daria, Dorothy and Kate jumped to their feet and ran out of the room. Outside, the main concourse had turned into pandemonium as panicked riders tried to flee the station while security attempted to reach the scene of the blast.
Kate took the lead and held up her UNIT identification. "Seal off this area immediately," she ordered.
"Yes, mum," the first officer to arrive said. "Right on it." He turned to the others and said, "All right. Full security cordon. You know the drill. Move!"
"Handy identification," Daria said.
"Very," Kate replied.
Dorothy coughed a bit from the dust, looked back at the door, and then with a smile said, "Wicked."
Joining them, the Doctor said, "Now that's the Ace I remember."
"A girl has to stay in shape."
"Was that pyramid what you were looking for?" Daria asked.
"I guess it was," the Doctor replied. "And I think I'm being tested."
Daria said, "I hope we passed."
"We survived," Dorothy said. "With the Professor around, I don't know if you can ever say that we passed."
"What now, Doctor?" Kate said.
"I'm afraid that I must leave you to clean up the mess," he said. "The Great Intelligence is definitely up to something and I must stay on the trail. Plus, there is also someone that I must find. But for now, I'll walk with all of you to the TARDIS. From there, I'm also afraid that I must go alone."
"I'll be all right, Ace. You know me."
"The time isn't right for a travelling companion. Soon, though. Soon. Trust me."
Dorothy sighed. "Okay. For now."
On the street, police had sealed off the area, making it easy for them to reach the TARDIS. At the door, the Doctor said, "Kate, always a pleasure to see you. Daria, well met. And Ace, it has been wonderful. You've grown into so much of what you could be. Thank you."
"Thanks, Professor," Dorothy said. "Now, try to keep yourself in one piece, will you?"
"Goodbye, Doctor," Kate said. "Don't worry, I'll take care of everything at this end."
"This isn't what I expected when I moved to London," Daria said. "Things are more interesting than I imagined."
He winked at Dorothy and said, "And I'm sure that it will continue to be that way."
With a quick wave and smile, the Doctor slipped through the door of the TARDIS. In only a few seconds, the previous, rhythmic sound started and the vehicle faded from view.
Daria asked, "This sort of thing doesn't happen every day around here, does it?"
"No, but things are rarely dull in our Special Projects division – if you are interested."
Daria glanced at Kate, and then back to Dorothy. "I'm interested."
"Consider yourself transferred. Congratulations. Maybe next time, we'll run into Daleks."
"Dorothy!" Kate said.
She shrugged. "Come on, all you have to do is whack them with a cricket bat."
Daria shook her head. "I'm sure that there's a story behind that."
"Let me tell you about it," Dorothy said. "Along with many other things."
Thanks to Louise Lobinske and Kristen Bealer for beta reading.
December 2012-March 2013