The Jupiter nearly filled the largest of the Enterprises three shuttlebays. Once she was in, the magnetic field kept the air in and space out. Picard and Riker, along with Data and Dr. Crusher (Data had suggested she be there) waited at the bottom steps of one of the three landing struts of the ship.
They were there only a few moments when a man, tall with a rugged face topped by dark hair that was going grey appeared. "Hello. I'm Dr. John Robinson." Clad in a silver spacesuit with red piping, the man came down the steps unarmed.
Picard put out his hand. "I'm Captain Jean-Luc Picard. This is my first officer, Commander Riker, second officer, Commander Data and the ships doctor, Beverly Crusher."
Dr. Robinson smiled at each. "It's good to see some human faces. We've been out in space nearly 15 years and it gets lonely. What planet are you from?"
Picard was about to answer when the odd noise he'd first heard in his ready room began again. In a corner of the shuttlebay the odd blue box that the Doctor had called TARDIS appeared again. As soon as it materialized, the Doctor, floppy hat and amazing scarf popped out.
"Ah, Jolly good. Professor Robinson of the Jupiter 2! Well! We're all together now, aren't we?"
Robinson looked confused. "But where is here?"
The Doctor looked around the uncomfortable looking shuttlebay. "Why don't you, Dr. Robinson and Captain Picard come into the TARDIS with me? We can have some tea in more comfortable surroundings." The Doctor grinned disarmingly. "I'll leave the door open so that your communications devices can function."
Picard and Robinson glanced at the box, then at each other. As they were about to ask just how they could all fit in the box, the Doctor started walking toward it. "Come gentlemen, time is short."
Picard turned to his staff. "Number one, wait here. The rest of you can return to your duties. Geordi keep scanning for chronoton fields of unusual strength."
Riker looked uncomfortable at the Captain's command, but nodded. "I'll be right here if you need me sir."
Picard stepped through the doorway of the TARDIS first, then stepped back, then entered, followed by Robinson, who gasped, "This is impossible!" The room they had entered was large, dominated by a hexagonal console in the center.
"No, it's not I assure you," said the Doctor, appearing from a doorway. "This is the TARDIS, please don't insult her, the old girl can be tetchy."
Picard, who had seen many amazing things in his duty with Starfleet, stared. "How can this be? On the outside…" He was at a loss for words.
The Doctor grinned broadly. "The TARDIS is a sentient machine, used by my people to travel through time and space. I can't say much more than that, it isn't allowed. Please follow me."
The Doctor led them to a comfortable sitting room that looked like it came out of Victorian England. On the table was an assortment of biscuits and pastries as well as a steaming pot of tea. Pouring a cup for each, the Doctor put two lumps of sugar in his and sat down. "If there is any more civilized drink than tea in the entire universe, I have not yet discovered it."
Picard drank his plain and his face lit up as he sipped it. "Earl Grey?"
"Why yes, Captain. From the Earl's plantation himself."
Robinson added milk and sugar to his, gaining a disproving look from Picard. It proved to the captain that Robinson was indeed from America, only they would barbarize such a fine tea!
"Doctor," said Robinson. "Just what's going on here? My family and I just ended a long stay on a planet called Veridian Three where my son found a monument." Robinson turned to look at Picard. "The monument mentioned the Federation. Do you know about it?"
Picard set down his cup. "What were you doing on Veridian Three?"
Robinson sat back. "We had engine trouble and crashed there. Our supplies and repair parts are finally running low. We were supposed to go to the Alpha Centauri system and start a new colony for Earth, but got lost due to some interference from a crew member whose now dead."
"Veridian Three," said Picard. "If off limits to Federation members since it has a culture not deemed advanced enough for first contact."
"Professor Robinson couldn't have known that Captain." The Doctor interceded. "If fact the reason I am here is to help the Robinson's get back on track so they can complete their mission and help their earth." The doctor then explained about the collapse of the interdimensional walls.
Robinson whistled. "I thought I knew something about quantum physics, but you've just given me a lesson!"
The Doctor rose. "If you'll follow me, I have something else to give you."
The Doctor led them down three levels and past several more rooms. "This, gentlemen is one of the TARDIS' workshops." Opening the door and going in, the Doctor pointed to a small table in the middle of the room. "Dr. Robinson, please take that device."
Cautiously, Robinson passed his companions and took the small rectangle. It beeped once and lights began to blink on it. "What is it?"
"It's your way to Alpha Centauri, my friend." Said the Doctor. "When you return to your ship, put it on your central navigation device, then you should all return to suspended animation. When you awake, you'll be in the Centauri system."
Robinson's face lit up. "This isn't a joke? This will help us? What do I do with it when we're there?"
"Once you've arrived, the device will no longer function. Just put it in the recycle bin on your ship." The Doctor pulled a timepiece from his coat pocket. "Now you have to get moving, Professor. You have only 45 minutes to cross back into your own reality, or you'll be trapped here forever."
Robinson tucked the device in his belt. "Then let's go!"