Title: Bad Q Rising
Silently, a figure materializes through the hard plane of the wall. First a head, then shoulders to reveal a familiar torso monitoring the scene before him curiously.
Two men and two women surround a table talking softly, the blonde woman indicating that she's leaving due to the late hour. There's something in the way the one man watches her, with a longing and an undercurrent of need that captures the invading watcher's attention.
"Are you okay getting home?" the man asks, staring at the young woman intently, all but ignoring the room's other two occupants.
"Yeah," she answers with a smile that she holds a little too long, a little too warmly, before heading out through the door.
Josh then turns his attention back to Joey and Kenny as the extra set of eyes continue to roam about the room, taking it all in.
Al Kiefer's head begins to withdraw from the wall a few minutes later, as he mutters "interesting," before disappearing all together.
THE NEXT MORNING:
"So, Josh, what are you saying?" The president asks, taking a sip of coffee that he hopes will help wake him up and allow him to focus on the senior staff meeting after only three hours of sleep the night before.
"Well, I'm saying we need to dial it..."
Just then a blinding, white light floods the room. CJ brings her hands to her eyes in a protective movement, while Sam lets out a little yelp of surprise.
"What the hell?"
"Ahhh, Mon Presidente," the new guest says by way of introduction.
"Leo, why is Al Kiefer in my oval office?"
"I have no idea, Mr. President," Leo McGarry answers, disbelief clouding his face.
"And how did...I mean, he just kind of appeared. That's not normal, is it?" Sam asks, pulling a little closer to CJ on the couch.
"No, it's not," agrees Toby. "So, tell me Al, you really are associated with satan, aren't you?"
"Toby, always such a curmudgeonly wit about you." Q states, shaking his head in an amused fashion. "I am more powerful than you will ever be and I can not tell you how sick I am of dealing with you insignificant...humans," he spits out with an obvious distaste.
"What do you want...Q?"
Al Kiefer/Q turns his attention back to President Bartlet.
"Mon Presidente, you know of me?"
"I've read of you. There are ancient Latin texts that speak of an omnipotent being named Q. I always thought it was just a legend, a whimsical folk tale, but it seems that in Yemen, many thousands of years ago..."
"I can assure you there is nothing whimsical about me," Q interrupts, before the President can continue vocalizing his train of thought.
"So, wait a minute," Leo interrupts. "Your name is Q now? Margaret!" He yells, turning towards the door.
"Q. Kieffer?" asks CJ, making notes in the pad of paper in her lap. "What does the Q stand for?"
He sighs loudly before answering. "Q, just Q. I am part of the Continuum, well, I was until they kicked me out and made me human."
"And you became Al Kiefer -- disliked, democratic pollster from California," the President answers.
"Yes, in this human form," he pauses to reflect. "Well, for a brief time in the mid-80's I was known as Eugene Bradford. I lived in a little town called Salem with my girlfriend/then wife Calliope...we had this...quirky thing going," he pauses to look at Josh strangely, before continuing. "But now that I have my powers back, none of that matters anymore. I just need to tie up a few loose ends here and then I'm off to call on some old friends throughout the galaxy."
"Okay wait, so which is it? Al Kiefer or this Eugene Bradford guy?" CJ asks, before scribbling something out on her notepad. "Eugene Q. Kiefer, maybe?" She guesses. "What? I have a press briefing in an hour, I'm going to have to know this."
"Ah, my dear press secretary, there will be no briefing for you."
"I don't care who the hell you are, I want to know what you're doing here," Leo demands, striding towards Q, in a few quick paces.
"Tsk, tsk, tsk, not so fast, Number One..."
"Look at my face," Leo responds, giving Q an icy glare of resolve.
"Wait a minute," interrupts Josh, "did you just call him Number One?"
"Yes," answers Q, turning his attention to the Deputy Chief of Staff.
"Okay, because that would make me, you know, Number Two...I'm not sure I'm very comfortable with that connotation."
"Silence! Of everyone in this room, you are the last one that should be speaking to me."
"He gets that a lot," Sam adds helpfully.
"What? What did I do?" Josh turns to ask Sam, before looking back at at Q. "I'm just saying, I'd rather not be known as Number Two."
"You'll be known as what I call you," Q answers. "I have half a mind to send you to some hellish world where there actually are a hundred...wait..." he trails off, the wheels of his super-being brain turning quickly.
A smirky smile forms across Q's face. "I have an even better plan for you," his eyes sweep over the oval office. "For all of you, with your dull and plodding 'take from the rich and give to the poor', liberal, democratic rhetoric," he spits out, full of disdain.
"Is there a point to this? Because I sure don't see one and we're actually trying to run a country here, Dr. Who," Toby answers gruffly, his voice taking on a loud pitch at the end.
"Ohhh, does somebody need a big hug?" Q asks as Toby takes a step back. "No? Well, I guess that isn't the point either. You and your merry band of liberal nincompoops are going on a little adventure while the president, Leo, and I discuss my flag burning numbers."
"And you," Q turns his attention back to Josh, his eyes becoming mere slits and his voice dripping with loathe. "She stopped sleeping with me because of you and what do you do? Completely ignore her while she's in DC, so you can pine away for your assistant. Well, if you want the fair Donnatella Moss so badly, you can go get her."
"Now wait a minute, you leave Donna..." Josh starts, before vanishing from the room, but not before a dark green feathered cap materializes on top of his unruly hair.
"Wait! What about Josh and Donna?!" CJ asks before she too disolves from the oval office, bow and arrow in hand.
Sam, lute in his arms, a surprised O forming on his lips and Toby, suddenly sporting a red feathered cap of his own, disappear next in a quick flash -- leaving Leo and the President alone with the strange creature known as Al 'Q.' Kiefer.
TWO MINUTES LATER
(Early 13th Century, Sherwood Forest):
Opening his eyes and looking around hesitantly, Josh takes in the thick forest surrounding him, then glances down to view his legs, strangely covered in dark green girly tights.
"What kind of a stupid-ass outfit am I wearing?"
Looking around in his confusion, he hears the others nearby before he can actually see them.
"Oh boy," he mutters to himself, before taking off in the direction of his friends' disoriented voices. He finds them seconds later, gathered in a clearing -- mouths open in disbelief.
"Hey, Josh...or should I say...Robin?" Sam grins, clearly amused by their predicament.
"Okay, what just happened here?" CJ asks, stepping closer to the group, from her original position by a nearby tree.
"Well," Sam starts. "Judging from Kiefer's remark about taking from the rich and giving to the poor, my guess is that we're in some sort of Robin Hood fantasy."
"I can assure you, I've never had a Robin Hood fantasy, I mean look at me, I'm wearing...tights!" Josh whines, looking down at his legs.
"Hmmm, okay, so who am I then?" CJ asks curiously, ignoring Josh's outburst.
"You," Sam pauses to examine her appearance, "are Little John."
"Little John?" Josh smirks, breaking into a mocking laughter.
"Actually, Little John is a misnomer. He was quite tall actually, a great bowsman.."
CJ clears her throat loudly at Sam.
"Sorry, a great bowsperson, very strong and intelligent -- typically seen as Robin's right-hand ma..ahh, person. Right-hand person."
"So which one are you?" Asks a new, clearly irritated voice.
All eyes turn to see the White House Communications directory Toby Ziegler, standing before them in a bright red ensemble, complete with feathered cap.
"Nice pimp hat, Toby," Josh snickers.
"And I can't help but notice you have one just like it -- Robin," Toby pronounces the last word in an exaggerated fashion.
"Well, at least mine isn't red.."
Sam clears his voice. "Okay, here's what I think. I'm Allan'a'Dale, a lute player," he plucks his instrument for emphasis, "and local bard. You," he motions to Toby, "are clearly Will Scarlett."
"This is insane! We actually have work to do and instead we're...wherever the hell here is."
"Toby, this is incredible...we were in the Oval Office and now, suddenly, we appear to be in the Middle Ages. I mean, don't you think we should make the most of it? How many people have experienced something like this?" Sam asks excitedly.
"So where is here, actually?"
"Well, CJ, if my memory of Robin Hood is correct, we're in the beginning of the 13th century, right around 1200 or so, give or take a decade, and this," Sam swings his arms around for emphasis, "is Sherwood Forest."
"I am not a merry man," Toby states slowly, before adding, "I will not play the fool for Al Kiefer's amusement!"
As each member of the senior staff begins to investigate their new environs, the far-off noise of a horse galloping can be heard. It gets closer and closer until a stream of white light appears and a horse materializes before them, Lord John Marbury atop it's saddle.
"You have got to be kidding me," Toby mutters under his breath.
"Greetings! Allow me to present myself, I am Lord John Mar...I mean, the High Sheriff of Nottingham, I was summoned here by Q to explain your situation."
"Well, this should be amusing," smirks Josh from his position by a tree, where he stands straightly, his back flat against the the bark.
"And Q is Al Kiefer, right?" CJ asks.
"Yes, I believe you do know him under that name as well," answers Marbury, with a wave of his hand. "He has given this little fantasy a life of it's own, we have no idea how it will turn out, it's quite fascinating, actually."
"So, what, exactly are we doing here, Sheriff Marbury?" Toby asks brusquly.
"Hmm, Sheriff Marbury, I like it. I see you're woefully ignorant of the legend you find yourselves now playing out -- quite unsurprising given the American educational system, really, but anyway, what is it that Robin Hood is famous for?"
"Taking from the rich and giving to the poor," answers Sam, clearly pleased with himself.
"Yes, but besides that," Marbury replies impatiently.
"Oh, ummm...the rescue of Maid Marian from Nottingham Castle?"
"Yes, exactly," he agrees .
"Donna...Donna is Maid Marian, isn't she?" Josh asks, concern flooding his voice, as he moves closer to the others.
"Yes, the bewitching and lovely Donnatella Moss is currently a prisoner of Sir Guy of Gisborne, in Nottingham castle where she will be executed tomorrow unless she agrees to marry him."
"Executed?!" CJ, Toby, and Sam cry out while Josh repeats, "Marry him?".
"So we have to go rescue her?" Toby asks a second later, clearly annoyed by this development.
"Ahh, no, not at all. You may stay here and do nothing at all -- the whole thing will end tomorrow at 12:30 but be aware of the consequences of your inaction..." Noting the confusion from his audience he continues with a sigh. "Your inaction would cause the fair maiden to be put to death tomorrow at noon."
"No, we're going to rescue her!" Josh assures the group, then noticing the curious glances he adds, "because, I mean, how would I function without her there to keep me in line, you know, like the helpful and platonic assistant she is?"
"Stop talking now," CJ says to Josh before turning back to Marbury. "So, we head to Nottingham to get Donna?"
"Yes, I really must recommend that option. The castle is absolutely delightful, lots of mead and wenches. I'm quite enjoying myself here," Marbury agrees, taking a deep breath of air, in appreciation of his surroundings. "Well, I've delivered my message, I'm off." He tips his hat in the direction of the senior staff. "Good luck to you on your journey -- perhaps you will join me for a drink later?"
He disappears as quickly as he materialized in front of them.
"Great, so now we're going on a rescue mission?"
"What do you suggest, Toby? That we leave her there?"
"No, but I'm starting to wonder why Kiefer made such a point to set you and your assistant up as a romantic pair. What exactly is going on with you and Donna, Josh? And I'm not too excited by the prospect of following Lord Fauntleroy there on some wild goose chase of a fantasy, master-minded by satan's cigarette boy."
"Look, if you guys don't want to go that's fine, I can do it myself," Josh mutters angrily, glaring specifically at Toby.
"Sure, like the way you..."
"Hey you two...idiots -- fighting is getting us nowhere. We're still stuck here and Donna's still in trouble," CJ interrupts. "And I for one, am going to go help her. You two putzes can stay here and argue if you want. Sam?"
"Right behind you Little John," he says with a smile. "Besides, the idea of rescuing a damsel in distress is kind of exciting."
"Oh for god's sake," Toby sighs loudly before continuing. "You're going to try and reform some Medieval wenches while we're here, aren't you?"
"I just...I didn't expect the walls to be so high," Josh states, looking straight up the side of the castle.
"I thought you were an outdoorsman?" CJ smirks.
"Yeah, well, I am, just not a Medieval outdoorsman, okay?"
"Look, here's a rope," Sam examines the long cord hanging down against the wall. "Hmmm, it's almost as if someone left it here for us."
"Fine, Sam why don't you hop on up there."
"Wait! I'm rescuing Donna, Toby. Me. Not Sam. Me."
"Well, go rescue her then, far be it from me to hinder your chivalrous gestures."
CJ starts laughing loudly as her three companions turn to look at her.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, it just, Josh -- chivalrous..." she disolves again in fit of chuckles.
"What? I'm chivalrous! I am," looking around at the unconvinced faces of his friends, he hitches his tights up and looks up one last time.
"I am," Josh states defiantly, looking up the wall again. "Right now, here I go to rescue Donna -- because that's what men do in 1201 or whatever year it is...because I'm chivalrous."
After a quick sigh, he grasps the thick rope between his hands and starts hoisting himself up, inch by inch, climbing the distance between the ground and his lovely assistant.
He's about twenty feet up when he hears voices below him, looking down briefly, Josh notices a new figure below.
Hanging silently, he strains to hear what's being said.
"...really should come inside. There's mead, some lovely mutton, even a few lute players," John Marbury, the High Sheriff of Nottingham says to the senior staff surrounding him.
"Really? I had a lute," Sam answers wistfully. "Toby broke it on the way to the castle."
"That's because you wouldn't shut up with that damn plucking," Toby scowls.
Sam points to Toby and leans into Sheriff Marbury to whisper, "he's not a merry man."
"Ahh, you must join us then, maybe even get a lute lesson inside."
"I could do that?" Sam asks.
Of course," Mabury answers. "And I'm sure we could find something entertaining for our slightly less aimable friend here, too," he says with a glance in Toby's direction.
"But, Sam, remember, the other thing?" He hears CJ ask leadingly.
"What other thing?"
"Oh for..." Toby starts, then continues in a louder voice. "Josh. She's talking about Josh rescuing Donna. You know, swinging chivalrously about twenty-five feet above our heads."
"Oh crap," Josh mutters from his location on the wall.
"Oh yes, excellent," Marbury looks up and makes eye contact with Josh. "I see you found the rope?"
"Ummm, yeah?" Josh shouts down, abandoning his stealth tactic for a new one of helpless confusion.
"Wonderful, just twenty more feet and you should be right under her window. Carry on...Robin! And you all," he regards Toby, CJ, and Sam. "You must come inside for some mead. Oh and did I mention the wenches? This way."
They all follow him in without even a parting glance to Josh.
"Okay, that made exactly no sense," he says against the wall, as he continues to climb, "crazy, British loon..'come in for some mead'...'oh there's lute playing and wenches'," he continues to mock in a mimicking British accent.
"Why the hell am I climbing up a damn rope if they're all walking in through the front door?"
"What the hell is that about?" He poses another question to himself.
"Stupid Middle Ages."
As he struggles up the last few feet, he feels an overwhelming urge to see Donna's face. He can't imagine he's gone as long as he has without talking to her and he finds a new resolve and strength to hoist himself up and onto the ledge.
Tentatively he opens the window and peers in.
"Who's there? Josh?" Suddenly there's a hand on his arm, helping him in. "Oh my god, Josh! I'm so glad to see you," she throws her arms around his waist.
"Donna, are you okay?" He asks, hugging her back.
"Yeah, it's just...where am I? What's going on? They keep talking about my execution if I don't marry this weird guy that kind of looks like Oliver Babish and they keep calling me Marian and something about Rob..."
She steps back out of his arms and takes in his appearance, as he examines hers.
Donna's dressed for the times, in a long pink flowing gown, her hair pulled back in a braid. Her skin looks slightly flushed and he watches as her face registers surprise and then realization. He finds himself thinking she' so beautiful and that he really wants nothing more than to kiss her, maybe pull the gown back from where it swells slightly from her breasts...
"You're Robin Hood," she interrupts him from his musings.
"What? Ahhh, yes, yes I am...see, I have tights," Josh confirms, slightly flustered -- and a long tunic, which is very strategic right now, he adds silently.
"Nice legs," she smiles.
"I'm just saying."
"Okay, well, I'm here to save you so.."
"Great, what's the plan?" She asks, relief flooding her voice.
"Well, ahh, I don't really have one..."
"Yeah, I mean, well, CJ, Toby, and Sam were here but Sheriff Marbury took them for mead and wenches and so now, well, it's just me."
"Yeah," he grins.
"Josh! There are guards here! They have weapons!"
"Donna, it's just some dumb-ass trick of Al Kiefer's. Oh yeah, he's calling himself 'Q' now, whatever that's about. He did this whole thing with lights and effects -- all we really needed was some Pink Floyd," he snickers. "And anyway, I think I can handle the stunning military wonder that is Medieval England, I mean c'mon.." he smirks.
"That's your plan? A condescending attitude?" She asks incredulously.
"Josh! Okay, so just to recap, there actually is no plan to get us out of here," she pauses, throwing him a glare, "or are you keeping it a secret?"
"Oh, well aren't you just the funny one."
Before she can respond the door flings open and in walks Marbury, carrying a large tray.
"Ahh, I see you've made it to Maid Marian. Wonderful, we're right on schedule."
"Lord Marbury," Donna says, throwing a side glance to Josh, "remember me? Donna Moss? I think there's been some mistake, you see, apparently, we're in Medieval England and.."
"No, no...no mistake, you're exactly where you're supposed to be. And you should address me as," he leans closer to her and whispers, "the High Sheriff of Nottingham."
Donna makes a little huff and steps back towards Josh.
"Oh, nothing to be afraid of my dear, well, at least not until noon tomorrow," he stops to put a tray down. "I've brought you two some dinner...and mead. You must try it, it's excellent."
With that, he turns and locks the heavy door behind him.
"Unbelievable," Donna remarks, as she looks from the jug and roasted meat on the table and back to Josh, in his feathered cap and girly tights, a silly grin plastered on his face.
End Part 1