Saturday, March 24, 2012

Andrew & The Vanishing Verkoff (viii)

[The living room. The door opens and Dave, Nigel and Andrew enter. The latter is munching on a sausage roll, the former holding a newspaper. Dave spots a wall-clock.]

Dave: Man, this anecdote of yours seems to have been going on forever.

Andrew: It's not my fault people keep interrupting!

Nigel: Stop being so boring, then.

Andrew: Boring? We just spent an hour at the ATO! You find ANYTHING boring after that!

Dave: Yeah. Especially that bit where Andrew hunted down Simone with a bowie knife, stripped her naked, threatened her until she had a complete nervous breakdown all the sound of Big Red Motor Cycle...

Nigel: Wow, I bet he didn't make THAT bit up.

Andrew: [offended] I didn't! [thoughtful] Mind you, I have been watching a lot of Cracker lately, sometimes the lines between can get all blurred...

Nigel: See, Dave? Andrew here is what we call...

Dave: unreliable narrator?

Nigel: I was going to say "hairy retarded moron", but yeah if you want. So, while the missing link here was struggling to rub both braincells together in order to establish my whereabouts, I bet you were wondering what was happening to me, huh?

[Rippling water. We pull out to see this is the surface of Circular Quay, and our attention wanders rather predictably over the cityscape. As sinister and rather unsuitably-dubbed music plays, we slowly zoom on Centre Point Tower. Closer and closer until we see the observation deck, where Nigel Verkoff himself can be seen standing, peering out through the window with a preoccupied, crestfallen expression. He turns away from the view and heads past the gift shop towards the lift and presses the call button. Monumentally overblown and drammatic music plays.

The lift arrives. Nigel enters and hits the ground floor button. A moment later, four other people wander into the lift, see the ground floor button is pressed and quickly shuffle around so as not to take up too much space. The doors close. The lift descends. The music really is getting apeshit by now.]

Nigel: [shouting] What idiot writes this lift muzak?

[He kicks the wall and the music ends with an off-the-record-style noise. An embarrassed pause for everyone who isn't Nigel.]

Nigel: What?!

[No one talks. They avoid eye contact. The lift goes down and down and down and down. Some check their watches. The four other interlopers are - a good-looking American in a blue WW2 army jacket; a forty-year-old man pretending to be a 15-year-old public schoolgirl; a manic-looking security guard with an eyepatch and a crazy-eyed emaciated woman with long brown hair and nervous twitch. The lift passes the ground floor and stops two levels down.]

Mephisto: Huh? Who chose the sub-basement?

Isabella Gisbourne: It was set for the ground floor.

Jai'me: Why won't the doors, like, you know, open?

[Nigel rolls his eyes and presses the open door control. The lift doors open up on a large, pentagonal chamber lined with curtains. There is a five-sided table in the middle of the room with a chair on each side. The chair is covered with bottles of scotch, lemonade, etc, and a tray of triangular catering sandwiches. An antique fireplace is dark. It is well-lit and looks comfortable.]

Captain Jack: Looks like some sort of meeting room.

Isabella Guisborne: In the sub-basement?

Nigel: Set for five people. THIS sure doesn't look dodgy.

[He turns to re-enter the lift, but the doors shut in his face. He reaches for the door control... but there isn't one.]

Jai'me: Hey, this elevator, like, totally has no call button!

Nigel: Thanks for that, Captain Obvious, we've never have spotted that without you.

[The others are peeking behind the drapes and curtains, but there are just blank walls to be found. No doors or windows.]

Mephisto: No other way out.

Isabella Gisbourne: [munches sandwich] This must have been set up today. Not too long ago. And whoever this is for should be arriving soon.

Captain Jack: And they'll probably be pissed off to find you munching their food.

Mephisto: She's right, though. There must be someone else coming. We might as well make the best of it...

Jai'me: Like, whatever!

Isabella Gisbourne: Yes. Let's do that.

[They all sit down at the table except for Nigel.]

Nigel: Are we all taking our daily stupidity suppelements? What lift goes of its own accord to a sub-basement with no way out? This is some deep Satre crap and I for one do not intend to hang around here.

Mephisto: What? You think we've gone to hell?

Nige: I think I have. You lot being near my greatness? This must be paradise!

[He keeps looking for a way out.]

Captain Jack: Gotta say, if this IS hell, it's not half as bad as its cracked up to be.

Mephisto: There IS something wierd about this, though. It's like a dream.

Jai'me: Oh, no, like, dreams are way totally more frightening than this. At least mine are. God, I am so hot.

Captain Jack: Oh? In what way?

Jai'me: Tch! I dunno! But they're, like, so amazingly real... almost like it was, like, you know, a memory of what really happened.

Mephisto: Well, why not tell us about it?

Isabella Guisborne: Yes, there's nothing else to do.

Jai'me: OK. You see, it's this sort of... recurring dream. I just keep having it. Every night, all the time. I just can't get rid of it. I dream this total slag mole bitch army of ungrateful bogans lynch me in the street and call me an unfunny transvestite joke and that "Angry Boys" was total shit.

[Long pause.]

Jai'me: Perhaps it's some kind of warning for the future.

Isabella Guisborne: Yes. Wierd. I have something like that. A sort of... vision. Phobia. Obsession. Whatever you might want to call it. I went absolutely batshit insane in thirteenth century England, murdered my brother, lover and then I got blown up in a nuclear explosion that left me so scrawny whenever I wander around naked people keep screaming "MY GOD! EAT SOMETHING DAMMIT! I CAN SEE YOUR FUCKING RIBS!"

[No one is sure how to take that.]

Isabella Guisborne: And so real, I was sure it actually happened.

Captain Jack: I know exactly that feeling.

Mephisto: I bet you do. You look like you've seen a ghost.

Captain Jack: Sort of. My dream involves me turning from a fun-loving omnisexual conman with a heart of gold to an angst-ridden rule-book-fetishing immortal gaylord in charge of the only four people in Western Europe even MORE fucked up than I am, until I eventually kill them all and then murder my own grandson because I'm too lazy to think up anything clever, before running off to become a prostitute on the planet Zaggit Zagoo - and then the worst thing happens! I get summoned back to Earth in an American remake that removes any endearing features I have and even makes me one-hundred percent self-hating homosexual!

Mephisto: Which is odd, because a similar vision keeps troubling me... similar, but not quite... I was taking part in this violently overmasculine reality tv show when I got infected by a passing cursed Aztec totem god... and after that, things just got WIERD!

[Nigel, still looking for an exit, rolls his eyes.]

Nigel: Oh this is just bullshit! Doesn't ONE of you find it just a TAD suspicious that five people with recurring nightmares of their own deaths just HAPPEN to all get into the same lift that BY COINCIDENCE takes them to an underground room which AMAZINGLY also is set out to entertain exactly FIVE PEOPLE!!

Captain Jack: I've known bigger contrivances.

Jai'Me: I want to talk about me some more. Only, instead of "some", make that a lot.

Nigel: They're just dreams, you fugly slag! Everyone has them. Kinda the price we pay for abstract thought - so why YOU'RE having them is a genuine mystery!

Isabella Guisborne: Oh, and do you have a dream that haunts you every night?

[Nigel starts to reply, then stops. He sits down in the vacant chair, furthest from the lift doors, and helps himself to a sandwich.]

Nigel: My dream... OK. I'll tell you.

[Everything blurs and when it refocuses we see Nigel is lying in his bedroom, dressed in a kimoni, reading a copy of The Adventuress of Henrietta Street.]

Nigel: You know, for a novel set in a brothel, I'd expect some more shagging and less fat bloke in a gorilla mask trying to be less funny than cholera. I'm sure Alien Bodies was cooler than this - and that had fucking Krotons in it for crying out loud...

[He looks up at a strange noise. A sword of flame slices through air, creating a gap from which emerges a serene figure with wings and a halo.]

Nigel: Give me strength. [shouts] This IS private property, you know!

Archangel Gabriel: I am the Archangel Gabriel!

Nigel: I'm a Bhuddist. So fuck off and try next door, you filthy pagan belief system!

Archangel Gabriel: Bit of respect, you unbelieving bastard!

Nigel: Hey, I'M not the one worshipping a loser who was such a pussy he got nailed to a tree even though he had freaking super powers, am I? What do you want, anyway?

Archangel Gabriel: Oh, you're interested NOW, huh, punk?

Nigel: Look, YOU are the one who interrupted me reading this shockingly mediocre novel by cutting through the air with a sword. That sounds like a lot of trouble to go through if you ask me - and you should, because I, as we have already established, are the cooler person in this conversation.

Archangel Gabriel: Oh, shut up you wanker!

Nigel: That will be the infinite patience of god himself right there, huh?

Archangel Gabriel: I don't have to put up with this shit!

[The angel turns and steps through the hole in the air. A moment later, Danielle is shoved rudely through the gap and stumbles. Nigel looks up at her for a long moment, then returns to his book.]

Danny: Nigel!

Nigel: [reads] "Did Sabbath worship these totems? Or was it all an obscure, blasphemous joke?"

Danny: Nigel, it's me, Danny.

Nigel: "Without knowing the exact nature of the idols it’s hard to say, though one witness records that 'some had faces so monstrus I could not bear but look' (bad writing, or did she mean it that way?)." Oh, Larry, what a wit you are. Moron.

Danny: Hello!

Nigel: "As Rebecca mentioned at least one in the Polynesian style and one following the fashion of the West Indian witch-cults, perhaps Sabbath saw the icons as an inventory of all the world’s major systems of ritual."

[Danielle snatches the book and throws it to one side.]

Nigel: Hey!

[Nigel glances at her. Then shrugs.]

Nigel: It was a shithouse book anyway.

[He picks up a copy of Mad Dogs and Englishmen. He looks at the cover, then tosses it aside.]

Nigel: OK, Danny, what do you want?

Danny: Aren't you happy to see me?

Nigel: Of course! After all, it's not like it's been the best part of a decade since you abandoned me without a word of warning at Hanging Rock of all places and left me alone ever since, is it? Oh wait, yes you did!

Danny: Nigel, I...

[Nigel leaps to his feet, furious.]

Nigel: YOU! LEFT! ME!

Danny: You're speaking in fragments again.

[Nigel sits down on the bed.]

Nigel: Say what it is you've got to say and then bugger off wherever the hell you've been for the past six years. I've got used to not having you around.

Danny: Nigel, listen to me. God is coming back.

Nigel: I know. He's always coming back. He's like the opposite of John Farnham. Does that mean John Farnham is Satan? Heh, that WOULD be a surprise...

Danny: Are you taking this seriously! The Earth is being devoured by a curse and all who live in it are being held guilty! The living outnumber the dead and the Armies of the Lord are waiting for the Day of Judgement!

[Nigel yawns.]

Nigel: Wow. How interesting and original. I find this very fascinating.

Danny: Stop being sarcastic! You need to embrace the love of God!

Nigel: I need to floss more. Guess which is more likely to happen?

Danny: Do you love God?

Nigel: I loved YOU and see how that turned out!

Danny: God loves you, Nigel. Because you love him.

Nigel: He's got the wrong stunningly-attractive sex maestro. And given that the celestial magnificence of God himself is returning... why the hell did he want ME to get the heads up? You got an answer that doesn't involve "mysterious ways"?

Danny: Um. No.

Nigel: No. So. Exit stage freaking left, Danielle.

[Danny sighs and steps through the gap in the air, which closes up. Nigel picks up his book and searches for his place.]

Nigel: Can't get a moment to myself nowadays...

[A close up of a calendar. All the pages fall away one by one until the calendar is used up. Pull out to see Kenjii standing right next to the calendar, all the pages piled up at his feet.]

Kenjii: These calendars use inferior glue, don't you think?

[Nigel's bedroom. Nigel is finishing his book.]

Nigel: What a pile of shit!

[He tosses the book into the corner.]

Nigel: The world might as well end if THAT'S the best literature has to offer.

[There is the sound of trumpet notes.]

Archangel Gabriel: [vo] Attention, please. This is the Archangel Gabriel speaking. This is the first call. I will blow this trumpet a further six times. You have until the last call to repent your sins and accept Jesus into your life. After that, it is too late. This is not a hoax. Seriously, not a hoax. Will you people stop laughing at me and start repenting?

[Nigel shrugs.]

Nigel: It's the thought that counts.

[There is the sound of hoofbeats approaching. On the TV an image of a white horse appears.]

TV: People of the world, attention please. This is God. He is giving you one last chance to save yourselves from the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. This is seriously not a hoax.

[The image changes to a trumpet against a blue background as the second call goes out. Yawning, Nigel turns off the TV.]

Nigel: Oh well. Life goes on.

[The trumpet sound grows so loud the walls of Nigel's room collapse.]

Nigel: What-evah. Tell it to someone who cares. I'm not letting the end of the world spoil my day off, thank you very much.

[Through the holes in the walls, Nigel watches as a sword-weilding warrior on a red horse runs by, holding a pair of scale as the trumpet sounds again.]

Nigel: Oh yeah, VERY subtle.

[A ghostly woman holding a candelabra rides past on a huge bull.]

Nigel: Okaaaaay...

[Suddenly the world dissolves into smoke. There are more hoofbeats as the Grim Reaper arrives on horseback through the fog.]

Nigel: You people are really making up for lost time, huh? I thought the rapture was suppose to leave us ordinary folk behind! I bet heaven doesn't even get SBS!

[The Grim Reaper waves his scythe and Nigel suddenly lifts off his bed and into the smoke and disappears as another trumpet sounds.]

Nigel: [fading] Son of a bitch!

[Limbo. Nigel floats in the silent darkness, lit by moonlight.]

Nigel: Man, this has to be the lamest afterlife I've ever seen. [shouts] And I've seen more than one, you plebian deity! So, who else is here? A creepy extra from The Bill with a snake tattoo on his arm? Go on, amaze me.

[Danielle appears.]

Danny: Hey, Nige.

Nigel: This isn't the Dreamtime. I am totally confused. As much as I can be without giving a shit about the answer, anyway.

Danny: This is the river that washes away all your sins.

Nigel: Metaphor. I get that.

Danny: You need to cross the river to get to Heaven.

Nigel: More metaphors.

Danny: OK! Look, just say you love God for giving you the gift of life and you get paradise.

Nigel: Piss off! I had paradise you sanctimonious bitch!

You don't have time for this! Gabriel is coming!

Nigel: I have no interest in his sex-life, Danny.

Danny: This is serious, Nigel!

Nigel: Not so serious the big man himself was prepared to talk to me. Come on, Mr. G! Get your omniscient ethereal butt down here! I WISH TO REGISTER A COMPLAINT!

Danny: You have to love God.

Nigel: Have to? I thought love was free will!

Danny: There really is a Heaven.

Nigel: If it's so good he can come here and give me the sales pitch personally.

Danny: Tell God you love Him!

Nigel: You know the reason people don't believe in God? Any god? All the suffering and pain in the world. Now, that's either down to existence being random or God being a complete and utter fuckwit. He creates the universe and then does everything to make it suck?

Danny: It's a test of faith!

Nigel: Yeah. He gives humanity freedom of choice just so he can ask an entire species "Hands up, who likes me?" at the end of the day. YOU INSECURE LOSER! I am not your fucking cheerleader for whenever your existential angst gets a bit too much! You want me in your paradise, well you take me as I am or not at all!

Danny: If you don't tell God that you love Him, you can't go to Heaven!

Nigel: Boo-freaking-hoo.

[A golden light shines down on them both, like a sunset.]

Danny: See heaven! Isn't it beautiful?

Nigel: [sighs] Yeah. It is. But then so's Dubai. Big freaking deal.

[Another trumpet sound.]

Danny: That's Gabriel's final call. A melody like the infinite regression of an image in parallel mirrors, and the melody stretches into the end of time...

Nigel: Yeah, yeah. Very experimental. Yellow Submarine is as nothing.


Nigel: Hmmm. Tough one. The use of "eternity" muddies the waters...

Danny: I fucking give up!

Nigel: Aint that the old story, Danny? Well screw you, screw God and screw the rest of reality! I am not going to back down to cosmic blackmail just because the almighty needs my approval for creating a universe where you can see Jack the Ripper on Ice at the theatre! He wants my love, he can come here himself!

[Danielle vanishes, leaving Nigel alone in the darkness.]

Nigel: Hah!

[Long pause.]

Nigel: On second thoughts, this could be one hell of a big mistake.

[Longer pause.]

Nigel: Ah, shit.

[Everything blurs back into the subbasement. Nigel is staring at the far wall, twiddling his thumbs and lost in thought.]

Mephisto: [doubtful] That's your story?

Jai'me: [shrugs] Well, you know, we all totalluy have our crosses to bear.

Nigel: [to himself] But it seemed so real. Almost as if it had happened.

[The others look up as the lift chimes.]

Nigel: Which is odd. Because it couldn't have happened.

[Nigel stares into the distance, unaware the others are running for the lift as the doors slide open - revealing a misty, moonlit graveyard in the dead of night.]

Nigel: I haven't lived with Kenjii for ages. I've been flatsharing with Gabby and Benny and that... that thing she's convinced is worthy of her love. If the world ended, why can I remember at least a year's worth of shit happening since?

[As if in a trance, the other four wander out through the doors into the graveyard. They head off in different directions and, as each reaches a fresh grave, they shimmer and vanish without a sound. The doors slide shut. Nigel does not notice.]

Nigel: Come to think of it, the last thing I remember is David Jones and the Russian Kid coming back to try and kill me. If this was a dream about the future, why didn't I dream about that? Christ knows it would have been slightly more useful! What do you think?

[He turns around and realizes he's alone for the first time.]

Nigel: What? You rude bastards! I WAS TALKING, DAMMIT!

[Angrilly he picks up a glass and throws it at the wall. It bounces and doesn't break at all.]

Nigel: Lame. But hang on. I can remember that maze at the Jekkatatve... I can remember dying. How the hell did I get from there to Centre Point Tower in the first place? None of this makes any sense at all! It's like Lost without that hot pregnant chick!

[Nigel blinks.]

Nigel: Unless this a dream. But that would mean...

[Cut to Nigel slowly cracking open his eyes. He is lying in a hospital bed. There are bandages patches on his head and shoulders, wires leading between him and heart monitors and the like. One arm is in a cast. What's bizarre is that this seems to be in a deserted warehouse in the middle of the day. Nigel peers around groggily.]

Nigel: This just gets better and better...

- to be continued...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

FFS Spara!

Yes, it's that time again as the Fish Emperor passes judgement on the casting decisions of Steven Moffat. Above, you see Jenna-Louise Coleman, who has just been cast as the non-terrestrial replacement companion for the Ponds following a nasty incident with some statues that always cover their eyes for some obscure reason.

What would sparacus say?

NOTE: This was literally just seconds after the announcement was made.

Awful. Just awful. Another generic young female companion. How much original inventive, creative thought has gone into this decision? Its just a pretty young female face to bung on the front of the DVDs.

And yes that is what he said, I didn't just type that off the top of my head while doing a strange Adrian Edmonsen voice.

Still, at least we can be glad Moffat chose an up-and-coming star rather than a washed-out failed actor/singer/politician with a criminal record, eating dissorder and online hatedom who personally can't stand Doctor Who... hah, seriously, I don't think Monsieur Rickitt is actually a bad actor, it's just that sparacus has made me despise him along with Rickitt and Hannah Murray...

But, seriously, how much original inventive and creative thought went to casting Ben Chatham? He just wanted a smoothe chest to lick honey off!

The new companion should differ from the last one.

Ooh, since when? I refer the honorable gentlemen to Vicki, Steven, Dodo, Liz, Nyssa, Turlough, Martha, Donna - so different from Susan, Ian, Vicki, Zoe, Romana, Adric, Rose and, um, Martha as long as you work entirely on the superficial statement of age and gender. The fact Ms Coleman is NOT playing a disturbed psychotic Scottish stripper or her schizophrenic big-nosed husband must surely count in her favor! Even though she is a tanned brunette midget and Karen Gillan is an alablaster redhead who was so tall they had to redesign the bloody Daleks because she made them look tiny?


You may as well have casting by computer for all the originality of thought that goes into it. Just type in 'young', 'female', 'feisty' and 'pretty face' and there you go. Boring boring boring.

And it's not like Moff hasn't betrayed spara before, isn't it? What with him casting that ghastly specimen known as Matt Smith who absolutely no one in the entire world liked?

And everyone remembers the sheer shitstorm spara let off when Catherine Tate was cast, playing the same character he publically commented was the only decent companion of NuWhu! (Yes, I convinced him of that using logic and reason, and remind me of that if ever I dare say spara is worse than KMMK the wanker god of retroztv boards).

So much for the 'completely different' companion Moffat promised. Within fan fiction there are companions who are young male archaeologists and Thai Ladyboys. Wheras on the BBC its all young female & feisty with only Donna Noble being slightly outside the mould.

a) See, I told you he liked Donna!
b) That's his fan fiction - and his latest story really IS humiliating for poor BC who is now deemed SO pathetic that the Doctor refuses to help him, forcing him to turn to aforementioned Thai LadyBoy and Ian Levine to save his smoothe bacon

c) It's so sad that an eminent whovianologist can't remember Captain Jack, Adam, Mr. Copper, Jackson Lake, Wilf, Rory, Craig or Canton Delaware Everret III

You are counting the support characters as full companions. Only Rose, Martha, Donna & Amy are full companions. ALL female.

Eh?! Rory, Jack and Wilf got their mofoing names in the credits!

Harry Sullivan, Turlough, Adric? The classic series companions were more varied.

Yes, a total moron the Doctor screamed abuse at, and two alien youths with parental abandonment issues who were pathologically unreliable. That's three companions over a period of NINE years and a wide spread of female totty in between...

Still, how about the revelation thatMoffat chose her because she was the first human being known that Matt Smith can't overload on sight?

Awful. So she got the part because she talks fast. Babble babble babble like a ditzy schoolgirl.

And the fact she's a Who fan and an admirer of both Kazza Gillan and Billie Piper?

And her taste in companions is as predictable as it gets.

So, the fact she's a talented actress with an impressive CV and natural rapport with the star, not to mention the executive producer and head writer's first choice who is making an enthusiastic commitment to show isn't a good thing?

She has got the part because she has a pretty face to put on the merchandise and can act in an overly fast childish way - keeping up with Matt Smith's faux 'eccentric' running around.

Sheesh. You still haven't forgiven him for being heterosexual, have you?

No matter what spin the production team try to put on this we all know that this girl has been given the role because she is pretty, young & female. There is nothing wrong with any of these things its just that what is needed is something DIFFERENT!!! Bored bored bored bored bored.

Repeating the word "bored" three times doesn't win an argument, does it?

A 'fast paced' actor/actress who turns a scene quickly is not necessarily a good one. What about depth?

Did you even try looking at her showreels on youtube? It's not as if they aren't the trendiest thing on the internet today...

I have become increasingly bored stiff with Moffat era Doctor Who. Series 6 is the first one I haven't bought. Even with the RTD stuff, which I often disliked, I could find something of interest in the seasons. But Moffat era who is dreary and predictable. Apart from 'The Impossible Astronaut'. The whole Riversong business was like watching paint dry and casting generic pretty feisty girls over & over doesn't help. Karen Gillan was an average actress who mumbled her lines for most of series 5.

So apart from the main story arc of the entire series, you didn't like it. Even though you admit Karen Gillan was better this time around. And how can you be "increasingly" bored stiff? You either are or are not. You getting enough sleep, Emperor?

My point is that this is yet another example of the tedious predictability that is market-driven Nuwho. Creativity? Pushing the bounderies? Forget them! As far as the companion goes the remit seems to be just cast some pretty girl with a cutesy cutesy face. If she can't act who cares as its only Doctor Who.

Remember the halcyon days of Jackie Lane, eh, lads? Given Doctor Who is 50 years old, of course it's going to seem predictable and the fact that the "bounderies" are being pushed with the first genuine alien companion who will, Moff promises, have a totally unique introduction ("no mere boy meets girl" apparently) you think spara might give a chance to an actress he refuses to even discuss. If only Jenna-Louise had a sex change...

I think that most fans would prefer one of my characters to be the new companion as it would be SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

Uncontested. It would also be an epoch-makingly horrid decision. I think Bill Pullman as Osward "I want to go to hell to rape little girls" Danes has more of a chance...

I can predict the character of this new companion:
Met the Doctor as a child. Now reunited with him as an adult (cue repetitive story arc). Works in a supermarket: young, feisty and aspirational. Has an everyman boyfriend and a doting mum. Father estranged in some way. Feisty. More feisty. Even more feisty.

Wow. You just nailed scraps of Amy and Rose together. What imagination.

So you'd rather
Met the Doctor as an adult. Now continually joins and departs the TARDIS for abusive relationship (ad nauseum). Sits on a couch all day getting drunk; bipolar, selfish and stupid. Has a string of gay-hating lovers and hypocritical parents. Drunk. More drunk. Takes recreational drugs and forces them onto school children.

The lack of a male companion is sexist casting? I'd say so. Look at the Nuwho companions: ALL female. Male characters Mickey & Rory are 'almost companions'. Only Captain Jack possibly qualifies but he was farmed out to a spin-off series.

"Farmed out"? This is "Freema sacked" all over again, isn't it?

I'll leave fellow GBers to point out he's being more sexist than any showrunner and note that sparacus has dismissed an actress and companion despite have no information whatsoever simply because she's a pretty girl. How can he damn Moffat for casting one? Both are totally superficial reactions. You don't even know her name!

It will be some silly pretty girl name like Poppy or Abby.

You mean a girl has a girl's name. What precisely would you prefer?

Lady Estella Ascott-Deville would be a better choice. Make her more upmarket.

Ah, so as long as she's a posh rich bitch and not a commoner you'll be happy?

Alas, the inevitable flamewars (spara was one of the vocal majority, naturally enough, who immediately stabbed passers-by to death at her casting), any further comments have been regrettably lost to eternity and the Worshipful and Ancient Mods of Gallifrey Base.

Disappointingly, Mad Larry the Pirate King refused to comment on her casting, preferring instead to tell everyone Jon Pertwee was a serial pedophile rapist. THAT WACKY GUY!


Well, I've fallen in love with her!

It you, the Soolin-substitute from Hot Gossip and the Tambourinist from the Dandy Warhols baby, we are gonna be good togetha!! DOWN, VERKOFF, DOWN!!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Companions of Doctor Who

Exactly what it says on the tin! More covers coming soon!

The guards shoved the time traveller towards the throne and he narrowly managed to stop falling forward onto his face. He dusted down his cloak, trying to regain his dignity.

"Oh well, you know me, young man. I'm just on a long voyage and there are always dictators or rulers or someone running things wherever you go. It doesn't matter to me who has the power - pharaohs, insects, presidents, Daleks, your good self... It's all so much of a muchness. I come and go anyway, so why get involved?"

"Yes. I asked you the same question when we first met."

The monk's face fell. "Ah, you remember 1066 and all that, do you?"

"Quite. You're a time meddler, and you're here to meddle with the status quo."

The old man snorted contemptuously. "And why not? You can't seriously be happy with the way things have turned out here! I dare say the Doctor would be very disappointed with your leadership..."

Steven smiled coldly. "Would it surprise you enormously if I revealed how little the Doctor's disappointment concerns me?"

One of the guards handed over a small metal key. "Only this, your majesty."

Steven took the object and cradled it in his hand, watching as the light reflected off its grooves and ridges. "The key to a TARDIS," he breathed, awestruck, his mind lost in a million new possibilities.

"What about the prisoner, you majesty?" asked the other guard, waving his light gun at the scowling time traveller.

"Mmm?" muttered Steven, dragging his attention away from the key. "Oh..."

He glanced at the monk, who beamed hopefully up at him, then went back to studying the TARDIS key.

"Kill him," ordered Steven idly.

Jamie crouched down by the first prisoner and, using his dirk, carefully sawed through the man's bonds. Now the dawn rays were illuminating he hut, Jamie could see the man properly for the first time. He was a man in his early sixties, whose short dark hair was flecked with grey and silver like salt and pepper. The prisoner had a swarthy, almost gypsy appearance, and his sea-green eyes twinkled mockingly.

He seemed strangely familiar, and Jamie realized the old man reminded him of the Doctor who had been with Ben and Polly all those months ago. But this could not be the same man; those three had said they would never return to Scotland, and this man was much older than that trouble-making imp. The Doctor's older brother, perhaps?

The highlander had just dismissed the problem from his thoughts when the released prisoner tugged his gag away and breathed: "Jamie! Oh, my word!"

"Whisht!" Jamie shushed him.

"But you must recognize me!" the old man whispered.

"I’ve not clapped eyes on you before!" Jamie whispered back, going to free the other prisoners who were impatient for release.

"But you must do!" the short man protested. "It only happened a few months ago, just after the battle, with Polly and Ben? This is going to be a little difficult to explain, but I’m the Doctor! Does that mean anything to you?"

"Means you charge a pretty penny for a compress and a powder," Jamie grunted.

Angus licked his dry lips as Jamie pulled the gag free. "Who is he? A spy for the English?"

"I am no such thing!" the Doctor protested. "I know it because I was the friend of James Robert McCrimmon, son of Donald, and a piper like his father, who served the Laird Colin McLaren at Culloden!"

"You cannae be the Doctor," Jamie snorted. "You're far too old to be the wee chap in the blue box."

"It’s difficult to explain," the old man. "In a way, we knew each other for a
long time, but the Time Lords made you forget..."

"'Time Lords?' What nonsense are ye speakin’ now?"

"A despicable, underhanded lot! After they were finished with you, they approached me and had the bare-faced cheek to demand I help them with all their plans, to be their catspaw so they can keep their hands nice and lilly-white! It's taken me a long time but I finally managed to slip and way and come back for you..." The old man's eyes were almost glistening with tears, the mocking quality gone. "I thought you might be dead!"

"That," boomed a voice from the corner, "will be quite accurate in an hour's time."

The fugitives turned to face the newcomer.

Lieutenant Algernon Ffinch aimed his loaded pistol at the escaping prisoners.

"Oh, crumbs," the Doctor groaned.

"Zimbau Eter," Victoria said urgently. "It's not Latin and it's not Greek. You're the best linguist in the country. Please, you must know what it means?"

"And for your sake, cleverclogs, the answer better not be someone who eats people from Zimbabwe," rumbled the policeman impatiently as he paced up and down the office.

Professor Carter pushed his bifocals up his nose and looked at his two guests thoughtfully. "Zimbau Eter?" he repeated. "It's Sumerian, a dead language - in fact, the oldest language known to mankind, older than the hieroglyphics in the pyramids. Still not entirely deciphered to this day..."

"Is that your hoity-toity way of saying you haven't a clue?" Gene growled.

"Not at all, but that's just fragments of words. I'd need more to go on."

Gene tugged the piece of paper he'd had Cartwright type up and handed it to Carter. "Your wish is my command. My command is to tell me what it says!"

Carter studied the note for a moment. "Gibberish... random words... 'destroy'... 'ruin'... 'pray', 'respond', 'truth'... there seems to be some sort of phrase repeated over and over... 'examine our creation'."

"So it isn't alien then?" asked Victoria nervously.

Carter glanced up at her. "Sumerian is as human as you are," he said, before frowning. "What made you think it was alien?"

"Look at her," Gene grunted. "She's a pretty face and two tits in a jumper. It's a miracle she even knows what aliens are."

"Excuse me!" Victoria fumed.

"No, no, it's just..." Carter struggled to clear his thoughts. "The concept of powerful beings from other planets has its origins in Sumerian history. They were the ones that first came up with the idea, the idea of gods even. Their civilization flourished four millennia before Christ was born, they lived through the deluge that Noah needed his ark for..."

"Very reliable testimony," Gene spat, lighting up a fresh cigarette.

"It is the only testimony," Carter snapped. He plucked a book off the shelf and flipped it open, revealing detailed sketches of rockets flying in skies over cities. "Etching and sculptures of men in spacesuits, in oxygen masks. Stories of launching rockets into the sky, of being from other planets travelling to Earth."


"Facts, Mr. Hunt!" Carter reported. "You can go into any museum and see it all right there just as I describe! If you have no interest in the matter, why do you want me to translate Sumerian phrases?"

"I thought you bookworms were supposed to notice things," the DCI grumbled. "Or does a rash of violent killings in Manchester not get printed in your pinko-loving tabloids?"

"All the killers say they were driven to it by something that looked like a white owl," Victoria explained. "They said it kept them awake at night, sitting at their windows, watching them for hours, staring at them..."

"A white owl?" Carter repeated slowly. "You're not serious?"

"Listen, you bookworm git, when normal decent folk in my city start taking loaded shotguns to their nearest and dearest saying white owls made them do it, I take it very seriously. I don't care if its some stupid coincidence, a Martian warrior who happens to look like an owl or your mother in law on the gin. I want answers - understand?!"

Carter cleared his throat embarrasedly. "Indeed. Have you seen this "owl" yourself?"

Victoria nodded. Gene shook his head.

Carter sighed. "I doubt it matters - you'll never see it again. I had to do this."

"Do what? Eh? What exactly have you 'done'?" Gene demanded.

"I'm sorry," he pleaded, "but I don't have a choice!"

"There's always a choice!" Victoria wailed.

"Not this time." Carter seemed to to sag, as though the life was draining out of him. "Their will shall be enforced. They are not of this world. The truth remains. Me en, ne en, Ilu - they are our saviors, our fathers... they are our gods!"

Gene and Victoria were at a loss for words.

"Forgive me," Carter wept.

"You're better off asking Jesus to forgive you, he's into that namby-pamby stuff," the policemen replied, before decking the academic unconscious with a single meaty blow. Carter was flung onto the carpeted floor. "I'm into pugulistic retribution meself, and can I just say that it has completely changed my life - as well as the arrangement of your teeth?"

A misshapen shadow fell across the frosted window in the door, the silhouette of something that shouldn't have been there - not just in the hallway, not just Manchester, but Earth itself. The familiar putrid cinamon smell began to waft through the gaps in the frame

"There's something out there," Victoria gasped, white as a sheet.

"Yes, thanks for that, Leatherlungs," Gene replied dryly. "Never noticed that without you."

"It's going to kill us!" she insisted.

"It can try," snorted Gene. With a casualness suggesting his gloved hand had a life of his own, he pulled the handgun from his holster. "Well, whatever is out there can come inside for a chat or discover precisely what 'instant lead transfusion' means?" he said reasonably, cocking the pistol and aiming it at the door. "This will your one and only close encounter with DCI Gene Hunt, Defender of the Human Race and Armed Bastard Extraordinaire!"

The door swung open.

Victoria saw what lay beyond and screamed at the top of her voice.

And, truth be told, Gene couldn't blame her.

The Brigadier tutted. Even with the national emergency, he'd expected a bit more British reserve and competence from the BBC, but the television studio was on the verge of total panic after only twelve hours. All the staff were dirty, their clothes unwashed and unchanged, all of them in the jittery fog of caffiene and cigarettes, tripping over wires and getting in each other's ways.

He dragged his attention from the buzz of reporters and technicians and turned to the rest of the panel who appeared to be only slightly less dishevelled and exhausted. "What's making it happen?" an MP was arguing. "What difference does it make?"

"Yes," the moderator said wearily, "but if we knew the cause..."

"Exactly!" the angry Welsh woman at the end shouted. "We don't know! We have to operate on what we do know!"

The Brigadier noticed several technicians murmuring furiously, before they turned and began to leave the studio. As they reached the doors they broke into a run. The floor manager only noticed their presence when her orders to camera two went unheeded. Idly the soldier wondered how long this particular broadcast could stay on the air.

"I refuse to believe any of this," one of the guests was saying, a pompous alternative comedian who would have been quite subversive had he actually had a sense of humor. "The idea of people just turning into monsters..."

The Brigadier bristled. He could tolerate the confusion and hopelessness of the situation - but outright denial? "It is a fact, sir," he snapped. "The crisis is so widespread that no media blackout could be arranged in time. The truth is on the streets and anyone stupid enough to ignore it is effectively committing suicide!"

"I refuse to believe ordinary British citizens can abandon every human code of behavior because of some still-unexplained trick of the light..."

"Yes, that'll stop the bodies piling up," the Welsh woman grumbled.

"I don't believe in monsters, Brigadier," the comedian went on.

"Don't you? They are not human beings on those street, sir, not any more. They are ferocious pack animals whose contamination spreads by touch - and even then we might have stood a chance of nippin this disaster in the bud without irresponsible vigilante action from the public at large..."

The Welsh woman turned on the soldier. "The public fought back to survive!"

"And that conflict is fueling the spread of this menace!" the Brigadier retorted. "Literally and metaphorically! This situation is controllable, but we must come to grips with the concept that anyone infected - friend or family - must be considered a lethal threat and abandoned. At the moment, compassion, the kindess of strangers, these are the greatest threats to our survival..."

"It's too late," the MP said grimly. "They're mutiplying too rapidly..."

Several more of the studio crew abandoned their posts, but military police were appearing in the doorways to the studio. The ways were blocked. The Brigadier had heard those officers earlier discussing martial law, that all of London would be evacuated. One of the technicians protested loudly, "We've got to survive! Somebody's got to!"

"We're losing picture," the floor manager shouted. "We'll be off air unless we get hooked up to the emergency broadcasts..."

The Brigadier rubbed his eyes and then froze as he noticed something. On the panel before him were his notes and a red felt-tip pen. Except the pen was now bright blue, and the notes he'd scribbled in red were blue as well. He looked around, and saw the Moderator's tie, the Welsh woman's shirt and the comedian's glasses were all blue as well. The entire spectrum had somehow shifted.

"Emergency!" he shouted, getting to his feet. "It's happening again!"

"What is?" said the moderator, baffled.

"It's begun," said a voice behind the Brigadier. "I have been chosen to bring about the end of the Human Abomination!"

The soldier was already drawing his service revolver when a lighting technican charged him, letting out a hideous screeching noise. Already his limbs seemed to growing longer and thinner, his skin turning translucent over his dark bones. The Brigadier dived out of the way and fired threw bullets into the mutant's bony back.

"Evacuate!" the Brigadier shouted, aware the spreading bloodstains were no longer like puddles of blue ink but turning a deep, angry crimson. The effect was fading but too late, as more of the floor crew were showing signs of infection...

A servant in plum-coloured pantaloons obsequiously welcomed Mike into the cool, air-conditioned foyer of the hotel and soon he was relaxing in his luxury suite - an ice-cool gin-and-tonic in his hand, of course! - believing that all was well.

I've had a lucky escape, thought Mike.

But he hadn't.

Although Mike slept like a log between the silken sheets of the biggest bed he'd experienced since his own great Elizabethan four-poster in the Dales, he woke up with a start - full of anxiety on the realization that it must inded have been the Master who had somehow entered into his life...

Worse, not just into his life but into his very body by means of that snake!

The famous spitting snake of Morocco, bile green and deadly behold but - and Mike breathed a sigh of relief at this - not a poisonous snake at all. Mike inwardly thanked himself for his self-taught interest in exotic zoology - he'd once written a paper on it - which had been borne from his encounters with Autons, globby Axons, Daleks and other alien periphia.

No, the Moroccan spitting snake, rare and evil-looking as it was, was definitely not poisonous. The spit produced immediate, excruciating - but harmless - pains, shock, temporary disorientation and mental confusion, and finally unconsciousness. But no lasting effects.

Why then should the Master - for that what indeed who it was - want to introduce this non-toxic serum into his system? There seemed to be no rhyme, but he must have had a reason...

Harry stared at the abomination as it emerged from the doorway. It was a sick, abhorent thing that was not quite a Dalek and nowhere near a human. The studded metal chasis hid everything below the human's braced neck. A metal cap-like dome was fused to the top of the individual's skull, and leads and wires ran down from it into the poor wretch's left eye. A single rod-like appendage, a gun-stick, emerged from the front of the creature.

Harry swallowed the bile rising up in his throat and assumed an air of nonchalance. "Not up your usual standards, Davros," he said haughtily, trying to ignore the creature's remaining eye staring blindly at him.

"Resources on this primitive planet are limited," Davros replied, disdain thick in his crackling electronic voice. "The technology for pure bio-mechanical interface is not yet possible. These crude hybrids are the best that this facility can manage at present."

"Please help me," the creature whispered softly.

"Why are you doing this?" Harry demanded, sick to his stomach.

The disembodied head rolled on its wire-shoulders with a gurgling chuckle. "Why not?" he asked. "It is, after all, what I do best. The Doctor destroyed the Daleks. He reduced my world to dust and crumbs. Do I not have a right to revenge?"

"Revenge on the Doctor, perhaps, but these are innocent people."

Davros' third eye blazed with barely-contained fury. "NO ONE IS INNOCENT!" he roared, voice box distorting until it could have been any Dalek ranting. "The Doctor destroyed my home and now I shall destroy his - the Earth."

"The Doctor isn't from Earth!" Harry protested.

"Which is why he cares for it so much," Davros retorted, drool dripping from his black mouth. "He chooses to be its protector. When my strategem advances, there will be chaos. The humans will summon their champion back to save them! The Doctor will return!"

"And when he does, you're finished!" Harry shouted back.

"Perhaps," Davros conceded thoughtfully. "But before the final conflict begins, I will have ravaged all he holds dear. I shall be waiting for him, with your corpse on open display!"

Harry looked up and down at Davros, a tiny, shrunken head inside a white and gold Dalek casing. No limbs, no weapons, nothing. There was no obvious way the nightmarish creature could possibly harm him.

And then Harry remembered the Dalek hybrid behind him.

And so had Davros. "Target enemy!" he barked.

"Target locked in," croaked the ghastly shape, the rod pointing at Harry's chest. He took a step backwards and the gunstick followed him with disconcerting ease.

"Power delivery to fire weapon - lethal discharge."

"Preparing to fire."

"Destroy the enemy! Exterminate!"

"Firing now..."

It was England. It was raining. Business as ususal.

And stumbling along the streets by the river, moving slowly and unsurely was a shell-shocked survivor that had once been a determined young woman; a haunted refugee who had once traveled through all of time and space.

Tegan Jovanka couldn't remember the last time she'd been somewhere cosy and warm and safe, as though she had stopped being able to even experience those feelings. She shivered as it began to rain, gusts of winter wind slashing at her bare arms and legs. Her stylish multicoloured dress and leather skirt weren't meant for such a climate, just as her spirit wasn't built for what she had just had to live through. She wasn't sure how long she'd been walking or how far she'd gone, only that the answer to both was "too much by half".

She was walking in the rain through a strange city without the faintest idea of where she was going or what she was doing to. She was cold and wet, she didn't have a penny in her pocket, she was tired and hungry and scared, suffered more in one day that most people had experienced in a lifetime, witnessed enough deaths to make her stomach lurch...

...but worst of all she didn't know whether she'd made the right decision.

Images flashed through her head. The deaths at the warehouse; doll-sized bodies; a curly-haired old man changing into a younger, blond man before her eyes; the Kinda, and their endless mindgames; a freighter vapourizing with Adric onboard; all the killing, all the deaths.

Tegan stopped suddenly on a street corner, staring into the wind, thinking of Nyssa. Tegan missed her most, her comforting, calming voice had been an anchor in Tegan's life, and she hadn't realized until this very moment just how much she missed the friendship of the young Trakenite. Had she had to leave? Had that been her last message to Tegan: get out while you can, before something makes it impossible for you to stay?

"Too bad I missed it, if it was," she sobbed.

Tegan knew she needed to sort herself out. Somewhere to go. Someone to turn to. But who did she know in London, 1984 that could help her? Aunt Vanessa was dead, Grandfather Andrew was in Little Hodcombe, miles away even if she knew his phone number. She didn't know who to contact. She didn't know what to do. She didn't even know which road lead to the nearest train station! With all the raindrops in her eyes, she could barely see. Rabbits, she was going to cry...

Tegan had realized a truth that had shattered her until even the pieces left were falling apart. Not the truth that there were monsters in the world - she'd known that for a very long time - but the truth that sometimes the monsters

Having spent so much time in the TARDIS, observing star charts and fractal nebula, Kamelion had almost forgotten about an actual sunset. Had he possessed lungs that required air intake, the sight would have been breathtaking. As he watched, the blue of the sky merged with the red on the horizon until the world seemed doused in fire.

The automaton reminded himself that he had not come here for the weather, which had become slightly more humid and stifling. He adjusted his current disguise, artificial beads of perspiration forming on his unreal brow. Appearances always had to be maintained.

Kamelion had enjoyed the silence and the freedom, away from the constant jabbering of minds aboard the TARDIS that gnawed at his identity. Peace was hard to come by, and he treasured thoughts he could be certain were his own.

He glanced up lazily as one of his companions made her way along the narrow path. There was no gesture of welcome, despite one of Kamelion's best pre-programmed smiles. "There you are," Tegan was grumbling. "You snuck out of the TARDIS without saying anything!"

"As I said earlier, Miss Jovanka, I have a mind of my own."

"We thought you were on board when the Doctor took off."

"Since you have returned to this world, I must conclude the truth did come to light," Kamelion shrugged unconcerned. He had only been marooned at the Eye of Orion for a few hours - he had suffered much worse on Xeriphas.

"Yeah, well, we could sure have used your help out there! Assuming you can help anyone," she added with distaste.

"Those who need help," Kamelion agreed. "You clearly survived without me."

Tegan thumped down on a rock beside her. "There was a time when the Doctor and I travelled with normal people," she muttered. "Proper, normal people. Not creepy blue-eyed androids or shifty schoolboys. People we could trust."

"The Doctor trusts me."

"I don't."

"You do not trust Turlough either."

"I know I can rely on him. The only thing I can rely on you to be is... well..."

Kamelion yawned. "Unreliable?"

"You got it."

For a moment, something indefinable seemed to bind the two of them together, and then it was gone. They sat in silence, listening to the breeze passing by.

Tegan looked at the beautiful colours in the sky. "Nice sunset."

Kamelion nodded. "Watch it," he told her, rising to leave. "It will be over soon."

Mel entered Estelle's office, casually knocking on the open door for politeness' sake as she did so. Her manager was not alone - perched on the corner of the desk, looking wistfully out the window was a clown. He had a mass of wild blond curls and colourful mismatched clothing; a patchwork frock coat over striped trousers and a silver-purple waistcoat. All that was missing was the face paint.

Estelle gave a slightly embarrassed smile. Don't ask, her eyes pleaded.

"Yes, Mel, what is it?" the manager asked.

The clown's head snapped around as though she'd shouted 'fire' at the top of her voice. He stared at Mel for a long time and his expression was... strange. He looked frightened, yet resigned, like someone who had been told a terrible fact they had long suspected. A man whose last appeal for mercy had been turned down.

And then he grinned at her like a three year old with candy.

Mel smiled back. He was probably great with kids.

Remembering Estelle's question, she placed the manila folder of print-outs onto the desk. "We've finally managed to separate the encrypted code," she reported. "But I've double-checked every protocol on record. There's no language like it."

"I don't suppose I could have a peek, could I?" asked the clown.

Estelle passed him the file without a looking. Mel saw the bored resignation on her face. The clown had probably been double-checking everything in the office - but she was still at loss why a circus entertainer was in the office of Lethe Logistics.

So Mel did what she always did: asked.

"Afternoon," she said brightly. "I'm Melanie Bush..."

"Known as Mel?" asked the clown, flipping through the print-outs.

"You've heard of me, then?"

"Something like that," he said absently, then looked at her again. There was still a hint of... regret?... in his eyes, but it would be easy to miss. "It is very nice to finally meet you again."

Mel blinked, frowning at the strange tenses. "I'm certain we haven't met before."

"Mel has a photographic memory," Estelle said, sipping her coffee and sounding bored. "She remembers everything. It's very useful... most of the time..."

The clown nodded solemnly. "A memory like an elephant," he sighed. Then, back to business, he threw the file onto the desk like the last week of non-stop research by Mel and the others was totally worthless. "Despite my initional fears, this code is entirely human in origin," he said, leaping to his feet. "The only reason Mel... er, Miss Bush, here... didn't recognize it is that the new code hasn't caught on yet."

"You mean it's only just been created?" asked Mel, keeping up.

The clown shook his head. "Oh, no. I mean it it hasn't been created yet! And it won't be, not for another fifty years at least - that computer language is commonplace in the 2030s. Which does rather beg the question of how it could be in the 1980s."

"How can you say that?" Mel demanded, frowning. "Have you been to the 2030s?"

"Oh yes," the clown replied, as though discussing a visit to Bognor Regis. "Quite a few times actually. It's why I'm here assisting the investigation, on behalf of Colonel Chrichton. Oh, yes, silly me, I almost forgot."

He held out his hand.

Warily, Mel shook it.

"How do you do, Melanie? I'm the Doctor!"

Ace and the Prydonian Candidate
Marc Platt

The story was laughable, which was impressive given Kate didn't find it the least bit amusing. A bitter old woman had discovered the fountain of youth, entirely by accident, working alone one long night in the lamp and accidentally transformed herself into a body sixty years younger than it had been at the start of the evening. Kate was surprised there wasn't a convenient thunderstorm and a passing vicar shouting about blasphemous meddling with nature to complete the mix.

"You're saying her rejuvenator is actually a time machine?" she asked the Magician.

The Magician tapped his lips and grimaced. "Not quite, not exactly, far too imprecise," he replied. "It would be more accurate, more true to life to say that the rejuvenator is not a rejuvenator at all. It is an engine, a mechanism, a device whose power derives from the temporal vortex that binds all things together. The machine tames that power, directs it, focusses it on one task and one task only - but then some of the vortex escaped the machine. Wild, unpredictable, swirling... easy enough to leave someone in a changed body but an unchanged mind."

Kate remembered the cracks in the walls and complicated patterns of lightning.

"Just so we're clear on the topic," she said, "had I been stealing a common-or-garden fountain of youth machine, there would have been no trouble."

The Magician arched an eyebrow, then slowly shook his head.

Kate beamed up at him. "But you're clearly hung up on the fact it was actually a time vortex machine that I tried to steal."

"I am more concerned, upset and drawn to the fact you broke it!" the Magician said, throwing a rose onto the floor in sudden anger.

Kate looked up through the skylight where the clear moonlit darkness was replaced by the whirlpool of green and blue. "So, let me guess. The entire laboratory complex has been sucked into the time vortex itself?"

"No, incorrect, wrong first time. You have ripped the entire time vortex from its moorings and it is about to crash down upon the entire Earth. The various timestreams that form the vortex are colliding and collapsing in on each other. The totality of the space-time continuum will shatter and there will be no past, no present and no future."

"Oooh," said Kate wincing. "Nasty."

The Magician's voice was like cut glass. "Quite. You and you alone have murdered, butchered, annihilated reality as the term is understood, known and spoken."

"Now, now," she said, waggling a finger. "Are we going to play the blame game until the universe ends, or are we going to do something productive?"

"Such as?"

"Oh, at a guess...
stop the universe ending?"

"But it has already happened. It is happening now. Destiny decrees and creation abides. You cannot save the universe you doomed, Kate Tollinger because there will never be anything left to save and nor were you ever alive to try. It is over. This is the end."

Kate paled, her hand going to her mouth in fright.

Then her expression hardened.

"Screw that!" she vowed.

Hex & Hexagora
Peter Ling

"What the hell are they?" Jake demanded, eyes wide.

The three giant metal columns had landed in a triangle around the Thames flood barrier like new tower blocks on stubby legs. Now hatches at the base of each column were opening and massive figures were emerging from each ship, marching in strict military formations. Even at this distance, they could hear the stomp of heavy boots. Through the binoculars, they could see gleaming black battle armor, long metal-studded leather tunics and belts hung with weapons. They wore enormous domed helmets and blasters were held in gloved fists.

"Sontarans," Mickey said confidently. "It's Sontarans. Am I right?"

Rose gave him an apologetic look. "Nah, but a lot of people make that mistake."

"Would Sontarans have been better?" asked Jake, confused.

"Hard to say," Rose admitted. "They're Jundoon."


"I think that's their name. Never really met them, but... I heard about them."

"From where?" asked Jake.

"The usual," Mickey replied. That was an end to it.

"See, the universe is huge, right?" Rose explained. "And all the governments and empires and federations, none of them can cover the whole universe, none of them are big enough. There's always a higher authority. Well, back in our universe, the highest authority - well, now there's no Time Lords - is this thing called the Shadow Proclamation. They sort of preside over the whole universe, every planet, every species, but you have to be super advanced and evolved even to know about it. But the Shadow Proclamation ain't what you'd call good at rough stuff, they're just some witches in an admin office. So they hire out these goons to do all the grunt work for them. The Jundoon. Whenever something happens the Shadow Proclaimers don't like, they send in these guys as troops. Big on procedure, big on collatoral damage, not so big on things like being clever."

Jake frowned. "You mean there's some giant space police force out there?" he exclaimed, nodding up at the stormy grey sky. "Why are they coming here now? Where were they four years back when we needed them? They just left us on our own to face the Cybermen!"

"Internal disputes," Rose shrugged. "It's a whole different scale, Jake. It's like expecting the head of the UN to come round to your flat to tell the neighbors off for playing music too loud."

Jake stared at her. "What's the UN?" he asked, totally baffled.

Rose gritted her teeth. "I really, really hate this universe," she said sweetly.

"You get used to it," Mickey assured her.

It was the end of summer on the Boeshane Peninsula, as hot and long and dusty as they always had been and probably always would be. There were a few more varieties of vegetable growing in the cultivation zone than I remembered from the old days, and the complex was slightly wider than it had been... but apart from that, things were the same as ever.

It was 5238, sixteen years after I'd abandoned this tiny little redneck corner of the universe - where the natives were so backwards they believed in monogamous monosexuality and fashion had died somewhere two millennia earlier - and joined the Time Agency. I'd never come back, convinced the rest of the universe had more to offer. More fool me.

"Don't they have anything as transport here apart from livestock?" Alonzo groaned behind me, saddle-sore after only an hour on horseback. No wonder the Shadow Proclaimation turned him down if he was that prone to complaining, about everything. Food on the shuttle, the surliness of the locals, now even the tame horses we'd hired. Whiney, self-hating and possibly bipolar. No wonder the Doctor thought he'd be my type.

"You should have been here before they got the brood units working," I told him. "Besides, you don't need spare part from off-world to repair a horse and they produce their own replacements. Useful stuff around here."

Alonzo shrugged. "If you say so, Yanto."

As ever, I bit down the correction. I'm not Captain Jack Harkness. I'm not even a Captain, just got a field promotion by outliving a dozen separate military regimes. And I only ever liked the army for the communal showers and some of the uniforms. Not that I wear a uniform any more. Even my coat... the coat Ianto bought me... is gone, payment for the trip down to this distant, forgotten backwater.

We rode down towards the shore, two anonymous men in the robes of locals, just passing through. No one special. Just a boy and his horse. And his boyfriend. And another horse. On their way to meet the first boy's lonely old mom. Like I say, things are real backward in the Boeshane Peninsula.

Lazing on a rock on the beach was someone I didn't expect to see again. His once-smart clothes were more battered than I remembered, more grey in his hair, fresh bruises on that finely-chiseled face, and a new pair of nunchukkas strapped to his upper arm. No one else in Boe wore a gun, even despite the obvious dangers. He couldn't have stood out more from the crowd then he tried, but I knew he tried a lot.

"Fancy meeting you here," I called.

He didn't open his eyes. "And you do," he drawled in Old Earth Cockney.

"Who's he?" Alonzo demanded. He was so cute when he was jealous. Trouble was, that meant he was cute a hell of a lot of the time.

"Captain John Hart," my old lover lied through his teeth. "Formally of the Cyrrinic Empire, the Vandor Confederacy and indeed anywhere that will give a poor duck like me a warm bed for the night. The more crowded the better!"

"What are you doing here?" I asked impatiently.

"Could ask the same of you, mate," Captain John retorted.

"Catching up with family."

"Didn't know you had any left," he said, in a less confronting tone. "And why you're poncing around here in the back of beyond when you've got a cute Welsh lass big of belly and heavy of heart waiting back on Earth 2010, I don't even want to know! She cried about you a lot. Still, she's got her husband - and HE is sex on a stick, isn't he? Woulda liked to be there on his buck's night... maybe I will?"

"I told you to leave me alone," I said.

"Would that I could, oh pal of mine come home to roost." He flashed his dangerous grin at Alonzo. "Nice Eye-Candy, though I preferred the original. Nope, I'm here entirely on business."

I hopped down from the horse. "Business? Here? On my home turf?"

"Proper business," Captain John said with that oh-so-innocent look of his. "Real official business. If I gave a Foamasi's fart about laws and stuff, I'd even have written permission to be here. The Time Agency is coming back together!"

I was left speechless. "You want me back?"

Captain John let out that cruel snigger of his that I really try not to let turn me on. "You? Mister Immortal Stick-In-The-Mud Excuse Me While I Sell Your Children To Some Space Junkies From Andromeda? Mister Gee My Scooby Gang All Died Horribly And Pointlessly Because I Haven't A Clue How To Be Responsible? Puh-lease! Your sort of help, mate, we can do without!"

"So why are you here?" Alonzo said, trying to come to my defense.

Captain John jerked a thumb in the direction of the complex. We followed his gesture and for the first time I noticed a large, curving crack had appeared in the middle of the western wall.

Mickey cracked open the bottle of beer and, tossing the lid into the corner, angled the bottle so it was aimed over Jask's probic vent. The fizzing alcohol gurgled loudly as it poured down the vent and into the trooper's stocky body. The Sontaran choked and gagged, spluttering as his system reacted and he was agonizingly restored to consciousness.

"Wake up, Humpty," he growled.

"My name," the trooper groaned, "is Jask! My rank is Commander in the Eighth Sontaran Reconaissance Corps - and that is all the information I will reveal."

Mickey poured another slug down the probic vent. "Bet your life?" he asked.

It was a few seconds before Jask could breathe again. "I have been trained to resist over twelve thousand forms of tortures devised by creatures you puny mammalians could never even imagine existed! Besides, what possible information could I have you primitives could comprehend, let alone use against the glorious Sontaran Empire?"

"A friend of mine - a very, very good friend of mine is in trouble," Mickey explained, leaning in close as he dared to the Sontaran. The clone's oily breath was unspeakable, but Mickey had faced worse in his time. "And you're my best bet to finding out the truth."

"Friend?" Jask sneered. "Weak words. Sentiment in conflict is far more dangerous than any enemy on the battlefield. Your comrades should face their doom with dignity." The Sontaran's red, bloodshot eyes narrowed. "Your crude attempt at poisoning me has failed. The moment the toxins are cleansed from my system, I shall break free of these bonds and then snap your spine."

Mickey cocked his rifle and aimed it lazily at his prisoner. "And you're telling me this because...?"

"Because I do not fear you, or your reprisals! Open fire if you wish. You might even manage to kill me before I can kill you - but you will lose whatever information I possess. Either way, your strategy has failed."

"Has it?" asked a voice.

Twisting his shoulders as best he could, Jask turned and saw Martha standing over him. She had his own blaster aimed right between his deep-set eyes. "See, Commander, I have not had good experiences with your people," she continued conversationally. "Your assault on my planet murdered thousands. My husband was one of them."

"A blood fued?" asked Jask, mildly interested. "One female against a Sontaran Warrior? I confess the idea intrigues me. I challenge you to open combat."

Martha smiled and shook her head.

"You fear death. I do not."

"No," Martha agreed. "But I know what you do fear - returning to Sontar a failure. Defeated. Shamed. And you'd suffer much worse things that being shot by us. You'd be made an example of - they'd turn you into a medic. You'd spend the rest of your life unable to fight a single battle, having to save the weak and injured. Your whole clone batch would have to do it as well. And we can make that happen Commander. We can give you a trip straight back to the Sontaran homeworld with enough proof for your superiors to damn you for eternity."

Jask was silent. His eyes scanned the warehouse, searching for escape.

"And whether or not that happens," Mickey said, inhaling deeply through his nose like a wild beast preparing to charge, "all depends on how you answer one question."

Jask met their gaze unblinkingly. "Well?"

"What did you do to the Doctor?"

The new governor watched patiently as the prisoner packed her suitcase, seemingly unaware of the squad of armed soldiers aiming their guns through the bars of the cell. "During my predecessor's time," the governor began conversationally, "you escaped from this prison on no less than fifteen occasions."

River Song shook her head of unruly curls. "Oh, it was never fifteen! Unless you're counting holidays and hair appointments," she admitted.

"It's not going to happen on my watch," the governor continued, ignoring the interruption - at least until River Song began to take her clothes off. "What are you doing?" he demanded.

"Well," said River, continuing to undress, "I'm not leaving dressed like this!" She crossed to the cupboard and opening it to reveal a rail of dresses that was far too long to have fitted inside the small storage locker. The prisoner caught the governor's look of confusion. "Oh, don't mind my wardrobe," she said reassuringly. "Just a teensy bit bigger on the inside..."

The last of his composure disappearing, the governor rounded on his men. "Shoot her!" he roared, surreptitiously stepping back out of the firing line.

"We can't shoot a prisoner, sir!" one guard protested.

"Shoot Dr. Song!" the governor roared. "Now!"

"Boys, think it through!" called the now-naked River as she began to flick through the dresses on display. "What do you really want to do?"

Furious, the governor took the gun from his belt and aimed it River's naked back...

A few minutes later, the duty officer was on the telephone once again. "Yeah, it's Dr. Song," he was reporting. "She escaped again."

He stepped aside, allowing a body on a stretcher to be rushed past.

"Oh, and she shot the governor..."