Welcome back to Fantasy Island, the holiday resort which may, or may not, be outside continuity.
If you listen carefully, you can hear the screaming…
‘For the last time, he’s *not* Samuel L. Jackson!’
Anji Kapoor sighed. As per usual, her friends - well, they *said* they were - had buggered off again (‘wanted to have a look round,’ they’d claimed. Yeah, right).
And, also as per usual, _she’d_ been left with the scutwork.
Although she had to admit…
…if this was what the reception desk looked like, she could only imagine what the rest of the hotel was like.
It was _big_. Bigger than her apartment back in London (and that hadn’t been too skimpy on the size front, either). You could’ve happily stored a flock of sheep in here, with room to spare for a poitician’s ego.
Plush carpeting… with what she felt as marble tiling underfoot, plantlife everywhere (probably human-eating, knowing my luck, she reflected), marble pillars and arches overhead, supporting a simply, and elegantly, carved ceiling…
…it managed to teeter on the fine line between nightmarish kitsch and pretentious understatement.
Which was a pretty good trick, now she thought about it.
And _someone_, somewhere, had had the _brilliant_ idea of siting reception as far away from the entrance as possible, presumably in the name of showcasing the architect’s masterwork in the rest of the room.
If she ever found out whose bright idea that was, she was going to hunt them down and talk to them about fiscal equity plans… in her most boring tone of voice. With references.
Eventually, after what felt like a trek across the Himalayas (she almost found herself looking for a team of Sherpas, but managed to get herself under control just in time) she finally reached the desk.
They expect you to trek all that way to check in, and then there’s no-one there? What kind of person sets this up?
Anji started to get the feeling that this was a very private, very personal version of Hell.
And just as soon as she found out what she’d done to deserve this, she was going to make damn sure she never, _ever_ did it again. Even if it meant giving up chocolate.
Well, maybe not then…
She shook her head. First off, call reception.
There _had_ to be a receptionist around here somewhere…
[Greetings, and welcome to the Hotel./
Anji got herself under control. It’s an AI, yeah? The others’ve explained this to you; perfectly reasonable in space, or the far future…
But this is 21st century Earth, she reminded herself. Who uses AI on *hotel reception*?
[Ex_cuse_ me. Did you want something, or were you planning to impersonate a stuffed goat for the rest of the day?/
‘HEY!’ Anji objected.
The desk beeped again.
[Voice recognition positive. ID: Anji Kapoor. Series ID: ‘Doctor Who’. Timeline ID: novels./
Anji started to get slightly nervous. What was the thing going to do next, list her vital statistics?
[I could if you wanted…/
‘NO THANKS!’ Anji spluttered.
Then she paused.
‘Hey, how did you know what I was thinking?’
[Stochastic prediction. Assessing the probability of what you will do next./
Anji nodded. Exactly the same sort of thing she did in futures trading… although there, it was much more of a gamble.
/Well, actually, it’s a gamble for me as well. I could explain the mathematics, but somehow I doubt you want to spend the next century discussing n-dimensional probabilistic calculus./
Anji shuddered. ‘No thanks. My degree was bad enough…’
/Ah, so? Ah. Cross-reference. Party of… nine. Most of the time./
The desk beeped.
/All present and accounted for. Oh./
‘Oh?’ Anji inquired suspiciously. When a receptionist said ‘oh’, it usually meant you’d end up forking out through the nose for something you neither wanted, cared about, or even used, but the hotel claimed was absolutely necessary…
/*All* of you? You’re *all* companions of the Doctor?/
The AI receptionist sounded _distinctly_ disconcerted.
‘Is there a problem?’ Anji asked sweetly. ‘We’d be more than happy to cover any increase in insurance premium you just experienced…’
/No, no, that will be fine, Ms Kapoor… You have been assigned the Temporis suite. Your retinal scans will let you and the other members of your party in at any time./
Anji mentally translated in her head. ‘Temporis’… ‘tempus’. ‘Time’.
She hated these attempts at knowing injokes…
/Well, excuse me, I’m sure… Please enjoy your stay at the Hotel./
Anji paused. She honestly had no idea how you dealt with a AI politely.‘Umm… do you want a tip?’
/No, of course not. What would I want with a tip? I’m an AI, for crying out loud…/
‘Buy Microsoft.’ Anji told him sweetly.
/Now *that* was uncalled for./
‘Sorry,’ Anji smirked. ‘See you around…’
‘Will you wake _up_?’
Ukyou swore, and lifted her spatula off Ryouga’s head. Harder than stone…
/I shouldn’t be surprised./ she thought wryly. /The ideas he’s got wedged in there…/
Ukyou looked up.
A teenage girl in a multicoloured jacket, with blonde streaks in her ginger hair, came marching over.
‘You… Oh my God…’
The girl boggled. ‘It bounced! It bounced off his head!’ Her jaw dropped. ‘Well mad…’
Ukyou suddenly started feeling _very_ self-conscious. What passed for normalcy on the streets of Tokyo was… well, would be absolutely insane, to the outside world.
She immediately decided to blame this on hanging around Ranchan too long.
‘Hey, is there anything I can do to help?’
‘Got a pneumatic drill?’ Ukyou said, lost in her thoughts. ‘Otherwise…’
The girl looked around. ‘Hang on, I’ll just get some water…’
/Come on,/ Ukyou urged. /Wake up. Wake _up_…/
The girl blinked. ‘Umm… was that supposed to happen?’
Ukyou finally managed to stoop laughing long enough to say ‘Was he supposed to turn into a small black pig? You could say that…’
She started laughing again.
‘Bwee! Bwee_bwee_!’ The pig managed to look offended.
‘ Oh, don’t worry, P-chan…’ Ukyou said, grinning her head off. ‘Just let me boil up some water…’
She tweaked the pig’s cheek. ‘Good job Akane isn’t here. Imagine what she’d do when she found out who her beloved P-chan is…’
‘BWWWWWEEEEE!!!!’ The pig practically screamed in fear.
‘Umm… Am I missing something here?’ the girl said.
‘You might say that…’ Ukyou said, lifting the pig onto her spatula. ‘P-chan here’s a pet pig of a…’ She trailed off. ‘Of… an acquaintance.’ She tried to keep the trembling out of her voice. ‘When he’s a boy, he can’t even speak to her without breaking something… when he’s a pig, he just can’t speak to her…’ she managed to say wryly.
/_Am_ I speaking to her?/ Ukyou wondered.
‘P-chan? Odd name…’ the girl said.
‘Short for Pig-chan - little piggy. Which you are, yes you are…’ Ukyou teased P-chan.
P-chan managed to look even more offended.
‘In _reality_, he’s called Ryouga Hibiki. And he can’t even find his way out of his back yard without ending up in Canada…’
The girl’s eyes widened. ‘Wow. I have a friend like that…’
‘Oh, sorry. Ukyou Kuonji.’
‘You think that’s odd, you should hear my friend’s name…’ Izzy said, smiling slightly.
Was it Ukyou’s imagination, or was there a hint of sadness in her voice?
She dismissed it.
‘Umm… So were you looking for him?’ Izzy wondered.
Ukyou glanced at the pig. ‘Busman’s holiday, to be honest…’
‘Yep. I’m an okonomiyaki chef, usually, and I… I wanted to test the wider market.’
‘You could always cater to the porcine market…’ Izzy suggested.
‘Bwee-bwee!’ [Fat chance!]
’You’re on holiday as well?’ Ukyou suggested.
Izzy looked slightly sheepish. ‘Well, even fangirls and part-time saviours of the omniverse have to take a break sometimes…’
‘Part-time saviour of the omniverse?’ Ukyou repeated.
Izzy winced. ‘Yeah, I know how it sounds… but the alternatives were even worse…’
Ukyou raised her eyebrows. Now _that_ sounded interesting…
Crazy, but interesting.
‘Let me get some hot water, and you can tell me ‘bout it…’
‘Hot water?’ Izzy asked blankly.
‘For P-chan here…’
‘You’re gonna cook him? Eeeuuwww…’
‘I need it to turn him back…’ Ukyou explained. ‘Cook him? ‘Course not. You don’t need live pigs for okonomiyaki…’
‘What _is_..’ Izzy started to ask.
‘Bwee!’ [DON’T GET HER STARTED!]
Ukyou grinned. ‘Are _you_ in for a surprise…’
P-chan groaned, and started beating his head against the spatula.
BONG BONG BONG BONG.
The sound of a pig beating its head against a spatula can be mistaken for no other sound in the Universe.
Washu, the greatest genius in the Universe, looked up.
And indeed, there _was_ a pig beating its head against a giant spatula nearby.
Even for the realms outside continuity, this was a little odd.
Washu frowned, and summoned up her floating laptop.
Run over-dimensional parallel scan.
Oh, this looked good…
Recent signs of exposition by an author… (intermingled with recent signs of a curse being invoked - probably someone who got turned into said pig).
Twenty seven new arrivals at the hotel.
And this author was going to try and introduce them all?
Washu grinned to herself. Obviously, this author needed the assistance of the greatest mind in the Universe.
Which meant her, naturally. :)
Somewhere, an author shudders.
He puts it down to the central heating being broken in the computer room again.
She could have _sworn_ she just felt a curse go off…
She looked around.
(Well, K-Boy was taking care of reception, which had left _her_ free to look around and generally stick her nose into things.
And judging by the people she’d seen so far, there was a _lot_ to *ahem* help out with…)
‘BWEE! BWEE _BWEE!!_’
A small black pig with a bandana round its neck went rushing past, followed by a girl in an okonomiyaki chef’s outfit holding a kettle of hot water.
‘Hey, wait up!’
Follwing behind them was a teenage girl with multicoloured hair…
Urd shrugged. All perfectly normal. _Bor-_ing…
…weren’t those waves of author exposition?
Comig from… over there?
Oooh. An author expositing about their characters.
This *obviously* needed the assistance of Urd, Goddess at large!
The author shuddered again.
/When are they gonna get that heating *fixed* ?/ he wondered.
Sam hurried over to the fountain.
A female hand levered itself over the edge. ‘Oooooohhhhh…’
‘Need any help?’
Struggling and sputtering (and getting soaked in the process) Sam managed to haul the woman out of the fountain.
‘Oh… I’m all _wet_!’ the woman protested. ‘Oops…’
Sam tried to wipe the water off her face. ‘Hey, no harm done…’
‘Ohhh…’ The other woman brightened up. ‘H-hi! I’m Mihoshi Kuramitsu! Pleased to meet you!’
/Wow. Is she for real?/ Sam thought. Out loud, she said ‘Umm… Hi. I’m Samantha Jones.’
‘Are you on holiday too?’ Mihoshi asked.
Sam nodded. ‘Mm-hmm… Umm…’
She briefly wondered how, exactly, you explained to someone that their ears - and the two tiny little fangs in their mouth, for that matter - did pretty much identify them as an alien…
Then again, she reflected, most people didn’t _want_ to see an alien, up close and personal.
Sam quickly decided to change the subject.
‘So… Enjoying Earth?’
‘Oh, yes. It’s… it’s so _romantic_ some…’ Mihoshi trailed off. ‘Oh dear. Oh no. Is my face red… How did you _know?!_’
Sam covered a smile. For some reason, you couldn’t help liking Mihoshi. She was so completely _innocent_. Hurting her would be like kicking a puppy - and about as morally justifiable.
‘Lucky guess,’ Sam said.
‘Oh! Oh… Please don’t tell anyone! Tenchi-kun would be so _unhappy_ if he found out someone else knew!’
Sam looked around.’It’ll be okay. Don’t think most of the people round here’d bat an eyelid at you…’
‘Really? They wouldn’t?’
Sam nodded. ‘Really.’
‘Yowza.’ Mihoshi breathed. ‘Oh, this is going to be _wonderful!_ We’re going to have a great time!’
‘We?!’ Sam repeated.
When someone said ‘we’ like that, Sam had learned from long experience as a student activist, it usually meant everyone ending up in the brown stuff.
But before she could say anything else…
…Mihoshi had grabbed her by the hand and dragged her off.
‘Damn.’ Washu muttered. ‘Partial exposition. No wonder I missed it.’
She sighed. Mihoshi managed to mess up _everything_ she touched. It was her own peculiar genius.
And somehow, _she’d_ been made a Galactic Police Detective…
Washu filed a mental note to check on the Galactic Police entrance exams, then set off on the trail of the next piece of exposition.
Urd, meanwhile, was pursuing her _own_ line of attack.
‘I’m ready for the monologue now…’
She glanced around. Where _was_ that author, anyway?
Never mind. She could take care of it herself.
‘Hey, Urd! Whatcha doing?’
‘Get _out_ of here, brat!’
Skuld glared at her sister. ‘Pardon _me…_ Keiichi’s just…’ She trailed off, and glanced in the direction Urd was looking in. ‘You’re trying to get an exposition! Without us!’
‘It’s not like that!’ Urd protested.
‘Oh yeah?’ Skuld turned and smiled sweetly. ‘Hi there! I’m Skuld, Goddess Second Class, Limited. This here’s my big sister Urd… _also_ a Goddess Second Class…’
‘Shutupshutupshutupshutup….’ Urd hissed.
‘…violent, pushy, selfish…’
‘That’s enough!’ Urd clapped a hand over Skuld’s mouth. ‘They don’t need to know that!’
Belldandy poked her head into the room. ‘Oh, there you are…’ She glanced in the direction Urd and Skuld were looking in. ‘Oh? Is it time for the exposition already?’
Urd was speechless.
Washu frowned. Again.
Very strange readings indeed.
Much like her Causality Controller…
Hmm. Someone else with time travel?
Only to be expected - there _were_ ‘Doctor Who’ characters around…
Washu’s eyebrows raised. According to this, the time machine was…
…standing next to her.
The chubby-cheeked woman with long red hair standing beside her blinked. ‘You _are_ Washu Habuki, the Universe’s greatest mad scientist, correct?’
In Washu’s mind, Embarrassment was fighting with Pride.
‘Naturally. Hmm…’ Washu examined the living time machine more closely. ‘Now that’s interesting… No Mass.’
‘Literally.’ the woman added. ‘Being built out of block transfer mathematics has its advantages…’
Washu nearly splurted out of her nose. ‘_Mathematics?!_ A living time machine built out of mathematics?! Ye gods! The thesis alone would be…’ She drifted off in thoughts of the scientific possibilities. ‘Ooooh…’
The time machine cocked her head. ‘Now _that’s_ interesting. Hmm. Where have I seen that organic pattern before…?’
‘Ah-heh…’ Washu coughed nervously
‘Oh, that’s right. Politeness is the expected signal here. I’d nearly forgotten…’ The time machine shook her hand. ‘Hello. I’m Compassion. I believe you’ve already learned what I am, so we can skip that part. Now… Hmm. You know, a scientific study _would_ be interesting…’
‘For who?’ Washu wondered.
Compassion raised her eyebrows. ‘The scientific community. Obviously…’
Mercifully, Washu’s computer beeped again.
‘Oh, look at that, another exposition. Must be going…’
Tatewaki Kuno strode through the hotel as if he owned it.
After all, was he not rich? Was he not handsome? Was he not devastatingly intelligent?
To Kuno, these were basic truths of the Universe.
To the Universe, though, this was massive self-delusion. And it enjoyed telling Kuno this at every possible opportunity.
Unfortunately, also among Kuno’s gifts was the capacity for hearing only what he wanted to hear.
He turned a corner…
…and looked upon a most glorious sight.
The figure radiated nobility, honour, and pride. It represented everything Kuno stood for.
Lo, such was its presence that even a mere Hawaiian shirt was transformed into the trappings of a hero.
Kuno bowed before the figure.
‘Jackson-san. The great Tatewaki Kuno desires your most noble autograph.’
‘For the last time - *he’s not Samuel L. Jackson!*’ the blonde woman in a jumpsuit said.
Kuno looked upon her, and spake, saying ‘And who are you, to challenge Tatewaki Kuno, Blue Thunder of Furunkan High, so?’
‘_I_ am Stacy Townsend. And *this* is my husband, Ssard.’
Kuno looked upon her, and was unimpressed. ‘Why should the most lofty Jackson-kun ever deign to marry one such as you? Truly you must be counted among the deluded, for claiming such.’
‘_Look_,’ Stacy said, stabbing at her ring. ‘_this_ is my wedding ring.’ She stabbed at ‘Jackson’s’ finger. ‘_That_ is its partner. We’re _married_.’
‘Jackson-kun… speak truth, that the great Kuno’s divine ears may hear it. Is this unworthy creature indeed your wife?’
‘UNWORTHY?!!?’ Stacy exploded. ‘Listen, buster…’
‘Jackson’ turned to her. ‘Stacy… allow me.’
The figure blurred into light.
And reformed as a large reptilian humanoid, in green armour.
‘This is my true appearance. _Now_ do you understand? _That_ form was a disguise.’
Kuno stepped back. ‘So… now it becomes clear.’
‘_You_’ his finger pointed righteously at Stacy, ‘are, no doubt, a witch! Who traffics with the forces of the infernal to further thy own misbegotten plans!’
‘And _this…_ this _demon_, is a demon thou hast conjured from the pits of Hell, that it might decieve and tempt others into foulness… and so, thou hast the real Jackson-kun imprisoned somewhere, that thy monstrous plan might go unimpeded. No more! No more! So swears Tatewaki Kuno, upperclassman and Blue Thunder of Furinkan High! Begone!’
Ssard clubbed him over the head with a nearby piece of statuary. ‘You talk too much.’
‘Is he going to be all right?’ Stacy asked worriedly.
‘With a head that hard, I believe so…’ Ssard shook his head. ‘I suppose I should be grateful.’
‘Grateful?’ Stacy inquired.
‘Consider. At the moment, he thinks I am a demon. If he learned I was from Mars…’
Soon afterwards, Sasuke, the Kuno family ninja (don’t ask. *Really*, don’t ask), came upon the fallen body of his master.
Upon seeing it, he sighed, and dragged it back to their room.
Kuno-san could make enemies just by walking around, Sasuke had observed.
Nevertheless, he was Sasuke’s master…
‘Washu-chan, are you alright?’
Washu turned around, and breathed a sigh of relief. ‘Oh, Sasami-chan, it’s you. Thank God for that…’
Sasami blinked. ‘Something wrong, Washu-chan?’
‘Wrong? Wrong? Why should there be anything wrong?’
‘Well… you’re six feet up a palm tree.’
‘Ex… Experiment. That’s it. Just checking the resiliency of palm trees…’ Washu slid down the tree.
‘Oh,’ Sasami said. ‘Umm… Onee-sama and Ryo-san are fighting again…’
‘So what else is new?’ Washu asked rhetorically.
‘No, I mean they’re fighting over the karaoke machine…’
‘HOW DARE YOU!’ Ayeka screamed. ‘I AM THE CROWN PRINCESS OF THE ROYAL HOUSE OF JURAI!’
‘Yeah, but like I said, you still suck at karaoke…’ the tall, thin young man said. He shook his head. ‘A flock of dead seagulls could do better than you…’
‘Sounds like he’s heard you before…’ Ryoko said, smirking.
The man raised his eyebrows. ‘And don’t get me started on _your_ voice…’ He shuddered.
‘And what would _you_ know about good music, huh?’ Ryoko demanded.
The man bowed. ‘Fitz Kreiner. Sixties dropout and guitarist, at your service.’
‘Yeah.’ Fitz stared at Ryoko’s face. ‘Hold on a minute…’ He clicked his fingers. ‘ _I_ know where I saw you before. One of those funky holographic TV shows.’
‘Really?’ Ryoko started blushing.
‘Yeah… What’d they say again? “The legendary space pirate Ryoko, wanted across the Galactic Union for theft, vandalism, assault, planetary destruction…”’
‘Sounds like he knows you already, doesn’t it?’ Ayeka said, smirking.
‘HEY!’ Ryoko turned on Ayeka. ‘Get off my back! The Statute of Limitations ran out ages ago!’
‘There’s always the civil case…’ Ayeka commented. ‘Of course, the word “civil” is about as appropriate as the word “success”, in your case…’
Washu and Sasami entered the bar.
Washu facefaulted. ‘Oh dear…’
‘Hey, look! Isn’t that Robert DeNiro?’ Fitz said.
Ryoko and Ayeka turned to look. ‘Where?’
‘I _do_ apologise for my daughter’s behaviour…’ Washu said, nudging Ryoko’s body with her foot.
Fitz blinked. ‘She’s your _daughter_? But you’re only…’
‘I’m older than I look. About 20, 000 years, to be exact…’
Fitz nodded. ‘Oh, I see.’ He looked curiously at Washu. ‘You don’t have two hearts, do you?’
Washu blinked. ‘No. Why?’
Fitz shook his head. ‘Just curious…’ He looked back and forth between Sasami and Ayeka (Ayeka rubbing her headlump and groaning). ‘Umm… are you two related?’ he asked.
‘She’s my big sister,’ Sasami explained.
Fitz boggled slightly. ‘Whoa. Talk about your “happy families”…’
The Principal stalked the corridors of the Hotel in search of his favourite prey.
Why the chill’en couldn’t keep the hair nice an’ short, in a really nice bowl cut, he couldn’t understand.
So he took it upon himself to do it for them.
With a pair of scissors.
And then he saw it.
A pigtail. A little pigtail.
He readied the scissors. Bruuda was a student fer sure, and he was about ta ge’ a cutting tonite…
‘Yeah? What yo’ want?’
The androgynous woman behind him smiled. ‘I am so dreadfully sorry, but I can’t let you attack that boy.’
‘Who say anythin’ ‘bout attack?’ the Principal demanded. ‘I just goin’ to give him a little haircut…’
The woman winced. ‘That’s what I meant. Oh well. In that case…’
She landed a well-placed punch on the Prinipal’s jaw.
‘Hey!’ The boy had finally notived the commotion. ‘What was _that_ for?!’
‘Ah. Tenchi Masaki, I presume?’
‘Yes…?’ the boy said warily.
She bowed. ‘Fey Truscott-Sade, agent for the Crown.’
‘Oh no… what does Jurai want with me *now*?’
Fey winced. ‘Wrong Crown. I’m an agent of the British Crown…’
Tenchi boggled. ‘*Britain?!*’
‘To an extent… Also for certain galactic powers, too.’ Fey said. ‘I wouldn’t worry too much. I’m on holiday.’ She looked down at the Principal’s prone body. ‘And, oddly enough, your haircut is important to the history of Jurai…’
With that, she left.
Tenchi blinked. ‘What on Earth was _that_ about?!’
Charley was wandering around the hotel, starry-eyed.
All these sights, all these sounds…
…It was everything she’d ever expected from becoming an adventuress, and then some.
Well… everything except one thing, she thought wistfully, thinking of a certain assignment she’d made, a long way away, a long time ago…
And proceeded to walk right into someone.
‘Here, let me pick that up,’ Charley said automatically, hefting the piece of luggage she’d knocked out of the boy’s hand.
‘Thanks…’ He paused. ‘This is probably very rude, but… you speak very good Japanese.’
‘It’s a gift.’ Charley said.
His eyebrows raised. ‘Not magical, I hope…’
‘It isn’t magical, is it?’ he asked, his brow creasing.
‘Actually… I don’t know.’ Charley confessed. ‘It was a gift from my travelling companion…’
‘Oh right… Listen, this may sound odd, but you’re sure your companion’s not a god, demon, earth spirit… anything like that?’
Charley spread her hands. ‘He claims to come from the planet Gallifrey. I don’t know if that’s any help…’
He breathed out. ‘An alien. Whew… Sorry.’
‘Oh, that’s all right. Glad I could help you…’
His mouth turned up at the corner. ‘No, I’m sorry. Living with three goddesses does tend to make you a bit jumpy…’
‘Goddesses?’ Charley repeated.
Charley desperately - _desperately_ - wanted to ask. Instead, as any well-brought up young woman did, she said ‘Charlotte Pollard.’
‘Keiichi Morisato. I’d shake, but…’
Charley nodded. ‘Will you be okay with those?’
He smiled a little. ‘Should be, we’re outside the room…’
Charley’s jaw dropped.
‘Oh, I’m sorry,’ the girl who’d just stepped out of the doorknob - the *doorknob* - said. She rubbed her forehead. ‘I do apologise, it’s been a long day…’
‘Hello,’ Charley said nervously. ‘Charlotte Pollard.’ She curtsied.
The girl curtsied in return. ‘Belldandy. Please, won’t you come in for a cup of tea?’
Charley hesitated, torn between what Isabelle would call ‘freaking out’, and the demands of politeness.
Politeness won, but it was a close run thing.
Charley entered the suite of rooms.
The others looked up from their various activities.
‘Have a good time?’ Sam asked.
‘I… I think so…’ Charley said.
Before anyone could speak, though…
Everyone in the hotel seemed to speak as one.
‘You wouldn’t *believe* who I ran into…’
The others looked at each other.
Fitz was the first to break the silence that followed.
‘Y’know, I’m sure I’ve heard that before somewhere…’
Copyright 2001 Imran Inayat