The main thought reverberating through Adric's head was 'What the _bloody_ _hell_ is going _on_?'
-Ah. Would this be a good time for a flashback sequence?-
The Doctor's voice was quiet, but still filled with a cold rage. 'I think everyone here does deserve an explanation, don't you?'
-Okay... Actually, I've never tried this before. Can't be _that_ hard, anyway. Here we go...-
'*WHAT?!?!?*' came the outraged scream from the pub's denizens, but before any expletives could be added, the world _blurred_...
-Hey, that's nifty-
-Okay, so this was the 'Round a couple of days...hey, stop pushing. What the *hell*-
'This is a flashback sequence, deadhead. You're telling us what happened, and we're _all_ seeing it.'
-Okay, but why does it look like we're in a cinema?-
'Ask your subconscious.'
-He's not talking to me-
-Hey, can somebody get the popcorn?-
-Anyway, this was the 'Round a couple of days ago...-
Fitz wandered in to the 'Round, waving at a couple of authors he recognised as he made his way to a particular back room. 'Hi, guys. How's the poker game going?'
'Kroton's cheating. I don't know how, but he's cheating.'
Kroton looked aggrieved. 'With this face, would I lie? Besides, there's nothing up my sleeves...'
'Only because you don't have any.' Stacy retorted.
Fitz slipped into a chair. 'Remind me again why we do this...'
'From what I've seen, get drunk, talk about pointless things, lose and gain matchsticks...'
'Yes, thank you, Compassion. In that case, why are _you_ here?'
'My storeroom's out of matchsticks.'
Fitz raised a sardonic eyebrow. 'And you couldn't _buy_ some?'
Compassion gave him an icy smile. 'For some reason, shopkeepers don't appreciate being paid with block transfer equations...'
'Still freaks me out, you being a TARDIS,' Izzy interjected. 'I mean, okay, so you came off a bit Seven-y at first, but-'
'Seven?' Ssard asked.
'The probability is that Izzy is referring to a popular female character in a little-regarded 20th century sci-fi television programme.' Compassion informed him.
'That's... enough information. Thank you.'
'_Like I said_,' Izzy continued, with particular emphasis, 'everybody thought you were going to do a Human Nature-sorta thing. You know, becoming human, and all that...'
Sam gave a tight smile. 'Look at it this way: how many of us ended up part-human?'
Izzy thought about this. 'Point. 'Kay, so looking back, we shouldn't have expected it... but-'
'*Part-* human?' Anji's jaw dropped. 'Just ...what does that... mean? Exactly?'
Fey put her head in her hands. 'Let me guess: nobody has given Miss Kapoor a full briefing yet, am I right?'
The embarrassed looks around the table were enough response.
Fey muttered under her breath. Something about 'dirty work.'
Then she turned her full attention on Anji.'This is one of the... odder things that comes up when talking about 'our' Doctor. We believe it has something to do with the Author Mafia, ourselves, although...' She shook her head.
'I am Fey Truscott-Sade, an agent for His Highness King George VI. I am also Shayde, a Matrix construct who serves Rassilon's Council of High Evolutionaries. We were two seperate beings who... fused after Shayde was nearly destroyed.'
'W-why?' Anji gaped.
'I do _not_ abandon my friends. And Shayde was my friend.' A dark look passed across Fey's face.
'Kroton, as you know, is a cyborg. Sam here is a changeling; her genetic structure has been fused with that of an extra-dimensional race called the Sidhe. Compassion was originally a human, before she joined the Remote. Fitz... well, Fitz is still human. But his current body has been manufactured. Izzy, Stacy and Ssard are who they look like. So far.'
'This is what we mean when we say _part-human_. More often than not, that is how we end up.'
'And then there's the Doc himself,' Fitz pointed out. 'He _says_ he's half-human, and he sounds like he means it. But...I dunno. He's not telling us everything.'
Anji started giggling. Which was a response the others had expected. What she _said_, however...
'Ohhh.... My brother would _love_ you guys. He keeps wittering on about half-human-alien hybrids. If he met you guys, he'd have a heart attack....'
At which point, the Doctor burst through the door.
And suddenly, all of them were giggling uncontrollably. Apart from the Doctor, who stood in the doorway with a charmingly bemused look on his face. Which set them all giggling again.
The Doctor shook his head. 'Sometimes I wonder about you lot... Anyway, no time for that now. Assignment time.'
'Fanfic this session, I'm afraid.'
Sam started beating her head against the table. Largely because 'fanfic' for her largely meant 'you're going to be tortured, or treated as an insufferable jerk.'
The others looked bored. It wasn't like _they_ got used all that often in fanfic. Usually, the Doctor got most of the assignments alone.
'Let's see... upcoming historical Internet Adventure... must check with the Mod about that... couple of solo short stories, assorted drabbles... '
After the pause had dragged on for a *little* bit longer, Compassion asked 'Was there anything else, Doctor?'
'Take a look,' the Doctor replied. He threw a piece of paper on the table.
The companions craned to read it. And their jaws dropped in astonishment.
'_You_ are seriously saying....' Kroton began.
'No. It's this author's own proposal.'
Ssard stated the obvious. 'A group proposal. An adventure for _all_ of us.'
Sam's mind came to a very nasty conclusion. 'Doctor... this isn't an alternative universe adventure, is it?'
The Doctor had the decency to look abashed. 'Yes... in the broad outline.'
'*No.* *Not again.*' Sam's voice would have chilled nitrogen.
'Sam. Sam, Sam, Sam... It's not going to happen, I promise you. A simple, easy adventure. What could go wrong?'
(Anji whispered to Fitz, sotto voce. 'What's the issue here?'
Fitz whispered back. 'I don't know. It was an adventure they had before I arrived. From what I can guess... Sam didn't come out of it too well.'
'Worse. And when I say worse... I think "dark, serious abuse and violence" worse. And with all the "Sam Must Die" posts... for her, it's very real, and _very_ serious.' Fitz's voice carried a definite edge.)
'I refuse to answer that on the grounds it'd incriminate you.' Izzy tartly replied. 'What's the premise?'
Again the Doctor looked abashed. 'Ah. Well. Ahem.'
Nine companions chorused as one: '_What's the premise?_'
'It's a alt-universe where we're...' The Doctor said the word as if he'd rather be anywhere else than here. '...Superheroes.' He looked from face to face. 'It could be worse,' he cajoled. 'The author had a "Robin Hood" premise too...'
The storm broke.
To Be Continued...
Copyright 2001 Imran Inayat