(In the Flashback Cinema...
'Okay, I see how it started... but how'd they end up getting from there, to *this*?' Adric's gesture indicated the freeze-frame on the 'present'.
-You're not gonna like this...-
'It's not Nyssa again, is it?'
-No. Grief. Anybody with a brain'd think you were obsessed by that little psychopath. No. What it is, is that... I ... ummm... jumpcut-
-I saved some of the example scenes from the story, and dumped the rest. There's enough to get a good idea of what's going on. At least I think there is...-
'Are you sure you don't work for BBC Archives?'
-Hey! I'm a bad writer, not an unthinking git... Can you pass the Lilt, please?-
'Yep. Here you go.'
A city street. With a troop of Autons walking down it. Their hands have flipped off to reveal the familiar Auton lasers, and they're shooting down the people around them.
'_Spearhead?!_ You ripped off Spearhead?'
-It could've been worse... You don't wanna see the lone gunman version...-
'I'm not going to ask.'
There is a *blur*.
Something is moving at _hideous_ speed towards the Autons.
They're trying to get a bead on it, but it's moving too fast to see.
It dodges around and through the group of Autons
The Autons attempt to get shots at it off; however, this usually means that instead of hitting the blur, they hit the other Autons.
Most of the Auton go down in a heap of scorched plastic, until only one is left standing. Again, it attempts to get a lock on the blur, now moving swiftly away (why, we can't tell).
Then the blur returns, heading at full speed towards the Auton. It attempts to get shots off, but they miss by a good foot or so.
In the final few seconds before impact, the Auton gets lucky. It looses off one more shot...
And the film goes into slow motion.
Everything slows to a virtual standstill, except for the laser bolt and the blur.
As we slow down, we can see that the blur is actually Sam, moving (compared to the slow-motion world) at approximately jogging pace. She can obviously see the bolt, but is too close to the Auton to dodge it.
The bolt gets closer, and closer, and closer...
In the milliseconds before impact, an area of skin on Sam's neck appears to glow with a golden light.
The film returns to normal speed.
The blur crashes backward into the ground, some way from the Auton.
It strides over, apparently intent on finishing Sam off.
It, and we, see that where Sam's body should be, there's now a glass sculpture of Sam, rubbing its head and groaning.
The Auton looks around, apparently anticipating a trick, then looses off a bolt.
Too fast to see, the bolt refracts within the sculpture and returns straight to the Auton.
The Auton looks vaguely offended before its head explodes. Its body crashes to the ground.
The 'sculpture' Sam picks herself up off the ground, looks around as if to ensure everybody's alright, then strides off, apparently intent on some personal mission.
We fade out.
'You take too many drugs.'
-Actually, I got the idea from an issue of 'The Flash'-
Adric closed his eyes. 'Like I said... And would you mind explaining just _what_ we've seen?'
-Ah. Apparently it needs an explanation. Okay, it goes something like this: The theory is that whenever Sam's in danger, her biodata, thanks to the Sidhe material, rewrites itself so she can deal with it. So, basically, whenever she's in danger, her powers, and her past, adapt to cope-
'Don't you think that's taking flexible history a *bit* too far?'
-Hey! Like you said, I was on drugs at the time... Anyway, you'll like the next one-
A giant plastic dinosaur is maurading its way through San Francisco. It looks uncannily like Barney.
Suddenly, a giant Mothra appears, apparently intent on battling the evil plastic beastie.
-Like it? I got the idea off one of those late-night horror movies-
'*You*,' Adric said, 'are seriously warped. I _love_ this...'
Barney's claws go straight through the giant Mothra. Apparently enraged by this, and by Mothra's constant flittering, Barney launches himself at Mothra.
Mothra nimbly dodges back.
Barney tries again.
This happens a few more times. Then Mothra apparently gives up and flies away.
The audience moaned.
Then Gantera erupts out of the ocean.
The audience cheered.
Adric whispered to the author 'So you're a Godzilla fan. What's this got to do with anything?'
The author smirked. -Wait-
Barney turns and heads towards this new threat, sinking beneath the waters of the Bay as it goes.
Gantera backs away.
Barney moves relentlessly towards him, sinking all the time, until he can no longer be seen.
Gantera slowly pedals west, until he's out of sight.
The crowd gathered on the edge of the Bay cheer...
...as did the audience.
The film cuts to the roof of a cabin hut on the Bay. Standing on it is Izzy.
...and the 'sunburst' amulet set into her belt stops glowing.
The distant image of Gantera cuts out.
Kroton helps lift her down.
Once she's on the ground, she high-fives him.
'One down, more idiot plastic to go....'
Kroton's voice is admiring. 'That was, literally, the stupidest monster I have *ever* seen. _Anyone_ could see that giant moth and turtle were illusions, but it just kept on going...'
Izzy grins. 'Trick of the trade. Come on, we've gotta help the others...'
We fade out.
'...Right. Izzy's amulet produces massive holograms.'
-Yep. She also does fireworks too-
'Ace isn't going to be happy about that...'
... a Nestene creature is slithering up Lombard Street, attempting to squelch people as it goes. Unfortunately, Fitz is one of the people in the crowd it's about to squelch.
He stumbles, and falls flat on his face.
The Nestene creature looms up over him, apparently ready to squish him.
Fitz's eyes unfocus...
...and we see a titanic, shadowy image of Fitz standing above his prone body.
The Nestene creature a) is apparently aware of the shadow image, and b) looks like a prawn from up here. It starts waving its tentacles agitatedly.
The giant image of Fitz reaches out a finger.
And we CUT to the street, a while later. Fitz looks as if he's just woken up from a short nap - and looks simultaneously horrified and disgusted by the large, squelched blob in front of him which used to be the Nestene.
Then he looks further beyond it. Behind the creature, carved into the pavement, is a massive 'R', in the middle of a circle.
Fitz turns away from the camera, and throws up.
We fade out.
'You unleashed the *Revolution Man?!* As *Fitz?!*'
-Well, I was sort of thinking along Spectre-like lines: He's got some immensely powerful entity linked to him, which may or may not be him, and which is virtually uncontrollable. Odd side-effect was the emotional field - Fitz ends up being naturally able to affect how people feel about him. So... he gets a baseline power he can control, but the *source* of that...-
-Alright, alright, I didn't think it through, *okay*?!? And now he's stuck with it...-
We're outside a fairly high-class restaurant. The camera moves in as the conversation continues.
'So, cousin dearest, have you considered our offer?' A smooth, slimy male voice, from deep inside the restaurant.
'I have.' It's a woman's voice, cold and hard.
'Your answer is 'No,' I take it.'
'Might I ask why?'
'I serve them because I choose to. They no longer command. I stand with my friends because I care about them, and my loyalty lies with them. You may offer mysteries and secrets beyond imagining... but I choose to find them for myself.'
'Very well, then.'
'Your offer was generous...but now, I believe, my friends are in grave danger, and it's time to intervene. Thank you for your time.'
Fey stands up, crosses her arms, and 'phases' out...
...leaving, sitting in the chair across from her, what looks like an abandoned mannequin.
-Oh. I just figured that the Matrix would be on the same sort of level as the Nestene, and they'd find Fey, or Feyde, similar enough to themselves that they could make a deal...-
'But isn't the Nestene a Great Old... Oh no.'
-That _was_ what I had in mind, yes...-
'Another of Mad Larry's ideas again. *Brilliant*' This last was said with such withering sarcasm that the author jumped.
-Come on... It puts a totally different light on Time Lord history...-
Adric sighed. 'No-one _cares_ about Gallifreyan history. We've seen far too much of it.'
-Oh really? Then why have we got two books on the schedule dealing with it, eh? Anyway, maybe _this_ will be more to your liking...-
Can we say mad panic? 'Course we can. This time, it's in a shopping mall... and the kitchenware's going crazy. As is the electrical equipment, the sports equipment, the lights, the bags...
The Doctor's standing amidst the mad rush, trying to get everybody's attention. Eventually, he jumps up on a nearby bench.
'Everybody's attention, please. If you could _all_ follow me?'
He herds everyone within hearing through the supermarket doorway, promising it'll be safe from the plastic.
He coaxes, he soothes, he persuades, he convinces...
Until finally, everyone in the area is gone.
The door folds back into Compassion. 'Is that the last of them?'
The Doctor nods. 'In this area, anyway. Still a good number to go.'
'Then let's get on with it. My internal hotel won't be able to hold them for very long...'
Smiling slightly, the Doctor leads the way to the next group of endangered people.
'Still a TARDIS, then...'
-Yep- the author said. -Took absolutely _no_ tweaking whatsoever. A walking, talking TARDIS. Absolutely perfect. And the Doc's still _himself_, you'll notice... Cammy's still terrifying, but it works...-
'If we could forego the author egotrip...?'
The author pouted. -Oh, okay...-
The Replica smiles. 'So nice to meet one of your kind again...'
Kroton gives him an expressionless look.
'..Especially after the many humiliating defeats you suffered at our hands. Let me see... how many times has the Cyber-race invaded our territory?'
Kroton's data-logs pop up the answer. 'Three hundred and seventy one.'
'Getting a little glitchy, are we? It's only been one hundred and sixty...'
Mentally, Kroton slaps himself; he's obviously from the future of the Consciousness, so the Cybermen will have more meetings with the Nestene that''ll be recorded.
'...and you have won... two, I believe it is, times.'
Kroton stays quiet. He's estimating the distances between himself, the Replica, and Izzy (currently unconscious in the Replica's arms).
'No snappy comeback? No protest that the Cyber-race has simply withdrawn, made a "strategic manoevre"? No boasts of conquest, expansion, survival?' The Replica tuts. 'What are they programming you with, these days? As you can see, by your logic, your position is untenable: your first priority is survival, so _she_,' he gestures to the girl in his arms, 'is no longer a concern to you. This is our promise: leave now, and survive for another day.'
Kroton considers this. Then he slams his staff into the Replica's chest, forcing him to drop Izzy.
'Personally,' he says, 'my first priority is to get both her _and_ me out of here now. So you won't mind if I do that, will you?
-I _like_ Kroton...-
Adric shuddered. 'I've got nothing against *him*; he's a good guy. But does he _have_ to be a Cyberman?'
-What's wrong with... Ah. Your first death-
-He _is_ one of the Eighth's companions; leaving him out through audience prejudice isn't exactly fair on him. Besides, most people like him...-
'Most people like Psycho Nyssa. You think I'm going to start taking _them_ seriously?'
-Point. Anyway, couple more to go...-
'This is... not honourable.'
The Constructs which surround Ssard in a semicircle in the warehouse cock their heads.
'I am, as you see, unarmed. It is... not honourable, amongst my people, to let a warrior die fighting, without a weapon of defence.'
The Constructs look at each other, as if debating with themselves. Then one of them throws him a small crate from amongst the many stacked up.
Ssard has expected this. It would be truly foolish to believe that they would hand him one of their own lasers. Of course, first and foremost, what he had expected was a quick death. _This_ is odd behaviour.
He throws the crate up into the darkness of the warehouse ceiling.
The Autons watch this act of stupidity with blank eyes. Then they raise their hands, and flip them off to reveal the lasers.
The crate comes tumbling down again. Along with a large number of others, burying the Autons beneath them.
Ssard bows before a) worthy enemies, and b) thoughtless foes.
Then he leaves.
-Now, _this_ one was hard. It's difficult trying to write for a Martian, especially given the expansion of their culture that's been going on...-
'Why did you make the Autons so thoughtless?'
-'Cause it was a trap. Our heroes _know_ it's a trap; what they didn't know is what it was-
The group of heroes are clustered outside the entrance to a tall skyscraper.
'So how do we get in without alerting anyone?' Sam whispers.
The Doctor rummages in his pockets... but Stacy has already pulled something metallic and spidery out of a jumpsuit pocket. 'This ought to take care of things.'
The Doctor frowns. 'Stacy, for one thing, that's a totally anachronistic piece of technology...' He ignores the grunts of disbelief that come from around him, '... and even in your era, it's highly illegal. Where did you get it?'
Stacy shrugs. 'It's something every student does. Get wildly drunk, have flash of inspiration, decide making a data-spider would be a good idea. He's my sixth so far.'
'Alright, alright... Let him loose and let's be done with it, shall we?'
Stacy places the data-spider against the glass door. Gently, it begins to slice a hole in the glass...
Adric relaxed. 'Well, at least _one_ of them got out safely...'
-True- the author said. -Besides, the story called for one of them to be comparatively normal... Okay, it ended up being 23rd Century Girl, but the point still holds-
He paused. -I think... Anyway, since she's from the 23rd century, she gets access to the technology of the time, and knows something about future history. Not _everything_; more things closer to her time...-
Adric frowned. 'None of that answers my question.'
'How did they end up with superpowers in the first place?'
Adric began to get a very nasty feeling about this.
'You _did_ give them an origin, didn't you?'
-Well, yes and no-
-What I'd planned, was that we'd see the origins in flashback as the story unfolded- the author hastily explained.
Something occurred to Adric.'...Hold on. You said you'd never done flashbacks.'
-Yah, well, I figured I could give it a _shot_...- the author pointed out.
'You haven't met the WANKERs, have you? You'd get on wonderfully...'
-I _resent_ that- the author said.
Adric smirked. 'Not too far gone, then.... What happened?'
-Huh?- The author sounded surprised.
'With the flashbacks.'
-Oh, them. I'd managed to do Sam's before *it* happened... was gonna be the next story. The other seven would've followed over time... basically tell two overlapping stories, one in the past and one in the present-
'And this would've irritated _how_ many people?' Adric questioned.
-Hey, I wasn't gonna withhold _all_ the answers...- the author said. -Anyway, Sam's origin's coming up on screen-
It's Sam, in a Goth club. However, this is *dark-haired* Sam, not blonde Sam.
She's chatting to two guys. We see them go away, and return with a freaked-out friend.
'Vampire Science ripoff.'
-Sshh. It's not what you think-
Momentary glimpses. We see the two of them dancing. Then it slowly fades into black and white as we cut between his mouth, and her bloodstained neck. We see her reach up in surprise, then collapse.
PaulDoc storms over. It's apparent from the look on his face that he's outraged at what's happened.
It's also apparent, from his body language, that he doesn't know the girl who's been attacked.
'Whoah. Didn't think you could pull _that_ off onscreen.'
-Neither did I-
We're in an ambulance. The Doctor's talking desperately to someone who we can't see; a paramedic maybe?
Then it CUTS to:
The Doctor in Walker General A&E. One of the doctors comes over and softly tells him something. The Doctor looks devastated.
We CUT again to:
The Doctor holding Sam's hand, as if he could *will* life into her. Then the doctor that we saw in the last scene tells him something. The Doctor nods, regretfully, and stands up. A nurse pulls the shroud over Sam's head.
'I thought you _knew_ about Sam and being killed! Why the hell did you do *that*?!?'
-I - I- th- I thought it was necessary. She _had_ to die, for what happened next...-
Two paramedics arrive to wheel Sam's body away. They hustle everyone else away, pointing to what appears to be 'paperwork'.
They take positions at either end of the bed, and nod to each other.
The room goes still. The clock on the wall above the bed stops ticking.
Then the paramedics disappear. As does Sam's body, leaving nothing behind but a few sparkling lights.
The clock starts ticking again.
-That _was_ the impression I wanted...-
'Why use _them_?'
-[shrugs] I needed a reason for Sam to have a link to the Vortex which made her biodata malleable. The Sidhe seemed like the best option-
'You're telling me... that _that_ was just a justification to give her a superpower?'
-No! It's also a plot hook: what were _they?_ What have they done with Sam? Why Sam? Why here? What're they going to want in repayment for bringing her back?
And... it's also a character hook: She's about to be _brought back from the dead._ That's gotta have an effect on _anybody!_ And we can explore it through the following adventures-
-I _know_. But we hurt and kill characters all the time. Actually *meeting* them... makes it more personal. They're more *people*, if you get what I mean...-
'Hmm...' Adric frowned. This _was_ a common response for authors who visited the 'Round. Actually meeting the people you were going to kill, or write off, tended to either jade authors to their suffering pretty quickly, or hypersensitise them, and make them prone to exploring the emotional consequences
For some reason, most of _his_ authors (bar Brad and Doug) seemed to fall into category 1...
A nurse pokes his head through the curtains surrounding Sam's bed. The paramedics haven't left for 10 minutes: what are they _doing_ in there?
CUT to: An alarm sounding through the hospital, and assorted medical staff gathered around Sam's bed. She's awake, and apparently talking. The medical staff are arguing amongst themselves. We also notice that her hair is now blonde...
CUT to: Grace's apartment, near dawn. Grace has just put the phone down. She has a boggled expression on her face. The Doctor asks her something; she responds, looking slightly dazed.
The Doctor's expression looks dangerous; he shoots out of the apartment at top speed. Grace follows, pulling her coat on as fast as she can.
CUT to: the Doctor marching through the hospital corridors, Grace, coming up behind him, making hurried explanations.
He bursts into Sam's room. Sam looks up from the book she's reading, startled by the stranger who's just burst in.
Grace (who's just entered) makes some sort of explanation to Sam; meanwhile, the Doctor is busy examining Sam's teeth.
Sam looks a little bewildered.
Then the Doctor notices a crack of sunlight on Sam's hand. It's not burning her. Which means... she isn't becoming a vampire. He sweeps her off into a big hug.
Sam looks even more bewildered (and pleased).
When the Doctor calms down, he comments on Sam's blonde hair. Sam seems surprised; she's a brunette. The Doctor frowns, and whips out a scissors to cut some of Sam's hair off.
Sam is now looking utterly freaked by this weirdo.
-Thanks. Personally, I think it's okay. Still think Vamp Sci's is better, though...-
There was a touch of embarrassment in the author's voice.
Something clicked in Adric's brain. 'These _were_ new origins, weren't they?'
The author sounded shifty. -Not quite-
Adric groaned. 'What had you done?'
-Well, they'd all had established origins, and I figured I could tweak them *juuusssst* a little to make them fit...-
'So basically you were going to rip off their established origins for your own use?'
-If you're going to put it like that...-
Adric groaned, and mumbled to himself. 'And you didn't think this might be *fanwank*?'
-Nothing wrong with fanwank- the author huffed. -Just so long as it's _interesting_...-
'Okay, okay... So you'd got Sam's story planned out. What happened?'
-It was the climax of the first story- the author said. -With the crystal ball from hell-
Adric nearly choked. '_What?!_'
[Our heroes are standing in the middle of an obviously well-equipped, experimental laboratory. There's an array of computer terminals to one side. And plonked right in the middle of the lab, like a weird modern art sculpture, is a 6 metre high ball of plastic, glowing with a blue light, which the Doctor is apparently talking to. We fade up as the conversation continues.]
'....every manifestation of the Consciousness on this world has been either destroyed or sealed away. *You* are the only one left. Listen to me, please. You have been sealed off from the rest of the Consciousness. If we destroy you here, now, the Nestene will believe that there is something on this planet capable of destroying them, and will devastate the entire planet to eliminate it.
And _that_ will spark a war among the powers which would leave nothing but ashes.
Earth is a nexus point: you know that. My people are watching this world, they know the impact it will have on the future - and they will _not_ hesitate to wipe out anything they find inimical to that, as well as anything in the vicinity.
Leave now. Please.'
The swirling blue glow in the globe coils itself into a ball.
Then it says: #SO BE IT#
The Doctor breathes a sigh of relief.
#REMEMBER. IN TIME, ALL TIME LORDS FALL. WE WILL RETURN.#
Then it is gone, leaving behind a clear plastic globe.
Fitz raises an eyebrow. 'Well, that was easy...'
'Apart from Barney...' Izzy points out.
'...And the Replicas...' Fey says
'...And the Constructs...' continues Sam.
'I was being _ironic_, guys. You know, *irony*. That thing that comes with a sense of humour?'
'But it was a _perfect_ straight line, Fitz... '
Stacy chooses this moment to alert the others. 'Umm... Who switched all the computers on?'
The Doctor rushes over and examines the monitors. His face darkens in anger as he reads. 'No. NO. _NO!_. It's a _trap!_ How could I not *see?*'
'*What?!*' the others chorus.
'A booby-trap. The Nestene's leaving acted to close the master switch for this network. The network's booting up... and it's all a _trap!_'
Fitz holds his finger up. 'Err... for the computer-illiterate, _why_ is it a trap?'
'Because,' the Doctor answers, as he runs from terminal to terminal, 'the boot-up program is a quantum mnemonic; a string of symbols capable of rewriting the universe in an infinite number of ways, depending on how the symbols are arranged.' He looks at the baffled expressions around him. 'Think of them as magic words, for want of a better term.'
'Right. So...?' is Izzy's question.
The Doctor sighs. 'It means that when every computer in this network finishes booting up, the mnemonic will be complete - and the universe will be a much different place. Help me find the off-switch, could you?'
'*How* different?' Stacy pipes up.
'Imagine the entire world being made out of plastic, a cosmos that runs completely on magic, everything in the universe undergoing sudden, simultaneous implosion. _Not_ a good thing. Not good at *all*...'
'Destroy the computers?' Kroton suggests.
'Unwise, so long as it's still running. We _have_ to find the off-switch.'
'Hey, guys,' Fitz points to a fuse-box on the wall 'Maybe if we use _that_...'
The Doctor frowns. 'What's a fuse-box doing in a laboratory? ...Fitz, don't touch-'
The world goes white.
The film finished. There were 'awww's and groans from the audience.
'So,' Adric whispered to the author, 'WTF happened _next?!_'
-Lemme get us back to the 'Round, and I'll show you-
The cinema *blurred*-
And they were all sitting back in the 'Round, where they'd been before the film had begun.
-Sorry about that. Didn't get the next bit on film....- Noting the murderous looks from around him, the author added -Although I did get it down as a script. If you wouldn't mind waiting a bit?-
There was a thump at the door.
-That'll be the scripts. If someone could hand them round...?- --
To Be Continued...
Copyright Imran Inayat 2001