'Are you sure about this?' Izzy asked.
Shayde nodded. 'Yes. Harry is usually reliable about these things. We want to be careful.'
Most of the other denizens had unanimously decided to have 'a night on the town' (except Francois, who'd stayed behind for the danger pay, and Polly, who was locked in the toilet, somehow...).
...and the 'Round, inside and out, took on the appearance of a sushi bar.
Izzy opened her eyes. 'That okay?'
'Yes... Would you mind creating a cloakroom?'
Shayde nodded. 'Good. Now... you and the others wait in the bar. I will meet our... guests... in the cloakroom.'
Lisa looked at the directions Polly had given her.
Then she looked at the building in front of her.
Then she looked at the directions.
'This _can't_ be the place... Mick? Mick, what the _hell_ are you doing?'
'Going in. Hey, at the very least, they'll be able to tell us where it is...'
Lisa paused in shock. Mick had actually come up with a _reasonable_ idea.
She checked it for flaws, and was horrified to realise she couldn't think of a single hole in his logic.
This was so.. so _unMicklike_.
Then she saw the way he was wriggling, and understood.
With a wicked smile, she put her arm around his shoulder. 'Okay. And maybe while we're in there, they'll actually let you use the toilet...'
Mick almost jumped out of his pants.
'Hello? Anybody there?'
'Hello? I _really_ need to use your toilet...'
'Greetings.' came a shadowy whisper behind them.
Mick and Lisa nearly jumped out of their skins.
'Apologies,' said the voice. 'It is ...rare... that we get much custom here.'
'I wonder why...' Lisa muttered.
'Can I _please_ use your toilet?!' Mick pleaded.
'Certainly. Over there.' A finger pointed in the toilet's direction. Mick ran off, gratefully.
The shadowy figure looked in his (rapidly retreating) direction. 'Oh. My apologies. I am Fade, a techno-ninja from the 39th century, and this is my anime sushi bar.'
'Your *what*?!' Lisa yelped.
'Sushi bar. You would not believe the demand for really, really good sushi by my time....' The figure paused. 'I do not believe I caught your or your young friend's name?' The question hung in the air.
Lisa briefly considered the merits of claiming to be members of an organisation dedicated to removing anime from pubs. Then she considered the flaws. Then the imminent pain.
'We're... um.... the Who Patrol, at your service. Ready to search out any unauthorised Doctor Who crossovers in any out-of-continuity restaurants or, um... sushi bars.'
Fade sounded amused. 'Now that _is_ fortunate... We have been having troubles with such ourselves. Would you do us the greatest of honours and search this humble sushi bar? My patrons would be _most_ displeased if you were not called upon...'
Lisa gulped. 'Well, um... yes?'
'Good.... Ah, I hear Chef calling. Please excuse me.' With that, Fade disappeared.
'Shayde... what the _hell_ do you think you're doing?' Fitz yelled. 'Izzy's illusion that this _isn't_ the 'Round, fine... but the _last_ thing we want is for those prats to _hang around_...'
'I am playing along. It would not be in our current interests for the so-called Anime Patrol to investigate the Round....'
'True...' Izzy said. 'But if _they're_ any kind of Anime Patrol, _I'm_ King Kong... It's those Fan Ninja weirdos again... Wait a minute... wait a smegging minute... You _knew_ they were the Fan Ninjas faking being the Anime Patrol faking being the Who Patrol...'
Fitz leaned against a wall. 'You're _enjoying_ this...'
Shayde nodded again. 'I believe the term Fey likes to use is "shooting fish in a barrel"...'
Compassion displayed her most savage smile. 'Good. This should be a good way to ...release tension.'
Fitz shuddered. 'I've _seen_ what happens when _you_ release tension... I think those Daleks still want a word with you...'
Izzy put her hands behind her head. ' 'kay, guys. Shayde's set it up, so here's what we do...'
It was just such a _relief_ to be able to let go of that agonising, mind-numbing _pressure_.
And having a poo didn't hurt, either.
Then a girl poked her head through the door. _Literally_, through the door. Without opening it.
The girl blinked innocently at him. 'Oh. I thought my brother was in here. I _am_ sorry.'
Mick tried desperately to huddle up on the toilet seat.
'Don't let me interrupt, please...' And with that, she withdrew her head.
Mick learned two more of Life's Great Truths then: 1) You can never find a pair of trousers when you need one, and 2) No matter how hard you try, sometimes you just can't get it up anymore...
' 'kay, Lis. I'm ready, let's _go_. *Now.*'
Lisa ahemmed. 'That's... going to be a bit difficult at the moment...'
Mick stared at her. '_Why?_'
'Umm... He's asked us to check this place out for unauthorised Who crossovers...'
'WHAT?! Lis, we know _nothing_ about Who!!'
Lisa tried to explain.
Mick tried to avoid beating his head against the wall.
As they entered the bar, Mick and Lisa noticed that it was starting to fill up.
'Ah. There you are.'
_This_ time, in an odd reversal, their skin wanted to jump off their bodies and run...
'Please, do not allow me to get in your way,' Fade said. 'I am sure that two well-trained investigators as yourselves will not need me getting underfoot.'
'Well, um...' Lisa began. Mick elbowed her in the chest. 'That's... that won't be a problem...'
'Umm... Hello. I was wondering whether you'd seen any Doctor Who...' Mick's voice faded away. Regarding him was a pair of mirrored sunglasses, set in a cold, impassive face, on top of a well-cut, professional business suit.
'My name is Ms. Cooper. I am senior executive for the Iownu megacorp. I have more wealth, influence, and military technology than you can possibly dream of. I regard it as extremely unlikely that I have ever encountered this petty 'Doctor Who' you speak of.'
'Now. Don't. Bother. Me.'
As a trembling Mick left the booth, Anji took off her sunglasses. 'You know,' she said to no-one in particular, 'Fitz was right. I had entirely too much fun doing that...'
_Yeah? Whaddya want?_
Lisa poked her finger in her ear in a vain attempt to clear it out. The woman's voice had seemed to come in her head without passing through her ears on the way.
'Umm.. I wanted to ask a few... What _is_ that?!'
The jumpsuit-wearing woman held up a piece of equipment. _This? It's the Mark Seven Transdimensional Relative Gravitational HowdyHowdy Infusion Generator._
'Oh.... Emm... Have you seen any Doctor Who characters around?'
_The Doctor? Hah! His pathetic tinkering is as _nothing_ compared to the genius and beauty of my creations.. Why? Have *you* seen him lately? Him and that... Stellar Manipulator of his? Nobody dismisses Stacie like that..._
'...Umm, no... Umm... Why are you speaking in my head?'
_You're still limited to your vocal cords? You poor dear! You must let me help you. Now, where did I put that scalpel..._
Lisa knocked over her chair in her haste to escape.
Stacy put her Galactic Army Knife down. _Wow. I had no _idea_ I'd picked up so much technobabble from the Doctor..._
'Umm...' Mick looked behind him. The blonde's slitted eyes seemed to be fixed on a point inside his head.
'Umm... You don't work for a megacorp, do you?'
The blonde raised a perfect eyebrow. 'Not lately...'
Mick sagged. 'Thank God...'
The blonde peered at him. 'You're... human, aren't you?'
'Well, I was, last time I checked.'
'Would you like to mate with me? Oh, you've started bleeding...'
Mick dabbed at his nose. 'Ahhh... Errr....'
'My people were cursed in a long-ago magical war. We must breed with virile humans to rebuild our genetic stock.'
'Umm...' Mick stammered.
'You would be honoured and remembered as a great hero among my people if you succeeded...' the blonde said seductively.
'Umm.. I don't even know your name...'
'Err... Angel...' Mick panicked. 'Umm...what would this mating involve?'
'Five days of wild, mad, passionate sex, taking you to heights of ecstasy your species can barely comprehend....'
'Ahh....' Mick, for some reason, suddenly found himself blushing furiously...
'...And then you would face the Great Fire Dragon of the North, a beast a full mile in length, who has consumed all who dared to ...'fool around'... with his chosen bride.'
Sam looked at Mick's abandoned chair, and sighed mock-ruefully. 'Damn. I lose more partners that way...'
Lisa sighed. At least this one seemed sane.
'Hello,' she said to the tall, thin young man in the trenchcoat. 'Can I get this clear... You are absolutely, positively, _not_ a psycho genius mute telepath scientist?'
The man blinked. 'No... But I can get you one if you want... Stacie!'
'No, no...' Lisa hastily shushed him. 'Just making sure...'
'No... I'm a psychic telekinetic idol star being chased by an evil conspiracy, who will stop at _nothing_, up to and including killing anyone I meet, to get their hands on my power... Oh, you've gone.'
Fitz sat back in his chair. 'Heh. Shortest date I've ever had...'
'Before I come in there.. Are you a) a psychopath, or b) being chased by psychopaths?'
'No.' The voice had a slight hiss.
When Lisa entered the booth, she saw why.
Its owner was a nigh-on seven foot tall reptile in bulky green armour.
And he was polishing a sword half as high as he was.
Lisa's eyes kept being drawn back to the sword. 'Listen... have you met any 'Doctor Who' characters lately?'
'I am afraid, Shsurr, that I have not. And it would be unlikely that any such meeting would last more than a few minutes.' the reptile said calmly.
'I am the bearer of the cursed Sword of Nethssyss, a terrible weapon capable of cutting through anything in existance...'
'...and which constantly begs of me, whenever I draw it, that I set it free to cut through reality itself, destroying everything. I must keep to the strictest code of honour to keep its insane urges in check for even one unsheathing.'
'Ah. Oh look, my partner's over there. Must be going...'
Ssard looked after her. 'Odd. I only told her the exact truth...'
Mick panted as he sat down. 'Listen... I don't care if you _do_ own_ a megacorp, or you _do_ want me to fight the Great Puff Dragon of Honalee, I just wanna know, _have you seen any Doctor Who characters?_'
Then he looked at the person sitting opposite him.
It was a little redheaded girl with big anime eyes, wearing a cute dress.
'Why would I know anything like that, mister?'
Mick hastily bent over and patted her on the shoulder. 'Oh, I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking...'
The little girl looked up at him, and batted her eyes. 'But I'm sure my friend would...'
Mick sighed. 'Oh, thank _God_. Can I meet them?'
The little girl smiled sweetly. 'Of course, mister.'
There was a blur-
-and where the little girl had been sitting was something dreadfully techno-organic, dripping with nameless fluids. It held a glowing ball of energy in one of its... claws. Yes. Best to think of them as claws. The alternative was simply too horrible.
'Meet my friend,' the little girl's voice said.
Mick screamed and ran for his life.
With a ripple of block transfer equations, Compassion returned to her baseline form - that of a redhead in her midtwenties, with a frown seemingly ingrained on her face. 'Hmm. I hadn't realised Mother's form would be _that_ terrifying. Must remember that...'
'Mad... psychopath scientists, idol star telekinetics, cursed swordsalien...'
'Crazed megacorp owner.... loony nympho elf... disgusting technodemon...'
They looked at each other.
'You too?!' they said in unison.
'Leaving us?' Fade said.
_This_ time, neither of them jumped. Much.
'You _have_ met our resident ghost, haven't you?'
Mick halted. 'Ghost?'
Fade nodded. 'A sad, lonely girl. She haunts the sushi bar ever since her brother's unfortunate departure...'
'I'm not _surprised_ he left...' Lisa muttered.
'Would she, by any chance, pop in on men... doing a number two, and ask about her brother?' Mick said in a strangulated voice.
Fade nodded again. 'That would be her. I take it you had a personal encounter?'
Mick couldn't bring himself to speak.
Fade shook its head. 'We have asked her not to... It so discomfits the patrons.'
'Umm... I think we'll leave it for now...' Lisa said. 'The place seems... Who-free.'
'Oh good. No doubt this was because of your diligent efforts. Chef will be pleased.'
Mick and Lisa avoided each other's gaze.
'You _have_ spoken to Chef?' Fade asked.
There was a scream from the kitchen. 'MAGICAL GIRL PRETTY CHARLEY!!'
Mick swallowed. 'Uh-oh...'
The kitchen door started to smoulder. The hinges crackled with electricity.
'Umm...' Mick babbled. 'Must be going. Who characters to track down, y'know...'
'I understand. No rest for the wicked... ' Fade seemed thoughtful. 'I believe there is a Doctor Who pub nearby. Perhaps if I give you directions?' He scribbled on a piece of paper.
Lisa snatched it out of his hands. 'Thankyousomuchbeenwonderfulmustdothisagainsoonseeya...'
And with that, they were gone.
The kitchen door blasted off its hinges, and Charley poked her head through.
'They're gone, Charley...' Shayde said.
Charley's face fell. 'Awww...'
'Someone _else_ replace that.' Francois announced. 'It not coming out of _Francois'_ paycheck, _that_ for certain...'
'Okay. Quick recap for Charley's benefit,' Imran began.
Charley blinked. 'Why? I already know this.'
'We have to justify the updated exposition somehow...' Imran muttered. 'Union rules... Anyway...'
'...Stacy loses her voice, but gains the ability to mindspeak; Compassion, already having a massive number of abilities, gets turned into a five year old human whenever she hears the nickname "Cammy"; Fey and Shayde, together, get those shadow tendrils... think of them as having extra, indestructible limbs...; Sam, being partly Sidhe, changes her ability - and past - whenever she's in danger; Ssard gets a cursed sword; Izzy becomes a hologram with the ability to create light-based illusions; Fitz taps into the ...force... called the Revolution Man to perform minor telekinesis... but above a certain limit, the Revolution Man wakes up, with _nasty_ conaequences.' Imran shuddered.
'_And_ the ability to affect people's emotional reactions...' Fitz interjected.
'Yeah, yeah... Last time, Kroton got the 'electricity manipulation'; this time, it looks like it went to Charley...'
'And Anji gets off scot-free...' Sam muttered.
'Oh, there's probably something in mind for _me_...' Anji said. 'Probably something even nastier...'
'So... does the 'the powers go away with another author' thing still apply?' Sam asked.
Imran shrugged. 'Probably.'
'Still in the ladies'. I should _really_ let her out...' Compassion said.
Ssard leaned forward. 'Who brought the powers back?'
Imran spread his hands helplessly. 'Whoever gave you them in the first place? Someone I don't know about? I don't know...'
'I mislike that.' Ssard said.
'You're not the only one...' Imran said. 'Whoever it is really, really likes messing with stories, I know _that_ much...'
'What about the Fan Ninjas?'
Shayde.placed his hands together. 'They should be arriving about now...'
Imran grinned for Shayde. 'Oh, I think I know...'
'Ah *ha!" Freeze, anime evildoers...'
The patrons of Ukyou's Okonomiyaki Restaurant, where anime characters _actually_ go in their time off, shared a baffled expression, then looked at the two unfortunate Fan Ninjas.
In the out-of-continuity hospital...
'Mick, this is all _your_ fault!'
'Hey! _You_ were the one who said it was, and I quote, "a cunning illusion"!'
'_You_ were the one who said "Freeze, anime evildoers...".'
Their bickering fades away as we slowly...
...fade to black.
Copyright 2001 Imran Inayat