Once upon a time...
...an unwary author wrote a story which he found quickly getting out of control.
The characters weren't too pleased, either.
As a result, the Eighth Doctor's then-current companions found themselves with superpowers. Even when they were _out_ of the story...
Stacy became a mute telepath, Compassion kept turning into a five year old human, Ssard was stuck with a sword, Sam ended up with a mutable past, Izzy transformed into an insubstantial hologram, Fitz became the Revolution Man, Fey started producing shadow tendrils and Kroton turned into a walking battery...
The author continued exploring that storyline for a few more stories -
- and then found he couldn't quite put together the next story. Then events in real life overtook, and...
...well, he just never seemed to get back to it. The storyline went dormant.
However, stories, when left unattended, have a nasty habit of coming back and biting the writer...
' "Let's go property hunting", you said. "We've got planning permission", you said...'
'_Then_ you had to go and insult that hotel owner.'
'Hey, that German impression _was_ worse than my grandmother's...'
'Your grandmother was German, for Chrissake...'
'Like I said...'
'_Then_, he goes raving psycho nuts, and chases us out with that whacking great cleaver. Fitz... Did you ever _see_ "Fawlty Towers"?'
'Never mind... And just what _was_ that when he crashed into the wasps' nest? You screamed and ran like Current Companion...'
'Hey, I reject that. I screamed and ran like someone with a perfectly rational fear of wasps...'
'Perfectly rational? Perfectly rational?! If _that_ was perfectly rational...
...then why the _hell_ are we hanging off the edge of the pier?!'
'Umm... I thought they were baby Wirrn? Anyway, weren't _you_ the one who said we should spend less time hanging around together?'
'Was that supposed to be funny?'
'Hey, it's traditional...'
Harry poured Polly's margharita. 'You're in a good mood today, old girl...'
Polly wore an almost unbearably smug smile. 'That might have something to do with this...' She handed Harry a card.
Harry read it. ' "Anime Patrol. Is unwanted anime taking over _your_ out-of-continuity pub? Call us - we'll take care of it..."?'
Polly smirked. 'Great, isn't it? I called then yesterday. They're going to take care of all those unauthorised anime crossovers *that* lot -' she gestured to the denizens of This Time Round. '- have been trying to slip in behind my back...'
Harry's honest brow furrowed. 'I don't know, old girl... Doesn't it seem, well, a bit convenient?'
Polly laid her hands on the table. 'Harry... We're in the Round, remember?'
Harry's face suddenly broadened in realisation. 'Oh...'
'I don't want to worry you, but my fingers are starting to slip...'
'Oh, thank God. I thought I was the only one... Oh, _cruk_.'
'...Wonder if Adric's dead yet?'
'Why are you wondering _that_?!'
'Be nice to have someone else around, don't you thin- WAAAAAGGGHHH!!!'
And Fitz found himself floating outside his body.
So _this_ is what dying feels like, he thought. Funny, Adric never mentioned this...
He looked around. He was floating just above the waves. From where he was standing, he could see the whole town... and that speck in the distance must be the 'Round...
That was when he realised he was s lot, _lot_ bigger.
Say... a hundred feet tall?
He was about to freak out when something caught his eye. A tiny figure was dangling off the pier, while another was falling toward the water.
In the state of slowed time, it seemed perfectly reasonable for him to reach out...
...flick the falling figure up onto the pier...
...nudge the other one back up..
..like toy soldiers...
Then he got bored.
Scribbled his signature nearby, so he'd remember what to do when he got up.
And went to sleep.
'Fitz?! Fitz? Wake up!!'
'Mmph... C'mon, Sam.. Few minutes more??'
Fitz jolted up. 'Anji? Wha' happened? Las' I remember was that near-death experience...'
He took in his surroundings. They were at the other end of the pier, where it met the promenade. Anji's face was flushed, and her clothes were crumpled, like she'd fallen and had had a hard time getting up.
She was also almost in tears.
'I don't _know_ what happened!! You were falling... and then you *bounced* overhead... and then something whacked me up...' Anji trailed off.
Fitz's face had darkened.
'The promenade, Anji. Look at the promenade.'
Anji looked. And gasped.
Someone had carved a giant 'R' on the promenade.
'Talk about graffiti...'
Fitz's features hardened. 'That's not graffiti. That's a signature.'
'Who the hell carves their signature into solid _stone_?' Anji said, almost disbelievingly. 'I realise this might be the sort of thing which happens every day around here... so who _does_ that? Just so I can avoid them, you understand...'
'Me. The Revolution Man.'
For a long moment, Fitz didn't answer. Then he said 'Back to the 'Round. There's someone I want to talk to...'
Anji shuddered. Fitz's tone of voice promised something far more dangerous than a talk.
Charley did a twirl. 'How do I look?'
Sam looked up. And stifiled a giggle.
Somehow, Charley had managed to find a 1930s schoolgirl outfit, complete with skirt.
Unfortunately... it was a _Japanese_ schoolgirl outfit.
Which led to a ...decidedly _different_... look.
Charley looked baffled, and somewhat hurt. 'What is it? I had a look around the TARDIS wardrobe. This looked...'
She looked at herself. And frowned. 'Wait a moment... _This_ isn't what I picked out...'
Sam adopted an innocent look. 'Oh?'
Charley's eyes narrowed. 'Samantha... what happened to your ears?'
Sam froze. Then, gingerly, she reached up and felt her ear.
'Oh no... Oh _no_...Not _again_...'
Her ear had developed a pointed tip.
Which was when an angry redhaired young girl, in a rather cute dress, stormed in. 'Where _is_ he?!'
'Did you ever... Have you...'
_Have you ever wondered...._
Stacy's mindvoice trailed off. Her eyes widened.
She opened and closed her mouth, but no sound came out.
'I will...' Ssard stood up. Or tried to.
The rather large sword strapped to his back, which hadn't been there a moment ago, somewhat hampered his effort.
_No. Not again._
_WHERE 'S THAT CRUKKING AUTHOR??! I'LL RIP THAT STINKING PIECE OF OFFAL HE CALLS A BRAIN OUTTA HIS HEAD AND FEED IT TO THE DRASHIGS!!_ Stacy mindshouted.
Ssard was stunned. And impressed.
'Lisa... are you _sure_ this is going to work?'
'Of _course_ it is, Mick. Now button your shirt up.'
Mick sighed. It was at times like this that Lisa sounded _just_ like his mum.
She tugged at his collar. 'That should do...'
'But...' Mick began. He was about to say 'But we look ridiculous...'
'Mick..we're doing this in a good cause, remember? We will do _whatever_ it takes to uncover the Author Mafia's plans...'
_But whatever we do usually ends up going wrong. Messily._ Mick thought. _*And* I wanted to see my Ranma vids today, too..._
'Mick... Remember, doubt is _not_ the Fan Ninja way.'
_No, the Fan Ninja way is usually public humiliation..._ Mick thought.
_No. I look like an embarrassed penguin._ Mick thought. Out loud, he said 'As I'll ever be...'
Imran sat in one of the 'Round's booths, and thought. 'Mmm... Now, lessee... where do I start?'
The next story was _not_ coming easily.
It wasn't that he was short of ideas. It was putting them _together_ that was the problem.
'Creation of the 'Round? No.. After the attack of the Wild Hunt, really... Hmm. Oh, and _have_ to do something with Fitz's date, too...'
A shadow fell over him.
He looked up. 'Oh. Shayde... Huh?'
This is Shayde: medium height, well-built, human hands...
...and a gleaming black globe where a head would be.
Rassilon's troubleshooter relaxed. 'So... it's not you.'
Normally, Shayde's body is smooth black. However, this time...
...little tendrils of shadow are forming and being reabsorbed by Shayde's body. The effect is quite unsettling.
Even if you _are_ the one who originally wrote those tendrils in.
'What? Look, when did the shadow tendrils come back?'
'As I said... it's not you. I doubt the others know that, though.'
The air blurred-
-and Izzy was standing in front of the table.
Imran saw the slightly glazed smile on her face, and gulped.
_Wait... In *this* form, she's a hologram. She can't hurt me... can she?_
She put her hands behind her back, and smiled sweetly. 'Could you explain this, please?'
Izzy pulled a mallet out of thin air. 'I'm _waiting,..._'
'Not me. Absolutely, positively, nothing to do with me. Really. Please?' Imran babbled.
Shayde reached out and grabbed Izzy's wrist. 'He's telling the truth.'
'If he's not writing another story... then who _is?!_ And why the hell did they have to use _his_ for inspiration?!'
'I... don't think so. I think the story has been brought back... into our 'normal' lives...'
'So _who did it?!_' Izzy almost shrieked. 'And how?!'
Shayde was silent. Then he said 'I do not know. What I do know.is that his storyline has been terminated.'
'When a storyline is left for follow-up later, it normally goes dormant _until_ another story takes it up. _His_ has ended, as if it had been wrapped-up.'
Imran scratched his head. 'Never heard that before...'
'And elements have been _lifted_ from that story...'
'Sounds like a bad comics reboot...' Izzy muttered. 'You _sure_ it's not his fault?'
'So what's been lifted?' Imran asked. Izzy stared at him. 'Hey, it was _my_ story...'
'I'll explain... when the others get here. 5...'
Imran ducked under the table.
The others arrived.
And they were _not_ happy.
Copyright 2001 Imran Inayat